Sermon from April 16th, 2017

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“Don't Worry 'bout a thing 'cause every little thing gonna be all right!”

Acts 10:34-43; John 20:1-18

By Pastor John Bent

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Sermon Text
Good morning!  “He is risen” “He is risen indeed!”  A few weeks ago, on a day when I was feeling a little overwhelmed, I received a video from my grandkids. They were singing Bob Marley’s classic song. “3 little birds".  Do you remember it? It goes like this…

As I listened, I couldn’t help but imagine the women being greeted that first Easter morning by an angel reggae band singing Marley’s song, “Rise up this mornin' smiled with the risin' sun, three little birds pitch by my doorstep, singin' sweet songs, melodies pure and true saying', (this is my message to you) “Don't worry 'bout a thing ‘cause every little thing gonna be alright, don't worry 'bout a thing ‘cause every little thing gonna be alright.. this is my message to you!

“He is risen!” The truth of these words is more significant than we can possibly imagine.  Maybe you think you’ve heard it all before.  Maybe you think you know all there is to know about Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Don’t bet on it!

I’ve been studying, praying for insight, and preaching/teaching about the resurrection for over 30 years and I haven’t even scratched the surface of what it really means for us!  So let’s go back and take another look…are you ready?

Early in the morning on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and two other women met in the predawn darkness. They knew the tomb was sealed and a guard posted, but they took a sack of spices with them anyway.  They wanted to finish the job of embalming Jesus’ dead mangled body. Maybe they could add some dignity to his tragic death.

Washing the body was the traditional task of the women after a death. It was an essential part of the grieving process. They had been prevented from doing this because of the hasty burial of Jesus’ body. It had to be done before the Sabbath began at sunset on Friday. Now they hoped to do what they hadn’t been able to do on Friday.
All Saturday the women waited. Finally before light on Sunday morning, they headed to the tomb unaware of the joy that was waiting. The birds were singing, the sun was rising, can you hear them? “Don’t worry about a thing, cause every little thing gonna be all right!”

I first encounter death when I was four years old. I kissed and hugged my dad before he left for work that morning. He never came home. His plane went down in the high desert northeast of Casper, Wyoming.

My dad was a professional pilot. He and mom were preparing to leave very soon for the mission field in the Amazon with missionary aviation fellowship. But they never made it.  When dad died, he left behind my mom, my twin brother, and me and their dream.

Because of how mangled his body was, us kids were not allowed to see him. We didn’t get to attend the funeral or go to the place where he was buried – until a few years ago when Grace and I went to my father’s grave in Casper, Wyoming for the first time. I knew daddy was in heaven, but that day as I knelt beside his grave, I wept as a four year old boy.

Then I heard the Holy Spirit clearly say, “He is not here, he is risen, see the place where he lay.”   I know dad’s body is turning to dust in that cemetery in Casper, Wyo. But I also know he in Paradise this morning with the Lord he loved and served as he waits for the resurrection.

He’s there with my mom, stepdad, our granddaughter Lily, and many others that I love. They are waiting for the resurrection when Jesus will call us by name and we will rise to meet him in the air. “Don’t worry ‘bout a thing, ‘cause every little thing gonna be all right!

Until Jesus returns, we will battle with the reality of death. We’ll battle the breakdown of our bodies. We’ll battle sin and temptation. We’ll battle the failures of human strength, wisdom, morality.  We’ll grieve and weep. Death will be the final “no” to every human attempt to be like God, to save ourselves, to create the world the way we want it to be.

Prov 14:12 says “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is death.”  When Adam and Eve disobeyed God and tried take ahold of what did not belong to them, namely God’s sovereignty, they signed their own death warrant. They were powerless to create life. Without God, all they could do is destroy the very thing they craved. And that’s what we’ve done again and again. Without the Lord, even our best intentions end in death and disaster.

