A sermon based on Luke 24:1-12 and preached by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett at Faith Community Church, Barre, VT on April 4, 2010
Verse 1 - On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came to the tomb, bringing the spices they had prepared.
- The resurrection of Jesus Christ happened on Sunday, which was the first day of the week.
- In the Old Testament, the Jews worshipped on Saturday, which was the Sabbath.
- Some people still worship on Saturday, and that is still okay.
- But in the New Testament, many believers began to worship on Sundays in honor of Christ's resurrection.
- What matters more than the day, is that we regularly worship the Lord. (see Romans 14:5-6)
- Far too many people have allowed themselves to get so busy with life that they no longer worship the Lord regularly.
- Though any amount of worship is better than no worship, to really gain the benefits of worship, we must be involved in it regularly.
- Some ladies came to the tomb of Jesus early in the morning.
- The Gospel of Matthew says it was 5 AM.
- These ladies started their day by coming to Jesus.
- This is something we should consider as well.
- Though we can pray and read our Bible any time, when we start our day with a quiet time with God, it makes the whole day go better.
- The ladies brought spices in order to preserve the body.
- They did not have modern embalming techniques like we do today.
- Instead they would preserve a body using natural spices.
- The fact that the ladies come to the tomb with spices to preserve the body means that they were not expecting Jesus to rise from the dead. They thought they would find His body in the tomb.
- What a shock they were about to get!
- In that time period, they did not dig graves in the ground like we do today. They buried people in caves instead.
- They would roll a huge stone in front of the mouth of the cave to keep animals away from the body and to keep grave robbers from stealing the personal items families sometimes buried with the body.
- The stone would have been large enough to cover the entrance, which would have been about waist high for an adult.
- The stone would have been fitted into a slot in the ground that sloped down.
- That made the stone easy to move as it rolled down into the slot to block the entrance, but very difficult to get back out.
- It would have taken quite a force of strong men to open the tomb. There is no way these ladies cold have expected to be able to do it themselves.
- The Gospel of Mark tells us the ladies actually discussed how they would move the stone as they walked to the tomb.
- They did not know the answer, but they went to the tomb anyway, trusting that somehow God would work it out.
- When they got to the tomb, the problem was already solved because the stone had already been rolled away.
- We all have questions about God and the world around us and wonder why certain things happen to certain people.
- Sometimes those questions are like giant stones that keep us from believing in the Lord as firmly as we should.
- We must journey toward Jesus anyway, not knowing how our questions will get answered, but trusting that God will work them out.
- The ladies were expecting to see the dead body of Jesus.
- In their minds, it was all over and all that was left to do was put the ritualistic spices on the body.
- It was not until that moment they realized that the adventure had just begun!
- How many of us have written off "church" as being boring or just empty ritual?
- While some churches may indeed seem more like tombs, there are many churches that are quite vibrant and alive.
- We need to become involved in a vibrant church in order to have the strong faith that is needed to endure the difficulties of life.
- Anyone who came this morning looking for rituals, we hope you are pleasantly surprised as you encounter the Living Lord!
- While the ladies were trying to figure out what was going on, they suddenly saw two men in dazzling clothes.
- The other Gospels tell us these were angels.
- In the Bible, angels were messengers sent from God to give people special messages from Him.
- God still sometimes uses angels to do special things in our lives.
- But most often God uses people to help other people.
- Who has been an "angel" in our lives?
- Who does God want us to be an "angel" to?
- The ladies were terrified by what they were experiencing.
- An encounter with the divine should be encouraging, but sometimes it scares us because we do not know what the result is going to be.
- We don't need to fear what God is doing in our lives because God will always do the right thing.
- The angels told the ladies that Jesus was not in the tomb. Jesus had come back to life.
- This must have seemed like an incredible impossibility to the ladies.
- People have always struggled with the concept of a dead person actually rising again from the grave. Can this actually be true?
