Welcome to Easter morning.  Sam and I have been praying for you.  This past week, we have been walking you through scripture to better understand Holy Week.  Where did Jesus go every day?  What did Jesus say?  What did Jesus experience?

Yesterday was very intense.  I really enjoyed how Sam walked us through each moment of the day.  He was betrayed and arrested.  He was on trial.  He went to the cross.  Sam lead us through every moment of that day with scripture and it really helped us enter into what Jesus went through.

Think through Holy Week.  Jesus and His disciples enter Jerusalem to crowds of people cheering Jesus.  The disciples had to think, this is awesome.  Jesus will be king.  And we are a part of His crew.  A week later, the crowds are screaming, ‘Crucify him.’  The disciples wake up on Sunday morning and they are dazed and confused.  Nothing worked out the way they thought it would.  Everything they hoped for has now ended.  Jesus has been crucified.

The religious leaders were infuriated with Jesus.  He was doing miracles.  Crowds of people loved His teaching.  Jesus constantly confronted them publicly.  Jesus outed them for being hypocrites.  They had to do something, so they paid Judas to betray Jesus.  They manipulated the legal Roman system to have Jesus beaten and killed.  Now everyone would know, this man Jesus had to be a fraud.  If He really was the Son of God, He would have saved Himself.  Today, Jesus is dead.  They can now move forward without the Jesus distraction.

Let’s read what happened next.  [This story in the other Gospels: Mark 16:9-20, Luke 24:1-12, Matthew 28:2-15]

John 20:1-23 and Matthew 28:11-15

Early Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone was rolled aside from the entrance.  She ran and found Simon Peter and me and said, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and I don’t know where they have put him!”

We ran to the tomb to see; I outran Peter and got there first, and stooped and looked in and saw the linen cloth lying there, but I didn’t go in.  Then Simon Peter arrived and went on inside. He also noticed the cloth lying there, while the swath that had covered Jesus’ head was rolled up in a bundle and was lying at the side.  Then I went in too, and saw, and believed [that he had risen] – for until then we hadn’t realized that the Scriptures said he would come to life again!

We went on home, and by that time Mary had returned to the tomb and was standing outside crying. And as she wept, she stooped and looked in and saw two white – robed angels sitting at the head and foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying.

“Why are you crying?” the angels asked her.  “Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”  She glanced over her shoulder and saw someone standing behind her. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him!  “Why are you crying?” he asked her. “Whom are you looking for?”  She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”

“Mary!” Jesus said. She turned toward him.  “Master!” she exclaimed.  “Don’t touch me,” he cautioned, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them that I ascend to my Father and your Father, my God and your God.”  Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them his message.

That evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors, in fear of the Jewish leaders, when suddenly Jesus was standing there among them! After greeting them, he showed them his hands and side. And how wonderful was their joy as they saw their Lord!

He spoke to them again and said, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” Then he breathed on them and told them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you refuse to forgive them, they are unforgiven.” TLB

Matthew 28:11-15

As the women were on the way into the city, some of the Temple police who had been guarding the tomb went to the chief priests and told them what had happened.  A meeting of all the Jewish leaders was called, and it was decided to bribe the police to say they had all been asleep when Jesus’ disciples came during the night and stole his body.

“If the governor hears about it,” the Council promised, “we’ll stand up for you and everything will be all right.” So the police accepted the bribe and said what they were told to. Their story spread widely among the Jews and is still believed by them to this very day. TLB

Easter morning really did change everything.  The disciples who were devastated, are now astonished to find that Jesus is alive.  The religious leaders who thought they had won, are now paying off people to cover up the truth.

During Holy Week, Sam and I have been sharing three major thoughts for you to remember.  What Jesus walked through, He did it for you.  What Jesus walked through, He did it willingly.  What Jesus walked through, the crucifixion and resurrection, it changed everything for you.

Did you know that Easter changed everything for you?

First, Jesus defeated the curse of death in our lives.  Scripture explains what happened like this:

God’s children are human beings – made of flesh and blood – Jesus also became flesh and blood by being born in human form.  For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the Devil, who had the power of death.  Only in this way could he deliver those who have lived all their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.  NLT Hebrews 2:14-15

There is a curse on us.  It’s called sin.  We all experience it.  There is something deep inside of us that leads us to do the wrong thing.  It’s like a war or battle.  That is sin and it always leaves us feeling like a slave or a prisoner.  It leads us to believe we have failed God.  It wears us out.

