Scripture Reference: Daniel 12, Matthew 28:1-10, John 20
He Is Risen!Rev. Philip Miller | April 17, 2022
Scripture Reference: Daniel 12, Matthew 28:1-10, John 20
Selected highlights from this sermon
Easter Sunday marks the turning of the tide. The power of sin is shattered, the chains of Satan are broken, and the dominion of death is conquered. The Son of God has risen with power and is alive forevermore!
In this message, Pastor Miller takes us back to the resurrection morning and discover how Jesus’ resurrection changed everything.
One of the ways you know you’ve encountered the living Jesus is by looking at the landscape of your life. Things look very differently: your affections changing, your desires altering, and your priorities shifting.
Pastor Philip: He is risen!
Congregation: He is risen indeed!
Pastor Philip: He is risen!
Congregation: He is risen indeed!
Pastor Philip: He is risen!
Congregation: He is risen indeed!
Friends, this day marks the turning of the tide. On this day the power of sin is shattered. On this day the chains of Satan are broken. And on this day, death itself is undone (applause) for the Son of God is risen. He is risen indeed!
I want to take you back to that first Resurrection Morning, Matthew 28, verses 1 to 10. This is the word of the Lord.
“Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat upon it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, just as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.’ So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and he said, ‘Greetings!’ And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.’”
Thanks be to the Lord for the reading of His Word. Amen? Amen.
I want to talk to you this morning about how Jesus’ resurrection changes everything. But before we do that, would you bow your head? Let’s pray together.
Heavenly Father, we gather today to celebrate the resurrection of your Son, Jesus Christ, who came and lived among us a perfect life to please you in every way, something we could never do, who went to the cross to lay down His life for our sin in our place and for our sake—our substitute. And He rose again in glory to make us right with you forever so that we can be children of God. Father, we need that resurrection life in our world today. We need it in our souls. We need it in our lives. Come! Raise dead people to life this morning. In Jesus’ name we pray. Everybody said, Amen. Amen.
You know, it’s fascinating, not only was there an actual earthquake on the morning of the resurrection, April 5th, 33 A.D. That was 1,989 years ago this year. Not only was there an earthquake on that morning, the resurrection of Jesus Christ in many ways is like a huge seismic event, an earthquake that rocked the entire world historically, philosophically, and spiritually.
Now, I want to talk to you this morning about the ways in which Jesus’ resurrection life is kind of like an earthquake that is a seismic shift in our world historically, philosophically, and spiritually. I want to look at each of those in turn.
First, a historical seismic shift – a historical seismic shift. Every single one of the Gospels portray Jesus’ disciples on Resurrection Morning in a state of utter shock. They were not expecting these events. On the contrary, the disciples are hiding. They believed they’re the very next ones who will be crucified and executed, and so they’re making themselves scarce. The women who show up on Resurrection Morning show up to finish the embalming process, and to mourn. They have no expectations of anything else. No one was standing outside the tomb going “3-2-1...” No one! No one was doing that. It took them all by surprise. It rocked their world. And it utterly changed the rest of their lives. The disciples that you read about in the New Testament will spend the rest of their lives, the next three to four decades of their lives, telling everyone about this Jesus who died for their sins, who was buried and who rose again on the third day. And they do so at great personal cost.
All of the disciples, except for one, ended up laying down their lives in defense of the truth that Jesus Christ was the Lord and Savior who had risen from the dead. And of course, this good news, the good news of Jesus Christ, that He had died and rose again for our sins, becomes the hinge point of history in many ways. You know that the world is divided into BC and AD, or you know, BC, before the common era and the common era. Either way, however you do the letters, Jesus Christ is the fulcrum, the center point in which all of history is divided. It is separated around His life—His coming, His life, His death, His resurrection.
A few years ago, in 2013, Time magazine did a...used a data-driven model to determine the one-hundred most significant figures in all of world history. Do you know who came out number one? Jesus Christ, the standout leader of the people of all world history, all religious, philosophical, political, technological leaders, Jesus outranked them all. The crucified and resurrected Lord Jesus Christ is the center point of human history. And so, friends, the resurrection sends a seismic shock wave throughout all of human history. It upended our world. Do you believe that? It’s a historical seismic shift.
