Summary: The power of the world and the exercise of force could not defeat Jesus, the Son of God. He is raised by the power of God's love--a love that transforms both the followers of Jesus and the world.
Luke 24:1-12 “The Power of Love”
The greatest story of love is the story of Jesus the Christ. His incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection profoundly demonstrate God’s love for all humankind. This love is transformational—life altering. Once we are touched by that love and respond to it, our lives will never be the same.
SURPRIZED BY LOVE
The women who carried heavy jars of spiced ointment were expecting to encounter death at the tomb. When the arrived they were surprised, however, the tomb was empty. God’s love did something that they were not expecting.
Many of us go through life expecting to encounter death—just like the women that first Easter morning. We expect life to be boring and a struggle. Shakespeare called life a “veil of tears.” Certainly there are times when life is difficult, but it is in these difficult times that we are surprised by God and his love.
One of the activities that I have asked some people during a class is to make a time line of their lives. On a graph they indicate the high points and the low points of their lives. Then I ask them to graph their relationship with God, when they felt close to God and when they felt distant. Almost always the low points of their lives are when they felt closest to God. We know this to be true in our own lives. In the midst of our grief God comforts us. When we are sick he gives us strength and heals us. When we are faced with insurmountable challenges, God gives us courage to act in faith and overcome the challenges.
God’s love is full of surprises.
ENCOURAGED BY ANGELS
When the women when in to the tomb, they encountered two men in dazzling clothes. We assume that these men were angels. They had a message to give to the women, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.”
Angels come in many forms. They have a common mission, however. They share with us a message of God’s love and help us in our confusion.
The good news that the angels had for the women is that Jesus was among the living. Jesus is with us. He is not dead, nor is he separated from us living in a distant heaven. Jesus is with us in the person of the Holy Spirit. Paul writes that Christians are in Christ and that Christ is in them. We have a new, unique relationship with God based on Jesus’ resurrection and the empty tomb.
Because Jesus lives, we are able to pray knowing that he will both hear us and understand us.
Because Jesus lives we are able to face life with a courage and strength that is not natural. Paul proclaims, “I am able to do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Because Jesus lives we are never alone. The psalmist writes in Psalm 139 that there is absolutely no place in all of creation that we can go and not be in God’s presence.
We have been conditioned through two millennia to know and believe that Jesus Christ truly did rise from the dead. The women and the disciples did not have this advantage. The empty tomb was a new experience. No one has risen from the dead before. They struggled to believe.
The women went to the disciples to tell them what they had found and what the angels had told them. The disciples didn’t believe them. To the disciples the words of the women appeared to be an idle tale. Peter, though, makes a decision to not just sit there choosing to disbelieve. He gets up and he goes to the tomb and he finds it empty. When he went home he was amazed at what had happened.
Faith is always accompanied by doubt. When we walk by faith, God is always pushing us beyond our comfort level encouraging us to take a step or even a leap of faith. Oftentimes people get stuck at this point. They aren’t sure that they believe the gospel and what it means for their lives. Rather than take a step of faith they sit back and do nothing.
• We struggle to live in the reality of the resurrection. If there is truly life after death, they we are freed. We can do more with our lives than simply exist for ourselves.
• We are not quite sure that we can never out give God, so we hold back and never realize the power and pleasure of giving.
• God sometimes doesn’t seem powerful enough to do exceeding abundant things above all we ask or think, or that we are able to do all things through Christ who strengthens us. Because of our doubts we sit and not little or nothing.