Hallelujah, He is Risen!
*edited for readability*
As you’re seated, let me welcome you, and thank you for coming this morning. It’s a big day for us. Resurrection Sunday is huge. Every year I get to buy a new shirt, pull out my slacks, see how much weight I’ve gained. I even tuck my shirt in on an Easter Sunday. Amen? It’s a big day, it’s a huge day. All right, we’re going to have a great time this morning. I am going to begin with the end of the story. And so I’m going to begin looking at Revelation 21:4, but before we do that… for the guests, visitors, those of you who have never been here this morning, you don’t know what to think. I just want to tell you, I’m glad you’re here.
My name’s Dave. I was a meth addict, and alcoholic, and Jesus changed me. And now I’m actually a pastor… that I get to love people and care for people. You see, this is what Jesus does: He changes everything! And I’ve got great hope for you this morning. I don’t care what you’re struggling with. I’ve probably been worse and so if there’s hope for me, there’s hope for you– that Jesus can save you, that Jesus can change you. And I want to walk through this story with you this morning because many people come in on Easter, thinking the Bible is about rules. Thinking the Bible’s random stories about some dude who got swallowed by a whale; other dude who’s spent a night with lions, and it really doesn’t help you much. I’m going to walk you through the whole story this morning. It’s absolutely amazing. Absolutely transformative. It will…. it’ll blow your cerebral cortex. It’s so beautiful. So wonderful. Let me start out just by reading it to you. Revelation chapter 21, verses four and five. Again, I’m going to start at the end of the story. Then I’m going to go back to the beginning and just walk you straight through this mug to show you how incredibly brilliant God is. So in Revelation 21:4, John writes, God says:
This final proclamation of Jesus Christ; it says:
“And He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (Verse five says) “And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”
God’s plan is to undo all of the sad, all of the bad, all of the wreckage of this world — and write a brand new story of beauty and glory, and he longs to do it through his body, the church. So as more people are getting seated. Don’t be distracted. Welcome them. Let’s get into this.
Watch where you start out. I’m going to give you the big theological picture so you can kind of hang your thoughts on it. If you read straight through the Bible, you see… again, I’m just going to be straight forward. I don’t care if you’re here and you’re an atheist, agnostic. You’re a Buddhist, Hinduist, whatever. I’m about to walk you through the questions that all of humanity have to answer. And so I’m proud to tell you how the Bible answers it, and how Jesus Christ is my hope, and I’ll put him up against anybody. The Bible outlines this: that God created all things; that he is life that; in him is life; and that he is the source of life. That there is no life apart from God. If we… if we choose to do life apart from God, there’s death. The small picture that the Bible outlines: is that sin entered the world and separated us from the source of life.
So now life leaks and it leaks slowly. It’s like a tire with a nail in it. That is, you looked in the mirror this morning and you didn’t look like you used to look, yo. Amen? You can put makeup on that bar and you can…. We can do what we want to do with it; life is leaking. Amen? This is actually a huge point for me. We live in a nation that worships youth and so we will stretch stuff, we will paint stuff, we will do stuff. We’ll lift muscles and be like, “No, I’m not getting old! No!” You’re getting old and life is leaking. God told the truth. Death is coming, yo. That is the message of it. Again, you can do a lot of things to try and stop it, but sin separated us from the God who has life. And now life is leaking. Joy is leaking, hope is leaking, courage is leaking, competence is leaking.
Life is hard. And I know many of you come this morning right now– life has been very difficult. It’s beat you up. It’s incredibly hard. And joy is leaking and you’re wondering, is there any hope? That’s why Resurrection Sunday is so huge. Let me….let me explain to you what the Bible is all about. If you pick up this book: 1,196 pages– this book tells one story, about one God, who has one plan, to send his one son, to provide one way, to pass from death to life. That’s the ultimate patch, so life won’t leak anymore. He gives us eternal life in his son Jesus Christ. You see, for the Christian: Resurrection Sunday is not just a day. It’s not just Easter Day that we celebrate. Resurrection Sunday isn’t a day. It is a declaration that our God reigns and has defeated death, and hell, and Satan, and the grave. It is a declaration for all 365 days a year. As I look in the mirror and I say, “I am not what I used to be”, but praise God, he’s defeated death. You see, if you don’t have hope over the grave, I guarantee you, you’re going to be traumatized. You’re going to be utterly crushed. Do you remember your first funeral?
