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1 Peter 1:3-9
“The Empty Tomb, Full of Grace”
“God in his love acts beyond our deserving.”
Sunday Morning Sermon
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nlyu09xdHp0 (3 Days Later)
(Start with Title and Text)
THE LORD IS RISEN! HE HAS RISEN INDEED! Hallelujah! (Repeat)
The demonstration of God’s love is the once for all sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. The demonstration of God’s power in our lives – is the empty tomb. Death and Hell have no victory – we hope and faith and joy because God raised Jesus from the dead.
One author said, “If the Church had contemplated the Empty Tomb as much as the cross of its lord, its life would have been more exhilarating and its contribution to the world more positive than has been the case.” Somehow we (the church) have forgotten that first and for most we are Easter people. As Easter people we have an Easter gospel.
I want to remind you of the fact that we have an empty tomb – it’s the center of all we believe. The resurrection of Jesus is more than a past event and a future prospect; it is a present reality.
Without the resurrection there would be no gospel. Eugene Peterson’s Paraphrase says it this way: (Advance)
“If there’s no resurrection for Christ, everything we’ve told you is smoke and mirrors, and everything you’ve staked your life on is smoke and mirrors…And if Christ wasn’t raised, then all you’re doing is wandering about in the dark, as lost as ever…If all we give out of Christ is a little inspiration for a few short years, we’re a pretty sorry lot.”
One of the last places you would go to find hope is a tomb. Yet, that’s what the women found. Sometimes the last place to build your faith would be a tomb or a graveside – yet that’s what the women found. I’ve been to many funerals – and although there can be some assurance – I wouldn’t use the word “joy” to describe the tone of the situation.
I want to suggest something this morning – just hear me. Everyone who found the tomb empty and saw the resurrected Jesus found a sense of hope, faith and joy. Jesus kept his promise – the past few years of ministry were not in vain, everything they were taught, and some of their confusion was cleared up. That sense of excitement was true for everyone – except Peter I want to suggest that Peter probably didn’t feel that same sense of hope – at least not at first.
Let me take you back before the Cross.
John 13 (Thursday) of what we consider the holy week. Jesus washes his disciples feet, he predicts that Judas will betray him and then tells the disciples that he is going away. (Advance)
John 13:36-37 (NIV) Simon Peter asked him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”
We all know what happened – Peter and another disciple did follow Jesus – Jesus was arrested – the other disciple went with Jesus to the high priest’s court yard – peter waited outside
Peter denies Jesus once, and then again – and then again. The rooster crows….That was the last time Peter saw Jesus alive. Only one disciple made it to the cross – probably John, the same one who followed Jesus into the court yard.
Fast forward – after the resurrection:
The women – looked into the empty tomb, they wondered – they saw Jesus and they were filled with hope. They run back – the disciples run to the tomb – but they didn’t understand.
That’s the background of our text this morning –
For Peter the empty tomb was full of grace – If you have at some point in your life denied Jesus – looked the other way – made a choice that did not glorify God – walked away from your commitment – The Easter message this morning is one of grace. The tomb for us is full of grace.
Turn with me if you have your Bibles to 1st Peter 1:3-9 (Advance) (read)
Words directly from Peter – who understood what it meant to receive the grace of God because of the tomb. For Peter the tomb was full of three things:
I. Full of Hope (3-4)
a. God acted – He moved – He Engaged
God did what he had to do through the person of Jesus – so that we could be what we were created to be – like him. Church you weren’t created for a hopeless life. You weren’t created to wander away from the one who created you and knows all about you. God is responsible for your hope – not the government, not a check in the mail, not a person or freedom from responsibilities – God is responsible for your hope. This isn’t just any kind of hope – listen to the kind of hope – very important:
i. Living hope
You can hope for things that might never happen – You could hope that people at work will get their act together and pull their own weight…you can hope for a raise…or that you pass a test you didn’t study for. Listen a living hope – is different – because it’s based on someone who keeps his promises – GOD. We have a living hope because when God says he will do something – he does it. When God makes a promise – he follows through. (Advance)
Matthew 28:20b (NCV)…and I will be with you always, even until the end of this age."
