Sermon for Luke 24:36-48 - The Reality of the Resurrection
Easter 3

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 turn.

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.
  1. First, the reality of the resurrection amazes me (36-43).
  2. Second, the reason for the resurrection amazes me (44).
  3. Third, the reach of the resurrection amazes me (44-49).

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