GETTING THE MESSAGE/Rev. Chris Shelton
Last week we looked at some of the great truths in the first part of this passage. This week we will look at more applications of the person and work of our Lord Jesus with respect to his resurrection. The Heidelberg Catechism gives some benefits to treasure for believers:
"How does Christ's resurrection benefit us? First, by his resurrection he has overcome death, so that he might make us share in the righteousness he won for us by his death. Second, by his power we too are already now resurrected to a new life. Third, Christ's resurrection is a guarantee of our glorious resurrection."
I want to extract from the passage a couple of additional truths to share with you, truths that put a firm foundation under our feet as Christians during the times of difficulty. The first is that Christ was raised according to the Scriptures. We read in verse 9 John saying this of the disciples: "for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead."
He "must rise" means it was God's promise respecting the resurrection of the Messiah (or Christ) as recorded in the Old Testament. God's word does not fail. This is buttress for our faith in hard circumstances. We need to know the Scriptures in order to see how God fulfilled all that was written of Christ before he came into the world.
There are some obvious passages pointing to the resurrection of the Messiah in the Old Testament. Psalm 16:10 says, "You will not abandon my soul to the realm of the dead or let your holy one see corruption." In 1st Corinthians 15 Paul quotes Isaiah 25:8 to show Christ was raised according to the promise: "He will swallow up death forever."
The coming of the Christ is written about throughout the Old Testament. Take the time to observe how many references there are to the eternal nature of the promised servant (priest), or king, or prophet of God who is to come. For instance, the Lord promised David (2nd Samuel 7) this about one of his descendants: "He shall build a house for my name; I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever." How could Christ reign forever if he wasn't raised?
Isaiah 53 is the well- known chapter about the suffering servant of God who will come to bear the iniquity of all his people, because we all like sheep have gone astray. He "poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors." Nevertheless when he makes "an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days."
These are just samples of the references to Christ being raised from the dead and reigning forever in the midst of those he saved. Death could not hold him, and it was written about over and over long before he appeared. So take heart Christian, the Lord has atoned for your sin and lives forever to intercede for you. And take note the Lord spelled it out for you to strengthen you.
The other truth I want you to consider is the need we have for conviction of sin. When the Lord says "Peace be with you," and gives the apostles the authority to pronounce forgiveness of sins to all who believe the message of Christ (verse 23), he is presupposing a conviction of sin. It is the poor in spirit who inherit the kingdom of God.
Our sinful nature is stronger than we can imagine, and we have more guilt than we know. The apostles served Christ so diligently (and joyfully) because they knew the value of Christ's death and resurrection. They knew their sin, and thereby knew the depths of Christ's dying love for them.
When Paul writes about their being terrible times in the last days, and people having a form of godliness but denying the power of godliness, among other things he is citing a lack of conviction of sin among those who profess religion. They lack repentance.
Be sure of this, if you do not have a conviction of your sinful nature, Christ will be of no value to you. And you can only acquire a true sense of sin from the Spirit of God. The Spirit of God works in accord with the Scriptures (His Word); so stay much in the reading of the Word, and under the preaching of the Word, praying for the Lord's blessing upon his Word to you and others.