I preached the following sermon at Stonebrook Church, Easter 2014. You can listen to the audio on the Stonebrook Web site.
1 Corinthians 15:1â€“4 (ESV)
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2Â and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to youâ€”unless you believed in vain.
3Â For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4Â that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scripturesâ€¦
The resurrection of Jesus, the Christ, is the central fact of history, and it is the foundation of The Christian faith. If the Resurrection did not happen, historically and physically, then there is no Christian faith, and as Paul says here, we have believed “in vain”. But it did happen, just as the Scriptures predicted it would and just as the scriptures said it did.
â€œIn accordance with the Scripturesâ€ means â€œin agreement with the Scriptures.â€ Paul was asserting, as Jesus did, that the Old Testament scriptures prophesied his death, burial, and resurrection on the Third Day, which it does. Another way of talking about this is that there is a â€œline through the scripturesâ€ that His death, burial, and resurrection line up with. And that line is that:
God rescues His people through the Blood of the Lamb!
The line starts all the way back in Genesis chapter 3, but we will pick it up in Exodus, chapter 12. Turn there with me. Godâ€™s people have been enslaved by Pharaoh, and God has visited Egypt with nine plagues to show His power and wrath in judgement, and God is about to unleash the tenth and final plague, and He tells His people to prepare, by choosing a lamb, a flawless one, and sacrificing it.
Exodus 12:7â€“13 (ESV)
7Â â€œThen they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8Â They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9Â Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. 10Â And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn.
11Â In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lordâ€™s Passover. 12Â For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. 13Â The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.
At the Passover, the event that freed them from slavery in Egypt, the blood of a lamb caused the Lordâ€™s wrath in judgement to pass over the Israeliteâ€™s houses, so that they would not be destroyed along with the Egyptians. This Passover meal became the highest holy day for the Israelites, repeated each year to remember this event.
When the Israelites were freed from their captivity and were about to set up their own nation in the promised land, God gave them a perfect system of Government and religious observance that would keep them in right standing with God. One of the central points of the law was the burnt offering, a sacrifice for sins, that would restore them to a right relationship with God. This sacrifice could be a bull or a lamb. The blood of these lambs atoned for the sins of the Israelites.
There are multiple feast days, rituals and types of sacrifices for all different purposes described in the Mosaic law in the Old Testament, and many of them required the blood of a lamb, which would atone for the sins of the people and the nation of Israel.
God designed it this way, to point to His son. God had a New Covenant in mind, one that would make a perfect sacrifice, once for all.
Jesus is that Lamb
The lamb of atoning sacrifice
Isaiah 53:7â€“11 (ESV) – Speaks of â€œThe Servant of The Lordâ€
7Â He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
8Â By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
9Â And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10Â Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11Â Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
John 1:29 (ESV)
29Â The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, â€œBehold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
This would have been a jarring statement. The Jews were familiar with the ideas of their lambs being sacrificed to atone for the sins of Israel. But Godâ€™s lamb? Taking away sin? The sin of the world? Not just Israel? This would have been new material for them.
In the days before His crucifixion, Jesus lets us know that He now is the passover lamb, and the perfect atoning sacrifice.
The passover lamb
Luke 22:14â€“20 (ESV)
14Â And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. 15Â And he said to them, â€œI have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16Â For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.â€ 17Â And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, â€œTake this, and divide it among yourselves. 18Â For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.â€ 19Â And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, â€œThis is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.â€ 20Â And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, â€œThis cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
In Matthew 26:28, the parallel here, he says
28Â for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
THE PERFECT, ONCE-FOR-ALL SACRIFICE
11Â And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12Â But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13Â waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14Â For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
15Â And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
16Â â€œThis is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,â€
17Â then he adds,
â€œI will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.â€
18Â Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.
Keep a finger or bookmark there, and turn to Revelation 5, which gives us a glimpse into the throne room in Heaven and gives us a mind-blowing picture of:
The Resurrected, Glorified, Worthy Lamb of God
Revelation 5:1â€“14 (ESV)
Then I saw in the right hand of him who was seated on the throne a scroll written within and on the back, sealed with seven seals. 2Â And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, â€œWho is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?â€ 3Â And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, 4Â and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. 5Â And one of the elders said to me, â€œWeep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.â€
6Â And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7Â And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne. 8Â And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. 9Â And they sang a new song, saying,
â€œWorthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10Â and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
and they shall reign on the earth.â€
11Â Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12Â saying with a loud voice,
â€œWorthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!â€
13Â And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,
â€œTo him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!â€
14Â And the four living creatures said, â€œAmen!â€ and the elders fell down and worshiped.
