Greeting: Jesus Christ is the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Him will live even though He dies. Whoever lives and believes in Him will never die.
Sermon Text: 1) In that day, you will say: ?I will praise You, O Lord. Although You were angry with me, Your anger has turned away and You have comforted me. 2) Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord is my strength and my song. He has become my salvation. 3) With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. 4) In that day, you will say, ?Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name; make known among the nations what He has done, and proclaim that His name is exalted.? 5) Sing to the Lord, for He has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. 6) Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel.
Introduction: Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
A dear Christian woman named Sandra was a faithful and loving member of her church. However, she had a habit that made it difficult for her pastor to preach. Whenever Sandra was listening to a sermon and was deeply touched by something she heard, she would burst out in this joyful song: ?Praise God from whom all blessings flow.? When she did this, her pastor would forget his place in the sermon and had to struggle hard to remember what he wanted to say next. Sandra did this over and over again. In fact, it happened so often that her pastor decided to speak with her to see if this could be helped.
He went to this dear woman and said: ?Sandra, I know how much God means to you. I am pleased that you confess your faith so joyfully. But your praises in the middle of the sermon are very distracting to me. I do not want to stop you from rejoicing in the wonderful things you hear in my messages. But I want to know if it would be possible for you to do your rejoicing on the inside in your heart and for you to be quiet during the sermon. Sandra said: ?Okay, I will try.?
As an encouragement to her, her pastor said: ?Sandra, if you can be quiet during the sermon for 1 whole year, you can have two beautiful, woven blankets of your choice from my collection. The pastor had an excellent collection of fine, woven blankets, and Sandra like the blankets very much. Sandra agreed and tried very hard to rejoice only on the inside during the sermon.
Everything went well for five months. Sandra listened quietly to the sermons about God?s great love for people, His forgiveness for people trapped in sin, His deliverance for those caught up in trouble. Sandra was frequently tempted to sing out in praise, but she would look at her pastor, remember his plea to her and their deal about the blankets. Then she would catch herself and do her rejoicing on the inside.
One week the pastor went on vacation and a guest pastor came to serve the congregation. This pastor delivered a wonderful sermon about Jesus rising from the dead and the forgiveness He offers sinners. Sandra was sitting in the church, soaking in all this good news from God, and struggling hard not to say or sing anything. After listening to another paragraph about the strong deliverance and sweet comfort that Jesus provides, Sandra couldn?t hold back any longer. She stood up and said: ?This will cost me two beautiful blankets, but I have to say it: Praise God from whom all blessings flow.?
We may not have Sandra?s compulsion to sing out right in the middle of a sermon on the Risen Savior, but we certainly can understand it. The comfort, the victory, the peace and the hope Jesus won for us by His resurrection give us a joy that is something to sing about. The Old Testament prophet, Isaiah, speaks of that joy in the 12th chapter of his book. There he calls on God?s people to rejoice as he reminds us of the reasons we should.
We sing for joy in the Risen Savior because first because we want to:
1. Give Thanks For Our Souls? Salvation
The thing that makes it impossible for us to sing a song of joy is our sin. God is rightfully angry with people who sin. We have given God many reasons to hate us with His righteous anger and to punish us with His holy justice. We all have sinned against God so many times and in so many ways. We have been loveless toward others and apathetic toward our duties. We have been indifferent to God?s Word and disobedient to those in authority. We have complained to God about the conditions of our lives. We have been cruel and unforgiving toward others. We have held unfair opinions and given harsh judgments. We have been blind to our faults and too critical of others. We have wasted effort on unimportant things and have been too lazy to correct our wrongs. Each sin we commit is a crime against God, a violation of His law, a rebellion against His good will and a betrayal of His true love for us. Our sins are a crushing burden on our souls and squeeze all the joy out of us.
It is Jesus Christ who has stepped in to help us with our burden of sin and to turn away God?s holy anger toward us. In some ways, our lives are like a can of paint with a hole near the bottom of the can. The leaky paint can spills all over the place and ruins all that it touches. So our lives have sins spilling out all over the place, ruining all that they touch. Our Savior came to clean up all that our sins have ruined. Jesus comes to remove all our sins and take them into Himself. He came to absorb all of God?s just anger and punishing wrath into Himself. On the day Jesus died, we see Him on the cross enduring God?s forsaken agony as He bears our punishment. At the end of His struggle and sacrifice, He can announce: ?It is finished. Our debt to God is paid in full.?
