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The Ultimate Vaccine

Mark Finley
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Mark Finley

Assistant to President for Evangelism at the General Conference

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  • April 11, 2020
    11:15 AM
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The Ultimate Vaccine

Mark Finley

 

Let's pray together. FATHER in heaven, as we open YOUR word at a time of unusual crisis in America, at a week where deaths are at an all-time high, where recently over 2,000 people in a day die, the highest death rate, FATHER, give us hope as we open YOUR Book. Give us courage, take away our fears, eradicate our anxieties, and help us focus on YOUR promises and the ultimate vaccine to the problem of sin. We pray this in CHRIST's name. Amen. 

 

If you've been reading the news reports or watching the news media outlets, you’ve sense that America and the world is in the midst of a major crisis. In the midst of the pandemic, as we look around the world, we see the devastating toll of this crisis. Schools are closed. Shopping centers are empty. Theaters go vacant. People have been furloughed and they’re unemployed. You look around the world and every aspect of life has been seriously impacted. The economy has been impacted; devastated in many countries. And the United States is facing some very serious economic issues. 

 

But one of the things that has developed recently is the search for a vaccine. Could people be vaccinated so that they would not get COVID 19? Could you give them a vaccination like a polio vaccination or a measles vaccination? Research laboratories, university medical centers throughout the United States and the world are racing at break neck speed to discover this COVID19 virus vaccination. Now, these trial vaccinations are designed specifically to improve our immune systems to produce a greater production of antibodies so that we would have a long lasting protection against these viral and bacterial infections. 

 

One group of United States researchers is looking at a skin test where you can just prick the skin and tell if a person has already had the immunity and if they do not, vaccinate them so they will not get this Corona virus. The University of Nebraska is part of a global hunt for the much needed protection against this virus that's played havoc with our economy and force people into self-quarantine and isolation as countries have attempted to control the spread of this deadly pandemic. 

 

The United States National Institute of Health as well is coordinating work in laboratories and universities and research institutes in a frantic attempt to discover this vaccine. The University of Seattle in Seattle Washington, they have a cohort study right now that's quite fascinating that about two thirds of the study’s participants have already gotten two doses of vaccine. Now don’t get too excited about it because most of researchers indicate that this vaccine isn't about at least one year away, maybe a year and a half away. But just to give you a scope of these studies. The University of Pennsylvania, University in Kansas, have already begun trials, clinical trials are being done with chemical laboratories like Theo that's cooperating with the Chinese on a study. Dozens of potential vaccines are in these clinical trials now. In fact, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is the National Institute of Health and Infectious Disease chief said in the Journal of American Medical Association, said that people are just beating down the door to get into these trials because they want to figure out if we have another wave of COVID 19, will they be protected? People are so afraid of this deadly rapidly moving virus that they're anxious to get the vaccine as soon as they can; because the pandemic has caused tens of thousands of deaths around the world. 

 

But there is a virus that's spreading much more rapidly than COVID19. There is a virus that is much more deadly than COVID 19. You see COVID 19 may be able to destroy your body; but it cannot destroy your eternal life. JESUS talks about another deadly fatal disease in Matthew the 10th chapter, in the 28th verse. Matthew chapter 10. You're looking there at verse 28. The ultimate vaccine for a disease that is deadly, that is fatal.

 

Notice Matthew chapter 10. We're looking there at verse 28. What does JESUS say? HE says, “Do not fear those who kill the body but who cannot kill the soul, But rather fear HIM who is able to destroy both the soul and body in hell.” There is something more serious than COVID 19. It's the virus of sin that is spreading rapidly through the human race that destroys not only the physical body but destroys eternal life; that is the most serious virus. COVID 19 can destroy the body but sin can destroy our body and soul.

 

Let's discover another vaccine. GOD created human beings perfect in the Garden of Eden. There was no taint of sin there. But when they listen to the voice of the evil one and yielded to the temptations of Lucifer, the virus of sin infected their bodies and was passed on to their descendants. The truth of the matter is that every single one of us has been infected. The Bible says, “All have sinned and come short of the glory of GOD.” We've been infected with the virus of sin. That sin virus is deadly. Sin virus is fatal. 

