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Easter Special Service (English) 27 March 2016

Transcript

Please turn with me to Acts 4. The book of Acts 4. On this very special day, Easter Sunday, we are here to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord. I think we should do it very meaningfully and the only way to do it meaningfully is to talk about or teach about the message of the Resurrection. What the message of Resurrection is all about. What message does Resurrection tell us? What does the Resurrection of Jesus Christ tell us? That’s what I want to talk about today. I want to go to Acts 4:1-12 today.
The book of Acts is a wonderful book that gives us the beginnings of the Christian church. As soon as Jesus was risen and then taken up into heaven, he sends the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit is poured out on them and then on the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit is poured out. The Church was born on that day. And then the Church grew tremendously. Literally exploded into this world in the first century. In the first century, it literally burst upon the world which was tired and sick of all that was going on. People lost all hope and were living with such emptiness. The message of Jesus Christ brought every answer they were looking for every problem of their life. That is why when the Church began it began with a big bang. The first day when Peter preached, 3000 people came and joined. Just imagine that. 3000 people.
Second time he preached, 5000 more joined. Within 7-8 weeks after the Resurrection the Church had nearly 10000 people. Entire Jerusalem was filled with this doctrine. That was the accusation brought about on the apostles. You filled this whole city with your doctrine. Every house there was prayer and fellowship going on. The whole city was shaking with this message of the risen Lord and what he could do for us. Amazing. That’s why I said literally burst into this world that was empty, wanting, searching, looking for answer to all their problems. Now even today, wherever genuine or authentic Christianity is seen, that’s the result. Thousands of people turned their hearts to Christ. Even today, we see it in our cities, in the countries of the world wherever you go. You will find places where the genuine authentic Christianity is presented. 1000s are turning to Christ. In mass they are turning to Christ. In some meeting, millions are gathering to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and turning to Christ and giving their hearts to Jesus Christ.
Before I read chapter 4, I want to give you the background. The background is like this. The first chapter has Jesus ascending back into heaven. Tells them to go and wait in Jerusalem. They go and wait there in the upper room as you know. 120. The Holy Spirit is poured out. The Church is born. Peter takes it as an opportunity to preach to the people that came to witness this great phenomenon of the Holy Spirit being poured out. And he preaches and 3000 people come to believe in Jesus Christ, put their faith in Christ. They have even gone as far as taking baptism. Then just a few days later, Peter and John are going to the temple in the time of prayer. There is a Gate called the Beautiful. And in that Gate called Beautiful there was a man who was sitting there. Usually he sits there, and everybody knew him, it seems like. And he was there to beg as usual. And he was stretching his arms out to everybody and Peter and John went there. And he stretched out his hands to them and Peter and John looked at him and said – Silver and gold have we none. But such as we have we give unto you. Rise up and walk in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. When they said this, this man not only just got up and walked. He just leaped up. Jumped up and started shouting and praising God because God had healed him. it was a true miracle that happened then. As soon as that happened, that was a very congested place. The temple was a place of activity. 1000s of people came during the time of prayer. Going in and out. So in that traffic, when this guy experienced a miracle, everybody realized here was a guy that has never walked and they have seen him for so many years I suppose, and here he is walking, jumping, shouting, claiming that God had healed him and they could see the healing right before them. And it gathered even more crowd. Soon 1000s and 1000s of people were gathered. And Peter again took it as an opportunity to preach the Gospel. And he preached and while he was preaching and just about the time to end the preaching he was stopped, interrupted by the police. The temple police, security. And he was arrested. Him and John were arrested and were thrown into prison. And that’s where I am going to begin reading. That’s where our story begins.
‘Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand’.
Now just imagine the scene there. Peter preaches. Great crowd hears the preaching of Peter. But right then they were interrupted by the Sadducees and the police, the temple guards. But nevertheless their response was tremendous. 5000 people believed in Jesus Christ. Back then they did not count women and children in that society. That society had kind of thing going on at that time. The women and children were considered as nothing. Not even a number in the society. They were not even counted. Now people are complaining, they are just a number. But back then women and children were not even a number. They were not even numbered. They didn’t even have a number. Christianity is the thing that changed even that situation, where women and children began to have honor and respect. Jesus said – bring the children to me. And he touched them and he blessed them. That’s why in our church we take the children and touch them and bless them. That society was different. When children came up, where the elders are, they just drove the children away. Get out of here. Don’t disturb us. You are not important. Stay away. That’s the kind of society it was. Just imagine children being treated like that. Thrown out of the important places. The disciples were trying to throw out children that tried to enter from where Jesus was. He said – no. no. Don’t forbid them from coming to me. Let them come to me and he touched them. Thereby showing that the children are precious in God’s sight and they are born into this world for a great purpose. God gave the place and honor that they should be given. Similarly, the women. People say the Bible is old. 2000 years old. Do you still believe in this? You are very modern people. There’s nothing more modern than the Bible. The Bible is old, yet it is so up-to-date. Peter writing to people 2000 years ago in 1 Peter chapter 3, telling the men how to treat the women. He says – husbands live with you wives with knowledge. And give them honor that is due. 2000 years ago. He is talking about giving the woman, the wife, the honor that is due to her. That’s the Christian view of a woman. The Christian view is this. That woman is due to be honored. Honor is due to