VICTORY! (Easter Sermon)
I. Alive! Jesus is victorious!
II. Alleluia! We, as his people, are victorious!
Revelation 19:11-16 11 I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. 13 He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. 14 The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: king of kings and lord of lords.
In the name of Jesus Christ, our risen and victorious Savior, dear Christian friends,
Albert Ryder created a painting he called “The Race Track”. It is a dark, dreary-looking painting. It depicts a lone, ghostlike horseman wielding a huge scythe. On the ground is a large snake.
When you hear that the painting is subtitled, “Death on a Pale Horse”, you will quickly understand that it illustrates what the Bible book of Revelation (6:7-8) describes and it will tell you why the rider and horse are racing the opposite way on the track— in order to destroy every other rider, including you and me, as he/she heads toward the finish line. No one will escape the scythe of death. Meanwhile, the snake in the painting is a depiction of Satan as the one “who holds the power of death” (Heb 2:14).
While that painting is depressing and un-Easter-like, it is reality as we face the power of Satan and the possibility of death every day, something we note especially today as this is predicted to be the highest single-day death toll as a result of COVID-19. But on this Easter Sunday, we will focus on another horse and its rider that the Bible book of Revelation also makes known to us. On this glorious Easter Sunday morning, we conclude our midweek Lent series entitled “The Son of God Goes Forth to War” and focusing on the work of our warrior Jesus, we get to celebrate VICTORY! I. Alive! Jesus is victorious! and II. Alleluia! We, as his people, are victorious!.
God gave the Apostle John a revelation of heaven and other things in order that he and we might know more about our Savior and our salvation. John wrote, I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself…. his name is the Word of God….On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: king of kings and lord of lords.
This rider on the white horse goes by many names, one of which we do not even know, but we most frequently call him Jesus. He is the Son of God. He is our hero. He is our warrior.
On Friday, we spoke about how he defeated Satan and his army on the cross of Calvary. His loud and anguished cry of “It is finished” (Jn 19:30) announced to all the world that Satan was powerless to destroy us.
Yet, Jesus still died that day. He was buried in the ground. He looked defeated…by death.
Yet, when John looked, he didn’t see a dead Jesus. He saw him who was alive, who was still active: judging and making war and wearing many crowns. Yes, Jesus is alive! Jesus is victorious!
That is what Easter is all about! Scripture tells us, “Christ has indeed been raised from the dead” (1 Cor 15:20). Because “the last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Cor 15:26), Jesus’ empty tomb makes it clear that he is victorious, more powerful than death.
Jesus is Faithful and True, for he promised that even though his body, referring to it as a temple, would be destroyed, yet in three days it/he would rise again (Jn 2:19). Jesus is the Word of God, which claims that his reign will never end (Is 9:7). He is king of kings and lord of lords as his resurrection shows him more powerful than the one who caused death, Satan the prince of this world (Jn 12:31). Jesus is our mighty warrior, alive and victorious.
In these days of doubt and fear, once brought on by cancer, crime and terrorism, but now raised to a fever pitch through the Coronavirus, there need not be doubt about Jesus’ victory over death or fear that he is not in charge of everything. From the Scriptures, written by those who saw Jesus alive and from the silence of secular writers of that time, who dd not contradict claims of Christ’s resurrection because they must have seen him alive or heard from others that it was true, we receive confidence that our risen Savior is in control. Each time we see that term COVID-19 come across our social media feed, I encourage you to process that term in your mind by a new acronym: Christ Our Victor In Death.
Today, some 2000 years ago, Jesus claimed victory over death. Today, Easter Sunday, we rejoice that Jesus is alive and victorious and we sing alleluia again because we know that we, his people of faith, are victorious as well!
As Death, the ghostly rider on the pale horse, makes his way counterclockwise around the track of life, someday he will meet us and his scythe will run us through. Even though we try to avoid death, spending more than a trillion dollars a year in the United States alone to try to treat diseases— and that was before the COVID-19 spending spree— unless Judgment Day happens first, we will all die— through a worldwide pandemic, a car accident, a heart attack or simply going to sleep and not waking up again.
The unbeliever has every reason to dread that truth and to fear death, for Jesus is the rider on the white horse, but he is dressed in a robe dipped in blood…Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nation. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.
Our mighty warrior Jesus has a sharp sword— his Word that says that those who do not believe will be condemned (Jn 3:18). He rules with an iron scepter, administering justice and sentencing to death those who rebel against him. He inflicts the punishment of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. His robe is dipped in blood, the blood of his enemies whom he slayed and sent to hell for their unbelief. Sure and certain judgment will come to Satan and all who follow him.
But for us who believe in Jesus, for us who know that Jesus lived, died and rose for our forgiveness and salvation, it is sure and certain that we will be in heaven, alongside of and part of, the armies of heaven [who] were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.
The empty tomb of Jesus proves his words about death are true: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though he dies” (John 11:25). That’s you, and that’s me. We will rise from the dead because the one who has conquered death made it possible. We will rise from the dead because he who is the Word of God and who is Faithful and True said so.
At the moment of our death, all fear and doubt will be gone. All ugliness will be gone. All guilt and sin will be gone.
At the moment of our death, all the splendid and beautiful land of heaven will explode into view! All the loved ones who have believed and gone before us will surround us. All the voices of the saints and angels will resound before us. And we will see our mighty warrior, our hero, our Savior Jesus— alive and victorious!
Jesus is victorious! You are too! Although you can’t go out and share this amazing truth, please use your social media today to announce it to as many as you can: Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!