Separately it’s a philosophical seismic shift. The resurrection of Jesus Christ broke all of the philosophical categories of its day, Greco-Roman and Jewish. The Greco-Roman culture, like most cultures, had a concept of the afterlife. They believed, the Greeks and the Romans both...they viewed the afterlife as a kind of immaterial existence. They saw the body as something weak and corrupting and evil at times. And they believed that in the afterlife they would leave their physical bodies, and they’d leave them behind, and it would transcend to a higher eternal spiritual realm. This is the Greco-Roman view, but that is not at all what we see here in the resurrection of Jesus, is it? This is not what we see.
Jesus has a body in His resurrected state. It is material. It is physical. It is touchable. In John, chapter 20 , we see Jesus eating a fish. This breaks all the categories. He offers His scars to be touched and let them put their hands in. Jesus’ life beyond death existence is one that is physically embodied which broke all the Greco-Roman expectations of what the resurrection might look like.
It also breaks the Jewish expectations and philosophical categories as well. The Jews who believed in the resurrection (and not all of them did, by the way) expected a bodily resurrection at the very end of time. And, of course, Jesus’ resurrection is taking place in the middle of time, so right there we’ve broken all the categories. But more than that, if you look at the Old Testament of passages like Daniel 12, for example, you will see that the Jewish expectation of the resurrection was that the righteous would shine like the sun and the stars in their resurrection glory. So the Jews who did believe in a resurrection believed in a bodily resurrection, but one that would be a transfiguration of radiance and effulgence and splendor.
But look at what we see in these passages about Jesus. His resurrected bodily state is relatively ordinary, isn’t it?
It’s non-descript for the most part. Look at the contrast in this passage today between the the angel who is shining and splendorous, and has white clothes, and his clothing is radiant when Jesus just walks up and says, “Greetings.” Right?
Most of the time, after Jesus is raised from the dead, people don’t even recognize who He is in the New Testament. Mary thinks He’s a gardener in John, chapter 20. The couple on the road to Emmaus wrote they were walking with Jesus for hours and they don’t even realize it’s Him. See, Jesus’ resurrected state breaks all of the Jewish philosophical categories as well. In Greco-Roman thought and Jewish thought what happens on Resurrection Morning is frankly impossible. It’s impossible. They were not primed and ready to believe it. It’s like a seismic shock wave that breaks all the categories and writes an entirely different story. And friends, the resurrection of Jesus is still rocking our world today in the same way. We really don’t believe it’s possible. No, we don’t live in Greco-Roman or Jewish philosophical categories any more. We live in a secular philosophical framework. But Jesus’ resurrection, in the same way, is breaking our categories.
If you don’t know what the secular story is...Like we rarely say it out loud, but this is the story. Okay? If someone hasn’t taught it to you recently, the secular philosophical story of life goes like this: We are here because of random chance and the survival of the fittest. Nature is “red in tooth and claw,” as Alfred Lord Tennyson put it. And so life is all about devour, or be devoured. It’s a struggle of power and who will win. Because life has no inherent meaning, it’s up to you and me to devise our own happiness, so we write the rules, follow your own heart, make your own meaning. And because you only live once, live it up, and hold on as long as you can.
“Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
But in the end, death conquers us all. In the end, we are all forgotten. And eventually the sun will burn out, and this world as we know it, will freeze over, and everything will be lost in a cold, dark void. And in the end, it will be like it never happened in the first place.
What a great story! (chuckles)
But friends, if the resurrection is true, everything changes.
- If the resurrection is true, everything changes.
- If the resurrection is true, friends, death isn’t the end after all. There is life and love and high beauty beyond the horizon.
- If the resurrection is true, we are not just flesh and bone. We are souls who are destined to live forever.
- If the resurrection is true, we exist not by chance but because the eternally loving God has created us in His image to be enfolded in His love forever.
- If the resurrection is true, then life is full of rich meaning and purpose because we were made to come alive in the love of God to return His love with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, and to reflect His glorious love as we love each other, loving our neighbors as we love ourselves.
