Summary: Many people are talking about Mel Gibson’s new movie "The Passion of the Christ." This study will take a deeper look at the Roman scourging and crucifixion that Jesus willingly endured on our behalf.
The Passion: The Rest of the Story
William Hill, who was the founder of Hopewell Presbyterian Church, used to tell the story of an old preacher who was approached by some of the members in his congregation. The members told him that he was boring them to tears and that their patience was wearing thin. They suggested to him that he draw more from modern-day science and current events so that he might liven up his Sunday morning sermons. The pastor patiently and quietly listened to the people and then told them that next Sunday he would do as they asked.
During the next week a woman from the congregation walked into his office, sat down, and began weeping uncontrollably. The woman had lost her husband six years earlier and the only family she had left was her son. She had arrived at the pastor’s office after having just been told of her son’s death in World War II. Her world had crumbled right before her eyes. As the news spread among the congregation they were shocked and saddened by the woman’s agony, but they felt helpless in alleviating their friend’s pain.
The next Sunday, the pastor stood up in the pulpit and said, “This past week Mrs. Jones’ son was killed in the war and she is devastated as are many of us who love her so much. At a time like this I would be interested to hear what science has to say?” There was deafening silence all around the building. The pastor said, “I was wondering what the news commentators have to say?” Again, total silence. The pastor looked at the congregation and said, “Well, I guess we’ve got to go back to the old Book once again.”
The pastor was right. Science is valuable, but limited in what it can tell us about human existence. The news commentator’s stories change like the wind with each passing day. The fact of the matter is that science also changes in their theories and observations. If you have a science book that is five years old, you are going to need to go to the store and buy a new science book because many of science’s discoveries from five years ago are now dated. The only word which stands the test of time and which speaks to our lives on a daily basis with hope, direction, and conviction is the Word of God. We’ve got to go back to the old Book once again.
Today our study will focus on Jesus. I want us to spend our time this morning looking at the cornerstone of our faith – the cross and the empty tomb! Everything we profess hinges on the one reality of Jesus’ victory over the grave. If this truth of our faith is simply an illusion or fairy tale then your faith and mine is in vain. Now I know some of you may think that is jumping overboard. Why would anyone want to put all of their eggs in one basket? You may ask, “What if they discovered Jesus’ body in some archeological dig somewhere in Palestine? With all of His wonderful teachings and the great work He did with the people wouldn’t that be like throwing the baby out with the bath?” Nope. If Jesus did not rise from the dead then this whole deal is a sham, its bogus, Jesus is a fake, a fraud, and the Bible is not worth the paper it is written on. That is, if He did not rise from the grave. The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:14-19.
14And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. (1 Corinthians 15:14-19 NIV)
The Apostle Paul doesn’t mince words. If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead then we need to dismiss church and go to the lake this morning. Praise God, the fact of the matter is that Jesus did get up from the tomb and overcome death for us all! That is the reason we are here this morning. That is the reason you and I have hope in the midst of such seemingly hopeless situations!
The answer to the deepest questions of your heart rest in one person, Jesus our Savior. How can a widow have courage to continue on as she stands before a fresh grave? How can the parents of a brain damaged or physically handicapped child keep from living their lives in depression and despair? Why would anyone who is blind or deaf be encouraged when they think of the life beyond? How can we see purpose in the lives of those who have been killed for their faith? Where do the thoughts of a young couple go when they finally recover from the grief of losing their baby? Who can help a family when they receive the tragic news that their daughter was found dead? How can a family hold on when they learn that their dad overdosed on drugs? What is the final answer to pain, mourning, senility, insanity, terminal disease, sudden calamities, and fatal accidents? The hope of us all, in whatever predicament we find ourselves is the hope of Jesus’ victory.