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Previous Message From Virtual Church

The Meaning of Easter

Matthew 28:2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. 5 The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: `He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you." 8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me." (NIV)

Unknowns in life are everywhere. We live with unknowns every day. Anything can happen to us. Anything from accidents, good fortune, or mistakes that hurt us. The worst thing to happen to us is death...whether it is our death or the death of others.

Before Jesus came to earth, mankind could not see past death. In many ways, we still cannot see past death. We get reports about it. We hear people recount their near-death experiences or NDE’s, but we still know very little about what we will experience beyond our last breath.

We have no power over death. We cannot change it. It happens to everyone.

Death is the great leveler of mankind. Every human will face an end. If we look at death only in a secular way, death is a terrible tragedy for the person who dies as well as for friends and loved ones of the deceased.

People hold hopes and expectations about their lives. Many people only look ahead the next few hours. Other people look ahead to tomorrow. Still others look ahead to next week, or next year. However, few people can honestly say they look forward to eternity.

In spite of the fact we all must die, most of us live in hope. Even when we live in hope, there is that cold reality of death which lurks in all our lives. However, when Jesus came back from being dead 3 days, He did not just leave with us a few sayings on how to live our lives. He left us with a hope beyond hope. Jesus’ resurrection left us with an expectation, a vision, even a knowledge, that death is not the end of our existence. Because Jesus was resurrected from death, we can live with a certainty that death is not the end of our lives.

As Vice President, George Bush represented the U.S. at the funeral of former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. Bush was deeply moved by a silent protest carried out by Brezhnev's widow. She stood motionless by the coffin until seconds before it was closed. Then, just as the soldiers touched the lid, Brezhnev's wife performed an act of great courage and hope, a gesture that must surely rank as one of the most profound acts of civil disobedience ever committed: She reached down and made the sign of the cross on her husband's chest. There in the citadel of secular, atheistic power, the wife of the man who had run it all hoped that her husband was wrong. She hoped there was another life, and that this other life was best represented by Jesus who died on the cross. She hoped this same Jesus might yet have mercy on her husband.

Jesus victory over death gives us optimism. There are many reasons to be pessimistic about this life and this earth. Mankind has been bent on self-destruction for a long time. We now have the nuclear firepower to destroy the life of every person on earth. In some countries that now have nuclear weapons there is now an active the desire to use them. However, now because of Christ’ death on the cross and His victory over death, we can be optimistic about our future. We can face death with optimism every minute, every hour, every day. Christians have eternity in heaven to look forward to. No matter how bad things are right now, or no matter how bad things get in the future, there is for us who have accepted Christ as our Savior, a great tomorrow that goes on forever and ever. We have before us a glorious tomorrow beyond words to describe.

A man once said the he could still recall a geography lesson from elementary school in which he learned that the southernmost point of Africa is a point that for centuries has experienced tremendous storms. For many years, no one even knew what lay beyond that cape, for no ship attempting to round that point had ever returned to tell the tale. Among the ancients, it was known as the "Cape of Storms," and for good reason. But then a Portuguese explorer in the sixteenth century, Vasco De Gama, successfully sailed around that very point and found beyond the wild raging storms, a great calm sea, and beyond that, the shores of India. The name of that cape was changed from the Cape of Storms to the Cape of Good Hope.

Jesus victory over death helps us hold on to our faith. By Jesus coming back, He gave our faith substance. Words fail us in so many situations. The ideas of faith and substance do not go together. For example, you can say you believe in angels, yet you may have never seen one and you can still believe they exist and are real. However, when you see an angel pick a car up off of child then you have substance to your faith. The difference is believing and BELIEVING!

Jesus’ victory over death enables us to trust Him. The word trust means confidence, reliance, or dependence. It is hard to trust what you cannot see, hear, or touch.

Because Jesus came back,
……..we can trust Him to be with us for ever and ever.

Because Jesus came back,
…….we know we can rely upon Him to have a new home ready for us in heaven.

Because Jesus came back,
……..we know we can depend upon Him to help us get through the really tough times here on earth.

Because Jesus came back,
……..we know we have someone who will stand with us for ever and ever.

Because Jesus came back,
………disaster was turned into enormous promise.

