Sunday, March 23, 2008

Resurrection Day 2008

Resurrection Day 2008

Pastor Bruce A. Shields




Listen to this Sermon


INTRODUCTION

Palm Sunday ushered in the beginning of the Passover celebration.

Jesus rode into Jerusalem as the prophecy states on a colt.

The Passover celebration, one of the seven feasts of the Lord, was given to teach of why Jesus had to come.

God’s people were enslaved to Egypt.

Through their obedience to the Word of God, a Lamb was sacrificed; the blood on their door posts saved them from the coming judgment of Egypt by God.

They were told to remember this day, for what the Lord did for them.

In the same way, today God’s people are slaves to sin.

Through our obedience to the Word of God and Jesus as a sacrifice, His blood will save us from the coming Judgment of sin by God.

Jesus tells the Apostles at the Last supper, which takes place during the last Passover, the night before Jesus’ sacrifice, “Do this in my remembrance”.

This was a Thursday.

What we call “Good Friday” is the day Jesus was crucified.

For years I never understood why it was referred to as “good”?

What was good about it?

If it wasn’t for this day, none of us would have the opportunity to have a relationship with the Father in heaven, and none of us here today would have the opportunity to go heaven when we died.

Jesus is the only way to heaven.

Today we are going to be talking about 3 men and the Cross.

SCRIPTURE READING

Luke 23:26 – 49 The Crucifixion

26 As they led him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus. 27 A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. 28 Jesus turned and said to them, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For the time will come when you will say, 'Blessed are the barren women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!' 30 Then
" 'they will say to the mountains, "Fall on us!"
and to the hills, "Cover us!" 31 For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?"

32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing." And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, "He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen One."

36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, "If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself."

38 There was a written notice above him, which read THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.

39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!"

40 But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong."

42 Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."

43 Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."

Jesus' Death

44 It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last.

47 The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, "Surely this was a righteous man." 48 When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. 49 But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

I. THE BELIEVER, THE UNBELIEVER & THE UNDECIDED

a. Jesus – our example of Faith

i. His life is a testament of His faith

ii. His life is our example to live by…as best we can

1. Paul struggled with Spirit & flesh

2. We struggle

iii. His death is a testament of His love

1. I have not come to condemn, but to save, for the world is already condemned.

iv. We are to be that saving light, drawing the lost to Christ.

b. The un-penitent thief

i. Unbelievers that mock God

1. Even they know the truth, for a measure is given to every man

2. The Law has been written on everyone’s heart.

3. They try to sear their conscience so that sin may abound

a. No God = No Laws

b. No Laws = No Sin

c. No Sin = No Judgment

4. Your ‘belief’s’ have no bearing on reality.

a. The truth is unchanging

b. Your thinking can not change the truth

New age belief systems are everywhere today.

Think “positive” and only good energy will be evident in your life.

But your thinking will not alter reality.

It will alter “your concept of reality”, but not reality itself.

I was involved in a door-to-door sales company when I was in my early 20’s.

They taught this positive thinking = positive results.

They had people think their way to walk over hot coals and broken glass without getting hurt.

And I was watching and thinking, “Man, I just answered a want ad in the paper, I just want a job.”

Were the coals “not hot” because of positive thinking?

Was the glass “not sharp” because of positive thinking?

Or was it, their thinking had altered their perceptions to the pain?

Was reality itself changed?

No, their concept of reality had been altered.

Many do this today with God.

They “think” themselves to a point of being OK with themselves and the world around them.

They “positively think”; therefore altering their perception of reality.

But it only alters the perception, not reality itself.

No amount of positive thinking is going to make glass not sharp, coals not hot, and hell not real.

c. The one who WAS lost, but found

i. As the one hurled insults (plural) at Jesus, the other opened his eyes to the Truth and recognized Him.

ii. He was saved from Gehenna that day on the cross.

iii. Here is how:

1. He recognized “Don’t you fear God?” – Recognizing Jesus is God.

a. Not a God

b. Not part God

c. Not a servant of God

d. Not a prophet of God

e. G O D

2. He confessed “We are punished justly” – Confessing he was sinful.

a. For all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God

b. We are guilty by the Law. Not justified.

c. Jesus came to save not condemn, because the world is already condemned.

3. He realized Jesus was an innocent lamb, led to the slaughter “This man has done nothing wrong!”

4. He called on the only name that can save “Remember me when you come into your kingdom…”

He recognized Jesus is God, confessed his sin, recognized Jesus was innocent on the Cross, and called on the only name that can save…Jesus

II. THE CENTURION WATCHED THESE THINGS

a. There was one other man that day whom we over look.

i. The Centurion watched

1. At the 6th hour darkness fell on all of earth

2. The curtain in the temple which separated man from God’s presence in the Holy of Holies was tore in two for the gap which separates God from man, SIN, has been bridged by our Savior, Jesus Christ.

3. Jesus released His spirit…No man takes His life, He laid it down.

4. And the Centurion watching praised God and said, “Surly, this was a righteous man.”

In our reading today there were 3 men marked for death, and a fourth who watched.

Praise God if you have already made the decision for Jesus Christ.

But many still mock God in hopes He will stop existing. The only name that saves has become nothing more than another curse word.

And some will curse His Holy Name until the day they die, as they spend their life “thinking” God away, altering their perception of reality.

But that perception will break 2 seconds after you die…and you stand before the Lord.

You will either be judged by the First Covenant which only condemns us, or you will be judged by the Second Covenant which free’s us from the bondage of sin.

Perhaps you relate with the thief on the cross who recognized Christ and saw it was not too late.

It’s not too late…at this moment. But none of us know when our time is up.

And when you breathe your last, will you be carried to paradise and the presence of the Lord by angels as Lazarus was, or like the rich man, will you lift up your eyes and find yourself in torment?

Or perhaps, you are like the Centurion, who finds himself watching everything unfold before you, and even confessing to a point that Jesus is something special.

But you have never made a commitment to Him.

Don’t wait.

Jesus is calling you.

Respond to Him.

On the night Jesus had Passover feast with the Disciples, as He lifted the bread up, just as He would be lifted up on the Cross within the coming hours, He blessed it and said, “This is my body, which was broken for you”.

Jesus, the Bread from heaven, Bread of life, broken for you.

He lifted up the cup, just as He would be lifted up on the cross, and said, “This is my blood, which is shed for the remission of sins.”

The blood of the unblemished lamb for a covering, the Blood of Jesus for removal.

Today we celebrate the resurrection of the Lord.

Because of this event, we too can have a relationship with God.

When we call on the only name that saves, God will place His Holy Spirit within us, make us a new creation, a new creature, and the old will pass away.

Just as Jesus had died and risen again, you to can die to your old selves, and live again now, being a new creation in Christ Jesus.

Simply call on His name.

Let us bow and pray together for this.

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