Good Morning and Happy Easter to the followers of Voices Of Hope Evangelistic Team and to all who are listening to or reading this message via Facebook and our Website! What an awesome privilege we have to share Your glorious Gospel On this Resurrection Sunday!
The title of my message this morning is "From Palm Sunday to Resurrection Sunday."
So let’s begin with prayer. Father, we are living in a day unlike anything we have ever seen before. Chaos, confusion, and turmoil have been stirring in the hearts of so many people. We thank You for Your mercy that was displayed upon the cross that has given those who call upon Your name and trust in you for forgiveness and new life. We want to be a part of Your great redemptive plan in the earth.
Lord, we thank You for the miracle of life – abundant life here, and eternal life with You in Heaven. Help us celebrate that life every day as we seek You and follow Your plan for our life. Help us fix our eyes on Christ when we are tempted to only look at the problems around us. We are asking that You would give us the boldness to proclaim the only solution to what our world is experiencing and that is Your glorious Gospel!
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
John 12:9-11, "Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus."
Four days after Lazarus had died and been buried, Jesus came on the scene, called Lazarus by name and commanded him to come out of the grave. The stone that sealed the grave was moved away and Lazarus came out, bound and wrapped for burial, but alive and well.
The power of Jesus to raise the dead was news that spread through the land like wildfire. The Messiah has come! The Messiah has come! The Deliverer that will lead Israel into a new dawn of freedom from oppression has come. Only the Messiah could have the power to raise the dead.
Visions of freedom and dreams of deliverance filled the hearts of most of the Jews but there were some who did not like the idea of a new King in Israel. They were the High Priest of Israel, appointed by the Roman legions, and the men of Israel who were members of the Sanhedrin Council, the ruling body of Israel much like our Congress. These men did not like the idea that their power and control over the Jews was being threatened by one who could raise the dead. So they decided to do something about it.
“Let’s kill Lazarus, and stop the news of this miracle from spreading”, is all they could think about. They believed that by killing Lazarus they could somehow stop the Jews from following the Miracle Working man from Galilee. But it was too late to stop it now.
The fact that Resurrection power was real and that Lazarus was alive could not be erased. Even if they did kill Lazarus, he would only rise again in the Resurrection. Jesus is the Resurrection and the source of Life. No one could deny His power and authority over death.
The Jews were looking for a sign! They wanted the Messiah to come, but they had to have a sign before they could believe. That sign was the resurrection of Lazarus from the dead. From that moment on, many of the Jews began to believe that Jesus was the Messiah.
Jesus was in Bethany again, staying at the home of Lazarus, and his sisters, Mary and Martha. The news of His presence spread quickly and crowds of people began to gather to see the Messiah and also to see Lazarus, the man who had come back from the dead.
Israel needed a Deliverer. The Jews desperately needed a Savior. They were searching for a King, and now they believed that Jesus had come to fill all of these needs.
John 12:12-15, "On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt."
The method of Jesus’ entry in Jerusalem was prophesied many years before during the time of the Prophet Zechariah.
Zechariah 9:9, "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass."
Jesus not only rode on the donkey because it was prophesied but this was also His way of identifying with the lineage of David who was Israel’s greatest king. Until the reign of King Solomon, every king in Israel had ridden on a donkey.
King Solomon had started the tradition of riding in a chariot drawn by horses instead because, in his pride, he thought that it was more befitting a king, than to enter on a donkey. Therefore Jesus was establishing that His kingdom was a part of the promise that had gone all the way back to Abraham when Israel was founded as a nation.
When Jesus left Bethany, riding on a donkey in the fashion of the ancient kings of Israel, it only fueled the excitement of the Jews that much more. This was another sign to them – a sign that their King was coming.
On the side of the Mount of Olives where the road from Bethany to Jerusalem passed, there were many palm trees growing. The Jews began to line the sides of the road to witness this great historical occasion. They could tell their children and their children’s children that they were there when the Messiah came to establish His kingdom. The years of waiting and praying were over.
Since the branches of the Palm Tree were considered by the Jews to be signs of joy and victory, the Jews began to break the limbs off of the trees and wave them at Jesus as He rode past.
The scene is also described in Matthew 21:8-9, "And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest."
