Remember Jesus Christ, Risen From The Dead
Topic: Resurrection Passage: 2 Timothy 2:8
This morning I want to talk about remembering the resurrection. Remembering the resurrection. That may seem like a strange thing, since we are Christians. It is like saying, remember that you are alive, right? Remember that you are alive. But that is what the apostle Paul exhorts us to do:
Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead.
There is a good reason for this exhortation. We actually have a knack for forgetting things, even important things. Of course if I were to ask you if you remember that Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead, you would invariably say, “Of course!” But the word remember doesn’t just relate to being reminded of lost information, like if I forgot your name or phone number and just can’t for the life of me remember it. To remember also means to “be mindful of”, to “hold in memory” to “keep in mind”. Peter thought it was good to remind people of things they already knew. Listen to what he said in 2 Peter 1:12-13:
12 I intend always to remind you of these qualities, though you know them and are established in the truth that you have. 13 I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to stir you up by way of reminder…
Peter wanted to remind them of things they already knew. To help put them on the minds of the people he loved. And he thought it was good and right to do this… to stir them up by way of reminder. That’s what I want to do today. If there is anything that we need to keep in mind, always keep in mind it is the resurrection. It is the fact that the tomb is empty.
I am convinced that when there is not a lively apprehension and remembrance that the tomb is empty, we go through life deflated, timid, weak, and without a sense of much purpose. When, however, we live in the light of the resurrection, our lives are characterized by hope, courage, and purpose. So, I want to stir you up by reminding you today that Jesus Christ has risen and give you several reasons why that matters! This matters for you today in 2023, in the midst of a cultural revolution and a civilization that is crumbling.
Remember Jesus Christ has risen
FIRST, remember that Jesus Christ has risen just as he said he would. I remember growing up hearing that Babe Ruth in a World Series game stepped to the plate and pointed to the outfield and proceeded to hit a homerun over the wall where he pointed. That’s impressive. I recently heard that there is an American Ju Jitsu competitor (apparently the best in the world) who will often call the length of time and the exact move he will use to end the match (pin, tap, etc). And he goes out and does it. That’s impressive.
Jesus Christ said he was going to die and then rise again, and guess what? He was. That’s what the angel said to the women in Matthew 28:6: “He is not here, for he is risen, as he said…”
But Jesus was not just predicting that he would rise from the dead. That would be impressive enough. Jesus was fulfilling prophecy. That’s why he said to his disciples (multiple times),
The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected… and be killed… and on the third day rise again…
This must happen, Jesus said. Why? Because he was fulfilling the words spoken long before by the prophets about his death and resurrection. But there is actually something else here… that is utterly astounding. When Jesus came out of the grave, he did something he said he would. Listen to what Jesus said in John 2.
Destroy this temple and in three days, I will raise it up. The Jews said, “It has taken 46 years to build the temple and will you raise it up in three days? But he was speaking about the temple of his body. (John 2:19-20)
Did you hear that? Jesus said, “I will raise it up. I will raise up the dead corpse.” John 10 (“Nobody takes my life from me… I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.”) Brothers and sisters, this is divine power. CS Lewis said one time that we only have three options when it comes to Jesus. He said this in reference to Christ’s claim to be God, but it certainly applies here too. Jesus Christ is either a liar. He lied about raising up his dead body. He is a lunatic - like an insane person. Someone who really thinks he has that kind of power, but he’s delusional. Or he is LORD and we are to bow before him and listen to all he says. Well, I think we are in agreement that He is Lord. His resurrection demonstrates his Lordship. Not just Lord of my heart or Lord of his church or Lord of unseen, spiritual things, but Jesus Christ is Lord of all. Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead.
SECOND, remember Jesus Christ has risen which assures us of the final judgment. Did you know that the resurrection is proof that there will be a final judgment? We don’t often think of judgment as a good thing, but we should. Not in a sadistic way, where we have a thirst for people to be punished by God. But a time when all things will be put right; when he will make everything right. We are made in God’s image, and there is a desire for this. We rejoice when we see righteousness prevail; we lament when justice is perverted. We must remember Jesus Christ was raised from the dead, and this is proof that there will be cosmic justice. Listen to how Paul explains the day of judgment in Acts 17:31:
[God] has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
Do you see the point Paul makes here? God has fixed a day of judgment… he has appointed a man who will act as Judge. And he has given assurance of this… how? By raising him from the dead. Justice will be served. No doubt, Christians ought to be about justice in the world now. It’s why Christians were on the front lines to abolish slavery. It’s why Christians are on the front lines to see abortion outlawed. And it’s why Christians are vehemently opposed to the mutilation of children’s bodies in so-called “gender reassignment surgeries. These are matters of justice, and we should speak out and stand against them all. And yet, we see so much injustice on these and so many more issues, which tempts us to lose hope. So we must remember Jesus Christ has risen from the dead - the day of true and perfect judgment is appointed. The risen Christ will judge the world in righteousness.
A few years ago I had the privilege of addressing a subcommittee on a pro-life bill down at the state capitol. I had a short time, but one thing I wanted to make sure each of these members of the committee knew is that they would give an account to Jesus Christ for what they did, how they voted, and so forth. Christian, there is so much evil and injustice in the world - but take heart! We have assurance that the Judge of all the earth will do right. Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead.
