TRANSCRIPTION | Sunday, April 4, 2021 | Finding Jesus

Pastor Eric Gilbert

It is spring break for most of South Central Kentucky. And I know a lot of people are even already beginning to travel for spring break. Some of you probably have travel planned, or at least some special plans for your family. When it comes to spring break, about 10 years ago, our family had a fairly memorable one. My daughter was five, my son was three. And the way it works with me is anytime that we're going to travel, I'm all about trying to find the deal. Like I want the cheapest, best thing we can find. I think it's a little bit of my dad coming out of me like I want to, I want to be frugal. I want to prove that I'm a good steward. And so many times I will search for extended periods of time just trying to find that deal that's hiding out there somewhere. Ten years ago, we thought we'd found it. Got this incredible rate for almost an entire week at this highrise beachfront hotel. But when we pulled in, immediately we began to recognize that the pictures did not match the reality. Not only that, it was the spring break capital of Myrtle Beach. And here Mandy and I pull in with our three year old and our five year old and the party had already started. It was in the parking lot, and was working its way up the elevator. We got our room; it turned out it was on the top floor. And we're a little bit stressed out by what we're discovering about this place that we have chosen for our family. I'm sure Mandy had some choice words for my deal hunting on that particular occasion. We're trying to just get settled and get unpacked. We've been on the road 8-10 hours or more. I had gotten a speeding ticket. I was tired. I just wanted to rest. I wanted to chill out. I wanted to lick my wounds, but I have a three year old and a five year old that have never fully been exposed to the ocean. And they're super excited about what this week means for them. And all they can think about is we got to get to the water we got to get to the pool, we got to go build a sandcastle, and they're begging me and maybe let's go to the water, let's go to the ocean, let's go build a sandcastle. I'm like what do you do stop, please. Like, we just need to get settled. We need to get unpacked. Just let us rest for a few minutes, and then I promise you we will do that. But no daddy, please, let's go now. Daddy, we want to go. You promised we would go. Daddy you said if we would come here...that's why we're on the ocean for our daddy. Finally, I just out, of my frustration, was like if you want to go to the water go. Me and Mandy just keep unpacking, and I noticed they're not asking me anymore. And things have gotten extremely quiet and I poked my head into the other room with this little suite that we had, and...Mandy! They're not in here. I do notice that their luggage is open and there are some pivotal things missing, like beach blankets, floaties, little inner tubes, and sandcastle building kits. I'm slow but I'm worth waiting on. I realize they're gone. I hollar at Mandy, and I’m like Mandy they are gone. Like, they took me serious. Mandy, they have...Why did you say something like that to them?! What is wrong with you?! She gathers herself; we jump out into the hallway. I look to the left. I look to the right. We do not see them anywhere. We searched the entire floor. We're like invading people's parties. Like, have you seen a three year old, have you seen a five year old. Like, it's a brown had a little girl, it's a blonde hidden little boy. They're packing beach towels and sand castles. They’re by themself. They should probably stick out. Like do you see them? Nobody sees them. I don't know how it worked out this way; I took the elevator mainly took the stairs. Thank God, it was 16 floors. But I did stop at every floor on the way down. I'm catching people. I'm asking people like have you seen my kids? And finally, meaning I both get to the bottom floor and we intersect there, and she's not had any luck. I've not had any luck. I mean, chaos is starting to fill our hearts. Like, we're so confused. We're so worried. Like we don't know where to look next. We don't know where the right place to look would be. We don't know if they're stuck somewhere, or if somebody has taken them or if they're completely lost, and now we go and we search the indoor pool. They're not there. We've even got lifeguards trying to look under the water. We then go to the outdoor pool, they're not there. And all there is, is this massive party going on everywhere. And then I see it. Natalie's little five-year-old head poking along on the sand. And she has set up shop with her brother, and she's playing mother, and she's got the beach towel laid out and they are going to the ocean. It was a great relief in that moment. But I will never forget what I felt. I know Mandy will never forget what she felt in that moment of chaos. In that moment of they're supposed to be one place, but they're not there. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Have you ever lost something or someone that was of great value to you? You expected them to be in one place but they weren't there and you became worried, you became concerned, you became distraught. Everything around you felt like it was overwhelmed with chaos. In the book of Matthew chapter 28, there is a similar story that unfolds. There are a group of people that are extremely close to Jesus. They love him greatly. They value their relationship with him above everything else. However, he's not where he's supposed to be. We pick up the story with an angel talking to Mary Magdalene as she enters Jesus’ tomb. Matthew 28 verse 6, “And the angel said Jesus is not here for he is risen.” Mary Magdalene, she loved Jesus. She was coming to pay her respect. She was coming to honor his death. She's coming to spend some time and process everything that has happened over the last few hours. And she just wants his body to be where it's supposed to be. But when she gets there, it's not there. The reason she knows that is because upon arrival, she sees that the stone has been rolled away. The seal over that stone has been broken. And immediately, she recognizes something is wrong here. But evidently what goes through her mind initially is that someone has robbed the grave. She thinks that someone has showed up and stolen the body of Jesus. She's not for sure if the government has done it. She's not for sure if Pilate has ordered this, or the Pharisees are trying to get one last stab at the followers of Jesus, or even if it's just grave robbers who are trying to find something of value inside the tomb. All she knows is that Jesus is not in there. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Matthew 28 verse 6, “The angel said, Jesus is not here.” Jesus is not here. You know what that means for you and me? Jesus is not there. Could you just tell somebody that, Jesus is not there. I wonder if on this Easter morning, you have actually given full consideration to the fact that the tomb is empty. You see, Mary Magdalene, she had a very close relationship with Jesus. She was considered a follower of Jesus. Some would even say a female disciple of Jesus. And when she comes to check on him, and she realizes that the grave by her mind has been robbed, she's so freaked out that all she knows to do is take off running. And when she takes off running, she finds a group of other disciples who are gathering among them is a man by the name of Simon Peter, and another disciple by the name of John. And when they get this news that the grave of Jesus is robbed, Scripture says they now take off running, and they are running at full speed to try to get to the tomb to figure out what is going on. And the Bible even tells us that one of them outran the other. John arrives first. John seeing the tomb, the stone rolled away, it seems like that something has went on here. He just piers in. He realizes that the grave clothes of Jesus have been stripped off of his body and they are laying there. Evidently, he becomes paralyzed in his tracks. He cannot process what is happening here. He's just standing here trying to take it all in. Simon Peter has now caught up with him and forever the bold one pushes past him, runs directly down into the to and starts surveying the scene. He's yelling out, he's not in here! You mean he's not in there? No, the body's gone! Now, John finds the courage to come in himself. And the two of them, according to Scripture, begin to rationalize, wait a second, the grave clothes have not been stripped off the body as though a grave robber has taken the body. Instead, it almost looks like someone undressed here. It looks like intentionality was involved, that the grave clothes have been taken off in such a way that they have been placed neatly, even the cloth that would have been over Jesus's face. It has been folded up in napkin form, and it has been laid back down. Peter and John now are extremely confused, because according to verse nine of John chapter 20, they don't know what has happened. They don't understand. They are completely confused. And now they are walking out of the tomb. Can you imagine the bewilderment of that conversation? Who's got him? You think Pilates behind this? Are those Pharisees, are they up to this again? Like who do you think would have had the audacity to drop this grave? What are we gonna do about this? Can you imagine the conspiracies that are going to come? And they're having this conversation. Mary Magdalene is now over to herself because she has run and gotten them, she has followed them back to the tomb, and she is now by herself. And she is trying to process everything that is happening here. She's dealing with this chaos. And according to Scripture, she now finds the courage to just simply peek into the tomb. And when she looks into the tomb, she is bawling her eyes out. Scripture says she is weeping. That means she is crying profusely. She is broken from the inside out. But when she looked into that tomb, Scripture says she sees an angel. And the angel says to her, he is not here. And then he drops the bomb. He is risen. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

