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Summary: People all around us need compassionate ambassadors of Christ’s love. They need Bible verses with skin on!

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Introduction: It’s on this day, that we celebrate the startling love of Jesus from Calvary and the message of hope from the Garden Tomb. Calvary and the empty tomb bring us hope in our darkest hours, hope for life now and life eternal.

Jesus did amazing things while He was here on earth. He drew large crowds because of His miracles and unconventional teachings. Christ Jesus did amazing things while He was here on earth. Christ even startled people by the things He said:

To the lame man, He said, “Arise, take up your stretcher and go home” (Luke 5:24).

To the man with a withered hand, Jesus said, “Stretch out your hand” (Mark 3:1).

To his friend, Lazarus who had laid in the grave for four long days, Jesus said, “Come forth!” (John 11:43).

Jesus must have even startled His parents after they had been looking frantically for their “missing son.” At the age of twelve, Jesus announced, “I must be about My Father’s business!” (Luke 2:49).

Jesus also startled many people by the things that He did:

• Christ turned water into wine. (John 2:9)

• He walked on water. (John 6:19)

• Jesus cast demons into swine. (Mark 5:11-13)

• He raised loved ones from the dead. (John 11:43-44)

But there’s something more important than all of these amazing words and miracles: Jesus startled people with His love!

Christ’s words were startling and His miracles amazing, but everything He said and everything He did was meant to call attention to how He (God) loved.

Let’s take a moment now to reflect on how Jesus loved people and how He startled others with demonstrations of His love.

• Jesus startled lepers by healing their disease-ravaged bodies and bringing dignity to their lives. Christ’s healing love was practical and yet startling since He was even known to touch lepers in order to heal them. Not even the terrifying disease of leprosy (with all its physical manifestations and social stigma) prevented Jesus from demonstrating His extravagant love (Luke 5:12, 13, 17:11-19).

• Christ startled the Samaritan woman when He broke all cultural conventions by asking her for a drink of water. In the midst of her shame and rejection, the Savior entrusted her with a conversation about eternal things (John 4:4-26). This seemingly simple interaction showed what lengths to which Christ would go to demonstrate His love.

• Jesus also startled the woman caught in adultery when He knelt down beside her, joined her at the point of her hurt and provided protection for her life. Christ dispersed her accusers and then offered the woman restoration as He lovingly said, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you? Neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:10-11). Christ rescued a sinner and restored a life, all the while confirming His startling love.

II. Christ’s Love Brings Hope to Troubled Lives

“And hope does not disappoint us” (Romans 5:5).

Christ’s love brought hope to those He loved. The lepers were healed and were able to rejoin their families and community. The Samaritan woman’s sense of worth was restored, and to such an extent, that she returned to give testimony to all who would listen. The woman caught in adultery was rescued from the certainty of shame and death, yet must have been overcome with the joy of her new-found freedom and restoration.

Each page of the Gospels is filled with encounters of Christ’s startling love and the hope He brought to troubled lives.

It’s at this season that we are challenged with the eternal significance of the empty tomb! And now as we reflect this Easter season on the gift of Christ at Calvary, let’s consider some of Christ’s final words from the cross. These too, reflect the startling love of Jesus.

Even at the point of His death, Christ was still startling others with His love:

• Imagine how Jesus must have startled the Roman soldiers who stood beneath His cross. The very men who had mocked Him, tortured Him, driven nails into His hands and feet, and gambled for His clothing, would have heard Jesus say, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

• Consider the thief who was crucified next to Jesus. After a lifetime of deception and sinful choices, the man must have been startled to hear Jesus’ words of acceptance: “Today, you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).

• And finally, let’s recall one of Christ’s final encounters with His mother, Mary. Jesus looked down from the cross and saw His mother standing with His beloved disciple, John. Once again, Christ displayed His startling, supportive love. Jesus looked ahead to His approaching death and made provision for His mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to John, “Here is your mother.” As confirmation of this provision, the Bible says that from that day forward, Mary lived in the house of John (John 19:26, 27).

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