Summary: This sermon explores three transformations that take place in the lives of people who encounter the resurrected Christ.
I remember a geography lesson I received while in Primary School in South Africa. We learned that the southernmost tip of Cape Town, South Africa is Cape Point, which has experienced treacherous storms over the centuries. For many years no one knew what lay beyond that cape, for no ship attempting to round that point had ever returned to tell the tale. Among the ancient mariners it was known as the Cape of Storms, and for good reason.
But then a Portuguese explorer in the fifteenth century named Vasco De Gama successfully sailed around that very point and found beyond the wild raging storms, a great calm sea, and beyond that, the shores of India. The name of that cape was later changed from the Cape of Storms to the Cape of Good Hope.
Until Jesus Christ rose from the dead, death had been the cape of storms on which all hopes of life beyond had been wrecked. No one knew what lay beyond that point until, on that first Easter morning, Jesus rose from the dead, giving us new hope for life beyond the grave.
Suddenly, like those ancient mariners, people could see beyond human death to the good hope of eternal life in heaven. More than that, we now dare to believe that we can experience in our own human bodies what Jesus experienced in his, for the risen Christ says to us, “Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19).
And because Jesus is alive, he is now in the process of transforming people. He is transforming people whose lives are so often filled with storms to lives filled with good hope.
I want you to notice how Jesus started transforming lives on the very first day of his resurrection from the dead. Please pay attention as I read to you from John 20:19-31:
19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”
24 Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”
26 Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:19-31)
Some of you have seen The Passion of the Christ. Frankly, it is the most powerful movie I have ever seen. The movie portrays in graphic detail the last twelve hours of Jesus Christ. The final scene of the movie is a glimpse of the resurrection of Jesus.
Personally, I would love to see Mel Gibson do a sequel to The Passion of the Christ titled The Resurrection of the Christ. I would love to see a movie that has the same powerful, emotional impact as The Passion of the Christ in which we see how the resurrected Jesus transforms lives.
I don’t know if Mel Gibson will ever make such a movie. But I do know that the news that Jesus was alive began to spread among his followers, at first with hesitation, and later with enthusiasm. Even his disciples did not believe the first reports, and Thomas demanded proof. But whenever people were confronted with the reality of his resurrection, their lives were transformed.