Sunday, April 12, 2009

Not Quite Empty

There were a few people here for Good Friday evening worship - not many... and a just a few worshiped this morning at 6:30. It wasn't quite empty--but close. Last night I went over to St. John's Catholic Church in Darwin for part of their Easter Vigil--that church was packed... I could only find a spot by the door.

Jesus' tomb wasn't quite empty on the first Easter morning either. The linens his body had been wrapped in were still there. A mysterious young man--or an angel--was there too, telling the good news that Jesus had risen from the dead and would be meeting his followers later. Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

You can listen to the following 6:30 a.m. sermon "What's Resurrection For" by clicking here.


Gospel – John 20:1-18
Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2 So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3 Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. 4 The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7 and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9 for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples returned to their homes.
11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.
“Christ is Risen!” “He is Risen Indeed”

This is Easter.
A day we call “The Resurrection Day of our Lord.”

What is resurrection? When we need the answer for any big Questions, we look to Jesus Christ.

Resurrection is what happened to Jesus, after he had been dead three days. Sin and death could not hold him, the devil could not defeat him. Jesus was raised from the dead, hundreds of people saw him alive. And today, because Jesus was raised, if you trust in him, resurrection is what will happen to you, in the end, after you die.

After we die, trusting in our Lord Jesus, we have a promise. We go to be with God; then there will be a last day, a day known as “the day of the Lord,” a day of resurrection.

John 5 says “the time is coming when all the dead in their graves will hear the voice of God’s Son, 29 and they will rise again. Those who have done good will rise to eternal life, and those who have continued in evil will rise to judgment.”

First Corinthians 15…“ 51 …Let me tell you a wonderful secret God has revealed to us. …We will… be transformed. 52 It will happen in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, at the last trumpet call. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised… And those who are living will be transformed so that we will never die.”

Resurrection is coming back to life. It’s not resuscitation, as if we got life back into these old bodies. No. Resurrection means having a new body!

First Corinthians 15:42-44 “Our earthly bodies, which die and decay, will be different when they are resurrected, for they will never die. 43 Our bodies now disappoint us, but when they are raised, they will be full of glory. They are weak now, but when they are raised, they will be full of power. 44 They are natural human bodies now, but when they are raised, they will be spiritual bodies…” then verse 53 “our… earthly bodies must be transformed into heavenly bodies that will never die.”

Resurrection is waking up with a new body. When you trust in Jesus, just trust him: not only will you receive a new body, but you will rise from the dead without your sin, without any of the things that hold you back. When you are raised, you will be all God calls you to be.

Philippians 3:20-21 20 …We are really citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. 21 He will take these weak mortal bodies of ours and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same mighty power that he will use to conquer everything, everywhere.”

First John 1:3 says “we are already God’s children, and we can’t even imagine what we will be like when Christ returns. But we do know that when he comes we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is.”

If you want to know what resurrection is like, look at Jesus, study the word of God. The mighty power shown in Jesus’ life, in his love, in his forgiveness, and in his rising from the dead, that’s what we have to look forward to when resurrection comes.

But what’s resurrection for?

We don’t automatically know. The women at the tomb were afraid at first. Their first reaction when they saw Jesus was to run away.

We might be afraid when we think of resurrection. We might think it would be nicer to think of an end to life. But there is no end, just a change.

Instead of being afraid, some might think of death and resurrection as an escape, a way to leave the problems of this life… Unfortunately, some people have even believed this resurrection to the point that they take their own lives, thinking that things will be better, somehow, on the other side…

But that’s not the point of resurrection. Resurrection, rightly understood, makes us better followers of Jesus here and now, not just then and there.

The key is to rightly understand what resurrection is for. We can’t go by what we think or by what we guess. Our lives, our spiritual lives, our immortal souls, our bodies, it’s all too precious to be dealt with on the basis of half baked opinions.

What do we need? We need INSTRUCTION! Like it said in the old musical “Sound of Music,” we need someone, older and wiser, telling us what to do…

The resurrection is like a great big stimulus package that is held in reserve for the future. According to the scriptures, resurrection is like a great store of treasure that allows us to spend ourselves without limit--not to go into debt--the spiritual DEBT was PAID by Christ on the cross... but we can now CONFIDENTLY to SPEND OURSELVES in service to God and our our neighbors without fear of loss because of the GREAT FUTURE that's ahead! The resurrection is intended to give us courage, to allow us to do everything God gives us to do with joy.