here. Respect and honor is due to her. Peter says that 2000 years ago. Some people think he just learned it yesterday. No. 2000 years ago. Christianity brought this kind of value into this world and changed the world is very significant ways. So 5000 people, just men responded. Just imagine the crowd that would have been there. With women and children must be more than 10,000-15,000 people.5000 just men. In the midst of it, with an iron fist they came down on the apostles, and stopped them from preaching and dragged them from there and threw them in the prison until the next day. The most remarkable thing about this incident was the thing that they preached. What did they preach? Here we read in verse 2 that these people were disturbed because they taught the people and preached in Jesus the Resurrection from the dead. They preached about Jesus but the particular thing they preached about Jesus is the resurrection of the dead. Resurrection from the dead. Not just simple preaching about Christ as a great teacher, philosopher or prophet and so on. But that this man who died has now risen from the dead. That’s what they preached. Now why should they be upset about such a preaching? That preaching shouldn’t hurt anybody. Because that’s a fact. It has happened, it has happened a few days ago. And lot of people have witnessed him and seen him and so on. So they preached Jesus as risen from the dead. Look at the preaching. It had no problem in it. They didn’t preach against the Roman government. If they preached against the Roman government, it would be the right thing for them to be thrown in prison maybe, according to their laws. They never said one word about the Roman government. Even though the Jews resented the Romans ruling over them that day. Nothing was mentioned about the Roman government. They did not preach about the violent overthrow of the establishment. The Jewish established system and religion, even though these men have begun to follow Christ, and have departed from that Jewish thing largely and put their faith in Christ. Whom the Jews rejected, these people have accepted as Lord and Savior. That way they have departed from their faith. They still did not condemn the Jewish religion and speak against it. They never said one bad word about it. They were not even protesting about some of the social evils of the day. Now if you wanted to talk about social evils of the day there was plenty. There was a system of slavery at that time. Slavery was widespread all over the world, at that time. Man that was made in the image and likeness of God has degenerated into a place where he now sells and buys man like you would sell vegetables. Society has degenerated to such an extent that people are being sold out there in the market. You can take them and use them, abuse them, kill them even. Nobody will ask you. You own those people. They have no rights absolutely. Such degenerate society that was. And particularly in the Roman empire which was ruling over the whole world basically. Everybody came under them basically. They say half the population were slaves. So if you met a man, one of the main questions that you would ask or be interested in asking is – are you a slave or are you free? That’s a very pertinent question of that time. Are you a slave or you are free? If you are free you can go anywhere, do anything. You are your own man. You are free to do whatever you want to do. If you are slave you have no right. Are you here with the permission of your master? Are you doing what he told you to do? Or have you escaped from your master’s home? That’s the kind of outlook that they had. So there is a lot to talk about if you want to talk about society and the injustice there and so on. But they never talked about it. Later on when Christianity spread everywhere, wherever Christianity spread, slavery was eventually abolished. Christian realized sooner or later that slavery is not the thing that God intended. That’s against God’s principles. So they were responsible in getting rid of slavery. Just because they didn’t talk about it then in that message it doesn’t mean they supported slavery. Slavery was an existing fact in society at that time. It was there, they had to deal with it. In the Churches, half the people were slaves. And some of them were owners of slaves. But they never mentioned one word about these things. They never mentioned about the taxation system which burdened them with taxes and extracted from the Jewish people in the region of Judea. They had to pay their taxes to the Romans. They resented that but they never spoke about it. Then why were they so upset? Why should they arrest them? Why should they throw them in?
They resented the message so much, they were afraid, they became very insecure about the message. They arrested the men yet 5000 people in that great crowd became believers in Jesus Christ. I will tell you, even today that message is a threat to some people in various parts of the world. Some people find this message concerning Jesus Christ threatening to them. They hate it. They want to stop it. They don’t like those who preach it. There is something about this message that makes men to hate it. Well, there is something about that message that makes 1000s to be drawn to it. Because here we see every time it was preached, there were some, a small group that hated it but there was a large group, 1000s of people that were drawn to it, attracted by it and came to it.
Why do some people hate this message even though 1000s of people believe in it and are changed by it? It must be doing something good to the people. People wouldn’t go for anything that is bad. You can’t sell something bad out there for too long. If people are going for it and by the 1000s there must be something in it for them. They must find some benefit in it. So obviously people were finding some benefit, some blessing and they were going by the 1000s to believe in it. But why did some hate it? And why did they disturb these people that were preaching this message? The reason is because of the message. We are talking about the message of resurrection today. What is the message of resurrection? What are the elements in that message that they preach? Here, it simply says in verse 2, they were upset because these people preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. That’s all it says here. It doesn’t give the details of the message. But if you go to the rest of the New Testament and read about what the Bible teaches about resurrection and what Paul, Peter and John, James everybody talks about resurrection of Jesus, you will know what they would have preached about resurrection. And I can summarize for you what they would have preached about resurrection. They preached about resurrection. When they preached Jesus they preached the fact of the resurrection from the dead.
What would they have preached? Let me summarize from the New Testament what they would have preached. Three things – 1) they would have preached that Jesus Christ himself is risen from the dead and they are eye witnesses to that fact.
