THE POWER OF THE RESURRECTION


Dallas, Sunday Lesson, 6/18/33

 

from the Writings of William Fenton Tyree, Sr.
Compiled & Edited by C. Virginia Tyree
May, 1990

 The subject of the lesson today, as stated, is rather
 unfortunately worded.  It would probably have been better to
 have said "The Power of His Resurrection."  The word
 resurrection has no vital meaning separate from and apart
 from its association with Jesus.
 
 Each Sunday morning we repeat the Apostles Creed and say -
 
 "That he suffered under Pontius Pilate,
 Was crucified, dead and buried.  That He
 rose again the third day."
 
 He says of himself -
 
 "Therefore doth my father love me because
 I lay down my life, that I might take it
 again.
 
 "No man taketh it from me but I lay it
 down of myself.  I have power to lay it
 down and I have power to take it again.
 This commandment I have received of my
 father."
 
 Any man has power to lay down his own life but is without
 power to take it again.  Such power belongs to God alone.
 The statement of Jesus that he had power to lay down his own
 life and power to take it again is equivalent to a
 declaration of his divinity.
 
 Again he says -
 
 "Destroy this temple and in three days I
 will raise it up"
 
 These declarations of Jesus were made early in his ministry.
 His enemies confronted him with them at the time of his
 trial.  They said -
 
 "This fellow said I am able to destroy
 the temple of God, and to build it in
 three days."
 
 And while he was hanging on the cross the revilers passed by
 wagging their heads -
 
 And saying, "Thou that destroyest the
 temple, and buildest it in three days,
 save thyself.  If thou be the son of God
 come down from the cross."
 
 And Mark reports the witnesses against Jesus as saying -
 
 "We heard him say, I will destroy this
 temple that is made with hands and within
 three days I will build another made
 without hands."
 
 Neither the disciples, the elders of Israel nor the false
 witnesses understood what Jesus meant when he said he had
 power to lay down his life and power to take it again.
 
 While the crucifixion of Jesus as the substitute for and
 redeemer of mankind was the greatest event that has ever
 taken place in the history of the world, the final seal and
 sublime proof of its greatness rests in his resurrection.
 Death claimed him upon the cross.  Claimed him as the
 representative of and the substitute for the race of men.  He
 was paying the uttermost farthing of the indeptedness of a
 sinful world to divine law.  If the shackles of death had
 held him death would have triumphed over him and would have
 led him captive.  Sin would have reigned supreme and the door
 of salvation would have been closed against mankind.
 
 The resurrection of Jesus is infinitely more than the mere
 proof of immortality.  It is the lofty exhibition of his
 power to save unto the uttermost all who come unto God by
 him.  Because he was God; because of his infinite power he
 bowed his shoulders under the gates of death and tore them
 from their hinges.  He brought liberty to the captive.
 Freedom to the slave, - beauty for ashes and the garment of
 praise for the spirit of heaviness.  Therefore -
 
 "His name shall be called wonderful,
 counselor, the mighty God, the
 everlasting father, the Prince of Peace."
 
 "Of the increase of his government and
 peace there shall be no end, upon the
 throne of David and upon his Kingdom, to
 order it, and to establish it with
 judgment and with justice from henceforth
 even forever." (Isaiah)
 
 Certainly, from the beginning of the ministry of Jesus until
 his actual death upon the cross he was at all times fully
 conscious that unmerited death awaited him.  How little did
 his companions and associates understand the tremendous
 burden that lay always on the heart of Jesus.  One of his
 most remarkable characteristics is to be observed in his
 quietness of spirit and gentleness of demeanor while bowed
 beneath such a load.  What tremendous heroism, unmatched and
 unequaled in the life of any man was exhibited from day to
 day by our gracious Lord, as he moved ever onward toward the
 cross.
 
 "Surely he hath borne our griefs and
 carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem
 him stricken smitten of God and
 afflicted.
 But he was wounded for our transgression,
 he was bruised for our iniquities; the
 chastisement of our peace was upon him;
 and with his stripes we are healed."
 (Isaiah)
 
 He carried to the cross the hope of a world.  He brought
 forth from the tomb deliverance for a world.
 
 Paul had no illusions in reference to the importance of the
 resurrection of Jesus.  He took the position that the
 Christian religion amounted to nothing without it, yea even
 worse than nothing.  He said -
 
 "And if Christ be not risen, then is our
 preaching vain, and your faith is also
 vain."
 
 and again -
 
 "And if Christ be not raised, your faith
 is vain; ye are yet in your sins."
 
