Against All Odds I Will Arise
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: Matthew 28:1-7
Sunday 27th March 2016
On this Easter Sunday morning, I am sharing a word with you that depict the story of New Wine. Today’s message is titled ‘Against All Odds, I Will Arise’. Here is our foundation scripture, from Matthew 28:1-7, which reads: ‘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. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men’. But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.”
Our lives are anchored to the truth that Christ was raised from the dead. 1 Corinthians 15:14 put it this way: ‘And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty’. Without Christ’s resurrection, the church and our hope in God for the future would have been non-existent. The resurrection is the basis for our lives and the reason why we are alive today. It is the basis for celebrating the Christmas and this Easter Season. Christ’s resurrection gives validity to his advent. The epitaph at his tomb could be relayed thus: ‘He is not here. He is risen’. Tourists and pilgrims visit the Church of the Sepulcher, to see the empty tomb.
As Christians, we have a responsibility to anchor our hearts to the hope that the resurrection of Jesus gives us, right in the middle of a world full of decadence and misery. Regardless of how tough and difficult life may seem presently, we can be rest assured that if God raised Christ from the grave, He will also raise us up. Beyond being an event, resurrection is personified in Jesus. John 11:25 confirms this. ‘Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live”. From Matthew 28:5-6, we can summarise the words of the angel with these four words: crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection. Contrary to tradition, the angel did not roll back the stone in order to facilitate Jesus’ emergence from the tomb. Rather, the stone was rolled away to give visitors, visiting the tomb the opportunity to look within, to confirm the resurrection of Christ.
The resurrection of Christ was created by God, from the pre-beginning of the world as a prototype for each one of us. Revelation 13:8 reads: ‘All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world’. Christ’s death preceded the events that occurred two thousand years ago. The victory over Satan had already been concluded in the mind of God. Revelation 1:18 put it this way: ‘I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen’. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death’. Christ’s life on earth was simply a replication of that which had already occurred in the realm of the Spirit. His birth, ministry, crucifixion, death and resurrection were all part of the plans of God for Christ. Conversely, there is nothing occurring in our lives that take God by surprise, or that is accidental. God concluded our lives and gave permission for it to begin to unfold. Jeremiah 29:11 reads: ‘For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope’. From the words of Revelation 1, we can ascertain that the keys to hell and the grave are in the hands of Jesus – and that is the hope we need to live in this world (Also see Revelation 3:7).
St. Paul writes about the presentation of the gospel in Romans, in contrast to the geographical and historical facts presented by the writers of the gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Romans 4:23-25 reads: ‘Now it was not written for his sake alone (Abraham’s) that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification’. He goes further to write in Romans 5:1-2, which reads: ‘Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God’. The resurrection of Christ has given us access to justification, peace with God, grace and hope.
Now, with the resurrection of Jesus, we have hope in God. There is a great future for each of us and we can be rest assured that it is not over yet. St. Paul goes on to write about his personal experiences, and the hope that kept him going despite the various problems he experienced. 1 Corinthians 1:8-11 reads: ‘We don't want you in the dark, friends, about how hard it was when all this came down on us in Asia province. It was so bad we didn't think we were going to make it. We felt like we'd been sent to death row, that it was all over for us. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened. Instead of trusting in our own strength or wits to get out of it, we were forced to trust God totally — not a bad idea since he's the God who raises the dead! And he did it, rescued us from certain doom. And he'll do it again, rescuing us as many times as we need rescuing’ (MSG).
In rounding up, here are the key lessons to remember about resurrection, namely:
(a) Whatever we may be going through is not our final destination; there is hope for our future.
(b) We must continue exercising our faith and keep on pressing to know God – He is the one who raises the dead.
(c) We need to trust God totally for a turnaround; our hope ought to be in God and not in our ability.
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