Summary: In the words “He is risen” lies the difference between Christianity and every other religion in the world.
A Study of the Book of Luke
Sermon # 68
“Good News For A Bad Day”
How many of us have been approached by someone who said, “I have some good news and some bad news, which do you want to hear first?” I am always tempted to say, “Give me the good news and keep the bad news to yourself!” But in life we will receive some bad news from time to time. In fact I am sure that some of you feel like you have already received your share of bad news. Many of you have experienced troubles in your relationships. Some of you have experienced financial and business struggles. Others of you have experienced major health problems, spiritual dilemmas and so forth. For a few this has been a year of extraordinary loss, hurt or grief.
Patsy Clairmont in her book “Under His Wings” tells a moving story of the reality of dealing with grief. “We buried my friend’s 26 year old son last week. An accidental gunshot took Jeff’s life. We have more questions than answers. We are offended at people who have all the answers and no experience with devastating loss.
I watched the heart-wrenching scenes as the family tried to come to grips with the tragedy, I can still hear the travailing of the mother’s anguished heart. I can still see the wrenching of the father’s grief torn hands. I can still smell the hospital and funeral home. Memories march before my mind like soldiers, causing me to relive the agony. If it is this difficult for me, Jeff’s god-mother, how much more magnified it must be for his birth mother! I can’t imagine.
As I watched Jeff’s mom, Carol, the week after his death, I observed a miracle. I saw her move from despair to hope. From franticness to peace. From uncertainty to assurance. From needing comfort to extending it.
I witnessed a mom face her worst nightmare and refuse to run away. Instead, she ran to Him. When grief knocked the breath out of Carol, she went to the Breath Giver. I watched as the Lord placed His mantle of grace around her and then supported her with His mercy. The grief process has just begun for Jeff’s loved ones. The Lord will not remove His presence from the Porter family. But there may be moments when He will remove their awareness of His presence. That will allow them to feel the impact of their loss. For He knows it would be our tendency to hide even behind His grace to protect our fragile hearts from the harshness winds of reality. He offers us refuge, but He also promises us wholeness. Wholeness means we are fully present with ourselves and with Him. Therefore, we have to own our pain. If we do not, part of who we are we must either shut down, avoid or deny. That would leave us estranged from ourselves and divided in our identity. Also, we would never heal in a way that would allow us to minister to others.” [Patsy Clairmont. Under His Wings. (Colorado Springs: Focus On the Family, 1994) p. 137]
The death of Jesus has surely left his disciples devastated in grief similar to that of the family in our story. They had not only lost their teacher and their leader, but their best friend. All of their hopes and dreams for the future rested in Him and now he was dead. All the meaning had disappeared from their lives.
Jesus had died on Friday; Joseph of Arimathea had courageously stepped forward to claim the body and prepare it for burial. Joseph completed his preparations just before the Sabbath began at Sundown on Friday. The Sabbath had ended at sundown on Saturday and with the first light of Sunday morning the women had ventured forth to the tomb. We read what happened in Luke chapter twenty-four and beginning in verse one.
“Now on the first day of the week, very early in
the morning, they, and certain other women with
them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which
they had prepared. (2) But they found the stone
rolled away from the tomb. (3) Then they went in
and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. (4)
And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed
about this, that behold, two men stood by them in
shining garments. (5) Then, as they were afraid
and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to
them, "Why do you seek the living among the
dead? (6) "He is not here, but is risen! Remember
how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee,
(7) "saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered
into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’" (8) And they remember-ed His words.” (NKJV)