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He is Risen!

By Bobby Schuller

2201 2020-04-08

Read more about this week's pastor, Bobby Schuller.

It's Easter! It's a simple message to preach - Jesus is resurrected.

Several years ago, I asked an old friend, a pastor of this community, ‘what do you preach on Easter?' And he said, ‘if I were to give you any advice on Easter, just preach the story. Just tell them what happened.' So here I am this morning, a believer, a Christian just like you. For those of you who have not heard, for those of you who are not Christians, and even for those of you who are, I come to tell you the story and what it means to us who believe.

What is the story? What is it about Easter that we've labeled it and defined it as the single greatest day on the Christian calendar? What is it about Easter, about the resurrection of this person we know, Jesus Christ? Why is it so important? This is why: because Jesus' resurrection, the most important moment in human history, was the ultimate victory of God over evil, of right over wrong, of justice over injustice, of love over hate and life over death. I believe it with all my heart. In Latin they say Christos victor! Christ has the victory. Amen!

So in a story that is commenced with a resurrection, we must begin this story with death. I remember my first encounter with death as a small boy. We went to visit my great grandpa Durham, who lived in Missouri. He was in his 90's. And my mom told me, ‘this may be the last time you talk to your great grandpa.' And I said, ‘well why? Won't we come out to visit him again?' And she said, ‘well no, honey, ultimately in life, people get old and pass away, and they go on to be with the Lord.' And I remember thinking so you're saying he's going to die? I would spend time with this man, and learn from him, and talk to him. I mean we only visited him every few years or so. And now I'm told he may not be here when we come back. And I remember leaving him almost mad with fear and anger, crying, ‘no I don't want to leave him! I don't want him to die!'

At some point, all of us are going to die. Billy Graham said there's a statistic that just came out. One out of one - a hundred percent of every one of us will die. And there's something within us that when we think about death, it doesn't seem right. Life ends. Someday all of us will face the grave. It just doesn't seem right.

Jim Kok, pastor of care and kindness here at the Crystal Cathedral has been to, I would guess, hundreds of funerals. He's lost friends. He's been completely around death. And so often in our pastors meetings, someone will have died and he'd just say, ‘I just can't get over it. Death is so strange.' There's something inside of us that says death is not natural. It's the same thing inside of us that when we see a child sick, that gets cancer, you just think that's not natural. It's not right. When you see somebody who's poor with leprosy, you say it's not right. It's the same voice inside of you that when you see injustice in the world, when you see people being put astray, people killed. We think of the Holocaust and we think about all of these things that have gone on in the world, you say it's not right! And in the midst of this, we get absorbed with shame and guilt, and that voice, that one voice that says to us inside, something's not right about this. That voice is the voice of life, the voice of love, the voice of hope. It's the voice of the Holy Spirit and it does not lie.

There is something unnatural and wrong about death, and about sickness, and about injustice, and about hunger and depravity. There's just something not right about it. And the story is this: God did not create a world with those things. He created a different world. God created a world of life and hope and happiness. I imagine Eden, the place we see only in our dreams, and we remember only in our most mystic of thoughts, we see Adam and Eve walking and talking with God, and talking about this world that they're going to create. I imagine Adam looking to God really as a father, having no natural father, and asking Him about where they're going and what they're doing. And in the midst of it all, Adam and Eve sinned and cut themselves away from God. And we continue to do it today. This world of death and sickness, and injustice and shame and guilt was not created by God. It was created by us. We made it and we continue to make it every day.

So here we are, generation after generation, story after story from Adam and Eve until now, generation after generation of sin. They hurt, they hate, they kill, they destroy and they conquer. And in the middle of it all, people are filled with pain and sorrow, loneliness and emptiness and depression. And God, 2000 years ago in the midst of history, finally said no! Not My kids. Not My children. The book of John says, "In the beginning was the word (God) and the word was with God, the word was God, and the word became flesh and dwelt among us."

The story is this - Jesus came. The Son of God dwelt among us and in a world of sickness He went around everywhere healing the sick over and over. In a world where people are hungry, He took five fish and two loaves and fed 5,000 people. In a world of injustice, He reached out to a leper. Now a leper in this world was a man that was untouchable. It was a man or a woman that was put into a place of quarantine. If a leper would have walked into a city, people would run and scream and hide. Imagine the loneliness and the emptiness you would feel being this person. The book of Mark says, "Jesus reached out and touched him." I have an image of Jesus embracing him, and then He healed him. Jesus touches the untouchable, heals the sick, feeds the hungry and forgives those who are riddled with guilt. Jesus saves a woman caught in the midst of adultery, frees her from the law and says, "Woman, your sins are forgiven. Go and sin no more." He comes and in the face of all injustice and sickness and hardship, He stands and He says no, not My kids. We see Jesus as one who heals, one who feeds, one who touches, one who justifies, one who brings life and one who makes righteous.

