Summary: One of God's promises that brings us hope is that death is not the end of life, but is just the beginning of something far better for the believer in Jesus. Jesus' resurrection is that proof that life does not end with death.
A. Happy Easter, Everyone!
1. This has to be one of the most unusual Easters in the last 100 years.
2. Most countries around the world are practicing social distancing because of the virus pandemic, and so churches are empty on this Resurrection Sunday in order to protect physical lives.
3. But that doesn’t mean that believers around the world are not pausing to give proper attention to one of the most important moments in human history – the day that Jesus arose from the dead.
4. I pray that God will give me the ability to bring hope and strength to all of us as we think about the significance of the resurrection of Jesus, and the hope that it brings.
B. Last week, we started a new sermon series on hope that I have titled “Hope: The Anchor of God’s Promises.”
1. Last week, we were reminded about the fact that our God is a promise making and promise keeping God.
2. God cannot lie and God has the power to deliver on any promise God makes.
3. God’s track record shows that He is faithful to His promises.
C. Today, I want to remind us of a specific promise of God and it is the promise that: Death is Not the End of Life.
1. Have you ever spent time in a cemetery? I’m sure most of us have.
a. Most of us have been in the cemetery for graveside burials, but have you ever just taken a stroll in a cemetery and thought about life and the lives of the people buried there?
b. I always find it so interesting to read the names and the dates, and any other things that might be carved on the gravestones or placed near them.
2. When Charles Lamb, the English poet and literary critic was just a boy, his sister took him for a long walk in a local cemetery.
a. As the precocious boy read aloud the epitaphs on the tombstones, he noticed they commemorated the deceased as “virtuous,” “charitable,” “beloved,” and so on.
b. Then he asked his sister this interesting question: “Mary, where are all the naughty people buried?”
3. Whenever I have spent time wandering through a cemetery, I always find it to be both a sobering, and an inspiring experience.
a. Two of the things that always hit me as I spend time in a cemetery are: first, how quickly time and earthly life passes, and second, how life goes on both on this side of the grave and on the other side.
4. Truly, death is not the end of life.
5. We all have seen “The Family Circus” comic over the years, it is always drawn in a circle.
a. In one cartoon, the family is out for a drive and they are passing by the hospital.
b. The children are in the back seat and one of the older kids explains to the younger ones, “When people die in the hospital, the angels move them to heaven’s eternity ward.”
6. How insightful and true: we are born in the maternity ward, and we end up in the eternity ward!
D. Over the years, I have been honored to be at the side of people when they passed from this life.
1. It is both a sacred and a strange experience – one minute the person is there, and then the next minute they are not.
2. Many of us remember a precious long-time member of Wetzel Road, named Charlie Vrooman.
3. Charlie was so full of life and love and faith, in spite of his severe physical disabilities.
4. A number of us from church visited or stayed with Charlie in the days before he died.
5. But the night he passed, it was just him and me there in his room at Syracuse Home from about 9:30 PM when Diana went home, and 3:30 AM when Charlie took his last breath.
6. The space between Charlie’s breaths became longer and longer, until he took one last deep breath and then exhaled.
7. He squinted his eyes, then his face relaxed and became peaceful.
8. Charlie, our good brother, was gone.
E. A similar scene was experienced on the afternoon that Jesus died.
1. Standing near the cross, keeping vigil with Him were some of those dearest to Jesus.
2. Mary, his mother, Mary Magdalene, and the apostle John, were among the crowd of onlookers.
3. Those six hours that Friday were excruciating for Jesus as he bore the physical toll of crucifixion and the spiritual toll of the weight of the sins of the world.
4. But it was also a horrifying and crushing experience for those who loved Jesus and had to watch him suffer on the cross.