Welcome to resurrection Sunday, where hope is alive. On Friday we remembered the sacrifice of Christ dying on the Cross for us, but today we celebrate the joy of His rising again, and now hope is alive in the hearts of believers. After church 3 people are going to share their baptism with us, and they will illustrate this very time of year. They will go under the water dying with Christ, then come up again to rise with Him.
So let's start our celebrations looking back at Good Friday. On Friday we talked about Christ’s pain, suffering and sacrifice for us. But what I want you to do now is to put yourself in the place of the disciples that terrible Friday.
They'd seen it with their own eyes, the death of the One they love. They heard Him cry out, they'd seen the spear thrust into His side, they saw blood and water pour out . They knew He was dead, that He'd been placed in a tomb, wrapped in cloth with spices. They’d surely seen the massive rock rolled across the entrance. They probably were aware of the guard on the tomb.
On that dark day hope died. All the dreams of the disciples, all the plans, all the good times had come to nothing. Jesus had healed people, He'd challenged hearts, He’d spoken of eternal life, of His Kingdom to come. He'd fed 5,000, raised the dead, challenged the hierarchy… He'd promised big, but on that dark, miserable Friday He'd died, just like any man might. The centurion said truly this man was the Son if God, but all the disciples saw was a dead body.
Today here perhaps your hopes, like those of the disciples, have died. Your dreams of a successful business, your hopes of a loving, perfect partner in life, your hopes of a together family, your inner desires for ministry. Maybe today they lay shattered in the ground. Perhaps you lost that job, maybe your marriage broke down, maybe your family looks ok on the surface but behind closed doors it's falling apart. Perhaps that child you love so much is breaking your heart.
Like those disciples so long ago, maybe you've lost hope. Like them, perhaps you feel like you're standing on the boulevard of broken dreams, standing outside the tomb of everything you've hoped and believed for, burying the hopes you once had. The disciples were there, they saw everything crumble right before their eyes, and despair won the day.
That Friday Jesus laid His life down for your sin, but thanks be to God He didn't stay there.
HOPE IS ALIVE
Hope is alive because the tomb is empty! Today hope lives because Jesus lives!
Buddha is buried somewhere in a tomb. Mohammad , Confucius, they're buried somewhere, but Jesus is not. 3 days later, Jesus exploded out of the tomb. He's alive, and everything He promised those disciples, and everything He promises you, is alive as well.
But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.”
Hope is a word that we like to kind of throw around. I hope this works, I hope you feel better, I hope for this or that, I hope tomorrow will be better. The true essence of the word gets cheapened sometimes. Webster’s defines hope as: to cherish a desire with anticipation of obtainment. To the world, hope is to long for something, it’s to anticipate something that you want with all of your heart to be fulfilled. But to the world, hope is often dashed!
Someone has been quoted as saying: We can live forty days without food, eight days without water, four minutes without air, but only a few seconds without hope.
Turn on the news, and hope disappears with every terrorist bomb, every financial forecast, every loss, scandal or controversy. The world’s version of hope is based in what's happening around you, what you want, what you can get, your desires, your needs. It is based in things that do not and cannot ultimately satisfy. But God's hope is completely different. You can trust it because Biblical hope is alive and well!
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.
Biblical hope depends not on events, and not on how much faith you can muster. Biblical hope depends on God’s faithfulness, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ celebrates exactly that! Biblical hope can be defined as this: a sure expectation based on the promises of God. This hope is different! This hope is eternal and won’t fail us. Hebrews says that:
Hebrews 6: 19
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.
The hope that God offers is something to build on, it’s an anchor, it keeps us from drifting after this and floating after that. It is the rock upon which the Christian stands, one that cannot be moved or shaken. This is the hope of God, and this magnificent hope is alive, forever bound up in the resurrection of Christ that we celebrate today.
When the Bible talks about hope, it is not a maybe, it is a surety. Hope is alive for the Christian, and that's an absolute fact, it is something we can live for, even something we can die for!
