Good morning to you all. Turn with me to Mark's gospel, please, chapter 16 verse 1. Now, I want you to note something before we start reading: each gospel writer has a particular emphasis - you know how the life and ministry of our Lord, well, it was one life and it was one ministry - but it's a bit like, if you were going home and, God forbid, you came across a car accident. Maybe there were a couple of cars and a few witnesses standing about the Main Street - well, if a police constable was to come along and question them, he would probably get different angles of the incident that took place. Well, in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, you have different aspects of the life and ministry of the Lord, but it's not just men's take on it - it's the Holy Spirit's inspired commentary on the life and ministry of our Lord. So what you're getting is different aspects of the ministry and life of Jesus that the Holy Spirit wants to shine light on. Now, as we read Mark 16 we have an account of the resurrection in the Gospels - but as we read Mark 16 now, I want you to note every time that 'fear', or 'affrighted', or 'afraid' is mentioned in relation to the disciples. OK? So keep that at the forefront of your mind as we read it together, for that's the emphasis, I believe, of Mark as he records this incident.
Verse 1: "And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted", or 'afraid'. "And he saith unto them, Be not afraid: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you. And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid. Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils. And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept. And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not. After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them. Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen".
Let us pray: Risen Emmanuel, by the Holy Spirit whom You sent, having ascended unto Your Father's right hand, risen and glorified, we pray that by that Spirit, Risen Lord Jesus, that You will presence Yourself among us - God with us. As in Your risen power You came into that Upper Room where the disciples were so fearful, and You pronounced to them: 'Peace be unto you' - may You do the same to troubled hearts this morning. Indeed, Lord Jesus, may You breathe upon us that we might receive the Holy Spirit, for it is in Christ's name we pray, Amen.
Ann Landers was an agony aunt for a tabloid newspaper, and in the column that she wrote regularly she testified that she received each month about 10,000 letters from people who had particular problems and were looking to her for the solution. Asked on one occasion what subject predominated those letters she, without any hesitation, answered, without a second thought: 'Fear'. She went on to explain that in almost every letter she received the root problem was the problem of fear. Now, I can't verify what I'm about to say, but it has been estimated that upwards of 80% of medical cases that come into doctors' surgeries have their origination, their genesis, with fear. Now, what the people are suffering may be symptoms that are actual, not psychosomatic, there are real problems, real diseases, real ailments - but it is believed by many that anxiety and fear can be the source, the embryo of the problem in the beginning.
I wonder does that surprise you? It ought not to surprise you when you consider how, every week, we are party to a new revelation of a health scare, or a pollution scare, or a climate scare, or a security scare, or a food scare. I'm not against knowledge, I'm all for knowledge, but one of the drawbacks of the knowledge that we have - the increased knowledge - is that it has made us more aware of potential threats, and many have become preoccupied with those threats. We have now a society, generally speaking, that is obsessed by fears - that's why scaremongering sells newspapers. The result of a 24/7 diet of fear is a planet filled with hypochondriacs and the paranoid. We have, today, a population, particularly in the Western world, that is dominated by fear and its consequences.
Many people have become like Louis XV, the King of France, who was so terrified of death that he forbade the very mention of the subject in his presence, and in fact he attempted to remove from his environment every reminder of death. So he removed all the graves, the memorials and the cenotaphs that were around his immediate presence. Many live like Joseph Stalin, the great dictator of Russia, who was so afraid of assassination that he changed his bedroom every night, and he moved around a total of eight. Now, many people in our world are living like that, they are on the run because of fear - and, it has to be said, many Christians are paralysed by the same problem. Our Lord Jesus Christ, before He left this world He predicted and prophesied that in the end times men's hearts - and women's! - men's hearts and women's hearts would fail them for fear. Their very lives would fail them because of the fear that gripped them.
