The World shouts Hate, Tomb Shouts Love - Easter 2017

The World shouts Hate, Tomb Shouts Love  -  Easter 2017

 

Intro

It’s hard to imagine the hate directed towards Jesus on the day He was crucified. He was beaten and tortured by wicked men.

They spit on Him, they plucked the beard from His face. The slammed the crown of thorns onto His head.

The beat Him with a cat of nine tails.

They drove railroad spikes into His hands and feet.

Everything that they did shouted out ‘I hate you.’

But everything Jesus did shouted ‘I love you.’

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:43-44)

Jesus wasn’t surprised by anything that happened on the cross. He expected all of it.

But He responded with love.

In John 15 Jesus said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first…Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:18, 13)

When God touches you with His love you no longer have any room in your heart for hate.

 

It was Easter Sunday, 1973. Uganda groaned under the terror of Idi Amin. Still fresh in young Pastor Kefa Sempangi’s memory was a face burned beyond recognition, the sight of soldiers cruelly beating a man, and the horrible sound of boots crushing bones—all for the crime of being a Christian. But Easter of 1973 Pastor Sempangi bravely and openly preached on the risen Lord in his town’s football stadium to over 7,000 people. After the service, five of Idi Amin’s Secret Police followed Sempangi back to his church and closed the door behind them. Five rifles pointed at Sempangi’s face. “We are going to kill you for disobeying Amin’s orders,” said the captian. “If you have something to say, say it before you die.” Sempangi, thinking of his beautiful wife and lovely little girl, began to shake. But the risen Lord living in his heart gave him the courage to speak. “Do what you must,” he said. “The Word of God says that in Christ I am already dead, and that my real life is hidden with Him in God. It is not my life that is in danger, but yours. I am alive in the risen Lord but you are still dead in your sins. May He spare you from eternal destruction.”

 The leader looked at Sempangi for a long time. Then he lowered his gun and said, “Will you pray for us?” Sempangi did, and those five officers, were converted through the witness of Sempangi’s bravery. They also became his protectors rather than his aggressors.

 

The message of Easter is that God can turn hatred into love.

How much does God love you? Stretch out your hands and say ‘This much.’

 

I.  Many say ‘Failure’ but the tomb shouts ‘Forgiven’

  • From an earthly perspective Jesus would look like a failure.
  • He died at 33, without a home or a company. He never wrote a book. He was a teacher, but not in a school. He was a healer, but never built a hospital.
  • From a worldly standpoint, He was a failure.
  • When Jesus was on the cross He spoke these powerful words, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34) But the Greek verb indicates He didn’t just say it once. It literally says, “He KEPT saying, ‘Father forgive them.” Imagine when the soldier knelt to pound in the spike, Jesus said, “Father forgive them.” When they lifted him up in to the sky He said, “Father forgive them.” When they walked by and insulted Him, He said, “Father forgive them.”
  • When it comes to sin, we’re all failures.
  • Think about Peter. He was the leader of the disciples, but when it really counted he denied Christ 3 times.
  • He had to have felt like a failure.
  • Jesus had forgiveness for Peter. And He’s got it for you too.
  • At Easter we often focus on the crucifixion and the resurrection. Those 3 days in the tomb were important too.
  • The Bible says something was buried with Jesus. It was our sin.
  • In fact, Baptism is a symbol of this burial.
  • Romans 6:4  “Buried with Him in baptism, we are raised to walk in newness of life.”
  • It was our ‘old self’ that was buried with Him for that 3 days.

 

“Many years ago, a father and his daughter were walking through the grass on the Canadian prairie. In the distance, they saw a prairie fire, and they realized that it would soon engulf them. The father knew there was only one way of escape: they would quickly begin a fire right where they were and burn a large patch of grass. When the huge fire drew near, they then would stand on the section that had already burned. When the flames did approach them, the girl was terrified but her father assured her, ‘The flames can’t get to us. We are standing where the fire has already been.’”

There’s a line from a great old hymn that has been rediscovered by Casting Crowns and other groups: “Living He loved me; Dying He saved me; Buried He carried my sins far away; Rising He justified freely forever; One day He’s coming, Oh Glorious Day!”

