Easter Sermon 2011

A Resurrection Survey

The church has been celebrating Easter for literally 100’s of years.  Easter is the church’s celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  The resurrection is when Jesus came back to life by the divine power of God after He had been crucified and died three days before.  What were the crucifixion and then subsequently His resurrection all about?  Why did Jesus die?  Was it a story of a prophet who went too far and things got out of control or was it the divine plan of God?

To answer the question why did Jesus die, we need to start in the Book of Genesis with the account of Adam and Eve.

1- Adam’s Sin and Our Need for a Savior

Genesis 2:16-17 (ESV) 

    And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden,  [17] but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

Many of you know the story how Adam and Eve were deceived by Satan, they ate of the fruit that God commanded them not to eat and death was a result.  They didn’t die that day, however, death had entered the world through their sin, just as God had said it would.  They, like everyone after them would in fact die.  Sin has been reigning in the human race ever since this first sin.  Sin is an incurable epidemic that once it started, has continued to infect everyone ever since.

Because God is as merciful as He is just, He made coverings for Adam and Eve and also made them a promise.  As He pronounced the judgment because He’s just, He also gave hope because He is merciful.  God said that there would be One coming who would be born of woman that would crush the head of Satan.  Even thousands of years before Jesus would come; God pointed them to hope in Jesus Christ.  The death of Adam and Eve and the corruption of the entire human race began with this monumental first sin.

Romans 5:12 (ESV) 

    Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—

All humans have this bent toward sin, theologians call this, our sin nature; all are plagued by the original sin of Adam.  We are slaves to sin and slaves to death.  We cannot escape this chain of events that started with Adam.

In this flow of events, we also see what sin is.  It is rebellion against God’s commands.  In this case, He commanded Adam to eat from every tree in the garden except one.  When Adam disregarded what God said, the act was sin.  This sin brought about death.  This death has somewhat of a twist to it.  The day they ate of the forbidden fruit they didn’t die physical deaths but they did die spiritual deaths.  Their innocence was dead, their longing to speak with God, dead.  Their minds being fixed on eternal things were now dead.

Ephes. 2:1-3 (ESV) 

    And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 

    [2] in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— [3] among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 

Because all people are born spiritually dead, we all need God to bring us to life.  Don’t forget, I’m not speaking of physical death, all of us are alive and walking around and breathing, we’re very much alive that way.  However, we’re dead when it comes to following God.  We’re dead when it comes to even desiring God.  In order for that to change God has to work.  Before their sin, Adam and Eve used to enjoy God’s company, now after sin, the Bible tells us that they hid from God.  Something was drastically wrong.  The human race has been hiding from God ever since.  If things are going to change, God has to move…God did move.

2. God’s Invisible Hand at Work in the Crucifixion-

The cross of Christ was never outside the plan of God.  Adam and Eve’s sin was known by God before it happened.  Before He created the universe, He knew that His Son would go to the cross.  The crucifixion was not God scrambling to fix something that He didn’t know about.  In fact, the cross was God’s foreordained perfect plan to make a people for Himself.

Satan wanted to destroy Adam and Eve just like he wants to destroy you and me.  When they sinned Satan had accomplished what He thought would be their destruction.  But God is sovereign and has even orchestrated the events that brought that day about.  He has also orchestrated the events to bring about salvation for those who trust Christ.

The Apostle Peter in his sermon in Acts, after Jesus had already been murdered has this to say to the people.

Acts 2:22-23 (ESV) 

    “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— [23] this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 

Do you see the paradox?  Peter says, Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God and then states, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.  It was God’s plan to execute His Son to pay for the sins of those who would trust Him as Savior and God’s perfect and definite plan was carried out perfectly by sinners.

Satan’s plan to ruin mankind by sin actually was the very thing God used in order to accomplish the greatest act of love the world has ever and will ever see.  Jesus died at the hands of those sinners who Satan had influenced.  This was the perfect plan of God.

On another occasion, Peter and John were speaking to the people about Christ.  They were arrested and taken before the council, then released the next day.  They go back to the others with this report…

Acts 4:23-28 (ESV) 

    When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them.  [24] And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them,  [25] who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,


    ” ‘Why did the Gentiles rage,

        and the peoples plot in vain?

    [26] The kings of the earth set themselves,

        and the rulers were gathered together,

            against the Lord and against his Anointed’—

 [27] for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel,  [28] to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 

There is that same paradox again.  God’s perfect predetermined plan was carried out by sinners.  God had set all these participants in place to do what they did.  Gentiles raged and demanded that Jesus be crucified.  The people of Israel plotted and schemed as to how they would kill Jesus.  Evil and jealous King Herod set himself against Jesus.  Pontius Pilate set himself against Jesus.  All this was, according to the Bible…[28] to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.

Over and over we could look at various passages that teach us that the crucifixion was God’s plan…Salvation is of the Lord.

