Summary: A sermon for an Easter Sunrise Service.
"Very Early on the First Day of the Week"
"When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they could go and anoint Jesus' dead body.
Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they came to the tomb.
They were saying to each other, 'Who's going to roll the stone away from the entrance for us?'
When they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away. (And it was a very large stone!)"
When I was a senior in high school, I was hanging out and partying with some of my friends.
We got to talking about the future...about what we were going to do with our lives, and one of my friends said very confidently: "I'm going to keep on doing the same thing I'm doing right now for the rest of my life."
This was kind of shocking to me.
And I thought, "Not me.
This is kind of like being dead.
I want to live.
I want my life to mean something.
I want to do what God is calling me to do and be.
I am going to be a Methodist Minister.
I don't know how I'm gonna get there.
I'm gonna have to clean up my act.
But that's what I'm gonna do."
The very next year I had a radical conversion experience.
And even though it took another 10 years of running from God for me to finally go into the ministry...
...God got me here.
And I'm alive.
God rolled away the stone that had kept me locked up like a dead person.
Do you ever feel like you are in a tomb with a stone covering your grave?
Have you ever wondered, "Who's going to roll the stone away for me because I can't do it myself"?
It's true that we can't roll the stone away from the tomb keeping us locked up and dead.
Only Jesus Christ can do that.
Only Jesus can bring us to life.
Only Jesus can roll that stone away, allowing light and fresh air to flow in.
Only Jesus can bring dead people to life.
In John 8:24 Jesus says: "you [will] die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be, you will indeed die in your sins."
And you know that even the ability to believe in Jesus is a free gift from God.
It's not something we can earn.
After 10 years of running from God, I had convinced myself that I had finally "gotten God off my back" so to speak.
I had gotten to the point where I believed I had finally been able to force myself to "stop believing."
I owned a Rock and Roll Tee-Shirt Shop in a mall, at the time.
And my customers were mainly very troubled kids.
They were kids who were a lot like I had been when I had been their age...
...except most of them didn't seem to have the grounding that comes from having the kind of parents and family I had.
In any event, the lives of these young customers started to bother me.
They were really living with no hope.
They were very broken people.
And I was selling them these crazy tee-shirts.
At the time, my number 1 best selling band was Marilyn Manson, a guy who claimed to be a minister in the church of Satan.
I sold more Marilyn Manson tee-shirts, watches, hats, stickers, patches--you name it--than all the other bands combined.
The kids practically worshiped this guy.
Then one night I watched Manson on the MTV Music Video Awards.
He got up in something resembling a pulpit, started ripping a Bible to pieces, and said something to the effect of: "Christians are a plague on this earth...
...and, "Who would want to go to heaven anyway? You'd just be surrounded by a bunch of blankity blanks..."
From that point on I decided not to sell anymore Marilyn Manson Merchandise in my store.
At the very least I didn't want to be part of the problem in these kids lives.
And soon, very soon and suddenly out of the blue...
...my faith in Jesus Christ came rushing back.
I didn't want it.
I thought I was done with it.
But it came rushing back in the form of a love that I could hardly contain...and couldn't contain.
I gave God just a little opening by taking a stand for these kids and God knocked that cold hard heavy stone that had been sealing up my life--right out of the ballpark!!!
And I was Alive.
I had died and was now Resurrected in Christ.
I was a new person.
My grave clothes came off, I entered seminary and haven't looked back since.