Operation Save Humanity

Christ is risen! These are three of the most significant words in the Christian faith. How can one really describe a day like today? After all, Easter is an extraordinary victory of God, experienced in the midst of the ordinariness of life. Words don't seem to do justice to the importance and impact of Jesus' resurrection from the dead, and what his resurrection now means to each of us, and to all humanity. There is no doubt that the most important thing to happen to this world since its creation by God almighty is the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Through Jesus, God was on a mission. That mission was to save humanity by restoring all of us to a right relationship with God. God's mission wasn't about domination or condemnation. God's mission was about redemption and liberation. And God's mission was ultimately accomplished by grace through, the resurrection of Jesus. Because Jesus is alive, there is now hope for this broken world, a hope that is infinite for all who believe.

But the resurrection event itself doesn't tell the whole story. "The wage of sin is death." Such death not only means the end of physical life, but separation from God for all eternity.

How was God to deal with this problem?

The answer was that God came among us as Jesus to show us a better way, to take upon himself the sin of humanity, and then to die for those sins. His death was in no way the result of any sin of his own, because Jesus had no sin. But in a humble and mysterious way, Jesus suffered for you and me.

This man, the Son of God, who had no sin, was made to be sin for us. God laid on him the sin of us all, what a burden that must have been. He was our substitute, so that God's law might be fulfilled, which is "the soul that sins shall die."

This man whom his disciples hoped to be the Messiah was brutally seized, tried, tortured, and left to die on a cross. And after the horrible crucifixion, for three days the lifeless body of Jesus lay bound in the grave. And with him lay the aspirations of all who had followed him.

All who left what they were doing to follow him, were now uncertain of what to do next. It seemed that when Jesus died there hope had died as well.

Envision this image for a just a moment. God on his throne. You and I on this earth. And between God and us, poised between heaven and humanity, is Jesus on the cross. Now God, who punishes sin, releases his rightful wrath on our mistakes. Jesus receives the blow. Since Christ is between God and us we don't receive God's wrath. The sin is punished, but we are safe, safe in the shadow of the cross.

Why would God do this? Was it out of moral duty or responsibility; was it some heavenly obligation, or paternal requirement? No, God isn't required to do anything for us.

But look at what God did. Just for you and me, God sacrificed his only son. Amazing isn't it. Would you do that? Would you offer the life of your child for someone else?

I can honestly stand here and say I wouldn't. There are those for whom I would gladly give my life. But ask me to give you a list of people for whom I would give my sons life. The sheet of paper would be blank.

God's list, however, contains the name of every person who ever lived. Your name and my name are on his list, and he freely sacrificed his son that we might say yes to Jesus and receive eternal life.

This is the far-reaching range of God's love. As it is written, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only son."

And this is the reason for the cross. God took a tool of cruel torture and death, and transformed it into a tool of love. God loves the world and God wants to restore all of human life to a right relationship with him.

And as boldly as the center beam on the cross proclaims God's holiness, the crossbeam declares his far-reaching love. This is why the cross is so important. It's not just a piece of jewelry or some ancient symbol that's outlived its time. The cross is about the ultimate sacrifice, it's about love, God's unconditional love. How wide is God's love? Wide enough for the whole world. Wide enough for you and me.

And then on the third day, as He had prophesied, Jesus arose to live, talk, and show himself again. His resurrection was the final proof of who he is and what he promised. "Because I live," he told his disciples, "you also will live." (John 14:19)

The resurrection of Christ not only brings personal salvation to all who believe, but it ushers in a kingdom of justice, compassion, freedom, and peace that is for all people everywhere.

By grace God has liberated us from the shackles of sin and death, and the door of heaven has swung wide open to great us. And when we put our faith in the risen Christ, God will raise us from death as well to experience his heavenly kingdom.

Through the incarnation, the final Word, God speaks to us. In the life and ministry of Jesus, God confronts us. And now by the suffering and scars of the passion of Jesus Christ, God redeems us. Jesus is the truth and the way to salvation, and apart from him nothing is true.

Jesus is the life because without him there is only death. He is the light and all else is darkness. As the creative force of God, all the beauty that we see this Easter Day in creation, in this building, and in each other is from Jesus' hand.

On this Easter Day we can witness to the fact that, "grace was given to us in Christ Jesus…who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel." (1 Tim 1:9)

And as Easter people we are commissioned by Jesus to create beauty out of ugliness, to bring order out of chaos, to bring hope out of despair, to bring peace out of violence, and to bring love where there is hatred.

Now in conclusion I leave you with this personal reflection. God of light and God of glory, from chains of sin you've set me free. I praise your name and give you thanks, O God you are my destiny. You removed all worry and doubt, and changed my heart with your love. Now I know the transforming God, whose spirit descends like a dove.

It's by love and through grace, that I am made holy, bold, and convicted. May I never turn back to sin, and a life without commitment. Your name I now claim as my own, eternity is my reward. Thank you Lord that despite my sin, you receive me by your own accord.

My life now has meaning because Jesus set me free, and I praise the one who died and gave this gift to me. I place my trust in Christ and serve my Lord today, there is no doubt he saved my life, thank God for Easter Day!

Let us Pray.

Lord Jesus Christ, on this day you were raised from the dead, death was defeated, and we saw the full triumph of God. Help us to live in the light of that triumph, in expectant hope of the resurrection, in confidence that death and sin shall be defeated and God's way will be the world's way, now and forever.


Read other messages by Pastor Wade