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
THE HOPE VORTEX
In the midst of their darkest moment in life, the disciples were told by Mary and the women that Jesus was alive, but they couldn't believe He had risen. That's what lack of hope does, it steals from you the belief that somehow, someway your dreams might come true!
That's what the devil wants … he wants to bleed your faith dry, and some of you have experienced that. He wants to suck hope out of you so you can't see any way forward. Satan is a hope vampire, a hope vortex, and he wants to suck the hope right out of you. That's what the devil tried to do with Job, and some of you here can relate to feeling like Job at times..
My days are past; my plans are broken off, the desires of my heart. Where then is my hope? Who will see my hope?
Do you feel like that today? Has despair sucked your hope from you? Listen, you're in good company, with Job, David, Joshua, the disciples, Paul and many others sharing the same experience. Without the resurrection, all of us would be without hope. But with it hope springs eternal!
If you feel like your hope is gone today, if you're walking through the valley of the shadow or death, keep walking. Don't camp there, and don't give the devil a foothold. Today, Easter Sunday 2017, is the the day when your hope is alive again, resurrected, if you are willing!
Sometimes hope us hidden. God doesn't take the route we expect Him to take. The disciples learned that. Their hopes, their dreams seemingly crushed, yet in God’s economy, a setback is a setup for a comeback. Sometimes hope is hidden, but just because you can't see it, doesn't mean it's not there!
God’s great gift of hope took a cross, the very symbol of death and despair and a tomb, the epitome of hopelessness and turned them forever into symbols of life and hope for the believer, that whoever believes in what was accomplished upon that cross and believes in who it was that walked out of that tomb would be saved.
That’s the hope we have. As Peter writes:
1 Peter 1:3
According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
Today we celebrate the fact that Jesus is risen. And risen with Him is our hope, the true hope, the surety of eternal life, starting the moment we ask Jesus into our life, the hope of living in victory, the hope of restored families, the hope of healings and miracles and fellowship and ministry.
So if you feel lacking in hope today, if your faith is struggling or weakened, look to the empty tomb and see hope resurrected with Christ. For some of us, we need to stop trying to generate faith, and for some we must stop trying to make it happen and do God’s job for Him. Look to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, because He is alive and hope is alive with Him!
If your hope is truly in Christ this day, let Him live His life through you.
HOPE FOR NOW
Godly hope is alive and has 2 aspects… hope for now, and hope forever!
Whatever you face in life right now, whatever fear, whatever drama, whatever pain, sickness, tiredness, conflict or pressure, because Jesus rose again and because He lives you can face tomorrow, because He lives all fear is gone, because I know He holds the future and life is worth the living just because He lives!
Because Jesus is alive, hope is alive, and we now have absolute hope to live each day in the power of His Spirit.
but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and saviour Jesus Christ,
Because He is alive, we know He will soon return. And He's not coming back as a baby this time, but He will return for those who believe Him in triumph and in majesty and in power. We know from His resurrection that we have a hope not only for His return, but also for life abundantly, eternal life with Him in heaven. That's His promise…
1 Corinthians 15:17-20
And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
He said if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile, and your hope is dead! But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. This day we remember the Jesus is alive, and we will live forever with Him.
HOW TO DISCOVER HOPE IN YOUR LIFE TODAY
So how can you discover true hope today, whatever situation you face?
1. BELIEVE IN CHRIST
Unless you believe in Christ, unless you ask Him into your life as Lord and Saviour, His power to live a victorious life remains unavailable to you. If you are overwhelmed by your troubles, if you are perpetually down or depressed, don't stay there. Believe in Jesus, believe in what He achieved for you in dying on the cross to bring you back to God, and most of all believe in the resurrection. He can save you today, and it's a free gift, if only you accept Him.
but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
If you feel hopeless, if you're living without hope, ask the God of all hope to fill you with His Spirit right now!
