God’s Word places Christ's death, burial, and resurrection as central. Everything in the Old Testament points towards the Cross, everything in the New Testament points back to the Cross.
The Centrality of Christ's Death, Burial & Resurrection
I would invite you to open to that central event of all time and of all that ever matters. That event is recorded in John 20. Open there to see our Creator, who is crucified for His own creature’s sin, and then rises from the dead.
John 20:1-10, 19-20, 26—28 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2 Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” 3 Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. 4 So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. 5 And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. 9 For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went away again to their own homes. 19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” 28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”
We Gather to Celebrate that our Crucified Savior is Risen
On this Resurrection Sunday, as we remember and celebrate that our crucified Savior is Risen, I’d love to take you on a journey, perhaps unlike any you have ever been on.
Most Easter Sunday’s of my life growing up were a snapshot of some detail of Easter Sunday’s resurrection of Christ. Which is a powerful and wonderful study. But few of those messages over 20 plus years of regular church attendance, ever delved too deeply into why Christ was murdered, and even fewer probed what God planned to do with all the rebels down through time before the Cross, and all those that would follow.
Not that any of those messages were anything but wonderful, encouraging and part of my spiritual nurture, but it always seemed like Easter came, we did this Easter Sunday event starting at Palm Sunday and then it was over. Easter was an event almost disconnected from the whole scope of the Bible. But it isn’t.
Christ's Resurrection is the Central Truth of Time, Space, & History
Actually, Christ's Resurrection we celebrate today is the center, the high peak of all of time, all of history, in the entire Universe. God has only revealed to us that we as humans exist as the sole non-angelic and non-divine beings in the Universe.
As far as God is concerned for us to know, there are no other beings, super-heroes or intelligent beings besides what is recorded in the Bible.
So, it is our Triune Creator God in Three Persons, then levels of His angelic beings fallen and un-fallen, and finally all of us humans, made in the very image of God. That’s all, according to all that God wants us to know, ponder and probe.
The entire Bible points to this truth of Christ's death, burial and resurrection being central to everything. The creator has revealed Himself, sacrificed Himself and is coming back as judge. That is what we could say is:
The Panorama of the Bible
If we look simply at God's Word we could say that three truths can summarize all the pages of the Bible:
- The Ignored Creator is Rejected: That would describe the background to every event from Genesis 1 toJohn 19.
- The Crucified Savior is Risen: That describes the greatest event of all of history and is written down in the 40 days chronicled from John 20 to Acts 1.
- The Angered Judge is Returning: That covers the essence of what the Apostles each came to in their written presentations of the Gospel to the world, as the directly commissioned representatives, or Apostles, of the Creator & Savior Jesus Christ. Their words are recorded from Acts 2 to Revelation 22
Before we deeply look at the passages, let me give you the sweeping, panoramic view of the Bible under these three divisions.
The Fall of Adam
We watch Adam and Eve sinfully rebelling and then hiding from their Creator in Genesis 3. Then we see the decline and fall of the human race to such an extent that God had to drown every one of them but Noah’s family of eight souls in Genesis 4-9.
God was rejected as the Creator that should be adored, revered, obeyed and worshiped by His creations in His own image. And that is only the first 9 chapters of human history!
The Human Race Declines
As humanity begins to multiply, we see the intervention of God against mankind’s united voice of humanism that worshiped their own accomplishments instead of the Creator’s at the Tower at Babel inGenesis 11. So, their Creator confused their communications so that humanity couldn’t work together, and they spread out across the planet.
The Rise of Idolatry
As civilizations spread across the world, God said that they chose to worship everything but their Creator. Sins multiplied, violence and evil filled civilization. So God started His post-flood witness with Abraham, called from the idolatry that filled the world by Genesis 12. Abraham began representing the Creator God. His descendants became the Israelites, to whom God revealed Himself.
God Chooses Israel
After multiplying in Egypt, God led them out in a miraculous Exodus and instructed the nation of Jews to represent their God in every dimension of life. They were instructed to build a Meeting place with Him as their God, portable and then permanent. The Creator came down in great displays of power, thundering and pillars of fire. He spoke and asked Israel to be His special representatives, but most would not. They had other plans that were more important than doing what their Creator asked them to do.
Can you imagine that any person would think that their plans are more important than the plans offered to them by their Creator? That could summarize human history right down to this moment.
The Ignored Creator is Rejected by Most
Chapter after chapter of God's Word records that the Creator is known by few, ignored by many and rejected by most. That is the bulk of the Old Testament.
So, the Creator God sent spokesmen called prophets to speak for Him and they were either rejected or only temporarily heeded. Jonah saw a temporary revival in Ninevah, Daniel saw a temporary response in Babylon, and all the prophets to Israel and Judah faced very little genuine responses.
So the Creator Comes to Live on Earth
By the time we come to the New Testament the same pattern continues. Few are knowing, following and obeying the Creator. So, the Creator that has been ignored and rejected, actually comes down and becomes a human.
Christ's life on Earth is recorded as a series of scenes of ignorance and rejection interspersed with tiny but precious adoration, reverence and obedience.
Starting with His birth, that witnessed a sky filled with angels dazzling the desert hillsides as a few shepherds watched. But no real interest came of the excited shepherds, the visiting Wise Men, and the enthused testimonials of those Temple workers, Simeon & Anna.
