Sermon title:  RESURRECTION SUNDAY

1 Corinthians 15

Immanuel Baptist Church – Sunday, April 12, 2020

 

 

The message of Easter is a message of victory.

 

Christ is risen.

 

Christ won the victory,

and Christ gives us the victory.

 

Our Lord Jesus died on the cross for our sins on Friday.

 

He was buried,

and then rose again the third day.

 

His resurrection gives us new life now

and the hope of eternal life with him

in heaven forever.

 

This Easter message is wonderful.

 

It’s the miracle of miracles.

 

The Easter message is joyful.

 

Our sins are forgiven

by a risen, living Savior.

 

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But it took a while

for the disciples to realize

that Christ was risen.

 

After Jesus’ dead body was taken down from the cross

and placed in a tomb

that tomb was sealed

and was guarded by Roman soldiers.

 

Some estimate a troop of 16 soldiers

would have made up such a guard unit.

 

But Christ rose from the dead.

 

An angel of God came down,

and rolled away the huge stone sealing the tomb.

 

The Roman soldiers guarding it

were stunned and became like dead men.

 

Then, when they came to, they deserted the scene.

 

Early Sunday morning, while it was still dark,

Mary Magdalene went to the tomb.

 

Salome and Mary the mother of James accompanied her.

 

They all saw that the stone

had been rolled awayfrom the entrance.

 

They assumed someone had taken Jesus’ body elsewhere.

 

Mary Magdalene ran to tell Peter and John

that his body had been removed from the tomb,

but in the meantime

the other women entered the tomb.

 

They encountered angels there

who reminded them of Jesus’ words

and assured them that Christ had risen.

 

After these women left the tomb,

Peter and John arrived--

--John first, then Peter trailing behind him,

and Mary Magdalene who had fetched them,

following along.

 

Peter and John were confused by the empty tomb,

and went home,

wondering what had happened.

 

They now believed what Mary Magdalene had said

that the body was gone from the tomb.

 

But they still didn’t understand

that Jesus had risen from the dead.

 

After Peter and John went home,

Mary Magdalene lingered at the tomb,

and Jesus appeared to her there,

and spoke with her.

 

Meanwhile, the other women

who had earlier accompanied Mary Magdalene

were returning home,

apparently by another route.

 

Matthew’s Gospel tells us that Jesus met them

and spoke with them.

 

They bowed down and worshiped him,

and Jesus told them to go tell the Apostles

about his resurrection.

 

Matthew also tells us that the Roman soldiers

who had been guarding the tomb,

had meanwhile gone back into the city.

 

There they reported to the Jewish chief priests

what they saw

when the angel who rolled back the stone.

 

The Jewish religious leaders bribed them

with a large amount of money

to make up a false story

and to say that Christ’s disciples

had stolen the body while they slept.

 

The women excitedly reported to the Apostles

the wonderful news that Christ was risen.

 

But the Apostles doubted,

and didn’t believe the women.

 

Beginning at Luke 24:9, we read,

 

9  When they came back from the tomb,

they told all these things

to the Eleven and to all the others.

 

10  It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna,

Mary the mother of James,

and the others with them

who told this to the apostles.

 

11  But they did not believe the women,

because their words seemed to them

like nonsense.

 

The Apostles were still lacking in faith.

 

Mark, Chapter 16, tells how the Apostles[

didn’t believe Mary Magdalene.

 

Mark 16, beginning at Verse 10    says,

 

She went and told

those who had been with him

and who were mourning and weeping.

 

When they heard that Jesus was alive

and that she had seen him,

they did not believe it.

 

But finally Mark 16:14 says,

 

Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven

as they were eating;

 

he rebuked them

for their lack of faith

and their stubborn refusal to believe

those who had seen him

after he had risen.

 

So, Christ gave them solid evidence that he is alive.

 

And that solid evidence

served as the foundation for Christian faith.

 

Acts Chapter 1 says, beginning in the 3rd Verse,

 

3 After his suffering,

he presented himself to them

and gave many convincing proofs

that he was alive.

 

He appeared to them

over a period of forty days

and spoke about the kingdom of God.

 

And finally,

 

he was taken up before their very eyes,

and a cloud hid him from their sight.

 

They were looking intently up into the sky

as he was going . . .

 

But, Matthew chapter 28 tells us

that, before Christ ascended into the sky,

he gave instructions.

 

He said,

 

“All authority in heaven and on earth

has been given to me.

 

19 Therefore go and make disciples

of all nations,

baptizing them

in the name of the Father and of the Son

and of the Holy Spirit,

 

20 and teaching them to obey

everything I have commanded you.

 

And surely I am with you always,

to the very end of the age.”

 

So, Christ’s resurrection

provided the foundation for Christianity.

 

And, because he rose from the grave,

never to die again,

he could promise us,

surely I am with you always,

to the very end of the age.”

 

The disciples carried out Jesus instructions,

just as we continue to carry them out today,

as we go and make disciples

of all nations.

 

And in 1st Corinthians Chapter 15,

the Apostle Paul sums it all up for us

in just a few verses.

 

He wrote around 30 years after Christ rose from the dead.

 

And it’s when Christianity was spreading

across the Roman Empire.

