Sermons

The Reality of Jesus

Sun, Apr 12, 2020
Teacher: Mark Hull
Passage: Luke 21:1-12
Duration:22 mins 44 secs

Message text

The Reality of Jesus

Luke 21:1-12

Let me start out with a riddle ~~

A man lives on the 10th floor of a building. Every day he takes the elevator down to the ground floor in order to leave the building. When he returns home he takes the elevator to the 6th floor and walks up the stairs to reach his apartment on the tenth floor. He does this everyday, unless it’s raining. If it rains, he rides the elevator all the way to the 10th floor. Why does he do this? (the reason the man would only go the 6th floor on his return home, was because that was the highest button he could reach on the elevator control panel. He was a short man. On days that it rained, he had his umbrella with him, so he could use the umbrella to punch the button that indicated his floor.)

OR, A man rode into town on Friday. He stayed for three nights and then left on Friday. How is that possible? (The man’s horse was called Friday.)

Mr. Black asks for tea and gets $5,000. Then he asks for eyes, but Mrs. White can’t give him any. Who is Mr. Black and what is Mr. Black doing? (Mr. Black is a contestant on the Wheel of Fortune.)

Did you ever play those kind of mind games. Some of you will sit and contemplate possibilities for hours in order to figure them out, others will simply wonder who thought this up. It is called “Lateral Thinking.”

Let’s try one more. On Friday night, a man dies. He’s buried that same night. On Sunday morning, His friends arrive at the grave, only to discover His body is gone. What happened?

One of the problems of Jesus’ resurrection, is that some people try to make sense out of everything that happened. They try to understand exactly how Jesus could die and then come back to life again.

Does it make sense that a man can be dead for 3 days and come back to life? No, it doesn’t make any sense.

But, let me ask you, how much of life makes sense? Look at the headlines over the past months and how our “regular DAILY ROUTINES” have dramatically CHANGED.

Do you wonder, where is God in all of this? What’s His will? What do we, who claim to confront death with a different heart, a Christ-centered heart, think and more importantly, what is it we do?

What do we make of it all?

Lots of questions, and sometimes, not a lot of answers.

Yet, there is one answer I do have for you. It is the reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

All over the world people are celebrating the resurrection of Jesus, alive forevermore!

This is something we do EVERY Sunday as we gather around the Lord's Table. Every time we take the bread & drink the cup, we proclaim, “I know, I know that Redeemer Lives, I know I know Eternal Life he gives.”

So we serve a risen Savior, & we look forward to that day when we shall stand with Him in a glorious heavenly home which He has prepared for all who have loved & served Him.

We treasure the words of the Apostle Paul who wrote, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. "Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day ... and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing." (2 Timothy 4:7-8)

You know, as much as I love life, I too, long for the day when we shall see Him, & be with Him, & with all those people of God who have gone on before.

In preparing this sermon, as I remembered some of the people & events of the past, for some reason my thoughts went back to a time when my family was on vacation in Disneyworld.

I can also remember thinking, "Wouldn't it be nice if time could stand still - if we could stay exactly as we are & remain as happy as we are right now?"

But, of course, that didn't happen. In fact, it would be useless even to wish for that, because we can't stop the inevitable.

The chief priests & Pharisees found that out. After they had crucified Jesus they came to Pilate, & Matthew 27:63-66 tells us, 'Sir' they said, 'We remember that while He was still alive that deceiver said, 'After 3 days I will rise again.' So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day.

'Otherwise, his disciples may come & steal the body & tell the people that He has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.'

'Take a guard,’ Pilate answered, ‘Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.’ So they went & made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone & posting the guard.

I don't know if you see the humor in that, but I think God did. Can't you just see the hosts of heaven looking down, watching the priests & Pharisees issuing orders, & those soldiers grunting & straining to roll the stone into place, putting the seal of Rome on it, & then standing guard to make sure that nothing happened?

It’s Friday
Jesus is praying
Peter’s a sleeping
Judas is betraying
But Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
Pilate’s struggling
The council is conspiring
The crowd is vilifying
They don’t even know
That Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
The disciples are running
Like sheep without a shepherd
Mary’s crying
Peter is denying
But they don’t know
That Sunday’s a comin’

It’s Friday
The Romans beat my Jesus
They robe him in scarlet
They crown him with thorns
But they don’t know
That Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
See Jesus walking to Calvary
His blood dripping
His body stumbling
And his spirit’s burdened
But you see, it’s only Friday
Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
The world’s winning
People are sinning
And evil’s grinning

It’s Friday
The soldiers nail my Savior’s hands
To the cross
They nail my Savior’s feet
To the cross
And then they raise him up
Next to criminals

It’s Friday
But let me tell you something
Sunday’s comin’

It’s Friday
The earth trembles
The sky grows dark
My King yields his spirit

It’s Friday
Jesus is buried
A soldier stands guard
And a rock is rolled into place

But it’s Friday
It is only Friday
Sunday is a comin’!

Can you imagine the God who put the sun into space being thwarted by a mere stone in front of a tomb? Can you imagine the God who created the power of the atom being stopped by a few Roman soldiers armed with swords & spears?

Matthew 28:2-4 says, "There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven &, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone & sat on it.

“His appearance was like lightning, & his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook & became like dead men."

What a scene! God spoke, & instantly an angel descends, the earth shakes, the stone rolls away, & the soldiers are paralyzed with fear.

The stone was only rolled away so that those coming could see in not for Jesus to get out. He was no longer in there anyway.

You see, the chief priest & Pharisees were trying to seal up the Son of God. But there was no way that they could succeed in doing that.

But sometimes it almost seems as if we, too, are trying to seal up Jesus. We put Him in a little corner of our life & say, "Lord, you're welcome to stay, but please don't try to change the way I think or act or speak. Just stay in your corner & everything will be fine."

