Today the Relationship message is about God’s relationship with us and our relationship with God. It’s a two way street but with most people it’s just a one way street, that is God trying to reach us.
It’s Easter, the ultimate example / illustration of God’s love for us and God’s attempt to reach us, to reach everyone, to reach you.
In Christ’s own words He said that He came into this world
Luke 19:10 ”…to seek and to save the lost.”
That is God actively trying to reach us, to reach each one of us
Jesus Christ in reaching out to us knew that He would pay the price for this seeking us, this reaching out to us. He would bear our sin and die and that 2 days after His death we would find Him in the grave, but resurrection morning was coming.
The pyramids of Egypt are famous because they contained the mummified bodies of ancient Egyptian Kings and Pharaohs. Westminster Abbey in London is revered, because in it rests the bodies of English nobles and notables. Mohammed’s tomb is noted for the stone coffin and the bones it contains. Arlington cemetery in Washington, D.C. is revered for it is the honored resting place of many outstanding Americans.
But the Garden Tomb of Jesus is famous because it is empty. He is risen, He is risen indeed.
Oh but the story of God reaching out starts with Christ, God the Son, taking on human flesh, being born. It unfolds throughout His life, His miracles, his teaching and then smashes our hopes when He is brutally killed and then He stuns us, He surprises us, when He rises from the dead by His own power as He said He would.
John, one of Jesus’s closest disciples summarizes what he saw and knew and wrote it down in the gospel of John some 2000 years ago for us to hear.
John 1 (NIV)
1 In the beginning was the Word (Christ –the living Word and the bible is the written word), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.
(the light is coming, He’s the Messiah, the Redeemer is coming)
10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Then these words written almost 3 thousand years ago for us to hear.
10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him (Christ) and cause him to suffer,
… the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,
11 After he has suffered,
he will see the light of life (He will rise from the dead) and be satisfied
For he (Jesus) bore the sin of many, THE LAMB OF GOD
In Jesus’s own words He said that God was reaching out to all people, to you and me
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
The cross and empty tomb are the ultimate proof that God has reached out. And the resurrection was the definitive demonstration of power over all of life. It transformed the fearful lives of the disciples, infusing them with courage and hope from which to change the world.
Yet some hearts were threatened, even as Jesus had predicted, “if they did not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.”
Yet the evidence still stands of an empty tomb and a risen Savior. Some suggest JESUS WASN’T REALLY DEAD. He was beaten until unable to stand…nailed to a cross….Pierced…water and blood.
Three experts attest that Jesus was dead.
1) The embalmer -Prepared for burial with 100 lbs. of spices and garments…mixed gummy wrap. He’s dead I wrapped Him.
2) The Stone Mason “large” …1 ½ -2 tons, rolled down a channel, & drop into a rut àit would take 20 men to remove such a stone. Impossible to move the stone, He’s dead.
3) The Extra Guards…The Roman seal. It could not have been a recovering Jesus who came completely and fully alive to the disciples and others but a resurrected Jesus. He’s the creator and He rolled away the stone with a
Others have suggested the DISCIPLES STOLE JESUS FROM THE GRAVE.
The fearful, shaking disciples, the ones who fled before and didn’t want to be associated with Him by the Roman authorities, that they came bravely & overtook the patrol of guards and moved the stone. Really, not likely.
Others say it was the WRONG TOMB. Remember it wasn’t a graveyard but one grave in a garden. Mary and the women would have to be wrong. Peter and John again would be wrong, they got ‘mixed-up’. Joseph, the owner of the tomb, his own tomb he got it wrong. And the Roman guards they all had guarded the wrong tomb all the time. Now that is stretching it!!
The truth is Peter could stand forty days later and proclaim undisputed I saw the risen Christ. The apostle Paul could speak of Jesus appearance to over 500 most of whom were still alive. If each of these eyewitnesses spoke of when they saw Jesus for six minutes you would have fifty hours of first hand eye witnesses testimony! Wrong tomb??? Think again.
Josh McDowell, a man who initially set out to disprove Christianity was asked, “Prof., why can’t you refute Christianity? His reply “For the simple reason-the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” After more than seven hundred hours of studying and investigating the evidence it only led him to God.
Professor Thomas Arnold, for fourteen years the headmaster of Rugby, author of the three-volume History of Rome, and holder of the chair of modern history at Oxford, was well acquainted with the value of evidence in determining historical facts. This great scholar said, I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times, and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, than the great sign which God has given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead.
The literary scholar, C. S. Lewis, former professor of Medieval and Renaissance literature at Cambridge University, when writing about his conversion to Christianity, indicated that he had believed Christians “to be wrong.” The last thing Lewis wanted was to embrace Christianity. After evaluating the basis and evidence for Christianity, Lewis concluded that in other religions there was “no such historical claim as in Christianity.” His knowledge of literature forced him to treat the Gospel record as a trustworthy account. “I was by now too experienced in literary criticism to regard the Gospels as myth.” Finally, contrary to his strong stand against Christianity, Professor Lewis had to make an intelligent decision:
“You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalene, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert”
Romans 5:8 “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
That’s God reaching out to us
Ephesians 2:4-5 “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our sins, made us alive together with Christ”
1 John 4:9-11 “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atonement / sacrifice for our sins. …
This is God, He loves us, He loves you and He reaches out to you, to restore the broken relationship. He reaches out and to reach back to God is to believe in Jesus’s life, His death for our sin and His resurrection, proving He was God.
And here is the kicker, the reward, the upside, we restore our relationship with the one who loves us, can help us and waits for us and we get eternal life, heaven and you can’t imagine how great that will be.
There is a hole in the heart of every person that only God can fill. He is reaching out to you today, reach back, today won’t you believe in Him, His resurrection for you? BE BORN OF GOD today.