 

Listen to the cry of the Bible. Jeremiah 17:9. Jeremiah 17:9. Whether you realize it or not, you have been infected with the virus of sin. Jeremiah 17: 9 puts it this way. The heart is deceitful above all things and (what?) desperately wicked... Isaiah, the prophet, ask in Isaiah 53:6. Isaiah 53:6. Unless we understand the disease, we will never desire the vaccine. Unless we understand that the disease is fatal, we will never desire the solution. If you are asymptomatic for COVID19 and do not realize that you are even infected. It's not likely you are going to do anything. So, if you are asymptomatic and do not feel that you have the disease of sin, why seek a vaccine? Why seek an antidote. Isaiah 53, looking there verse 6 - “All we like sheep have gone (what?) astray…” The sheep wandered their shepherd. “… we have turned everyone (not a few, everyone) to his own way.”

 

So Jeremiah says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.” Isaiah says, “All we like sheep have gone astray and drifted everyone to his own way.” Listen to the cry of the Apostle Paul in Romans chapter 7. Romans chapter 7 we're looking here at verse 24. Romans 7:24, the Apostle Paul cries out in Romans 7. He says, “Oh wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death.” So put these 3 passages together. Jeremiah says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.” Isaiah says, “All we like sheep have gone astray and turned everyone to his own way…” Here Paul says, Oh, wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from this body of death?” 

 

Now, do you recall that in this COVID 19 business that there are people who are asymptomatic? They don't have a sore throat or fever. They don't have a runny nose or a cough. They appear normal; but they are walking around affecting other people. In fact, the state of Michigan, and Detroit particularly is a hot spot in this epidemic, and in this hot spot, just this last week, the governor of Michigan Gretchen Whitmer has said, “You cannot even go out of your house to visit another residence. That's prohibited.” Why? Because one family, 2 families, 3 families went to visit others, they were asymptomatic, didn't even know that they had the virus, passed it on to others. Those others got so sick, they passed it on to others.

 

May I suggest to you, there are scores of people walking around the virus of sin. They may be wonderful on the outside. But there is selfishness. There's a greed. There's a lust. And they're passing that virus of sin onto others, and they do not even recognize that they're infecting others. 

 

You know if you're in asymptomatic with COVID19, it's very likely that soon your temperature is going to rise; soon the fever is going to melt; soon the breathing is going to become labored; soon the body's going to become weak; soon you'll be fighting for your life; and the best efforts of the most outstanding medical personnel will be placed to save you. But sometimes they are powerless. 

 

Wait a minute though, is there a vaccine for the COVID 19 virus of sin? Where is the solution? I thank GOD that Paul did not end with Romans 7:24 when he cries out “Oh, wretched man that I am!” and he raised the question, “Who shall deliver us from this body of sin?” He does not leave that lingering question in our minds. Science may not yet have found the solution/ the vaccine to save us from COVID 19; but JESUS has a vaccine to save us from the virus of sin. 

 

Here, JESUS says, through the Apostle Paul. Paul says, ‘Who shall deliver us from this? I am a wretched man, who shall deliver us from this nature - this sin nature.’ Verse 25. You see it there in Romans 7:25. Paul says, “I thank GOD through JESUS CHRIST our LORD.” “I thank GOD for JESUS CHRIST our Lord.” There is a Physician who has the remedy for the virus of sin. JESUS plunged in to the cesspool of this world to meet the emergency. The Divine Physician enters in the arena of human affairs with the anti-bodies to deliver us from sin virus. HE came to the snake pit of this world with a solution to the poisonous venom. HE met the temptations of Satan head on and was victorious. HE satisfied the demands of the law that we have broken. The cross reveals to the entire universe the depths that JESUS would go to save us.

 

Concerning this solution to the sin problem, concerning this vaccine that CHRIST provides, Peter says in 1 Peter 2:24. Don't miss this one. You got it. I hope you got your Bible. If you're watching, I hope you're looking at your tablet, your iPhone, the scriptures to see the word of GOD. Let GOD's words speak to you about the solution, about the antidote, about the ultimate vaccine for this virus. First Peter chapter 2, you're looking there at verse 24. And here the apostle Peter says, “Who HIMSELF (notice, who HIMSELF [JESUS]) bore our sins in HIS own body on the tree that we, having died to sin, might live for righteousness; by whose stripes we are healed.” Here he says, “Who HIMSELF has bore our sins there on Calvary's cross, JESUS bore the guilt of sin. JESUS bore the shame of sin. JESUS bore the condemnation of sin. JESUS bore the penalty of sin. And HE offers to you and me forgiveness, mercy, and grace.  

