Summary: An Easter Season Sermon using the Hymn, "Were You There?" as a basis.
He’s Alive! (But Don’t Tell Anyone)
Hymn Suggestions: “Were You There?,” Traditional Spiritual, Public Domain; “He Arose!,” Robert Lowry,
Public Domain; “My Savior’s Love,” Charles Gabriel, Public Domain; “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us,” Stuart Townend, ThankYou Music
A Brethren minister was continually bragging to his Baptist minister friends about the greatness of his church. No matter what they said, he always found a way to claim that the Brethren were better.
Eventually his friends got tired of this, and decided to play a prank on the Brethren minister. One day, they dropped a tablet in his coffee - and soon the Brethren nodded off to sleep. Then they took him down to the cemetery, and laid him in a borrowed coffin, next to a freshly dug grave. They hid behind the bushes to see what would happen.
Half an hour later, the Brethren pastor began to awake. Yawning and looking around him, he began to notice the coffin, the tombstones, and the open grave. Then he shouted: "Amen! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! The day of resurrection has come and the Brethren are the first ones out!"
Since we are drawing closer to that wonderful day of April 15th I thought it appropriate to tell you a little tax story:
A local retired accountant tells about a guy who wanted to declare the loss of his Cadillac Escalade SUV on his tax return. His accountant told the man that insurance usually takes care of things like that and wondered what happened.
Here is the story: During the previous winter the owner of the Escalade and a few of his friends decided to go fishing on a nearby lake. The owner also decided at the last minute to take his trust-worthy dog, Boomer, with him as well.
At the time the large body of water was frozen over, so they parked the SUV at the edge of the lake. So, instead of going out on the ice to drill a hole by hand, they lit a stick of dynamite with a long-burning fuse and threw it out hoping to rupture an opening in the ice. Unfortunately, Boomer thought it was a stick and went out after it. Fortunately, Boomer retrieved it in record time and started back. Unfortunately, when they yelled at Boomer to drop it, the dog ran under the Escalade with the stick of dynamite in its mouth. Fortunately, though, the dog got burned on his back by the still hot muffler, came out from under the vehicle, leaving the dynamite behind. Unfortunately, the stick of dynamite went off, transforming the SUV from a useful vehicle into a pile of junk.
That is supposed to be based on a true story. If you can believe all of that, you won’t have any trouble believing the resurrection of Jesus!
This morning I’d like to ask three questions:
1. Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
2. Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?
3. Were you there when He rose up from the grave?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Let’s try to experience the grief if we can. Let’s attempt to imagine the sorrow of His loved ones as they gazed at His battered body exposed on the cross?
Some of us may be able to recall our viewing of Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ just a couple of years ago. Some of us may have even made a purchase of a copy of the film for our own video libraries. Either way, the depiction of the Christ’s suffering has been burnt into our minds.
Like most of us, I am sure that you can remember the scenes of brutality made against Jesus’ character in that film; the derided trials of Caiaphas, Pilate and Herod; the shredding of His flesh and muscle through the scourging by Roman centurions; the excruciating crucifixion between two common criminals. Mel Gibson sought the poignant emotions of all those who viewed the movie to become familiar with the deep agony and throbbing pain that had been felt by Jesus, the Christ. And most of us unquestionably did.
But yet, today, the crosses that beautify our churches are elegant and adorned many times with gold and silver embellishments or encrusted with sparkling jewels. Often they are placed in conspicuous places and at times worshiped for their beauty and style. Long forgotten is the factual significance behind this symbol due to our shrouding it with our so called “artistic interpretations.”
These optimistic icons are in profound contrast to the crosses of the Romans government in the times of the Christ. They were known to split rough wood for their crosses which certainly including those found upon Calvary. Thus the surface of these implements of punishment was irregular, filled with splinters, and perhaps even crawling with insects. When the scourged backside of the Christ was forced onto His cross, the full weight of His body exposed Him to the tortures of the wood. He was bearing the repulsive pain of our sinfulness. Let’s take a few seconds to sit in silence and picture these agonizing moments for the Christ. [pause]