“From Fear to Faith”
Let’s all think about this for a second?
What are you afraid of?
What is your biggest fear?
What causes you, at least every once in a while, to wake up in the middle of the night, heart racing, mind going a million miles an hour?
What is that horrible, sometimes, nearly unbearable fear?
Is it fear that a loved one will become sick?
Is it fear of financial ruin?
Is it fear of losing a job?
Is it fear, knowing that someday, you will face what we all will one day face—death?
I heard someone say in the last week or so that we spend our entire lives aware that we are going to die.
We try and keep those thoughts out of our minds; we try not to think about it too much…
…but it is always there to some extent.
None of us get out of this world alive.
None of US.
But Jesus did.
And because Jesus left this world alive, we too can rise from the dead and enter into a transforming everlasting relationship with our Creator.
Jesus says: “I am the Resurrection and the life.
Whosever believes in me will live, even though they die;
And whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”
In the Gospel of John Jesus asks Martha if she believes this.
“Yes, Lord, I believe you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world,” Martha replies.
How about you and I this morning?
How would we answer Jesus’ question?
Because how we answer that question and whether or not we live into what we say makes all the difference.
It is the key to everything; even of our fear of death.
We find in our Gospel Lesson for this Easter morning that an angel of the Lord rolled away the stone…
…told the two Mary’s: “Do not be afraid, for I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.
He is not here; he has risen, just as he said.”
“Do not be afraid…He is not dead…He is alive!!!”
Let’s allow that to sink in this morning.
We don’t have to be afraid.
And this is all about grace.
It is about what God does for us; because God so loves us that He does not want us to perish but to have everlasting life.
God desires this so much that He went to the Cross and died to make it possible.
Now let’s ask ourselves this question:
“Why did the angel roll away the stone in our Gospel lesson for this morning?”
Was it so that Jesus could get out of the tomb?
No, He had already left.
The angel rolled away that stone so that the two Mary’s could get in!
God is the One Who rolls out the red carpet in order for us to enter into His Resurrection—His Life!!!
People may try and push us away.
Life may seem like a long corridor of locked doors, but God is continually trying to woo us to accept His free gift of faith…
…woo us to new life…
…woo us to salvation…
…woo us into His Kingdom.
Yes, death is the great riddle of life.
It is a mystery.
It is one secret of the universe that is kept secret.
And yet, it is one of the things we all have in common.
And, yes, one of the things people fear the most.
But Christianity, Christianity begins with the Resurrection—with Life.
We are told in Acts: “Why should any of us consider it incredible that God raises the dead?”
And I suppose that is a good question when we think about this vast universe and all that God can and has done.
In Romans Chapter 8, Paul tells us that if “the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.”
What a reason to proclaim Hallelujah!!!
I don’t think it was any accident that Mary Magdalene was the first one to experience the Resurrection.
We don’t know a great deal about Mary but we do know this: she was a woman who had been possessed by “seven demons.”
It had been as if Mary was one of the “living dead.”
Have you ever met someone who seems like they were the living dead?
Maybe you have been this way, or maybe you feel this way right now.
Life has no luster.
You are just going through the motions—doing whatever you can to eek by.
There is no joy.
When everyone else is laughing at a joke, you don’t laugh with them.
When everyone else is excited about something, you feel like a sad spectator on the sidelines who cannot relate.
But the same God who brought Jesus back to life is the only One who can bring us back to life as well!!!
And when this happens the black and white movie of our lives is suddenly bright and filled with color—with LED FULL SPECTRUM LIGHT!!!
We become excited and exciting.
Suddenly, life has meaning.
Suddenly, the world is filled with possibility.
No longer are we on the sidelines…but we are right in there running the plays along with the other disciples of this great new movement.
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ has radically changed the past, the present and the future.
It is the defining moment of history.
And it’s amazing.
It’s a miracle of God.
Because Christianity began in obscurity.
The first persons the Resurrected Christ appeared to were women, who in that day, were not even considered to be fully human.
They were property and what they said was not to be believed nor trusted.
And Christianity’s first missionaries were commoners, whose message sounded like nonsense to the sophisticated.
With some exceptions, Christianity’s chief appeal was to the outcast and the marginal elements of society…
…people with no political clout, little money—outcastes who from the first were violently persecuted.
Yet, within the course of four centuries Christianity became the dominant religious force.
And now, we have a Christian Church or three on every block.
The only explanation for this phenomenon lies in the Reality of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and His desire and offer of an intimate and transforming, life-altering relationship with those who want it.
I mean, think about it.
What makes Christianity most different from the rest of the world’s religions?
Do other religions lack ethics?
Do other religions lack a concern for justice?
Is it a “My God can beat your god” kind of thing?
The biggest difference between Christianity and all the others is that OUR LORD is ALIVE!
But Jesus is ALIVE!!!
In Matthew Chapter 28 Mary was “filled with joy” as she ran to tell the other disciples that Jesus had risen from the dead!!!
Jesus came to save the lost, the afraid.
People like Mary Magdalene…
…people like you and me.
On that first Easter morning Mary felt and experienced the power of the Risen Lord at work in her life.
Are we experiencing the power of the Risen Lord in our lives?
As Paul writes: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.
Where O death, is your victory?
Where, O death is your sting?
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God!
He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Like the two Mary’s on that first Easter morning, we too are called to go running from the empty tomb to a world that is lost and afraid…
…and proclaim Christ’s Resurrection!!!
We are to go without fear; but with joy and excitement.
May it be so!
Thanks be to God.