Hope

002-jesus-aliveMat 28:6 “He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”

Heb 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

We have tombs and graves that have bodies in them. Only Jesus’ tomb is empty.

Jesus is a documented, historical figure. We can validate the fact that He was a real person through history. You can’t say He was fictitious. There are at least seven historians that talk about Jesus. Even the Koran talks about Jesus. These are obviously not people who supported Him.

Jesus died. Naturally, if He lived, He died. We also know how He died. It’s a historical fact. The Talmud acknowledges how He died by being hung on a cross. The historian Josephus talks about Him.

The tomb of Jesus Christ was in fact found empty. There are many records condemning the disciples for stealing Jesus’ body. The empty tomb was the cause of a law in Nazareth at that time for anyone found messing around in the graves. It was all because they couldn’t find the body. The Jews tried to produce a body in order to refute the disciples’ claim of His resurrection, but they could not.

Easter is not merely a celebration of bunnies and chocolate, it is all about the fact that Jesus rose from the dead. It is a message of hope. The apostles preached a message of hope, suffering, and gladly dying because they preached Jesus raising from the dead.

Peter in Acts 2:31 “He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.”

Rom 8:11 “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.”

2 Cor 4:14 “Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.”

1 Cor 6:14 “And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power.”

Rom 6:5 “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:”

Eph 2:1,5 “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;” (v5) “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)”

Colossians 2:12 “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.”

Micah 7:8 “Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me.”

When a ball is pushed under water, it pops back up quickly. It’s all because of what’s inside. We have resurrection power inside of us through the Holy Ghost inside of us. We have resurrection power and the hope of an empty tomb.

Prov 24:16 “For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again…”

For every resurrection in the Bible, there is a theme. It starts off in sadness and darkness. Then, the stone is rolled away and someone rises up. Despair turns into dancing. From death to resurrection: that’s the hope of Christianity.

The grave-clothes are still there, but the body is gone.

Micah 7:8 “Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me.”

There ought to be a joy that takes place in your life.

The disciples didn’t understand what Jesus was trying to tell them when He talked about His death.

He was a man. He took naps. As a man, He walked up the mountain, but as God He transfigured Himself. As a man, He sat and ate with Zacchaeus, but as a God, He forgave his sins. As a man, He wept; as God, He had compassion and raised people from the dead. As a man, He died, but as God, He rose again. Tears turned from despair to tears of joy. Something changes when resurrection power gets into a situation. There is hope.

Ez 37:1-10 “The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest. Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live: And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and ye shall know that I am the Lord. So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone. And when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them. Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, son of man, and say to the wind, Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live. So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.”

Ezekiel was brought to a desolate valley filled with bones. They had been dead so long, there was no skin or muscles left. God asked if he had hope or faith. Ezekiel didn’t really. He gave a safe answer, ‘God, thou knowest.’ Ezekiel prophesied and skin and muscles came on those bodies, but no life. Then, Ezekiel prophesied more and God breathed on them. 

Gen 2:7 “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”

Even in a valley filled with dead men’s bones, there is hope.

Ez 37:11-14 “Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord.”

God’s Spirit will give you life and hope. Your bones are dry, but they will live and you will know that God has performed it. It is His Spirit.

Zechariah 4:6 “Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.”

We fall down, but we get up. That’s the Word of the Lord! The Lord says, ‘Rise UP!’

Rocky Balboa got knocked down, but he got back up. Will you rise up? Get the hope. There is still hope. The power of God in the resurrection power is called a ‘turn it around’ kind of power, a comeback power. It’s a place of weeping turned into a place of dancing. You can rejoice today because there is an empty tomb!

It’s not simple. It’s complex. Somehow, everything hoped for was stripped away. Hope was lost. The people needed hope before they could have faith. Every dead thing would be given new life. The cross and the blood that was shed wasn’t just a display of the power of the enemy. There was hope. There was a resurrection! The empty tomb means YOU can rise out of your ashes! You can rise out of your darkness! You can dig out of your grave and be alive.

Get up with hope!

Don’t walk away discouraged when there’s an empty tomb!

He is not here, He is risen!

There is hope!

Lazarus was bad sick, but Jesus was in no hurry. We can relate to the people in this story. The dead man is one thing, but his sisters is another.

John 11:1-4 “Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.”

v7-15 “Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again. His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again? Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him. These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.”

Jesus had to speak to them plainly because His disciples just didn’t get it.

v21-22 “Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.”

Even now! Even now!

v23-28 “Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee.

v31-32 “The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there. Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.”

Nobody believed that Lazarus was going to raise from the dead.

v35 “Jesus wept.”

Jesus didn’t weep over the death of Lazarus, He wept over the people’s lack of faith.

vs.38-45 “Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.”

Hope!

Excerpted from a sermon preached by Pastor Anthony LoCascio.

For full audios of  our sermons, click here.

If you are in the Chicagoland area, come to The Life Church located at 3030 Central Road in Glenview, IL. Services are Sundays at 1pm and Wednesdays at 7pm. We would love to see you there!

www.thelifechurchofglenview.org

Advertisements

About ChristinaLi

Christina Li, BA, MA, is a wife, mother of five, journalist, and author. She believes life is an adventure and has seen first hand the miraculous that happens when you say 'yes' to God. Besides writing, she loves tea, black, green, or white, and coffee, fresh roasted by her wonderful husband. Check out her books at: amazon.com/author/christinali
This entry was posted in Excerpts from Sermons by Pastor Anthony LoCascio and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Hope

  1. ChristinaLi says:

    Reblogged this on Christina Li Books and commented:

    This is what we all need a little more of: HOPE!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s