God is with you – always. When you feel alone, frustrated, tired weary – when the kids are screaming, and supper is burning and the laundry is not done – God stands right there with you. Listen, He didn’t create you and then just leave you. He cares about you, personally, and passionately.
Listen we aren’t just given a new hope – we have to choose it. We are born into it, not the first birth – but what Peter calls a new birth, what Jesus called being born again. It’s baptism talk. Your baptism into Christ and the resurrection of Christ, and the new hope we have, are all connected. Notice he didn’t say a baptized birth or a wet birth or a newly converted birth – he says a “new” birth. Why is it new – it starts off new, and as the person grows and matures, and serves and listens to well developed sermons – it maintains its new status – but it does so through intention. (Advance)
Romans 12:2 (NIV) Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Listen, you have a living hope because of your relationship with Christ – to maintain that hope – you have to work at it – every day. Listen, if you don’t – you will wander in your desire to know God – and any wave of teaching will attract you because you aren’t grounded – so what if it contradicts the Bible? So what, if it contradicts the teaching and person of Jesus?
Do you honestly believe that the devil, in this spiritual warfare will use beach balls and gum drops as weapons – He uses HIGHLY respected people – leaders of people, to point us away from God’s word – by using bits God’s word – twisting it just a little.
What they are counting on – is that the church (that’s us) isn’t really following through, and to a big degree – their right – and it’s sad – listen, because we don’t end up with a living hope – we end up with a book of the month selection – that offers us something we weren’t intended for, a lie wrapped like truth – but for the most part – we don’t know the difference. For the Christian – renewing your mind – and the consent transformation are essential for knowing God’s will. When respected teachers and leaders are in the media – and they say something, claiming God’s word agrees with them – we will know the difference.
So we are given a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection into something else - HEAVEN
Faith looks back to Easter Day, but faith also looks forward to the coming of the kingdom of God, when death will be swallowed up in victory and the perishable will inherit the imperishable. (Advance)
1 Peter 1:4 (NIV) and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you,
Our inheritance – is in heaven, being with Jesus forever – all hope realized – all worry dealt with – all pain and disease cured. There will not be a language barrier in heaven, although “Every tribe, tongue and nation” will be represented.
For Peter and for us – the tomb is full of Hope – because of the God who brings us living hope – it is secure hope. I have seen this over and over – People who have been Christian longer than I’ve been alive – dedicated and willing to endure because they also see the living hope. If you need a reason to endure, if you need a reason to keep going, if you need a reason to tackle the crazy spouse and the whining children – look at the cross – but see the empty tomb – because that’s where you find your hope.
The tomb is: (Advance)
II. Full of Faith (5-7)
Biblically, your faith – if it is not tested, will not grow. That’s right, warm a chair every Sunday for the rest of your life – never get out and serve – never read your Bible (leave in it the car) never pray – and see if you grow – YOU WON’T.
Paul tells the church in Ephesus to put on the full armor of God –
a. Faith is a shield – meant to protect – lead – and direct(Advance)
Ephesians 6:16 (NIV) In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Vs. 5 says that we are shielded through faith by God’s power…
b. God is strong –
He’s strong for a reason – because the devil is determined. You put your faith in God, you see the hope that God will fulfill – and try to live your life – you might lose friends, a job – your kids might not agree with you – those in the world might treat you differently, or hold you to a standard based on their ignorance. The devil might just plant a seed of doubt – “can God really use me?” “Am I good enough?” That doubt will bloom into despair, grief, pity and shame – Then here’s what you do – you step away. Instead of your faith and your God being the strong tower and a shelter – you give up and walk off the track.
c. You faith is tested – This is a good thing – because it causes growth
i. It causes rejoicing – not because the circumstance is great – but because GOD is great – and through those circumstances he will reveal his glory and power.
The faith of Jesus was tested. Do you remember the words of Jesus – in anguish with tears like drops of blood –
Luke 22:42 (NIV) "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done."
