Sermon: New Life (Easter)

Alleluia, Christ is Risen. He is risen Indeed, Alleluia!

This is what it is all about. Resurrection of Jesus means new life for you. We forget this and need to be reminded over and over again about this new life reality we have.

Here’s a reminder for you. Call it a sermon if you want, it’s really just God flying through your ears to your soul to bring you this new life.

As a Christian we acknowledge an extra dimension to life. Not realizing and believing this gives a much smaller reality to those without faith. From the Christian’s point of view one tragically notable thing about the unbeliever’s world is how much smaller it is. Those without Jesus are imprisoned in a decaying universe. For those who do not realize the fullness of reality, the physical world is all there is. The real world for them is limited to things that we have made, things that are dying and decomposing. It’s a sad existence when you look at a family mourning the loss of a loved one without the hope of the resurrection. The tragically small size of their existence is on full display in that moment. Only not really. For those who deny God’s love through Christ death and resurrection a hopeless mourning is a symptom of eternity in hell. They need the message of salvation through faith in Christ life, death, and resurrection!

We have so much to be thankful for. So much beyond our things and our physical beings. We have a whole new reality, now. Our new life is now and it is forever. Reality in Christ is like this: Imagine you took a child to the theater to see some tragedy, say like Hamlet, at the end of Hamlet the stage is littered with corpses. Everyone dies in the end *sorry I meant to say spoiler alert* after the play your child for some reason misses the final bows of the cast. Suppose your child believed everyone to be dead. And suppose you had difficulty comforting the child afterward because he was so shook up by the deaths he just witnessed. You explain, “But the man who played Hamlet is not really dead, He is an actor. He lives a life outside the theater. He has a wife and family and, far from being dead, he is probably now at home with them enjoying a late supper.”

The child cannot see beyond the stage and often in our delusion of sinful living we cannot see beyond our vision, and knowledge of the present physical world to the reality of eternity that God has created, redeemed, and sanctified us for. Thanks be to God he sends the Holy Spirit to create in us faith, to nurture and sustain this faith. Our lazy sinful nature and our foe the devil wants us to forget about the rest and settle for the mess.

Friends in Christ Easter is all about our new life in Christ it is all about realizing there is more than the mess. We all have messes. Some look it more than others. Some wear their messes better than others. Fortunately my wife doesn’t let me leave the house looking like the mess I’d be left to myself. More than just our wardrobe, our lives are messy. The mess of sin, the mess of pain, the mess of sickness, the mess of abandonment.. The mess of cancers, death and destructions. The mess of saying goodbye in the death of a loved one. The messes of 148 Christians being martyred for their faith. The messes of offenses that leave walls so high we cannot love across them. Messes come in all shapes and sizes and the biggest most dangerously tragic messes are the ones no one perceives to be a mess. The happy carefree life that doesn’t realize the mess of hell is waiting them because they are cut off from Christ or (of import for us here today) are abusing or minimizing the grace of Christ.

Here’s a mess for you. At least something to think about. We would all agree the biggest mess in the world would be one where satan was delighting and full of joy. Right? Here’s what Toledo might look like if Satan took over: all of the bars would be closed, pornography banished, and pristine streets would be filled with tidy pedestrians who smiled at each other. There would be no swearing. The children would say, “Yes, sir” and “No, ma’am,” and the churches would be full every Sunday . . . churches where Jesus work is not proclaimed. (Adapted from Pastor Donald Grey Barnhouse)

The biggest mess you could live in is a life without Christ. Not just a hold my hand Jesus while I struggle through, but a Christ is the all you need Jesus. This is what Easter is all about. The empty tomb is a perfect picture of what we have to offer. Nothing. But in Jesus we see ourselves because as we are His. He gives us His new life. It’s yours today. That’s the message satan doesn’t want you to hear. The devil would love for you to get a little bit of Jesus today and then have you go on your way thinking you got it taken care of for now.

We need Easter everyday. We need new life everyday. More accurately, we need Good Friday and Easter every day. Because Our lives are more like Good Friday than Easter Sunday. As we journey through the trials and tribulations and tensions of this world, we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. For the disciples and the women the mock trial that convicted our Lord had taken place, the tribulation of the cross shook them to their very core and the tension of the uncertainty of the tomb was their reality. But their reality was unreal.

