Jesus Is Here!
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - March 31, 2013
*I am so glad that you are here with us today to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And I want to remind you that Jesus is here with us too. Jesus was there with His followers on the first Easter day. And by His Holy Spirit, He is surely here today.
*Pastor Tom Long told about teaching three little girls in his church about special days in the Christian calendar. Of course, they talked about Christmas and Easter, but then the discussion turned to Pentecost.
*Pastor Long asked the girls if they knew what Pentecost was. Since none of them did, he told them that Pentecost was when the church was sitting in a group. And the Holy Spirit landed on them like tongues of fire on their heads.
*Two of the girls took that information in stride. But one girl's eyes got as big as saucers, and she said, "Gosh, Reverend Long, we must have been absent that Sunday." (1)
*Of course, the story of Pentecost is found in Acts 2. And we may not have the tongues of fire today, but we have HIM. Jesus Christ is here. And this great Bible passage from the first Easter helps us understand this life-changing truth.
1. Notice that Jesus is here to stand with us.
*In vs. 19, "Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst. . ."
*The disciples were gathered that night. And we all ought to gather for worship every time we can. But they weren’t gathered together that Sunday night because they were faithful members of their church. No. -- The disciples were there that evening, because they were scared to death. Jesus had been killed, and they thought they were next.
*But when they were afraid, something wonderful happened: Jesus showed up! And He stood by them. The Lord's presence made all the difference in the world! And it will for us.
*In Matthew 18:20, Jesus said: "Where 2 or 3 are gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst of them." Jesus is here. And it’s great to know that in the hardest times Jesus will stand right by our side.
*Pastor Joel Baker tells the wonderful story about how his grandmother came to America from Serbia. As a young teenage she was frequently beaten by her abusive father. Finally, she couldn't take it anymore, so one day she ran away from home and caught a boat to America. But, when this young Serbian arrived at Ellis Island, she had no papers, no family and no sponsor.
*As she stood in the long line, an immigration officer realized she had no papers, so he put a white "X" on her arm with chalk. She didn't know it, but that "X" meant she would be sent back home just as soon as she got to the entry desk.
*But after the officer moved away, the young man in line next to her reached over and wiped the "X" off her arm. When they got to the entry desk, the authorities asked for her papers. Of course she had none, but the young man put his arm around her shoulder and said, "She's with me."
*They were both welcomed to America, and a few weeks later they were married! (2)
*Joel's grandfather-to-be stood by his future wife. He gave her a new life in a new land. And that is exactly what Jesus wants to do for us. He stands beside us, and with sacrificial love, Jesus wipes away the "X" of our sin. Then He says, "This one is with Me!"
*Jesus stands close by to save all who will trust in Him. He takes us to a new life. And one day He will take us to a new land. But on the worst day of your life, Jesus will stand by you to give you the comfort and strength you need. We know this is true, "For He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5)
*Jesus is here to stand by us.
2. And He is here to speak to us.
*As the Lord stood there in vs. 19, He said to His disciples: "Peace be with you." And when you need words of comfort, the Lord will speak to you too. There are many places in God's Word where He speaks words of peace and comfort to His people. Listen to this assurance from Psalm 121:
1. I will lift up my eyes to the hills from whence comes my help.
2. My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.
3. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber.
4. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.
5. The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade at your right hand.
6. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
7. The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul.
8. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.
*The Lord will speak to you, through His Word, and through the still, small voice of His Spirit. Jesus is here to speak to us.
3. And He is here to show the truth to us.
*In vs. 20, "When (Jesus) had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. . ." Jesus showed them His scars, and one day, He will show them to us. But even today, we can see them by faith. Jesus didn't have to keep those scars. But He kept them to show the truth to us.
 His scars show us the seriousness of our sin.
*And we need to see the seriousness of our sin, because we all certainly sin. As Romans 3:23 says, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." And Romans 6:23 tells us that "the wages (or just payment) of sin is death. . ." That means eternal death, suffering forever in hell.
*The greatest men who ever lived saw the seriousness of their sin. In Psalm 38, David prayed:
1. O lord, do not rebuke me in Your wrath, Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure!
2. For Your arrows pierce me deeply, And Your hand presses me down.
3. There is no soundness in my flesh Because of Your anger, Nor is there any health in my bones Because of my sin.
4. For my iniquities have gone over my head; Like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me.
*When Isaiah saw the Lord high and lifted up, the great prophet cried out: "Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.'' (Isaiah 6:5)
*Here's part of the great prophet Daniel's confession of sin:
3. Then I set my face toward the Lord God to make request by prayer and supplications, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes.
4. And I prayed to the Lord my God, and made confession, and said, "O Lord, great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant and mercy with those who love Him, and with those who keep His commandments,
5. we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments.
6. Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings and our princes, to our fathers and all the people of the land.
7. O Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face, as it is this day to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those near and those far off in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of the unfaithfulness which they have committed against You.
8. O Lord, to us belongs shame of face, to our kings, our princes, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You.
9. To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him.
10. We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets.
11. Yes, all Israel has transgressed Your law, and has departed so as not to obey Your voice; therefore the curse and the oath written in the Law of Moses the servant of God have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against Him. (Daniel 9:3-11)
*The scars of Jesus Christ show us the seriousness of our sin.
 And they show us the sacrifice of our Savior.
*Those wounds in His hands and feet are for us too! -- The cross was for us!