 II.  Some say ‘Dead’, but the Tomb Shouts ‘Alive’

  • Nearing Sundown on the day that Jesus was crucified the Jewish leaders didn’t want the people being crucified to hang there on the Sabbath
  • This was a special Passover Sabbath so the Jews asked the Roman guards to take care of the 3 men being crucified that day.
  • The soldiers took an iron mallet and broke the legs of the two thieves, without being able to push yourself up to breath then you’d die of suffocation very quickly.
  • When they came to Jesus they found that He had already died. To make sure that Jesus was dead they took a spear and thrust it under His ribcage to pierce the pericardial sack, which caused blood and water to flow out of His side.
  • The Roman centurion came and certified Jesus’ death, just like a medical examiner does today.
  • Probably the Jewish leaders wiped their hands and said, ‘it’s done. Problem solved.’
  • Satan and his demons probably laughed with glee. Happy at the apparent outcome.
  • But when the world shouts ‘dead’ God can echo ‘Alive’
  • Luke 24:5-6 says that when two women arrived at the tomb they saw an angel ‘And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee,’
  • This planet is littered with the graves of literally millions of people. Some are famous. Most aren’t. Pyramids in Egypt are tombs. The Taj Mahal in India is a mausoleum.
  • Kings of the Ming Dynasty are buried in massive tombs with each one covering 100 acres.
  • Go to each one of those tombs and you’ll find a body. Go to the tomb of Jesus and it is still empty.
  • If you’re here today and your skeptical. Answer the question ‘what happened to the body of Jesus?’
  • From the start His followers claimed that He was alive. Not that He was alive in their hearts but that He was alive. That they had seen Him, heard Him and touched Him.
  • Now if we think about how they had invented the story. Why? The only motive would be personal gain.
  • What did they gain? Stephen was stoned to death, James was thrown off the corner of the Temple Mount then stoned to death.
  • Bartholomew was skinned alive, Matthew was murdered in Ethiopia. Mark was dragged through the streets until he was dead. James was beheaded. Jude was shot to death with arrows.
  • Peter was crucified upside down and Paul was beheaded. Don’t you think one of them would have recanted. They all died because they refused to say that Jesus hadn’t risen from the dead
  • If they knew it was true, why did they all die for it. Why did all of them suffer and be subjected to cruel pain and torture for nothing? Would you? Would I?
  • You know the ratio of death is 1 to 1. 1 out of every 1 person dies. The question is not do people die, the question is what happens when a person dies?
  • The resurrection of Christ tells us that the grave is not the end.
  • A few years ago a letter went out from the Greenville County, SC Department of Social Services. It went to more than 50 former residents.
  • This is what it said ‘To whom it may concern: Your food stamps will be stopped effective immediately, because we have received notice that you passed away. You may reapply if there is a change in your circumstances.’
  • Good luck with that!
  • DL Moody said ‘"Some day you will read in the papers that D.L. Moody, of East Northfield, is dead. Don't you believe a word of it! At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now. I shall have gone up higher, that is all-out of this old clay tenement into a house that is immortal; a body that death cannot touch, that sin cannot taint, a body fashioned like unto his glorious body. I was born of the flesh in 1837. I was born of the Spirit in 1856. That which is born of the flesh may die. That which is born of the Spirit will live forever."

    "As I go into a cemetery I like to think of the time when the dead shall rise from their graves. ... Thank God, our friends are not buried; they are only sown!"
  • Because of Easter when we die, the world will write dead on our obituary. But God will write ‘alive.
  • John 11:25-26 ‘Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.[a] Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
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III.  Some say it’s hopeless, but the Tomb yells ‘Hope.’

  • In 1927 the Navy lost the submarine S-4 after a collision with a Coast Guard Cutter. The first divers to reach the sub could hear a tapping coming from inside the submarine. A crewmember was tapping, ‘Is there any hope?’Sadly all of those sailors lost their lives.
  • We too can look at our circumstances, at our world, our families and ask ‘is there any hope?’
  • A person can live 40 days without food, 4 days without water, 8 minutes without air but we can’t live at all without hope.
  • The Resurrection of Christ gives us hope. In this life and in the life to come.
  • 1 Cor 15:14; 19-20 ‘ And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.;  If in Christ we have hope[b] in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.’
  • Heb 6:19 says ‘We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.’
  • Without Christs’ resurrection, a cemetery is nothing but a place of sadness and tears. I’ve stood by a lot of graves where family members said goodbye to their loved ones. Some think it’s the end. But for a Christian it is a place of hope!
  • Paul wrote that we ‘do not grieve as those who have no hope.’ When we cry we know that death is not the end.
  • We know that we’ll see our loved ones again who have placed their faith in Christ.
  • Do you have hope? Hope is a lot better than pessimism.
  • If you’re an optimist you see a glass half full, if you’re a pessimist it’s half empty. If you’re a follower of Christ it’s a glass held in the hands of God.
  • There’s no reason to worry about the future if you know who hold’s the future in His right hand.

Conclusion

  • Most reputable scholars believe Jesus was buried in a place called the ‘Garden Tomb.’
  • When archaeologists found this place they determined that there was a large section of garden operating from the time of Jesus.
  • Scientists took samples from the tomb looking for DNA. They determined that there were no human remains ever present in the tomb.
  • In other words, scientist’s new that it was either a tomb that never held a body or it was a tomb that was never used when Jesus was placed in it.
  • And of course, Jesus’ body did not decay.
  • The Garden Tomb is located less than 100 yds from a rock cliff that looks like the face of a skull. The Bible verifies that Jesus’ tomb was located in a garden and very close to the place of His crucifixion.
  • John 19:41 says ‘at the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid.’
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  January 2018  
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