And this is where the story takes a profound turn. Because in the grave, she can't find him. He ain't in there. But Scripture says, then she turns her head, and there's a garden that's over here by the grave. And as she's looking in the garden, she sees a gardener. And the gardener strikes up a conversation with her. And then she recognizes, I know the voice of that man. That's, that's not a gardener. That's Jesus! Isn't it amazing that what she couldn't find in the grave, she could find in the garden. Almost like God was trying to make a point or something. Almost like 1000s of years prior, some guy named Adam and some gal named Eve messed up some stuff in a garden. And that they used to be able to walk with God in the garden, but then all of that was lost. But then Jesus, the first thing he does after he resurrected from the dead, says, I'm all hanging out here in this garden for a while until somebody really starts looking for me through the brokenness of their own flesh. And then I'm gonna drop the bomb that I have conquered death, hell, and the grave. It is not by accident that the first time the resurrected Lord was seen, was in the garden because God was trying to send a message to anybody that will hear it. I want to walk with mankind. I want to restore everything that was lost in the beginning. Just look at somebody and tell him he is risen. Like you, you can't miss that. When they are seeing Jesus they are, they're not having some delusional moment. They're not seeing some ghost. They are seeing a body, not in resuscitated form, in resurrected form. He has conquered death. He is victorious over hail and the grave. He is standing here fully alive. And Mary Magdalene is the first person to ever see the resurrected Jesus, and she had a conniption fit. She starts running around trying to find anybody that will listen, he is alive. He is risen. He got up. She starts declaring the good news. She's the first bearer of the Gospel. She's the first person to ever announce the time. The chronological timeline just got split. Something has happened that is going to totally revolutionize the world. And she's the first one. Isn't it intriguing, she was a former prostitute? Isn't it something that she's not the one any of us would have picked?