By spreading their coats and garment along the way, the people were honoring Jesus as the King. It is said that they actually spread their garments in a fashion to resemble the booths that were made from Palm branches for the Feast of Tabernacles. The Feast of Tabernacles was established to remind Israel that God was in their midst as they traveled to the Promised Land. The Feast of Tabernacles was also called the Feast of “Hosanna” or praise, and the last day was called “The Great Hosanna”, the greatest praise that man could give.
It was with all of this symbolism in mind that the Jews spread their palm branches and their clothes, and waved the Palm branches along the way, as they cried out “Hosanna, Hosanna in the Highest!”
Matthew 21:10-11, "And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee." They recognized Jesus as a great prophet. They praised Him and welcomed Him as the King. But they never accepted Him as the Son of God, the Savior of the World.
As He entered the city gate, Jesus was praised as the New Messiah, the man who had come to resurrect the Nation of Israel and let Israel live again.
But Jesus had come to bring a greater victory than they could ever imagine. He came to usher in a new Kingdom, but it wasn’t an earthly kingdom; it was a spiritual kingdom. He came to reign over the hearts of men, not over the dust of the earth. He came to break the power of sin, to heal the broken hearted and set the captive free, not from chains of human bondage, but from the chains of guilt and shame.
Man could always rise up and break the chains of slavery, but he could never free himself from the chains of sin. Jesus came to be the Savior, the Deliverer, the King of Kings, but He didn’t come to the break the power of Rome.
One thing that strikes me about Jesus’ entry in Jerusalem that day was that the first place He went was to the temple.
Matthew 21:12-14, "And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves. And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them."
1 Peter 4:17 we read, "For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?"
Jesus first judged those who abused their power and used the temple to gain a profit from the people who came there to worship or for help.
There are many messages preached that you can hear where the “money changers” are still operating. Every message is one designed to get your money. Everything that you need carries a price tag in dollars. Many ministers won’t give anything until they first take from you. God will judge those who misuse their position and abuse their authority to steal from the people. We are called to be ministers not masters.
Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 10:7-8, "And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give." The true blessings of God don’t carry a price tag in dollars and cents, only in believing and receiving by faith.
As Jesus rode in that day, standing in the shadows, hiding in doorways, behind the windows, and among the crowd were those same religious leaders who didn’t want to see Jesus come as king. Their power and authority was threatened and they were there for only one reason – to devise a plan to destroy Jesus and crush this rising rebellion of the Jews.
Over the next few days, their plans began to work. The arrest, trial, punishment and then sentencing of Jesus to die on the cross like a common criminal destroyed the belief of the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah that they had hoped He would be.
When Jesus failed to take His Kingdom by force, the people turned against Him with a vengeance. The same crowd that had praised Jesus with “Hosanna in the highest” and waved Palm branches in victory, would now cry out, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”
Israel’s only hope was being cast aside, all because Satan had blinded them to the fact that the Son of God was in their midst.
As I read this story again I thought of how men still do the same thing today. We love the idea of a king who will provide us with all the pleasures and desires of this life. We love a king who can heal our bodies. We will praise a king who has the power to raise the dead. We worship a king who will give us victory over our enemies.
But like the Jews, we quickly turn away when Jesus doesn’t give us what we expect. When He doesn’t give us money or favor, but gives us a chance to believe in Him as our Lord and Savior. We reject Him because we don’t want a master, just a provider, yet what He offers is far more valuable, but we don’t want that because it doesn’t satisfy the needs of the flesh.
When Jesus doesn’t heal our body, and allows us to get to the point of dying, we often turn against Him in unbelief thinking that He doesn’t really care. But what He offers is healing for the heart and soul, and eternal life in a glorified body.
When Jesus doesn’t choose to give us freedom from persecution and oppression from other people, we turn away from Him because we want to be free. But what He offers is freedom from the powers of Hell, freedom from eternal punishment and victory over sin.
Let’s not think like the Jews. Let’s look at Jesus as the true King and make Him the Lord of our lives. Let’s give Him praise, shouting Hosanna in the Highest. Let’s recognize Him as the Son of God and worship Him as Almighty God.
He doesn’t want our palm branches and clothes spread along the way as much as He wants our hearts and voice lifted in praise and our bodies given to Him as living sacrifices to serve Him and preach the gospel to all people, telling them that the Savior has come!
On Thursday evening Jesus gathered with His disciples for the last meal that He would eat with them. Jesus, the very Son of God, God in human form, had come down from the glory of Heaven for one single great purpose, to shed His blood for the sins of man. And now the hour of His sacrifice was getting close. It was at this final meal that Jesus taught us to observe the Communion Supper.
