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Easter

Easter wonder!

Easter wonder!

Do you long for a new day, a new dawn, a fresh start? Easter promises us forgiveness, hope, and a new life as the death of Jesus drives death out of us! 

Luke 24:1-12

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words.

When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

Sermon guide

The Lord Jesus invites you today to a _______________ ___________________. 

The resurrection of Jesus is a _______ ___________________ truth. 

The Gospel according to Luke dates to 65-70 A.D.  

The resurrection is ____________ so everything _______________ change.   

“sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people” ~ Paul, Rm 5:12, see 5:12-15  

His death drives __________ from your _________.   

Wonder! Easter wonder.  

 

Discussion guide

  1. How many different religious leaders or great thinkers do you know? How many of them have you even followed for a time? What inspired you or got you to follow them?  

  2. Verses 1-3 Who were the first people to go and see the tomb of Jesus? Why is that important? 

     

  3. Verse 3 What did the women go to the tomb to find? What then are the expectations of even religious people?  

  4. Verses 3-4 What did the women do when they found the tomb open? How did they feel?  

  5. Verses 5-7 What is the message of the angels?  

  6. Verse 11 What is the natural response to the message of the resurrection of Jesus? What are some of the reasons, either ancient or modern, that people have for thinking Jesus does not live? 

  7. If men and women who had spent the better part of three years following Jesus don’t receive the message of the resurrection, what does that say about our hearts?  

  8. What does the angel’s proclamation mean for you?  

Sermon

Easter wonder!  

24 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5 In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8 Then they remembered his words.  

9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.   

 

 

 

Imagine if you could please a person accused of a crime. Maybe they’re falsely accused, maybe they’re rightly accused. The police investigate. The DA decides to file charges. They issue an arrest warrant for the individual. The person is arrested and released on bail. The damage starts. People began to whisper about them. They criticize the individual. Their reputation takes a dive, they lose their good name. It doesn’t matter that later, a lawyer steps in and discovers the entire mess was false. The charges are dropped. The person is pronounced innocent. But it’s too late.  

How can that person ever go on? What do you do? That person might need a fresh start. A new day. A new start to get their good name back.  

That’s a common occurrence. Maybe it isn’t false charges. Maybe it’s conflict at work. Conflict with coworkers can easily lead to poor job performance. Bad job performance leads to conflict with your boss. You get a bad job review. The cycle continues. How are you going to get out of that cycle? You might need a fresh start, a new dawn, a new day.  

If it’s work struggles, maybe it’s an addiction. Addiction has an incredible power over us and there is no way to get out of it with a fresh start. Maybe its family challenges. Maybe its marital problems. Whatever is going on, there can be countless situations that seem to call for a fresh start and a new day!  

And I know from experience how great that new day can be. I’ve had times in life where work get mired in conflict and trial. I got to the point where I just said, yuck, I want this to end. So I did. I quit or found a new job or something and moved on and got that fresh start, that new dawn. It was so freeing, so exhilarating. I needed that fresh start and I got it. And if you have ever experienced it, you know how wonderful it is.  

Now here is the thing about that new start. Most of us can’t change the circumstances of our life most of the time. In fact, most of us don’t want to. Even if your job is going badly, we don’t quit because the pay is good, the benefits are solid, the family so stable, and the grass is definitely not greener on the other side.  

How can you and I get a fresh start, a new day without changing any of the circumstances of our lives? One time a mentor asked me a significant question: are you happy? The challenge for you, like all of us, is to be happy apart from, without our circumstances. Can you be happy no matter what situation you are in in life. Today God promises you and me a fresh start, a new day, a new day that has nothing to do with changing the circumstances of your life.  

The Lord Jesus invites you today to a fresh start, a new dawn, a new reality.  

We’re with the women today on their way to the tomb of Jesus. It’s early Sunday morning. They head out of the city of Jerusalem and find the empty tomb. Luke who is something of a medical professional and an amateur historian, tells us that the women wondered when they got there.  

This wondering that they did, it’s not a positive thing. You and I might wonder at the beauty of the stars against a dark black backdrop on a cool summer night. We might wonder at the beauty of a newborn baby. We might wonder at a sunrise. This is not that kind of wonder.  

This wondering. This is more like the wondering that you do as a parent when you step out of the dining room for three minutes to take a phone call. You come back and there is food all over the table, food on the floor, some food on the walls, and food in people’s hair. You say, “how could this have happened in just two minutes!” That wondering, that perplexity, is what the women experience.  