The real deal was waiting for them in the empty tomb. The women journeying to the tomb knew they had a decaying body to anoint. They knew they had an insurmountable obstacle in the form of a stone blocking their way to this task. Their early morning trek was sullen and somber. The Eloi Eloi, Lema Sebectanni, (My God, My God, Why have you Forsaken ME!?) cry from Jesus echoed in their lives and their reality was stained with abandoned pain.

When they arrived at the tomb. Abandonment awaited them. They approach looking up and seeing that the large stone had been rolled away. As they enter the open tomb they see a man dressed in white sitting on the right and the women are alarmed. Their somber task has turned into a time of frightened confusion for them. Alarmed, they flee, trembling with astonishment that had seized them. they are afraid to the point of silence.

They flee the scene but not before the white robed messenger can pass on the good news that this day is all about. “Do not be alarmed.” He says. “You seek Jesus of Nazareth,” he knows their purpose. “Who was crucified” he knows the events of the past couple days. “He has risen. He is not here.” This messenger knows the news that means life for these ladies. New life for you is in this proclamation. The savior of the world is not found in the place of death. He is risen. The messenger knows the ladies came to see, and would serve as eyewitnesses of this Easter joy so he says, “see the place where they laid him. But go tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you into galilee. There you will see him just as he has told you.”

Our epistle lesson tells us that Jesus appeared to Peter (Cephas), the other disciples, to more than 500 at one point, to James and the test of the apostles, and then to Paul himself. Resurrected Jesus made his rounds. He was demonstrating the unreal reality that means everything for everyone. Easter is where new life breaks forth. Easter’s new life is an overwhelming reality that is given to you and means everything for you.

We live in a world with many distractions that seek to be our everything. We try to do it all. We try to have it all and in the midst of it we forget it all. The reality is that we are given it all in Christ’s work for us on the cross. We need to hear this message of completion over and over again because until we are with Christ in eternity, we are continually forgetting what is done and trying to do it all on our own. We forget all Christ has done is given and credited to us.

It’s as if you went to lunch with a friend. Had a great meal. Said, just a moment, I need to go to the bathroom. You come back only to find your friend has paid the check and tells you, it’s on me. It’s on Jesus. He has paid it all. You can’t chase down the server of eternal life and say, please let me give you more for the meal. You can’t chase down the manager of the restaurant of life and say, please don’t accept my friend’s payment, I want to pay.

We don’t have to live our life trying to be like Jesus, we need to live our life hearing the powerful effective word: “you are like Jesus!” It’s not be like Jesus. It’s you are like Jesus. Easter isn’t about changing life it’s about receiving the new life God gives. And this is where the new life is found. Not in you but from Him to you. It’s a gift. Not of yourself so get over yourself. Forget your sins because in Christ they are forgiven. Forget your doubts because the Holy Spirit strengthens you to lay hold of the promises of God. Forget your brokenness because in Christ you are repaired. Forget your inability to be perfect because Christ gives you his perfection. Forget your filth because in Christ you have righteousness. Forget how ugly your life is because in Christ you have beauty beyond compare. Forget the feeling of abandonment because you belong to Christ. You have been bought with the hugest of prices. You are a prized possession of the Heavenly Father.

This is something worth celebrating. And celebrate we will. But this life is not short and sweet but everlasting and awesome and when we pass from this veil of tears we have the feast on the mountain waiting us. It’s a feast with the best of foods, the best drinks, the defeat of death, the end of tears, the end of reproaches. That’s what we are waiting for and when we hear what Christ has done for us, guess what, we have this new life already.

It’s easy to forget when the change and decay all around us is all we can see, but we receive all we need when hearing Christ’s work for us we remember, we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, the authorities, the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. There is so much we cannot see so we need to hear. Christ has whooped Satan’s butt in His death and resurrection. You better not forget it because that victory is all you need. It means new life for you.

Jesus died for you. Jesus rose and lives forever, just like you because you are His, He is yours.

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