BECAUSE HE LIVES

Jesus is alive – He is alive – Hear me, He is alive …

Living here with His people
Living here with you
Living here for you – available to help
Revealing Himself to others through you
In spite of the fact that many believers live life like…
He is not here
He is still in tomb
He is dead and buried
Her is not available or active today

I am here to tell you – He is alive – Hear me, He is alive…
Let’s read God’s Word… Matthew 28:1-20 (The Passion Translation)
After the Sabbath ended, at the first light of dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to take a look at the tomb. Suddenly, the earth shook violently beneath their feet as the angel of the Lord Jehovah descended from heaven. Lightning flashed around him and his robe was dazzling white! The guards were stunned and terrified—lying motionless like dead men. Then the angel walked up to the tomb, rolled away the stone, and sat on top of it!
The women were breathless and terrified, until the angel said to them, “There’s no reason to be afraid. I know you’re here looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here—he has risen victoriously, just as he said! Come inside the tomb and see the place where our Lord was lying. Then run and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead! I give you his message: “I am going ahead of you in Galilee and you will see me there.”
They rushed quickly to tell his disciples, and their hearts were deep in wonder and filled with great joy.
Along the way, Jesus suddenly appeared in front of them and said, “Rejoice!” They were so overwhelmed by seeing him that they bowed down and grasped his feet in adoring worship.
Then Jesus said to them, “Throw off all your fears. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee. They will find me there.”
After the women left the tomb, a few of the guards went into Jerusalem and told the chief priests everything they had seen and heard. So the chief priests called a meeting with all the religious leaders and came up with a plan. They bribed the guards with a large sum of money and told them, “Tell everyone, ‘While we were asleep, his disciples came at night and stole his body!’ If Pilate finds out about this, don’t worry. We’ll make sure you don’t get blamed.” So they took the money and did as they were told. (That is why the story of the guards is still circulated among the Jews to this day.)
Meanwhile, the eleven disciples heard the wonderful news from the women and left for Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had arranged to meet them. The moment they saw him, they worshiped him, but some still had lingering doubts.
Then Jesus came close to them and said, “All the authority of the universe has been given to me. Now go in my authority and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And teach them to faithfully follow all that I have commanded you. And never forget that I am with you every day, even to the completion of this age.”
This is an amazing story
It loses some of its punch or impact because we know it so well
We often don’t take the time to ponder it because we are busy with life
Even with the extra day or two off on Easter weekend it fills up quickly with friends and family / yard work and other spring things
As I was reading it this week I was struck with the number of people involved in the story
From the slightly insignificant to the central figures of the story –  a minimum of 18
Let’s take a look at them…
The angel…
Certain about his task and his message
Bold in his proclamation – “He is not here”
You don’t look for the living among the dead
Powerful – “he rolled the stone out of the way by himself*
A little cocky – confident in a bold and cheeky way – he sat on top of the stone
*The stone:
The Garden Tomb in Jerusalem was dug into the rock hillside to make a cave-like room.
The opening is nearly big enough to walk through without stooping.
It would take a stone of 5-6 feet in diameter to cover it.
To the right of the opening, an inclined groove or track was cut into the ground rock, running across the opening. It had a deeper indentation at the tomb’s entrance.
A large round stone about a foot thick was placed in the track when the tomb was built and blocked to keep the entrance open – another stone was placed in the track to keep the “door” open
After the Lord was placed in the tomb the block was removed allowing the stone to be rolled down the incline and dropped into the indentation to cover the opening and lock the stone in place.
It would have taken three or four men a considerable amount of time to dislodge the stone and open the tomb by rolling the stone door back up the track – up the groove.
The angel – one powerful being whose presence was overwhelming and frightening
Powerful – lightening flashes announce his entrance into the story
Different – clothing was serious white bright
The Guards…
There were more than one or two as most pictures depict
“A few of the guards went into Jerusalem to report…”
If they followed normal Roman protocol then four is the minimum number
It can be as low as 16 and as high as 50 due to the importance of the task and the fear of the body being removed by His followers or even some of the tens of thousands of visitors to the city during Passover
The Jewish leaders also sent guards … as noted that the guards went back and reported to the Jewish leaders and the high priest
If there were just Roman soldiers then they would have gone to report to Pilate
The guards were Roman and Jewish – Romans soldiers and Jewish temple guards
Their response as non-believers deceived by religion:
Stunned
Terrified
Fearful of dying at the hands of an angel
Interesting that after the event was over and the women and angel left – they just might have become believers
But, when they went to report what had happened they were convinced to tell a lie
They did not stand strong in what they saw and knew to be true
The Women…
“Mary Magdalene and the other Mary”
Other Mary = the mother of Jacob and Joseph (Salome) – Mark 16:1
Mary, the mother of Jesus was also there – Luke 24:10
Joanna was the fourth woman in the group
Their reactions:
Determined  – came to anoint the body in spite of the stone door
Breathless – more than they expected
Terrified until the angel spoke to them (verse 5)
Full of wonder (deep into wonder)
Filled with great joy and rejoicing (Jesus told them to rejoice)
Overwhelmed by the whole thing (verse 9)
Still fearful
Amazed and awe struck as they saw the resurrected Jesus (verse 9)
Obedient – did as the angel said
Bold – as women were not usually ones to come with a message
Certain of what they had seen and experienced
The eleven disciples:
They were amazed
No longer just disciples or ‘friends’ but now were ‘brothers’
“Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee. They will find me there” (verse 10)
They were obedient – they went to Galilee to meet Him as requested
