Have you ever changed your mind? I did as I was preparing for today’s sermon. I have gone back and forth on what texts to use for this morning.
Everything after Genesis 3 - where sin enters the world - everything leads up to what we celebrate today. Sin is defeated on the cross. Death is defeated in the Resurrection. You and I can proclaim with the angels, the seraphim and cherubim, and all the saints who have gone before
HE IS RISEN!
HE IS RISEN!
And throughout all of creation the echo comes back, “HE IS RISEN, INDEED!”
Praise God! Hallelujah! AMEN!
I’m so glad that Jesus did not change His mind!
This past week, we’ve been living in the “Whereas...” I challenged you last Sunday to be thinking about not rushing to the resurrection. I said,
You can’t get to the resurrection without Jesus’ death.
You can’t get to his death without the cross.
You can’t get to the cross without his trial.
You can’t get to his trial without his arrest.
You can’t get to his arrest without the betrayal.
You can’t get to the betrayal without the expectation.
You can’t get to the expectation without the need.
The need for a savior began way back in Genesis 3 as sin entered the world. Well, it all led up to this.
HE IS RISEN!
HE IS RISEN, INDEED!
Let’s listen to today’s Scriptures:
So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. And we are witnesses of all that he did both in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him on the third day and made him to appear, not to all the people but to us who had been chosen by God as witnesses, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
And from 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 we read:
Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
And finally, our Gospel reading for today:
Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes. But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.
This is the word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!
I wonder what the disciples thought as Mary came and told them she’d seen the Lord. Do you think they were excited? Do think they doubted?
In John’s Gospel, this all took place in the morning.
Then we get to verse 19, and we read:
On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.
Everything Has Changed
Everything Has Changed
Now, everything has changed. The disciples were living in the Whereas…, as we’ve been doing this week.
Whereas sin had entered the world...
Whereas sin had separated us from the holiness of God...
Whereas all had sinned and fallen short of the glory of God...
Whereas the penalty for sin is death...
We could go on from God’s perspective.
Whereas God is the only One worthy of glory...
Whereas God will not be overcome by evil...
Whereas God loved...
But now, NOW, everything has changed. Now, we live in the “Therefore...”
God’s therefore is stronger than any of our “Whereas’s”. LOL
If we believe in God who raised Jesus up from the dead, and delivered him up for our sins for our justification, then we can hold these things to be true. I’m just going to let the Scriptures preach this morning:
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him,
I could go on sharing with you verse upon verse of what the Bible says about Jesus’ resurrection and how it changed us. Suffice it to say, it is about new life.
If you have professed a faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, by the testimony of the Scriptures from beginning to end, You are no longer living in the Whereas… you are living in the Threrefore...
Some of you listening today, may not be sure if you have professed a faith in Jesus, or perhaps you know that you haven’t. I would encourage you to ponder the implications. The Bible is clear.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
It’s as simple as A, B, C.
A - Admit that you’ve sinned. That you have not been living your life in accordance with God’s will.
B - Believe. Believe that God loves you, and Jesus came to earth and paid the price for your sins that you might have eternal life.
One last thing...
C - Commit to following Jesus and seeking to live as He leads.
We’re going to pray a simple prayer and if you’d like to make a new commitment to following Christ I invite you to pray along with me, and say these words in your heart.
Lord Jesus, I know I’ve sinned. (Go ahead and say it). I have not been living my life the way you would want me to live.
I believe that God loves me, and that you were sent to earth to pay the price of my sin. Thank you for doing that. Thank you for the gift of eternal life in you.
I commit to following You and seeking to live as You lead me.
If you prayed that prayer, especially if you prayed it for the first time, I want to invite you to tell someone. Tell a trusted friend or family member. I also want to help you, and have an opportunity to pray with you. So I invite you to join me after the service right here under the portico (masks on). We’ll have a prayer.
If you for whatever reason want to take a little more time, that’s okay. But please let us know. The church phone number is on your bulletin, and you can always email us.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
To God be the glory!
HE IS RISEN! HE IS RISEN INDEED!
Father God, your love is overwhelming. Not only does it overwhelm us, but it truly overwhelmed evil and the power of sin. For you SO loved the world, that you sent your only Son Jesus, that if we simply believe in Him, - follow Him, trust in Him, - that we might have eternal life with You. Thank you so much for the life he gave. For his death on the Cross opened the way for us to you once again. Jesus paid it all. More than that, by raising Him from the dead we too can assured a resurrection like His. We look forward to the day when we will see you in glory. AMEN.