Three Days that Changed The World

(Greek words can be viewed using the Symbol font)

Pastor Scott L. Harris

Grace Bible Church, NY

April 20, 2003 – Resurrection Sunday

Three Days that Changed the World

Selected Scriptures

Our choir has presented to you the Resurrection Cantata, Three
Days
, by Deborah Craig-Claar and Camp Kirkland that very
quickly presents the life of Jesus Christ and then concentrates
on the last day of His life and His resurrection from the dead
three days later. Three days that changed the world. But in order
to understand the importance of Jesus’ death, burial and
resurrection we must first understand the condition of man that
required this great sacrifice and greater triumph over man’s
enemies, sin and death.

The Days Before

God created the world in six days and then rested on the
seventh. Among the creatures He created on the sixth day was man.
God’s proclamation at the end of that day is found in
Genesis 1:31. And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it
was very good."

The Garden of Eden was a wonderful place for Adam and Eve. It
was a beautiful and safe place with everything they needed for
life. The only restriction upon them was to not eat of the tree
of the knowledge of good and evil, for in the day that they would
eat of it they would die (Gen. 2:16,17). We all know the story. A
day came when Eve was tempted by Satan through a serpent to eat
of that tree. When doubt arose in Eve’s mind about what God
had said and she saw that the tree was good for food, a delight
to the eyes and desirable to make one wise, she ate of it and
gave to Adam who also ate of it (Gen. 3:1-7). Both of them now
gained a knowledge of sin and immediately recognized the shame of
their nakedness. They sought to cover that shame by their own
method of sewing fig leaves together, but all of us can easily
figure out. Fig leaves do not make adequate clothing. In
addition, even with their fig leaf clothes, when God came to the
Garden to talk with them, they hid. They died spiritually that
day, for death means separation, and their disobedience of
God’s command had now resulted in separation from him. The
curse of sin had come upon them and every single one of their
descendants – us.

Sin has been the enemy of man ever since Adam & Eve. Its
effects have been far reaching for all of creation now groans
under its curse awaiting the day that God will restore all things
(Romans 8:22). Disease, decay and death have reigned. Think about
how much time, money and effort you spend on a daily basis
battling these three consequences of sin. All that you do to stay
healthy, to overcome sickness, to keep things clean, orderly, and
in repair, to work out the complexities and misunderstandings in
relationships, and to earn your daily bread are all in done in
battling the consequences of sin. And yet, with all that you do,
eventually the stuff you own will fall apart or be stolen, and
you will die.

That is a very bleak picture, but it gets worse, because the
issue of being separate from God must also be dealt with or
eternity will be spent under His judgement. Like Adam and Eve,
men still try to cover their sin by their own means and methods
in an attempt to make themselves acceptable to their holy
creator. Some deal with this issue through denial. Some deny
there is a God, but all atheists change their minds after death,
but then it is too late. They now face God in judgement. Some
deny that they sin. But like the children who had chocolate on
their fingers and lips and denied that they ate the candy, the
evidence is all against them. But most people turn to some
religious system to try to deal with the guilt of their sin. But
like the fig leaves sewn together by Adam and Eve, all their
religious efforts are inadequate. They are still left in their
sin despite their good works.

The cost of sin is death. Ezekiel 18:4"The soul who
sins will die."
Romans 6:23"For the wages of
sin is death
." Even in the case of Adam and Eve, it was
God that made proper clothes for them out of animal skins (Gen.
3:21), and you cannot get an animal’s skin without killing
it. An animal had to die in order to cover the shame of their
sin, but the death of the animal was inadequate be the substitute
payment for their sin. Adam and Eve still died.

How then could this sin problem be dealt with? How could man
be brought back into a proper relationship with God and not have
to bear the consequences of his own sin? An adequate payment for
sin would have to be made, and that is exactly what happened on
the first of the three days that changed the world.

Day One – The Payment for Sin

Three conditions would have to be met in order for the cost of
sin to be met. First, the sacrifice that would be the substitute
payment for sin would have to be sinless, otherwise the death of
the sacrifice would only be just cost of his own sin. Second, the
sacrifice would have to be voluntary otherwise those offering the
sacrifice would be committing murder, which is a violation of
God’s laws. Third, the sacrifice would have to be of
adequate value. This means not only would it have to be of like
nature and value of a human, but it would also have to have value
beyond one sin by one human.

