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Easter Sermon 2010 April 21, 2010

Posted by roberttalley in Easter, Religion, Resurrection, Revelation of Jesus Christ, Sermons, Seven Churches of Revelation.
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WHO WAS DEAD AND CAME TO LIFE
Revelation 2:8-11

Sometimes we know part of the story, but not all of it. FamilyLife magazine, February, 1995 tells “…the story of a grandfather who wanted to know how much his four-year-old granddaughter knew about the Easter story. When he saw little Julie playing in the backyard with her friends, he asked them, “Who knows why we celebrate Easter every year?” One of Julie’s friends chirped up first: “Oh, that’s when you go to the mall and sit on the big bunny rabbit’s lap and tell him what you want in your Easter basket.” Her second friend’s answer was no better: “No, no, no! It’s when you get a tree and hang eggs on it—and you wake up on Sunday and there are presents underneath it.”
At that point Grandpa interrupted and gently said, “That’s a good guess, but it’s not quite right. Julie, do you know why we celebrate Easter?” Julie nodded her head. “It’s when Jesus was crucified. He died, and His disciples put his body in the grave. They rolled a big stone in front of the opening. And the guards went to sleep. On the third day, there was a big earthquake and the stone rolled away.”
Hearing all that, Grandpa was really encouraged that Julie knew so much of the Easter story. Then she continued, “When the earthquake happened, the entire town came out by the grave. And if Jesus came out and saw his shadow, they knew there would be six more weeks of winter!”
Young Julie knew a lot about Easter but she had misunderstood a key element. Because she had misunderstood, Easter’s meaning was changed. I believe most of us understand the key element of Easter. He who was dead came to life. It is the message of the resurrected Christ. That message changed everything. When Christ rose from the dead, He changed our view of death, He changed our view of this life, and He changed our view of the life to come.

These changes, however, are not just changes of understanding but are practical changes that affect the way that live. Jesus to the church of Smyrna applies His resurrection to the lives of the believers there in this passage.
I. The resurrected Christ has changed our view of death (vs. 8). Now there were resurrections before in the Old Testament as well as during the life of Christ but the resurrection of Christ is different. He never died again. He lives today after two thousand years. Because of His resurrection, we view death differently.

a. We view death from the outside (vs. 8a). It is hard for us to comprehend death. Milton Mayer once wrote in an essay “On Death”, “Death is the one idea that has no history. We do not know what to say about death because we do not know what to think about it, and we do not know what to think about it because we do not know what it is.”

The very name Smyrna reminds us that we do not know how to deal with death. The city was named for a substance, myrrh, used as a perfume as well as for anointing a dead body before burial. Burial practices around the world reflect this difficulty of dealing with death. Boettner writes in his book, “Immortality”, that in Greenland a deceased child was provided at burial with a dog to act as its guide in the hereafter. Religion seeks a purpose in death. Some promise a rebirth, others a happy future. Modern man has given up and concluded that death is simply the end and has no purpose.

b. Jesus, however, reveals to us a view of death from eternity (vs. 8b). He is the First and the Last. This title comes from the book of Isaiah where Yahweh tells His people that He is God and there is no one like Him. Isaiah 44:6b-7 says,
“I am the First and I am the Last;
Besides Me there is no God.
And who can proclaim as I do?
Then let him declare it and set it in order for Me,
Since I appointed the ancient people.
And the things that are coming and shall come,
Let them show these to them.
Do not fear, nor be afraid;
Have I not told you from that time, and declared it?”
You see, He existed before death and will exist after death has ceased. He is the one who allows death to exist and He allows death to exist because it fits into His eternal purpose. To adapt a saying from St. Augustine, “God judges it better to bring life out of death than to suffer no death to exist.”

That does not mean that we always understand His purpose. That is the point Isaiah is making. No one, no god, devil, man, or angel can set in order for the First and the Last the events of time or eternity and we certainly cannot discover the purpose of death. That had to be revealed to us through Jesus Christ, the First and Last.

c. Jesus Christ, the First and Last, however, is not a puppeteer playing with us, pulling our strings, very much in control but outside the play. No, He views death from the inside (vs. 8c). All men, Christians included must stop at the gate of death and say, “I do not know…” We can define and describe love, hate, exhilaration, and despair but we do not know from personal experience what it means to die. Jesus Christ, however, knows what it means to die. He knows what it means to suffer our fate. He knows what it means because He experienced it. He plays by the rules that He set for us. He took the medicine that each of us is scheduled to take.