Now why should that message upset people so much? What is wrong with that message? These people are eye witnesses. The Resurrection only happened 7 weeks before this incident happened. Not very long before. Everybody knew about it. The whole city was buzzing with this news. Jesus was arrested right before them. Taken down the road, carrying this Cross, put to shame, laughed at, ridiculed, beaten, hung on the Cross almost naked, insulted to the core, and killed there, rejected by men, he was killed there and the whole city of Jerusalem knew about it. It’s not a secret. Everybody knew about it. Then they put him in the grave. And then on the third day, the city started getting very busy with some rumors. The rumors about his resurrection. People started passing the news around. You don’t really need SMS to pass the news around. You don’t need to text anybody these things. It just spreads like wildfire everywhere that Jesus is risen. And I am sure that people would have tried to find some reason to disbelieve it and say these people are lying. They did. Some people said they took the body and buried it. Why would they bury it? Why would they take the body and bury it somewhere else? Why would they steal the body? It’s a dead body. What do you want from a dead body? Why would the Romans take it away? What will they do with a dead body? It is very unreasonable accusations. They try to explain away this whole phenomenon of resurrection. They will say – well, they did it, these people did it, the Romans did it. The Jews did it. Christians did it and so on. But the fact is that he was risen. And the fact is established by the fact that there are men and women who have seen this risen Christ. Not just one or two. If it was just one or two, you could always say these people were in a state of confused mental state. They had seen some kind of an apparition or something like that. Not real Jesus. They think they have seen Jesus but they really didn’t see Jesus. You can say things like that, if it is just one or two people. You can say he is crazy or she is crazy. Don’t believe her. Don’t believe him. Not one or two people, the 12 disciples, then 500 people in total, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15, have seen him at various times. Some of them have seen him more than one time, several times they have seen. The disciples have had several meetings with Jesus during the days after resurrection until he ascended to heaven. Even when he ascended to heaven they saw him go up. So in that town it was not very easy at that time. It is not like today. Back then it was not very easy to deny that Jesus was risen. If you said – no he is not risen I don’t believe, they will say go and ask that fellow. He was there, he saw him. And if you went and asked him, he will say – don’t believe me I will show you 5 other people that was there with me, when we met with him. Like this there were so many witnesses. You mean to tell me that all 500 were wrong? How can that be possible? Plus look at the convincing testimony of those that have seen him. Look at Peter preaching here. We don’t have the details of what he preached. I wish we had. But for some reason we don’t have it there. But I can imagine very well how he would have preached. With such conviction he would have preached about the fact that Christ is risen and that he has seen him and that he is eyewitness and he would have preached about the significance of resurrection and what it means for us, the conviction was so great, it was so true, so real and sincere that 5000 people believed in it. Not one voice was raised against it objecting to that message claiming it was a false message. Not one person said – hey! Shut up. That’s not right. Don’t be lying to us. Not one had the boldness in that crowd to say no we don’t believe in that message. 5000 people instead believed in that message and said – we want to follow this Jesus. We want to receive him as Lord and Savior. Such conviction was there. You couldn’t steal the body of Jesus, hide it and preach it with such conviction. That people believe, 5000 believe and receive Jesus. That’s impossible. So they preached Resurrection and the fact that they were eyewitnesses to it. But why is the message so upsetting to these people? What’s wrong with that message if you preach Christ as risen and I am eye witness?
Because of what it signified. That’s why that message is so upsetting. what does it mean to say that Jesus Christ was crucified on the Cross, shed his blood and died and was buried and is now risen. What does it mean? What it means is the thing that it upset them. What it means is this. That death is the biggest enemy of mankind, the greatest enemy of mankind. No matter who they are, they may be a big emperor, powerful person, rich person, they can buy the whole world with all that they have got, with the money and power they have they can do anything in this world. Nothing is impossible for them. But one thing is impossible. Before death they have to stand helpless. In Tamil we say moochi poochi. When you have it you have it. When it’s gone you can’t with all the money you have got, make yourself breathe again. If you breathing this moment and stopped breathing next moment you are finished. That’s it. Dead. You may be the king of the world, you can have all the money in the world. You cannot do it. I heard about an American who said before he died, many years ago, when money meant something. That he will give 10000 dollars per day for anyone who would extend his day. For everyday he will pay 10000 dollars because he wanted 10 years more. He said, if I have 10 years more, I would have accomplished so much. 10000 dollars a day is not a problem. I am willing to pay. I can make more than 10000 dollars every day. Just give me 10 more years. I will pay 10000 dollars every day. I must live. Nobody can give him even one second. Leave alone one day. One second also nobody can give. Death is such a power. It’s a threatening thing. It is something that shocks people, jolts people, the fear of death is real. Nobody can deny that they dear death. Death is something that everybody fears. Fear of death is something terrible. That dominates people. By saying that Jesus is risen you mean then that the biggest enemy nobody could conquer, nobody can defeat, nobody can get out of its grip, is somebody born of a woman, born as a man with flesh and blood like you and I has actually entered into the realm of death and was there 3 days and he has come out like no other man has come out. People have been risen from the dead before. Prophets raised some people. Even Jesus has raised some people from the dead. But they all died again. They were temporarily raised, it was more a resuscitation not a resurrection. Resurrection is different. Resurrection is a total coming back to life, in