Easter Sunday 2016 – Late Service
1 Corinthians 15:1-11 – Guilt is Gone!
What burdens you? What load of guilt is hanging around your neck weighing you down? What shameful deed are you hiding deep down inside of you hoping that no one else will ever find out about? Guilt has a way of eating us up from the inside out. David after sinning with Bathsheba and refusing to repent later described what he was feeling as his bones wasting away, groaning all day long, strength sapped from his body. Peter who denied Jesus wept bitterly. Paul who persecuted believers viewed himself as the worst of sinners, least of all the apostles, abnormally born. What sin is still hanging around your neck?
It’s funny how after committing a sin we try to pay for that sin by being all torn up inside, as if I beat myself up enough God will have pity on me- it doesn’t work that way. God wants us to be honest lay our sins – even our most shameful ones – lay them all out before Him. And why? Because we know what He does with those sins. “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.” He paid the price of our sins by dying on the cross.
But how do we know it was good enough? How do we know that they really were paid? How do we know that our sins really are forgiven? Jesus rose from the dead! Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is God’s way of saying that Good Friday worked! It proves that the bill is paid, the debt canceled, the sentence served. If you committed a crime, were sentenced to a certain amount of jail time, served your sentence and are released. You don’t constantly worry that you still have to serve time, it’s already been served! In God’s courtroom, Jesus served our sentence by dying on the cross, on Easter Sunday morning He was released – sentence has been served once for all! His resurrection proves it!
Leave your sins at the cross of Jesus- He paid them there so you would never have to! Watch Jesus rise from the dead to prove that your eternal death sentence has been served by your substitute you’re free! Jesus lives! It’s certain! Amen.
1 Corinthians 15:16-26 – Death is Defeated!
The inescapable reality that every single human faces is death. You can’t escape it. People know it. This is very troubling for someone who rejects God. Because if death is the end, as many people who don’t believe in Jesus think, that makes life utterly and totally meaningless. If all of life is an accident and there were billions of years before the earth existed and billions of years after the earth burns up, what is the purpose of life? Why should you care about justice? Why should you care about poor people or sick people? There is no reason. If death is the end, then there is literally no purpose to life. But that bothers people. Deep down every person who has ever lived has asked, “What’s the purpose in life? Why am I here?” And it bothers them. Interestingly, my pet cat is one day going to die, cease to exist, enter into nothingness, but he’s not bothered by that, he’s not concerned in the least. Why does it bother humans then? It’s because we were created for so much more.
And Jesus’ bodily resurrection from the dead proves it. If Jesus had not been raised from the dead our faith would be futile we would still be in our sin. But He HAS indeed been raised from the dead. He is the firstfruit of those who will be raised from the dead. In the OT when you would offer firstfruits of crop to God, you’d take your first red ripe tomatoes at the harvest time and those you’d offer to God, but in doing so, it was a guarantee so to speak of more to come. So Jesus being raised from the dead is a guarantee of us being raised from the dead. So, in other words, because Jesus was raised from the dead our death is not the end. Jesus went into death and he came out alive on the other side.
If two people went into battle and they were going to fight to the death, but they were going to fight all alone with no one watching, how would you know who won the battle? You’d know by the one who returned alive. How do we know death is defeated? Jesus came back ALIVE!
You know what that means? That means your life has incredible meaning, eternal meaning. You’re here to know more and more about this incredible Savior through His Word and you’re here to share and make known to others the only answer to life and the only answer to death: Jesus Christ risen from the dead! And one day, when death comes fast approaching for you, you know that since Jesus rose from the dead, defeated death itself, you too will come through death looking into the eyes of your Savior in paradise! Amen.
1 Corinthians 15:55-58 – Victory is Won!
Imagine the disciples that Saturday before Easter Sunday. Imagine how they must have felt. Down and defeated. Had they just totally wasted the last 3 years of their lives? They hoped that Jesus was going to be their Savior, but now He’s dead. Can you imagine anything worse than having a dead Savior?
After the reformation Martin Luther was once very down and sad for some reason, maybe it was all the work that he had to do and the little amount of time. Maybe it was all of his opponents that incessantly battled against him. Maybe it was the temptations of the devil. He was going around sad and you know what his wife did? She was an incredible lady, she dressed in all black. And Luther asked her, “Why are you wearing all black? Are you going to a funeral? To which she responded, “No. But since you act like God is dead I wanted to join you in the mourning.” He got the message and soon recovered.
But do we do that? Do we go around in life- we’ve got this problem, that problem, this difficulty, this health issue, this financial trouble, this bad relationship, this problem at work, and we’re down, sad, defeated. We act like Jesus is dead.
But the resurrection changes everything!! Jesus rose from the dead – that means the victory is ours! The wording here is really neat, “He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” “He gives” is in the present tense, you could translate that, “He keeps on giving us the victory.” Did the disciples need to feel defeated that Saturday? No way! Easter Sunday clarified matters for them: Jesus isn’t dead, He’s alive! Think about your life. He keeps on giving you the victory. Will there ever be a day in your life when Jesus is less risen from the dead? That’s ridiculous, of course not! That means every day you have the victory, every day your sins are forgiven, every day you’re an heir of eternal life, every day you have a living Savior with all the power as God who demonstrated it by rising from the dead with you.
Whether you’re having a good day or a bad day, whether life is going great or is difficult, whether you’re sick or healthy, Jesus is still alive, the victory is won and the victory is yours! Amen.