Easter 2020 - The Cosmic Christ

This is my sermonette from Easter 2020. You can watch the video here if you would prefer (skip to the 29th minute though). May it bring you comfort and confidence in the cross of Christ.

 

 

The Cosmic Implications of the Cross and Resurrection of Christ

 

There was a famous philosopher, from way back in the day, called Thomas Malthus. He created the idea of the Malthusian Crisis. This theory argued that, when the population hit a certain point, there would be natural disasters such as plagues, earthquakes, famines, etc., to bring the world back into order. This philosophy, although widely disregarded philosophically, has even found merit in the recent Avengers movies, where Thanos’ argued that, by killing half the living organisms in creation, he was, ‘Restoring balance.’ Now, I’m not here to say that COVID-19 is a Malthusian Crisis. 

 

But it is undeniable that COVID-19 has shaped our world for the best part of 6 weeks, and may well do so well into next year. It’s no use ignoring it; this has, and continues to be, a bizarre season of life. Lockdowns, conspiracies, and frankly, the world appears to be running out of toilet roll. The world is in a very unusual place right now. COVID-19 sure feels like an epoch-defining event. One that will change life as we know it.

 

 

Many commentators online and in the media are saying exactly that. And yet, as time moves forward, we forget. Until last month I would argue the vast majority had never heard of the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic. Probably the only epidemic we had heard of was the Black Death, but I bet you 10 quid you couldn’t tell me when it happened.

 

There is, however, very obviously, an event in history that, no matter the distance, not matter the number of years away, it continues to resound like a clanging gong. It refuses to dissipate or disappear, even though dictators persecute, rivals come and go, and faults occur in its retelling. 

 

This is, of course, the resurrection of Christ.

  

This is an event that will not go away. Because it is the only, truly, earth-shattering, groundbreaking, event in all of human history. The impact of the cross has cosmic implications. It impacts all of creation, from the natural phenomena right down to the individual human being.

 

Briefly, we are going to consider 4 key, cosmic, aspects of the resurrection:

Firstly, The Resurrection Restores the Cosmos.

Secondly, The Resurrection Rebukes the Culture.

Thirdly, The Resurrection Raises the Corpse.

Finally, The Resurrection Redeems the Convict.

 

So firstly,

  1. The Resurrection Restores the Cosmos (1 Corinthians 15:54-57)

[1 Corinthians 15:54] When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

[55] “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

[56] The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

[57] But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

a.     By Killing disease and Defeating Death

 

In perhaps one of the most painful and horrifying seasons of our generation, we are experiencing extreme turmoil because of disease. Unlike numerous stories and new issues from the past, we are bombarded daily with numbers of people who have died. Italy, Spain, America and Britain are all posting death rates daily of 500 or above. And in this season it can be so very easy to think, ‘Will it ever end?’ It can feel like all we hear, all we think, all we know is being corrupted by this fear of death brought on by COVID-19.

 

But Christian, this is Easter! This is the day of greatest celebration. Because the death and resurrection of Christ has achieved that which the greatest minds in all of history could only dream of. He has achieved the death of death and the defeat of disease! Yes, it is true; it won’t happen in our lifetime unless the Lord returns. This world is fallen and the scars and pock marks of that fallenness will remain.

 

But do you hear what Paul says? When the mortal shall put on immortality, the saying shall come to pass that death, death that great old enemy, death shall be swallowed up. In what? In victory! In the victory of the cross.

 

Oh yes, we will still stand by gravesides with tear-filled eyes. And we shall watch in the mirror as our own frames grow greyer and weaker. But oh, we live in the confidence that these same frames will one day put off those bodies of death and be clothed with a new body, an imperishable body, an immortal body.

 

A body that knows no pain.

A body that cries no tears.

A body that suffers no disease.

A body that experiences no death!

 

And why? Because death has been swallowed up in victory! That has happened at the cross. Death sought to dethrone God by killing His Son, but all that achieved was the victory of the Son on the morning of Easter! Death has been swallowed up in victory. And that means that all his evil, vile, malevolent minions will follow suit. They, too, have been defeated. If there is no death, there can be no causes of death.

 

The cancers, the aids, the murders, the manslaughters, the abortions, the accidents, the diseases, the suicides. They will all share in the death of death. We will continue to toil, and suffer, for a short while, but oh, dear friends, look not to the grave with fear, nor to disease and tremble. Consider the cross and trust the confidence of the finished work of Christ. Death is not the end. Because of Christ it is a doorway to immortality for those who know Him.

  

Christian, this Easter morning, look to the empty tomb and remind yourself of the wondrous and glorious truth that death is defeated.

