|REPENT: TURN TO JESUS FOR RESURRECTION AND LIFE|
|David R. Clark||Luke 24:1-8||April 16, 2017||Easter Sunday|
1On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 5In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 6He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” 8Then they remembered his words.
Brothers and sisters alive in Christ!
You came to church this morning expecting to see and smell flowers. And you do. You expected to hear some special music. And you have. You expected to hear a preacher preach this morning. So I am. No surprises here.
However, there are times when things aren’t what you would expect. The time when all the traffic lights were green on your way to church or your children did their homework without being reminded. That time a single sentence from a sermon or the turn of phrase from a hymn verse hit out of nowhere, and your eyes began to tear up.
Easter is one of those things we weren’t expecting. For a few moments, let’s turn away from the business of everyday life and turn toward the message of Easter. TURN TO JESUS FOR RESURRECTION AND LIFE
- Accept the expected.
St. Luke’s account of Easter morning begins exactly how we would expect: 1“On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.” It all seems so very normal, so unexceptional.
These women had been dear friends of Jesus. They supplied food and clothes for Jesus with their own money. They stood by Jesus at the foot of the cross when so many others had deserted him. Their loyalty and their love for Jesus were on display in their lives. They would demonstrate their loyalty and love also in his death.
They were going to a dreadful grave. No one likes cemeteries. We’ll do anything we can to “nice-ify” them. Outside of golf courses, and that one guy down the block, there are no more beautiful and well-kept places than cemeteries. But we know we can’t spruce up death. Jesus’ tomb was a brand-new one—loaned to him by Joseph of Arimathea. But even Joseph’s rich tomb could not compensate for the fact that Jesus’ battered, lifeless body lay inside on a cold stone slab.
These faithful women went to supply Jesus with some basic human dignity. There had been no time to do the job properly on Good Friday. They were going to lovingly clean Jesus’ bloody body, gently sprinkle it with spices, wrap it with clean linen, place a burial cloth on his face, and let him rest in peace. Then they would return to a life that was going to be very different without him!
All of this is completely what we would expect. Nothing out of the ordinary here. A dead man, a grave, and a group of mourners wanting to say a final, fitting farewell. If St. Luke ended his account here, we would have no reason to celebrate Easter. This morning would be a colossal waste of time. Our dreams for heaven would be dashed and we would have just come face-to-face with the death of the Christian faith!
- Rejoice over the incredible.
But then something happened that the women didn’t expect: 2“They found the stone rolled away from the tomb.” They returned to the tomb at the crack of dawn. When they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away. Who would have opened the grave? What about the Roman guards? They had been keeping watch to make sure that none of Jesus’ disciples came in the middle of the night, carted off the body, and then claimed that Jesus was alive. Roman soldiers were bulldogs. They didn’t run away from their duty, even if it meant death for them. What in the world was going on here?!?
Then the women stepped into the tomb and experienced the first Easter. Instead of grave clothes, they saw angels. The slab where Jesus’ lifeless body had been laid became the first Easter pulpit. Instead of the silence of a tomb, they listened to a sermon. 6He is not here; he has risen! Jesus lives! “Remember how he told you!” the angels reminded them. Turn away from despair! Turn to joy in Jesus, the Resurrection and the Life!
Rejoice and see that Jesus has given you what you need, too! You need God’s forgiveness. Jesus died on the cross to pay sin’s shocking price tag. Easter is our Lord’s declaration that our sin has been forgiven. Turn to Jesus for his forgiveness! He died and rose again to forgive every sin for every sinner.
You need help with death! Friends, death has been defeated. Funeral parlors are dismal places. A graveside feels so final. But looks and feelings can be deceiving. Death and the grave is not our grand finale. Jesus lives! You can be absolutely sure that death is but a sleep. Your alarm clock wakes you every morning. Our living Lord will wake us from our graves, just as he himself did. In Jesus—the resurrection and life—we live even though we die. Turn to Jesus! His resurrection ensures your resurrection!
You need hope in life. The world is a mess. Our country is divided. We pray about our problems when we go to sleep. When we wake up, they are often still there. There are plenty of times when it feels as if God is floating somewhere out there beyond Pluto, while our problems feel as close as the nose on our face. Your hope isn’t placed in a dead guy with a bunch of memorable quotes. The living Lord is with you every single second of this life until he takes you into eternal life. Turn to Jesus! His life is your life!
May our Lord Jesus keep you in a living Easter faith—a faith that continually turns to Jesus for resurrection and life. Turn to Jesus. He is risen! Always Jesus. He has risen, indeed! Only Jesus. Hallelujah! Amen.