The Power of the Resurrection- Sunday, April 22, 2018

Scripture Lessons:

Acts 3:12-19 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

12 When Peter saw it, he addressed the people, “You Israelites,why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? 13 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him. 14 But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16 And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you.

17 “And now, friends, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18 In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer. 19 Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out.

Luke 24:36-48 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

36 While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”37 They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.41 While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate in their presence.

44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46 and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.

The Power of the Resurrection

Whenever a young person dies, it is considered a tragedy.  Such death is termed as being untimely. This does not suggest that the death of elderly people is not painful, but we often feel that the life of the younger person was not been fully lived. In Liberia, the friends of deceased young person in most instances print T. shirt labelled, “WHY SO SOON?”

But when Jesus died at the age of thirty-one (31), we celebrate his death. In fact, we term the day he was brutally and disgracefully killed as “Good Friday.” And we celebrate.  Why do we do this? Why do we not mourn the death of Jesus?

 The most obvious answer is because Jesus died for our sin, and rightly so.  We hold this belief because scripture is the primary source of our doctrine, belief and practice, affirms it. Here are few:

    • Romans 5: 8, says: “God commended his love for us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
    • I Corinthians 15:3b, “The Messiah died for our sin  
    • He loved me and give himself for me(Gal.2:20)

Besides scripture, our hymns also bear witness to the Christian belief that Jesus died for our sins. The third verse of the hymn: How Great Thy Art, reads:

And when I think that God, his Son Not Sparing,

Sent him to die, I scarce can take it in;

That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,

He bled and die to take away my sin.

All this focus on the death of Jesus and what it does for us is personally. But this is just one piece of the good news. There is a larger element of the picture which is the Resurrection. When we become too focus on this personal aspect, without paying attention to the larger element(Resurrection) it can lead us to a private or even a selfish way of seeing things in which our immediate needs may seem to have been met (our needs for forgiveness in the present and salvation in the future). Christians who focus on only this personal aspect of the good news may be content as long they are members of a church. We become Christians for ourselves.

This is not what we see in these passages. Once Jesus appears to the disciples in their fear-stricken state and convinces them that he is their risen Lord and Savior, it changes everything. The Resurrection and its power changes everything for the disciples: There is a complete change in their mood and attitude and their view of life.

What follows next is that he commissions and empowers them:

We see this in the gospel reading last week when he tells them: “As the Father has sent me I send you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit (John 20:21-22).

Our gospel reading this morning also capture similar commission (V.46-49).

, 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

Once again Jesus reminds the disciples and all of us this morning, that his death is not the end of the story. He reminds them that he was going to rise again on the third, according to the scripture and even that is not the end of the story. That repentance and forgiveness is to be preached in his name to the entire world, so everyone would be given the opportunity to hear the good news of Christ.

This is the mission that is being carried out by Peter and John in the reading from Acts that we heard. They are making a great difference in the name of Jesus, by healing a cripple beggar at the gate of the Temple. The text says everyone who saw the man leaping and praising God recognized him as the cripple beggar who sat at the gate, were astonished and amazed at what had happened.

From here onward, the life of the disciples who were fear-stricken when Jesus was crucified, became changed for every. They had the boldness to stand in front of the very authorities they were hiding from to announce; “although you handed Jesus over and he was killed, God raised him from the dead, and we are witness to us.  What made the difference is power of the resurrection.

Like these men and women, God saved us for a purpose. Being forgiven of your sin by the death of Christ and destined for heaven is not the end of the story. In fact, this is the begging of what God saved us for.  It is to spread the good news of God’s saving grace to a broken world.

If we were to ask a question to you this morning, it would, now that Jesus has died for your sin, what next?  It certainly is not to be a solitary Christian, but to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ through words and deeds.

Mitchell provides several means through which we can carryout our God given mission. Yesterday was a classic example. We thank all those who turned out for the bag distribution for the Feed a Neighbor campaign. You can volunteer to serve a ministry need that we have, like the Nursery that we have been talking about. Right now, we need a volunteer to help me with the youth program.

Remember, we are saved not to ourselves, but to be God’s agents of redemption to our world that needs to know him  

May we take hold of this post Resurrection mission and power that Christ has given us to fulfill this mission.

God bless you.

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