Summary: We have the victory over sin and death through our risen Savior Jesus Christ
We’re going to do something a little different this morning. I would like everybody to clap along with me or stomp your feet or hit your chairs, but like this...OK. Thanks. Where have you heard that rhythm before? Sporting events. Laker’s games. Well, that rhythm is taken from a song called “We are the champions” that was made famous by a group named Queen in the early 80’s. At the time the song came out, the group was at the peak of their career. They were one of, if not the most famous rock group of their time. And so in this song they boldly boasted: “We are the champions of the world.” A couple years after the song came out, Freddy Mercury, the lead singer of the group died of AIDS and the group ceased to exist. Their conquering of the world didn’t last very long, did it?
That’s a common theme throughout history, isn’t it? The fleeting nature of victory. Just ask Napoleon. Ask Hitler. Ask the Great British Empire. Even those individuals that maintain their grasp on power, money and prestige their whole life, soon find that they can’t take it with them. Death is imminent. You can’t avoid it. The glory of this world is fleeting. But there is a victory that lasts, a victory that nobody can take away... a victory that doesn’t end at death. It’s the victory that we see here in our text for this morning. Through the efforts of our risen Lord Jesus, sin and death have been conquered.
I. Sin has been conquered
The Bible tells us clearly that death is the result of sin. Paul writes to the Romans: Therefore... sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned. The wages of sin is death. So I guess to follow a logical order, we need to first talk about how sin was conquered to understand how death was conquered. You see, each and everyone of us was born a slave to a cruel and demanding master: sin. Since the moment we were conceived we could do nothing else. But our pride doesn’t like to hear that. “I’m free to live as I want, to make own choices. I am a slave to no one.”
Well, let me ask the men that are here, when was the last time you were flipping through the cable late at night and you came across one of “those” movies, and even though you knew it was wrong, that you shouldn’t do it, you couldn’t help but watch at least for a while. Or maybe it was a magazine or on the internet...even though you knew it was bad and didn’t want to do it.
All of us here, how many times do we tell ourselves, “I shouldn’t get angry so quickly. I’m not going to get mad next time.” And then you do. There are so many different temptations, sins that we fight against, that we don’t want to do, but we still end up doing them. We are all by nature slaves to sin.
And because of those evil thoughts, angry words and selfish actions we are forced to face the consequences: Jail time, the eternal slammer in hell. Worse than the most terrible, painful place you could ever imagine and with no chance for parole. The evidence is clear. Any honest judge would look at this evidence and see that there is only one possible verdict (guilty) because God’s law is clear. Whoever sins deserves hell. We sin, so we deserve hell.
But God has freed us from that law. He has freed us from that sin. He has freed us from slavery. When the Bible calls Jesus our “Redeemer”, that is what it’s talking about. To redeem means to pay the price to set a slave free. And what price did Christ pay? His holy precious blood. His innocent suffering and death. Christ came freely in love and lived a perfect life, free of lustful thoughts, angry words and selfish deeds. Then one dark Friday afternoon nearly two thousand years ago, he hung on a cross and punished himself for us. God punished himself. Jesus suffered the punishment of sin, he suffered hell on the cross: complete separation from God’s love. He suffered the punishment of our sins of evil thoughts, angry words, selfishness, gossip, pride. That is why he yelled out: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Because at that moment God was punishing Jesus with hell for our sins. Then Jesus cried out: It is finished! The victors cry. There is no more payment for sin. There is no more punishment. We are the champions.
And then Jesus died. The payment of sin. The wages of sin is death. Now if he would have stayed like that (dead) we’d be in a jam, because that would mean that death was more powerful than God. But what happened on that first Easter morning? What did we just here in our readings for this morning? Death had no power over him. He is risen.