Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world by Ed Pruitt
Greater Is He Who Is In Me Than He Who Is In The World
Sunday April 20, 2003
Easter Sunrise Service
Pastor Ed Pruitt
The resurrection is the epicenter of belief.
It is not a belief that grew up within the church.
It is the belief around which the church itself grew up.
Billy Graham once said this.
If I were an enemy of Christianity, I would aim right at the resurrection, because that's the heart of Christianity.
Why is Easter so big?
What makes the resurrection of Jesus so significant?
First, it announced victory over sin and death.
Jesus Christ has been to the other side of death and returned to tell us that there is a way through it.
Jesus arose from the grave and assured his followers that they would also.
I'm not going to end up in a cemetery somewhere.
Thank God when I die I am going to a reunion!
I am going home to see my mom and dad and all the other loved ones that have gone on before me!
I am going to meet Jesus Christ face to face!
When Jesus arose, he blazed a path into eternity for us.
Resurrection is God's confirmation of Jesus' saving activity on the cross.
Easter morning was God's stamp of approval on Jesus' sacrificial death on the cross.
Now I know that when I reach the doors to eternity, my sin record will be sealed and stamped "Paid in full at Calvary".
Resurrection gives us a preview of how world history is going to end.
The winner was revealed on Easter morning.
When the curtain of world history falls, no ideology, no weapons system, no economic system will reign supreme.
Jesus Christ alone will be revealed high and lifted up.
5 Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had.
6 Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God.
7 He made himself nothing; he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form.
8 And in human form he obediently humbled himself even further by dying a criminal's death on a cross.
9 Because of this, God raised him up to the heights of heaven and gave him a name that is above every other name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Now if that scripture didn't get your blood to moving I don't know what will!
Let's look at what Luke has to say about Easter morning.
Jesus died at about 3:00 PM on a Friday afternoon.
He was buried hurriedly because the Jewish Sabbath began at sundown.
No burial or any kind of work was permitted on the Sabbath.
In fact, the burial was so hurried that there was no time to anoint the body with spices as was the custom.
The first opportunity to do that was the following Sunday morning.
Anointing the dead was usually women's work.
Therefore, early on Sunday morning, certain women from Galilee
who had supported Jesus' ministry came to the tomb.
Mary Magdalene was the leader.
It is interesting that God allowed Mary Magdalene to be the first person on earth to tell the good news of Jesus' resurrection.
Women were considered little more than property in the First Century.
By the way, this is a powerful argument for the authenticity of the gospel record.
In the First Century, a woman's testimony was usually unacceptable.
So, if the resurrection story had been a made-up story by the early church, they would never have placed a woman as the star witness.
The four gospel accounts of the resurrection differ slightly concerning the details.
But that should not concern us.
Ask any reporter who covers criminal trials.
If four witnesses offer identical testimony, the four are suspected of conspiracy or collusion.
All four gospels agree on the one vitally important fact of Easter morning: the tomb was empty.
And let me tell you this, that stone wasn't rolled away from the door so Jesus could get out, it was rolled away so they could get in!
Jesus' dead body was literally, physically revived!
Now think with me for a moment!
The tomb of Confucius is occupied.
The tomb of Buddha is occupied.
The tomb of Mohammed is occupied.
But the tomb of Jesus Christ is empty!
Our scriptural accounts of resurrection show us the four-step process by which the Easter good news continues to spread.
Here is step one:
SOMEONE TELLS US ABOUT JESUS.
I can remember when I was young my mother read me one of those Bible Story books with all the pictures.
I'm sure that's where I first encountered the resurrection message.
Two angels first told Mary Magdalene the good news.
"He is not here. He has risen!" (Luke 24:6)
Then she in turn went to the disciples with the news: "I have seen the Lord." (John 20:18).
Who first told you the good news of resurrection?
If that person is still alive, tell them on this Easter weekend how grateful you are.
The second step in spreading the Easter good news is this:
WE INQUIRE FOR OURSELVES.
When Simon Peter heard the news from Mary Magdalene, he decided to go check it out for himself.
He ran to the tomb.
It's hard for a modern person trained in scientific methodologies to believe it.
How can you be so sure it happened?"
Let me give you the three best evidences for resurrection.
First, the disciples died for their belief when a simple denial of resurrection would have saved them.
Sometimes people will die for their religious convictions if they sincerely believe they're true, but people won't die for religious beliefs that they know are false.
Thousands of First Century Christians suffered and died in agony rather than deny the truth of resurrection.
The second proof of resurrection is the change of the Sabbath Day to Sunday.
For 1500 years the Jews had faithfully adhered to Sabbath observance from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday.
It was a biblical commandment, one of the top ten!
Yet in a matter of a few weeks, at least 10,000 Jews had begun celebrating the Sabbath on Sunday, the day of resurrection.
Something mighty powerful had to cause that change.
The third proof of resurrection is the birth of the church.
At the time of Jesus' crucifixion, the church consisted of a few hundred depressed, fearful, defeated persons.
Yet within five weeks after the crucifixion, some 10,000 Christians were boldly taking the message of Jesus Christ to the whole world.
After only twenty years the Christian faith had reached Caesar's palace in Rome.
In just two hundred years the movement had overwhelmed the entire Roman Empire.
Nothing short of a resurrection could have given such momentum to the movement.
Now let's return to that four-step process by which the Easter good news spreads
The third step is this:
JESUS FINDS US!
Jesus touches our life in some significant way, leaving his fingerprint on us.
Then it's no longer ancient history; it's current events.
