Summary: When I was 5 my grandfather died. As I stood by the graveside at the cemetery, my mother said I looked down into the grave and then turned to her and asked "How's Grandpa ever going to get out of there?"
OPEN: I’d like us to start out with a couple of powerful Resurrection Songs from the past. Join me as we sing:
“I know, I know, that Jesus liveth, and on earth and again shall stand
I know, I know that life He giveth, that grace and power are in His hand.”
“I serve a risen savior; He’s in the world today
I know that He is living, whatever men may say
I see His hand of mercy; I hear His voice of cheer
And just the time I need Him, He’s always near.
He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today
He walks with me; He talks with me along life’s narrow way
He lives, He lives, salvation to impart
You ask me how I know He lives, He lives within my heart
Rejoice, rejoice, O Christian, lift up your voice and sing
Eternal hallelujahs to Jesus Christ the King
The hope of all who seek Him, the help of all who find
None other is so loving, so good and kind.”
(Introduction to the Sermon)
When I was 5 years old, my grandfather died.
He was my favorite person in the whole world, and I was his favorite as well, But at 5 years old I didn't understand death. I just knew he was GONE and he wasn't coming back.
In those days, funerals were different than they are today. For example, the viewing was held in Grandpa’s house and family and friends would pass by his casket in the living room and gather in the kitchen for refreshments.
And then when we gathered at the cemetery the grave wasn't covered like it is these days (to avoid having people fall in the hole). You could come right up to the grave itself and look right down into the place where the casket was to be lowered.
At 5 years old I knew that was where my grandfather’s body was going to be buried. And my mother said I spent a great deal of time looking down into that hole. At one point, she said, I looked up at her and I asked a question only a 5 yr. old would ask:
“How is grandpa ever going to get out of there?”
I didn't understand.
I’d never seen anyone die before and it puzzled me.
In fact all of mankind has always been puzzled by death.
More than that, they've feared it.
• Aristotle called death the thing he feared most because “it appears to be the end of everything.”
• Jean-Paul Sartre (an existentialist philosopher) said death “removes all meaning from life”
For men like them, death was the end of everything.
It was like walking into a dungeon and throwing away the key.
It was like being trapped in a room from which they’d never escape.
When they entered the grave… they weren't EVER going to get out of there.
But as a child, my folks had always taken me to church. And though I didn't know why I knew, I KNEW that grave wasn't going to hold him. I just couldn't figure out the how God would do it with all that dirt on top of grandpa.
How could I be so sure that grandpa would ever get out of the grave?
And, more than that, why would Christians believe so strongly in the idea of our resurrection?
• Well first, because promised it in the Bible.
It’s a repeated theme throughout the Old Testament Scriptures that those who believed in and belonged to God do not have to fear death.
The song we sang at the beginning of this sermon was based on a passage out the book of Job:
“I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth.And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God;I myself will see him with my own eyes— I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” Job 19:25-27
In Hosea 13:14 God promised His people: "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will be your destruction! …."
And the 23rd Psalm has these comforting words:
“Yea though I walk through the valley of the SHADOW OF DEATH, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.”
ILLUS: A few years ago, I’d be driving my kids down the road and as we approached a bridge they would hold their breath. I asked them why they were doing that, and they said that holding their breath would keep them from dying as they went under the bridge.
Now I thought that was “cute” at the time but then I read about a 19-year-old man who fainted while holding his breath (for the very same reason) as he drove through a tunnel northwest of Portland, Oregon causing a 3-car crash.