Listen to the LIVING Savior
Dear Jesus, my living Savior, awaken my soul to rejoice in Your victory and to celebrate Your grace. Fill my heart with the highest joy and my mouth with unending praise, as we gather in worship today. Be with us all as we remember Your resurrection and give thanks for salvation! Amen.
In all of his suffering and misery, Job had a sure confidence, namely, that after this life he would live again with his ever-living Savior. When this life is full of fears, doubts, and tears; and there seems to be so little about which you can be sure, TAKE HEART! REJOICE! and KNOW…YOUR REDEEMER LIVES!
Without Christ’s resurrection we would have no hope because we would still be in the guilt of our sins. However, the sure knowledge that Jesus lives gives us the confidence that our sins are forgiven, death and grave are defeated, and we will live glorified with our Savior forever!
Luke’s account of the events on Easter morning
Our Blessed Savior Speaks.
THE LIVING SAVIOR
SERMON - I AM Alive!
Text: Luke 24:36-39
Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, "Peace to you." But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. And He said to them, "Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have."
In Christ Jesus, our living Savior, dear fellow redeemed:
It could not possibly be true. Jesus’ disciples had listened to the women that first Easter morning as they described what they had witnessed at the empty tomb and as they related the message of the angels, but they did not believe them. It just could not possibly be true. They had seen Jesus arrested, abused, and crucified, and you know as well as I do, that seeing is believing for most folks. They knew Jesus had died. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had buried Him. They just could not believe that Jesus was alive. There must be some other explanation for what the women saw and heard. Even after they listened to Peter assure them that Jesus had appeared to him, and they heard the account of the two disciples from Emmaus, they remained unconvinced. It was just too good to be true. It would take the words of our blessed Savior Himself to convince these early believers, and that first Easter Sunday evening Jesus appeared in their midst to speak to them. Let us LISTEN TO OUR LIVING SAVIOR! He wants us to enjoy His peace, for it is a peace, which removes fear and a peace, which removes doubt!
When Jesus suddenly appeared in the disciples’ midst on that first Easter Sunday evening He said, “Peace to you!” Peace is a sense of general well being—an absence of conflict, the basis for a full and confident life. Jesus wanted His disciples and us to enjoy true “peace.” The “peace” of which Jesus here speaks is not the external peace that the world offers, which is dependent upon man and the external relationships of men—that can so easily be disturbed by the unfaithful actions of man (cf. John 14:27). Rather, it is an internal “peace” based upon Jesus and His work of redemption (cf. Romans 5:1). It is a peace with God based upon a faith relationship, in which our sins are forgiven and we have the assurance of our eternal salvation. It is a peace, which exists and thrives as the Spirit abides in our hearts, even when we face great tribulation in this world. Jesus had told His disciples on Maundy Thursday evening, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Now, He appears after His resurrection and the very first thing He says is that He wants them to enjoy “peace.”
Their initial response was anything but positive. We are told, “they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit.” They could not believe the women. They did not believe Peter and the two men from Emmaus. They now appeared too frightened to believe their Savior, for they were facing something which they could not understand. How could Jesus be alive, when they knew He had died? Jesus, OUR LIVING SAVIOR, understanding the problem and moving quickly to overcome it, asked, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts?” The disciples believed in God, but seemed unable to accept the reality of the awesome power of God in its ability to overcome death. Jesus urged His disciples to look at His hands and His feet. He urged them to come forward and touch His body. Do not be unbelieving, but rather believe and experience the peace, which arises within a soul that rests its hopes and future on Jesus—the Son of God, OUR LIVING SAVIOR!
