Summary: Do you believe in the God of surprises? I do - but there is no way the friends of Jesus expected him to rise from the dead. No way! But the Good News is that he did and it is Good News for all people. Do you believe in the God of surprises?

Do you believe in the God of surprises?

Now, let’s be clear, just in case anyone’s not sure. Although The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is one of my favourite books, and one of my favourite films, I know that it’s only make-believe; but just like the parables that Jesus told – the stories he used to teach people about God – it can help us to think about the mystery, and the joy of the resurrection of Jesus.

If you know the story you will remember that Edmund was sucked in by the White Witch. She tempted him with delicious Turkish delight and he agreed to hand over his brother and sisters. He chose to do the wrong thing. He betrayed them; and later in the story his failure and betrayal means that he is guilty of breaking the laws of Narnia – and his life is forfeit. Thankfully his brother and sisters forgive him, but his life is forfeit, and the evil Queen wants to kill Edmund.

There is nothing anyone can to do stop the Queen from taking Edmund’s life; but then Aslan the Lion offers himself in place of Edmund. In the dead of night Aslan hands himself over to the evil Queen and Edmund is now not only forgiven; but he is also free!

Aslan is killed by the Witch – the Evil Queen - watched by Susan and Lucy, and they cannot believe what they are seeing. Their beloved Aslan is dead and they must feel as if all hope is lost. Their beloved King Aslan is no more.

(Show the Stone table and Resurrection Film clip)

I believe in the God of surprises. In the Narnia series there is a lovely moment when Aslan says to the children and to the readers of the story: “In your world I am known by another name”; and a bit like Jesus with his stories, Aslan leaves it for the children and us to work out who he is in our world – Jesus.

It’s a great story, but not as great as the Jesus-story, the Jesus-event, where Jesus offered himself not just for one person like Edmund, but for every single man, woman and child in the history of the world – past, present and future.

On the cross Jesus took my sin and your sin upon his shoulders. Death took him, but death could not hold him. Having lived life the way God intended, and having died sacrificially for the whole world, death could not hold him; but no-one; absolutely no-one either expected or believed that Jesus would rise from the dead. They saw him die, they saw him buried, and that was that; but on the first day of the week very early in the morning (Sunday) ‘the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb’ (24:1). They had spices with them because they were going to anoint the body. That was what they were expecting to do. That was what they were preparing to do. They were not expecting any surprises!

Do you believe in the God of surprises?

The women find that the stone has been rolled away from the front of the tomb. The tomb is empty, and the women are met by ‘two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning’ (24:4). Now if I was in a graveyard very early in the morning and I found the tomb I was visiting empty; and if two bright and shining men appeared beside me I think I would jump out of my skin! No wonder the women were frightened (24:5).

Do you believe in the God of surprises?

The bright shining men – undoubtedly angels – declare the incredible, unbelievable, totally surprising news that often sends an excited shiver down my spine: “He is not here; he has risen!” (24:6)! Who would have thought that God’s plan to rescue men and women would include news like that; but it is the news that changed the lives of the disciples of Jesus.

It is also the news that changes lives today. Death could not hold Jesus. Death was not the end for Jesus. Jesus defeated death, and Jesus defeated the very worst that evil men could throw at him. The sin of those who crucified Jesus could not ultimately defeat him. God had the last word. Jesus rose from the dead to bring joy and wonder to his friends, and he can do that for you today. ‘He has risen’, declared the Angels; and the followers of Jesus remembered what Jesus had told them: That ‘the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again’ (24:7). The promises of Jesus can be trusted – every single one of them! His friends didn’t realise what he was telling them at the time but he said he would be crucified and be raised again and that is exactly what happened.

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