This past week we have contemplated the last days of Jesus leading up to his crucifixion. One Friday we had the opportunity to walk through the Stations of the Cross; this was a powerful and sobering time of considering all that Jesus suffered. In Matt 27:50-51 when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. 51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. One of the most powerful images of Jesus’ death is the Temple of the curtain being torn from the top to the bottom. The reason I want to share this imagery with you is simple. I believe that in the Spirit of Prophecy Jesus wants to breakthrough in our lives, just as there was a breakthrough in the Temple Curtain being torn, but even more so through his resurrection.
The temple in Jerusalem was the center of Jewish religious life during the lifetime of Jesus. There were animal sacrifices carried out and worship according to the Law of Moses was followed faithfully. In the temple, a veil separated the Holy of Holies (the earthly dwelling place of God’s presence) from the rest of the temple where men dwelt. The veil symbolized the separation from God by sin and only the high priest was permitted to pass beyond this veil once each year to make atonement for sin. The veil itself was approximately 50 feet in height and believed to be about 4 inches thick. The size and thickness of the veil makes the events occurring at the moment of Jesus’ death on the cross so much more momentous.
So, by way of introduction, what do we make of this? What significance does this torn veil have for us today? Through the death of Jesus God was beginning to release wonderful breakthroughs for mankind. These breakthroughs are greatly magnified when we know the reality of Jesus resurrection from the dead. AMEN!
He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!
The Resurrection is foundational to Christianity – in light of Jesus Christ being made alive after suffering a horrible death, we as believers are assured of His Divinity as the Son of God. Our faith and trust can rest secure in God and his Kingdom plan for mankind. Great breakthroughs await those who walk in the light of Jesus resurrection.
The magnitude and importance of the Resurrection is seen in the Scripture 1 Cor 15:14 – “And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.” Without the resurrection of Jesus from the dead there would be no forgiveness of sins, no church, no faith to please God and no hope for the future. In his book, Evidence That Demands A Verdict, Josh McDowell states, “I have come to the conclusion that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is one of the most wicked, vicious, heartless hoaxes ever foisted upon the minds of men, or it is the most fantastic fact of history.”
- Jesus himself spoke of his death and resurrection, Luke 9:22 And he said, "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life." His resurrection would be the ‘sign’ of his being the Messiah.
- The details of Jesus’ burial confirm his death while the empty tomb gloriously reveals God’s triumph over death. The stone, the seal and the guarding of the tomb were to prevent any thievery by the disciples who might be tempted to come and remove the body of Jesus. The empty tomb is a constant reminder of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The Roman and Jewish leaders could not explain the disappearance of Christ’s body; nor could they find it. Even so they rejected the resurrection.
- The historical references of the early church fathers confirm the resurrection. The Jewish historian Josephus also confirms the resurrection of Jesus.
- The post-resurrection appearances of Jesus are clearly at the heart of early Christian belief. Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, the two followers in Emmaus, doubting Thomas, and Jesus eventually appeared to the eleven disciples. Acts 1:1-3 and 1 Cor 15:3-8 both highlight Jesus appearing to many people after his resurrection.
- In conclusion, the Resurrection of Jesus, the giving of the Holy Spirit (John 20:22, Acts 1:1-8) and His Ascension to the right hand of the Father (Acts 1:9-12; 2:33), are confirming the reality of Jesus as the Messiah. The events may be viewed as separate, but the New Testament writers see them closely integrated revealing the beginning of the new, church age.
Jesus’ birth, His sinless life, His proclamation and demonstration of the Kingdom of God, His death, His resurrection and His Ascension all verify that He is the Son of God, the Messiah, who came to redeem mankind. There are so many divine breakthroughs as seen through Jesus Christ, we can only marvel at God’s wisdom and love for us. I see three overarching results in light of the resurrection.
1. We have been given a clear mission, because of the Resurrection of Jesus. Jesus ‘Kingdom’ purpose was for the redemption of mankind – he came to seek and save those who were lost. We are now to “go and make disciples… baptizing… teaching…” (Matt 28:19-20).
2. We have been given the authority to carry out that mission. In the Greek, the word for authority is exousia revealing the sense of ability, privilege or jurisdiction; in other words, we are now Jesus’ Ambassadors who carry the authority of the Kingdom.
3. We have been given the power to complete the mission. The power is the result of the infilling of the Holy Spirit especially highlighted in Acts 1:8 - But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
We understand the significance of the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Now let’s take a moment and think about “breakthroughs”. I see a spiritual breakthrough as an experience or encounter of having reached a new level of spirituality; the Holy Spirit is directly involved by releasing authority, power and revelation. The New Testament disciples experienced spiritual breakthroughs of various kinds. The disciples had their “eyes opened” as a result of the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus; some had burning hearts, many had their minds opened to the Scriptures, others had miraculous encounters.
· Paul’s experience on the road to Damascus a spiritual breakthrough resulting in his salvation (Acts 9).
· Peter’s revelation on the rooftop in Joppa could be considered a spiritual breakthrough, i.e. the gospel was for both Jew and Gentiles (Acts 10).
· The conversion of Lydia near Philippi was a spiritual breakthrough, as she was the first person saved in Europe (Acts 16).
The greatest spiritual breakthrough anyone can experience is that of salvation. In the context of the ekklesia (the Body of Christ), a spiritual breakthrough can be defined as salvation for the first time or when a believer gains a deeper revelation of biblical truth. As well, one may receive an answer to prayer; victory over a harassing sin, overcoming some troubling circumstance. The idea of a “breakthrough” suggests a forgoing struggle that finally peaks and finds resolution. Personally, I have sought the Lord for various breakthroughs in my life over the years. Here are a few examples.
· When I needed healing in my Body…
· When I have felt far from God…
· When I have felt spiritual warfare…
· When I have struggled with sin…
· When I have prayed for victory in certain circumstances; family, finance, future…
The Resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the foundation of our Christian faith. Our connection with God exists because of Jesus. We now have great opportunity to grow spiritually as naturally as abiding in the vine. We grow as we stay near to God (John 15:7-8).
The Scriptures are full of exhortations to draw near to God and to seek him personally.
· We are told to seek God for he is a rewarder of those who seek him (Hebr 11:6).
· We are encouraged to seek God for his wisdom (James 1:5).
· Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always (1 Ch 16:11).
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed (1 Pe 1:3–7).
The question we must ask ourselves today is – where is there ongoing struggle or opposition in our lives, families or church? This is where God wants to breakthrough. Considering Jesus’ resurrection, we can be assured that nothing is too difficult for God. This is where the resurrection power of Jesus can bring freedom and victory.
I believe that one of the greatest pleasures of God is that of blessing his children. He is good, and he longs to show his goodness to his people. He desires to awaken our hearts to love, renew our hearts with faith and to help us break-through those areas of our lives that we feel stuck. This morning, in light of the resurrection, let’s take time and invite God help us breakthrough and overcome.