Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Mary Magdalene was a woman who had felt the scars of other’s remarks and the rumors that had been circulated about her. The rumors continue to this day and yet, on Easter morning, Mary Magdalene was set free by the scars of victory.

The Scars of Victory

John 20:1-20

This has been a whirlwind week full of meetings, visiting people who were in the hospital, sitting with the Trotter family as we planned Larry’s funeral, joining with folks from the choir on Thursday night at Ellis and Kathy Meeks’ home to pray, ask the Lord for His mercy, and to say, “Good bye” to an awesome friend. Along with all of these experiences I had to find time somewhere to prepare for our worship services on Friday night and Sunday morning.

While running from one commitment to another I was stopped dead in my tracks by a man I do not even know, a man I had never met in my life. I was coming back to the office after meeting with the Trotter family. A man was getting out of his car and heading to the Senior Nutrition Center for lunch when our paths crossed. I said, “Hi, how are you doing?” He said, “Oh, not so good. It’s kind of a hard day.” I said, “I’m sorry to hear that. I hope your day gets better.” As he reached into his back seat to get his walker he said, “Oh, that’s what war will do to you.” I don’t know what war the man served in, but I know that he bears the scars of my freedom. It is not everyday that you get to meet someone who has laid his or her life on the line so that you and I can enjoy this wonderful country that we call home. I could see the visible limp of the man who taught me a wonderful lesson right in the middle of Holy Week. He wasn’t much to look at for the fashion conscious folks of our society. He drove an old car, was getting along in years, and didn’t fill the bill of those desiring the “tall, dark, and handsome” look, but he carried in his body the scars of freedom.

I’ve thought about this man from the time I talked with him on Tuesday, but as the week has gone on, his words have taught me an even deeper lesson than the one I first learned.

On Friday night we gathered here in the sanctuary for communion and prayer. The sanctuary wasn’t much to look at – it was dark, there was an old, wooden cross draped in drab, black cloth, and silence pierced the evening. There were no spotlights chasing across the sky announcing the hour of meditation and reflection. No big-named bands headlined the get together. There were no TV cameras or reporters to capture what happened. Yet, in the stillness of the evening there were those present that felt the weight of the world upon the shoulders of the One who was scarred for our freedom.

As dark and still as it was in the sanctuary on Friday night, it was no comparison to the Friday of long ago as Jesus hung suspended between Heaven and Earth on a rugged, bloodstained cross. He had endured more than any person has ever had to endure as the authorities of His day had beaten, mocked, and ripped His body to shreds. When they drove the nails in His hands and feet all of Heaven shrieked at the ghastly sight of God’s own Son writhing in pain. Why? Why? Why? I’m not concerned with why they did it. The depths of depravity that sinful humanity will sink to will never amaze me, but why did He choose to endure it all? There have been hundreds of theories, but God’s own Word tells us that He did it for our freedom. In writing about our sin and the price Jesus paid for our freedom, Paul wrote in Romans 6, 22 “But now that you have been set free from sin…” The scars that Jesus bore in His own body were the scars of victory.

Up until Easter morning when Jesus was raised to life by the mighty hand of God, all of humanity was held captive by sin. There was nothing that could be done about it. You and I do not have the power to overcome the sin that so easily entangles us apart from resurrection power. But on Sunday, when the sun began to shine and the birds began to sing a new song of victory, prison gates opened wide and shackles of sin began to drop like rain on a spring day! Sin was defeated and the sting of death was taken by Jesus our risen Savior! Paul writes in 1 Corinthians,

56The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:56-57 NIV)

For those who live in the resurrection power of Jesus today, the power of sin holds no power. The sting of death has been swallowed up in eternal security and rest of Almighty God. This is the power of God, the glory of Easter, for those of us who live in the year 2001.

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