 

b.     By Recreating the Created Order

 The next movement in this argument, then, is that the created order is changed. If death is defeated, then in the Kingdom of God there is a new created order. Now, rather than being a people driven to act out of fear, we can be a people obedient because of confidence. And thus we see that life, not death, will be the hope of the believer. For death’s power and sway over us is broken. We can now look and see the resurrection, and the power of the resurrection, in all of creation.

 

Where creation has groaned under the weight of the Fall, now it is yearning for the return of Christ when all will be restored in perfect balance and harmony under His presence and rule. There is a new creation at work, alive, and present in the midst of the ruins of the old. This Kingdom of God is alive, powerful, present, and growing daily. The reign of Christ is being manifest. And even this Easter, when most of us are watching sermons online or reading in the safety of quarantine, that kingdom is not in retreat. Coronavirus cannot achieve what that old serpent couldn’t achieve.

 

So Christian, this Easter. Be bold. Be confident. The created order has been recreated by the resurrection. The firstfruits are being experienced even now.

 

c.      By Instituting a New Ethic

The consequences of this Eternal Kingdom in the midst of the Ruined Realm is that those of us who are citizens in the Kingdom of God are now ruled and governed by a new ethic. No longer are we ruled by sin because, as we will see in a moment, we are freed from those bonds. Thus we are enabled, empowered, and expected, to live in light of this restored reality. Hear what Paul says in verse 57? Thanks be to God who gives us the victory in Christ!

 

This victory is founded upon, grounded in, the cross and resurrection of Christ. And it recreates the cosmos. Our obedience, frail, faulty, flawed, though it will be, is nevertheless finally possible because we live in the light of Christ’s victory. 

 

Dear Christian. Sin is wicked and evil. It is horrendous. And we are all guilty of it. I know my own heart. My own sin. It offends God so much. That offense grieves us. It cuts us. It humbles us. It humiliates us.

 

But that sin, though it may still flex its muscle, is simply a reflex from the old man that is dead and buried with Christ. You are not that old man, enslaved to sin! You are raised with Christ and hidden in Him. This is who we are, now, in this moment, because of the resurrection. Yes, we do still sin. And the consequences of our sin, of my sin, are very real. But they are, also, paid for under the cross.

 

This Easter, dear friend, look to the empty tomb, and remember that though your sin placed your Saviour on the tree, it was the power of the Triune God that raised Him from it.

 

The resurrection has changed the world forever. It has done something that COVID will never be able to do. It has recreated the entire cosmos. Eternity has been impacted. The kingdom has come. It is present. In the life of all who believe.

 

And that kingdom has a real power. Which rebukes the culture.

     2. The Resurrection Rebukes the Culture (1 Corinthians 15:22-24)

 [1 Corinthians 15:22] For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

[23] But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.

 

[24] Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power.

            a.     By Warning Us of Death

 

So the Resurrection Recreates the Cosmos, but it also rebukes the culture. This is seen in verse 22 here, where Paul reminds the world that there is a stark and poignant contrast between the power of the Fall and the power of the resurrection. In Adam. Under Adam our forefather, all die. Death does still have power. He is defeated, but He is not yet cast down. It’s like the boxer in the ring. Though he is weakening, and knows he is bested, he flails and swings angrily.

 

Death is defeated. Adam’s curse is broken. But it is yet to be done away with in finality. That day will come; the resurrection guarantees it. But it is not yet here.

 

Now the common question is this: If this is true, why does God delay? Why must suffering and death continue? And the answer is simply this: Because God is merciful. He is giving us time to heed the rebuke and repent and be saved. If we remain under Adam, we will die. Death will be our lot. Eternal death and separation from God. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Because though all in Adam die, those in Christ will be made alive.

 

b.     By Reminding Us of the Resurrection

This reminds us of the resurrection. Christ, our elder brother, is raised as the firstfruits. The inheritor of the kingdom. He is raised first. The guarantor, the guarantee, of our hope. But any, any, and all who repent and believe the Gospel? We will be saved and raised with Him. At His coming all who have died under the old regime of death? All will be resurrected. From Adam, through to Noah, and Abraham, and Moses, and David, and the Apostles, and every single believer before and hence will be raised in and with Him. This is a promise. Guaranteed by His own glorious and mighty resurrection.

  

c.      By Promising Us Justice

 And then, at the very end, what? Justice. All who are raised in Christ will be given to the Father as siblings with our resurrected Elder Brother. And all who are not in Christ? They will be judged. They will be part of that great destructive climax of history when the king will rule with the rod and will destroy every power. Death. Satan. Sin. Shame. And any who persist in the rebellion.

