Back from the Dead - My Perspective!
At first glance, Rolf Klasson, a gray-haired Swede who hobbles around on his walker, looked like an easy target. At least that's what two would-be robbers thought as they accosted him at a cash machine. One of the thugs waved a knife while the other thug told Klasson to turn over his wallet. They didn't know that their victim was also the former European light-middleweight boxing champ. Klasson warned them, "This isn't going to go well" before he punched their lights out. A police officer later said, "They came after the wrong guy."[i] When Jesus came back from the dead – God knocked the lights out of sin & death! Tell me what all these people have in common[ii] - Kenny Chesney (43) – Are there any country music fans in the house? Chesney is an American country music singer and songwriter - He has also produced more than 30 Top Ten singles – one of his all time best being “Don’t blink![iii]” Martin Short (61) – (Martin Short is one funny guy. Short was born in Canada. He’s an actor, comedian, singer, writer and producer. He played in a bunch of movies but my favorite was The Three Amigos.) Bob Woodward (68)– (Woodward was the Washington Post reporter who broke the infamous Watergate story back in the early 70’s. Woodward also authored or coauthored 15 non-fiction books in the last 35 years – 11 of them have been #1 national non-fiction bestsellers[iv]) What about this damsel in distress? This is Keira Knightley (26) – she played opposite Johnny Depp in the movie series Pirates of the Caribbean! And finally - Leonard Nimoy (80) who of course played Mr. Spock on Star Trek! Live long & prosper! What do all of these people have in common besides being famous? They all have birthdays on March 26! Now I don’t want to leave you out – was your birthday on March 26? Oh – wait a minute I forgot one other person whose birthday happens to be on March 26. You may not recognize her face, but her name might ring a bell - Jessica McClure Morales? Guess who turned 25 on March 26? Baby Jessica grew up! Betsy Blaney, a reporter for the Associate Press said, “Jessica McClure Morales is now a contended stay-at-home mother of two, and her youngest is 18 months old – the same age she was when she fell down an 8-inch well opening in[v] Midland, Texas in 1987.” Relive what this little girl went through - trapped alone with one leg pinned above her head, 22’ below ground in a well pipe for 58 hours. In a recent interview her Dad, Chip McClure said, “Jessica has no recollection of being wedged in the pipe or the 15 operations that followed.” This image of Jessica’s rescue won a Pulitzer Prize for photographer Scott Shaw. When people saw her come to the surface – just like the Chilean miners – it was if she came back from the dead.
Today we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. However, Jesus wasn’t stuck, trapped or rescued! He died for sins he did not commit, but three days later God did the impossible – he brought his son back to life! Luke tells us what happened. Turn in your Bible today to Luke 24. Now if you are our guest today – we have a gift for you! This Bible is for you! If you don’t have a Bible simply raise your hand and it’s yours to keep. All four gospel writers tell us Jesus came back from the dead, but I love Luke’s eye for detail. (Read Luke 24: 1-6)
The women… Luke specifically names three women. Drop down to verse 10. Only Luke mentions Joanna and only Mark names Salome. But these women have a job to do. Let’s keep reading in verse 1. Find verse 55 in Luke 23. (Read 55 & 56) Jesus lays dead in the tomb from sundown Friday to sunrise on Sunday morning. John 19 tells us that Nicodemus will wrap Jesus’ body with strips of linen cloths and inside the strips he will pack 75lbs of spices – aloe – perfumes. Egyptians and Jews did not embalm bodies.
Have you ever heard of the “corpse flower?” I’m not sure I want to. One is set to bloom at a greenhouse at Ohio State sometime in May. This 8-foot-tall rain forest plant is called the “corpse flower” because when it blooms it smells like rotting flesh.[vi] Now do you understand why these women are bringing spices for Jesus’ body? Move to verse 2. (Read 2-4) Luke said they looked like men but acted like angels. Matthew gives further details in Matthew 28:2. (Read 2-5a) “Do not be afraid… I feel for these women. “Are you kidding me? Don’t be afraid! You angels love dramatic entrances! You wear freaky white clothes and possess super strength and yet I’m not supposed to be afraid!” Look at Luke 24:5. Now I’m not one to correct an angel. That’s like telling Einstein to think harder. “C’mon Albert – concentrate a little harderJ” But in my humble opinion the angel it one step ahead. These women are bringing spices to anoint Jesus’ dead body! They are not looking for the living among the dead – they are looking for the dead among the dead. That’s what people do when they go to a cemetery! Not one person – woman or man thinks Jesus is coming back from the dead. Peter doesn’t. John doesn’t. These women didn’t either. National Geographic doesn’t think so either. This book contains 200 pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope. The images are fascinating. This book is called The Biblical World – An Illustrated Atlas. This book shows you that the Bible is made up of people, events and places – fascinating places. I have several research books from National Geographic. Now here’s my favorite. It’s called History Book – an Interactive Journey. This book provides 88 people, places or events that make up the history of our world. Folks like Genghis Khan, Joan of Arc, Martin Luther and of course Jesus of Nazareth. This book talks about Jesus’ teaching, his disciples, his miracles and then they provide key dates in his life. In their timeline it says, “A.D. 30-33 – Crucifixion and, three days later, alleged resurrection of Jesus.”