 

Grace – CHRIST’s grace is unmerited. CHRIST’s grace is undeserved. CHRIST’s grace is unearned. JESUS died the agonizing painful death that lost sinners will die. HE experienced the full wrath of GOD upon sin, GOD's judgment against sin. HE was rejected so we can be accepted. HE died the death that was ours so we could live the life that was HIS. HE wore the crown of thorns so we could wear (Hallelujah!) the crown of glory. HE was nailed upright in torture’s pain upon a cross so we could reign upon a throne with the redeemed of all ages wearing a crown of righteousness for ever and ever. Marvel of all marvels, wonder of all wonders, in our shame and guilt, JESUS did not reject us. HE is the Lamb of GOD that takes away the sin of the world; that takes away our guilt, takes away our condemnation. This is JESUS, the dying LAMB, represents the battered bloody body of our Savior. It speaks of an old rugged cross. It speaks of nails. It speaks of the crown of thorns. It speaks of the forest of the trial. It speaks of the agony of the tree. It speaks of the ridicule of Roman soldiers, the taunts of the crowd. It speaks of the cost of sin and the condemnation of the LORD and the marvel of grace. The cross speaks of a love so marvelous so amazing so divine that HE [JESUS] would rather take the condemnation, the guilt, the shame, the penalty of sin upon HIMSELF so that not one of HIS children be eternally lost.

 

In the book Desire of Ages, Ellen White makes this remarkable, just this remarkable, statement, and I want you to see it here. It's Desire of Ages and you're going to look here at Desire of Ages page 753. Desire of Ages 753. Listen to the magnitude of this. It's difficult at times, I think impossible for human beings to grasp the bigness, the greatness of the cross. In fact, we are told that the subject of Calvary we will be a subject that we study and never fully grasp even in the ceaseless ages of eternity. How JESUS could hang on that cross not simply in physical torture; but how the One who existed with HIS FATHER from the ceaseless ages of eternity; how this eternal CHRIST that never had a beginning and never had an ending; how HE could bear the sin and guilt of humanity, then be willing to go into the grave and never come out, be willing to be lost forever because of the condemnation of sin to save you and me. There is nothing like it in any literature of the world.

 

In the book Desire of Ages, I read, “Satan (page 753) with his fierce temptations wrung the heart of JESUS. The SAVIOR could not see through the portals of the tomb. Hope did not present to HIM HIS coming forth from the grave a conqueror or tell HIM of the FATHER's acceptance of the sacrifice. He [JESUS] feared that sin was so offensive to GOD that THEIR separation was to be eternal. CHRIST felt the anguish the sinner will feel when mercy shall no longer plead for the guilty race. It was the sense of sin, bringing the FATHER's wrath upon HIM as the sinner’s substitute that made the cup HE drank so bitter, and broke the heart of the SON of GOD.” 

 

So when JESUS hung on Calvary on that Good Friday, it was not good for HIM; but it's good for you and good for me. It was painful torture. And as HE hung on the cross, HE had no concept at that moment that HE would be resurrected. But you said, wait a minute, didn't HE say, “If you destroy this body 3 days and nights, I’ll be resurrected from the dead.” HE said that before HE went to the cross; but on the cross, the guilt of sin, the shame of sin, was so great the darkness engulfed HIM and HE could not see beyond that tomb. 

 

What is hell? Hell is the agonizing torment and certainly there's a physical pain to it; but it's the agonizing torment of knowing that you're separated from GOD forever and banished through all eternity, that's the agony of hell. And that takes place, not after you die, but during the conscious moments before death. And so in HIS conscious moments, before JESUS bowed HIS head to die, HE experienced the agony of hell for sinners. And as the result of that, never saw HIMSELF coming out of the tomb. 

 

This is the story of grace; this is the story of a SAVIOR’s love beyond measure. This is the story of JESUS who loves us so much that HE would rather experience hell HIMSELF than have one of us lost. This is the story of boundless, unfathomable, incomprehensible, undying, unending, infinite love that longs for us to be with HIM through all eternity. HE was willing to assume the guilt, the condemnation, and the consequences of our sin and, if need be, separated from HIS FATHER forever if that's what it took to save us. CHRIST's death on the cross delivers us from sin’s condemnation, sin’s guilt, sin’s power and sin’s eternal penalty. 

 

But that is not the end of the story. If the cross was the end of the story then JESUS is simply a good martyr dying for a good cause. If the cross is the end of the story, if JESUS is still in the grave like Lennon or --- or some other great political or religious leader, if JESUS is still there, if JESUS died and never rose again, then our hope of eternal life is shattered. If HE never conquered the tomb, what hope would we have of eternal life? 

