If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
These are the words of the Apostle Paul from the Bible.
We are to be most pitied if we do not have hope in Christ for the new life which is to come.
This life is good and the life that we have now is a gift from God.
We can receive new life here and now but eternal life that is truly what we hope for.
In fact, the Apostle Paul went so far as to say that if we only look for new life here than we are to be pitied.
But we have hope beyond the grave.
Why do we have this hope?
Let’s go back to the Biblical story.
Two thousand years ago… at the first Easter, on the first day of the week, when the women gathered together to enter the tomb there were no Halleluiah’s or Praise the Lord or Jesus is risen announcements.
There were no trumpets, no choirs, no organ music.
There was no joy or celebration.
Instead what you have is people who are completely terrified.
The women who first come to the tomb do not understand what has just happened.
Jesus is gone. Where did he go? Did someone take his body?
Later when the women tell the disciples what they saw and heard at the empty tomb the disciples do not understand either.
Today are we much different?
Are we still perplexed, confused, and even terrified by this truth?
Jesus, a man who was dead, is now alive.
How can we with our limited human minds ever comprehend what God has done?
God in God’s great spiritual power has raised God’s Son Jesus from the dead.
For you and for me – what does this mean for us?
First, we are placing our hope in a great mystery. Death which seems like such an enemy is suddenly destroyed.
Now death is no longer our enemy but it is the door into which we come to God.
In the hour of our death Jesus will meet us there to take us to God.
This is certainly a mystery that we cannot understand except by the power of the Holy Spirit moving in our lives.
Through the Spirit we are given the gift of faith to cling to this great hope that we hold together on this grand morning.
And because of the Spirit moving among us we do not need to be afraid but with joy we can worship our risen savior!
We sing: Jesus Christ is Risen Today. We announce: Alleluia! Christ is risen!
We pray that we would receive from God the gift of eternal through God’s Son Jesus.
Like the early Apostles we are witnesses to all these things that God has done.
This past week we have heard Jesus’ call to love one another and to eat and drink his body and blood.
We have walked with him to the cross.
And today, which is the greatest Sunday in the Church year, we can celebrate together the truth that Jesus is risen from the dead.
Now this changes everything.
We believe in a savior who is not dead but is alive.
Jesus walks with us through the ups and the downs of life.
Jesus enters into our weaknesses and meets us in our darkness and shadows.
Jesus heals us and forgives us.
Jesus freely offers us new life.
New life here but much more – Jesus offers us eternal life in the age to come.
Oh… this is truly a message that we never become tired of hearing.
Friends in Christ this is the Gospel. The good news of Christ’s redeeming love in our loves.
Because Jesus is risen we can be forgiven for all of our sins, because Jesus is alive our very lives can be changed and transformed, because Jesus is with us we can live forever with God in heaven.
And so I ask that you take this message with you today. Hear the promise of Jesus’ gift of new life for you this morning.
Take this message with you today.
And keep running with this message.
Take it with you throughout the rest of this week. And keep running with this message.
Take this message with you for the rest of this month. And keep running with this message. Keep going. Keep going. Cling to this hope that you have through faith.
And as you carry this message of hope.
Share it with someone.
Maybe it is as simple as sending a text to a friend or a family member.
Sometimes God can surprise us by how God will use us to reach others.
Recently, a friend of mine was going through a hard time in his life. He had just lost his job and he was really struggling.
He is not a very religious person and is sometimes even hostile to the church.
So I did this with some hesitation but I decided one day to send him a text with an encouraging Scripture promise.
I sent it to him not expecting a reply but almost immediately he replied back with: Thank you Tom for that Bible verse.
I was very surprised that he received the Word of God and I knew in that moment that the Spirit was at work.
Sometimes the people we reach out to do not respond back to us.
Sometimes we might be dismissed for our faith and for the hope that we keep inside of us.
My father used to say to me that some people you will be able to reach with the Gospel and some people you will not be able to reach.
Having this knowledge should not make us apathetic in our task of sharing the good news of Jesus.
We join God in the work of God in this world and trust that God will in fact, do something wonderful.
Listen, he raised a man who was dead from the grave.
That is what God did at the first Easter.
God turned this terrible, horrible thing that has happened to Jesus.
Jesus dying on the cross and then God choosing to raise Jesus and then choosing to transform the cross from this completely evil thing to this beautiful, wonderful thing.
So that when we look upon the cross we see not death, destruction, suffering, or evil but we see resurrection, joy, forgiveness, grace, and new life.
Only God could do this.
Only God could take something so awful so hateful and turn it into something so good.
This is how God operates in the world.
God is constantly at work in the world to bring about the healing of God’s good creation.
God is inviting us to be a part of this good work.
Believers in Christ, rejoice this day.
Today is a day to sing and to celebrate.
Believe in the miracle.
Know that new life is possible here and now and new life is possible even in death.
Jesus is risen!
This changes everything.
People of God rise up and tell others of this good news.