Category Archives: Easter

Romans 5.1-11

Title: The Demonstration of God’s Love

Text: Romans 5.5-11

Central Idea of the Text: We have peace with God because he has reconciled us to Himself through the death of his Son.

Central Idea of the Sermon: Christ took the punishment of our sin upon himself in order that we might be reconciled to God.

Opening: We’re in Romans 5 this morning. We’ll be looking at verses 1-11.

Introduction: Make Your Bed, pg 85-88; end at I could see the instructor smiling. He knew once one man quit, others would follow.

Hopelessness is a tough place to be. I suppose that’s right where the disciples were on that last day of the week. Jesus had died the day before. I imagine Satan standing there in the darkness with the light of the fire around him exposing his smile, too.

But Sunday was coming! And things were about to change!

We’re in Romans 5 this morning. We’re in the midst of a story of hope. In 5.1 Paul writes: Therefore, since we have been justified by faith… he’s talking about the faith we have that is just like Abraham’s. You see, Abraham heard God’s promises and he believed God. God then credited his faith as righteousness. And Paul is saying that we, too, are justified by faith when we believe God.

The incredible blessings that the justified experience are what follows in v 1-3 (rd v1ff):

  • We have Peace,
  • We have access into this Grace in which we now stand,
  • We have Joy, and this joy expresses itself in Hope…
  • We have Hope. And this hope that he writes about isn’t just for the future, but it exists even now – in the midst of suffering. Paul then tells us that God loves us. We know this because of two actions that God takes to express His love:

1st, he pours his love into our hearts via the Holy Spirit who he has given to us. This was our focus last week.

2nd, he then demonstrates or proves his love by sending his Son to die for our sins. This is where I’d like to focus our attention this Easter Sunday morning.

Now the first action is subjective and can only be expressed by the person experiencing that action. There isn’t an observable marker to verify it’s authenticity. I can’t say: Oh, you’ll cry! Some people do and some people don’t. I can’t say: you’ll get goose bumps. Some people do and some people don’t. It’s an internal experience. And in that moment… we only have your word.

This second action is objective and can be verified by the fact that God gave us an historical event. We see the cross and it is an object we can point toward. We have the historical evidence of an empty tomb. The disciples saw it. The Jewish leaders made excuses for it. The Roman soldiers reported it.

I’m so glad for both an internal and an external expression by God.

Transition: But let’s focus our attention now on this last part: the external, historical demonstration of God’s love as displayed on the cross. You know,

I.     It’s pretty amazing when you consider our condition.

exp.: rd 6a; we and us; who is he talking about? Gentiles and Jews who have come to faith in Christ. Now, look at the words Paul uses to describe how we were:

  • Weak (6); sometimes this means weakness from being sick; other times it means morally weak, incapable of acting on our behalf; Think sin sickness or spiritually sick; just one sin in your life is too great of a barrier for you to remove. Just one! And you and I are plagued with sin! And while we were in this condition… Christ died for us. And here is where we see our 2nd term:
  • Ungodly (6); this is simply a word that describes someone who lives without God. You might consider the word godless. Ungodly is a good translation because the idea being expressed is the action of the individual. People behave outwardly in a way that displays their inward disposition. When they’re being watched, they’ll often times act a certain way because they want you to think they’re good. But, if there is a hidden camera, you’ll catch their true disposition. Well, no hidden cameras with God. He sees all and knows all. He knows what is in mankind – and yet loved him enough to send his son to die for all of mankind.
  • Sinners (8); the noun form of άρμαρτια, missing the mark; falling short of the glory of God. This past week Duffey and I led Chapel for the students at the BMA Seminary in Jacksonville. Duffey led worship and I brought the message. In the message, there was this term In the Hebrew, it has the connotation of not being equal. God is perfect and we’re unequal to him. We’re subpar – way below his level. You’re probably very familiar with the verse: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. That word sinned is the same word we have here. The defining of that word – falling short describes that unequalled state. Here is God’s glory and we’re not equal to the task of ever obtaining. That is what being called sinners means: we’ve sinned and fallen short of His perfection.
  • Enemies (10); Romans 11.28 gives us the idea that this word is the opposite of love – 28 As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. In verse 10 of Romans 5, we see God loving us when we were just the opposite of toward him. And yet he loved us still!

