Sunday, April 16, 2023

Imagine you're the first:

Imagine you are the first person to whom Christ has appeared since His crucifixion and burial.What might He say to you?There are hundreds of things He might say. To Mary, a woman who did not recognize Him in His glorified state, He asked, 'Why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?' (John 20v15). What might He ask you? Out of concern that you understand the biggest event in history, which had just occurred -- His death, and resurrection -- He might ask you three questions.1. Do you understand what happened three days ago?To understand the significance of Jesus' resurrection, you must first understand the significance of His death. Three days earlier, Jesus Christ was nailed to a cross and suffered a criminal's death.Why did he die?He died for one reason -- sin. We often take sin lightly. God takes it seriously. A "little white lie," an unkind thought, a selfish action, or profanity is offensive to Him. God's righteousness and justice demand that He punish sin. The punishment for sin is death and eternal separation from Him.How can we avoid being separated from God forever? Someone must be willing to pay the penalty for our sin and be punished in our place. Two boys from Hong Kong worked in their father's restaurant. One night while walking home, the mischievous younger brother, decided to harass an elderly man. What was intended as a prank ended up in tragedy. The elderly man was killed. Seeing the blood on his brother's clothes, the older boy quickly switched shirts with him. When the police arrived, they arrested the older brother and he was later sentenced to death. The younger brother lived the rest of his life knowing that his brother died as his substitute.When it comes to someone substituting his life for us and taking the punishment for our sins, that substitute must be perfect. One sinner cannot die for another sinner any more than one murderer can die for another murderer. Both are guilty and must be punished.God provided the substitute we need. Two thousand years ago, a baby was born in Bethlehem. That baby was the perfect Son of God in human flesh. As a sinless person, Jesus Christ was able to take the punishment for our sins and died in our place. The wrath of God, which should have been poured out on us, was poured out on Jesus."But why?" you might ask. "No one else seems to care about me."The motivation for His sacrifice was love. We are told, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5v8).If you had seen Christ when He arose on that third morning after the crucifixion, He would have wanted to ask, "Do you understand what happened three days ago? I died as your substitute. I took the punishment for your sin."II. Do you understand what happened today?Many people are afraid of death. They view it as a lost battle. Had Christ stayed in the tomb, there would have been no victory over the grave.Three days after His crucifixion, Jesus, the Christ rose from the dead with a resurrection that has been rightly declared, "the best attested fact of history " Thomas Arnold, author of a three volume history of Rome and chair of modern history at Oxford, once stated, 'I know of no fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort to the understanding of a fair inquirer than that Christ died and rose again from the dead."Through His resurrection, Jesus not only proved that He is God but also that He has conquered both sin and the grave. The Bible says he was declared to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead (Romans 1v4). Jesus declared "Because I live, you will live also" (John 14v19).If Jesus, the Christ had seen you when He arose on that Resurrection day morning, the second question He would have wanted to ask you is, "Do you understand what happened today? I prove that I am God. I have conquered the grave."III. Do you understand what I can do for you?In 1829, the Supreme Court sentenced George Wilson to death for robbery and murder. President Andrew Jackson pardoned him but Wilson refused the pardon. The Supreme Court declared, "A pardon is a paper, the value of which depends upon the acceptance of the person implicated." George Wilson was executed.Jesus, the Christ, through His death on the cross and His resurrection on the third day, secured our pardon. This allowed Him to extend to us the gift of eternal life. As sinners, we must decide whether or not to accept this pardon and gift, that has been provided for us.We tend to think that in order to receive God's gift of eternal life we must do a combination of the following: go to church, live a good life, be baptized, take the sacraments, keep the ten commandments, love your neighbours, and clean up our act. Jesus, the Christ never mentioned any such requirements in order to secure eternal life, instead, Jesus declared, "He who believes in Me has everlasting life" (John 6v47). "Believe" means understanding that Jesus died for me and rose again, I trust Him alone as my way to heaven.Those who fly must trust in a person, the pilot, to take them where they want to go. We too, must trust in a person, Jesus, the Christ, as our only way to heaven and not depend on our own merit or deeds to save us. The death of Jesus, His burial and resurrection alone are our only basis for an eternal relationship with God.The moment we trust in Jesus, God considers our sins paid for by the blood that was shed on the cross. The same resurrection and victory over death that Jesus experienced becomes ours as well.When you trust Jesus, you can look forward to an eternal life. As a believer in Jesus, you have begun to live forever, and one day you will be in the presence of God Himself.Easter Sunday is the one Sunday, if no other, that many people choose to attend church. As commendable as that is, when the Bible speaks about going to heaven, it never says "Come to Church." Scripture states that we must "Come to Christ Jesus."If you are ready to trust Christ right now, here is how you can talk to God in a prayer:-"Dear God,I come to You now, I know I am a sinner. Nothing I am or do makes me deserving of heaven. I believe Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of God, died for me on a cross and rose again. Right now I place my trust in Jesus Christ as my only way to heaven. Thank you for the gift of everlasting life I just received. In Jesus name Amen.Once you have trusted Jesus, do two things. First memorize John 5v24. There we read; ".... he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life." This verse promises that eternal life is yours right now. Secondly, search out a good Bible believing church, and attend


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