(Preached at First Baptist Church, Angleton, TX Easter 2019)
One of my privileges as a pastor over the last 35 years of ministry, has been to be able to hear the last words and testimonies of my church members who knew they were facing death. People who went to the grave with confidence and joy, because they had a “living hope” in Jesus that was stronger than the grave. One of the last services I did in North Carolina was for a senior adult man by the name of Jimmy Duckworth. He was a faithful man, who had just spent months tending to his wife Faye in the nursing home rehab, and who thought he was just tired from caring for her — when in fact unbeknownst to him he was developing cancer. When they found it, it was too late to do anything about it. And when I heard, I went to their house again — I’d been there just a few days before, when they had finally gotten home from the rehab, but this time it was to see him in light of this news. I wondered: “How is he going to feel? What is his outlook going to be?” I wondered if he would be crushed and devastated. But the man was a rock. He just sat there and in a very plainspoken manner told me what his condition was, and that he had a short time to live. But he said, “Pastor, I have lived a good life, and I know where I am going. I am ready to go.” He had an amazing peace. He did not fear the grave. Jimmy Duckworth had “a living hope” — and he had that hope because of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
That is what our verse in I Peter 1:3 talks about this morning:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Continue reading