This is truly amazing when you consider that it wasn’t like we deserved this. Who we were…where we were.

t.s.: It really is pretty amazing when you consider our condition. The second amazing fact concerning the demonstration of God’s love is:

II.    It’s pretty amazing when you consider the cost.

exp.: I’ve often wondered why God didn’t just say: Oh, don’t worry about it. I forgive you. The answer is really quite simple. God set the standard: Perfection. God set the punishment for failure: Death. To be perfectly just, God had to carry out the punishment for the failure to set the standard. We must die for our sins. So, God made a way… Note:

  • Christ died; 4x’s in v6-8; it is the last word in each sentence (in Gk) giving it prominence, importance in the sentence. Also in v 10; Paul is placing great emphasis upon the fact that Christ died.

ill.: John 3.16: the manner vs. the measure; Thus or So; meaning, God showed you his love through the death of his son.

  • The timing: while weak (6), right time (6), while sinners (8), while enemies (10); You might ask: how does the timing relate to the cost? Well, simply this:
    1. We didn’t have to get “cleaned up” to get saved. Most people act like they’ve got to get clean before they can come to Christ. I love that Jesus told the disciples that he’d make them fishers of men. You catch ‘em and the Holy Spirit will clean them!

Ill.: I think of those who say: I’ll diet and exercise when I lose some weight.

App.: We didn’t have to get clean first – God sent his son to die for us while we were still weak, ungodly sinners – while we were still enemies!

Transition: #2, when you consider the timing…

  1. God structured it all in his plan: – Revelation 13.8 declares for us that it was all planned before the foundation of the world. …all who dwell on earth will worship (the Beast), everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.
    1. Your name was written in the Lamb’s Book of Life before the foundation of the world was laid. Or,
    2. The Book of Life, which belongs to the Lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world. I like option #1, but it really doesn’t matter, because either one you choose shows that God had a plan to redeem you before the world was formed – before Adam and Eve even sinned! Psalm 139.16: 16Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

t.s.: It is truly amazing to try and consider the mind of God who planned all of this before the creation of the World. It is pretty amazing when you consider the cost – that Christ would die on the cross for our sins. And 3rd,

III.   It’s pretty amazing when you consider what it all accomplished.

exp.:

  • Justified by his blood. Rd v 9; And more than that: we’re saved from his wrath; The punishment due for our sin is death – the shedding of blood. Have you ever realized that the penalty has always been death? If you journey back to Genesis chapter 2, you’ll find that God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden and told them they could eat from any tree in the Garden, but ceptn’ one: the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil. God told them: in the day that you eat of it, you will surely die. But now, we don’t have to die to pay the penalty for our sins, because Jesus paid that debt for us!
    • Paul calls Jesus our Passover Lamb in 1 Corinthians 5.7; If you follow the requirements in Exodus 12 for the Passover Lamb, you’ll see that Jesus was performing that function for the world at the same time…
    • In John 1.29, John the Baptist is quoted as seeing Jesus and telling everyone: Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!
  • Reconciled by his death – and even more, saved by his life. This part is so important because Jesus didn’t just die and then was buried – No! There is more to the story! He rose again!

Conclusion: It’s pretty amazing when you consider the hope this one man, Jesus, brought to us. Read Make Your Bed, pg 85-89.

Application: We have this hope because God has poured His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who he has given us. And we have this hope because God sent his son to die on the cross of Calvary and then three days later, to rise from the dead. And that’s why we celebrate this morning. Because He is Risen!

In a moment we’re going to celebrate the Lord’s Supper: a time that we as Christians remember the costly sacrifice of Christ. I’d like to invite the Deacons to come and prepare the Lord’s Supper Table.

Don’t participate if you’re not a Christian.

Don’t participate if you’re a Christian, but right now you’re in Rebellion. Use this time to repent.

