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Rejoice, He Lives!
The tomb of Jesus tells an amazing story.
The story had to do with what was not in His tomb.
The tomb is empty!
Jesus was not in that tomb!
That is the most amazing fact of history!
The bones of the Buddha are on display.
The tomb of any religious leader you can mention contain their dead bodies.
The tomb of Jesus is empty because He is not there.
He has risen - just as He said.
Jesus lived and taught and loved, and yet was crucified.
Crucifixion was the most horrible death ever devised.
Before Jesus hung on the cross, He was beaten, and the flesh was ripped from His back with whips.
Bludgeoned and bleeding, He hung on the cross in agony and excruciating pain.
Through all that torment, He thought of His mother, His disciples -- and He even thought of you and me.
Then the end came, and with an agonizing scream, He gave up His spirit and died.
Later that day, caring followers took His broken and bleeding body, and placed His body in a borrowed tomb.
And when Sunday morning came, the women arrived to find an empty tomb.
The stone was rolled away.
The stone was rolled away to let the disciples and the world see that the tomb was empty.
What God does is eternal!
- They saw what God had done.
- This was a most wonderful surprise for the disciples.
- They had thought, as did everyone, that Jesus was dead and that was that.
- They saw an empty tomb, and it changed their lives forever!
Many theories about life and death existed in those days.
The resurrection of Jesus said once and forever that life is eternal.
- Some believed that when a person died that was it.
- Others believed in a shadowy underworld where spirits drifted about.
- Some believed that the dead came back as an animal or as another person.
Jesus entered into our world and opened eternity for us.
He came to the world and made heaven possible for all who will trust in Him.
Jesus said to His disciples: "Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me.
Because I live, you also will live." (John 14:19)
This is the amazing message of Easter.
We can live eternally.
God has a plan for our lives.
We must follow Him.
He will give us an abundant life now, and we will live with Him in our heavenly home forever.
When Winston Churchill planned his funeral to take place in Saint Paul's Cathedral, he requested
to have the great hymns of the church for the service.
One of his requests was very untraditional.
He asked that a bugler be positioned high in the dome of Saint Paul's, and after the benediction, "Taps"
was to be played.
This indicates that day is over.
But then, he requested a dramatic twist.
As soon as "Taps" was finished, another bugler, on the other side of the great dome, would play,
All assembled would hear:
"It's time to get up.
It's time to get up.
It's time to get up in the morning."
At the death of a Christian, the last note will not be, "Taps,"
it will be "Reveille."
God will say,
"Come, it's time to get up.
It's time to get up.
It' time to get up in the morning."
"Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed - in a flash,
in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.
For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed."
(1 Corinthians 15:51-53)
What greater news could we ever hear?
Nothing could ever be more important to us!
We are so saturated with this world, and with all of its good things, that we rarely think of eternity.
Jesus wanted us to see how important it was to be ready for death,
because death ushers us into eternity -- either to heaven or hell.
It is absolutely essential to be ready that Jesus said, "If your hand or your foot causes you to sin
cut it off and throw it away.
It is better for you to enter [eternal] life maimed or crippled than to have two hands or two feet
and be thrown into eternal fire." (Matthew 18:8)
Eternity is coming for each one of us -- we must be ready!
The life God gives is eternal.
You cannot afford to miss it.
Dr. Gary Habermas, a professor of theology was asked about his thoughts concerning the resurrection of Christ.
- "The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever."
(1 John 2:17)
- "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
- Jesus said, "For my Father's will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him
shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:40)
- Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;
and whoever lives and believes in me will never die." (John 11:25-26)
Dr. Habermas referred to the death of his wife, who died of stomach cancer.
He said, "My wife was upstairs dying.
Except for a few weeks, she was home through it all.
It was an awful time.
This was the worst thing that could possibly happen."
Then He said, "But do you know what was amazing?
My students would call me... and say, 'At a time like this, aren't you glad about the Resurrection?'
As difficult as those moments were, I had to smile for two reasons.
First, my students were trying to cheer me up with my own teaching.
And second, it worked.
As I would sit there, I'd picture Job, who went through all that terrible stuff
and asked questions of God, but then God turned the tables and asked him a few questions.
