Easter is a harsh reminder of reality.
– Holidays can be difficult for family who have lost loved ones.
– Easter is unlike Christmas where everyone with family & friends gather to exchange gifts.
– Easter somehow has something to do with eggs but 1) Bunnies don’t have eggs, 2) eggs spoil quickly.
– Easter is connected to religion but not many understand its importance and relevance.
Today I hope to accomplish two actions
1) Recognize your presence. Thanks for coming to celebrate with us. It’s an honor for us that you choose to gather with our church out of the several options available to you in our area.
– SPBC are sinners with a sinner pastor. You’d fit right in.
– SPBC is a shared place where we are united in membership and urgent in mission. We get a long so we gather at 506 Benfield, but we also have a purpose so we scatter in Severna Park, Anne Arundel County, and beyond to spread God’s love in word and deed.
○ SP, Pregnancy Clinic, SPAN,
○ LCC & JORB & The Well
○ Nicaragua – feeding 500K, sending 11+ in 2016 (we’ve sent 36 total / 17 from SPBC).
– SPBC is a church for and with its community.
2) Reach your heart and mind with the good news of Jesus’ resurrection. If this is your first time here we not seeking to get something from you as much as we want something for you – we want you to encounter Jesus in song and sermon. In today’s message I hope to help you see how Jesus’ death and resurrection makes all the difference in the world.
– At the close of today’s message there will be a response time. You may consider praying, singing, or perhaps even writing a note on a guest card to share with me or a friend about a faith decision you feel led to make.
– Next week April 3 we are having a baptism. Baptism is an external symbol of an inward faith. If you are trusting in Jesus Christ you should follow in baptism; it’s like a wedding ring to publicly proclaim your faith commitment and love toward God.
– Next week we are also beginning a series of sermons called Starting Point. If you are new to Christianity or want to explore the message of the Bible for what it means to have faith then this would be a great series of weeks for you to come, kick the tires, and test drive becoming a part of our church.
– On April 10 we will also share a training for Starting Point groups for both those who want to enter and those who want to lead a group. This will take place following that Sunday’s service with a special lunch and training session.
EXAMINE Matthew 27 – 28 3 reasons why Jesus’ life, death & resurrection makes a difference.
1) Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection meets us in the depth of our humanity (Matthew 27:45-61).
God could have communicated with humanity in any number of ways. In fact, God chose many methods in speaking to people through nature, dreams, and prophets (Heb 1:1). Yet, the greatest way God spoke to humanity was in the sending of His Son. When God wanted to reveal Himself in truth and love, Jesus showed up.
Jesus came to be one of us and lived [“tabernacled”] among us (John 1:14). Jesus’ life honors all human life as He lived in the womb of a woman (Lk 1:31), grew as a child (Lk 2:40), and matured into manhood (Lk 3:23). Jesus was “like us in every respect” (Heb 2:17; 4:15) so that He could identify with the depth of our humanity as God in the flesh.
Even more, Jesus experienced the pain and suffering of death that He may identify with the greatest depth of our humanity. Jesus’ death on the cross is the most mysterious and marvelous event in all of human history.
God in Christ died. To begin understanding God’s death one has to ask why He died?
– Jesus died to fulfill the will of His Father.
○ “Yet is was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief.” Isaiah 53:10
○ “Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:2
– Jesus died for our sins.
○ “He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5
– Jesus died to reverse the curse of sin.
○ “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.” Galatians 3:13
– Jesus died to reconcile us to God.
○ “For if we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” Romans 5:10
○ “In Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them.” 2Corinthians 5:19
○ “Christ also suffered once for our sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.” 1Peter 3:18
– Jesus died to show the power of His love to forgive sin.
○ “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
○ “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
○ “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1John 4:10
The results of Jesus’ death have at least two applications:
– à Take sin seriously. All sin – our sin – was the reason why Jesus had to die. When you sin, you are treating the cross with contempt.
○ For believer: Consider the cross as a means to slay sin and live in righteousness. Consider your sin nailed to the cross to die.
○ For unbeliever, Consider the cross as the length to God’s love for you. No one and nothing loves you the way God does.