These women grew up in a time and culture where no one thought people could come back from the dead. It didn’t happen. In our world, it could happen in at least a little way. I think, what was it, maybe three months ago, someone I knew was at home, they had a stroke or a brain aneurism. They stopped breathing. Paramedics found this person 15 or 20 minutes later and started CPR. Over the next hour or two even though the person’s brain had stopped functioning, their heart and lungs started working again. They were dead and they come back to life. If someone says, so and so died and they came back. Then I ask, “how long did they stop breathing or their heart stop beating or how long did their brain stopped functioning?” Nobody expected that in the ancient world.  

The Jews thought that at the end of the world, people would come back to life, but before that it didn’t happen. That meant these were very perplexed, very confused, food on the walls and in the hair confused, by an empty tomb. This part of the gospel for them was perplexing. 

What this is saying to us then...The resurrection of Jesus is a deeply challenging truth.  

I was reading and listening to someone’s story making exactly this point a while back. She is a twenty something now, but went through this experience much younger. As a child, she read a shortened, children’s edition of the Bible lots of times. Then she read C.S. Lewis’s Narnia books. She read Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials books. That’s a fiction series that basically makes the opposite case as the Chronicles of Narnia.  

She started to think about many of the ideas of the Bible. She looked at the fall into sin and asked, Is the fall into sin really a fall, or is it just a story in ever important book that teaches us how we need to choose good or evil. Or what about God. Are goodness and faith mutually exclusive? Do we need God to be good? Or could God just die? She was perplexed. (https://www.syfy.com/syfywire/religious-childrens-fiction-and-the-books-that-helped-shape-my-atheismaccessed 4/20/2019)  

Let me give you just two examples how the resurrection of Jesus has significantly changed the world. You can tell from these that the resurrection is going to perplex if you are going to figure it out. It is a deeply challenging truth.  

If you lived in the time before Jesus or even to this day in areas of the world that have not been deeply impacted by the resurrection of Jesus, most people think of history in a cyclical fashion. In the West, we tend to think of history in a linear fashion. It has a beginning, middle, and an end. It tells a story. It moves from start to finish. That is not how most people would have thought of the history of the world or how many people do to this day. For many, history is a ceaseless cycle of events. They basically all mean the same thing. They simply happen in different ways. There is no real progress or progression.  

Or what about the fact that we think the physical world is real? You can touch it, trust it, and depend on it. Do you know that in the ancient world everything you can touch and see and feel was bad and meaningless and it didn’t matter? The only thing that mattered was the immaterial life. Science as we know it has significantly come about because of the resurrected of Jesus.  

Think about that. That is how much the resurrection of Jesus challenges the reality we live in. So when this pushes on you, when it presses you and challenges, you probably should say, “is this true” or “well, what do you want from me” or “what does this have to do with me?” And I’m going to tell you, everyone has that reaction at some point, when they wrestle what the good news of Jesus really is. I don’t think I know a single person who knows what the resurrection of the dead means without some wrestling, some perplexity, some confusion. When that happens what do you say to yourself? 

Either the gospel is wrong – it's not true, it’s not good, it’s not accurate, it doesn’t apply - or I’m wrong. I think you have to ask that question.  

It’s easy to think that in the ancient world before news stations and Wikipedia and everything that everyone thought people would rise from the dead. But that isn’t the case.  

For example, there is one time where the Apostle Paul is talking to people Rome. He is telling them the events of Jesus’ life. He gets to the part where Jesus died and rose. And do you know what the people say? “What is this new teaching? You are bringing strange ideas to our ears.” (Acts 17:19, 20) Even many Jewish people did not believe in a resurrection. During the week Jesus died, a group of people called the Sadducees came and asked a hypothetical question about people getting married after they rise from the die. They use people get remarried as proof that there can’t be a resurrection. Imagine they confusion they say, if a widow gets to heaven and has to pick between two husbands? Who is she going to be married to? This is before Sister’s Wives. Even in the ancient world, the idea of a resurrection was strange.  

Now you’ve got this guy Luke who wrote the book of Luke. At the very latest he is doing this 40 years after Jesus. He is asking Mary the mother of James or maybe James’s sister, okay, “so what happened that morning? You went to the tomb and the tomb was empty? And angels and people told you that he had risen.” Then Luke says, “what did you think about that?” “I was perplexed” she says. I mean, people don’t rise from the dead and a guard was there, so what happened to his body? I didn’t really know what to think until I saw Jesus.” “You saw Jesus then?” he says. “Yes, that night” she says. “The next week, and many times after that.” “Wow, Luke says.”  

Luke writes that all down. Copies it a few times. Distributes a few copies. People read it. Now, other than maybe 1 other document, the only documents that talk about the resurrection of Jesus within 100 years of him are in what we call the Bible. That’s all there is. At the same time, the only document that denies the resurrection of Jesus is also right here in the Bible. According to Matthew, some people tried to deny Jesus’ resurrection.  

