Theme: HOPE AND NEW LIFE The miraculous birth, powerful life of ministry, and even the sacrificial

death of Jesus’ hardly mean anything without the resurrection. The resurrection is the most crucial point of all history. It is the point where Jesus defeated death once and for all time, and he proved his power as God. The resurrection gives meaning and validates everything Jesus did, and, if we let it, it can give new meaning to everything we do too. If there were no resurrection, we would have no faith. It is what defines our faith as Christians and gives us hope, and gives us new life. Paul even tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:14, “If Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless.” Easter is the most important day of the Christian calendar for a reason. It is because nothing else has had the same extraordinary impact that the Resurrection has. It is the hinge-point of all creation. In preparation for this, I asked a few friends what the Resurrection means to them, what impact it has had on their lives, or even on the world in general. Some responders called it the pinnacle of the redemption of humanity, it gives purpose and meaning to our faith, it’s the answer to all the questions we make for ourselves. These are all great answers and could create whole sermons in themselves. But for me, and for what I want to focus on now, what the Resurrection does is to bring hope. It is the hope of new life in us, and the hope of eternal life and reconciliation with God. The Resurrection shows Christ’s victory over death. It is a magnificent triumph over the inevitable grasp that death will have on all humans. We are born, we live, and we die—death takes us all. But Christ changes all of that. He goes willingly into death and rises above it. He is victorious! O Death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting? What victory! Christ had to be resurrected. He couldn’t just die. That wouldn’t have meant much. The resurrection shows us that God, in Christ, has power over death. He is God over everything, even down to the deepest and most inevitable truths of life. And this fact means everything in the world. It changes everything. You see, Christ’s death and resurrection parallels our own. As Christians, we are called to die to our old selves, our sinful fleshly lives, and live new lives in Christ. As Christ died, so we die to ourselves. As He is raised up, so we are raised up in new life. Because of Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection, we have that power over death within us if we belong to Christ. We have been given new life. Just as Christ couldn’t just die, neither can we. Becoming dead to our sins and our old lives is not enough. We have to live this new life. That’s why it’s so dangerous for Christianity to become a religion of “don’ts.” It can’t just be about the rules of what we can’t do, because we’re Christians and we’re not supposed to. It has to be about living this new life. The resurrection, this power, is within us. Death without resurrection is just that—death. As Christians, we must continue to die to ourselves everyday and be reborn everyday in Christ. Please don’t view the Resurrection as a transaction that frees us from our sins and helps us keep living the status quo of our lives. You can’t encounter the Cross and the Resurrection of Christ and come away unchanged. When we say we have new life, we have new life. And we have hope in this life. Where there was only despair and dejection in the old life, hope fills us up in this new life. It is what drives us, what heals us, and what leads us to the Cross to worship. To illustrate this, I want to look at a different resurrection story. It is the story of Lazarus. If you remember, Lazarus is the dude who was a friend of Jesus. He got really sick, and he died. When Jesus comes onto the scene,

Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha, are there, distraught and in deep mourning. Martha runs up to Jesus, and says, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Jesus comforts her and says, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha just takes this as mere condolence and replies, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day,” because many of the Jews in that day believed that in the end, God would raise up his people from the dead. Martha had hope, but it was a far off, distant hope that she could hold on to for some sense of security. And do you remember how Jesus responds to her? He says, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” Whoa. That is one heavy statement. Martha believes that there is hope—eventually. But Jesus tells her, No—hope is here NOW! I am that hope! I am the resurrection! I am the life! The same goes for us. We don’t hold all of our hope merely in a future and distant heaven after we die—we have hope here now, in Christ, because of what He’s done in dying and resurrecting himself. You know how the rest of the story goes. Jesus goes to the tomb where Lazarus is buried and orders people to roll away the stone covering it, even though it’s going to smell something awful. He calls out, “Lazarus, come forth!” I have new life to give you, man! It’s here! There’s hope, there’s life in Christ. He invites us to come forth too, invites us into this new life. If we belong to Christ, we have that hope, that resurrection, that life, within us. 2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us that “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” We will never be the same. All of creation will never be the same. Christ’s resurrection changes everything. It opens up doors that we never knew before; it invites us into God’s glorious Kingdom! We are invited to take part in this Kingdom because we are no longer bound to sin and death! His Kingdom starts here and now, among us. The resurrection is made real in us, and the Kingdom of God starts within us. 2 Timothy 2:11-12 tells us, “If we died with him, we will also live with him. If we endure we will also reign with him.” We must endure through all the tough times that come about in our lives—and we can because of this hope that is given to us in Christ. When we endure, when we truly live in Christ, we will reign with him forever. Hope is a crucial part of this new life. Following Christ is about living in this hope, and letting this hope shape how we live. Ask yourself this question: Am I really living, or am I simply breathing and walking and doing a job? We are followers of Christ, and we have this hope, this new life. What a privilege! What an honor! Let us live our lives in gratitude for this gift. Let us never forget about this hope. Let us never forget the cost of it. Christ had died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again. Let’s praise Him! Because of his great sacrifice, He is exalted over everything, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father! He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, He is the Word made flesh, He is the great I AM, and He—is our hope.