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Easter 2018

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He is Risen Indeed!

Dr. George Sweeting tells of an incident in the early 1920s when Communist leader Nikolai Bukharin was sent from Moscow to Kiev to address an anti-God rally. For an hour he abused and ridiculed the Christian faith until it seemed as if the whole structure of belief was in ruins. Then questions were invited. An Orthodox church priest rose and asked to speak. He turned, faced the people, and gave the Easter greeting, "He is risen!" Instantly the assembly rose to its feet and the reply came back loud and clear, "He is risen indeed!" 
First Day of the Week — All four Gospel writers begin their account of the resurrection with this terminology. You might think they would have instead said, “And on the third day.” But, instead it was the first day of the week. Something new is happening…everything is changing! The world would never be the same!
While it was still dark — It was very early in the morning but throughout his Gospel the Apostle John has used the imagery of light and dark to convey meaning.
John 1:5 ESV
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 1:4 ESV
In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
The Light is Christ…He came into the world…He shone in the darkness…but the darkness did not comprehend it. So our Lord said from the Cross, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
It was dark and it appeared, even to His own disciples, that the Light had been overcome by that darkness. Jesus was crucified, dead and buried. The disciples were clueless and thought all had been lost. When Mary went to the tomb she and the disciples thought Jesus had lost. But…
John 1:5 ESV
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
The darkness did not, has not and never will overcome the Light!
The stone had been taken — Mary walked to the tomb and it was dark…but soon she would see the Light!
An Aside Concerning Mary Magdalene — Some of you may know Christ but feel you have made a mess of your life. Maybe you believe Jesus couldn’t do much with a person like you…may I introduce you to Mary Magdalen!
Not much is made of her in early church preaching…perhaps in no small part for the simple fact that the testimony of a woman wasn’t worth much in first century Jewish culture. A woman’s evidence was not even admissible in court.
However Mary is mentioned and honored in this Gospel. God loves to choose what the world deems foolish, lowly and worthless for His greatest work! She was mentioned at least 12 times in the Gospels, more than most of the Apostles and...
Mary had the greatest of all honors…she was the first human being to see that the stone was rolled away from the tomb…and not only that…She was the first person to ever see the resurrected Jesus Himself!
A woman from whom seven demons had been cast out became humanity’s first witness of the resurrected Christ. It does not matter who you are or what you have done…Christ loves you and wants you to follow Him! He wants you to be a part of what He is doing on earth.
There is nothing you have done worse than Mary, who was possessed by demons…or the Apostle Paul who killed Christians…Christ can and will still save you, make you His own and allow you to be a part of His life if you will have faith and come to Him this morning.
She Ran to Tell Peter — Mary, like all of the followers of Jesus, was confused about the mission of Jesus and felt defeated since His death. She did not look into the tomb. She thought grave robbers had taken His body and she was running to tell Peter and the disciples that someone had moved the body in the night.
Peter and John Ran — So Peter and John ran to the tomb to see for themselves what was going on. They did not do so in order to see a resurrected Christ but to see if they could find the body of their Rabbi who they loved.
The disciples had low expectations for what they would find that morning. Some of you came today with low expectations as well. You came to hear the usual sermon on the resurrection of Christ…something you have heard preached every Easter since you began your life as a Christian. You didn’t expect it to move or change you...
Some of you came to church this morning with a friend or family member…doing what you do every year on the way to other traditions associated with this day on the calendar…you didn’t expect to meet God or have a life altering moment today.
Let me tell you something — God is in the business of unexpected. You are not here by accident this morning. God has a reason and a purpose for you today. He is in the business of changed expectations…and whatever it is you expected from this morning…or even from your life…you might just find yourself turned upside down and inside out before you walk out of these doors for Sunday brunch.
An alcoholic became a believer, was asked how he could possibly believe all the nonsense in the Bible about miracles. "You don't believe that Jesus changed the water into wine do you?" "I sure do, because in our house Jesus changed the whiskey into furniture." 
An alcoholic became a believer, was asked how he could possibly believe all the nonsense in the Bible about miracles. "You don't believe that Jesus changed the water into wine do you?" "I sure do, because in our house Jesus changed the whiskey into furniture." 
Mary, Peter, John and all the disciples are about to have their world turned upside down...
John is the youngest of the disciples…dad bod had not beset him as it perhaps had Peter…and he outran Peter to the tomb…But Peter was the bolder and more courageous of the two…while John stopped at the steps, Peter barged right into the tomb for a look around…after which John followed.

