Summary: The women worshiped the risen Lord, and this shows subtle but useful hints for worshiping. Sermon outline included.
Matthew 28:1-10 – The Surprise Worship Service
When Nikita Khrushchev died, a humorous story circulated in political circles. Apparently, the Communist party who’d cast Mr Khrushchev aside were uncomfortable about burying his body on Soviet soil. So they called the President of the United States, Richard Nixon, asking if the U.S. would take Khrushchev’s corpse. Nixon had his own problems at the time and declined. Then the Soviet leaders tried Golda Meir, Prime Minister of Israel. She was agreeable but added, "I must warn you that this country has the world’s highest resurrection rate."
There is something astonishing when the dead come back to life. It’s not natural. It is supernatural. It’s certainly never been common. It happens overseas every once in a while. But even in biblical times, it was rare. People generally resigned themselves to the fact that when a person died, that person stayed that way.
There is something permanent about death. We will never see them again. We will miss the time we had with them. And we generally wish that we had had more time with them, or we wish we had said or done something different. Death causes regrets. Death causes us to know whom we loved the most.
In our scripture passage today, we’ll look at the women who went to find Jesus that Easter Sunday, wanting to do one final act of devotion, one last act of love, one more act of service, to their lord and master, applying more spices to his lifeless body.
These women lived their lives to worship Jesus. To worship means to place a great worth on, to value highly. This is the essence of our church’s 3rd purpose: to value Christ highly through worship. These women placed Him first, and we are to do that too.
Worship is often misunderstood. Singing, praying, and attending church – we call these worship. But worship goes deeper than these actions. Or, we classify worship as “good” or “bad”, as in, “That worship service wasn’t very good today” or “I prefer when Glenna or Donna leads worship, because it’s better than.” But worship goes so much deeper than preferences or style too. Worship is about loving the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. Worship means waiting on Him and serving Him. It really does mean putting Him first in all we do. To accept no other gods before Him. To have Him as our first priority, whether it’s Sunday morning or not.
Let’s take just a few minutes today to look at 3 truths about our worship of the risen Jesus.
1) it may surprise us in our search – v1-7. Understand: these women had an agenda in mind. They were going to anoint Him with perfume and place more spices on his body. They knew what they were going to do. They were prepared to come to Jesus as they understood Him. But God was going to surprise the women that morning. God was about to upset their agendas. What they thought was an appropriate form of worship was about to be re-arranged by God’s plans. Instead of worshiping Jesus by anointing Him, they worshiped Him by falling at His feet, in devotion to the One who had just defeated death.
Often we come to church with an agenda, as if we were marking the list off from our calendar or daily planner. OK, I’m going to sing, pray, listen, and leave. Check! No surprises or shocks. Just following our agendas. I will worship Jesus in my own comfortable, particular way.
That starts off nice and noble. Not being a slave to someone else’s thinking. Being an individual. Working out your own salvation and all that. But the problem is that through the centuries, history has shown it doesn’t stop there. It always progresses to “I like it my way,” to “I think my way is the best way.”
Then, “If it’s not my preferences, it’s wrong.” Most of us have battled with this in regards to most things in church: service format to preaching style to musical style to hymn preferences to chorus preferences to Bible translation. If it’s not what I’m used to, it’s wrong.
Well maybe what you’re used to is right, and maybe it’s wrong. But simply being used to it doesn’t make it one or the other. What you’re comfortable with isn’t right or wrong, just because you’re comfortable with it. And sometimes God wants to break you out of it. Sometimes God will surprise you in your search for Jesus.
As you go through life trying to please Him, God will change your mind. God changed your mind once about something fairly important. From “I don’t need You” to “I do you need You.” From “I’m alright” to “No, I’m lost”.