Jesus Proves His Point — He is Lord over Life and Death

Title: Jesus Proves His Point: He is Lord over Life and Death

Text: Matthew 28:16-2

Time: April 20th, 2003

It is a common saying that there are two things certain in life: death and taxes. Why? Because every society taxes its citizens, and everybody dies. The death rate, last time I checked, is still one per person. Some of us at Crosspointe Church just attended the funeral service of Delma’s mother. Her body was laying still in the coffin but her personality, her soul, her invisible self wasn’t there. Which raises the age-old question – is there life after death? Does the soul survive physical death? Scientist can’t tell us much on the subject, in fact, in fact, of all the faiths in the world, only Christianity provides a certain and definite answer to that question through Jesus Christ. If you were to ask the disciples on that first Easter morning, “Is there life after death?” they would say “Absolutely.” If you asked them how they knew for sure, they would say, “Because Jesus said He could overpower the force of death and He did; he came back to life again. He’s alive and that proves that death, as real as it is, isn’t the final thing.” How can we know that there is life after death? Because Jesus Christ proved it. If you were a totally secular and scientific person you would not be able to know if there was life after death because science can’t investigate spiritual things, only material things. If you were a follower of another religion, you wouldn’t be able to say with a certainty that there was life after death either, because every other religious person died — and stayed dead. But Jesus is different; He proved His authority to speak about life and death, and everything else, by rising to life again after he was clearly dead. It’s a matter of authority. Jesus, by rising from the dead, proved His absolute authority. Matthew 28:16 says, “Then the eleven disciples, went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him, but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” How do we know that Jesus had all authority in heaven and earth? Because He came back to life after He was dead, just like He said He would. Jesus was not just another religious teacher making grandiose claims. No, he backed up all His teachings with the resurrection. It’s one thing for somebody to talk big, but it’s another thing to back that talk up. And Jesus backed all that he taught with the power to rise again from the dead. That’s authority. So this morning I’d like to talk a little about what Jesus rising from the dead means to us today.

First, Jesus is the only religious teacher we can totally trust because he is the only teacher who backed up his teachings with a dramatic resurrection. There are a lot of religions in the world and they all make big claims about life and the next spiritual life, but nobody but Jesus can back up their claims. Think of all the popular religions in the world. Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Confucianism – none of these teachings have their teacher proving any of the claims. For example, the Buddha never died and came back to life again and thus proving the words he spoke were more than just empty phrases, but Jesus did. Millions of people in Asia, India, China, Japan, etc. follow the spiritual teachings of Buddha but they have no proof that these teachings are any more than the words of a man. They have to authority behind their teachings. But Jesus, as part of his teachings, taught that He would rise from the dead after three days, and he did it, thus proving that everything he taught was true. Question: why three days? Why did he stay in the tomb three days? Answer: to prove that he was really dead. Think about it, if he had stayed dead only one day, there may have been doubts as to whether he was really fully dead. Two days, might have been long enough. But three days, yep! If you are dead three days you are really dead! You can go without food for one month and still live, you can go without water for two days and still live, but you can’t be dead for three days and still live. You are dead. Jesus stayed dead for three days to prove he was really dead, then he came to life again, to prove that he had all authority. Mohamed, Islam’s founder never could, Confucius never could, only Jesus did. That’s why we can have total confidence in Jesus above all other so-called spiritual teachers.

Two, Jesus proved by making good on this most difficult promise, that he could fulfill all the claims and promises he made while he was teaching. Jesus said a lot of things while teaching. The four gospels record all the things Jesus said, and there are lots more that we never even heard that he taught. How do we know any given teaching is true? How do we know anything any spiritual teacher teaches is true? For example, Buddha taught that life isn’t really real, it’s all an illusion. Now how do we know that teaching is true or false? Mohamed taught that Jesus didn’t really die on the cross, but it was someone else in his place. How do we know whether this teaching is true or false? Hinduism teaches that there are many gods, thousands of them. How do we know if this is true or false? The answer is we do not know because if it’s just one person’s word against another, we have no way of knowing the truth. But Jesus is different from all the other teachers because by the resurrection, he proves that he has the power and authority to teach truth and backs up his teachings with a powerful demonstration. The person we follow, Jesus, doesn’t ask us to follow Him blindly. No, He says, “If you doubt me consider that I am able to die and raise up back to life. I said I would do it, and I did. I taught other things, and you can believe them too.” That is the importance of the resurrection. Remember, the resurrection of Jesus, Easter Sunday doesn’t provide forgiveness for our sins, that was the crucifixion. The resurrection doesn’t wipe away our guilt and remove all eternal judgment from our souls; that is what the death and crucifixion did. The resurrection proves that all Jesus’ teachings on these things are true. I think I said this before — anybody can go around teaching that his death provides forgiveness and eternal life, but how can he prove it? Do you want to follow after some spiritual teacher and only find out if he’s right or wrong after you die? No. It’s too late. Lot’s of people have been led astray by following spiritual leaders who are false. Jesus offers us a way to know that all his teachings are true in this life, before we die, by showing us that the one big claim he made – that he would rise up from death – was true. If he could make good on that, we can believe everything else he says. Jesus says there is life after death. How do we know? Because he proved it by rising again to life. Jesus says his death provides total forgiveness for my sins. How do I know it is true? Because Jesus told us he would rise up from death, and he did that, so we can believe the other things he said too. You can have total confidence in Jesus because of the resurrection. If there were no rising from the dead, we might always wonder, always doubt, we might believe, but not like we can because of the resurrection. I hope that helps your faith, it helps mine.

Finally, three, I already mentioned it, but Jesus proved without a shadow of a doubt that there is a life after death. What science can’t do, Jesus can do. According to Dr. Raymond A. Moody who has conducted research for decades and who wrote the best selling book Life after Life, “Science cannot decide the issue either way.” In other words, there is evidence that points to another life after death, and there is evidence that points to there not being life after death. But what science can’t do, Jesus can do – prove beyond a doubt there is life beyond the grave. Are you afraid of death? Are you uncertain about what will happen to your mind, your personality, who you really are? We all want to live, to have life. Nobody likes the thought of dying and then that being the end of everything. But on our own we can’t find the answer to the question, “Will we live beyond the grave?” We need help, and Jesus offers that help. Jesus says to us today: “I know you have questions, I know you have fears and doubts about death and especially your own death. But look to my resurrection and take comfort in it. Just as I demonstrated power to raise myself from death to life, so too I will use that same power to carry your soul, your mind and personality into the next world. You will not be lost, it will not be the end, it will be the beginning.” I’d rather listen to someone like Jesus who has been there and back talk about life and death, than someone who has only been alive and never died and came back. We don’t have to be bothered by death, by the fear of it. Yes, death is strange, it’s different, most of it we don’t know much about, but we do have Jesus and if we listen to him and follow his teachings, we can even go through the death process by faith. But before we get to that point in life, we still have all the other promises and teachings to get us through this life. So we’ve got things covered on both ends, in life and in death. Jesus will be there for us either way. Are you following Jesus today? Are you following him closely or loosely? If you aren’t seriously following Jesus, give yourself over to Him today, Easter Sunday. Why not, it’s a good time to start a new life? And if you are following Jesus rather loosely, rather casually, not really getting serious about it, think about it, his disciples died following him, are you even willing to live for him? Why not start today, this Easter Sunday, on a brand new life path, the path of walking in the footsteps of Jesus, in life, and then when death is just ahead of you, following him in that too. Remember, he’s in charge of that too; he will give you life beyond the grave too.

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