Faithlife Sermons

Easter 2020

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The Grand Purpose of the Resurrection

It would make sense to go to the Gospels on Easter Sunday. After all, they are the eye-witness accounts of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Instead we will look at the teaching on the resurrection that was given by the Apostle Paul.
We have spent the longest season of Lent ever in anticipation of Easter. And we are now here. These 40 days have been the most intense season many of us have ever been through. That fact certainly plays a part in this message today.
Some background.
Paul interpreted the meaning of the resurrection rather than tell about it.
Paul was under a “stay at home” order for much of his writing (though not this book).
His writings were the first distance education in the New Testament.
This pandemic illustrates more clearly that the earth is not getting better. It is in a downward trajectory.
Global warming, seismic activity, unusual weather disruptions, forecasts for locust swarms in E Africa, and the list goes on.
Today I want to bring a message of personal and cosmic hope.
The message is personal - Christ’s resurrection affected you…personally.
The message is cosmic - Christ’s resurrection affected this fallen, broken planet.
The message is one of hope.

Big Idea: The Resurrection is a personal and cosmic message of hope for us today.

Hope is an anticipation of something yet to come. It isn’t the same as a wish. I could hope for something wonderful for my birthday, but that is built on wishes - not hope. Hope is a certainty of something yet to come.
The hope we are talking about today has a very personal element. Because Christ raised from the dead, there is hope (certainty) that those in Christ will also rise again.
And in that same resurrection, there is hope (certainty) in the remaking of heaven and earth. All of death was destroyed in the resurrection 2000 years ago.

1. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is a Starting Point not an Ending.

We often look at Easter as the end of Lent. But it really isn’t an ending. It is the beginning.
All of God’s story found in Scripture is a narrative of God’s creation, its fall and broken condition, and its being made new through the resurrection of Christ. And the subsequent redemption of all of creation.
It is also the story of the justice of God - who comes in victory to make all things new.
Creation and Justice. Both in the resurrection. You see, its more than a story of a man who overcame death. It is the story of God overcoming all things.
anastasis (standing up).
What God did for Jesus at Easter Day he will do for all his people at the end, raising them to new bodily life to share in the life of the new world. Easter is not just a story of new life for God’s people, it is the beginning of the story of the re-creation of all of God’s creation.
Let me help you with this link between the two.
When John wrote his Gospel of Jesus Christ he began with the book of Genesis. He wanted to make the point that the whole redemption story goes back to creation. And in this new creation narrative, the same God who was present then, is at work now.
Genesis 1:1 NIV
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
John 1:1 NIV
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
john 1 1-3
John 1:3 NIV
3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
Genesis 1:3 NIV
3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
John begins with Creation and concludes with the resurrection.
We pick up the narrative in .
John 20:1 NIV
1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.
The first day of the week, like the first day of creation begins in the dark.
The story of the resurrection begins in the darkness of a nation that is shrouded in darkness. Jesus died and was brought to the tomb where he lay bound in strips of cloth, but more so, by the power of death.
There is no darkness greater than death.
But… John already told us about the power of darkness in the very first words.
John 1:4–5 NIV
4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 1:5 NIV
5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Death is a fear that gnaws at us relentlessly. We generally deal with it by ignoring it. Or by making light of it. Or by flatly denying it. But it remains.
My calling brings me near death somewhat frequently. It magnifies our emotions and our thoughts and sometimes causes us to act very differently from our normal behavior. The closer we are to death, the more we are like our true selves. I have been privileged to participate in four funerals during my short time with you. And in those I’ve seen the best of Bethel.
Death is a great revealer of character.
Maybe that’s what we are seeing in the world around us. Estimates are that there will be hundreds of thousands of deaths due to COVID-19 here in this nation. Across the globe? More hundreds of thousands. And it is bringing out the best - and the worst in us.
I see the support for those on the front lines and the stories of people bringing encouragement to one another.
But I also see the ongoing divisions in our nation that are dividing us from one another. Racism is escalating towards people of Asian descent. Politicians bicker over budgets rather than uniting over the need. Sadly, there are a small fraction of churches that are defying safe practices and are bringing dishonor to the name of Christ.
I think that we need the message of resurrection more now than ever.
Into that darkness a new light shines and is announced finally in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The intent of the created order is at last being fulfilled!
This world desperately needs a reboot. a restart. a new genesis.
On the first day of creation, God made light!
On the third day after the crucifixion, Christ arose from the tomb!
The day begins in the darkness as Mary comes to bring spices to anoint a lifeless body. But the body is not there.
She runs back to the place where some disciples were hiding (a self-quarantine out of fear for what was outside).
Peter and John ran to the tomb. John writes that he got there first but that Peter burst right into the tomb. He saw the strips of cloth in its place.
John writes this powerful self-proclamation - “He saw and believed.”
Mary goes back to the tomb and is met by two angels in white seated in the tomb. Jesus then appears and there is an emotional reunion with these two great friends.
John 20:18 NIV
18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

