Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday

Whose Boy Is He?

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone – usually someone a generation or two older than you – who starts describing people based on who their dads are? Or maybe you run into someone in the town you were raised in and people recognize your facial features and ask, “Are you so-and-so’s child?”

I remember visiting my grandparents when I was little, and Grandma always gave my parents the lowdown about everyone in her small town. And I mean everyone! My dad hadn’t lived in that town for many years and had forgotten many people’s names. That didn’t stop Grandma, though. She just described people by who their dads were: “You know, Larry’s boy,” or “the Meyers’ oldest son.” Also, there in my dad’s hometown people could recognize what family I came from just based on my square shoulders.

For men in particular, whose son you are and who your sons are seems to matter a lot beyond making connections when people forget names or knowing if you are predisposed to having high cholesterol or male pattern baldness. (If you’re watching today, Dad – Thanks!)

The Bible contains long lists of genealogies showing that this guy had these sons and his sons had those sons. They describe how all these families are connected all the way from Adam to Jesus. Many people skim over these sections when reading through the Bible, but the genealogies do serve one important function: they demonstrate that the stories in the Bible are TRUE and about real people. You don’t find such detailed genealogies in any work of fiction.

When we talk about Jesus, however, it’s not straightforward to say who His Dad is. Let’s just say it’s complicated.

From the story of Christmas, we know that Jesus was born to the virgin Mary and her fiancé, Joseph. Therefore the whole community assumed Joseph was Jesus’s Dad. We see this language in Luke 4:22 when Jesus teaches in the temple and surprises everyone with His knowledge.

Luke 4:22All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.

We also know from the Christmas story that Mary was told she would become pregnant when “the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” This is why Luke, in his Gospel, includes the genealogy of Jesus immediately after a supernatural event. It’s his way of making sense of the fact that Jesus is fully God and fully human. See how he ties this all together.

Luke 3:21-2321When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened 22and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” 

23Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli, etc. . . . the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God.

Do you see how, immediately after we hear the rumble of God’s voice from the clouds calling Jesus HIS Son, Luke jumps into how the world saw Jesus as Joseph’s son, and then followed the lineage of Joseph all the way back to Adam as the son of God.

The relationship between Joseph and Jesus was an adoptive-type relationship. If you don’t know, all my kids are adopted, and my boys are mine, and they have my last name, and we all have brown eyes. But if you look at our family photo, you know that they don’t come from me genetically – and hopefully they won’t get my family hairline.

I’m sure Jesus and Joseph were close, but genetically Jesus did not come from Joseph because – and this is crucial for our understanding of who Jesus is and how He could do what He did – Jesus was the Son of God. This means we shouldn’t be surprised when we read that He could speak to the weather and calm the storms. He could walk on the water. He could multiply food. He could drive out demons, open blind eyes, and even raise the dead – with just His words!

I know these stories sound like fantasy to some people, but if you truly believed He came from the God of the universe, who created everything, then these stories about Jesus don’t seem unreasonable. If the Almighty God – all-powerful, all-knowing and infinitely wise – is your Dad, then, yes, you are going to be different from the rest of humanity.

As we read through the Bible, what do we find about different people’s experiences with Jesus? Many, many people have that moment when they recognize that Jesus is just different! They finally see Him for who He is – the Son of God. Let me briefly show you some of these moments.

Luke 2 – Simeon and Anna see a baby boy in the temple, and the Spirit of God supernaturally reveals to both of them that this is the promised the Messiah the prophets spoke about hundreds of years earlier.

Matthew 16 – After watching all the miracles Jesus performed, including the feeding of the 5000, Peter recognizes that Jesus is no regular guy.

13When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Whom do people say the Son of Man is?”

14They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.

15But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

John 11 – Martha, a disciple who has been following Jesus, desperately needs a miracle because her brother has died. This is her conversation with Jesus before He raises Lazarus from the dead.

21“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died 22But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

23Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection of the last day.”

25Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die. 26and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?

27”Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

Matthew 27 – Next we see an unlikely believer. A Roman soldier, called a centurion, is at Jesus’s crucifixion and witnesses all that happens at Jesus’s death. The centurion recognizes who Jesus’s true Dad is.

50And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. 51At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split, 52and the tombs were broken open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53They came out of the tombs after Jesus’s resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people

54When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God.”

John 20 – Thomas, one of Jesus’s disciples, doubts that He came back to life. Thomas watched Him die on the cross! But his doubts turn to belief after he sees the holes in the resurrected Jesus’s hands and side. His response to touching the holes in Jesus’s hands: “My Lord and my God!”

Acts 2 – Finally, on the Day of Pentecost, the Apostle Peter preaches to a large crowd. He tells the people:

32”God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. 33Exalted to the right hand of God. . . .” 41Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were add to their number that day.

This is a quick sampling of those who recognized and believed that Jesus was the Son of God, and they all came to that realization for different reasons.

