Pastor Gene brings our Easter message about our risen Savior Jesus Christ.
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good morning welcome happy easter if you're new here among us my name is gene i serve here at c3 church as your lead pastor and some of you looked lost when you came in here you're like somebody's in my spot i gotta sit up front now well you dressed up nice for it so that's that was that was good uh you ever forget where you put something as we get older as i i get older anyway i sometimes forget things i forget where i put stuff now kids make fun of us when we do this they think it's funny i used to do this so if there's a thing such as karma this is what happens to me i lose things i used to laugh at my mom she used to lose her glasses all the time she put him on top of her head and then look around the house for him where did i put my glasses and as we get older we talk to ourselves too right so i just think it was really funny when i was a little kid to watch my mom where did i put my glasses when i was really little i couldn't help myself mom you're still either on top of your head you know but as i got older i learned to restrain myself a little bit entertain myself watching or try to find the glasses all over the place now in easter we intentionally lose things when i was a kid we used to have the easter egg hunt get the plastic easter eggs and they put the candy inside there and hide them all over the house and every year it seems as if my parents had the same conversation about the eggs did we get them all are we missing any every year and every year it seemed as if maybe a couple days later a week later you find one and then sometimes many years later we found them into adulthood has that ever happened to you no here's the real question if it has did you eat the candy did you eat the old candy how long does it take before jelly beans expire nobody seems to know now you're all going to check you're going to look at the jelly bean bags when you get home do these ever expire there were a lot of things about childhood that were funny growing up but i'll tell you what was not funny was when we got lost that wasn't funny you see my mom would take me out and about to allow different places at least it's a normal ringtone and i didn't mind some places like the grocery store was fun because if you were really good you got candy right at the checkout they have all the different kinds of candy so that was cool the mall not cool because we wouldn't spend a whole lot of time in the stores i liked like toys r us nope candy store nope my mom always shop for clothes or it seemed that way and that was boring except the dress barn i liked the dress barn it was kind of cool lots of places to play and hide i especially liked the rounders the clothing rounders i would go under there and pretend i was in a tent or spaceship or something i get creative and one time i found myself in the spaceship for way longer than normal i started thinking my mom can't be actually buying anything she just browses all the time what's taking so long so i left the spaceship i came out and i did what we do as kids when we get lost mom mom that turns into mommy mommy start panicking sorry sound guy john's awesome the store employee comes over and this is really funny because they say the same thing every time don't worry we'll find your mom mom's not the one who's lost she probably doesn't need to be found i am lost so i'm panicking right i don't know what my mom was thinking maybe she thought i was following her out maybe she's trying to get rid of me i don't know highly plausible to this day we'll never know so she went to the places she thought i would be toys r us the candy store i wasn't there so she decided i'll retrace my steps comes back to the dress barn and she sees me in the distance what does she do she runs up to me gives me a big hug a kiss and then what's wrong with you never do that to me again you almost gave me a heart attack a flip of the switch this is the reaction when the child that was once lost is found southwest florida some of you may be visiting you may not be aware that in southwest florida we lose old people all the time it's called the silver alerts if you saw it on 75 you're driving and then you see the signs look we lost one you know gray hair you know blue honda civic or whatever it is it's true you can laugh it's okay what if we lost a famous person now i bet you can all think of famous people you hope will get lost right no names but what if i told you that we actually lost one of the most famous people in history nope he's not one of the most famous people in history he had a little delay on that one i'm on the next joke we lost alexander the great they don't know where the tomb of alexander is to this day they're still looking for him think about it for a second one of the greatest leaders all of history it's why the bible is written in greek he conquered so much of the world he's so famous yet they lost him did they forget to write it down how could they lose someone like that how can you not know where you buried someone so famous but in contrast in jesus's case they knew exactly where they put him jesus was crucified he died they thought they lost him to this life but there was no doubt about where they put him after he dies a guy named joseph of arimathea asks pilate for jesus's body he was a member of the jewish council but he didn't agree with them he's kind of curious so he asks pilate for the body pilate grants his request he with the help of nicodemus they prepared jesus body for burial 75 pounds or so of spices a long linen sheet they wrap him up they put him in a tomb carved out of rock he rolls to stone in front of him the jewish leaders later they go to pilate and they say well jesus was alive he was saying he was going to rise from the dead we don't want his disciples to steal the body and claim that he rose from the dead so take precautions so pilate orders that the tomb is sealed guards are placed there to guard it so it can't happen sunday sunday's coming sunday comes an angel comes down from heaven there's an earthquake the stone rolls away the guards pass out they faint now women were watching when jesus was buried and so now they decide after observing the sabbath to come on sunday morning and anoint jesus's body they're talking to each other about it and they're saying oh how are you going to roll the stone away kind of heavy they get there and they didn't need to it's been rolled away they entered the tomb they thought they