S-1116 4/12/09 Resurrection Day/3B Hymns: (O)#199; #193; (S)#201; L.S. #442; #307; #205; (C) #198
Texts Isaiah 25:6-9; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Mark 16:1-8
Theme: “His Victory” (9th sermon series in Lent on HIStory, John 19:30a)
Question: “Have you ever been declared the victor?”
SOLI DEO GLORIA, Armour, SD
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! (3x) He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for Easter morning from the Gospel of John “When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished,’” (John 19:30a).
Saints in Christ, there is a great phenomenon in the United States during the month of March known as “March Madness.” March Madness is a tournament that is carried out on the Basketball court with the best teams in the United States. 65 teams from across the land begin to compete for the great prize of wining the trophy of the NCAA. These teams play against each other until slowly but surely there remains only two teams (hopefully) the best of teams. As was the case last Monday when The Tar Heels of N.C met the Michigan State Spartans, and when the Horn blew after 40 minutes of sweat and guts, the score showed the Tar Heels as the champions. They were crowned the victors for the 2009 NCAA and received the trophy.
That night and the day after there was a great celebration in North Carolina because their basketball team was crowned the victor. They were jubilant. They had a great parade and a wonderful celebration when the team arrived home.
You, I and the town of Armour, know all too well what it means to be victors. Walk into the Packers gym and you will see the banners that are on the walls (similar to the one) telling the State of the SD how great our boys are. The last championship won was in 1997 when two of my sons were playing on that team. The whole town of Armour was excited about the great sweep we had that year. Not only did we win the State B Basketball tournament, but we also had the “Spirit of Six” award (for the cheerleaders) and the “Spirit of Sue” award (in honor of Sue Crow who died tragically in a car crash on her way to the tournament. She was a great athlete and a bright and honored student).
And when the team came back home, many in the community drove about 10 miles out and a great caravan of fire trucks, police escort and others followed the team, all the while we were jumping up and down and celebrating the victory that the Packers had won.
Unlike the March Madness, the church of Christ has its own story, not a Basketball tournament, but a Lenten journey that brings people from all the regions of the world to Golgotha. For the past 40 days we have seen the struggle not on the basketball court, but in the court of Pilate between Jesus and the Jewish Leaders who were pawns for the devil. There the battle raged. There was sweat, and cries of anguish. Nothing was left behind. It was all left right there and finally on a hill outside the city of Jerusalem @ 3:00 p.m. on a Friday afternoon about 30 A.D. the announcer declared Himself the victor.
From the cross, Jesus declared the victory shout. John the Gospel writer tells us, “When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’” The battle was severe, the courtyard was bloodied, sweat dripped like blood, muscles ached; body bruised and limbs hung low; BUT the war was over and the victory won.
From the cross Jesus, the Son of God was crowned the champion. He certainly didn’t look like a champion on Friday afternoon as He hung crucified on the cross of the tree. He didn’t look like a champion when He didn’t come down from the cross, even though they egged Him on; He didn’t look like a champion as He was asking for something to wet His lips; BUT, He was the champion, because He spoke with a clear and convincing voice saying “IT IS FINISHED!”
That statement “IT IS FINISHED!” showed Jesus the victor even though He appeared defeated. That statement was the hollering of a champion who has defeated His enemy, not to win a trophy like a national championship; but for the souls of humanity, who have been held hostage by the devil, sin and its accomplice death.
That statement “IT IS FINISHED!” was written by the Greeks on their tax bills to show that they were paid in full. In full the hatred and sin that has entered the world at Eden’s Garden now come to end and the victory is ours through the merit of Christ our Savior.
We can sing with gusto our sermon hymn saying, “Jesus Lives! The Victory’s Won! Death can no longer appall me; Jesus lives! Death’s reign is done! From the grave Christ will recall me. Brighter scenes will then commence; this shall be my confidence!”
We sing it because He has won. For on this day as the Gospel writer informs us, Jesus has left the grave and He has risen. Here again we know of the victory that Christ has won. The devil, death, and sin have been done away with.
Today, you and I as the children of God celebrate the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecies and the greatest victory in the history of the world. In light of the resurrection we have hope, heaven, happiness, joy, peace and eternal life.
Friday He lay dead, but today is the day of deliverance; the day of declaring to the world that once and for all the devil has been destroyed, defeated and done away with. Today, we tell the world our Champion has been raised from the cruel crucifixion; our Champion has done it all. He has tasted death so that we HAVE life; He has endured hell, so that we HAVE heaven; He was forsaken by God, so that we are NOT forsaken.
No wonder the Psalmist states: “This is the Day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Why, because this is the Day of Victory.
The Tar Heels are still in celebrating mode and basking in what they have won this past Monday. But for us, the victory of 10 years ago is not what it used to be; but it is still special to the ones who played on that team that year. They still reflect on their victory. I still hear my children reminisce about the outcome of that year.
How much more it is for us today, that we are included on Christ’s team. Even though we didn’t do anything to earn salvation to win our freedom; to defeat the devil, but since Christ has done it for us; we can celebrate, rejoice and shout He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
Family and friends in Christ, “blessed are those to whom Easter…is not a greeting but a proclamation; not a hunt but a find; not an outward fashion but inward grace; not a day but an Eternity of joy. Amen.
Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!