“Joseph Damien was a missionary in the nineteenth century who ministered to people with leprosy on the island of Molokai, Hawaii…One morning before he was to lead them in their daily worship, he was pouring some hot water into a cup when the water swirled out and fell onto his bare foot. It took him a moment to realize that he had not felt any sensation. Gripped by the sudden fear of what this could mean, he poured more boiling water on the same spot. No feeling whatsoever. Damien immediately knew what had happened. As he walked tearfully to deliver his sermon, no one at first noticed the difference in his opening line. He normally began every sermon with, ‘My fellow believers,’ But this morning he began with, ‘My fellow lepers.’”

Without the death of Christ, I could not know the love of God for me. So now I have a different view of death. I still do not know it by experience but I understand now its purpose in revealing God’s love to me.

II. The resurrected Christ has changed our view of life on earth (vs. 9-10).

a. For us life is about this world (vs. 9). It does not matter whether you are wealthy or poor, healthy or sick, selfish or giving, surrounded by friends or isolated in loneliness, our life is about this world. These people were no different. Jesus said, I know your works, I know how you go about your daily life, I know your tribulations, I know the things that you are facing in the world, I know your poverty, how that you have lost jobs and family because of your faith in me, I know your present circumstances. I know about your enemies, people who claim to believe in me but are children of the devil. I know what they have planned for you, I know how long your trials are going to last, I know your future. But do not fear. Jesus addressed their present circumstances and their future danger. He did not call them to put on heavenly sunglasses and forget about the glare of this world.

b. What He did do is put this life in perspective for them. This life is about winning eternal life through lasting faith in Christ (vs. 10). That is why He was able to say, “Do not fear!” Jesus did not say, “I am going to deliver you out of your trouble.” Sometimes he does deliver us but often He does not because life is not about living without troubles and trials, without sorrow and pain. Life for the believer is about a constant faith, an enduring faith in Christ. That is why the Bible warns against a faith that does not last. The faith that does not last is not a real faith and will result in destruction. So my life is not about church or family or country or career or hobbies or friends or health or about myself. My life is to be about a constant display of my faith in Christ. Because He lives, I can live with a purpose, I can live the life of faith in Him, confident that when I die, I will receive the victor’s crown of eternal life.

III. That is what I mean when I say that the resurrected Christ has changed our view of life after death (vs. 10-11). In Christ, I have a new life, a resurrected life.

a. The resurrected life is victorious (vs. 10). One of the characters in Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress” Mr. Valiant-for-Truth was summoned home to the Celestial City. “He called his friends and told them of it. Then, said he, ‘I am going to my Father’s; and though with great difficulty I am got hither, yet now I do not repent me of all the trouble I have been at to arrive where I am…My marks and scars I carry with me, to be a witness for me, that I have fought His battles who now will be my rewarder.’…many accompanied him to the river side into which as he went he said, ‘Death, where is thy sting?’ And as he went down deeper, he said, ‘Grave, where is thy victory?’ So he passed over, and all the trumpets sounded for him on the other side.”

“…thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).

b. Resurrected life is protected from the second death (vs. 11). Our text says, shall not be hurt. This word is found in the New Testament, primarily in the book of Revelation. The second death is described for us in Revelation 20. It is the lake of fire, the place of damnation. But the believer in Christ is protected. Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life, he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.”

I may die physically but the resurrected Christ, the one who was dead and came to life promises to protect me from the second death. I may suffer now in some way or another but my hope for the future is the healing leaves of the tree of life, not the eternal hurt inflicted by the second death.
What is your view of death? Do you see in it God’s love for you in that He died for you?
What is your view of life? Do you see in it the opportunity to exercise constant faith in Christ?
What is your view of the life to come? Do you see victory and rest from your labors here?
If not, you can. You can begin today your walk of faith in Christ. You can begin today to experience God’s love. You can begin today to live for eternity. The resurrected Christ has made this possible. Trust Him today!

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Comments»

1. roberttalley - January 3, 2012

Our adult Sunday School class under Dale Billingsley is beginning a study this Sunday through the book of Revelation. Everyone is invited to attend.


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