Fellowship, following the hymn…

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Filed under Christian Living, Easter, Romans, Scripture, Sermon

Mark 1.1-15

Title: He is not here! He is Risen, just as he said!

Text: Mk 1.1-15; 15.33-16.8

Introduction: Thank you Christoph for reading our text this morning; Today we begin our study in Mark. Mark has always been my least favorite Gospel. I’ve usually run to the other three gospels when I’m looking for stories. Mt 28.18-20; Luke 23 and the thief on the Cross; John and his alternate perspective. When I was in college, Dr. Martin had us translate from Mark’s Gospel. Matthew and John were disciples. Luke had done thorough research. Mark always seemed to me to be thrown together and condensed. However, now that I am much older and have had time to study the beauty of Mark’s story, I see it much clearer. I understand that Mark had a purpose in mind. He didn’t have Mt, Lk and Jn to lean on.

No, as a matter of fact, I see that a great debt of gratitude is owed to Mark. He learned what he recorded here from Peter. He traveled with Paul and Barnabas both and learned from them. His goal and purpose was different than that of Matthew or Luke or even John. He was a trailblazer who saw the need to get this story down in book form for future generations because there wasn’t anything to pass along. He saw the need and rose to the occasion.

Rd Mk 1.1; an incomplete sentence. There is no verb! That tells us that it was probably the Title of this little book. Your title probably reads: Mark or the Gospel according to Mark. That Title was added later. This is probably Mark’s title: The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Now, before we look at this title, let’s look at this person, Mark. It would be fun to outline for you all of the evidence pointing us toward John Mark, the helper to Barnabas and Paul. But, we just don’t have time. You’ll have to trust that for nearly 2,000 years, the church has understood John Mark to be the writer. Here is what we’re confident of:

This Mark is the same John Mark who worked with Barnabas and Paul. And, he also worked with Peter. That’s right, that Simon Peter: the one who denied Christ three times; the one who continually put his foot in his mouth. Furthermore, there is strong evidence to suggest that John Mark got his information for this gospel from Peter and his testimony of these things. He wrote this shortly after Peter’s death. Maybe he realized there was a deep need for such a book as he watched one of the eyewitnesses to Christ pass from this earth. Wednesday night, during our Bible Study hour, I plan to look at the evidence for this and other topics we just don’t have time to address. So, consider this your invitation.

As we make our way through Mark I want to point out to you, and this is important, that I want to focus just on what Mark shares. When it was written, there were no others with which to compare it. I want you to get that feeling. Sure, I’ll mention the other gospels and relate what you probably already know, but for the most part – we will stick to Mark’s storyline. I want to sort of pretend we don’t have the ‘extras’ in the other Gospels.

Mark was most likely writing this book for the Christians in Rome – and he’s writing from Rome, where he had been working with Peter before Peter’s death.

So, let’s break his title down:

  • The Beginning: not like John’s gospel – not that far back. Not like Genesis – that’s not his starting point. His starting point is clarified in the next couple of verses. Malachi and Isaiah talked about this Messiah’s coming. That’s his starting point. He points back to the prophets as the starting point.
  • Gospel: εὐαγγέλιον – transliterated is evangelism. εὐ – means well or good. αγγέλοs – is the word for which we get angel – or messenger. αγγέλιον means message. So we have good message or good news. Mark here is the 1st one to use this word this way. His is the 1st gospel.
  • Jesus – the gospel, the message of Jesus can be understood in two ways:
    • as the message about Jesus. Mark might be saying I’m going to tell you about him.
    • the message Jesus proclaimed. Mark might be saying I’m going to tell you what he preached. Both work here, for they are the same.
  • Christanointed one or Messiah. Your translation could read: Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God.
  • Son of God – I think Mark is up to something here:
    • Jesus, his earthly name, He was human.
    • Christ, the Messiah of the Jewish people, and the world. These messianic implications would go all the way back to the Davidic covenant.
    • Son of God – a theological delineation. Yes, fully human, but also – fully God. We’ll see more of that in a moment. We’ll see this is an important element that flows through this book, and is a part of the climax to the story at the end.