Years ago a tornado struck the prairies of Minnesota, killing many, injuring hundreds and almost demolishing the town of Rochester. An elderly doctor and his two sons worked for days aiding the stricken, bandaging wounds, and setting broken limbs. Their heroic work did not go unnoticed. Financial backing was offered for a large hospital, provided the doctor, and his sons took charge. They agreed, founding in 1889, their clinic soon attracted wide attention. For years, from fifteen to twenty operations were performed daily. People came from all walks of. life to the ‘Mayo Brothers’ Clinic. When the tornado struck, people reacted with, "God has forgotten!" Yet blessing came out of disaster, and today this prairie city is known around the world. This disastrous tornado resulted in a blessing to uncounted millions. What seemed to be a time of anguish and travail resulted in unimaginable blessings and victory.

If Jesus had just remained dead then what he had said and taught might have been written about but where would the trust in His truth be? Where would the trust in His higher power be?

We are willing to invest our lives in Him because He defeated death and came back to life. We can trust His words, His truth, and Him. We have or can have a real, live relationship with Him. We can have a real, live relationship with Him because He is alive this minute. Heaven does not exist on the other side of the universe. Heaven is just an instant away. And Jesus spirit, the essence of who He is, can live inside of us forever and ever.

By seeing Christ come back from death, we can trust God. Because God delivered for His Son we know He will deliver for us. Many people do not trust God.

They don’t think God is really there for them personally. They believe in God, but they believe in a God who is not a personal God. But God is a person of love and caring. God is a person of personal love and caring. To trust God requires we invest in Him and take a risk with Him. Easter shows us that we can take a risk with God. Easter shows us we can put our life in God’s hands and God will not fail us.

If Christ had not died and come back, He would probably have been considered a wise man. His wise teachings might have survived. His tragic figure on the Cross might have been memorialized. But there was something different about this man. He defeated death. He died and was dead for three days. He didn’t just die for a few minutes and have a near death experience. He was not just brain dead and then woke up. He really was, really dead. Because Jesus came back from death Easter is a celebration of victory. Because of Jesus, death has no sting.

If you are not visually impaired, you can see what is around you. Now we have a way to see forever. For those of us who accept Christ into our heart and life there is no such thing as "The End." The magnificence of Jesus victory over death is our victory if we want it. The magnificence of this event relates to our own future and the future of those we love and who die. When we lose someone, then God gains.

More importantly, the person we lose also gains. The person we lose gains the most perfect gift anyone could ever receive...life in heaven…for ever and ever.

When we lose someone we only lose temporarily. Our pain of loss is only temporary. When we lose someone our hope goes both ways. We not only have a real and active hope that the person we lose here on earth is still living, we can also have an active hope of surviving past our physical death as well. The fact for Christians is…we no longer just hope. We "KNOW!!!!" We know with a knowing that is not just a wispy hope but we KNOW with a certainty that a large part of the people on earth do not understand.

There is a real difference between hoping and knowing. Hope is an idea or feeling based upon a belief without concrete evidence. While knowing or knowledge, is based upon concrete evidence and experience. The Holy Spirit acts within a person to give concrete evidence and experience, that is, a knowing about the reality of Jesus’ life, His death on the Cross, and His resurrection.

Through the action of the Holy Spirit, we no longer just hope, we come to KNOW. We have seen the evidence. We have seen Jesus. He is ALIVE!!!!!

Some people will never believe. Even if you had a videotape of Jesus walking out of the tomb they would never believe. No matter how many witnesses you might have that came forward who testify that they had seen Jesus alive after His crucifixion…some people would not care whether He came back from death.

For many people, life is totally bleak. They do not care about much anyway. They do not care about others. They do not even care about themselves.

Some people believe Jesus was the Son of God, but they do not connect the dots. They fear the internal work it takes to connect meanings. They fear the consequences of looking at their own life. They would rather stay in their sin and live with their fear of death than make a decision to change their life and follow Christ.

A few people believe that Jesus came back from death. They see what all of it means. They take it in. They understand Jesus’ victory over death gives them the ability to see over the horizon. They understand Jesus’ being alive now, gives them and others who have accepted Christ as Savior, a vision so see over the horizon. For these few people, the things of earth do grow dim, in the glorious grandeur of heaven and Jesus love.

Easter…
It is about heaven.
It is about a guarantee of heaven.
Easter is about our having a chance to live a wonderful life in heaven, a place so wonderful we do not have words to describe it...all because Christ died for us.

Thank you, Lord Jesus.

May Christ Jesus bless you and keep you in His grace and love.

   

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Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (RSV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Copyright © 1952 [2nd edition, 1971] by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Entire contents copyright © 1999 - 2010 by Rev. Patrick Kelly, All rights reserved.
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Shepherd's Care Ministries author and webmaster, Rev. Patrick Kelly, is affiliated through ministerial ordination with Church of God Ministries, Anderson IN 46018