Pastor Barry Bruce: The Gathering Study 4 of 6 : Easter Sunday
Let Go and Believe! John 11:25-27, 39-40, 43-44 How many of you are ready to let go and let God do whatever He wants to do in your life on this Easter Sunday 2017? No more fooling around! No more excuses… no more “if”, “and” or “buts”. Just let go of whatever you’re holding onto and really believe.
I want to ask you this morning what Jesus asked Lazarus’ sister Martha after her brother was dead four days in his tomb. In the eleventh chapter of John’s gospel Jesus proclaimed that He was “the resurrection and the life”. “The one who believes in Me will live, even though they die”, said Jesus… “Do you believe this?”, Jesus asked Martha. Martha said she believed but she really did not. We discover this truth when Jesus asks to have the stone rolled away from the tomb. Martha was shocked that Jesus suggested such a thing, but Jesus counters her disbelief: “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” Apparently, Jesus doesn’t need Martha’s or our belief to reveal the glory of God. Despite the disbelief Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead!
Six days before that Passover, where Jesus had His “Last Supper” with the disciples, He had dinner with the raised Lazarus and his sisters (John 12:1-2). The next day Jesus was paraded as the “Blessed King of Israel”. The crowd of “believers” put Him on a donkey, threw their garments on the ground and shouted “Hosanna” at the top of their lungs (John 12:12-13) Hosanna is often thought of as a declaration of praise, similar to hallelujah, but it is actually a plea for salvation. Literally, hosanna means “I beg you to save!” or “please deliver us!” These “believers” were so sure that Jesus was the chosen one of God (Messiah) that they begged Him to save them. They said they believed but they really did not. We discover the truth one week later when all the disciples ran away from Jesus (Mark 14:50). and the same crowd of people shouted “crucify him!” (John 19:14-15) Apparently, Jesus doesn’t need His disciples or anyone’s belief to accomplish His mission to “save”. He brutally loved all of those unbelievers right up to the end and bled out on that cross to save them! And we are among them too. Do you believe?
Unbelief on Easter Morning Matthew 28:1-10 The gospel accounts of that Resurrection Sunday are filled with disbelief. The angels had to tell the two Mary’s (Mary Magdalene and Mary, mother of James. Joanna: Luke 24:9 and Salome : Mark 16:1 were also with them.): “He is not here; He has risen, just as He said”. John’s gospel reports that Mary Magdalene was sure that someone had stolen Jesus’ body until He himself greeted her (John 20:11-16). And when the women told the apostles that Jesus was raised they thought their words were nonsense (Luke 24:11). But Jesus was raised…JUST AS HE SAID!
God True, Every Man a Liar Matthew 28:11-15, Romans 3:10-18 Jesus spoke the truth…He always speaks the truth but every man is a liar.
What if some did not have faith? Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness? Absolutely not! Let God be true and every man a liar. Romans 3:3-4a
The guards that fell like dead men when the angel rolled away the tomb stone later gained their composure took a bribe and lied about the resurrection they had witnessed. Like all lies and disbelief they breed more lies and disbelief and ignorance prevails in the hearts of men. As the scriptures say “There is no one righteous, not even one—their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” Only Christ is truth (John 14:6). So of course He was raised…JUST AS HE SAID! Do you believe Him or do you believe man?
Falling Short Yet Getting Grace Romans 3:23, John 3:16-18 Jesus’ gentle rebuke to Martha’s disbelief regarding the resurrection of her brother Lazarus becomes ours: “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” But we all fall short of the glory of God because we have all sinned. Our disbelief is sin itself. Not to believe in Him who God has sent to redeem us is the ultimate sin. John 3:18 But Jesus raised Lazarus despite Martha’s disbelief. Jesus also raised from the dead Himself despite mankind’s disbelief. He has demonstrated His grace to us so that we might believe in Him and have our sins forgiven. So that we would come to faith, and in so doing “see the glory of God!”
The “Glory of God” Through Reconciliation 2 Corinthians 5:17-20 The “glory of God” that Jesus wants us to see is realized in being reconciled to God. Like the story of the prodigal son come home (Luke 15:11-32). When we are reconciled to God we are right in His sight. We are heirs to all He owns. We are children of His promise. We are eternal sons and daughters of the creator of the universe. The old is gone, the new is here! Jesus came to reconcile mankind to God. He came to show us the way to God. He came to tell us the truth about God. He came to demonstrate the eternal life that is God.
Jesus is the reconciler. He Himself said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6 Jesus came to show us the way, the truth and the life so that we could believe and therefore see the glory of God.
Ambassadors of Christ Matthew 28:16-20 Amazing but true…even after the disciples saw the resurrected Jesus, touched Him and talked to Him—”some doubted”. And still He loved them and sent them out as ambassadors with a promise to be with them always…to the very end of the age. The love of Christ is brutal to be sure and so is His call to you on this Easter morning: “Do you believe all of this?”, then let go! Let go of anything that keeps you from being reconciled to God. Believe in Jesus and let Him make all things new. Let go of the weak branch your holding onto and fall into the open arms of God. Let go of the lies, let go of the disbelief, let go of the sin and the shame and fall into His Brutal love and amazing grace!