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Showing posts with label Easter Sunrise Sermon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Easter Sunrise Sermon. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

I AM the Resurrection and the Life

I preached this message at the Easter Sunrise Service last Sunday.  It was early in the morning and the sun was just rising.  It is the first service of Easter.  It recalls the dawning realization for the first disciples that the crucified Jesus was no longer dead or in the grave. He is risen and alive.  Such news is so wonderful and extraordinary, it takes time to comprehend.

John 20:1-16
Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb. They were both running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He stooped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn’t go in. Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings. Then the disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed— for until then they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead. 10 Then they went home.
11 Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. 12 She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. 13 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her.
“Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”
14 She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. 15 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?”
She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”
16 “Mary!” Jesus said.
She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).

A Sunrise Moment
Just as the sunrise dawns new light on the day, Mary finally saw the light the moment the resurrected Jesus spoke her name.  It took a few moments.  No wonder.  No one expects to visit a grave to remember and honor the dead and then find they are not dead, but alive.  Mary is overwhelmed with grief and depression.  All she can think of is how they murdered her beloved Lord.  She assumes the someone has taken the body.  She doesn't notice the "men" she speaks to inside the tomb are angels.  She assumes the man she sees outside the tomb is the gardener; she doesn't realize it is Jesus.  That is, not until he speaks her name.  But in speaking her name, Jesus, the Light of the world, sheds light on the darkness that engulfs Mary.  She immediately recognized her Lord, Jesus.

Do you remember the words Jesus spoke to Mary’s sister, Martha, when Jesus raised their brother, Lazarus, from the tomb?  Jesus did not come when Lazarus was sick and Lazarus died.  When Jesus finally arrived and Mary and Martha were grieving, they said, "If only you had come, Lazarus would not have died."  But Jesus consoled them, saying in John 11:25, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying."  Let's look at his word to themclosely.

I AM… 
These are the same words God said to Moses when Moses asked to know God's name.  God told Moses from a burning bush, "Tell the people 'I Am' has sent you.  This is the name you shall know me by for all generations."  The name is mysterious, but recalls the unchanging character of God.  He is who He is.  He is not defined by our beliefs or doubts.  He simply is and He is the one who defines reality.  And Jesus says, "I AM".  Jesus is God.

I AM the Resurrection… 
Because Jesus is God and rose from the grave, we have the hope of eternal life.  John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only son so that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."  Just as Jesus rose from the grave, we too can rise to new life--even after this life is over.

I AM the Resurrection and the Life… 
However, we aren’t just waiting to die so that we can start our real life.  When we follow Jesus as Lord, we start real life now.  For we were created by God to worship and serve God.  And we live fully to the extent we do that in this life, even as we long for and hope for the Day we shall be set free from this broken world to live eternally with God when He creates a new heaven and a new earth.  You are never more fully alive than when you live your divine purpose. 

Anyone who believes… 
We must believe in Jesus and trust him.  Our resurrection and life does not happen automatically.  It happens as a result of God's grace and our faith.  Therefore, trust in Christ and start living today and hoping for resurrection.

Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying… 
 We all die, but there is eternal life for those believe in Christ. However, there is a second sense to what Jesus is says. Remember, Jesus also said, "If anyone wants to follow me, he must take up his cross every day and follow me." And he also said, "If you cling to your life, you will lose it. But if you lay down your life, you will truly live." So, we must deny ourselves and let our own selfish ambitions die so that we can come alive in Christ and begin to truly live. Christ's way is infinitely better than you own plans. You must trust him and follow him, even when it means dying.

So, let’s cling to the hope we have because of the resurrection because Jesus said, "I AM the resurrection and the life."

Monday, April 6, 2015

Easter Sunrise - A New Beginning

Copyright April 2, 2015 by Chris Mullis
Romans 6:3-11

Read Romans 6:3-11
Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.

Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. 10 When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. 11 So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. 

A Sunrise is the Symbol of a New Beginning
Every time I see a sunrise, it reminds me of the possibilities of a new day.  Whatever happened yesterday is over.  It’s a brand new day.  Anything can happen!  And I think that the core of the Christian message.  Because of what Christ did on the first Easter, we can make a brand new start.  The old has passed away.  We are no longer controlled by what happened before.  We can start over.  Just as Christ died and was buried in a tomb, our old way of thinking and acting can be buried if we let it.  And just as Christ rose from the dead, we can rise with him to a new life with new and better ways of thinking and living.  This si the glorious good news of Easter! 

The Story of Tom’s New Beginning
            I met a new friend when I lived in Lithia Springs, Georgia.  His name was Tom Kaznicki.  I was serving in my first appointment and also in seminary.  We lived in an apartment next to Tom’s parents and Tom was living with them.  We thought it was strange that Tom—who was in his 30s—was living with his parents, but we never asked about it.  We would say hello as we saw him from time to time—just being friendly neighbors. 
            When I found out Tom liked the outdoors like me, I invited him to go on a hike with me at Sweetwater State Park.  As we were walking and talking, Tom asked me what I did and I told him I was a pastor and was in seminary and shared how I was working as a chaplain at a drug rehab center.  Tom got quiet and I thought, “Great.  I ruined it now.  He thinks I’m some sort of religious nut.”  (Tom had never attended church as a kid or an adult.  This often happens to me when people find out I’m a pastor.  People start to treat you different; they stop seeing you as just a person and then only see you as a “pastor”.) 
After a few minutes of silence, Tom said, “You know it’s really strange that you said you work in a drug rehab center.  That’s the reason I’m living with my parents.  I was living in Michigan, but I relapsed in my drug addiction and lost my job and had to move back in with my parents.”  It turned out Tom had been struggling with an addiction to methamphetamines since he was 17.
Tom and I stayed friends over the years—even after I moved away to another town.  Tom and I would talk on the phone every so often.  Sometimes, Tom would call me confide in his struggles with the addiction.  Once, he called me and was so disappointed and frustrated he had relapsed yet again.  He said, “Chris, I just wish I could die and start over.  I wish go back to when I was 17 and just never try those drugs.”
The Holy Spirit gave me the right words to say.  I said, “Tom, that’s what Jesus did for us.  Because of what he did on the cross and the way he rose from the grave, we can die and start over.  That’s what it means to be a Christian.  There’s a scripture that says, I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lived in me (Galatians 2:20).  So you see, if we give ourselves to Christ, we can die and be reborn as a new person.  We can have a brand new start.”
About a year later, I received a letter from Tom.  He thanked me for being his friend and for my advice.  Tom was in a Christian drug rehab program and had given his life to Christ and had been clean for over a year.  Tom thanked me for planting the seed that had helped him come to Christ.
A few years later, Tom died.  When I heard the news I thought, “Oh no.  Tom relapsed again and overdosed.”  But to my relief I found out it wasn’t so.  Tom had remained drug free.  However, the years of drug use had taken their toll on Tom’s body and he had a heart attack even though he was still relatively young.  But I am not sad for Tom, because I know he is in heaven now.  And I know I will see him again one day on those streets of gold, because I believe in what Jesus did for us all on Easter. 

Because of Jesus, you no longer have to be trapped in your sin.  You no longer have to be chained to your past.  Christ has set us free to make a brand new beginning.  And just as the sun rises each new day, you can make a fresh start again and again if you have to.  But don’t go on in your sin on purpose.  Don’t waste the power Christ gives you.  Take hold of your New Beginning and let your old sinful self die forever.  Step into the new life of your new day and choose to walk in the light forever, never going back.  Burry your old sins forever in a tomb and rise to the new life Christ offers you.