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Message

Easter Sunday
Miles McPherson - April 16, 2017

Message Recap

How can you know that following Jesus is worthwhile? There are certainly people around all of us who will claim that we are wasting our time believing in God and following Jesus, especially since doing so requires a sacrifice of our time, energy, hearts, money, talents, and everything we have to offer. 

Following Jesus wholeheartedly requires commitment. Pastor Miles shared a conversation he once had about this topic in which he asked a young man, “Would you be satisfied if your girlfriend were committed to you for five days out of the week, but went with a different guy for the other two days? How about six for you and one for another guy?” This does not feel acceptable, of course. In a committed relationship, we want all seven days of devotion. Considering that, it is reasonable to understand that Jesus requires 100% of our faith, trust, and commitment.

If Jesus was really able to keep His promise of resurrection, then everything else He promises us is true.

It is all the more reasonable to give 100% of everything we have because it is worth it! If Jesus was really able to keep His promise of resurrection, then everything else He promises us is true. (And if not, then we should never come to church, read our Bibles, or serve in ministry, because there would be no point!)

And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.

But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 1 Corinthians 15:14-20

Pastor Miles presented four reasons that we can know that Christ is alive and worthy of our 100% commitment:

1. We know He’s alive because He said He would rise from the dead.

Now Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples aside on the road and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.”  Matthew 20:17-19

Before Jesus even entered Jerusalem, he spoke of the events that would happen there and told his disciples that He would rise again. He kept His promise to them - and if He can even defeat death to keep that promise, He can keep every promise He has made to you.

Some people wonder that if God can do anything, why is there so much pain and chaos? But the premise of this argument is wrong. God can’t do anything; He can’t lie, break a promise, defy His own character, or not be holy. Also, God is not in the business of keeping you happy or preventing pain in your life. He is in the business of purifying your soul in the midst of a fallen world. The sin in our world brings death - to our health, physical bodies, opportunities, and relationships - but God has made a promise to forgive us when we seek forgiveness and to never leave or forsake us, and to give us blessings in the heavenly places.

He is doing everything He promised, so it is worth everything we have - our entire lives - to invest in our relationship with Him.

2. We know He rose from the dead because the empty tomb was reported by women, not men.

The Jewish Sanhedrin, a group of 70 scribes, priests, and elders, voted to crucify Jesus. But a member of the Sanhedrin, Joseph of Arimathea, was a believer and a wealthy man, who revealed his faith and donated his tomb for Jesus to be buried. Joseph was well-known man whose tomb was in a well-known place. Pilate had placed at the entrance of the tomb a large stone to seal it and soldiers to guard it, lest anyone attempt to steal Jesus’ body, claiming either that Pilate had not really put Jesus to death or that Jesus had risen. But when the two women came to anoint Jesus with spices, they found the stone rolled away and the soldiers on the ground. In Jesus’ stead was an angel to announce the good news of the resurrection:

Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away—for it was very large. And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.

But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.” Mark 16:1-7

It is very significant that God chose women to tell the story first because of the views of the culture at that time. Although this in no way represents the views of our church today, the Jews of this day believed that women were weak and were responsible for the sin of humankind. Their testimony was of no value in society and was not admissible in court. So if people were to invent a false story about Jesus’ resurrection, they never would have chosen women to be the heralds of the news. The Bible tells us that women were the first to discover Jesus’ resurrection and convey the news of the angel because this is the true story.

God uses unlikely messengers to share His good news, and this isn’t the first time in the Bible that He did so. David was an adulterer, yet he was also called “a man after God’s own heart,” and was a favored and powerful King. Moses killed an Egyptian in rage, yet he was “the most humble man on the face of the earth” and the leader God chose to bring the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt.

God’s ways are not our ways and His love and compassion know no bounds. In these moments after the resurrection, He especially wants Peter, who has denied Jesus and is probably feeling the worst of all, to know He is loved and that Jesus is eager to see him. God uses flawed people who are committed to Him - even us.

3. Eyewitness testimony affirmed the resurrection.

This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead. John 21:14

Jesus did not simply rise from the dead and disappear, leaving everyone to suppose what had happened to His body. He stayed on the earth for 40 days, which is a number of significance in the Bible. It is a number that God uses for testing, a period of time adequate for a decision to be made or for a judgment to occur:

  • The flood of Genesis lasted 40 days and 40 nights
  • Noah built the ark in 120 years (3 periods of 40 years)
  • Moses lived in three 40-year periods (40 years in Egypt, 40 years in the wilderness as a shepherd, and 40 years leading the Israelites in the desert)
  • The Israelites spied the Promised Land for 40 days and then rejected God’s plan, after which God led them to wander the desert for 40 years
  • Jesus fasted for 40 days before beginning His ministry
  • A human pregnancy lasts 40 weeks

Jesus’ remaining in human form on the earth for 40 days allowed many people to witness the truth of His resurrection first-hand. He appeared to many of His believers, ate with them, and allowed them to physically touch Him. He wanted them to see for themselves that His resurrection was real.

Today, Jesus is most alive to us when He is allowed to live in our lives and change us. He is a life-changer! He does not desire for you to be abandoned or alone, but to be fully present and real in your life, to walk with you and transform you.

4. Holy Spirit power and boldness was given as promised.

Jesus told His disciples in advance that He would die and go to heaven, and that He would send the Holy Spirit to give them power, boldness, and perform great works.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father.”John 14:12

“If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—  the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.” John 14:15-17

“But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me." John 15:26

“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts 1:8

When we believe in Jesus, a transformation occurs and we are indwelt with the Holy Spirit to speak boldly about Jesus, impact His kingdom, bring Him glory, and act in power in His name. He tells us that we are His witnesses in [San Diego, California, the United States, and around the world!] As you encounter others in your daily life, remember that you may be the first Bible they have ever experienced. If your actions, words, and life are no different than a non-believer’s, what kind of impact can you have? But if you are all-in, truly walking with God, praying, reading Scripture, and trusting Him, your life can’t help but shine with His light. The difference will be evident.

Don’t opt out of the most powerful relationship you can ever have! Let this Easter become a transforming moment in your life, bringing healing, hope and a future. He wants your heart 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and He is worthy of everything you have to offer Him!

This Message

In this message, Pastor Miles expresses that without Jesus' resurrection, we, as Christians, would be wasting our time. He discusses four compelling reasons to believe Jesus rose from the dead.

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