1 ¶ Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.
2 And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it.
3 His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow.
4 And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.
5 But the angel answered and said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified.
6 "He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
7 "And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you."
8 So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.
9 And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, "Rejoice!" So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him.
10 Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me."
Tell the story of a man working the switch house at a very busy railway junction and how he faced a decision to save a commuter train filled with people he didn’t know at the costs of his only son. What should he have done? What would you do? – Let me tell you what God did …
Two thousand years ago in the city of Jerusalem a 33 year old man named Jesus of Nazareth was falsely accused, wrongfully condemned and sentenced to die on a Roman cross. His only crime was that He upset the religious leaders of His day by demonstrating the love and power of God to deliver from demons, heal the sick, and forgive sins.
During His life, this same Jesus fed the hungry multitudes, paid taxes, faithfully attended synagogue, and kept the feasts. He lived according to the Law of Moses: He honored His parents, encouraged His friends and was kind to strangers. Both rich and poor, male and female, young and old, saint and sinner alike were accepted in His presence and blessed by His wisdom.
All Jesus ever wanted was to be accepted. He was both the Son of
God and the Son of man; Messiah of the Jews and Savior of the world; He came to us as a baby born in a manger; He grew to manhood, began His ministry and showed us His Father’s heart. Jesus overcame every temptation placed before Him and He was without sin.
On the full moon of Passover almost 2000 years ago, this Jesus, the Christ, willingly gave His life as a sacrificial offering to God in exchange as payment for your sins. History records that He was nailed to a wooden Roman cross at noon on a Friday. For 3 hours He hung, suspended between heaven and earth while all creation looked on until the penalty of mankind’s sin was once and for all - paid in full.
It took time for Jesus to look across the span of the ages, generation after generation, person after person, until finally He saw in His spirit every soul who would ever live and stretched Himself into their present life and took their sins upon Himself … then He cried: “It is finished!” With that He gave up the ghost and died in agony.
The scriptures tell us that He entered into death of His own choice at the request of His Father. In death He fulfilled the requirement eternity demanded so that mankind could once again be reconciled unto God. Sin was defeated that day, not only in the courts of heaven but also in every individual’s life from Adam to the last person born on planet earth.
We cannot calculate the exact amount of time He suffered to save each soul, but we do know that Jesus spent some time on the cross just for you. And, at some point during those three hours of agony, He had you on His mind and you in His heart. Personal eye witness accounts further record that some of the blood Jesus spilled on the ground came from His side … it poured forth, according to modern medical examiners, from the severe stress of a broken heart … Jesus’ heart was broken for you and He died in agony to give you a chance to know His Father God.
God set His seal of approval and acceptance upon Jesus of Nazareth, and declared Him to be the one and only Anointed Messiah, when after three days in the grave, God raised Him from the dead. No other claim need be given but that He is risen and He is alive!
All Jesus wants today is to be accepted. He is the Only Begotten Son of God, Messiah, Savior, Lord and Friend. He offered Himself to die in your place … God accepted His sacrifice and you have been invited to partake of that salvation which was so dearly purchased. God did not give His extra son, but His only Son.
Today you can be forgiven and begin a new life by simply accepting Jesus. It is happening for tens of thousands of people all around the world on this very day. You are not here this sanctuary this morning, or there watching our broadcast, by coincidence or happenstance – God has divinely ordered your steps and He is offering you one of Two Divine Opportunities.
Number One: If you have never accepted Jesus of Nazareth as Messiah and asked Him to be your Savior … Today is your day to be born again
John 3:7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ’You must be born again.’
If you will but recognize the faith which is already in your heart and acknowledge that you believe Jesus is Messiah, you will be forgiven of your sins and God will save and secure your soul for all eternity.
Romans 10:10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
It has happened, it has truly happened – Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, He was the last Passover Lamb, and He is alive!
Number Two: If you have been born again but are not living your life pleasing to God – Today is your day to repent and rededicate your life to Christ1 John 1
8 ¶ If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
If you will only repent, confess your sins to God alone, and return your life to His Lordship, He will forgive you, heal you, deliver you and all will be well with you.
I am going to ask the singers and musicians to make their way to the platform and prepare to lead us in worship to our Risen Savior. As they come will you bow your heads, close your eyes and shut off your mind to everything else but the voice of God.
This moment is a special moment not only for those of you sitting here in this congregation but also for those who are watching the broadcast today. This message is for you too … keep listening and participate with us.
In just a moment I am going to ask a question … listen carefully and then trust your heartfelt response. Are you ready?
How many of you can truthfully say in your heart on this Easter Sunday morning that if you were to die today, you know for sure that you would spend eternity in heaven … let me see your hand.
Thank God for all those hands all over the building and I’m sure there were many hands among our viewers as well. Praise God for your confidence in Christ and your choice to make heaven your home.
Unfortunately however, there were some who could not raise their hands in good conscience … some who are not sure, some who sit at the door of decision this morning … some who are in need of a Savior.
How many of you will be honest with yourself and say in your heart, “Pastor, If I were to die today I am not sure where I would spend eternity.” If that is you, raise your hand? Raise it as though you were reaching for the answer to life’s most important question.
Those of you who just raised your hand, stand to your feet.
Now I’m going to ask you to walk down here to me. Come forward this morning. These steps are the most important steps you will ever take in this life or throughout eternity. Stand and come forward for Christ. God did the hard part. As you come I want our salvation prayer partners to come forward and stand with them. Jesus said that if you would acknowledge Him before men, He would acknowledge you before His Father in heaven.
(Worship and Prayer for those in the altar before sending them with a prayer partner to the studio.)
Now for those of you still seated, I expect that you are born again believers, confident in your salvation and secure in your eternity. However, I yet have a solemn spiritual challenge for you as well: Will you take this precious moment on this special day to repent and rededicate your life to Jesus and His Lordship?
I’m not going to lead you through a step by step invitation. We are family and you are a child of God. I am simply going to offer you the chance you have been waiting for, an opportunity to stop the insane cycle of life and get back on track with God and His will for your life. There are prayer partners coming now, ready to receive you and pray with you.
Also, if there are any other needs you may have, healing in your body, guidance for your life, prayer for your family ... please take this opportunity to come forward and pray with one of our counselors.
Won’t you all stand for a personal time of prayer or if you will, please come forward and allow us to pray with you right now.
(Dismiss at the appropriate time … Go out with a shout! Happy Resurrection Day!!!)