 

It takes both the dying CHRIST and the living CHRIST to redeem us. The resurrected CHRIST delivers us from sin’s grip. The resurrected CHRIST gives us the assurance that the grave’s hold on us has been broken. Sin’s dominion in our life is broken. It no longer holds us in its clutches. There is a power, stronger than the power of heredity, stronger than the powerful environment, stronger than all our past failures; this is the power of the Living CHRIST, the resurrected CHRIST. That is the power of the living JESUS resurrected from the dead, changing our lives. 

 

If CHRIST’s tomb was not empty, our lives could not be full. If HIS body was still in the tomb there would be no assurance, there our bodies would never leave the tomb. If HE was not resurrected, we would have little hope of resurrection. But here is the incredible good news; the evidence for CHRIST's resurrection is indisputable. In fact, that's what Paul says in 1st Corinthians 15. He says that JESUS was resurrected. And he said, “There are many infallible proofs.” 

 

I want to share with you some of those infallible proofs of the resurrection of CHRIST. I want you to take your Bible and turn to Matthew chapter 27. Matthew chapter 27 and in this passage, we see the length that the Jewish authorities went, and the Roman authorities went, to see that CHRIST would stay in the tomb. 

 

Matthew chapter 27 and were reading there from verse 62 onwards. We'll look there at verse, and the Scripture says this, [The chief priest and Pharisees] “The next day, the one after the Preparation Day, the chief priests and Pharisees went to Pilate.” (Verse 63) “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while HE was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days, I'll rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, HIS disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that HE has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first. Take a guard, Pilate answered, Go make the tomb as secure as you know how. So they went and they made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.”

 

Now, remember Matthew is a tax collector. So he's used to detail. And did you notice the words there in verse 65? Here is Pilate, a Roman leader, a Roman prelate, who says, ‘Good job and make the tomb as secure as you can.’ 

 

Now there are 4 things in this text that we want to notice clearly. First thing we want to notice is this: the scribes and Pharisees were concerned that JESUS would rise from the dead. And so they go to Pilate. That's point 1. They want to make that tomb secure. Point 2 – Pilate orders a Roman guard to guard the tomb. A Roman guard we're going to come back to that. Point 3 - A large stone is placed over that tomb. And point 4 - a Roman seal is placed on the tomb. 

 

Now, let's look at those things very, very carefully. Who was that Roman guard that would guard the tomb? What do we know about that Roman guard that would guard the tomb?  They were battle-tested soldiers. This contingent of Roman soldiers had fought many a battle before. They had quelled rebellions in Jerusalem. They had travelled for the Emperor to varying countries. They had battled in hand to hand combat. These were no sentimental honor. This was no sentimental honor guard. These were muscular, strong, blood-thirsty soldiers that were given a job. 

 

Now, if you go back and look at the historical description of the Roman guard and I took a look at it this week, for a Roman soldier to desert his post of duty or fail in the task that was given to him meant death. So the first thing you're going to notice is (1) the Jewish prelate say, “We've got to seal that tomb.” (2) Pilate sends his Roman guards there and they are not going to leave their post of duty at the point of death. Thirdly, there is a Roman seal. What do we know about Roman seals? What do they represent? A Roman seal represents the authority of Rome. It represents the power of Rome. Why was a Roman seal placed on the tomb? In those years, there were grave robbers. There were traditions in various religious backgrounds that sometimes treasures with the person buried. So grave robbers would come and they would try to get into that grave to rob the grave. So the seal, Roman seal, was put there, why? What was its purpose? To warn anybody: ‘This tomb is sealed by a Roman seal that is affixed to it and the authority of Rome is here, and you move this stone, you get into this grave, and all of the power of Rome are going to come upon you, and you are going to die.’ So you have Roman soldiers there. You have the seal there. Now, you also have the stone there. 

 

Now, it's very interesting. Take your Bible, turn to John 20 and verse 1. John 20:1. So Mary comes to the tomb. (John 20:1) – “On first day of the week, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb while it was still dark, and she saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.” 

