Summary: Today we gather around an event that has broken into human history like no other. It’s vital to recognize that it is indeed into history… real history. It was the unfolding of what God spoke through the prophets was going to happen. He would send a Messi
NOTE: At start of service the following text is read – John 20:1-22 or 1,11(after ‘but’) -22. Only 20:19-22 are in bulletin insert
The following portion of text was included in sermon outline bulletin insert (but not read again):
John 20:19-22 (NIV)
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. 21 Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit.
Today we gather around an event that has broken into human history like no other.
It’s vital to recognize that it is indeed into history… real history. It was the unfolding of what God spoke through the prophets was going to happen. He would send a Messiah… a figure would enter human history to redeem it… one who would suffer as a sacrifice for our sins and then be raised up. It is an event that was really seen… really touched. It was witnessed by hundreds. It was proclaimed from the start and a whole movement began based upon it. Paul’s own writings were within the lifetime of many who were there and could have challenged it’s credibility. Instead it spread.
More importantly it has born the power to piece the reality of the human soul like no other. People have not gathered for the past 2,000 years to say, "The stock market has risen. It has risen indeed." They have not gathered to say, "The dollar has risen. It has risen indeed." But across every continent and culture for two millennia of difficult times of poverty, disease, pain, hardship, and death itself, people have proclaimed "Christ is risen. He is risen indeed." (Last statement drawn from John Ortberg)
But for all the hope, to appreciate the power of this event, we need to appreciate where it begins… it begins in darkness… where one can see little hope. As we heard those accounts read at the start of our worship…we reminded that the resurrection comes as that which begins in fear and ends in peace.
‘while it was still dark,
While it was still dark… Mary Magdalene went to the tomb…when one can’t see clearly… and there is plenty to be worried about… plenty to fear.
That is precisely where Easter begins… The disciples had come to the big city… Jerusalem… filled with anticipation… only to have their door of hope closed behind a massive cold stone.
> Many of us can feel that way about life…. begin with ideals… doors we anticipate… and then find that they’re never quite open. So it’s no coincidence that Easter begins with the ultimate closed door of all doors… Faced with a massive stone… soldiers… and a seal… how fittingly it should represent the world’s greatest power… the Roman empire.
The world had closed the door to the presence and power of God which Christ represented.
But that wasn’t the only closed door….
Vs. 19 – “That evening, on the first day of the week the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid…”
(Locked behind closed doors in fear of the Jews.’ Of course they weren’t afraid of anyone because they were Jewish… for these men themselves were all Jewish..)
When doors are closed in front of us…sometimes we want to close the doors behind us and within us as well.
They were afraid of the leaders who had sought to silence the presence of the One whom they had found hope it. He had declared that God was at work setting everything right through him. He had called them to be leaders in that work… and imparted faith and courage… and suddenly he is dead… and they are in fear of their own fate.
Very natural fears. There are so many fears that we face and feel. Such fears can define us and confine us… as they appear to be all powerful. We all face fears related to safety… sickness… shortage. Each may claim to have a sovereign power over our lives.
All of us deep down know something about the darkness where fear of the unknown resides.
All of us know something about doors that have been locked in fear….
As this event unfolds… something dramatic happens. The earth shook… the stone is rolled away. Why is the tomb open? So that Christ could come out? No… it becomes quite clear that he would no longer need open doors to exit or enter spaces. No… the tomb is open so that they could look inside…. so that we could look inside.