Well, in that in that poem that we started with from Tom, we he said a little line. Which was virus or not, death wins the day. And I think that's true, and we've got to get a perspective of the whole COVID virus, because in many ways, the COVID 19 is not our problem. Now, I'm not saying it isn't horrible, and I'm not saying that people haven't suffered through it, which they have, and particularly some of the nurses and consultants that have seen so much on the front line that some of us haven't seen. It's an awful thing.
It is a problem. But actually, when you think about it, no more people die because of COVID 19 than would die anyway. It's death that's the problem. It's like war. No more people die in war than we're going to die anyway.
So, the problem is bigger than war or COVID-nineteen or cancer, or whatever the problem is death. And it is a problem, isn't it? We are going to die. Everyone in this room 50 years from now, less for a lot of us, a hundred years from now, we'll be dead. Will be brought into a building perhaps a bit like this.
You'll be carried into your own funeral whether you like it or not because 1 out of 1 die. You can't go to the doctor and say, hey, doctor Look, you know, Joel, I don't fancy dying because I think he or she would say, I I I don't I don't fancy it either, but you're going to. The statistic is so clear, isn't it? 1 out of 1 die. Now the bible calls death an enemy.
And death is an enemy because this enemy is out to destroy. It tears into pieces the most beautiful work of God, you and me, humans. We're told that we're made in the image of God, to know god, and death comes and vandalizes that image. Death throws men and women and boys and girls, this incredible workmanship of God into a grave. It's like a vandal.
That goes around. It spares no life. However, beautiful and there's some beautiful little babies here. We know that even these beautiful little babies will die. In fact, as soon as they've been born, they're beginning to die.
Death destroys every this is an enemy. And we can't play around with this. It's an enemy. Here's someone full of bubbling life and joy and fun and physical, you know, beauty? Well, when death gets hold of them, they're not like that?
Death has universal power and worldwide victory. Is there a country? Is it perhaps even a little island somewhere in the entire world where this enemy hasn't come on shore and won the battle of life. Is there a time in the whole of history that people have been able to beat this enemy. Is there a city without a graveyard?
Or access to a graveyard. What family hasn't lost 1 to death? Grav is never satisfied It's always hungry for more. It's never satisfied until all men and women, boys and girls, you and me enter into it. It's hungry until you go there.
Those who have stood lately around half their heart and buried half their heart around a new made grave. They'll tell you what death is like. Those consultants and nurses that have been in the COVID wars, they'll tell you that death is no friend and what an enemy death is. He gives no pity death, sends no regards, Never get any flowers from death. It's a pale horse that wreaks havoc.
And leaves emptiness and despair. So somehow, we need to get our heads together. Somehow, we need to not only get our heads together in a year and make a vaccine that cures COVID, we need something that will cure death. Shortly. That's the problem.
Or rather that's problem 1, because I want to show you that there's a second problem, and the Bible reveals this because there's even a bigger problem than death. Death is a bigger problem than COVID, and this is a bigger problem than death because why is there death? Why is there death in the first place? Why is this enemy? Well, here's a sentence from the bible.
It's an extraordinary little sentence It says the wages of sin is death. I'll come to the other ones in a minute. But the wages of sin is death. This enemy, if you like, is a wage packet We've earned it. We've worked for it.
What an extraordinary sentence. See, death in 1 sense, if you if you treat it like an alien. Death is an alien to this world. In 1 sense, death shouldn't really be in this world. But death has come into this world, and here's the strange thing, if you're gonna use that sort of illustration of an alien, Death has come in the same sort of alien space rocket and landed with this other enemy and trouble is that we've invited the enemy to land and along comes his mate death.
Sin, Look at these sentences. Sin entered the world and death through sin. And this way, death came to all people because all sinned. Are you gonna die? Well, that's because you've sinned.
Or sin when it is full grown, gives birth to death. What an extraordinary sort of imagery that is. Death has a child or rather death is a child. Death is the fruit of sin. Now the trouble is, we get all worked up by that word sin.
And I guess, lots of people say, oh, no. Here we go. I want to turn off. But sin is simply breaking away from God. Now, it's not it is breaking his rules and his laws, of course.
But it's basically saying, I'll be ruler. That's why I break the rules. I think I I am a better ruler than you, God. And it's try so we talk about, don't we a fish out of water? And that's a very good a good old illustration, a fish out of water.
A fish when it's out of water will gasp and die. We were made to be in the environment of God and when we're out of our environment, We will gasp and die. A fish was made to swim in the water. Here's a fish swimming down the river. It's free.
It's alive. It can do what a fish does. But then imagine the fish saying, oh, I spy with my little eye, a bird. I'd like to be a bird. I wanna break free free from my environment and it jumps out onto the river bank.
