Written Sermons & Bible Studies

The Resurrectioin and Life

He is Risen, He is Risen indeed.
I pray that today, for us, is a day of hope and confidence in Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In the Gospel of John, Jesus speaks to Martha and tells her this:

John 11:25-26

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ she replied, ‘I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.’”

We believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the Son of God. Christ is not the king of an earthly nation of Christians. Jesus came into the world to bring resurrection and eternal life.

This Lenten season, we have been on a journey together through a piece of Scripture rarely visited, the Book of Lamentations. It has been interesting to see what God cares about and what God has no interest in. God destroyed Jerusalem and the very temple where God dwelled among his people and where they performed religious rituals. God did not care about religiosity or a kingdom for Judah. God cared about the heart of his people, their devotion to God and their love for their fellow man. As God’s Son, Jesus cares about what the Father cares about.

Jesus’s ministry occurred under the shadow of Roman occupation and within a Jewish religious landscape. When Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, Jesus made a powerful political statement that he was the Messiah of Judah. Through most of his ministry, he had conflicts with both the political powers of Rome and the religious authorities in Jerusalem. When he failed to rise as a political force, the people didn’t understand why Jesus was there. To them, he couldn’t be the Messiah. The people turned on Jesus and turned back to their temple leaders.

Jesus, by his actions, showed that the political system and the temple system were not worthy of him or God. Jesus did not concern himself with political liberation or religious reform. What Jesus cared about was the people who followed him. By world standards, they were a group of social outcasts, religious exiles, sinners, rough neck fishermen, sinful women and women in general. Of all those who followed Jesus, I can only recall one with any societal station, Nicodemus.

Indifferent to the power systems of the world, Jesus came to bring the Kingdom of God to earth.  Jesus came to establish a kingdom not of power and rituals. His kingdom is built on love and service. Jesus brings spiritual transformation to the physical world.

The political and religious system of Judah and the Temple were in decline as the Kingdom of God was rising. The temple culture was not worthy of God’s involvement anymore. Jesus predicted that in 70 AD the temple would be destroyed like it was in 587 BC, as we read about in Lamentations. Jesus also predicted that it would never be rebuilt.  Jesus told the world that God is changing direction, that worship no longer belongs in that physical location, or a group of people or through a sacrificial system.

On Easter Sunday, a new Kingdom rises from the grave. Jesus Christ gives us a new covenant of faith. With our belief comes the indwelling personal presence of God.
Even today, we often want to tie Jesus Christ to some political system, or power structure, or type of church. We seek Jesus in some evangelist, pastor or guru who has the magic key to unlock heaven for us.

It is a normal human response to look for answers to the future and prosperity. It helps us feel significant and safe if we link ourselves to a power or authority. We want to feel like we are on the winning side or the right side or the smart side. Like 2000 years ago, we want a messiah, with a little m.
I am not saying that we shouldn’t seek understanding or knowledge through the teachings of others. We should. I just want us to be fully aware of who our messiah is. It is no one or no system or no structure here on earth. Our Messiah is risen and sits beside God in heaven. We do not belong to any Kingdom here on earth, we belong to the Kingdom of God.
Do we ignore politics as Christians? No. We live under a political system, and we can and should participate in it—absolutely. But when our many allegiances to the political kingdom separate us, or make us unloving or dismissive of others, then we are prioritizing the wrong kingdom. No kingdom on earth is worthy of God. Only people are worth God’s attention and the benefits of God’s provision, love and grace.
When we come together as individuals filled with God’s grace and love, we can do extraordinary things. Church, we do!!! We aren’t a large church with an overflowing coffer. We belong to a church movement called the Church of God Anderson, and we are not a wealthy denomination. We don’t have official membership; if you accept Christ, we accept you. We are like the disciples whom Jesus called to follow him not based on a religious test. What we are is a group of people with deep faith and a belief in the risen Christ Jesus. We are a collection of saved people held together by our faith and our love of each other. We have a desire to serve Christ and God’s Kingdom.
We are a community of individuals whom God says are worth of the death and resurrection of His Son. We are worth the grace and love of God given us on Easter morning. We are worth being forgiven and saved. Like Martha in our Scripture from 2000 years ago, we will never die because we believe in Christ Jesus.
It is significant in Scripture that women are featured as witnesses to Jesus’s resurrection and holy purpose. Martha’s testimony of belief in Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God is one example. Mary Magdalene and Mary’s experience at Jesus’s tomb is another.

Mary Magdalene is a pivotal character. Her story is given to us in snippets, but it is all there when we fill in the details with the context of ancient Jerusalem, Jewish practices and the social norms of the time.
Here is the story of Mary Magdalene.
Before her encounter with Jesus, Mary lived, like many people today, in despair. Scripture says her life was overshadowed by demons. Today, it could be addiction, poverty, mental illness or any number of struggles. She was in a deep hole, a time in her life where all looked dark. She suffered, she was alone, she was rejected by her society. One day, a teacher, a Rabbi walks into her life. The Rabbi Jesus heals her. Mary begins a journey out of darkness, a climb with struggle and growth. She finds support and acceptance among a group of Jesus followers. She learns from the teachings of the Rabbi. As she recovers her sanity and her sense of self, she supports the ministry of the Rabbi who saved her. She ascends from alienation and darkness to a place of belonging and purpose.