Mark affirms for us that this beginning was foretold of by the prophets. He mentions Isaiah here (as it is written in), but he quotes from Malachi and Isaiah. Let’s look at these quotes:

Malachi 3.1 – “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. He clearly tells us of someone who will come proclaiming, announcing, and heralding the coming of the Lord.

Mark, then quotes from Isaiah to clarify for us this: 40 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.  Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.  A voice cries:  “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.4 Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

John is this ‘voice crying in the wilderness’; we meet him in v. 4; Jesus is the Lord, the Messiah, the Son of God mentioned here; we meet him in v 9; let’s do that; rd v 4-8; rd v 9-11;

At this stage of the introduction, I think it would be interesting to note the different witnesses proclaiming this gospel – that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. I think that is more of Mark’s focus than telling us the whole story – like we see in other gospels. Note:

  1. Isaiah tells us in v 3.
  2. Malachi tells us in v 2.
  3. Mark tells us in his Title, v 1.
  4. John tells us in v 4-8. This Messiah is mightier than I, his sandals I’m not worthy to even stoop down and tie! John is pointing us to Jesus. And then…
  5. The Trinity appears to validate this for us in v 9-11.
    • The Son comes to be baptized
    • The Spirit the heavens are torn open (the clouds don’t just part) and the Spirit descends upon Jesus as a witness
    • The Father himself testifies: You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.

This might appear to be the end of the introduction – v 1 – the son of God; v 11 – the Father proclaims him to be his son. But I think there is more here; I think that Satan and the angels also declare who he is by their actions:

  1. There is Satan’s validation of who he is as he tries to test him – trying to trip him up; rd v 12-13
  2. He is with the wild beasts – this is unusual; Wild beast don’t usually act this way;
  3. The angels were ministering to him, giving their validation of who He is.

Listen, while no single testimony stands alone as valid in some eyes, the weight of these combined all scream at us: Behold, the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

1.14-15 tell us that Jesus begins his ministry, even before he picks his disciples (1.16-20); rd v 14a; we won’t hear of John again in Mark, (we hear of John’s disciples in 2.18) but we won’t hear from the Baptizer again until we learn of his death in chapter 6. As John records in his gospel – this is something John the Baptist knew was coming – He must increase, but I must decrease.

And the increase of Christ’s popularity is what we see as he begins his ministry. Let’s continue – 1.14b-15; we see this word gospel again – a nice bookend to this section. Maybe this is the end of the Introduction.

This is common for Mark: bookends to sections where he is focusing on something important. Some scholars call this the top and the tail. They bring the story back to the beginning – in a way. I’ll do my best to point them out along the way.

Turn to 15.33-37; Mark is making reference to the O.T. again. Here it is a reference to Psalm 22.1-18; And at his death something happens: rd 15.3838 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. This is the 2nd time we’ve seen this word torn in Mark. Do you know it doesn’t appear at any other time in this book than the two we’ve seen? Mark uses this word torn only twice: Once when the heaven’s were being torn open and the Spirit descends upon the Messiah and here, when the curtain that separated the people from the presence of God was torn in two from top to bottom.

No man can make either one of those tears. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I think Mark’s goal here is to communicate to the reader that a way into the presence of God has been made. He came from heaven to earth and lived the perfect and sinless life, that he might make the payment of death on our behalf. His death opened a way into the holy of holies – the most holy place, that you and I might have access to God.

And if you’ve missed it somehow, look at v 39; Do you know in Mark, only one human makes this remark? The Centurion. God said it back in 1.15; Angels and Demons will declare it. But it isn’t until this moment that a person says it. The message of Mark is clear: Jesus, is the Christ, the promised messiah, Son of God.

From here, Mark seems to end his gospel very abruptly, especially when we consider Matthew, Luke and John. But let me reiterate: Mark’s purpose isn’t to tell stories for our entertainment, but rather to tell this one story. Jesus, the Christ, was crucified, dead and buried. And, when the women came to the tomb three days later, they find that he has risen, just as he has promised.

