An expression I sometimes will hear used is this idiom, “the bottom line,” which is someone’s way of saying the underlying truth of it all.
For instance, a traveler might say,
If our flight is late, we’ll miss our connection. That’s the bottom line.
Or a school board member may say,
A student with special needs can stress the school’s budget, but the bottom line is the state must provide for the child’s education.
A coach might say,
The bottom line is we’re here to win, and everybody here should have that mindset.
Or the starry-eyed lover who says to his sweetheart,
The bottom line is this, darling – I just can’t live without you.
What would you say is the bottom line of the Christian faith? I would suggest to you that it is these three words: Christ has risen! This is our ultimate underlying truth as followers of Jesus Christ. Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed!
I want to begin today by saying, If Jesus was who He said He was, and if He really did come back from the dead, then biblical Christianity is true and other religions are false. Jesus Christ is like no other because He is resurrected like no other. Moses, as great as he was, is dead. Mohammed is dead. Buddha is dead. Confucius is dead. Joseph Smith is dead. Any and all other founders of the world’s religions are dead. Only Jesus Christ overcame death, establishing once and for all the truth of His deity. Thus, no other person who has lived can or should claim our allegiance as Jesus does, because He alone can offer us the gift of salvation and the assurance of eternal life. Christ’s resurrection, you see, is the linchpin of the Christian faith. Paul says in I Corinthians 15, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.” But He is risen. He is risen indeed.
Someone might ask, as many have in the last two thousand years, Does the evidence really hold up? Let’s check it out.
In today’s story, we have an empty tomb. The women saw where the dead Jesus had been placed on the day He died. Now He’s gone. They hear the announcement of the angel – “He has been raised. He is not here just, as he said.” The women are confused and afraid as are the disciples. Hearing this news totally surprises them, and they are finding it difficult to believe at first.
But then resurrection appearances begin to happen. Jesus sightings. The women, the disciples, five hundred people at one time, the apostle Paul. Then there’s the lives of those disciples after the resurrection. Absolutely different! Once they were so full of fear and scattering like sheep when the pressure was on, but now they stand confident and willing to die for this message about Jesus. And all of them, by the way, did die for this fact of the resurrection. Would they do that if it were a lie? Would anyone die for something they made up?
Look at Jesus’ opponents. They couldn’t argue that the tomb was empty, and no one could produce a body. Later some of them even became convinced enough to become believers themselves. Now some may say, Can we really trust the accuracy of the Bible? Scholars of textual criticism say, Yes. It’s more accurate than any other historical document from classical history. Yes, we can trust Scripture.
So the bottom line of this evidence checking is, Christ is risen; He is risen indeed! This is our proclamation today. The bottom line means Jesus is the Savior of the world. His death on the cross saved us from sin and its consequences. He was the perfect sacrifice taking our place, our punishment for our sin, which separates us from God. He was God’s gift to us. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, as John the Baptist called Him.
God raised Jesus from the dead as His way of saying yes! to the sacrifice. He means forgiveness for your sins and a restored relationship with God. His resurrection is the first fruits of the resurrection. He has defeated death. Because He lives, we shall live also! He really is the resurrection and the life who promises that all who trust in Him have a place prepared for them in His heaven. Some of us have loved ones who have passed away since our last Easter. What a comfort it is to know that when we lay believers in Christ to rest, they are well-taken care of. Joy has become theirs, and it awaits all believers. It is joy beyond our wildest imaginations
For those of us who face our own mortality in this world, we can live with the confidence that whether I live or whether I die, I’m the Lord’s. His resurrection means Jesus is, not Jesus was. Jesus is. He is present to live with us and in us to the working of His Holy Spirit. He is available and approachable. He works in each one of us, changing us into a new person who can love God as God intended, who can worship God as God intended, who can love neighbors as God intended. He comforts and strengthens a person to live through life’s circumstances with confidence, even when those situations become difficult.
I’m reminded of the hymn writer who says,
I know that my Redeemer lives.
What comfort this sweet sentence gives!
He lives, he lives who once was dead.
He lives my ever-living head.
He lives to silence all my fears.
He lives to wipe away my tears.
He lives to calm troubled heart.
He lives all blessings to impart.
Rick Warren, the pastor of Saddleback Church and author of the book, “The Purpose Driven Life,” together with his wife Kay went through a devastating loss when their 27-year-old son, Matthew, took his own life after battling depression and mental illness for years. About a year after this tragedy, Rick said, I’ve been asked, “How have you made it? How have you kept going in your pain?”and I’ve often replied, “The answer is Easter. You see, the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus happened over three days. Friday was a day of suffering, pain, and agony. Saturday was a day of doubt, confusion, and misery. But Sunday – Easter – was the day of hope and joy and victory.
“And here’s the fact of life,’ Rick says, ‘You will face these three days over and over and over in your lifetime. When you do, you’ll find yourself asking, as I did, three fundamental questions.
1. What do I do in my days of pain?
2. How do I get through my days of doubt and confusion?
3. How do I get to my days of joy and victory?”
The answer is Easter. The answer is Easter.”
That, my dear friends, is what the bottom line means for you and me. Forgiveness for our sins as we place our trust in Christ, eternal life with Him in His heaven, and an intimate relationship with the Savior who will never leave us orphaned, never leave us on our own.
Finally, here is what the bottom line is calling for from you and me. One word – faith. Let me say it again. One word – faith. Understanding is not the goal of the Christian proclamation. Appropriation is.
In the Gospel of John, he writes, “All who have received Jesus have the power to become the children of God.” Faith is simply receiving Him. He stands at the door and knocks. His promise is, Any one who opens the door, He will come in and begin a friendship with them. Faith is simply trusting in Jesus and what He has done for you.
Years ago it was pointed out to me that in this world there is the Christian faith and other religions. Other religions are spelled D – O. Do this and do that, and you will earn God’s favor and be saved.
But the Christian message is spelled D – O – N – E. Done. Jesus Christ has done it all for you, and God has affirmed it at the resurrection.
Simply receive Christ into your life and His promise of eternal life is yours to enjoy for the rest of your days, all the way into eternity. DO versus DONE. Which one are you following? Which one are you going to follow?
So there you have it, my dear friends – the bottom line. Christ is risen, and because He has been raised from the dead – the One who was crucified on the cross – He is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but through Him.
This truth was affirmed that day. The apostle Peter, in one of his sermons in the book of Acts, stated, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.” Trust in Him. Trust in Him and what He’s done for you. Trust in Him with your life, with all your heart, because like no other, Christ is risen. He is risen indeed! That is the bottom line. Amen.
Pastor Steve Kramer