Easter: Where O Death Is Your Sting?

TombWatercolorPastor Barry/ EASTER SUNDAY: “Where O Death Is Your Sting?”   To watch this video message and others go to thegatheringhg.com and click on the youtube link to subscribe.

Note:  Sorry for the late posting of this message our system was down.

Hiding In Fear Matthew 14:22-33, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, 5:1

What are your fears this Easter Sunday 2020—this fourth Sunday apart from the fellowship of believers?  What are the fears of our nation and the fears of the world in this Covid 19 pandemic?  What fear has our schools closed, our businesses shut down and our economy moving towards a depression? What fear is it that causes people to stop embracing one      another in care and human compassion?  What fear has us locked away from visiting those languishing in hospitals, prisons, rest homes, and other institutions?  What fear has caused Americans to so willingly lay down our first amendment right?  What fear has caused Christians to “temporarily forsake” the command of our King of kings who said:  Feed the hungry, give the thirsty something to drink, invite the stranger in, clothe the naked, look after needy and visit the sick and imprisoned? Matthew 25:35-36  

The fear of death is a powerful force isn’t it?  We can certainly see that in our world and in our country today.  It has always been a powerful force, in fact it is the driving force behind every failed government and people.  One of our founding fathers, Ben Franklin, said:  “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

There was great fear of death in the followers of Jesus before that first Easter Sunday. The evil of the religious and political establishment in Jerusalem had prevailed, the Roman guard had arrested Jesus, his disciples had fled in fear and he was illegally tried and convicted in a kangaroo court of the wicked. Protesting masses of people ordered him crucified before a weak and crowd pleasing governor and he was brutally whipped until his flesh hung like bloody ribbons from his naked body.  He was forced to carry a cross through the streets in a sick and twisted parade for the sneering wicked and the apathetic hopeless. The disease of death plagued Jerusalem that cruel day as Jesus’ hands and feet were nailed to a cross and he was lifted up and dropped with a thud into the earth below.  From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. At the ninth hour, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema  sabachthani?” which means, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”…   Mark 15:33-34   Then Jesus called out in a loud voice, “Father, into  Your hands I      commit My Spirit.” And when He had said this, He breathed His last. Luke 23:46  A spear then pierced His heart, He was taken off the cross and buried in a tomb. By all appearances Death was victorious—wickedness had won—hope was gone and the disciples went into    hiding for fear that death would come knocking at  their door next.  Are you like them this morning— afraid that Death will come knocking on your door?  To you Jesus says: “Take courage! It is I. Do not be afraid.” Matthew 14:27

 Peter and all of the disciples would have done well to have remembered those words from Jesus in the dark days after His crucifixion and death.  The context of this passage was in a time where Peter almost drowned because he doubted Jesus.  The disciples were terrified when they saw Jesus walking on the water—they thought He was a ghost!  Once Jesus identified Himself Peter boldly and willingly walked out to Him in the storm.  But when he realized that he was going against the norms of earthly reality he feared and began to sink. Fortunately for Peter, he knew enough to cry out for Jesus and he was saved, but Jesus rebuked Peter for his lack of faith and asked, “Why did you doubt?”

Why do we doubt Jesus and the supernatural things that He can do and has done according to the scriptures that we say we believe?  Why are we more likely to believe in the power of ghosts, aliens, the Devil and wicked men over the one who has conquered death?  Why do we sink in our fears rather than walk in faith when Jesus says we can do so?  This Easter I am challenging you to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)!  Stop doubting and believe! 

As He Promised! 1 Corinthians 15:3-8,  John 20:1-23, John 11:25-26

The gospel resurrection accounts are not just an Easter story.  They are eyewitness accounts of a historical true life happening. The apostle Paul said of these accounts in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8  that he passed this information down after hearing first hand accounts for himself (in 55-57 AD. when the epistle was written). At the time of his writing most of those eyewitnesses of the resurrection were still living.  Even the most scholarly of atheists today believe in the historicity of the Apostle Paul’s writings —and Paul believed in the gospel accounts of eyewitnesses and passed them onto us!  (He says so here!)

As we read the resurrection account in John, there are no earthly heroes here.  Mary, Peter, John, the hiding disciples, “doubting” Thomas…they were all fearful that they would be the next to die and certain that Jesus was dead gone—until He proved He had risen!  Jesus had told His disciples multiple times that He would die and raise up again (Matthew 16:21, Mark 8:31-33, 9:31,Luke 9:22-23, John 12-17), but they didn’t really believe Him—until He resurrected!  Jesus said He is coming again to rule and reign (Matthew 24:30-31) do you believe that?  They believed because they saw Him—but blessed are those who have not seen and believe, said Jesus.  “Blessed are” you and me!  These things are written that “we” may believe and have eternal life in His name!  Jesus keeps His promises.  He walked on water and He raised from the dead and He promised that He will raise us up too if we believe (John 11:25-26).  Do You?

 Victory In Jesus 1 Corinthians 15:12-19, 1 Corinthians 15:55-58

The entire hope of Christianity rests in the resurrection of Jesus Christ—without real belief in the resurrection of Christ our faith is futile—  1 Corinthians 15:12-19 

Is your hope real today?  Then walk by faith not by sight.  Live your faith in Christ out loud…like He may be coming back tomorrow.  The reality of death is always with us.  Rather it be in the threat of the coronavirus, or something else—death is among us but so also is Christ who has overcome it.  Pray to receive His gift of salvation today if you have not yet done so.  Then you too can say:  “Where, O death, is your victory? Where , O death, is your sting (I Corinthians 15:55-58).  Our victory is in Jesus!

 

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