Your Easter Experience
Sermon by Rick Crandall
McClendon Baptist Church - Easter Morning - April 4, 2010
*How are you doing this morning? By God’s grace we are able to be here today. And I’ve got to say: you look good! Some of us have on new clothes. I’ve got on a new pair of socks!
*You look good, but how are you doing? A few of us have never been better. But most of us carried some kind of trouble here today: family trouble, financial trouble, health trouble, spiritual trouble. -- It’s all here today.
*Some of us are even as low as the women we see in vs. 1. The women who went to the tomb that morning were broken hearted, -- about as low as a person can be.
*Most of us have stood by the grave of a loved one, so we know the sorrow they carried to the tomb that day. But Jesus was more than a loved one to these women. He was their Messiah, their King, their hope of salvation and deliverance. And now He was dead. So, they went to the tomb in the deepest despair, but the resurrection of Jesus Christ changed all of that!
*Easter changed everything for them, and God wants to give you a day like that today!
1. This Easter God wants to give you the truth worth trusting.
*It’s the sure truth we see in vs. 5-6, where the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”
*Jesus was crucified. That meant He was dead. At Jesus’ Jewish trial He was found guilty of blasphemy for claiming to be God. Then the Roman Governor Pilate had Jesus flogged. Dr. Truman Davis studied this brutal beating that left Jesus on the very edge of death.
*Jesus was tied to a post and beaten at least 39 times with a whip that had jagged bones and balls of lead woven into it. Again and again, the whip was brought down with full force on His bare shoulders, back and legs. At first, the heavy whip cut through His skin only. But as the blows continued, they cut deeper into the underlying tissues. By the end, the skin of His back was left hanging in long ribbons and the entire area was an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding tissue. Undoubtedly, Jesus was in serious to critical condition even before the crucifixion. It’s no wonder He was not able to carry His own cross. (1)
*Lee Strobel explained that 5 to 7 inch spikes were driven through the Lord’s wrists, crushing the median nerve, which we call the funny bone.
-Experts say this would be like squeezing your funny bone with a pair of pliers.
*Death by crucifixion was so painful that a new word was created to describe it.
-That word is “excruciating,” which is Latin for “out of the cross.”
*After Jesus’ wrists and feet were nailed securely, He was hoisted to hang on the cross. -Death from crucifixion is basically a slow death by suffocation.
-People on the cross could breathe in, but they couldn’t breathe out unless they pushed up with their feet, and of course they did.
*It was excruciating pain, and it could go on for days.
-If the Romans wanted to hasten death, they used a hammer to shatter the victim’s shin bones so he couldn’t push up anymore.
-And that’s what the executioners did to the men crucified beside Jesus.
*But when they came to Jesus, He was already dead.
-To confirm that, the soldier plunged a spear between His ribs, puncturing the sac around the heart and the heart itself, causing clear fluid and blood to flow out, which eyewitnesses recorded. Nobody came down from a cross alive -- and that included Jesus. (1)
*But now Jesus is alive! In vs. 6, the angel said it, and in vs. 9, the women saw it! “As they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, ‘Rejoice!’ And they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him.”
*A lot of people saw Jesus alive after His death. The Bible reports that Jesus appeared to hundreds of people during the 40 days after his resurrection.
-He appeared to Mary Magdalene in John 20.
-He appeared to two men walking to the village of Emmaus in Luke 24.
-He appeared to the 11 disciples (who couldn’t believe their eyes at first.) In Luke 24:39, Jesus said, “Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost, because ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do.”
*In 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, Paul gave a wonderful report of Jesus’ resurrection appearances:
3. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
4. and that He was buried, and that He rose again the 3rd day according to the Scriptures,
5. and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.
6. After that He was seen by over 500 brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep.
7. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles.
8. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.
*The resurrection of Jesus Christ wasn’t the delusion of a broken-hearted disciple. Large numbers of people saw Jesus alive at different times, in different places and in different circumstances over a 40 day period.
*Lee Strobel pointed out that if every eyewitness to Jesus’ resurrection were called to the witness stand, it would take over 128 hours to hear their testimony at only 15 minutes a person. In other words, it would take from breakfast on Monday until dinner time on Friday, listening around the clock to hear the testimony of those witnesses! (2)
*Jesus is alive! -- This is the truth worthy of your trust.
*One of the most successful defense attorneys of all time was Lionel Luckhoo from Great Britain. -- He was in the 1985 Guiness Book for being the most successful lawyer in the world. Lionel successfully defended his clients in 245 murder trials. He won 245 murder trials in a row either before a jury or on appeal! No wonder he was known as the real-life Perry Mason.
*Lionel was knighted twice by Queen Elizabeth and served as a distinguished diplomat. He also served as a justice on his country’s highest court. Certainly he was a world-class expert on evidence. What did Lionel Luckhoo think about the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ? After a careful examination Lionel boldly stated: “I say unequivocally that the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ is so overwhelming that it compels acceptance by proof which leaves absolutely no room for doubt.” (1)
*Jesus is alive! This Easter God wants to give you truth worth trusting.
