Summary: This sermon looks at the power of the resurrection on Easter morning and beyond
The Power of the Resurrection
On Feb. 27, 1991, at the height of Desert Storm, Ruth Dillow received a message from the Pentagon. Her son, Clayton Carpenter, Private 1st Class, had stepped on a mine in Kuwait and was killed. She wrote, "I can’t begin to describe my grief and shock. It was almost more than I could bear. For 3 days I wept. For 3 days I expressed anger and loss. For 3 days people tried to comfort me, to no avail because the loss was too great." But then the telephone rang and the voice on the other end said, "Mom, it’s me. I’m alive." Ruth Dillow couldn’t believe it at first. But then she recognized his voice, and he really was alive. It was all a mistake! She laughed. She cried. She felt like turning cartwheels, because her son whom she thought was dead, was alive. And she writes, “I’m sure none of you can even begin to understand how I felt." Oh really?
Perhaps not, but many of Jesus’ followers would have understood because they experienced the same emotions themselves. One day they watched their best friend, teacher and mentor nailed to a cross and die as he uttered his last words: "It is finished!" They watched as His body was taken down from the cross and buried, along with all of their hopes and dreams. They mourned for 3 days and then some women went to His tomb to anoint his body for burial. They wondered who would roll away the stone for them. But when they arrived, they found that the stone had already been moved. And an angel told them, "You’re looking in the wrong place. You’re looking for Jesus among the dead. He is alive. He is risen!" And you can almost hear the laughter, and the joy and see the tears of joy streaming down their face.
"He is risen!" That is what we celebrate this morning. Jesus is risen from the dead! It’s almost unbelievable. The greatest event that the universe will ever see is the hinge upon which all history hangs and is forever divided. The division of time ought to be not only BC and AD; it ought to be BR (Before the Resurrection) and AR (After the Resurrection). Why? Because the resurrection changes everything! More than 500 people not only witnessed the resurrection but they experienced the power of the resurrection in their own lives. … which shook the Earth. We see it in the angel’s appearance whose clothes gleamed like lightning. We see it in the rolling away of the stone from the entrance of the tomb. We see it in the response of the seasoned soldiers who were overcome with fear and became like dead men. And most of all, we see it in the resurrection of Jesus. Do you know how much power it takes to bring something back to life? Paul says the Resurrection is the greatest display of God's power ever to be demonstrated, nor can it ever be surpassed.
But the power of the resurrection didn't end there. It was present on the day of Pentecost, when suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them…” We see the power of the resurrection in the disciples as ones who had been hiding behind locked doors in fear of their lives and now they step out into the streets of Jerusalem and boldly proclaim the Good News that “Jesus Christ is risen!” Acts 4:33 says, “With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all.” Stephen is described as “a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people.” The Apostles face death without fear and speak boldy of Jesus before the Jewish leaders. They heal many others. We see it in Saul’s life which is transformed from the greatest persecutor of the church to its greatest evangelist, theologian, missionary and church planter. But where we see the power of the resurrection most clearly is in the 1000’s of lives who are transformed by the Gospel as they become followers of Jesus Christ.
The life of the apostles was defined by the power of the resurrection at work in them. It became a part of their daily life in God. This is why Paul said of himself, “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection …” Phil 3:10 And it’s why he prayed for the church at Ephesus: “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power… And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power…” Eph. 3:16-18