We know later that Jesus was arrested, but before he was Peter drew a sword and cut off the right ear of the high priest’s servant – Jesus told Peter to put the sword away and says this: (Advance) “Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”
It was a powerful thing – for Jesus to allow himself to be arrested and move forward with the punishment he was about to endure. Paul calls it humility & obedience: (Advance)
Philippians 2:8 (NIV) – And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!
d. Testing of our faith comes
i. So the genuineness is proven
ii. So that when you have endured you have gained something
iii. So that you can teach others to do the same
Listen – not for your glory – but for the glory and honor and praise of Jesus. You might look at your life, even right now, “my faith is a little thin, preacher” – “If this “testing” continues – I’m going to give up, preacher.” I’ve been there. Prayers go unanswered, hopes are crushed by realities around you, and situations that you saw as solid are melting away like ice cream on a warm day. What do you do? Endure! Trust that God will see you through – because he wants to show you victory in your life. Church, God is strong – even when we aren’t. Peter says that the testing will bring rejoicing – Paul says that this is something he delights in (Advance)
2 Corinthians 12:10 (NIV) That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
If you get to the point in your life where you have nothing to lean on but GOD – that’s GOOD – but it’s also tough. God is the strongest friend you can lean on – and he makes you strong. He doesn’t build on our sense of strength or what we claim as wisdom – that would be foolish. Instead he gives us his knowledge and his strength – when we know enough to ask him for it.
God will be praised and glorified through your life – the work he began in you – he will complete. Listen the same was true with Peter – over and over in the life of Peter when he gave into himself – he started to sink. HEY, JESUS – I WOULD LAY DOWN MY LIFE FOR YOU…(do you hear the rooster?) I don’t either…but I’ve been there…trusting in me, rather than the one who created me; trusting in my goodness, instead of the one who is good.
The tomb is full of faith – but to get there – you must endure the cross and trust that God will do in your life what he promised he would – the resurrection proves his power and his ability to keep his promises. Listen because of our hope and our faith the tomb is also: (Advance)
III. Full of Joy (8-9)
1 Peter 1:8-9 (NIV) Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
a. This is filled with hope and faith – You haven’t seen him – you love him – that’s hope. You don’t see him now, you believe in him – that’s faith.
Listen, the combination of looking into the empty tomb and seeing it filled with hope and faith is inexpressible joy. It’s joy that doesn’t end. It’s joy that’s not based on a situation, but on salvation.
b. It’s joy that says – I am:
i. Redeemed by the blood of the lamb
ii. Removed from the past – and I am able to press on
iii. No longer burdened by guilt and shame
iv. A son of God
v. Called to a purpose by the one who gave me that purpose.
This joy is not meaningless or empty – it’s the result of salvation. The condition of your heart that Peter says – “you are receiving” – it’s an ongoing process that will find its conclusion when you meet Jesus face to face.
This joy is future – but, church, it’s also present – knowing how far you’ve come, knowing God’s desire in your life, knowing his good, perfect and pleasing will for your life, knowing his protection in your life – will bring you joy, right now.
Good question: Is the tomb empty or full? Let me take you back to the tomb –
Mark 16:1-7 (NIV) 1When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3and they asked each other, "Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?"
4But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. 6"Don’t be alarmed," he said. "You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ’He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’ "
Did you catch that? Three simple words….Go, tell Peter. Really – you mean after the denial, and a huge lack of understanding – Jesus still finds Peter worthy? Jesus still offers grace and worth to the undeserving. Yeah, church, That’s what he does – because that’s who he is.
Peter was writing from his experience – that’s what makes this special. Peter knew what it was like to hope and wait, and wonder. Those three simple words at the tomb sealed everything – making something amazing out of the ordinary, something excellent out of the everyday. Jesus called Peter – accepted him – and loved him, to make him more. Was he always what he should have been – no, he wasn’t, he denied Jesus three times.
That’s what he does with our lives too. He accepts us as we are so that we can be more – for his glory. The tomb is empty – because he is risen – and because he is risen we can know the love and grace and mercy of our God who calls us to come to him with all that we are so that we can be more.