Summary: To accept the resurrection you must meet Jesus and to have faith is the key to the kingdom of God. To receive Jesus we must listen for him calling us.
Our bible reading today is one that is full of feeling, faith, compassion and emotion. It is one of the base lines and benchmarks of the Christian faith. We have Mary Magdalene making her way, in sorrow, to the tomb of her Lord and Master. She is distraught, her eyes are full with tears and her heart is heavy with grief. She has a solemn job to do. She has come to anoint the body of Jesus.
She and all the other followers of Jesus have gone through the ordeal of the crucifixion on Good Friday. They feel as though their hearts have been torn from their bodies. The one that had meant everything in the world to them had died and left them and was now laying in a cave. Their faith was being tested to the full. Jesus had told them that he would rise from the dead but did they really believe it? Through knowledge of our bible we know that some did have the faith to believe and trust but there were some who had a nagging doubt, even if it was only for a split second and then there was Thomas of course. Oh dear doubting Thomas he’s another sermon on his own.
But Mary was going to be in for a magnificent surprise. What she thought was going to be a great ordeal and a hard task to carry out was in fact going to be a triumphant and joyful moment and a memorable point in her life and in Christian history.
Jesus had risen from the dead. Alleluia.
Today I would like to spend some time with you looking at three important points:
1. To accept the resurrection you must meet Jesus
2. To have faith is the key to the kingdom of
3. To receive Jesus we must listen for him
To accept the resurrection you must meet Jesus
The resurrection from the dead of Jesus is a hard and difficult aspect to understand and for non-believers or new Christians it is somewhat hard to accept. Indeed I am astounded to know that there are some ministers who do not accept the resurrection how they can believe this and be ministers is beyond me. They ask how can anyone be brought back from the dead, after they have been nailed upon a cross and certified as being dead. There was no mistaking it Jesus had died. The Romans were experts at crucifying people. It was something they did day in and day out. They were experts and knew their trade well. Jesus had been an important and very prominent public person and had caused the authorities some embarrassment. They had to ensure that this was one crucifixion, which was done properly otherwise they would be in big trouble.
Many people met with Jesus on the day he was nailed to the cross. The Roman soldiers met him. Firstly they mocked him but as the day went on they changed their attitude and said, “Surely this is the son of God.” The thief that was on the next cross to him met him. He asked to be accepted into the Heavenly Kingdom. Mary Magdalene met him on the resurrection morning but did not recognise him. People today meet with Jesus. Some have wonderful experiences where their lives are changed. They are given a new sense of direction. What has previously been confusing suddenly makes sense. With others it may be hard to understand that the meeting with Jesus is happening. They may not recognise him as he comes to them.
Mary was a person such as this she was meeting with Jesus and yet she didn’t realise it. She was in the garden, she was pleading with a man who she thought was the gardener asking him to tell her where her Lord and master was. But when he spoke she recognised his voice she knew then that this was her Lord. How many times have we met with God and have not recognised him. We need to open our eyes and see that the presence of God is in the bird song, the sunshine, the garden and the breeze.
But how do we meet with God. What can help us to bring us closer to an encounter with his presence?
Pray. Our first duty to God, ourselves, and to the world around us each day is to pray. Pray that we can feel what David in the Psalms felt. Pray that we can be set on fire like Paul. Pray that God will remove sin from our heart and our life and in the lives of others.
Praise. Sing to the Lord! Privately praise the Lord. Publicly lift our hands and our voice to him. God is pleased to ignite the hearts of those who worship him.