Easter Sunday

"The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!"
Mark 1:15

Scripture References & Transcript

Luke 34:33-34

Ephesians 2:1-7

Mark 1:15


Man, we are so glad that you are here. Now, I know on Easter Sunday, we get people from all over the place. So we have people that this is your church home and you come every single week. And then some people that you, you come occasionally, and then some of you that you’ve never been here before. You’re here for the very first time. And some of you, you got drug here by a family member or a neighbor or a friend. And maybe even in this moment, you are regretting the fact that you were here. Uh, but here’s what I want you to know, that we are so, so glad that you are here. And on behalf of Cherry Hills Community Church, we love you. We’re grateful that you’re here, and we believe that God has something special in store for you. Let’s pray together. Heavenly Father, thank you for today.

Thank you for the privilege to come on this Easter Sunday to celebrate that Jesus is alive. And we pray that the truth of that will be real in each and every one of our lives, in our hearts. God, if we could just grasp and understand how the resurrection changes everything, and so our prayers that through the power of your Holy Spirit, you would speak to each and every one of us. You speak, Lord, help me get out of the way, is the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen. Have you ever gotten big news before? I mean news that just stopped you in your tracks and you had a hard time wrestling with it and understanding it. The way that news travels today is very different than the way that news traveled a few thousand years ago, that for a long time in human history, the only way that news traveled was by word of mouth, that people would actually bring a messenger from one place to the next.

And then eventually news started traveling by written word. They would, they would send a message. Well, in our country, for most of our country’s history, the way that the news spread was through the newspaper. Now, for some of you in the room that are younger, uh, this is hard to believe, but they used to print a piece of paper and put it on your doorstep every morning, and it was called a newspaper. Now, if something big or grand happened, every single one of us would get it instantaneously on our phone. You wouldn’t have to wait any amount of time. But imagine not too long ago in the past when if something today happened that was huge, monumental that you wouldn’t learn about it until the morning. And the way that you would learn about it is by walking out and picking up a newspaper and seeing that headline.

In the history of our country, there have been a handful of really famous headlines. One was in 1941, and it was a declaration by our country that we were going into war. That up until that point, that World War II was just something that was happening over in Europe. It was their problem, not our problem. We were observing and we were watching, but all of a sudden, the war had come here, we had been bombed. And as a result of that, that we were entering into the world one, can you just imagine, can you imagine picking up that newspaper and the shock, the suddenness, the weight of what that would mean? And then just a few years later, imagine picking up this newspaper and it says, the war is over now. Or a different famous newspaper. Put it this way, they said, peace. It’s over.

I mean, just imagine that, that you wake up and you pick up a newspaper. Can you imagine how you’re running around and say, guess what? Look, look what it says. I mean, a world war affected everybody that you knew, loved ones who died, who had sacrifice. And now you’re reading this newspaper and you’re saying, wow, life is about to change. Maybe you’ve had personal news that way. Maybe you’ve had personal news that changed your life, that was bad news, that all of a sudden you found out that someone you loved died. Maybe it was a phone call. Maybe it was a text. And maybe for you as a diagnosis, all of a sudden your world got shook, got turned upside down. On the flip side, maybe you’ve had those moments where you’ve had good news, where you find out those words from a doctor, you are in the clear, it’s gone.

Or maybe if you’re like me, you remember that moment where your spouse says, we’re pregnant. That’s good news. That is going to change everything. You see, here’s the thing about news, is that some news does in fact change everything. And that’s what Easter is all about. The the good news of the gospel, it changed the whole world. In Luke chapter 24, uh, there’s a story where two of the followers of Jesus that they’re walking down the road to ama now, now you need to understand a little bit of background because what has just happened in the previous chapter is that Jesus dies on the cross. Jesus does. So imagine if you are a follower of Jesus and your anticipation as you see the where this thing is going, you’re thinking, Jesus is gonna take over Rome, he’s gonna take over the world. He’s gonna be king over everything.

And then you, as a follower of Jesus, watch as he’s crucified on a cross and dies. Just imagine that news that as it spreads that, hey, the movement is over. Jesus is dead. All hope is gone. But then there starts to be this rumor going around town that, well, no, Jesus is alive. And so these two followers, they, they’re on the road to amaze, and all of a sudden this stranger appears and starts having a conversation with him, and they have a conversation all day. And Jesus intentionally doesn’t reveal his identity to him, which is something that’s kinda weird that we don’t fully understand. Uh, but then at the very end, Jesus reveals himself to him, and then boop, Jesus disappears. And so now they’ve experienced a risen Jesus. And this is what it says. It says, they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem, and they found the 11th talking about the 11 disciples and those who were with them gathered together saying, the Lord has risen indeed and has appeared to Simon.