 He gloried in his personal knowledge of the risen Christ.  He
 recounts the evidences submitted by witnesses to the
 resurrection of Jesus in this language -
 
 "For I delivered unto you first of all
 that which I also received, how that
 Christ died for our sins according to the
 scriptures;
 
 And that he was buried, and that he rose
 again the third day according to the
 scriptures:
 
 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of
 the twelve:
 
 After that, he was seen of above five
 hundred brethren at once; of whom the
 greater part remain unto this present,
 but some are fallen asleep.
 
 After that he was seen of James; then of
 all the apostles.
 
 And last of all he was seen of Me also,
 as of one born out of due time."
 
 Paul never forgot the revelation which the risen Christ made
 of himself to him.  That revelation colored his whole life
 and ministry.  In writing to the Philippians he uses these
 words -
 
 "But what things were gain to me, those I
 counted loss for Christ.
 
 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but
 loss for the excellency of the knowledge
 of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have
 suffered the loss of all things, and do
 count them but dung, that I may win
 Christ,
 
 And be found in him not having mine own
 righteousness, which if of the law, but
 that which is through the faith of
 Christ, the righteousness which is of God
 by faith:
 
 That I may know him, AND THE POWER OF HIS
 RESURRECTION, and the fellowship of his
 sufferings, being made conformable unto
 his death;"
 
 He needed no secondary testimony as proof of the resurrection
 of Jesus.  He had the witness within himself.
 
 It has always been the claim of Methodism that a like
 witnessing is available to all men.  The same sincerity of
 purpose to serve God; the same earnest seeking after God; the
 same devotion to the highest and best that is in us that
 characterized the life of Saul of Tarsus will just as
 certainly bring us to a place of meeting where Jesus will
 reveal himself unto us even as he revealed himself to Saul of
 Tarsus on the Damascus road.  Pauline experiences belong to
 Pauline personalities and if you long to-day for those
 uncontrovertible proofs of the resurrection of Jesus that
 seemed to have been so firmly established in the experiences
 of the Apostle Paul, know this; similar proofs will come to
 you if you walk in the path of honest and sincere devotion to
 a life of righteousness.
 
 The power of his resurrection is commensurate with the power
 of Jesus.  Concerning his own power he said, at the time he
 issued his great commission to the apostles -
 
 "All power is given unto me in heaven and
 in earth."
 
 Therefore, he possesses infinite power and is able to save
 unto the uttermost all that come unto God by him.
 
 Power may either curse or bless.  Great power has often been
 exercised by despots and tyrants to the hurt and sorrow of
 men.  Power, not associated with wisdom and love, is
 destructive, dangerous, and to be dreaded.  Most of us desire
 power.  Few of us could use power wisely and well if we had
 it.  The infinite power of Jesus is controlled by and
 subservient to his wisdom and love.  With confidence we may
 depend upon him to use this great power only in a beneficent
 and helpful way.  He says -
 
 "Ye shall receive power after that the
 Holy Ghost has come upon you";
 
 and John says in this connection -
 
 "He came unto his own and his own
 received him not.  But as many as
 received him, to them gave he power to
 become the Sons of God;"
 
 and Paul states -
 
 "I can do all things through Christ which
 strengtheneth me."
 
 We have, in a very limited degree, drawn upon this available
 source of power.  We very imperfectly understand what Jesus
 meant when he said -
 
 "Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that
 believeth on me, the works that I do
 shall he do also; and greater works than
 these shall he do; because I go unto my
 father."
 
 After all, is it not the highest honor that can be conferred
 upon us that we, as Paul puts it, may become -
 
 "Laborers together with God."
 
 For what do we desire power?  That we may be known in the
 gates?  That we may occupy positions of authority?  That we
 may amass wealth and acquire honors?
 
 "After all these things do the gentiles
 seek."
 
 It is certain that Jesus looked upon the world of men as
 being dead in trespass and in sin.  After his resurrection,
 and after his disciples had come to more thoroughly
 understand his mission, they likewise proclaimed the great
 truth -
 
 "That as in Adam all die so in Christ
 shall all be made alive."
 
 With a fuller appreciation of what Jesus meant when he said -
 
 "I am come that they might have life."
 
