Happy Easter from The Ranch! I hope you’ll enjoy today’s special Easter message and the conclusion of our study of “The Top 20 Passages in the Bible.” He is risen! He is risen indeed! Here’s today’s message…
If you’ll remember back to when we started our look at “The Top 20 Passages in the Bible,” we were looking at a passage that described what happened on the very first Christmas: the birth of Jesus Christ. Today, as we conclude this study, I’d like to focus on what happened on the very first Easter morning: the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
You already know the story, but here’s the brief conclusion of it all. In some of the most mind-blowing words in all of Scripture, the angel at the tomb where Jesus had been buried just a few days before greeted two woman who had come to the tomb very early on that first Easter morning. The angel said:
“Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, as He said. Come, see the place where He lay” (Matthew 28:5-6).
If that didn’t send a shock wave through their systems, moments later they not only saw the empty tomb, but as they turned to run and tell the disciples the good news, they saw Jesus Himself, alive and well, just as the angel had said!
And as amazing as that news must have been to them, there’s even more good news for you today: Jesus is STILL alive! He didn’t just rise from the dead and then disappear into heaven. He rose from the dead and appeared to hundreds of others in the weeks that followed.
When it finally came time for Jesus to go up into heaven, He said that he wouldn’t leave His followers as orphans. He said He would send His Holy Spirit to be with them, speaking His very words to them through His Spirit after He had gone. Ten days later, it happened just as Jesus had said it would:
“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. … It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you. … When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth, for He will not speak on his own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for He will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that He will take what is mine and declare it to you” (John 14:25-26, 16:7, 13-15).
Jesus is STILL alive and well today, and that fact means that He hasn’t left you alone either. The same Holy Spirit that He sent to His disciples is available to you as well. When you have the Holy Spirit living inside you, it’s not just like having Jesus walk and talk with you, it is having Jesus walk and talk with you!
The reason I wanted to close this series by reminding you of this truth is because I wanted you to remember why we were looking at the top 20 passages in the Bible in the first place.
Some people wonder why Christians have such a love affair with the Bible. The truth is that we’re not just in love with the words on the pages. We’re in love with the One who is portrayed by those words.
It’s like carrying around a picture of your beloved in your purse or wallet. When you take out that picture, looking fondly at the image, and maybe even brushing the picture up against your cheek, or giving it a kiss with your lips, it’s not that you’re in love with the picture on the paper. You’re in love with the one whose image is displayed on the paper. In the same way, those who love their Bibles aren’t just in love with the Bible. They’re in love with the One who is displayed on its pages.
Yet as wonderful as this kind of love affair with the Bible can be, there’s a surprising danger in it. There are times when you might fall so much in love with the words on the pages that you miss having a relationship with the Word Himself, Jesus Christ, who is described on those pages. Even Jesus warned of this danger when He said to some of the religious leaders of His day:
“You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me that you may have life” (John 5:39-40).
The Message translation of the Bible paraphrases these same words of Jesus like this:
“You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you’ll find eternal life there…These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you” (John 5:39-40, MSG).
Imagine holding a picture of your beloved in your hands, treasuring it, pulling it close to your heart, and even gazing at it longingly, all the while not even realizing or acknowledging that your beloved is standing right there next to you the whole time!
As much as I love the Bible–and it is my favorite book in the world–I have to remind myself from time to time that the Trinity is not made up of “the Father, the Son, and the Holy Scripture.” But rather, the Trinity is made up of “the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” three aspects of the same singular God who loves you and wants to be actively involved in your life today!
Keep reading your Bible, but don’t forget: Jesus is STILL alive! When His Holy Spirit prompts you to give, then give! When you ask Him a question in prayer, then wait and listen for His answer! When you’re feeling stressed out and start meditating on God’s Word, remember that God’s Word–Jesus Christ–is standing right there with you, too!
The words of the Bible are like love letters to you from your beloved, scented with the perfume of heaven, and sealed with a kiss from the Creator of the universe. He loves you more than you could know, and He demonstrated that love by sending His Son Jesus to live and die and rise again from the dead, so you can live and die and rise again from the dead with Him one day, too. Enjoy reading your Bible, and enjoy your time with the One who is described in it!
Don’t forget: Jesus is STILL alive!
Father thank You for revealing Yourself to us in the words on the pages of the Bible. Thank You for showing us not only a picture of who You are, but reminding us that You’re still right here with us today, in the form of the Holy Spirit, who lives in our hearts because we’ve put our faith in Christ. We invite Him into our hearts again today, to fill us with Your power and presence, so that we can fall deeper and deeper in love with You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
And Amen! Always remember that Jesus died for us because He loves us!