Theme: Easter Sunday (Life In Jesus)
Series: Easter 2020
Bible Readings: Matthew 28:1-10 / 2 Corinthians 5:14-21
Preacher: Rev Phil Swain
Preached ONLINE – Easter Sunday 12 April, 2020
Or you can watch the pre-recorded traditional service at the YouTube link below:
Kids Church Downloadable Material:
On Good Friday, we left the women heart broken at the tomb. Early in the morning, the same three women mourning the loss of Jesus walked to his tomb. They were startled by a message from the angel. As it was back then for those women, the message is still the same today.
Jesus, who was crucified, is not dead. He has risen. Jesus is Alive.
This is the good news. (light candle) the light has come into the world and shines in the darkness and although it tried, the darkness cannot put it out.
Let’s shout it from the mountain tops. The grave is empty. He is risen. He is risen indeed. Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Jesus is risen. He is risen indeed. Hallelujah.
Almighty God, through the rising of your son Jesus from the grave you defeated the power of death, you broke the chains of sin and you open the door to a new life with you. As we celebrate this victory this morning May the world know that your son Jesus is not a dead hero which we commemorate but the living Lord we worship. Resurrect in our lives – Faith, hope and love As surely as you raised Jesus Christ from the grave. May your name be gloried in us forever. Amen.
Let me tell you about a habit I’ve got. It is good habit. Eating. I eat food. It’s a good habit because if I don’t eat food, I would get sick and ultimately I’d die. But when I eat, the food gives me the nutrients and other stuff I need to live. For example, this bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich, I have here.
Let me tell you something about this sandwich which you might not have thought about. Everything in this BLT is dead.
Think about it. This tomato was once attached to the tomato plant and the vine gave it is nutrients and other good stuff to help it to grow. But as soon as the farmer plucked it from the plant … well it was no longer attached to its life source and is technically dead. It might look fresh and alive, it has been removed from its life-sources and now it is dying.
Actually when you think about it, most things that we eat are not alive. If you go to a restaurant, you don’t want them to serve up something which is still alive, do you? I know this sounds a little morbid, but I could say that this food gave its life so that I can eat it and live. That death brings life.
It is a rule of nature. Death bring life. What about this picture. A worm is eaten by a bird which is eaten by a cat, who chokes on it and dies and is buried and is eaten by the grandkids of the worm. In nature, death brings life.
But it is more than just a rule of nature. There is something in our psyche that also resonates with idea of how death brings life.
One of the things in the COVID-19 era that has really moved me has been the extraordinary commitment and dedication of the front line workers such as doctors, nurses, medical staff, teachers and other essential workers. These people are putting themselves out there because their work helps people.
Overseas there have been report of medical staff dying because in their efforts to save people, they have caught the virus and ultimately died. And while that just breaks my heart, there is something deep within me that is inspired by them … that they were so committed to helping other people live that they were willing to risk dying themselves. Hear me clearly, their deaths are devastating and heart breaking … but there is also something in the idea of them risking death to bring life that is awe-inspiring.
Actually, after hearing those stories, I want to be a better person myself. If they were willing to give of themselves so that others may live … then I want to do more in my own way. Someone their death helps me to live in a more inspired way. Death brings life.
It is the same with Jesus. This weekend we are celebrating the amazing good news that God brings life to us through Jesus. The bible tells us that because of the choices we have made … we were spiritually dead. We might not have looked dead but we were a bit like the apple. Our choices separated us from God, our life source, and were dying because of it.
But as we heard about in our Good Friday service, Jesus died so that we could find life again, to be reconnected to our life sources and to be restored in our relationship with God.
In nature, death brings life and also in God’s plan for us death brings life. Jesus death brings us life with God.
Are you keeping up with this, because I’m going to push this just a little further. In nature, God brings life through death and for us, God brings life through Jesus death. I want to suggest today that God brings life through our death.
Let me work through this. Let’s go back to our bible reading for today and step through this concept. 2 Corinthians 5, let’s start in the second part of verse 14. “Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life.”
Do you get this? Paul is saying that if Jesus died to give us life then in response we should die also. Not physically die but die to our old way of living. But what does this look like?
Paul goes on in verse 15… “Jesus died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.”
In other words, because Jesus died to give us life … we should die to living life our own way and instead live our lives for Jesus. Paul goes on in verse 17 to say that when we do this we begin to think differently, we see the world differently … why? Because when we start living for Jesus we become a new person. Verse 17. This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
But wait, there’s more. Not only does dying to ourselves brings us a richer, more meaningful life with Jesus but it also brings life to those around us. If we go back to the end of our bible reading from 2 Corinthians. Verse 18. “And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.” Paul actually says we are ambassadors for God. Verse 20 & 21. “We are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” When we die to our old way of living and live for Jesus then God can use us to help more people find life in Jesus. By being willing to put all on the line for Jesus, can inspire or bring life to other people!
Are you keeping us with this? Let’s see if I can summarise this. In nature God has set things up so that death brings life. Whether it is my BLT, or the worm being eaten by the bird or whatever … the death of one thing brings life to another.
At Easter we also discover how death brings life. Because human’s habit of choosing to do things our way instead of God’s way, our sin broke the relationship we have with God – plucked us from our life-force so to speak. Without God, we are dying. But through the death of Jesus we can find a restoration of that relationship with God, a reconnection with God’s life force, which brings us new life.
And finally in response to Jesus dying for us, we are challenged to die ourselves. Just as Jesus died on the cross, we are to die to our old way of living. Just as Jesus was raised from the dead to a new resurrected life, after we die to ourselves we are raised to a new life with Jesus – a new life where we give of ourselves to God and to others.
This Easter God is offering … Life! I guess the challenge for us today on this Easter Sunday is for each of us to ponder the question, have we experienced this new life that comes from death?
If you’ve not experienced the Easter gift of that restored relationship with God, then I encourage you to do that today. Maybe your struggling with the idea of dying to your way of living. Maybe there are habits or thoughts or pride in your life that needs to be dealt with so you can completely give yourself to Jesus. Maybe there are people whom you know need this life that comes from Easter and are just waiting for you to share it with them.
Whatever way that God is speaking to you through this talk I really encourage you to act upon it, or in the language of this sermon … I encourage you to die … die to living for you so that you on this Easter Sunday be raised to a new life living for Jesus.
I really do pray that we all can say as Paul says in Galatians 2:20, “It’s no longer I that lives, but it is Christ, the Risen Jesus, who lives in me.”