Charles Stanley - Risen and Mission Accomplished
Jesus successfully challenged the most powerful force in the world, and that was the Roman Empire. They crucified Him, but they couldn't kill Him. They searched for Him, but they could not find Him. He was on a divine mission and He was going to fulfill that mission no matter what. When I think about Easter, I think about the awesome message that the Lord Jesus Christ brought us.
I want you to turn if you will to Matthew chapter twenty-eight and there's something about reading this passage on Easter Sunday morning. Beginning in verse one of the twenty-eighth chapter of Matthew, "Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. And behold a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightning and his clothing as white as snow. The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, 'Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking...'" I can't hardly believe this. Listen, "I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified". Here's the news, "He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying". Amen? Let's give Him a big hand. Amen, amen.
Now the question is, What was Jesus' mission? Why did He come? He came to reveal the Father. They had understanding to some degree of what God was like. He came to reveal the Father. And if you'll know, remember what He said in John chapter eight when He was talking to His listeners, He said, for example, If you knew Me, you would know the Father. I and the Father are one. They got a glimpse of God the Father like they'd never gotten before, never seen, never understood before, when they saw the Lord Jesus Christ. He said, I and the Father are one. And then He said, Believe Me, that I'm in the Father and the Father is in Me, or believe the works themselves. Jesus came to give us a glimpse of the Father we'd never known. If you read the Old Testament, you get an awesome glimpse of the Father, but not like what we see and understand when Jesus came.
So, that's one of His primary reasons for coming, to reveal the Father. Secondly, He came to redeem fallen mankind which is what we normally think about. That is, He came to be our Savior. He came to take care of our sin problem. He came to die on the cross in order that you and I would not have to die with our sins. And you remember He said to Zaccheus, who was up the tree and came down to meet Jesus and He said to him, The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. That means every single one of us. All of us have been lost; but those who've trusted Jesus Christ now have a whole new outlook on life and a whole new eternal destiny. So, He came to reveal the Father. He came to redeem mankind. And He came to revive the faltering hope of those who were looking for Messiah.
Thousands of years had gone by and you know in that ninth chapter of Isaiah and the promise of the Messiah's coming. Jesus came to fulfill that awesome promise. And if you'll remember when John the Baptist came on the scene, He introduced Jesus. And in the process of doing so, Andrew was among the crowd. And when He recognized that Jesus the Messiah was there, who did He find? He found Peter and He said, Peter, we have seen the Messiah. So, think about it. Jesus came to reveal the Father. He came to redeem mankind. And He came to lift up fading hopes that the Messiah would eventually come. Hundreds and hundreds of years they've waited for the Messiah, and imagine what Peter must have felt when Andrew said to Him, Peter, we have found the Messiah. And He also came to sacrifice His life on the cross for our sins. And remember what He said in First Peter chapter two, And He Himself, speaking about Jesus, bore our sins in His body on the cross so that we might die to sin and live righteously; for by His wounds we were healed. Jesus came on a very specific mission. He came to reveal the Father and to help us to understand that His death one day would be our redemption.
So, when you think about Jesus being on a mission, He had several things, specific things that He wanted to accomplish; and of course, one of them was view the Father properly, and also understand that what was about to happen to Him would provide salvation for us for all eternity. Then, think about this. As you think about the gospels and how many times you've read it, what was Jesus up to? He was revealing certain things that He wanted us to be very aware of and He wanted to be a part of our life. He wanted us to begin thinking like He thought, living like He lived. And so, one of the things that He did, He introduced us to the power of the Holy Spirit. And if you'll think about in the Old Testament, there are some references to the Holy Spirit. But Jesus came to reveal the Holy Spirit in a whole different way.
In that fourteenth and fifteenth, sixteenth chapters of John, if you'll notice there for example, Jesus said to them, He said, "I will ask the Father. He'll give you another helper, that He may be with you forever," that is the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit, whom the world can't receive, because, they don't know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. And so, Jesus in the fourteenth, fifteen, sixteenth chapters spent a lot of time talking about who He was, why He came, and the very work of the Holy Spirit. That is, if you'll think about it, every single believer has been sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise. That is, what makes the difference between us and someone who's unsaved is that you've been sealed; and that seal cannot be broken. You're a child of God; you have the Holy Spirit living within you and one of the purposes of Jesus coming and spending His time with those disciples was to make it clear, when I'm gone, I'm really still here with you in the person of the Holy Spirit.
