Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Monday, March 24, 2008

3-23-08-- Easter Sunday-- The Confident, The Confused, The Conquering

Listen to the audio of this message here.

The Confident

testimonies--dramatic readings
All this time, I thought I was going to have a real problem with Jesus. For the last week my best minds were unable to show him as the blasphemer I knew he was. Turns out, He was just like all the others before him. All talk but nothing to back it up. The Temple is safe from his threat. Consider this little challenge to my authority handled. People like him have come and gone. It won’t be a couple of weeks before his name is forgotten, now that Jesus is dead.


The Old Tyrant sure wasted his time with that one—Jesus couldn’t save himself much less his people. I knew all those exorcisms and healings were just a bluff. He walked right into my little trap and he couldn’t get himself out of it. I don’t know why I’m surprised—no one escapes death. Game, Set & Match—all those centuries preparing the “Chosen People” to bring in the Messiah was wasted. They’re all still mine. Do you hear me? They’re all still mine! Now that Jesus is dead and buried, You will never get them back. Unless of course, you’re willing to cut a deal—there’s still time—I’m willing, but you know my price. If you really love them as much as you claim, then I’m confident that you’ll see my light and give me what is mine.

The days before the Resurrection was, I believe, a time of mistaken confidence. The High Priest was convinced it was better that “one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish."—John 11:50

In the mind of the chief priests, the “Jesus Problem” had to be taken care of. He was challenging their authority, threatening the Temple, claiming to be God. So the High Priest had asked Jesus in Matthew 26:63—“I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” and with that question hanging in the air—the course of History was changed by the answer—“Yes, it is as you say.” He heard the Blasphemy, tore his robes and knew—Jesus had, in his eyes, condemned Himself—

Caiaphas was confident of the outcome—if he was able to get the Romans to do it—he knew their brutality could end all debate about Jesus. He never believed Jesus was the Messiah, never believed there was something special about Him. They watched and made sure as Jesus died on the cross. He was confident the problem was “laid to rest”. All he was worried about was his followers. Matt. 27:62-65. Caiaphas had covered all his bases.

Notice they don’t fear Jesus’ words coming true, they only fear the lie that the Disciples would tell if they stole the body. Satan—the real motivator behind these efforts believed that the disciples would resort to his tactics and deception. But he clearly does not understand the plan and the heart of God.

A man like Caiaphas had been concerned about this problem for only a couple of years at most, but the fear and expectation of this moment had plagued Satan ever since the word came in the garden, when he heard the prophecy saying—“He will crush your head and you will strike His heel”

After obsessing for millennia on how to stop the plan—he finally thought he had figured out a way—get other humans to kill him and make it as painful as possible. After all, killing Jesus as a baby didn’t work, tempting Jesus to sin didn’t work, scaring Him away from Jerusalem didn’t work, killing him was the last option. And it had worked. In some twisted way, Satan thought he had finally thwarted the eternal plan of God. Satan thought he had out-thought and out-maneuvered God Himself. And perhaps for the first time since his rebellion, he had a moment of rest and relaxation.

Both of them were confident of their success, but their confidence was misplaced. They both thought they had God and this situation all figured out. But God had a little surprise for them.

God is a God of the unexpected—He is unpredictable—His ways are not our ways. He doesn’t do what we think He should do, He doesn’t heal whom we think He should heal, and when He does, it’s not the same way twice. What appears to us as foolishness is often the lynchpin of His plan. Who would use a woman past menopause to have a child that would be the foundation of a nation? Who would use a virgin to bear the Messiah? Who would conquer death by dying?

So many of us in America think we are smart enough to figure it all out. Many unbelievers think we can push God out of the equation by explaining away miracles, creation, the soul so that we no longer need a God at all. But believers are just as susceptible—thinking you’re so close to God, so good at hearing His voice that you not only know His plan for your life, but also what He’s going to do in everyone else’s life. Or when you know the mind of God so well that even when something is wrong for everyone else, you know He will buy your rationalization and let you off the hook.

We act so confident that it’s as if we can debate with God, argue with God and win, convincing Him that we’re in the right. And so God becomes predictable, charted out and conformed to your mind.

If you think you have God all figured out, if you think you are the master of all your problems and situations—expect God to surprise you, expect Him to do the unexpected in your life—in many ways to shatter your confidence in your own strength, your own plans, your own power. The Resurrection shattered the Confidence of the Confident.

The Confused--Uncertain—The Disciples and other friends of Jesus

testimonies--dramatic readings
Apostle John,

I’ve been ashamed at my lack of understanding. I thought I had Jesus all figured out. Jesus would enter Jerusalem and finally proclaim Himself the Messiah and the Kingdom of God—true justice for the world would begin.

But that all changed on Friday. The man I thought of as my Messiah was arrested, beaten like a criminal and executed. At any moment, I thought Jesus display the power He commanded—but He never did. And I’ve been walking around in a daze ever since—not knowing what to do. My whole world came crashing down. I don’t even remember going back to the house—but apparently I made it. I’ve barely eaten since I saw what they did to Him. I remember crying out in anger—“God, how could this be a part of Your plan?”

