DON’T STOP AT FRIDAY, RESUURECTION SUNDAY IS COMING
Easter Friday is where we looked at the cross, and it was there that Jesus died for us and paid the penalty for our sin, so that we might have eternal life. But how can we know we have eternal life? How can we be sure?
Friday we remembered that Christ died for our sins, but let’s not stop at Friday… Resurrection Sunday is when Jesus not only promised eternal life, He delivered it and proved it by being raised by the power of God from the dead.
Romans 6:8-11 (ESV)
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.
We live in a world that has systematically stripped away all hope for mankind, a world that now finds itself at the mercy of a rampant virus, shorn of hope, despairing for the future, condoning every kind of sexual sin and deviancy, and persecuting anyone who stands for what is right.
Into this despairing hopeless world we can carry a message of hope, not just for now but for eternity. Through the cross Jesus saved us from the penalty of our sin, but through the resurrection Jesus became the first fruits of what He promised and we all can share, eternal life forever with God in His heaven,
We live in a world that perhaps more than ever before seems to be devoid of hope. In all my years on this planet I have never seen hopelessness in the eyes of Australians. More than ever before this world needs hope!
One quote said, “feeling hopeless and fully of despair is just a slower way of being dead,” and that’s pretty right.
IS YOUR HOPE DEAD TODAY?
This world seems to be without hope. The corona virus has brought the world as we know it to its knees, ruining lives, families, businesses and placing countries in debt that will never be cleared. Add to this the disintegration of morality in our society has been pushed and promoted by media and government to the point where in some states of our nation it is now illegal to have even an opinion contrary to the government.
Let’s face it, in 2021, things look hopeless for the world, our nation, and without Jesus Christ, that’s exactly what it is… Hopeless!
Ephesians 2:12 (ESV)
remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
Those first disciples at Easter Friday had lost everything too, and were devoid of hope. They’d seen it with their own eyes, the death of the One they love. They heard Him cry out, 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 seen the massive rock rolled across the entrance. They probably were aware of the guard on the tomb.
Every hope they ever had for the future died that Friday with their Lord, and they didn’t understand it. 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 Roman centurion executing Him may have said truly this man was the Son of God, but all the disciples saw was a dead body taken from a cross. Their hope had been crushed that Friday.
Today, like those disciples so long ago, maybe you’ve lost hope in life. 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 dreams you once had. Dreams of a successful business, relationship or ministry have been lost in a mundane, seemingly pointless existence. The disciples were there, they’d seen it all crumble right before their eyes, and despair had won the day.
That was Friday, that was the cross, the execution, the death of their Saviour, their friend, their hopes and dreams. Friday was despair, Saturday was misery, but today is Resurrection Sunday, and hope was about to explode across the world! This hopeless, empty world needs to know about the hope filled, empty tomb!
WHAT’S SO IMPORTANT ABOUT AN EMPTY TOMB?
Our entire faith in God stands and falls on the empty tomb. To many people stop at the cross, know they’re forgiven but miss the incredible joy and hope of the empty tomb. Historical analysis proves beyond reasonable doubt that Jesus rose from the dead, but most people ignore the facts because it doesn’t suit them.
Today we know that our Hope is alive because the tomb is empty! Today in 2021 hope lives because we know Jesus lives!
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.”
Buddha is buried somewhere in a tomb. Mohammad , Confucius, they’re buried somewhere, but Jesus is not. 3 days after His execution in a cross, Jesus exploded out of the tomb. He is alive, and everything He promised those disciples, and everything He promises you, is alive because Jesus is alive!
John 11:25-26 (ESV)
Jesus said to the woman at the well, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
THE WORLD OFFERS HOPE,BUT WORLDLY HOPE KILLS YOU
Hope is a word that we like to kind of throw around. I hope this works, I hope you feel better, I hope for a new car, I hope tomorrow will be sunny. The true essence of the word hope gets cheapened sometimes. Webster’s defines hope as: to cherish a desire with anticipation of obtainment.
To the world, hope is longing for something, it’s to anticipate something that you want with all of your heart to be fulfilled. But while you want it, it is not guaranteed, because hope to the world, is hope often dashed! Turn on the news, and all hope disappears. All we hear about is misery, COVID 19, and angry people fighting to get their own way. There’s not enough housing, not enough toilet paper and too much loss, scandal and controversy. We have to wear a mask, and the only advantage is needing to only do half your make isn’t it ladies?
The world’s version of hope is based on circumstances, on what’s happening around you, what you want, what you can get, your desires, your needs, your rights, your situation. It is based in things that do not and cannot ultimately satisfy. When the Rolling Stones sang I can’t get no satisfaction they penned an anthem for the entire world!
But God’s hope is completely different. Hebrews says,
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 solidly on God’s Word, His faithfulness, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ celebrates exactly that! It defies circumstances and norms and obeyed the Word of the Lord.
Biblical hope can be defined as this: a sure expectation based on the promises of God. Biblical hope is not like worldly hope! This hope is eternal and cannot fail us. Hebrews says:
Hebrews 6: 19
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.
