Summary: There ought to be a spirit of excitement & joy that permeates the church. He is alive! Jesus Christ has won! (Powerpoint available - #162)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(Powerpoints used with this message are available for free. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request #162.)
A. Two Sundays ago was Easter Sunday, a very special day to us as we celebrated once again, as we do each Sunday, the resurrection of Jesus, our Savior & our Lord.
But if Easter Sunday is special to us, the world has made Easter Sunday a rather special day, too.
ILL. Those of us who are old enough to feel waves of nostalgia can remember that old song about "The Easter Parade." Part of its refrain goes like this, "In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it, you'll be the grandest lady in the Easter Parade."
It also says, "On the Avenue, 5th Avenue, the photographers will snap us, & you'll find that you are in the rotogravure. Oh, I could write a sonnet about your Easter bonnet...And I'll be the proudest feller in the Easter Parade."
The Easter Parade on 5th Ave. is really something. Maybe you have seen a part of it on TV. Men & women adorned in the most lavish & elaborate clothing. Some were wearing hats & dresses that must have cost thousands of dollars. One lady said that she had spent nearly a full year making the dress that she was wearing.
But there is something that bothers me. Even though all of this was going on outside St. Patrick's Cathedral on an Easter Sunday morning, it was obvious that most of the crowd had come to parade, & not to worship.
ILL. For some churches, though, Easter Sunday is the biggest day in the year. Over the years I have received a number of church papers from all across the country, & it is amazing to note the attendance in some churches on Easter Sunday.
One church that usually has around 400 present, had 861. Another one that usually has around 1500, had over 3300 in attendance. And yet another mega-church that usually has around 20,000 in attendance had over 35,000! As far as attendance in some congregations, Easter is obviously a very special day!
B. One of the most familiar stories in the Bible is the story of David & Goliath. The odds are overwhelmingly lop sided. Here's Goliath, 9 feet tall, with his helmet, & breastplate, his shield & sword. He is eager & spoiling for a fight.
Over there stands David, with no armor, no sword, no shield. All he has is this little rawhide sling & a few rocks in his hand.
Now if you were taking bets on that, what kind of odds would you give? At least 100 to 1 in favor of Goliath, right? Only fools are going to bet on David. And yet, wonder of wonders, David wins the victory!
APPL. Like David, it would seem that Jesus didn't stand a chance. The powers of the world were all against Him. The Roman Empire was against Him. The Jewish religious system was against Him. And as Jesus was standing before Pilate, hundreds of voices were crying, "Crucify Him, crucify Him!"
They whipped Him & put a crown of thorns on His head. They mocked Him & spit upon Him. Then they nailed him to a cross, & He hung between heaven & earth until He died! He didn't stand a chance, did He?
But 3 days later God raised Jesus from the dead. Angels announced, "He is not here; He is risen!" (Luke 24:6) The stone had been rolled away, & the victory had been won!
C. But as far as the world was concerned, nothing had changed. Tiberius was still the emperor in Rome. Pontius Pilate was still the governor of Judea. The Sadducees & the Pharisees were still squabbling among themselves.
Jerusalem was still Jerusalem. As far as the world knew, nothing had changed, everything was exactly the same.
But the world was wrong, because the resurrection of Jesus made a difference. It made a difference in the lives of the disciples of Jesus. The men & women who followed the resurrected Christ would never be the same again.
The world might look the same, but the way in which they lived in that world would never be the same again, for Jesus was alive! He had won the victory over sin & death.
Paul could write, "Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through Jesus Christ, our Lord." (1 Corinthians 15:57)
ILL. I can remember in high school some exciting football & basketball games. In the closing moments of the game, if our team was ahead, & victory seemed assured, our cheer leaders would stand up & shout at the top of their voices, "Let's yell 'Victory!'"
And we would all shout together, "Victory, victory, that's our cry. V I C T O R Y. Are we winning? Well, I guess. McKinney High School, yes, yes, yes!"