fact coming back to a new level of life entering into a new realm where you never die again. That’s what resurrection is. Jesus was risen from the dead. When we say risen from the dead, never to die anymore. That’s why he appears to John and says – behold I was dead and now I am alive forevermore. Never to die again. Never has anybody gone into the realm of death, into the arena of death, captured by death, never anyone managed to get out of death. Peter preaching on the day of Pentecost says that death could not hold him. There was only one person that death could not hold him, keep him there. The devil tried his best. Death tried with all its power, all the time death has more power than people but now before Jesus I tired with all my power, I couldn’t hold him. He got out of the grip and power of death and came out successfully. So, when you say Jesus has risen, the message that it carries is this – the biggest enemy of mankind has been defeated. You can now stop fearing death because our elder brother, the firstborn of the new creation, our forerunner, one that was born like us like a mother with flesh and blood body, our elder brother has entered into the realm of death and successfully come out forever and he lives forever more. Death has been conquered so that death does not have the same – death still happens – but it does not convey the awesome fear that it used to before. Now Christians die differently. They close their eyes knowing that when they close their eyes the next second they open their eyes in heaven. They are in the very presence of God. Death is not the end they know. That they will come back again. That even their bodies will come back again, will be given back to them. They have this blessed hope. Fear of death has gone. Death is now looked upon by Christians as a mere door through which go from this life to the next life, from here to eternity. I am not afraid of going through this door because when I go through this door I am going home. Food is ready. I am going to get out of here, and get home. I am happy to get home. I have done my job, I am going home. I am not afraid. And that is exactly the way it will be when we die. We will just be glad to get out of here and get over there in to the Father’s very presence. That’s what death means to a Christian. It has changed our whole outlook. It’s different. Death is still a reality. Death will completely rid off. There will be no death in the end. But now the fear of death is gone, the sting of death is gone. Paul says – oh death where is your sting? Oh grave where is your victory? Death is powerless. It has no sting. The grave has no victory. Instead the one who is lying in the grave has victory. Because he is going to come out of there one day when Jesus raises him from there, the grave cannot claim him, death cannot claim him. Because it could not claim Jesus I know it will not claim me. So this is what it means. It means that Jesus has opened up a new level of life, a whole new realm of possibilities for mankind now. Nobody has ever gotten out of the power of death. Nobody has been freed from death. Nobody has come out alive, after dying. Jesus has now opened up a whole new realm and the whole new realm of possibilities for mankind. And when they say – Jesus is risen and we saw him, and we are eye witnesses, what they are saying is – that this dramatic breakthrough with death, the dramatic defeat of death, this dramatic breakthrough where victory has been won over death occurred in their own city just a few days ago in and through Jesus Christ. They are claiming a lot. When they said that. That’s why this is not an ordinary thing. The message about resurrection is not ordinary. You are claiming something tall claim. You are saying death has been defeated. New realm of possibilities have been opened up for you, there is a new level that you are going to go into, new things are possible that has never been possible ever before. Never been possible. And what no one has done and what no one will ever do here, is done. Jesus has done. That’s what they are saying. That is why this is so objectionable to them. You are claiming too much.
Secondly they not only preached that Jesus died, and that he rose again. And that they are eye witnesses, they also preached that resurrection will happen for them also. That they also will one day be risen from the dead. That death cannot hold them also. That death cannot keep them also. Because Jesus came out of it and he is their forerunner, they can also come out of it. Jesus himself said that. He said – I am the Resurrection and life. He that believeth in me, though he dies, yet he shall live. He said because I live you shall live also. Many other ways he has said that. So, the Christian now has a new hope. Not only do we know when we close our eyes we will open our eyes in heaven in spirit, but even our body will not simply go dust to dust and death. The grave is not the end. It’s not our permanent home. It’s a temporary resting place for just the body. But from there our bodies will be retrieved, called back to life. When the trumpet sounds, when Jesus shall come with his arch angels just like he stood at the grave of Lazarus and said – come out, we are going to hear the voice of Jesus and rise from the grave and come out. Paul says – comfort one another with these words in 1 Thessalonians 4:17. Don’t be sorrowing like others who are ignorant he says. The people in the world don’t know this, don’t have this hope. Don’t sorrow like them. Don’t beat on your chest, roll on the ground, beat and shout and do all those things. Yeah, there is grief, there is tears. But different. There is peace that passes all understanding also. He says – because we understand something we have a real hope that just as Jesus was risen we will also be risen out of that open tomb that Peter went and saw that Jesus was not there, out of that open tomb has risen a wonderful hope that has brought great joy and wonderful expectation to everyone that has faced death, to everyone that has seen death in their home. They can look at death in its face, the body that is laying there and comforting themselves with that hope of resurrection. Without the resurrection of Jesus you will be standing before the body, you will have nothing to say. You have to beat on your chest and roll on the ground and scream and shout and be helpless and go berserk. Because there is nothing to do. There is no hope but with Jesus you can stand there, look at that dead body and know that you will see this person in this exact shape and form one day again. And you will live for all eternity in that form again. So when you say Jesus is risen from the dead, you are also saying I will also rise because he rose from the dead as a man giving hope to all men. The Resurrection is for all of us, so we have that hope.