In v40-41, the women are watching and observing and v 47 informs the reader that they are there with him until he is laid in the tomb.

When the Sabbath has ended, they come. The Sabbath ends at sun down on Saturday, but they can’t see at night. So, rd v 2-4; The synoptics (Mt, Mk, Lk) all use the same word here for roll away. But John uses a different word. You remember he was an eyewitness with Peter. He says the stone was rolled up and away. Rd v 5-6

He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. And this is Mark’s story as passed down from Peter. As he told us in his title: The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

Conclusion: Have you noticed how the world has captured the Christmas holiday and commercialized it – even to the point removing Christ from Christmas, but keeping many of the traditions and adding others? And yet, for the most part, the world has left Easter alone? Listen Dr. R. Albert Mohler: The secular world has done its best to make a mess of Christmas, but it has largely ignored our celebration of the Resurrection. Where commercialism intrudes, it comes in the form of eggs and chicks and rabbits–none of which claim any connection with the Resurrection. The fact is, the secular world will attempt to domesticate, commercialize, and tame the babe in the manger–but it will run at breakneck speed from the cross and the empty tomb.

That cross stands as condemnation on all human attempts at self-righteousness, and the fallen world will do all within its power to hide the cross from sight. The empty tomb is the seal and confirmation of the cross, and the world will shield its eyes.

The Truth is, people do not want to be confronted about their sin. And the cross does just that! The empty tomb does just that.

But for Christians, we have a far greater understanding of this message. And this is our application – our take-aways:

Application:

  1. The Worst that can happen to us has already happened for us in Christ Jesus. I’m talking about for the person who has committed his life to Christ and found the forgiveness of sins. Paul says: I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me. Christ paid that horrible punishment on our behalf. As believers, the worst thing that could happen to us has already happened in Christ. The wages of our sin is death and Christ paid that penalty on our behalf!
  2. The Best thing that can happen for us has already happened, too.
    • His resurrection means so much more for us. In this life, we have been raised with Christ, and seated with him in the heavenlies. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Eph 2.4-7 Paul also said: 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
    • His resurrection gives us hope of our future resurrection.

Invitation: Listen, if you don’t have that hope…

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Filed under Authenticity, Easter, Mark, Purpose, Scripture, Sermon, Uncategorized

Where is the hope?

Title: Where is the hope?

Text: Luke 24.13-35

CIT: Two men who had followed Christ headed home after the events of the weekend. They were confused about all they had heard and experienced. But, an encounter with Christ changed it all.

CIS: I wonder if there is some confusion on the part of people listening in this morning. Let me clarify some information for you.

Introduction: We’re in Luke 24.13-35.

This past week Robert Schuller died. He was 88 years old. Cindy Lennon, the 1st wife of John Lennon passed away at the age of 75. Eddie LeBarron, the 1st QB of the Dallas Cowboys also died this week. He was 85. Furthermore, I was reading this week of the death of the oldest person in the world – Misao Okawa. Show pic: My guess is that she is the last person to be born in the 1800’s! Guiness is doing a search for the new oldest person.

What struck me about this article was a comment she made at her last birthday: She commented that her life seemed rather short. What! If 117 years isn’t is ‘rather short’, what hope do most all of us have! Think about this: if God told you today that you were going to die in the next few minutes, would you think to yourself: wow, that went by really fast?

A 5th person, someone you’ve probably never heard of who died last week is Emily Phillips. Emily was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in February. She decided to pen her own obituary. The part that caught my attention was: So…I was bon; I blinked; and it was over. Talk about hopeless… BTW: she was 69 years old.

Today, my message is about hope, in light of hopelessness.

Where there is hope vs. where there is hopelessness

Life has a way of squeezing hope out of us. People betray us and let us down. The loss of a job; the fracture of a relationship; the despair from crushing news brought by a doctor; the disappointment we bring to ourselves…I never thought I’d find myself here. Gary Inrig: In any situation in life, Hope is like Oxygen to the soul, but hopelessness is like leukemia to the spirit.