 

Now, I used to think, you know the more you study, the more you learn. Sometimes, you find something you used to think, and what you used to think wasn't what you currently think. I used to think that the stone weighed about 4 to 500 pounds until 2 things happen. One (1), not long ago, we went to Jerusalem and the archeologists in recent years uncovered a first century too that dates back to the time of CHRIST. Certainly not CHRIST’s tomb, it was probably the tomb of one of the more aristocratic families. In fact, it was that believed in Jerusalem. And that tomb, now you can go out and actually see it, it's in a garden, not far from one of the major hotels in Jerusalem. I've been there a number of times now. I’ve taken groups there. The entrance to those tombs was about 4 and half feet. Many times, they were family tombs where more than one person would be buried. They’re about 4 and half feet. And you can see in this particular tomb, and the archaeologist only half uncovered it, but a large rolling stone. This is what the archaeologists have discovered now. These stones weighed about 2 tons. They were placed in a groove and a lever held them while the tomb was empty and typically the grooves had just a little slight incline, very slight. So you'd push the stone down the slight incline to seal the tomb. The Roman seal was then affixed to it. What does that mean? It means that to get into JESUS’ tomb, you would have to move a stone that was almost 2 tons up a very slight incline. 

 

So here you remember what Pilate said to the soldiers, ‘Make the tomb as secure as you can.’ On Friday, the stone was placed across. That was secure. At Friday, the guard stood there. That was secured. On Friday, that seal was placed upon that. 

 

So when you look at that whole panorama, somebody asked, ‘Did the Roman soldiers put the stone there?’ and ‘Did the Jews put the stone there?’ Whoever put the stone there, the tomb is secure. Now, let me ask you this question: Where were the disciples on Friday night, all day Sabbath, at early Sunday morning? Where were they? They’re in the Upper Room, right? Why were there? Why were they hiding out? What did those disciples do when CHRIST was crucified?  They forsook HIM and fled. Isn't it absolutely illogical to think that these disciples who forsook HIM and fled are going to come in some way attack those Roman soldiers, try to get that stone moved? And then they're fearful and they're hiding. It's totally illogical to think that they are going to come to move that stone. 

 

But what happens? Mary comes to that tomb and what does she say? John 20:1. What does she see? ““On first day of the week, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb while it was still dark, and she saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.” 

 

Now, Dr. Paul Maier, brilliant scholar, says this, “If all the evidence is weighed carefully and fairly, it is indeed justifiable, according to the canons of historical research, to conclude that the sepulcher of Joseph of Arimathea, in which JESUS was buried, was actually empty on the morning of that first Easter. And no shred of evidence has yet been discovered in literary sources, epigraphy [writing], or archaeology that would disprove this statement.”

 

So, even historians recognize that something miraculous happened that Easter morning. GOD sent an angel from heaven and that angel came down and the angel said, “SON, THY FATHER calls you. Come forth.” The stone was rolled away; CHRIST was resurrected from the dead. And because HE was, you and I can live eternally. There is a vaccine for the virus of sin. It is the death of CHRIST, the resurrection of CHRIST. 

 

Now, there were multiple witnesses in the New Testament of that resurrection - Multiple witnesses of that resurrection. What are those multiple witnesses? - 7 different multiple witnesses of the resurrection. You know, the Bible says in the mouth of two or three witnesses, every word will be established. There are multiple witnesses. First, JESUS appears to Mary at the tomb - witness no. 1. Secondly, JESUS appears to Peter and John - witness no. 2. Thirdly, JESUS appears to two disciples on the Emmaus road - witness no. 3. Four, JESUS comes that night to the upper room where the 11 disciples are assembled - witness no. 4. Thomas is not there. JESUS returns later to those disciples, Thomas is there - witness no. 5. Witness no. 6 - JESUS appears to 500 on the hillsides of Galilee. Witness no. 7 - during the 40 days that JESUS is on earth, HE appears to people. You have 7 different appearances.

 

Now, you say, ‘Well, these were CHRIST’s followers.’ Let me ask you this question. There’s some theory that actually doesn't hold intellectual credence at all that JESUS' disciples stole HIS body away. We already settled that. ‘How can you say that when they are so fearful, and they’ve got the Roman guards, they’ve got the stone there, they’ve got the Roman seal there. But look! Think about how the disciples died. Every one of them died a martyr's death except John. Peter was crucified upside down. James is beheaded. Are you gonna die for a lie that you made up yourself? Are you going to die for a lie you made up yourself? Do you know the greatest way to disprove the resurrection of CHRIST? It’s very simple. All you need to do is find a body. All you need to do is find a body. Wouldn't you think that if CHRIST did not resurrect from the dead that the Jews would have wanted to find a body. That the Roman soldiers wanted to disprove the resurrection, they would try to find the body. 

