Welcome to Easter at Connect. My name is Mike Edmisten. I have the privilege of being the pastor of this amazing church. And I’m so glad that you’ve joined us for Easter this year.
Did our band not KILL that Kelly Clarkson song? Dang! I just want to tell you something…our girls can sing!
If you’ve been around Connect for any length of time, you’ve heard me brag on our band. And today is no different. I am incredibly and unapologetically biased, but I just happen to think that we have the best band you’ll hear on any stage anywhere. Not only do they lead us in incredible worship every week, they have done everything from Van Halen to Evanescence to Foo Fighters. And there’s a rumor floating around that we might even have some country coming our way in a future series. And I’m pumped about that!
The minute I thought about the bridge of that Kelly Clarkson song, I knew our band had to roll it out today in our Easter service. Think about these words from that song.
“Buildings with a hundred floors
Swinging around revolving doors
Maybe I don’t know where they’ll take me but
Gotta keep moving on,
Fly away, breakaway”
How many times does it feel like we get stuck in a revolving door? We just keep getting into the same cycles in our life over and over and over again. Our past keeps repeating itself over and over and over again.
We are often trapped in the pain of what happened to us in the past, and it never lets us go. We are imprisoned by something that we did in the past, and the guilt from that decision still haunts us. It always seems to reel us back in. It keeps us trapped in a completely self-defeating cycle. It’s a revolving door.
I’ve got good news for you. Today can be the day where you step out of that revolving door. Where you move on. Where you fly away. Where you really do breakaway from the pain and the disappointment and the hurt of your past.
And it all hinges on a guy named Jesus. I realize you’re probably not surprised to hear me say that. You come to church on Easter, you expect to hear about Jesus. It’s kind of how it works.
But here’s the deal…we talk about Jesus EVERY week here at Connect. In fact, the very first core value of our church is it’s all about Jesus. It’s not all about Jesus just on Easter. It’s all about Jesus all the time here at Connect.
And the reason is simple…Jesus is our only hope. If we really want to be set free from our past, if we really want to breakaway from what has been done to us or who we used to be, Jesus is the only way.
I know that’s not exactly politically correct. It’s not PC to say that Jesus is the “only” way. But politically correct or not, here’s the truth. No one else ever offered to die for your sins. And no one else came back to life three days later.
So if I have to choose who to listen to, I’m going to listen to the guy who was dead but now is alive again. That just makes sense to me. If there’s a guy who used to be dead but now is not dead anymore, he has my attention. I’m going to listen to him. That’s the guy that I choose to follow.
And what we’re going to see today is that’s the guy that can set us from the wounds of our past.
This series is called Wounds, and it’s centered around a Scripture that the prophet Isaiah wrote in the Old Testament in the Bible. Isaiah lived about 700 years before the birth of Christ, but his writings contain amazing prophecies about Jesus, prophecies that Jesus fulfilled to the letter. And this series is centered around one of those prophecies.
In Isaiah 53, here’s what Isaiah prophesied about what Jesus would do. “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:4-5, NIV)
We are healed by Jesus’ wounds. Jesus died on a cross, for our sin. He died in our place, to pay the price for our sin. He took the punishment for our sin, and we are forgiven and free. That’s what Isaiah meant when he wrote, “by his wounds we are healed.”
His wounds are the only way that we can be healed of our past.
There are two parts of our past that often keep us trapped. A lot of times, these wounds never seem to heal. Time might dull the pain somewhat, but so often the wound never really heals.
The two parts of my past that can constantly haunt me are:
- What I have done
- What was done to me
But the truth that was see in what Isaiah wrote is that, on the cross, Jesus dealt with them both.
First of all, let’s deal with the first wound from my past. The wound that centers around what I have done.
Have you ever seen pictures of people holding signs telling everyone about a crime that they’ve committed? Every once in a while, a judge will decide to get creative with their punishment for a certain crime, and they’ll make a person stand out in public holding a sign.
Kind of like this.
Now, I’ve really never made this a secret. I don’t like Wal-Mart. I REALLY don’t like Wal-Mart. But somehow, I always seem to wind up there.
In fact, my wife, Nicki, and I got out of town for a couple of days this week. And on our getaway, we ended up in three different Wal-Marts in the span of just two days. Even on a romantic getaway with my wife, I can’t get away from this place!
