Easter Service 2020
Good morning, everyone and I welcome you to our online version of our Easter morning service. And as I said for those that listen to the recording of the sunrise service, it's a great day. It's a day that we get to celebrate the fact that Jesus is risen, but it's a sad day as well because it's a day that we normally gather together early in the morning and we normally gather together for breakfast in for the morning service as we celebrate together. And unfortunately, we're not able to do that this morning, but at the same time we are thankful for the resurrection and we were thankful that we were able to be together in other ways not in person. And so as We Gather this morning, I wish you the Lord's blessing celebrate the fact that you even online that he is not here. He is risen as he said he would Is I thought about the Easter holiday. I was thinking about the probably the two greatest holidays in the Christian religion and I would say that those two would have to be a Christmas and Easter and it's no wonder that they are probably normally outside of this morning. They are the two most well-attended church services of any of the Sundays during the year and I believe that it's significant that even those who are not regular attenders in church recognize the importance of both of these holidays. Think about it with me just for a minute this morning, you know Christmas a great holiday Christmas is all about God becoming a human being, you know, John 3:16 Says for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life. And that love that God had four people caused him to come in the form of a human being in the person of his son. Jesus Christ Philippians 2 verses 5 through 7 talk about that as well. When the Apostle Paul says have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus who though he was in the form of God did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped but emptied himself by taking the form of a servant being born in the likeness of men. Think about that with me just for a minute, you know, God the Creator the maker of everything that is becoming like one of his creation becoming a human being I was struggling to think of an illustration that would even begin to represent that and I realized as I thought about that that any illustration that I could come up with with fall way short, but the best one that I could possibly come up with his this imagine a world leader someone with great power and great Authority in our in our world coming to live in your home as one of your children with the purpose of serving you and your family We can't even begin to imagine that it is hard as that is to imagine the idea of Jesus becoming a human being is even harder harder to imagine. It's an even greater Act of humility celebrate at Christmas time. Easter on the other hand is all about Jesus sacrificially dying on the cross for us being buried in a tomb and then Rising again Victorious over death in over the grave to give us life. And to give us life now and to give us life in eternity with him as well. Think about what Jesus said in John chapter 11 to Mary and Martha just prior to his raising Lazarus from the dead and Jesus said 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. And then he asks them the question do you believe this? Jesus also said a little later in the Book of John John chapter 14 and verse 19 because I live you will live also in all of those promises of life. If you noticed or based on the fact that Jesus would live if Jesus had died on the cross and been buried in the grave and had stayed there those promises would be null and void if if Jesus himself could not overcome death, then he could not overcome death for us. It is well, and so Easter is about life and it's about Jesus being Victorious over death and because of that being able to give us life as well. Easter is certainly the only holiday that is unique to Christianity and it is the holiday that sets us apart from all other religions all other religions in our world today. Do not worship and do not celebrate a Risen Savior and yet we as Christians to Wall Christmas and Easter are both great holidays in it a great opportunity to celebrate God and his love and his sacrifice and his salvation and we need to celebrate those holidays. They are not in indol. They are not in the end. All God is not looking for us to just celebrate these things and then get on with our lives. He's looking for us to live out the power of what we celebrate in those holidays in our lives. One of the more familiar passages that is often read on Resurrection Sunday and it and it is the same one that I read for our sunrise service. Is that of Matthew chapter 28? And in Matthew 28 beginning and verse 1 it it gives us the account of the Resurrection. It says now after the Sabbath toward the dawn of the first day of the week Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb and behold there was a great earthquake for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and roll back the stone and sat on it his appearance with like lightning and had his clothing as white as snow in for fear of him. The guards trembled and became like dead men, but the angel said to the women do not be afraid for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified he's not here for he has risen as he said come see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead and behold he is going to for you to Galilee there. You will see him. See I have told you. Play the party quickly from the tomb with fear and great. Joy and ran to tell his disciples. And behold Jesus met them and said greetings and they came up and took hold of his feet and worship him. Then Jesus said to them to not be afraid go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee and there they will see me as I was reading that first part of Matthew chapter 28. I realize that we often read those verses that I read this morning and then we stopped and we begin to talk about the resurrection and what it is and what it was and what it represents in and in what it means and we often just stop there. In Europe, the last part of Matthew 28 answers a really good question in the question is this Jesus has risen that's the announcement. But now what Jesus has risen now what what is