Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Sunday, April 16, 2017
Us - April 16, 2017 - Easter Morning - Text: John 20:1-9 (10-18)
He is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!
Over the past six weeks, the Wednesdays of Lent and at our early Sunrise Service, we have been looking at the various characters, if you will, of the Passion of Jesus and of our Easter history. We looked at the characters of Judas, Peter, John (the disciples Jesus loved), Mary (His mother), Pilate, Jesus Himself, and the thieves involved in His crucifixion. We did step aside this past Thursday, Maundy Thursday and look at the account, the history of Jesus celebration of the Passover with His apostles and from that giving us the Lord’s Supper, His Supper and we understand that unless you understand the history and what Jesus was celebrating with His apostles and from that giving us His Holy Supper we really cannot understand what He has given to us, namely His true body and blood to eat and drink thus participating in His sacrifice on the cross for us. And on Friday, Good Friday, we stepped aside and looked at Jesus’ last seven words from the cross.
This morning we move to look at one last character of Easter history, and what a character this one is, that is we look at ourselves and our part in the Passion account and Easter History. Last Friday we watched as Jesus was crucified. This morning we come and celebrate His resurrection. As we hear the various eyewitness accounts of the resurrection of Jesus we know that we can believe these accounts because first of all they were eyewitness accounts. Second we know we can believe these accounts because of the change in the lives of those who bear witness of these accounts. We know we can believe these accounts because why would anyone bear witness of something that might bring them death unless they were true. Also, we know we can believe these accounts because these witnesses have borne witness to what they saw within a short period of time after they saw it happen. Finally, as we listen to these eyewitness accounts we know that the Holy Spirit works through these very words of God given through these writers so that by the faith He gives us through these words we too are eyewitness of these events.
Our first witness is from the Apostle John as he describes that first Easter morning, “1Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. 4Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. 6Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, 7and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. 8Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead” (John 20:1-9).
Two others who witnessed Jesus after His resurrection were Cleopas and another unnamed disciple. Their account is that they were on their way home to Emmaus from Jerusalem, and as they were walking along they met a stranger who, later they found out was Jesus. They relate how Jesus explained to them all of Holy Scripture, beginning with the Old Testament and the Prophets and how He was the one who came to fulfill all of Scripture. They concluded by saying, “33And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together, 34saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!’ 35Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread” (Luke 24:33-35).
One of the women that was close to Jesus was Mary Magdalene. John relates her encounter with Jesus after His resurrection. “11But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ 14Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ 16Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ She turned and said to him in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means Teacher). 17Jesus said to her, ‘Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”’ 18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’—and that he had said these things to her” (John 20:11-18).
In all actuality, there are many accounts of what happened, and many witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection. We have the many Biblical accounts as well as extra or outside the Bible accounts, such as the writings of the Jewish historian Josephus. As John tells us, “30Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:30-31).
In looking at the accounts of history, the Biblical and extra Biblical accounts we might summarize the following. First, the evidence is clear that Jesus was born in Bethlehem and this is as the prophets of old had foretold. Second, the evidence is clear that Jesus did do miracles. He did raise people from the dead. He did cast out demons. He did do many unexplainable things. Third, the evidence is also clear Jesus did nothing to deserve the death penalty, nor did He do anything to deserve any form of punishment. He was innocent. Fourth, the evidence is clear that Jesus did die. The sheer physical torture He underwent, the wounds from the bleeding from the whipping and beating and the suffocation on the cross were enough to kill any lesser person. He was dead when they removed His body from the cross. And fifth, there is more than ample evidence to the fact that Jesus did come back to life.
Let me explain it this way. If you and I were to stand before a judge, namely before God, the perfect Judge, in and of ourselves we would be declared guilty. We are reminded that if we sin in only one point of all of Scripture, we are guilty of all. We were conceived in sin. We are born in sin. Every inclination of our heart is evil all the time. We sin with our thoughts, in lust, in coveting, in hatred. We sin in word, speaking evil of others, gossiping, failing to explain everything in the best possible way, speaking mean and hurtful things to others. And we sin in action, in deed, doing things that hurt other people. We sin sins of commission, doing the things God commands us not to do and we sin sins of omission, failing to be the people God would have us to be. We simply cannot help ourselves, we daily sin much and we continue to add to our sinning. Apart from God working in and through us, because our will has been tainted by sin, because we have lost our free will from the fall into sin, all we can do is refuse and reject God and the gifts He has to give and we must admit that we do reject and refuse God weekly and even daily. We are guilty. To get to heaven we are required to be perfect. So, left to ourselves we would be eternally condemned. There had to be another way and that other way is the way of Jesus.
Jesus is the sinless Son of God. He had to be God in order to be perfect and in order to die and to rise. He had to be human in order to be our substitute. We cannot give our lives for others, because we owe for our own sins. Jesus can, and did, give His life for ours, because He owed nothing. And that is what He did. He took all our sins upon Himself. He paid the price, the wages of sin is death. He suffered the eternal spiritual death penalty for us in our place, hell, so that we would not have to, so that we might have forgiveness of sins and with forgiveness we also have life and salvation.
This morning we celebrate God’s great love for us. Indeed, even before He began creating the world in which we live, even knowing that Adam and Eve would sin, even knowing all that would happen, He created this world and He knew us and had us in mind when He was creating this world. When Jesus was born, He had us in mind. While He lived, Jesus had us in mind. When God placed our sins upon Him and as He suffered on the cross, He was thinking of you and me. When He rose from the dead He rose for us, for you and for me. Before He ascended back to heaven Jesus promised that He would come again and He will. Until that day we wait, living lives as priest in the priesthood of all believers, living lives as living sacrifices always being ready to give an answer for our faith to all who ask. That is why we celebrate today and every Sunday so that all the world might know that we worship a living God, a God of love, a God has done everything for us and given everything to us, forgiveness, life and salvation. To Him be the glory for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
He is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!