Now, I want you to understand the fear that gripped the hearts of the disciples of the Lord Jesus around the Easter weekend. I want you to come with me now to picture the scene on that first Good Friday, Saturday, and first day of the week, the Lord's Day - and we'll not get into the intricate details of how many days there were from Good Friday to the first day of the week, that's a big debate and I'm not getting into it today, it's not important. Picture the scene, and ask yourselves how the disciples felt. Take Friday, on Friday the disciples find themselves in Gethsemane. The Lord Jesus has resorted there to pray, and He has asked the disciples to watch with Him just one hour - and, of course, you know they kept falling asleep. Then into that Garden that evening came the soldiers, and along with them was Judas the betrayer, and he would go and kiss the cheek of the Lord Jesus Christ, and then the Lord Jesus would be led away to trial - and of course Peter tried to accost those who were taking Him away, and the Lord Jesus performed what is arguably His last miracle before His death. From that moment the truth of the ancient prophet was fulfilled, that being: when the Shepherd would be smitten, the sheep would scatter. The Lord Jesus is taken from Gethsemane, and the disciples flee.
Peter is the epitome of betrayal, of course. The next time we find him he's warming himself by the world's fire, and he is asked was he not one of the number that followed the Lord Jesus - and even a little girl frightens the living daylights out of him, and those who recognised his Galilean speech. He thought his cover was blown, and he resorts to the point of denying the Lord Jesus with oaths and curses - and your imagination can fill in the gaps there. But imagine that: a man who said that he would die for the Lord Jesus not many hours before that! But we're so hard on Peter, aren't we? The rest of the disciples were not much better - they all fled, the Bible says, every single one of them fled. Imagine how the disciples felt on Friday.
But come with me to Saturday, because here, I believe, is an oft neglected day. We concentrate on Good Friday and Easter Sunday, but how do you think the disciples felt on Saturday? If they had any sleep because of the guilt and the nightmare of what had happened the evening before, if they did wake in the morning, imagine what the first thoughts were in their minds - the awful realisation: the Lord is dead! And He was dead! What was coursing through their minds? Now, I imagine that they were thinking about His life, and how could they not have thought about the miracles that He performed? How could they not have remembered the parables that He spake, and the promises that He made to them - 'Going away to prepare place, and He would come again to receive them unto Himself'? But I think the predominant thought that was in their mind, with the backdrop of the wonderful life and ministry of Christ, was this: 'He's dead!'.
Now, the irony is that whatever they remembered about the Lord Jesus Christ, His life and His death, the irony is: they had forgotten the most important thing that He ever said! That was: that the Son of Man must die, and three days later must rise again. I wish I had time to show you this, but Mark's gospel is full of that - full of that. I'll give you one example, turn back with me to Mark chapter 8. Mark is the gospel of the cross, it's all leading to Calvary, and many times the Lord was telling them of how this must be, and He must die and rise again three days later, and the disciples just never seemed to get it. Here's one such incident in Mark 8 and verse 31: 'And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again'. Now here's an example of how they just couldn't grasp this: 'And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him'. Peter was more or less saying: 'Lord, stop talking like that! That is nonsense! We cannot conceive that You should die!'. He didn't even, I think, conceive of the idea of resurrection - this idea of Christ dying was just anathema to Peter and the rest of the disciples. These disciples had heard the words of the Lord Jesus about death and resurrection and, better than that, on three occasions they had seen a demonstration of how Jesus Christ had power over death. One of them was Lazarus, they saw this man after Jesus cried: 'Lazarus, come forth!', they saw him come forth from the grave after four days, at which point decomposition would have set in - they saw it with their very eyes. They saw Jesus sitting down and eating with this man Lazarus, and yet they had forgotten.
Isn't it amazing? I'll tell you something more amazing than that: the supreme irony is that the friends of Jesus had forgotten, but His enemies remembered. Matthew 27, turn with me please, verse 62: 'Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first'. They believed, at least, what He said, in the sense that they could remember Him saying it - but what about the friends of the Lord Jesus? Now, I want you to come with me to several passages in the Gospels, first of all the one where we read from, Mark chapter 16. Now, be nimble with your fingers, because we want to see this in the word of God - Mark chapter 16. We read these stories, and we're so familiar that we don't pick up the data that is there - in verse 1 and verse 2, look at what is happening: 'The sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him'. They were going to the tomb to anoint what? A dead body. What day is it? Verse 2: 'Very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun'. On the third day, the Lord's Day, the two Marys bring spices to anoint a dead body - they're not expecting a resurrection, are they?
