Brought Back from the Dead

Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Hebrews 13:20-21 | April 1 - Holy Week|Sunday Morning,

Holy Week|Sunday Morning,
April 1
Brought Back from the Dead | Hebrews 13:20-21
Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Let’s pray. Up from the grave He arose, with a mighty triumph o’er His foes. He arose a victor from the dark domain, and He lives forever with His saints to reign. He arose, He arose, hallelujah, Christ arose. In the name of your Son, our risen savior Jesus Christ, we ask, O God, that You would speak to us. May we leave here this morning knowing that God Almighty has spoken to us. And so we pray that You would help us to listen, to pay attention, to not be distracted about friends or family, or dinner or potatoes, or sports, or what we want to do in the sunshine. We are not interested in wasted religious activity and for whatever reason You have brought us here, and so help us to listen and be changed. In Jesus we pray. Amen.

Our text this morning comes from the book of Hebrews. That’s toward the back of your Bibles on page 1010, if you’re using the Bibles in the pews. If you’re here and you don’t have a Bible, happy for you to take one of those Bibles as you leave. It’s our gift to you. If you’re not used to finding a Bible, we do encourage you to follow along because our habit here is to go verse by verse through different chapters and books of the Bible. I’ve been going through the Gospel of John for several months, but taking a break this morning to go to this letter to the Hebrews.

We don’t know who wrote this letter. Some people have thought the Apostle Paul. We can’t really be sure, but we know that inspired by the Holy Spirit, someone wrote this letter to the Hebrew; that is, to a group of Jewish Christians. And this is the very end of it, these two verses. They form a benediction. A benediction is a blessing, it’s a prayer, it’s a hope.

There are all sorts of blessings in the Bible. Sometimes a father passing on a blessing to his sons, or the blessing that you often here at the end of the service from Aaron the high priest in Numbers chapter 6: The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord … I won’t say it all now because you’ll think it’s time to leave; [laughter] it’s not.

And a lot of the letters end with a blessing, and here’s one of them. And it’s a fitting benediction for us this morning. Verse 20: “Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”

Today is Easter, you know that. And I suppose, if we were to have a one-question pop quiz, “what is Easter about,” many of you could give a correct answer. But if we’re honest, even if we know the correct answer what Easter is about, it’s so easy for Easter to become about many other things. I grew up in the church. I can’t remember not knowing about Easter and what Easter was about, and yet I can tell you as a young child, it was supremely about waking up, finding a basket, I hesitate to give this illustration because my children found no such baskets this morning, but finding a basket and you know that, that green indestructible grass [laughter] that’s in there that would end up everywhere and is impossible to clean up, there and there would be some bags of candy and there would be, in a nice new box, an Easter bunny. A chocolate Easter bunny. I liked the milk chocolate one. And they were hollow, so, I mean, we had to cut corners somewhere, but the hollow Easter bunny. And I could, I could nurse that thing for a month. You eat it from the bottom up until you get to the end of April and you have nothing but a hollow head with two sugar eyes [laughter] staring at you. Reminded me of Easter for weeks.

Or maybe you think of eggs. We had an Easter egg hunt here at the church last week. Some of your kids, my kids, were there. Others took part. Maybe some of you will have an Easter egg hunt this afternoon. I loved the Easter egg hunt when I was a kid. It wasn’t so much about the candy, that was fun, but it was a cutthroat competition [laughter] and we would have people gathering at my, my parents’ house and the brothers and sisters and cousins. And you had staggered starts for this contest based upon your age, so as you got older, you had to give some of the younger kids a little bit of a handicap. They had to go 30 seconds, 60 seconds, 2 minutes ahead of time, and you just see them sort of meandering around and hoping they don’t see where all the eggs are, and you’re elbowing your way, the true spirit of the holiday, elbowing your way up to the front to go. Because then you, you’ve counted up how many eggs you had found and I’ll just have you know, I often, often won that. [laughter] And even with my kids now, I sort of want to just help them now. “You get up to the very front here, you get to the very front.” I may or may not have asked our childcare workers where they were hiding some of the Easter eggs. [laughter]

And now we get older, and maybe it’s for kids or grandkids, or maybe it’s the opportunity to get a new coat or a new dress or a new hat, or just to enjoy spring weather just in time for Easter or to think about the meal that you’re going to eat this afternoon, or the friends or family that you’re going to see. The real fun is a big spring party.