Resurrection takes away our fear!

Romans 8
15 …Don’t be like cowering, fearful slaves. …Behave instead like God’s very own children, adopted into his family—calling him “Father, dear Father.” … 17 And since we are his children, we will share his treasures—for everything God gives to his Son, Christ, is ours, too. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.

We are called by God, by the power of the resurrection, to spend ourselves—to not hold back—to serve God and to love our neighbors and to give up any idea of protecting or securing our own futures.

Suffering for the sake of helping others, serving others, helping others get to know the love of God, that’s part of what it means to follow Jesus; giving without thought of receiving anything anytime soon.

Knowing there is a resurrection day allows us to serve with JOY!

Colossians 3: Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits at God’s right hand in the place of honor and power. 2 Let heaven fill your thoughts. Do not think only about things down here on earth. 3 For you died when Christ died, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 And when Christ, who is your real life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. and then… 23 Work hard and cheerfully at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. 24 Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and the Master you are serving is Christ.

And in Ephesians 6: 6 As slaves of Christ, do the will of God with all your heart. 7 Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. 8 Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free.

So, one of the main purposes of resurrection is to help us move forward with what God calls us to do in this life, confident that he holds the future, and that he will make it all worthwhile.

And we do that without anxiety, without fear.

Of all the other things resurrection is for in this life, one of the most important is that it allows us to relax, to take away our need to be so worried all the time, to take away our need to always be in control.

This verse is from Galatians 2:19 and 20
…I have been crucified with Christ. 20 I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. So I live my life in this earthly body by TRUSTING in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

The vast majority of people in this world are burdened with fear… and for many that fear causes many other problems. Wouldn’t it be great to get free?

We can get free if we know about the resurrection of the dead! If we know the kingdom of heaven is coming, and if we know we’re going there, we can allow our anxieties to melt away.

My favorite verse on this is from Second Corinthians 4 where Paul is speaking so well about a Christian’s attitude toward this life:
18 We don’t look at the troubles we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever.

And the words of Jesus from Matthew 6:

25 “So I tell you, don’t worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food, drink, and clothes. Doesn’t life consist of more than food and clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t need to plant or harvest or put food in barns because your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than they are. 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Of course not.
28 “And why worry about your clothes? Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won’t he more surely care for you? You have so little faith!
31 “So don’t worry about having enough food or drink or clothing. 32 Why be like the pagans who are so deeply concerned about these things? Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, 33 and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.

So, what is resurrection for?

It’s for giving us courage, and for taking away our worries, so we can serve God with all we have, and all we are.


  1. My favorite resurrection story is in John. I particularly like the part where Jesus talks to Mary Magdalene. I wish we know more about her. We know that she was possessed with demons and Jesus cast them out. We can assume that she was close to Jesus during the latter part or his ministry.

    So here we have Mary and the other women going to the tomb to take care of Jesus body. She has been worrying all sabbath that the Romans or the Sanhedrin were going to pull some stunt to further discredit Jesus. Sure enough when she gets there the stone is rolled away and the body is gone. She is devastated. She and the other women run from the tomb. Mary is crying and can't really see through her tears. She bumps into a guy she assumes is the caretaker. Through her tears and her anguish she pleads with the caretaker, "Please, please if you took my Lord or if you know where is, please tell me so I can go to him."

    Have you had someone in your life that all you need was to hear their voice and it felt good? Mom or dad, a grandparent, maybe a favorite aunt.

    Jesus said one word, "Mary"

    When I read that passage I can hear a soft and loving Jesus calling to his people. Mary's heart LEAPS for joy. She rushes to Jesus to throw her arms around him. He says, "Not yet. Go tell everyone what you have seen."

    So when Jesus says your name may you recognize His voice, and may your heart leap for joy.

    Tim Robbins

  2. Tim - your "comment" was a great little sermon all on its own. Thanks brother. See you tonight?