Now, come with me to John chapter 20, for here we see Mary Magdalene and her reaction - John chapter 20 verse 12, she's outside the sepulchre weeping, and she looks down into the sepulchre and sees two angels, verse 12: 'in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. And they say', the angels say, 'unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord', in other words, they have taken away the body, the corpse of my Lord, 'and I know not where they have laid him'. She was more zealous in seeking a dead Christ than a living one! She hadn't remembered - that's Mary Magdalene. Now look back please, same chapter verse 2, and here we see Peter and John, verse 2: 'Then she', that is Mary Magdalene, 'cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him'. So she has told the other disciples about this, and in verse 9 we see their reaction: 'as yet they knew not', or they were not in the good of, 'the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead'. Luke 24 gives us more of a commentary on this regarding Peter: 'Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed' - now, listen to this - Peter departed, 'wondering in himself at that which was come to pass'. Do you see him? He looks into an empty tomb, sees the grave clothes, and Peter walks away - the man who heard about all this, was taught about it for three years - and he's saying: 'I wonder what has happened?'.
Now, Luke 24, turn with me to Luke 24, for here we have the rest of the apostles. We've seen Mary Magdalene, the two Marys, Peter and John, and now in Luke 24 we see the rest of the apostles - verse 9: 'And they returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven', this is the women told it to the eleven, 'and to all the rest. It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles. And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not'. What a bunch! What a bunch!
Now, come down the chapter again please to verses 21 and 22 - we see a dejected couple, maybe a husband and wife, we're not sure. They are on the Road to Emmaus, and the Lord appears to them in a form that they don't recognise Him. They engage in a conversation with Him, verse 21, and they say: 'But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre' - do you see the import of what they're saying? 'We thought that the third day all this would turn out for the best, and then these women came and told us that there was no body and they astonished us' - but these two were not expecting a resurrection! They didn't know what was wrong, they knew something was wrong but they didn't understand.
Of course, the epitome of unbelief is 'Doubting Thomas' - turn with me to John 20 please, John 20 and verse 25. Now the other disciples have got there, eventually, and they're starting to believe this. In verse 25: 'The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe' - I will not believe! Now come back with me to Mark 16 - I would love you to go home and read that chapter again and note, as I've said, the times that 'fear', and 'affrighted', and 'unbelief' are mentioned, or related words. It was on Saturday, I believe, that the realisation dawned on them: 'Our Master is dead forever! Our dream is over!'. The disciples went through the greatest despair and, yes, we could say depression, of their earthly existence - and perhaps of anyone else's for that matter. There was not a glimmer of hope. They had entered into a tunnel with no light at the end of it. Saturday, the day of desolation, the day of gloom, the day of shattered dreams. For Mary, a sword had pierced her soul; John, he was heartbroken; Peter was paralysed by guilt; Magdalene had lost her loved One in despair - Saturday.
Do you ever think about Saturday? I'm sure you've heard the rhyme: 'Monday's child is fair of face, Tuesday's child is full of grace, Wednesday's child is full of woe, Thursday's child has far to go'. Someone has called the disciples 'Saturday's children' - now, I was born on a Saturday, and I hope that doesn't say too much about me - but Saturday's children were full of despair, Saturday's children were full of tragedy, Saturday's children were full of fear. Now let me ask you the question here today on this Easter Sunday morning: have you ever experienced despair? Have you ever experienced dejection? Have you ever been downcast? If you haven't, you will! Have you ever experienced shattered dreams? Have you ever experienced depression? I don't know why you've experienced it, you certainly haven't experienced what the disciples experienced, but maybe you have experienced this through death, through a broken relationship, through a failed business, through some family disaster, through a disease or an illness - I don't know - but so many in our world today are Saturday's children. Many are living in despair, many more are living in the darkness of Saturday than, someone said, ever lived in the drama of Friday or the victory of Sunday.
