Happy Resurrection Day, church! Today, in what is traditionally called “Easter” but what I like to call “Resurrection Day,” is the most significant day of Christianity. You could say that it is the “Super Bowl” of Christianity! And the good news is that we are on the winning team every time! Yes, we are always victorious in Christ Jesus. Therefore, we have every reason to celebrate today! Amen?
Friends, as important as the birth of Christ is and as important as the Cross of Christ is, if it were not for the Resurrection of Christ, our faith would be for naught and we would still be lost in sin (First Corinthians 15:17). This is why this day is the single most significant day for us Christians.
Now, of course, these other two days—His birth (Christmas) and the Cross (Good Friday)—were absolutely necessary for what God desired to accomplish for us. However, if Jesus would have just been born and even would have gone to the Cross, our faith would be futile. There had to be a resurrection!
Yes, in order for you and I to be born again, children of God, we must believe in the resurrection of Christ! This is why I like to say that you cannot be a Christian and not believe in miracles. It is because in order to become a Christian, you had to believe that a Man was raised from the dead. Amen.
But the best part of the Resurrection is that Jesus did not just rise from the dead Himself, but He was made alive so that we could live to. Yes, He indeed is risen, and because He is risen, we can be risen too! Because He lives, we can live also! This is the power of His resurrection!
Did you know that there are some very practical lessons that we can learn from Jesus’ resurrection? Yes, there are things we can learn from how Jesus Himself approached His resurrection and how He “believed” for it. Yes, like you and I are to believe for our miracle, Jesus actually believed for His resurrection! Let me explain:
In John 2:18-22, He boldly proclaimed to those Jews who asked Him for a sign that authorizes Him to do the things He did, “Destroy this temple and in three days, I will raise it up!” (Now this will become important momentarily, but His resurrection was meant to be the sign.) In John 10:17-18, He described how He had both the power to lay His life down and to take it up.
These verses show us that not only did Jesus know of His death and resurrection, but He believed the power had been given to Him to raise Himself up. Now you could argue that He was speaking prophetically here; therefore, it was the Father speaking these words. Either way, He spoke as being the One who would take His body and raise it up again. Therefore, what we can take away from this is that the authority over our bodies experiencing the life of God is in our control because we are to be following Jesus’ example, amen? Just as we have the authority to lay it down—maybe through poor natural choices, such as abusing it with poor dieting, no exercise, etc.—we also have the authority to take it up through taking command of it, washing it with the water of the Word, etc. So, Jesus had an obvious part to play in experiencing His resurrection as we do as well. Amen?
You see, the Lord gave His covenant people the right to choose between life and death, blessing and cursing. We are told in Deuteronomy 30:19— “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.” Amen! Now it is noteworthy that He calls heaven and earth as a witness before them because this is a disputable issue and God wanted to make sure that this seemingly unbelievable truth that He has given us the ability to choose was confirmed in multiple witnesses.
Even the apostle Paul made the statement that he had the power to choose to live. Let’s look at some of the things he said concerning this: In Philippians 1:19-26 Paul was talking about his current imprisonment and in verse 19 he begins by saying, “For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance…”
Now these words “turn out” literally mean in the Greek language to go “out and up.” Friends, we can be confident that God wants us to go out and up every time! Hallelujah! But notice how Paul was so confident of God’s deliverance. Again, he knew that even in this situation, that He was going to go “out and up” and be delivered.
But now notice verses 21-22: Paul begins to describe the options of both life and death and then he ends up telling them, “yet what I shall choose I cannot tell.” Did Paul really have a choice between dying through this current sentence he was serving or living through his deliverance? Apparently, he did.
And this element of choice is much more critical than most of us realize. Have you ever noticed that when someone loses their will to live that they go soon thereafter? You hear of those stories of people fighting through certain sicknesses and diseases and winning but then you hear of those who maybe lose a spouse of many decades and then they soon follow them. Well, that is generally because they lose the will to live because of their lost loved one. For example, you can see how when one spouse precedes the other, and then the one left behind loses their purpose, joy, and desire to continue living apart from their deceased mate that they soon follow them. I believe that the reason for this is because they, in essence, “choose” death. They might not consciously admit that this is what they want, but in their heart of hearts, they are choosing not to live. Therefore, our will (or, desire) to live is so, super important. We must want to live this long and satisfying life and then choose it through a fighting spirit to finish our race.
