Summary: It’s OK to Wonder about spiritual things but after awhile we must move on to respond.
Iliff and Saltillo UM church
March 27, 2005
“It’s OK to Wonder”
INTRODUCTION: True or False. Fact or Fiction. Fiction or Non-Fiction. These are the questions which plague us this morning and which plagued the women and disciples 2000 years ago on the first Easter morning. Had Jesus really risen from the grave? Did the women tell the truth? Was this just an idle tale?
The women went to the tomb early in the morning to finish preparing Jesus’ body for burial. They brought spices, but they WONDERED how in the world they would slide the rock away to get into the tomb. When they got there, they found the rock had already been rolled away, and the body is gone. All of a sudden two angels appear in dazzling clothes and ask them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; He has risen.” (v. 5). “Remember how he told you while he was still in Galilee that the Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day arise?”
Mary thought to herself, “Oh, yes, yes I remember those words. I remember WONDERING at the time how this could be possible. But then, why not? He raised Lazarus from the dead and Jarius’ daughter and the boy at Nain and yes, this is INDEED possible. I must hurry to tell the others this wonderful news!”
Mary rushed back to the other disciples. Excitedly she proclaimed, “He is risen. The tomb is empty. The angels told me that he is risen!”
But the other disciples just stared at her in disbelief.
Peter wonders to himself, “Mary just told us that Jesus is alive. I WANT to believe that. But it can’t be true. How can someone who was dead come alive again? I didn’t see Jesus die, but John told me. The words that Mary brought from the tomb sound familiar. I think Jesus did say something like that, not just once but several times. Oh, how I wish I would have paid more attention to him. I WONDER--I WONDER if this really can be true! I’ll go to the tomb and check it out for myself.”
Peter sees the empty tomb and still goes away WONDERING. He wanders the hillside thinking and wondering--fighting with himself--wanting to believe, but not being really sure.
As Peter wonders and struggles to believe, finally bits and pieces unfold in his understanding and He finally believes. “It IS true. He HAS risen! I had hoped it was true!”
The story of the resurrection has been passed on by generations now for over 2000 years. It has withstood the test of time, the doubts and disbelief, the unfaithfulness of many, and the indifference and apathy of others.
STORY: In a very humorous and accidental way our federal government even believes in the resurrection. In Greenville, SC the Dept of Social Services sent out this interesting letter:
“Dear Sir, Your food stamps will be stopped, effective immediately, because we have received notice that you passed away. May God bless you. You may reapply if there is a change in your circumstances.”
I THINK THAT JESUS COULD HAVE REAPPLIED!!! DON’T YOU?
But many of us are like Peter. We don’t believe wholeheartedly like the women who came back with the message or with the disciples who do not believe at all. We WONDER. Could it be true? HAS he risen from the grave? Has there been a change in His circumstances? We are perplexed like Peter. His heart wants to believe but his reason wants to doubt. Peter most emphatically believed in Jesus during his ministry, yet he experienced doubt and a turning point away when he denied Him three times. To Peter, Jesus was still in the tomb. He could not picture the resurrected Christ just yet.
STORY: Some years ago, a new pastor was called to a spiritually dead church in a small Oklahoma town. The pastor spent the first week calling on as many members as possible, inviting them to the first Sunday service. But the effort failed. In spite of many calls, not a single member showed up. So the pastor placed a notice in the local paper stating that since the church was dead, the pastor was going to give it a decent Christian burial. The funeral for the church would be held at 2:00 p.m. on the following Sunday.
Morbidly curious, the whole town turned out for the funeral.In front of the pulpit there was a large casket smothered in flowers. After the eulogy was given the pastor invited the congregation to come forward and pay their respects to the dead church. The long line of mourners filed by. Each one peered curiously into the open casket and then quickly turned away with a guilty look. For inside the casket, tilted at just the right angle was a large mirror. Each one saw his own reflection in the mirror as perhaps never before.