Look inside the mystery, see the empty cross, see the risen savior, victorious and strong. No one else above him. None as strong to save. He alone has conquered the power of the grave. Glorious, my eyes have seen the glory of the Lord. Glorious, He stands above the rulers of the Earth. This past century has had it's share of incredible leaders. As a South African I don't have far to look to see a few of them. Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Mahatma Ghandi. All amazing people. All incredible leaders of people - each one leaving their stamp on history. Nelson Mandela obviously stands out (and not just because I'm South African!). Imprisoned for 27 years for his role in Black South Africa's struggle for social and political equality, he returns from imprisonment to lead both his people and his oppressors into a time of peace and equality - all without bitterness and with a superhuman display of forgiveness. Morally courageous leaders like Mandela, though rare, have occurred throughout history. In recent recent years we've seen the moral leadership of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King in their fight for racial equality, we've seen Mother Theresa's tireless work with the poor in Calcutta, we've seen Aung San Suu Kyi's courageous protest against political oppression in Burma. And back further still, we've seen William Wilberforce indefatigable fight against slavery. And then there are the intellectual leaders in history - philosophers such as Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, John Locke and John Stuart Mill. Scientists such as Newton, Copernicus, Madame Curie, Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking. The list goes on and on… Leaders, one after another who have shaped and altered the course of history through their extraordinary actions and thoughts. People worth emulating and learning from.

But here's the rub. Here's the part that changes everything. Every one of those leaders is either dead or is going to die. It's a fact so widely assumed, so much a part of human existence, that it seems almost foolish to point it out. Of course they all die. They're human right? That's what happens when you're human. You either grow old and die, or you die before then. But you will die. Even those who have been raised from the dead, from Lazarus through to the little girl in the Philippines who was 'prayed back to life' after drowning recently, will one day face the power of death. That day is coming for me. And that day is coming for you. It's just the facts. Unless Christ returns before that you will die… Jesus on the other hand, is not dead. He is alive right now, even though He was killed more than 2000 years ago. What separates Jesus from every other human being who has lived on this earth is that death went to work on Him - as it does on every human being - but this time, this one time, it did not win!! Now that is not to say that Jesus wasn't wholly remarkable and distinct in other ways. As we looked at last week, He is the only person to have lived without once straying from the ways of the Father - a completely guiltless life. Although never writing a word in a book, His words and wisdom have had more literary impact than any other person in history. His moral courage and wisdom has inspired generations of leaders in all walks of life. On top of that His ability to heal the sick and raise the dead, cast out demons and then work through his followers to do the same, is also a unique and wholly distinctive quality of his leadership. All of these characteristics are obviously exceptional, amazing, and inspirational.

But Jesus' victory over death has changed the state of play for life on earth forever. His life, death and resurrection introduced a way of being human that all of creation groans and longs for, an existence impervious to decay, entropy, sin and death. The Bible calls this kind of life 'everlasting life'. And God's promise to us is that those who know Jesus and who live and die in Him, will rise again to live this kind of life…Before Jesus there was no hope that this kind of existence was possible. Death was unbeatable. Every famous conqueror, from Ozymandias to Ghengis Khan, from Julias Ceasar to Napolean Bonaparte, despite conquering entire nations, in the end were themselves conquered by death. It has always been the last and unbeatable foe. The enemy that steals family members and friends and life itself. And yet Jesus defeated it. As John Mark Macmillan says so eloquently 'the man Jesus Christ, laid death in his grave'. With death's defeat the door to eternal life has been opened. opened. And as exceptional, inspiring and remarkable as all the great leaders of history have been - not one of them has conquered death. He stands above the rulers of the earth. He is the way beyond the power of sin and it's causally related cousin, death. Jesus' has broken the power of sin and broken the power of death. And right now He invites us into a relationship with Him that breaks it's power over us too. I rejoice at the wonderful things Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela have done. I marvel at their moral courage. But in the end my worship belongs to only one man, the man Jesus Christ. Who's life and death and resurrection have opened the gates to a new heaven and a new earth, where death and sorrow and tears will be no more. Jesus is the glory of the Father revealed to us...

Look beyond the tombstone, see the living God See the resurrected ruler of my heart No one else above Him, none to match His worth The hope of His returning, fills the universe...

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