Today we celebrate the fact that Jesus lives but at the same time we have to ask if he reigns in our lives. We say he is risen and he is risen indeed but do we realize the significance of this in our lives and the power that is available to us. Paul prayed in Ephesians 1:18 “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” This talks about the great power and author that is available to us. “for Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” Jude 1:24 “To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” This is not just a day we celebrate but a day that represents God’s eternal promise to us .
Solomon praised God by saying 1 Kings 8:19 “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who with his own hand has fulfilled what he promised with his own mouth to my father David. 20 “The Lord has kept the promise he made:” Jesus fulfills the promise to David but the promise does not end there, the promise is also carried out in us. Solomon then in his prayer of dedication spread out his hands toward heaven 23 and said: “Lord, the God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way. 24 You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it—as it is today. 25 “Now Lord, the God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father the promises you made to him when you said, ‘You shall never fail to have a successor to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your descendants are careful in all they do to walk before me faithfully as you have done.’ 26 And now, God of Israel, let your word that you promised your servant David my father come true.” Solomon then prays about different scenarios that will happen if God’s people turn away and our response to them should be repentance. 1 Kings 8:46 “When they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you become angry with them and give them over to their enemies, who take them captive to their own lands, far away or near; 47 and if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captors and say, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrong, we have acted wickedly’; 48 and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their enemies who took them captive, and pray to you toward the land you gave their ancestors, toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name; 49 then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause. 50 And forgive your people, who have sinned against you; forgive all the offenses they have committed against you, and cause their captors to show them mercy; 51 for they are your people and your inheritance, whom you brought out of Egypt, out of that iron-smelting furnace.”
We are going to read through Luke 24 and then have communion. During this time we need to reflect on whether we believe all that is before us in God’s word. You would think that after being with Jesus and seeing all that Jesus did, the disciples would have believed. John 21:24 “This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. 25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” You would also think that with all there is in scripture talking about the power of God, people would notice it is missing. So the question we have to answer about ourselves is do we believe that Jesus is alive and he reigns as our king? Do we believe what he has taught and do we believe there is power available to all who believe? Are we still holding on to man’s ways or are we willing to follow His way, His life and His truth?
Luke 24:1 “On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words. 9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.”
Their words seemed like nonsense. It appears not much has changed in this area today has God’s words seems like nonsense to those who are perishing. 1 Corinthians 1:18 “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” So here we are 2000 years later and people still do not believe. We have been talking about two millennium of unbelief. It just keeps getting worse and each generation gets further and further away. The true definition of God’s grace is that he has promised David there would always be remnant. If it were not for His everlasting love, we would be destroyed. As you know for the most part we follow the calendar. When the 25th comes we celebrate Christmas. When the time for Easter comes we celebrate Easter but unlike Christmas, Easter moves around. I was thinking that every year Palm Sunday and Good Friday come around. That part is obvious but it is not so obvious to those celebrating that they perpetually sing Hosanna and shout Crucify Him at the same time. Year after year they celebrate their audacity to call themselves Christians even though they refuse to lay down their lives for Jesus and carry their cross. There are two groups of people doing this. The first group are those who have tasted the goodness of God yet have turned away and fallen prey to false gospels. 2 Peter 2:20 “If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. 21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.” Hebrews 6:4 “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age 6 and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.” Then we have the larger group who have Hebrews 10:29 “trampled the Son of God underfoot, who have treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who have insulted the Spirit of grace?” This is a massive group of people who yearly celebrate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ but fail to recognize that they continue to crucify him without ever repenting. They continue this year after year in oblivion. Jeremiah 5:3 “Lord, do not your eyes look for truth? You struck them, but they felt no pain; you crushed them, but they refused correction. They made their faces harder than stone and refused to repent.” Revelation 16:9 “They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him.” Revelation 22:12 “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. 14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.”
We don’t want to be outside. Jesus came that we might have life in abundance. There is so much available to us but the enemy has been stealing, killing and destroying. John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Revelation 22:6 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” 17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” John 6:35 “Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” Isaiah 5:1 “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. 2 Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. 3 Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David.”
As the disciples turned away in unbelief Jesus came to them. Luke 24:3 “Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him. 17 He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?” They stood still, their faces downcast. 18 One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
19 “What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. (notice the disciples knew the answer but still walked away in unbelief) “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.” 25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” Mark 16:12 “Afterward Jesus appeared in a different form to two of them while they were walking in the country. 13 These returned and reported it to the rest; but they did not believe them either. 14 Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen.” Notice that Jesus opened their eyes so they could see but Jesus said Matthew 15:6 “you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you: 8 “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 9 They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules.” Earlier Isaiah was told 9 He said, “Go and tell this people: “‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ 10 Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.”