I knew if God were to come to me, I'd ask only one question: 'Lord, why is Debbie up there in bed?
And I think God would respond by asking gently, 'Gary, did I raise my Son from the dead?'
I'd say, 'Come on, Lord, I've written seven books on that topic!
Of course He was raised from the dead.
But I want to know about Debbie!'
I think He'd keep coming back to the same question: 'Did I raise my Son from the dead?' - until I got His point.
The Resurrection says that if Jesus was raised 2,000 years ago, there's an answer to Debbie's death in 1995.
And then Dr. Harermas said, "Do you know what?
If the Resurrection would get me through that, it can get me through anything.
It was good for AD 30, and it's good for 1995; it's good for 1998, and it's good beyond that.
I believe that with all my heart.
There is a resurrection, and there is a heaven.
Jesus was raised, and Debbie was raised.
And I will be someday, too.
Then I'll see them both."
Ida Norton Munson, wrote:
"Because upon the first glad Easter day
The stone that sealed His tomb was rolled away,
So, through the deepening shadows of death's night,
We see an open door... beyond it, light."
Easter amazes us by the all-mighty power of God.
We serve an all-powerful God for whom nothing is impossible.
He created everything that is -- with His Word.
He spoke and worlds came into being.
And He holds it together by His omnipotent hand.
God is the giver of life.
He is a God of miracles.
His supernatural power is displayed in everything.
"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth...."
One day, our great God will say,
"Arise! It's time to get up.
It's time to get up.
It's time to get up in the morning."
In a cemetery in Hanover, Germany is a grave with huge slabs of granite and marble cemented together
and fastened with heavy steel straps.
The grave belongs to a woman who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead,
but in spite of her unbelief she took precautions, just in case, such an event might take place.
She had it written in her will that her grave be made secure so that if there were a resurrection,
God could not get to her.
She even had her marker inscribed with the words: "This burial place must never be opened."
However, as time passed, a seed from a nearby tree, which had been covered over by the stone slabs, began to grow.
Slowly, it pushed up through the soil and out from beneath the slabs.
As the trunk enlarged, the great slabs were gradually shifted so that the steel straps were torn from their sockets.
A tiny seed had pushed aside the stones all by itself, exposing the grave.
As surely as that tiny seed had the power to open the woman's grave, God is more than able to raise her
at the resurrection, and she will stand before God.
Everyone will face God and will give account as to what they did with Jesus!
Can you imagine the mystery and delight of hearing, and seeing the story of Jesus for the first time.
I saw on Television a missionary telling about a primitive tribe in the jungles of East Asia,
when missionaries showed them the "Jesus" movie.
They had never heard of Jesus, they had never seen a motion picture.
After weeks of teaching them about God, beginning with Genesis, they were ready to show the movie.
On that unforgettable evening, they saw the gospel in their own language.
They saw how this good man, Jesus, who healed the sick and was adored by children, was held without trial
and was beaten by jeering soldiers.
As they watched this, the people stood up and began to shout at the cruel men on the screen,
demanding that this outrage, stop.
When nothing happened, they were ready to attack the missionary running the projector.
Perhaps, he was responsible for this injustice!
He stopped the film, and explained that the story wasn't over yet, that there was more to come.
So, they settled back onto the ground, holding their emotions in tenuous check.
Then came the crucifixion.
They began to weep and wail with such loud grief that once again the film had to be stopped.
The missionary again tried to calm them, explaining that the story still wasn't over, that there was more to come.
So, they composed themselves, and sat down to see what happened next.
Then came the resurrection.
Pandemonium broke out, but now for a different reason.
The gathering had spontaneously erupted into a party.
The noise was that of jubilation.
It was deafening.
The people were dancing and slapping each other on the back.
Christ is risen indeed!
Again, the missionary had to shut off the projector.
But this time, he didn't tell them to calm down and wait for what was next.
All that was supposed to happen -- in the story and in their lives -- was happening.
That is how the glories of Christ's resurrection should effect us.
- We should be overcome with great joy!
- We should be shouting and singing praises to God!
- We should be slapping each other on the back and rejoicing with tears of great joy.
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White
Email Dr. White at firstname.lastname@example.org