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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - Three Reasons The Resurrection Matters

Robert Jeffress - Three Reasons The Resurrection Matters

Robert Jeffress - Three Reasons The Resurrection Matters
TOPICS: Easter, Resurrection

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". Someone has wisely stated that Christianity stands or falls on the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Disprove it, and you've disposed of Christianity forever. So, why is an empty tomb the foundation of our Christian faith? Today, we'll identify the major life-changing components of the first Easter. My message is titled "3 Reasons the Resurrection Matters" on today's edition of "Pathway to Victory".

If you ever have the opportunity to go to Israel, one of the things that you will be thrilled by is hearing and seeing the evidence, the archaeological evidence, for many of the events recorded in the Bible. However, there is one event in the New Testament that archaeology will never be able to prove. A historian said it this way, "Archaeology may give us a better understanding of the crucifixion and the tomb of Jesus Christ, but it can say nothing of his Resurrection". Why can't archaeology prove the Resurrection? Very simple. There's nothing to be discovered. The tomb is empty. Aren't you glad of that? There's nothing to be found. And that empty tomb of Jesus Christ that is still empty after 2,000 years is the foundation of our faith. That's what we're gonna talk about for the few moments we have this morning. If you have your Bibles, turn to Matthew chapter 28, and let's review what happened on that first Easter Sunday morning. Remember, this is Sunday after the Crucifixion on Friday.

Matthew records: "Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. And behold, a severe earthquake had already 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 garment as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. And the angel answered and said to the women, 'Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going before you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.' And they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples".

Now, I want you to consider for a moment what had happened in the last three days. For three years, Jesus's disciples had given up everything to follow after him, believing that he was truly the Messiah. But on that Friday afternoon, when Jesus said, "It is finished," and died and was buried, their dreams disappeared, their hopes dissipated, all was lost. Everything was for naught. But then, on that Easter Sunday morning, two of the women went back to the tomb of Jesus. Why did they go back? They were going there to finish preparing his body for burial to prevent the rapid decomposition of the body. But when they arrived at the tomb, they were shocked to see that massive stone rolled away and an angel sitting on top of that stone, saying, "He is not here. He is risen from the dead, just as he said". And I believe, when the women heard that phrase, "just as he said," a light went off in their minds.

Yes, they remembered what he had prophesied. He would rise again. He has risen from the dead, just as he said. But then I think they'd begin to think about all the other things Jesus had said as well, and it was very clear to them. If what Jesus said about his Resurrection is true, then every other thing Jesus has said is true as well. You see, ladies and gentlemen, the Resurrection was not some isolated event, disconnected to anything else in Jesus's life. The Resurrection was the culminating proof that Jesus was who he said he was, and if he is who he said he was, it has tremendous ramifications for you and for me. Today, I wanna talk about three reasons the Resurrection matters. What is it that the empty tomb proves? Write it down. First of all, the empty tomb is proof that Jesus Christ died for our sins, just as he said. He died for our sins, just as he said.

In Matthew 16:21, Matthew says, "From that time on Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and he must be raised up on the third day". Jesus said, "My death isn't gonna be some accident. It's not some tragedy. That's the whole reason I have come, to die". In Matthew 20:28, he clarified that by saying, "Just as the Son of Man," talking about himself, "did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many". Now, why is it Jesus Christ had to die and give his life as a ransom for you and me? The reason is found in the Old Testament, Book of Isaiah. Isaiah chapter 59, verses 1 and 2, Isaiah said, "Behold, the Lord's hand is not so short That it cannot save; Neither is His ear so dull That it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear".

The reason we need somebody to pay for our sin is there is a barrier, a wall, that separates you and me from God. It is a wall that has been built by our sins. Our sins have become a dividing wall between God and us, but the Bible says there is nothing we can do to remove that barrier between God and us. You know, the Old Testament Jews, they had an understanding, perhaps better than you and I do, of the real wall of separation that existed between them and God. Because that wall of separation was illustrated every time they went into the temple. Remember, in the temple structure, it was crafted in such a way to remind people of their separation from God.

