The Road To Easter: Jesus The One True...

The Road To Easter: Jesus, The One True…

Answer This Question, Who Is Jesus To YOU?

Opening:
In Matthew 16 Jesus ask Peter a very pointed question.  “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”  The disciples respond with a multitude of responses.  Some say that you are a dead prophet risen to life.  Others have mistook you for your cousin John.  

I’m curious, who is Jesus to you?

Jesus is a teacher. True.

Jesus is a preacher. True.

Healer. 

Good man and a good example.

Sure, I can buy into all those concepts.  Yet, Peter gives an astounding answer, Peter says “you are the Son of the Living God.” Now that’s an answer.  Peter hit the ball out of the park.  Jesus then tells Peter that it would be on that confession the church would be built.  Jesus says that it was this “truth” that would be the foundation of the church.  This truth would be the rock, the pillar, the platform or launching pad for the church.  

So, who is Jesus to you?  Today, let me tell you who Jesus is to me and offer evidence found in Scripture for my beliefs.  

Let’s open our Bibles to I Corinthians 15:1-11 and we will hears Paul’s words to the Corinthians about the nature of Jesus and what Jesus accomplished on Easter.  

I Corinthians 15:1-11 NIV
1 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas (Peter), and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

Jesus Is Our One True…

I. Jesus Our One True Hope vs. 1-2
I Corinthians 15:1-2 NIV
1 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

Quote: Only Four Minutes 

Human beings can live for forty days without food, four days without water, and four minutes without air. But we cannot live for four seconds without hope.

-Steve Jobs

Illustration: Get Up And Do Something
Hope motivates us to keep going and not give up. Without hope we don’t want to do anything.

Peanut’s cartoon: Lucy and Linus were sitting in front of the television set when Lucy said to Linus, "Go get me a glass of water." Linus looked surprised, "Why should I do anything for you? You never do anything for me." "On your 75th birthday," Lucy promised, "I’’ll bake you a cake." Linus got up, headed to the kitchen and said, "Life is more pleasant when you have something to look forward to." 

Do you have a steadfast unshakeable hope in God? Hope not only opens the door to receive a touch from God, hope also moves you through the door. Like Linus, when you have hope you’re willing to get up and do something.

Point:
The Corinthians knew Jesus.  They had received great teaching in the past but unfortunately they were being distracted by false teachers.  Their culture was calling them away from their first love.  Paul reminds them and us our only hope for redemption comes from Jesus Christ.  Scripture is very clear that one cannot earn salvation.  It cannot be purchased.  We cannot bargain our way or make any deal to somehow escape judgement.  No amount of fame will save us and no series of heroic actions can merit God’s favor.  

All of those things are filthy rags to God.  We simply don’t measure up to God’s perfection.  We are totally guilty.  We are wholly sinful.  We are completely lost.  

Just listen to these scriptures…

Ecclesiastes 7:20 NIV
Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins.

Romans 3:9-18 ESV
For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, 10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;
11 no one understands;
    no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
    no one does good,
    not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave;
    they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Romans 3:23 NLT
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard.

Romans 5:7-8 ESV
7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Psalm 51:5 NLT
For I was born a sinner--yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.

Point:
From Genesis to Revelation, there is one common thread, man is sinful and need of redemption.  Our sin has created quite a problem.  When you compare our sinful nature to the laws of God, we fall unbelievable short.  Again, Scripture tells us that our sin has done two things.  First, it has separated us from a Holy God.  

Isaiah 59:2 NLT
It's your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore.

Not only have they separated us from God, but our sins deserve punishment.  God is loving and compassionate but He is also honest and just.  He cannot allow sin to go unpunished.  In the same way that we would expect a human judge to dole out punishment to the vilest criminal, God must punish sin.  What is the punishment?  The punishment is death.  Friend, in order for God’s since of justice to be appeased, something has to die.  I know that is not nice and that sentiment might fly in the face of our sensibilities, but that’s God and He is not going to apologize to me or to you.  He demands justice.  

Romans 6:23 ESV
For the wages of sin is death…

Maybe you are thinking to yourself “preacher, you are just offering me one translation.  Surly, God really doesn’t expect something to die just because of my little sins”.  Ok, let’s look at some other translations.

New Living Translation
For the wages of sin is death…

New American Standard Bible
For the wages of sin is death…

King James Bible
For the wages of sin is death…

Holman Christian Standard Bible
For the wages of sin is death…

Jubilee Bible 2000
For the wages of sin is death…

I have never even heard of this translation but the Darby Bible Translation gives a little more insight…

For the wages of sin is death…

Brothers and sisters, our sin is a serious issue that demands our attention.  

