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Apr 10 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

The Day of Resurrection! 04/09/2023



Welcome and Prayer: Nancy Lopez

Good morning!       He is Risen!              Hallelujah!

“Come as you are,” “Just as I am;” I always think of Billy Graham when I hear these phrases.  I’ve been pondering these invitations this week, to come just as I am; and I realize there’s a part of me that still wants to come to Jesus with something shined up, straightened up, sinless, not “just as I am.” 

A sentence from a David Benner book also arrested my attention, “But again, I must come to love through sin and failure rather than success and self-improvement.” And this verse from Philippians 3: “…that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death that by any means I may attain the resurrection from the dead” (which is, of course, is where I want to go).  But if, as Philippians tells us, we may know Christ and the power of His resurrection, by becoming like Him in His death (many translations say, ‘conformed to his death,’) I realize that as He carried the burden of sin with Him, I must carry the burden of my sin with me to the cross.

It is there that it is forgiven and resurrected, that it is transformed from a place of torture, which sin is, to an empty cross, and to a flowering cross. 

I keep reminding myself that The Way is the Paschal mystery, which includes death AND resurrection.  That is the Jesus Way. 

Join me to pray, will you: Almighty God, we pray that we might understand the incredible greatness of Your power for us who believe, the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead.  Reveal to us through Grace this sacred paschal mystery at work in our own lives.  Raise us, O Lord, to new life in Christ.  You made a way for us to know You as a giving and forgiving God, a redeeming God.  We will follow Jesus on the Way He made for us, the Way of the Cross, the way of death and resurrection.  Hallelujah for this reality—we live because Jesus lives.  Amen

Morning Talk: chuck smith, jr.

The women who had come with him from Galilee followed and saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then they returned and prepared spices and ointment.
On the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment. But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words.
Luke 23:55-24:8

Intro: Every year, one line from the Easter story comes to mind

I decided that I would talk about that line today
– the women came early in the morning,
• and they found the tomb, but they did not find Jesus
• however, two men met them, dressed in dazzling apparel
◦ I don’t know about their “apparel,” but that sounds like “Project Runway” to me
◦ the only other time Luke uses the word for dazzling, it’s translated “lightning”
(later they’re referred to as “angels”–vv. 22-23)
they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?”
– that’s the line: “Why do you seek the living among the dead?”
• it’s a good one, isn’t it? The kind that preachers love
• can we think about this line for awhile?

The question is off kilter

The angels knew the women were not seeking a living person
– if we back up a few verses we read,
they saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it (Lk. 23:55)
• they had not come seeking “the living”
◦ they came looking for a corpse that placed there two days before
• in Matthew, the angel’s first words were:
Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified (Mt. 28:5)
◦ In Mark’s gospel the angels say,
Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here (Mk. 16:6)
◦ both of those statements make more sense
– so in our passage, these angels knew why the women were there and what they were seeking
• why do they ask this question?
◦ were they pretending to be naive?
◦ were they teasing the women, the way brothers tease their sisters?
◦ were they gently scolding the women? They go on to say:
Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise (vv. 7-8)
• I doubt that naivete, teasing, or scolding was the point Luke wanted to convey
◦ perhaps Luke heard something bigger in their question,
“Why do you seek the living among the dead?”
◦ I see something bigger – do you?

Maybe Luke wanted to give special emphasis to fact that Jesus was alive

That’s the whole point of observing Easter, right?
– we celebrate life – not in the poetic sense of all living things
• nor is it a message to “make the most this one life”
◦ Jesus did not just “come back to life”
◦ his body was not revived, or resuscitated, or re-booted
• he moved forward through death to a greater dimension of life
◦ a life beyond the existence of biological organisms
◦ a quality of life infinitely larger than what we experience
– his resurrection requires us to adopt a new concept of “life”
• a quality of life we cannot fathom
◦ in John’s gospel Jesus said,
“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (Jn. 10:10)
◦ the Greek word perissos means in excess, more than necessary, a superior quality|
◦ the resurrection life of Jesus was all of this — and it’s the life he came to give us