Just imagine the excitement that they’re, they’re bursting into the room. They’re saying, guess what guys? Hey, the rumors are true. That the Lord has risen. He has risen indeed news that would change everything in the history of the church. There’s a phrase that all around the world today that pastors are getting up in front of congregations and they’ll say the phrase he has risen. And congregations all around the world will respond with the phrase he has risen indeed. So let’s try that right now together, he has risen. He is risen. He is risen. He is risen. So this morning, as we go through the message, you be on your toes. Because anytime I use that phrase, be ready with the response.

Why is Easter such good news? Well, why does it change everything? Well, in order to really understand the good news of the gospel, the good new news of Jesus, first we really have to unpack and understand the bad news. Paul, who wrotes a big chunk of the New Testament in Ephesians, he’s writing a letter, uh, to the Church of Ephesus. And in chapter two, verse one, this is what Paul writes, he says, and you that you is talking about you and me and all of us. It’s talking about the whole world. He’s saying, and you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air. Now, now pause for a second. ’cause he’s dealing with a subject matter that, that really, in the history of the world, everybody just believed to be true.

But now, in kinda an age of skepticism, most people don’t think that’s true. That this idea that there is a God and that there also is a devil, that there is this spiritual realm that is real, that is true. And biblically what we know in that narrative is that Satan wants to steal, to kill and to destroy. And so just as real as your flesh and blood is this spiritual world that exists around us, uh, where Satan is trying to get us to, to stay away from God’s plan that he has for our life. And so it’s painting this pretty grim picture that we’re dead, that we’re sinners, that Satan is, is trying to oppress us. That the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience, among whom we all once lived, and the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature, children of wrath like the rest of mankind.

Now, that part is a little bit easier to believe why children of wrath look around the world right now. And what do you see? You see war. You see pain, you see wrath. And do you know that if you look at any moment in human history, you’ll find the exact same thing. Pick any time, anytime in human history, and you will find that there were people at war, there was killing, there was wrath. And so here’s the bad news that Paul has set up for us, and that is that each and every one of us are born into this life spiritually dead away from God, apart from him saying that we are the result of the kingdom of this world, Satan’s kingdom that is full of wrath and pain and suffering. But here’s the good news, but God being rich in mercy because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ by grace.

You have been saved and raised up with him and seeded us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. So that in the coming ages, he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace and kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. So, so Paul’s painting this picture, he’s saying, there’s bad news. You’re dead. You’re in a world filled with wrath. And it’s because of people like you, like me, that we are children of disobedience, but because we were incapable of saving ourselves, but God being rich in mercy and grace and love steps down out of heaven. And just as Jesus is raised from the dead that we celebrate on Easter Sunday, he, he’s saying in the same way that we can be raised from the dead when we put our faith and our trust into him. I think one of the challenges in our culture is that it’s easy to look at the rest of the world and say, okay, I see war and destruction and pain and suffering.

Uh, but in, in our world, in our culture, uh, we tend to kinda hide those things. It’s more behind the scenes. About 10 years ago-ish is when social media became kind of mainstream. And, and what is social media know for that? We put forth the best versions of ourself that probably your family’s gonna take a picture today for Easter. But you won’t just take one picture, you’ll take 15 pictures, and then you’ll swipe through those pictures, and then you’ll find the best one that in one of those photos, parts of you is gonna look smaller and parts of you’re gonna look bigger, and you’re gonna find the one that you think is perfect, and that’s the one that you’re gonna post for the world to see. And it’s gonna be full of smiling and laughter and happiness. And that’s, that’s what we tend to do. Uh, but, but I would say what’s happened in the last year is making social media so much more dangerous, that we hear a lot about artificial inte, inte intelligence, ai. We’re the long-term ramifications of what AI is gonna do, but we already see it. We see it on social media every single day. And I’ll, I’ll give you an example. This is a picture of my face,


It’s unedited. It’s exactly what I look like the other day up in my office. But with the touch of an AI app, even though I’m not smiling in this picture, I, I can press a button and then all of a sudden, boom, there’s a smile right there. Those are not my teeth at all, but they look fantastic. <laugh>. Here’s what’s crazy about what AI does, is it doesn’t just change down here. It even changed like my whole face. My eyes look like I am smiling. And you can do a lot of funny and fun things with ai. I I can at the snap of a button say, what would I look like if I had no hair? And boom, that, that’s it right there, <laugh>. Hoping, hoping that is not my future. But you never know. Uh, I, I can at the touch of a button and say, what would happen if I gained a little bit of weight in my face? And boom, that’s it right there. I I could say, what am I gonna look like 30 years from now? And AI can tell me that that is it. That is a sweet beard, by the way, <laugh>.

