Weekly sermon – continuing our sermon series entitled “Sketches of the Son of God”. Preaching from Chris Hughes.
Many people today take out a “funeral plan” well in advance of their demise! But this is not a new idea, because God devised one for his Son (Isaiah 53 v 9.) And so, thanks to Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, Jesus was buried in the vicinity of Calvary in a rich man’s tomb, just as the funeral plan stated!
But thankfully this was not the end, in that Jesus came back to life, an event we shall now consider using 3 headings: –
1 – Irrefutable Evidence (v 1 – 9.)
When Mary Magdalene visited the tomb before dawn, she discovered that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. Distraught, and assuming that it had been ransacked and the body of Jesus stolen, she fled the scene to find Simon Peter and John. They in turn sprinted to the tomb, discovered the grave clothes in perfect order, but there was no sign of Jesus’ body. Puzzled and perplexed they headed for home, but the green shoots of a belief in the resurrection were beginning to germinate in their minds on the basis of the missing body and the discarded shroud.
Easter faith is about believing the facts about the resurrection of Jesus. It is about overcoming objections such as – the swoon theory (Mark 15 v 44 – 45); the alternative tomb idea (Mark 15 v 47); the stolen body conspiracy (Matthew 28 v 13.) Then on the back of the irrefutable evidence, it is about giving intellectual ascent to the validity of Jesus’ resurrection. But that alone is not enough, there is a need to make the journey from the head to the heart.
2 – Individual Encounter (v 10 – 16.)
Mary remained alone in the garden, before taking a last lingering look inside the tomb. She saw two angels and then turned to see Jesus himself, although she somehow failed to recognize him, not an unusual occurrence (Luke 24 v 16 & John 21 v 4), until that is Jesus uttered her name. Now not only did she have the factual evidence of the empty tomb and the graveclothes, she had personally met the risen Christ.
Easter faith is much more than historical faith (the head knowledge that Christ was raised); it is personal, saving faith (the heart awareness that Christ has forgiven, accepted and now lives in me.) But with such privilege comes responsibility.
3 – Inspirational Encouragement (v 17 – 18.)
Mary Magdalene clung to Jesus, not wanting to let him go so that she might keep him to herself. But he had something else in mind, and so commissioned her to return to the disciples with the good news that he was alive and well. It was time to go, not to grasp; to herald not to hold. So off she went armed with her wonderful testimony “I have seen the Lord.”
Easter faith, although personal, is never private. The blessings of knowing him are not to be kept to ourselves; instead we are to share him with believers, to build them up, and unbelievers to challenge them to faith, using personal testimony and the truth of the Word of God (Romans 10 v 17.)
Suggested Palm Sunday Songs
- Thine be the glory – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWDJ2TWpvqA
- See what a morning – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xM-fpXayUg
- He has risen – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VwLR1BGmZSw
- All heaven declares – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-s9Kk6tfVU
- Glorious – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Brtdu2WM8mc
- Low in the grave he lay – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jINjWlOYCBY
- Christ the Lord is Risen today – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HX6SMezVUbA&list=RDnrI2sBiIDxE&index=5
Theme: God’s back!
Reading: John 20 v 1 – 18
Preacher: Chris Hughes