that now mean for us and and how we live our lives? Is I thought about that this week. I thought you know, there are two responses. There are two answers that we can give to the now what of the resurrection and it's interesting to me because both of those are represented in the last part of Matthew chapter 28. The part that we often don't read. If we look at the end of Matthew chapter 28, we can see two possible responses to the resurrection. Number one. We can live in denial of it. We can live in pretending as if the resurrection never took place. The second option that we have is to live in the power of the Resurrection to let the power of the Resurrection live out in our lives and be demonstrated in the things that we say in the things that we do and the way that we live in it in the way that we acted. So what I want to do this morning in the time that we have is it is look at both of those possibilities by focusing on the last part of Matthew chapter 28 The first thing that we can do the first option that we have is to live in denial. To live as if the resurrection is not taken place. We see that in verses 11 through 15 of Matthew chapter 28. It says while they were going the old some of the Guard went into the City and told the chief priests everything that had taken place everything that we just read in the beginning of Matthew chapter 28, and when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers and they said tell people his disciples came by night and stole him away stole his body while we were still asleep. And if this comes to the governor's years we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble. So they took the money and did as they were directed and this story has been spread among the Jews to this day. In those verses that we just read there were at least three groups of people who heard or saw the message of the resurrection and chose to deny it chose to push it aside and pretend as if it didn't happen. The first group was the chief priests. Did she freeze heard the news the soldiers came and told them and of course, we also read that they went to the elders but those in Authority those elders and those Chief priest heard the message of the Resurrection. And what did they choose to do? They chose to pretend that it didn't happen. The second group or the soldiers interesting leading. The soldiers were the ones who saw and experienced the resurrection firsthand and they were likely almost certainly to be the first ones to deliver that message the first ones to share the first ones to tell it to someone else. And yet the soldiers chose to deny it they chose to live and act as if it never took place. And then the third group were the Jews who heard the report the Jews who heard the report the message of Jesus's resurrection started to to get out. It started to be spread abroad at the same time. The soldiers were going out in as they were being paid. They were they were spreading a different message Hayden and people made a decision the Jews who heard it made a decision either to accept or to deny and certainly there were many of the Jews who heard that that denied the resurrection. Is I thought about those three groups. The question that came to mind was this. Why would they do that? Why would they deny the resurrection? The simple answer is that it did not fit with what they wanted to hear. It did not fit with what they wanted to hear. They did not want for one reason or other to believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ it in choosing to accept the resurrection. All of those groups of people would have had to admit in one way or other that they were wrong. Did they were wrong? They would also in admitting the resurrection because be charged something. They would lose something it would cost them something think about it for a minute did Chief priests if they admitted that Jesus rose from the dead it would cost them power over the people. It would cost them power over the people it would cost them the reputation that they would have to admit they were wrong that they had made a mistake that Jesus was more than they said he would and they would lose standing. They would lose power in in the the eyes of the people that they ruled over. The soldiers is the soldiers admitted to the resurrection. They would lose financial gain. We would lose financial gain. They were being paid good money to say that he that his body had been stolen it would have cost them financial gain. In the Jews who heard and rejected it would have cost them as well. They had believed all of their lives and different traditions and and and and ideas that have been taught to them that that now if they admitted to the resurrection, they would have to walk away from and they would have to say we have been wrong. It also put them at Great risk as we see fast-forwarding to the book of Acts many of the Jews who accepted the resurrection ended up facing physical death in in jail in persecution. And so many of the Jews had a good reason to deny the resurrection. The reality in Jesus's day in the reality and our day is well is this if someone does not want to believe something for whatever reason and certainly for selfish reasons? No amount of evidence will ever convince them you will never convince anybody to believe what they do not want to believe they will always find a reason to doubt it. They will always find a reason to deny it. Think about the statement that these soldiers and and chief priests and others hung onto. The statement that they hung onto was this while we were asleep. The disciples came and stole the body of Jesus. It doesn't take a lot of thought to poke holes in in that statement. Number one. It is hard for me to believe that they were all that would have been I believe 16 soldiers assigned to guard the Tomb of Jesus and it's hard to believe that all 16 of them dressed in their armor would be sound asleep sitting outside on the ground at the same time. That is really hard to believe. It also would have been hard to believe that they were so sound asleep. They did that. They did not hear a group of disciples roll the stone away from the door and the body of Jesus. No Easy Task, no simple task no quiet task, and it's hard to believe that 16 well-trained. Roman soldiers would not have heard