Summary: Third in a series on New Beginnings, this Easter tie-in is a three-point expository sermon focusing on broken hearts, burning hearts, and buoyant heart.
A New Beginning (Part 3)
Scott Bayles, pastor
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 4/20/14
I just want to take a moment to thank everyone for choosing to spend Easter morning with us here at the Grove. Whether you’ve been coming to the Grove all your life, or this is your first time visiting, or you just haven’t been back since last Easter—we’re glad you’re here because Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and it’s a time of new beginnings and fresh starts.
What comes to your mind when you think of Easter? Do you have warm memories of going to church and signing rousing hymns of resurrection triumph? Or maybe decorating Easter eggs as a family and hunting for them early in the morning? Have you ever wondered what bunny rabbits and colored eggs have to do with the resurrection of Jesus, anyway? The short answer is—nothing. The longer answer is that rabbits and eggs were both symbols of springtime and new life in many ancient near-eastern cultures and along the way got jumbled together with other Easter traditions.
I love Easter eggs as much as the next guy, mostly because they come filled with candy. But, that’s not what Easter is really all about. The past couple of weeks we’ve gone back to the beginning of the Bible, to the book Genesis. In Genesis we learn that God made this perfect beautiful world and filled it with life. The first people he created experienced unbroken fellowship and intimacy with God. But then they let Satan’s lies lure them away from the God they loved. Their sin severed their relationship with God. But God didn’t give up on us. He makes a cryptic promise that one of Eve’s descendants would someday crush Satan and restore the intimacy that was lost in the garden.
That decedent was Jesus. He lived the perfect life that we could never live, and then died on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. His friends took his body and buried it in a stone tomb. But the story didn’t end there. Because when they returned on the first Easter morning, they found the tomb empty. Jesus rose from the grave!
Because of Jesus, Easter is a time of new beginnings and fresh starts.
No one illustrates this better than a couple of disciples walking a lonely road from Jerusalem to Emmaus. Their story is told in Luke 24, where the Bible says: “That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. But God kept them from recognizing him” (Luke 24:13-16 NLT).
Their story, as we’ll see, is a story of transformation—of renewed spirits and fresh starts. But it begins with broken hearts.
• BROKEN HEARTS
These disciples had committed their lives to following Jesus. They believed in Jesus. They put their faith in Him. All their hopes and their dreams rested in a man they believed was God in human flesh. But then He died. The ground beneath the Old Rugged Cross was tinged red with the blood of God. To say these guys were discouraged is an understatement—they were devastated, heartbroken.
When Jesus joins them on the road to Emmaus, he asks, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?” (Luke 24:17 NLT) And immediately, the Bible says, “They stopped short, sadness written across their faces” (Luke 24:17 NLT). As they tell this stranger all about Jesus—the miracles he did, and the death he suffered—they finally conclude, “We had hoped that He was the one…” (Luke 24:21 NIV).
Anytime you start talking about hope in the past tense, you know you’re in trouble. A soul without hope is like a body without food. Can you identify with these disciples? Do you know what it’s like to think of hope as a thing of the past? Do you walk a lonely road with sadness written across your face?
We have all kinds of hopes and dreams—the hope that we might meet that perfect man or woman and get married or the hope that the marriage we have might be rekindled. Some of us hope desperately to have a child, while others hope that their adult children might finally turn their lives around. We hope to get out of debt or escape our stress. We long to be healed of some disease or disability, or we hope break the cycle of addiction that keeps dragging us down. When those dreams go unfulfilled or our hopes are shattered, it’s discouraging, sometimes devastating.
There’s something I want to point to you. Even though they didn’t realize it yet, Jesus was walking that road with them, listening to their sorrows. No matter how discouraging or depressing life gets, no matter how hurt or heartbroken you are or how lonely you feel; Jesus won’t make you walk that road alone. You may not see him, but he’s there. He came alongside his followers and walked with them in their sorrow.