Sermons

Summary: Amazingly the world, entirely, or for an individual, can change dramatically in an incredibly short time. Although this is often hard for us, it’s going to happen again and we look forward to that time.

It Doesn’t Take Long to Change the World

Easter 2003

It doesn’t take long to change the world in very dramatic ways. “The 1989 Armenian earthquake needed only four minutes to flatten the nation and kill thirty thousand people. Moments after that deadly tremor ceased, a father raced to an elementary school to save his son. When he arrived, he saw that the building had been leveled. Looking at the mass of stones and rubble, he remembered a promise he had made to his child: “No matter what happens, I’ll always be there for you.” Driven by his own promise, he found the area closest to his son’s room and began to pull back the rocks. Other parents arrived and began sobbing for their children. “It’s too late,” they told the man. “You know they are dead. You can’t help.” Even a police officer encouraged him to give up.

But the father refused. For eight hours, then sixteen, then thirty-two, thirty-six hours he dug. His hands were raw and his energy gone, but he refused to quit. Finally, after thirty-eight wrenching hours, he pulled back a boulder and heard his son’s voice. He called his boy’s name, “Arman! Arman!” And a voice answered him, “Dad, it’s me!” Then the boy added these priceless words, “I told the other kids not to worry. I told them if you were alive, you’d save me, and when you saved me, they’d be saved, too. Because you promised, ‘No matter what, I’ll always be there for you.’””

In 1994, a son received a call from his father across the country. “Your mother isn’t doing very well; you’d better come.” She had gone to hospital for surgery- fairly routine surgery- a week after Mother’s Day. She had responded fine, at the start and had seemed to be recovering. But, then….and a son flew across the country, hoping to be there while she was still alive and did make it, and was able to spend three days there before she died. It doesn’t take long to change the world.

Just a little under four weeks ago, a daughter got a call from her mother. “Your father isn’t doing very well.” He had gone to hospital on Friday, for treatment, but something went terribly wrong that Sunday morning. So, then…a daughter raced six hundred miles, hoping to be there with her Dad and to see his improvement and did, but then things went poorly and he died. It doesn’t take long to change the world.

The father, the son, and the daughter all lived in hope, though. Especially, the son and the daughter live in the hope of what God has said to us, just like that father in Armenia said to his son. “I will come back,” he assures us. Rocks may tumble and ground may shake. Our world- in big and in small- may change and seem to come apart. But, as children of God, we do not need to fear- the Father has promised to take us to be with him.

How can we know he’ll do what he said? Maybe you’re not so sure? Maybe this promise is too good to be true, for you.

Let’s think, though, about what happened. Today we celebrate. But what happened that we celebrate? And what happened that gives us that wonderful spiritual gift of hope?

Let’s go to the tomb early on Sunday morning after Jesus’ crucifixion. Jesus lies there. He’s still, cold, stiff. Death claimed its greatest trophy. Hs is not asleep in the tomb or resting in the tomb or comatose in the tomb; he is dead in the tomb. There’s no air in his lungs- no thoughts in his brain- no feeling in his limbs. He body is as lifeless as the stone slab upon which he was laid. The executioners made sure of this. Remember that Pilate asked the soldiers if they were sure that Jesus was dead, when he heard that he was. You have to know that had they seen one twitch, heard one moan, or sensed that he wasn’t dead, they would have made sure he was. That was their job. The thrust of the spear removed all doubt- the Romans knew their job and they were good at it. So, they pried loose the nails, lowered Jesus’ body, and gave it to Joseph and Nicodemus.

As they sponged the blood from Jesus’ beard, don’t you know they listened for his breath? As they wrapped the cloth around his hands, don’t you know they hoped for a pulse? Don’t you know they searched for life? But they didn’t find it.

So, they did what they were expected to do with a dead man. They wrapped his body in clean linen and placed it in a tomb- Joseph’s tomb. Roman guards were stationed to guard the corpse, and a Roman seal was set on the rock of the tomb- and no one could get close to the grave all the time Jesus was there.

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