It is good to be with you here on this first Lord’s Day of the new year, 2022. I have been asked to speak to you today about the resurrection of Christ and the continuing ministry or continuing work of Christ. Or another way to put it is to say the resurrection of Christ and the progress of history. Or even another good way to put it is to say that resurrection of Christ and it’s victorious results. This is a fitting subject to consider as we begin a new year. The year is A. D. 2022. A. D. is short for a Latin phrase by which we count time, Anno Domini, which means “the year of our Lord.”
So as you think about the year that you just had, maybe for some of you it was a very difficult year with lots of sadness and heartache. Maybe for others of you it was a really great year. But if you are a Christian, no matter how many difficult and hard things happened that you had to walk through this past year, it was still a good year, a year in which God was working things for your good. It was still a year in which Jesus was still alive and well, resurrected from the grave. It was still a year in which Christ sat on His throne, ruling and reigning over all the work, advancing His Kingdom, saving His people, and judging His enemies.
Maybe you had a year in which you sinned and failed a lot to believe that, or to trust in the providence of God, or to rest in Christ, and so enjoy the peace and comfort that belongs to you as a Christian. But those of you here today are here because God has seen fit to let you into another year of His reign, and He has let you enter alive into another year of His era of victory on the earth. You see, the year we have entered into is the Year of our Lord, 2022. And it is yet another year in which Jesus is still resurrected from the grave. It is another year in which Christ is still seated on His throne, ruling and reigning. It is another year in which the Kingdom of God continues to advance, where Christ is saving His people and conquering His enemies. My friends, what a time to be alive. We have each been given at least the beginning of another year in which we can believe that and trust God and rest in Christ and have an unmovable comfort and joy no matter what happens this year. No matter what happens this year that is easy or hard, we can say this and believe this because it is true. This is how we are more than conquerors and how our faith overcomes the world. The reason we can say, “no matter what happens, Christ is King and is on His throne,” is because Jesus rose from the dead. It is because He died, was buried, and raised from the dead on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures. There is nothing and no one that can undo that. Christ cannot be put back into the grave. This is a historical fact and it is the central tenet of the Christian faith. If you don’t believe that Jesus rose from the dead and is alive today then you are not a Christian, and I implore you to repent of your sin and unbelief and believe upon the living Jesus Christ and be saved.
But if the resurrection of Christ is a central tenet of the Christian faith, then you would think that we would think about it more often, and that we would live like it more often. I hope to be able to help you do that today. You see, even as Christians, we often forget about the fact that we live in a world in which a dead person came back to life after three days in the tomb. That actually happened. It cannot be refuted. The world we live in is one which has been fundamentally changed since the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15 that the resurrection of Jesus was the first fruits of resurrection. He makes the point that since Christ has resurrected, it is inevitable that all those in Christ will also resurrect from the grave. It will happen. It cannot be stopped, no matter how hard Satan tries. We in Christ, will rise again because Jesus rose as the first fruits from the dead. You see, if we believe that we live in a world in which people rise from the dead, then there is no bad thing that can’t be fixed with a good resurrection. Christianity is a religion of resurrection. But resurrection implies death. You can’t have resurrection without first having death. Therefore, Christianity is a religion of death and resurrection, founded upon the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Fruit Bearing Death
Listen to what Jesus says in John 12:24, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” In the context of the passage, Jesus is talking about His own death, for the previous verse Jesus says that the hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified, which in John’s gospel is a reference to His being lifted up on the cross. But notice how Jesus describes His death, or what He describes it as – He describes it as a seed being placed in the ground. The modern man often thinks of death in terms of returning to nothingness or becoming one with the elements of the earth. This is why you see modern people having cremations and then sometimes they will have their ashes thrown into the ocean or something like that. While it is true that Christ will have absolutely no problem resurrecting scattered ashes, this is not a Christian practice, it is an ancient pagan practice. Historically Christians have believed in burying the body. And one big reason is because Jesus describes His death as a seed being put into the ground. Death is emphatically not like ceasing to exist or becoming one with the earth. It is emphatically like planting a seed into the ground. And what does a seed planted in the ground do? It bears much fruit. In other words, it resurrects. It comes back up out of the ground. And a seed planted in the ground does not simply come back up out of the ground as the same seed that went into the ground, rather it comes back up out of the ground fruitful, as a flower, or a plant, or fruit, or vegetation – something better. This is, fundamentally, the nature of the death of Christ. His death was and is a fruitful death, because, one, He came back up out of death in resurrection, and two, He will lead us all out of death in resurrection in Him. You see, Jesus was not just describing His death here, He was also describing His resurrection. And notice that Jesus said that if a seed remains alone and is not planted in the ground then it remains alone. Or in other words it is unfruitful. So Jesus is essentially saying what I just said to you here, that in order to have resurrection, you have to have death. You have to first be put into the ground.
So, if the death of Jesus is a fruitful death, that bears much fruit and multiplies and produces good fruit, then, as I said to you earlier, our world has been fundamentally changed by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. If Christ was a seed planted in the ground, He has, does, and will continue to bear much fruit. This means that His life and death was not in vain, and if we are in Christ, neither is our life or death in vain, no matter how normal and important it may seem.
So if Jesus’ death and resurrection was like a seed being planted in the ground that produces much fruit, what then is the fruit that is produced, grown, and brought forth? The answer is truly too big to explore the depths of today. It is far more cosmic and detailed than we generally ever even think of. But I just want to go to some important biblical basics today. Consider Psalm 2:
Why do the nations rage[a]
and the peoples plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”
4 He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
6 “As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”
7 I will tell of the decree:
The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
9 You shall break[b] them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
Now, where we see the resurrection of Jesus in this Psalm? It probably doesn’t seem obvious at first. But there is a passage in the New Testament that tells us. In Acts 13, Paul is preaching to a crowd of people and He says this in Acts 13, beginning in verse 28:
28 And though they found in him no guilt worthy of death, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29 And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead, 31 and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people. 32 And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, 33 this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm,
“‘You are my Son,
today I have begotten you.’
