for Luke 24:36-48 - The
Reality of the Resurrection
One day a teacher was asking the kids in her
fourth grade class to name the person whom they considered the greatest human
being alive in the world today -- and the responses were quick in forthcoming
and also quite varied too.
A little boy spoke up and said, "I think it's Tiger Woods.
He's the greatest golfer in the world, ever" A little girl said, "I think it's
the Pope because he cares for people and doesn't get paid for it at all."
Another little girl said, "I think it's President Bush
because he's the President of the United States and the United States is the
greatest country in the world." And yet another little boy said, "I think it's
my mom because she takes care of me and my brother." Over and over again, kids
cited one celebrity after another and another. But then it was little Donnie's
And without even hesitating, when the teacher asked him the
question, he replied, "Well I think its Jesus Christ because he loves everybody
and is always ready to help them." Mrs. Thompson smiled and said, "Well I
certainly like your answer Donnie, because I'm a Christian too and I also admire
Jesus. But there's one slight thing that's wrong. I said the greatest living
person, and of course Jesus lived and died almost two thousand years ago. Do you
have another name in mind?" And I love the simple, innocent, wide-eyed response
of little Donnie. He said, "Oh no, Mrs. Thompson, that's not right at all. Jesus
Christ is alive! He lives in me right now!"
The greatest affirmation of the Church, in my opinion, is
not the affirmation that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary. It's not the
affirmation that he performed incredible miracles or that he was a profound
teacher or that he embodied the very presence of God. No, instead it's the
affirmation that Jesus Christ is alive and that he actually lives inside the
hearts and souls of each and everyone of us here!"
That's the message of Easter. How can we make that message
live vibrantly this morning? That's the task of preaching. What might I say?
What do you need to hear in order that the Easter message might transform you
into an Easter person? As I pondered the story and grappled with these
questions, a scene in Luke's Gospel became the image that I felt might do it:
Jesus is standing there. Actually he kind of suddenly just shows up, uninvited.
The eleven (minus Judas) are gathered together, and Jesus, we get the
impression, materializes out of thin air. He bids them peace and then offers his
hands and feet as proof that he was the one that had just been nailed to the
Roman cross beams we call the cross.
That's the scene. It was an absolute impossibility. It was
unrealistic. It was not human. And then scripture nails it. Scripture describes
the emotional state of the disciples in realistic terms. It says, "They did not
believe it because of joy and amazement." That's a human expression isn't it? It
was just too good to be true.
Let me ask you: Have you ever been involved in something
that just went horribly wrong and then it all got turned around suddenly and
everything turned out to be ALL right. That's what's happened here. Listen: It
was an impossible situation when 11 men gathered to discuss in private their
next move. They were frightened and confused. Life seemed to be closing in on
them and it was not possible for them to continue their three-year-old ministry.
Here were the facts: They were betrayed by one of their own. The crowds had
turned against them. Their leader had been executed. They had denied their
relationship to him. And any further development of their leaders ideas would
almost certainly mean their own deaths. Into this hopeless scene walks a man
they never expected to see: their leader. They were so startled by this event
that, to a man, they feared they were seeing a ghost. The resurrection amazed
them, filled them with joy, and turned their lives around. It's an impossible
story that positively happened and the evidence of the resurrection is all
around us today.
What amazes you about the resurrection of Jesus? What
impossible aspects of it fill you with joy? What parts of it are just too good
to be true? Let me share a couple of things that are amazing to me.
First, the reality of the resurrection amazes me (36-43).
Second, the reason for the resurrection amazes me (44).
Third, the reach of the resurrection amazes me (44-49).
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