No animal sacrifice could meet these conditions. Hebrews 10:4
is clear on this point saying, "For it is impossible for
the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins
." Hebrews
10:11 adds that "every priest stands daily ministering
and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never
take away sins."
An animal sacrifice could not take away
sin and even if it could, every time a person sinned, another
sacrifice would have to be made. The purpose of the Old Testament
sacrificial system was to be a continual reminder of the high
cost of sin (Heb. 10:3). The animal was not an equivalent
substitute for the person who was offering the sacrifice. The
sacrifice was to be offered in faith by the worshiper and was
accepted by God on that basis in anticipation of the only blood
sacrifice that could pay the full price. God’s forgiveness
came to the worshiper based on that faith and not on the
sacrifice itself.

There are religions that have offered human sacrifices, but a
human sacrifice itself would also be inadequate because all
humans have sinned. But even if you had a sinless human volunteer
to be such a sacrifice, they could only pay for the penalty of
one sin for one person. The sin a person continued to commit
would condemn them even after such a sacrifice was made.

There is only one sacrifice that meets all the criteria needed
to be the redemption price for sin, and that is Jesus Christ. He
was fully human, so he is of the proper nature for the sacrifice.
As Galatians 4:4,5 states, "But when the fulness of the
time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under
the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the
Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons."
He is
of the same value as us.

Jesus also willingly offered Himself up as the sacrificial
payment for redemption. Jesus Himself said in John 10:17,18, "For
this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that
I may take it again. "No one has taken it away from Me, but
I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it
down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment
I received from My Father."

And third, Jesus is of infinite value to pay the price of the
sin of every person for all time because He is also God. Romans
6:10 says, "For the death that He died, He died to sin,
once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God."

Hebrews 9:12 says of Jesus that "through His own blood,
He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal
redemption
." Hebrews 10:9-12 adds that "we have
been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ
once for all. 11 And every priest stands daily ministering and
offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never
take away sins; 12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins
for all time, sat down at the right hand of God."
Jesus
sat down because He had finished the work of redemption. He had
paid the price of sin for all.

That is why Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Second person of
the Triune Godhead voluntarily gave His life as the substitute
payment for my sin and your sin. That is the significant event
that occurred on this first of three days that changed the world.
You and I can be forgiven our sins against our holy creator
because the price of that sin has been paid for. We receive this
forgiveness by faith in believing and accepting what God has done
for us. Jesus is fully man and fully God being born of the virgin
Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit. He lived a sinless life and
then voluntarily gave Himself up as the substitute payment for my
sins, past, present and future. You cannot earn God’s
forgiveness through any kind of good works. You cannot pay for it
in any manner. There is nothing you can offer God in exchange for
it. To continue to strive to do any of these things only leaves
you condemned. You can only receive God’s forgiveness as a
gift of His grace through faith in the person & work of Jesus
Christ.

The gospel accounts tell us that Jesus was crucified about
noon. At about three He bore the sins of mankind and cried out, "My
God , My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"
He then cried
out "It is finished!" And He bowed His head, and
gave up His spirit (John 19:30). Not long after when the soldiers
came to break the legs of those being crucified in order to speed
up their death, they found Jesus was already dead and so one
of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately
there came out blood and water
proving Jesus had died. Joseph
of Arimathea then arranged to bury Jesus’ body in his own
tomb, which he and Nicodemus did before night fall.

Day Two – Proclamation of Triumph

The second day was one of sadness for Jesus’ disciples,
for though Jesus had forewarned them about His coming death and
promise of resurrection, they did not understand. They were
forlorn, confused and scared. But Jesus Himself was busy.
Jesus’ body was dead, but His spirit was still alive and
active. Though we do not understand all of what Jesus did during
this time period, it appears from 1 Peter 3:18-20 that one thing
Jesus did do was to make proclamation to the spirits now in
prison of His victory over sin which sealed their judgement. My
point here is not to get into the many speculations about this
passage, but simply to point out that Jesus was still alive and
active though His body was now lying dead in a tomb.

