Easter Sunday, also known as Resurrection Sunday, is only a few weeks away. Some Christians are preparing for it by observing a time of repentance and reflection. Others are focusing on fasting from the pleasures of this world. Still others are making a special effort to share the faith, hope, and love they have received from God. Regardless of how they – and you – are preparing for Resurrection Sunday, preparation is the key, and the Word of God is essential.
I have heard, and personally presented, many sermons leading up to the celebration of Easter Sunday. However, there is one I have never heard or offered before. It begins with Jesus, and it is definitely worth your time today.
Jesus shared many stories about the Kingdom of God and taught about its meaning and effect in our lives. One story focuses on a nameless rich man and a poor man named Lazarus (Luke 16:19–31). The point of Jesus’ words on that day in history, and its equally important lesson for us today, is that our choices have consequences, both in this world and in the world to come. However, the story also contains a foreshadowing of what would become the greatest event in human history: the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In the story about the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus set the stage by describing the excessive luxury enjoyed by the rich man during his life and the abject poverty suffered by Lazarus during his life. Eventually, both men died and entered the afterlife. The rich man went to a place of eternal misery, but Lazarus went to a place of eternal bliss. As time without end proceeded, the rich man asked Abraham, who was with Lazarus, to send Lazarus to comfort the rich man, but Abraham told him that the great chasm between the saved and the lost could not be crossed. The rich man then begged Abraham to send Lazarus back to warn the rich man’s family. Abraham, through the voice of Jesus, uttered these chilling words in response:
They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them. [And if] they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead. (Luke 16:29–31, NIV)
During His life and ministry in this world, Jesus raised three individuals from the dead: the son of a widow from the town of Nain (Luke 7:11–17); the daughter of Jairus, a synagogue official (Luke 8:40–42, 49–55); and His own friend, who was also named Lazarus (John 11:1–44). Notwithstanding these acts of incredible power and authority, most of the people still refused to believe that Jesus was the Messiah and Son of God. Even His own resurrection – an act of God the Father that is unmatched in human history – was not enough to convince the unbelievers that Jesus was indeed who and what He said He was (see, for example, Mark 14:53–65).
“Even if someone rises from the dead.”
What does it mean to you that Jesus of Nazareth rose from the dead?
What does it mean to you that God has given you Moses and the Prophets (the Old Testament) as well as the words of Jesus and the leaders of the early church (the New Testament) to teach you and guide you in this life?
Which side of the great chasm awaits you when your life is over?
Easter Sunday – Resurrection Sunday – is coming. Prepare for it. Embrace it. Celebrate it. And let Jesus use this time to assure your eternal salvation.
-- Dr. John Morris