My dear friends, have the things you have seen in this world—have the troubles you have or are experiencing blocked for you the peace of mind and heart God desires for you. If so, look to Jesus. Read again and again the precious words of divine revelation you find in your Bibles. God, our heavenly Father, does not want us to live lives filled with fears and doubts. Rather, He wants you to experience the peace, which can only come when we are led by the Spirit to believe in an infinite power in heaven above. When we understand and believe that God, our heavenly Father, created us as we are with all of our gifts and abilities. When we understand and believe that Jesus, God’s beloved Son, has redeemed us and thereby brought us close to our heavenly Father. When we understand and believe that God the Holy Spirit sanctifies us by faith and has an eternal plan, which calls for our personal relationship with God to last throughout eternity. Then we can begin to appreciate the blessings Jesus has in store for us when He says, “Peace to you!” Listen to YOUR LIVING SAVIOR! He wants you to enjoy His gift of peace—a peace, which removes all fear and a peace, which removes all doubt! Amen.
—Pastor Paul D. Nolting
SERMON - You Are Witnesses!
Text: Luke 24:46-48
Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things.
Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?
The witnesses who appeared at Jesus’ trial before the High Priest did NOT tell the truth; but neither could any of them fully agree on their lies. That is the nature of truth and falsehood. There is one truth, but you can make up as many lies as you wish.
The "Easter Soldiers" (the soldiers who had been stationed outside Jesus’ tomb to prevent what was the supposed threat of the disciples coming to steal Jesus’ body) witnessed things that no one else saw! They were there when the angel descended from heaven to roll away the stone. The soldiers saw the events of the first Easter morning until they "passed out" from the fear and the sight of it all. Those soldiers could have been such wonderful witnesses for all that they had seen, but they took money to tell a lie. They took money to tell a lie that could have easily cost them their lives, because they said that the disciples stole Jesus’ body while they slept (a soldier who fell asleep at his post often learned that this was a fatal mistake).
In the courtyard of the High Priest on the night Jesus was arrested, Peter had the opportunity to be a witness of all the things he had heard and seen while with Jesus during His ministry. At the bare minimum, Peter could have testified, "YES, I am a disciple of the Lord Jesus." Instead, Peter denied Jesus three times. HOWEVER, it is the same Peter who later stood up at Pentecost and preached to the crowds of people concerning Jesus’ work and told them, “this Jesus God has raised up of which we are all witnesses” (Acts 2:32)
A witness is someone who has seen or heard an event; or has knowledge about an event or a person. No matter who the witness is and no matter what the substance of his testimony is, every witness has two sets of options from which to choose: A witness can SPEAK or be SILENT; and if the witness chooses to speak, he may speak the TRUTH or a LIE.
You have heard from the sure word of God that Jesus is alive after dying for the sins of the world. And you have heard what it means for sinners to have a LIVING Savior. "Jesus is alive!" You are witnesses! No, you were not there to see Jesus rise from the dead. Nor have you seen Jesus face to face, HOWEVER, you have been given this information from its SOURCE. God himself has spoken to you and told you the TRUTH! "YOU ARE HIS WITNESSES"
On Easter evening, behind locked doors, Jesus appeared to His disciples. After Jesus convinced the disciples that He truly was alive, He began to teach them and instruct them, “[opening] their understanding that they might comprehend the Scriptures” (Luke 24:45). As Jesus began to "put the pieces together" for the disciples, He said, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer…”
Even before Jesus had gone to the cross, He had explained to the disciples why He HADto go. It was NECESSARY…in order for our salvation to be accomplished it HAD TO BE, that Jesus would go to the cross and there suffer for our sins. There was no other way for our salvation to be won. The punishment for our sins HAD TO BE carried out. It was NECESSARY for the Son of God to go to the cross, suffer, and die.
It was ALSO NECESSARY, Jesus said, that He “rise from the dead the third day”[v.46]. It was NECESSARY for Jesus to rise from the dead, because as Paul said in the Epistle reading, "If Christ be not raised…it’s hopeless! There is no salvation! If Christ is not living, we are still in our sins and our faith is EMPTY! (cf: 1 Corinthians 15:17ff).
It was NECESSARY, it HAD TO BE that Jesus would die and rise again to give us salvation; but Jesus gives a THIRD NECESSITY when He says, "….AND that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” To His disciples, Jesus then said, "YOU are the ones to do this for "…YOUare witnesses of these things.” [v.47-48]
Preaching and sharing, being witnesses to the repentance and remission of sins is ESSENTIAL, NECESSARY for the resurrection! It is not essential for the actual, physical resurrection of Jesus, but for the resurrection purpose…for the resurrection message to get out and do what it is intended to do. God wants the salvation of sinners, and if the message of the resurrection stays behind locked doors, the sinners who need that message will not receive it.