Day Three – Proof of Triumph

The third day is what we are celebrating this morning. That is
why the choir was singing. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead
is the proof of His triumph over sin and death. Without the
resurrection, Christianity would be like every other religion – a
false hope based on the false promises of a false prophet. Paul
put this very bluntly in 1 Corinthians 15:14-19 "and if
Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your
faith also is vain. 15 Moreover we are even found [to be] false
witnesses of God, because we witnessed against God that He raised
Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not
raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has
been raised; 17 and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is
worthless; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who
have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If we have hoped
in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be
pitied."

There are those that deny Jesus’ resurrection, but they
do so based on their own unbelief, and not the facts. There have
been many who have sought to prove that Jesus and the
resurrection are myths, but who changed their minds as they
examined the facts in the matter. They changed from unbelief to
belief because of their examination of the evidence.

The story that Jesus’ disciples stole His body is proven
false in Matthew 28:11-15 and by the many others who were
eyewitnesses who saw Jesus over the forty day period before He
ascended to Heaven. On that first day alone Jesus was seen by
Mary, Peter, the two on the road to Emmaus, and the rest of the
Apostles. Later Jesus was seen again on several occasions by the
Apostles and at one time by more than five hundred (1 Cor. 15:6).
Later He was also seen by Paul. The eyewitness accounts are that
Jesus rose from the dead.

The many variations of the "swoon" theory are also
proven false by the facts of the crucifixion. Jesus did not faint
or lapse into unconsciousness at the crucifixion only to be
revived by the cool of the tomb and manage to escape. The
soldiers proved Jesus death when the blood and water flowed out
when they pierced His side with the spear. Jesus had already been
dead long enough that solids in the blood (platelets, etc.) were
already separating from the serum. Jesus had suffered horrible
physical torture and loss of blood. Remember He had become so
physically weak that He collapsed while carrying His cross to
Golgotha. No one could have gone through what He went through,
then been wrapped up in grave clothes which included a face cloth
over his mouth and nose, then last that amount of time without
food or water, free themselves from the grave clothes, roll away
the tomb stone and overpower or escape the guards.

Jesus rose from the dead by the power of God through the Holy
Spirit just as He said would happen. In doing so He proved that
He all that He claimed about Himself was true. He does have
authority to give His life and take it up again. His sacrifice
did pay the penalty of our sins. He does have the authority to
forgive those who place their faith in Him. He will keep His
promise to give eternal life to all of His followers. He will
come again to receive us to Himself that all who belong to Him
will be with Him in heaven forever.

The Days After

What happened in the days after Jesus’ resurrection? He
appeared to His disciples and many others. He gave His apostles
final instructions and then ascended into Heaven where He sits on
the right hand of the Father (Heb. 10:12). He now makes
intercession with the Father on our behalf (Heb. 7:25), and He is
preparing a place for us that we may dwell with Him forever (John
14:1-3).

What does the future hold? There will come a day in which
Jesus will return to receive His own to be with Him (1 Thess. 4)
and then another day in which He will come as the conquering King
with His army of saints (Rev. 19). All of Jesus’ enemies
will be defeated and judged and He will reign on David’s
throne in Jerusalem for a thousand years. And finally, after a
brief time in which Satan is loosed from his bondage, the
resulting rebellion will be vanquished and Satan and all his
followers along with death and hades will be thrown into the lake
of fire. This present heaven and earth will then be destroyed and
a new heaven and earth created. All those who belong to Christ
will be there with Him living in a place we can hardly imagine.

What is your future destiny? That all depends on what you do
with the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. What do you believe
concerning Him? Are you still trying to earn your way to heaven?
If you are, you are heading for a horrible disappointment,
because you won’t make it. As Isaiah said, all your
righteous deeds are as filthy rags before our holy God. Are you
trusting in the provision of salvation through faith in
Jesus’ sacrificial payment for your sin? If so, then you
find peace and rest for your soul in God’s promises to you
through Jesus Christ, and you have something to truly celebrate
today. We have hope -confident assurance for the future – because
our Lord and savior is alive!