Make no mistake, Jesus, Godâ€™s Messiah, was crucified on a Roman cross, died and was buried to make atonement for the sins of all of Godâ€™s people, and He rose from the dead! He is now seated at Godâ€™s right hand in heaven, ruling over all creation. He is your King. The question is whether you follow your King as a willing subject, or still a rebel against him.
So what are we to do? Turn to Acts, chapter 2, with me. Letâ€™s hear what the Apostle Peter says we ought to do. Verses 22-47.
The Proper Response
Acts 2:22â€“24; 32-33, 36â€“47 (ESV)
22Â â€œMen of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves knowâ€” 23Â this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24Â God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. â€¦
â€¦32Â This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33Â Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearingâ€¦.
â€¦36Â Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.â€ â€¦
â€¦ 37Â Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, â€œBrothers, what shall we do?â€ 38Â And Peter said to them, â€œRepent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39Â For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.â€ 40Â And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, â€œSave yourselves from this crooked generation.â€ 41Â So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.
Repent and be Baptized.
Repent! Turn from your sins
We should understand Peterâ€™s exhortation to repent as a call to turn from your life of rebellion against God. What does it look like when one turns to Him, and places themselves under His Kingship?
Be Baptized: Join the church
We should understand Peterâ€™s command to be baptized as a call to join with The Church, Godâ€™s people, followers of Jesus. Keep reading in Acts, this is what happens with those that heard Peterâ€™s call, a believed.
42Â And they devoted themselves to the apostlesâ€™ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43Â And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44Â And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45Â And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46Â And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47Â praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
Hebrews 10:19â€“25 (ESV)
19Â Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, 20Â by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21Â and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22Â let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23Â Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24Â And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25Â not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Let me ask you a question: Do these things typify your understanding of and participation with Jesusâ€™s church?
UNREPENTANT, BAPTIZED OR NOT: REPENT
Some of you in this room do not know God. You may call yourselves Christian, You might even show up at church on occasion, maybe even frequently, but Acts 2 and Hebrews 10 does not typify your life. Many of you have never repented. I urge you to REPENT. Turn away from your sin. There are many ways this sin manifests itself but the simplest way I can put it is this: wanting things your way, in your timing, and on your terms. Not Godâ€™s.
Whatever the sin might be, the root is always SELFISHNESS, PRIDE, in wanting to be in control, to be the one who calls the shots in your life. Give it up. Godâ€™s ways are so much better than yours or mine. Go with you King.
REPENTANT, BAPTIZED: Be REFRESHED
And for my faithful brothers and sisters who have been here for years, let this Easter, which is really the beginning point of the year for the church, be an opportunity to REFRESH your commitment to our Lord and His body. My hope is that this sermon would REFRESH your vision for what we are up to here. We serve the magnificent, glorified, risen Christ Jesus, the Son of God who is on a throne in heaven. Never lose sight of The Perfect Lamb who was slain in our place, for our sin, setting us free from our slavery to sin, and saving us from the wrath of Godâ€™s judgement. Let the JOY of that news fuel your year.
This is easy to fix. Letâ€™s take care of that ASAP.
Questions for Discussion
Jesus and the Apostles teach us each aspect of the Old Covenant was designed to point us to the Messiah, Jesus (Colossians 2:17, John 5:39, Luke 24:27, Hebrews 8). In the message we studied how Jesus is The Lamb of God, who fulfills the roles of the atoning sacrifices (Leviticus 1), and The Passover Lamb (Exodus 12:7:13).
- Recall how he fulfills those roles. What are the implications of Jesus fulfilling those roles for us today?
- John the Baptizer refers to Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Why is this designation significant and how would that have differed from the Jewsâ€™ understanding of the sacrifices?
- Peter and the author of Hebrews both say that the proper response of faith in Jesusâ€™ perfect sacrifice, resurrection, and current reign in Heaven is to repent (turn from your sin) and be baptized (join the church). (Acts 2:38-39, Hebrews 10:19-25). Describe what this response looks like in your life.
- How does this response differ from the typical response that is urged by many modern evangelicals? Is this different from the response that you were told to have?
For believers, how should this call to repentance and baptism be worked out in our every day life?