And so we know the right answer. Easter has something to do with Jesus’ death and resurrection. But, for many of us, whether or not that happened, if we could get dressed up and have some nice weather and have a meal and have some little kids to hunt some Easter eggs, it would be a great day.

So we need to ask the question: What is Easter really about? It’s about God, we know that. Christianity is about God, church is about God, the Bible is about God, so that’s a safe answer: Easter is about God.

What in particular? Notice four things in this benediction. I want you to see, as I answer four questions from this blessing. Just two verses. Four questions, which will help us understand Easter.

Who is God? What did He do? How did He do it? And why did He do what He did?

Four questions: Who? What? How? And why?

So first, who is God? You see it in verse 20, He’s given a title. He’s called the God of peace. Now, we know this is not the only thing we can say about God. He is holy, holy, holy. 1 John 4, God is love. Elsewhere God is spirit. God is light. A chapter previous in Hebrews 12 we read God is a consuming fire. So there’s many things we can say, many different titles and descriptions we can give to God. But here’s one of them, and it’s fitting for this text: He is the God of peace.

You may not know, but if you read the book of Hebrews, you would understand that the Christians here were facing opposition. They were facing persecution for their faith. And that’s why chapter 10 speaks about receiving with joy even when you have the plundering of your property because you believe that you have a better possession and an abiding one. They were facing imprisonment. In chapter 11 it will recount some of the heroes of the faith, some of whom had been sawn in two, some of whom have been thrown to the lions, who have been drowned. So they’re facing this opposition, so they need to know there is a God of peace because their world doesn’t seem very peaceful. And even more than that, they were struggling to understand not just peace out there, but peace within themselves. These are Jewish Christians. Hebrews. And they’re wrestling with how do we understand what has happened to this whole system of faith that we thought we understood, because for a millennia they sort of had it hardwired: We have animals, we have sacrifices, we have a certain clan and a tribe and there’s priests and they wear certain clothes, and then they sacrifice certain animals on certain days and those atone for our sins. And now with Jesus, where’s the tabernacle? Where’s the temple? Where’s the high priest? Where’s the animals? What’s going on? How can we know our sins are forgiven? How can we have peace with God?

God alone is the author of real, lasting peace. I wonder what you think of that title, the God of peace. Whether you believe in God or you’re hear just trying to be friendly to the people that are going to feed you later, if there is a God, don’t you hope He’s a God of peace? It’s not hard to look around the world and see, well, we could use some of that. Refugees fleeing. You see oppressive regimes. You see saber rattling. You see threats of nuclear war. You see missile launches. Don’t you want peace?

Or maybe that, that’s so big and grandiose, how about just in your life? I bet you have some relationships that aren’t going very well. You have some people that don’t like you all that much and truth be told you have some people you don’t like very much. You’d like it if everyone just got along. You, you’d like if, if later this afternoon you didn’t have to, mmm, anticipate what awkwardness you might have. And you’ve already had that talk with Uncle So-and-so, don’t bring that up. Okay? Nothing. Don’t want you to say anything about politics, okay? None. You wish you could have peace.

Or, let’s be honest, conflict in your own soul. When you have those quiet moments, when you have nothing to listen to but your own thoughts in your head, don’t you know that things aren’t the way they’re supposed to be? Your life didn’t quite turn out the way that you had planned. You’re not always happy with the way you are, with the things you’ve done, with what you’ve tried to do and failed. Or a little nagging voice that’s somewhere deep inside your head that sometimes tells you “eh eh eh, I don’t think that’s right.” And you push it aside.

You know, the devil doesn’t have to haunt your house. He has something much more effective to quiet your conscience. It’s called a cellphone, because any moment you have an inkling to perhaps listen to your conscience or remember you have a soul, distraction is just a click away, just right there.

Don’t you need a God of peace?

He calls Himself a God of peace, and rightly so, because peace is what we need. With each other, with the world, we need it supremely so within ourselves and with God.

What did this God of peace do? That’s the second question. We read, following in verse 20, “may the God of peace,” here’s what He did, “who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus,” that’s what He did. Again, there’s so many things. There’s a thousand things, there’s a million things we could say, about what God did. From creation to redemption to the final restoration of all things. But, here our focus is on that greatest work, bringing Jesus back from the dead.

