Changed By The Resurrection Of Jesus Christ

Bible Book: Mark  16 : 1-7
Subject: Resurrection; Peter; Faith; Salvation



Robert Louis Stevenson, best known for his adventure story Treasure Island, was in poor health throughout much of his childhood and youth. One night when he was quite sick, his nurse found him with his nose pressed against the frosty pane of his bedroom window.

"Child, come away from there. You'll catch your death of cold," she fussed.

But, the young Robert Stevenson wouldn't budge. He sat, mesmerized, as he watched an old lamp lighter slowly work his way through the black night, lighting each street lamp along his route.

"See, look there," Robert pointed, "there's a man poking holes in the darkness."

We Christians are to be just like that. We are to be people who are poking holes in the darkness. As we look around us today we see that there is plenty of darkness in which we must be poking holes of light. There's plenty in the world around us to depress us today. We are reminded of Job's wife who advised him to "curse God and die." It was Voltaire who having been beaten by his doubts who said, "I wish I had never been born." Oscar Wilde put it this way, "There's enough misery in every street in London to disprove God." George Bernard Shaw said, "If the other planets are inhabited, they must be using this earth as their insane asylum." There is negativism and pessimism all around us. What the world needs today are light-hearted, soul-minded and spirit filled Christians who will faithfully punch holes in the darkness with good news.

I love the story about the barber who perpetually had a negative attitude. One day one of his regulars came in whistling. He was preparing for a vacation to Rome and was looking forward to getting away.

"Don't go," the barber started in. "It costs money. You'll need a vacation just to recuperate from your vacation, especially if you go to Rome. The buildings are old, the traffic is terrible, and the hotels have poor service, and bad food."

"Well," said the man, "I like history. I've never been to Rome and I just wanted to see it. Besides, maybe I'll get to see the Pope."

"You? See the Pope? Even the President of the United States has trouble seeing the Pope. Cancel your plans today. Just stay home," the barber advised.

Several weeks later the man came back for another haircut. He was whistling again and the barber observed, "Obviously, you didn't go to Rome."

"Oh, yes I did. As a matter of fact, I had a great time. The city was beautiful. The history was fascinating. The people were terrific. The food was marvelous. The hotel was excellent. And, I even got to see the Pope."

"You got to see the Pope?" the barber, genuinely curious, responded. "Yeah, I saw him. He even knelt down and whispered in my ear."

At this the barber stopped cutting. He stood back from the chair and said, "Well, what did he say?"

The customer replied, "Well, he cupped his hand over my ear so no one else could hear and he said, 'That's the worst haircut I've ever seen in my life.’"

We can become as negative as that barber, hardened by the ugliness, brutality, and crime of this world, or we can be numbered among those who bring good news, who punch holes in the darkness with the good news of the light of the resurrected Jesus Christ.

It was not hard for Peter to be negative. He had been shocked to the core by what he had witnessed in proceeding days. Things were happening far too fast for Peter. First, there was the triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem. Then came the last supper with Jesus. Then the traitor's kiss. Then the arrest of his Lord, and Peter's own use of the sword in the garden. Then came the horrible trial and Peter saw the handwriting on the wall. It was quite clear to Peter that the end was here. (Read Matthew 26:58)

There are millions in our world today who sit exactly where Peter sat that night. They see the end. Disillusionment blankets their hearts. The feeling persists among many that some grim inevitability is moving among us and that it is just a matter of time. There's nothing we can do but sit and wait for the end to come-the end of law and order, the end of western civilization as we know it, the end of the family as we have experienced it, the end of religious faith, the end of the church. Even Peter renounced the Lord. He renounced his vision, and he renounced his hope. But, Peter left too soon. God had not pronounced his divine amen on the world, the future or His Kingdom. The world was not coming to a stop, but to a beginning. For it was on the third day that Christ arose and the twilight became the dawn.

Peter was the first of the apostles to know this. Through the messenger God had said to Mary, "Go and tell my disciples and Peter..." Tell him not to give up. Tell him it is daytime not nighttime. Tell him the Son has risen.

If there has ever been one changed by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Simon Peter was that one. The exciting truth is that you too can be changed by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, if that has not already happened in your life. If you are a believer in Christ, then be reminded on this day of celebration that your darkness is filled with the light of the resurrected Jesus Christ. This world is not the end for you. It is merely the beginning.