But the thing is this – even the Jews had some hope of resurrection. They had some teaching about resurrection and life after death and so on. So that was not altogether new to them. But there was another element. The third element which is more important and very new to them. And that is the thing that I believe probably upset them much more than the first two items. The first two items upset them but the third one is very upsetting. What is the third one? Death is not something that is not going to happen to us when we get old and die. When we stop breathing and die. Death is something that has already come in to man, in his spirit and his soul and is set inside of man and is working its way in man and dominating men and women in the earth today. When man sinned this death came into them. That is why Paul could say in Ephesians 2:1 where he says – you have been quickened (tells the believers). God has quickened you. From what? You were dead in sins and trespasses and God has quickened you. What does he mean you were dead? Were they dead? Did he pick them up from the grave? No. he is talking about a spiritual death in some way. God has given them life in some way. That’s what he is talking about. They were dead in their sin. Now God has given them spiritual life. Now that is exactly what Adam was told when God placed him in the Garden of Eden. God put him in the Garden of Eden and told Adam – you shall eat all the fruits of all the tress but you shall not eat of the fruit of one particular tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The day you will eat this fruit you shall die. But he never died. He lived for 900 years after he ate the fruit. More than 900 years. Was God telling a lie? Was God mistaken in what he said? Is it true that what God said never came to pass? It can’t be. God said you will die the same day. He emphasized the same day. Not tomorrow. Not 900 years later. The day you ate thereof, you will die. Did he die the same day? Has to be. He died. Which way did he die? See, death comes in many ways. We think death is only when you stop breathing and your body has no life. You are only looking at bodily death and understanding death only in terms of bodily death. But death is not just a bodily thing. Death is something that can be there even while we are breathing and living. It can be there in our spirit and in our soul, in our inner man it can be there. And in the Garden of Eden it happened. When they sinned just like God said, they died the same day. How did they die? God himself comes and tells them in Genesis 3:16-19 if you read, God comes to the woman and he says to her – he says, your desire shall be for him, for the man. The woman will desire the man, will desire his support, desire his companionship, will desire him. Your desire will be for him. God said to her, but he shall rule over you. When God made man and woman he said, you rule over everything. Both of you together rule over everything. That’s a good kind of rule. Have dominion he said. That dominion is not a negative dominion. When a king rules over a country what does he do? He makes sure everybody has got food, everybody has got job, everybody is happy, there’s a good system of health care, education, everything is provided for, that’s what a ruling means. Ruling means caring, taking care of the needs and providing properly and protecting properly. That’s what ruling means. That’s the way God wanted man and woman to join together and rule everything, care for everything, protect everything, cultivate everything, develop everything. That’s a positive kind of rule or dominion. But when man sinned a negative dominion came into place where the woman desired the man, the man took advantage of that desire, her need for a man, and dominates over her. That is why we have the male domination over the female problem today which is the underlying thing in many marital problems. The two cannot get along together because the male tries to dominate the female and many people will say the Bible says so. They will tell the wife, they will tell the preacher himself. Pastor, please tell her what the Bible says. She should listen to the man and simply do what the man says. They think that’s what the Bible says. I say – let’s start form Genesis 1. And let’s talk about it now. What does the Bible say? The Bible does not promote some kind of a competition or some kind of superiority/inferiority thing. No. Bible gave authority to both of them to rule over everything where they can live together as companion and rule over everything and enjoy life in that way. That’s life, fighting one another, trying to rule over one another, take advantage over one another, trying to trample one another under feet is not life. It is death. Death has come. On the day they sinned, they died. Marriage relationship was spoilt because she desires him, he rules over her in a negative way. Then God said – you will have problem bearing child. Child birth you will have extreme pain. Child birth was supposed to happen not with extreme pain but with ordinary pain. It was supposed to be something that happens by God’s grace, it was a blessing of God. But ever since Adam sinned, it has become a big ordeal. They tell me that the first child is supposed to be born. You are supposed to cross a death line literally, the woman. She could very well die they say. Such dangers are involved. Amazing. How the life has turned. Physical problems that is. Physical difficulties in the area of health. That is the kind of death. That is not life, that is death. The people of Israel had children in Egypt. The midwives were told to kill the male children so that there will not be posterity, there will not be descendants. But before the midwives came, these people had the child by the grace of God and went about as if they didn’t have anything. No problem. Child birth was so easy I think. And they were giving birth so fast. Must be twins, triplets and quadruplets. So they went from 70-3 million in 430 years. God just multiplied them. God’s grace was upon them. They were bearing children left and right, no problem. But today how many problems are there just bearing a child, just giving birth to a child, you have to cross such dangerous lines. Physical problems. Thirdly, looked at man and said, because you have done this, the earth is cursed because of you. You will eat your food in sweat, you will sweat and by your sweat only you will earn and eat. Work is a blessing but sweat is a curse. But now we have become so developed in the curse, in thinking in terms of curse, now we say – in Tamil they don’t say vela seyara, that means they don’t say I work. They say, kashtappet vela seyara. Kashtam has been added to that work. And we have also accepted it. We embrace it. We say to others, nee enka kashtappet vela seyara? You are not suffering anything. You are not toiling. I am toiling. We glory in the toiling. And because we toil only we are so well off we think. That’s curse mentality. We are well off because God blesses us. Blesses the work of our hands. Where there is work, but no toil. Work is a blessing toil is a curse. Toil came and joined with work on that day. So that’s curse. Then he says – because you were taken from the ground you shall return to the ground when you die. The physical death where he stops breathing and dying that happens in the end. But in God’s system of thinking the entire thing is death. Starting from family problems to other problems, physical problem at work in the labor, in the work of your hands, the lack and want and insufficiency, all are death. To have enough is life, to not have enough is death. To not have enough to eat even one meal a day is death, is not life. That’s not the life that God intended for us. Not being able to pay our fees for our children and educate them in not life, its death. Not being able to pay rent is not life, its death. When you can’t even buy slippers for your child, that’s not life. That’s death my friend, because that is not the life that God intended. Similarly when a home is like a hell – some people say my home is like a hell, it’s a dark place, I am afraid. I don’t want to go home. I hate it. I want to get out of there. That is not life, that is death. Joy and peace and happiness and laughter in the home is the will of God. Home must be like heaven. So death can come in so many ways. Death is not just when people fall down and die. It comes in so many ways. It comes as loneliness sometimes. It comes sometimes as bitterness, sometimes as emptiness, depression, boredom, hate, malice, resentment, violence. That’s death. That’s what it is. Any lack, insufficiency, want is death. Broken marriage is death. Unhappiness in family life is death, problems in the work of our hands is death, poverty, lack and want are death. A death that eats away in our spirit and soul and many people live with this death working its way inside of them. Every day they work, sleep, rise up, do things while death is working inside of them. It’s a terrible way to live isn’t it?