What did God do?  He sent Jesus to break that curse.  For those who believe in Christ, that curse is broken.  Sin no longer has power over you.  It no longer has the power to make you feel like a slave or prisoner.  You are free.

If you have never asked Jesus to come into your life to break the power of sin, today you can.  ‘I confess that Jesus is the Son of God.  Jesus, forgive me for my sin.  Please come into my soul and destroy the curse of sin and fill me with the Holy Spirit.  Give me the courage to make choices to follow You and not sinful temptations.’

Secondly, everything you are walking through in life, Jesus has walked through.  He understands what you are dealing with.

It’s obvious, of course, that he didn’t go to all this trouble for angels. It was for people like us, children of Abraham.  That’s why he had to enter into every detail of human life. Then, when he came before God as high priest to get rid of the people’s sins, he would have already experienced it all himself – all the pain, all the testing – and would be able to help where help was needed. MSG Hebrews 2:16-18

Jesus entered into every detail of human life.  He has experienced the pain and emotion and temptation you walk through.

Today, because of Coronavirus, we are living a new norm.  Some have lost jobs.  Some are working on the front lines like doctors, nurses, medical supply sales and in grocery stores.  Others are home and the days are just overlapping.  And to make it worse, the news media will always tell you the worst, most dramatic information in hopes that you will stay tuned.

What happens to us emotionally?  We can feel anxiety, anger, depression, hopelessness, and fear.  I think sometimes we forget that Jesus entered into every detail of human life.  We can forget that Jesus has experienced all the emotional pain that we are experiencing.  Where can we find relief from the emotions that seem to creep into our lives?   We go to Jesus, someone who understands.  Someone who will empathize.

This is what Jesus told us to do.

Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. MSG Matthew 6:6

Have you done this recently?  Have you turn off life for second to focus on God?  Have you stayed in that moment until you sensed His grace?  What a beautiful, spiritual transformation that moment is.  You can go to Jesus and tell him every emotion, every stress you are going through; He will listen.

Next week we start a new teaching series that talks in more detail about anxiety, anger, depression hopelessness and fear.

Third, Jesus willingly walked through it all for you.  You need to know, He will never get tired of loving you, pursuing you and forgiving you.

God showed how much he loved us by sending his only Son into this wicked world to bring to us eternal life through his death.  In this act we see what real love is: it is not our love for God but his love for us when he sent his Son to satisfy God’s anger against our sins. TLB 1 John 4:9-10

Jesus didn’t hang on that cross for 6 hours to give up on you.  He sent you a message that He is all in.  If you think God has given up on you, re-read the story because you don’t fully understand God’s love and grace.

Fourth, you need to stop trying to earn your way into heaven.  You need to relax and enjoy God.

Paul wrote this to fellow Christians.

What magician has cast an evil spell on you? For you used to see the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death as clearly as though I had shown you a signboard with a picture of Christ dying on the cross.  Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by keeping the law? Of course not, for the Holy Spirit came upon you only after you believed the message you heard about Christ.  Have you lost your senses? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? NLT Galatians 3:1-4

If you could earn your way heaven with your human effort, then Jesus never had to die for you.  The reason the Jesus story is epic, is because He did what you could never do.  So today, if you are striving and struggling to earn your way into heaven with your human effort, you are wasting your time.  Paul would ask you, “Have lost your mind?”

Lastly, Jesus invites you to rest and heal.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.  Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” MSG Matthew 11:28-30

Maybe the Christian faith isn’t what you thought it was.  It’s not about more activity.  It’s not about trying to earn your way into heaven with your human effort.  It’s about being in a relationship with Jesus.   A relationship that brings your heart to life.  Maybe the Christian faith is more about coming to God every day and allowing Him to love you and lead you through life.

Remember, what Jesus walked through, He did it for you.  What Jesus walked through, He did it willingly.  What Jesus walked through, the crucifixion and resurrection, it changed everything for you.

Tomorrow, I would really encourage you to hear Sam’s talk.  The story doesn’t end on Easter, there is more.  I read over Sam’s talk for tomorrow and it’s awesome because Sam walks you through scripture and what Jesus did before ascending into heaven.