In many Easter messages, the pastor will give you a long series of reasons for believing that the resurrection really happened. And I’ve preached sermons like that where the whole 30, 40 minutes are filled up with evidences and apologetics and reasons; it’s appropriate that we would do so. And there’s all sorts of reasons that one could give. You can talk about the eyewitnesses, and Paul says that “there were more than 500 eyewitnesses, and many of those are still alive.” You ever wonder why did Paul say many of them are still alive? Because the hint is go ask them if you don’t believe that this is true. This is not some group hallucination. This is not three, you know, three people in a corner who had a dream and then compared notes and said “let’s make a religion.” He said there’s hundreds of people who saw this Jesus, you can go ask. Would the apostles, 11 of the 12, who died a martyr’s death, would they have died for something that they knew was a lie? That they got together one afternoon and said “we want this Jesus thing to keep going, so let’s take the body and let’s pretend that He was raised to life.” You think that’s going to last all the way to death?

Why have women, if you’re making up a story, if you’re making up a story about the resurrection, why have women? Women in the first century Roman world were not considered credible witnesses in a court of law. You can say “well, we don’t like that,” but that’s the way it was. It would be like if I put a 3-year-old on the witness stand, now here’s my 3-year-old. I actually don’t have a 3-year-old, but wait, soon enough, they all get there. [laughter] If I don’t have an age, I will soon, I have seven kids.

So that’s sort of how they viewed the witness of women. So if you’re making up a story, why do you have women be the first witnesses to the empty tomb? That’s not the way you do it. Well, maybe He just swooned. Or maybe the Romans took His body. If the Romans took His body, they could have put an end to this Christianity nonsense once and for all. They would have just been saying “all right, here we go, let’s do it. Okay, they’re ready, they’re excited. Here’s Jesus. He’s dead.” Would have been the end of it.

So, look, there’s all sorts of reasons one could give you, but at the end of the day, I, no preacher, no pastor, can persuade you of these things. Now, we can try to show you that it’s reasonable, it’s not a leap into the dark, it’s not against evidence. There’s many good reasons. It’s rationale, plausible. But you do have to believe it. You have to say that “I take God’s Word to be true.” Or you know what? It’s just not. Billions of people today are coming together to sing and to celebrate something that never happened. It’s a possibility. We just owe it to God, if there is a God, and we owe it to each other, to be honest.

If God did not raise Jesus from the dead, then everything we are doing this morning and everything that Christians are doing around the world, is ridiculous. It doesn’t matter how much you like the Hallelujah chorus, it’s nonsense. It doesn’t, how, you know how exciting it is to hear the organ and hear the brass and have everybody singing and get dressed up and have a party, it’s all for naught. You say well, that’s a little harsh. Well, that’s what the Bible says. 1 Corinthians 15: “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you’re still in your sins. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.”

No, let us not come with nonsense about metaphors and religious imagery and bringing good out of evil and light from darkness and spring comes as winter recedes and… No, we’re not dealing with metaphors and images and similes and analogies, but either with fact or fiction. And if it did not happen, physically happen, if Jesus did not physically walk, enter, speak to His disciples, hand from Thomas in His side, in His palms, if His synapses in His brain did not start firing again, if the amino acids did not reform somehow in the glorified body so that Christ was brought back to life, then this is all nonsense. I’m wasting my time, you’re wasting your time. You can do so much more with your Sunday mornings. It’s a really nice day out. There’s a golf course open somewhere. Or you could sleep, or you could, you know, spend more time getting ready for dinner. You could do a whole lot else that would be more meaningful than to come and to sing songs to a dead guy who’s still dead. Vain, futile, pitiable. If Christ has not been raised, if God did not bring Him back to life, you are of all people most to be pitied.

No, we can’t just say “well, what the Christians do it’s a nice thing for them, it’s a nice bit of religious faith, it sort of helps them, it gives them purpose in life.” That’s not what Paul said. Paul said if this didn’t really happen, then Christians are basing their whole life on a lie, on historical fiction, and we ought to feel sorry for them.

Those are the options: Christ was raised, or He’s dead.

Everyone acknowledges, almost everyone, that He existed. And Bart Ehrman, from Chapel Hill, a famous skeptic and religious critic, has written a book on the existence of Jesus. Even he believes, yes, Jesus existed. So this man Jesus died; the question is did He live again?

