I can imagine a conversation in which someone who does not know the Gospel story would challenge our Relay for Life theme. Our theme this year states, “My God is greater than cancer.” One might ask, “How can you say that pastor? Don’t you preach from a pulpit that has also hosted funerals for those who have died as a result of cancer?” It is true that too many of us have lost friends and loved ones because of illnesses like cancer. However, I would quickly add that the fundamental flaw in that question is the assumption that death always has the final say on life. People living in a world of darkness, untouched by the light of the Gospel, suffer under the belief that the greatest power at work in this world is that of death. It is not.
Death is not the greatest power at work in this world. Death does not have the final word on life.
It is true that we live in a broken world which has been marred by the effects of sin. Life is difficult, and suffering is everywhere. We all feel the effects of sin, and struggle as a result. There was a day on which even Son of God’s body was devastated and hung on a cross where he died. On that day he was wrapped in burial clothes and laid in a tomb. That tomb was sealed with a great stone and darkness covered his life…on that day. But that day passed.
We ask questions like, “Where is God?” and “What is God doing while all this suffering occurs?” When we look to the Bible, answers to that question leap from every page. God is at work in this world. He is redeeming, healing, restoring, and yes…resurrecting. The story of the Gospel is that while darkness and sin have had their day, a new day has come. Time after time in the Bible God restores health and joy where it had been stolen. Again and again God redeems lives that any reasonable person would have said were ruined. Everywhere one looks in the Bible there are stories of miraculous healing. Those same works of God are all around us today.
Into that dark tomb where our crucified messiah laid, light sprang from darkness. Life was resurrected from death. The grave could not hold the Son of God. On that day, death was defeated and the grave was overcome. It happened because death is not the greatest power at work in the universe. When we say that death was defeated on that day, we should be clear that it was not merely the death of Jesus that was defeated, but the reign of Death in all of our lives. The life of Jesus could not be constrained by death, and His life in us will not be constrained by it either.
When Jesus the Messiah died on that cross he received upon himself the punishment for our sins. Jesus’ sacrifice was a substitution for the penalty of death that is due for all mankind. In this same way, when He rose from the dead He sealed the victory for us as well. The same power that was and is at work in the life of Christ will raise all who believe in His name and confess Him as Lord. In His death he saved us from the curse of sin, and in His resurrection He freed us forever from the power of death.
This Easter when you meet with your Sunday School groups and teach your lessons, you will stand to proclaim this most excellent Gospel. Prepare well. Pray without ceasing. Invite everyone you can. Call men and women to live in the light of resurrection life that has banished the fear of death from our lives. Give them Jesus in all of His brilliant glory.
Know that I will pray for each of you by name as you prepare. I am proud to stand by your side we stand together on the side of Christ.
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