- Friends, if the resurrection is true, then life, this life, brimming with overflowing love, is designed to last forever.
We intuitively tell our spouses and our kids, “I’m going to love you forever. From here to eternity, I’m going to love you.” If the secular story is correct, we are lying through our teeth. But if the resurrection is true, we are speaking the greatest reality as God intended it to be.
- Friends, if the resurrection it true, God so loved the world that He sent His one and only Son that whoever would believe in Him might not perish but have everlasting life.
- If the resurrection is true, our sins can be forgiven.
- If the resurrection is true, you and I can be made new.
- If the resurrection is true, we have so much to live for.
- If the resurrection is true, we are loved, more than we know.
- If the resurrection is true, there is a “happily ever after” after all.
Friends, the resurrection of Jesus Christ sends a seismic shock wave through our philosophical categories. It shifts our world and turns it upside down.
A Historical Seismic Shift, a Philosophical Seismic Shift, and now lastly, a Spiritual Seismic Shift! Friends, if the resurrection is true, there is nothing (listen), nothing more important than what we do with Jesus. There is nothing more important than what we do with Jesus. If He really is the Son of God, as He claimed; if He really died on the cross for our sins, like He said; if He could really make us children of God forever, as He promised, then there is nothing more important than what we do with Jesus.
The resurrection sends a shock wave all the way across each one of our spiritual realities, and the question lingers: “What will we do with Jesus?”
I’ll tell you what most of us try to do. Most of us respect Jesus as a great moral teacher. We admire Him for His wise insights into humanity and spiritual life, and so we think of Him primarily as an advisor, somebody (a consultant) who will give us advice on how to live, and we can sort of choose whether we take it or not. This is how most of us live. It keeps us safely in control, you see.
But when it comes to Jesus’ claims of being the Son of God, the crucified Savior, the resurrected Lord, well, let’s not get too carried away here, you know? I’m not going to be one of those crazy people.
C.S. Lewis, who is the famous author and professor at Oxford and Cambridge Universities in the middle of the last century, in his book, Mere Christianity, writes to people just like you and me who is trying to figure this out. This is what he writes:
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Jesus: ‘I’m ready to accept Him as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who claims he’s a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God, but let us not come with any of this patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to!”
Friends, we must do something with Jesus. It will not do to put Him in the category of an advisor, consultant, somebody who is just peppering your life with some good advice, giving you some pointers on how to live. If the resurrection is true, Jesus is none other than the Son of God, the crucified Savior and the risen Lord, the King of the world. The only fitting response is to do exactly what these ladies did on Resurrection Morning. They come, take hold of His feet, and worship Him.
Friends, if Jesus’ resurrection is real, nothing else matters. And if it’s not real, nothing else matters. The resurrection of Jesus Christ sends a shock wave, a seismic wave, into each of our spiritual realities. And the question to take away at the end of the day is, “Has Jesus shifted your world?”
Has Jesus shifted your world, turned it upside down? You know there’s been an earthquake because earthquakes are upheaving, seismic events. They rock our world. The landscape ends up looking very differently after the earthquake, after all of that power is unleashed. Right?
One of the ways you’ll know that you’ve encountered the risen Christ for real is the landscape of your life will never look the same again. You will find your affections changing, the desires of your heart shifting, your priorities altered. Instead of just looking to Jesus as an advisor to give you some tips, you start following Him as the Lord and Savior of your life. It’s a whole new kind of life with Jesus at the center, and it turns out to be the life you always wanted all along.
That’s the story we heard from Brandon and Brittany earlier. Wasn’t that powerful? They go to this church. That is the joy of a changed life, two changed lives. Real lives, real people right now, that Jesus is still changing, rocking their world with the power of His resurrection life. (applause)
And friends, this could be your story too. It could be your story too. How would that be? Coming to Jesus is easy. It’s not easy. I said that wrong. It’s not easy, but it is simple. It is simple. It’s as simple as A, B, C.
A – Admit! We admit that we are sinners, far from God, that we’ve made a mess of our lives and we need help.