 

THIS is why God delays. So that you, even now, this morning, listening on line, or whenever you’re reading this, may hear the new that Christ died for you, so that you would be saved. There will be justice. Our sin is an affront to our holy God. It is wicked. It offends God. But He promises forgiveness and restoration.

 

Culture is rebuked by the Gospel of Christ. In this season of uncertainty and fear, we are perhaps slightly more receptive to ‘religion’ because we are confronted with our mortality and the frailty of life. But the answer is not a false hope that God likes us just the way we are. The answer is a sharp rebuke; this world is a dead world awaiting judgement. Our only hope is not to rise from this pandemic a ‘stronger, more united humanity’ but a humbled, repentant people. Disease will continue. Death still comes for us all.

 

And those of us who remain in Adam? We are destined for judgement. A righteous judgement. Because we are dead in our sin.

 

The only hope, then, is to heed this rebuke and turn to Christ. Because the power of the resurrection, and only the power of Christ’s resurrection, can raise the corpse.

 

Which is what we see, thirdly,

    3. The Resurrection Raises the Corpse (1 Corinthians 15:42)

 [1 Corinthians 15:42] So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable.

  

a.     Death Has No Hold

And this is where the joy of the resurrection becomes most palpable for the believer, isn’t it? We all will die, if the Lord tarries in His return. And all will be raised. Raised either to judgement or to live with Christ. But everyone will be raised. The dead will be raised and there will be justice. There will be judgement. There will be that final restoration of creation. Therein lies the hope; there will be resurrection because Christ’s own resurrection was the firstfruits of the Kingdom of God.

 

And this teaches us the amazing truth that the resurrection raises the corpse. It raises all of us who were dead in our sins.There is a spiritual resurrection upon conversion, when the Spirit gives life to our souls which were dead in sin. But there will also be a physical resurrection when Christ returns. Death has no hold on us. Death is a truly defeated enemy. He is defeated by the resurrection. Not just for Christ, but it has no hold on all of us. This is why the judgement is so frightening. Because death is defeated, the judgement will be conscious and real, and eternal.

  

b.     Death Has No Claim

 So death has no hold on us; his power is broken. But also, death has no claim upon us. The physical, the perishable? It is sewn into the ground. And like a seed planted in spring, from the ground comes life. From the planting of our perishable body, which tastes death, will come the imperishable body which knowns only life. 

 

The claim of death? What is death’s claim? It is this: That ‘all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,’ and therefore, ‘The wages of sin is death.’ This is the claim of death; and when Satan stands before God, this is his plea. They are sinners! They deserve death. You yourself have said so! That is the punishment you gave to this rebellious human race through Adam. Sinners. ALL.

 

And, this is true. But the case doesn’t hold water. Why? Because on Good Friday, there was death. Christ did die. He did pay the wages for the sin of mankind! And therefore, as our substitute, God’s wrath was paid, and our salvation was secured for all who believe. The death and resurrection of Christ steals the claim of death. Why? Because Christ has paid the debt and has purchased us with His blood. God’s righteous wrath as the offended King is paid for. Sin is atoned for.

 

And we who were enemies can become children of the Most High.

 

c.      Death Has no Power

Therefore, death has no power. His hold is broken. His claims are rejected. And so his power is undone. For those who believe.

For those who don’t believe, however, it must be said that death would be preferable. To die, disintegrate and be no more? That is infinitely, eternally, preferable to a resurrection that leads to standing before the Holy One and acknowledging our guilt. And hearing those words, ‘You are condemned.’

 

Dear friend. Listener or reader. Easter is a time for exultation; Christ is risen. But it is also time to reflect.

The cross preceded the crown.

The crucifixion preceded the resurrection.

 

For us? We must understand that it is our sin that sent Christ to the cross. The sin of mankind, corporately, yes. But also the sin of each of us, individually. Sin is evil and horrid. We tend to think of sin as bad in terms of what it costs us. And sin does cost us. A lot. I know. Personally. I have sinned, and I have lost so much because of it. And it hurts. And I hate my own sin. 

 

But not because of what I have lost.

 

Because, that is not the right way to think about sin. Sin is not merely a bad thing that costs us stuff. No, at its very root sin is an insult to a holy God. Sin is participating in the crucifixion of Christ.

 

It is cheering each whip that stuck His back.

It is spitting on Him as He climbs Golgotha’s Hill.

It is laughing gleefully as each fist lands its blow.

It is jeering at Him as He hung there, gasping for air.

It is feeling righteous and joyful as that spear pierced His body.

It is exulting in the death of God’s only Son.