Of course, for many people in this room, you may say “yes, I believe that He was raised,” but if you really think for a moment how much difference does it make to you that He’s been raised. We may say we’re Christians, and yet let me ask you this question: If somehow this afternoon, by some modern scientific marvel, there was a press conference and they announced they had found in Jerusalem, bones, bones that through infallible DNA testing proved that this was Jesus of Nazareth and He had never been raised, would your day be ruined? Your week be ruined? Your life be ruined? Would you shrug and think “hmm, get my Sundays back. At least I don’t have to worry about that tithe.” What would really happen if Christ had not been raised?

And notice what it says, “He raised again from the dead our Lord Jesus.” I hope you find that to be a precious, precious word there, “our” Lord Jesus. He didn’t just raise a man, or even raise a Lord, “our Lord Jesus,” your savior, your redeemer, your defender, your friend, our Lord Jesus. The great Shepherd of the sheep, I love that phrase. They had been waiting for a great shepherd. A shepherd is what they called their kings, their rulers. Moses was a kind of shepherd, and David was a shepherd, and they were waiting though, for the Shepherd, this great shepherd. And here He is. And not just a shepherd, but the Shepherd of the sheep. You see, see how the benediction is making it personal, “our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep.” You, me. Peter calls Him the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls, a Chief Shepherd. He is the One they had been looking for, praying for, the One of old, the One that they had been waiting for all of these years, and God brought him back to life.

How? Who? What? Third question, how? How did God bring Him back to life? You see at the end of verse 21, it says “by the blood of the eternal covenant.” That “by the blood of the eternal covenant” goes with what preceded it. God brought Jesus back to life by the blood of the eternal covenant, that’s how He brought Him back to life. Strange phrase. Some of you have heard it a hundred times; you ever thought about why is that there? Okay, blood is about death. Blood is the cross. Blood is how Jesus died. Easter is how He lives. How did God bring Him to life by blood? The blood is how He came to death, so what’s the connection here between resurrection power and the blood of the eternal covenant? Well, you have to understand the argument that’s being made in the book of Hebrews. This is a shorthand way for expressing everything related to Christ’s sacrificial act.

If you have your Bible open, just turn back to chapter 8, for example. You can just see the headings that you probably have in your Bible. Those aren’t inspired, but they’re helpful. Jesus, high priest of a better covenant. So there’s an argument here that this covenant with Moses, a covenant is a contract, an agreement, just like you have a covenant when you buy your house or a covenant of marriage. So there was a contract with Moses; that was one way with dealing with God’s people. But he says Jesus ushers in a better covenant. And He is a better temple.

Now look at chapter 9, flip over the page. Chapter 9, verse 20. Here we find this language, it was drawn from the Old Testament. Speaking of all that was done to make atonement for the people, saying this is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you, and in the same way He is sparkled with the blood, both the tent and the vessels used in worship. So he’s referring to these ancient rites, these purification rituals, and the sacrifices. That’s how blood from the animals atoned for sin.

But then look at chapter 10. Christ’s sacrifice is once for all for sin. So this language, blood of the eternal covenant, is to bring together this whole argument about Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross, to fulfill the Old Testament system, and to die in your place.

You know, when the priest would sacrifice the animal, he would place his hand upon the animal to signify identification, transfer, to signify my sins upon his head, this animal dying in my place, the blood of this covenant. And so Christ, in His death, is fulfilling in the richest, deepest way, this Old Testament idea of sacrifice and substitution. And when it’s called an eternal covenant, you see that back in chapter 13, that’s to distinguish it from the covenant God made with Moses at Sinai. That was a temporary covenant; this is an eternal or everlasting covenant. This contract, this agreement, has its roots in eternity between the Father and the Son, and then shows itself clearly with Abraham and finds its final culmination in Christ.

Okay, so, pastor, you still haven’t answered the question: How does then that, that sacrificial death, I get it, that’s what blood of the eternal covenant means, how is that connected to the resurrection? How did God raise Him by blood?

Well, think with me. The wages of sin is what? The wages of sin is death. Death is what you deserve because of sin. That’s what the Bible says. Death is what you deserve because of sin. So when death is conquered, if death is going to be conquered, those wages must be paid. Sin must be paid for, if death is to be conquered.

Lazarus was raised from the grave, wasn’t he? Did that atone for your sins? No.

There are a few examples in the Bible of people who were dead and had to be raised, but that didn’t save you. Why? Well, Lazarus had to die again, because he’s still a sinner and the wages of his sin remain death.