What will happen to the fish? It will gasp It will see things differently because the water this would is not now distorting its eyes so it can see clearly. So now it sees things with a fog. It doesn't quite know what's going on. It's gasping like a COVID victim.
It's gasping for air. And it will die if it's not pushed back into its environment quickly. We were made to live and love and know and obey. God, that's how you were made. When we jump out of that environment, when we say no, I'll be God.
There's a wage packet coming to us. And like the fish we flop around, gasp, and desperate, not sure what life is about, only seeing things through our little fish eye, unclearly. That's the second problem then. But I want to tell you, there's a third problem. It goes even deeper.
See, this isn't just a physical battle. This is a spiritual battle. Jesus talks about an enemy that we have, He talks about sin being an enemy. He talks about death being an enemy, but he talks about another enemy. And it's an enemy of our very soul, our very spirit, an enemy of us.
He calls this enemy the father of lies, So if you lie, you're speaking the language of this father. He calls this enemy a murderer from the beginning. This enemy hates God with a burning passion and hates everything God does. He brings in death as a vandal to kill the life of God. He lies your whole life He lies about who God is.
He lies about what God is like. He lies about where you came from. He's a vandal of death. And murder and destruction, and Jesus calls him the devil, Satan. It's unusual to hear about that, isn't it?
It's a strange thing I even thought. Should I talk about satan to those who are guests? But I have to because don't you realize that you're in a spiritual battle between the father of truth and the father of lies. And this 1 has persuaded the fish to jump or it's persuaded us to go out of our environment. And now, he brings gasping, hopeless, despair.
And death. There are problems. Happy Christ Happy Easter. Enjoy your egg, there are problems. And that's why we need to hear the Easter message.
And that's what that poem did at the beginning. Because there's only hope in the Easter message. Look at this next song that we're going to sing. And it really tells us what's coming up because it's wonderful. Through all life sorrows and despairs, I will not be moved.
When facing death, I need not fear, I have this sure hope and then it says, because Christ died on cavalry, that's him dying on the cross for us. Sin has on me, no claim. The hope is in Jesus Christ. We'll see that after this song, but let's remind ourselves of these truths as we stand and sing this song together. Amazing words.
And in those words, you find the solution. You see the truth is, let's be honest, we've got these problems. Death, we have sin, and we have the devil. And they're all our problems, but we can't actually find a solution within ourselves. And this is the amazing thing, isn't it?
There's only really 1. I know you know what I'm going to say but it isn't a surprise that you know what I'm going to say. There's only 1 man in the whole of history, isn't there? 1 man that if you were thinking about might possibly be able to beat death Where does your mind go? You could look at all the great kings that have ever lived, all the military leaders and armies and Even all the scientists working in their clever ways to try and find a vaccine for viruses.
All the explorers, all the religious leaders, all the philosophers, all the ideologies. All the millions and millions of people, whatever it is, 60000000000 people that have ever walked this earth there really is only 1 contender, isn't there? For beating death. He stands out in history. He claims to be even more than man.
He claims to be divine, the son of God. Now we missed Christmas, And as a preacher, you gotta give me a little bit of leeway here. He claims to be Emmanuel, God with us. God has come into this world. God is the only 1 that could rescue us from these problems.
Jesus said of himself because that's who he is, I am the bread of life. I am the bread of life. I am the way the truth and the life I am the resurrection and the life. I am the living 1. He says this.
Everyone who looks to him and believes in him shall have eternal life and I will raise him up on the last day. The gospel witnesses, the eyewitnesses that were walking 2000 years ago when Jesus walked this earth as a man. Testified to the fact that he could come to several graves and with a word, speak a word to a dead man, and they would rise again. Eye witnesses, People were there. So if anyone's got a claim to deal with these problems, then it seems that Jesus has.
And therefore, isn't it absurd that people will just say, oh, Jesus or put him in with a whole load of other people. He's just another 1. Seriously? At least examine him, Here's a sentence from the Bible. It's the book of Hebrew.
It's found in the Bible. It says this. What an amazing sentence. It says, since the children or you could put people there, Since the children have flesh and blood, so we have flesh and blood, he, that's Jesus. Too shared in their humanity, so that by his death, he might break the power of him who holds the power of death that is the devil.
And free those all their lives that are held in slavery by the fear of death. That's the Christian message. Here is God And since we have flesh and blood and are trapped in a world where death will get us, This 1, the son of God took on flesh. Why? So that he could come into this world of death and sin and satan, so that he could come and take away the power of death that Satan has so that he could come and deal with the slavery that people are in that will do anything not to talk about death.
You talk about death and all, I don't want to hear about it. I remember going to 1 of my neighbors who died And he was a a a dustbin man. I know they didn't call him that them anymore. It's like a refuge refuge collector or whatever he is, a technician or something. But he was he used to carry the dustbins out.