Strips of Linen — Evidence that no one had just moved the body. This evidence also negates the idea that thieves had broken into the tomb…they would not leave behind expensive linen and spices that had been placed upon the body of Jesus.
But the disciples did not know what to make of it…they still did not understand that Jesus must rise from the dead…so they went back home.
John believed something had happened but did not yet understand the scripture that Christ must rise from the dead
Don’t do that this morning…don’t leave here scratching your head about what you have heard and remain in your unbelief. Don’t leave here believing their must be something to all of this…something happened…and simply go home wondering what that something might be,
Come to Christ…seek the Lord.
Jeremiah 29:13 NASB95
‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
This promise is for you too this morning. If you will seek after Jesus with all of your heart…He will answer your questions…fill in the blanks and give you eternal life in Him. He will save you from your sin and move your reservation from hell to heaven this morning. He will come into your life and you will have relationship with God…don’t just go home empty hearted! Come to Jesus!
Dr. Seamands tells of a Muslim who became a Christian in Africa. "Some of his friends asked him, 'Why have you become a Christian?' He answered, 'Well, its like this. Suppose you were going down the road and suddenly the road forked in two directions, and you didn't know which way to go, and there at the fork in the road were two men, one dead and one alive--which one would you ask which way to go?'"

Nothing to Weep About Here

Mary stood weeping — Mary did not go home…She stayed at the tomb and wept. She was broken hearted over the death of her friend and Rabbi. She loved Jesus but still had no idea that He had to die and rise again.
Stooped and looked into the tomb and saw two angels — Angels must think we are the most dense of all creatures...they ask her “Why are you weeping.” They might have added, “There is nothing to weep about in here!”
Aside about the angels — Some people like to say, “Well if I could just see an angel I would believe.” That wasn’t enough for Mary and it would not be enough for you either. You would explain it away.
One of the most striking discoveries of modern science has been that the laws and constants of physics unexpectedly conspire in an extraordinary way to make the universe habitable for life. For instance, said physicist-philosopher Robin Collins, gravity is fine-tuned to one part in a hundred million billion billion billion billion billion. The cosmological constant, which represents the energy density of space, is as precise as throwing a dart from space and hitting a bull's-eye just a trillionth of a trillionth of an inch in diameter on Earth. One expert said there are more than 30 physical or cosmological parameters that require precise calibration in order to produce a universe that can sustain life.
One of the most striking discoveries of modern science has been that the laws and constants of physics unexpectedly conspire in an extraordinary way to make the universe habitable for life. For instance, said physicist-philosopher Robin Collins, gravity is fine-tuned to one part in a hundred million billion billion billion billion billion.
The cosmological constant, which represents the energy density of space, is as precise as throwing a dart from space and hitting a bull's-eye just a trillionth of a trillionth of an inch in diameter on Earth. One expert said there are more than 30 physical or cosmological parameters that require precise calibration in order to produce a universe that can sustain life.
We see the miraculous all around us all the time and have no problem dismissing it so why do you think an angelic visitation would be any different. Explain life, consciousness, the fragile balance of hundreds of parameters for life to exist in the universe at all…all of these are miracles and we experience them every moment we exist but man has dismissed each as a matter of chance or natural phenomenon.
They have taken my Lord Away — She doesn’t get what the angels are saying…they were not asking the question for information…they are gently reproofing her…Why are you crying on a day like this???
“Why are You Weeping” — Now it is Jesus asking the questions although Mary, perhaps blinded by her tears, doesn’t recognize Him right away. Again, nothing to weep about here…but this has not had any real effect upon her so Jesus asks a second question
“Whom are you seeking?” — Jesus is really asking her, “What kind of Messiah are you seeking?” Are you looking for a teacher, good man, kind and loving encourager who healed the seek? Or are you looking for something more?
Sir if you have carried Him away — Again she just doesn’t get it…but before we are too harsh on Mary maybe we need to ask the question of ourselves…Who is Jesus to you? Is a story in a book? An historical figure? A myth?
“Mary” — Jesus called Mary’s name and then she knew who He was.
John 10:27–30 ESV
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
Mary was one of His…She heard His voice and followed Him…If you are one of His you too will hear His voice this morning and be compelled to do the same…will you come? Will you give up your life, be born again
Do Not Cling to Me — Mary held onto Jesus, likely at His feet. He tells her I have risen but have not yet ascended to heaven…so let me go. You go tell my brothers that I am doing so…and she does...
I Have Seen the Lord