When we say Jesus is risen we not only mean that he rose from the dead and we saw him. It not only means that just like he rose we will also rise one day, it also means that Jesus did something about this kind of death as well. Not only that kind of death –when I die, he will raise me back up, not only that kind of death. He did something about this kind of death. He died something about my day to day problems of life, why man is like this. Because of sin and death that has come into mankind that is working its way inside of man. That’s why man is in such terrible shape. And resurrection of Jesus means that that death has been dealt with through Jesus Christ. He has done something about this death. So that when Jesus becomes your Lord, when the risen Lord enters your life, when you have the resurrection life, you will have peace instead of restlessness, acceptance rather than guilt. You will have love instead of lust and hate, you will have joy for mourning, beauty for ashes, you will have power instead of weakness, courage instead of cowardice, hope instead of despair. It’s a totally different kind of life. You will be successful in your family life instead of being broken and defeated. You will enjoy every blessing of God in your spirit, soul and body in every area of your life you will be blessed. The resurrection life does that. That is why I believe when Peter and John preached there, they didn’t preach just saying Jesus rose and we are eye witnesses, that’s important. Very important. Secondly they preached, they meant by resurrection that we now have hope, we will also one day be risen again, we are not afraid of death. Death is not the end. Death is an entry way to eternity. Thirdly, the third element is very powerful. They must have preached to people that are hurting, suffering, living in loneliness, bitterness, hatred, people living a hell like life, families not happy, people living in poverty like conditions, people living in utter failure, powerlessness, people living vexed and tired in their lives, doing everything they can but nothing works out for them. Sick and tired of the whole life. They were preaching to such people. Why do you think people go to temple or church or anywhere? Many people go to any kind of worship place of any religion because they are in great need. They want to find answers to their problems. They want to see if there is any answer out there. Can I pray to God? Can I meet some man? Can he pray for me, do something for me? That’s why they are out there, they are going by the thousands, by the droves to the temple. That’s why such great crowd was there and when Peter and John preached, they must have preached the third point very strongly? Because when you press upon those points, about personal needs and problems and difficulties and that death that is working inside of us while we were still alive, and what kind of results it produces? And what resurrection life can do because Jesus is resurrected now, from death, he can give resurrection life and change the quality of life. When you preach that that is why, because they preached that, 5000 people got up and said I want to believe in Jesus from today. If he can set me free from this unhappiness, from this dissatisfaction, from this depression, from this emptiness, meaningless, I want to believe in that Jesus. That is how that many people believed. Because this risen Christ has risen and he could impart resurrection life. But why were they so upset about this? Why should they arrest them? It should be good news. If the temple authorities are working for the benefit of the people, the leaders are there in the temple trying to help people hopefully they should be happy that people are coming there looking for some answers. Finally they found some answers and here is one man who is jumping and leaping. He was a beggar. He can now go back to work. He is able to work, he is happy, he is doing something that he was not able to do since birth, they should join with him and rejoice. They should be happy that 5000 people they think their answer lies in this, that they have received peace and happiness and joy. They should celebrate it with them. Instead of that they were angry.
