“Against All Odds”

Exodus 15:1-18


            If you buy a lottery ticket, what are the odds that you will win a multi-state power-ball jackpot? About 1 in 292.2 million. If you play football in high school, what are the odds of playing in the NFL? About 1 in 10,000. Those are about the same odds as someone guessing your four-digit PIN on the first try. What are the odds that you will get struck by lightning? About 1 in 15,300. To get struck twice in a lifetime is 1 in 9 million, which is still slightly higher than getting a perfect March Madness bracket. But, what about getting struck by lightning seven times? About 1 in 10 to the 28th power. So one with 28 zeroes behind it. It happened, to a man named Roy Sullivan.

            The most important “what are the odds” question though is this … what are the odds that a man, brutally beaten and then crucified by the Roman Empire, would come back to life? The odds are astronomical, but get this … it happened! It really happened! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

            This morning, I want us to profess Easter and to possess Easter. Easter happened. That’s professing it. Easter is happening in me. That’s possessing it.

            As we wrap up our sermon series on the book of Exodus this morning, we come to Exodus 15. What are the odds that a group of Israelite state slaves would defeat the most powerful military force on the earth, defeat the Egyptians led by the mean and mighty Pharaoh?

            The drama all beings in Exodus 1:11, “The Egyptians put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor who worked them ruthlessly. They made their lives bitter with hard labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields.

            It gets worse! Exodus 5 Pharaoh says, “No longer supply the people with straw for making bricks, let them go and gather their own straw. But require them to make the same number of bricks as before; don’t reduce the quota” (5:7-8).

            But it gets worse! As the Israelites flee Egypt, they take a look over their shoulders and see Pharaoh madly chasing them down screaming, “You’ll have hell to pay!

            But it gets even worse! The Israelites become surrounded and stuck on all sides. “{The Israelites} said to Moses, ‘Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die?’” (Exodus 14:11).

            Just when the odds were completely against Israel, we come to Exodus 15:4-5, “Pharaoh’s chariots and army He has hurled into the sea. The finest of Pharaoh’s officers are drowned in the Red Sea.” It’s no wonder the Israelites sing in Exodus 15:2, “The LORD is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation!” This is the first Hallelujah! Then they cry out, “The LORD is a Man of War. The LORD is His name!” (Exodus 15:3). All of this though, is just a peek, just a prelude, a preview into the Bible’s greatest against all odds story.

            Opposition began early in Christ’s ministry. Pharisees plot with the Herodians. Detractors say Jesus is demon possessed. Scribes test Him with Torah trivia. His brothers ride and ridicule him. Sadducees posture around with pride. It gets worse. Christ will have hell to pay!

            Once arrested, Jesus is bound, accused, blindfolded, and mocked. But it gets worse. They strip him naked and beat him into a bloody pulp. But it gets even worse. Jesus is blood-soaked and spiked to a tree, to a cross for six hours. He is crucified, dead, and buried.

            And just when everyone thought it was all over, the angel announced, “He’s not here! He has risen just as He said!” Mary shouts, “Rabonni! Teacher!” Thomas professes, “My Lord and my God!” Against all the odds, Jesus lives!

            This morning, I want us to profess Easter and to possess Easter. Easter happened. That’s professing it. Easter is happening in me. That’s possessing it. However, there are at least three barriers to us possessing Easter.

            Maybe we grew up in a family that didn’t work. Sometimes I encounter people and they’re walking zombies because when they were children, something was broken inside. Now they’re a third or halfway through life and they’re starting to think that what’s broken will never fixed. What was lost will never be found.

            I’m talking about the ones who parents got divorced, about the ones who have been abused as a child. I’m talking about the ones who grew up with alcoholic parents. I’m talking about those who grew up in families with absentee dads, controlling moms, screaming parents, and abusive siblings. You feel as though the odds are stacked against you.

            Maybe we experienced a devastating loss. For some of you, this means your spouse died, your marriage died, your child or your parent died. For others, it means that your dreams died. For some, it may mean that your will to live has died. Most days it feel as though Mt. Everest is sitting on your chest, crushing what’s left of your life. You feel as though the odds are stacked against you.

            Maybe we are crippled by a destructive habit. What is it for you? Gambling? Drugs? Alcohol? Porn? Work? I came across this story again the other day.

            ‘One night after a woman and her husband finished dinner, they sat down exhausted in the living room together.

            The woman was an elementary school teacher, and she had to finish grading assignments she’d set for her students, which was to write about something they wished for. Her husband joined her on the couch with his phone in hand, finally able to relax after a long day.

            Just when the woman thought she’d finished correcting the final essay, she noticed another one that she’d apparently forgotten. This is what it read:

            “My wish is to become a phone. It’s my wish because my mom and dad really love their phones. My mom and dad only pay attention to their phones, and sometimes they forget all about me.

            When my mom and dad come home tired from work, they spend time with their phones, not me. Even when my mom or dad is doing something important, if their phone even rings just once, they pick it up right away. But they don’t do that for me, even if I’m crying.

            My mom and dad play games on their phone, not with me. When they’re talking with someone on the phone, even if I’m excited about something and want to tell them, they just shush me and tell me to go away.

            So that’s why my wish is to be a phone. Because then maybe my parents would love me as much as their phones.”

            The woman read the essay in tears. Her husband asked what was the matter, and she showed him the essay. He quickly read it then asked her which student had written such a sad essay.

            It was then that the woman realized where this “extra” essay had come from; it had been slipped in there without her noticing.

            “It wasn’t one of my students who wrote it,” the woman answered. “It was our son.”

            Feel as though the odds are stacked against you?

            I know, trust me, I know. Stuff is going on, a whole lot of stuff is going on in your life. You’re running in circles trying to figure it out. Your greatest fear is that you will never figure it out, that you will get dizzy, and crash and burn.

            Let me remind you of two honest-to-God facts. Against all odds, Israel made it out of Egypt. Better yet, against all odds, Jesus Christ is risen today! We profess Easter with every ounce of our being! But, oh God, we also long to possess Easter with every ounce of our being!

            St. Paul … he says we can! “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you” (Romans 8:11). Through the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit, Easter can happen in us! God promises resurrection for everything that looks so lifeless, so hopeless, so dead! Ask the Holy Spirit to make all of this real for you!

            In John 14:19, Jesus puts it this way, “Because I live, you also will live.” Easter happened. That’s professing it. Easter is happening in me. That’s possessing it. We live now and we will live forever with our resurrected and living Savior. We have a word for all this. That word? Hallelujah! Amen.

            The peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus our resurrected and living Savior, now and forever. Amen!


Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *