Last weekend we celebrated the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus. Throughout Old Testament history there were sacrifices for various offenses against a Holy God. The sin offering required blood - blood of a bull or . . . a spotless lamb. Jesus, the Lamb of God, WAS that sacrifice for OUR sins. It is through our belief in Jesus, our faith in Him, that we receive eternal life.
Look at the ministry life of Jesus through the eyes of His disciples. He was their teacher, their mentor. They followed Him wherever he went. They spent three years of their lives with Him, learning from Him, praying with Him, worshipping Him. But all throughout their time with Him I think they still had some doubts. I point to Peter as my justification for this belief.
Peter talked the good talk. When Jesus told his disciples that they would all leave Him, Peter denied it saying, "I will never fall away!" They ALL said the same according to the scriptures.
31 Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 33 Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” 34 Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” 35 Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same." - Matthew 26:31-35
Yet, on the night Jesus was betrayed and arrested the disciples all scattered like roaches when the lights go on. NO ONE stayed with Jesus. They all hid in the shadows . . . waiting . . . wondering.
Then Jesus died - nailed to the cross. Their King, their Lord, their teacher and friend . . . dead. What now? What do we do now?
I think all that occurred up to this time was pretty normal. People die. People we love. It's part of life. They must have been devastated. And talk about a testing of one's faith. Yikes! The person who had said He was the Son of God was now dead and buried. What must have been going through their minds. The disillusionment. The disbelief. But then something happened that changed the world. Jesus rose from the dead.
Have you ever had one of those life-changing events? Something devestating happened and you didn't know what you would do from that moment on? Tragedy, although very traumatic and painful at the time, can draw us closer to God.
I was at the funeral of a friend once who had died of cancer. He was in the military so they had full military honrs at his funeral. Impressive to say the least. Incredible moving. As I stood there watching the honor guard folding the flag from the coffin my boss came up to me and said, "Wow. I really need to get my act together. What do I have to do?" I told him, "You have to surrender." He shrugged his shoulders and walked away.
Another aquaintance of mine had lived kind of a wild life. Partying drinking, working late hours. One day this man had a heart attack. As he was lying there in a hospital bed he spoke to his wife about God for the first time since their wedding day. He thought about God and he thought about changing his lifestyle. But that's where it ended. He returned to his sinful lifestyle where he cheated on his wife, leading to a divorce.
Our biggest problem, our biggest shortcoming as humans is . . . we talk the talk, just like Peter and his disciples. But when the poo hits the fan we turn and run, fearing for our very lives. Our biggest problem is ourselves.
"I don't want to volunteer at Ruby's Food Pantry this morning. It's raining and I'm tired." Or, "I'm not going to church today. I want to sleep in." It's statements like that, by professing Christians, that really tell the tale of who they are . . . and in whom their faith resides.
The disciples were just like that. Just like us. On the night Jesus was betrayed, Jesus asked them to keep watch while He went off to pray. Did they obey their teacher, their God? Nope. They fell asleep. And so it is with us. We are asleep while God tells us to keep a watchful eye on OUR enemy . . . Satan. Yet we don't. We fall asleep. We haven't changed in 2000 years. We're still disobedient, selfish sinners. What will it take for us to change all that? How can we truly be resurrected from this life of sin we are living?
Look to The Cross!! Look to the empty tomb!!
Jesus rose from the dead conquering death. Triumphing over the darkness that is tightening its grip, ever-increasing it's domination of our world. It's almost to the point now where it's too late. What can we possibly do to escape the coming wrath that sin and this world has to offer. Well, honestly and truthfully, the only way out of this mess we have created is . . . to die.
We must die to self. We must repent of our sins, not just some; ALL of them, and run to Jesus. DO not walk! Be like John and Peter, who when they heard the news of Christ's resurrection, they RAN to the tomb! So it should be with us. Jut like I told my boss that day at my friends funeral. We must surrender our "selves" life Jesus surrender HIMSELF in the garden. He became a representation & sacrifice for OUR sin. He died. But then came the resurrection.
If we, our current sin-filled selves, truly die, and place our faith in Jesus, then shall we live. We will become resurrected, just like Jesus. In our death we shall find new life. If you have never surrendered all . . . think about the direction your life is currently taking. Is it truly the direction that God has asked of you? Or have you fallen asleep? Surrender to authority and savior of the world, Jesus, today. Only then will you die and be reborn. Only then can there be a resurrection in YOUR life.
I encourage you to read First Corinthians 15 for Paul's thoughts on the resurrection. You can read it here.
I Surrender All - Israel Houghton
The Cross - Billy Graham's Message to America