I didn’t know what to do—neither did anyone else—we were all so confused.

Mary Magdalene,

I knew exactly where I was going—I’d followed the men who had taken Jesus body—it was my intention to finish what we’d started—to finish putting the spices and other things with Jesus so He would have a proper burial. After all He’s done for me, it’s the least I could do for Him. I was expecting to have some trouble with the doing it—I knew there was a guard and I knew there was a stone in front of the tomb—but my thought was that God would grant us favor with the soldiers—a small group of women were no threat to them.

But then we arrived—the guard was pretty much gone—the stone had been moved. I went in looking for Jesus and I couldn’t find Him. All I could think was, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, where have they taken Him?” I didn’t know what to do or what it meant. We started looking around for some kind of explanation and couldn’t find anything. I was so confused.

John and Mary were not alone in their confusion. The lives of all those following Jesus were turned upside down. Jesus tried on several occasions to warn them even explicitly telling them—

Luke 18:31-34—Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, "We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. 32 He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him. 33 On the third day he will rise again."

18:34 The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.

I can’t blame them for being so confused. Nothing had ever happened like it before. Nothing ever happened quite like it since. The confusion had caused them to struggle and doubt. Some holed up together in houses, others left town together in order to get home. And they were in a daze.

LK 24:13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened.

When the Risen Jesus asked 2 men about the events in Jerusalem, their confusion was evident saying that Jesus Luke 24:19—“was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20 The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21 but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22 In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23 but didn't find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24 Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see."

I shared on Good Friday how dazed and confused we would be if 3 days after some national tragedy—everything was restored. You get a glimpse of how these people would have felt by

Imagining if on December 10th, 1941—you woke up to read that everything in Pearl Harbor was undamaged—“this is a joke, right”.

Or If you woke up on November 25, 1963 to read that JFK was alive and addressing the nation—“how’s that possible?”

Or if you turned on the TV on September 14th, 2001 and saw reports about the miraculous reappearance of the World Trade Center Towers—“How is that even possible?”

Some of you are so confused—in a daze from hurt and pain, disenchanted from life, from people, from God—wondering whether God is trustworthy, if life can really go on, or if there is any plan or purpose to what’s happening.

Some of you for many reasons are confused about who God is, and what He is doing—about whether He really loves you, cares for you and can meet your deepest heart desire. Let me assure you that the Resurrection proves the Heart of God and gives Encouragement to the confused.

Those 2 men—upon hearing Jesus explain the situation, upon Him breaking bread and giving thanks said in Luke 23:32—“were not our hearts burning within us while He talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
LK 24:33 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34 and saying, "It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon." 35 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

To Thomas whom we describe as doubting, but who I believe was too scared to open his heart up to being let down again—Jesus spoke encouragement and offered proof, not condemnation—John 20:27—“Put your finder here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put in into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

To Peter, who had denied even knowing Jesus’ name. Jesus spoke 3 commands of Restoration—“Feed my lambs”, “Take care of my sheep”, Feed my sheep.”

If you are here today, confused and uncertain—unsure of whether God loves you, what He’s trying to do in your life. Then see that the Resurrection is the source of Encouragement, the source of our hope. It was the Risen Jesus that took a scared group of disciples and changed the world. John, Mary and the others didn’t know what was going to happen next, but they knew that if death could not stop Jesus then no other power on earth could as well. Do you believe that? STOP

The Confident have their confidence Shattered
The Confused have their confusion Encouraged
And it’s all because of

The Conquering—Victorious—Jesus—

When the Stone was rolled away and Jesus exited the Tomb resurrected—confidence was shattered—the best laid plans failed. Caiaphas now had a new problem—Jesus had become bigger and better than ever. The disciples who had been afraid to unlock the door had their confidence restored to the point that they could stand before the best of the teachers of the law and speak with boldness, conviction and power. Caiaphas had his confidence was replaced with confusion.

Satan’s Victory along with any confidence crumbled away with the first signs of life. Jesus promised that the Church that was established upon the Resurrection would not be on the defensive when it comes to spiritual matters, but would be on the Offensive—knocking down the Gates of Hell—binding up the strong man and robbing his house by rescuing the captives held in the kingdom of darkness.

Satan’s chief weapons, Sin & Death had lost their power, their hold, their sting by the Conquering Power of Jesus Christ—

1 Corinthians 15:54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory."
1CO 15:55 "Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?"
1CO 15:56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

When death was proven powerless over the Son of God, all those who had put their trust and faith in Him received the encouragement they needed; their confusion was replaced with Confidence and Hope.

1CO 15:58 Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

Our King conquered Death, our King conquered the grave, our King conquered sin, our King Conquered Satan, our King Rescued you and I from the Kingdom of Darkness.

Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords—the One who says with Power—“I am the Way the Truth and the Life, no one Comes to the Father except through Me., who says “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore Go and make disciples of all nations.” Who says, “Behold, I am Coming Soon”, “I Am the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End…

Jesus is the Conquering Hero who confuses the Confident, Encourages the Confused and Invites you and me to be a part of the Conquering.

He is Risen!

Arise in our Hearts—Awaken in our Hearts a Heart for You Lord Jesus

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