Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Best No Surprise

Notes for Easter sermon, 2010.  When questions or doubts come into your mind, feel free to text me at 763-291-3499 or email or comment below. You can listen to the sermon from 8:30 a.m. (mp3) by clicking here

Christ is Risen!  He is Risen indeed!

How would you feel if you knew everything – I mean everything – was going to turn out great? How would you feel if you knew that no matter how difficult things may seem at the moment, that there is no reason to worry, and that someday, in the end, everything was going to turn out fine? Could you begin each day with a little praise prayer to God – “Thank you, God, for this new day”? Could you be more generous, more gentle, more patient—more full of the fruit of the Holy Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control?

Well guess what? IT’S TRUE! Everything IS going to turn out – not just o.k., not just good, but absolutely BEST. And, if you are a person who trusts in Jesus, that should be no surprise.

The Word of God make it clear that there is NOTHING to worry about, and that EVERYTHING and everyone is ultimately, in the end, in the hands of our loving and most compassionate God.
For the time being, in this life, it doesn’t look so good. For now, it looks like Good Friday crucifixion. For now there is poverty and hunger and weeping and hatred and evil. But what does Jesus say about that? Luke 6:23—when things are bad now? “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great… your reward is great…” Romans 8:18 “I consider-that the sufferings-of this present time-are not worth comparing-with the glory-that is to be revealed-to us.” 8:28 “We know-that in everything-God works for good-with those who love him-and are called-according to his purpose.” And another of my favorites: Second Corinthians 4:17 “This slight momentary affliction-is preparing us-for an eternal weight of glory-beyond all comparison.” And verse 18: “because we look-not at the things are seen-but to the things that are unseen;-for the things that are seen are temporary-but the things that are unseen-they are forever.”

It is all going to work out in the end. That is the GLORY of this day—this day of RESURRECTION. One more verse—and this one is on your bulletin—First Corinthians 15:19-26…

So here is the deal… you know those problems in your life? You know the difficulties and the challenges and the sorrows and the pain? All those things are going to be GONE—and in their place is going to be perfect justice, perfect peace, perfect life, perfect love.

So for now… we’re just waiting… we’re just anticipating…

Yes, it’s a long night.

We don’t know when the morning will come.

You and I, we are like those women who came to Jesus tomb. Maybe it’s still the middle of the night for you. Or maybe there is a hint of light in your sky.

But if it’s a day like any other day you know it can be so disappointing. So you go into the day like you’re on the way to the tomb with the women.

It’s dark but you have a job to do. You’ve brought spices so the work will be more pleasant. It’s not generally pleasant doing this burial work, but you want to honor your friend Jesus so you go.
You get to the tomb and the stone is rolled away. That’s good, you think, a bit strange, but good, because that way you’ll be able to do your work, just checking to make sure all is ready for permanent burial.

But you go in, and the body, the body of your Lord and your friend and your savior-teacher—it’s not there!

It’s confusing! What’s happened? Did someone steal the body? But that doesn’t make sense because the body is the only thing that is missing. The burial clothes are there but no body. Why would someone steal the body but leave the clothes?

But then two strangers come. Strangers in estheyti astrapousi – clothes or robes flashing light lighting! Sound like angels to me!

“Why,” they say, and I imagine them saying this in perfect unison—“Why do you look for the LIVING among the DEAD? He is NOT HERE but has risen. REMEMBER? how he told you? while he was still in Galilee? that the Son of Man—that’s what Jesus called himself often—kind of a polite way—but very important too if you study the Old Testament—Remember how he told you that he must he handed over to SINNERS and be CRUCIFIED and on the third day RISE again?

Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed!

Risen? Risen from the dead? This should have been no surprise.

I love the response of those "men in dazzling clothes.” Those words sound make them sound like a frustrated boss or an exasperated teacher. Haven't we already gone over this? Didn't you learn anything? Jesus TOLD YOU this was going to happen! Weren’t you paying attention?

That’s the problem with us too. We don’t pay attention to God’s Word and the wonderful promises we have from God! For God so LOVED the world that he GAVE his only Son that whoever trusts in him WILL NOT PERISH but have EVERLASTING life! Have weak faith? Tiny seed faith? Great! Jesus will come to you and lift you up like a mother picking up her beloved child.

Yesterday we had the funeral of Eleanor Hackbarth. She knew God’s promises. And she could relax in God’s care even through her worries and her pains, because she knew God has a glorious future for her that she is enjoying now.

And those women at the tomb, and the “eleven” disciples they went and told—who thought it was all an “idle tale”… they had promises too... they should not have been surprised when Jesus rose!

Turn to Luke 9:22. This is in a section where Peter has just been inspired by God to tell who Jesus is. Verse 22 says… "The Son of man—that’s Jesus… what must he do? suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised."

Then look at Luke 18:31-34—this is another time Jesus tells them what is going to happen… They didn't understand, they were confused, they didn't get it. …Kind of like us.

But that didn’t stop Jesus from doing his work. It didn’t stop him from rising from the dead, and it doesn’t stop him from continuing to work everything about for good.

All he asks of us is just a little bit of trust. So we come to be baptized. And we come to the Lord’s table. We ask for forgiveness and a new beginning. And little by little, the faith inside us grows. Until there is a calm, and there is a sense of “resurrection from the dead? Oh yeah, I know all about that. It’s good… but no surprise.

We can become secure in that. We have the eye witness accounts that we will hear about in the next few weeks during this Easter season. We have this day of resurrection and we can look back and see how God the Holy Spirit wove the Old Testament together hundreds and even thousands of years ago in a way that it all comes together in the New. We can see how lives are transformed through faith… And our lives--we get to be part of it too.

Read Romans 8 and Second Corinthians 4 & 5, Read the rest of First Corinthians 15! Dig deep into the battle Jesus wins against sin and death and the devil.

Everything is working for good! The sufferings of today will bring perfection tomorrow. Any troubles, no matter how bad they are, they are just the introduction to a glorious future. We don't know just when the promised "tomorrow" will arrive, but it will--and it should be no surprise.


  1. The Saturday morning Bible study read the passage in Mark, where the widow drops two copper coins in the offering. Many wealthy people had put much more money in the coffers than she did. But Jesus, watching all of this, pointed out the wealthy contributed on a small percent of their income, while the widow gave everything she had.

    That led to a discussion about how much is enough. We went to the passage that talks about, how do you love God. With all of your heart, your mind, your soul, and your strength. So what does God want? Everything.

    Now, a day later, I come to learn what God gives back. Everything. God will take care of us. Everything we need, up to, and including, eternal life. Huh!

    Now none of this is easy. I know I often find myself quoting another famous person. "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me." In the middle of the struggle it is very hard to see a way out. But I do have to admit, when I can look back, I can see that it did work out, and I was loved and cared for throughout.


    Tim Robbins

  2. Thanks, Tim! I've been taking the day off (pretty much ;-) so I didn't moderate your comment until tonight. Without the resurrection and without the promised life to come "we are of all men most to be pitied" (1 Cor 15). This world is indeed a difficult place to live in. And without the resurrection we honestly don't have much reason for ultimate hope. But with it we are truly and totally blessed. Such love does deserve all my life in return! Oh, how I love Jesus.