I will readily admit – it’s hard to believe that someone could come back from the dead never to die again. I said hard, but not impossible. We, today, are not the only ones who have forgotten Jesus’ words. And this seems to “miff” this angel! Go back to his question in verse 5. (Read 5 & 6a) Now if that happened (Author John MacArthur writes, there’s only three options when it comes to the resurrection. It’s either false – call it the Great Hoax or its fiction – just another myth or it’s a fact making it the supreme event of history[vii] and there is staggering evidence that it did - that should change everything! The way we live. The way we die. The resurrection doesn’t bring just a body back to life. The resurrection brings my hopes and dreams back to life. It gives me a present hope and a bright future. The resurrection renews your faith and for these women in Luke 24 – the resurrection radically altered their perspective. Our perspective! Let’s talk perspective for a few minutes. Perspective is defined as “a measured assessment of a situation.” It’s a person’s point of view! For instance - what’s your perspective on marriage? Well Greg, I’m not married and I don’t want to be married. It’s like the lady who kept hearing from her family that she wasn’t married. She’d go to weddings only to have aunts and uncles poke her saying, “You’re next, you’re next!” They stopped doing though, because at funerals she’d poke them saying, “You’re next, you’re next!” Maybe you are married and you can relate to this sign which was sitting outside a secondhand shop: WE EXCHANGE ANYTHING - BICYCLES, WASHING MACHINES, ETC. WHY NOT BRING YOUR HUSBAND ALONG AND GET A WONDERFUL BARGAIN? Ladies, are you wanting to trade in your husband? I imagine there are some husbands here who might be tempted to do the same. Would you locate an insert in your newsletter? “New” in Newsletter / Westerville Community Service Day. Here are upcoming message series at Westerville Christian. On June 11th I will start a series called Marriage 9-1-1 based in 1st Corinthians 7. Paul tells us one of the greatest temptations in marriage is to be selfish! Do you want a new perspective when it comes to your marriage? Make the call to God. Make the call right now! (PRAY)
Have you ever said this before? “I’m having trouble keeping things in perspective right now?” What might be the worst situation where keeping perspective is the most difficult? Go from Luke 24 to Luke 8:40. (Read 40-42a) I have a 12 year old daughter. I can’t imagine being in that situation, but some of you can – you’ve lived it! Jesus agrees to go! Now this story continues in verse 49, but Jesus gets side tracked by another person in need. (Read 42a-48) Oh that’s great, but what do you think Jairus is doing? Tapping his feet? “Jesus – let’s get going. Time isn’t money – time is my daughter!” But apparently they’ve waited too long. Find verse 49. So blunt! So direct! The words can come from anybody - a friend, a cop, a doctor. They are so matter-of-fact! Jesus hears the same words Jairus heard so he says in verse 50! Seriously Jesus! Are you kidding me? That’s not what I’ve seen. That’s not what I’ve been told. When you are dead you are dead. Death ends life forever. And that would be true if Jesus hadn’t come back from the dead! The angel’s words are so profound. He is not here; he has risen! He is not dead; he’s alive! That changes everything, especially our perspective about death! Look at what Jesus does in Luke 8:51. (Vs. 51-52) Here are actual ads printed in newspapers: We do not tear your clothing with machinery. We do it carefully by hand. (That’s not what they meant!) Auto Repair Service - free pick-up and delivery. Try us once; you'll never go anywhere again. Now is your chance to have your ears pierced and get an extra pair to take home, too. Jesus meant what he said! She’s not dead – just asleep. Find vs. 53-56. Be astonished like her parents. Death is not the end – death is the beginning! Have you heard of Allen Iverson? Iverson played NBA basketball for years. About 10 days ago he was pulled over in Atlanta for a traffic violation. He was driving one of his many cars – this time a Lamborghini. He told the police, “Take the vehicle. I have 10 more.” Each of us have been given one life, not 10! What will you do with your one life? It’s true we all die, but some people never really live. Why? Our perspective is off. Jesus can change your perspective forever today – HOW - we must remember his words – in three days I will rise. He did! Now will you? You will – if your perspective changes – it goes from death to life!
[v] Betsey Blaney, Columbus Dispatch, Baby Jessica is 25, March 26, 2011
[vii] John MacArthur, MacArthur Bible Commentary, 1609