-And it shows us that Jesus loves us, that He cares for us, and that He will have mercy on all who turn to Him and trust Him as Lord and Savior.
*The scars show us the sacrificial love of our Savior. Robert Allen told about a little boy who sat staring at his mother's hands one day. Finally, with the brutal honesty of a child he asked, "Mama, why are your hands so ugly?"
*Mom was quiet for a moment. Then, she said, "Jason, one day when you were almost 3 years old, you were playing in the backyard. Some older boys in the neighborhood were playing with matches in the alley. They built a fire and left it burning when they left.
*You toddled up to the fire and fell. The flames caught your shirt on fire. I heard you screaming. I rushed out of the house. I beat the flames out with my bare hands. You were scarcely burned, but my hands were burned and terribly scared. That's why my hands are so ugly."
*The little boy looked up at his mother with a big smile and said, "Mama, your hands aren't ugly, they're beautiful." (3)
*The scars on Jesus Christ will be among the most beautiful things in Heaven, because they will show us forever how much He loves us.
-Jesus is here to show the truth to you.
4. And He is here to satisfy you.
*In vs. 20 Jesus "showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord." They were happy, happy, happy when they saw the Lord! And when we see Jesus by faith, He will turn us from sadness to gladness. Jesus can satisfy our souls like nothing or no one else ever can.
*Are you satisfied today? -- Or is your life bogged down by bitterness, anger, envy, regret or shame?
*Maybe you are satisfied. But what satisfies you? -- Today, people all around us are satisfied with the wrong things, not necessarily bad things, but the wrong things, things that can never satisfy forever.
*Not being satisfied is bad. Being satisfied with the wrong things is worse.
-Let Jesus Christ be the greatest source of your satisfaction.
*Hymn-writer Helen Lemmell, put it like this:
-"Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
-Look full in His wonderful face,
-And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace." (4)
*Jesus is here to satisfy us.
5. And He is here to send us.
*In vs. 21-23:
21. Jesus said to them “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.''
22. And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
23. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
*Jesus sent them out. And today the Savior wants to send us out.
 We are sent in the same manner. Jesus said, "AS the Father has sent Me, I also send you.'' But how did the Father send the Son? -- In love, humility, service and righteousness.
 Christians, we are sent in the same manner, and with the same might. In vs. 22, Jesus "breathed on them, and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.'"
*All of us who have received Jesus have received His Holy Spirit. On the night before He went to the cross for us, Jesus told His disciples: "Without Me, you can do nothing." And church, let me tell you today: Without Him we can do nothing!
*But we have the power of His Holy Spirit working in us and through us.
-We are sent in the same manner with the same might.
 And in vs. 23, we are sent with the same message: "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."
*Here the Lord reminds us that there is only one way for people to be saved, and that is through the good news about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
-There is no other way for people to be saved.
-There is no other hope for mankind.
-And God has placed the sharing of this life-saving message in our hands.
*One of the most inspirational people I met at seminary was a young lady from Russia. Her named was “Irene,” and it’s a miracle that she was ever born. Irene’s grandfather was a Baptist preacher when that Communist monster Joseph Stalin ruled Russia.
*The grandfather and his wife had 12 children and one prized possession: A Bible. Irene’s grandfather used to hide it under the bed to protect his family. But the KGB found out about it and forced the family to move. It was in the dead of winter. They had to travel by horseback and on foot to a place near Siberia. They had no winter clothes.
*Six of the twelve children died on the way. Irene’s father was only 3 years old, and they thought that he was dead too. But when they laid him on a pile of bodies, he cried out and was rescued.
*Irene knows that she is only alive by the grace of God. And when the Soviet Union fell back in the early 1990’s, Irene and her sister decided that they would do everything they could to serve the Lord. They came here to learn how to become church planters back home in Russia.
*We can look at Irene’s life and say: "Her life is precious. God’s got a purpose for her!" But I want you to know that your life is just as precious and special to God. He’s got a purpose for you too! God wants to send us just as surely as He sent Irene and her sister, maybe not around the world, but all around our world: Where we live, work and play.
*God wants to send us out with the great message of Easter.
-Tell your world that love is still alive!
-Hope is still alive!
-Goodness is still alive!
-Jesus Christ is alive!
*Tell them about the cross, and what it means to you.
*The Risen Savior is here! -- Do you know Him?
-Jesus loves you.
-He came into the world to die on the cross for our sins.
-He rose again from the dead on the first Easter Day.
-And now Jesus offers eternal life to everyone who will receive Him as Lord and Savior.
*Call on the Lord to save you.
-You can do that right now, as we go to God in prayer.
(1) Thomas G. Long, "Shepherds and Bathrobes," CSS Publishing Co., Inc. - 0-89536-869-2 - 1987, p. 15 - Source: "Dynamic Preaching" May-June, 1997 - p. 21 - Sermon "A Firm Grip on Your Balloon" by King Duncan - Acts 2:1-21 - Pentecost
(2) Thanks to Vic Pentz, Protestant Hour, August 18, 2002 - Source: Sermons.com sermon "Looking into the Eyes of the Risen Christ" by James Moore - John 20:11-18
(3) Sermons.com sermon "Let Me See Your Hands" by Robert Allen - John 20:19-29
(4) "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus" - Words & Music: Helen H. Lemmel, 1922 - http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/t/u/turnyour.htm