Why? Let me read this. Verse 5. ‘And it came to pass, on the next day, that their rulers, elders, and scribes, as well as Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the family of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, “By what power or by what name have you done this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Let me just briefly tell you. Can’t go into much detail. But let me just put it this way. Look at Peter’s boldness. They make him stand before temple authorities. Look at all the authorities that are there. Annas, who was the High Priest before the elderly man, now he is sitting there. He is in authority there. Caiaphas is the son. John is the brother of Caiaphas, and Alexander is another brother. All one family. And this gives some indication as to why they had such animosity towards Peter and John. Because they had vested interest in all that was happening in the temple. The temple became a mall like. Became a big business like. People came there, they required sacrifices, they need to buy a dove or lamb or something for a sacrifice. People came from all over the world many times during festivities, people came every day for morning sacrifice, evening sacrifice, they needed an animal or bird or something. So there was a sale of these things going on inside. When people came from other countries, they brought their money, they had to change their money. Their money was not valid there. So they had money changers there, these are the people that Jesus kicked out. The dove sellers and the money changers. Why was he upset about them? Not just because they were selling because selling may be a help to the people that come, because they can get what they want right there, but they were selling at exorbitant prices. It’s like trying to get popcorn inside the cinema theatre. The prices tripled, doubled. Just very high prices. And taking advantage of the people because they come in. in some of these places you have to come in and only then you can buy. They have rules. You can’t carry anything inside. So you ask them – I can’t eat anything inside? No. you can eat but you have to buy inside and eat. They make you buy and right then you can know that 10 rupees water is going to cost you Rs. 20. And everything is going to cost you double. You better be ready for that. And this was that kind of a deal. They were taking the temple of God and making it into a merchant establishment just running it to just to get some money and this entire family of priests was so powerful they had authority over everything that was happening not only in the temple but the entire city, religiously. And they ruled everything and they were benefitting by the monopoly. Their benefits were coming to them in some way through all these things that were going on, the business activities that were going on. So they were challenged. Because here are two men coming. Already 3000 people have accepted, today 5000 people and tomorrow who knows what? Whole Jerusalem is buzzing with their so called good news. What is going to happen? So they are thinking in those terms. So if you go and tell them, well one fellow got headed, he is happy you be happy also, everybody says they got peace in their hearts and delivered from this and that. They would say to you how can I be happy? I can’t be happy. Only if they are unhappy I can be happy. Only if they are unhappy they will come here. They will need my services, my help. How can I be happy? So that is the opposition. They hated this whole deal of what was happening there. It was not just the fact that the Sadducees were there and they didn’t believe in resurrection. It is not just a doctrinal matter. It is not just some theological issue that they acted like this in opposition. It was some personal, vested interest that caused them to act like this so strongly against Peter and John. But Peter was bold. Look at the way he talks to them. He says – you crucified this Jesus. God raised up this Jesus. How daring he is. Just a few days ago he was hiding. Remember the little girl that came and identified him and said – I have seen him with Jesus and he said no never. No I don’t know him. Second time she comes around and says – I have seen him. He said never never. Third time he started cursing. And swearing when she came third time and said I have seen him with Jesus. He denied totally that he had ever been with Jesus, ever seen Jesus. Cursing means he was using bad words literally on Jesus. He said I don’t know that fellow. Blank blank. That’s what he was saying literally.
How did he become so bold now? Three things happened to him. One he had seen Jesus who was risen, he has personally seen. He ran to the grave, the grave was empty but then Jesus came to him. He saw him. Not one time, many times during those days he appeared to him. Not only has he seen Jesus, something special happened to him. One time, he decided to go back into his original profession. Fishing, because he thought I have denied Jesus. How can I with that same mouth preach Jesus now? I have done a terrible thing. I have cursed him. I have sworn that I have never know him. I have denied him. I have done this terrible thing. I don’t want to preach Christ now. With what kind of a face can I go and preach now? I will go back into fishing and Jesus meets him there. And has breakfast with him. And then tells him – Peter do you love me? Peter says yes Lord. Jesus second time says, Peter do you love me? Peter says yes Lord. Third time, Jesus says – Peter do you love me? Now Peter was really upset. He said – Lord, what’s the matter? You don’t believe me? I think Jesus would have said – no no you denied me three times, so I am just making sure three times that you are really telling what you believe. Do you love me? Just want to ask you the third time also to be sure. So he said, ya I love you. So Jesus totally accepted him and he came to him and revealed himself to him, talked to him. Everything was fine in their relationship. Then he did something very extraordinarily. When Peter said I love you three times, every time Jesus said – feed my lamb. Meaning I give you back your ministry that I originally gave you and called you for. Take it back. Don’t worry about what you have done. What’s gone wrong? Don’t worry that you have denied me. Don’t worry that you have done this against me. It’s forgotten. It’s over. Throw away this net and this profession that you used to have. You left it at one time and came and followed me now take it back again. Here it is. Feed my lamb. Take the ministry. I am giving to back to you. That’s what made this guy very bold. But third thing happened. That is he revealed the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit came, you know what the Holy Spirit does? Holy Spirit simply takes the resurrection life, that victorious power that overcomes death and the forces of death and every power of darkness that resurrection life the Holy Spirit takes and imparts to those who believe and to those who are filled with the Holy Spirit. So he was filled with the Holy Spirit, imparted with an extraordinary life and the boldness and confidence and courage. And now he stands and says – you crucified him, God raised him and in his name this man is walking.
But then he does an extraordinary thing in verse 11. ‘This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone. Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved’. Let me just say this.