And I went to his funeral. At Kingston, just up here. And so many of the blokes, even though they brought him in a dustbin cart, So many of the blokes had to drink alcohol at 11 o'clock in the morning because they didn't wanna hear about death. With fear of death, And Satan you see because he's the author of sin, he brings death. And therefore, he exercises power in this realm of death.
And he's a murderer so he exercises power in the sense of controlling death in 1 sense. He's the kingdom, he's the king of darkness and death itself. But Jesus has come born in the flesh, to deal with the issues of sin and death and satan. Look at this sentence. Another sentence from the bible.
I mean, there's just 1 upon the other. I didn't quite know which ones to choose, so I threw in a few. The reason the son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work. Here's another 1. The appearing of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, the good news that he brings. Here's another 1. Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where o death is your victory? We were just singing it.
Where o death is your sting. The sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law, the law that we've broken before God. So here is Satan, death, and sin, altogether. And the way to deal with that is that God himself would come become flesh and blood. What a lover, seeking out lost sheep.
What a shepherd. Laying down his life to deal with the very judgment and punishment that we deserve. He's taking the wage packet. The wages of death is sin. I'll tell you what, that's the only wage packet I want someone to have.
Take it. I've owned it, but you have it. He's taking the wage packet on the cross. When Anna and myself were in India on 1 occasion, we went to an most amazing old fashioned shop in a place place called UTikamund, and it was just such a delight to go into this this shop. And what you had to do, I actually didn't wanna buy anything, but I thought I better buy something.
I actually bought a pencil. I mean, that's how generous I was. And what happens is that you say, oh, I you're looking at the pencils and say, oh, I that pencil. And a man comes up, this is how to lower unemployment and says, I'll take the pencil. The pencil was taken away from you, even though you you want it.
He takes it away and it's wrapped up. Yeah? Then you go to a man who had a sort of glass in front of him. And he says how much that is and you pay the the rupee and he he then oh, sorry. The the man who takes the pencil gives you a bill, a a little little bill, how much the pencil cost.
It's on a little bit of paper. And you take it to the man in the glass behind the glass, He looks at it, you pay the for the pencil, and he jams it on a massive great nail. The bill is paid and a nail goes through it. And with the nail print through that debt, It means it's paid. And once that happens, as soon as the nail goes through that, you're given the pencil and you're allowed to leave the shop.
It's a joy, isn't it? Jesus came and died on the cross to pay the debt to deal with the sin. Do you see that? Now, how do I know he's paid that debt? How do I know he's left the shop?
Because he rose again. The debt is paid for. The bills has been done. He no longer needs to stay dead. He rises again.
It's been paid for. Matthew 28 in the Gospel. The angels said to the woman, this is the first day of the week when they come to the tomb of Jesus Do not be afraid. For I know that you were looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He died, nail.
He's not here. He has risen just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly until his disciples. He has risen from the dead and he's going ahead of you into Galile.
You will see him Now I've told you this. So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid get filled with joy. Of course, they were imagine the emotions and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them greetings, he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and were shipped him, then Jesus said to them, do not be afraid.
Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilei there they will see me. He has risen again. He's paid the debt. Death he's dealt with. He's risen again.
He's made a hole in history. We can go through the hole. Death for us now is just a way to a new life when we're in Christ. He's paid it and he's risen again. The bill's been paid.
I don't like cats very much, and I'm sorry if you do, and I guess those down Cambry Park Road like cats because there's plenty of them running up and down. I'm not a cat fan. Because they come in my garden from people like you, I guess, who send them into other people's gardens to poo. I don't want their poo, so I don't like the cat. But 1 thing I've learned about cats is because there's a little tiny gap at the bottom of my garden between the shed and the next door fence.
It's very small, but the cat can get through it. And what happens is that it doesn't put its tail through first just to see whether Pete's gonna chuck something at it. Or throw some water at it. It has to put its head through and that's why the whiskers are on the head of the cat. If the cat can get its head through, however fat the cat is, it can get the rest of its body.
Its head is the biggest bit and that's what the whiskers tell them. So it has to in the at my garden put its head through to see whether I'm there or not. Now forget what happens, and stop writing that letter of complaint, but Jesus calls himself the head. The firstborn among the dead, the head of the body. When you are in Christ, when you know Christ.
Your sins are dealt with. He's risen again because your sins have been paid for. And he, as the head of a new people, goes first through death into new life. If the head can get through, the body can get through. If Jesus has gone through, if you're connected to him, you get through.
So let me ask you this. On your dying day, whether it's of COVID or whatever it is, On your last breath, who's your head? Who are you going to entrust your death to? The 1 that has dealt with thank you, Jesus. The 1 who is dealt with sin and death and risen again.
