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Easter

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Dead, Made Alive

“He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.”
ESV
Not every prophecy about death has yet been fulfilled by Jesus.
He has swallowed up death, but hasn’t wiped away...
God’s story that we are in isn’t finished yet. Neither is yours. My story includes...
Some of your stories include great victory as well as tragedy.
There was a church planted on the coast of western Turkey in the 1st century AD. The guy who planted the church would send other traveling ministers/missionaries through that area and check on their progress. He really loved the people there and considered them brothers and sisters in Christ. As he received updates as to their progress, he decided to sit down and write a letter to be read to the group of believers there. It would be sent to a church leader who would read it aloud to everyone at their next meeting. Here’s part of what it said:
Ephesians 2:1–10 ESV
1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Although we dont know who the church leader who read the letter, we know the church and the author of the letter.
This is just an excerpt from the letter. Can you imagine being the one to whom the letter was delivered? Would you have pre-read it? Would you have been excited to get down to the meeting place so you could read it to the church? It was, after all from someone you loved and admired greatly. Who poured their life into yours. Who was that person for you? Would you have let the excitement show in your voice as you read it? YES!
Although we dont know who the church leader who read the letter, we know the church and the author of the letter. That excerpt is from Ephesians chapter 2. Paul wrote it while in prison in Rome. He had spent a couple years with the folks to which he is writing. He has such confidence in his audience. “Made us alive. Raised us up.” “We are His workmanship”. Id’s himself with them. He knows for himself. Remembers Damascus road.
Well, the point of this text, and the point of Easter: I was dead, so Jesus had to die.
Outside of Christ, we are dead, enslaved, condemned. Because we are sinful. With original sin. Mankind broke fellowship with God when choosing sin in the garden. The first Adam. But the Second Adam came along and put it back together!
The first three verses paint a pretty bleak picture: dead in sin, following the ruler of the sons of disobedience, living in the passions of our flesh, CHILDREN OF WRATH (not angry, but deserving the wrath of God).
I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore. Very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more. BUT THE MASTER OF THE SEA...
And who is the Master of the sea? None other than God Himself! BUT GOD!
Make alive together in Christ. That is not an off the cuff statement. It took a lot to be made alive together in Christ! It took the willingness of the Son to be obedient to the Father. It took the pain of rejection, God snubbing His own Son(removing His love and pouring wrath). It took the Creator of the universe surrendering to the grave. So we could be made alive together in Christ!
In order for all this to happen, Jesus had to go through the cross. He had to go through the tomb. For God to mend this broken world, Jesus’ life had to break. His heart had to tear apart so our hearts would heal Just as the Passover lamb died, so He died instead of me. His blood washing away my sin, making me clean on the inside - in my heart.
But let’s be sure we’re clear on why Jesus had to go through all that: This was in no way intended to be a bandaid on humanity. Whereas we may try to legislate or medicate or even educate mankind into better behavior, Jesus went through the cross to bring dead people to life.
We have looked in recent weeks at people around Jesus who were expecting a different kind of kingdom than what He was offering. Today there seems to be alot of people who are looking for a different kind of experience than what Jesus is offering. They want the hurt to go away or their body to be healed or their life to last longer.
And the truth is, He did go THROUGH the grave. Humanity’s best efforts to keep Him in there were made: Stone in front of the tomb, Sealing of said stone, Placing of the guards. That’s a lot of protection against a dead man!
And Jesus is saying: “That’s not the kingdom I’m preparing you for!!! Sin is causing that world to fall apart, your physical body with it. I’m preparing eternity for you to LIVE. Focus less on your well being there and more on getting people ready for here.” Hezekiah asked for more years. He got 15. They were not what he had hoped.
Well, the truth is, Jesus did go THROUGH the grave. Humanity’s best efforts to keep Him in there were made: Stone in front of the tomb, Sealing of said stone, Placing of the guards. That’s a lot of protection against a dead man!
There is another great truth about our BUT GOD statement. Because of His willingness to provide redemption for mankind, because Jesus came up from the grave, one day so will I! If the Lord tarries and I experience the grave, one day He will call this old body up from that grave.
Illustrations for Biblical Preaching Resurrection, Believers’

John G. Paton, a nineteenth-century missionary to the South Seas, met opposition to leaving his home in Scotland and going to preach to the cannibalistic peoples of the New Hebrides Islands. A well-meaning church member moaned to him, “The cannibals, the cannibals! You will be eaten by the cannibals!”

Without hesitation, Paton replied, “I confess to you that if I can live and die serving my Lord Jesus Christ, it makes no difference to me whether I am eaten by cannibals or by worms; for in that Great Day of Resurrection, my body will rise as fair as yours in the likeness of our risen Redeemer!”

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