If the Christ-Spirit is active and personal with us now, He is alive.
Resurrection became real for the early disciples when they
saw the risen Christ.
"Suddenly Jesus met them (the disciples).
'Greetings,' he said." (Matthew 28:9) At least one of the disciples, Thomas, had been extremely skeptical of the resurrection.
Then Jesus met him face to face. "...he said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here; see my hands...Stop doubting and believe.'" (John 20:27)
Jesus meets us in many ways at our points of need.
Perhaps Jesus becomes very real to us in a worship service or in a Walk to Emmaus weekend or in the hospital facing surgery.
Sometimes Jesus meets us in the middle of our grief over someone we desperately want to meet again in heaven.
When we seem to be at a low point in our life, the key to survival is the assurance God gives us of a life after death.
The fourth and final step in spreading the good news of resurrection is:
WE TELL OTHERS!
Then the cycle is complete and the news of resurrection spreads with great power by a personal testimony!
Jesus' last command should be our first order of business:
19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
The Early Church did it well, as the scripture tells us in
42 And every day, in the Temple and in their homes, they continued to teach and preach this message: "The Messiah you are looking for is Jesus."
Who is going to discover the risen Christ because of you?
Let me tell you a story about a man who said to his pastor, "I'm going to Oregon to work among the loggers for a year.
They pay all your expenses and the pay is fantastic."
The pastor said, "I've heard about those logging camps with all their drinking, carousing, and profanity.
When they find out that you're a Christian, they will harass you unmercifully."
"Well," said the man, "I'm going anyway."
A year later the man was back.
His pastor welcomed him back.
He asked, "How did you survive after those loggers found out that you were a Christian?"
The man proudly said, "They never found out."
What a shame!
Do the people in your workplace know you're a Christian?
If not, why not?
That's part of your mission field.
The most important thing you can say to another person is this:
I believe that Jesus Christ is alive because he has touched my life.
God can anoint that simple testimony with life-changing power!
The scripture tells us in, Romans 1:16
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
Glory to God, tell everyone that you come in contact with that Jesus Christ is still the King of Kings!
And don't do it just for the blessings that you are going to receive, but do it because you love Him with all your heart!
In closing I would like to share with you a true story about one woman who had a special way of sharing her resurrection faith.
Her story is told in a book by her physician, Dr. Will Phillips of San Antonio.
Her name was Edith Burns. She was an elderly widow who loved Jesus.
She would often sit down with someone and say, "Hello, my name is Edith Burns, do you believe in Easter?"
If they said yes, she would ask them what do you believe about Easter.
If they talked about Easter bunnies and colored eggs, she had a chance to share with them the real meaning of Easter.
Countless people were led to Christ by Edith Burns, including Dr. Phillips' head nurse.
One day Dr. Phillips called Edith into his office and said, "Edith, I've got bad news for you.
Your tests have come back positive, you have an aggressive form of cancer, and you may not have long to live."
Edith replied, "Why Dr. Phillips, you need not look so sad.
I have had a full life, now you are telling me that before long I'm going to see my Lord Jesus face to face.
I will be reunited with my dear husband, my parents, and so many old friends."
After several months of chemotherapy, it was clear that the cancer was winning the battle for Edith's life.
She went into the hospital and everybody who met her was attracted by her warmth and positive faith.
And if she got half a chance she would say to anyone, "Hello, I'm Edith Burns, Do you believe in Easter?"
She picked up a nickname in the hospital-"Easter Edith."
But there was one person who was not attracted to Edith.
Phyllis Cross was a mean ornery nurse, she had been an Army nurse for twenty years.
She had been married four times.
Phyllis told her supervisor,
I don't want to have anything to do with that religious nut, Edith Burns."
One day Phyllis had to go to Edith's room to draw some blood.
Edith said, "Phyllis, God loves you and I love you too, and I've been praying for you."
Phyllis said, "Well, you can stop your praying for me.
It won't work and I'm not interested."
Edith said, "I can't stop praying for you.
And I've asked God not to let me go home until you have come into his family."
Phyllis replied, "Then you will never die because that will never happen."
Then she walked out.
Edith and Phyllis saw each other regularly over the coming weeks.
But Edith never asked her the question she posed to everybody else, "Do you believe in Easter?"
Finally, Phyllis' curiosity got the best of her.
She said, "Edith, why have you never asked me if I believe in Easter?"
Edith smiled and replied, "I asked God to cause you to ask me about the Easter question, and you just did."
Phyllis was caught off guard, her defenses dropped.
Edith shared Christ with her.
The tough old Army nurse invited Jesus Christ into her heart as Savior and Lord.
A few days later Phyllis walked into Edith's room and said, "Hey Edith, today is Good Friday."
"No," said Edith, "It's Easter.
In the life of a Christian, every day is resurrection day.
Happy Easter, Phyllis."
Two days later, on Easter Sunday, Phyllis walked into Edith's room and noticed a tranquil smile on her face but it was obvious that her soul had departed to be with the Lord.
Phyllis placed her hands on Edith's and said, "Happy Easter, dear."
Then she assisted the family in making funeral arrangements.
Several hours later Phyllis managed to get a few minutes off duty.
She sat down in the break room to have a cup of coffee.
One of the new student-nurses happened to be there.
Phyllis said, "Hello, my name is Phyllis Cross.
Do you believe in Easter?"
This morning, that is my question to each of you!
Do you believe in Easter?
Do you believe that Jesus Christ has risen?
I personally believe that each one here this morning can answer that question with a big Amen!
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