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Race to the Tomb

(6)

Sermon shared by Ajai Prakash

March 2011
Summary: All of us are running in this world. Some are running to God, some trying to run away from Him. How far will they go? We should be running in a spiritual way. All our focus needs to be on the tomb where Jesus rose to new life and will take us with him to
Audience: General adults
Sermon:
Opening illustration: I think of Eric Liddell. The movie Chariots of Fire depicts how his sister Jenny tried to persuade Eric to give up his running, and go to China with her to be a missionary. He said, "No, God has made me fast and called me to run." It would have been wrong at that point to be a missionary. Of course, Liddell had other opportunities to take up the cross. At the 1924 Olympics in Paris, he would choose to forfeit his chance to win a medal in the 200 meter dash, something he very much wanted to do, because he believed the Lord did not want him to race on Sunday.

Then a number of years later, he would take up the cross quite literally and go to China as a missionary where he would later be killed by the Japanese.

Eric was one who ran for Christ, let us catch with the race to the tomb story and see what these people had in common and what were they really pursuing by running frantically on Easter morning. Let us turn to John 20 in our Bibles.

Introduction: A lot of running took place early on that first Easter morning. We know that Mary Magdalene ran from the tomb to the Upper Room when she saw that the stone that had sealed Jesus’ tomb had been rolled back and his body was not inside. In response, Peter and another disciple raced from there to the tomb. If today’s sites are accurate (and that is close to certain), you could walk the distance comfortably in about 15 minutes and run it fast in five. Why did the apostles want to save 10 minutes? They must have been excited by Mary’s news. They must have believed time was of the essence.

Perhaps they wanted to check out the area before anybody else arrived. It was still very early in the morning. Maybe they thought they could tell from the ground whether there were footprints or hoof prints or other clues about what had happened to Jesus’ body and in what direction it had gone.

When they arrived at the site, they felt as though they were on sacred ground. The “other” disciple, who got there first, did not dare go into the tomb. When he followed Peter in, he “saw and believed.” Peter, for his part, witnessed to the burial cloths and the rolled-up head covering. This was not the scene burglars or government or religious workers would leave after removing a body.

In fact, they now realized, Jesus’ body had not been removed but had departed on its own power. Christ was alive! That news was worth running about. It still is.

Why was there a lot of running on Easter morning?

1. Mary ran for help out of ‘Love’ (v. 2) ~

No one had loved Jesus as much as Mary Magdalene. Luke tells us that out of her there had gone seven demons. Jesus had done something for Mary that no one else could ever do, and Mary could never forget. Amongst the people it was known that Mary was a scarlet sinner, who Jesus reclaimed, forgave and purified. Mary had sinned much and Mary loved much, and love was all she had to bring.

It was always the custom in Palestine to visit the tomb of a loved one for three days after the body had been laid in the tomb. They believed that for three days the spirit … Jesus’ friends could not come to the tomb on the Sabbath, because to make the journey on that day would have been to break the law. Therefore Mary came very early in the morning. It was dawn and according to the Jewish timetable it was between 3 AM – 6 AM. It
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