Notes on Luke 24:13-35, Acts 2:42
The Resurrection: What Difference Does It Make?
It's been two weeks since we celebrated Easter, but the joy and peace of that day is with us just as much today. Christ is risen. Because he lives, we shall live also. Even after 2000 years this is the headline news that changed the world. It can change our lives forever.
I read the newspaper headlines day after day . . . "8 killed in bomb blast in Israel. 14 killed. Government counter attacks." Before that was the fighting in Afghanistan. What difference does Easter make? The fighting goes on. People keep dying. There's always an obituary page.
Here at home we have our own problems as well. Government budget cuts. People losing jobs. Celebrating Easter was great fun, but what difference does it make that Jesus rose from the dead? We still have our problems.
The Resurrection of Jesus from the dead makes all the difference. The threat of death is all around us, this is for sure. But the Easter greeting "Christ is risen" comforts us because it is Christ who proclaims, "I broke the power of death and sin and won for you the victory of life. Because I live, you also shall live."
The two disciples on the road to Emmaus remind us of this. As they were walking along on that first Easter, Jesus walked with them, but they were kept from recognizing him. They were sad. They spoke about the prophet of Nazareth who preached powerful sermons and did miracles. They thought he would bring glory back to their country, but now he was dead, crucified as a common criminal.
They had also heard the women say that he had risen, but when they went to the tomb, they found nothing. It was empty. What difference did this story of his resurrection make? We're leaving town before something worse happens to us.
That attitude is common to Christians today. We know why Jesus came to earth, to be our messiah We know why he died such a horrible death, to take the punishment for our sins. We know he rose again for we've heard the story countless times. But we fail to take hold of the promise. We don't see the impact of it all. We won't let our lives be changed by the news. We have been taught that the resurrection of Jesus is the greatest event the world has ever known, but to look at how we live our lives, others would ask, what difference does it really make that they believe in the resurrection?
Those disciples who walked with Jesus didn't see the joy that was right next to them in the person of Christ, and neither do we. But when they sat at the table with them, everything changed. When he ate the meal with them, they recognized it was the Lord, and as he disappeared from their sight, they said to each other, "Weren't our hearts on fire when he was walking with us on the road and telling us why he had to die?" For he had explained to them from the Old Testament prophecies all about God's plan for Jesus to be the savior of the world.
After that they got up and went all the way back to Jerusalem to tell the others. What a change this made on them! They were no longer afraid of what their enemies might do to them. Now there was nothing important about being in Emmaus. The message of the resurrection needed to be proclaimed in Jerusalem. From then on until the end of their lives, they had no greater joy than to know that Jesus lived and tell the world what that meant.
What difference does the resurrection mean to us? The empty tomb offers us certainty and joy. On many occasions Jesus not only predicted his death, but also his resurrection. No mere human being could seriously make such a claim. Only God has the power over death. By his resurrection Jesus proved beyond a doubt that he was the Son of God and his teachings were true. There is our Easter joy!
Jesus' resurrection gives us the answer to man's age-old search to life's great question: "What will happen to me when I die?" Jesus gave the answer: "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies. And whoever lives and believes in me will never die."
The resurrection of Jesus also assures us that our heavenly Father has accepted the sacrifice of his Son as the full payment for the sins of the world. All the barriers that stood between God and man have been removed. Satan no longer has the power to control us by fear. We are reconciled to God, our maker, through Jesus Christ. By faith in him we can be certain each day that we are redeemed people of God. We can face every care, every trial, every obligation and problem in this life together with him who lives.
We have great joy and peace in us because of the resurrection. When we stand with someone we love who faces a life threatening illness, we have comfort to give. You will not die, you can live forever with Jesus as your savior.
When we stand at the casket of someone we love, we feel the sadness of separation, but not the despair of death. We may cry out in sadness, "O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory? Christ's resurrection takes away death's sting. The grave is no longer victorious forever.
When we face the end of our own earthly days, we know God's favor is upon us. We can accept death because it is the door to eternal life. It brings God's children back to him. We know that just as Jesus got up from his grave, walked and talked again, we'll be doing that too at the Lord's second coming.
Because of Easter, the best is yet to come for us. Life will continue to have its problems, fears and worries. But over all we know the resurrection joy. That makes all the difference.
In the reading from Acts we had a verse that describes what the resurrection meant for people in the early days of Christianity. It says, "They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to the prayers. Everyone was filled with awe" (Acts 2:42).
This is the vision for our lives today. The difference about us is that we are devoted to Holy Scripture, for it has brought us the resurrection joy.
We are devoted to one another, because we have all received the same resurrection peace.
We are devoted to the breaking of bread, for in the Lord's Supper, Jesus is revealed to us again as he was at the table in Emmaus, and we are devoted to prayer, for this is where we pour out our heart's concerns to our loving God.
What difference does the resurrection make in our lives? I hope you can see it makes all the difference.
Copyright © 1998-2011 James F. Wright. All rights reserved.
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