But I really don’t like this place. If you ever run into me at Wal-Mart, you can just assume that I’m in a bad mood. In fact, you might not even want to talk to me if you see me at Wal-Mart because of my mood. But trust me…it’s not you. It’s Wal-Mart.
I don’t like Wal-Mart, but I’ve never stolen from Wal-Mart. I’ve tried to take my business elsewhere, but I’ve never taken anything from Wal-Mart. Apparently this person did. And this was their punishment.
And then there’s this guy. I know that’s sign might be hard to read. It says, “I am a bully. I pick on children that are disabled.”
Personally, if that’s really true, I think he got off easy wearing that sign. There’s a part of me that would like for him to remove that sign so I could personally go and wear him out. If that’s not infuriating, then I don’t know what is.
And then there’s this one. Now, maybe it’s because I don’t often eat at super nice, upscale restaurants, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen a fork at a restaurant where I thought, “I just have to have it!”
But apparently this dude did. Apparently he made a habit of taking forks from restaurants. And this was his punishment.
Sometimes when you see these things, you might think, “Right on! Get ‘em, judge!” And other times, you might think, “That’s kind of ridiculous.”
And there is a whole debate on whether judges should even be able to hand out these kinds of punishments, because the whole point is shame. The idea is that, by forcing people to wear these signs, they will be shamed into different, and better, behavior.
The problem is that shame rarely works that way. Shame doesn’t set us free to change and grow and become better. Shame keeps us trapped in the past.
And a lot of us know that really, really well, because shame and guilt and regret is our neighborhood. That’s where we live.
A lot of us feel like we’re walking through life with signs hanging on us. Maybe not a sign that says, “I stole from Wal-Mart,” but a lot of us feel like we walk through life everyday with signs that say things like: liar, gossip, abortion, betrayer, addict, adulterer, pornography, etc.
Whatever your sign is, it’s so easy to feel like you have that sign on everywhere you go. It’s where you live. In fact, it’s who you are.
Here’s the beautiful truth of the gospel. When you are in Christ, what you’ve done is no longer who you are. You are not defined by what you have done. You are defined by what Jesus has done for you.
Let’s go back to what Isaiah wrote about Jesus. “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5, NIV)
The words “transgressions” and “iniquities” are words that are used to describe sin.
In our culture, “sin” is definitely a bad word. It’s intolerant and wrong to label anything as “sinful.” Everything is subjective. If it’s right for you, then it’s right.
But the problem is that, even though that might sound good, it doesn’t work. And lives are being destroyed because countless people have bought into this lie.
The reason that God has declared some things to be sinful is because He loves us and wants to protect us. He is a loving Father who wants what’s best for us.
My wife and I have two sons. Let’s say one day, I walk in the bathroom and see our youngest in the bathtub. And he’s discovered something awesome. He’s figured out that if he uses mom’s hairdryer to blow the water in the bathtub, he can create some pretty awesome waves. He can create his own little hurricane in the bathtub, and it’s awesome for playing with boats and stuff. It’s just really, really fun.
What do I do as a dad? Do I say, “Man, that’s awesome. You keep using that hairdryer in the bathtub because you’re having fun.”
Of course I don’t do that! My son is in danger of getting barbecued! If he drops that hairdryer in the water, it’s over.
So what do I do? I yank that hairdryer out of his hands and then give him a passionate lecture about why he is to NEVER do that again.
Now, is that mean? Is that cruel? “You’re just a killjoy who doesn’t want his kid to have any fun!”
No, I’m not mean. I love him enough to set healthy boundaries for him. And God does the same thing with us. That’s why He gives us boundaries. That’s why He actually labels things as right and wrong, because He doesn’t want us to turn our lives into a trainwreck. That’s what sin always does.
And a lot of us have learned that the hard way, because we’re still living in the fallout from our sinful choices. But here’s why I love Jesus so much. In Christ, the fallout isn’t fatal. There is healing and there is wholeness available.
God is holy, which means that He demands that sin be punished. But He is also a God of grace, which means that He allowed Jesus to take the punishment for us. That’s what happened when Jesus died on the cross.
“He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities.”
