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Used Tombstones

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Used Tombstones (John 20:1-18)

     Dr. Paul Stuckey, Sr. Minister @ Grace Methodist Church in Dayton, Ohio, tells the story of an ad in a Milwaukee, Wisconsin, newspaper’s classified section.  Big, bold letters advertised “Used Tombstone.”  The ad read:  “Used tombstone for sale.  Real bargain ... for more information call ...”

     This might seem depressing at first.  But think again: A used tombstone means that its prev. owner no longer any use for it.  Isn’t that the Easter message.  Not a used tombstone but a used tomb ... Not "Here lies" ... But "here used to lie" ...  started w/ a devoted follower's mission of love

I.         A devoted follower and her mission of love. 

A.      Jesus crucified ... laid rest in beautiful gard. near Golgotha.  Mary Mag., devoted follower ... gets up early Sun. morn. ... along oth. women ... anoint body .

B.       Mary good reason be devoted ... possessed by 7 demons ... 1 day met Jesus ... drove them all out ... devoted ever since.  That's why after disc. except John abandoned him ... Mary still stood boldly at foot cross.  Others had good reason to be devoted too but they weren't there ...  What about Blind Bartameus ... Paralytic lowered fr. ceiling ... Zaccheaus .  When you're being crucified ... crowds dwindle ... friends fade ... nobody willing identify w/ publicly.  But, Mary is a devoted follower so early Sunday morning ... gets up ... heads out ... to anoint the body of Jesus.  But this morning she in for a big surprise. 

II.       Get ready for the shock your life ... The stone is rolled away

A.      Arrives at tomb ... drops spices ... stares moment in disbelief.  Uh-Oh ... She had been worried about moving the large stone from the entrance.  But, the stone is no longer there.  Mary thinks the worst ...  They've taken his body!  Her mind races ... doesn't know what make of this ... so she runs to tell disciples.  Don’t seek Christ among dead ... won't find him there ... not in dead religion, tradition, rituals, worship, singing, praying, preaching, or church

B.       Reaches Peter & John ... breathing rapid ... heart pounding ... hardly get the words out.  "They've taken Lord's body out of the tomb, I don't know where they put him." Upon hearing story, John outruns Peter & arrives first.

C.       John gave a quick glance ... saw linen cloth ... but didn’t go in.  Never get answers seek with a quick glance.  Sometimes satisfied with a superficial walk ... don't won't to ponder the deeper mysteries of our faith ... Sometimes quick glance won't do.  Moses never heard God calls if settled for a quick glance of burning bush ... only after went over examine it a little more closely . 

III.     What are we to make of empty tomb?

A.      Peter arrives shortly after John and boldly enters tomb ... looks around carefully ... sees a linen cloth ... another cloth once covered Jesus head folded neatly ... lying to the side.  After Peter enters, John enters too.  They both expect to find Jesus ... but tomb was empty.  Imagine Peter saying "What are we to make this empty tomb? 

1.       Maybe body stolen?  But how that be?  They placed guard front tomb ...  watch it day and night.  Feared we steal the body? 

2.       Maybe at wrong tomb? - I know this is the right place ... witnessed burial.

3.       Maybe wasn't really dead - I saw soldier went around breaking legs of others ... got Jesus ... already dead ... speared in side ...

B.       Then John bible says ... John saw & believed.  They hadn’t realized the scriptures said ... (Psa 16:10 KJV)  For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.  Jesus said “destroy temple and in 3 days I’ll raise it up.”  ... (Mat 12:40 KJV)  For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. ... went home ... but Mary ... outside tomb crying! 

IV.    Jesus appears to Mary?  (Ah-hah)

A.      Prov. 8:17  I love them that love me; & those that seek me early shall find me. Ps 30:5 Weeping endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

B.       Mary stills needs div. help ... when looks in ... 2 white-robed angels ... one at head other at feet ... Why are you weeping?  This is a time of rejoicing. Because taken away Lord ... don’t know where put him!  Mary, the devoted follower of Jesus, still doesn't realize he has risen as he said!  Then feels presence someone else ... glances over shoulder ... there's Jesus ... didn’t recognize.  Why are crying?  Who are you looking for?  Doesn't know who it is ... thinks it's the gardener ... If you’ve taken him tell me where he is ...

C.       Then Jesus calls her name ... Mary!  When Jesus calls her name ... you know his voice ... My sheep hear my voice and they come running to me.  When called her name ... she cried out, "Teacher!" ... Hush, Hush, somebody's calling my name ... And when rose in her life ... she wanted hold on to him ... I can’t blame her ... Don’t cling to me ... haven’t yet ascended ... go find my brethren ... tell them that I am ascending ... to my Father & your Father, my God and your God.  

V.       Christ qualified for used tombstone ... his grave is empty ... don’t need a marker

A.      Do you qualify for used tombstone? 

B.       Confessed Christ as Lord and Savior?

C.       Spiritually alive or dead?  Have you crucified flesh and been raised w/ him?

D.      Are entombed by your unbelief, lust of this world, career, lifestyle,

E.       We teach kids pray ... Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, If I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take ... but what if I die before I live.  Some us die spiritually at 40 and are buried at 80.

F. He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!

    He walks with me and talks with me along life’s narrow way. 

    He lives, He lives, salvation to impart!

    You ask me how I know He lives?  He lives within my heart.

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