We killed Jesus, the only truly sinless man who ever lived, who healed leprosy, taught love, raised the dead. But we killed him believing that we were saving the world. How tragic!

Caesar tried to make the world a better place.  So did Herod. They failed. Every earthly kingdom, every human attempt to build our own utopia is doomed to collapse. The more powerful we become - the more depraved we become - the more depraved we become - the more unjust and oppressive. Who will deliver us from the terrible reality of death?

Mary and the other women must have felt that way as they scurried through dark city streets on their way to the tomb.  What hope is there? What hope in the face of such overwhelming darkness and evil?  What hope when the best we do falls short? What hope when human injustice steamrolls over us? What hope when cancer and disaster of all kinds strike us?

David asks that question in Psalm 121. “Where will my help come from?” And then he answers,    “My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.”

I can’t help but wonder if the women were praying Psalm 121 as they went to the tomb that morning. “Where will our help come from?"  We’ll have to ask them someday!
Matthew tells us that when the women got to the tomb the guards gone! The stone door had been rolled back and a big reggae angel was sitting on it. He was dancin’, singing “Don’t worry, ‘bout a thing, every little thing’s gonna be all right.”
What’s going on in your life this morning? Are you running toward Jesus or away from him?  Being religious won’t save you from the reality of death. Neither will being spiritual or being a good and moral person. Death will still run over you. Your own sinful nature will betray and enslave you.  The only One who can set you free is Jesus. He is risen!

Jesus took your sin upon himself when he went to the cross. He laid down his life for us so that people like you and me who were dead in our sins, could be raised to life, real life, and we could stand before God just as if we had never sinned.

My mom told me that the week before my father died, he was teaching a Sunday school class of junior high boys. One of the young men was a real rebel.  My dad said to him, “Bobby, one of these days, I’m going to be flying my airplane and the Lord is going to call me home. When that happens, I’ll be ready because I’ve invited Jesus to live in my heart. I want you to be ready, too. Are you?”

Bobby wasn’t ready, but he was listening. My mother later heard that after my father died, Bobby did respond and give his life to the Lord. When a person becomes a Christian, it’s like when Jesus stood outside Lazarus’ tomb. He called “Lazarus, come out!” And he did!

Let me clarify something. Just because you are breathing doesn’t mean you’re alive, and just because you die doesn’t make you dead. Jesus said to Lazarus’ sister before he raised Lazarus to life. “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. Do you believe this?”  John 11:25-26

The death of our physical body is coming for all of us. But that is not the end! Jesus told us a resurrection is coming where each of us will stand before God to give an account of what we’ve done with the life he gave us. At that point all of us will fall short.

Jesus died on the cross so sinners like us could stand before God just as if we never sinned. This forgiveness is a gift that must be received by faith. Jesus said, “No one comes to the father except through me.” He is the only door, the only way, between here and heaven.

Jesus said, “I have come to bring you life, life in all its abundance.” John 10:10   You will never generate abundant life on your own. In fact, the harder you try, the more futile your life will become. What you are searching for can only be found one place. His name is Jesus!

When you invite him into your life, when you follow him, when you seek him with all your heart, a miracle begins to happen. Instead of moving from life to death, Jesus will move you from death to life, abundant everlasting life!  Are you willing to listen to him, follow him?  What did those 3 little birds say? “Don't worry about a thing 'cause every little thing gonna be alright  This is my message to you!”

If you have never invited Jesus into your life, do it now. There is no life without him, not real life, the life God intended for you. And with Jesus, there is no death because you have already moved from death to life!  When you invite Jesus to come into your life by faith, you die to yourself, the old you is crucified with him, and the new you is resurrected with him.
Let me say again: When you invite Jesus to move into your heart and soul by faith, you become alive in a way you have never been before, then when your physical death comes and it will, you will have nothing to fear, because you have already passed from death to life!  Don’t worry, ‘bout a thing, every little thing gonna be alright!  He is risen! He is risen indeed!


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