Everything that happened was according to God’s preset plan. Sitting among these men who had become Jesus’ closest friends, was one who He already knew would betray Him. Judas Iscariot, the man who carried the money for the group, would soon run from the room in shame, straight to the High Priest in the temple and sell Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.
Immediately after the meal was over Jesus and the remaining disciples went to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus would agonize in prayer for the rest of the night. The man called Jesus didn’t want to suffer and die anymore than you or I would want to, but He had never surrendered to the desires of the flesh.
Jesus, the Son of God, had come to die and there was no stopping now. The price of not going to the cross was too great.
God had created man in the beginning and then lost man to the power of sin and death when Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden. In the mind of God a plan of redemption had already been formulated.
Nothing catches God by surprise so He set His plan in motion and the central focus of God’s plan for redeeming the eternal souls of men was the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, His only son, upon a cross for the whole world to see.
In the early morning hours of Friday, Jesus knew that the time had come. He stood from the altar of prayer, woke up the sleeping disciples and began walking toward Jerusalem – walking willfully into the trap set by Judas.
Matthew 26:47-53, "And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast. And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him. And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him. And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear. Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?"
Jesus knew that He had to die, but He also had the choice not to die. At any moment Jesus could have called down the angels of Heaven and destroyed the entire human race if He had chosen to do so. There was no power on earth that could hold Him, no governor, king, emperor, military power or priest that could touch Him without His consent.
The puny powers of men were allowed to run their course as Almighty God took upon Himself the punishment for our sin – all because God loved you and me more than He loved Heaven itself.
During those early hours, before daylight, Jesus was tried in a kangaroo court, appearing before the High Priest of Israel and the priests of the temple. He was already judged as guilty and deserving to die before He was arrested. These trials were only a formality to give the appearance of following the law. False accusers were brought in, one after another, chosen from the criminal element and paid to lie against Jesus. Of course the verdict was guilty and the sentence was death.
But they could not carry out the sentence of death, so around 6 AM Jesus was brought before Pilate, the Roman governor for sentencing. I can just imagine that the Roman ruler didn’t appreciate these pesky Jews coming at such an early hour. Pilate questioned Jesus but when he learned that Jesus was from Galilee, he sent Him on to the ruler of that area, to a man named Herod.
Herod was really glad to see Jesus. He had heard of all the miracles and the works that Jesus had done and Herod wanted to see a miracle, but this wasn’t the time for a miracle like Herod expected. Little did Herod know that he was witnessing the greatest miracle that Jesus ever performed – the redemption of the souls of men. After being disappointed, Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate for sentencing.
At 7 AM Jesus was back in Pilate’s court once again. This time the trial took a more deadly turn. With the Jews screaming for Jesus’ death, and with thoughts of his own political future in mind, Pilate condemned Jesus to be scourged, tortured and then executed as common criminal. What was the death of one man if it meant keeping peace? Jesus didn’t mean anything to Pilate.
For the next hour Jesus was beaten nearly to death with a whip that cut and bruised His body from head to toe. His beard was pulled out; they spit on Him, mocked Him and beat Him beyond recognition.
Then, at 8 AM Pilate commanded that Jesus must be crucified so they led Him out. For 5 hours Jesus had withstood all of the mocking, the beating and the torture. Now He was forced to carry His own cross to a place called Golgotha, the skull, where He would be executed according to Roman law.
It took Jesus, with the help of Simon of Cyrene, a black man an hour to struggle and drag the cross. At 9 AM the soldiers took huge spikes and a hammer and nailed Jesus’ hands and feet to the cross, then raised it up and dropped it into the ground. Then they gambled and stood around waiting for Him to die.
The time passed slowly as Jesus hung there suffering. The pain of the nails was constantly tearing at His feet as He tried to lift Himself to breath and relieve the pain in His hands but then it would only be worse as He could not stand for long.
During the next hour of suffering, the crowds began to mock Him even more. “If you are really the Son of God, come down from the cross”. They didn’t understand that because Jesus was the Son of God, He couldn’t come down for their sakes.
At around 11 AM one of the two thieves that hung there with Him, asked for mercy. Just moments before the thief died, he was forgiven, his soul redeemed by Jesus’ shed blood. It is frightening to realize just how close that thief came to spending eternity in the Lake of Fire; yet today there are many who still hang in that balance, only moments to live and they still reject Jesus, their only hope.