That God went to the bottom of the filth of the world and said that's the one I'll give my message to. So much happening here. He's not in there. Because he is risen. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

You know, Mary's the first one that seen the season. But then he starts revealing himself to other people. Two guys are taking a walk, and he just shows up beside him and strolls with them for a while. They finally realize, whoa, that's Jesus. And there's some other guys. They're gathered in the upper room, and they're just kind of chilling out and trying to make sense of all these rumors that are being spread and nobody knocks on the door, and the wall is fully together. And there he is just passed right into the room with them. Thomas said if I can touch your scars, I’ll believe it, well step right up. Thomas has a moment with the scars of Jesus and

his mind is blown that he's not in there because he's risen. Have you ever really processed the fact that he is risen. Jesus stayed with them according to Scripture for 40 days. That's important. 40 is the number in the Bible for testing and proving. Almost every number means something in Scripture if you study it out. In fact, God really likes numbers. He wrote an entire book about it. Numbers. The number 40, in Scripture, it literally means to test and approve. Anytime you see the number 40 shows up, God is testing or proving something. You may remember a guy by the name of Elijah there was a queen named Jesse bell. She was evil, the Land of Israel needed revival. The way that Elijah addressed it is he fasted for 40 days believing for that revival. Moses. He's leading the Hebrew people out of Egyptian bondage. They've wound up in the wilderness, they need the command of God so that they can test it and prove the will of God. He's on Mount Sinai for 40 days receiving the 10 commandments. Noah and his flood, it rained for 40 days, the Hebrew spies when into the promised land, to scout the land. They were there for 40 days. Goliath showed up to test the armies of Israel, and to prove the bravery and the courage of David. He was there for 40 days blaspheming God. Jonah preached to Nineveh that they should repent and be saved. He told him you have 40 days. Jesus gets ready to start his ministry. He goes out into the wilderness and he is tested by the devil that he can prove the Spirit of God is on his life. He is there for 40 days. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Then Jesus ends His earthly ministry, having resurrected from the dead by hanging out with his disciples and his followers for 40 days. He was allowing his resurrection to be tested and to be proved. And the reason that he was doing that is because he knew he was dealing with a bunch of cowards. The moment he was being crucified, they took off running, said they didn't even know him. Simon Peter, he'll cut somebody’s ear off if you get him in the right mood, but a little girl can walk up to him and say, do you know Jesus while Jesus is getting nailed to a cross. No, I never met that dude, don't know anything about him. But after hanging out with the resurrected Jesus, everything starts changing. Like after they have encountered a resurrected version of Jesus. Now they are willing to go and stand before the elite of the world and say, I will not deny Jesus Christ. They'll say to him, would you just at least stop preaching in his name. And they say that is the one thing that's non negotiable for us. They say to him, we're gonna behead you, we're gonna crucify you upside down, we're gonna put you in prison, we're gonna feed you to the lions, we're gonna feed you to the bears, we're going to burn you. And they just keep saying I will not deny Jesus Christ. Sounds to me, like a bunch of men and women who had seen something that coincidence could not explain. Encountering a resurrected Jesus changed everything about them. And now the Roman Empire doesn't even know what to do with them.

He's not in there, because he is risen. In that fact, revolutionize the world. Because it's one thing to know a crucified Lord. And thank God for Friday, and thank God for the cross, but everything goes to the next level when you meet the resurrected Lord. Because it's one thing to see him on Friday being like a lamb led to the slaughter and being bled out for sin, and taking the wrath of God for all of our failures, and for all of our shortcomings and the thorns on his head and the nails in his hands and the nails in his feet, and the beard plucked from his face, all of that is on Friday. And it would make for an incredible story, even if that were where it ends, but we cannot miss the fact when they put him in the tomb, and they showed up simply to visit the body. They discover, wait a second, he's not in there because he is risen! He’s risen! The tomb is empty. But now here's what we miss. There's so many people that seem to think well wait a second I just don't understand why God would be a God of judgment. And I don't understand why God expects me to make my decision now; I got a lot of living to do. I got a lot of fun I still want to have. I still want to treat my life like an amusement park instead of a temple, and we miss the fact, he's not in there because he has risen. And if he is risen, that means he sees what every single one of us are doing with his cross. We forget that. We forget that the book of Revelation tells us that at the end of the world, the one that will be on the throne is the Son of God, Jesus. And he will judge the whole world as to what they have done, or not done with his cross. And to experience his cross, all you have to do is simply pray. Believe in your heart that that cross in that blood was for you, and then be willing to confess it to the whole world. And the cross is yours. And you say, that's all it takes. But for whatever reason, we trample the blood under our feet. We refuse to allow the cross to become the bridge that it was intended to be from hell to heaven. We don't want to acknowledge the fact that tomorrow is promised to no man, and we just keep ignoring the cross. And we forget the fact that if we would accept the cross, we would discover the resurrected Jesus. And we would come to learn that it's not just a get out of hell free card, but it is an opportunity that because he is not in there, and because he is risen, he can now be in me, for he said it by his own word, Romans 8:11, “That the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead can now dwell on the inside of me and you.” You do not have to live life powerless. You do not have to live life under the bondage of an addiction. You do not have to live life with the devil always picking on you, and stealing from you, and trying to kill your spiritual existence so he can destroy everything you get close to, you can come to know our resurrected Lord. And whatever you bind on earth can be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on our earth can be loosed in heaven, not because of you but because of the power that is in his name. And it's because of his name that we come to learn every knee will bow, every tongue will confess, and every demon will flee. Why? Because he's already took a stroll through hell and proved he wins. He wins! He wins! he wins. He wins! Because he is risen! I need somebody that believes he is risen. He is risen. He is risen. 

