Summary: This sermon focuses on the meaning of the Resurrection for our lives today.
BECAUSE HE LIVES
MARCH 27, 2016
RESURRECTION SUNDAY, YEAR C
HARRISBURG, AR FARM HILL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
INTRO. Gloria Gaither tells the story of how the song, “Because He Lives,” was written:
“I am a wife and a mother. It was in the middle of the upheaval in the sixties that we were expecting our third baby. The drug culture was in full swing, existential thought had obviously saturated every area of our American values, the cities were seething with racial tension, and the God-is-dead pronouncement had worked its way all through our educational system.
“On the personal front, Bill and I were going through one of the most difficult times in our lives. Bill had been discouraged and physically exhausted by a bout with mononucleosis, and in that weakened condition had little reserve to fight the psychological battle brought on by some external family problems. Someone whom we had cared about a great deal had hurled some accusations at us and at the fellowship of believers and at the whole idea of the existence of God.
“It was on New Year’s Eve that I sat alone in the darkness and quiet of our living room, thinking about the world and our country and Bill’s discouragement and the family problems - and about our baby yet unborn. Who in their right mind would bring a child into a world like this? I thought, The world is so evil. Influences beyond our control are so strong. What will happen to this child?
“I can’t quite explain what happened at that moment, but suddenly I felt released from it all. The panic that had begun to build inside was gently dispelled by a reassuring presence that engulfed my life and drew my attention. Gradually, the fear left and the joy began to return. I knew I could have that baby and face the future with optimism and trust. It was the Resurrection affirming itself in our lives once again. It was LIFE conquering death in the regularity of my day” (posted on www.tanbible.com).
The thing about the Resurrection is that is just as real today as it was 2,000 years ago! Jesus is just as real, he is just as alive, he is just as powerful, he brings just as much meaning to our lives now as he did back then. What does the Resurrection of Jesus tell us? The Resurrection means:
I. WE CAN FACE TODAY WITH CONFIDENCE. Norman Vincent Peale was a strong champion of positive faith in Jesus Christ who preached and spoke during the middle part of the last century. He wrote,
“Confidence is a word we all use but many of us barely think about. I will say that the surest way to live confidently is to have what I call ‘a big God.’ Many of us at different times in our lives have a very little God. And make no mistake: It is we who have limited him.
“But if you think of a big God, if you pray to a big God, if you act like there is a big God, you will grow big spiritually and in every other way and big results will (happen). You will be a partner of a big God” (www.guideposts.org).
Is there anyone here today who would argue that they do not need confidence for today? When it comes to the world around us, we see countries like Russia and China doing all they can to tear down America and our way of life, and we see ISIS doing its best to destroy all we stand for. When it comes to the economy, we see a ton of insecurity about retirement and jobs and debt. When it comes to our politics, we face many fears, fears about the Supreme Court, the future of Biblical marriage, fears about what kind of president we will end up with. And then there are the personal challenges to confidence we face. Insecurity. Depression. Anger. Dependency. Bullying. Addictions.
Folks, we can pile up all those challenges that we face on a personal level and above, we can think of a million more, we can throw in those faced by our family and neighbors, our friends and enemies, and the counsel we hear from the Scriptures is that Jesus is enough! Remember that the disciples struggled with having confidence for today as well.
Hear what happened in John 20:10. The disciples had been through so much with Jesus, and Jesus had repeatedly told them that he would rise again, but they just didn’t get it. And now, on Easter Sunday, they had heard the report from Mary - the tomb is empty! Peter and John had seen the evidence for themselves - the tomb is empty! Verse 8 tells us, that when John went into the empty tomb and saw, he believed - the tomb is empty! It is empty! He lives! Yet what does verse 10 tell us? “Then the disciples returned to their homes.” Can you believe it? When faced with the most earth-shaking, life-changing fact of history, they all went home with their tails between their legs, cowering in fear! They needed confidence for today, and they got it when Jesus showed up in the flesh. Friends, Jesus has shown up here this morning as well, and the message is still the same - because he lives, we can face today with confidence!