PROP. But we dare not forget that this life is a preparation for eternity - an eternity in which we will be among the saved or the lost forever.

THE RESURRECTION PROCLAIMS THE POWER OF GOD

The message of this Sunday is that soldiers & seals & stones can never stop the plan of God. God marches on & His plan will be accomplished. We believe that because the tomb is empty & because Jesus Christ is alive.

I wasn't there. I didn't see what happened. But I believe in the resurrection with all my heart.

ILL. I wasn't there when the Germans surrendered in WW 2 either. But I believe we won & I have two good reasons for believing that.

First of all, through the years I have seen & heard the testimony of those who were there. They fought the battles. They won the victory, & they passed the good news on. But I also believe because I realize that if we had not won that war our world would be greatly different today. We would not be a free country. Our nation would be vastly different if Germany had won.

I wasn't there when Jesus rose from the dead. But I believe it with all my heart, & I have two good reasons for believing that He arose.

First of all, I believe in the resurrection because eyewitnesses have told us that it is true.

In 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 the Apostle Paul wrote, “For what I received I passed on to you... that Christ died for our sins ..., that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day ..., & that He appeared to Peter & then to the Twelve.

“After that He appeared to more than 500 of the brothers at the same time. . . Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles, & last of all He appeared to me also....”

I believe it because the Apostle John wrote in 1 John 1:1-2, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim. . .”

In other words, the apostle John is saying, "I want to tell you what we saw, what we felt, what we experienced. I want to tell you about Jesus."

SUM: I believe that Jesus rose from the dead because reliable people who saw what happened passed it on.

But maybe more important than that, I believe it because our world is greatly different because Jesus is alive.

In 1 Corinthians 15:14 Paul wrote, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.”

ILL. Did you ever see the cartoon of two Roman soldiers standing by the empty tomb? The stone was rolled away & one soldier was looking very worried because they had failed in their responsibility. But the other one shrugged & said, "Don't worry about it. A hundred years from now, no one will remember."

But a hundred years went by & people still remembered. And now, some 2,000 years later, God's people still gather & remember. And if the Lord tarries another 2,000 years, God's people will still be meeting to remember, because Jesus is alive!

And in the lives of those who belong to Him, sin & death have been conquered & the victory has been won. Our world is different because Jesus is alive!

THE RESURRECTION CHANGES THE WAY WE LOOK AT LIFE & DEATH

The resurrection also changes the way we look at life & death. When God talks about death in the Scripture He uses different words than we normally use.

Jesus talked about death as being like a wedding.

ILL. I've been to a lot of weddings & so have many of you. We have seen beautiful brides coming down the aisle. In fact, in all my years of performing wedding ceremonies I have never seen an ugly bride.

Jesus told us that the church is like a bride waiting for the coming of the bridegroom & that glorious moment when she will be with Him for ever & ever.

He also tells us that death is like sitting down to a banquet with God. God has invited us to His banquet. It will be a time of joy & happiness & fellowship. Jesus also says, "Death is like going home."

At the end of a busy day it is wonderful to be able to say, "I’m going home." It is wonderful to be able to go home & relax, to feel the love & warmth of home, & to know that you have a share in all that happens there.

Death is also like a graduation.

ILL. I recall my graduation from Kent State University many years ago. It was a hot May afternoon & I remember walking up on the stage & receiving my diploma from the president. I remember that, "He shook my hand & looked into my eyes & said, 'Now go out and teach the world.'"

"I will never forget that, & I remember walking off the stage, clutching my diploma & thinking, 'This really represents a lot of papers that were written & a lot of tests that were taken. Years & years of study were represented in this one little piece of paper.'"

"I looked at my diploma & just kept looking at it. 'There in the center of it was my name. I graduated. I did it!' Then I turned to the person next to me & said, “WOW ... we DID IT!”

"He opened up his folder & it was empty. I asked, 'Where is your diploma?' He said, 'Well, I’m not really graduating today. I am just going through the motions. I haven't handed in all my papers, or taken all my tests.

'The school is giving me a few extra weeks. Then, if I have all my papers in, & if I have passed all my tests, I will receive a diploma. But today I’m not really graduating.'"

This caused me to think to himself, "We studied together, we spent time together, & one graduates & the other one doesn't."

You see, some people graduate & some do not. Some homes are peaceful, while others are not. Some marriages succeed, but others do not. Some banquets are occasions of joy, but some are not. Even at Calvary while Jesus was hanging on the cross ... one thief was saved and the other was not.

In the same way, while the cross is a blessing for those who come & accept Jesus’ sacrifice, it is a curse for those who turn away & never acknowledge Who is there.

The empty tomb is the greatest source of joy for those who know Jesus and follow his example. But it is also the greatest source of judgment & condemnation for those who do not follow Him.

No, you can't stop God. Not with stones in front of tombs or soldiers. You can't stop what God is doing in our world because God will be victorious & you will either be on His winning side or you won't.

That is the message today. God is preparing us for something much better.

Just as He prepares a tiny little fetus inside the womb of a mother. Just as He knits together bones & flesh ? just as He makes eyes to see & ears to hear & a mouth to speak ? preparing that little body to be born into a new world, He's preparing us for a new world - a better world, a greater world.

INVITATION: So we offer His invitation, realizing that maybe there is someone here who has never been baptized . We plead with you not to let this moment escape - not to let this moment pass by.

If you are without Jesus in your life, then please call one of us and let us know of your need.

We can pray for you, study with you, and/or arrange for baptism for the remission of your sins and then to arise to walk in the newness of life. God's invitation is offered to you.

At this time let us sing our song of INVITATION!

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