Mark 16. 1-8 
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Easter 2015

Speaker: Simon McLeay

Date: 5 April 2015

10 Reasons the Resurrection has changed the World 

Jesus, the man who millions believe was and is the Son of God.  Jesus, God represented in human form; undoubtedly died outside Jerusalem almost 20 centuries ago and Christians believe he rose from the dead and inaugurated a new form of everlasting life.  These are just some of the differences his resurrection made:

1.  We can be assured by the resurrection of Jesus the Nazarene that death is no longer the end.  Someone has died and come back from the dead, he was seen on multiple occasions by many different people and these wonders had been foretold.  Psalm 16:10   “For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption.”

Death could not hold Jesus down, and he said that the new life available to him would also be available to his followers (John 3:16).  An earth shattering, cataclysmic event happened in that tomb very, very early on Easter Sunday morning -  death was defeated.  Death is no longer the end.

2.  We can be forgiven.  Jesus talked a lot about forgiveness, Matthew 9:6a “But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” Isaiah had prophesied that through the Messiah’s death our sins could be forgiven.  Isaiah 53:5 “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”  But up to the resurrection, all the prophesies, all the talk, all the promises, were just words.  The resurrection of Jesus from the dead confirmed and verified Jesus’ claims.  Jesus claimed to have the power to forgive sins.  When he came back from the dead, that claim was made certain.  You can be forgiven.

3.  Jesus appeared first to Mary, his friend and confidant, and his companion, his mate.  Jesus had close friendships with women without them needing to turn to romance, and Jesus appeared first to Mary.  That was extraordinary because, in the Roman world, a woman’s testimony didn’t count, women were thought of as somehow lesser, women were second class and Jesus had spent his life saying – no, women are not second class citizens.  And, by his first resurrection appearance, Jesus elevated the status of women in Christianity.  In this religion women are not second class.  Jesus chose to appear first to Mary and to commission her as the first Evangelist.  John 20:17  Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them …”

4.  The resurrection changed the day that we worship on!  Good Jews honoured the Sabbath and would worship and do no work on it.  Yet the early church began to worship on a Sunday, that’s a huge change. It would take something incredible to change the day that a whole religious movement meets upon.  The resurrection did it.  It is because of the resurrection that Christians worship on a Sunday.  Mark 16:2 “Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb…”

5.  Because of the resurrection we never need to be alone.  I love the way that one liturgy puts it that Jesus stopped ‘being present on the earth so that he could be everywhere present.’  Isn’t that cool?  After Jesus’ resurrection and ascension Jesus can truly be with us where ever and when ever, from the little girl hiding under the covers at a new boarding school, to the solider sent to Iraq, to the old person lying in a hospital bed.  Jesus can be present with us and we never need to be alone with our thoughts or our worries.  Matthew 28:20b“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

6.  Jesus’ resurrection is the end of tyranny, or more precisely the end of the power of tyranny.  When we know that, no matter how you end my life or what you do to my body, my spirit can live on in a new body with God forever;  it’s the end of tyranny.  Whether we consider the old soviet states of my childhood, the Isis cowards of today, or the North Korean despots of tomorrow, tyranny has been overcome, the power of tyranny has been overthrown. ‘My chains have gone, I’ve been set free’ wrote Isaac Newton in his wonderful hymn.

7.  The resurrection spells the end of the arithmetic of suffering.  You might have done this yourself, a small child suffers some horrible disease, or some horrible attack, and you think, ‘How can God allow that?  Where is God’s justice in all of this?’  The resurrection balances the ledger;  it shows that God has all of eternity to compensate for even a lot of suffering here on earth.  2 Corinthians 4:17 “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”

8. The resurrection spells the end of the law.  Romans 10:4“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”  ToChristians this is a technical term;  it means the end of the season of law that started with Moses.  The Mosaic covenant.  The Mosaic Law, which often had the consequence of death.  Well, that penalty has now been paid and the curses of the Law of Moses are undone.  But the end of the law also has a teleological sense – that’s simply the idea that end can mean purpose as well as finality.  So, the resurrection brings out the purpose of the law, which was to draw people back to God.  But, in our world, it also points to redemption as a possibility even for people who break our laws or God’s law.  Jesus has redeemed us from the curse of the law.  Galatians 3:13 “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a  tree <pole>.’ "   That means he’s paid the ransom and we can be free. 

9. The resurrection was the necessary pre-cursor to the pouring out of the Holy Spirit.  And the Spirit brings power and closeness.  The resurrection of Jesus is the ‘sine – qua – non’ the absolutely necessary thing that allowed God’s Spirit to be poured out on all people.  Joel foresaw a time when God’s Holy Spirit would be poured out, and there would a far greater spiritual closeness, there would be uplifting prophetic words, healing and miracles.  Joel 2:28 “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.”  The resurrection was the flood gate to God’s next era.

10.  The resurrection answers that age old question.  How can God be both fair and kind, just and merciful, or even all powerful and good?  The resurrection of Jesus gives us a glimpse into another dimension where the dichotomies that we struggle with can be reconciled.  Where the polarity of our thinking can be embraced and apparent contradictions can be resolved.  Psalm 85:10 “Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other.”

Friends, the resurrection of Jesus has changed the world.  Will you allow it to change your life?  Will you seek him?  Will you follow him?  Will you give your life to him who gave his life for you?

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise him, all creatures here below;
Praise him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.

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