He's the good shepherd we're told that lays his life down for the sheep and then leads his sheep through the valley of the shadow of death to this new world, where all is put right where no more sin is, where no gravestone is, where no grave is, where all is good. Will you follow him? There's a really old story. I love it. It's about a court fool.
You know 1 of those gestures that wears those funny hats and have bells on. You know, jesters have rods, don't they? Before kings? There's an old story told about this court fool or this court jester, but it was a court fool. And he was given this very special golden rod by the king because the king said you're the biggest fool I've ever met in my life.
But if you can find a bigger fool than yourself, would you pass on the rod, the fool's rod? And so the fool goes on a journey around the whole of the kingdom trying to find a bigger fool than he is, and he doesn't find 1. And on the journey, someone catches up with him, a servant of the king and says your old friend the king is on his deathbed. He's about to die. Would you come back and see him?
So the fool made the energy and the time to go back to see his old friend, the king. And the king said to the fool, I am going on a long journey and I'll never come back. He meant death. And the fool said, oh, what preparations have you made for that journey then? And the king said preparations, I've I've made none.
So the fool said, you better take my rod. Because you're a greater fool than I am. Wouldn't it be extraordinary? If Jesus, the son of God had done all of what I've said, born of a woman, flesh and blood died on a cross, has beaten death and sin and the work of Satan, the lies of Satan, and brought truth. What would it make you if you say I'm not even going to investigate that.
I'm not going to give it a second thought. Can I give you a rod at the end of the service, to remind you that you're a greater fool than I am? I'm a fool. But I want to trust in my foolish ways in the Lord Jesus Christ. Would you not come to him this Christmas, this Christmas.
This Easter. Sorry. This Easter. Come to Christ. He's alive.
He's living. He invites you. I know my redeemer lives. Do you? He's the lord of life He's beaten death.
Your sin and guilt can be dealt with. All of the things that you try and cover up and hide, dealt with. Before the living all seeing God. Would you come to him? He holds out his hands to you this Easter.
He holds out his hands. Have a listen to this lovely song. It's from a friend of mine. I've known him for many years. He used to travel around with me.
When I traveled around the country. And he's written this lovely song fairly recently talking about Christ holding out his hands. And he holds his hands out to you. Would you respond to him? As he holds his hands out to you, let's have a listen to Andy.
And he does. He holds out his hands, pierced hands, dying for you and your sin, but resurrected hands to give you new life. Our redeemer lives. I wonder if you've taken his hand. And if not, why not?
And if not why not now? All you have to do is to say, you're the lord. You're the Savior. I need saving from death and my body, flesh, From the liar, I need saving. From sin.
And he holds his hands out. He says, I'm the Savior. I'm the good shepherd. I'll lead you through. Why not take him?
Take him at his word. There are millions and millions and millions and millions of people around the world. Quite literally millions and tens of millions that have held out their hand to the risen savior. Here's just a few from Cornerstone that are going to just say they believe in the resurrection. And then we're gonna see what you could do to hold out your hands.
If you're wanting to find out more, what's the next step you could do? You're saying I don't want to quite hold out my hand now, but I want to find out what I can do. Then Tom is going to tell us about a very short course, just 3 evenings that will be on Zoom that you could sign up for. And so let's hear from these people. Well, I'd like to invite all of you to come on that course.
3 very simple studies or looks at loneliness and death and what all of those things mean and what the Bible says, and our hope again in the Lord Jesus Christ. Do sign up or bring friends to that. It's it'd be really good. Don't be the fool that takes this no further. I'm gonna pray.
Father God, we thank you. We can call you Father, that you're not some just some power behind the universe, that you are family like, father like, a good father. We thank you that we can enter into that relationship with you as a child to a father because of what the Lord Jesus Christ has done. We thank you for his death and his resurrection. And we thank you because of that.
We can come to know you now as God, our Father. We thank you that the thing that was blocking us off from that family, our sin has been dealt with. We thank you the lies of Satan have been shut up because the truth of Jesus the savior is here. Help us listen to him we pray that we may know you as father. Father those who don't know you, Those have heard things, perhaps for the first time.
Perhaps in a way that is they've heard the truths before, but there is a sort of open, their inner ear. Would you be kind and woo them to yourself and show them the great redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, and how he holds out his hands to them, and says I am the good shepherd that laid my life down for the sheep and I will lead you through the valley of the shadow of death and you will fear no evil. Help them to see that we pray. That they may live. And so we ask you please for this simple service.
Would you bless it? And use it, and that many would come to know you, and think of other churches around the world, and in this country that are sharing this message bless that as well. Open people's eyes so that they may see that the lies of Satan are so ruinous and the truth of Jesus is so full of life. We pray this in Jesus' name, amen.