 

But the tomb of CHRIST is empty. What difference does that make in the 21st century, in your life and mine? It is one thing to believe it; but it's another thing to grasp the reality of it in your life. The Bible very often hides eternal truths in very, very simple language. Let's look at why the resurrection makes such a difference, a life changing difference for you and for me. 

 

We're turning to Matthew 28:1. Why does the resurrection make such a difference? Mary comes to the tomb.  Matthew 28:1 says, “Now, after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.” I'm interested in this expression ‘as the first day of the week began to dawn.’ John 20:1 writes it very similarly but adds a little different nuance on it. And you want to look at that as well. John 20:1, it says, “On the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb while it was still dark, and she saw the stone had been rolled away.” Now, we pause for a moment to reflect on the significance of these passages - ‘while it was still dark.’ It was dark that Friday. It was a dark, dark Friday. They drove nails through his hands. It was a dark dark Friday. They put a spear wound in HIS side. It was a dark, dark Friday. The rain poured down. It was a dark, dark Friday. The sun didn't shine. The birds didn't sing. Judas betrayed HIM. Peter denied HIM. The Jews turned their backs on HIM generally on that cross that day. The Romans crucified HIM. The disciples forsook HIM. JESUS bowed HIS head and died. It was a dark, dark, dark Friday. But, hallelujah, Sunday was coming. 

 

The disciples that Friday were disappointed. They were discouraged. They were down-hearted. Their hope stands the way like a shadow like a bottle thrown against the wall and broken in a 1000 pieces. I mean, after all, Peter had left his fisherman's boats. What was he to do now? Go back to fishing? Matthew you had left his tax collector’s booth. What was he to do now? Go back to being a tax collector after he found JESUS? And you just think of Mary, this woman from Magdala. She was a woman of ill-repute. She found forgiveness, grace, and mercy in CHRIST; unselfish love, HE cast the demons out of her life that tormented her soul. What was she to do? Because in CHRIST, she had a new purpose. In HIM, she had a future forever. Was all these an elusive dream? Was all this make-believe for these disciples? Had they followed cunningly devised fables? But after the darkness, the sun rises again. That Friday, they said, HE's dead. The last time they saw HIS body, it was broken, bruised, and bloody. The last time Mary saw HIM, she turned away in anguish and deep sorrow at the crucifixion. She could not bear the thought of the thick red blood spurting from HIS hands, HIS blood-tinged face. She could not bear looking at the sorrow in HIS eyes and HIS pain-racked body. She could not bear the horror of it all. The last few days have been days of deep sorrow with their hopes dashed. 

 

But consider Mary now as she approaches the tomb. She sees the stone rolled away. She sees the tomb is empty. She's confused. She's perplexed. She's stunned. Eventually, the gardener, she thinks it's the gardener. She's crying. She's weeping. And she's looking. They're weeping. She sees this one who she thinks is the gardener. And she says, ‘Have you taken my LORD? Where have you taken HIM?’ She wonders, ‘Has some grave robber come? What has happened?’ She's so confused. And HE looks at here and HE says, ‘Mary.’ Nobody can say Mary like that. And she says, JESUS! 

 

After sorrow comes joy. After death comes life. After disappointment comes hope. And new hope springs up in her heart. There's a new joy in her face, a new smile. I say to you today, have you been going through difficulties in your life? Have you been going through sorrow in your life? Are you filled with fear, worry, and anxiety because of COVID 19? After sorrow there will be joy; after disappointment, there will become hope; because the problem of sin and sickness and suffering/disease will ultimately be over when JESUS CHRIST, the resurrected LORD returns. Jesus wiped Mary's tears away. 

 

Now, look why did not CHRIST reveal himself first to Peter? Why didn't HE reveal himself first to James? Firs to John? Peter preached and 3000 were baptized in the day of Pentecost. James was the leader of the Christian church. John was the one, the Bible says, the disciple that JESUS loved, that wrote the book of Revelation. Why not tell them? Why to Mary? Because Mary needed HIM most. Mary needed HIM most. Her heart was broken that day. She had been forgiven much and she loved much. 

 

When you need HIM most, HE's there. When your son is wracked with fever, COVID 19, and you don't know what to do? JESUS is there. When you're unemployed, out of work, don't know how you can pay the bills, the rent, the mortgage, JESUS is there. When problems in life mount, JESUS is there. HE was there by Mary's side that day. 

