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Easter Sermon 2012 April 9, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Easter, Ezekiel, Power of God, Resurrection.
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Ezekiel 37:1-14

Easter is the celebration of the miraculous. You might say, so is Christmas; and you would be right. Easter, however, differs from Christmas in several significant ways, for example, with Easter we celebrate God’s victory over death. The virgin birth has a very important place in the life of Jesus Christ but it would have little or no meaning if Jesus had not risen from the dead.

In this vision that Ezekiel saw we have a good example of the impossible situation that death presents to us. In verses 1-2 we find that he is in an open valley surrounded by bones and these bones were very dry. They have been there a long time. There is no life in them at all. There is nothing in them from which one can find a spark of life and ignite.

God asks Ezekiel a question, “Can these bones live?” Ezekiel looked at these dry, dusty, brittle, fragmented bones and said, “O LORD God, You know.” Ezekiel recognized that this was an impossible situation.

1. Our most impossible situations need the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit (verse 14). Now this vision has to do with the regathering of the nation of Israel and the spiritual transformation of that nation. After the vision has been explained, God tells Ezekiel how he intends to accomplish the impossible, through the resurrecting power of the Holy Spirit.

a. Jesus was raised by this same power, the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus was not resuscitated. No man who suffered crucifixion and died after six hours on the cross would be able to survive. We have records of people who were taken off of crosses before they died but even these people soon died from their suffering. The cross may have been a slow death but there was no death more certain. Jesus did not revive because of the coolness of the tomb. He was wrapped in linen with up to one hundred pounds of spices. There is no way that he could have been resuscitated. The power of God was necessary to raise Jesus from the dead.

Romans 1:4 tells us why, so that we might know that He is the Son of God. “During the years following the French Revolution, there was a great turning away from the Christian religion. A certain man named La Revilliere concocted a new religion which he thought was far superior to Christianity, but had trouble convincing others to follow him. Seeking help, he went to the great diplomat Charles de Talleyrand for advice. His advice was simple. “To ensure success for your new religion, all you need to do is have yourself crucified and then rise from the dead on the third day” (borrowed from Ray Pritchard, keepbelieving.com).

b. We also receive life only through the power of the Spirit (Romans 8:11). The earlier verses of Romans 8 talk about this present life as lived by the Holy Spirit but there is coming a day when the Spirit will give life to our mortal bodies. How can I be confident that I will rise again? Because Jesus rose again and I will be raised by that same power.

“When Benjamin Franklin was 23 years old, he wrote an epitaph for himself. Though it was never actually used when he died many years later, the epitaph reflects deep spiritual truth:
The body of Benjamin Franklin, Printer(Like the Cover of an Old Book Its Contents torn Out And Stript of its Lettering and Gilding) Lies Here, Food for Worms. But the Work shall not be Lost; For it will (as he Believ’d) Appear once More In a New and More Elegant Edition Revised and Corrected By the Author” borrowed from Ray Pritchard at keepbelieving.com).

c. Any truly impossible situation we face demands the power of the Spirit, the power of the resurrection. In Romans 8 Paul is discussing the problem of sin in the Christian. He points out that this problem is no problem for the power that conquered death. We can be victorious over sin through the same power that made Jesus victorious over death.

2. Our most impossible situations need the transforming power of the Spirit. Ezekiel describes how this happened in his vision. Can you imagine such power that makes dry bones to hear God’s Word, to come together, to form muscle and flesh, to breath, to stand at attention as an army? That is a transformation.

a. Jesus was transformed at the resurrection through being exalted as man to the throne of God. Not only was he transformed positionally but Jesus also received a glorified body. His resurrection was physical not spiritual. This body not only is capable of going through walls and appearing (teleporting) if you will to wherever he wants to be, this body is capable of enduring the presence of God, where Jesus Himself is at this moment.

b. We are not resuscitated by the Spirit either but rather are born anew by the Spirit. We will also receive a glorified body like that of Christ when we are raised from the dead but I want to remind you that to be born anew begins now, before death. Jesus said to Nicodemus, you must be born again.

c. Our most impossible situations do not need tweaking but rather transformation.

“In 1501 a 26-year-old sculptor named Michelangelo was offered a considerable sum of money to produce something worthwhile from that enormous block of marble called “the giant.” As he began his work, he saw a major flaw near the bottom that had stymied other sculptors, including (it is said) Leonardo da Vinci. He decided to turn that part of the stone into a broken tree stump that would support the right leg. The rest he worked on for four years until he had produced the incomparable “David.” Today the seventeen-foot-tall statue stands on display at the Accademia Gallery in Florence where people come from around the world to view it. More than a masterpiece, it is one of the greatest works of art ever produced. It has been said that there is no statue more perfect.”

“How did he do it? Here is the answer in his own words: ‘In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to the other eyes as mine see it’” (borrowed again from Ray Pritchard; see his website at keepbelieving.com, I’ve borrowed his illustrations but his sermons are good also). In other words, “I chiseled away everything that did not look like David.

The resurrection of Christ is about hope but it is also about transforming power. What does God want you to be that you cannot be?