lost jesus someone must have stolen him no angels appear and they let him know why are you searching here among the dead for the living jesus has risen he told you about that go tell the other disciples and so they do and then jesus appears to them the disciples and others that's what we celebrate today they thought he was lost but now he's found and they remembered to write it down you see it's not just the people that were witnesses remarkable that women were witnesses they were the first to witness crazy especially that time in history women weren't allowed to be witnesses in a court of law the gospel flips everything upside down doesn't it pretty amazing they're witnesses but he made sure to write it down kind of important so many scholars historians will call the gospel accounts and the books of the new testament portion of the bible witnesses because that's what they are matthew mark luke john witnesses matthew levi the tax collector he's an apostle he's a witness to life and ministry of jesus christ mark probably a little kid at the time still a witness luke interviewed many witnesses checked out all the facts he's also a part of the history of the early church he appears in acts john the disciple jesus love is an apostle a witness to the events and then we have other witnesses 27 books of the new testament they're witnesses to jesus to the early church they're important and they're all written in a witness period remarkable for writings of that time yet some still doubt however nobody seems to doubt alexander do they you just take it at face value of course he did this that and the other thing everything you've learned about him you just say yeah nobody doubts it right universities colleges kids are pretty confident in alexander the great but so many of them doubt jesus especially what we celebrate today but here's the difference between the writings about jesus and the writings about alexander the great when we compare them we see that the best works we have there's one life of alexander by plutarch it was written around the same timeish as the gospels around 100 a.d or so but here's the problem alexander the great died in 323 bc june or july we're not sure that's about 400 years before life of alexander now there's some other writings but they're not so good they come around 300 years after alexander dies not in a witness period that's all we have now that's all we can read yet nobody doubts it interesting you contrast that with the writings about jesus way better evidence for everything jesus did than for alexander amazing yeah people doubt and in the early church they did too this is why first corinthians chapter 15 is written they're doubting the resurrection now first corinthians is special and i know even if you've never picked up a bible and read it you've heard first corinthians 15 at a wedding beautiful poetry it's great but paul an apostle has a different reason for writing than your wedding first corinthians 15 is very important it's a defense of the resurrection when it's in doubt it comes about 25 years after jesus is crucified and for this time in history that's remarkably close to the events they normally wait a long time this is very very close the resurrection is extremely important it can be argued that easter is the most important holiday or thing that we celebrated in the early church every sunday was the lord's day they remembered it celebrated it it was very very very important this is how important it is first corinthians 15 12 paul writes but tell me this since we preached that christ rose from the dead why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead for if there is no resurrection of the dead then christ has not been raised either and if christ has not been raised then all our preaching is useless and your faith is useless and we apostles would all be lying about god for we have said that god raised christ from the grave that can't be true if there is no resurrection of the dead and if there is no resurrection of the dead then christ has not been raised and if christ has not been raised then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins in that case all who have died believing in christ are lost and if our hope in christ is only for this life we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world the resurrection is central and essential to our faith paul begins this section by detailing the gospel and pay close attention to what he says first corinthians 15 starting at verse 1. let me now remind you dear brothers and sisters of the good news i preached you before you welcomed it then and you still stand firm in it it is the good news that saves you if you continue to believe the message i told you unless of course you believed something that was never true in the first place i passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me christ died for our sins just as the scriptures said he was buried and he was raised from the dead on the third day just as scripture said he was seen by peter and then the twelve after that he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time most of whom are still alive though some have died then he was seen by james and later all the apostles last of all as though i had been born at the wrong time i paul is saying i also saw him notice all the witnesses we don't have anything like that for alexander the great it's a lot of witnesses some of them are still alive paul's kind of suggesting go ask them go ask james go ask peter any of the other apostles 500 or so witnesses me it's impressive they're witnesses to something that was previously kept hidden kept a secret until the right time for a specific purpose paul writes the colossians he says this god has given me the responsibility of serving his church by proclaiming his entire message to you this message was kept secret for centuries and generations past but now it has been revealed to god's people for god wanted them to know that the riches and glory of christ are for you gentiles too not just jewish people all of you and this is the secret christ lives in you this gives you assurance of sharing his glory this is often missed in easter messages do you know that through what we celebrate today christ's resurrection jesus gives us assurance of sharing in his glory beautiful when we die we seem lost when someone we love dies what do we say say we lost them i'm sorry for your loss but through christ we will be found first corinthians 15 51 but let me reveal to you a wonderful secret we will not all die but we will all be