You remember that funeral, that person that you loved dearly, that was traumatically killed. And you sat there and you thought, ‘what hope is there over the grave?’ And people brought flowers… Oh, I wish flowers were enough to take away the sting of death, because then I could go down, buy some flowers from HEB, and make everything better. I wish cards and words were enough to take away the sting of death, but they’re not, are they? See that trauma sits on us and today we’re all facing the same end. Let me show it to you.
The Bible goes in three simple fluid parts. Genesis one through three: Death is introduced. It is announced to us. You can write that down. Death announced – Genesis one to three. And then the second part; Genesis 3 to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John: Death is ambushed by our King. He totally sets a trap and ambushes death. And then from Acts to Revelation, death is annihilated. And so I’m going to walk you through those three simple stages and phases that the Bible outlines, to give you the confidence that the Bible gives to you in Jesus Christ. That death has been annihilated, defeated. Let’s start out.
Roman numeral one. Death announced. Here’s, where the story starts. Here’s what the whole story begins and I need you to see this.
“The Lord God commanded the man, saying,
This is Genesis chapter two, before sin entered into the world, there’s no death on the stage, yet…
“The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden, you may eat freely; (Verse 17) but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it, you will surely die.”
You shall surely what? And this is big. (Say it again, outdoor voices, big boy, Texas voices. Everything’s bigger in Texas. You shout… wait. Y’all did not do well at Simon says, I can tell, but we got it.) This is God announcing or introducing death.
I want you to know death did not catch him off guard. He was not unaware of it.
He did not say, “Oh my goodness, what is this? I never saw death coming.” He announced it. He said, “I am the God of life. Stay close to me. Stay connected with me. If you go off chasing idols, you will die. You’ll be disconnected from the source of life and your life will leak.”
So God told us the truth lovingly. He warned us. Now, watch this, because here’s the enemy’s statement to deceive us. Genesis chapter three, verses four and five, the enemy says this:
“The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die!” (Now you’re getting it) Verse five: “For God knows that in the day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good from evil.”
God says, don’t disobey. Don’t separate yourself from me. You’ll die. The enemy says, “You won’t die. You’ll actually be like God. Why do you want God to tell you what to do? You can be your own God, and you can tell yourself what to do. You won’t die. Your eyes will actually be opened.”
I would propose to you that the majority of us still believe this lie. I would propose to you if truth be known, many of us here don’t believe we’re going to die. This is why Americans, the vast majority of us, don’t write wills. This is why we don’t look out at the end and plan and live a life that matters. This is why even this morning, many of us didn’t tell the people we live with, and we love, that we love them. We withhold words, we withhold love, we withhold compassion, because we think there will always be tomorrow. Because we don’t think we’re going to die. I would propose to you, we still believe this lie.
Well, Paul explains this to us. Romans Chapter Five, verse 12, he says: just as through one man, sin entered the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all have sinned. Death is horrific. Death is tragic. Death is an unwanted, un-welcomed intruder into God’s kingdom. And all of us, every single one of us; I don’t care your color, your creed, your country, your background– every single one of us has to answer the question of death. This is the great equalizer this morning. That is if you want to have arguments about the existence of God and I’m up and down, left right philosophic, I’m fine with that. You and I have to answer the question of death. This is why most philosophies in America I find incredibly silly… incredibly silly. You know what some of the philosophies, take it from Socrates to Spinosa.
Some of us just deny death. Do you know that? We’ve learned since about second grade on if we don’t get eye contact with the teacher, the teacher won’t call on us. Therefore I just won’t get eye contact with death and death won’t call on me. I’ll just deny death’s reality and therefore I’ll be fine. I call it the Hakuna Matata philosophy, right? No worries, I’m just gonna ignore death. Let me know how that works out for you. These people tend to die very surprised. Or when somebody in their circle dies, their totally shocked and surprised by it. (‘I can’t believe they died.’ “Really? Really? You’ve lived 50 years and you can’t believe somebody died.”) Is that not a shock to anyone? I sit down funeral after funeral. (I just can’t believe they died.) All of us are going to… denying it is not gonna help you, yo. That’s not the answer. You’ll just die surprised. They’ve got an emoticon for that. It’s like this. (I’m so shocked. Sorry about that.)
Some of you, if you don’t deny it, some of you will just try and delay it. This is one of my favorite ones. In a capitalistic system, there’s a lot of things I can sell you to help delay death. Right? I just call this the organic option. Well, I don’t deny death. It’s real. You know, Plato told me to think about it a lot and I do. Therefore, I’ve chosen to go organic and not eat any pesticides. No pesticides on that, please. No gluten, please. It might kill me. (Sorry Jim. He sells gluten for a living. Totally busted. Eat more gluten.) You get the organic option though, right? Have you noticed the trend in our nation? (Go organic; healthier. It’s gotta be real. No gluten in that. No pesticides.Gimme the essential oils.)
