Summary: Easter sermon, the resurrection of Christ.
"SONRISE IN THE MOURNING BRINGS AN END TO A GRAVE PROBLEM"
TEXT: Luke 24:1-53
INTRO: We like to avoid the subject of death. Young people live as though it doesn’t exist, middle age people think it only happens to other people, and elderly people try avoid the obvious nature of death by using terms like, "so and so passed on" or "so and so is no longer with us", etc.
The fact is that every human being will die! There is nothing in this world that offers hope against this, only the Easter message has a real solution to the ’grave’ problem man must face!
We have holidays to celebrate work (Labor day), to honor the dead (Memorial day), to honor independence (July 4), to celebrate love (Valentine’s day), to honor people (Mother’s day, Father’s day, President’s day, Martin Luther King day, etc.), to celebrate material blessings (Thanksgiving), to celebrate a new start (New Year’s day), but in all the world there is only one holiday that can celebrate victory over death and this is Easter - a Christian holiday!
Without Easter there is no hope for mankind to exist outside of short life spans like most animals. Christ’s resurrection is the single most important event in human history!
Since Christ alone has conquered death, faith in Christ can mean the difference between eternal life with God and eternal life without him.
Someone may say, "But how do you know God is real and that Christ rose from the dead if you can’t see it firsthand?" The evidences alone are strong enough to demand our faith!
ILLUS: A student wrote on a physics exam that he did not believe in atom, so he did not write a paper on it like instructed. The professor called him up and asked him why he didn’t believe in atoms. The student’s response was, "I have never seen one, and no one else has either." The professor felt duty bound to fail the young man because though it was true that an actual atom has never been seen the evidence for their existence was very well known. Their effect on matter, the mathematical formulas that say they must be there and predict their behavior, the understanding we have about their nature in order to combine them to make new products … and suddenly he understood the logic of Christians as he explained this, true, no one has seen God, but His powers and presence in the hearts and lives of Christians for thousands of years, changing them in predictable ways, the vastness of creation, the constant ways life springs from death in the universe, etc. all point to the reality of God and Christ’s resurrection.
PROP. SENT: The Bible clearly teaches that Jesus rose from the dead and because of this those who put their faith in Him will find eternal life. There is a ’grave’ difference between those who believe in Christ and those who don’t!
I. A ’GRAVE’ SITUATION! 24:1-12
A. Barriers to Faith 24:1-5
1. The followers of Jesus were hardly the kind of people to make up a story about Jesus being raised from the dead, consider the following:
a. The women came with spices to embalm his body, not to run around telling people he was raised from the dead!
b. The men were hiding behind locked doors for fear of the authorities, they were hardly in a state of mind to bring the authorities down on them by stealing Jesus’ body!
c. Besides this, the tomb had been sealed with a wax seal and Roman guards on 24 hour duty.
d. A huge stone was placed at the entrance to block any possible attempts to reach Jesus.
e. They had all seen Jesus die!
2. It had been almost 3 days since Jesus had died.
3. Everything was dark and cloudy, none of the disciples showed any faith!
ILLUS: It was June 18, 1815, the Battle of Waterloo. The French under the command of Napoleon were fighting the Allies (British, Dutch, and Germans) under the command of Wellington. The people of England depended on a system of semaphore signals to find out how the battle was going. One of these signal stations was on the tower of Winchester Cathedral. Late in the day it flashed the signal: "W-E-L-L-I-N-G-T-O-N---D-E-F-E-A-T-E-D- -." Just at that moment one of those sudden English fog clouds made it impossible to read the message. The news of defeat quickly spread throughout the city. The whole countryside was sad and gloomy when they heard the news that their country had lost the war. Suddenly the fog lifted, and the remainder of the message could be read. The message had four words, not two. The complete message was: "W-E-L-L-I-N-G-T-O-N- - -DE-F-E-A- T-E-D- - -T-H-E- - -E-N- E-M-Y!" It took only a few minutes for the good news to spread. Sorrow was turned into joy, defeat was turned into victory! So it was when Jesus was laid in the tomb on the first Good Friday afternoon. Hope had died even in the hearts of Jesus’ most loyal friends. After the frightful crucifixion, the fog of disappointment and misunderstanding had crept in on the friends of Jesus. They had "read" only part of the divine message. "Christ defeated" was all that they knew. But then on the third day--Easter Sunday--the fog of disappointment and misunderstanding lifted, and the world received the complete message: "Christ defeated death!" Defeat was turned into victory; death was turned to life! --James S. Hewett, Illustrations Unlimited (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc, 1988) pp. 165-166.