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Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
March 31, 2013
Central Passage
Mark 16:1-8
Description

 

 

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Human history has ended. It is dead and gone. It is gone because human history must end in death. We know this both from history and from our own lives. History shows that the accomplishments of men can be forgotten with the death of a generation, or even the death of a scribe, no one to remind and teach the later generations. And in our own lives, when we loose a friend to the grave, our history with them is over. It is finished.

So man’s history ends in death. That’s why man seeks immortality outside himself. He seeks to build monuments to his life, to be immortal not in body and soul but in work and achievement. Even life-insurance policies and trust funds speak to man’s need to live beyond the grave and to have a lasting effect on those he loves; to out-live his death.

But everything of man has come to not. The ancient civilizations such as Babylon the Great and Nineveh, Egypt of the Pharaohs, the empire of Genghis Khan, even the mighty temple of Jerusalem have all come to ruble. They are accomplishments for history books. They all fall victim to the words of Solomon: everything is vanity, a chasing after the wind. There is nothing new under the sun. History repeats itself, as the saying goes. But even in the repetition of the rising and falling of empires and kingdoms, man has always waited and yearned for something greater; something nobler; something everlasting.

Rome sought immortality and nobility in the glory of Rome, which was her strength; and the Greeks sought immortality and nobility in knowledge. Rome thought to conquer the world through military might and the Greeks thought to civilize the world through rhetoric and dialectic. But both Rome and Athens are fallen. All that remains is a shadow, not of what they were, but only of what they wanted to be. For they were never what they wanted to be. They were never what they wanted to be because there was always tomorrow. There were always more conquests and more questions.

But they could not outlive themselves. Rome rotted from the inside out, betrayed by its own emperors and rulers. And Athens for all its knowledge and rhetoric was lost in the rotting of Rome. Man’s last great attempt and a one-world order ended in betrayal, fire, and chaos. Man’s last great attempt at glory and immortality ended in the Dark Ages. A fitting end to the history of man.

But though it was the end of the history of man, it was not the end of man. On the third day the friends of Christ coming at daybreak to the place found the grave empty and the stone rolled away. In varying ways they realized the new wonder; but even they hardly realized that the world had died in the night. What they were looking at was the first day of the new creation, with a new heaven and a new earth; and in the semblance of the gardener, God walked again in the garden, not in the cool of the evening but of the dawn.[1]

The Child that was born in a cave under the earth, hollowed out to house animals, is the Man re-born in a cave hollowed out to house the dead. From darkness comes light. From death comes life. From defeat comes victory. From mortality comes immortality. Christ is risen from the dead and a new era has dawned; a new time has come. Not like the old, for the old is gone. Gone is the rising and falling of so many empires and kings. Here is the everlasting kingdom of the everlasting King.

Now a Ruler has come who has dominion over death. Not in His military might or His wisdom and knowledge, but in Himself, in His person. Now comes the King who conquers not only other nations and kingdoms, but one who conquers the rule and reign of death itself. Here is the fulfillment of what man has searched and looked for. Here is what the eastern Magi followed the Star for. Here is what the Queen of the South sought in Solomon. Here is what the Caesars tried to find on the battle field and what the Greeks thought to grasp in the mind. Here is the everlasting Lord, the King of kings. His are time and eternity. His is a world without end.

But what of nations and governments and achievements of man since that glorious dawning of a new day? We see that nations come and go, empires still rise and fall and kings and rulers of the earth still seek in vain to make their mark on immortality. But what of the advancements of science and technology? What of the achievements that have produced things like longer lives and better health? Well if these are achievement to rival the kingdom of heaven, then the kingdom of heaven is weak indeed. For who of our age has lived as long as the ancients who lived 9 centuries? Who of us knows how to build a boat to house all the beasts of the field and birds of the air? We can’t even figure out how the pyramids of Egypt were built; or the Great Wall of China in such a primitive age. Our achievements pale in comparison to our ancestors. Indeed, our achievements really only serve to make us worry and fret that we don’t have the right answer, the right medicine, the right help, the right job, the right wife, the right anything. Our advancements are truly chains and fetters of iron, so often holding us back in fear and worry about tomorrow. But those who live forever, those who are eternal never worry about tomorrow.

But it is expected that the devil who was so disastrously defeated by the cross of Christ and was so completely annihilated on the third day would bring a rival kingdom to try and outdo the kingdom of the Man from heaven. For since the dawning of the new day when the Lord walked out of death’s stronghold, taking death captive and releasing the prisoners, since that Day only one kingdom has risen as a rival. It is not the kingdom of Muhammad or of the Dalai Lama or of some far or near Eastern sage. For these kingdom cannot and do not touch the whole of mankind like the kingdom of heaven that has gone out into all the world with the preaching of the apostles. No, the kingdom of the anti-Christ, the kingdom that the devil has sought to raise is the kingdom of Enlightenment.

No other kingdom – certainly no physical kingdom – has so fooled man into thinking that the Man who defeated death does not matter and is powerless to save as the kingdom of the Enlightenment. Like a twisted version of reality the Enlightenment was born out of the Dark Ages even as the true light that has dawned on all men came from the darkness of death. Like an evil twin, the Enlightenment promises immortality to all who follow her. Perhaps not immortality of the body, but of the mind and heart. She promises happiness; we call it the American Dream. She promises contentment. We call it retirement. She promises life. We call it heath care. She promises no guilt. We call it live and let live. She promises freedom. We call it rights. She promises no shame. We call it tolerance.

But this wicked kingdom – whom the scriptures call the whore of Babylon – this wicked kingdom fails at all its promises. For those who adhere to her religion never find what they are looking for but always must continue and strive for the future. They are never happy, never content, never free from guilt or shame. They always promise a brighter tomorrow, but the ugly present never seems to go away.

But the true King and Ruler of heaven and hell brings an entirely different kingdom. His kingdom is not of this world and so is not subject to the failings and stupidity of man. He is kingdom is an everlasting kingdom because He is the everlasting King. And He brings to light life and immortality. He brings with Him not the promise of life, but life itself, for He is the life of all men. He brings not merely the promise of forgiveness, but forgiveness itself because He is risen from the dead. He brings not merely the promise of heaven, but heaven itself because He is the Man of heaven.

And He establishes His kingdom not with weapons of man, but with weapons of the Spirit. He conquers you with His word, creating in you a new heart, born not of enlightenment but born from His resurrection from the dead. He brings you into His kingdom through water mixed with blood in the power of His Spirit, washing the old world of death and decay from you and clothing you with the garments of salvation. He feeds you not with the meat of dead animals that barely keeps you alive, but He feeds you with His living flesh and blood that quickens you to live forever.

Human history has ended. It ends in death. A new light has dawned and the reign of the eternal King is here, which has no end.

Christ is risen! Alleluia! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!

+ In Nomine Iesu +



[1] Chesterton, GK., “The Everlasting Man”.