And I’m not mocking. Listen, I knew today was going to be a rough day. Little drops of serenity. I love…I love the essential oils. I’m not mocking. I’m just saying, I put no faith in the essential oils to give me eternal life. Death is still. You can go as crunchy as you want. Never shower for the rest of your life. You’re still going, so if you deny it or delay it, you’re still going to die. That’s the issue. So some of us just date death and accept death. Call this the epicurean auction. Paul even recognized this. Let us eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die. So if we deny that death is there, we just die surprised. If we try and delay it and work out and get all crunchy we’ll die skinny. There’s an emoticon for that too. It’s very sad because you have to deny yourself everything that tastes absolutely delicious. Delicious stuff is bad for you. So the emoticon for dying skinny, it’s just sad. It’s like, (oh, no snickers?)
But then if you just accept death, you just die stout, a little more robust. You with me? (Con mucho gusto, gordo, like bigger) So you can die surprised, you can die skinnier, you can die stout. Guess what they all have in common? You’re still dead! And none of those did anything for you. See, that’s why the philosophies that are, and there’s dozens more. We could laugh all day long. I don’t want to destroy what’s in your crock pot though, so I’ll keep it short. The world offers nothing when faced with death. Deny it, delay it, accept it. This is why I love God. This is why I love his son, Jesus Christ. This is why I love the Bible. Because God’s philosophy on death is not to delay it, deny it, or accept it. God’s philosophy is: “I’m going to destroy it. I’m going to grab it. I’m going to kick its tail, and I’m going to put it in hell for all eternity. That’s my philosophy on death.” The question then becomes, how do you get your hands on death to devastate death, destroy death and conquer death? How do you… how do you get your hands on death? We can’t do that. Can we? This is what I love about God. Not only does he announce death, he announces his plan to ambush death. This is what Genesis three clear through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are all about. You can read straight through 946 different pages. You may get confused about it, but it’s all together. God’s plan to ambush death. What we celebrate this morning flows out very simply. You can mock me, you can scoff me, you can ridicule me. I will put his plan to conquer death over your essential oils every day of the week. Whatever philosophy you want to come up with, it has to be enough to defeat and destroy death.
That’s what God has done. Can I outline just a little bit of his plan for you? Can I walk you through… those of you who have never studied the Bible? Can I walk you through the plan very quickly because God’s plan is to enter death so that he can defeat death. Here’s how he does it. Genesis chapter three, verse 15: he makes a proclamation. He says (now this is God speaking), “I will put enmity between you and the woman, between her seed and your seed and you’ll bruise them on the heel, but he’s going to crush your head. He’s going to bruise your head as he boot stomps you.” So what’s God’s plan? Watch for a male child to be born. “Well, that’s not very specific, Dave.” (I’m not done. I can do 684 of these things. I can do this all day long bro. Again, in respect for your crockpot, I won’t, but I’ll give you a little bit more.)
He goes from Genesis chapter three, verse 15. He says, “You want more information on this plan? Where I’m going with this? Watch Genesis chapter 12, watch the line of Abraham. Verses one through three. This male child is going to be born from the line of Abraham. Oh, that’s not enough for you. Watch Genesis chapter 49. Not only will it be a male son born of the line of Abraham, but watch the tribe of Judah, because he’s going to be from the tribe of Judah. Oh, that’s not enough? Watch 2 Samuel chapter 7. Watch the family line of David, because this Messiah, this rescuer, this hero – who’s going to enter death, defeat death, resurrect from the dead, and give you hope- male son, line of Abraham, tribe of Judah, line of David. (Dave, that’s still not, not all that clear.) Really? Watch Isaiah Chapter Seven, watch for a virgin to give birth to a son. We call that a miracle. Amen? That really doesn’t happen that often. It’s kind of supernatural. And so when you see that male son, line of Abraham, tribe of Judah, family line of David, born of a virgin. (Dave, that’s still not enough.) Well, Micah 5:2..watch, watch this little town of Bethlehem because that’s where he’s going to be born. In Isaiah 53: four, five and six–Watch for one from the…from the line of Abraham, tribe of Judah, family line of David, born in Bethlehem, born of a virgin– who will be pierced through for your transgressions. He’ll be crushed for your iniquities. And the chastening for your well being will fall upon him. He is going to be like a sheep before its shearers – like a lamb led unto the slaughter. He won’t open his mouth. He’s going to lay his life down.
