March 2013 This morning – for the first time in my 20 Easters here at LOCF – we are going to have an easter egg hunt – right here in our sanctuary. We have hidden a number of eggs inside our building; and each egg has both something delicious to eat; and something for us to chew on as to why we have come together in the first place. To be more specific – inside each egg we are going to find some clues to some answers to two questions re: the resurrection of Jesus Christ. First – did it really happen? And second, if it did, what does that mean for you and me? Why does it matter?
So to answer those questions – we need to find some eggs – and to find those eggs I need some egg finders. Could all of the children in the sixth grade and under come down here and sit with me on the floor?
Great – now who wants to hunt the first egg? OK _______ The first egg is near or around the biggest musical instrument in our building. (piano)…..
Now while you enjoy the candy inside this egg – I’m going to try to piece together these clues. Do you know that some people two thousand years ago and even today believed that Jesus did not really die at all after His crucifixion?
They believe that He was drugged by the sour wine given him while hanging on the cross, causing Him to appear dead. They also believe that He was then taken off the cross before dying, wrapped in 75 pounds of burial spices and fabric, then put in a sealed cave for three days without food, water or light; but somehow He remained alive and somehow escaped the guarded and sealed tomb and thus convinced His followers that He had risen from the dead.
The problem with that theory is it flies in the face of what we know scourgings and crucifixions resulted in or produced. For instance, we know Jesus was whipped by a “flagrum” or “scourge”. This whip was made with leather straps with sharp pieces of bone, metal or glass attached to the ends of the straps – causing huge gashes in the skin of the person being whipped. Many people died from lashings before they even got to the cross. He was likely lashed 39 times.
Second, as to His crucifixion, we know that large nails were driven through Jesus’s wrists (right where the nerves run) and through His feet. Have any of you ever hit your “funny bone”? Well that is nerve pain just from a simple bump or collision with some other object. Imagine if big nails like these were driven through the nerves in your wrists. Hanging like that made it almost impossible to breathe. Next Egg Hunt = # 2 = somewhere on this stage….
It is important to note that the Roman soldiers who crucified Jesus were experts at this form of punishment. That was one of their jobs. Here is what the apostle John recorded about their conclusions: “but coming to Jesus, (speaking of the soldiers), when they saw that he was already dead, they did not break His legs, but one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water.”
Some medical doctors who understand how our bodies perform under pressure and strain, have studied crucifixions and the impact they had on the human body. One of those, Dr. Alexander Metherell concluded, “There was absolutely no doubt that Jesus was dead.”
The governor Pilate, who released Jesus to be crucified against his better judgment, and who knew He was not like any other religious leader he had ever come across, wanted to know for sure that He was dead. Mark’s gospel account of this states, “And Pilate wondered if He was dead by this time, and summoning the centurion, he questioned him as to whether He was already dead. And ascertaining this from the centurion he granted the body to Joseph.
Pilate also agreed for many reasons they certainly wouldn’t want Jesus’s body to be stolen. So when the chief priests requested that the tomb be heavily guarded, Pilate gave his consent. Matthew speaks to that in his gospel, “Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day (this is the chief priests appealing to Pilate), lest the disciples come and steal Him away and say to the people, “He has risen from the dead,” and the last deception will be worse than the first.” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how.” And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone.” Matthew 27:64—66
Next Egg Hunt = #3 – in the library area By the way, some experts of the culture and society of that time estimate that the stone that covered Jesus’s tomb weighed 1-2 tons; and thus when Matthew states that Joseph of Arimathea “rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb” he didn’t mean that Joseph did that alone. Joseph being a very rich man obviously had many workers and probably slaves and they certainly would have done the heavy lifting for this job.
It’s kind of like if Robert Whitney was home yesterday afternoon late and Nancy’s relative called and wanted to know where she was; and Robert replied, “She is distributing food at the Bread of Life” He doesn’t mean that she alone distributed the food. Rather she led the charge and the buck stopped with her in seeing that the food was distributed.
I want to say a few words about eye witnesses that saw Jesus face to face after He rose from the dead. Let’s read Matthew’s account in Matthew 28:1-10 “Now late on the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave.
And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lighting, and his garment as white as snow; and the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.”
Next egg hunt = #4 – on or under main back table under windows And the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, he is going before you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold I have told you.” And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and take word to your brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they shall see Me.”
Dr. William Lane Craig is a brilliant analytic philosopher, theologian, and Christian apologist. As one who has studied ancient literature and who often debates these things on college campuses and universities, his insight is worth our consideration. “In light of this, it’s absolutely remarkable that the chief witnesses to the empty tomb are these women who were friends of Jesus. Any later legendary account (especially written by men I might add) would have certainly portrayed male disciples as (first) discovering the tomb – Peter or John for example. The fact that women are the first witnesses to the empty tomb is most plausibly explained by the reality that – like it or not – they were the discoverers of the empty tomb! This shows that the gospel writers faithfully recorded what happened, even if it was embarrassing. This bespeaks the historicity of this tradition rather than its legendary status.”