 

Paul himself played a large role in that,

when he brought the Gospel message

to cities and territories far and wide.

 

He begins that chapter of his letter

by saying,

 

1 Now, brothers, I want to remind you of

the gospel I preached to you,

which you received,

and in which you stand firm.

 

2 By this gospel you are saved,

if you hold firmly

to the word I preached to you.

 

Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

 

3 For what I received

I passed on to you as of first importance:

 

that Christ died for our sins

according to the Scriptures,

4 that He was buried,

that He was raised on the third day

according to the Scriptures,

5 and that He appeared to Cephas

and then to the Twelve.

 

6 After that, He appeared

to more than five hundred brothers at once,

most of whom are still living,

though some have fallen asleep.

 

7 Then He appeared to James,

then to all the apostles.

 

8 And last of all

He appeared to me also . . .

 

So, Paul reminded his readers

that the Gospel message

is based on the fact

that Christ died for our sins

and rose from the dead—

—a fact proved

by the testimony of hundreds of eyewitnesses.

 

Then, beginning in Verse 19, Paul elaborates

on how Christ’s rising from the dead

guarantees our hope of eternal life.

 

He says,

 

19 If our hope in Christ

is for this life alone,

we are to be pitied more than all men.

 

20 But Christ has indeed

been raised from the dead,

the firstfruits of those

who have fallen asleep.

 

21 For since death came through a man,

the resurrection of the dead

comes also through a man.

 

22 For as in Adam all die,

so in Christ all will be made alive. . . .

 

Paul reminded them in his letter

that the persecution and suffering

he and other Christians were enduring

would be pointless,

if Christ hadn’t given us

that hope of eternal life.

 

Paul experienced jail and beatings

and life-threatening dangers of every sort

in order to preach the Gospel

in dangerous places.

 

He would have been crazy to do that,

if he hadn’t been sure

of the promise of everlasting life in Christ.

 

He wrote,

If our hope in Christ

is for this life alone,

we are to be pitied more than all men.

 

But our hope in Christ is not for this life alone.

 

Christ is just

the firstfruits

of those who have fallen asleep in death,

to rise from the grave.

 

The sin of the first man, Adam,

brought death upon all his human offspring—

the whole human race.

 

But, as in Adam all die,

so in Christ all will be made alive.

 

Then Paul continues in Verse 50,

 

50 Now I declare to you, brothers,

that flesh and blood

cannot inherit the kingdom of God,

nor does the perishable

inherit the imperishable.

 

51 Listen, I tell you a mystery:

 

We will not all sleep,

but we will all be changed—

52 in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye,

at the last trumpet.

 

For the trumpet will sound,

the dead will be raised imperishable,

and we will be changed.

 

53 For the perishable

must be clothed with the imperishable,

and the mortal with immortality.

 

54 When the perishable

has been clothed with the imperishable

and the mortal with immortality,

then the saying that is written

will come to pass:

 

“Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

 

55 “Where, O Death, is your victory?

 

Where, O Death, is your sting?”

 

56 The sting of death is sin,

and the power of sin is the law.

 

57 But thanks be to God,

who gives us the victory

through our Lord Jesus Christ!

 

Christ won the victory over death.

 

And he gives us that victory.

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So, what should that motivate us to do?

 

Paul concludes,

 

58 Therefore, my beloved brothers,

be steadfast and immovable.

 

Always excel in the work of the Lord,

because you know

that your labor in the Lord

is not in vain.

 

When Jesus died on the cross

on that Good Friday 2,000 years ago,

it must have looked like the end

for that little group of 11 faithful apostles.

 

But when Jesus rose from the dead

that resurrection Sunday morning

he breathed new life into that little group,

and they began to grow

into a worldwide church.

 

We’ve seen a similar miracle of new life

in this little church.

 

Three years ago, I recall preaching

to just a dozen people.

 

Since then the church grew

to an average attendance of close to 30 people.

 

The Lord sent new people into the church—

people with a heart for Gospel outreach,

people with a heart for

visiting and caring for one another,

people with a heart for

caring for our offerings and collections,

people with a heart

for serving at our evening dinners

and ministering at our evening services.

 

And the Lord has breathed new life

into longtime members

to return to fellowship,

to repair the roof,

paint the walls,

upgrade the kitchen,

put on well-attended dinners,and do all sorts of other work

to maintain the house of the Lord.

 

But then the coronavirus shut down the building,

and it might have looked like the church would die.

 

Satan may have rejoiced

that we would not be able to meet in the sanctuary.

 

But, just as Christ rose from the grave

and won the victory over Satan,

Jesus has brought good

out of the bad thing that happened.

 

Although our attendance in person

had peaked around 32,

the coronavirus shut-down has raised that to 44.

 

Last Sunday, through Facebook Live video

and our audio call-in number,

we had 44 in attendance.

 

44 followed our service live,

and many more than that—close to 100 people—

watched and listened to the videos online.

 

And some of those folks

are talking about attending this church in person

when our building can open again.

 

So, Christ won the victory on the cross.

 

And he rose again from the grave.

 

And he is re-invigorating us today

to carry on the Gospel work

he has given us to do

with new life and strength

and hope for the future.