Summary: We all will respond to Jesus’ resurrection in a very personal manner because the evidence demands a verdict.
Before reading our passage for today I want to share a story I read this week. A father took his little boy to a pet shop to pick out a puppy for his birthday present. For half an hour he looked at the assortment in the window. "Decided which one you want?" asked his Daddy. "Yes," the little fellow said, pointing to one which was enthusiastically wagging his tail. "I want the one with the happy ending." (John R. Brokhoff, Lent: A Time of Tears, CSS Publishing Company, www.eSermons.com, 1984, 0-89536-649-5)
The last two weeks have been emotional for us. We first looked closely at Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday as God’s Sacrificial Lamb rather than as the people’s Warrior King. Then we took an uncomfortably close look at Jesus’ suffering for us which began in the Garden of Gethsemane on Thursday Night and was completed at 3:00 PM on Friday on the Cross. Today, thankfully, our focus is on the very happy ending to this difficult week! Read Passage . . .
I. Some things just cannot be ignored (the events of 911 for example). That grabbed everyone’s attention. The Asian Tsunami is an example of an event that happened half the world away yet it still affected us even though it didn’t happen directly too us. Of course good things happen too. Remember Jessica McClure, the 18 month old little girl who had fallen into the well pipe in Midland, TX and was stuck there for 58 hrs? We all cheered when they brought her up safely. These are a few examples of significant events that have grabbed our attention.
The Resurrection of Jesus is the granddaddy of attention grabbing events. There is one thing the world cannot do when it comes to the account of Jesus’ Resurrection; it cannot ignore it. The Stone being rolled away and the Empty Tomb demands our attention as it did these women who wondered about what they had found. What people do then varies. Some choose to not believe that Jesus was really dead and therefore wasn’t really resurrected; others claim someone stole the body to fake a resurrection, some even say it’s just a wonderful story we Christians have made up. But, still the world can’t make it go away. It is such an incredible story that it demands our attention and it demands a verdict; was Jesus resurrected? Is He really alive today?
Before Jesus was resurrected, He died as our sacrificial Lamb. The Bible says that, “God demonstrates His own love for us in this; while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” In his book, Next Door Savior, Max Lucado tells a human story of love like this. “A man had been injured in a fire while attempting to save his parents from a burning house. He couldn’t get to them. They perished. His face was burned and disfigured. He mistakenly interpreted his pain as God’s punishment. The man wouldn’t let anyone see him – not even his wife. She went to Dr. Maltz, a plastic surgeon, for help. He told the woman not to worry. ‘I can restore his face.’
The wife was unenthused. Her husband had repeatedly refused any help. She knew he would again. Then why her visit? ‘I want you to disfigure my face so I can be like him! If I can share in his pain, then maybe he will let me back into his life.’ Dr. Maltz was shocked. He denied her request but was so moved by this woman’s love that he went to speak with her husband. Knocking on the man’s bedroom door, he called loudly, ‘I’m a plastic surgeon, and I want you to know that I can restore your face.’
No response. ‘Please come out.’ Again there was no answer. Still speaking through the door, Dr. Maltz told the man of his wife’s proposal. ‘She wants me to disfigure her face, to make her face like yours in the hope that you will let her back into your life. That’s how much she loves you.” This man understood the offer and responded by coming out and letting the doctor help him.” God wants to help you with any deformities of your life. He was disfigured for us in the hopes we would let Him back into our lives. Will you come out of your hiding place today and let him help you?
II. The Normal Response to the Empty Tomb is Skepticism - Verses 1-4a, 9-10
These women had been following and serving alongside of Jesus for a while and had just experienced the events of the week. They were at the Cross helping to take Jesus’ body down but they were not able to finish making His burial preparations because of the Sabbath. Here we see them on their way to the Tomb fully expecting to find Jesus’ body there in order to anoint it for burial. Funerals today give families this one last opportunity to express their love for their loved one too. But, instead of finding Jesus’ body they found the stone rolled away and no-body home.