But I can also look at AI and say, well, I, what are the things I don’t like about myself? I like, what, what if, what if I wanted to see what I look like with cool, long flowing hair and, and that is it right there? Or what if, okay, I don’t want you to stumble, like I want a cool hipster beard, then I can just add a hipster beard. That, by the way, was the title in the AI app was hipster beard. So that is in fact what it is. And that with ai, literally every single thing you don’t like about yourself, you can change at the touch of a button, you can make your nose bigger or smaller. You can remove that pimple that you’ve got. You can take away every wrinkle that is on your face. You can make your limps more plump or less plump. You can change your hair color. I mean, literally everything about your face, you can change. So if I wanted to, I could look like a Hollywood movie star that’s hanging out on my yacht just like this, and I could post that picture and, and I could pretend that that is real, but it’s not, is it? Because the reality is I don’t look like that. I look like this


Which is very different. You see that the temptation in the world and that in which we live is to put forth this face that everything is great and everything is wonderful and everything is awesome. And yet, here’s what studies will show that that’s just not true. That Gen Z and behind Gen Z, the next generation after that is Gen A doesn’t seem very, uh, original to me, but that’s what they’re calling ’em, gen Z and Gen A. Do you know that studies have found that Gen Z and Gen A are the loneliest generation in the history of the studies on loneliness? We’ve never had a generation coming up as lonely as the one that is coming up right now. Why do you think that? Maybe it’s because they look at a world around them that is completely fake and they can’t live up to that standard.

But the same is true for the rest of our country. You know, that life satisfaction right now in our country is at an all time low since they started doing that study. Uh, there’s a global report that they put out every single year that looks at every country, and they, they have a happiness index, and they, they grade countries of overall life satisfaction and happiness. And since they created that study every year, guess which direction the United States of America has gone down? And it just came out like a week ago. We dropped down another six spots down, down on the surface. It looks great, it looks awesome, but it’s fake, isn’t it? There’s still something that’s missing. I’ve got two sets of flowers with me, and this set of flowers is perfect. I know it’s perfect because it has no blemishes whatsoever. I also don’t have to water this set of flowers because this set of flowers is fake.

It’s not real. Now, on the surface, it looks great. They, they look perfect. Like you can look up close. There’s no dead spot. There’s no blemish. If I put this set of flowers right here on the stage, and I left it there for 10 years, it might collect some dust, but it won’t die. It’s gonna look the exact same as it does right now. But meanwhile, here’s some real flowers. And if you look closely like I am up close, you can see all kinds of spots, all kinds of imperfections that exist inside the flowers to maintain real flowers. It takes a lot of work, it takes a lot of energy, it takes a lot of effort. It’s easier to just go with this. But you wanna know the biggest difference between real and fake, that if I plant these flowers into the ground, are never gonna grow.

They’re never going to multiply. Why? Because at the end of the day, these are dead. These flowers, even though they have imperfections, they’re alive, which means that they can be planted and they can grow, and they do have hope, and they can multiply. And this is the picture of Easter. And so Jesus steps into a broken world, a fake world, a dead world, and says with me, I bring life. That’s what Jesus means. In Mark chapter one, verse 15, it’s Jesus talking. He says, the time has come. The kingdom of God has come near now, now, over and over and over again in Jesus’ teaching, he talks about the kingdom of God. And it’s this idea. He’s saying that, okay, you live in a world that is full of brokenness and wrath and destruction, said, but I’m bringing my kingdom into the world that will push back against the darkness. And what does that mean? How do we experience the kingdom of God? We do it by repenting. Uh, we’ll unpack that word here in a second. But we repent and we believe the good news, the good news, that Jesus is alive, that Jesus was real, that he really did die the cross. He really did raise from dead. That that 2000 years later, we can gather together and we can declare that he has risen.

That that is what we believe. Now, that word repent in Greek is the word meteo. Uh, now typically in church, we, we think of repent, and we think of turning and going a different direction, which is true. Uh, but repent in Greek meteo, uh, means something a little bit more meaningful than that. The liberal definition of meteo is to change one’s mind. Uh, Paul, in the book of Romans chapter 12, he unpacks this understanding. He says, uh, be transformed by the renewal of your mind. So it’s not just a changing of direction, it’s a complete transformation of how I think of who I am, of what direction that I’m going. And so when Jesus presents to us his kingdom, uh, when he says, believe in my kingdom, fall after me, I’m ushering in a new kingdom, he’s bringing a total transformation of who we are, of how we live, of how we think, of what we believe.

