Summary: Finding the meaning of the empty tomb. In my darkness, would God’s presence break through? How can I celebrate Easter, when I’m living Good Friday. Out of the ashes of life, you can still find Jesus. These questions are answered as we look for the mes
Title: What Will You Find When You Look For Jesus?04/20/03
Text: Matthew 28:1-10
A.M. Service ~ Easter Sunday
Purpose: To find the meaning of the empty tomb
Did you see the story on CNN this past Sunday of the rescued POWs? When Kenneth Krueger pulled his big rig in front of former POW Shoshana Johnson’s home and began whooping and blowing on the horn, I understood the joy and relief that she was alive and would be home soon. As Mr. Krueger gave Shoshana’s mom a huge bear hug, he summed up the situation perfectly when he shouted "Thank You Jesus!"
I’m sure the disciples were just as overcome with emotion and hope when they began to realize that Jesus had risen just as he said he would.(1)
Today I want to talk to you about the question: “What will you find when YOU look for Jesus?”
READ Text: Matthew 28:1-10
What then is the message we discover about the empty tomb?
I. Jesus gives us comfort for fear
1. v. 1 “Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning…”
B. Encouragement for our questions
1. v. 5 “Don’t be afraid…”
a. Why were they fearful? They were looking for Jesus who had been crucified.
b. Question: How might you be looking for Jesus?
c. As they walked to the tomb, their questions:
i) Who would roll away the stone
ii) What might they find
iii) What would they tell the soldiers
iv) Why did these things have to happen
The angel said, “Do not be afraid…” When the angel sat upon the stone, (a physical barrier) it was as if it symbolized God’s conquest over all barriers to his will. The stone didn’t need to be moved to let Jesus out- rather it was so others could look in and witness the empty tomb.
It also said the soldiers fainted away. While the stone might symbolize a physical barrier, the soldiers represented a political or societal barrier.
Whatever the case may have been, it was extremely hard to celebrate Easter when you’re living Good Friday.
Are you going through a Good Friday experience, where you find it hard to celebrate Easter. May I say to you, that with Jesus, a new day has begun. For the darkness of Friday, gave birth to the dawning of a new day on Sunday. (v. 1)
Question: In my darkness, would God’s presence break through?
By David Coffin, guest columnist
It was Good Friday. My house looked more like a set for "Rescue 911" than a place of solemn preparation for the pinnacle of the church year.
Barbara, my wife of 15 years, had just gotten home at 3 a.m. after a long shift as a registered nurse at a physical rehabilitation hospital. Her heart started to pound more than a hundred beats a minute. Her pulse raced so fast we couldn’t measure it. We tried massage and relaxation exercises, but nothing helped. She said her heart felt as if it were going to explode. Desperate, I called 911.
In the darkness, the emergency medical services unit arrived in our parsonage living room and worked on my normally healthy, 43- year-old wife.
I followed the ambulance to the hospital, my thoughts as heavy as my foot was on the gas pedal. In the early morning hours when many churches would sing "Go to Dark Gethsemane" and reflect on Christ’s agony on the cross, I was deep in my own darkness.
Barbara had always been the trim half of our marriage. (I can’t stay away from bratwurst, and I have the waistline to prove it.) She had been working long hours to help pay off both my seminary and her nursing school debts. Was it too much for her? I wept as I thought the unthinkable.
At the emergency room, it took two hours to stabilize Barbara’s heart. My wife lay in a hospital gown, hooked up to IV tubes, breathing with the aid of an oxygen mask. It looked wrong; it didn’t fit this youthful, active woman.
When her atrial fibrillation was finally controlled, Barbara was admitted to the intensive care cardiac unit. She had another episode on Saturday, which the doctor again brought under control. It wasn’t a heart attack, he said, but because her father died of heart disease in his fifties, he wanted to be cautious.
Around noon on Saturday, Barb finally slept. I too was exhausted. I felt ten years older. After calling family members, I realized she needed her rest more than she needed my presence.
I returned to our empty parsonage, facing an Easter I couldn’t cancel and didn’t have much heart for. I prayed, wept, and pleaded for God to give me the strength to be both a good husband and a good pastor. Lent had been a hard season in our rural area, with frequent blizzards and ice storms. The people expected--and deserved--a real Easter. As at many churches, Easter was our best-attended service of the year. They needed a worship leader who could invite them into the presence of the Risen Lord.