Sermon for Easter Sunday, 04-04-2021

Psalm 118:2; 14-24; Isaiah 25:6-9; Acts 10:34-43; John 20:1-18

“Let Israel say: ‘His love endures forever.” The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous; ‘The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things! The Lord’s right hand is lifted high’; the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!’ I will not die but live, and I will proclaim what the Lord has done. The Lord has chastened me severely, but he has not given me over to death. Open for me the gates of righteousness; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord through which the righteousness may enter. I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation. The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone.

Our lesson from Psalm 118 reveals that God’s goodness and love are closely tied. His love for us is not tied to the good times and also in the hard times of our lives. Even when we move away from Him, remains waiting for us to return to Him. Taking refuge in God is the opposite of trusting in human beings. God reveals His presence in the tough situations of life as well as in the solemn quietness of worship. Such experiences reveal God’s personal love for the individual and His power to over come evil. They lead God’s people

Death and life are clearly opposites. Only those who live have the opportunity to relate to God. We live only because God chooses for us to live rather than punishing us fully for our sins so the die. The reference to “capstone” was intended to refer to the “rejected stone” that became the chief building block. It refers to Jesus’ rejection and the Christians belief that He was significance as a direct reference to Jesus. He was not received as the Messiah by most of the Jews, though later that began to change. Nevertheless, He is our “capstone” as Christians, and always will be.

“On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine—-the best of meats and the finest of wines. On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The Lord has spoken. In hat day they will say, ‘Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.’”

In our lesson from Isaiah, we find victory over death is not a fanciful wish projected into reality by the human mind. Nor is it an achievement of human scientists curing multitudes of diseases. Victory over death comes only through the active intervention of God’s love and grace. Jesus and in the proclamation of the gospel. Why you say? Because God’s victory removes the disgrace, grief, and finality of death.

This promise at God’s feast given on God’s mountain was that death will be overcome. Paul exulted that this promise was realized through God’s Christ, who has overcome death. John’s acknowledged a time when, through Jesus Christ, God will wipe away all human tears. Christians need to celebrate these gifts expressed so well in the language of promise and fulfillment and anchored in our Savior Jesus Christ. God’s destructive judgment on evil leads His people to recognize He is our Savior and to trust Him. Our natural reaction is to acknowledge Him as Lord and rejoice in His salvation, right?

Here we come to John’s lesson and I will show it to you in fullness of the words. “’Early on the first day of he week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!’ So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus head. The cloth was folded up by itself separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. H saw and believed. (They still not understand from Scripture that Jess had to rise from the dead.). Then the disciples went back to their homes. Then the disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into he tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been , one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying?’ They have taken my Lord away,’she said,’ and I don’t know where they have put him.’ At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that is was Jesus. ‘Woman,’ he said,, ‘Why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?’ Thinking, he was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni! (which means Teacher). Jesus said, ‘Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ 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. On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ After he said this,, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.”

Christ’s resurrection surprised His disciples; despite thinking they had understood Jesus’ teachings, they understood Christ’s resurrection only after experiencing the resurrected Christ. God wants all persons to believe in His Son. Doubting Thomas always seems to get a bad reputation, because he was not there when Jesus showed up and could not believe because he had not seen Jesus’ hands and side physically. In reality, it’s not necessary in order to believe, because none of us has ever physically see the wounds either; yet we believe. Our belief comes from the testimony of the gospel writer, whom to me is absolutely convincing of what he saw.

Mary Magdalene met the resurrected Christ but was not allowed to recognize Him, as Jesus did not want her to hold on to Him. However, she needed to tell the others and o be ready to live with the Spirit, who would come, rather than Jesus, who was to go to the Father. Mary was instructed to go tell the others of her meeting Him and what He had told her to tell them, and she did.

I mentioned that Jesus appeared to the disciples who were in a locked room for fear of the Jews, doing to them what they had done to Jesus. Yet, he appeared to them, so He had the ability in His resurrection body to not only be seen, but also recognizable to them. They were even able to see His wounds, so this tells us about believer’s resurrection bodies.

So if I were to tell you that the Gospel messages are true, what would that mean to you? If you were on the fence on this, would you finally come to Christ as a believer? If not, why not? Beloved, I’m not here to tell you I have seen Jesus face to face, but I will tell you that the evidence is overwhelmingly true. The world we live in today says it’s all a sham; good story, but not real. I’m here to tell you that the Inspired Word of God is true and that when you hear stories of churches losing their congregations, the reason is they have been put on really a show, a high-tech show that is filled with great music (I love Christian music), but the preaching is bereft of true sermons based on biblical truth. Some will give a message, but it’s not based on Scripture, it’s based upon a “feel good” message, that will not prepare you for the hard times that come to us all. It what you are getting is straight off of the Headlines in the newspaper, you might ought to get up and walk out, or better run out, because it is not preparation for entry into the kingdom of Heaven. If your church is not the answer, find another one and keep going until you find one that truly feeds you for kingdom work. I pray that you will share this message with others, not for my gratification, but because God wants them to understand what Christianity is really about. Remember, He is Arisen, He is Arisen, indeed! Amen

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