Who are you looking for? Roy Blizzard at Joppa Church, Bertram, TX 4-20-2014

Who Are You Looking For?

Roy Blizzard III © 2014

 

Text: Luke 24

 

This Sunday marks the resurrection of Jesus. While every day of our lives should be spent in celebration of Jesus’ resurrection, the third day after Passover actually marks Jesus’ resurrection and Christians celebrate it on the closest Sunday to that date. But why is this date important?

Well, for one, the resurrection of Jesus from the dead should be the central theme for any believer. It sure was for Peter and the rest of the disciples. On five different occasions Peter, who seemed to be the apostolic spokesman, preached and declared that Jesus was raised from the dead. Paul spoke at Antioch, at Athens and before King Agrippa and each time he proclaimed the fact that Jesus had risen from the dead. Paul even went so far as to proclaim that he had been a witness to the resurrection, having met Jesus in person on the road to Damascus

This was the heart and burden of the apostolic preaching in the years after the crucifixion of Jesus and it was the very thing that made this movement unique. Their God lived. Paul went to great length to try and explain that if resurrection from the dead didn’t happen to Jesus then our faith is in vain as is our lives and we have absolutely nothing to live for.

During the time of the crucifixion and before the tomb opened and Jesus walked out, there were but a few hours in real terms, but it was long enough for the disciples to sink into dark depression and despair. Death had been an old enemy of the Jewish people, and nations trembled at its power over the people. The disciples’ spirits were crushed and death became very real before their eyes and they feared death as never before.

The Jewish people had lived the miraculous for generations. Moses had jarred water from the rocks in the wilderness and split the Red Sea, thereby saving millions of his nation from certain death. Gideon had taken 300 Israelites and defeated more Mideonites than there were grasshoppers upon Mt. Ephraim. Sampson had plucked up the gates of Gaza, weighing approximately 10,000 pounds and carried them 36 miles to Hebron. Three Israelites had been cast into a furnace of fire that killed bystanders but had all survived. But all ultimately had bowed to the enemy, death, and had been led captive by it and the disciples knew it.

But when Jesus had come, riding gloriously into Jerusalem in the week before, humbly accepting the homage of the Jewish people, and had flung his challenge into the face of death, the disciples were expecting an earthly response, victory over the fleshly enemies of the Jewish people who bring death upon them. But when the enemy closed in on Jesus and nailed him to the crossbar and hung him into the tree on the Mt. of Olives, the disciples didn’t know what to do when the cry came forth, Eli, Eli, Lama Savachtani or in English – My God, My God, Why hast thou forsaken me. They thought that God had rejected Jesus and that Jesus was calling on Elijah to guide him to heaven. Thinking that all was lost at his death, they took Jesus and laid him in a tomb and fled to their homes quaking in paralyzing fear.

And it was there they waited and wept and wondered, for three gut wrenching days. They waited for death to come in the form of their own people and the Romans who looked upon them as outcasts and rebels. They wept at the loss of their teacher and friend and to some their brother and son whom they had come to love and trust. They even wondered about all the words he had spoken to them and couldn’t understand why Jesus had been taken from them without overthrowing the Roman nation. He was believed by them to be the Messiah, the one man who would reinstitute the worship, the true worship of YHWH upon Mt. Zion, and cleanse the world of evil.

While they were locked away wallowing in their despair a miraculous event happened, Jesus defeated death and he arose from the dead and walked out of the tomb. It is related to us that Mary Magdelene, Mary the Mother of Jesus and Joanna who had come to the tomb of Jesus to make the final burial arrangements were the first to be told a much overlooked simple statement…one that is the key to understanding the nature of your lives. In Luke 24:1-6 we are told the following, 1 “Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. 2And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. 3 And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: 5 And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but is risen…

Why do you seek the living among the dead? Isn’t this the most absolute true question that you can ever be asked? Jesus is Risen! He has defeated death! All over the world today, when we should be seeking Jesus, people are seeking some sort of life among the dead works, dead religions, and dead people of all sorts instead of seeking the life of the living, breathing Jesus, the only one who has overcome death.

This simple statement, Jesus is Risen!, was like the shockwave of the Shofar Horn Blast before the disciples. This cry went up before them and transformed them from dead to alive. Their shout of He has Risen became an unquenchable fire within them and after the Holy Spirit had come into them they had no fear of death any longer and they all became witnesses to his resurrection and power to bring life.

The death terrors of the ages began to crack before this new consciousness of Jesus’ believers. Death was not the final end of all things, but was simply a door to God’s world. A new light had come and a new hope had risen and stirred the earth like a seed in springtime. He is Risen…He Is Risen! This cry echoed through the streets of Jerusalem like no other words that had ever been spoken before.

This cry crossed all Israel, Galatia, Cappadocia, Achaia and on to Rome and to all the known world. This bold cry turned common men into spiritual giants and made the eagles of Rome quiver in fear. Slaves rose up in boldness with a new found freedom and the earth became full of fire, the fire of the Holy Spirit. A hopeless humanity had gotten caught up in the words at the edge of an empty tomb. He is Risen! This resurrection cry has marched across the world!

There is a short story that took place in a village in North India years ago between a missionary and an Islamic man at a bazaar. After the missionary had preached, the Islamic man came up to him and said, “You must admit we do have something you do not, and it is better than anything that you have.” The missionary smiled but was quite curious as to what this was and so asked, “ I should be pleased to know what it is?” The Islamic gentleman said, “You know, when we go to our Mecca we find at least a coffin, but when you Christians go to Jerusalem, which is your Mecca, you find nothing but an empty grave.” With that the missionary smiled and said, “That my friend is the difference, Mohammed is dead and lies in his coffin.”

Today, as even then, all false systems of religion and philosophy are in their coffins and want you to be lying in there with them as dead, but Jesus, whose kingdom includes all nations and kindreds and tribes is not in a grave. Jesus is alive and his kingdom is moving forward in power and authority. He has risen from the grave and all power in heaven and earth has been given unto him and he wants to give life to your spirit and body and soul. That is our hope and promise as believers.

The cry of He is Risen stands as a mighty foe to all the anti-God forces in the world today, whether it be selfish materialism, atheism, religions, socialism or whatever else the world can dream up while making the deadly allure seem like candy to be eaten with pleasure. All the great people of the world have died and have gone to meet their maker, all the men who started the false religions of the world are dead, but Jesus stands alone as the Risen Savior.

The millions who call themselves Christians can never rest their faith upon the uneasy belief of a crucified Christ only. The true believer must have a Jesus that arose from the dead; in fact they must demand it and declare it! And out from the oceanic voices of great men comes the singular living voice of the risen Savior, “He that believeth on me, though he were dead, yet so shall he live again.” Only one man has ever said, “I am he that was dead, and am alive, and have the keys to death.” Of this man only could the apostle Paul say, “Death hath no dominion over him.”

Let us all believers not merely observe this season as one special day of 365 days of the year as we go about our daily lives seeking the living among the dead, but let us keep this day as a living reality of Jesus’ call to victory in our hearts, “He is Risen! He is Risen!”

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