At Noon, the sky becomes dark and for the next three hours Israel is cast into darkness as Jesus takes upon Himself the weight of sin for the whole world. In the midst of the darkness those around heard Jesus as He cried out, Matthew 27:46, "… My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?"
In the darkness they heard Jesus say that He was thirsty and watched by the light of a torch as the soldiers offered Him something to ease His pain.
Then around 3 PM Jesus shouted in the darkness, “It is finished”. Then He bowed His head and allowed His Spirit to leave His body.
At that moment the earth shook, the thunder rolled and lightning filled the sky as God’s power was revealed. The price had been paid.
It was getting late now and the Sabbath was soon coming. The Sabbath began at 6 PM on Friday and lasted until 6 PM on Saturday. It was unlawful to bury on the Sabbath and they couldn’t allow Jesus to hang there until it was over so they quickly buried Him in a tomb and sealed the door until they could properly prepare His body after the Sabbath was ended.
He was placed in the tomb late on Friday evening marking the first day, stayed there Saturday, marking the second day, and then arose early on the third day, the first day of the week. Thus He fulfilled the prophecies of His death and resurrection. Any part of a day in ancient reckoning of time was considered a whole day.
Mark 16:1-4, "And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. And they said among themselves, Who shall roll us away the stone from the door of the sepulchre? And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great."
“The Stone was very great” but it was rolled away and the tomb was empty. You can go to the tomb of Buddha and his bones are still there. You can go to the tomb of Muhammad and his bones are still there. You can go to the tomb of any other man that men call gods and their bones are still there. But Jesus’ tomb is empty today because He is Alive. He is the only Living God, the only one that has the power to Rise Again and to roll away the stone from His own grave.
What does that stone represent? There’s nothing so final as to go to a funeral and watch as they place the stone cover over the casket. It’s a final seal and one that says, “There’s no coming back. The one inside will never be seen again.”
That was the hopeless situation of all men. One day we will all die if Jesus tarries. One day each of us will have that stone lid placed over us for the last time. What hopelessness there would be if that was all?
You can go through the cemetery and nearly every one of the graves has a stone above it. That stone marks the finality of death.
But Jesus rolled away the stone. It wasn’t rolled away by men, but by the power of God, who lay in that tomb until, through the power of the Holy Spirit within, was raised from the dead to live forever more. In fact, the soul and spirit of Jesus never died, only the flesh. At the moment He gave up the Spirit, His spirit went to work with the redemption process, going down into paradise and setting the captives free who had waited there for the fulfillment of God’s plan.
He then took the power of death and broke the chains of hell that bound men to eternal death (the keys of death and hell), and He shattered the power of the grave to hold His body down. Satan’s claim on the redeemed was forever destroyed and we are given a new chance for eternal life.
That stone represents not only the finality of the power of death upon man, but it can also represent anything in our life that stands between us and God and keeps us from obtaining eternal life. But by the resurrection power of God, that stone can be rolled away.
Jesus loves you right now. He chose to die for you and for me. He chose to give His life, suffering and dying upon a cross, then rising from the dead, just for you and me. What more can Jesus do to convince you that He loves us and wants us to spend eternity with Him?
Are you still held in sin by a stone? Jesus can roll it away and set you free. You can have eternal life
The day is coming when every grave in the cemetery that holds the body of a Believing Christian will break open. The stones that cover them will be shattered and cast aside. The old songs says, “Ain’t No Grave, Gonna’ Hold My Body Down”. Every one of them will arise with a brand new glorified body and we shall all arise with them to meet Jesus in the air. That’s the power of the Resurrection, Jesus is coming again.
What a great hope we have in Jesus. He broke the power of sin and death. He has made a way for each of us to have eternal life.
Has your stone been rolled away? Have you obtained eternal life? If you die before Jesus comes, will the stone that covers your grave be one that is broken, or will you stay sealed in that tomb, forever condemned to death? Yes, every one of us must stand before God, whether to be judged and condemned for sin, or to be rewarded as an heir with Jesus.
Won’t you allow Jesus to roll your stone away today?
My prayer is that you will, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
To listen to Pastor T's Sunday morning, April 4, 2021, sermon, click here or
read it below.
When Voices Of Hope Evangelistic Team is ministering in Word and Song, their Fire Choir will sing several songs and then lead the Congregation in singing. Since that isn't possible, please click here and may you be blessed by singing along with "Gone, The Stone Is Rolled Back."