So Paul says that the promises that were fulfilled with God raising Jesus from the dead is a fulfillment of the second Psalm, and he quotes what is verse 7 in Psalm 2, “The LORD said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have begotten you.’” So then I would propose to you that if Psalm 2:7 is about God raising Jesus from the dead, then the verses that follow Psalm 2:7 are the results or effects of the resurrection, mainly the directly following verses, verse 8 and 9. Verse 8 and 9, which is the Father speaking to the Son says, “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” So the Father raises the Son from the dead and because He has risen from the dead, He is promised the entire earth, all the nations, the whole world, the ends of the earth, all peoples to be His possession, inheritance, and heritage. And the following verses talk about the authority that Jesus Christ has over all the nations including all the kings and rulers of the earth, and how it is their duty to obey and honor Jesus the king, otherwise they will not be successful and their rule will come to an end. This means, that today, in this new year, the year of our Lord 2022, it is as true as ever that since Jesus Christ rose from the dead, this means that every single authority on earth, every mayor, police officer, legislator, governor, senator, president, king, general, dictator, must bow before Jesus Christ, and honor Him, and obey Him, otherwise, sooner or later, they will be crushed by Jesus. And the reason they must do this, as authorities, is because those whom they have authority over, their land and their people, are not theirs, they belong to Jesus Christ who is living and reigning because He died, but rose from the dead and ascended to the right hand of the Father, to rule over the all the nations and the ends of the earth that were given to Him by His Father, belonging to Him as a birthright, as the first fruits from the dead.
This does not just apply to those in authority, but each one of you. The land we are sitting and standing on belongs to Jesus Christ. And when you go home and sit on your couch, the place where you sit, belongs to Jesus Christ. And when you go out into the world, the land upon which you walk belongs to Jesus Christ. In fact, there is nowhere you can go that does not belong to Jesus Christ. What’s more is that you belong to Jesus Christ. Whether you love Him or not, you belong to Him. You will either be saved by Him, as you come to Him in faith and love and obey Him, or you will be crushed by Him, in your rejection and disobedience to Him.
What’s more is that we find a connection, or extension, or application of Psalm 2 also in Matthew 28, if you would like to turn there. Matthew 28 is after the resurrection. The risen Lord Jesus is standing before His disciples and He is about to ascend into heaven to the right hand of the Father, and He gives His disciples one last commission, these famous parting words, that are indeed the marching orders of the Church of Jesus Christ.
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The first important thing for us to notice here is that Jesus says “All authority in Heaven and on Earth has been given to me.” So since Jesus died and rose from the dead, triumphing over all rulers and powers and authorities, He has been given all authority, not just in heaven, not just in His Church, not just in the hearts of His people, but He has been given all authority in Heaven and on Earth. In other words, there is nowhere that anyone can go where they can escape and come out from under the authority of Jesus Christ. Declaring that you don’t believe in Him, or that you don’t care, doesn’t make Him any less authoritative.
But then, based upon the authority given to Him, which was based on His rising from the dead, Jesus then says, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father add of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” So upon the authority given to Him upon His resurrection, Jesus commissioned His disciples to teach all the nations how to obey Jesus Christ.
So in Psalm 2, after the Father raises the Son from the dead, the Father told the Son to ask and He would give Him all the nations and the ends of the earth as His possession. And here in Matthew 28, after Jesus is raised from the dead, He tells His disciples about the authority that was given to Him and tells them to go, under His authority, and disciple the nations. In other words, we can look at Psalm 2 and then at Matthew 28 and recognize that Jesus is basically saying, “Since I rose from the death, the Father has given me all the nations and the ends of the earth as my possession, so by that authority, I am commissioning my disciples to go and have the nations. The nations are mine, go get them.”
Friends, this is the basis for the continuing work of Jesus in the world. It is the basis for the continuing progress of history under the reign of Jesus Christ. The world was promised to Christ upon His resurrection, and upon His resurrection, Jesus told the disciples, and by extension, His church, to go and implement the authority that belongs to Christ. And ever since that day in History, Christians all over the earth have been obeying Jesus’ command to disciple the nations and teach all people how to observe and obey all that Jesus taught and commanded. And so we can say that the continued teaching, discipling, and training ministry of Jesus has continued since His resurrection and continues to this very day in the year of our Lord 2022 through the teaching, preaching, training, and discipling ministry and efforts of His Church, of His people. All of this is thanks to His rising from the dead.
So since Jesus has risen from the dead, and He can’t be unrisen, then that means that His authority over all heaven and earth remains, and as it remains, this means that as long as we are here on this earth this great commission remains for His Church to carry out, which means that Jesus continues to minister and teach and disciple and advance His Kingdom on this earth. It is a project that will not end until He returns again. And all the nations and all the ends of the earth were promised by the Father to the Son upon His resurrection, then I believe this great commission is one which will be successful. Since God gave the ends of the earth to His Son, His Son will have them. And the implementation of this possession being given to Christ happens progressively in time, space, and history, and Jesus has chosen to use His Church, faithfully preaching and teaching to be the means through which the nations come to Him. I believe that Jesus gave us a mission that will be accomplished. And that is exactly what Jesus is up to in this new year of our Lord 2022. Don’t ever let the world make you believe that this isn’t true. Don’t ever doubt that Jesus is on His throne and that He is in charge. Praise be to God.