Topical - Easter Urgency
Topical April 20, 2003
There have been a number of times that, as a pastor, I have been near the bedside of one dear saint or another who has taken their last breath – or were about to.
You don’t forget the tears and anguish of family members as they realize the end of their earthly relationship and begin to make funeral preparations that will put the body at final rest.
The family and disciples of Jesus must also have agonized as they watched their son, brother, teacher grow limp and lifeless on the Roman cross.
They were forced to give him up as dead.
It would seem that the cruel ordeal was over.
He had told them all along that he must be killed, but after three days he rise again.
“ From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” (Matthew 16:21 NIVUS)
“ He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.” (Mark 8:31 NIVUS)
“ And he said, "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life."” (Luke 9:22 NIVUS)
“ It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment."” (Luke 22:37 NIVUS)
“ ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’"” (Luke 24:7 NIVUS)
“ He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms."” (Luke 24:44 NIVUS)
But since this had never happened before, they had trouble believing it.
Although others had been raised from the dead by Jesus, and some had never tasted death, and some had hope of an eventual resurrection, no one had ever successfully predicted their own relatively immediate resurrection or raised themselves.
This was somehow beyond the human ability to comprehend.
It demanded thinking outside the box.
So when the things that Jesus foretold about himself actually took place, it was with an accelerating sense of “wow”.
Could this have really happened?
We find ourselves in the same situation when we pray for something for a long time, and we continue to keep praying with perseverance, and then all of a sudden our prayer is answered.
And you’ve ‘got to tell somebody’.
So as we look at the gospel accounts that follow, we find a very real sense of urgency that begins to develop that Jesus was really alive from the dead.
What’s the hurry?
I. Cycle One
A. Narrative (Mt. 28:1-10)
The angel tells the women that Christ has risen. They invite them to see the empty tomb and then “go quickly” to tell the disciples that he will meet them in Galilee. The women saw and then “hurried” to do as they were told. On the way, they met Jesus who affirmed what they just experienced and reaffirmed what the angel told them to do.
We must hurry to tell others that Christ is alive because it is true, the time is short, and heaven has commanded it.
“ But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15 NIVUS)
“ For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also— not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand— with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.” (1 Peter 3:18-22 NIVUS)
II. Cycle Two
A. Narrative (Mk. 16:1-8)
Again, the angel tells the women to look and report to the disciples what they have seen. He tells them that they will soon see Jesus who has gone ahead of them, but they are afraid. They “fled” from the tomb too afraid to tell.
We must hurry to tell others that Christ is alive in spite of our fear because Jesus has gone ahead of us to prepare the way.
“ Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."” (Matthew 28:19-20 NIVUS)
III. Cycle Three (Lk. 24:1-35)
After the women reported to the disciples, the disciples had to see for themselves whether it was actually true that Christ arose from the dead. Peter got up and “ran” to the tomb to find out.
Of course, the tomb was empty because Jesus had gone on ahead to show himself to the disciples. He walked with two of them along the Emmaus road for some time before they knew who he was. But once they discovered who it was that was walking and visiting with them, they “returned at once” to Jerusalem to tell the others.
We must hurry to tell others that Christ is alive because they will then verify the truth and prove it for themselves.
We must hurry to tell others that Christ is alive because he walks and talks with us.
Lee Strobel’s book The Case for Christ that brought the friend of Lorraine Szontagh to salvation.
Hymn # 425 In the Garden
IV. Cycle Four
A. Narrative (Jn. 20:1-18)
After Mary Magdalene experienced the empty tomb, she “came running” to Peter and John with the news. Both began to “run’ to the tomb, but John “outran” Peter to reach the tomb first. John hesitated to go in only until after Peter did so. Then they experienced the abandoned grave clothes together.
We must hurry to tell others that Christ is alive because we are not alone in our witness of his resurrection.
“ Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:1-2 NIVUS)
What’s the hurry? The good news of Christ’s resurrection is too monumental to just meditate on it. You’ve got to tell somebody. Let’s shout the good news that Jesus Christ is alive!
The resurrection of Christ is resounding good news!
It is too good to keep to yourself.
We should all be in a hurry to tell it to whoever will listen.
The time is short.
Others face death when by this news they will live.
If we are not careful, the awesome truth of Easter could be lost in the timelessness of ceremony and tradition when it is even more urgent today than it was then.
In the words of the apostles -----
“ What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.” (1 Corinthians 7:29-31 NIVUS)
“ And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” (Romans 13:11-12 NIVUS)
“ Let us, then, go to him outside the camp, bearing the disgrace he bore. For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.” (Hebrews 13:13-14 NIVUS)
“ The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.” (1 Peter 4:7 NIVUS)
“ But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:8-9 NIVUS)
“ The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” (1 John 2:17 NIVUS)
“ For, "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever." And this is the word that was preached to you.” (1 Peter 1:24-25 NIVUS)
“ Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade— kept in heaven for you,” (1 Peter 1:3-4 NIVUS)
He is risen!!! And by faith in him, you will be.