Scripture continues to support this idea of sin, death and God’s demand for justice in Hebrews 9:22…

Hebrews 9:22 NIV
In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

You heard it right, our sin is going to cost us our lives.  From birth we are guilty.  We are wicked.  We must die.  

Point:
But there is hope!  Jesus, God’s Son stepped in and has stayed the execution for all of humanity.  Jesus has said that He will take the punishment.  Jesus through some supernatural mystery bore the sins of all mankind and received the wrath and justice that we deserved.  As Jesus’ hands were pierced and as nails were driven through His feet, God did not see Jesus as His Son.  God for nine long hours raged against Jesus.  All the righteous anger fell on Jesus.  God did not see Jesus on the cross, He saw the living breathing embodiment of sin expressed in the flesh of a man.  

Without Christ, there is no hope, no help, no healing.

Ephesians 2:12 NLT
In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope.

Point:
Paul wanted to remind the Corinthians that Jesus was the only hope for their salvation.  Paul’s words are applicable for us today.  Jesus is the only way.  He is our only hope.

Jesus is the only hope to save your marriage.
Jesus is the only hope to rid yourself of racism.
Jesus is the only hope to break the bonds of homosexuality, lesbianism and transgenderism.
Jesus is the only hope to redeem the family.
Jesus is the only hope to free yourself from sexual perversion.
Jesus is the only hope to cure your speech.
Jesus is the only hope to leave addiction.
Jesus is the only hope to find fulfillment.
Jesus is the only hope to discover peace.
Jesus is the only hope to mend broken relationships.
Jesus is the only hope for the church.
Jesus is the only hope for this community.
Jesus is the only hope for our country.
Jesus is the only hope for our world.

Friends, Jesus is the only hope.  If you hope for salvation, Jesus is the answer.  If you hope to escape the wrath of God because of our own arrogant sinful behavior, Jesus is the answer.    

Brothers and sister, Jesus suffered the shame and score of the cross so that we could be made right in the eyes of God.  He gave us hope.  Remember, when you have hope, you have the ability to get up and do something.  Do you know the one true hope?  Do you know Jesus?

Yes, Romans 6:23 states that the wages of sin is death but it continues with a hopeful end.  

For the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life through faith in His Son Jesus Christ. 

I Peter 1:3 NIV
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…

II. Jesus Our One True Healer vs. 3-8
I Corinthians 15:3-8 NIV
3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 

Point:
If Jesus is our one true hope, then He is also our one true healer.  Friends, without the resurrection of Jesus Christ, our faith is shallow and empty.  It is absolutely meaningless if His body is in the grave.  We should all just quit and go home right now.  There is no way that Jesus can be both God and be dead.  It doesn’t work.  

Without the resurrection, we have no hope for life after death.  Without the resurrection, we have no hope of healing.  Brothers and sisters, these bodies are wasting away.  Eventually they will give way to death and I believe that even though my body dies, I will live because Jesus has healed my spirit and restored my soul.  

2 Corinthians 4:16 NASB 
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.

Even Old Testament characters hoped in the healing of the resurrection of the Messiah.  Listen to their words:

(Job in suffering) "If a man dies, will he live again? All the days of my struggle I will wait until my change comes. Thou wilt call, and I will answer Thee; Thou wilt long for the work of Thy hands." (Job 14:14,15).

(Isaiah) "Your dead will live; their corpses will rise. You who lie in the dust, awake and shout for joy, for your dew is as the dew of the dawn, and the earth will give birth to the departed spirits." (Isaiah 26:19).

(Solomon) "The the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the spirit will return to God who gave it." (Ecclesiastes 12:7).

(Daniel) "And many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. And those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever." (Daniel 12:2,3).

Illustration: Belief-less Christianity 
John Shuck is a Presbyterian minister—but he doesn't believe in God and has the audacity to declare that "Jesus may have been an historical figure, but most of what we know about Him is in the form of legend" and "God is a symbol of myth-making and not credible as a supernatural being or force" and "the Bible is a human product as opposed to special revelation from a divine being" and "human consciousness is the result of natural selection, so there's no afterlife."

So, basically, this Presbyterian minister is an atheist. In fact, he made these declarations on The Friendly Atheist blog. Despite these beliefs he still describes himself as a "proud minister" and says he doesn't appreciate "being told I'm not truly a Christian."

Shuck essentially denies the divinity of Christ, characterizes the Father as a myth-maker, repudiates the veracity of the Bible, denies any existence of an afterlife and gets offended when people suggest that maybe he needs to reclassify his faith—or lack thereof? Yes, that about sums it up. About the only thing he didn't do was directly blaspheme the Holy Spirit.

