Happy Easter! Or better yet Happy Resurrection Day! We’re here to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, never to die again. Which means that Jesus is alive today! No other founder of any religion has risen from the dead. Mohammed, Abraham, Buddha, Krishna and Confucius are all dead, but only Jesus is alive.
How do we know that the resurrection is not just a legend from the past? We have multiple first-hand eye witness accounts of the empty tomb and encounters with Jesus after the resurrection. The resurrection is a documented historical fact. The evidence of the empty tomb is telling. All the enemies of Jesus needed to do to disprove the resurrection was to find the body. But they could not, because Jesus was alive.
1 Corinthians 15:3b-6a (ESV) Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time,
There were literally hundreds of eye witnesses to Jesus coming back to life. These eyewitnesses confirmed the written accounts recorded in the Gospels.
Today, in our message, Resurrection Power, we’re going to look at three different encounters of people with the risen Jesus. The focus in our message is going to be on how the resurrection of Jesus 2000 years ago impacts our lives today. When Jesus rose from the dead, He overcame death itself. To overcome death and come back to life took the incredible power of God.
Philippians 3:10a (ESV) that I may know him and the power of his resurrection,
Paul expresses his desire in this verse to know the risen Jesus better and to experience resurrection power in his own life.
Ephesians 1:19-20a (ESV) [that you may know] what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead …
If the power of God could raise Jesus from the dead, than that power is able to meet any need you may have in your life today or in the future. Everyone here has a need, something that is too big for you to handle in your own power. Whatever that need is, the resurrection power of Jesus is strong enough to take care of you. So, let’s begin with our first encounter with the risen Jesus to learn how to …
Our first story begins with Mary Magdalene coming to Jesus’ tomb early in the morning. She was astonished that it was empty. She quickly ran and got Peter and John. The two disciples also saw that the tomb was empty and left to tell others. Mary was left at the empty tomb weeping, when she saw two angels inside.
John 20:13 (ESV) They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.”
Mary was so consumed with her grief and anxious thoughts that she didn’t recognize that the two men speaking to her were angels. She had no thoughts of a resurrection, she thought that somehow Jesus’ body had been taken somewhere else.
John 20:14-15 (ESV) Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”
Mary continued to weep over the disappearance of Jesus’ body. She was so distraught over the situation that she did not recognize Jesus standing right next to her. Jesus spoke to Mary, but she didn’t recognize his voice and thought he was the gardener in the cemetery. She was distracted from the presence of Jesus in her quest to find the missing body. Yet Jesus was there to …
John 20:16-17 (ESV) Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
When Jesus called Mary by name, she finally recognized His voice. She realized that Jesus was alive, risen from the dead. She began to hug and cling to Jesus in her joy. She just wanted to stay with Him as her weeping of sorrow had been replace with tears of happiness. Jesus made it clear that He was not going to stay on this earth, but would shortly ascend back into heaven. Right now, Jesus had a mission for Mary. He instructed her to go and tell the disciples that He was alive and would be ascending soon to the Father.
Mary had been so distracted with the problem of the empty tomb that she failed to recognize Jesus standing right beside her. The empty tomb was not a problem at all, but simply a sign of the risen Lord. In what ways do we become so consumed with our own situations that we fail to recognize the presence of Jesus in our lives?
Sometimes we think that nobody understands what we’re going through, not even God. Or maybe is He does know what we’re going through, we may doubt that He cares. But just as in Mary’s situation, Jesus is right there beside you, no matter what you’re going through in your life. If you will listen with the ears of your spirit, you can hear Him calling your name. Ask Him to show you that He’s real and He will. He’s waiting for you to respond to Him, because He’s got a plan, an instruction for your life, a path for you to follow. His resurrection power will give you the strength to make it. Whatever you’re going through this morning, recognize the presence of the risen Jesus in your life.
Luke 24:15-16 (ESV) While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him.
In our second encounter with the risen Jesus, two disciples of Jesus were walking along a road from Jerusalem to Emmaus when a stranger joined them. The two disciples were discussing what had just happened. How a great prophet Jesus, who they had hoped was the Messiah, had been crucified. They did not understand that Jesus had to die before He could be raised from the dead.
Luke 24:21, 25 (ESV) But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. … And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!
These disciples had a vision of Jesus the Messiah saving Israel from the Romans. Yet, now He was dead, three days had passed and they were discouraged. The Old Testament prophets had prophesied that the Messiah would have to die and would then rise from the dead three days later. Jesus Himself had prophesied that He would die and three days later would rise from the dead.