But between the holy place and the most holy place, the Holy of Holies, there was a huge veil that separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple. But once a year, one priest, the high priest, was allowed to go into the Holy of Holies. After he had made a sacrifice for his own sins, he would take the blood of an innocent animal, and he would sprinkle it on that lid of the Ark, the mercy seat. And the picture was, when God looked down, he no longer saw the law that had been broken by his people, but the blood of that innocent lamb covered the sins of the people. Now, only one person could make that sacrifice, the high priest, but to do so, he had to, first of all, atone for his own sins, and not only that, he had to go in year after year after year with the blood of animals. But all of that was a picture of what our high priest, Jesus Christ, would do on the cross for us.

Hebrews 9, verses 11 and 12 tells us this: "But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption". Jesus Christ never had to atone for his own sins. He had no sins. He went into not a man-made temple but into the true presence of God, and he came not with the blood of animals but with his own blood. And he made the sacrifice once forever, having obtained eternal forgiveness for you and me. Isn't that great? That is what our Savior has done for us. Now, get this. What happened the moment Christ died on the cross, we find this Word in Matthew 27:51: "And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split".

There was no more sacrifice to be made. Everyone had the opportunity to come before the presence of God. That's what that "torn in two curtain" represents. But now, get this. This is so important to understand. Just because that curtain, that wall of separation, has been removed, doesn't mean anybody can come into God's presence. God hasn't changed. God is still holy. The Bible says his eyes are too pure to look upon evil. None of us is qualified to come into God's presence. We need somebody's authority to come into the presence of God. We don't need a human priest. We don't need a human pastor. We need Jesus Christ. He is our perfect priest, and on his authority, on the basis of the sacrifice he made for us, we can have access to the King, God the Father.

Ephesians 2:18 says it this way: "For through Jesus we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father". That word "access" is a word that refers to, in Greek, a court official who introduces people to the king. No subject could come to the king's presence on his own. He needed a court official who had the authority to usher him into the presence of the king. Not one of us is qualified to go to God on our own. We have to know somebody, and that somebody is Jesus Christ. Through him, we have access to the Father because of the sacrifice he made for us. When he said, "It is finished," all of our debt has been canceled. We are welcomed into his presence.

You say, "Well, how do you know God accepted his payment for my sin"? That's what the Resurrection proves. Romans 1:4 said that "Jesus was declared to be the Son of God with power by his resurrection from the dead". If Jesus had remained in that tomb, you know what it would have meant? He didn't die for our sins. He died for his own sins. But the fact that God raised him up proved that his gift was acceptable in the presence of God. The empty tomb, first of all, proves that Jesus died for our sins. Secondly, the empty tomb proves that Christ has conquered death. The empty tomb proves that Christ has conquered death.

Remember what he said in John 2, "The Jews therefore answered and said to Him, 'What sign do you show us seeing that you do these things?' And Jesus answered and said to them, 'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.' The Jews therefore said, 'It took forty-six years to build this temple, and You're gonna raise it up in three days?' But Jesus was speaking of the temple of His body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken". You know, it's interesting to me that Jesus's followers had forgotten his prophecy of the Resurrection or they dismissed it, but even though they had forgotten what Jesus prophesied, his enemies remembered very well what he predicted about himself. Remember what happened on Saturday after the Crucifixion and burial on Friday?

Matthew 27, verses 62 to 66. Look at this: "Now on the next day," that is on Saturday, after the Crucifixion, "which is the one after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate, and they said, 'Sir, we remember that when He was still alive this deceiver said, 'After three days I am going to rise again.' Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, lest the disciples come and steal Him away and say to the people, 'He has risen from the dead,' and that the last deception will be worse than the first.'' So Pilate said to them, 'You have a guard; go, and make the grave as secure as you can.' And they went and they made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone".

You see, these Jewish leaders were scared to death that the disciples would steal the body of Jesus and claim he had risen from the dead. They knew that would validate that he was the Messiah so they wanted the authority from Pilate, the Roman government, to make that grave secure. Now, what did Pilate give them to secure the grave? Two things. First of all, the Roman guard. Now, when we see this play enacted at Easter pageants, you know, the Roman guard, that guy dressed in a miniskirt holding a wooden spear, kind of sleepy eyed, you know, the Roman guard. No, it wasn't a singular guard. It was a Roman guard unit. How do I know that? Matthew 28 talks about "the guards were amazed when they saw what they saw".

