Summary: One week removed from Easter and there are already events taking place which make some question the presence of an Almighty God. Today’s message reminds us not to lose hope!
HE HAS RISEN!
HE HAS RISEN INDEED!
Second Sunday of Easter
(see also John 20:19-31)
A puzzled teenager came up to me and asked in tears that reflected anger, “where is God?” The question came on the eve of September 11th, 2001. We all know what took place that day and this teenager merely reflected the question that was on the lips of our nation. Where was God when thousands of people lost their lives? Where was God when evil men set upon that course of devastation?
The teen, let’s call him Mark, used to hold onto the comfort that Jesus Christ was always with him. You see before 9/11 Mark never experienced the sort of trial that puts God and His love for us into question. He never really had a problem confessing that Jesus was always with him. He, like you and I, knew of Christ’s sacrifice and he was one of many that stood up on Easter Sunday, just six months earlier and yelled with the rest of the congregation that Jesus Christ has Risen!
For us Easter Sunday is just a week old but already I am sure you have experienced or at the very least come across trials that put God’s love and power into question. It is easy to doubt God’s familiar presence especially when you look at what is taking place around us. Right now “family values” are being attacked by a certain powerful group that wants to get rid of the traditional concept of marriage. And as this group continues to have little victories Christians everywhere wonder, WHERE IS GOD? Then there is the partial birth abortion agenda that is so grizzly I will not even begin to describe the details. But yet when such a thing was legalized, again many Christians cried out saying, WHERE IS GOD?
During the aftermath of 9/11 firemen began there search for survivors. Tower one fell on building six and that is where one fireman began his search… all the while asking, WHERE WAS GOD? That day during his search he found the answer he was looking for. When tower one fell on building six a pocket was created where the firemen could actually walk underneath the rubble of the two buildings. And what they saw as they entered that area filled their hearts with joy and their question with answers. There in the middle of the rubble stood… AN UPRIGHT CROSS. You may have remembered a picture of that cross in newspapers and on websites everywhere. What was shown was a cross made out of I-Beams. At first glance I thought the cross was fashioned together by some Christians who wanted to convey hope to the world. Then I discovered that the cross was not fashioned by man. So I concluded that the cross was a complete piece of an I Beam from Tower one that was ripped apart and just happened to end up looking like a cross. This conclusion was enough for me and it remained my conclusion until only a few days ago.
I found out that the vertical piece of that cross came from Tower one while the horizontal piece came from building six. Two different building I- Beams came together in a cloud of fire and smoke, and thus was forged that one cross. Did you know that? The fireman who was asking the question, WHERE IS GOD found his answer. God was right there in the middle of the mess.
The Disciples had their own version of 9/11 when they thought they lost their Savior and their Lord to the cross. When Jesus was taken captive they ran and hid themselves. Their faith seemed violated. Their hope dashed. Their peace was shattered. When Jesus went up on that cross, the fear escalated and when they hid themselves behind locked doors, they too conveyed the question of WHERE IS GOD? But like the firemen who beheld that upright steel cross and rejoiced in being reminded of God’s presence, the Disciples also had their hope restored when Jesus came to them said, “Peace be with you” and showed them his hands and his side. He then breathed upon them and gave them the Holy Spirit, a gift that would always been needed in this world of sin and doubt.
Seeing their risen Lord caused the fear of their surroundings and their question of God’s presence to take a back seat. Thomas’ confession of “My Lord and My God” resonated in the hearts of every believer that Jesus Christ had Risen and indeed God was with them! And with this victory established in their hearts and the Lord’s spirit with them to sustain their joy, they were able to unlock those doors that they cowered behind for far too long. Then they went forth to share the good news. No matter what was taking place around them or in their own life, they went forward to help others come out of their darkness so that they too could know the truth.