Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Rest Of The Story......

 Empty Cross...

My scripture is found in Luke 24:1-9.  Today is Easter Sunday.  This is the day to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.  I am sad to say though that many people today still doubt the resurrection.
 A man was driving along the highway, when he saw the Easter Bunny hopping across the road. He swerved to avoid hitting the bunny, but unfortunately the rabbit jumped in front of his car and was hit. The basket of eggs and candy went flying all over the road.
 The driver, being a sensitive man as well as an animal lover, pulled over to the side of the road, and got out to see what had become of the bunny carrying the basket. Much to his disappointment, the colorful bunny was dead. The driver felt guilty and became very upset. He stood beside the lifeless body of the bunny with his head bowed low and his arms held behind his back.   I am going to stop here for a moment….We’ll get back to that story a little later.
What I want you to focus on are the Disciples of Jesus.  They were brokenhearted.  After being arrested in the Garden of Gethsemene… Jesus was taken through a series of illegal trials.  He was taken before the Jewish High Priests Annas & Caiaphas.  Then He appeared before the Jewish Sanhedrin.  They passed Jesus on to Pilate, the Roman Governor.  Pilate did not want any part of this so he sent Jesus on to Herod Antipas, the Roman appointed king.  Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate.  Jesus was scourged…and then handed over to be crucified.  He was nailed to a cross.  For 6 hours Jesus hung there in excruciating pain.  Around 3:00 that afternoon…
Jesus spoke the words: “It is finished”…and Jesus was dead. His dead body was placed in a tomb!  Most of the Disciples did not witness these events.  Why?  Because in they forsook Him and fled according to Mark 14:50.  We are told in John 19: 25-26 that John witnessed part of this.  “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, "Woman, behold your son!"  So John and some of the women who followed Jesus…witnessed the crucifixion.
We are told that after Jesus was condemned to die..Judas went out and committed suicide. Where were James, Matthew, Philip, Nathanael, Thomas, Bartholomew, Andrew, Thaddeus, Jand Simon the zealot?  Luke 23:49 says:  But all His acquaintances, and the women who followed Him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.  So perhaps the rest of Jesus’ Disciples saw it, too. When the disciples saw that Jesus had been crucified…their hopes, dreams, and plans were crushed. They believed that it was just as Jesus said on the cross.“It is finished.” All their hopes had died with Jesus!  But let me tell you…..death is not the end.
Jesus was dead.  The disciples knew that.  Experts checked that.  In John 19:32-33 we are told, “Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs.  The Roman executioners knew when a body was dead.  Make no mistake! Jesus was dead!  So Jesus was placed in a tomb.  The tomb was sealed and a guard set too watch it.  It seemed that death had won!  But death could not hold Him and the Tomb could not contain Him.  Death met its match!  Oh…Jesus allowed His enemies to win for awhile.For 3 days and nights..Jesus looked like a loser! But Jesus got up!n He arose. Death has been defeated!
My second point this morning is that CHRISTIANS HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR!  1 Cor. 15:20-21 says, “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. When Jesus died, His followers became a frightened, confused bunch.  But that, too, would soon come to an end.  Matthew 28:5-6 - 5 But the angel answered and said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.  So, the women were shown the proof that Jesus was not dead!  Matthew 28:8 -So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. Peter and John came to see the empty tomb.  So we can assume that the word got around that Jesus was alive!  But 9 of the Disciples have yet to see Him!  That, too, would change!  The disciples were afraid and hiding behind locked doors!  But Jesus knew where they were hiding. He went to be with them.  I need to check back in with our Easter Bunny story.  It appears that a woman driving down the same highway saw the man standing on the side of the road and pulled over. She stepped out of her car and asked the man what was wrong" I feel terrible," he explained. "I accidentally hit the Easter Bunny and killed him. There may not be an Easter because of me. What should I do?"  So let me ask you this morning….What do you fear?  Maybe you’re a fearless person.  You could get on a wild mustang and try to ride it!  Well, be honest now, what do you fear?  Is it death?  I used to be afraid of death…but not anymore!  Do you fear the unknown?  Are you afraid of the Future?  Well guess what…..Jesus has the answer:  Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  Do you fear standing before God in judgment?  Jesus has taken our judgment:  John 5:24  "Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.  My heavenly Father has my hand….He is in control.  When I feel the fear bug creeping into my heart I remember the words in Psalm. 23:4."Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me;  The good news from the tomb is: "Fear not! Take courage.  I know you are dying to see how the Easter Bunny story comes out….well, The woman told the man not to worry. She knew exactly what to do. She went to her car trunk, and pulled out a spray can. She walked over to the limp dead bunny, and sprayed the entire contents of the can onto the little furry animal. Miraculously the Easter Bunny came back to life, jumped up, picked up the spilled eggs and candy, waved its paw at the two humans and hopped on down the road. 50 yards away the Easter Bunny stopped, turned around, waved and hoped on down the road another 50 yards, turned waved, hopped another 50 yards and waved again! This continued until the Easter Bunny was out of sight….but no ending just yet….  It’s Easter Midway….and HOPE HAS BEEN REVIVED!  Jesus’ disciples were feeling hopeless, gloomy, miserable-until they realized that Jesus was alive.  And then their hope was restored!  The Resurrection gives hope.  I know right now….Easter Sunday 2016 that my Redeemer lives,  And He shall stand at last on the earth; The resurrection of Jesus calms those who, standing by the grave of a loved one, asking the question, "Will we meet again?"  Let me remind you….If death were the final word, then we Christians have no hope.  Would you like to know how Easter Bunny story came out?...well the man was astonished. How did she bring the Easter Bunny back to life? Finally he said to the woman, "What in heaven’s name is in your spray can?" The woman turned the can around so that the man could read the label. It said: "Hair Spray. Restores life to dead hair. Adds permanent wave."  The Easter Bunny….fact or fiction….The Ressurection….Eternal Life….Hope….you can bank on that.

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