That’s not just a, oh, okay, I’m gonna go to church. I’m gonna check a few boxes. No, Jesus is saying, you’re putting your faith and your trust and you’re surrendering to me. But that’s hard. It’s hard because we tend to think, well, I don’t need the complete transformation. I I can just do subtle little things, and I’ll be totally fine. CS Lewis wrote an essay called The Screw Tape Letters. And in the essay, he writes from the position of an older demon that’s giving advice to a younger demon. This is what he says. You say that these very small sins and doubtless like all young tempts, you are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness. But do remember the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from God. It does not matter how small the sins are provided, that their cumulative effect is to keep the man away from the light.

Murder is no better than cards. If cards can do the trick, indeed, the safest road to hell is the gradual one, the gentle slope, soft underfoot without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts. You see, here’s the lie that exists in our culture, especially in a culture that is so obsessed with being fake all the time, is that we can falsely convince ourselves that, that, Hey, I don’t need help. I’m good. Like right now, you can probably name 10 people that are worse than you pretty easily, probably. You can name family members that are worse than you, some of which you will see today. And you say, well, yeah, I, I’m not as bad as them. I, I’m sure I might not be perfect, but I’m not nearly as as crummy of a person as they are. And, and you defend yourself. You say, well, I’ve never murdered somebody.

I mean, I’m not that bad. And so we can believe this lie that, well, no, I’m doing okay just by my self. But it’s a lie from Satan trying to get us just off track enough that we miss the life transformation that God wants us to experience to the life-saving power of Jesus in this resurrection. In 1822, uh, there was a German painter that painted this, uh, the, the title of it is D, which is German that I totally butchered the pronunciation of. Uh, but it means simply the chess player. Uh, later on, it came to be known as a Satan playing chess for a man’s soul. Uh, and then eventually people just called it checkin because the idea of the painting is that this guy over here represents the devil. He has a, a red rooster’s feather in his cap, which in 1822 represented cunning and conniving and evil.

And so you can kind of see this grin that he’s got on his face, because if you know anything about chess, you look at the chessboard and he’s dominating this poor person that you look even at the detail of his chest pieces. And they’re, they’re gnarled and they look evil, and they’re slowly surrounding his pieces. And even to further paint the picture, there’s a spider that is right here that is slowly creeping up on the man’s hand. And so for a long time, the interpretation of the painting was this idea that the devil is playing for his soul, and he’s about to win, that he has this poor, poor young man and checkmate they’re gonna lose their soul. The game of chess is a fascinating game. It’s been around almost 1500 years. It’s one of the oldest games that we know about currently played by almost a billion people in the world today.

700 million plus people play chess. If you study chess at all, uh, the most famous chess player of all time, by most people’s estimation, is a guy named Paul Charles Morphy. Paul Charles Morphy was born in 1837. Not long after this painting was made. He grew up in New Orleans. When he was nine years old, he became the best player in all of New Orleans. There was nobody in New Orleans that could beat him. He was so good that a professional chess player came to New Orleans and they said, I want a really good game. Bring me the best player in all of New Orleans. And they brought him the 9-year-old Paul Charles Morphy, the chess player said, are you kidding with me? Why did you bring a 9-year-old? This is insulting to me. And they said, well, no, he’s the best that we’ve got. They played two games.

Paul Troll Morphy won the first game, and then he won the second game in six moves as a 9-year-old. When he was 12 years old, he beat the Hungarian chess champion, who was over on the United States of America tour, and he was the only one that beat him. Uh, throughout his teens. He beat everybody in the United States. There was nobody in the United States that could come close to competing with Paul Morphy. At the age of 21, he goes over to Europe, they set up chess games with professionals all across Europe. His most famous game is that he played eight European chess champions simultaneously all at the same time. Now, if that wasn’t cool enough already, he played them blindfolded so he couldn’t see the boards. He had to memorize what was happening in his head. And of the eight games he won six of them. And the two that he didn’t win were draws.

He didn’t lose any. And I, I have a hard time in my mind trying to play one game of chess without looking at the board. I can’t imagine playing eight. And they said that the games lasted 10 hours. The brilliance required to be able to do that. It is just something that I cannot comprehend a little bit. After he was 21, he was back in the United States, he was at a friend’s house, a friend who had a whole bunch of people over at his house, and all of them tended to be chess players. And he was showing Paul Morphy this picture. He had a print that was hung up, and he was describing it to Paul Morphy. And he said, this picture represents that the man is in Checkmate and he’s going to lose his soul. There’s nothing he can do about it. And Paul Morphy starts to look at the chess board and he says, do you happen to have a chess board that we could set up to mimic this game?

