11 April 2012
Theme: Connecting with God
Topic: Simply believe
Reading: John 20:1-18
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb.2So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’3Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb.4The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.5He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in.6Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself.8Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed;9for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.10Then the disciples returned to their homes. 11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look* into the tomb;12and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet.13They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’14When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.15Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’16Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew,* ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher).17Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” ’18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.
The Easter message is a powerful and life-changing one. Christ paid the price for our salvation ushering us into a new life in Him and reconciling us with God. Several factors make the Easter celebration a unique one. For me, the most powerful of these factors is the reminder that God loves us beyond our greatest and wildest imagination. According to the Scriptures, Christ Himself raised several people up from the dead so what makes His ressurrection unique, different and so powerful? The Calvary Cross on which Christ died followed by His resurection represent several realities: love, salvation, mercy, favor, justice, acceptance, reconciliation, freedom, liberty, healing and the list goes on. This evening we shall be considering how the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ connect us with God and how we can easily miss out on this reality through unbelief.
1. Why did the disciples disbelieve that Christ has risen from the dead and what are the lessons for us?
They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him,33saying, ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles;34they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again.’
When the sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him.2And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb.3They had been saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?’4When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back.5As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.6But he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him.7But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.’8So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.*
The Shorter Ending of Mark
[And all that had been commanded them they told briefly to those around Peter. And afterwards Jesus himself sent out through them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation.* ]
The Longer Ending of Mark
[Now after he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons.10She went out and told those who had been with him, while they were mourning and weeping.11But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it. 12 After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country.13And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them. 14 Later he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at the table; and he upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.*
Then the disciples returned to their homes. 11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look* into the tomb;12and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet.13They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’14When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.15Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’16Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew,* ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher).17Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” ’
2. What are the implications of Christ resurrection for us today?
Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.22But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.’23Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’24Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.’25Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life.* Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live,26and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’27She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah,* the Son of God, the one coming into the world.’
Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ.8More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ,* the righteousness from God based on faith.10I want to know Christ* and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death,11if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
3. What are the reasons for doubts about the resurrection of Christ in our world today?
While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply distressed to see that the city was full of idols.17So he argued in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and also in the market-place* every day with those who happened to be there.18Also some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers debated with him. Some said, ‘What does this babbler want to say?’ Others said, ‘He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign divinities.’ (This was because he was telling the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.)19So they took him and brought him to the Areopagus and asked him, ‘May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting?20It sounds rather strange to us, so we would like to know what it means.’21Now all the Athenians and the foreigners living there would spend their time in nothing but telling or hearing something new. 22 Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, ‘Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way.
Acts 17: 29-34
Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals.30While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent,31because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.’ 32 When they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some scoffed; but others said, ‘We will hear you again about this.’33At that point Paul left them.34But some of them joined him and became believers, including Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.
Christ is the resurrection and the Life; in Him we have our being. Let us believe with all our heart, soul and mind, that the resurrection power of Christ will permeate all our being.
Thank you Lord for saving us through the death and resurrection of Your Son Jesus Christ. Grant us a believing heart that will trust and love you all the days of our lives through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom be all the glory, honor and adoration, now and forever. Amen.