"Belief-less Christianity is thriving right now, even as other forms of the faith are falling away rapidly. Many liberal or progressive Christians have already let go or de-emphasized belief in heaven, that the Bible is literally true, that Jesus is supernatural, and that Christianity is the only way. Yet they still practice what they call Christianity." 

Point:
Let me say here and now that I believe in the infallible Word of God.  I believe that Jesus was a real person who was born of a virgin.  Yes, I believe that Jesus was born of a virgin and that he was raised by an earthly father while sharing a divine connection to God the Father.  I believe that connection was made possible through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Yes, I believe in the triune God.  I believe that Jesus’ existence was foretold in the Old Testament.  I believe that everything in Scripture points to Jesus, His birth, his life, his death and yes, I believe in the resurrection of Christ.  I believe that Jesus raised from the dead on the third day and that he displayed his resurrected body for many days and to many people.  I believe that Jesus amended into heaven, and that the Holy Spirit lives in the hearts and minds of God’s people.  I believe that Jesus’ resurrection is real and true.  

Friend, Jesus is resurrected.  I know there are lots of skeptics but let me answer some of their questions.  In doing so, I hope that you will be like me and believe that Jesus is the one true HEALER. 

Reinvigorated (Swoon)

Point:
Jesus did not die; he only became unconscious on the cross. He was removed by a few of his followers, laid in the tomb, and left. He recovered there, and later appeared to his followers. Afterwards, he might have sneaked away and continued to live on in secret. He would have feared persecution from Jewish groups or the Roman authorities if he were discovered to be still alive. Most of his followers may not have been aware of his recovery. They may may have adopted the story of his resurrection as the most likely explanation of his apparent death and reappearance. 

Some thoughts:

The Roman Army had a quite efficient executing procedures. The soldiers in charge of the death squad would have themselves been sentenced to crucifixion if they had let one of the convicted criminals live. Many historians feel that It is unlikely that they would have been fooled by an unconscious victim.

Jesus also had considerable injuries leading up to his crucifixion. We see that he was under considerable stress. So much so that he sweat droplets of blood. 

Luke 22:44 NIV
[44] And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

We learn that he was forcible taken into custody in Matthew 26:50

Matthew 26:50 NIV
[50] Jesus replied, "Friend, do what you came for." Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him.

We see that during His mockery of a trail that He was beaten and abused. 

Mark 14:65 NIV
[65] Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, "Prophesy!" And the guards took him and beat him.

After being interview by Pilot, Jesus is flogged, beaten with rods, beaten in the face and endures a crown of thorns. 

John 19:1-3 NIV
[1] Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. [2] The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe [3] and went up to him again and again, saying, "Hail, king of the Jews!" And they struck him in the face.

Imagine the pain, agony and infection Jesus endured. He was deprived good and water. All of this happened before He took nails through His hands and feet. 

No human could have survived the cross. Jesus was dead. Luke, a doctor provides this interesting scripture that give Christians assurance that Jesus did not swoon. 

Luke 23:46 NIV
[46] Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last.

The apostle John remembers the moment in his Gospel account. 

John 19:30 NIV
[30] When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Robbers

Jesus died on the cross. His body was laid in the grave and later stolen by some of his followers and buried elsewhere. He was never resurrected. 

Matthew 28:11-15 NIV
[11] While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. [12] When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, [13] telling them, "You are to say, `His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.' [14] If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble." [15] So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.

Critics of this theory have suggested that his disciples appeared to be discouraged and disillusioned by Jesus' arrest and death. Something changed them so that they quickly became vigorous proselytizers, totally committed to the spreading the gospel message, in spite of the personal hazards involved. The critics suggest that this change could not have happened as the result of a lie.

How could a lie drive Peter from hiding in His house to boldly sharing Christ?

Acts 2:14 NIV
[14] Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: "Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.

Furthermore, how could a band of untrained and mostly uneducated men overpower the fierce fighting men of Rome. The guards are trained killers. Jesus' disciples are fisherman and tax collectors. The odds of then pilfering the tomb are incredibly low.  

Running Imagination 

Point:
All sorts of excuses and challenges have been offered to contradict or explain away the miraculous accounts of Jesus' life.  Among the weaker challenges offered is that Jesus was some sort of a magician who was able to get people to hallucinate about His miracles.  In other words, countless people were all seeing Jesus do things that were not really happening and it was Jesus who was perpetrating this deception upon them.  Let's take the account of where Jesus feeds the five thousand with five loaves and two fish (Matt. 14:19-21).  Though it is certainly possible to have one person hallucinate about this, how do the critics account for five thousand people hallucinating about the same thing at the same time? Or how about the resurrection?  How do the critics explain the accounts of Jesus appearing to the disciples with holes in His feet and hands?  How did Jesus get numerous people to believe a lie about His resurrection (a mass hallucination?) after the Romans, who were experts at executions, not only flogged Him severely, beat Him, and hung Him on a cross for six hours and then pierced His side where water and blood came out?  How did Jesus do that?