We even hear stories today of people who die and come back to life, whether you believe them or not. People write best-selling books on them. Even people in the medical profession might be able to tell you of, of strange occurrences where someone’s heartbeat does stop and their brainwaves do cease, and then a few seconds later or a minute or two, and they live. How do we explain it?

And yet, no one is saved because of that. And yet, the Bible says that we’re saved because of Christ’s death and resurrection. Because in His death on the cross, Jesus canceled the power of death such that the grave no longer had a rightful claim on Him, and in that way, God raised Jesus by the blood of the eternal covenant.

Here’s how one theologian puts it: “Had not the will of God been satisfied, atonement made for sin, the Church sanctified, the law accomplished, and the threatenings satisfied, Christ could not have been brought again from the dead.”

Maybe the best way to explain what Hebrews is talking about is to remember Acts 2:24: “God raised Him up, loosing the pangs of death because it was not possible for Him to be held by it.” You ever notice that verse? It was not possible for Jesus to stay dead. Why? Because the wages of sin is death, and He had atoned for the sins of the world, for the sins of all those who would believe in Him. He atoned for it. So death had no claim upon Him. Jesus could not stay dead. The resurrection, therefore, is the demonstration that Christ’s death was satisfying to His heavenly Father. The pleasing aroma, the sacrifice that would arise to the nostrils of His heavenly Father.

So listen, we are not saved because a dead man came back to life. That’s amazing, that’s a miracle, but that could happen. You hear stories. But I promise you, if I die tomorrow, and you pray, pray, pray and I come back to life three days later, not atoning for any of your sins. Zero. My kids will tell you they didn’t even get an Easter bunny. [laughter]. Some guy he was.

So friends, what is your hope? It’s not simply that God can do miracles. It’s not simply that there was a man who was dead and now He lives, but our hope is that this man, this God-man, suffered in the place of sinners and now death has no claim on Him. Death without resurrection would not have saved us, so He died. Without resurrection, we have no evidence that it was satisfying. And resurrection without the death of the Son of God would not save us, it would just be another miracle, or it’d be another Lazarus. Only by bringing Christ back from the dead, through the blood of the eternal covenant, can we have assurance of salvation and redemption that is full and free. In other words, the empty tomb of our Lord Jesus Christ, the empty tomb of that great Shepherd of the sheep, that empty tomb is our great pledge and assurance of peace with God. Only because the tomb is empty do you know that full atonement has been made.

Which brings us to a final question. So what do we do, and why did He do, what He did? We’ve looked at who and what and how, and now look at verse 22. Why? Again, there’s all sorts of reasons why, but here’s one of them. Verse 21: To equip you, to equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight.

Now the author of Hebrews does not have perfection in view. It doesn’t say, well, Christ died so that He can, that God can make you perfect in this life. No, that’s not going to happen in this life. But he says part of this resurrection is that the God who has power to raise Jesus has the same power to save you, to change you, to make you now disposed and enabled to live for God.

People say Easter changes everything. That’s true, it’s a wonderful sentiment. Most of you probably even believe it. “Easter changes everything.” But what has Easter changed for you? Fine, Easter changes everything. What has changed in your life? What difference does it make in what you will do with the rest of your day, week, month, life? God equips us through Jesus to will and to do according to His good pleasure. You see that little phrase there, “through Jesus Christ,” which means if you do anything that is pleasing to God, it is because God has worked in you and if in fact God receives it as pleasing, He does so only for the sake of Christ. In other words, we cannot perform the duties of obedience except as God supplies grace.

And then you see the very last phrase: “To whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Why the resurrection? To save you, to change you, and ultimately that the One who is raised may receive glory now and forever.

Way back in Hebrews chapter 2, verse 1, the writer says “we must pay much closer attention, much closer attention to this gospel message lest we drift away from it, lest we neglect so great a salvation.”

You care about justice, don’t you? I bet you do. I bet you could have a list. You care about human trafficking, you care about racism, you care about sexism, you care about justice. I know you care about justice because you get upset when people cut you off on the road. You get upset when you don’t get your money back. You get upset when you have to wait in the grocery store and you have to wait in line for like 3 minutes, “what’s going on here?” You care when you feel like your kid isn’t getting the playing time that he deserves, “come on, he’s on his way to professional if you would just give him some time.” You care about justice, don’t you?