So, the first step to receiving our resurrection is by first understanding that the authority is in our hands to do so. Then, with that fighting spirit and will to live, we choose the life God said is ours. Amen!
SEEING IS NOT BELIEVING
This is what the Bible calls having the spirit of faith. And it is critical that we understand that we must first believe in this resurrection and then we will see it, not the other way around.
I recently had a conversation with an atheist and he kept wanting me to prove to him that God was real. He would say things like— “Do you expect me to just believe?” And the answer is—YES! God expects all of us to believe without seeing. But the world says, “seeing is believing.” No, that is not true. Seeing is seeing; it’s not believing. For we walk by faith and not by sight. So, if we are walking by sight, what are we not walking by? Faith!
Now there are those who seek after signs, but the Lord said an evil and adulterous generation seeks after signs in Matthew 12:38-40. In this Scripture, Jesus used the example of Jonah being three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish (i.e. whale) to describe how He would be three days and nights in the heart of the earth before His subsequent resurrection. But I want you to notice that this was given is response to the scribes and Pharisees clamoring for a sign from Jesus. In other words, they wanted to see and experience something supernatural to validate Him.
This reminds me of the story of the rich man & Lazarus in Luke chapter 16: While being in torment in Hades, the rich man begged Abraham to send Lazarus to his family’s house to testify to them. But Abraham said, “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them” (verse 29). In other words, Abraham was saying, “They have the Word. They need to hear it!” But the rich man responded—“No, Father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent” (verse 30). But Abraham’s response here is very telling: He said, “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead” (verse 31). So, the lesson here is that even the greatest signs and wonders such as someone being raised from the dead will not cause people to believe. The only thing that breeds faith is hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). You see, faith does not come by seeing signs and wonders, miracles, supernatural manifestations, etc. Faith comes by hearing the Word. And hearing the Word once a week in a pew is not enough. We must spend time on our own in the Word and take it to heart and apply it to our life.
I remember vividly one of the first revelations God ever gave me: I was on my first fast in a Sunday school class and the teacher was reading about the children of Israel in the wilderness and commenting on how they kept being filled with unbelief even in the midst of seeing such supernatural signs and wonders and acts of God’s faithfulness and provision. This is quite amazing! I mean, they saw all the plagues come upon the Egyptians. They saw the parting of the Red Sea. They were supernaturally fed manna from heaven. They were led around the desert by cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. They saw all of these amazing and spectacular signs, yet they had little faith. Then the teacher stopped and said—“How could they stay so faithless when they saw the things they saw?” Then the Lord spoke in my heart and I just blurted it out- “It is because faith does not come by seeing miracles; faith comes by hearing the Word!” You see, the reason the children of Israel were so wishy washy was because they did not allow themselves to hear the Word of God given to them through Moses. And because they did not hear Moses, they were weak in faith. If only they would have heeded the words that were spoken through Moses, they would have had faith come into their hearts and, therefore, they would have come into the promised land and possessed their inheritance.
We see this same issue in the ministry of Jesus: Sure, there were great multitudes who came to Jesus who received the healing, freedom, and ministry that they needed, but there were also those who came to hear Jesus but never received anything from Him—namely, the religious leaders. They came to “hear” Him but they really did not have ears to hear Him. You see, a lot of believers think that if the anointing is strong enough and God’s presence is manifested enough, people will automatically have their needs met, etc. This is simply not true. You could not get any more anointed than Jesus and I can guarantee you that God’s presence was greatly manifested in His meetings, but not all of those who came to Him received what they needed. He certainly healed all who came to Him in faith, but many of those who did not come in faith did not get healed.
But the fact is that faith does not come by signs and wonders, for we walk by faith and not by sight. If we are seeing it, we cannot believe it any longer. We see this also in the example of Doubting Thomas & Jesus’ Resurrection in John chapter 20. We know the story. Thomas wanted proof of His resurrection, and Jesus said to him— “Blessed are those who believe who have not seen!” (John 20:29). Just as it is with Jesus’ resurrection, you don’t need a sign; you only need believe in what is written! Likewise, we don’t need manifestations and signs to believe; we just need to truly hear the Word and let it spawn faith in our hearts.