Conclusion

“I Have Seen the Lord” — Can you say that you have seen the Lord this morning? Not everything we see is something we perceive with our eyes. Mary had the privilege…but we have the same opportunity to see from the evidence around us of God’s existence and the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
Hundreds of eyewitnesses testified to having seen the Lord after His resurrection…the Jewish authorities who orchestrated His death could never produce a body to prove the resurrection was a lie.
The Holy Spirit has testified to the truth by convicting us in our heart…and some of you feel that right now.
And my voice joins that of Mary and the millions…think about that…the millions who have come before me…He is risen! Everything hinges on this…If He arose then He is God and you have a choice…to believe or not.
Dr. Seamands tells of a Muslim who became a Christian in Africa. "Some of his friends asked him, 'Why have you become a Christian?' He answered, 'Well, its like this. Suppose you were going down the road and suddenly the road forked in two directions, and you didn't know which way to go, and there at the fork in the road were two men, one dead and one alive--which one would you ask which way to go?'"
Dr. George Sweeting tells of an incident in the early 1920s when Communist leader Nikolai Bukharin was sent from Moscow to Kiev to address an anti-God rally. For an hour he abused and ridiculed the Christian faith until it seemed as if the whole structure of belief was in ruins. Then questions were invited. An Orthodox church priest rose and asked to speak. He turned, faced the people, and gave the Easter greeting, "He is risen!" Instantly the assembly rose to its feet and the reply came back loud and clear, "He is risen indeed!" 
Dr. George Sweeting tells of an incident in the early 1920s when Communist leader Nikolai Bukharin was sent from Moscow to Kiev to address an anti-God rally. For an hour he abused and ridiculed the Christian faith until it seemed as if the whole structure of belief was in ruins. Then questions were invited. An Orthodox church priest rose and asked to speak. He turned, faced the people, and gave the Easter greeting, "He is risen!" Instantly the assembly rose to its feet and the reply came back loud and clear, "He is risen indeed!" 
When John Todd, a nineteenth-century clergyman, was six years old, both his parents died. A kind-hearted aunt raised him until he left home to study for the ministry. Later, this aunt became seriously ill, and in distress she wrote Todd a letter. Would death mean the end of everything, or could she hope for something beyond? Here, condensed from The Autobiography of John Todd, is the letter he sent in reply: "It is now thirty-five years since I, as a boy of six, was left quite alone in the world. You sent me word you would give me a home and be a kind mother to me. I have never forgotten the day I made the long journey to your house. I can still recall my disappointment when, instead of coming for me yourself, you sent your servant, Caesar, to fetch me. "I remember my tears and anxiety as, perched high on your horse and clinging tight to Caesar, I rode off to my new home. Night fell before we finished the journey, and I became lonely and afraid. 'Do you think she'll go to bed before we get there?' I asked Caesar. 'Oh no!' he said reassuringly, 'She'll stay up for you. When we get out o' these here woods, you'll see her candle shinin' in the window.'
When John Todd, a nineteenth-century clergyman, was six years old, both his parents died. A kind-hearted aunt raised him until he left home to study for the ministry. Later, this aunt became seriously ill, and in distress she wrote Todd a letter. Would death mean the end of everything, or could she hope for something beyond? Here, condensed from The Autobiography of John Todd, is the letter he sent in reply: "It is now thirty-five years since I, as a boy of six, was left quite alone in the world. You sent me word you would give me a home and be a kind mother to me. I have never forgotten the day I made the long journey to your house. I can still recall my disappointment when, instead of coming for me yourself, you sent your servant, Caesar, to fetch me.
"I remember my tears and anxiety as, perched high on your horse and clinging tight to Caesar, I rode off to my new home. Night fell before we finished the journey, and I became lonely and afraid. 'Do you think she'll go to bed before we get there?' I asked Caesar. 'Oh no!' he said reassuringly, 'She'll stay up for you. When we get out o' these here woods, you'll see her candle shinin' in the window.'
"Presently we did ride out into the clearing, and there, sure enough, was your candle. I remember you were waiting at the door, that you put your arms close about me--a tired and bewildered little boy. You had a fire burning on the hearth, a hot supper waiting on the stove. After supper you took me to my new room, heard me say my prayers, and then sat beside me till I fell asleep. "Some day soon God will send for you, to take you to a new home. Don't fear the summons, the strange journey, or the messenger of death. God can be trusted to do as much for you as you were kind enough to do for me so many years ago. At the end of the road you will find love and a welcome awaiting, and you will be safe in God's care."
"Presently we did ride out into the clearing, and there, sure enough, was your candle. I remember you were waiting at the door, that you put your arms close about me--a tired and bewildered little boy. You had a fire burning on the hearth, a hot supper waiting on the stove. After supper you took me to my new room, heard me say my prayers, and then sat beside me till I fell asleep.
"Some day soon God will send for you, to take you to a new home. Don't fear the summons, the strange journey, or the messenger of death. God can be trusted to do as much for you as you were kind enough to do for me so many years ago. At the end of the road you will find love and a welcome awaiting, and you will be safe in God's care."
Some of you may know Christ but you have made a mess of things and have believed your life beyond anything Jesus could really do anything with…may I introduce you to Mary Magdalen!
Because He arose we have assurance of life after death and a resurrection of our own someday…if we have faith in Him. He is Risen Indeed! Will you believe…will you see the evidence and come to Jesus this morning…or will you go home clueless and pondering what you have heard…still lost in your sin?
Some of you have never met Christ at all…you have no relationship with Him and you know it…but you also know He is calling you to come this morning...
Present the Gospel
Dr. Seamands tells of a Muslim who became a Christian in Africa. "Some of his friends asked him, 'Why have you become a Christian?' He answered, 'Well, its like this. Suppose you were going down the road and suddenly the road forked in two directions, and you didn't know which way to go, and there at the fork in the road were two men, one dead and one alive--which one would you ask which way to go?'"
Dr. Seamands tells of a Muslim who became a Christian in Africa. "Some of his friends asked him, 'Why have you become a Christian?' He answered, 'Well, its like this. Suppose you were going down the road and suddenly the road forked in two directions, and you didn't know which way to go, and there at the fork in the road were two men, one dead and one alive--which one would you ask which way to go?'"
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