Our generation is full of Saturday's children! Cities are teeming with pools of human misery. People are living out their lives, one has said, as a ritual dance to death with hope as an allusion. Our world is full of people who are in the grip of despair. Everywhere hopelessness and meaninglessness crush people on every side. Are you one of Saturday's children? Now, if you are, I have good news for you today, and it's found in Romans chapter 1. Turn with me to Romans chapter 1 - and I love this - Romans chapter 1 verse 1: 'Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead'. Now, look at verse 4 please: He is 'declared to be the Son of God with power'. Now, do you see that word 'declared'? That is a verb in the Greek language - the New Testament, of course, originally written in Greek - it's a verb that has a root 'horizo'. Now that word means 'to define', or 'to mark out the boundaries', or 'to determine', or 'to appoint' - so that's what it simply means: 'By the resurrection of the dead, the boundaries were determined that prove that Jesus was the Son of God'. It demonstrated who He was. Now, we derive in English, from this Greek verb 'horizo', the English word 'horizon'.
Now, what is a horizon? Well, it is a boundary, isn't it? It's something that determines an environment, or at least our sight. So this verse 4, it could be perhaps read like this, some could say: 'And He was horizoned to be Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead'. Our horizon is a boundary that says to us: 'Thus far, and no further' - it's as far as you can see, and it's as far as you can go. I'm led to believe that if you're six-foot tall - and I can only dream what that's like! - your horizon will be three miles away. It's as far as you can see, as far as your mind is concerned it's as far as you can go. Now, let me ask you now: what is your horizon? What is that thing, that person, that experience, that tragedy, that memory in your life that says to you: 'Thus far, no further'? You can't get beyond it, it's a boundary, it binds you in, it keeps you in, it inhibits you, it prevents you. Now listen: when you become born again, a child of God, Christ becomes your horizon! He defines your boundaries! Do you know better than that what He does? He pushes all the other horizons out of the way!
What was Christ's horizon? When He was hanging on the cross on Good Friday, it was death, wasn't it? Our sins were upon Him, and He triumphed, and He cried: 'It is finished!'. He bowed the head, and He gave up the ghost - and that's something you'll never do, for what you will do is: you will give up the ghost and bow the head. Your life will be taken from you, and then you'll bow your head - but He was in complete and utter control. He bowed His head, and He gave up the ghost - and He triumphed over sin! But he went into the grave, and as far as everyone was concerned - the devils of hell, the politicians of earth, and even His own disciples - He was dead, gone, and done for...but He rose again! He overcame the boundary of death - do you understand? He pushed that horizon out of the way!
I want you to really get this. The school I went to - I did go to school - the secondary school I went to had a swimming pool. I came from primary school, and I couldn't swim - and they just turfed you in the deep end, and you had to learn to swim. But I remember my goggles (I needed my goggles), so often when you were swimming the goggles came off and they would go down to the bottom of the deep end - it was always the deep end they seemed to drop off your head at. They would go to the bottom of the deep end, and I can remember distinctly having to go and get them. You've maybe done this, you dive down, you go deeper, and deeper, and deeper - down the feet of the depths - and you feel the weight of the water above you, and you feel the pressure even in your ears as they start to pop, and up your nose. You get to the bottom, and I can remember just scooping up the goggles, and then I would arch up - you know what happens, don't you? You arch up, you don't have to make any effort, and then the pressure of the water just pushes you right up, and you burst through the water's surface into the air - that's what happened the Lord Jesus on resurrection morning. Let me explain what I mean - it was a millionfold more: there was a spiritual law of action that came into being, that being that His humiliation at Calvary, His crucifixion, His sacrifice, His death and His burial, that humiliation set in motion His own law of exaltation - so that in a brilliant moment, on Sunday morning, He burst from the grave.
We read in Matthew's gospel: 'Behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow: And the guards shook for fear of him, and were like dead men'. Now think of this: this is the infinite compulsion of the law when Jesus humbled Himself. There He is, facing the ignominy of men, of devils, and the wrath of God. He's stripped naked, and He's hanging there having been beaten by men and assaulted by hell, and there He is having borne the wrath of God and become the propitiation for our sins, and He was pushed down and down and down and down - and finally, in an explosive moment on Sunday morning, the grave could hold Him no longer! He had been pushed right down, and now the force of His own exaltation pushed Him right out!