What this means is, here is Matthew, Mark, Luke, John all saying Jesus rose from the dead. Nobody argued with them. 40 years after Jesus Luke writes “Jesus rose from the dead.” Nobody says, “no he didn’t. I saw him. I went to his tomb. I saw him lying there. Dead.” 

Don’t you think if someone is walking around saying, “Hey look at that guy he rose from the dead” someone is going to say, “Um excuse me. No he didn’t. He is right there.” They didn’t have IQs of 50, which is very low by the way. Maybe they didn’t have antibiotics or do MRIs, they didn’t mean they lacked all intelligence. 

So what are the odds that nobody disagreed with Luke? Remember, most people thought people don’t rise from the dead. They didn’t have IQs of 50. They maybe didn’t have MRIs and antibiotics, but they were no fools.  

I think then we have to say Jesus rose from the dead. It doesn’t matter how much it changes reality. It doesn’t matter how perplexed, how strange, or how confused that makes our life. It doesn’t matter how many challenging questions we have to face. It doesn’t matter how much our world gets remade. Jesus is risen. Christ is risen! (hopefully they say he is risen indeed.) 

The resurrection is real so everything must change.  

The angels make it happen in a surprising way.  

The angels say to the women, “He is not here; he has risen!” And then they say the key line that will change everything for you. “Remember what he said, “The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’” Did you hear that? They said the Son of Man must be delivered to the hands of sinners and be crucified. There is that little word must there.  

 Do you have a favorite “not happily ever after” story. Shakespeare is pretty famous for all of his tragic endings. If you’re a Stars Wars buff maybe you say, “The Empire Strikes Back”. If you’re into Disney fairy tales, you’ll need to turn to the original edition “Little Mermaid” to find a story that doesn’t end with a happy ending, you can go to the original Hans Christian Anderson story.  

That had to happen. That’s what had to happen. Do you realize what they are saying here?  

Since the beginning, death has hung over all people. “sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people”. It has bent the trajectory of our lives. 

It doesn’t matter how hard you and I work to fix the circumstances of our lives. We can’t make ourselves a new reality. You’re too sinful. You’re too lost. You’re too guilty. He had to die. If you dislike that idea, you’re making the same mistake as the women. What you are saying is, I don’t believe Jesus actually had to die. I think that it was enough for him to be a good person, maybe a great teacher, so that he could show me the way to a life without sin or death. No! That doesn’t work. The only way to undo the reality of the old world was to put it on the sinless Son of God and let him die with it on the cross.  

The angels are saying there is no way for you to have a happily ever after if there is no unhappy ever after for somebody else.   

There is a deeper truth at work. When a willing victim makes a sacrifice in our place then death itself will begin to work backwards. Death itself is undone. Death will begin to lose its hold on us. That is how we get to a new reality, a new world.  

Do you believe that death has already begun to be undone? Then it is undone in your life. Then you can see more and more how death itself loses it’s hold on you.  

When we believe a willing victim is sacrificed for us, then death itself begins to work backwards in our lives. What will change your reality, what will change everything about how you see the world is when you let his death drive death from your life.  

One of the games I play with the kids when mom goes out for the night is dad scare the kids to death. They say, “Dad, put on your black sweatshirt and turn off the lights and scare us.” Sometimes it goes terribly. The kids have fear and terror in their hearts even before we start the game and it doesn’t matter If the kids believe that I love them and I’m going to protect them and I’m not going .  And in the darkness I’m not such a terror. I bring joy to their lives. The darkness that I bring to them drives the darkness and fear from them. Then terror turns to giggles. Then the fear becomes fun. We’re rolling on the ground wrestling with each other.  

This is what Jesus’ death has to do for you and me. We’re walking in a world of darkness and death and we don’t even realize it. But when his darkness -  this cross - drives the death from your life, boom, you’ve got a new reality.  

His death drives death from your life.  

So what do we need to do here?  

Action: Wonder  

When Peter and the other men heard these words, they sounded like nonsense to them. The resurrection is a deeply challenging truth. It will change everything about the way you think and the way you act.  

Then they say it was real and how did Peter respond? V12 “Peter went away wondering to himself what had happened.”  

If death itself has been driven away, then you have to wonder, in the most wonderful way, what’s next. 

I want you to remember back to your child when you were interested in secret doors and secret rooms and hiding places. Do you remember when you looked for secret rooms in a house? Sometimes children will come and ask, “Where are all the secret rooms in church?” They want to see what is behind the new door. It doesn’t matter that they don't know the reality behind that door. Death has driven death out of them and they want to see what is behind the next door.  

You too, you have to wonder about the reality that is behind the next door.  

Because here is the thing: If the resurrection is real, then as we let his death drive death from our lives, there is a wonderful new reality to discover.  

Let these words make you wonder: “‘The Son of Many must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’" That’s how you’ll discover a new dawn, a new day, a new reality.  Easter wonder.