That’s what today is all about: Resurrection Sunday. It is a day that reminds us that there is hope. In spite of all that may attack us, in spite of what may happen in the course of this life, there is hope.

Now, when we get to our text, we find a group of people who are hopeless. Many of them had given up the last three years to walk with him and learn from him. But there was more: their hope was that he was indeed the Messiah.

Let’s stand and read our text together. I’ll read vs13-21a; read;

But we had hoped… let those words ring in your ears for just a moment. My guess is that every single member of this tiny group of disciples believed Jesus was dead. They knew it. Not one of them believed he was alive after many of them had witnessed his death and burial.

When I think about Peter and his despair, how he ran away and wept. Friday must have been the worst day of his life, as he saw it. It was probably that way for all of them! Saturday was probably the longest day of their lives as they waited in silence and secret, for fear of what would happen to them. I don’t imagine Sunday was anything they were very excited about.

Think about this: why were the ladies on their way to the tomb that morning? It was to give Jesus a proper burial. Because back a couple of days, the Sabbath was upon them, they ran out of time. Two men buried Jesus. It was a hasty burial. The women were coming to do it right. This group, called his disciples, was hopeless. Jesus was executed – the death of a criminal – he was dead and buried. Their expectations would be the same as yours and mine – that a dead body would do what a dead body does: lay there and rot. Rd 21b; and now it’s been three days – he’s dead.

I’m sure this was tough on them. I’m not sure how you get over something like this. Peter had betrayed Jesus with his denial. They all had fled when Jesus was arrested. Some, though, appear to be doing their best to move on – to put this behind them: It’s over. Let’s go home. Geographically, Jerusalem is to their backs. Metaphorically, the events of Jerusalem are behind them. They’re talking about all that was to be. What happened? It was just a week ago that the whole city was in a uproar, welcoming him, laying out palms on his pathway and crying out, Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. We thought: this is it! It’s finally going to happen. Where did it all go wrong? How could things change so quickly!

Then, as they’re walking and talking – remembering – a stranger happens along. No big deal, many would have been traveling home after the Passover Celebration. Somehow though, they didn’t recognize this stranger. Their eyes were ‘kept’ from seeing him. The way it’s written here, it sounds as if this was God’s doing.

Now, you might be asking, how is this possible?

Ill.: When I was in Cotulla, I organized a youth choir. We were tiny – not really a choir at all. But I had a friend who was taking his youth to Florida on a long Choir tour/Mission Trip. My few grew into a big choir! There was only one problem. I had classes at seminary that interfered with the tour. My pastor was in full support of my schooling and felt I should get everything organized and send them off. Lisa was going to go with them. So, I did. Then I went back to school in Ft. Worth.

During the first few days on their journey, my adults noticed that they were being mistreated. They got all of the ‘dirty job’, the harder meals to prepare and clean up. The other group was getting preferential treatment. As it was, I had no classes the next day and only one on the day after that. I was sad that I couldn’t be there. One of the sponsors decided to buy me a ticket if I could come. Lisa asked and I said yes. Tickets were purchased and no one knew I was coming except my wife and this one chaperone. They wanted it to be a surprise. And a surprise it was!

I remember the flight. It was the first time I saw pacman in a field. I landed and Lisa and this chaperone, Linda, were there to pick me up. We were in Tallahassee/Crawfordville, Fl. They took me back to the church were our kids were in down time. The church we were staying at has a swimming pool and gym. Pretty cool. Anyway, I walked in to the gym and saw a group of men and teens playing basketball. They were from that church and I didn’t know them. My kids were all out playing in the pool. About that time, Donna Van Cleve, a mother of a couple of youth and one of my chaperones, walked into the gym. She saw me standing there with Lisa and Linda, but she didn’t recognize me. She figured I was one of the men from that church. I couldn’t believe that she didn’t say something to me. So I walked over to her and stood beside her watching the game. She just continued watching the game. So, I got closer and closer until I actually touched her shoulder to shoulder. She moved away and looked up to see who this creep was invading her space.