Verse 11 is a quotation from Psalm 118. You will find that verse in Psalm 118. Psalm 118 is a wonderful Psalm, about the resurrection of Jesus, the suffering and the resurrection of Jesus. Resurrection of Jesus is put forth in these words – stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone. In the Tamil translation it says – he has become the chief cornerstone. And in the Psalms. The Psalms says the stone which the builders has rejected, he has become the chief cornerstone. That means the stone is not a stone. It’s talking about a person. It’s a prophesy concerning Jesus Christ and his resurrection. How they rejected, the death on the Cross is the rejection of Christ. The resurrection is God’s vindication of Christ. God taking the rejected stone and making it the chief cornerstone is what he is saying. He pulls that out of there. According to the Jewish tradition, when they talk about the building of the temple, you know the Bible says, in 1 Kings you read in the Bible, that when the temple was built, it was built in silence. There was no noise there. So they had to go down. It was built on the temple mount. They had to go underneath there and quarry the stones and chisel them and put them into shape down there, get all the work done to size, according to the architecture’s specification they have to do all the work there. No using the hammer, chisel and all of that up there where they are building. They had to do all the work there, finish it exactly into size and bring the stones up there and fit them. That’s all. That’s how they built the temple, in total silence. And so stones were constantly being sent up and work was going on for a long time. And 1000s of people were working on it and as the stones were sent up, one particular stone was sent up. a large stone and somebody put it up there in a corner and it never seemed to fit. For so long they were fitting the stone and it never fitted in any place. So they thought after so long, some people thought, well this is just laying here, taking up the place and one fellow pushed it down the cliff. And it rolled back down into the bush. Jewish tradition says when the time to lay the cornerstone came, the cornerstone is an important item in the building, in those days without that the building cannot stand strong, cannot stand well. When the time to lay the corner stone the most important piece of that building they looked for it, they couldn’t find it. And asking around they found out that somebody had pushed a stone over that cliff sometime ago. So they went looking for it and found it and had it brought back again. When they brought it, it fit exactly. What the Psalmist said by that is – Jesus will come into the world, sent by God. But he will be rejected. But God had designed. God is the architect of our life. It’s not about a building. It’s about a life. God is the architect of our life. He has built human life in such a way that it can be built and it can stand only with the help of this chief cornerstone. Otherwise you may have everything in place, you may have a good education, nice wife, husband, children, marriage and job and all these things. You may have all the things in the world. Everything may be in place but if you don’t take this chief cornerstone and put that stone in place you have no place for this and you find no need or necessity for this, then you are on shaky ground my friend. That whole edifice is going to fall. It’s going to be unstable. Because everything must stand on this. The architect has designed it in this way. It must be built on the rock called Jesus Christ. He is to be the cornerstone of our lives. Our lives must be built on that, not building. So the question is – in the resurrection God has shown that he has made this person an absolute necessity. You need him. I need him. Everybody needs him. God has raised and made him Lord and Savior. It is through him we can have life. So Peter says – nor is there Salvation in any other for there is no other name under heaven given among heaven by which we must be saved. Now people say well Christians are bigoted. Why are they saying that Jesus is the only way? That there is no other name. They take offense. They think we are very wrong in saying that. Well, the Bible says that. I can only explain why. Just because we are Christians doesn’t mean we call everything else bad. No. it is true that people from all kinds of background there have risen men who are great teachers and have taught many good things. Many have taught many good things. Do you agree that they have taught good things? But all of them teachers of every background, even though they taught good things that we should follow, nobody could enable us to do those things. That’s the one thing that none of them could do. Everybody taught wonderful things. Nobody says no. We have some respect for those good things. But we must also say that no one was able to do those things. That is why they never made a big impact in the way Jesus made an impact. They taught these good things but they never gave the ability to do those good things. In fact some of them could not follow what they were teaching. They were even unable to do what they were teaching. There is only one thing they couldn’t do. They couldn’t change me, they couldn’t change people. Unless you change people and make them different they can’t do all these good things. Jesus changes people. He makes them a new creation. He takes the old stony heart and puts a new heart that will listen, understand and obey. He gives a new life. He makes you a new person. He makes you a new creation. He gives you a new nature, he gets rid of the old one and puts a new one inside. He makes you able to do those wonderful things that everybody teach, these wonderful, nice ethical stuff. All that is good but only with a new nature with a holy nature, with the nature of God that has come to us through the new birth, the regeneration, the change. The change is what nobody could give. That’s what this verse is saying. There is Salvation in no other name under heaven among men by which men must be saved. You can’t be saved by any other means. Because to be saved means to be saved from ourselves, from our evil nature, from what we are inside, from the defilement of our soul inside, from the evil that is inside of us. Paul says – who can deliver me from this body of sin? I want to do these things. He looked at the 10 commandments, he said I like them. I want to do these things. These are good, I want to do it. But I am not able to do it. I have found why. Sin is in me. Sin is resident in me. Then he says there is no good thing in me. That’s why I am not able to do it. Then he says who can deliver me from this body of sin? Then he found the answer one day so he says – thanks be to God in the next verse through Jesus Christ our Lord. I was looking for an answer. Who can change me? Who can make me a different person? I love the commandments of God. But I am not able to do it. Who can change me so that I can do it? Jesus Christ has changed me. That’s why Peter says there is no other name under heaven given unto men whereby men can be saved because Jesus Christ is the only one that can change lives. There can be many great teachers, wonderful men that teach nice ethics and philosophy and things like that but only Jesus can really change life and without changing life, we cannot change anybody. We need change and that can happen only through Jesus Christ. That is the message of Resurrection.

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