She watches as the man of her resurrection rides into Jerusalem a cheered hero. She has ascended to the highest point of her life. Less than a week later, she watches her hero die on a Roman cross. She feels herself falling into a great abyss with the other disciples. She feels deep despair and loss.

In her grief, she needs to find the strength to care for the physical remains of her Rabbi. She gathers her strength and with other women, she goes to care for her deceased Rabbi.

As the women prepare to care for the remains of Jesus, they discover an empty tomb. Then, Mary Magdalene meets the risen Jesus. She experiences Jesus risen from the grave–risen to new life. Mary Magdalene rises from the depths of her despair. She feels the overwhelming presence of God’s hope and grace. She will testify that Jesus has been victorious over death itself. In an instance, the teachings of Jesus come together. Jesus shares with Mary the first appearance of his risen self. He entrusts her with the first proclamation of his resurrection. Her story and God’s story were unfolding together.
Mary, formerly an outcast, demon-possessed sinner, would become the apostle to the apostles as she delivers the message of Jesus’s resurrection to the disciples.
Let’s read Mary Magdalene’s experience on Resurrection Day:

Matthew 28:1-10

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

At the time of the resurrection, women were not considered worthy witnesses. A woman’s testimony was worthless. Yet the risen Jesus appeared first to women. Jesus showed that they were worth his time, his death and his resurrection. He gave them news of great importance to tell. They became worthy of the temple of God being their very lives when the Holy Spirit took up residence within them.  

The resurrection changes our definitions of worth and dignity. By appearing first to women and then to His disciples—who, despite being close to Him, were simple fishermen, tax collectors, and social outcasts—Jesus demonstrates that the values of God’s Kingdom are vastly different from the unworthy society of the time.

The choice of women as witnesses affirms their worth and challenges a society that would silence them. God often chooses the least expected people to carry His most important messages. When we open our hearts to welcome others and when we provide needed food, we share an important Kingdom message. We tell people they are worth our love and our effort. We tell people that Jesus Christ believes they are worth His love and grace.

2000 years ago, the disciples lacked social prestige and religious authority. Yet, God chose them to be the foundation of the church and witnesses to the resurrection. They were transformed by the resurrection. They stopped being fearful followers and became bold preachers of the Gospel. God worked through those the world considered unworthy, and God continues to work through those the world considers unworthy. God considers us, and all those we touch, worth the greatest of sacrifices—His only Son.
I want you to take a moment to think about this. Everyone of us sitting here, according to God and Scripture, is worth the sacrifice of God’s only Son. We are worth God’s love. We are worth the gift of grace and eternal life. I cannot stand here and say that any of us are worthy of God, but I can say that God believes we are worth all that he has done for us. Resurrection Sunday tells us the profound story of our worth in the eyes of God.

On the one hand, God does not believe that any political system or religious system on earth is worth God’s time or commitment. On the other hand, the Kingdom of God and the Church of Jesus Christ made up of individual believers is worth everything. Christ reverses earthly values. To understand the nature of God’s Kingdom and the mission of the church we must understand the worth of every individual—including you. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection calls us to recognize the worth of every person. We are to serve the least among us. We are to build communities that reflect God’s love and grace, not worldly standards of power and prestige.  

As we close our worship, I want to share the story of the Apostle Junia. Many here know about Martha, Mary and Mary Magdalene. The story of Junia is less known. Paul, in the Book of Romans, speaks of Junia as an honored apostle. That means that she witnessed the resurrection of Christ and was a valuable leader of the early church.

Romans 16:7

Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was.

Mary, Mary Magdalene and Junia were pivotal figures in the early church, not because of their societal status, but because of their witness to the power of resurrection. In a world that valued power and pedigree, they testified about a different kind of kingdom, one built on the transformative love of Jesus Christ.

Their stories remind us that in the eyes of God, no one is insignificant. The resurrection of Jesus is an invitation to all, especially the marginalized and the overlooked. The resurrection gives us a life of dignity and purpose. Through His death and resurrection, Jesus showed that true worth is not given by society but by the unconditional love of God. In God’s Kingdom, everyone is welcome, and everyone is valued. Because of the resurrection, we are called to bear witness to the love of Christ that gives us life, abundant and forever.

Church, you are worth the sacrifice of God’s son. You are worth God’s grace and God’s love. You are worth salvation, forgiveness and eternal life. You will never die. The early church believed it, lived it and shared it. Today, Place of Grace Fellowship, let us bear witness to our belief through our words and actions. Like the women who were the first to see, let us declare to the world what we too have seen:

He is Risen, He is risen indeed.
Hallelujah!

About Pastor Tim

Tim Holmes

Senior Pastor

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