transformed it will happen in a moment in the blink of an eye when the last trumpet is blown when the trumpet sounds those who have died will be raised to live forever and we who are living will also be transformed for our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies we may be lost for a time but through christ we are found when we look at luke's gospel account we get to chapter 15 also and there are three parables jesus tells and unfortunately they often get disconnected and taken out of context you've heard me preach about this people are regulars here are now going oh here he goes again on the context thing not the verse of the day no they're often removed from one another but they're supposed to be taught as a set why well that's the way jesus does it sounds like a good idea right but no we know better than him so we just take little pieces of it but they're a set this interesting backdrop is this jesus is hanging out with people like you and me a bunch of sinners now the pharisees and the scribes these are the religious leaders of the time if you're new they're all holier than thou so they're saying he hangs out with all the sinners and tax collectors and things so jesus does what he does and he starts teaching in parables that are going to be pointed at them he teaches about a shepherd who has 100 sheep one of them goes astray the shepherd leaves the 99 in the wilderness just to look for that one sheep he finds the one sheep he puts on his shoulders and he heads back home when he gets home he celebrates with his friends it's a joyous occasion and so it is in heaven there's much more rejoicing in heaven when one sinner repents turns to god than for 99 righteous people who've never gone astray then there's a story of a woman with ten coins drachma she loses one of them she lights a lamp and scours the whole house just to find that one coin and when she finds it she celebrates with her friends look i found my coin and so it is in heaven the angels celebrate when one sinner repents and turns to god then there's the one you all know there's a father with two sons the younger son demands his inheritance before his father dies his father gives it to him a short time later he goes out to a foreign land and he squanders the inheritance wastes it all spends it on wild living it immediately says he becomes destitute starving now there's a famine in the land so he convinces a farmer to give him a job the farmer sends him out in the field to watch after and feed the pigs now if you're a jewish listener at that time pigs are unclean not just dirty you can't eat them so he's destitute he's at the very bottom that's it he starts to get hungry he wants to eat the pig food the carob pods but they won't even give that to him so he gets to thinking my dad's servants aren't starving maybe i'll just go back to him you know what i'll say father i've sinned against both heaven and you i'm not worthy to be called your son just let me be your servant so he does just that and we get a beautiful picture of the father seeming to wait for the sun as he comes back and as he sees the sun in the distance he runs to him he wraps his arms around him kisses him but the son says no i'm not worthy to be called your son just let me be your slave father says he orders one of his servants to get the finest robe put a ring on his finger sandals on his feet for my son was dead but now he's alive he was lost but now he's found there is no place we can go nothing we can do which is too far out of god's reach or his loving arms when writing about our present suffering being nothing compared to this future glory that we're talking about this morning in christ paul writes this romans 8 38 and i am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from god's love neither death nor life neither angels nor demons neither our fears for today or worries about tomorrow not even the powers of hell can separate us from god's love no power in the sky above or in the earth below indeed nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of god that is revealed in christ jesus our lord this is what the word of god says remember this the world is going to tell you something different we can't let the demons feed our doubt there will be accusers there will be people trying to drive a wedge between us and god from the glory we share in our inheritance through christ jesus the world says you're not worthy but the word says you're worth it there's a person in the story we can't forget about and people often do you see the father throws a huge celebration kills the fattened calf and has a feast for his son they're celebrating there's the older brother though he's out working and he's returning home from work and he can hear all the celebration what's up what are they doing one of the servants says oh your younger brother came back dad threw a party for him the older brother gets mad what i can't believe this well father realizes it comes out to see his older son and says come on in join the party no you've never done anything like this for me you haven't even sacrificed a goat for me and my friends but i've been here with you yet my younger brother he squandered his inheritance on prostitutes he adds another accusation the father says look dear son you have always stayed by me and everything i have is yours we had to celebrate this happy day for your brother who's dead now he's come back to life he was lost but now he is found you are never too far away nor has god gone too far away for you to return maybe you've been lost but now you've been found no matter what you've done god is waiting for you with open arms to bestow his grace mercy and love on you and through what we celebrate today we too can share in the hope of eternal life through jesus christ our bodies may die but through jesus we too will have eternal life in christ let me pray for you lord i thank you for this church i thank you for bringing those seeking you here i pray that they develop a deeper relationship with you lord to make that deeper commitment to come back to you knowing that you're waiting with arms wide open that you love all of us and you don't want to see any of us get lost or go astray be with every one of these souls as they go out this week lord i thank you again for this body fill us with your spirit as we just make a new commitment to you this morning anyone hearing this and the sound of my voice just let them believe believe in jesus and their minds and their hearts accept him as lord and savior i ask these things in jesus name amen