'Death could not keep its prey,
Jesus my Saviour!
He tore the bars away,
Jesus my Lord!
Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o'er His foes!'.
Are you one of Saturday's children? Well, you need to see this resurrection morn. Look at verse 7 of Mark 16, go back to it please, Mark 16 verse 7, the angels told the women: 'Go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you'. I love that: 'Tell the disciples', who? The scaredy-custards, the women had more courage and more belief than the men - and that's often the way. It's not the way it should be, but it's the way it often is. Tell the disciples that had fled! Tell the disciples, and - isn't this wonderful? - and Peter! I love that, and I wasn't going to touch on it this morning, but I love John 14 when it says: 'Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me' - but we often miss at the end of chapter 13, the Lord was telling Peter that he would betray Him, and it's as good as the Lord saying: 'Peter, you're going to betray me, you're going to deny me with oaths and curses, but don't be troubled, don't worry about it!'. He has risen from the grave, and He says: 'Go and tell Peter!'.
Have you let the Lord down here today? You have? He doesn't hold it against you, He says: 'Don't let your heart be troubled, believe in me!'. You see, that's what He wants, He wants faith to believe He's able - boy, is He able! He says: 'Tell the disciples and Peter that I have lifted their horizon!', that's what He's saying. What did the empty tomb say to them all? It said simply this: if our Lord can overcome death and hell by His resurrection, what can we not overcome by that same supernatural resurrection power that is available to us? They were Saturday's children a few minutes before, depressed and despairing, but then they became Sunday's children, and they became the children that the Acts of the Apostles says turned the world upside down for Jesus Christ and His kingdom. Someone put it like this: 'Sunday's children are the arguments the world understands and needs'. What is your day? Saturday, with all its hopelessness and pessimism? Or Sunday, with its bounding life and irrepressible hope? Nothing else could have changed this motley crew of sad, failing, depressed disciples. Nothing could have changed them into the radiant, joyful disciples with flaming courage who went across the globe and died for a risen Christ. Nothing could do it only Sunday morning!
Where are you? Some are still at the cross on Friday night, and you can tell it around the Table - He isn't a risen Saviour, He's still hanging on the cross! Some are still on Saturday, they have never realised the wonderful power of the resurrection of Jesus! Listen: we are the children of the day, we are Sunday's children, and for us the resurrection changes everything, absolutely everything. Let me give you a couple of examples, and I'm almost finished: it changes everything for the Saviour. We read in Romans 1 how this is the mark of His own deity - this is the proof that He was who He said He was, and He did what He said He would come to do. God declared it, He horizoned it by His resurrection from the dead. It's also for the Saviour His springboard to exaltation. The apostle could say in his preaching: 'The God of your fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour'. Because He is risen, God has exalted Him; He humbled Himself, and now He has been given a name that is above every name. For the Saviour, His resurrection marks the beginning of His headship over the church. Ephesians says God raised Him from the dead: 'and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church' - He's the head of the church, the only head of the church.
It changed everything for the Saviour, but it changes everything for the sinner. Maybe you're here this morning, and you're not saved - you listen to what Acts chapter 17 says: 'God has appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead'. There is a judgement day coming, and do you know how you can be 110% sure? Because Jesus rose again, and He's the Judge, He's the Judge. It changes everything for sinners, and it changes everything for Satan! It speaks of his doom forever. We read in Hebrews that Jesus, through death, destroyed him who had the power over death - that is the devil. When He rose again, He put death to death forever!
It changes everything for the Saviour, for the sinner, for Satan, and for the saint. It is the guarantee of our justification. Child of God, listen to Romans 4: 'He was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification'. Nobody can point the finger at you, especially the devil, and say that you're a failure, you're a disaster, you've let God down - because you are justified in the eyes of a holy God, not just through the blood of Christ, but through the resurrection of Christ. It changes everything for the believer, because present-day power and strength is available for us. Paul prayed for the Ephesians that they might know 'the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead' - that's available to us! It changes everything for the saint in fruitful labour: 'Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord'. Our labour is not in vain for Christ, because He is alive! It would be a waste of time if He was dead!