For example, there are many who want God to prove His love for them, basing His love for us on their circumstances. Saints, the only proof we need that God loves each and every one of us is the fact that He gave us His Son. The disciple whom Jesus loved said that this is the manifestation of God’s love for us (see First John 4:9). It’s not our circumstances or our situation. It’s the Cross, and the Cross alone. Likewise, the only proof we need that God will work a miracle for us and that we can receive our resurrection is the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead. Amen?
In the case of Jesus’ resurrection, I would venture to say that just about none of us have seen the Lord in His glorified, resurrected body. Yet, we believe! And what was the result? We experienced our salvation and were born again. Yes, the gospel of Christ was proclaimed to us, we believed it, and we experienced the fruit of it. It is like that with everything in God’s kingdom—the Word is sown in our hearts and then the fruit comes.
THE FRIEND OF THE FATHER
Now it is not simply hearing a bunch of Bible teachings, etc. It is about having ears to hear the Scriptures. Yes, our hearts need to be open to the Word. And like Jesus fellowshipped with His Father, spent time in His presence, and listened to His voice, he also received His Sayings. In other words, Jesus was a friend of His Father—thereby receiving rhema from Him.
A good parallel to this is the example of Abraham—the friend of God and one who certainly came to know God personally and experientially—being asked by the Lord to offer up Isaac as a sacrifice. Now if you watch many theatrical portrayals of this story, you will see Abraham struggling to obey God in this. This simply comes from what these film producers & directors could relate to, but I don’t believe Abraham approached this in fear, doubt and unbelief. The writers of Hebrews tell us the opposite was the case. Hebrews 11:7-9 says, “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called,” concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.”
So, notice that Abraham offered up Isaac by faith. Now when one does something by faith, this does not mean that they do it blindly and unknowingly. Trust might do that, but not faith. No, faith knows and sees. What makes it faith is that it knows based on what it knows is a reality in the spirit realm. Yes, it sees what is in the spirit realm. And because it knows and sees the truth, it rejoices, has peace, and is confident and fully persuaded. And this is exactly what Abraham was doing here.
Verse 8 shows us that he had received promises from God—namely, the one that said, “In Isaac your seed shall be called.” So, Abraham already had the Lord tell him that Isaac was the son of promise and his seed would come through him. Therefore, Abraham knew that this, what seemed to be an apparent change of plans, had to simply be that God would raise Isaac from the dead. We see this in verse 19 when we are told that Abraham concluded that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead. Abraham knew how to walk by faith. He was a friend of God. He spent time with God. When we do that, the logos (written) Word becomes the rhema (revealed) Word. So, what happened here was God had already told Abraham that in Isaac his seed would be called, and then since God asked him to offer Isaac up as a sacrifice, he just figured God would raise him from the dead because He knew God couldn’t lie. That's faith! That's a man that knows his God and what to expect from Him.
So, I can see Jesus following this same pattern. He knew what His Father had shown Him. He clearly knew that He would be asked to lay His life down and then would be raised up three days later. Therefore, when God asked Him to drink from the cup of the Cross. He willingly submitted to His Father’s will—knowing by faith that He would be raised up. Amen.
IT IS WELL!
But Jesus didn’t just keep His faith to Himself; He made His faith known—even to the point that His reputation was of declaring that He would experience a resurrection. We see this in Matthew 27:62-64 where Jesus' predictions of his crucifixion and resurrection were obviously common knowledge. And these predictions of His resurrection by Jesus were of such common knowledge that it led the religious rulers to ask Pontius Pilate to secure the tomb. Let’s look at some of them:
Notice how Jesus began to show them things concerning His resurrection in the Gospel of Matthew. Now it is important to understand that Matthew’s Gospel is commonly known to be written to the Jews—to help them to believe on their Messiah. Therefore, the following statements Jesus made regarding His resurrection were important to their believing in Him. But this is also the reason why He knew and attempted to prepare His disciples:
So, what are we seeing here? First of all, it is that Jesus knew of His death, burial and resurrection! How? His Father had shown Him and He was convinced and persuaded of it. We also see and can learn that because He was so persuaded of it, He repeatedly spoke of it. Therefore, He affirmed it to others. Now you only do this when you are convinced of something.
So, our lesson here is: It is imperative that we commune with our Heavenly Father until we know we have heard from Him, until the Scriptures have been opened up to us, until the truth has made us free. Then once we let those truths live in our heart, they will repeatedly come out of our mouth.