This is God’s plan for us to send his son, Jesus Christ. God set his GPS to death. You understand? God wanted to get into the grave so that he could get his hands on death. Is that not crazy? Is that not wild? The death of Jesus Christ on the Cross was no accident. It. It ends up that X, that cross of Christ, marks the spot for all eternity. That’s exactly where God wanted to get – so that he could get his hands on death. It’s the most wild part of the story to me. You see, there are no go zones. There are no travel zones. You know, even today, our government issued travel advisory to certain regions and areas. That if today you said, “Dave, I want to go on vacation. I’m going to go to Afghanistan.” You can’t go. That’s a no go zone. That’s a no travel zone. If you said, “I want to go to Iraq.” Not so much. If you said, I wanted to go.. (where’s the other one? Oh) ..North Korea, with the little guy.” Can’t go there either. No travel zones. I’ve got my own no travel zones. Places I don’t go. Costco on Saturday, right? It’s just overwhelming… like that’s crazy. Death is a no go zone for all of us. None of us want it, all of us seek to avoid it. God is so wild. He set his GPS to the grave, to death, and Jesus came.
And the Cross of Christ was no accident. In fact, nobody could stop Jesus Christ from getting to the cross. Peter tried, when Jesus said, “I have to be put to death, I’m going to be put to death very brutally at the hands of the rulers.” Peter said, “Never, Lord, I’ll never let that happen.” Jesus says, “Get behind me Satan. You’ve got your mind set on the things of the earth, not on things of heaven.” (Matthew 16:23) Jesus says, “I’ve got to get there. You see I’ve got to get my hands on death.”
Death… death invaded his kingdom. You know what Jesus did? He returned the favor and invaded death’s kingdom. Isn’t that wild? That’s my God. He is unbelievable. He is out of control. He is unpredictable. He says, “Death you’re an unwanted, unwelcome intruder into my Kingdom and I’m just going to return the favor.” And that day, that’s what Jesus Christ did. He entered death’s domain, death’s kingdom for the first time ever. Death met its match. Watch. You go from there to death being defeated. See, the question then becomes, “How do we know that death was defeated? That death was annihilated? That death was destroyed?” Because it seems like we’re still all facing death. So how do we get together Resurrection Sunday after Resurrection Sunday and say, “God defeated the grave!” When you and I know that I’m going to do a good number of your funerals this year?
How can you proclaim death’s defeat, when death is still the reality for us today? Let me walk you through this in the next six minutes that we have together. This is so beautiful. You see Jesus Christ entered the grave that day and for three days he was there and he was decimating death, destroying death, devastating death. There are certain things I wish I could see. One is the creation of the cosmos as God spoke it into existence. Pretty sure one day we’ll get to see that, as God shows us what that looked like. The second thing I would like to see is Jesus Christ that day that he showed up on death’s doorstep. You see, death every single day of its life had authority over everyone that came to that doorstep. And death devastated them, and death controlled them, and death had power over them, because they had sin and they had broken the law. But this day, one showed up who hadn’t sinned, and he hadn’t broken the law. You see the sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law, (1 Cor 15:56), but Jesus Christ had no sin and he hadn’t broken the law. So that day he showed up on death’s doorstep and death had no authority over him. So Jesus Christ, totally D-day’ed death’s face. He busted in and began to devastate death’s kingdom. How do you know that?
Well, because he rose from the dead. You say, “Well, I don’t know if I can believe that. It might have been some David Copperfield mumbo jumbo.” David Copperfield does weird stuff. Right? Because he’s weird. He’s never said, “Listen, try me publicly and beat the daylights out of me. Try me before six different people.” Jesus was tried before Annas and Caiaphas, and then the Sanhedrin, and then Pilate, and then Herod, and then Pilate. Everyone’s fingerprints were all over them. Then Pilate took him out to the people and everybody cried, “Crucify him”, and we put him to death very publicly, very painfully, and professionally. We executed the Son of God. We put him in the grave and everyone knew he was dead. Everyone! Everyone! Because they had all been a part of it. And for three days, Jesus devastated death and the grave. And then the third day he did something that no one had ever done before, or since. Jesus Christ very publicly, prophetically, and powerfully rose from the dead. He divided history in two. He appeared to many over a period of 40 days and then he ascended into heaven. He has given us hope over the grave. He has given us peace in this life and he’s given us victory over death.