The change that came over Peter because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ is never more clearly indicated than in Acts, Chapter 2, as he preaches his dynamic sermon on the day of Pentecost. This Pentecost sermon is actually an Easter sermon, though it was preached on Pentecost, it is all about Easter. As Peter preaches this message, we see the dynamic change that has come over his life.

I. Proof

Peter's sermon was a dynamic sermon all about Easter. Peter began his message by identifying Jesus of Nazareth as a man approved by God, which proof of that approval was witnessed in the miracles, the wonders, and the signs, which God did by Jesus. What's more, Jesus performed these miracles in the midst of the Jews who were gathered in this upper room. Nicodemus had demonstrated this wisdom to detect the approval of God. In John 3:2 we read: "Rabbi, we know that thou are a teacher come from God, for no man can do these miracles that thou doest except God be with him." Certainly the signs performed by the Lord were sufficient to demonstrate that God was with Him. In John 14:10-11: "Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me? The words that I speak unto you, I speak not of myself, but the Father that dwelleth in me, He doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me or else believe me for the very works sake." The miracles performed by the Lord were sufficient information to lead anyone to the knowledge of who he was. So it is today. No one can do to a life what the Lord Jesus Christ can do. As He enters into that life of the sinner to bring cleansing, forgiveness, joy, peace, and eternity.

For the words of a song:

"I cannot doubt the work of God, It's plain for all to see;

The miracle that He has wrought should lead to Calvary.

The love of God! O, power divine! 'Tis wonderful to see.

The miracle of grace performed within the heart of me.

I believe in miracles. I've seen a soul set free.

Miraculous, the change in one redeemed through Calvary:

I've seen the lily push its way up through the stubborn sod.

I believe in miracles, for I believe in God!"

The greatest proof of the Lordship of Jesus Christ, Peter expressed in verse 24 (read). You know, the miracle of Easter was not that God raised up Christ, but that Jesus was dead in the first place-that God actually loved us that much. It is unthinkable that God could actually be put to death; it is impossible Peter reminds us, that He might be kept dead. Peter says: "It was not possible that Jesus should be held by death."

No sooner will death be able to hold the Christian than it was able to hold Jesus. Jesus said, "Because I live, you will live also."

Yes, there was adequate proof then and now that Jesus was and is the Christ, the Son of the living God.

II. Prophecy

The essence of Peter's thunderous sermon was that the Old Testament prophecies provided proof of Jesus' identity as the resurrected Lord and Christ (Acts 2:25-27).

Peter goes on to say that David was not writing about himself because he certainly died, and they all knew where his tomb was. But, "He looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay..." (Acts 2:31).

Other portraits of resurrection come from the prophecies of the Old Testament. We see a beautiful example of Christ's resurrection in the willingness of Abraham to offer up Isaac, his "only begotten son," upon the alter of sacrifice. Abraham believed "that if Isaac died that God would bring him back to life again, and that is just about what happened, for as far as Abraham was concerned, Isaac was doomed to death, but he came back again alive!" (Living Bible, Hebrews 11:17-19)

It is quite possible that there's never been a more forceful description of the resurrection of Christ than that expressed by Job: "As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last He will take His stand upon the earth. Even after my skin is decayed, yet without my flesh I shall see God; whom I myself shall behold, and whom my eyes shall see and not another" (Job 19:25-27).

So, Peter has boldly proclaimed to the Jews who gathered in the Upper Room that the One they crucified gave every proof in His personal ministry that He was the Christ. Further, the prophecies of the Old Testament declared that Jesus was the Christ. We should also note that Jesus prophesied all that would happen to Him, and that even those closest to Him did not understand (Luke 18:31- 34).

III. Penitent

When Peter declared that the Jews gathered had been responsible for the killing of the Messiah, long awaited by the Jewish nation they were smitten in their hearts. They were broken-hearted. Their cry that day is the cry of every person across the ages who has come to realize who Jesus really is and what our sin has really done to Him. You see, we cannot point accusing fingers at the Jews of 2000 years ago and say that they crucified Christ. It was your sins and my sins that nailed Jesus to the cross. The only appropriate response to that truth is: "What shall we do? What shall we do?" Peter responded by saying, "Repent and be baptized..." Repentance, turning from your sin is essential in becoming a Christian. Baptism is the public demonstration that you have committed your life to Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. A Sunday School teacher asked the children in her class if any of them could define the meaning of the word "repent." A little boy said, "That means to be sorry for sins." The teacher congratulated the little boy on a correct response. Then a little girl in the class raised her hand and said, "Excuse me, but doesn't it really mean to be sorry enough to quit?" That is exactly what it means. You can come to Christ today if you'll repent, if you are sorry enough for your sins to quit.