And the epitome of all of these wrong and unnatural things that we hate, the epitome of death and sickness and injustice, the epitome of shame, all of these things are wrapped up in one word: death, because death is the ultimate of it all. The bible says, "The way of sin leads to death." Sickness leads to death. Injustice leads to death. It's all epitomized in this one word. And when Jesus Christ died on the cross, death died! And these men that followed Him, these 12 apostles who believed Him to be the son of God, the Messiah, they see Him die. They see Him conquered by that one thing that conquers us all, that one reminder that something's not right. They see Him conquered and they must imagine it's all worthless. It was all fake. It was all phony. It was that plaguing thought that led Peter to deny Christ three times. That He'd been conquered and defeated, but three days later, no! He was risen! I believe it with all my heart. I know that Jesus was risen from the dead.

So in that moment, when He came back to life, all death, all sickness, all injustice, all shame, hell, the devil, the enemy and evil in a single moment had been conquered. Christos victor! In rising, Jesus defeated it all! Forever!

The way He defined His own life, Jesus said it in John chapter 12, verse 24. He says, "The hour has come for the son of man to be glorified. I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground, it dies. It remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds."

If you want to see me go crazy, if you want to see me foaming at the mouth mad, just say to me ‘I am a follower of Christ, not a Christian.' And just watch the fireworks go. Nothing bugs me more than this one statement: I am a follower of Christ, but I am not a Christian. Do you know what the word Christian means? It means little Christ. That's literally what it means. The disciples, before the resurrection, were just followers of Christ. They were learning from Him and He was teaching them. They were mimicking Him, trying to lead their life after Him.

But after the resurrection, Jesus said I'm going to send to you a comforter. So then He ascends into heaven and these 12 followers of Jesus, external followers of Jesus, are waiting for this guy, this person who's going to be this comforter. I don't know who they're waiting for. The next prophet? Imagine some man to walk to the door? So I think there were 120 of them in an upper room, waiting for this comforter to visit them; someone just like Jesus. They waited and no man showed. And on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit fell upon them and filled them. The comforter was the spirit of God. It was no longer something external, something that they just looked it, but it was something that filled them and made them. And in that moment, they were filled with such passion and power. In that moment, the words of Jesus when He said, "Greater works than these will you do" came to pass. They left and they preached the gospel and they healed the sick and they raised the dead. And they did all those things that Jesus did because Jesus was now in them. They were more than just followers of Christ. They were filled with Christ. They were the presence of Christ.

So in this story, when Jesus uses this model, Jesus was one seed. A historical man limited to where He was and to the people He could talk to. He couldn't be in America and in Africa and in Europe and then also in Israel and Asia all at the same time. He was one man doing one thing. He was God as a man. But when Jesus died, the seed died and it was placed in the ground and resurrected. And now Jesus, the tangible speaking spirit of Jesus becomes omnipotent in the heart of every Christian where everywhere you see a Christian, you see Jesus. That's something you have to know. You're much more than a follower of Jesus. We are the body of Christ. Notice how when Paul was on the road to Damascus and the spirit knocked him off his horse, Jesus, the resurrected one, said to Paul, "Paul, why do you persecute Me?" Paul never persecuted or even met Jesus Christ until this moment. He'd only persecuted Christians, so-called followers of Jesus. But Jesus says, "Paul, why do you persecute Me?" Notice how Jesus makes no difference from Himself and the body of Christ, the church. So as Christians we are filled with God's spirit, Christ' presence on earth, and it's all because of the resurrection.

It's funny, as I was preparing my sermon I found a little seed in my folder, believe it or not. I think it's a sesame seed from a hamburger. It's such a small thing and such a reminder of the simple truth. You find a seed and you don't know what plant it fell from. You see just a speck of matter; something that's hardly anything. And within this one little thing, your imagination can go wild. What is this? If I put this in the ground, if I let this die, what will it become? A redwood? An apple tree? A flower? Something tall and grand and wonderful? Out of this little seed? And I see a sea of people that are like seeds. You are just like this one seed; so small and tiny. And within it, the DNA, the power that if only you would die to yourself to be resurrected into your true calling! So when you look at yourself and you say I'm nothing. You say to yourself I am a man of un-forgiveness, die to your un-forgiveness and be risen to life, a man who forgives. If you are someone who can't love other people without being selfish, let that man or woman die and be resurrected; someone who can love unconditionally and boundlessly. If you are someone who's selfish and narcissistic, and you know there's something wrong with injustice, die to that person and become involved in the world around you by helping the poor and the disenfranchised, and work for justice. When you see all the things in you that are wrong and that are bad, die to that and become resurrected in Jesus Christ the man or woman or child He's called you to be. Die to that and be risen.

This is God's calling to us. Jesus says in the same passage after the seed, "The man who loves his life will lose it while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life." When you die to yourself, and you become resurrected in Christ, you are given all the life and all the power and all the wonderful things that Jesus had when He was here. And He wants you to have it. He wants you to have hope beyond the grave that when you leave this place, you have a blessed assurance that you'll be with Him forever. That's God's calling to us. And that's what Easter means - that we, just like Jesus, could be resurrected. That's the story and if you believe it, if you want it, let us pray and ask for it now.

Father, we come to You right now. A lot of us are just seeds. We look small and insignificant, but within us is all of the power in death and resurrection to become something amazing for Your kingdom. God, in this moment, we don't ask that You would come into our story and come into what we're doing, but Father, we sacrifice ourselves and enter into Your story, and into Your narrative and what You're doing. We die to our old selfish, empty ways, and we're resurrected in You. We are risen, Father, with You, in Christ' name, amen.

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