Last week in our series of spiritual gifts, we looked at miracles. Today will be no different. Last week we celebrated Easter all over the world, but do we understand the miracle that took place? Is it just another consumer holiday where we look forward to seeing everyone’s new outfits and enjoy chocolate and jelly beans? Do you enjoy Easter because it typically marks the beginning of Spring? I don’t want you to miss the miracle of Easter.
Let’s look at Luke 19:28-40 and ask ourselves the question, who is this Jesus? The name Jesus brings many thoughts to people’s minds. Names are like that. Names mean a lot, especially back in the day. In fact a one word summary can be made for many people based on what they had done or what they contributed to the world. We have Alexander the Great, Ivan the Terrible, and Bloody Mary. Reggie Jackson became known as Mr. October. Karl Malone was the Mailman. Biblically we have John the Baptizer, Simon the Zealot, Doubting Thomas, and who can forget Judas the Betrayer.
These one word description are no different for Jesus. In Matthew 1:21 it says, “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Jesus in this verse means Jehovah is salvation. Jesus most often referred to Himself as the Son of Man. He is known as the Messiah, the Light of the World, the Prince of Peace, the Bright and Morning star. He is the Alpha and the Omega. He is the Redeemer, the Advocate. He is the Power of God. He is the Lamb of God, the Good Shepherd. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. He is the Resurrection and the Life. That’s who Jesus is.
This Jesus was loved by the common people. This is the Jesus that Micah said would come to rule Israel, One whose, “Goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.” While loved and adored by the common people, this Jesus was despised by the religious sects of the day – the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Jesus upset the apple cart. Jesus rocked the boat. Jesus was a fly in the ointment, footsteps in wet concrete – you get the idea. Jesus said things that were different than what those religious people had been taught and what they believed. They called Jesus a blasphemer, they looked down on Jesus because He ate with tax collectors and sinners. They accused Him of violating the Sabbath because He encouraged His disciples to pick grain when they were hungry on the Sabbath. Jesus taught on the Sabbath, Jesus healed on the Sabbath. They didn’t like this, in fact, “The scribes and the Pharisees were watching Him closely to see if He healed on the Sabbath, so that they might find reason to accuse Him.” (Luke 6:7)
We know who Jesus is, but why do we need Jesus? He was despised by the religious crowd of the day because He threatened their power, their control, their desire to be better than anyone else, their desire to control their own destiny, their desire to follow the Law. The Law was an interesting thing. Various religions attempt to control people by requiring the strict following of a set of rules and regulations. Look at Romans 3:19-20. Even though the Pharisees wanted everyone to keep the Law, they were powerless to keep it – all the Law did was show people they were law breakers. We need Jesus because no matter how good we think we are, the Bible says there is not a single person that is good. The Bible is very clear about our need for redemption. We need redemption because according to Romans 6:6 we are slaves to sin. Sin owns us, it is our master. Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned.” 1 John 1:8 says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves.” Romans 6:23 says, “The wages of sin is death.”
What is sin? If we redefine what sin is, it’s easier to deal with. In our culture, we conform to the idea that personal feelings are the barometer of right and wrong, of morality and truth. We seek comfort and the least resistant path. We seek to please ourselves. We surround ourselves with “Christian teachers” who make us feel better about living in sin. Instead of calling people to repentance and authentic Christian living, these teachers refuse to call sin what God calls sin. Society says homosexuality isn’t a sin, it’s an alternate lifestyle. Adultery is labeled an affair. We don’t lie, we tell fibs because after all, everyone does it. We excuse sin based on someone’s upbringing. He can’t help what he does, he comes from a broken home. It’s called blame shifting. Adam did it, so did Eve. Check out Galatians 5:19-21. Evident in this passage comes from the word that mean plainly recognized. These are the things of the flesh – they are incompatible with a life that follows God. Left to our own devices, we cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
We know who Jesus is, and we know why we need Jesus, now what should we do with Jesus? John 8:34-36: “Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. ‘The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.'” There is freedom in Christ. It’s freedom from the penalty of sin, not from the consequences. God will not and cannot allow us to get away with sin, but don’t expect to see someone’s nose grow if they tell a lie. We live in such a hectic, no time for anything world; a world where we seek instant gratification. We want to see the results, not of our sin, but of every one else’s sin. We conclude that if there are no immediate consequences, then our actions must be okay. Our cure from sin comes not by redefining sin or by avoiding it. Our cure comes by admitting our sin, turning from it and receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Easter is about hope, it’s about life; it’s about fulfilled promises; it’s about Jesus.
Maybe you’re thinking, “I want to be free, how do I get this freedom?” There are some simple truths found in the Bible. Remember that each of us is a sinner, we have all done wrong. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” As with any gift, you must accept it; just because a gift has your name on it does not make it yours until you receive it, until you accept it. What about if we just try harder to be good and righteous? No, the answer to sin is not to try harder, or change who you are. No matter how hard you try, no matter how good you are, it’s not enough. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Romans 10:9 “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Confess is a great word. It means say the same thing as. In other words, when you confess to God, you are agreeing with Him. Maybe you’re thinking, when I give up ___________, I’ll trust in Christ.
Here’s the good news: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) We don’t have to try harder because God knows that apart from Christ, we can do nothing. (John 15:5) Romans 10:13: “For ‘WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.'” It is a guarantee. Becoming a Christian is a choice, it is a decision only you can make for yourself. Being a Christian really means being a follower of Christ. That means you give up your will to fulfill God’s will. You are not a Christian because you live in America or because you attend church, or because you pray or read the Bible, or go to a Bible study. You are a Christian because you choose to follow Christ.
Paul gives us this hope in Romans 6:10-11, “For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” “To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12)
Easter is all about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The rest of the story is found in Luke 24:1-7. Easter is all about the penalty Jesus Christ paid to cover our sin debt. He shed His blood for you, because of His incredible, unending, unconditional love. Easter is about the death of Christ. Easter is about His burial. Easter is about his resurrection.
He is not here because He is risen!