However, what the disciples could see with their eyes seemed so much more real than the prophesies of God’s Word. And what they saw discouraged them. Jesus rebuked them for being foolish and being slow to believe God’s Word. As they continued to walk and talk along the road, Jesus showed them through God’s Word all the prophesies about Himself. Yet they still did not recognize Him. Their lack of faith had blinded their eyes to the truth. Finally …
Luke 24:30-31 (ESV) When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight.
As these two disciples continued to spend time with Jesus, talking to Him about God’s Word, eating with Him, suddenly their spiritual eyes were opened. They recognized Him as Jesus, risen from the dead. And then He vanished from their presence, their lesson had been learned.
Just as those two disciples were discouraged, so we can be discouraged at various turns of events in our lives. We hope that things will turn out a certain way and they don’t. In the midst of your discouragement, Jesus is there, right alongside you. If you ask Him, He will explain to you from God’s Word, what to believe. He will encourage you with His presence and resurrection power. After meeting Jesus, the two disciples did not continue on their journey to Emmaus, but returned to Jerusalem to tell their story of encountering the risen Jesus. So, we too, must tell others of our encounters with Jesus as we believe in the risen Jesus. Finally, let’s learn in our third encounter how to …
John 21:4 (ESV) Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.
In this encounter, seven of Jesus’ disciples, including Peter, had gone fishing. They had fished all night but caught nothing. Jesus called out to them to cast the net on the right side of the boat. They did so and hauled in a huge quantity of fish. Finally, the disciples recognized it was the risen Jesus. They came ashore and ate breakfast with Jesus.
But all was not well with Peter. Peter had sworn to Jesus before the crucifixion that he would never deny Jesus. Yet, when Jesus was on trial, Peter denied knowing Jesus before questioners, not just once, but three times, as Jesus had predicted. Peter had failed in his promise to never deny Jesus.
John 21:15-16 (ESV) When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” … He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”
Peter had promised Jesus that even though all the other disciples fell away from Jesus that he would not. That he would lay down his life for Jesus. But Peter had failed to keep his promise. So, Jesus asks Peter whether he now loved him more than the other disciples. Peter replies that he does love the Lord, now omitting the more than these. Jesus asks Peter a second time and Peter gives the same answer.
John 21:17 (ESV) … He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”
Jesus now asks Peter the same question a third time. Jesus asked Peter whether he loved him three times, just as Peter had denied knowing Jesus three times. Each time, Peter reaffirmed his love for Jesus, once for each time he had denied him. Jesus was giving Peter an opportunity to repent of his denial of Jesus and to reaffirm his love for Jesus. Jesus was giving Peter an opportunity to be forgiven of his sin.
John 21:15-19 (ESV) … He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” … He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” … Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. … And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”
After each question and Peter’s response, Jesus gave Peter an instruction and direction for his life going forward. Even though Peter had failed Jesus three times, Jesus was restoring him to a position of leadership in the early church. Peter was to feed and tend the lambs and sheep of God’s flock, which were the believers in the growing church. The lambs were new believers and the sheep were more mature believers. Jesus had not given up on Peter, He was giving him a second chance to be a rock in the early church. Finally, Jesus told Peter to follow Him. And history records in the book of Acts that Peter was restored and became the rock in the church that God desired him to be.
Perhaps there are some here today, that just like Peter, you were zealous to follow Jesus for a time. But then various things happened. Even though you never intended to fall away, even though you never intended to deny Christ, you’ve fallen into sin of various kinds. The guilt you feel has separated you from your previous close relationship with Jesus. You may feel that God has given up on you, that you could never get back close to Him. But that’s not true. Jesus is there right now, asking you if you love him. Turn away from your sin, once again acknowledge your love for Jesus and let him restore you. You see, Jesus wants you to follow Him, to carry out His purpose for your life. Be restored by the risen Jesus.
Easter is not just about looking back to the event of the resurrection 2000 years ago. Easter is a reminder that because of the resurrection Jesus is alive today. And since Jesus is alive today, His resurrection power is available to change your life. Today, if you’re overwhelmed with the problems in your life, recognize that the risen Jesus is beside you right now. He desires to guide you forward. Today, if you’re discouraged that certain things in life haven’t gone as you hoped, choose to believe in the risen Jesus. He wants to reveal Himself to you. Finally, if you feel like you’ve failed Jesus, you know you’re guilty of sin, look to be restored by the risen Jesus. He longs to forgive you and restore His purpose for your life. Most of all, Jesus wants you to know today that He loves you and wants to help you with His resurrection power.