And the man says, well, of course I do. And so he gets out a chess board, uh, just like this one, and they set it up to the side, and Paul Morphy looks at it and he ponders. And then this is multiple different articles from around the same time, the Columbia Chess Chronicle in 1888. And then this is directly from the American Chess Magazine of 1898, written by Robert Mumford. This is what it says, that Paul Morphy looks at it, and he exclaims this. I think that I can take the young man’s game and win. Why Impossible was the answer. Not even you. Mr. Morphy can retrieve that game. Yet, I think I can said Morphy. Suppose we placed them in and try. A board was arranged, and the rest of the company gathered around it deeply interested in the result. To the surprise of everyone, victory was snatched from the devil.

And the young man saved thinking that a blunder must have led to this unexpected result, one after another. Did each sober serious gentleman say the devil’s part? And to each, in turn, did Mr. Morphy prove that not even on intellectual grounds, could the enemy be defended for morphy, beat them one. And all the idea was that Satan had won. And you can’t win that game. It is checkmate. And can I tell you that that’s what Good Friday looked like too? On Good Friday, between the disciples, between everybody, they looked and they said, it is hopeless. It’s checkmate. The devil has won.

But on the third day, Jesus showed that it wasn’t Checkmate and Chester, there’s a phrase that says the king has won more move. And that’s what we saw. We saw that Jesus turned the table around and conquered Satan. Now, I like chess. I would say I’m decent in chess. I was on the fifth grade chess team. If I do not say so myself. But I can tell you, looking at the border right now, if anybody with any moderate amount of skill set across from me and took the devil’s seat, and I tried to play from the young man’s hand, can I just tell you, I would lose every single time? Like, like from my seat right now, this looks hopeless. I, I don’t know what moves you could make to win, but if Paul Morphy took my seat, if I were to surrender my position and say, Hey, I can’t do it.

Why don’t you do it for me? That he could win? And I bet he could beat every single one of us. The story of Easter is that we were all in Checkmate. And maybe you feel that right now as you’ve walked into this room, that, that you feel like your life is in shatters, that it has fallen apart. Like there is a spider that is creeping on the table right towards your hand, and you don’t know what to do. The story of Easter is Jesus saying, Hey, I died on the cross for your sins that you were dead, but I can make you back to life. But in order for that to happen, what do we have to do? We have to have the same posture. We have to get up from the seat and say, Jesus, take over Jesus. Take control. Jesus. It is yours.

And the glory of Easter is that in a moment, things that were dead came back to life. Sorrow, grief was transformed into peace and into joy. That brokenness was made whole. And in your life, there is nothing too broken that Jesus cannot make whole. There is nothing in your life that can keep you away from the love that God has for you. But you gotta be willing to get up from the seat. You gotta be willing to surrender. You gotta be willing to repent, transform your mind. The vision of Easter is what was dead and can be brought back to life. In a moment, I’m gonna pray, and then after I pray, we’re gonna finish with a closing song. But after that song, here’s my challenge to you is if, if you’re in this room and you don’t know Jesus, you’ve never had that moment where you repented you, you stepped away from the table and you said, Jesus, take the seat, take control.

Then as soon as we’re done, there’s a few ways that you can respond. One is back to my left. To your right is a place called Trailhead. Uh, we have people back there that would love to talk to you about what it means to be a Christian. Just walk up and say, Hey, hey, I want to know more about Jesus. Or if that’s too busy. Uh, we have tents that you probably saw in the parking lot on your way in. There’s a pastor at each one of our tents that on your way out, if you walk up to one of those tents and say, Hey, I wanna talk to a pastor. I wanna know more about Jesus. We’d love to have the conversation with you there. Maybe you’re here and you just need prayer. Maybe you are Christian. And you’d say, I just need someone to pray for me.

I feel that weight. I feel like I’m in check making. Can someone just pray for my life? We’d love to pray with you for anything that you’ve got going on at Trailhead or at any one of those tents. And then lastly, if you’re here and you’re brand new, we would love to give you a gift of our appreciation for you being here. We’d also love to answer any questions that you might have. If you’re new, stop at Trailhead. Stop at one of those 10. Say I’m new. We’d love to connect with you, help you learn all about the life of our church. Thank you so much for being with us this Easter. We gather together because of this truth. He has risen. He is heavenly Father. We are so grateful to worship. You help the truth of the Easter story to be real in our lives, that Jesus was dead and now he’s alive. And then the same way, the bad news of this world is that we are born dead, spiritually dead, but we can be made alive, raised to life with Christ. When we have that transformation, when we believe in you, help that truth of Easter to be true in our lives. Today is the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.