 

The first great lesson of the resurrection is this: HE will turn your sorrow into joy. HE will turn your sadness into gladness. HE will take away the despair and turn that into hope. 

 

But there is another eternal truth, not only after darkness does the sun always rise, not only does light break through the darkness, not only in our deepest darkness, will JESUS rise in our life. Here's the second eternal truth: as you believe what CHRIST has done for you will flood into your life. Believe that HE cares for you. Believe that HE loves you. Believe that HE has the best in mind for you. 

 

Notice, what I did not understand, did not say, you don't have to understand. Don't worry about understanding. Everything goes on in life. Don't worry about trying to figure it out cognitively in your head. Why this person sick and this person was wasn't? Don't try to figure all this out? If GOD loves me, why am I facing such economic problems? Don't worry about figuring it out, believe by faith. Believe HE cares. By faith, believe HE loves you. By faith, believe HE has the best in mind for you. By faith, believe that the light of the resurrected CHRIST will shine upon you again. Believe when things don’t go well, and you wonder where JESUS is, like Mary cry out, ‘LORD, I know you’re there.’ Like Mary fall at HIS feet. Like Thomas who once doubted say, “This is my LORD and My GOD.” 

 

I love those promises of Scripture. Hebrews 13:5. They are there for us today. Hebrews 13:5. In the midst of the COVID19 crisis, the promises of GOD are still true, because a pandemic does not erase the promises of GOD. Hebrews 13:5, the last part, “For HE HIMSELF has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you. So we may boldly say (verse 6), “The LORD is my helper, I will not fear.”

 

 Look at Isaiah 41:10. The promises of GOD give us hope. They give us encouragement. JESUS CHRIST is alive. HE is resurrected from the dead. HE is there to give you strength. HE's there to give you courage. HE's there to give you hope. HE's there to give you new life. 

 

Notice Isaiah 41:10. Fear thou not (He says to you,) for I am with you. Why can HE make that statement? Because HE is not the CHRIST who died and stayed in the tomb. Beyond the cross, there is the resurrection. Beyond the cross, there is the empty. To be on the cross, there is the resurrected CHRIST. Fear not, HE says. Verse 10 - I am with you. Be not dismayed for I AM your GOD. I will strengthen you. What are you going through today? The resurrected CHRIST says to you, ‘I will strengthen you; yea, I will help you.’ The risen CHRIST says, ‘I will help you.’ The risen CHRIST says, ‘I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.’ 

By faith, believe, do not worry. If you don't understand, by faith, believe, trust HIS promises. Let them fill your life, transform your life. 

 

There is one last lesson and it is this: Every time, JESUS confronted death, HE won. JESUS never lost a battle with sickness, suffering, disease. JESUS faced death head on at the home of Jairus and there, JESUS raised Jairus’ daughter from death. JESUS faced death head on with Lazarus and JESUS, as a token of HIS power over death, raised Lazarus. Take your Bible please, and turn to John 11. 

 

John chapter 11. What the resurrection of CHRIST tells us is that death is a defeated foe? What the resurrection of CHRIST tells us is that JESUS has conquered the grave. What the resurrection tells us is that the darkness of the tomb becomes a tunnel with a light at the other end because of JESUS. Now look, John chapter 11, and we’re looking there at the resurrection of Lazarus. And you're looking at John 11, and JESUS comes to Lazarus’ tomb. Lazarus has been dead 4 days. And I want you to look at verse 39. JESUS says, ‘Take away the stone.’ See JESUS, the CHRIST who at resurrection would have the stone rolled away, rolls away the stone at Lazarus’ tomb. Martha, the sister said, ‘He's already been dead 4 days. His body is going to stink.’ JESUS said, ‘Did I not say to you, if you would believe,..’ If you would (what?) believe? You want to see the glory of GOD in your life? You want to see the resurrected power of GOD in your life? Believe that JESUS is alive. Believe HE can forgive your sins. Believe HE died for you. Believe that the power of the Living CHRIST can deliver you from whatever is finding you, from wherever is holding you back. Notice, HE says, ‘Believe and you are going to see the glory of GOD.’ Verse 41 - Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying and JESUS lifted up HIS eyes and said, ‘FATHER, I thank YOU that YOU have heard me and I know that YOU always hear ME but because of the people who are standing by this I said that they may believe you sent ME.’  JESUS said, ‘I'm going to work a miracle so others can believe.’ 