THIRD, remember Jesus Christ has risen and so you are no longer in your sins. We often think of the cross as the place where our sins were dealt with, atoned for, and removed from us, right? Peter says that “he himself bore our sins in his body on the tree…” It was on the cross that the payment for our sins was made, which is why Jesus said, “It is finished… paid in full!” But then Paul makes this connection with the resurrection and our sins:
If Christ has not been raised, you are still in your sins. Which means, you are still guilty for your sins, in the grip of the power of sin, unable to free yourself from your sins, and will suffer the consequences for your sins. The cross only achieves what it achieves because Jesus rose from the dead. The cross is seen as a sufficient payment for our sins because he rose again! If the tomb is not empty, Jesus may have been a good teacher, a healer, a compassionate doer of good works, a martyr - but he could not be the Forgiver of our sins; he could have been a powerful Savior. But he has risen just as he said, and therefore we are no longer in our sins. The guilt of sin has been removed! The death grip of sin has been broken.
We talked about judgment earlier. This needs to be pressed upon us. For those who are in Christ, judgment is not meant to be a terror. And here’s why: Because we are assured that judgment has passed over us, and the true Passover Lamb (worthy is the Lamb) has been judged in our place. Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead.
FOURTH, remember Jesus Christ has risen and you have been given new life in Him. Where to begin here. It is wonderful to have our sins forgiven. It is precious beyond measure to know that we are no longer in our sins. In one sense, without that, nothing else matters. But, is there power to live a new life? Are we ONLY forgiven sinners? Or something more, like new people. Yes! Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Think about this. The bible describes your salvation as a resurrection. And it connects us to the resurrection of Jesus.
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— (Ephesians 2:4-5)
Think about that! You were once a spiritual corpse. And then God made you alive! There is an old Bob Dylan song… the lyrics are so powerful!
I was blinded by the devil, born already ruined. Stone cold dead as I stepped out of the womb. By his grace I have been touched. By his word I have been healed. By his hand I’ve been delivered. By his Spirit I’ve been sealed.
When God saves us, he brings dead people to life. We are raised with Christ. And our lives are changed forever! We don’t become perfect. But we become different people. We become new people.
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
This is simply stating a fact about those who are in Christ. The question is, are you in Christ? If you are by faith, you are a new creation. You have been raised with the risen Lord Jesus Christ. Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead! And as a new person, there is now power to live a new life, because you have a new heart, with new desires. And you have the indwelling Holy Spirit. It is inconceivable to think that a man who has been raised with Christ could simply live like he always has - in selfishness and pride and anger. Listen to Paul in Romans 6:
1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:1-4)
Here is the rhetorical question Paul is asking: Because grace is so glorious and free, shall the Christian continue to live in sin? By no means! Literally - God forbid! But then interestingly, Paul doesn’t say, “You better not”, but rather you cannot. You have been united to Christ in his death in which you have died to sin. And you have been united to Christ not only in his death, but also in his resurrection… to what end? That we might walk in newness of life in the power of the Holy Spirit! Brothers and sisters, the power to live a new life comes to us through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead.
FIFTH, remember Jesus Christ has triumphed over death, and you will too. You and I and everyone else in the world alive today are going to die. Ecclesiastes 3 says, there is a time to die. It’s appointed for each one of us. The day is coming. Unless the Lord Jesus returns, we will die. These bodies will break down and die. But that’s not the end of the story, because the tomb is empty!
Here’s the thing… Jesus did not just rise from the dead in some spiritual, ethereal way. He rose bodily, actually conquering death - physical death. And because Jesus triumphed over death, if you are in him, you will too! 1 Corinthians 15 says Jesus is the “firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20). When Jesus is referred to as the firstfruits, it obviously points to him as the first one to rise from the dead (“firstborn from the dead”), but it also means that he is the guarantee of our resurrection, right? His resurrection represents our future bodily resurrection. And it also pays the entrance fee for our resurrection. It guarantees ours.
You see, heaven is not the end for us. It is sort of an intermediate destination until our full and final salvation comes. From the time we die to the second coming of Christ, we will be with Christ in heaven, but what exactly it will be like, is not super clear in the bible.
One thing is for sure, the consummation of our salvation is the bodily resurrection. These mortal bodies will put on immortality. So physical death, though a real enemy now, does not have the ultimate victory. Christ will put this enemy under his feet once and for all at his coming, when we are raised. So, remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead.
SIXTH and FINAL, remember Jesus Christ has risen which means all of life matters. If the dead are not raised, let’s eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die. None of it matters! But the dead are raised. Jesus has been. And we will be. So life matters. Our embodied lives matter now. At the end of the greatest chapter on the resurrection in the bible (1 Corinthians 15), Paul wraps it up this way:
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
If Christ has risen as he said he would and our sins are forgiven, we have new life, and assurance of victory over death, how should we live now? We must be steadfast. Persevere, endure to the end. Christ has risen, you will be raised. Be immovable. In the face of bad news, fake news, false philosophies, lies and deception bombarding you day after day, be immovable based on the world shaping truth that Jesus Christ walked out of the tomb and is alive.
Always abounding in the work of the Lord. Always, without ceasing. Abound in the Lord’s work. Overflow in it. Not your own work. Not your own kingdom building. Abound in the work of the LORD! Do this in the hope that your labor is not empty. It is not futile or vanity. All that you do in the Lord's name, for his sake, in service of others has eternal value in Christ. Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead! CS Lewis, in his book Miracles, said,
The New Testament writers speak as if Christ’s achievement in rising from the dead was the first event of its kind in the whole history of the universe. He is the ‘first fruits,’ the ‘pioneer of life.’ He has forced open a door that has been locked since the death of the first man. He has met, fought, and beaten the King of Death. Everything is different because He has done so.
We must remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead. He is the Lord of lords, the Judge of all the earth, the Forgiver of our Sins, the One in Whom we have new life, the Resurrection and the Life. And because he has risen, let us live for his glory and proclaim that he is alive.