Monday, April 25, 2011

The Morning After: Why Jesus Had To Die & Rise Again!

Yesterday was my first Easter Sunday as a senior pastor of a church. It was the first time that I had the opportunity to influence what the service would look like. If you know me, I like to change things up from time to time. Some of my more conservative friends have even said it scares them that I like to tweak how things normally function. So I preached two sermons yesterday! Actually instead of a normal 45 minute sermon, I did two sermons between 20-25 minutes, with music in between the messages. It was a special morning, one offering, two messages. (You can listen to it or sign up for the podcast HERE)

Message #1: Why Jesus Had To Die

There are so many reasons I could have listed as to why Jesus had to die. In fact, John Piper has listed 50 reasons why He came to die. But I wanted to just focus on two reasons.

1. Jesus Died To Show His Love.

At the heart of the gospel message, the message of Jesus Christ, we find that He loves people. It is His love for people that moved Him to die for them. And His death for them proves that He loves them. Paul says in Galatians 2:20 that the Son of God "loved me and gave Himself up for me."

How do you know whether someone loves you or not? Isn't it how they treat you? Doesn't it have something to do with whether there is action to their words? Can you say that no matter who else Jesus loved, He loved you? There are many people that spend their entire lives being rejected by people. They have been made fun of, been ridiculed, mocked, and abandoned by family & friends. And Jesus stands here to say to them, "if you want to understand how much love I have to offer, look at the cross."  But His love in action was not just some moral good example.

2. Jesus Died To Forgive Our Sins.

The number one reason why people do not understand the cross of Jesus or why He had to die is because they fail to grasp or understand the need they have. It's a big need, a sin need that has separated them from God forever. And Jesus came to redeem people from their sins, to offer forgiveness of their sins (Colossians 1:13-14). Forgiveness happens not by being a good person or if simply the good outweighs the bad. It is not by giving money or coming to church or by saying our confessions. It comes when we believe & repent of our sins that Jesus is the only way to God! Colossians 2:13-14 say that Jesus has taken our sins out of the way, nailing them to the cross! Amazing!

Sermon #2: Why Jesus Had To Rise Again!

We celebrated yesterday that the death & burial of Jesus was not the end of the story, but just parts of the beginning. He rose again! The resurrection is critical and key to the message of Christianity. At the heart of the gospel is that Jesus was no longer in the grave.

1. Jesus Rose Again To Give Us Hope.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:12-19 that if Jesus was not raised from the dead then we are hopeless, the most pitied of all men on the earth. But if Jesus did rise again, there is joy & our faith is real and means something.

2. Jesus  Rose Again To Overcome Sin & Death.

When Jesus rose from the dead, He finally and completely took care of sin & death once for all. Here was the question that kept coming up to me last week as I studied: "Could Jesus have accomplished on the cross what we believe He did without being raised from the dead?" The answer biblically is NO. The cross & the resurrection are a package deal.

If Jesus died to take away our sin problem & the penalty (and power) of sin is death and Jesus is still dead, then He is still paying the penalty. The only way He could show that the payment for sin actually worked was to come back to life.

3. Jesus Rose Again To Prove He Is God.

Jesus proved the doubters once and for all that He is God when He came back from the dead. What that means for us is that we get to serve a living Savior instead of dead idols.

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