Good News From A Graveyard
GOOD NEWS FROM A GRAVEYARD
INTRODUCTION: We all love good news! It might be that someone we love is coming to visit. It might be that something we thought was forever lost is now found. It might be that a prayer has been answered for the sick. It might be that a loved one has come to know Jesus Christ. We all love good news. The Proverb says, "Bright eyes gladden the heart; Good news puts fat on the bones." Proverbs 15:30. We are also told that, "Like cold water to a weary soul, So is good news from a distant land." Proverbs 25:25.The disciples needed their tear dimmed eyes brightened. They needed cold water for their weary souls. We know the account. Jesus died. With Him seemed to perish the disciples’ hopes, dreams, plans, and confidence. They went into hiding for fear of the Jews. But then, having gone to the tomb, the women were greeted with the headline of the centuries: "He is not here, but He has risen." Luke 24:6. Now, we're talking Good News! Good News from a graveyard! But what story goes with the headline? What is the essence of this Good News?
I. THE GOOD NEWS IS: DEATH HAS MET ITS MATCH!
A. Jesus was dead.
1. The disciples understood that.
2. Experts checked that.
3. The Roman executioners knew when a body was lifeless.
4. He was placed in a tomb, the tomb was sealed and a guard set.
5. It seemed that death had stolen the victory!
B. But Satan's schemes and man's devices could not hold Him in the grave.
1. The devil could not defeat Him.
2. Death could not hold Him.
3. The Tomb could not contain Him.
4. Death met its match!
C. Listen to the commentary on this great truth:
1. "And God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power." Acts 2:24
2. "And as for the fact that He raised Him up from the dead, no more to return to decay, He has spoken in this way: 'I WILL GIVE YOU THE HOLY and SURE blessings OF DAVID." Acts 13:34.
D. Let me illustrate: I never think about the resurrection without likening it to a wrestling match between a greatly superior and an unquestionably inferior strength.
1. Example of letting someone smaller win at wresteling for a while
2. Just so, Jesus willingly acquiesced to His enemies, allowing them to do their utmost - for a period of 3 days and nights! Then shrugging death off like a dirty shirt, He arose.
E. The good news from the graveyard is that death has been denied its deadliness!
II. THE GOOD NEWS IS: FEAR HAS BEEN VANQUISHED!
A. When Jesus died, the disciples became a frightened, disoriented lot.
1. "And the angel answered and said to the women, 'Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.'" Matthew 28:5-6.
2. "And after these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. He came therefore, and took away His body." John 19:38.
3. "When therefore it was evening, on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst, and said to them, 'Peace be with you.'" John 20:19.
B. The disciples were filled with fear! But Jesus stood in their midst.
1. He knew where they were hiding out and sought them.
2. He knew what they needed to hear and spoke peace.
C. What do you fear? Oh, you're one of the macho, fearless ones who could grab a bone out of a pit bull's mouth? Well, just between you and yourself, what do you fear?
1. Is it death? He's conquered it. "Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives." Heb 2:14-15.
2. Is it the unknown? The Future? The "What-if's?" God has the answer: "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7.
3. Is it standing before Almighty God in judgment? He has taken our judgment and offers us justification: "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life." John 5:24.
A small child went with his father to see Grandma, who lived about three miles from their home. They stayed longer than they planned and night overtook them. Between home and grandmother's was a swamp and that night the frogs croaking and crickets chirping, together with the darkness and shadows of the trees, frightened the boy. He asked his father "Will something catch us?" Father assured him that there was no danger. Soon the boy asked the same question again and received the same answer. But his father saw he was frightened and he took him by the hand and said: "1 will not allow anything to harm you." And all his fears passed away and he was ready to face the world; for his father had him by the hand. How like our Lord Jesus who takes us by the hand when we are fearful. We can say with David, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me." Psalm. 23:4. The poet also says: "There are days so dark that I seek in vain For the face of my Friend Divine. Tho' the darkness hide, He is there to guide By the touch of His hand on mine."
D. The good news from the graveyard is: "Fear not! Take courage! Jesus Who lives has stripped fear of its fearfulness!"
III. THE GOOD NEWS IS: HOPE HAS BEEN REBORN!
A. Despair, gloom, misery were the order of the day - until they realized that Jesus was alive and then hope blossomed eternal!
B. The Resurrection gives hope because:
1. It answers the timeless question posed by Job, "If a man dies, will he live again?" Job 14:14. Job answered his own query, "And as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God; Whom I myself shall behold, And whom my eyes shall see and not another." Job 19:25-27.
2. It calms those who, standing by the grave of a loved one, question, "Will we meet again?" In answer to that, Paul wrote, "But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, 'I BELIEVED, THEREFORE I SPOKE,' we also believe, therefore also we speak; knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you." 2 Corinthians 4:13-14.
C. If death were the final word, Paul's words would be an apt description of our state: "If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied." 1 Corinthians 15:19. But there is hope:
1. Hope of forgiveness of sin and reconciliation to God
2. Hope of meaning and purpose in this world.
3. Hope of resurrection to eternal life.
4. Hope of reunion with loved ones gone on in Christ.
5. Hope of seeing Jesus Christ Himself in all His Glory.
6. Hope of living in a new world devoid of all the trauma and trouble of this world.
The southernmost point of Africa is a point which experiences tremendous storms. For many years no one even knew what lay beyond that cape, for no ship attempting to round that point had ever returned to tell the tale. That place was known as the "Cape of Storms," and for good reason. But then a Portuguese explorer in the sixteenth century, Vasco De Gama, successfully sailed around that very point and found beyond the wild raging storms, a great calm sea, and beyond that, the shores of India. The name of that cape was changed from the "Cape of Storms" to the "Cape of Good Hope." Until Jesus Christ rose from the dead, death had been the "Cape of Storms" on which all hopes of life beyond had been wrecked. No one knew what lay beyond that point until, on Easter morning; those ancient visions of Isaiah became the victory of Jesus over our last great enemy. Suddenly, like those ancient explorers, we can see beyond human death to the hope of heaven and eternal life with the Father. More than that, we dare to believe that we shall experience in our own human lives exactly what the Son of God experienced in his, for the risen Christ says to us, "Because I live, you shall live also." This is the heart of the Easter faith.
CONCLUSION: The good news from the graveyard is that death has met its match, that fear has been vanquished and that despair has been denuded of its hopelessness! Philips Brooks put it this way: "Tomb, thou shalt not hold Him longer; Death is strong, but Life is stronger; Stronger than the dark, the light; Stronger than the wrong, the right; Faith and Hope triumphant say, Christ will rise on Easter Day." That's the good news. And it didn't come from CNN, it didn't come from Washington D.C., it didn't come from the Democrat Herald. It came from a graveyard where an angel spoke to a crushed heart and said, "He is not here, but He has risen." Luke 24:6. He was not there, but He is here this morning because He has risen. He is able to save you today because He is risen and ever lives to intercede with the Father on your behalf. He is able to give you a new life today because He is risen and He lives. The Living Jesus calls you to Himself, to life, to forgiveness and to peace. Will you hear Him calling, and will you come?