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How To Get Out Of Death Alive!

Matthew 28:1-20

It’s good to see you here today. You are here either because you know Easter is true or because you hope it is true. You are here either because Easter has claimed you or because you are thinking seriously about claiming it. You are here either because Christ has found you or because you want to be found by Him. You are here either because you have found the life which is able to defeat death or because you are hoping in Jesus Christ that you will be able to find that life. And I find that very exciting. So I thank God that you are here today, and I have asked God to help me proclaim to you the Easter message in such a way that you can learn how to get out of death alive. So here we go….

First, Easter puts a song in our hearts.

Easter lets us know just how wonderful we are. Think of it. God so loved each of us that He was willing to give His only begotten Son for our salvation. That in itself ought to work wonders for our sense of self-esteem. To realize that we are important enough for God to have given us an Easter.

You see, when you don’t have Easter in your life, there’s not much meaning or sense to be drawn from life. I mean, why work toward any noble purpose if in the end every noble purpose is going to die and be reduced to the dust of the earth. Why pour out your love to other people if you know that in the end every relationship you have cherished is going to be closed with a sad farewell and no possibility of meeting again? If life is nothing more than three-score years and ten or perhaps by reason of strength four-score years, if everything dies, decays and disappears, then what point is there in the whole human experience? Has God, if there is a God, simply made us as some kind of cruel joke? If that’s all there is then it isn’t enough.

But Easter says there is more. Easter is the truth that life is forever, that things do not end, that we are part of the forever family of God. Easter says that we are the children of God in Jesus Christ. When you begin to realize that and understand it, then it gives you a whole new image of yourself. You look at yourself in a different way. You begin to understand just how valuable you really are. Think of it. You and I are important enough for God to have given us Easter. And when we begin to understand that, it will put a song of joy in our hearts.

I love the story about the two city boys from Chicago who decided to leave the hustle and bustle of the city and seek a quieter life on a ranch in Texas. So they bought a little spread and then they read somewhere that if they were going to do this right they had to have a mule. So they went to a nearby rancher to see if they could buy a mule from him. The rancher said, “I’m sorry, I’m all out of mules.” The two city boys said, “Well, I guess we’ll have to come back when you get some.” And as they turned to leave they noticed stacked over against the barn a big pile of watermelons. One of the city boys said to the rancher, “What are those?” The rancher decided to have some fun with these two city boys and so he said, “Those are mule eggs.” And the city boy said, “You mean mules come out of those eggs?” And the rancher said, “That’s right.”

And so the city boy said, “Well, we could save ourselves a trip back if we just bought one of those mule eggs now and hatched it for ourselves.” And so the rancher sold them one of the watermelons. They put it in the back of their pickup and headed off down the road. On the way they hit a hole in the road and the jolt flipped the watermelon out of the back of the truck. It landed in the road and broke open. As they were trying to turn the truck around, a big Texas jackrabbit hopped out of the bush and sat right in the middle of the watermelon and began to eat. The city boys saw that and they said, “Look, it’s hatched.” They went up to get their mule, and that jackrabbit took off running. They began running in hot pursuit. They never even got close. Finally, the two city boys collapsed in exhaustion. One of them said, “Well, I guess we lost our mule.” And the other one said, “Just as well, I don’t think I could have plowed that fast, anyway.”

My friends, when you get the Easter song in your heart you are ready to plow through life faster and better and straighter and stronger than ever before because you know that your plowing doesn’t stop here. That ahead of you are new and glorious potentials more wonderful than anything you’ve known before. Remember that, please. We are important enough for God to have given us Easter. That will put a song of joy in your heart!

Secondly, Easter puts a voice in our ear.

Easter lets us know just how wonderful Jesus Christ is! Think for example of some of the things Jesus said. He said, “Come unto me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” He said, “The meek shall inherit the earth.” He said, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” He said, “Whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.” But, I suppose the most remarkable thing He said was, “I shall rise from the dead.” Surely that was the most astonishing claim He ever made—the most unbelievable thing He ever said. It runs so contrary to our experience and to history. But suppose that one line of His were a lie. Suppose He did not rise from the dead. Do you see what that would do to everything else He said? It would cast every other word He ever spoke into suspicious suspension. “Come with me.” How can we when He is gone? “The meek shall inherit the earth.” Not if they are buried within it. “Love your neighbor.” That’s just romantic balderdash. Get what you can get while you can get it because this is the only place you are going to have the chance to get it. “Those who believe in me shall never die.” Poppycock. The one who said it died. You see, if Jesus’ claim to rise from the dead did not come true, then everything else He said is rendered invalid.

