Summary: Easter is a time of HOPE in a world sadly lacking

He HAD To Rise!

(All my sermons use illustrations from sermon and all scripture is NIV unless otherwise noted)

(We showed a video from the “Passion of Christ” entitled “Beautiful Savior” just before I preached.)

“Jesus your nailed scarred hands are beautiful, and your nailed scarred feet are beautiful, for by your wounds our wounds are healed.”

EASTER Sunday morning is a day that brings hope, and celebration, and renewal to a world that sadly lacks these things. In a world where nuclear weapons are being tested, earthquakes are devastating countries, and the atrocities of abortion and homosexuality fill the headlines, an empty grave is quite the contrast. That emptiness is quite different from the emptiness the world displays. Empty marriages, empty promises from political and business leaders, and empty churches, are just the opposite of what God tells us with the empty grave of Easter Sunday morning. And yet, I feel as if, many do not understand this. They of course are not alone. If you have your Bible with you this morning, let us re-read the text that was read for us this morning.

John 20:1-9 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!" 3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen. 8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9(They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)

I entitled this sermon “He HAD To Rise,” for without the resurrection there is nothing to celebrate. Many “scapegoats” had taken the sin of the Israelites before, as recorded in the Book of Leviticus chapter 16, on the Day of Atonement, each year, two goats were selected by the casting of lots, by chance. One goat was used as a sacrifice for the sins of the people, he was slaughtered for the forgiveness of the sin, for the price of sin is -DEATH! The other goat, was the scapegoat, it was used to remove the guilt of the sin from Israel, the sins of the entire nation were placed on the goat and it was sent out into the desert. The death of our Beautiful Savior replaced this system once for all. We can have our sins forgiven and our guilt removed by placing our trust in Christ. Christ paid the price and by His wounds, we are healed. That is the first part of the celebration of Easter; AN EMPTY CROSS.

Look with me, at the place they call the Skull. It’s a very dismal day, I know the Gospel of Matthew tells us, that from noon to three in the afternoon it was dark. We do not know exactly how the darkness occurred, BUT IT DID. God, in conjunction with nature, darkened the skies, testifying to the magnitude of what was about to happen. We see Jesus, in the terrible pain of torture, as we witnessed in the video this morning, crucified on a cross, it is dark, a darkness that is both physical and spiritual, no one saying a word and then Matthew tells us chapter 27:46 About the ninth hour ( three in the afternoon) Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?"-which means, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

Jesus is not questioning God the Father, HE knows what is happening, these are words of anguish that describe the heart of our Lord, as He took on the sin of the WORLD. Your sin, my sin, from the Garden of Eden, to the time of our Lord’s return, past, present, and future, once for all, AND this separated Jesus from His Father in heaven . . . this is what Jesus meant when He prayed in the garden and asked that God might take this cup from him Matt 26:39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."

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