  • For Simeon and Anna, God chose to reveal the truth to them.
  • Peter believed because he had seen supernatural miracles.
  • Martha believed because she was in need of a miracle.
  • The centurion believed after he witnessed the cataclysmic event of Jesus’s death and saw how the earth responded.
  • Thomas’s doubts were assuaged when Jesus proved His resurrection was real.
  • The crowd at Pentecost believed simply based on the proclamation of Peter’s preaching.

The Resurrection is God’s Sign that Jesus is His Son

Today, Easter Sunday, we celebrate the greatest sign God could give this world to prove that Jesus is His beloved Son. It is a sign that cannot be denied, a sign that never could be explained away.

We celebrate Jesus’s resurrection, the pinnacle of what He came to do on this earth. As much as we talk about Jesus’s death on the cross for the forgiveness of sins, that is not the sign that proves Jesus is the Son of God. All humans eventually die; but what no human had done before – nor has done since – was to be resurrected to new life. I’m not talking about resuscitation. Jesus had raised several people from the dead, and they lived again in their exact same bodies that would eventually die.

The resurrection of Jesus, however, was entirely different! He came back with a new body, an incorruptible body, a glorified body. This body still had the holes in its hands and feet as scars to forever symbolize what He gave for us, yet His appearance was unrecognizable to the women at the tomb who mistook Him for the gardener.

You may wonder how we can know this to actually be true. It may seem far-fetched for a man to come back to life and appear on this earth a supernatural body. I agree; but the evidence of this sign of the resurrection is too much to ignore.

Both the Jews and the Romans wanted nothing more than to stop the spread of Jesus’s message. All they had to do to end it all was to pull Jesus’s beaten corpse out of the tomb and show it to those who were falling for the message that Jesus was raised from the dead. In fact, the Romans were so worried people would try to steal His body to prove He was truly raised from the dead that they posted military guards to protect the tomb.

Jesus’s Dad, though, couldn’t allow His Son to lie dead in a tomb. Death couldn’t have the final say. So the power of God raised Jesus to life. The angels rolled back the giant stone blocking the tomb, terrifying the guards, who fell down like dead men.

The guards were powerless to intervene against the power of God. All they could do was spread the lie that the disciples overpowered them, rolled back the stone, and stole the body. (They were talking about the same disciples who were so scared for their own lives that few of them were around for Jesus’s crucifixion, and those who were present stood back at a distance.)

None of us has the opportunity to witnesses Jesus’s miracles first-hand like Peter did. We can’t touch the holes in His hands and feet like Thomas could, but everyone has the opportunity to respond to the story of the resurrection like the crowd did in Acts 2.

After Thomas doubted Jesus until he saw the proof of His resurrected body with his own eyes, Jesus said this:

John 20:29 – “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Do you see this incredible good news for you and me? We are blessed when we hear this message of the resurrection, when we critically evaluate this sign God has given us and believe that it does make sense for the Son of God, the Son of the Lord Most High, to have the power to do what seems unbelievable. It’s a power that came to Him because of who His Dad is.

Jesus is not the only one who will be resurrected to newness of life in a new body for an eternal future. 1 Corinthians 15 details how your worn-out body, with your aches and pains and your receding hairline, will be made better, imperishable, glorified, and perfect. In essence, the Son of God lives forever so you can too.

Many of you here today can remember the moment when you decided in your heart that you believed Jesus was the Son of God. Maybe, like Peter, you experienced a miracle. Maybe, like Martha, you were in desperate need of a miracle and Jesus felt like the only place to turn. Maybe He became real to you in that moment. Whatever the situation, you have made the decision that Jesus is more than a teacher or an interesting historical figure. He is otherworldly, coming down from Heaven, sacrificing His very life on the cross so we can join His family and one day make our way up to the Father’s home in Heaven.

Others of you who are here may never have believed all that to be true. Think about these things:

  • Can you explain the resurrection?
  • How did this event that completely changed the world not really happen?
  • How could it have been faked and nobody proved that Jesus was still dead?
  • And if Jesus truly did rise from the dead and ascend to heaven so that His body was never found, does that not make His entire message worth believing?
  • Isn’t it possible that this world was created by a divine being who operates outside the limits of what you believe to be possible, including coming to this earth in flesh to prove there is life outside this physical reality?

Ultimately, every person on this earth has to decide who Jesus’s Dad is.

  • Was it Joseph, the carpenter? This would make Jesus just a man like anyone else aside from being delusional about His relationship with God – and likely lying dead in a hidden tomb.
  • Or is He the Son of God, divinely wrapped in flesh? Is He the perfect holiness of God living among sinful humanity to save us from ourselves? If this is true, then the resurrection should not surprise anyone.
  • Large numbers of people living in Jesus’s time believed He was the Son of God. This fact, combined with His greatest miracle – defeating death and the grave – proves that Jesus is who He said He was. As God’s Son, He lives forever in Heaven preparing a place for me and you.

Jesus is more than a man. He is the Son of God. The resurrection proves it; and because He lives, we can each hold onto the hope that we will too.

That’s the incredible Easter message!


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