Again the Creator is known by few, ignored by many, and rejected by most. So:
The Creator Introduces Himself in Person to His Creatures
After 30 years of living like no human has ever lived, the Creator in human flesh is heralded by the last and greatest prophet of the Old Testament, John the Baptist. Crowds came, surged, sniffed, got wowed, and then slowly settled back into their own ways, not His.
By the end of the mightiest ministry ever witnessed on Earth, people still yawned.
The Creator is Ignored, then Rejected
Not even the shrieks of howling demons, who cried out in dread fear of this Creator in human flesh, could move them. Neither could the parade of those healed: the lepers, the blind, the mute, the deaf, and even the dead He raised.
No one ever said His miracles didn’t happen, they just never wanted to adore, reverence and obey their Creator. Again the Creator is known by few, ignored by many, and rejected by most.
The Ignored & Rejected Creator is Murdered
So, the ignored and rejected Creator came to give Himself as a sacrifice for His fallen and dying creatures, and He did. He suffered shame and scorn, then pain and suffering, and finally He became our sin on that Cross.
As He hung on the Cross, God treated His Son the Creator like He had committed every sin we would ever commit. Then Christ died, and His body was buried.
Jesus rose. The Creator, ignored and rejected by most, showed Himself only to those with believing eyes and was only touched by loving hands. Those who would adore, reverence and obey Him, saw Him. He stayed with them for 40 days showing them His Word, teaching them His truth, and then commissioning them to go. Then the Crucified Creator, who became the Risen Savior, went back to where He came from.
The Lord Jesus Christ, the Blessed and Only Potentate as Paul calls Him (1 Timothy 6:15), ascended to Heaven, showering down words of blessing upon His disciples.
Now, comes the third and final part of God's Word:
Probably the most profound summary of the Gospel ever preached was preached by the man that most embodies the message. That man wrote most of the New Testament, preaches the most messages recorded outside the Gospels, and really shaped all that we do in church today.
There was a day when Paul was called upon to explain Christ, God's Word and the plan of salvation simply and concisely. This message was to be given before perhaps the most educated, sophisticated and erudite group ever assembled at one place and time.
In the very center of humanity’s greatest schools of philosophy, education and the sciences stood one man. There before the faculty of humanism’s best, he was given less than 2 minutes, just 275 words in our English Bible. to summarize God's Plan, and Paul did it. It was perfect because it comes to us as an inspired sermon.
What we get is exactly what God wants us to hear, understand and use when we also have to explain our God. Turn there with me to Acts 17:24.
You see, as we open to the message of the Gospel after the Cross, we see here the same theme repeated over and over again by Pater, James, John and Paul. What is that theme?
Don’t Ignore & Reject Your Creator & Savior
It is a warning. Watch Out! The ignored and rejected Creator came as a man who was the Crucified & Risen Savior, but He will return as the Angered Judge.
Listen to Paul actually use this three-part division as He introduces them to their Creator:
The Creator:24 “God, who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands. 25 Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives to all life, breath, and all things.
The Savior: 27 so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’
The Judge: 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Manwhom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
How did the Apostles describe the proper response to the ignored and rejected Creator, who became the crucified and risen Savior? Listen to what Paul says right there in Acts 17:30: “but now commands all men everywhere to repent”!
There is Only One Acceptable Response
Wow, that is getting to the point with a group of seekers.
Why repent? What was the motivation Paul gave them?
Look again at v. 31: “because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained.”
What could Paul have meant by that “judge the world” statement? Now stay with me, this is amazing. Let your eyes drift up to a word in v. 1 of this chapter (Acts 17:1).
Where does it say Paul was, just prior to Athens? Thessalonica, right? Does that ring a bell? It is the church that got Paul’s first two letters or epistles. If we turn there, we will see that one theme found often in Paul’s teaching:
Impending Doom is Central to the Gospel
Let me illustrate that as we close, by turning to 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9.
Here is Paul, writing from His heart, his first epistles, inspired by the Spirit to record exactly what God wants us to hear.
When Paul told those Athenians that they needed to reach out and grope for the Creator they had ignored and rejected their whole lives, He told them the good news: Jesus is close enough to touch by faith for this moment. Then Paul lowered the boom. Keep ignoring and rejecting your Creator who became the crucified and risen Savior, and you will have to face Him as the Judge.
Our Creator is the One each of us killed with our sins. Our Creator-Savior has risen and before He sits down as Judge, is standing with His Hands outstretched to us. All we have to do is believe Him, respond to His outstretched arms, grope for Him, Paul said in Acts 17:27. He’s not far from any of us.
But if we refuse, and continue to ignore and reject Him, Paul never holds back the truth.
Listen to what everyone needs to hear every day until they respond.
2 Thessalonians 1:6-9 (NKJV): since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, 7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels,8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,
We Gather to Celebrate that our Crucified Savior is Risen
But as we do so we must always remember, every day before and after Easter that the Lord Jesus Christ is:
- the Ignored Creator that was Rejected
- the Crucified Savior that was Risen
- the Angered Judge that is Returning
So which is He to you?
- Is He your Creator you know? Few know Him, will you?
- Is He your Creator you ignore? Many ignore Him, will you?
- Is He your Creator you reject? Most reject Him, will you?