IV. Promise

Peter declared in verse 39 that the promise of salvation and the receiving of the Holy Spirit are for as many people as will respond to the call of the Lord Jesus Christ. It does not matter who you are, where you come from, what your background may be, what sins you have committed. If you will confess those sins to the Lord today and turn from those sins in repentance and come to Christ as your personal Savior, He will save you. The promise of His grace is intended for every one of you.

The Bible plainly says that it is not His will that any should perish.

V. Profession

Wonderful thing happened after Peter preached the truth to his congregation on that day of Pentecost. He offered the invitation to any who would respond to this gospel about the resurrected and living Lord Jesus Christ. 3000 souls stepped forward to make public their profession of faith in Christ. By anyone standards, that is revival! Their profession was followed by baptism by which they gave public and, I should add, courageous, at the risk of life, profession of faith in Jesus. Their profession was proven in the days ahead as they remained steadfast in the Apostles doctrine, and fellowship, and the breaking of bread, and in prayers (verse 42). Nothing grows a Christian faster or stronger than these things, the Word of God-doctrine, fellowship, remembering the sacrifice of our Lord upon the cross through the breaking of bread and prayer.

VI. Praise

This was a happy crop of Christians that Peter harvested on this occasion. Their sins had been forgiven. They had been released from their guilt. They were growing in the Lord every day. The results are beautifully expressed in verse 47 (read). It is a happy and praising church that attracts people. There is a magnetism about a church like that. It is a church that is filled with people who are just so happy to be saved by the grace of the Lord that they are delighted to serve Him. Every day and in every way the members thanked Jesus for the fact that He laid down His life upon the cross and was raised from the dead victorious over sin and the grave.

Max Lucado, in his book, No Wonder They Call Him Savior, tells the following story:

"He couldn't have been over six years old. Dirty faced, bare footed, torn t-shirt, matted hair. He wasn't too different from the one hundred thousand or so street orphans that roam Rio de Janeiro.

I was walking to get a cup of coffee at the nearby café when he came up behind me. With my thoughts somewhere between the task I had just finished and the class I was about to teach, I scarcely felt the tap, tap, tap on my hand. I stopped and turned. Seeing no one, I continued on my way. I'd only take a few steps, however, when I felt another insistent tap, tap, tap. This time I stopped and looked downward. There he stood. His eyes seemed whiter because of his grubby cheeks and coal-black hair.

"Pao, Senhor?" ("Bread, sir?")

Living in Brazil, one has daily opportunities to buy a candy bar or sandwich for these little outcasts. It's the least one can do. I told him to come with me and we entered the sidewalk café. "Coffee for me and something tasty for my little friend." The boy ran to the pastry counter and made his selection.

Normally, these youngsters take the food and scamper out into the street without a word, but this little fellow surprised me.

The café consisted of a long bar: one end for pastries and the other end for coffee. As the boy was making his choice, I went to the other end of the bar and began drinking my coffee. Just as I was getting my derailed train of thought back on track, I saw him again. He was standing in the café entrance, on tip-toe, bread in hand, looking in at the people. "What's he doing?" I thought.

Then he saw me and scurried in my direction. He came and stood in front of me about eye level with my belt buckle. The little Brazilian orphan looked up at the big American missionary, smiled a smile that would have stolen your heart and said, "Obrigado." ("Thank you.") Then nervously scratching the back of his big toe, he added, "Muito oberigado." ("Thank you very much.")

All of a sudden I had a crazy craving to buy him the whole restaurant. But before I could say anything, he turned and scampered out the door.

As I write this I am still standing at the coffee bar, my coffee is cold, and I'm late for my class. But I still feel the sensation that I felt half an hour ago. And I'm pondering this question: if I am so moved by a street orphan who says "Thank you" for a piece of bread, how much more is God moved when I pause to thank Him-really thank Him-for saving my soul?"

Jesus died on a Roman cross for you. He died there to bring pardon for your sins. He was raised from the dead for you. His only motivation was love. If you will, you can say thank you to Him today.