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“A Second Chance at Life”

Easter SonRise - April 16, 2017 Matthew 28:1-10 ; Romans 1:1-4,16

“There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.” (Mt 28:2) KA-BOOM! (That wasn’t very loud – can you all say it again with me, louder, on three? 1-2-3- KA-BOOM!

      What must that earthquake have felt like when the angel rolled away the stone from the tomb that first Easter morning? Pretty AWESOME! It was the signal that sin and death had been defeated. Jesus was alive! No longer dead – but ALIVE!

      Ka-boom! When I was a boy, my father’s brother farmed across the road from us. Uncle Nelson had worked in the mines in Northern Ontario and somehow was still able to get dynamite; he used it to blast tree-stumps out of his farmland. In our house across the road, all would be peaceful and calm, then suddenly we’d hear this big explosion and all the windows in the house would rattle.

      Dynamite is powerful. The ‘violent earthquake’ that first Easter morning was powerful. But the most astounding true power of Easter is working right in people’s lives today!

      Here’s a snippet from the life of a very famous industrialist whose name – once you hear it – you will recognize as linked unbreakably to both power and peace... It was his custom to read the papers every morning. Only one fact was different this day: his brother had died, and he expected to find some notice of it in the paper. So, he was astonished to find there, on the front page of his Swedish newspaper, his own obituary! It was an unfortunate mistake and mix-up, of course. His brother had died, and the newspeople had simply gotten it wrong, thinking he had died, instead of his brother. So, Alfred Nobel, Swedish industrialist, sat that morning, reading what the world was ready to say of him at his death.

      The article was full of glowing praise. It described how Nobel had begun his career as a poor and struggling experimental chemist in Sweden and how he had worked long hard years until his discovery of “dynamite”. This created an explosive that was twenty times more powerful than any other then available! That invention catapulted Nobel into fame, power, and wealth. Dynamite revolutionized industries like mining and construction, and it radically altered the making of war – dynamite made the weapons of war far more deadly. If one army had dynamite then, to be secure, any potential opposing army had to have it also. As inventor of dynamite, Nobel was sought after by business magnates, and by arms manufacturers; he was courted by kings and prime ministers of governments from around the world for this substance they just had to have. Nobel merchandised dynamite around the globe, and the demand was without end. There in the obituary, Nobel saw the result. He was praised as rich, powerful, successful, and called again and again: "the Dynamite King."

      That phrase, the Dynamite King, distressed Alfred Nobel deeply. Reading those words as the world’s measure of what his life meant, he felt that something had gone very, very wrong. This was not what he had hoped for, not what he wanted. If he had worked hard and overcome great obstacles, only in the end to be summed up that way, then his life had missed its mark, gone very wrong.

      Nobel had multiplied the world’s power to destroy to a terrible degree, and he knew that people would not hold back from killing even more and more ferociously. Through the printed words of his own obituary, Nobel began to look at his own life through the lens of eternity and see that he had been wrong, dreadfully wrong.

      From that day onward, Nobel's life turned around. He began to sell his worldwide interests in chemical and munitions factories. With the immense wealth he’d made from dynamite, he began to create and fund a public charitable trust that would outlast his life. This trust would be able each year to give awards to the people who had made the greatest contributions and advances in the arts, literature, and the sciences. Nobel established one prize above all, dear to his heart, to be given to the person who had done the most to advance the cause of peace: the Nobel Peace Prize.

      I hope YOU don’t read YOUR obituary in the paper tomorrow, by some mistake or fluke! But stop and think about it a minute. What if it WAS you in the tomb, buried at the cemetery? Would you like how your obituary would read? Or, like Mr Nobel, would you feel something had gone dreadfully wrong, the point of your life had been terribly missed?

      The KA-BOOM of Easter isn’t just about the stone being rolled away from Jesus’ tomb – massive as it was. The power of the resurrection is available to YOU to bring dramatic change in YOUR life today! Jesus met the women hurrying away from the tomb, “afraid yet filled with joy” – He is still meeting people where they’re at today! Helping people repent, have faith, and change for the better, discovering new life in the power of His Holy Spirit.

      The Apostle Paul tells us the power of the resurrection identifies who Jesus is, vouches for His authority: Romans 1:4 says that in the gospel, Jesus “was declared WITH POWER to be the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead.” Yet that Easter-power is also ours through faith to have a second chance at life, to be ‘born over again’. Romans 1:16 “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for [WHAT? Dynamiting and destruction? NO – ]the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.”

      That KA-BOOM can be yours! Jesus working in you, turning your life around, helping you be re-birthed in a much better way, alive to God. You’re probably not rich because of weapons manufacture – but do you tend to blow up at people? Have you been greedy, have you put making money ahead of doing what’s right? Have you been violent or unkind toward those who opposed you or seemed weak? We all need God’s help to turn our lives around. We need His power to repent and begin anew. The good news of Easter, of Jesus dying for our sins and rising to give us new life in the Holy Spirit, is God’s powerful message that can save us, restore us, make us whole.

      The “ka-boom” of Easter becomes Jesus’ power at work in us, changing us from the inside out to become like Him – fit for heaven. Philippians 3:20f “But our citizenship is in heaven.And we eagerly await a Saviour from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” Let’s pray.