 

This is sin. At its most basic nature sin is the desire to destroy, dethrone, defeat God and to place ourselves upon the throne instead. It is denouncing God and deifying ourselves. This is sin. And we are all guilty of it. From the Pastor to the prostitute, the politician to the policeman, we are all sinners. All have sinned. And all deserve death.

 

But Jesus died that we can be forgiven for our debt and rather than be raised for judgement, we can be raised to live with our Saviour. If you are not a believer, or are in a season of wandering, the Gospel call of Easter is this: come and die that you may live. And live forever.

 

Death is but the beginning. Christ died that you may know eternal peace. His death has brought atonement. His resurrection has brought life. Your dead spiritual corpse can be raised to eternal life in the presence of a holy God. Repent, and believe the Gospel, and be saved. Feel free to leave a comment on the blog, or to reach out. I would be privileged to walk with you to meet Christ.

 

Because He raises us to new life. And this is the other side of the coin. We are raised from spiritual death, and will be raised physically on the last day. But we are also freed. Freed from sin. We are redeemed. Though we were guilty, convicted of sin, condemned to death.

   4. The Resurrection Redeems the Convict (Colossians 1:13-14)

 [Colossians 1:13] He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,

 [14] in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

 

This we see in Colossians, right? We are all enslaved to sin. Ta varying degrees we are all enslaved to various sins differently. But the fact is that we are all enslaved to sin. In our base, human, nature, we are enslaved. Sin holds us in its icy grip. And we are incapable of freeing ourselves from it.

 

But this is the amazing aspect of the resurrection. The resurrection of Christ breaks our bonds to sin. The resurrection says that we can be redeemed. Not only resurrected. Not only forgiven. But redeemed. Made right with God. Purchased back and given freedom. By the death and resurrection of Christ, God has achieved our deliverance from the domain of Satan and brought us into the Kingdom of His beloved Son. The domain of darkness is slavery. It is spiritual death. It is the prison of sin.

 

But if we have repented from our sin, turned our face to Christ, and rest in Him, we are transferred from that prison, and brought into His kingdom. Not to be dominated and humiliated as we were by sin. But to be loved as siblings of Christ and children of God. This is the most wonderful and hopeful news, dear friends. For every human who hears and responds to this message.

 

It means that we can be freed from our addictions to lust. We repent, we rest in Christ’s power, and we can be freed.

It means that we can be freed from our heart of bitterness. We repent, we rest in Christ’s power, and we can be freed.

It means that we can be freed from our web of lies. We repent, we rest in Christ’s power, and we can be freed.

It means that we can be freed from our love of false teaching and dangerous idols. We repent, we rest in the resurrection power of Christ and we are free.

 

It means that we can be freed from our addictions to alcohol, drugs, food, sex, power, money, greed. We repent, we rest in the resurrection of Christ and we are free.

It means that we can be freed from our self-righteousness, our arrogance, our self-assurance, our attitude of holier-than-thou. We repent, we rest in the resurrection of Christ and we are free.

 

It means that we can be freed from our resentment, our selfishiness, our broken marriage, our sexual sin, all of our sins. Sins for which we are all guilty. It means that we can be freed from the guilt and shame of our sinful past. No matter the murder, theft, lust, adultery, anger, fighting, abuse…we can repent, live in the freeing, redeeming power of Christ, and be redeemed. 

 

Yes, there will still be consequences in this world, in this life. And they can be very severe. But the greatest punishment has already been paid for; Christ has taken it. And we can be freed from those sinful proclivities in the here and now.

 

Satan’s claim has been rebuked.

Satan’s power has been defeated.

Satan’s realm has been raided.

Satan’s Hell has been invaded and Christ has been victorious! Because He has indeed risen.

 

This Easter, as we reflect on the glorious resurrection power of Christ, let us remember these 4 amazing truths that He has achieved for us:

The Resurrection has recreated the cosmos. It reminds us of His Second Coming.

The Resurrection has rebuked our culture. It reminds us of the judgment.

The Resurrection has raised the corpse. It reminds us of our spiritual salvation.

The resurrection has redeemed the convict. It reminds us that we can be freed from sin.

 

This is the power of the resurrection. It reorders everything. It changes everything. COVID will pass. Somehow this bizarre season of life will pass us by. The next generation will forget just as we had forgotten about the Spanish Flu. Life will return to normal. That is the way of things.

 

But there has been one thing, one event, that has changed the world forever. And that is the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. He has changed the world. His Kingdom has come and will come.

Are you a citizen? If not, repent.

If so, rejoice.

 

Because Christ is risen indeed!