And I think about how many people go to church. They give their life to Christ. They are baptized and then they keep coming to church, not this church but many churches, and no one ever says, There is living within you the Son of God through the person of the Holy Spirit. He has come to indwell you to do what? The Holy Spirit comes to indwell us, to enable us to do what we could not do ourselves. None of us can live the Christian life in our own strength and energy and knowledge and understanding. We are indwelt by the Holy Spirit who's come to indwell us, teach us, guide us, lead us, comfort us, assure us and on we could go with His purposes. But something else He did. He came to teach us how to love each other and forgive one another. And this is an issue that probably many people will live all their lives and never learn the lesson. How do you forgive those who've wronged you? How do you say, I forgive you. How do you say, I'm not holding it against you any longer.
Jesus was the perfect example of forgiveness, if you'll think about it. They crucified Him, and He forgave them. Do you have a hard time forgiving people for what they do? You think about what Jesus has forgiven all of us for over and over and over again. He didn't just come upon the scene. He had a mission. He came for a specific reason ultimately, to die on the cross and to be resurrected. But in the process, He came to leave us some truths, some teachings that would absolutely transform our life, and also prepare us to meet Him one of these days. Part of His mission. Then of course, He came to teach us how to pray. Of the many things that He's taught us, to teach us how to pray. You know on one occasion His disciples said to Him, Lord, teach us to pray the way John the Baptist has taught His disciples to pray.
And when I think about that verse, I think about of all the verses that should be an inspiration to us is Mark chapter one, that thirty-fifth verse. The Scripture says, "In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, went away, and He was praying there". Now think about this. If you think about Jesus' life, He chose some very specific things that He wanted to instruct us with and know in our heart that they were absolutely true; and if we would practice these specific lessons, our life would be transformed. And so, Jesus gave us the most perfect example for praying. He got up early in the morning, still dark, went away to a secluded place and there He was praying. And I imagine, in fact I'm sure, this was not, Well, Lord, bless Me today. And I wonder how many Christians? How many of God's people say a quick prayer in the morning before they hit the expressway and asking God to protect you and help you have a nice day. And on and on you go.
Think about this. Jesus got up a great while before day. Do you have a habit about praying? Why is this in the Bible but to give us an example, and to challenge us? There is no time in your life that's more precious in the eyes of Almighty God the Father than when you set aside time between you and Him and you give Him your full attention. And you unburden your heart; you tell Him that you love Him and all the things, however you want to praise God. One of the most precious valuable times in life. And I could say to you; and I've been a Christian for a long, long time. The most awesome lesson I've ever learned is the lesson of getting up early in the morning, talking to the Father and getting my day straight. And many times I've had to go back and think, Lord, I must have missed it this morning. I must have missed it this morning. Look what's happening. But always to remember that when Jesus started His days, He started them with His Father, but He had some very difficult tough days and finally the crucifixion.
So, think about this for a moment. You and I don't have the capacity to get up, take off and live a day successfully, godly, loving, forgiving, helping others, living the kind of life He wants us to live, if we don't start out right. There's not any one of us who is so busy about so many good things that we don't have time to start the day with Him. The Scripture says, "Early in the morning, while it was still dark". Now if anybody had, listen to this, He only had three years. And this is part of His mission. He only had three years and He was busy, busy, busy; but He began His day alone with the Father, receiving the energy and the strength and the wisdom and the guidance and the help that He would need to do what God called Him to do. If I stopped right there, I would tell you the most important thing in your life is your personal intimate relationship with God the Father. And that's exactly what Jesus was saying. A great while before day, this was part of His mission, to teach us how to pray. And this is why His disciples said to Him, they were so impressed by what was going on with Him, they said, We want You to teach us to pray the way John the Baptist taught his disciples to pray.
Jesus was a perfect example. Let me just say this. You cannot give Holy God an excuse for not beginning your day with Him because every breath you breathe will come from Him. Every breath you breathe. And then of course He came to give us assurance of life after death. And you remember when Lazarus died and Mary and Martha were having a very difficult time because Jesus wasn't there when they thought He ought to be there. Have you ever felt that-a-way? Lord, where are You? I'm going through this. Why don't You do something? He didn't show up when they thought He ought to show up. And you know, they said, "If You'd have been here, our brother wouldn't have died". And Jesus finally said, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if He dies".
Think about that. You have the promise of living even when you die. And all of us have had loved ones and friends who've passed on. And the Scripture says we live even after we die. And the reason we can know that is because He has provided eternal life at the cross. Jesus came with a specific mission in mind. And so, you think about your daily life and think about what Jesus had in mind and His mission. All of these things should be a part of our life; a part of our thinking. So, He gave us assurance of life after death. And then of course, He came to assure us of heaven is our home. He didn't miss anything and you are familiar with that familiar passage in the fourteenth chapter of John. In the thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteen chapters He's teaching them some of the most intimate lessons He ever taught 'em and He said, "Don't let your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many dwelling places; and if it were not so, I would have told you," I'm going to do what? Prepare a place for you.
