Summary: Easter sermon ... resurrection of Christ
"SOLUTION TO A ’GRAVE’ PROBLEM!"
TEXT: John 20:1-31
INTRO: There is no event greater in human history than the resurrection of Jesus Christ! If there is no resurrection, there is no Christianity! The apostle Paul says this clearly: (I Cor. 15:17-19) "And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men."
The Christian faith rises or falls on the resurrection of Christ. There is deep evidence of Christ’s resurrection, both from history and from nature. Every cycle of this planet is a "death-resurrection" cycle. In fact, it is a known fact of science that life springs from death. It is therefore appropriate that Spring is the time we celebrate Christ’s resurrection.
This is the greatest joy in Christianity, no Christian can ignore the resurrection of Christ, it is what makes us Christians!
ILLUS: On the Easter just before he died, D. William Sangster painfully printed a short note to his daughter. A deeply spiritual Methodist, he had been spearheading a renewal movement in the British Isles after World War II. Then his ministry, except for prayer, was ended by a disease which progressively paralyzed his body, even his vocal chords. But the last Resurrection Sunday he spent on earth, still able to move his fingers, he wrote: "How terrible to wake up on Easter and have no voice to shout, ’He is risen!’ Far worse, to have a voice and not want to shout." -- James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) p. 167.
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that Christ opens a way for man to have fellowship with God, and it is through His son Jesus Christ who died for us and now ever lives. Those who receive Christ as Lord and savior will also live forever with Him.
I. TERROR OF DEATH 20:1-9
A. Fearful 20:1-7
1. Mary Magdalene arrives at the tomb on Sunday morning early, she had come to properly prepare Jesus’ body for burial.
a. She had been unable to do this earlier because all the shops were closed due to and the law forbid it on a sabbath and Passover.
b. This was the first day by Jewish law she could embalm Jesus’ body.
2. What makes the idea crazy that the disciples somehow stole Jesus’ body to make up a story of a resurrection is the fact that none of them expected Jesus to rise from the dead...the disciples were in hiding for fear, and the women were buying spices to properly embalm Jesus’ body....none of them were hatching plans to deceive the whole world!
a. Besides this, there was stationed a special guard of soldiers to make sure this didn’t happen anyway.
b. And a huge stone had been placed over the tomb to seal it, it would not be possible for a few women to move it.
3. Jesus’ friends and loved ones were all afraid...they were too afraid to deceive the world.
a. Like most people, death brought fear into their hearts.
b. They saw Jesus’ death as final, they weren’t even thinking resurrection!
c. Ironically, the only ones concerned about this possibility were the Religious leaders who hated Jesus, that is why they got Pilate to station a band of soldiers around the tomb because of the teachings of Christ that He would rise again!
d. The enemy was more worried about this than the disciples!
4. Mary probably hoped the soldiers would remove the stone so she could enter and dress Jesus’ body for burial.
B. Final? 20:8-9
1. Did Jesus’ friends think he would rise again? NO!
a. Why would Mary bring embalming spices with her if she believed this?
b. Why would the disciples hide in fear if they thought Jesus would rise again?
c. Those who came to the tomb to see Jesus’ body expected a dead man, they came crying, not rejoicing! like most people today, death was a final act in their minds.
2. They were in for a surprise however!
a. When Mary gets there, the soldiers are gone...they had fainted in fear when the angel rolled away the stone and had gone back into town to report this.
b. The soldier’s story doesn’t make any sense...they claimed that the disciples came during the night and stole Jesus’ body while they slept! IF THIS WERE TRUE..how would they have known the disciples did this, didn’t they say they were ASLEEP WHEN IT HAPPENED!? This is an obvious contradiction ... you can’t know something has happened or who did it while you are sleeping! Their statement actually helps us to realize that this was a ploy on the part of the authorities to discredit Jesus’ resurrection, it doesn’t make sense!