Summary: The resurrection is factual story. It is a sign pointing to the identity of Jesus and it is for us - the Church - to share with others! This is an all-age talk outline which could be developed in various ways.
On this resurrection Sunday I want to speak about the story of the resurrection, the sign of the resurrection and sharing the message of the resurrection of Jesus.
(NB - NOTE TO THE PREACHER - I began my talk by asking people about their favourite books and stories, and asking them to tell us if they are fact or fiction. When I preached everyone went for fiction and I was glad I had my 1977 copy of the Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe handy to show as my favourite piece of fiction. I also had an Autobiography handy - "Pride and Perjury" by Jonathan Aitken.
NB: Also, everyone had been handed a small chocolate sweet when they entered Church, and they had been asked NOT to eat it until the appointed time!)
Some stories are made up, like fairy-tales, myths, and works of fiction. ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’ is one of my favourite pieces of fiction; it’s a story which makes me think. Jesus told lots of stories. He often used stories which we call parables; to get people thinking, and challenging people to change. Biographies and autobiographies tell the story of the life of a person; Matthew, Mark, Luke and John wrote about the life-story of Jesus. So our Bible reading from John’s Gospel is not fairy-tale! It’s his eye-witness account. This story is history. The Stone had been rolled away (20:1). Jesus body had gone (20:2). John saw the grave-clothes & believed (20:8).
The author and Bible teacher John Stott suggests that we might imagine an abandoned chrysalis. The evidence spoke for itself. See 1 Corinthians 15: 3-9.
John tells us (John 20:30-31) that Jesus did many other miraculous signs not recorded in his book; the ones he wrote down are so we may believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and by believing we may have life in his name. The sign of the resurrection is the climax of all the ‘signs’ John refers to. The first was changing water into wine at a wedding banquet (John 2:11). All the signs pointed to his identity. The resurrection points to the future and is a real and present reality for many Christian people throughout the world. St Peter wrote (1 Peter 1:3) that “we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Jesus said: “My father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40).
Through her tears at the empty tomb (20:11) Mary Magdalene found it hard to recognise Jesus but when the risen Lord spoke her name, “Mary” she knew it was him and she wanted to cling to him – perhaps wanting simply to be in his presence and to worship him as she had done when she anointed him with expensive perfume (John 12). Of course we can sense something her relief and her amazement but Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me for I have not yet returned to my Father” (20:17). “Go instead to my brothers and tell them”. Mary went to the disciples with the news, “I have seen the Lord!”
One of the problems with the UK Church is that we have become too inward looking. There has been more of a desire to sit in the presence of Jesus and to gaze at him than to go and tell the world the Good News. For those of us who love the risen Lord part of our worship is to go and share His story!
(Note to the Preacher - At this point I asked if everyone still had their chocolate sweet and pointed out that some people had been pleased with their sweet, others had not. I now made the point that the sweet is not for them to eat - it is for them to share with others, just like to the Good News is for sharing. There was great laughter as people shared their sweets. Morale broke out in the Church!)
So brothers and sisters. Let’s go and gossip the Gospel with others. It’s not ours to keep. It’s to be shared with others. Amen!