Acts 1:3 NIV
[3] After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.

Resurrection

Point:
Jesus makes promise after promise that His resurrection would occur.  He predicted it.  He sited prophecy concerning it.  He even talked about the temple that would be restored and rebuilt foreshadowing Sunday.  

John 11:25 (NIV)
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;

Illustration: A TIME FOR TESTIMONY

What if we had each person that witnessed the resurrected Lord come up here this morning and talk for 15 minutes giving a testimony to what they saw. 

If we listened to the testimony of all the people that Jesus appeared to, we would be here all day, and all night, and Monday and Monday night and Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday and sometime early Friday morning they would just be wrapping up the testimony. 

It would take over 128 strait hours just to hear, for 15 minutes each, the testimony of those that saw the Lord after he rose.

Illustration:
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

Jesus is not just the one true hope.  

He is not just the one true healer. 

Jesus is also the one true 

III. Jesus Our One True Redeemer vs. 9-11
I Corinthians 15:9-11 NIV
9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

Point:
Do you know much about Paul.  Paul was actually named Saul and Saul was a Pharisee.  He hated Christians and even set out to persecute them and murder them.  Saul encountered Christ on the road to Damascus and his life was forever transformed.  Saul became Paul and became a Christ follower.  Today, Paul is credited with writing a third of the New Testament.  His influence is Scripture is both profound and powerful.  

Why is this significant?  Jesus saw amazing potential in Saul.  With the deployment of Holy Spirit power, Saul was completely and amazingly reformed.  His life held new meaning and new possibilities.  Paul went from an accuser to a forgiver.  He went from persecutor to preacher.  He traded murder for love and compassion.  How is that possible?  Jesus.  Yes, Paul believed in Jesus but more importantly, Jesus believed in Paul.  Friend, Jesus believes in you today as well.  He believes that your life was worth dying for.  He believes that your life was worth the penalty.  

Illustration: What Does Advocate Mean?
advocate

[v. ad-vuh-keyt; n. ad-vuh-kit, -keyt]

verb (used with object), advocated, advocating.
1.to speak or write in favor of; support or urge by argument; recommend publicly:
He advocated higher salaries for teachers.
noun
2.a person who speaks or writes in support or defense of a person, cause, etc. (usually followed by of):
an advocate of peace.
3.a person who pleads for or in behalf of another; intercessor.
4.a person who pleads the cause of another in a court of law.

Jesus is your advocate.  He champions your cause.  He defends you.  He speaks in favor of you.  He intercedes for you when you are hurting or suffering.  Jesus loves you.  Remember I John 2:1.

I John 2:1 NLT
My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.

Brothers and sisters, do you believe that Jesus is the one true hope for all mankind?  Do you believe that Jesus is the one true God?  Do you believe that He is your advocate today?  He believes in you do you believe in Him?

If want Jesus to be your hope, your healer and your redeemer today, let me help you down the path of salvation through Christ.  

Friend, let me ask you a pointed question, if you were to die today, where would you go?  Yes, there is a real heaven but there is also a real hell reserved for those who deny Christ’s lordship over their lives.  Don’t wait till it’s to late.  Give your heart and life to Jesus today.  Howard made the most of his life and dedicated it to Christ and service to the church and look at the legacy he has left behind.  You can have the promise of eternal life as well.  Let me walk you down the path.  

1. Admit That You Are A Sinner
Romans 5:8 (NIV)
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

2. Believe That Jesus Is God's Son
Romans 10:9-10 (NIV)
That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. [10] For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

3. Confess Jesus As Lord And Savior
Romans 10:13 (NIV)
for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

If it is the desire of your heart to know Jesus and trust him with your heart and life, then pray this prayer in the quietness of your heart and mind.

"Father, I know that I have broken your laws and my sins have separated me from you. I am truly sorry, and now I want to turn away from my past sinful life toward you. Please forgive me, and help me avoid sinning again. I believe that your son, Jesus Christ died for my sins, was resurrected from the dead, is alive, and hears my prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life, to rule and reign in my heart from this day forward. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me obey You, and to do Your will for the rest of my life. In Jesus' name I pray, Amen." 

Let Today’s Information Be Your Inspiration!

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