any of that. That excuse also more than implies that all 16 of them violated a strict Roman law. They said that if a soldier fell asleep while on watch he would be put to death. It is not hard to believe that one or two could have dozed off for a. Of time but all 16 of them being so sound asleep that they didn't hear anything and completely violated Roman law and put themselves in danger of being put to death. He is hard to believe. It also leads me to the question of this if they were all asleep. How did they know it was the disciples that stole the body of Jesus if they were all asleep and didn't see or hear anything. How would they know that? It's not hard to poke holes in the excuse. That was given there were many that chose to ignore those things and they chose to live in denial of the Resurrection. They chose to push that aside and pretend that it didn't happen. How do we do that today? Today two people choose to live in denial of the Resurrection. You know, there are many today who live in denial because it doesn't fit what they want to believe in. So they discredit the resurrection altogether. They come up with excuses and they come up with things that sound good and they say Well, it couldn't possibly have happened. Jesus didn't possibly raised from the dead. He's still dead today and they come up with all kinds of reasons. Because it makes them feel good and it enables them to proceed or go on with their lives as they desire not having to answer to anyone not believing that there is a higher power that they are responsible to their able to to deny the resurrection through some reasonable in their mind at least reasonable thought and then pretended the resurrection never happened. Many others however, and I daresay more likely to be the case among those that are listening to this message. Do not deny the resurrection all together. They do not deny that the resurrection according to Matthew 28 didn't happen. And yet at the same time while they may acknowledge it with their lips. They deny it by the way that they live their lives. Many today live as if the resurrection did not take place. They live in direct contrast to what we're going to look at in the last part of Matthew chapter 28. And you know to me that type of denial that is even more dangerous than the first because it's much more subtle. It's much more like the lukewarmness that Jesus talked about with the churches in. I think it was Revelation Chapter 2 when Jesus said I'd rather you be hot or I rather you be cold, but it's this lukewarmness. It's this being in the middle somewhere. That just makes me want to spew you out of my mouth. and that type of lukewarmness is admitting that yes, maybe Jesus did rise from the dead and you had absolutely denying it with the way that we live our lives. It's a one of the responses that we see in Matthew chapter 28 is to live in denial to pretend as if the resurrection never took play.
A second response that we can have to the resurrection that we also see in Matthew 28 is we can live in the power of the Resurrection we can live in the power of his resurrection accepting and living out the power of that in our lives. Notice sweater is sad at the end of Matthew chapter 28 beginning and verse 16. It says now the 11 disciples went to Galilee to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them and when they saw him they worshipped him but some doubted and Jesus came and said to them all authority in heaven and on Earth has been given to me. Go therefore and Make Disciples of all Nations baptizing them in the name of the father and the son and of the Holy Spirit teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you and behold. I Am With You Always even to the end of the age. Did you notice the elements of power that Jesus presented in those verses Jesus talk to his disciples after his resurrection and he told them that they could go forth and they they could go out in his authority. They were being sent out in his authority. They were being sent out in his power and he said go and I will be with you again. That's the idea of the power of Jesus Christ. He's sending them out in his power. He's sending them out in his authority to go and to live in to do what he had taught them. And what do you demonstrated for them in the time that they had followed and in walked with with him and wife?
Is I thought about that power. I was thinking about what Jesus told Peter if you remember Jesus told Peter that the gates of hell would not Prevail against the church. The gates of hell would not Prevail against the church. Jesus was certainly not promising that about a building. He was not promising that about a church building. He was promising that about his Universal Church of which all believers are a part of of which all followers of Jesus Christ or a part of And he was saying as we go forth as we carry out the instructions that God has given us as we live out our Christian faith. The Gates of Hell will not Prevail against the church. They will not Prevail against God and against what God is doing in the power of God in our lives.
Jesus was telling his disciples in response to his resurrection to go forth in power to go forth in his authority to be obedient to allow him ultimately to to live through them. How are they to do that? How were they to do that? How are they to go forth in that power? As I was reading Matthew chapter 28, I noticed two specific things that they did. First of all attacks in those verses that they worshipped they worshipped. Far to Austin today we get the idea that worship is about a warm and fuzzy feeling I come and I sing or I listen to something and it makes me feel warm and fuzzy and therefore I must have worshipped. And yes, we look at the Bible. We see a couple of different things involved in worship. Number one is a recognition of the greatness of God. If we are worshipping God we are in some way recognizing his greatness. When it says in Matthew 28 that the disciples worshipped. How did they see God's greatness. They were looking at the body of Jesus. They were looking at the live person of Jesus. They they greatly recognize the power of God as they looked at. This one that was dead. And it was now alive they saw and they recognized of the power of God in it in the person of Jesus.
