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Summary: We believe and receive and we go and show because God’s grace is amazing.

What’s So Amazing About Easter?

John 20-21

Rev. Brian Bill

3/23/08

These four individuals have discovered that life is worth the living because the loving Lord is alive. That’s a pretty cool tradition that they’ve had – to meet at Starved Rock every Easter to watch the sunrise. This time it seems like they’ve been impacted by the rising of the Son of God.

Thanks to a very generous gift from Pontiac Bible Church, this past weekend our family went to a waterpark, located directly across from Starved Rock. We never made it over to the rocks because of the weather but we did have a great time in the water. As part of the package, we had unlimited access to a brand-new indoor amusement center, located adjacent to the lodge. Complete with nine full-size rides, flashing lights and loud music, it felt like a county fair, except that the rides seemed newer and there were no deep-fried Twinkies.

When we went inside, we made a beeline to the first ride. As we waited in line I announced to the entire family that I was going to go on every ride in the amusement park. Our girls were amused by this because the older I get the queasier I get on rides. As I climbed into a little car held up by a couple pieces of dental floss I smiled bravely to Megan and we took off. It didn’t take long for me to feel sick but I just took some deep breaths and prayed like mad that the ride would end soon. When I stumbled off the ride our girls chuckled as I told them that I was finished at the amusement center. They all went on a bunch more and then we left and went back to the waterpark.

Later on we returned to the amusement center and I eyed a little-kid ride (a swing) in the corner and decided to try again. This time Beth and Megan strapped in next to me and we took off…and so did my stomach. I thought I was going to be sick and it wasn’t going to be pretty. Beth told me to look straight ahead but when I did my insides almost came outside. I broke out into a full-body sweat and my mouth started watering. Beth asked if I wanted the ride to stop. At first I thought I could make it to the end but quickly realized that I was already at the end. She tried to get the operator’s attention while I closed my eyes, put my head down and prayed like mad. He finally shut it down and I stumbled over to a bench while Beth dragged a garbage can next to me. Just then we saw someone who attends PBC. I could barely talk so I mumbled a greeting to her as she and her family walked off hurriedly.

My adventures at the amusement park will go down in our family lore and part of my legacy will be that I almost lost my lunch on a kiddy ride.

It strikes me that many today are just going through life wanting to be amused. Some of us are seeking every thrilling ride we can find while others have realized that this doesn’t satisfy, and even leaves us feeling a bit sick inside. I’d like to suggest that on Easter Sunday ‘08 you and I have a choice to make. We can seek to be amused or we can be amazed.

* The word “amused” literally means to stop musing or thinking. It’s often a pleasure sought in order to direct our attention away from serious matters.

* The word “amazed,” on the other hand means to bewilder, or literally, to bring into a maze. It has the idea of confounding and being so astonished that one does not know what to say. It’s also used of inspiring awe or wonder.

Perhaps you’ve caught on already that each actor this morning represents individuals in the original Easter drama: Mary Magdalene, John, Peter and Thomas. You can read more about this amazing account in the last two chapters of the Gospel of John. Each of these individuals, who are just like some of us, experienced Easter amazement.

1. Mary had her weaknesses wiped out. John 20:11 tells us that Mary stood outside the empty tomb crying. Did you know that the first Easter was filled with a wide array of emotions? Here are some words I came across as I read all four gospels this week: crying, alarmed, bewildered, joy, trembling, afraid. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb “and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head, the other at the foot.”

In Verse 14 Mary turns around and sees Jesus but doesn’t recognize Him. He then spoke words of comfort when he asked her the first of two questions in verse 15: “Woman, why are you crying?” I want you to notice that Jesus does not rebuke her for crying or for grieving greatly. Instead he gently invites her to talk about her sorrow. Friend, Jesus knows all about those things that make you sad. He understands your fear and anxiety. And He wants to walk through your pain with you. That’s just what Pastor Jeff preached last Sunday.

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