Summary: The living and resurrected Christ ought to make a difference in our lives. The resurrection changes us!
Sermon - Lanier Christian Church
April 3, 2016
From Locked Doors to Joyful Praise SLIDE #1
On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
That first Resurrection Morning was filled with emotions that we would describe as "off the charts!" SLIDE #3 Powerful and mixed emotions of fear, doubt, questions, disbelief, amazement, tears and joy filled the air that day. It was hard to take in. The women at the tomb, the disciples, the eyewitnesses of his resurrection appearances... which Paul said was over 500 people...it must have been a roller coaster of emotions for all of them.
Each person in the Resurrection story has a reaction. No one left the scene of the empty tomb or an encounter with the risen Christ without expressing some emotion...a change in life even. And that's the point...Easter should change us! News of the resurrected Christ should cause some type of reaction in every person ever born.
Either there is doubt, or outright disbelief, or acceptance and belief and changed lives. There must be some reaction. Reporters use that phrase all the time when they come onto the scene of breaking news. They find a witness and they say: "What is your reaction to what you saw?"
My question for you today is: What is your reaction to the living Christ? SLIDE #4 The crowds of Easter are gone. The dramatic music from our children and adults has faded for now. The sunrise service will not take place for another year. But, the news of living hope remains. The news of new life in Christ still rings true. Heaven is still real. Death is still defeated. Christ is still alive!
So what is your reaction? I don't know about you, but I was thrilled by last Sunday. The truth of the Easter story is easy to preach and easy to get excited about. The songs of Easter are moving and thrilling to sing. The crowds of Easter fill you with encouragement, knowing that there are many who believe. Do all of these emotions need to fade away because Easter is over?
Of course not! The reality of Jesus coming back to life, changed the lives of his disciples for the rest of their lives. In fact, they lived boldly for Jesus for the rest of their lives proclaiming Him as the risen Lord every where they went! It wasn't just a day or two of saying: "This is amazing! ...and then back to normal...back to routine...back to "ho hum" living. No, the resurrection changed lives then and it should continue to change lives today.
Jesus said: Because I live, you also will live.
Jesus said: I go to prepare a place for you.
Jesus said: I have come that you might have life and have it to the full.
Jesus said: I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.
And these are lasting truths. The life changing words of Jesus were not meant for first century believers only. So I ask you again, "What is your reaction to the death conquering, risen Lord?"
At the crucifixion of Jesus, most of the apostles of Jesus gathered in a locked room to hide from the Jewish authorities who might have them arrested next. They started out hiding behind locked doors. This continued through the weekend until Jesus appeared before them. After proving to them he was indeed Jesus - by showing his nail scarred hands and pierced side - the apostles had a reaction alright. The Bible says: They were overjoyed when they saw the Lord! SLIDE #5
Now, that's a reaction! Joy. Overflowing joy. Joy that knew no bounds. Joy that would not only show on their faces, but reveal itself through their courage to move out from the locked doors into the world and boldly proclaim that Jesus, in fact, was alive!
Amazingly, Jesus walked on the earth for some 40 days after his resurrection. He was indeed alive again! Before his ascension back to heaven, Jesus challenged his disciples to spread the good news everywhere they went. That's what we remember the most. "Go into all the world and preach the gospel." And they did just that.
Yet there are two reactions of the disciples after the resurrection and after the ascension that we dare not miss. Luke 24:52,53 records: Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God. SLIDE #6