Easter - Before and After

Text : Acts 2:32 (KJV) This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.

Theme : The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a fact, that changes lives.


Introduction:

This past week, 39 people, members of a small cult in southern California, killed themselves because they believed they were passing on into a higher plane of existence. They believed that a UFO was coming for them, and that it was hidden in the tail of the Hale-Bopp comet, which passed closest to earth about time they took their lives. These people have been front page news ever since. Words like "crack pots," "nuts," "crazy," and "brainwashed" have been used to describe them.

However, regardless of whether they were right or wrong (and they were wrong), I have to admire a person whose belief in a thing changes his life so dramatically... even to the point of death.

Two thousand years ago, 12 men experienced a relationship with Jesus Christ that affected them so strongly that they were willing to die for Him. Eleven of them did. Throughout the years since, countless thousands have joined them in dying for the cause of Jesus Christ. "Crackpots?" "Crazy?" "Nuts?" "Brainwashed?"

No.

These men had a belief in Christ, a faith so strong that it affected their lives even to the point of dying for Him.

Today, I look back at the life of Christ and wonder, what about Him has caused so many to give up their lives for His cause? And, one thing always provides the answer -

Jesus Christ is alive, "This Jesus hath God raised up." Only Jesus Christ defeated death, and if He could do that, He must be who He claimed to be!

The resurrection of Jesus Christ changes lives. Let's notice some who were changed and some who were not. And let us ask ourselves throughout the study, "Has it changed me?"


I. Some were changed.

A. Peter was changed. (Read Matthew 26:32-35, 57-58, 69-75)
QUESTION - Prior to the resurrection of Christ, what did Peter believe? Did he believe in the resurrection?

QUESTION - Did this belief change his life? Why or why not?

QUESTION - Why did Peter follow Jesus to His trial? Why was he there?

QUESTION - When it came to decision time, (i.e. time to take a stand for his Lord), what decision did Peter make?

QUESTION - What does this tell us about the reality of Peter's belief at this time?

PETER LATER DIED FOR CHRIST, CRUCIFIED UPSIDE DOWN.

QUESTION - What changed him?

Acts 2:32 (KJV) This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a fact, that changes lives.

B. The thief was changed.
Luke 23:42 (KJV) And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.

QUESTION - What did this dying thief believe in that gave him hope?

QUESTION - How could he believe such a thing as he looked upon Jesus at that time?

HIS BELIEF IN THE RESURRECTION CHANGED HIS LIFE, EVEN WHEN IT SEEMED AT ITS MOST HOPELESS POINT!

QUESTION - What changed him?

Acts 2:32 (KJV) This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a fact, that changes lives.

C. Mary Magdalene was changed. (Read John 20:11-18)
QUESTION - Did Mary believe in the resurrection initially? (NO)

QUESTION - What was her state of mind like when she believed this way?

SOON, THOUGH SHE EXPERIENCED SOMETHING THAT TRANSFORMED HER FROM TREMBLING IN FEAR TO ADORING WORSHIP.

QUESTION - What changed her?

Acts 2:32 (KJV) This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a fact, that changes lives.

D. Cleopas was changed. (Read Luke 24:13-24)
QUESTION - Why was Cleopas sad?

This man knew all that Jesus had done up to His death, and yet these things did not make any difference now.

QUESTION - What one thing did make a difference to Cleopas? (Resurrection - vs. 31)

THE RESURRECTION CHANGED HIS LIFE, AND TURNED HIM AROUND.

Acts 2:32 (KJV) This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a fact, that changes lives.

E. Thomas was changed. (Read John 20:24-29)
QUESTION - Why did Thomas doubt the reality of the resurrection?

QUESTION - Have you ever felt like that?

QUESTION - What changed his mind?

Acts 2:32 (KJV) This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a fact, that changes lives.

II. Some were not.

A. Judas was not changed. (Read Matthew 26:14-16; 47-50; 27:3-5)
QUESTION - What was different?

QUESTION - Why wasn't Judas changed, like Peter? Why wasn't Judas changed by his three years of experiencing Christ?

B. Caiaphas was not changed.
Mat 26:65 (KJV) Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.

QUESTION - What was different?

QUESTION - Why wasn't Caiaphas changed, like the thief on the cross? Why wasn't Caiaphas changed when he stood face to face with the savior?

C. Pilate was not changed. (Read Matthew 27:11-26)
QUESTION - What various ways did Pilate experience Christ? (Reports from others, witness of relative, and first hand.)

QUESTION - What affect did each of these experiences have on Him? Did any come close to changing Him?

QUESTION - Would it have made a difference if the discussion between Pilate and Christ had taken place after the resurrection? Why or why not?


Conclusion:

What made the difference? Why were some changed, and others not?

Jesus Christ is alive. That FACT made the difference. That FACT transformed Peter from denial to devotion.

That FACT gave the thief hope that overcame his despair.

That FACT wiped away the tears of Mary Magdalene and replaced them with adoration.

That FACT opened the eyes of Cleopas, and

that FACT caused the doubting Thomas to fall in awe at the feet of His savior and proclaim Him his God!

It is the most documented FACT of history. There were so many eye-witnesses to His resurrection, that if you were to cross-examine each one for just five minutes in a courtroom, you would need more than a week to interview them all.

It is a FACT.

Acts 2:32 (KJV) This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.

May it transform us.

Those 39 people who died for their cultish beliefs this past week may have been crazy. They certainly were wrong.

But they believed in something enough to die for it.

Do we believe in our Lord as much? If we get a glimpse of His resurrection we will.

Acts 2:32 (KJV) This Jesus hath God raised up,


Please direct questions, comments, and submissions to William E. Johnson
Copyright 1997 William E. Johnson.