Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: God turns everything upside down, from defeating the power of death, to breaking down our barriers that keep His life and hope out.

Easter Sunday

Apr. 4, 2010


Video: “Blindness” from sermonspice.com

“But then I met Jesus, and He turned everything in my life upside down…”

Today is a day of life. We have walked through death, we have stood once again at the cross as Jesus died, but now we stand somewhere else…

Now we stand outside another place, a place where we expect death, a place where we expect tears, and loss, and grief – dashed hopes, shattered dreams, relationships ended. Now we stand at a tomb. In a graveyard. And what we find is not death, as we expect. In fact, what we find defeats death, tramples on it, crushes it, and instead of fear and hopelessness and loss we find security and hope and life. We find Jesus, who was dead but now is alive. God turns even death itself upside down…

Matt 28:1-10

We read the story at our Sunrise Service at 6:45am, but it deserves reading again, this time from Matthew’s Gospel: Matt 28:1-10

1 Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb.

2 Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. 3 His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. 4 The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint.

5 Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. 7 And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.”

8 The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message. 9 And as they went, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they ran to him, grasped his feet, and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid! Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.”

What are we going to do with this kind of Jesus?

As we read the story, we see God turning everything upside down – trampling on death, defeating its power by walking right through it, and turning the grave from a place of mourning into a place of life and hope. What are we going to do with that? Well, you might wonder, what are the options? I suggest that this passage draws a map for us to follow.

First we must face the places of death: (vs. 1)

The story begins in vs. 1 with the women going to the tomb. Now, I’m not sure why it was only this group of women, we know from John’s gospel that there were some men involved in taking Jesus’ body down from the cross and placing it in the garden tomb, and that these men were from among the Jewish leaders themselves. But we are left to wonder about the disciples. Was it too hard for them to face? Were they afraid of the guards at the tomb, that they might be caught and punished also? Was their grief just too much?

This is the first step in deciding what to do with this Jesus – we must go to the places of death, like the women did. And just like in Jesus’ day, this is something not everyone is willing to do. We would rather not face these places in our lives. We think we can ignore them, shove them off to the side, pretend they aren’t really dead like that old movie “Weekend at Bernie’s”. We have all kinds of coping strategies that keep us from actually confronting the places of death in our life – from clearly admitting that they are sucking the life out of us. And perhaps this is one of the main reasons why more Christians aren’t living the kind of life Jesus wants us to life, because we aren’t confronting the places of death and finding out what God can actually do with those places in our lives.

Today on resurrection Sunday our focus is on life, not death – as it should be. But resurrection life only comes after death. There is no shortcut around that. No quick fix. No bypass route. To experience resurrection life we must first embrace death, face it head on, look it straight in the eyes. And I’m not talking about physical death, though that applies. I’m talking about sin. Spiritual death. Rebellion against God. The places in our lives where we continue to feed sinful habits, activities, and laziness that keep us distant from God.

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