Summary: Easter sermon
April 12, 2009
Pastor Brian Matherlee
Three friends were discussing death and one asked the group: What would you like people to say about you at your funeral?
• He was a great humanitarian,
• He was a great husband and father
• He cared about his community
• Look, he’s moving!
There was an item printed in Newsweek magazine a few years ago. It was a letter from a Department of Social Services. The letter was written to a dead person. It said: "To whom it may concern: Your food stamps will be stopped effective immediately, because we have received notice that you passed away. You may reapply if there is a change in your circumstances."
John went on a vacation to the Middle East with most of his family, including his mother-in-law. During their vacation and while they were visiting Jerusalem, John’s mother-in-law died.
With death certificate in hand, John went to the American Consulate to make arrangements to send the body back to the States for proper burial.
The Consul, after hearing of the death of the mother-in-law, told John that sending a body back to the States for burial is very, very expensive. It could cost as much as $5,000 he told John, and in most cases the persons responsible for the remains of their loved ones decide to bury the body in Israel, which would only cost $150.
John thought for some time and answered, "I don’t care how much it will cost to send the body back; that’s what I want to do."
The Consul, after hearing John’s reply, said, "You must have loved your mother-in-law very much, considering the difference in price."
"No, it’s not that," says John. "You see, I know of a case many years ago of a person buried here in Jerusalem. On the third day he arose from the dead. I just can’t take that chance."
Today we celebrate the greatest victory of all time.
In Peggy Noonan’s book When Character Was King, she tells about a meeting between President George W. Bush and President Vladimir Putin of Russia. It was their first meeting as world leaders and Bush wanted to be sure they connected—that they looked for depth of soul and character, not simply had a political meeting.
Bush brought up a story he had read about Putin. His mother had given him a Christian cross that Putin had blessed while in Jerusalem. Bush had been touched by the story. Putin told a story in response. He had taken to wearing the cross, and one day had set it down in a house he had been visiting. Strangely, the house burned down, and all Putin could think about was that his cross was lost in the rubble. He motioned for a worker to come to him, so he could ask him to look for the cross. The worker walked over to Putin, stretched out his hand, and showed him the already recovered cross. Putin told Bush "It was as if something meant for me to have the cross," inferring that he believed in a higher power. Bush said, "Mr. Putin, President Putin, that’s what it’s all about—that’s the story of the cross." The story of the cross is that God intended it just for you.
(Peggy Noonan. When Character Was King, pp 306-307. New York: Viking, 2001.)
2 Peter 3:9, [God doesn’t want]anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (NIV)
The Message translation puts it this way, “[God] is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change.”
Here’s a list of what God wants to do for us:
• Adopt us as his children
• Free us from guilt
• Restore our relationships
• Fill the emptiness
• Empower us to live right
• Show kindness
• Realize our true value and worth
In short, God wants to love us like no one else can.
Video-“The Black Hole”
The book of Romans states our problem plainly
• “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away; they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit. The poison of vipers is on their lips. Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” (3:10-18)
• “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (3:23)
• “The wages of sin is death.” (6:23)