I heard a man once preaching say: 'If I find out that Jesus never rose from the dead, and Christianity was all a farce, I would live this life all over again because it's the best of lives, and I would live it a thousand times over' - and I thought, 'You're a hypocrite, I wouldn't!'. I wouldn't! Paul says that if Jesus rose not from the dead, our faith is vain, and our preaching is vain - it's a waste of time! Why would you live as a Christian if He wasn't alive? But He is alive, and that's why the apostles could go and die at stakes and at crosses, and be beheaded, and be boiled in oil - because Jesus lives! Because He lives we will rise again, knowing that He is raised up, the Lord Jesus shall raise up also us by His own power, and corruption shall give way to incorruption. We will exchange dishonour for glory; we will exchange weakness for power; we will exchange our natural body for a spiritual body. Listen this morning: are you Saturday's child, or are you living in the shadow of the risen Christ who wants to be your horizon?
Now, listen to what I'm saying - this is not something that He's going to do for you, this is something He has already done for you. He has pushed your horizon, your restriction, your boundary, your confinement - He has already pushed it out of the way, and all He requires of you is that you believe it! Even death - and some folk, even Christian folk, are gripped with the fear of death - I want to finish with this story, listen to it: Dr W.B. Hinson was a preacher, and he was speaking from his pulpit a year after he was diagnosed with a terminal illness which would ultimately take him to heaven. He said these words, listen: 'I remember a year ago when a man in this city said, 'You have got to go to your death''. He says: 'I walked out to where I live, 5 miles out of this city, and I looked across at that mountain that I love, and I looked at the river in which I rejoice, and I looked at the stately trees that are always God's poetry to my soul. Then in the evening, I looked up into the great sky where God was lighting His lamps and I said, 'I may not see you many more times but, mountain, I shall be alive when you are gone. River, I shall be alive when you cease running towards the sea. Stars, I shall be alive when you have fallen from your sockets in the great down-pulling of the material universe'' - that is what the resurrection means!
At times we only preach half a gospel, but He is risen. If the cross took the power out of sin, the resurrection puts God's power in us. Did you hear that now? If the cross takes the power out of sin, the resurrection puts God's power in us. Paul said: 'That I might know the power of His resurrection'. Listen: if you pitch your tent on Saturday, you'll never know it. If you realise that He has pushed your horizon out of the way, and He is your only boundary, the joy of the Lord will flood your soul.
Let us pray. I think I told this before, while all our heads are bowed, let me tell it again. There was a school in Texas that burned down, and all the children were burned along with it - it was a terrible tragedy in that vicinity, and they swore that that would never happen again. So what they did was, they spent a fortune on a state-of-the-art sprinkler system that would make sure that never took place again. It was the pride of the school, indeed of the village - what would happen was: people would call in to see it, and they would be taken by prefects and teachers around to view this wonderful state-of-the-art sprinkler system. Until one day the janitor of that school tragically discovered that in all the years since it had been fitted, it had never been connected to the water source. They had the equipment, and not the power.
Many believers are like that. I hear preaching constantly: 'You get everything when you're saved' - well, potentially you do, but you've to work out your salvation by fear and trembling, and you've to claim your possessions by faith. One of them that you need to claim is not just victory over sin through the cross, but the power of the resurrection in your life from the empty tomb - have you ever done that?
Father, I pray that people's horizons would be lifted, and Christ will become their horizon to push not only false boundaries away, but that they would see that He is their only boundary, and He is boundless, limitless! There's no telling what He can do in our lives when He becomes our boundary. Lord, bless Your word how You see fit, to the glory of Jesus we pray, Amen.
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This sermon was delivered in The Lifeboat Mission, Moy, Northern Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the fifty-seventh recording in his 'Studies In Mark' series, entitled "Fear" - Transcribed by Preach The Word.
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