Romans 15:13 (ESV)
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
The abounding or superabundant hope that God offers is not a vague wish for something nice, it’s a sure foundation to build your life 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 forever bound up in the resurrection power of Christ that we celebrate today.
OUR WHOLE FAITH IS BUILT ON AN EMPTY TOMB
1 Corinthians 15:16-20 (ESV)
For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 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.
But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
Paul wrote these words when there were people alive who were eye witnesses and could attest that Jesus rose from the grave, or not. He explains that, without the resurrection, our faith is useless, even pathetic. Without the resurrection, our belief is meaningless, we are of all people to be most pitied, it’s just another religion.
Christianity degrades to a string of stifling, draconian rules for a bunch of deluded, hoodwinked, brainwashed people if Jesus is still in that tomb.
But the word of God and all the historical evidence tells us that Jesus is alive, that He kept His promise and that He is who He claimed to be… The Son of God, the one who died to set you free from sin, and rose again to show you that death is conquered.
1 Peter 3:18 (ESV)
For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,
The Word alive is Gk ZOOPOIO, which is the term used when a seed germinates. It can lie dead in the ground but with the right conditions, new life, not the old seed life, but a new plant life explodes.
Easter is not about hot cross buns and chocolate, it’s not about eggs and bunnies, it’s not about family and holidays or midnight mass, it’s about an explosion of life and hope, and this life and hope is only found in Jesus Christ.
Revelation 1:17-18 (ESV)
Jesus said, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades
When the Bible talks about hope, it is not a maybe, it is a surety. Hope for the Christian isn’t a forlorn desire it is an absolute fact, it is something we can live for, it’s something we could even die for.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Proverbs 13:12 (ESV)
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.
If you suck enough hope out of someone, that’s what happens.. The heart gets sick. Hopelessness steals from you the belief that somehow, someway your dreams might come true! This world is expert at sucking the hope out of people. Why do you think the disciples didn’t believe that Jesus had risen, even when Mary came and told them.
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 like a hope vampire, 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?
Maybe you feel like that today? Has life made you despair and sucked your hope from you? If so, you’re in good company, with Job, David, Joshua, the disciples, Paul and many others sharing the same experience. If you feel like your hope is gone today, if you’re walking through the valley of the shadow or death, my advice is to keep walking. Don’t camp there, and don’t give the devil a foothold. Today, Easter Resurrection Sunday 2021, is the the day when eternal hope can be made alive again, because Jesus is alive!
ETERNAL HOPE IS ALIVE BECAUSE JESUS IS ALIVE!
God took the despair of Friday and exploded it into the joy of Resurrection Sunday. 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, more than ever before, this sad, despairing world needs hope, and we have it in spades with the resurrection of Jesus. 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.
The hope of eternal life, starts today. It’s not pie in the sky when you die by and by, it’s a real faith and hope that world’s in this dirty, filthy, sin soaked world. The power of God’s Holy Spirit, the power that raised Jesus from the dead, can do the same for you if you ask Jesus into your life…
Romans 8:11 (ESV)
If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
Whatever you face in life right now, whatever fear, whatever drama, whatever pain, sickness, tiredness, conflict or pressure, 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!
And today, you can know this resurrected Jesus and feel His Spirit power flowing through your life. And if you believe in Him, you can have His free gift of eternal life.
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.
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, while the unbeliever gets to spend eternity separated from Him in hell. If the world is 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 most of the world will never know. They will have existed, nothing more! Trusting Jesus is a win win.
Once many years ago I had a severe allergic reaction and died on the operating table. My heart and breathing stopped for some minutes. During this time I felt like I fell through the table into the arms of the Lord. I could see the doctors down a big tunnel trying to resuscitate me. I heard the Lord whisper a few words into my ear. He said, your time is not yet there are greater things for you to do (I believe that Ignite is what He has called me to), and then I floated back and then everyone was around me.
I had died and sensed something of eternity out there. Rob Scoates is enjoying it right now, as is my father, and Lorna and others who have been promoted to glory. I was resuscitated, not resurrected. My old life was brought back. But Jesus doesn’t resuscitate your old life, He gIves you a new one. He didn’t die and be resurrected to make bad men good, but to make dead men live!
STEVE’S GREAT ESCAPE
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 Resurrection Sunday was never about rabbits, Or chocolate eggs. Today, resurrection Sunday is about hope. Hope for life, hope for living each day restored, hope to face anything, hope that fills us, hope that is eternal, that’s real, that is alive just as Jesus is alive today!
So today I want to challenge you to live for Him, even to die for Him if necessary. No one dies for a fairy story. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is an historical event, and it became 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 Sunday of Jesus Christ is the resurrection Sunday of hope, a hope that will never fail, a hope we must live by. 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!
Philippians 3:10-11 (ESV)
that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Christ in you, the hope of glory.
If you are struggling to feel real hope today, raise your hand.