Easter is a celebration of the Good News of the possibility of eternal spiritual life for believers. It was an epiphany moment for Mary and it is a personal epiphany moment for each of us. After Easter human life became incredibly richer. Easter Sunday was like a hinge in history. Before the Resurrection there was only uncertain hope of having a right relationship with God through the Covenant of Moses. After the Resurrection there was certainty that God was doing a new thing and that believers who died spiritually with Jesus would also be raised to a new form of life with Him after their physical death. He is risen was a cry of joy, love and amazement that still makes our hair stand on end over 2,000 years later. The Resurrection validates the new Covenant of Jesus.
1. Jesus Resurrection was God's approval of the Covenant of Jesus
During his ministry Jesus had repeatedly talked about his death and resurrection. This was a central part of the new relationship or covenant between God and man, that Jesus promised. The best test of a teacher is to see if what they said would happen does in fact happen:
· At the time of His death there was great confusion
· Teaches us this is a story of real people – and the truth, because the Disciples are not described as all knowing and wise.
· We know the story of Mary Magdalene is also accurate because she is described as so human (a prostitute) and so confused
· This was God’s very big and very clear ‘yes’ to all that Jesus had taught. Our entire Faith depends on the truth of this story.
· Resurrection was a clear sign that God had blessed the New Covenant of Jesus.
3. Peter defines the New Covenant as Belief in Jesus (Acts 10.34-43)
We have to remember how radical the message of Jesus would have been in his time. Peter for example would have been brought up to believe that only the Jewish People had a Covenant relationship with God. They believed everyone else was a pagan with no hope of God’s earthly blessing or an afterlife. The new idea was that now God was reaching out to all people of all races and offering them an opportunity to be part of the New Covenant of Jesus. Inclusion in the New Covenant was conditional on:
· Belief -- "...everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name." (Acts 10.43)
· Belief means trust in the Resurrection of Jesus and God's covenant promise that those who believe will be forgiven as Jesus taught.
· Notice belief in Jesus - not in being a good person
· Names are important, defines the essence of the person
· "Jesus" means God Saves - His sacrificial death was His mission
· Belief means trust Jesus could pay the price for the sins of al
· Test of belief is repenting, asking Jesus for forgiveness.
· Belief depends on belief God, not Joseph was the Father of Jesus
· If God was the Father of Jesus, Jesus was a divine not just human sacrifice and could pay for the sins of all believers
· Forgiveness depends on personal repentance and confession to other Christian believers -- breaks the power of secret sins
· Repentance ensures there was a spiritual death to the sin.
· Only by rooting out personal sins could believers be restored to full inclusion in the Christian community.
3. Experiences of the Supernatural Help Us Become Believers
We are living in a post-Christendom culture where many people have forgotten or lost their belief in the supernatural claims of the Bible. My about to be published autobiography is the story of how I discovered these signs in my own life and how this strengthened my belief. There is nothing more powerful than personal experience of the supernatural to make the teachings of the Bible real. Peter explains what the disciples saw that proved Jesus authority to make a new covenant in addition to the Resurrection:
- · Jesus was visibly anointed by the Holy Spirit
- · Jesus boldly proclaimed the good news of God's forgiveness
- · Jesus prayed for people and they were healed
- · Jesus cast out demons and freed people from spiritual oppression
My own experiences of the Risen Jesus include:
- · Spiritual healing and forgiveness
- · Baptism in the Holy Spirit
- · Spiritual eyes opened for words of knowledge reading the Bible
- · Visions of Jesus in heaven and with people in healing prayer
- · Praying with people and seeing them healed
- · Praying in tongues
These experiences have given me assurance that I am keeping my part of the Covenant of Jesus and will also be raised to a new life with Jesus when I die.
It takes a long time for us to believe the Good News. He is risen!