They were not all ‘sold out’ to Him  … not convinced about all that has happened
“The moment they saw him, they worshiped him, but some still had lingering doubts” (Verse 17)
There was a mixed variety of responses when we read the other accounts of the resurrection
Which set of reactions would you have had on that first resurrection day?
Like the guards who saw, most likely believed, and were persuaded not to follow
Like the women who believed and who followed wholeheartedly and in amazement
Like the disciples who had their doubts and deep concerns about what this would all mean for them
Who do you relate to?
Of course, we can’t leave out Jesus and His actions and reactions…
He was victorious – He has been raised from death to life (Verse 6)
“He has risen victoriously”
He was radiant in appearance – thus not always immediately recognized
He was powerfully present … He was noticed – powerful presence
He was fulfilled – His task was completed
He was bold, certain, confident, specific, determined, focused
He was in control
“All authority in the universe has been given to me”
He was empowering – giving power to His disciples to complete the task He initiated
“Seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10)
He moved forward with His plan in spite of the doubts and concerns being expressed
I noticed something else that really struck home with me … the word “suddenly”
“Suddenly, the earth shook violently beneath their feet as the angel of the Lord Jehovah descended from heaven”
“Along the way, Jesus suddenly appeared in front of them…”
God was doing the unexpected
God was doing things quickly and without prior notice
God was moving forward regardless
God was allowing them to experience new things – things beyond their understanding
God was working way beyond their desires and expectations
Isaiah 43:19 “Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it?.” (ESV)
“For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?” (TLB)
“Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?
There it is!” (The Message Version)
“Look at the new thing I am going to do. It is already happening. Don’t you see it?” (NCV)
Today – for those of us to whom the story is familiar …
1> He is alive (Verse 6) and so we can live in the power of His resurrection (2 Timothy 1:9)
2> We can live in the Kingdom and experience Kingdom life (Matthew 4:17)
3> There is no reason to live in fear or with fear (Verse 5)
“Throw away all your fears” (Verse 10)
4> Jesus is as close to you as you want Him to be
“Then Jesus came close to them…” (Verse 18)
5> Jesus is not leaving us – He is always with each one of us
“And never forget that I am with you every day, even to the completion of this age.” (Verse 20)
6> Because Jesus rose from the dead as He said He would – then nothing is impossible for Him to accomplish and do today
“…what seems impossible to you is never impossible to God!” (Matthew 19:26)
“Not one promise from God is empty of power, for nothing is impossible with God!”(Luke 1:37 TPT)
“What appears humanly impossible is more than possible with God. For God can do what man cannot.” (Luke 18:27 TPT)
“If you are able to believe. All things are possible to the believer.” (Mark 9:23 TPT)
The bottom line for today:
If the resurrection of Jesus from death and hell is true – and it is!
Then nothing is impossible – everything is possible, available, doable…
And, as we walk with Jesus and serve Him, we can expect Him to do some amazing things through us – some of those when we least expect them (suddenly)
Song Video: “Nothing is Impossible” The PlanetShakers (5:00)
https://youtu.be/k4qdVECadAE
The risen Jesus has given to every believer a task … two actually
Make disciples everywhere you go…
“Now go in my authority and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And teach them to faithfully follow all that I have commanded you.”
“Follow” = Keep, Guard (as in a fortress)
Defend the faith (guard the fortress of truth)
Jude 3b “Dearly loved friend, I was fully intending to write to you about our amazing salvation we all participate in, but felt the need instead to challenge you to vigorously defend and contend for the beliefs that we cherish…”
And then, of course, God gives each of us a unique task to do…
Connected to our abilities – but bigger than we do on our own
Connected to our skills – but greater than our specific skills
Connected to our talent – but, at times, totally outside our talent area
Connected to what we know – but beyond our knowledge base
The part of your calling that is unique to you should be so big that if God does not show up you will fail
The vision of what God is asking for you to do with Him should scare you
If your vision does not scare you then it isn’t big enough
All this because Jesus is alive and working in you
And, working with you
And, working through you
It is time to stand up / get up and move forward into the tremendous future and the most awesome adventure anyone could ever ask for…
PERSONAL:
In my life I have been experiencing a freshness – a new encounter with Jesus
And I have been journaling the journey and sharing it with you
Run, Don’t Walk – Hebrews 12
Resurrection Life – 2 Timothy 1:9
SeeKing Jesus – John 12:21
Because He Lives – Matthew 20:1-20
As a result I have made some new commitments based on the fact that Jesus is very much alive and seriously active in and through those who trust Him and are filled with the Spirit…
1> I will attempt something new for me and great for God – challenge
2> I will remove any and all hindrances to my moving forward rapidly – commitment
3> I will embrace all that He wants me to be regardless of the cost and what others may think or say – change
4> I will do what He has asked me to do (generic) and equipped me to do (specific) and do so with zeal, enthusiasm, and expectancy
5> I will do everything necessary to live in and walk in the power that raised Jesus from the dead
2 Corinthians 4:7 (TPT) “We are like common clay jars that carry this glorious treasure within, so that the extraordinary overflow of power will be seen as God’s, not ours.”
Ephesians 1:19-20 (TPT) “  I pray that you will continually experience the immeasurable greatness of God’s power made available to you through faith. Then your lives will be an advertisement of this immense power as it works through you! This is the mighty power that was released when God raised Christ from the dead and exalted him to the place of highest honour and supreme authority in the heavenly realm!”
“Because He Lives” our lives should be different and powerful…
As we consider the resurrection of Jesus and all that His resurrection means today for believers, I challenge you to sit down this weekend and decide what difference His resurrection should be making in your life …
Who you are
How you live
What you do to touch lives for Him
In what area He is asking you to get up and stand tall in the power of the Spirit for Him