Summary: A sermon for Easter.
“The Key to Everything”
By: Ken Sauer, Pastor of East Ridge United Methodist Church, Chattanooga, TN eastridgeumc.org
Is there any hope?
This is a question that many of us face at some point in our lives.
Is there any hope...for the married couple who seem to wind up at the same dead-end of unresolved conflict
again and again?
Or how about the person who has fallen victim to alcohol, drugs, or gambling or any of a number of
The person who is in so deep that he or she fears they’ll never find a way out?
Is there any hope for them?
Where is the hope for the mom-to-be who goes to her obstetrician for a routine checkup and hears the
words, “I’m sorry. We can’t find a heartbeat?”
Or for a single mom who works a full-time job by day, serves as both mother and father by night and
wonders to herself-- “How long can I keep this up?”
Or the person who battles depression and anxiety?
Or the person who stands by their spouse’s bedside as they lay dying?
And where is the hope for a generation of young people who seem to be an easy mark for drugs, STD’s,
abuse, or the pain of a broken family?
The question is...Where is hope?
What is its source?
What reason is there to hope?
The dominant theme of the Christian faith is that there is hope.
And it’s not a hope based on some nebulous optimism that in the end everything will turn out alright.
It is a hope which is based on faith and love.
The faith that the God of Creation cares about you and me…
…so much so that every hair on our head is counted!
And that not one sparrow falls to the ground without our heavenly Father knowing about it.
And that, in the Father’s eyes, we are worth much more than sparrows.
Our hope is in the love that never fails.
The love that pursues us long before we are even aware that we are loved or lovable.
It’s the love that comes looking for us when we are at the bottom of the ditch.
It’s the love which weeps for us and with us as we struggle in our brokenness and sins.
It’s the love that goes to the Cross in order to show us how great that love is, how important we are, and how powerful is the hope which can conquer even death itself!!!
The hope we have is found in an empty tomb, a Risen Savior and a God Who calls us into God’s life, God’s Kingdom, and to God’s side without us even having to buy a ticket!!!
The hope we have is found in a God Who has purchased us with God’s blood!
The hope we have is in a God Who seeks out the hopeless, and transforms!
Some 2,000 years ago, early on a Sunday morning, “while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene”—one of the world’s hopeless outcastes—“went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed.”
And at that moment, this was just another twist of the knife for Mary.
I mean, how bad could it get?
This is just chaos upon chaos.
What kind of a cruel trick is this?
Someone has taken Jesus’ dead body?
So Mary runs back to the city, back to Peter and back to John.
And like a gun-shot to start a race, Mary’s words get everyone running to check it out for themselves.
The younger disciple gets there first, and sure enough, the tomb is open and empty!
But he just peers in, he doesn’t go in.
And there is a really strange thing in there…
…the tomb is not completely empty, the linen cloths are lying there.
It appears that someone has not only taken Jesus’ body away; they have first gone to the trouble of unwrapping it!!!
Why on earth would you do that?
Peter, out of breath, gets to the tomb a few moments later.
And being Peter, in he goes!
And here’s an even stranger thing.
The linen cloths are lying there; but the single cloth, the napkin that had been around Jesus’ head, isn’t with the others.
It’s in a place all by itself.
Someone, having unwrapped the body—a majorly complicated task in itself—has also gone to the trouble of laying the cloths out.
As a matter of fact, it looks like the body wasn’t picked up and unwrapped at all.
It looks like it just disappeared, leaving the empty cloths, like some balloon when the air has gone out of it.
Now, as modern people, who like to think of ourselves as sophisticated, we might sometimes forget that the idea that God could raise someone from the dead would be just as difficult for these ancient people to comprehend as it is for us.