Now this reminds me of the story in Second Kings chapter four of the Prophet Elisha & the Shunammite woman (see Second Kings 4:8-37). You know the story: This noble woman desired to honor the man of God when he would pass by, so she asked her husband if they could have a room prepared for him. So, after taking such good care of Elisha, the prophet asked this woman what he could do for her to return the favor. And it was told him that she had no son. So, Elisha declared over her that within twelve months she would have a son, which obviously came to pass.
But then after the child had grown, in the process of events, he died. And after he died in his mother’s arms, she took and laid him in the man of God’s room and shut the door. Then she requested of her husband—who was obviously unaware that his son had died—that she be given the means to go visit Elisha. And when the husband inquired as to why she needed to go see him, her response was— “It is well.” Even when the servant of Elisha was sent to ask her if all was well, still her confession was “It is well.”
Now what I just love about this response is that it comes from the Hebrew word shalom. And while this word is commonly known to mean “peace,” it means so much more than this. This word means “completeness, soundness, health, prosperity, safety & welfare.” Some expositors say it means “nothing missing & nothing broken.” So, in essence, this woman would only respond when asked if everything was okay with “Nothings missing and nothings broken!”
And do you know why this is important to do sometimes? It is because even good, well-meaning people can hurt your faith. They might say, “Oh, you need to hurry up and do this or do that!” when that is not what the Lord thinks you should do. So, avoiding those who might try to talk you out of your “resurrection” is imperative.
We also see this in the story of Jesus raising Jairus’ daughter from the dead: In this account, the room was filled with friends and family who were mourning over her. So, what did Jesus do? He kicked them out! You see, sometimes you gotta kick the unbelief out—that is, block out all that would hinder you receiving your miracle. Now your friends & family might not like it, but would you rather have their approval or your resurrection? Amen? You see, there is no room for doubt and unbelief in the resurrection room. And we see this again in the story of the Syrophoenician woman, who was very bold and persistent in pressing for her miracle, even when it wasn't yet time for Jesus to minister to the gentiles. So press through and MAKE it the timing of God.
So, after this woman only responded like so, when she got to Elisha, she threw herself on him and declared that she would not leave him. So, he came with her. And guess what happened? She received her resurrection!
So, this Shunammite woman received her son’s resurrection because she knew how to block out the unbelief and she only said what she wanted to see. And we see the same with Jesus. Even when Peter tried to talk him out of all this “I’m going to die and be raised from the dead” talk, Jesus responded strongly with “Get behind me, Satan!” (see Matthew 16:22-23). Now why did Jesus respond so strongly to Peter’s words here? I believe it was because He was already being tempted, and Satan was now using the voice of one of His closest friends—teaching us that if we are going walk in everything God has for us, we are going to have to quench all of those fiery darts that the devil throws our way, including the ones from those closest to us.
So, church, use your words to both resist the devil and to create the atmosphere for your miracle. Romans 10:9-10 teaches us that this believing in your heart and confessing with your mouth is how salvation is received. And salvation is more than just going to heaven; it includes experiencing heaven on earth. Yes, because we believe in our hearts that Jesus was raised from the dead, we must also believe in our hearts that the Lord will raise our lives from the dead. But we must also confess it—for with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
The apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 3:10 that we ought to know the power of His resurrection! Well, Proverbs 18:21 shows us that life and death are in the power of the tongue! So, guess what? The power of His resurrection is in our tongues! We just have to start speaking it! We receive His resurrection by choosing it. We hide God's Word in our heart, and let it come out of our mouth.
JOY COMES IN THE MORNING!
Along those lines of Jesus being tempted, we see in the Garden of Gethsemane how Jesus, like all of us, had that moment where He was struggling in His faith (see Matthew 26:36-46). And it is noteworthy that His greatest moment of struggle was soon before the manifestation of what He was believing for.
Did you know that this is generally how it happens? When things get the darkest—when there is the most adversity—is usually right before the miracle. And that was exactly the case with Jesus here. In just a few days, His joy would be made full.
The Bible teaches us that for the joy set before Him, Jesus endured the cross, and is now sitting at the right hand of God (Hebrews 12:2). This Scripture teaches us that Jesus took up His cross in exchange for the joy that He would experience afterwards. In other words, Jesus traded His life on the Cross for the joy that He would receive as a result of laying down His life. Of course, this does not mean that the joy necessarily came while He was hanging on that Cross. There was indeed pain and suffering involved in His crucifixion. But, praise the Lord, joy indeed came in the morning of that third day! On that great and glorious Day, He tasted the resurrection life of God and His joy was fulfilled! Glory!
