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With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed Jesus to a cross and killed him. - Acts (of the Apostles) 2:23 (NLT)
Many years ago I saw a stand-up comedian do a bit on the subject of death.
“You’re going to die,” he said. “Not to be morbid, but I think about my death a lot, and I’ve decided that I want to die funny. You know those ads for cruise lines? They show you this incredible picture from up high in the air, and all you can see is this giant expanse of water. It’s just this beautiful crystal clear sea of blue water, everywhere you look. And in the center of this image is a cruise ship. It’s a big boat, but from this bird’s eye view, it looks like a tiny white square in the middle of all this deep blue ocean. And there, in the middle of that cruise ship, surrounded by all that open water, is a little swimming pool. I want to drown in that pool!”
I’ve been around death enough to know that it is never funny. Yet the comedian’s point is well taken: all of us will die. We would be foolish, indeed, to think otherwise. Few things make us as humans feel more powerless than when faced with the prospect of death. Worse, there is nothing we can ever do to stop its approach. There is a natural grief, a helplessness, a finality that overcomes us as we realize, at some time or another, that we simply cannot save ourselves.
Stripped bare, this realization is the baseline truth on which the gospel plants itself. It’s been said before: the power of the gospel isn’t that it makes bad people good, or that it makes good people better; the power of the gospel is that it makes dead people alive.
Death is a prerequisite for new life. The real power of Easter begins only after Jesus takes His final breath. There is comfort in this: our Savior does not ask us to go anywhere He has not gone Himself.
Death comes for us all. BUT GOD…!
So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah! - Acts (of the Apostles) 2:36 (NLT)
Here is a list of things I will never be able to do:
Win an Olympic gold medal in rhythmic gymnastics.
Draw better than an average eight-year-old child.
Play oboe with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.
Conjure a corporeal Patronus.
Cook a three-course meal without burning something.
Complete a home-improvement project using fewer than 7 trips to Lowe’s.
Math in my head.
Neatly fold a fitted bedsheet.
Select an appropriately sized Tupperware container for the amount of leftovers I have.
The rulers and authorities of Jesus’ day viewed Him as a threat. Revolutionaries are easily dealt with, however, and they simply had Jesus put to death.
End of story.
Anything else would be impossible.
But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip! (Acts 2:24)
Life. Breath. Beginning of a new story.
In this instant, Jesus was vindicated. His claims to Messiahship, His promises of a coming kingdom to which He alone held the key, the redemption of mankind and the restoration of God’s people back to Himself - all of this proves to be true. Jesus is who He said; Jesus will do what He promised.
The resurrection does many things for us, but first and foremost it validates the seemingly impossible claims that Jesus is Messiah… which means we can believe everything about Jesus.
Some of His followers must have recalled Jesus’ words to His dismayed listeners a few months earlier.
“Who then can be saved,” they had asked?
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
If bringing the dead to life is possible for God, what else can He accomplish in your life?
But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. - Acts (of the Apostles) 2:21 (NLT)
When I was sixteen, I got caught in the middle of a lake during a terrifying lightning storm. My father had taken me out on his sailboat for an afternoon on the cool waters of Cayuga Lake. In the distance, we began to see dark clouds forming and decided to head back for the harbor. Unfortunately, the calm before the storm had us practically dead in the water. Suddenly without warning a gust of wind wrenched the sailboat almost completely on its side and I was nearly tossed out of the boat altogether. After a few moments of panicked scrambling, we were able to lower the sails and had to face the prospect of riding the storm out, hoping and praying that lightning would not strike anywhere near us.
Then, unexpectedly, a small boat approached--a lone sailor on a motorboat. He had seen us stuck helplessly on the water when the storm hit. The man powered towards us, threw us a line, and towed us safely back to shore.
I’m reminded of a man named Zacchaeus who was caught in the throes of his own wickedness. As a tax collector, he would have been ostracized and despised by his fellow Jews. It’s likely he even despised himself. But God…
Jesus approached Zacchaeus, called him by name, invited Himself into his home, and declared that salvation had come to the house of this tax collector. “The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost,” Jesus said.
Our God is a God who will ride into the storm and lead us home; He is a God who will pursue even the most outcast among us to share a meal; He is a God who seeks and saves the lost; He is a God who would even pass through death itself to bring us to life.
Have you called on the name of Jesus to be saved? Have you submitted to Jesus in baptism? If you have questions about this Jesus and what it means to follow Him, contact a care pastor today.Share Tweet
You have shown me the way of life, and you will fill me with the joy of your presence. - Acts (of the Apostles) 2:28 (NLT)
One of the best things about babies is watching them grow. “They grow up so fast,” isn’t just a sentimental saying - it’s the honest truth! One of the most significant moments in a baby’s development is when he/she learns to crawl. Once a child figures out that forward propulsion… look out! A whole new realm of possibilities is suddenly unleashed, and this tiny and newly mobile human will explode off the confines of a carpet square to explore every inch of that brave new world!
This is what the resurrection does for the followers of Jesus. Right now, we are confined to a physical world - a world marred by sin, a world filled with brokenness, a world where death is the only certainty. But when Jesus walked out of the grave, everything changed! Death is not the end! There is a whole new realm of possibilities! There is a new kingdom awaiting all of us if we are willing to walk the path Jesus walked!
All who live in God’s new world will be the perfect versions of themselves. We will be productive and we will be surrounded by beauty at every turn. Our relationships will thrive, we’ll be completely in tune with creation, our potential will be limitless...and there will be no darkness, or pain, or sadness. Everything will be glorious, and none of it will ever come to an end.
This future might seem far off, almost impossibly so. But it’s real; it’s awaiting us. Like the wonders of kitchen cupboards and bookshelves and dresser drawers, all filled with an array of items to be discovered and examined by a curious crawling infant, this is the hope we have in Jesus. Today it may feel as if you are boxed in, confined to the situations and circumstances that often seem like they chose you more than you chose them. But the power of the resurrection means we have the hope of a limitless future ahead of us.
Read Revelation 21:1-7 slowly. Take time to meditate on the promises of God and delight in this hope for the future.Share Tweet
The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. - Romans 8:11 (NLT)
Recently my wife and I have been watching the TV series The Flash with our two older kids.
The main character sums up the premise of the show like this: “My name is Barry Allen and I am the fastest man alive. To the outside world, I am an ordinary forensic scientist, but secretly I fight crime and find other meta-humans like me. I am the only one fast enough to stop them. I am The Flash!”
Every superhero story involves the internal conflict of a normal human learning how to live in light of his/her new powers. The same could be said for Christians.
An astounding truth is discovered when we choose to follow Jesus: the same power that conquered the grave is alive and at work in us! While we most certainly gain a hope for the future in God’s perfect eternity, submitting to Jesus as Lord and Savior is not merely about “punching a ticket to heaven.” The gospel is about gaining access to the Father and to His kingdom - a kingdom which is already at hand - through the power of the same Holy Spirit who raised Christ from the dead!
If you have been baptized in Christ, you have received this Spirit! This Spirit gives us power to speak truth, to be transformed into Christlikeness, to pray in faith and believe God for the answers, to actively participate in seeing God’s kingdom come on Earth as it is in Heaven!
So what are you going to do with that power? You have a new identity in Christ - the old has gone, the new has come! Are you going to hide it away, as if this gift is somehow only about granting you access to Heaven once your life on Earth is done? Or are you going to lean into that power today, learning to listen and respond to the Spirit in every way, seeking God’s kingdom in your life and for those around you?
Are you giving yourself in service of others? If not, contact your campus pastor to ask about how you can get involved!Share Tweet