Consider an example…Let’s suppose that researchers for a drug company found or developed a drug that would TOTALLY (100%) CURE EVERY type of cancer. They had the formula, they could produce it in mass quantities, it had been tested on patients, and it proved completely effective—the test patients were the living proof! But the drug stayed locked behind the doors of a pharmacy.
News went out far and wide that the cure had been found and manufactured. Every household in America had received at least one flyer in the mail that joyfully proclaimed that the drug could cure any type of cancer and make the patient clean of the disease FOREVER. But when people went to talk to the drug company executives who had the ability to unlock the pharmacy and dispense the drug, they said, "no comment" and walked away. When they approached the people who had been cured by the miracle drug, they responded, "no thanks, I don’t want to talk about it" and walked away. What would happen?
It wouldn’t take too long before the people in America would start to wonder if the drug’s claims were ever really true. How could something so wonderful and written right here, be true if no one is actually using it? And no one who is supposedly cured is talking about it? And if this went on long enough, pretty soon the whole idea that there ever was a cure would be forgotten and gone…even though the powerful medicine was right there on the shelf of the locked pharmacy.
We have something far more amazing than a cure for every type of cancer. We have the CURE for DEATH ITSELF!! Jesus LIVES, you are witnesses of that truth. That message is the salvation which God has provided for all sinners. You are witnesses to take the message to others…to tell them…to bring them the CURE! Paul said, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14). God provided salvation through Jesus, and "THERE IT IS" to be told and witnessed to the world.
The subject of your message as a witness is repentance and remission of sins. Jesus said, “It is necessary that…repentance and remission of sins be preached IN HIS (Jesus’) NAME." Your message as a witness is a bold one, calling upon sinners to REPENT like John the Baptist and Jesus Himself. It is a message crying out to the people, "Look at your sins and REPENT!! See the judgment that God declares upon those sins." Then you also have a message of boldness that says those sins are washed away through Christ Jesus, your Savior. Your message is a bold one that says through Jesus is the ONLY way to salvation. You are witnesses to repentance and remission of sins preached in HIS NAME—there is no other name that can give such life (cf: Acts 4:12).
The resurrection NEEDS (is necessary) the witnessing because without that witnessing the message dies and does no good. Jesus told the disciples on this same Easter night (words recorded by John), “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you." And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” (John 20:21-23).
The resurrection truth gives you an amazing privilege and authority, namely, to forgive sins. To those who are penitent, confess their sins, and rely on Jesus for forgiveness you can say: "YOUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN!" To the impenitent who reject that forgiveness, you would have to say: "YOUR SINS REMAIN." That is the authority of your message BECAUSE Jesus lives. That is the message you have the right and authority to preach, and indeed you have the commission of Your Lord to be a witness of that message to the world!
As you speak and as you witness to your Savior’s resurrection, talk about Easter! TELL the people about your LIVING SAVIOR! TELL THEM that He lives nevermore to die! TELL THEM what that means for them! TELL THEM so much more! TELL THEM they don’t need to fear death anymore or what lies beyond this life! GIVE THEM the assurance that dries tears and gives hope beyond human expression.
As you are witnesses telling of Jesus’ resurrection, you are also comfort-bearers. The apostle Paul wrote, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,4 who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
You have the comfort. You have the medicine that has given you hope and confidence in the resurrection to life. You are now equipped to comfort others. God has comforted you with the Gospel, there are many, many more people who need that comfort…DAILY! TELL THEM what that comfort is. BE WITNESSES to your Lord!
Your LIVING Savior speaks! Listen to what He says! He says, "I AM Alive! YOU are My Witnesses!"
Listen to Him say, “My sheep (you!) hear my voice and I know them and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:27-28).
What sweet words are told to you…GO! TELL THEM to the world! Amen.
—Pastor Wayne C. Eichstadt