Concerning Gaming, Chicken Bites and Our Resurrection Victory

April 3, 2016
Luke 23:50-24:12
Abraham Hong


Part 1: On Starting Over

In the world of games, resurrection is no big deal. For example, if a truck hits and flattens your Crossy Road chicken, it is no big deal. You just start over and try again. If angryneeson52 destroys your Clash of Clans town hall, it is no big deal. Your town hall will come back to life and you will have your revenge. And if everyone votes you out in a game of Mafia, it is no big deal. You just leave the circle and vent with all the other dead people until the next game. Most games come with a restart button - a kind of resurrection, if you will. And in the world of games, it is no big deal.

But in the real world, resurrection is a very big deal. And the reason is quite simple. Resurrection is a big deal because death is the big problem.

And that brings us to the question of all questions: why is there death?

Part 2: The Big Picture and The Big Promise

When a tornado blows down a house, or when the wicked do bad things, or when cancer takes the life of a loved one, the following question often comes up: “Why is there suffering and death?” It is a very deep question.

A buddhist may say that suffering is caused by desire. An evolutionist may say that death is natural. A movie may show that death is just a part of life. A philosopher may conclude that death is meaningless. And the guy at the bar? Well, he just drinks to it all and then heads home with no answer.

But we as Christians have the true answer. The reason why there is suffering and death is because they are curses for sin.

A long time ago in a land far far away, God created Adam. And God made a relationship with him, a relationship in which Adam was put to the test. If Adam were to pass the test, he would enter the same holy rest that God entered into after he finished creating everything. If Adam honored God, he would enter into a perfect relationship with God. But if Adam were to fail the test, he would be cursed and suffer and die.

Unfortunately, Adam sinned against God. He failed God and disobeyed and rebelled against him. Thus, Adam rightfully received suffering and death. And with him, all the rest of humanity receive the same.

But God out of his love and grace made a promise. He promised that a special person would come and take Adam’s test again. He promised that a second and final Adam would pass Adam’s test. And he promised that this second and final Adam would do it for a chosen people and save them.

This special person was Jesus Christ. Jesus was human, which meant that he represented us. And Jesus was God, which meant that he could not fail. Jesus passed Adam’s ancient test of obedience to God by living a perfect and sinless life. And Jesus took the punishment of suffering and death and hell by dying on the cross. He achieved for us the covenant blessings of God. And he received for us the covenant curses of God. He lived a perfect life for us and then takes his perfect life and credits it to us. And he died on the cross for us and takes our sinful life and credits it to him. In this way, we are saved. In this way, God’s promise of salvation came true.

But there is even more to our salvation than just Jesus’ life and death. For we are not only saved because of Jesus’ life and Jesus’ death. We are also saved because of Jesus’ resurrection. Jesus rose again from the dead. Many people witnessed his resurrection, and it was recorded as history in the Bible. He ascended into heaven. And he will return one day to establish his kingdom and completely destroy sin and suffering and death. This is the gospel.

Part 3: Believe and Marvel

Given this fact, I ask you for two things.

First, I ask that you believe this. The resurrection of Christ is the center of Christian faith and life. Everything stands or falls on Jesus’ resurrection. It’s that’s important. So believe in his resurrection. It’s a big deal.

Second, I ask that you be amazed by this. The disciples marveled at the news. It took a while for them to get it. But once it clicked in their minds, they were blown away by it. Jesus’ resurrection changed their lives. I bet they thought about it every day during their entire life. I bet they never got over it. I hope the same for you. Be amazed by his resurrection. It’s a big deal.

Now, let’s talk about what Jesus’ resurrection means for us. We know that it happened. We believe it. But what do we get from it? How does it benefit us? What does it mean for us?

Part 4: The Benefits and Comforts of Christ’s Resurrection For Us

Imagine chicken bites in an oven.

When we think that a batch of delicious honey barbeque chicken bites are ready in the oven, we check them. How? By testing one chicken bite. It's a sample. If the sample is ready, then the whole batch is ready. Nobody in their right mind thinks they have to test every single one of them just to make sure. If the one individual honey barbeque chicken bite is good to go, then the other 37 honey barbeque chicken bites are good to go.

The Bible describes Jesus as a “firstfruit.” What this means is that Jesus is like a test sample. He died. And then he rose again with resurrection life. That is good news for the rest of the “batch.” I’m talking about believers who are united with Christ. If the sample died and rose again, then the same goes for the rest of the batch. You died to your sins because Christ died with your sins. You have resurrection life because Christ rose again to resurrection life. Jesus is the firstfruit that represents us and we follow after him. As Jesus goes, so goes you. This is how your salvation works.

But the “firstfruit” idea goes even deeper than this. For Christ’s resurrection does not only gaurantee our future resurrection. Christ’s resurrection IS our present resurrection. Christ is not just a test sample that is disconnected from the batch. Christ is a “firstfruit” of the SAME batch. Although our resurrection is a future promise to look forward to, it is also a present reality to experience right now.

This is amazing. And no human being would have thought of this plan of salvation. Jesus accomplishes salvation by dying and rising again to life. But everything he accomplished is worth nothing to us unless we are united with him. It is the Holy Spirit who creates that union by giving us faith. By faith we are united with Christ, and as a result, Christ’s accomplishments are applied to us. That is why we can say that we have died with Christ and now have resurrection life with him. This is really, really amazing!

Because of all of this, we have three wonderful benefits.

First, Christ’s resurrection means that we are truly forgiven of our sins. In Romans 4:25, it is written that Jesus “was raised for our justification.” And in 1 Timothy 3:16, it is written that Jesus’ resurrection was his vindication of righteousness. This is the source of our comfort and relief from the guilt of sin.

Second, Christ’s resurrection means that we grow and that our lives are being changed right now. In Romans 6:4-5, it is written that we walk in newness of life just as Christ was raised from the dead. And in Colossians 3:1, it is written that if we are raised with Christ, then we are to seek the things above. This is the source of our power and motivation to grow and change as Christians.

Third, Christ’s resurrection means that we too will one day have resurrection bodies. In Romans 8:11, it is written that God who raised Jesus from the dead will also give life to our mortal bodies. This is the source of our hope and confidence as we face death.

Part 5: He Ended Well

Let me mention one man in the Bible before I close: Joseph.

Joseph died in Egypt. But before he died, he said to his brothers and to his descendants these words in Genesis 50: “I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.” And then Joseph died. They embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.

Why do I end with Joseph? Joseph had the greatest restart button of all restart buttons. Joseph believed in resurrection and he had faith in Jesus Christ. By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones. And he died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that he was a stranger and exile on the earth. For people like Joseph make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. People like Joseph desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.

Joseph ended well.

Brothers and sisters, unless Jesus comes back during your lifetime, you will die. But you will have faith. And you will have union with Christ. This means that you will not stay dead forever. For behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.