Friday, April 15, 2011

Palm Sunday-April 17th

Come to ICCS for our Palm Sunday Service.

Worship in English and in Japanese.

Come and join the Fellowship--starting at 10:30 AM on Sunday!

Be there!  You owe it to your heart.  
Come and be refreshed!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Resurrection of Jesus: The Key of Belief/ イエスの復活:信仰の要(かなめ)

The Resurrection of Jesus is a matter of Death and of Life   

日本のために祈る。Praying for Japan.
   Soon, we will be in the Easter Season.  Palm Sunday is next week, followed by Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday), Good Friday, Easter or Resurrection Sunday. 

     The whole week is one of great interest to the Believer as it covers so much of the events of why Jesus came to earth.

One, He came to die.
   And once He was dead, He came to be alive once again.  The Work of Christ on the Cross IS the most important event in Human History. Sure His Birth was grand. Never before happened in the history of mankind that God would become flesh and live among us. Incarnation, it is called. God became Man, in the flesh: All God and ALL Man. Immanuel: God is with us!

Certainly not going to take away any of the Glory of Christmas BUT, the reason He came born as a Man, was so that He could die on the Cross for the sins of ALL of us here in this room. All who will read this sermon on line. All who have never heard of this message, Christ’ Death was to pay the price for our sins. All of them! The very sins that keep us away from God to begin with are the very ones He took upon Himself and He felt the wrath of His Father on our behalf. 

The importance of the Resurrection. He came to Rise from the Dead.
   Some would say today that they are Believers in the Lord Jesus, but… they do not believe that Jesus rose from the dead. I would counter that with this comment: You can’t be a follower of Jesus Christ and NOT believe in the Resurrection of Jesus. The Resurrection is central to the Christian faith. It is One of the Biggies of Christianity. It is The Main Thing.

   This is the very question and problem that faced the Church in Corinth. Turn with me to 1 Cor 15: 12-32

   Let us look at the passage and move through it and see what Paul is teaching us. Evidently, in that city, there were some who were teaching that there was no resurrection. How important IS the resurrection? VERY! It is the foundation—no, even deeper that that!  Paul states that IF there were no Resurrection, then Christ Himself is still dead and that blows a hole in the Gospel.  Our preaching would be useless—and so would our Faith.

   If the 11 Apostles MADE up the story of the resurrection, they would not have had such a change in their personalities.  Think with me: They never thought that Jesus would be brought back from the dead to begin with.  Where were they after the death of Jesus?  Locked in their room—afraid of the Jewish leaders!  Their whole life seemed empty to them.  One decided to go fishing ‘cause that was what he use to do BEFORE Jesus came into his life.  And that is the point: Jesus had not really come into their lives yet!  They were doubting along with Thomas. 

   When the women returned from the empty tomb, they were saying “He’s Alive!” Never entered their minds that He would do this.  He told them a number of times before that He would but they were slow in understanding…just like us.

   When two of the men ran to the tomb, they were shocked!  What did they do with His Body?  One woman asked a man she thought was the gardener, “Where have you placed Him?  I want to care for the body.”  She was shocked when she heard Jesus talking to her.  No, the followers of Jesus DID NOT expect Him to return from the dead.  No way.

   The two on the road to Emmaus did not know about it either! Once the Resurrected Jesus asked them what was going on, they stood still and asked, “Where have you been? Are you a visitor to this city?  Jesus died!”  But when He broke bread in front of them as He did in the upper room and gave thanks –POW, they could see that it was Jesus.

   The teaching of the resurrection was not made up inside the locked doors of the followers of Jesus.  Thomas did not believe unless he could put his fingers into the holes in His Hands and in His side.

   It also could not be hysteria.  Maybe for one, but not for the 11 and then later well over 500!  No, mass-hysteria does not work that way.  And they would not die for a made-up vision.  They would not die for a self-proclaimed lie.  These timid and uneducated men-for the most part-really changed after they saw and walked with the resurrected Jesus.  Peter was no longer the fool.  The other disciples went to their death defending this teaching—not so if they had made it up.

   Even the empty tomb did not convince them. It was only going to be the appearance of Jesus that brought the conviction of hearts. 

   It wasn’t their Faith that created the appearances; it was the appearances that created Faith.  It wasn’t a ‘Wish-I-could-see-Him-one-more-time’ sort of thing.  They were not too keen on He being alive again.  Jesus told them that this was His intent. He was going to be raised from the dead, but they did not believe it!

   Even at the Crucifying of Jesus, they thought their whole world was falling apart around them. All was lost!  “Our Jesus is dead.”  Sorrow and pain.  His Followers experienced the feeling of being left outside life.  Peter had denied Jesus THREE times.  He felt rejected.  Alone.  Judas already killed himself; he felt that defeated!  Yet, the promise of Jesus was that He’d be with them—until the end of the world—but that promise was not given to them until He had already been raised!

   What sort of promise did they have?  He had told them so many times during the last three years, but they could not understand resurrection.  In their Hebrew teaching, there was a resurrection but it was something that would happen way in the years to come. 

   Remember Mary and Martha, when their brother died?  “Yes, of course, Jesus, I believe in the resurrection of the dead…” Then Jesus said: “I am The Resurrection!”  She still did not understand!  How could she?  It was way outside her realm of understanding! Way outside our way of understanding, too!

   Have you ever lost a loved one?  You look at the body and you SEE them breathing because that is what the loved one used to do.  They were alive!  But then, they are placed in the coffin and reality begins to set in.  They are dead.  Sad as it is, you’d still wish them next to you!

   Is that what happened back then?  A mass illusion of the 11 and some women, WISHING Jesus alive?  No, they believed He was dead!  The two walking on the road to Emmaus, were convinced that their leader had died.  All was lost. What do we do now?  Jesus is dead! 

   But He did not stay dead.  He was not almost dead!  He did not swoon because of loss of blood and was revived in the coolness of the tomb. The guards-who witnessed death on the Cross so many times, believed Him dead because they did not break His legs as they did to the other two hanging both sides of Jesus.  Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus took Him down from the Cross and PACKED Him with over 75 pounds of spices and wrapped Him in a death cloth.  If the crucifixion would not kill you, all that spices and being tired up would kill you!

No, this teaching of the resurrection became central to the Christian Message because it is the core of the Message. You are dead in your sins and only through Jesus’ death on the Cross—which paid the cost for our sins—and His coming BACK from the Dead, could mankind be set free from the penalty of death.  Verse 26 says: The last enemy to be destroyed is death.   And at the Resurrection of Jesus, death lost out.  Death could no longer hold mankind in fear.  Jesus went into Death and came out of Death as Victor.  Going back up to verse 21-22: 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

   Yes, the mere evidence of the changed lives of the Followers of Jesus speaks volumes to us.  Changed men who now have the Holy Spirit in them as promised by the Resurrected Christ. 
Jesus said to Thomas in John 20:27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.

   And Jesus’ response to Thomas’ witness, verse 29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Like you!

   Then John ends it all with verse 31 But these are written that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His Name.

   The Resurrection is the Key that unlocks the doors of Faith and sets us free.  If Christ was raised, then I, when I put my trust in Him as my Savior, am sure to be raised as well…unto eternal life in His Name.