 This truth prompted John to say -
 
 "In him was life; and the life was the
 light of men."
 
 In that hour of sorrow when Jesus was on his way to the tomb
 of Lazarus, and Martha met him with the cry -
 
 "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my
 brother had not died",
 
 You will remember that Jesus made this reply -
 
 "I am the resurrection and the life; he
 that believeth in me, though he were dead
 yet shall he live; and whosoever liveth
 and believeth in me shall never die."
 
 Which statement of Jesus was followed by the exhibition of
 his power when he called Lazarus forth from the tomb.
 
 I do not know the extent of the power of Jesus.  It is
 limitless, boundless, infinite.  I do know that he invites us
 to become instruments in his hands through which his power
 may be constantly exercised and manifested.  This power is
 within the reach of and available to all men.  It is the
 power to serve God.  It is the power that enables us to walk
 in his way.  It is the power that brings with it security and
 peace that enables us to say, with peace in our souls;
 
 "Though an host should encamp against me
 my heart shall not fear: though war
 should rise against me in this will I be
 confident."
 
 And to say with all humility and assurance -
 
 "I know in whom I have believed and am
 persuaded that he is able to keep me in
 that which I have committed unto him
 against that day."
 
 My friends, Jesus is both the power of God and the wisdom of
 God, the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus, among
 other great truths revealed: The triumph of Love over Law.
 
 Back of the crucifixion of Jesus forever stands the
 unchangeable law, the violation of which "brought death into
 the world, and all our woe." - the condemnation of our race
 and the sentence of the law upon us.  In that sense, the law
 nailed Jesus to the cross - not because he had violated the
 law, but because he loved us to a sufficient degree to move
 him to take our place, and die, according to the law, in or
 stead.
 
 "Christ is the end of the law for
 righteousness."
 
 Love has always been greater and higher than law.  No
 hardship, no peril, no sacrifice, no suffering, no distress
 can halt the winged feet of love.  Love disregards all
 difficulties, all besetments, all hazards, all dangers, all
 privations and with utter and unselfish abandon and
 indescribable joy, gives itself to the protection, the
 support and the happiness of the object of its devotion.  No
 journey too long; no mountain too steep; no road too rough,
 for the feet of love.  All commandments, all precepts, all
 law give way before the onward march of love, for -
 
 "Love is the fulfilling of the law."
 
 I have said that the crucifixion, death and resurrection of
 Jesus portray the triumph of Love over Law.  I may more
 properly say that they stand as the exhibition and
 demonstration of the supreme law of love, for, after all love
 is the highest law.  God is very much more interested in how
 you love than in how you live.  Jesus so taught when he said
 -
 
 "Thou shalt love the lord thy God with
 all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and
 with all thy mind.
 
 This is the first and great commandment.
 
 And the second is like unto it, thou
 shalt love they neighbor as thyself.
 
 On these two commandments hang all the
 law and the prophets."
 
 We are still busy tithing mint, and rue, and anise and
 cummin; still busy making clean the outside of the cup and
 the platter; still compassing sea and land to make a
 proselyte; still making broad our phylacteries; still loving
 the uppermost seats in the synagogue, while we leave undone
 these weightier things of the law.
 
 The power of our risen Lord is the power of love.
 
 He could have called legions of angels; he could have
 marshalled the armies of the skies, with flaming swords and
 chariots of fire, to sweep over and ride down his enemies,
 but he did not.
 
 He stands, through all time, crying -
 
 "Come unto me all ye that labor and are
 heavy laden and I will give you rest.
 Take my yoke upon you and learn of me for
 I am meek and lowly in heart, and you
 shall find rest unto your souls."
 
 He said -
 
 "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth,
 will draw all men unto me."
 
 "I have loved thee with an everlasting
 love."
 
 And Paul asserts -
 
 "God commendith his love toward us in
 that, while we were yet sinners, Christ
 died for us."
 
 That dear old saint, John, late in life and after a long
 Christian experience, was moved to exclaim -
 
 "Behold, what manner of love the Father
 hath bestowed upon us, that we should be
 called the sons of God."
 
 By the power of His love, Jesus is calling us.  "Greater love
 hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his
 friends."  He gave all.  He asks all.  He is entitled to all.
 What is our answer?
 
 "Jesus, thy dying love thou gavest me nor
 would I ought withhold dear Lord from
 Thee."


 

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