You want to know how bad our sin is? It was enough to crush the very Son of God. Satan couldn’t do that. All the forces of hell itself couldn’t do that. But our sin could. Jesus loved us enough that He allowed Himself to be pierced and crushed for our sin.
But because He did…because Jesus paid the price for our sin in full…our past is wiped clean.
Listen to what Isaiah wrote earlier in chapter 43. “This is what the Lord says…“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” (Isaiah 43:16a, 25, NIV)
God didn’t just promise to forgive our sin. He promised to forget it. That’s what happens when we surrender our lives to Jesus. Now, how does an all-knowing God forget? I have no idea. But that’s the promise. And you know what? When I look at the things I’ve done in my past…and even when I look at how often I make a mess of things in my present…I’m really glad to have a God who is so forgetful.
So here’s that means for us. You know that voice? That voice that always reminds you what you’ve done? How much you’ve screwed up? How much of a mess you are? How you’ll never amount to anything because of what you’ve done?
You know that voice? That’s not the voice of Jesus. Because that voice wants you to live in guilt and shame and regret. And that’s not why Jesus came. And it’s not why Jesus died.
In John 10, Jesus Himself said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10b, NIV)
That’s why Jesus said He came. That doesn’t sound like someone who wants you to stay trapped in the shame and regret of your past. That doesn’t sound like someone who wants you to stay imprisoned by what you’ve done. That sounds like someone who wants you to embrace forgiveness and freedom and life.
That’s because God doesn’t deal in guilt. God deals in grace.
I love the way that Tullian Tchividjian said it. “Jesus is not the man at the top of the stairs; He is the man at the bottom, the friend of sinners, the savior of those in need of one. Which is all of us, all of the time.”
Through His death, Jesus heals the wounds of our past because He erases what we’ve done.
But what about other wounds from my past? Not what I’ve done, but what was done to me?
The answer is also found in the cross. Jesus offers grace for both sinners and sufferers.
Go back to what Isaiah wrote again. “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.” (Isaiah 53:4, NIV)
When Jesus died on the cross, He didn’t just carry my sin. He carried my suffering.
This shows just how incredibly personal our relationship with Jesus really is. On the cross, He carried the abuse that you didn’t deserve. He carried the betrayal that you didn’t ask for. He carried the abandonment that you never saw coming.
In fact, you have never experienced a hurt that Jesus didn’t carry first.
If we back up just a few verses in Isaiah 53, we see that Jesus is quite familiar with suffering.
Here’s what Isaiah said about him. “He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.” (Isaiah 53:2-3)
Think about what Isaiah just told us about Jesus. He was ugly and unnoticed. Rejected. Despised. A man of suffering. Familiar with pain.
In other words, Jesus gets it.
You’ve been betrayed? Jesus gets it. He was sold out by Judas, one of his closest followers.
You’ve been abused? Jesus gets it. He was flogged, beaten, crowned with thorns, and crucified.
You’ve been left alone? Jesus gets it. When He was arrested on a bunch of trumped up charges, all his followers scattered when He needed them most. In fact, his closest follower, Peter, denied that he even knew Jesus at all. Not once. Not even twice. But three times.
Jesus gets it.
But it goes deeper than that. Jesus offers more than just understanding. He offers healing.
Isaiah reminded us that, “…by his wounds we are healed.”
He didn’t say, “By his wounds, you might some day feel a little better.” Or, “By his wounds, you might one day kind of move on, but not entirely.”
Isaiah said that through the wounds of Jesus, we are HEALED.
We are healed because what Jesus did FOR us is greater than what has been done TO us.
Whatever has happened to me…whatever has been done to me…whatever pain and hurt and suffering have been inflicted on me…the cross of Christ is greater.
I can be healed of my wounds because Jesus was wounded for me. I can be set free from my past because Jesus died for me. And I can have a new life because Jesus conquered death and rose again.
Jesus died for my sin and my suffering. And three days later, He rose from the dead. And His resurrection to life gives me a new life.
The resurrection is the ultimate sign that our past will not have the last word. Jesus was dead. He died in the most humiliating, painful, degrading way imaginable. And He was very, very dead on that Friday. But when Sunday rolled around, He was very, very much alive again.
