The Hope of Restoration

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Introduction:

It is good to see you on this Easter morning. If you are joining us online, thank you for watching – we hope that you experience the power of Christ and the love of this community wherever you may find yourself.

This week we have journeyed with Jesus through His triumphal procession into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday as he publically unveiled that He is the long-awaited Messiah. On Thursday, we participated in the Last Supper, receiving communion, praying, and reflecting on what was to come. On Friday, Jesus stood trial and was crucified, died, and buried.

Can you put yourself in the shoes of the disciples? Here they are – people who have left everything that they had known to follow Jesus. And now Jesus has been killed. What do they do now? They placed their hope and trust in him.

Have you ever had a moment in your life where things did not turn out as you expected it too? If you have, you can relate to much of what the disciples were probably feeling – despair, confusion, anger, sadness, fear. Not to mention mourning the loss of someone they deeply loved.

If this could happen to Jesus, what would it mean for them? I imagine that they began to doubt the validity of what they had been caught up in. Is Jesus really the Messiah?

It would have been a long 3 days.

But then as the Mary’s are going to mourn at the tomb, a strange thing happens. An earthquake erupts and an angel appears to them, rolling away the stone covering the tomb.

He announces that Jesus is no longer there. He even offers them proof by inviting them to enter the tomb and look for him.

Let’s pick up this story in Matthew 28:1-10.

Matthew 28:1-10 (NLT)

28 Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb.

Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint.

Then the angel spoke to the women. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying. And now, go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and he is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there. Remember what I have told you.”

The women ran quickly from the tomb. They were very frightened but also filled with great joy, and they rushed to give the disciples the angel’s message. And as they went, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they ran to him, grasped his feet, and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Don’t be afraid! Go tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.”

Movement 1:

We have been in a series called Breathe In for the season of Lent, the 40 days leading up to today.

Lent has traditionally been a time where we take a break from something. Perhaps we give up meat, or caffeine, or social media. But this idea of Breathing In is that when we let go of something to create space, we then will intentionally take something on in its place.

If you are going to go to the Y each day for an hour, there is something that you are going to have to eliminate from your day to create space for that hour.

Breathe In is a reminder for us to pause, rest, take a deep breath, and enjoy the presence of God. It’s creating the space needed for his revitalizing work in our lives.

Today we begin a new series – and it is a really catchy name….Breath Out.  I know, it’s genius.

When you read through the gospels and as we have journeyed over the past 40 days of Lent, we see that Jesus called His disciples to follow him. They left everything that they had known and followed by faith.

They left everything. They created the space in their life to follow Christ. The gospels are really the stories of the disciples Breathing In over 3 ½ years, taking in everything they could, spending time with Jesus, listening to his teaching, and being shaped and formed into who He desired for them to be. They became Christians – or little Christ’s – as they were discipled by Jesus.

But the story and the call doesn’t end with this amazing 3 ½  years of walking with Jesus that abruptly ends in His tragic death. Jesus isn’t finished.

Because without the rest of the story, without the resurrection, there is no Christianity. “If Christ has not been raised,” wrote St. Paul, “then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14).

The resurrection of Christ then is hugely significant for all of humanity. We do not have to be grave people, bound by the chains of sin but we can be people of the empty tomb who have hope of restoration because of the risen, conquering Christ.

Movement 2:

My wife loves HGTV.  If she is not watching a baking show, she is watching Fixer Upper with Chip and Joanna Gains. DIY and house restoration and flipping is probably half of the shows on all cable channels.

People love to watch and see something that has been left to deteriorate, something that has been neglected, something that appears to have no life left, be restored and made new.

When we see it in a building we stand impressed and we want to copy it. When we see it in the life of a person, we stand in awe and want what they have. That is the hope of restoration.

The disciples sat at the feet of Jesus and breathed in everything they could. Now it was time to breathe out, to share the hope of the Messiah for all the world. As they embraced this task, they solidified the restorative work of Christ in their own lives.

After the crucifixion, the followers of Christ were devastated and defeated. They were afraid and deserted their Lord. But only days later they stood in downtown Jerusalem fearlessly preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They courageously proclaimed this news, risking their lives to give testimony to the hope of Glory and the restoration that He brings because they had seen the risen Christ.

This morning there are 4 things that are important to know about Christ and his resurrection. The restoration that Christ brings through his resurrection is all encompassing through the restoration of our souls, minds, bodies, and world.

Restoration of our souls

“Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,”

1 Corinthians 15:1, 3-4 NIV

“25 He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God.” Romans 4:25 NLT

“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace[a] with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.” Romans 5:1 NLT

“6 When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. 10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. 11 So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.” Romans 5:6-11 NLT

Jesus died and rose again so that we may be saved and have peace with God, that our sins can be forgiven and our soul redeemed.

