Resurrection Celebration Sunday

April 5, 2015

 Opening Scripture: Matthew 27:62 – 28:10

Title: Paradise Restored

Theme: Christ’s Death and Resurrection Renews Intimate Communion With God In Paradise – Forever


  I. Paradise – The Perfect Creation

Paradise and all of creation was created by the Holy, Perfect, Eternal, Infinite and Loving Artist.  God created all things out of the beauty of His Person and character.  All of creation proceeds from God’s heart and mind.  In creation we behold the work of His Hands.  Mankind was created to share in this perfect environment in intimate communion with His Creator.

Genesis 2:1 – 9, 15 – 17 – (God’s bride is being created)

– Why the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? God’s Lordship over all and man’s trust and obedience in the Sovereign One are vital for universal harmony.

II. Paradise – Lost

Genesis 3:7 – 10, 23 – 24

Man sins, dies and is driven out from the Garden Sanctuary.  Life outside of the Garden becomes difficult, painful and a seeming fleeting vapor.

God’s image-bearers who had been the guardians of the garden sanctuary are now outside the garden.  Cherubim now protect the garden from the protectors.  God’s image-bearers are lost and without hope in the fallen world.

The only hope is found in God Himself and His promise to redeem and restore – Genesis 3:14 – 15.

III. Paradise – Restored

Key Passages:  Luke 23:32 – 43 [see quote below*] (2 Corinthians 12:3; Revelation 2:7)

Luke 24:1 – 12 (The Resurrection)

Note: Luke 24:11; “idle tales” or “nonsense.”  The Greek word is “leros.”  This word is applied in medicinal language to the wild talk of the sick in delirium.

IV. Paradise – Secure

John 14:1 – 6; 1 Peter 1:3 – 5; Revelation 22:1 – 4

*From: “Luke The Gospel of Amazement,” by Michael Card; IVP Books.

From: Luke refers to the Roman titulus, the sign hanging over Jesus’ head that bears an inscription describing his crime.  Luke records that it reads, ‘This is the king of the Jews.’  One of the men being crucified with Jesus shouts out in derision that if he really is the Messiah, he should save all three of them.  But the other criminal joins with Pilate and Herod and from his own cross also pronounces Jesus innocent.

Now, at the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, Luke finds another example of the theme he loves so well.  As Jesus hangs on the cross, surrounded by howling religious leaders who have condemned him, a convicted criminal sees the truth to which their hatred has blinded them.

The criminal hanging beside Jesus has most likely been flogged, as Jesus has, since flogging before crucifixion was the normal custom.  Although for some reason artists through the ages have been unwilling to depict it, he has probably also been nailed hand and foot to the cross just like Jesus.  If you and I had been passing by the scene that Friday afternoon, we would not have been able to recognize a single difference between the repentant thief and the Savior of the world – aside from the fact that the charges scribbled in red across a gypsum-covered placard over their heads would have been different.  Scholars tell us that it is probably more accurate to say that the two thieves were insurrectionists, since simple robbery was not punishable by crucifixion.

The criminal has absolutely nothing to gain by declaring Jesus innocent.  He has nothing to gain, and yet he has everything to gain.  As he hangs next to the blood-soaked rabbi from Nazareth, gasping for breath, he pushes up on the nails in his ankles.  Like Jesus, he speaks in short gasping phrases.  ‘Remember me,’ he whimpers.  In that luminous moment, he sees two simple truths: his guilt, and Jesus.  And that seeing becomes his salvation.”