Unfortunately for you and I, we have been led down an empty path from our fathers who have not followed the word of God wholeheartedly. This unbelief has led to great desolation and delusion and many are perishing for lack of knowledge. 2 Kings 22:13 “Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.” They have been deceived and don’t even know it and each generation that followed gets furthers from the truth. This perpetual deception has led to our desolation but because of God’s amazing grace and his promise to David, Hebrews 10:39 “we are not destroyed but to those who have faith are saved.” All through time in response to God’s promise to David he reaches down and shows us the way. He sets apart those who will serve him. When Moses was on the mountain a long time the made a golden calf. Exodus 32:7 “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. 8 They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt. 25 Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies. 26 So he stood at the entrance to the camp and said, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me.” And all the Levites rallied to him. Exodus 32:29 “Then Moses said, “You have been set apart to the Lord today, for you were against your own sons and brothers, and he has blessed you this day.” Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.” The Levites were set apart and became part of the promise to David. Jeremiah 33:17 “For this is what the Lord says: ‘David will never fail to have a man to sit on the throne of Israel, 18 nor will the Levitical priests ever fail to have a man to stand before me continually to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to present sacrifices.” 19 The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 20 “This is what the Lord says: ‘If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night no longer come at their appointed time, 21 then my covenant with David my servant—and my covenant with the Levites who are priests ministering before me—can be broken and David will no longer have a descendant to reign on his throne. 22 I will make the descendants of David my servant and the Levites who minister before me as countless as the stars in the sky and as measureless as the sand on the seashore.”
Jeremiah himself was set apart. Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Gideon was set apart to save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Judges 6:12 “When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” 4 The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” 15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family. 16 The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.” Acts 13:2 “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Romans 1:1 “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God.” Galatians 1:15 “God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles.” 2 Thessalonians 2:13 “But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14 He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Because of disobedience some are called to be the first to return from captivity. 1 Chronicles 9:1”All Israel was listed in the genealogies recorded in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah. They were taken captive to Babylon because of their unfaithfulness. 2 Now the first to resettle on their own property in their own towns were some Israelites, priests, Levites and temple servants.” David said to his family, Genesis 50:20 “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” The plans of the Lord will not be thwarted, Psalm 33:11 “the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.”
Luke 24:28 “As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. 29 But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32 They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Isaiah 6:5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” Luke 2:25 “Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. 27 Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, 28 Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” Luke 1:67 (Zechariah’s Song) His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied: 68 “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them. 69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David 70 (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), 71 salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us— 72 to show mercy to our ancestors and to remember his holy covenant, 73 the oath he swore to our father Abraham: 74 to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear 75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. Solomon’s praise –1 Kings 8:15 “Then he said: “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who with his own hand has fulfilled what he promised with his own mouth to my father David.”
Luke 24:33 “They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.”
36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” 40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence. 44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” 45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Acts 2:8 “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
As we wait, we prepare to cross over to the Promised Land in the power of the Holy Spirit. Joshua 1:2 “Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. 7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
So we continue to persevere so that God can use us to build His kingdom. Ezra 5:11 “We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and we are rebuilding the temple that was built many years ago, one that a great king of Israel built and finished.” James 1:4 “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 5:11 “As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.” Psalm 66:10 “For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver. 11 You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. 12 You let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.” Isaiah 44:28 “He will say of Jerusalem, “Let it be rebuilt,” and of the temple, “Let its foundations be laid.”’ Ezra 3:11 “With praise and thanksgiving they sang to the Lord: “He is good; his love toward Israel endures forever.” And all the people gave a great shout of praise to the Lord, because the foundation of the house of the Lord was laid.
The longer our journey takes us, the more I realize how far off course we are as the church. When you actually follow God’s word it is so foreign it appears wrong to those who don’t know the truth. We have been tested by God to see if we would obey. On this foundation of obedience and repentance, God will rebuild his church. The church will then become what it is supposed to be. It is not a building, it is anything but a structure or program or something you can promote and sell. Ephesians 2:19 “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” The new temple that is being built is you and I and all those who believe. 2 Chronicles 5:13 The trumpeters and musicians joined in unison to give praise and thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, the singers raised their voices in praise to the Lord and sang: “He is good; his love endures forever.” Then the temple of the Lord was filled with the cloud, 14 and the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God.” Acts 2:1 “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.” 1 Chronicles 22:19 “Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the Lord your God. Begin to build the sanctuary of the Lord God.”
We praise God today because God in His amazing grace has given us a chance to live even though we don’t deserve it. Daniel 9:7 “Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you. 8 We and our kings, our princes and our ancestors are covered with shame, Lord, because we have sinned against you. 9 The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; 10 we have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets. 11 All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you.” Nehemiah 9:29 “You warned them in order to turn them back to your law, but they became arrogant and disobeyed your commands. They sinned against your ordinances, of which you said, ‘The person who obeys them will live by them.’ Stubbornly they turned their backs on you, became stiff-necked and refused to listen. 30 For many years you were patient with them. By your Spirit you warned them through your prophets. Yet they paid no attention, so you gave them into the hands of the neighboring peoples. 31 But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.
Isaiah 37:31 “Once more a remnant of the kingdom of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above. 32 For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.”
Today we celebrate what God has promised to do. We hold fast to His promise to free us from captivity and pour out on us His Spirit once again so that we can go out to the nations. 1 Peter 1:3 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”