2. And He wants to give you the life worth living.
*I’m talking about a life filled with joy and purpose, a life filled with energy and excitement! It’s the kind of life we see on display in vs. 6-8. Listen again to the angel’s good news about Jesus:
6. “He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
7. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.''
*We can feel the change in vs. 8 as the truth sinks in: “They departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.”
*Jesus is alive! -- That great news gives life to everyone who believes!
-Life that overcomes our tears.
-Life that overcomes our fears.
-Life that overcomes our failures.
*The disciples knew failure, -- especially Peter who had denied the Lord three times on the night of the cross. But Mark 16:7 adds a little more to the angel’s message. There the angel said, “Go and tell His disciples and Peter that (Jesus) is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.”
*God had the angel single Peter out, because He wanted Peter to know that his failure did not exclude him from the good news. Jesus has life worth living for everyone who believes! -- Life that overcomes our tears, our fears and our failures. This Easter God wants to give you the life worth living.
3. And He wants to give you the Lord worth loving.
*In vs. 9-10 those ladies met the Risen Savior and worshiped Him with great love:
9. As they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, "Rejoice!'' And they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him.
10. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.''
*They came and held Jesus by the feet. It was a sign of their reverence, but also a sign of their great love. They loved the Lord. And so should we, because Jesus loves us more than anyone else in the world. He proved that when He died on that cross for our sins. This is why Jesus is our Best Friend! As He said in John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
*Also notice here in vs. 10 that Jesus called His followers His brothers. What a blessing to know that we can come to Jesus as our Brother and Best Friend! We can worship Jesus with great love and hear Him say, “Rejoice! Be glad! Do not be afraid!”
*I promise you that if you will receive Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, then through His Holy Spirit, He will meet with you. And Jesus will prove Himself to always be someone you can worship in love. God wants to give you the Lord worth loving.
4. And He wants to give you the future worth finding.
*There is no hope for your future without Jesus Christ. But with Jesus you have a guaranteed future of eternal perfection. The angel gave those women a small glimpse of their future in vs. 7, when he said: “Go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him.”
*Jesus confirmed it in vs. 10 when He said, “Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.”
*Let me tell you that if you know Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, then one day you will see Him too! We will see Him face to face! And we will live with Him forever in Heaven.
*They went to the tomb in the deepest despair, but Easter changed all of that! They were lifted up with new hope and great joy. They knew their future was secure, because Jesus was alive! There was a celebration going on in their hearts, and the Lord wants to give that celebration to us.
*In late March of 1993, a sudden snowstorm covered the East coast of the U.S. Over in the Smoky Mountains, it was the snow of the century. Many hunters and hikers were trapped in the park.
*Four doctors from Knoxville had chosen that weekend for a hunting trip to the Smokies. They only expected to be gone one night, and didn’t know about the coming storm, so they didn’t bother to tell their families exactly where they were going. They felt that their SUV could take them deep into the mountains and get them back out with no trouble. -- But then, the snow banked up so deep around their SUV that it refused to budge.
*This was before cell phones were commonplace, and no one in the outside world knew where they were. Plus, they only had enough food for 2 days. They were scared and confused about what to do.
*Evening fell on the 2nd day. Still, they had no contact with civilization, and their SUV was as trapped as ever. They divided a stale doughnut one of them found in the back of the vehicle. They were cold, hungry and greatly discouraged. Would anyone find them before they froze or starved?
*Then they heard a sound overhead, the unmistakable sound of a helicopter! They jumped out of their SUV and started screaming and waving to be seen. And the pilot did see them. But the helicopter was already full. Then the doctors saw a basket coming down, and in the basket was a note with one word on it: “Tomorrow.”
*That one word changed everything. Those four doctors made a chorus line and kicked up their legs as high as they could. Then at the top of their lungs, they began to sing that well-known song from “Annie.” “Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow; you're only a day away!” (3)
*Their fear was gone. Help was on the way. They would live to see another day. This is the joy of Easter: Bright hope for tomorrow! Because of what Jesus did on the cross, we don't have to worry about today or tomorrow. God loves us! Jesus has conquered sin and death. Our lives do matter. We can live the resurrection life today. And we will always have tomorrow. Jesus Christ wants to give all of this to you. This Easter God wants to give you the future worth finding.
5. And He wants to give you the story worth sharing.
*Christians, we have the story worth sharing! That’s why in vs. 7 the angel said: “Go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead.” Then in vs. 10 Jesus said: “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.”
*Go and tell. -- Go and tell! God wants all believers to go and tell the good news. And what a message! God loves you. He sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross for you. And Jesus can give you everlasting life, because He is risen from the dead!
*Jesus is alive! This is the life-changing, world-changing good news of Easter. And God wants to give it to you today. Put your trust in the Lord, and rejoice today, because Jesus is alive!
1. Adapted from SermonCentral.com sermon “Jesus is Alive – True or False?” by Lee Strobel - Matt 28:1-20
2. Adapted from SermonCentral.com sermon “You Can’t Keep a God Man Down” by Michael Luke - Luke 24:1-8
3. Adapted from Dynamic Preaching sermon, “SEARCH FOR TOMORROW” by King Duncan - Matthew 28:1-10; Colossians 3:1-4; John 20:1 -10, Jan-Feb-Mar, 2002