Summary: An Easter Sunrise Service message highlighting the victory over death that Christ brings through the resurrection.
April 1, 2018
David Simpson - Lanier Christian Church
He Destroyed Death!
Death. There is nothing pleasant in saying that word is it? There is no good in it. Just to say the word brings memories of heartache and pain and loss. My dad died last October. I miss him. Over the last year many in our church family have suffered the loss of loved ones, and some of our dearest church members have succumbed to death over the last year. Death. Each time it hurts. It brings tears. It brings a heaviness to our hearts.
Throughout 40 years of ministry I’ve been with numerous church members on the day that they died. You see it coming. You see life slipping away, but there is nothing you can do about it. And then it happens, the last breath is taken and life on this earth is no more.
The younger the victim, the more sudden the event, the harder it is. I am reminded at each death how helpless and humble I feel in the face of death. As much as I’d like to bring them back, I can’t.
Our son John learned a valuable lesson about death when he was a kid. One day he took aim with his new BB gun at a little bird sitting on a limb near our back deck. He aimed and fired and hit his target and the bird collapsed to the ground. Dead. At first there was the excitement of being a good marksman, but then upon finding the bird, there was the shock of its results. I’ll never forget what John said: “Is he dead?” Yes…son. “Dad, do something.” Son, there’s nothing I can do.
Talking about a helpless moment! But, at the same time, a teachable moment. So what did we do? The only thing a preacher knows to do. You have a funeral service and turn to the one who is our greatest help in our time of need. So we got a shoebox, dug a hole, had a little service and said a prayer.
You see…there is only one who has the answer to death. There is only one who has truly conquered death forever. There is only one who defeated death and gave us hope in our most difficult hour…and that’s our Savior Jesus Christ!
That’s why Easter is such a glorious occasion! It is the celebration of Jesus’ defeat of our greatest enemy – death. Without Jesus, death is the end. Because of Jesus, death is merely a threshold, an entrance to a new life.
The cross tells us that Jesus understands death. He knows what an enemy it is. He knows how cruel it is. He knows how painful it is. He knows the fear associated with it. But, the resurrection tells us that Jesus has the answer to death. He offers life again – but this time freed of the pains of this life.
There is a great passage in the book of Hebrews that summarizes what Jesus did for us:
Hebrews 2:14-15 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
That’s it in a nutshell…Jesus knows what it is like to experience the grief of death. He cried at the death of his friend Lazarus, just before he brought him back to life.
He cried out on the cross at the separation that sin and death caused before his Father, God. He understands the power of death. He has shared in our humanity. He died in our place.
But, on that first Resurrection Sunday he destroyed the power of the evil one and his power over death.
The devil no longer has control.
We have been set free from death!
We are no longer slaves to the fear and the finality of death.
Death has lost its grip because of the resurrection.
The devil cannot have the last word.
For the Christian, Easter is our greatest celebration and a wondrous reminder that death is but a bump in the road to a greater life and a paradise of a glorious life in our eternal home that Jesus is preparing for us.
About six years ago, Verl Fisher’s earthly journey ended. He was a WW2 pilot whose plane crashed in enemy territory. He was held as a prisoner of war in a German stalag until freed by the Allies. He lived in fear as a captive, not knowing what would happen next. It was the same prisoner of war camp where more than 76 men escaped only to have all but three recaptured and 50 killed by the Germans as punishment. The movie: The Great Escape (w/ Steve McQueen) is about that escape from the Camp where Verl was imprisoned. Verl knew the fear of death, but he also knew the freedom of being set free from his prison. The conquering Americans stormed into Germany and set the captives free and Verl was able to return to the USA a free man. He lived his life knowing he had been blessed by God. He worshipped at our 8:30 Service and told me often how blessed he was. He died at 90 but he told me once that the good Lord had been good to him and that he wasn’t afraid to die. Why? Because he had been set free – he had been given life again when many didn’t have that chance.