It is natural that we would find idea of life after death comforting

“Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live (Jn. 14:19)
– this gives us a sense of security – it makes us feel safe
• I want to believe that in some way the person I am will persist and not be extinguished
◦ and the same for those I have known and loved and lost
• but I think the New Testament is telling us something more than that
◦ telling us something about Jesus
He is not here–that is, in a tomb or a graveyard–he is risen
• the quality of life that Jesus has now affects our experience of him
◦ he is not in a grave, he is not in the past, he is risen
“Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forever more, and I have the keys of Death and Hades (Rev. 1:17-18)

Jesus’ resurrection tells us that we can know him in a new way

Yesterday, my meditation was on Jesus’ prayer in John 17

It is his longest recorded prayer, and fills an entire chapter
– I’ve always known that it is profound
• perhaps that’s why I’ve always struggled with it
◦ I follow it for a line or two, then it changes direction
◦ I try to track the change, but then it doubles back
◦ I think I understand one line, but the next line presents a different thought
• the words make sense – most the lines are manageable,
◦ but to me it seems jumbled and somewhat incoherent
– maybe John intended this prayer to come off this way
• as though we can hear the stress that grips Jesus hours before the cross,
◦ and his urgency to make this final prayer over his disciples
• early on in my reading of John, I would power through it
◦ the prayer was a riddle I couldn’t solve, a mystery too deep for me
◦ later I studied it line-by-line, looking for the rational thread that held it together
◦ but that also proved futile

Yesterday morning was different

It was nothing like any of my previous readings
– I wasn’t trying out a “new method” of interpretation
• in fact, I wasn’t even trying to make sense of it
◦ maybe “not trying” helped me relax into it
◦ I had never before felt its living power like I did yesterday
• it feels weird to say this, but it’s not that I understood it all,
◦ that the prayer finally made rational sense to me,
◦ but it felt like I absorbed it all – I received it and truth of it
– when I began reading I decided to listen as if I could hear Jesus praying the words
• what happened, was that I experienced Jesus’ prayer
◦ he was present, and he was praying, and I was with him listening
◦ and though I did not fully understand it, every word spoke to me

It would be wrong to suggest that I heard Jesus’ voice
– but listening to Jesus pray, I felt his voice
• when I was a small child, I would often sit on my dad’s lap when company came to our home
◦ with my head against his chest, I could feel his deep resonant voice vibrating through his chest
• feeling Jesus’ voice was something like that; like a smooth low frequency hum; a warm sound wave running through the natural world, holding it all together and giving it life; quiet and powerful

Jesus is speaking to his Father

The Father is not present in the same way Jesus is
– but neither is he far away
• he is right here, listening to his Son
◦ their intimacy is undeniable, yet shrouded in mystery
• I am listening, and I hear Jesus pray for himself
◦ I hear him pray for his disciples – I hear him pray for me
◦ he prays for all my Christian friends – and all my Christian enemies as well
(those that Phil Aguilar refers to as the “Christian Mafia”–and he knows because they’ve out a contract on him and his ministry)

I hear Jesus pray something strange, and I have to rewind to hear it again
I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world (v. 11)
– how could Jesus say that? He was right there with them when he prayed these words
• they could hear him say this prayer – and later they could write it down
◦ within a few sentences, Jesus himself says,
But now I am coming to you [the Father], and these things I speak in the world (Jn. 17:13)
• Jesus used the present tense first person singular in strange ways in John’s gospel

For instance, Jesus told his critics, “Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” But they came back at him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham” (who lived and died many centuries prior to this conversation). “Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.’ So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.” (Jn. 8:56-59)

• Jesus could say “I am” regarding an event thousands of years prior to his birth,
◦ and he could say “I am” regarding a future in which he would no longer be in the world physically even while he was still in the world
– reading, I am no longer in the world worked a profound effect on me,
• because I could hear him in the present tense;
◦ that is to say, I could hear him pray those words in the exact moment that I read them
• and it was true; Jesus is no longer in the world but with the Father,
◦ impossibly distant, impossibly present here and now, praying for me – for us – it was uncanny!
◦ his prayer creates us, shapes and maintains all that is real
◦ and his prayer is ongoing in the eternal now
. . . he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them (Heb. 7:25)

Conclusion: “Why do you seek the living among the dead?”

If Easter is only a fertility holiday of eggs and bunnies, it’s dead
If Easter only takes us back in history and leaves us there, it’s dead
But if Easter is resurrection, it initiates us into a greater quality of life,
an “abundant” life that Jesus shares with us,
so that Paul can tells us, “just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in the newness of life” (Ro. 6:4)

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