– à Treat death sympathetically. Those around Jesus took great care for Jesus’ body. A man named Joseph requested the body and had it wrapped in a clean/unused linen cloth and laid it in a newly purchased tomb. Joseph’s sacrifice of his own tomb would be expensive because since Jesus was a criminal no others could be laid in the tomb, therefore Joseph would have had to purchase an additional tomb for his own family. The wrapping of Jesus’ body included a mixture of myrrh and aloes about 75lbs in weight as was Jewish burial custom (John 19:39). Following the Sabbath, ladies came to pay their respects to Jesus’ body (Matthew 28:1).
○ Dying and death are not treated with dignity in today’s age. Our world’s meaning of death with dignity is often to take the role of God. Only God determines the days of each life and we are not to rush or disregard the process.
○ Further, the role of funerals with gathering the love and support of family and friends can have invaluable meaning to comfort the grieving and celebrate the life. This is especially true for the believer who knows that death is a mere doorway into eternal life in heaven with Jesus and others of faith.
2) Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection meets us in our desire for heaven (Matthew 27:51-52; 28:1-10)
The disciples were confused, hurt, and frightened following Jesus’ death, They thought Jesus was the Messiah – Israel’s deliverer. They wanted to be free from Rome, from legalistic religious traditions, and most of all free from the struggles of sin and shame. But their hopes were beat to a bloody pulp and nailed to pieces of timber. Their desires struggled for breath and were ready to die as Jesus “cried out with a loud voice and yielded up His spirit” (27:50).
All of us realize something is missing from this life. We enjoy life’s blessings and gifts. Yet, at some point in life we realize that the world’s offerings promise to please but fail to fulfill. Disappointment, disaster, and death all take life’s joys away leaving us empty, which lead us to desire life beyond death. God has “put eternity into man’s heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Humanity is like one starving but locked outside a gourmet buffet, or a blind man standing on the edge of the massive marvel of the Grand Canyon. Deep within we know there is something all-satisfying and stunningly impressive but we cannot obtain it on our own. The yearning for eternity is woven into the fabric of all creation.
There is a fixed chasm between eternal heaven and earth (Luke 16:26). This is why the OT Jews set up the tabernacle with a series of three rooms. Veils/Curtains separated the rooms of the tabernacle symbolizing the division of flesh and Spirit, with the outer courts a place for the Gentiles separated by a wide curtain; the inner court only for Jews, the Holy Place for priests, and the Most Holy Place representing the presence of God, which was for the high priest to enter one time a year to offer sacrifices. The veil/curtain dividing the Holy Place & Most Holy Place was 60’ long and 30’ high and a hand’s (~4-6”) thick, it took 300 priests to maneuver it with legends that horses tied to each end could not tear it apart – so the tearing in two was a supernatural event.
Jesus is the true tabernacle.
John 1:14 tells us that “the Word became flesh and dwelt [Gk. σκηνόω] among us,”
Jesus became the God-man he “tabernacled” among us. (And of course Jesus spoke about “the temple of his body” [John 2:19, 21], and Paul taught that because we are united to the risen Messiah “our bodies are the temple of the living God” [2 Cor. 6:16].)
Jesus’ body is the curtain ripped in two that mediates the holy presence of God.
“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh. . . .” (Heb. 10:19-20). (See also Matthew 27:51: “the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.”)
– à God’s presence is accessible and heaven is available to all those who trust in Jesus. Further, today, we do not need to build a tabernacle or enter a church building to experience God’s presence. Every believer has instantaneous and infinite access to God and to the forgiveness of sins because of Christ’s death. When we understand this truth, at least 2 applications arise:
○ à Presence of God is in every moment. Every moment of every day God is there. This is comforting that no matter my circumstances that I am never alone, but it is also a concerning reminder that God’s eyes are watching every action and His ears hearing every conversation. Let God’s presence fill you with both comfort and concern that you may live rightly with integrity before Him and others.
○ à Prayer becomes priority. Since heaven is available, God’s ear is attentive for you to call and cry out to Him. Prayer is not meant to turn God into a fairytale genie but rather to turn us into faithful servants who know God and help others to know His voice.
3) Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection meets us with dreams for legacy (28:11-20).
This is the point where people turn away; this is the game-changer. Jesus did not come just to forgive sin and be a faithful presence in your life. Jesus came to transform your life that you live for His fame and not your own. Our desires and dreams must aim for a higher applause and greater acclaim. We will only be fulfilled when we invest our lives in others for the sake of the gospel.
