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The Biggest Promise

Greetings to you all,

I wish you all a Happy Easter. Christmas and Easter are important celebrations for all of us. To me, they are very different from one another though. Christmas, to me, is nostalgia, memories, family, traditions, and celebration. Easter, on the other hand, remember this is for me, is a paying of respect, remembering a fallen brother (who happens to be my Savior), a fresh start or a new beginning. Christmases are always similar to one another. Easters are always different, each Easter is different from the other Easters.

Last week we spoke of the Big Promise, which is that Jesus would bear our sins and suffer in our place. Old Testament prophecy teaches us this and New Testament testimony by the disciples agrees with this. This is indeed a big promise for all of mankind, Jesus shouldering our sins and dying our death on the cross.

But while this big promise is big, there is one more promise that is bigger. Out of all the dozens of prophecies about Jesus: his establishing a new covenant, his being forsaken and pierced (but vindicated), his being the rejected cornerstone, Jesus’ life affirming deeds while on earth, his being born of a virgin, his coming would be according to a timetable, he would be the suffering servant, and on and on and on all these prophecies come forth and are all proven true. Out of all of the proven and true prophecies, one stands over all the rest.

Jesus would be crucified, yes, but he also would be resurrected. Jesus would die, he had to so as to fulfill the redemptive sacrificial process for you and me. But he would not stay dead, because he could not stay dead, “for in him was life” (John 1:4). Whenever you see Jesus’ name and the word life together in scripture, life means eternal life. So, Jesus would not stay dead, because he could not stay dead, because in him was eternal life. He had this eternal life from the beginning of creation when he was with God.

Now here is where this biggest promise affects us: Because he would not remain dead, because of his resurrection, and because of his sacrifice for us and our forgiveness of sins (if we repent and acknowledge Christ), you and I have access to this very same eternal life. See how the promises of God get better and better the more deeply that you dig? The more that we read the Bible, the better it gets. Matthew 28:1-7,

“After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he is risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.”

Jesus was dead, the angel just confirmed this. He said that Jesus was “crucified”. Past tense, meaning dead, because the Romans were very efficient at the death art of crucifixion. But Jesus did not stay dead. In him was and is eternal life. The angel confirms also that Jesus is now alive: “He is risen, just as he said.”

I love how scripture confirms scripture, how scripture confirms prophecy. Let’s go to the disciple Peter in the book of Acts. Here Peter references a Psalm of David as what I would term an altar call when speaking to fellow Jews in Jerusalem. By the way, the Bible says that three thousand came to the Lord that day. Acts 2:25-32,

“David said about him (and this is the quote from Psalm 16): I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body will also live in hope, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One decay. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.” Peter continues,

“Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him an oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses to this fact.”

Peter finishes with this, verse 36,

“Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

I’m sure that as Peter said this, he pointed to the crowd, who just a week or so earlier had asked for Jesus’ blood to be on their heads.

Those who heard this came under immediate conviction and repented. Three thousand men, not counting their families.

In scripture, and in dealing with prophecies, details are important. We just heard from Peter, let’s go to a testimony from Paul, citing a portion of the same Psalm 16:10, this reading is from Acts 13:35-39,

“So it is stated elsewhere: ‘You will not let your Holy One see decay.”’

Details are important as proof. Think about this, when Lazarus was resurrected, he smelled of death. The KJV version said that “he stinketh”, remember? Not so with Jesus, Jesus did not decay one iota. Because in Jesus there was the light of life. Paul continues here with his testimony, Acts 13:36-39,

“For when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed. But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay. Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses.”

Paul here is explaining how the New Covenant of Jesus now supersedes and is better than the law of Moses.

This promise of Christ’s resurrection changes everything. It thwarts Satan’s plan to kill, steal and destroy all of us.

Hebrews 9:26b-28,

“But now he (Jesus) has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”

All of these scriptures today have pointed to this biggest of all big promises: Jesus died, he was pierced, he was crucified. However, Jesus did not stay dead. He did not even decay a little.

In John 14:6, Jesus speaks about how he is the way to the Father.

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Everyone seems to enjoy making the Bible and all of Jesus’ life complicated. We do this with so much in our lives, don’t we? It really isn’t. Jesus had the life of creation in him. He was the source of life for all creation. Because of this, when Jesus was crucified he died. But he would not and could not stay dead.

Accept Jesus as your Savior and with that comes eternal life. Just look at the tomb, it’s empty. Jesus is Alive!

Do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God.

Easter blessings,

Thad Brown

Opportunity House

and Harmony UMC

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