Next Egg Hunt #5 – Drinking Ftn. Out back Are you aware of Matthew, Mark and John’s fate for not only proclaiming Christ with their tongues, but also recording these things so that everyone could know of them?
Well Matthew suffered Martyrdom at Naddabar in Ethiopia. Mark, also known as John-Mark was dragged to death by the citizens of Alexandria. John was exiled to the island of Patmos. Would these men have stuck their necks out like this for a lie? Not very likely.
Lee Strobel, the 20th century award winning legal journalist for the Chicago Tribune wrote concerning the trustworthiness of the disciples’ testimonies: The disciples didn’t merely believe in the resurrection; they knew whether it was fact or fiction. Had they known it was a lie, they would never have been willing to sacrifice their lives for it. Nobody willingly dies for something that they know is false. They proclaimed the resurrection to their deaths for one reason alone; They knew it was true. And based on the historical data I examined, I became convinced they were right.”
You may or may not be aware that Jesus Christ stuck around the greater Jerusalem area for 40 days after He rose from the dead before He ascended to sit at the right hand of the Father in heaven. During those days He appeared to over 500 people. Let’s look at a few of those accounts as we continue to consider the evidence of His resurrection: This story from Luke 24 is about two men who were associates of the 11 disciples. “And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. And they were conversing with each other about all these things which had taken place. And it came about that while they were conversing and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them.”
Later on these two guys joined the disciples and some of their associates in a room where they were gathered. Here’s Luke’s account of Jesus kind of being beamed into their midst.” And while they were telling these things, He Himself stood in their midst. But they were startled and frightened and thought that they were seeing a spirit. And He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have. And while they stil could not believe it for joy and were marveling, He said to them: have you anything here to eat?” And they gave Him a piece of broiled fish; and He took it and at it in their sight.”
Next egg hunt = #6 – In closet next to kitchen I love this picture of Thomas and bros. examining the evidence.
Paul spoke of more appearances in his letter to the church in Corinth when he wrote in ch. 15, “After that, He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.”
Next Egg Hunt = # 7 – In kitchen Paul before Festus and King Agrippa – appealed to the wide knowledge of these events in that day and region, “And while Paul was saying this in his defense, Festus said in a loud voice, “Paul, you are out of your mind! Your great learning is driving you mad.” But Paul said, “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I utter words of sober truth. Fro the king knows about these matters, and I speak to him also with confidence, since I am persuaded that none of these things escaped his notice; for this has not been done in a corner.”
Well that’s a little bit of the ample evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But what about its meaning and application to us? The biblical writers speak to this often. I want to start with how Christ’s resurrection affects our purpose in life.
And this comes from Romans chapter 14, “For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; For if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.” Romans 14:7-9
Not only does a resurrected Christ give us purpose; He also gives us courage. Because Jesus rose from the dead – He is clearly God – and if He is clearly God – then we do not need to fear anything in this life – if we belong to Him and He is our Savior and Lord.
The very first thing Jesus said to the very first people (Mary & Mary Magdalene) He encountered after He rose from the dead was, “Do not be afraid…” (Matt. 28:10). The very first thing Jesus said to His disciples when He supernaturally entered their room where they shuddered in fear of the Jews was, “Peace be with you.”
Because Jesus rose from the dead – He is clearly God – and if He is clearly God – and if He now sits at the right hand of the Father – then we can carry out His orders with confidence because no person, organization or demon can stand in His way.
Next Egg Hunt = # 8 Literature corner next to kitchen Before Jesus commanded His disciples to go and make more disciples, He said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…”(Matt. 28:18, 19) Related to this wonderful truth, because Jesus rose from the dead, and ascended to sit at the right hand of the Father, the Father has gladly granted Him the authority to send the Holy Spirit to us. And when He comes to us and is poured out on us – we have all the power we need to fulfill our mission and calling as His witnesses.
LOCF’ers – may I remind you today – that central to our unique calling as a congregation is a willingness to fight and wait for this power – refusing to explain away our lack of it – expecting instead our faithful God to fulfill His promise.
Next egg hunt = # 9 – to right of fireplace This next truth became very precious to me at a time in my life where it seemed like I was doomed to be a slave to certain sins, habits and thought patterns. It is a truth that Dan’s book did a great job of proclaiming. And that is – The Resurrected Christ Frees us from the power of sin.
Because Jesus rose from the dead – He is clearly God – and if He is clearly God – then everything He said He would do to sin and death has been done. Neither any longer are our enemies nor are we their slaves. Neither any longer hold power over us if we belong to Him. The apostle Paul stated it this way, “For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.” Romans 6:5-7
Finally this morning I must proclaim to you that Because Jesus rose from the dead – He is clearly God – and if He is clearly God – and if He has communicated to the people of this earth His will and expectations for us – then everyone of us will give account of the way we have lived our lives to Him.
The apostle Paul – when exhorting the church in Rome not to judge one another – based his argument on the fact – that the risen Christ is the judge, and thus it is His to judge, not ours; and that each of us will face Him for our own lives. “But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME, AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD.” So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:10-12)
Brothers & Sisters – He is Risen! May our lives increasingly reflect that wonderful reality.