The Roman guard unit consisted of 16 men, highly trained men, who were trained to protect 36 square yards of space, knowing that if they were defeated, if they gave up the ground that they were protecting, Rome declared that they would be burned alive. So they had every motivation in the world to protect what they had been given to protect. Pilate gave them these 16 highly trained men. Not only that, he gave them the Roman seal. What's that? It's not some silly putty you put on the crack of the tomb. The Roman seal was a large string that was strung across the great rock. It was held into place by two packets of packing clay, and in the clay was the Roman signet ring, the impression of the ring signifying that this grave was being protected on the authority of Rome itself. And anybody who tampered with this grave would face the wrath of Rome.

Now, why does Matthew go to all of this detail to tell us how the tomb was secured? Well, it's to answer the question, what happened to the body of Jesus? The disciples lacked the courage and ability to steal it. The Romans and Jews lacked the motivation to steal it. The person who moved that stone was God himself. God reached down and rescued his Son from the grave, proving that he had the ability to conquer death. The empty tomb proves that Jesus Christ conquered death just as he said. "Well," you're saying, "pastor, that's nice. He died for our sins. He conquered death. But what does that mean to me today"? This is the best part of the story. It means, the empty tomb means, that one day, Christ will deliver us from death, just as he said. The empty tomb is proof that one day Christ will deliver you and me from death, just as he said. There's not one thing you can do to escape the certainty of death, but you can escape the consequences of death.

If you and I die without our sins forgiven, we are separated from God forever and ever. That's what hell is all about. But God promises that we can be delivered from the consequences of death. We can know for sure we're gonna be ushered into his presence if we know Jesus is our Savior. Over and over again, Jesus promised to rescue his followers from the consequences of death. In John 6:40: "For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up in the last day". John 11:25: "I am the resurrection in the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies". Over and over and over again, Jesus promises life to those who what? Believe in him. Don't miss this folks. To believe in Jesus doesn't mean to agree to a certain set of facts about Jesus, that he came, he died on the cross for the sins of the world, and he rose again on the third day. You don't get to heaven by believing that intellectually. Even the demons believe that. There has to be a time when you trust and claim to depend upon Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins.

The Bible says when you confess your sins to God and you put your faith completely in what Jesus did for you, then you have eternal life and then you can know for sure that God will rescue you from the grave, just as he promised. The empty tomb proves that Christ will deliver us from death, just as he said. In 1989, a massive earthquake nearly destroyed the country of Armenia. Within four minutes, 30,000 people were killed. After the initial shock wave, a father quickly left his young wife and his young child to head to the school where an hour earlier he had dropped off his little boy, Arman. When he arrived at the school, his worst fears were confirmed. The school had been reduced to nothing but a pile of rubble. Mothers and fathers stood at the perimeter, beating their chest, saying, "My child! My son! My daughter"! The father stood there. As terror streamed down his face, he remembered something he had always said to his son, "Son, whatever happens, I'll always be there for you. I'll always be there for you".

As the parents were crying out, he tried to keep his composure and identify where his son's classroom would have been. Once he had located where he thought the class would have been, he climbed that mountain of rubble, and he began clawing away at the stones. Two hours. Four hours. Six hours. People tried to pull him away, saying, "It's too late! They're all gone! They're all gone". But the father kept remembering what he had said to his son, "Son, whatever happens. I'll always be there for you". He dug for 12 hours, for 20 hours, 24 hours digging through that rubble. Finally, a fire official came and said, "You have to leave, sir. There are fires breaking out. It's too dangerous for you to stay". But the father had made a promise. He was gonna keep it.

Thirty-six hours, he dug through that rubble. At the 38th hour, he pulled away a boulder, and he heard the voice of his son. He cried out, "Arman! Arman! Is that you"? He said, "Yes, dad. It's me. I told the other boys and girls that if you were still alive, you would rescue me because you always said no matter what, I'll be there for you. And I told the other kids, if my dad rescues me, he'll rescue you as well". The father said, "What is happening down there"? The boy said, "Dad, there were 33 of us. Fourteen of us are still alive. When the school collapsed, it formed a wedge, and it saved the rest of our lives. But it's dark down here. We're tired. We're hungry. We're afraid". The father said, "Arman, let me help you out of there. Come out of there". Arman said, "No, dad. Let the other kids come out first. I know you'll keep your promise. I know you'll be there for me. I know you'll rescue me, just as you said". Ladies and gentlemen, 2,000 years ago, God the Father reached down, and he rescued his Son from the tomb, just as he said he would. And one day, God the Father will reach down and rescue those who know Christ as Savior, just as he said. That's why the Resurrection matters.
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