The dividing point is do we really believe Jesus was resurrected. If we don’t then we are like every other religion to inform with a bunch of religious leader’s actions and moral advice. Yet, if Jesus did rise from the dead then the gospel is not just informative but transformative.
è If Jesus’ resurrection is true then it changes everything. And your deepest desires and greatest dreams will only be fulfilled through investing in the lives of other people with the gospel of Jesus.
Jesus’ resurrection is true.
– His tomb was empty. Every other religious leader from Buddha, Confucius, to Mohammed or Joseph Smith are all enshrined in a tomb and a place of worship for their movement. Not Jesus’ tomb – it’s unexciting and empty!
– His resurrection occurred on the third day in accordance with Scripture.
o Prophecies from OT (Psalm 16:10; Ps 22; Jonah/Mat 12:40; Isa 25:8, 53:8-12; Hosea 6:2)
o Prophecies from Jesus (Mat 12:38-40; Mk 8:31, 9:31, 10:33-34; Jn 2:18-22).
– His resurrection first testified by females. In the first century and prior, a woman’s testimony was not accepted as valid. Early Christians were mocked for the resurrection noticed first by Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of James, Salome, Joanna and other women (Matthew 28:1-10; Mark 16:1; Luke 24:10-11). This vital historical fact shows 1) the Scripture’s accuracy in simply stating what happened and not attempting to shape the narrative for its own theological ideology, and 2) Christianity would liberate the role of women to equal value of genders.
– His resurrection testified by apostles and over five-hundred witnesses (1Cor 15:6). This list of witnesses includes the Gospel testimonies: Matthew, Mark (Peter), Luke, John, but also many others. Specifically, James – the brother of Jesus, was convinced that Jesus was the resurrected Son of God. Think about that – what would it take to convince you that your sibling was divine? The point is that the eyewitness testimony was legit and validated early and has continued for centuries.
– His resurrection has been testified throughout history from the martyrs and writers of the first century to many whom are persecuted today. Some died and some live today for this sake. A person may die for a lie but not if they knew it was a lie. The Apostles, among many others knew Jesus was resurrected and were murdered in excruciating ways for the sake of this truth. Further, the Gospels do so much to tell the story as it happened. If I were a disciple writing story I’d list myself as full of faith, full of courage & strength to do miracles… but the Bible shows the disciples were often full of selfishness, fear, doubt. This is how we know the Biblical writings are not fairy tales or redacted years later, or that we are missing “true gospels”.
– His resurrection assures our resurrection. Almost everyone has hope of an after-life, why? The reason is because we were made for eternity. Those who trust in Jesus are united to Him and He to us. Therefore, we can live with the very same confidence that Jesus had while He walked on earth. Romans 6:5 “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” 1Corinthians 15:19-20, 22 “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead…For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.”
– His resurrection concludes not with final victory but with a command to be fulfilled. Jesus expected the disciples to go tell others and make disciples of all nations. And this is God’s plan for over 2K years, without a “plan B”. Isn’t that insane? Couldn’t there have been an easier strategy for transforming the world? Yes, but then we would be robots and miss the relationship with God and the community with others.
Wolfhart Pannenberg, German scholar at Tubingen “The evidence for Jesus’ resurrection is so strong that nobody would question it except for two things: First, it is a very unusual event. And second, if you believe it happened, you have to change the way you live.” 
è Jesus is not just looking for Deciders (converts) but Disciples who make Disciples. ARE YOU READY TO START THE JOURNEY?
è Resurrection means new beginnings – – – view God not just religious event but relational connection.
 Leon Morris, Pillar NT Commentary: Matthew 27:59-60.
 Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. Also see https://cbumgardner.wordpress.com/2010/04/06/the-thickness-of-the-temple-veil/.
 καταπέτασμα most often refers to the inner curtain; see Exod 26:31–35) rather than the “outer” curtain that covered the entrance to the temple structure itself. The splitting of the curtain ἀπ᾿ ἄνωθεν ἔως κάτω, “from top to bottom,” together with the passive verb ἐσχίσθη, “was split,” implying divine action, points to the event as an act of God… – Donald Hagner, Word Biblical Commentary Matthew 27:51.
 Quoted in Erwin Lutzer, Seven Reasons Why You Can Trust the Bible. p. 113