When Jesus is involved, death doesn’t have the last word. And if death doesn’t have the last word, then the things that are killing us from our past won’t have the last word, either.
That’s why in John 10, Jesus said, “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved…” (John 10:9a, NASB)
Now, I want you to notice something. Jesus said, “I am the door.” He didn’t say, “I am a revolving door.”
Jesus is not a revolving door where you just keep going in circles…where you keep repeating the same cycles…where you keep living in recycled pain and guilt.
The way of Jesus isn’t a revolving door. It’s the doorway to a new life.
That’s what we see in the cross and the empty tomb. When Jesus died, everyone thought that was the end. And why wouldn’t they? I mean, death is the ultimate, “The End,” right?
Not when Jesus is involved. I love the way Rick Atchley put it. “Jesus entered a tomb and turned a cul-de-sac into a thoroughfare!”
So many people view death as a cul-de-sac. A revolving door. A gateway to nowhere. But Jesus changed the game. Death became a gateway to new life.
And that’s where we find hope and healing for the wounds of our past: in His death and resurrection.
But there’s a decision that we all have to make. Jesus died so that your past could die with Him. But you have to let it happen.
Perry Noble said it best. When it comes to the past, if I don’t let it die, it won’t let me live.
In fact, let’s be sure we’re all tracking together here. Repeat after me. If I don’t let it die (repeat), it won’t let me live (repeat). Let’s do it again like we mean it. If I don’t let it die (repeat), it won’t let me live (repeat).
This is the power of the grace of God that we’re talking about. This is the unbelievable message of Jesus Christ. This isn’t some revolving door to keep us stuck in our past mistakes and hurts and pain and sin. This is the doorway to new life. So let’s say it one more time like we mean it. Repeat after me. If I don’t let it die (repeat), it won’t let me live (repeat).
When you are in Christ, what you have done no longer defines you. You are defined by what Jesus has done for you.
What has been done to you no longer defines you. What Jesus did for you is greater than what was done to you. Are we thankful for that truth today, church?
I love Easter candy. When it comes to candy, Halloween is usually the holiday that gets all the attention. But for my money, Halloween candy doesn’t even compare to Easter candy.
For example, this is what you might get at Halloween. Meh.
This is what you get at Easter. Which one is better? The peanut butter egg, but a mile!
I’m telling you, you can have your Halloween. When it comes to candy, Easter is the most wonderful time of the year.
I’m 37 years old, and I still get a chocolate bunny every year. And I’m good with that. In fact, my wife got me one this past week, because she knows my love language.
She got me the classic Peter Rabbit, which is one of my favorites. The thing that I like about it is that it’s hollow. It’s really easy to just break off a piece and pop it in your mouth. In fact, it’s a little too easy. I ate the whole thing in one day.
But here’s the thing…hollow may work well with a chocolate bunny, but it doesn’t work nearly as well with other things…like promises.
This is an audacious promise. “By his wounds, we are healed.” Because Jesus was wounded and died for us, we can be healed. Because He rose to life again, we can have a new life. That’s an audacious promise. And maybe you think it sounds too good to be true. It sounds like a hollow promise.
I get that. I really do. I get that.
The reason so many people struggle with the gospel, the good news of Jesus, is just that. It sounds like a hollow promise. It sounds too good to be true.
But if it doesn’t sound too good to be true, it’s not the gospel. The good news, the great news, is that we can be healed because of what Jesus has done for us. It has nothing to do with us. It has nothing to do with our ability to clean ourselves up or get ourselves right. It’s all about what Jesus has done for us.
That’s why our church is all about Jesus. That’s why our lives are all about Jesus. And that’s why we’re so passionate about you knowing Jesus.
Maybe this isn’t what you bargained for today. Maybe you just came to church because it’s Easter and that’s what you’re supposed to do. You didn’t count on God turning things upside down inside you, but that’s what is happening right now. We’d love to talk with you and pray with you and serve you in any way that we can.
If you’ve got questions about all this Jesus stuff, we’re here for you. If you need prayers to help you overcome the wounds of your past or even your present, we would love to pray with you. And if you’re ready to surrender your life to Jesus, we’re ready to meet with you.
I’m going to pray for us, and then we’re going to close out today by blowing the roof off this place in worship.