He was on a mission, and that mission was to get us ready, part of it, to get us ready to die to meet Him for all eternity. But also, to prepare us in such a way that we could live out this life. And as a result of our life, somebody else's life would be changed. So, I would simply ask you this. In your circle of friends and acquaintances, listen carefully, can you name one person, or maybe more, one person that you know because of your life or your witness, your testimony, that that person received Jesus Christ because of how God worked in your life? You see, we're not to live this life for ourselves. Jesus didn't live His life for Himself. He came on a mission; He had three years. Three years to train twelve men; three years to impact the whole world. Risen, Jesus is risen. And in the process of His being risen, He accomplished His mission.
And when I think about what He said to Mary and Martha and what He said about heaven. I'm going to prepare a place for you, that where I am there you'll be also. Jesus was on a mission. He wanted to accomplish something, and what He wanted to accomplish was this. He wanted to work with these twelve men in such a fashion and speaking on those occasions when He did speak to crowds; such a fashion that they would never forget it. Think about this. Two thousand years have gone by and what happened? Wouldn't you say that Jesus, ha, ha, He was a success on this mission? You're saved, that's one of the evidences of His success. And you didn't get saved just talking to Jesus. You got saved by thousands and thousands and thousands of people since Jesus was alive, telling each other about Jesus till they finally got to you and got to me.
And now we're saved. And what do we want to do? We want to do what He said. We're to go; we're to do what He told us to do. You go and share the truth of this gospel. He gave them an awesome assurance of life after death, heaven as our home. And then remember what He said to them also. He said in this twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew, look there for a moment. Look at this twenty-fourth chapter. He's coming to the end of things and talking about the future. And the twenty-fourth chapter and the forty-second verse. He says, "Therefore, be on the alert," be on the alert, "for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason also," listen carefully, you "must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will".
I think about that often and ask myself the question, Lord, do I think You're coming today? Busy, busy, busy. Am I looking for You today? Listen, part of His mission was to get us ready to die. Part of His mission was to get us ready for His coming. And He says, in the hour that you think not, He's coming, whether it's singular in your life or mine or for the whole world. Jesus had a mission and He couldn't be stopped. Wasn't a long mission; wasn't like an Old Testament prophet who lived and lived and lived and lived and lived. In three years, He accomplished His mission. He was a prophet, an evangelist, the Son of God; the King of kings and the Lord of lords. I would say, would you not say, He accomplished His mission. Amen?
So, let me ask you this. Maybe you go to church, maybe you don't. Maybe somebody brought you today; maybe you decided that you would just attend, it's Easter. Not being critical; I'm just saying that may be who you are. Don't you think one of the wisest decisions you could make would be to confess your sinfulness before God today and ask Him to forgive you of your sin and receive Him as your personal Savior. There is only one hope, one way. Jesus said, I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father but by Me. Don't you think it would be wise to respond to the mission of Jesus? To change your life, save you, and all the things that He's done along with that, don't you think it'd be wise for you to settle where you're going to spend eternity? Don't have but two choices.
And somebody says, Well, I don't believe that. Well, let me remind you of something. Whether you do or not, does not change the eternal truth of God. That is, we're going to give an account before the Lord. The Bible says that all of us are going to die and stand before Him. And I want to invite you, plead with you, challenge you, stir you if possible to think about it. If you've never trusted Christ as your Savior, For you to reject that is to condemn yourself. It's appointed unto man once to die, and after this the judgment. You may say, Well, I don't know, mm, mm, it doesn't make any difference what you think. It is appointed unto man once to die, and after this the judgment. How do you get ready for that? I'll tell you. Jesus went to the cross, laid down His life, shed His blood. And the Bible teaches us that the blood of Jesus, His death was payment for your sin and mine.
Would you be willing to ask God to forgive you of your sin today? Would you ask Him to forgive you and to cleanse you? Would you ask Him to receive you unto Himself, not because you deserve it, but because that's the reason He came; He had you in mind. Would you be willing to confess to Him that you've lived in sin up to this point, and today you're accepting Jesus Christ as your personal Savior? In a simple prayer, and in case you haven't prayed it, not sure about what to pray, I'm going to pray a prayer that will change your life, if you'll pray it with all of your heart. So, let's bow together. Heavenly Father, I confess that I am a sinner. I have sinned against You. I have ignored You. I've wanted to live my life my way. But today I've heard the Word of God. I'm asking You to forgive me of my sin. I do believe that Jesus' death on the cross paid my sin debt in full and I receive Him as my personal Savior, and yield my life to You. In Jesus' name, amen.