2. Heaven is not the End, but it is a Starting Point.

The resurrection of our human bodies waits until the creation of the new heaven and new earth. We are still present with the Lord, but not in a new resurrection body.
People are generally concerned about whether they will go to Heaven when they die. Surprisingly, the Bible doesn’t talk much about this. But it does spend some time talking about the new heaven and the new earth. People often point to the resurrection of Jesus and the promise of a resurrection again in heaven. Well, the spirit of that is real. But the finer points need some attention. God did not make us for heaven. He made heaven for us - as a temporary place until we would put on resurrected bodies and occupy a renewed heaven and earth.
Let me illustrate an example of this.
I love International travel on rare occasions when I’ve flown to other nations to teach pastors. I’ve most often landed in Schiphol airport in the Netherlands. That airport is a multinational hub of people and cultures. You can browse the stores and find the most amazing things. You can sample cuisine from virtually anywhere in the world. If you are bold enough you can have a conversation with someone from 12 time zones away from you. A few times I’ve actually had enough time to take exit the airport and take a train down a stop or two. Where I’ve gotten off an explored some of the bakeries and cheese shops, bought a sandwich, or scouted some souvenirs for family and friends.
But here’s the thing. Amsterdam, as fabulous as it is, isn’t the destination. It is an interim stop.
Heaven, as we call it, is not the final destination. It is an interim place where we are in the presence of Jesus while we await the remaking of heaven and earth and our newly resurrected bodies.
To put it another way. Heaven is amazing. And then it gets better!!
If heaven is “God’s space” and earth is “our space” it is humanity that has been given the right to rule with Christ. In my Good Friday message I spoke of Christ as being suspended between heaven and earth. In the resurrection the closing of that gap begins to grow smaller.
Listen to the words of Paul as he describes the grander purpose of the resurrection. He wants to make ALL THINGS right!!
Pause with me for a moment in silence and think about the state of the world around us.
Does everything seem right?
Are there some things that seem to be broken?
Going back to and the curses...
Is your work done without effort, fatigue, or hardship?
is your work done without effort, fatigue, or hardship?
Is childbirth pain free?
Is there warfare between genders for supremacy that wasn’t present before the fall?
Does the earth exhibit brokenness?
Do the people of the earth demonstrate brokenness?
It is because of the fall. When sin entered the world it caused - in a single word - death.
Paul talks about the foolishness of our message if Christ had not been raised...
Romans 8:18–25 NIV
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
1 Corinthians 15:20–28 The Message
20 But the truth is that Christ has been raised up, the first in a long legacy of those who are going to leave the cemeteries. 21 There is a nice symmetry in this: Death initially came by a man, and resurrection from death came by a man. 22 Everybody dies in Adam; everybody comes alive in Christ. 23 But we have to wait our turn: Christ is first, then those with him at his Coming, 24 the grand consummation when, after crushing the opposition, he hands over his kingdom to God the Father. 25 He won’t let up until the last enemy is down—26 and the very last enemy is death! 27 As the psalmist said, “He laid them low, one and all; he walked all over them.” When Scripture says that “he walked all over them,” it’s obvious that he couldn’t at the same time be walked on. 28 When everything and everyone is finally under God’s rule, the Son will step down, taking his place with everyone else, showing that God’s rule is absolutely comprehensive—a perfect ending!
1 Corinthians 15:20 The Message
20 But the truth is that Christ has been raised up, the first in a long legacy of those who are going to leave the cemeteries.
Romans 8:18–30 NIV
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. 26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
1 Corinthians 15:21–26 The Message
21 There is a nice symmetry in this: Death initially came by a man, and resurrection from death came by a man. 22 Everybody dies in Adam; everybody comes alive in Christ. 23 But we have to wait our turn: Christ is first, then those with him at his Coming, 24 the grand consummation when, after crushing the opposition, he hands over his kingdom to God the Father. 25 He won’t let up until the last enemy is down—26 and the very last enemy is death!
1 cor 15 21-
1 Corinthians 15:20–28 The Message
20 But the truth is that Christ has been raised up, the first in a long legacy of those who are going to leave the cemeteries. 21 There is a nice symmetry in this: Death initially came by a man, and resurrection from death came by a man. 22 Everybody dies in Adam; everybody comes alive in Christ. 23 But we have to wait our turn: Christ is first, then those with him at his Coming, 24 the grand consummation when, after crushing the opposition, he hands over his kingdom to God the Father. 25 He won’t let up until the last enemy is down—26 and the very last enemy is death! 27 As the psalmist said, “He laid them low, one and all; he walked all over them.” When Scripture says that “he walked all over them,” it’s obvious that he couldn’t at the same time be walked on. 28 When everything and everyone is finally under God’s rule, the Son will step down, taking his place with everyone else, showing that God’s rule is absolutely comprehensive—a perfect ending!
The resurrection was the beginning of the end. When death would ultimately be defeated, arrested, dethroned.
romans 8 26-30