We must be extremely careful here.  This is weighty truth.  It’s important that we get this right.  It’s safest to use the words and phrases the Bible uses.  The invisible hand and plan of God are behind these events.  To say much more is to risk misrepresenting God.—John Piper

Why is it important to see that the death of Christ was at the invisible hand and the plan of God?  God had to be involved if the death of Jesus was to have a saving effect for His people.  The crucifixion of Jesus Christ has saving significance because God’s hand was involved.

Isaiah 53:10 (ESV) 

    Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;

        he has put him to grief;

    when his soul makes an offering for sin,

        he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;

    the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

All this was taking place at the hand of God because…He loves sinners.  All the events were set in place, all the agony, all the tears…because God loves sinners.

Romans 5:8 (ESV)  

    but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 

Romans 8:3 (ESV) 

    For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 

God condemned sin in Jesus’ flesh with our condemnation, so we are free!

Galatians 3:13 (ESV) 

    Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 

God cursed Jesus with the curse that belonged to us, so we are free!

2 Cor. 5:21 (ESV) 

    For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

God imputed our sin to Jesus and now we go free in the righteousness of Christ!

Isaiah 53:5  

 [5] But he was wounded for our transgressions;

        he was crushed for our iniquities;

    upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,

        and with his stripes we are healed.

God wounded Him, God crushed Him for you and me, and we go free!—John Piper

He wasn’t going to leave these events up to mankind but God had to be actively involved.  To loose God’s involvement is to loose the Gospel.


Adam’s sin has affected all of mankind because we are all sinners.

Sin brings about spiritual death

Spiritual death means we cannot in any way do anything to fix it ourselves because we are dead.

God sent Jesus into the world to die for sinners.

God’s wrath, that we deserve, was poured out on Christ…so we go free

3- God’s Invisible Hand at Work in the Resurrection

When Jesus was hanging on the cross, right before He died, He exclaimed, It is finished.  When He said these words, He was saying that the payment that His just Father required for sin was just about to be paid.  Paid in full is another way of putting it.

The Bible tells us at that moment Jesus died.  Immediately after He died the earth was in turmoil.  There was a very powerful earthquake that literally shook the cross, darkness came over all the land, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom, those who were dead and in the ground rose up and were seen in the city.  The normal course of events was disrupted when…

The Sinless Son of God died.

Romans 5:12 (ESV) 

    Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— …except One.

There has been one Man die who never sinned even once.  When death spread to Jesus, the universe just about flew apart because this was the one exception to the rule.  As a sinless Man, Jesus should not have died.  He would not have died except it was the divine plan of God.  Apart from divine intervention Jesus would not have died that day.

His death is at the heart of Salvation.  Jesus experienced the wrath of God in place of the sinner.  All who trust Christ for salvation are forgiven of their sin and His death is effectual.  He pays the penalty for our sin and gives us, in the process, His righteousness…AND WE GO FREE!

Just like the crucifixion was foretold, so Jesus’ resurrection was as well…

Psalm 16:10 (ESV) 

    For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,

        or let your holy one see corruption.

Death tried for three days to hold our Lord and was successful but in the end had to let go.  Jesus has power over death.

Acts 2:22-33 (ESV) 

    “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— [23] this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.  [24] God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.  [25] For David says concerning him,


    ” ‘I saw the Lord always before me,

        for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;

    [26] therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;

        my flesh also will dwell in hope.

    [27] For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,

        or let your Holy One see corruption.

    [28] You have made known to me the paths of life;

        you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’


    [29] “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.  [30] Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne,  [31] he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.  [32] This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses.  [33] Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 

Death could not hold the sinless Son of God…

Here’s the good news for Adam’s lost race: If you are in Christ, death will not be able to hold you either.

Romans 8:11 (ESV) 

    If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

There are two types of people today…

The first category is those who are still in their sin and still dead toward God.  These folks will experience a resurrection unto death.  These folks will be judged and condemned for the sins.

The second category is those who have trusted Christ as Lord and Savior.  They will experience a resurrection unto life. These folks will not be judged for their sins, even though they are sinners every bit as much as the first group, because God has judged Jesus in their place.  These are the ones who go free.

God will not judge the same sin twice.  The reality is this, either you are judged for your sin or Jesus is judged for your sin.

God proved to the world that the death of His Son was sufficient payment for the sins of all His people, past, present, and future when He raised Jesus up from the dead.

Please understand this is no myth or made up story.  Jesus was seen by hundreds of people for forty days after His resurrection and even 500 at one time.  He spoke and taught and then after forty days was taken up into heaven and is now seated at the right hand of the Father interceding for the saints.

Do you know this Jesus as Lord and Savior?  Have you trusted in His work on the cross on your behalf through repentance and faith?  I pray that you trust in Him today and His death will be applied to you and you will go free…

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