Summary: The prophecy of Hosea is fulfilled, that death is swallowed up in victory.
Easter Sunday (Historic)
April 15, 2001
Death is Dead!
Where were you when Elvis died? Even though I was only twelve, I remember it clearly. Our family was vacationing in northern Minnesota. We were at a gas station in International Falls, on the Canadian border. Where were you when John Lennon was shot? Where were you when the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded.
We have a way of remembering events like that, don’t we. When something startling happens, when someone famous dies, for some reason those things get burned into our memories.
It is my prayer that you remember today, dear friends. It is my prayer that you remember Easter worship 2001 at Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church where you heard about a death, the most shocking announcement of all time: DEATH IS DEAD! That’s right, DEATH IS DEAD! Our greatest enemy – dead! Our greatest fear – gone! Our greatest doubt – removed. DEATH IS DEAD, and Life lives! This happened through Jesus Christ, who rose in victory and triumph Easter morning. There is no doubt that this is true. There was never any doubt that Christ would win. There isn’t any chance that he can’t deliver you from death and bring you safely into his eternal kingdom of heaven. For so certain a truth is Easter that even centuries before it happened, centuries before he lived and died and rose again, Jesus spoke through the prophet Hosea:
"I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O grave, is your destruction? – Hosea 13:14
Easter means that Jesus lives. Easter means that you live. Easter means that DEATH IS DEAD! Thanks be to God!
1. Your Savior Destroyed Your Enemy
Easter is the most incredible message the world can hear. Yet people don’t believe it, and even we in the weakness of our faith are slow to believe it too. DEATH IS DEAD? How can that be? Our experience screams at us, “That isn’t true!” Four people dead already this Easter weekend on Atlanta roads. A father killed this past week as he was taking his kids to a Hawks game, killed by a random act of violence, the innocent victim in a high-speed police chase. Everyday there is an obituary column in the newspaper. Everyday people pass from this life to the next. How in the world can I stand up in the pulpit and proclaim DEATH IS DEAD?
Yes, in one sense death is still very much in the world, very much lurking around our lives. Death is our greatest enemy. Look at mankind. Virtually everything we do is geared toward prolonging life and postponing death. We put alarms on our houses. We put air bags in our cars. We warn our kids not to run out into the road. We try to eat healthy. We walk, we ride, we jog, we pump iron (some of us, anyway). We go to the doctors. Don’t misunderstand me; our bodies are gifts from God and we should take care of them. But that’s not the point I’m making. The prophet Isaiah once wrote that death hangs like a cloud over the whole planet, THE SHEET THAT COVERS ALL NATIONS (Is. 25:7). No matter how much success we may experience, no matter how much fun we might have, no matter what kind of estate we may accumulate, in the end there is the grave, there is death. Even before we die, we have been to the funeral home, we have stood by the casket, we have trudged to the cemetery, we have paid our respects to people we casually know, but also said good-bye to those we dearly love. Death has PLAGUES – it plagues us with doubt, it plagues us with fear, it plagues us with sorrow.
Is being in debt to creditors a problem? Sure. Does arthritis cause pain? Yes. Does having our hopes and dreams dashed hurt? Of course. But there is no enemy like DEATH, an enemy that stirs up fear just by the mention of his name.
Death came into the world through sin, the Bible says. St. Paul to the Romans, AND IN THIS WAY DEATH PASSED UPON ALL, FOR ALL HAVE SINNED (Ro. 5:12). No, death isn’t merely a scientific, biological problem. You know, the other night on TV there was a science show telling of a farm in Wisconsin (the location wasn’t mentioned, for security reasons I suppose) where a genetic scientist is cloning pigs and altering their genes so that a pig’s heart and other organs can be transplanted into humans to prolong life. Will it work? Who knows? But will science ever find a cure for death? No. Mark Twain once called death the “ultimate statistic; one out of every one dies.” If the Lord Jesus doesn’t return first, we too will each march off to the grave. Hosea is right; the GRAVE HAS POWER. Death has DESTRUCTION; DUST WE ARE AND TO DUST WE WILL EACH RETURN, the ultimate proof of our sinfulness. We feel guilt. Deep down we know that we are sinners. We’re afraid to die and stand before our Maker.