As Joshua was preparing to enter the Promised Land, God spoke to him these words, “Do not let this book of the law depart out of your mouth but meditate on it day and night that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
In the kingdom of heaven, success is always measured by obedience to the will of God.
Behind me you see a picture of ultra-orthodox Jews, many covered with their prayer shawls, earnestly pleading with God in intercessory prayer at the Western Wall of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Their black suits, their long side curls, their phylacteries, all display a devoted commitment to know and study and keep the commandments of God.
All 613 of them to be exact!
All that is left of the sacred Temple of God in Jerusalem is that western retaining wall of the Temple mount. Here, every day, devout Jews lament their sins and pray for a restoration of Israel and a rebuilding of the Temple.
As we celebrate Easter today, it is interesting to remember one of the claims of Christ before he was crucified. One day while teaching in that very Temple area, he declared, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days."
This was an incredulous claim. They replied, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?"
That Temple of Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D., one thousand nine hundred and fifty-one years ago. It has not been rebuilt to this very day.
The miraculous rebuilding project of which Jesus spoke was not of stones but of spirit; not of buildings but of bodies! John makes the clarification by writing, “But the temple he had spoken of was his body.”
The temple of Christ’s body, the glorious incarnation of God, was destroyed on the cross. He was crucified and buried. But just as He promised, three days later, He rose from the grave; He resurrected from the dead; He conquered death and Hell; Jesus lives today! Halleluiah!
The Resurrection is the great differentiator to all other religions, world views or life perspectives. In the resurrection of Christ, the holy demands of God are satisfied, the way to eternal life is freely opened to all who will come by faith in Christ, the unpassable chasm between the kingdom of heaven and this world is crossed.
Religion can be so complex and complicated; but Jesus offers a better way. He peeled away all the externals and, in the resurrection, revealed the heart of God and the heart of the divine life.
He took all 613 commandments of the Old Testament and wrapped them up in one word . . . Love. Love for God and love for others.
When asked to prioritize the 613 commandments of God, Jesus lifted love above all. He replied, “'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."
Astounding isn’t it? Not just the 613 commandments but all the law and the prophets, the whole revelation of God is about love. Divine love, supreme love, heavenly love, inspired love, the great love of God. This kind of love has a special word in the Greek New Testament: it is the word ἀγάπη.
The resurrection of Christ is a love story. And it’s a story that features you!
This morning, in honor of the resurrection of Jesus, I want to help you trace the love of God in Christ’s journey from heaven to earth, to the cross, out of the grave and back to heaven. If you can follow the footprints of this divine love you will also find the secret to eternal life and how to live a divine life for the glory of God.
Because of the resurrection, hope is always just a heart’s cry away!
Over the past three months, I have prophetically trumpeted the truth that we are stronger together. But the secret of our strength is not realized by merely walking through the doors of this building or joining a live stream online; we are stronger together when we practice the “one another” commandments of Scripture.
As the body of Christ, we belong to one another;
we serve one another;
we forgive one another;
we submit to one another;
we encourage one another;
we accept one another;
we teach one another;
we greet one another;
we honor one another;
we fellowship with one another;
we build up one another.
And appropriately we crown the series this Easter Sunday with the greatest one another commandment of all: we love one another!