And this is how it works, church: Our resurrections occur after we have laid down our life. It won’t necessarily come in the “evening”—that is, when we are having to make those tough decisions involved in laying our life down. For example, if we feel led to give our nest egg away, our flesh might start kicking and screaming. Then, even after we decide to die to our ourselves and release that money, our flesh might still be in mourning. But the good news is this—joy always comes in the morning (see Psalm 30:5). Yes, there will be an eventual joy that will flood our hearts because we have operated according to this spiritual principle of how the Kingdom of God works.
HUMILITY = RESURRECTION
So, what did Jesus do during this difficult time? He prayed, He prayed and He prayed. He went back to the thing that produced His initial confidence—fellowship with His Father. In other words, He pressed through the pain and into His presence. He even said, “Not my will, but your will be done”—which encapsulates His heart of humility.
Jesus’ becoming a servant to His creation wasn’t the height of Jesus’ humble attitude. The apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 2:8 that Christ not only lowered Himself and became a servant to His creation, but was also obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Wow! What we see here is that Jesus willingly lowered Himself from being Jehovah Elyon—the Most High Himself—to the “most low” here on the earth.
Saints, there was no greater humiliation for the Lord Jesus Christ than His crucifixion. Aside from the shame and the physical suffering, we cannot even fathom the depths that He went to, spiritually, for us. Yes, when Jesus took up that Cross, He laid down His life more than any man ever has. But here is the awesome part: Notice the end result of Jesus coming from heaven to earth and from the best of lives to the worst of deaths. The apostle Paul said that it all resulted in God highly exalting Him and giving Him the name above every name. So, the end result of His humiliation was His exaltation and being given the name that every knee will bow to and every tongue will confess (Philippians 2:9-11)! Glory to Jesus! Yes, He lowered Himself, which resulted in God raising Him up to the highest place.
So, here is the point we need to get: When one chooses to lay their life down for the Kingdom of God, the reward is always exaltation. And this exaltation is not just honor and reward; it includes joy and happiness too. As it was said concerning the Lord Jesus Christ, He was anointed with the oil of gladness more than His companions (see Hebrews 1:9). And I believe He had this joy enveloping Him more than any other man because no one had laid their life down for the Kingdom of God any more than He did. Therefore, no one was capable of walking in the kind of joy that He did. Glory to the name of Jesus!
Church, when we learn to serve like our Lord and humble ourselves to this extent, our joy will never diminish. On the contrary, our joy will stay full. The Lord also said in John 15:9-13 that when we learn to walk in the love of God, our joy will be full. Saints, our joy will never be any fuller than when we learn to empty ourselves. Yes, our joy and contentment will be at its pinnacle when we are completely void of self—all of the selfishness, self-centeredness and self-promotion. Again, this is just how God’s Kingdom operates, which is the opposite of the world’s way of thinking. So, let this mind be in you today and choose the joy that comes by taking up your cross.
Church, I believe the Lord is calling us—Christ’s disciples—to emulate our Master. Not just in the laying down of His life, but also in His resurrection! Yes, He wants you and I to experience His life and for us to “Arise!”
This was the word I heard this week in preparing for today’s “Easter” message— “Arise!” Yes, I believe the Lord wills for each and every one of us to arise from our dead situation and receive the power of His resurrection. It might be in your physical body. It might be in a relationship in your life. It could be your finances. It simply might be in your spiritual life. I believe the Lord would say to you today— “Arise, shine; For your light has come. And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.” (Isaiah 60:1)
You see, God has given us the ability choose to live and not die and declare the works of the Lord! Hmmm, sounds like that’s in the Bible somewhere. It is! Psalm 118:17 boldly states— “I will not die, but live, And declare the works of the Lord!” Glory to God!
Church, we can take words like this and believe God that the thing in our life that is seemingly dead can “Arise!” So, it doesn’t matter how hopeless, bleak or dark our situation might seem. God specializes in giving life to the dead. In fact, it is one of His favorite past-times. He loves calling things that be not as though they were and giving life to the dead. And if He does this, so should His children.
So, begin to call things that seemingly are not as though they are and watch God bring to life that circumstance, situation or thing in your life that seems to be dead.