So you want to tell me, “Well, Dave, I just deny death, that I seek to delay death, or I haven’t accepted death. Death is kind of the circle of life because I watched The Lion King and I think it’s really smart.” I will choose Jesus Christ and I will proclaim week in and week out that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is not just a day. It is a declaration that Jesus Christ has changed everything and will change everything for all eternity. Easter is not just a day. It is a declaration of victory for us. When we get together and we celebrate,
“Oh, death. Where is your victory? Oh, death. Where is your sting? The sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law, but thanks be to God who gives us the victory through Jesus Christ, our Lord.” (1 Cor 15:55-56)
We get together like Paul; 2 Tim 1:10, to proclaim that Jesus Christ has abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel. We gather together because Easter is a proclamation of Good News: that Christ was crucified for our sins, according to the scriptures, that he was buried, and that he rose again. Easter is not a day. It is a declaration that the best is yet to come. The best is yet to come. You live in a world where every single day you get fed a diet of anxiety, and panic, and stress, and fear, and worry. This world looks out to the future and says, “Nothing good is coming. It’s all bad. It’s all bad and it’s your fault. You didn’t recycle that HEB bag. You’re awful. You’re awful. It’s all bad out there and it’s all your fault.”
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a declaration of Good News. That the best is yet to come. That one day Jesus Christ, the Living One- who was dead and is alive forevermore; and holds the keys of death and Hades-is going to come back. (Rev 1:18) Your king reigns! The best is yet to come. That one day, Revelation 11:15, “the Kingdom of this world will become the Kingdom of our Lord and of our Christ.”
No more sickness, no more sadness, no more suffering, no more sorrow, no more disease, no more devastation, no more depression, no more death. Jesus Christ will reign forever.
And then one of the best things ever. I don’t think I’ve ever shared it with you, because I’ve been a coward. Revelation Chapter 20:14, your King is going to show up, grab death by the throat, and throw them into hell for all eternity.
We’re going to have a funeral for death yo. And it won’t be ‘Oh death, rest in peace.’ It will be, “Burn in hell for all eternity. Your days are over for reigning!” That’s a huge day! That brings us to the end of the story. Revelation 21:4, where your King makes a new pronouncement and says,
and (now I) He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away. 5 And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said,
“Write, for these words are faithful and true.”
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a declaration of invitation for those of you who don’t know what to do when faced with death. The Bible is an incredible, true story about a God who loves you. He’s for you. He hasn’t turned his back on you.
He loved you so much, He sent his Son. And Easter is a declaration of invitation: that if you would confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord. In Christianity, we call that repentance. See, right now, you are serving something. You’re giving your time, your talent, your treasure, your energy to something.
The Bible says, give your life to Christ, call Him Lord. If you’ll confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead: Scripture say you shall be saved. (Romans 10:9)
He’ll give you a new heart. He’ll take all your sin, all your guilt, all your shame; give you his righteousness, his help. He’ll give you his glory. He’ll put his life inside of you and change you from the inside out. Again, it’s not theoretical, metaphysical. It’s not intellectual. He changed me.
My name is Dave. I used to be a meth addict and alcoholic, but Jesus changed me from the inside out. He’ll change you too, if you will believe in Jesus Christ. You see Easter’s not just a declaration of invitation. It is a declaration of fortification for us saints. I know life leaks. I know joy leaks. I know courage and confidence leak. I know that hope leaks as well. So the resurrection of Jesus Christ is a declaration of fortification for you believers.
You be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain. (1 Cor 15:58)
I’m going to say that again. See the enemy doesn’t want you to think that your life matters. It matters profoundly. It matters how you love one another in a world that doesn’t know how to love, you be steadfast immovable. It matters husbands, how you love your wives. You be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. It matters how you love your kids. Moms and Dads — it matters how you live. Dad’s – it matters how you work. It matters how you neighbor. It matters how we church. It matters how we walk. I’ve prayed for us Hillside that we might walk in a manner worthy of the Gospel. That we would be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. Because one day your king is going to come back and he is going to make that new pronouncement that he has made all things new. Let’s not waste our lives. Let’s proclaim: Our God reigns and our hope is in Christ alone, Amen? Let’s pray.
Father God, thank you for this morning. Thank you for the time, just to proclaim your goodness, your glory, your love given to us in and through your son, Jesus Christ. I pray for those you’ve brought this morning. Father, would you save lives, save souls, transform hearts? Father, I pray that for us, the body of Christ: that we would be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. Father, would you open our eyes to the absolute power that you’ve put in us through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And would you use us however you see fit to glorify yourself. Pray these things in Jesus name, Amen.