1. The Bible itself says the resurrection actually happened. For many Christians, this is the only proof they need.
2. The resurrection is also well documented by numerous historical sources. Josephus, Ignatius, Justin Martyr and Tertullian were all historians who wrote about the resurrection of Christ in the first 100-150 years after it happened.
3. There were numerous eyewitness of the resurrection who both talked and wrote of their experiences. If it was fake, someone would have exposed them immediately. At one point Jesus appeared to 500 people at once. How do you deny that?
4. The Roman soldiers would have never allowed anyone to take the body of Jesus. They would have been killed if they had.
5. All but one of the apostles died terrible deaths for their faith in the resurrected Jesus. If they had known it was a fraud, they would have never endured such torture.
6. The community at large had turned against Jesus and His followers. Why would thousands of those same people suddenly become Christians unless they had seen Jesus after the resurrection, or personally knew someone who had seen Him?
7. For 2000 years skeptics have set out to "disprove" the resurrection and after examining all the evidence, a vast number have decided to become Christians.
8. If Jesus did not rise from the dead, where is His body? All the Jews had to do to stop the spread of Christianity was produce the body. They never did because there was no body to produce!
9. There have been thousands of documented miracles that have happened since Jesus was resurrected that prove the reality of His power.
10. Many people in this room can give testimony of how Jesus changed their lives. If He were not alive and in possession of real spiritual power, how could He change the lives of people sitting all around us?
Verse 6 - He is not here, but He has been resurrected! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee
- It is the very truth of the resurrection of Christ that separates Christianity from all other world religions!
- Though many world religions share various good concepts and seek to make the world a better place, only Christianity has a resurrected Savior.
- Buddha founded Buddhism. He was born around 563 BC. He taught that mankind could find enlightenment, be reincarnated and find peace within themselves. He died around 483 BC. His tomb is occupied.
- Confucius founded a philosophy of life that is practiced by hundreds of millions in Asia. He was born around 551 BC. He taught that rituals provide balance, you must govern yourself first and you must respect your ancestors. He died around 479 BC. His tomb is occupied.
- Muhammad founded Islam. He was born around 570 AD. He taught that he was the last messenger of God and that good works lead to paradise. He died in 633 AD. His tomb is occupied.
- Joseph Smith founded Mormonism. He was born December 23, 1805. He taught that what man is, God once was and what God is, man may become and that good Mormon men will populate a planet with their spiritual offspring. He died June 27, 1844. His tomb is occupied.
- Charles Darwin founded the evolutionary theory. He was born February 12, 1809. He taught that mankind was just an animal that resulted from millions of years of cosmic accidents. He died April 19, 1882. His tomb is occupied.
- Jesus Christ founded Christianity. He was born around 4 BC. He taught people to have a personal relationship with God through faith and said we should love our neighbors as well as our enemies. He died around 30 AD. His tomb: unoccupied!!!!!!
- The angels told the ladies to remember what Jesus had said.
- Jesus had taught for months that He would be killed, buried and rise again.
- But His followers had not been ready to hear that message until Resurrection Day!
- Whether we grew up going to church every Sunday or whether this whole Jesus thing is new to us, sometimes we don't get the point until we are ready to hear it.
- Are we ready to hear this message today?
- Are we ready to experience Resurrection Power today?
To experience Resurrection Power we must:
- Worship the Lord regularly
- Spend time daily with God
- Have faith even when we don't understand
- Not fear what God is doing in our lives because it will ALWAYS be the right thing!
- BUT it all begins with a commitment to the resurrected Savior, Jesus Christ!
Dear Lord, I believe in You and in Your resurrection. Right now I turn from my sin and place all my hope in You. I commit my life to You and will follow You for the rest of my life. I realize this is a big commitment and that I will need Your help to accomplish it, but I trust You to help me do it. Amen.
Those who once felt close to Christ but have wandered from the faith might consider this Prayer of Rededication:
Dear Lord, There was a time in my life when You were very important to me. But I've let myself get so busy that I have wandered from You. But I now realize that was not a good idea and I am coming back to You. Lord help me make You a priority in my life once again. I need You! Amen.