And if we care about justice, why is that we turn around and then act as if God is the one being in the universe unconcerned about justice? Your sins must be paid for, and they will be. They will be paid for in Hell, or on the cross. God cares about justice. It’s not the pastor’s opinion; that’s the message of Hebrews and of the whole Bible. We will not escape if we neglect so great a salvation.

And so more than understanding something new about the Bible, you need to ask yourself the question, is this blessing, these two verses, this benediction, is this my blessing? Do you know the God who raised Jesus from the dead? Has He equipped you? Has He changed you? Do you want, above all, to see this risen One receive glory forever and ever? The whole book of Hebrews is an extended argument for the superiority of Jesus Christ. The prophets revealed God to the people, but Jesus Christ was the revelation of God Himself. The angels were sent from God to be ministering servants, but Jesus Christ was loved as God’s only begotten Son. The old covenant showed the way to God, and the truth about God, and the life in God, but then Jesus comes who is the way, the truth, and the life. The tabernacle was made with human hands to symbolize God’s presence among His people, but Jesus Christ, made without human hands, was God among His people. The kingdom that was was shaken at Sinai; he kingdom that’s coming is one that cannot be shaken. The high priest, after the order of Aaron, had to offer sacrifices year after year, year after year, again we’re doing this, again we’re doing this, more bulls, more goats, more lambs, never ending. But Jesus Christ, the high priest after the order of Melchizedek, has made a sacrifice one for all, never to be repeated. The blood of bulls and goats was shed morning and evening, century after century for the remission of sins, but Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, shed His own blood for the sins of the world and secured their eternal redemption.

Moses was faithful in God’s house as a servant, God was faithful over all things as God’s son. Joshua led the people into the promised land, but only Jesus could truly give them rest. Abraham was a great man of faith, but Jesus is the guarantor of all that Abraham was believing in. That’s the argument of Hebrews. All these saints, all these things, pointing to Jesus, our prophet, priest, and king, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising its shame, and is now seated at the right hand of God, and Hebrews 2 says we must pay much, much closer attention to these things lest we drift away.

You know when you fly on an airplane, and they present the safety instructions, how much do you pay attention to those? Not much. When I fly, I try to get an exit row seat so I can have a little more leg room and now they have to, whatever the law is, they have to come and they have to say “I need a verbal yes, are you willing and able,” and everyone goes “yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes.” I’ve even had them come to me recently and they’ll say to my row “excuse me, ladies and gentlemen, you need to pretend like you’re paying attention for just a few seconds.” Just pretending. Because you sit there and you think “I’ve heard this before, nothing’s going to happen, I already know it, it hardly matters.” And you don’t pay attention.

That’s how some of us are with the Gospel. “I’ve heard it before, it doesn’t really matter, nothing’s gonna happen, we’re all gonna be safe, I don’t have to pay attention.” And you drift, just like you don’t really care if you fall asleep during the, and then the thing falls down, then you’ve got the cushion, and then there’s the door, and ___ it matter. And so we think the same about this greatest of all messages.

Well, let me tell you that heaven never tires of the cross. The saints in glory never grow weary of singing the old, old story, worthy is the Lamb who was slain, worthy to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing, so do not let another Good Friday and another Easter Sunday pass you by. This is not the place where Jesus simply felt our pain, but where He bore our penalty. The cross is not the place where we see our worth, but where we see the weight of our sin. And the empty tomb is not just the place where God overturned divine justice, but where God is mercy fulfilled justice. And so pay careful attention to the cross and to the empty tomb.

Do you know what Easter is really about? Here we see a great salvation, delivering us from a great wrath that is to come, revealing to us a great savior, that great Shepherd of the sheep, that Lamb of God wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our inequities, that by His stripes we may be healed, and that in Him, raised from the dead, you may find the true meaning of Easter, experience real blessing, and know the God of peace for your souls.

Let’s pray. Father in heaven, we pray that You would so move among us now, throughout this afternoon and by this week, that the Holy Spirit would preach to us a better sermon than the one that I just preached. It is appointed for man to die once, and then to face judgment, Your Word says, and we know not the time or the hour. All of our days are written in Your book before one of them comes to pass, and we do not know when we will have to give an account for all of these things. We will stand before you one day and we will have to give an account for what we have heard, even in these last 40 minutes, about Christ. So we pray that our meeting together today would not be wasted time, that You would speak and You would now give us voice to sing, and to celebrate, and to pay attention. We pray in Jesus’ name, our risen and coming King. Amen.