Conclusion: Hope for Living in a Broken World

Romans 8:26–30 NIV
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. 28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
Jesus began the Revolution when he rose from the dead.
The remaking of the world began with the resurrection. It is the hope of the world.
The Spirit helps us now in ways that we cannot see. We only need to whisper for help.
The Father brings all things around in ways that ultimately are for our good.

The story of the Bible is the story of three gardens.

The first garden is Eden. God makes all things work fabulously. He speaks a word and it forms in place.
The final garden is the New Heaven and the New Earth - Eden reborn.
The Middle Garden is what is now called the Garden Tomb. It is empty because of Jesus, who was raised from the dead.
As I close I don’t want to waste an opportunity. I believe that there are people watching today who don’t share in this hope. You may be afraid - or you may be distracted. You might even be putting up a good face. But you are fearful of facing God one day. And you are wondering even now if it will be sooner than you think.
For some of you it isn’t fear. But you sense that there is a lack of purpose. Maybe a lack of hope. You don’t share that certainty that God still sits on the throne and will come back one day to make all things right. You wonder whether you will have a part in that.
Still others are worried that you aren’t doing enough to make God happy. You’re on a constant treadmill of good works. You really are a good person. But there is an undercurrent of doubt. How much is good enough. Because if you look under the veneer, you know there’s a lot of stuff that you don’t want revealed under the light of day.
For each one of you, there is a promise of hope found in the resurrection. Jesus paid the penalty for the sins of all. But it is applied only to those who humble themselves, admit their sins, seek forgiveness, and make a new start of following Christ.
The gift of new life is waiting for you. It is being held in the nail scarred hands of Jesus. And he’s waiting for you to receive him as savior and Lord.
Is this the time?
Receiving the gift of life begins with a heart-felt prayer. There are no magic words to say. But this short prayer captures the heart of it.
Jesus, I believe in you and your resurrection. I believe that you gave your life out of love for me. I confess to you that I have sinned and have been living on my own. I ask you to forgive me. Enter into my life as Savior. And I choose now to pursue you as my leader, my guide, my Lord. Give to me new life today and the certain hope of my own resurrection when you return to make this earth new. Amen.
Benediction
Hebrews 13:20–21 The Message
20 May God, who puts all things together, makes all things whole, Who made a lasting mark through the sacrifice of Jesus, the sacrifice of blood that sealed the eternal covenant, Who led Jesus, our Great Shepherd, up and alive from the dead, 21 Now put you together, provide you with everything you need to please him, Make us into what gives him most pleasure, by means of the sacrifice of Jesus, the Messiah. All glory to Jesus forever and always! Oh, yes, yes, yes.
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