B – Believe! We believe that Jesus has done everything to make us right with God when He died in our place and rose again—His life for ours.
And C – We commit! We commit our lives to Him and we say, “Come, be my Savior. Be my Lord. Be my everything. I’m yours.”
It’s that simple, but it’s not easy because you’ve got to be willing to follow Him, get out of the driver’s seat of your life and live for Him. And He will change you in ways you can’t even imagine.
In a room this large I can’t help but think that there are people here who are hungry for a relationship with God, and you have been running through life. This pandemic has messed you up, you’re trying to figure out what life’s all about.
Could it be that you were made for Jesus Christ, and that He loves you, and that His death and resurrection is the secret to you living the life you always were meant to live?
I’m going to pray a prayer in just a minute. There’s nothing magical about these words. If you want to ask Jesus into your life, surrender your life to Him, follow Jesus, invite His resurrection power to change you and make you new, I’m going to invite you just to pray these words with me, and Jesus will meet you in resurrection power this morning.
He can change your life. He changed mine. He can change yours too. I’m going to pray this prayer, and actually if you call Moody Church “home” and you follow Jesus, will you just pray this prayer out loud with me as well and make everyone comfortable? Can we just do that? We’re just going to pray a prayer through the Admit, Believe, Commit – A, B, C’s of faith.
Let’s pray. Let’s pray right now. If you’d like to accept Jesus Christ just repeat these words after me. Everyone, we’re going to pray together.
Heavenly Father, I admit that I am a sinner, that I’ve made a mess of my life, and I am far from you. And I believe today that Jesus is my Savior, that He died in my place, and He rose again for me so that I can be a child of God. And I commit my life to you. Would you be my Savior? Would you be my Lord? Would you be my King? Would you be my everything? I am yours, and yours alone. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen, Amen.
If you prayed that prayer for the very first time, would you just do something gutsy for me? I’m going to count to three. Would you just slip your hand boldly in the air and just say, “I belong to Jesus”? Would you do that? Let me count to three. One, two, three. Shoot your hand in the air right now. “I belong to Jesus.” Amen. (applause) Amen.
Welcome home! Welcome home! Welcome home!
You know what? Would you tell someone before you leave today that you prayed that prayer? We’re going to have a reception over here at the end of the service, and if you prayed that prayer, just go over there and grab one of our staff, they all have these goofy signs on, “We’re here to serve.” Just grab us and say, “I prayed that prayer.” We’d love to give you some stuff to help you in your new walk with Jesus. If you came with a friend, would you tell them? We would be so excited.
Welcome home! Welcome home!
If you are online I think there’s a little button you can click, or type in a comment and let us know that you gave your life to Christ. We’ll follow up with you as well.
Some of you still have questions. You have questions about who Jesus is. We’ve got these little books, the Gospel of John. It’s just a part of the Scriptures in the New Testament. I’d love to give this to you. If you are ready to explore what it means to follow Jesus at the reception, we’ll have a whole bunch of these. We’d love to give them to you. It’s our gift.
Maybe you have questions about the significance of Easter, what Easter is all about. We’ve got this book, “Easter Uncut.” And it walks through Resurrection Morning and its significance for our lives. If you are searching for Jesus, we’d love to give this to you as well. Just let us know at the reception.
We have one other book. It’s called, “Tricky” – hard questions, the very hardest questions about Christianity and faith and God in the world. It’s just short answers to those kinds of questions. If you’re a thoughtful person, and you have questions and you’re stuck, we’d love to give this to you as well.
Again, it’s all at the reception. Please come and see us. We’d love to give that to you.
Friends, Jesus’ resurrection changes everything. Amen? And if the resurrection is real, nothing else matters, and if it’s not real, nothing else matters. Let’s pray.
Father, we love you. We thank you for sending Jesus to rescue us. We praise you for new life in Jesus Christ that we got to even see this morning. We thank you that you are alive, and changing lives here in Chicago in 2022. How amazing is this? You are the risen Lord and Savior. Oh Jesus, we give you glory, for you are worthy of all of our praise, and all of our Amens.
All of God’s people said this: “In Jesus Name, Amen.”