April 21, 2019
Pastor John Hering
51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—52 in a flash, 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 clothe itself 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 true: “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! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:51-57
: If you haven’t received the phone call yet, you will. You will be called to the hospital where someone you love is hours or minutes away from passing away. Then it happens. As surely as they breathed their first breath when they were born, they breath their last breath when they die. After you finish the things that need to be done you go home. That night you might go to bed and have some trouble falling asleep thinking about the day’s events. Then these words run through your mind again and again, “I know that my Redeemer lives!”
Easter is always a joyful festival. Even the world, which knows little about the real meaning of Easter, catches some of the joy of the resurrection. But we really begin to appreciate what it means to have a Redeemer who rose from the grave when we see someone we love lying cold and still in death. At times like this are we going to listen to the world’s answers, or are we going to listen to God’s answer and learn to say form the very bottom of our hearts,
“ But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
I’m so happy that you are all here today. For the Word of God before us reveals a great secret about Easter. For so many Easter is just another holiday, a day for family, special meals, baskets of goodies, hidden eggs, the Easter Bunny or that it’s time to plant your Spring garden. We enjoy all of these things, but let’s not get all wrapped up in them. There’s so much more to Easter! A lot more! So, today I’m going to reveal the secret about Easter that is better than sharing time with loved ones, eating Peeps and Jelly Beans, or coloring eggs. Are you ready? Here it is:
Easter Is Victory!
We all like to win! Just ask the Dallas Stars fans, or raging football fans, or even little league parents. I don’t think we know anyone who likes to lose. In fact, you probably want to win so much it is reflected in the way you conduct your life. You worked hard learning how to crawl and then walk. You worked hard to learn how to play a sport or a musical instrument. You work hard at your job to be the best, or your marriage to enjoy the most. You might change your ways to fit in with the people that will get help you get ahead. You say the right things, build the right relationships and if something doesn’t go right you analyze and give another go at it! How much of our life is spent on winning so that we’re not losing!
And when you do lose!—look out world! You’re playing Uno with your family and your 7 year old has Uno when the Draw Four card is laid—Temper Tantrum! You work faithfully at your job and your co-worker spend their time on Facebook and when year end bonuses come around they get the same you did—Frustration! You pay enough property taxes in order to have good schools for our kids and then you hear about kids having to appear in truancy court for skipping classes—I’d like to make those kids pay me back for so disrespecting me! We don’t like losing, laziness or waste!
And that is why you don’t like hearing about sin! Because sin calls us out to be a bunch of losers! I know you didn’t get all dressed up, find a parking spot, squeeze into a chair to hear that you’re a loser today. But we have to start there, with the hard truth, as uncomfortable as it is. Some of you will openly admit that sin has infected your heart and your actions. Let’s use potty mouth language as an easy example. Inside the walls of this church people probably aren’t going to hear you cussing and dropping F bombs. But in your real life, at home or at work and school I’m sure we would all be shocked at the words coming out of your mouth. James gives us the circumstantial evidence,
“Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?”
Our potty mouths convict us—we’re losers! Some Christians get defensive. “I try really hard to lead a pure and descent life in words and actions! That should count for something! Get the beam out of your own eye before you go judging me!” Yup! We’re losers! Some may not even care. Perhaps they don’t know or have forgotten what God says about their bad attitudes and disrespect for God’s holiness and his demands of perfection! Such sinful disobedience and rejection of God’s holy will separates you from him. That means you’re a loser and losers deserve nothing but death and eternal punishment. That means no matter how hard you struggle, how much you defend yourself, or even if you don’t care it will not change the fact that you will die! So Paul said,
“56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.”
You lose! Your own sin against God’s law gives death it’s sting. You’ll know it, next time you have to deal with the death of someone you love, or even your own death! That’s why you need the secret of Easter! You need the Easter Victory
Of the Lord
All know the joy of having someone on your team that is an ace! When the game is tied and you’re down to your last move and the best player on your team is next, your confidence is running pretty high. So it was for us by nature living in the cage of sin. We need Jesus to turn us from the cage of fear and sadness of the sting of death to the announcement of victory. Paul said,
“But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Jesus, being true God, left the glory of heaven to take on human flesh when he was born of Mary. Now, Jesus is also true man. He came to live the perfect life by never cursing, by never becoming defensive or by even taking the lazy way out. No! Jesus lived the perfect life we could never live. Then he came as our Substitute to offer his perfect life in place of sinful life. Jesus hit the bulls-eye of God’s demands every time with perfect shots. He never dropped the impossible weight of mankind’s sins as he walked the perfect life. Jesus wrestled the devil and pinned him. Jesus did it all right. Then as payment for all our sins to our Father in heaven he offered his holy, precious blood on the cross. Jesus satisfied God’s demands for you with his life and with his death. His death was victory for us all!
How do we know it all worked? Listen,
“Death has been swallowed up in victory!”
Jesus and death went head to head and the prize was your soul. Winner take all. How do we know it worked? Death sure thought I had won as life-less Jesus hung on that cross. But, look into Jesus’ tomb. Wait, it’s not his tomb anymore, because Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus destroyed death. He crushed it! He consumed death like a great meal and didn’t even leave a crumb behind. Death loses! Easter is Victory For Jesus!
You all know the feeling you get when someone wins! Maybe it’s your child who graduates from high school or collage. You didn’t graduate, but you sure feel great because that was your kids! Maybe it’s a wedding. You didn’t just get marriage, but you sure feel great because you’re so happy! Maybe it’s your favorite team that wins and they are all jumping around cheering. You didn’t play the game, but you sure feel great because that’s your team! Even after the game when they’re interviewing the coach what is it they always say, “This championship was for all our great fans!”
You didn’t fight the battle against sin. Oh, you might have tried, but you failed. We didn’t didn’t crush Satan’s head. Oh, you might have tried, but avoid his temptations, but you failed. We didn’t walk into the hall of death and step foot into hell itself. Oh, if you tried, you would lose. Only Jesus could do this for us. Only Jesus paid for sin, crushed Satan and removed the sting of death. Yes, The Easter Victory for Jesus is the victory he graciously gives to you. Therefore, you are not a loser destined for eternal death and punishment as the biggest loser of all, but you are the winner!
As God’s own dear winner your life will not end in death, but death is your gateway into eternal life in heaven.
“51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—52 in a flash, 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 clothe itself 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 true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
Yes, the day will come when we will breath our last, because the body we have right now will perish. When that happens Easter eggs, jelly beans and bunnies won’t help me. What we need is the secret of Easter—The Victory of Jesus. For, when Jesus returns with the trumpet call of God, in a flash, with all his angels with him, we will be raised from the dead with perfect, holy, glorious bodies to live with Jesus in heaven forever. How do we know? The tomb is empty! Jesus won the Easter victory for you. Amen.