Sunday School Lesson with John Ditty
Why a Resurrection: Matthew 28
Yesterday Christians around the world remembered. Many would have taken the time to eat bread made without yeast and drink red grape juice or wine. As they did they recalled. Yesterday, Christians around the world remembered. They came to the foot of a bloodied cross and looked into the eyes of a dying man and they remembered. They remembered why He had to die.
Yesterday carries what to many might seems an odd name, “Good Friday.” It was the day that Jesus Christ died on the cross. For His original followers it was anything but good. Their teacher and friend, their hope of a better tomorrow hung dying on a Roman cross. Nailed in place, mocked and laughed at by many, beaten almost beyond recognition, suffering excruciating pain. How could this be good? The one who had promised abundant life was dying. The one who was their King was dying as a criminal. The one who brought them truth was being crucified on trumped-up charges, lies spawned by jealous men. How could anyone call this day good?
Yet here we are the day after Good Friday. What good came of that day? The day Jesus died on the cross was the day that Jesus’ promise of hope for tomorrow began to be fulfilled. His death was not an event that crushed that hope but released it. His death did not kill life but birthed it. The lies told about Him, that resulted in His crucifixion, proved the words of the ancient prophets true; words that foretold not only His death but the purpose of it. Jesus did not die because jealous men and ruthless, calloused executioners wished it so. Jesus died because He did. And He did because it was His plan.
From the creation of the world Jesus knew this day was coming because He planned it. He loved the rebellious couple of Eden and their descendants so much that He came to give His life to buy them back from death, the spiritual eternal death brought on by their own sin. There was no other way for mankind to find eternal life than by His death on that Friday. That’s why the day is good. It is our hope; it brought us the gift of eternal life and displayed the truth of God’s unconditional love toward us. This is why it is good.
But Friday was not the end of the story. Of those standing at Golgotha that day, some were dismayed thinking it was the end, some celebrated believing it was the end. But it was not. It was only the beginning.
Tomorrow we celebrate again. If Friday was good, Sunday is great. The Apostle Matthew wrote, “After the Sabbath, at the dawn of the first day.” (Matthew 28:1). In all actuality it was the start of a new wee. The Sunday sun was rising over Jerusalem. But Matthew is saying so much more than that. That morning, the morning Christians celebrate tomorrow, was the start of a new hope for you and me. The death of Christ on the cross paid our sin debt, a debt we had no way to repay. Jesus had to die if we were to be offered the way to life eternal. But tomorrow we celebrate not Jesus’ death but His resurrection. As He said to His disciples throughout His three years of ministry leading to the cross, on the third day He would come out of the grave.
This is the part of the cross story that many stumble over. They accept that Jesus died on a cross an innocent man, motivated by His love for mankind. They don’t question His burial, that’s what you do with dead people. But the resurrection is a bit more than the rational, scientific mind can grasp. Resuscitation perhaps; but dead and back to life. That’s not possible. The reality however is that without the resurrection the cross has no meaning. The power and effectiveness of Christ’s death on the cross, the death that brings us life, is proven in His victory over the cold, unbreakable grasp of death. If Christ conquered death than He can offer life.
To deny the resurrection is to rob Friday of its goodness and humanity of our hope. God made this abundantly clear in a letter Paul wrote to the Greek city of Corinth. Listen to what he wrote, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:17-19) Why not read it again and hear the essential aspect of the resurrection. Without it Jesus was nothing and Christians have nothing. Without the resurrection Christ is a liar along with every preacher and witness who has ever said Jesus arose that Sunday morning. Even sadder, there is no hope of a better life after this life.
But God did not stop Paul on that statement. Read on, “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:20-22) We can have life because Christ is alive.
Tomorrow Christians around the world will celebrate; in some parts of the world it’s already tomorrow and hearts and songs are being lifted to the throne of God.
Many around the world do not believe. They choose to believe the lie concocted by the religious leaders who refused to accept the evidence of the empty tomb. They choose to believe the lies of today’s deniers. But whether they believe or anyone believes it does not change the reality. Jesus Christ is risen, He has risen indeed.
May your heart know unquenchable joy of belief.Jesus Christ has risen indeed.