There's a recognition of God's greatness that's important to worship. But there's also a surrender to that greatness, which is an important part of worship as well. They they recognize the greatness in the power of God and they surrendered to that greatness a passage of scripture that is often referred to when it when we think about worship is that if Isaiah chapter 6 and it's interesting to me is you look at Isaiah chapter 6, you will see those exact two elements of worship and Isaiah 6, Isaiah is said to have seen the Lord high and lifted up. He saw the greatness in the the the majesty and up the power of God. But then as you continue on and Isaiah 6, he also surrendered himself to that greatness. Later on and Isaiah 6 he says to God here. Am I send me I recognize your greatness. He also recognized his sinfulness, but he surrendered to the greatness of God and he said God I recognize your greatness. I recognize what you want and I am willing to go and to serve you in whatever way that that you see fit. And I thought you know was Christians when you and I recognize the greatness of God in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We begin to realize that there is nothing that can stop God's working in our lives and then we go forth with great power and great Authority we go forth unafraid because we know that the power of God is working in the same power that Rose Jesus from the dead.
In 1st Corinthians chapter 15 Paul spends a lot of time defending the resurrection of Jesus Christ in talking about the importance of that resurrection and after emphasizing the importance of the Resurrection for the end of 1st Corinthians 15 and verse 58 e says this therefore my beloved brothers be steadfast unmovable always abounding in the work of the Lord knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. It's interesting to me. Once again that Paul recognize the greatness of God. He recognized the power in the resurrection and then said based on that. I will be steadfast. I will be immovable. I will always be a bounding in the work of the Lord. What are the first steps to going forth and power is to worship is to recognize the power of God and in to recognize that in our lives? We worship and we recognize God's power just as the disciples did after the resurrection. The second step of that is they actually did something about it, they worshiped and they went out they worshiped and they went out Jesus told his disciples as they were worshipping as they were recognizing his greatness. He says now go and make disciples go and make disciples. You know, what's interesting to me and I'm a step on some Toes by saying this but but Jesus Jesus is command was not to go and organize Evangelistic campaign. I have no problem with Evangelistic campaigns. But Jesus is command was not to go set up campaigns. But Jesus is command was literally as you are going make disciples as you were going out in power as you are living the Christian Life as you are sleeping out your face make disciples as you do that. And I thought you know today the greatest method of winning people to Christ is not simply inviting them for others to share Christ with them. The greatest opportunity in the greatest message you have for winning people to Christ is you and I living out our faith. And giving those around us a reason for the hope that is in US. And you cannot go out into the world and live out your face without people asking why? And every time they ask why is an opportunity to step out on the power in the promises of God and act in faith and share the message of Hope with them. And I thought you know rather than fearing the world and those in it. We need to live out the power of the Resurrection in our lives. We need to live out that power in our lives. We need to allow God. We need to allow Jesus through the power in Ministry of the Holy Spirit to to live in us and there's an element of of power. There's an element of authority in there. Celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a great thing the great opportunity we have this morning to celebrate the fact that we serve a living savior. We serve a savior that not even death in the grave could stop and it's a great opportunity to celebrate and to recognize that and to praise God for that. But that is not nearly as great as living out the power of the Resurrection in our lives. And if we close this morning I challenges for us to do these three things. Number one recognized number one recognized the greatness in the power of God today. Don't just look at the resurrection and accepted as a historical fact look at the resurrection as a demonstration a reminder of the great power of God. And it should begin again to recognize that power of God surrender yourself to that power surrender yourself to that power not just as something I did but something that God can do in that God will work out and you as well. And then the last part of that is live out the Christian Life live out your Christian Life in faith and in power let that power live through you. And of course that all begins by putting our faith in Christ, it all begins by knowing him personally in our lives and calling out and receiving him as your lord and is your savior and if you've never done that that's where all of this starts beyond that. It's an act of surrender. It's an act of giving ourselves as a Living Sacrifice. That is Holy and acceptable and are reasonable service to him. Let's take a moment and valve for a word of Prayer. Our heavenly father. We thank you this morning that we can come and celebrate the resurrection. I thank you that Jesus willingly came and willingly lay down his life and and died pay the penalty for our sin. Oh Lord. I Thank you that the death of Jesus was not the end. I thank you at the dawn of the first day of the week those that went to the tomb heard an announcement that they were not expecting. He is not here for He Is Risen Lord? I thank you. That is they heard that announcement in as soon began to celebrate that I thank you that we can celebrate that today Lord. I pray that our celebration today is not the end of the Easter in our lives. Lord I pray that we would recognize your power then we would recognize your greatness and Lord didn't that greatness that we would surrender ourselves to you and allow you to live out that our in our lives in the world that we live in glorify yourself in. Sweet. Thank you in Jesus name.