 

Now look, ‘Now when HE had said these things, HE cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.’ When JESUS cries come forth in the last day, the dead will come out of their graves. The resurrection of Lazarus is proof positive that JESUS CHRIST is resurrected. HE has power over the grave. The resurrection of JESUS is a demonstration that the grave could not hold our SAVIOR. JESUS is the vaccine. JESUS is the antidote for the ultimate sin problem.

 

One day, the earth will quake, one day, lightning will flash, one day, thunder will rumble down through the sky, and one day, JESUS CHRIST will come. One day, the dead will be resurrected. One day, the graves will be open. One day, the resurrected CHRIST will bring forth to life your son, your daughter, your husband, your wife that die believing in HIM. 

 

The incredible good news is that, there is a vaccine for sin. There is an antidote for sin and that antidote is JESUS CHRIST. 

 

Now, notice verse 44, when he who had died came out bound, hand and foot, with grave clothes, and his face was wrapped in a cloth and JESUS said to them, ‘Loose him and let him go.’ Lazarus was alive, but he was bound up with all these grave clothes. JESUS said, “Loose him and let him go.” 

 

Many Christians have experienced new life; but they're bound up with worry, bound up with fear, bound up with anxiety, bound up and JESUS says, ‘Loose him and let him go.’ JESUS wants you to be loose and freed, so that you can enjoy HIS life, the abundant life. JESUS said, ‘I am come that they might have life and have it more abundantly.’ JESUS said, ‘Do not fear.’ The resurrection morning was a resurrection of rejoicing. It was a resurrection morning of glory. The New Testament writers place such repeated emphasis on the resurrection. They mentioned it 300 times. On that resurrection morning 2000 years ago CHRIST triumphed over Satan. Life triumphed over death. Faith triumphed over fear hope. Hope triumphed over despair. Joy triumphed over sorrow. 

 

This very morning, rejoice! Let the resurrected CHRIST fill your hearts. Would you like to say this morning, ‘JESUS, JESUS, I'm coming to YOU.’ Maybe, you've never made a full commitment to CHRIST before; this is your time to do that. Let HIM take your guilt and shame. Maybe, you're struggling with some sins in your life. This is the time to let the resurrected CHRIST fill your life and give you new joy. Give you new strength. Maybe, you’re bound up like Lazarus was, there’s some life spiritually stirring in your soul; but you're bound like Lazarus. And JESUS says, ‘Loose him, and let him go; loose her, and let her go.’ JESUS wants you to be loose from fear, loose from worry; loose from anxiety. ‘Loose him and let him go.’ Maybe, the Spirit of GOD has touched you in this message; and you wanna say, ‘JESUS, ‘I'm YOURS.’ You can just raise your hand right now, wherever you are, ‘JESUS, I’m YOURS.’  Maybe you were baptized once in the Adventist family but you drifted away, and you want to come back, I want you drop me a note of Hope Lives 365 and say ‘Pastor Mark, I'm coming back.’ Maybe you want to be re-baptized. We can help to arrange that for you. Maybe, there's somebody, you know, every week, Hope Lives 365, I get notes from people that say, ‘Pastor Mark, I want to be baptized.’ ‘Pastor Mark, I want to follow JESUS.’ The resurrection indicates the CHRIST who went into the tomb and came out and HE can give you new life. Baptism is a symbol of death, burial, and resurrection. And if you have never followed CHRIST, in Bible baptism before, or you've sensed in watching Hope Lives 365 that you want to be baptized, I want you to write me at Hope Lives 365. One of my colleagues, this last weekend down in Brazil, spoke like this over the Internet, a million people watched and 2,000 made a decision to be baptized. This is Easter weekend, what better place to make that decision to follow CHRIST, to go into the water by immersion right now.

 

As we pray together, let the Spirit of GOD touch your heart and let the Spirit of GOD touch your life wherever you are, whatever decision you are at, whatever place you're at in the Christian life, let JESUS touch you right now as we pray.

 

FATHER in heaven, we've heard YOUR words. We're overwhelmed with YOUR grace. We are overwhelmed with the power of the cross to break our hearts. Grace unmerited, grace undeserved, grace that is boundless, infinite, we open our hearts to receive that grace. Deliver us from condemnation and guilt and the power of sin. As we think of the resurrected CHRIST who chases away our sorrow, who gives us new hope, who liberates and frees us, the resurrected CHRIST is coming again for us, the tomb that is empty, we thank YOU for that FATHER. We pray today, you’ll touch our lives and transform us. In CHRIST's name. Amen. 

 

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