On the day of Jesus? resurrection, God gives us the proof that Jesus? sacrifice was successful in paying for our sins. In Romans 4, St. Paul announces: "Christ was put to death because of our sins. He was raised to life again because God accepted the payment and, on the basis of that payment, now declares us innocent of sins.? By His resurrection, Jesus assures you that your sins are all forgiven. God has set aside His anger and hatred. He loves you and pardons you. He receives you as His own dear child and promises that He will take you to be with Him in heaven. The English writer, John Bunyan, portrays this forgiveness this way. A sinner is struggling under the crushing weight of a very large boulder on his back. Then all at once the boulder falls from his back and rolls down a hill into the empty tomb of Jesus and disappears forever. It is a beautiful picture to describe what Jesus did to remove our sins.
The prophet Isaiah uses the picture of a refreshing well of water to describe the saving work of Jesus. Jesus provides a wonderful well of blessings from which we can freely draw all that we need to see us through the difficult times of our lives. By His rising from the dead, Jesus assures us that He has defeated for us everything that ever defeated a human being.
All this leads us to sing a song of thanks and joy. The composer Joseph Hayden described that joy in these words: ?When I think about God, my heart is so full of joy that the notes dance and leap from my pen. God has given me a cheerful heart. I will serve Him with a cheerful spirit.? The prophet Isaiah offers these words for a song of joy: ?In that day you will say, ?I will praise You, O Lord. You have comforted me. The Lord has been my salvation. Give thanks to the Lord. Make known among the nations what He has done.
Along with giving thanks to God for our salvation, we are also led to:
2. Sound His Praise To All The World
God has done glorious things in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He has done things that all the world should know. Jesus has won a great victory over our great enemy, death. By rising from the dead, Jesus confirmed His promise: ?Because I live, you also will live.? To highlight this truth, members of the church in the early centuries after Jesus would do this: They would brush their hands over their legs (Like this). Then they would brush their hands over their arms (Like this) Then they would put their hands to the side of their faces (Like this). And then they would say: ?I believe that these legs - these arms - this head - this whole body will rise from the dead and live forever.? That is the sure promise of the risen Savior. Whatever shape your body is in or will be at the end of time, Jesus will raise it from the dead, renew it and make it perfect, glorious and imperishable on the Last Day. He will do this for all who believe in Him as their Savior.
So we have a great message to share with everyone. Some people say it is improper to witness for Christ. They say it is presumptuous to share the news of the Savior with others. But is it? Is it presumption for one who has been a slave to speak of the one who set him/her free? Is it presumption for one who was dying to speak of the one who saved his/her life? Is it presumption for a sinner doomed to eternal death to speak of the one who saved him/her from sin and hell? No, No, it is not. Sharing our Savior with others is the right and proper thing to do, especially since we know that Jesus can and does save people through the sharing of His Word.
I remember a man who learned how to share his Savior with others. A number of years ago, I had to conduct a funeral for one of the departed members of the church I serve in St. Louis. I asked several men if they would serve as ushers for the funeral. One of those men was named Gus. Gus was an older man and attended church regularly. After the funeral service, Gus came up to me and said: ?Pastor, I listened carefully to your sermon and what it said about Jesus and the resurrection. I want you to know, for the first time in my life, I am no longer afraid to die. I?m going to tell other people about this.? He did.
Just as Sandra sang her song of joy and old Gus spoke his song of joy in the Risen Savior, may we also find our ways to express our joy in the living Lord who saves us. Let us tell the money we give to God to be used to go into the world and save souls. Let us use our lips to tell a lost soul of God?s love and saving power. Let us do it well. Let us do it until life?s end. Jesus Christ has risen from the dead. Our lives are forever changed and blessed. Our Lord lives to give us eternal life. Let us sing our songs of joy in our Risen Savior. Amen.