But Easter is the announcement that what He said He could do, He did. It happened twenty centuries ago but there are two billion people on the face of the earth today who believe it. You see, Easter puts the voice of Jesus Christ in your ear and that word He speaks to us is a powerful life-changing, world-changing word.

Let me ask you: Who opened Africa to the light of civilization and to the light of the Gospel? Livingstone and Jesus. Who went to Labrador and took medicines for the body and medicines for the soul? Grenfell and Jesus. Who went to the Auca Indians in Ecuador even after they had taken the life of her husband? Elizabeth Elliot and Jesus. Who opened the door to the discovery for the cure for leprosy? Father Damien and Jesus. Who painted the Sistine Chapel? Michelangelo and Jesus. Who built St. Paul’s Cathedral? Christoper Wren and Jesus. Who took the children out of the coal mines in England? Wilberforce and Jesus. Who wrote the B-Minor Mass? Johann Sebastian Bach and Jesus. Who led the civil rights movement? Martin Luther King and Jesus. Who is cleaning up prisons across the length and breadth of this country? Charles Colson and Jesus.

My friends, when the voice of the risen Christ is speaking in your ear, you are motivated to do wonderful things. I have seen youngsters failing courses ultimately pass them because of an experience of faith. I have seen individuals unhappy in their work find new positivity in their purpose because of Jesus. I have seen athletes become better athletes, not because of steroids, but because of the Saviour. I have seen individuals set free from the practice of homosexuality by Jesus. I have seen alcoholics who couldn’t get away from the bottle transformed, not by those spirits, but by the Holy Spirit of God they met through Jesus. I’m not talking to you about things I have read about. I am telling you about things I have seen with my own eyes.

Mark it down, my beloved. When the voice of Jesus Christ is speaking in a person’s ear, when Christ’s word is being obeyed in a life, when that life is brought into harmony with Him and His will, there is a tremendous power introduced into that person’s life. There is no limit to the good that person can do. Yes, Easter puts a voice in our ear—the voice of the risen Christ!

Thirdly, Easter puts a light in our eye.

Easter lets us know just how wonderful our future is. We not only know from whence we have come, we also know where we are going. You and I, in Jesus Christ, are heaven bound.

I heard about a Methodist bishop who died a few years ago. Another bishop was called upon to preside at the funeral. Somehow the newspaper made a terrible mistake in the news story, they reversed the two bishops and thus printed the wrong obituary. When the presiding bishop saw this inadvertent announcement of his own death, he was understandably concerned. He was especially afraid that his son, who was away at college, might see the bogus obituary. So he made a long distance call. “Son,” he said. “I am glad I caught you. Did you see in the morning paper the report that I had died?” The son answered as only a college student would, “Sure did, Dad. By the way, where are you calling from?”

So many people come to me seeking assurance they are going to heaven. I can do no more than point them to the words of Jesus. “This is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life.” In Christ our future is not only secure, but it is also bright with the glory of heaven. Malcolm Muggeridge puts it this way: “We are living in time, but we belong to eternity.” The glorious fact that Easter proclaims to us is that life for us does not stop when death comes. Death is not a wall but a door. When you begin to grasp that in your life, it will put the light of hope in your eye.

The Europeans dreamed for years of being able to go around the southern tip of Africa and then on to the rich trading centers of India and China. But the passage around the southern tip of Africa was dangerous indeed. Terrible climatic and meteorological conditions exist there, making navigation in that area a deadly risk. They called that tip of Africa the Cape of Storms, and no one managed to succeed in sailing around it until a sailor explorer named Vasco da Gama. He sailed around that Cape of Storms, made it to the Far East, and came back to tell the story. It was then that they changed the name of that Cape from the “Cape of Storms” to the “Cape of Good Hope.” And so it is known even today. Well, the Easter Gospel is that Jesus Christ sailed into the fearsome storms of death, made it through alive, and came back to tell the story. By so doing, He transformed our fears about the future into the most wonderful and glorious good hope.

He says it Himself in the Gospel of John: “In my Father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself so that where I am, there you may be also. And where I am going you know, and the way you know. For I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me. So let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

That is the message of Easter—resurrection! That is what Christianity really is—a religion of resurrection! And that is what Jesus Christ offers to us today—the power of resurrection! You see, Easter puts a song in your heart. It lets you know what you are worth to God. Easter puts a voice in your ear. It lets you hear the counsel of the only begotten Son of God. Easter puts a light in your eye. It lets you catch a vision of the final glory and victory which are ours through Jesus Christ.

My friends, this is the only Gospel the New Testament knows. This is the only Gospel I could ever preach. Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead. He is risen. He is no longer dead, and He can come to live in your life. He can bring you safely through your earthly journey and He can lead you through the gates of heaven. He is risen for you.

Hallelujah! and Amen!

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