2. SPEND TIME WITH JESUS
You cannot live in hope and live in power if you are disconnected from the Lord. He has a plan and a hope for your future, but you need to stay close to Him and be obedient. If you wander off and do your own thing, not only do you miss God’s best for you, but you stumble away from hope. Take time to pray regularly, set time aside to read and study His Word, and do it every day.
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
If you want true Biblical hope in your life, plug into God today. Let resurrection Sunday be the day your hope is renewed... hope is alive.
3. LISTEN TO GOD
Most Christians say they believe, but most often never pause to listen to what the Lord wants. Like Joshua at Ai, we think, based on previous experience, that we can just go ahead and blunder in and expect His blessing.
4. BELIEVE GOD’S PROMISES
God lays out promises in His Word, and as we listen to Him and apply those promises they come to pass with the hope and power of the resurrected Christ.
2 Corinthians 1:20
For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.
All God’s promises, Old Testament and New, hinge upon the power of the resurrection of Christ. In Him they are yes and amen, in Jesus you can have true hope for the future. The whole of history and all the promises of God revolve around the sacrifice of Good Friday and the resurrection power of Easter Sunday
5. STAND TOGETHER
There are so many Christians these days who are not part of a church. They've been hurt, disappointed or bored out of their brains in church. For many, their hope struggles because they are trying to stand alone. Hope is alive, but only just
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!
The Bible commands us to not give up meeting together. So find a church to be a part of, here or anywhere. Ephesians talks about the shield of faith. But what many don't understand is how the Romans used their shields. They didn't try and fight alone, but joined their shields together to withstand the attacks of the enemy.
Your faith, your belief, your hope is strengthened when you join it together with other believers. So if you want to see true hope in your life, join together with like minded believers and start believing for miracles in your life!
6. FEAR NOTHING, INCLUDING DEATH
Resurrection power means we no longer have to live defeated lives. In the power of God, when we are controlled by His Spirit, we can face any foe without fear. Governments, terrorists, mortgages, people attacking us, anything life can throw at us we can face without fear, including the biggest fear we all have… the fear of death.
Death for the Christian is not a full stop, it's only a comma. As I watched my Dad die a few years ago, I sat by His bed for days as he lay dying, and I saw this hope in His heart. Christ's rising from the dead gives us an unassailable hope for the future, forever and ever.
Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
You may not believe that there's a life after death, you may not believe that there's a heaven or hell, but trust me, 10 seconds after you die you'll find out, as will I. If I'm right, I get the share eternity with God in His heaven, and you get to spend eternity separated from Him in hell. If you're right, and there is nothing after death, then I've been blessed to have had a great life, full of hope, full of joy, full of blessings and satisfaction that you'll never know. And you will have existed, nothing more!
Steve McQueen accepted Christ and asked to meet Billy Graham. He was heading to Mexico for filming, and shared a short ride to the airport with Billy Graham. He was fighting cancer at the time, and asked Dr Graham how he could be assured of eternal life. Billy Graham underlined
in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began
And gave his Bible to Steve McQueen.
The actor passed away a few weeks later. His body was flown back to LA, and he was buried at his request with Billy Graham's Bible open on his chest, and his finger pointing to this verse…
in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began.
Easter Sunday is not about rabbits, Or chocolate eggs. Today, resurrection Sunday is about hope. Hope restored, hope to face anything, hope that fills us, hope that is alive just as Jesus is alive today!
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is not just a historical event, and it's certainly not a fairy story. It was the resurrection of hope for those disciples, who moved from despair to abundant joy, and from fear to incredible courage. Of the 11 disciples who witness the death and resurrection of Jesus, the 11 who cowered in fear in an upper room, they were so inspired, they were so filled with hope that 10 of them died martyrs deaths for what they believed.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the resurrection of hope, the hope that will never fail. It's the rock on which we stand, it's the power by which we live, it's the hope we have for all eternity. This hope is here today for you, if you want it!
Christ in you, the hope of glory.