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

I want you to stand with me to your feet all over this room, and I want you to look somebody right in the eye and tell him he is risen. He is risen. You can experience the risen Lord, if you will accept the cross of our Lord. And when you experience the risen Lord, you come to discover there's a lot of stuff you've been putting up with you don't got to put up with anymore. Because you don't speak to a devil by your own authority. You speak to it in the name of the resurrected Lord. The resurrected Lord. And Revelation 19 paints a picture of the resurrected Lord. He lets us know he's still in bodily form. Oh, but his eyes are like fire. And he wears a vesture that's dipped in blood. And out of his mouth proceeds a sharp two edged sword, and upon his thigh it decrease Lord of lords and King of kings. I have read the back of the book, and I came to let somebody know we win. We win. The book of Acts, the epistles of Paul, detail a persecuted church and yet prisons couldn't snuff it out. The coliseums in Rome with their gladiators, their lions, their bears, their fire, and their water, nothing could get rid of the Church of Jesus Christ.

Why? Because greater is He that is in us than he that's within the world. Because anybody that saved your story goes like this. When you point at the borrowed tomb of Joseph of Arimathae, you can say he ain't in there. Awww, but he is in me. I'm telling you, I feel like preaching on an Easter Sunday morning. I feel like letting somebody know, he ain't in there, but he can be in you. 


 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

Have you ever really invited the Spirit of Christ to get on the inside of your life and take authority and take dominion. I'm not talking about going through some religious motion of pitching your little hand up in the air and praying some repeat-after-me prayer, just so you can feel better in your conscience. I'm talking about actually believing it for once. There's a difference. You can pray the prayer, you can repeat after somebody and you can throw your hand in the air, but you got to believe it. And when you, and when you believe it, that Jesus that ain't in there, gets in you. And folks don't even recognize certain aspects of you anymore. Because the stuff that used to tell you what to do, you now tell it what to do. Because old stuff passes away and everything becomes new, and bitterness don't own you anymore, and offense doesn't own you anymore, and lust doesn't tell you how you're gonna spend your weekends anymore. Why? Because you got the resurrected power of Jesus Christ down on the inside of you. I need somebody to get saved and know it on a Sunday morning. Anybody's saved and you know it? Come on, let you praise show it for just a minute. Come on Jaron, sing it, resurrected power. Come on!

 

Pastor Eric Gilbert

If you need that relationship with Jesus, I would challenge you right there where you're at, to throw your hands up in the air. And I know, I know, you may be used to something that's a little more solemn and something a little more reserved, and there's a time and a place for that, and we definitely want reverential awe for Jesus, especially when salvation is at hand. But I believe there's something to celebrate today, because he is risen. And if you don't have that relationship with Jesus, you ought to just lift your hands in praise. Lift your hands in worship. Admit that you're a sinner. Confess that there's stuff you need God to fix. Welcome his blood into your life and celebrate the fact that you're going to leave this building with the resurrection power in the name of Jesus. Maybe you need to rededicate your life. Maybe you need to go all in with God. You're welcome to pray there at your seat in your own way. You're welcome to get out of your seat, come down, bow at an altar, and pray to God that way. But however you want to go after the Lord, you need to pray that prayer and mean it. And you talk to God like you talk to your very best friend. Just lay it all out on the line and let Jesus know you need the Lord, to step into your life and take authority over everything the enemy has come to steal, to kill, and to destroy. So all across this room, we're going to worship the Lord. We're going to glorify the Lord and we're going to celebrate in the name of Jesus, resurrection power. So if you want to pray your seat, pray there. You want to come to an altar, pray in an altar, but we're going to sing it and we're going to declare it. Come on, it's Easter Sunday morning. Let's hear it Russell Springs, to the Lord we say!