Restoration of our minds

“…let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2

“let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.” Ephesians 4:23 NLT

When our soul, our heart’s desire, has been captivated by Christ, Christ then shapes and forms our minds.

Restoration of our bodies

“Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God.” Romans 6:13 NLT

15 Don’t you realize that your bodies are actually parts of Christ? 19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, 20 for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:12-15, 19-20

When we desire Christ above all else and our minds are renewed, then we begin to act differently. What we do and how we act communicates something to those around us.

Restoration of our world

And when we are living out this life of faith in Christ, our world will be impacted and one day, the world will be restored.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.[a] He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” Rev. 21:1-5

Movement 3:

I am in my final stages of a masters thesis – I have my final defense coming up May 10. I met with my committee this past week and one of them asked me this question…

So what. So what that you have done research and writing a paper. What does it matter?  What is the So What factor? Why do people need to read and hear this?

Their encouragement was to be laser focused on the answers to those questions.

Last night I was walking back to the church to grab my guitar. It was about 10 pm and I found myself feeling as if the message for today was missing something. Somewhere contained in what I had been writing was not the right word for today.

So I asked myself, what the is the “So What” to the resurrection? As I walked across the parking lot and past the last light pole the words “no Jew no Greek” came to mind.

Galatians 3:23-28:

23 Before the way of faith in Christ was available to us, we were placed under guard by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until the way of faith was revealed.

24 Let me put it another way. The law was our guardian until Christ came; it protected us until we could be made right with God through faith. 25 And now that the way of faith has come, we no longer need the law as our guardian.

26 For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. 28 There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.

In Acts 10, Peter says, “You know it is against our laws for a Jewish man to enter a Gentile home like this or to associate with you. But God has shown me that I should no longer think of anyone as impure or unclean. “I see very clearly that God shows no favoritism. This is the message of Good News —that there is peace with God through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.

In the resurrection, we find the hope of restoration. That is the So What. The resurrection matters because, through it, Jesus forever became the one and only atoning sacrifice for the redemption, the restoration of our world.

No longer is there Jew nor Gentile. Today do you know what that means?

I was out in the community the other day and I overheard someone says that they were glad so and so was a particular place because it was so full of liberalism.

You know what the resurrection means? It means that there is not liberal and conservative, there is not black and white, or latino, or American and Russian, or gay or straight. Christ came and died and rose again for every single person. He filled the chasm of divide with His grace and mercy. We are all equal in the eyes of God being pursued with the same overwhelming love. He is seeking out each and every one of us to redeem us to Himself.

Conclusion:

We can be made new in Christ because of His overwhelming love for us. That’s why God sent Jesus to earth. “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

There is nothing that we can do to earn God’s love. There is nothing that we can do to limit God’s love. There is nowhere we can go, and there is nothing that we can do that will change his relentless love and pursuit of us.

Jeremiah 31:3 says, “…I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love, I have drawn you to myself.”

Christ came to this earth to make all things new through His death and resurrection to restore all of creation back to Himself. To restore our soul, mind, body, and world.

Response:

As we respond this morning, you should have received a piece of paper in your bulletin when you arrived. If you didn’t, there should be paper in the seat backs or an usher can hand one to you. Just slip your hand up and they can come by and give you one.

I would like to invite you to take out this piece of paper and a pen or a pencil.

Where do you find yourself today? Do you have the hope of Christ? Have you accepted the everlasting love that Christ extends to you? Perhaps you need to take that first step in responding to Christ’s invitation.

Perhaps you are here today and you have been following Christ for a while. Are there things in your life that He is speaking to you about this morning that you need his love to invade? To release it and allow Him to have control?

On this piece of paper I would invite you to write down what comes to mind. And as we sing, would you be willing to come and place it in the bowl of water on the communion table?

Pray

Song: No Longer Slaves

As you have come and dropped your piece of paper in the bowl – something unique has taken place. The paper and what you wrote disappeared.

This is powerful symbolism for us today that when we respond to the love of Christ that he takes our burdens, he takes our sin, our struggles, our doubts, our fears, and gives us new life. He breaks the chains of darkness and redeems and restores us. This water is a symbol of the power of the Holy Spirit to cleanse us and carry our burdens.

This morning, as you have stepped out in faith, may you sense the overwhelming power of God and find the hope of restoration as you lean into Him moment-by-moment.

 

Benediction:

If you are a guest this morning, I would be honored to have an opportunity to meet you. My family and I will be up front following the service.

I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

Breathe Out
Breathe Out
Breathe Out