I’ll never forget her reaction. It was priceless. But, I’ll also never forget that she looked right at me and didn’t even recognize me. She said later that she was standing there thinking about me – that if I were there, I’d be playing basketball with those guys. That’s funny, I was on her mind, she saw me with her eyes, but didn’t even recognize me.

App.: I guess it was because she didn’t figure I should be there. That’s what’s going on with these guys: they thought Jesus was dead. They never expected him to be there.

Now, this stranger asks them what they’re talking about. What are you guys talking about as you walk along? The Gk here is so descriptive. Most literally, what words are you tossing back and forth between the two of you as you walk along? It’s kind of playful. Upbeat.

But they are not as he. The text actually tells us that they stop and stand still. Read v 17; And they stood still, looking sad. They actually stop walking. And they’re blown away that someone could be coming out of Jerusalem and not know what has been happening. Cleopas breaks the momentary silence with a question that I imagine he asks incredulously: rd v 18 Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And Jesus answers: what things?

Are you serious?!? What things? Lit.: Things?

“Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him.

But there is more: rd 21-24;

If your taking notes this morning, I’ve come to my first point: Hopelessness comes when you are confused.

  1. Hopelessness comes when you are confused (22-24)

exp.: Hopelessness comes when you can’t make sense of your situation. That’s how these guys were. You know, it’s the same today: there are many who are confused over the empty tomb. It doesn’t make sense to them. Here’s the situation: There was an execution. He was dead and buried. But today, The tomb is empty – there is no corpse.

They actually tell us why they’re confused. They don’t know this, but we can see it now. It’s because they don’t understand who Christ really is. To them he is: (rd v 19)

  • Jesus, a Jewish name
  • Nazareth, from a town around Galilee
  • A man – just a simple man, who did great things
  • A prophet – mighty in deed and in word
  • But he was condemned and put to death

Yes, 1st, they’re confused because they didn’t really know who he was.

2nd, they’re confused because they didn’t really understand what he came to do. They said, 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. What they say is right, but their understanding of what it means is different. They are thinking from a human, earthly standpoint. Yes, he’s come to set them free – but not from the Romans, but rather from their sins.

I’ve got to stop here and make an application: could it be that many are confused today because they’ve misunderstood the purpose for which Jesus came? Maybe you’re there today? Maybe you’ve thought that giving your life to Jesus meant that he was going to make everything perfect in your life. You’d never get sick, you’d always have enough money, you’d always prosper in all you do. No! The purpose of Christ’s coming to this earth wasn’t so you’d be healthy, wealthy and prosperous in the physical sense. He came to make atonement for your sin. And not your sin only, but for the sins of the world.

He then speaks to them in v 25; rd v 25-27;

He then takes them methodically through the O.T. and reveals to them just how this was all supposed to happen; rd Ps 22.1-18; Isaiah 52.13-53.12; It is as if these two men were eye witnesses to the crucifixion. It’s like they were sitting there at the foot of the cross, watching and listening in.

Rd 28-29; the time has passed quickly as they’ve walked together on their way. Jesus has opened the Scriptures to them and explained to them how it is that this has been God’s plan from the beginning. They ask him to stay:

  1. Because it’s practical – the day is far spent, if you keep going, you’ll be out on the road after dark
  2. Because it’s personal – there is nothing like the excitement of someone who knows what he is talking about.

ill.: There are certain scholars I have experienced this with. #1 David Helm. David has a mind for the deep things of God, but uses a vocabulary for us simply folk. He has a gift for communicating in a clear and concise way. I sat under his teaching and was amazed that his hour was up. It felt so short. R. Kent Hughes is another man like that. These men explain things and I’m like: why didn’t I see that?

That’s probably what has happened here: they want to spend a little more time with this stranger. I say this because there is something unusual about the set up; rd v 30; The Jewish custom was pretty particular about this: the man of the house was given this responsibility. He would lead his family in this manner. For some reason, unknown to us, Jesus performs this duty. Rd v 31;

I wonder what it was exactly that caused this.

