I taught a lesson recently that’s been asked about several times. I hope it affects you as much as it has me…
Warren Buffett issued a challenge a few years ago. He promised $1 billion to anyone who could predict a perfect bracket for March Madness. As you can imagine, it generated a lot of hype. But no matter how many people tried, I don’t think Warren lost any sleep over the chance of losing $1 billion – partly because he has billions to spare, but mostly because of how unlikely it was that anyone would ever claim the prize. The statistical likelihood of a perfect bracket for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is 9,223,372,036,854,775,808:1.
Knowing how unlikely it is makes something all-the-more remarkable. That’s why God predicted Jesus so many times. Prophecy is just a churchy word for prediction, and there are over 300 of them about the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus. People thousands of years before He lived predicted how Jesus would be born and how he’d die. They explained what He would teach before He ever uttered a word. Look back at that statistic of a perfect bracket for March Madness. Now compare that to this:
The likelihood that Jesus would accomplish even 8 of those predictions is 1017:1
The probability that He would fulfill 48 of them is 10157:1
That’s 48. There are over 300! That’s a lot of zeros.
So what’s the point, right? Every time we find a prediction that came true, it’s God saying “Look at this!” It’s His way of saying, “This is a big deal! Pay attention!” As a mom who begs a small person to pay attention approximately 753 times a day, I know you’ll do anything to gain someone’s focus when you need it. But like my 6 year old, sometimes we go on about our business even though the person who loves and cares for us most is trying to tell us something.
Let’s pretend for a minute that we did pay attention to what God was trying to show us. What would we see? We’d see that He loves us. He made a way to have a relationship with us even though we’re not perfect and He is. BUT! What He most wants us to see with His prediction after prediction after prediction is that THERE’S MORE! Jesus did more than live and die. He did those things SO THAT HE COULD RISE. That was the point. All of it was so Jesus could rise again. After all, you can’t resurrect something that’s not dead. So death was just the route Jesus took so He could rise again. That was the goal. It was always the goal. All the pointing and predicting God did was so we would see that.
And why does it matter? Because if Jesus rose from the dead, He can rise above anything. And if you accept Him and He lives in you, you can too. He can raise a failing marriage. He can raise a bad doctor’s report. He can raise finances and opportunities. He can raise the effects of mistakes and abuses.
Last week, Brynna stomped her feet in anger at something I said. She knew immediately what she’d done was wrong and a consequence was on the way. But this time, because I knew she was aware of what she’d done, I took it as an opportunity to show her grace. I didn’t punish her. Later that day, I even got her a new Barbie book, and I handed it to her, her first response was, “Even though I was bad earlier?” The blessing was that much better because she knew she didn’t deserve it. It was enough that she had been forgiven the punishment. The book was icing o the cake!
That’s how it works with Jesus. If he had just died, it would mean we didn’t get the consequence we deserve. But He did more than just save us from punishment. When He rose, He gave us all His power, goodness, peace and righteousness, too!
So what does R.I.S.E. mean and why do I keep making it an acronym?
“It” – the whole point was for Jesus to rise again. When you realize that, it changes everything. Every decision, every word you speak, everything shifts when you realize that rising was the goal all along. That means He doesn’t love you enough to save you. He loves you enough to save you just so He can pour gifts all over you!
The Easter story is in Luke 24. It says that 3 days after Jesus had died and been buried, some women went to his tomb but found it empty. The first thing they were asked when an angel appeared to them was “Why are you looking here?” I can just image God looking down from Heaven saying “I told you 300 times He wouldn’t be there!” (Or maybe that’s what I would have done. Probably a good thing I’m not God.)
When the women began to remember all those predictions, they went back to the disciples to tell them. But the disciples didn’t believe them. In their defense, they were scared, probably hadn’t slept for days and were royally confused. But one guy responded differently. Luke 24:12 says, “But Peter got up and ran…” See, Peter and Jesus had a history. Just a few days before, Jesus told Peter he would pretend they’d never met. Peter was convinced he would never do such a thing, but when he did just that and he realized it, Luke 22 says that Peter wept as though mourning. Something died in Peter that day. But we now know that death is just the route God takes us on so He can raise something, right?
So Easter was Peter’s R.I.S.E. moment. He went straight to the tomb. He looked and walked away with what I can imagine was a little bit of a smile. I can picture him thinking to himself, “So if this was true, it was all true.” Everything shifted from then on. That’s why those are 2 of my favorite words in all the Bible “But Peter…” That’s not the last time we see those words. Look at these other stories about Peter
Acts 2:14 – Peter was telling some people about Jesus and the crowd accused him of being drunk before noon. “But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared [the gospel].”
Acts 3:4 – A man asked Peter for money “but Peter” healed him instead. He gave him more than just the minimum he asked for. (Who does that sound like??)
Acts 4:19 – The religious leaders didn’t like that Peter was drawing people away from their traditions and told him to stop preaching. “But Peter and John answered, ‘Whether it’s right to listen to you or God, you be the judge;…we can not stop speaking about what se’ve seen and heard.”
Acts 5:3-4 – Ananias was a guy who tried to steal some money. He fooled everyone else, “But Peter said, ‘Why have you lied to Holy Spirit? You have not lied to men but to God.”
Acts 5:29 – Those religious leaders again tried to make Peter stop telling people about Jesus, “But Peter the apostle answered, ‘We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus…”
Peter knew that if God could raise Jesus He can do anything. If Jesus overcame death, He can overcome anything. And when he realized that was the goal all along, it shifted everything in his life. He wasn’t concerned with people’s opinions. He wasn’t afraid to do what was right. He wasn’t fooled by outside appearances. Realizing It Shifted Everything for Peter. Has it for you?
If you really, truly realize, it shifts everything.
If everything in your life hasn’t shifted, there’s something more you haven’t realized. But you can. God’s waiting. He went to a lot of trouble to get your attention. That’s how much He loves you.
The whole Easter account is found in Luke 24
For more about Peter, read Acts 2 for the message he preached
when 3,000 people gave their lives to Jesus. (Talk about shifting everything!)
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