  • Did he say something in Hebrew to begin the meal, something they had heard before, like:

הָאָרֶץ וְאֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם אֵת אֱלֹהִים ׃בָּרָא בְּרֵאשִׁית

  • Was it simply the way he said it, the way they had heard him say it before?
  • Or, was it the way he broke the bread as he spoke?
  • Or, did they see the wounds in his hands?
  • Or, was it simply as the Scripture records: 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.

I don’t know the answer to that, I only know their eyes were opened – and they knew. It’s him! It’s Jesus!

And the passage reads in v. 31: And he vanished from their sight.

t.s.: I told you point #1 is Hopelessness comes when you are confused. Here is Point #2

     2.    Hope comes when it all finally makes sense (14-16)

exp.: like these guys, I don’t know what that will be for you. Maybe you’ll finally understand his purpose. Maybe for the first time, Scripture will make sense. Or maybe, just maybe, you’ll see him for who He is – The one sent to die for your sins.

ill.: It is amazing to me that the Empty Tomb didn’t confirm for these guys that Jesus was risen from the dead. The disciples began to think of physical possibilities. Mary: They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him. And again: “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” The Pharisees, too: The disciples have stolen the body.

Maybe, you’re like Thomas, who said that it was just too much for him to understand. Unless he could see the hands with the nail wounds and the whole in his side.

For these people, it has to make sense physically. But, maybe, just maybe, something is happening to you like happened to these two disciples, Cleopas and his friend. Rd v 32: 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”

I love what happens next: rd v 33-35; They got there, I’m guessing with the hope of telling everyone – but boom: they got upstaged! “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!” Isn’t that just like Simon Peter!

I love the logical reasoning behind the understanding that Jesus rose from the dead. William Lane Craig outlines them in his Paper – Contemporary Scholarship and the Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. We see them in this text:

  1. First of all, there is an Execution that takes place. rd 19-21; He died.
  2. 2ndly, there is the Empty tomb. We see this in 22-25; pretty simple and straight forward. There is so much work that has been done on the historical accuracy of the resurrection. There are so many non-biblical accounts that verify the resurrection.
  3. 3rdly we have the Eye-witness accounts, the resurrection appearances. We this in 33-35; It’s more than just an empty tomb – there are verifiable witnesses to a resurrected Jesus. As Luke says in Acts 1.3: He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.
  4. 4thly, we have the Explosion of growth through the early church. What would cause 3,000 men to get saved at a fisherman’s preaching? What would cause 2,000 more in another time of preaching? I love what Paul said to Agrippa and Festus in Acts 26.24-26

24 And as he was saying these things in his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are out of your mind; your great learning is driving you out of your mind.” 25 But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words. 26 For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner.

The early church exploded because they were eyewitnesses to these accounts of an empty tomb and his appearances.

I think this is summed up best by an orthodox Jewish Rabbi, who by the way, believes in the resurrection, but denies Jesus as the Messiah. He believes God raised Jesus because of the incredible unjust done to him by his enemies and his followers alike. Pinchas Lapide writes: When the scared, frightened band of the apostles which was just about to throw away everything in order to flee in despair to Galilee; when these peasants, shepherds, and fishermen, who betrayed and denied their master and then failed him miserably, suddenly could be changed overnight into a confident mission society, convinced of salvation and able to work with much more success after Easter than before Easter, then no vision or hallucination is sufficient to explain such a revolutionary transformation.

Souce: William Lane Craig – Contemporary Scholarship and the Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

**Show next screen: execution, empty tomb, eye witnesses, explosion…

Conclusion: Let me ask you this morning: Where is your hope? Do you have hope? Do you understand that your life is like a vapor of steam that appears for just a moment? You are born, you blink, and boom, it’s over! As I talk about these things this morning, is there more confusion than confidence? Is your heart burning within you – is that the best way to describe it? Is there something going on and you don’t even understand it, but you know – for the 1st time or maybe the 1st time in a long time that you know – you really know Jesus died to pay the penalty for your sins, that he was buried in a borrowed tomb and that three days later he rose from the dead and is alive today! I want to encourage you to do the same thing: to rise up at this moment. Come on down and tell me about it. There will be others here to help you with just such a decision.

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