Sunday, April 20, 2003

Easter Sunrise

Easter Dawn
April 20, 2003
Mark 16:1-8
Is it True?

INTRODUCTION: The resurrection of Jesus Christ happened 2,000 years ago. How can we, who are so far removed from that 1st Easter, be sure it happened? So much depends on whether it is true. Without the resurrection there is no hope for life beyond the grave. Without the resurrection there is no assurance that God is in control. Without the resurrection there is no guarantee that love is greater then hatred. How do we know that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is real?

1.                  First, there is circumstantial evidence – an empty tomb. Listen to verse 6 of our text for today “the angel said: “here is the place where they laid Him.”  On the way to the tomb, the three women were asking themselves “Who will roll away the stone from the entrance of the tomb?” The question indicates that they did not expect a resurrection even though they must have heard Jesus say several times, “and on the third day I will rise again” If the resurrection were a fabrication and a hoax the question would not be asked. Well, who did roll away the stone?  Mark does not tell us. We learn from St. Paul that God Himself raised up Jesus. (Romans 4:24; 8:11) He moved the stone! Man could not do it – not the stone of death. All the kings’ horses and all the kings’ men would not be able to conquer death. This was the Father’s act of grace and victory!

The young man (whom we would presume to be an angel) identifies the risen one as the man Jesus from Nazareth who was crucified. This gives reality to the Easter story.  The risen Christ is not a spirit. The resurrected person was Jesus from the town of Nazareth. He was killed on a cross. He was truly dead and buried. There is no room here for a “spiritual” or a “symbolic” resurrection! We must not spiritualize the account. It was not a resurrection of the spirit or the soul of Jesus. The body, the whole person of Jesus rose from the dead on that first Easter.

2.                  Then there is the witness of God’s messenger, an angel, as well as the testimony of the Word of God. Listen to verse 15: “And entering the tomb they saw a young man sitting at the right wearing a white robe and they were amazed. And he said, “why seek the living among the dead. He is not here, He is risen from the dead,” There is no such thing as a dead Christ. Why seek the living among the dead?  He will not be found in the tombs of the dead. He is alive! Why seek Him there? The grave could not hold Him in. He rose from the dead on the third day. The disciples’ testimony is true. “We are witnesses of these events; We have seen Him with our own eyes.” This Jesus who was crucified is now alive forevermore. The grave could not hold Him. See the place where they laid Him. He is not here. He is risen from the dead!

3.                  Then there is the experience of the living Christ – He will be seen in Galilee. Listen to verse 7: “there you will see Him just as He said.”  The angel instructs the women to tell the disciples, and Peter, to meet Jesus in Galilee as Jesus had told them. In this account of the resurrection the risen Christ does not appear. He will meet them in Galilee.  Thus we are reminded by the message of the angel to heed the word of the Savior. Time and again He predicted His bodily resurrection.        The women found the tomb empty. Where would they find Him? At the very place where Jesus had directed them – in Galilee. Likewise, in your life and my life, we find the risen Savior at the place where He has directed us – in the waters of Baptism, in the elements of Bread and Wine, in His very words and promises of Holy Scripture. The women hurried off to Galilee and there they found Him as the angel predicted. Will you too find Him where He has directed you? Search the Scriptures. There you will find Him alive. He can not deny Himself. He is risen just as He said! 

CONCLUSION: He is risen! He is risen indeed! Hallelujah!


April 20, 2003
Luke 16:19-31
"If only…"

INTRODUCTION: In recent years there has been much interest in finding evidence that would back up the claims of the Scriptures. Many theologians and scientists have studied the Shroud of Turin, which claims, to be the actual burial cloth of Christ, and yet, the verdict is still out. Some people say: "if only we could find something that would prove this or that" in the Bible "then we could believe!"  There is a tendency to try to find something that would confirm what is in the Bible. The idea is, then people would believe!  Unfortunately, such is not the case.  Let us this morning examine the conversation between the rich man and the Father. For in this conversation the Father gives us what we only need to believe in the reality of the resurrection.

I.        Like the rich man, some say "if only someone could return from the dead! Then people would believe"

A.     The rich man wanted someone sent back from the dead to warn his brothers of their potential doom.

B.     We might be tempted to think - if only there were something to confirm the truths of the Scriptures.

II.     The reality is that if someone could return from the dead, it would not be enough!

Jesus confirms this in verse 31.

There is plenty of evidence that Jesus is right
a.       God spoke at Sinai and it made little difference.

b.      The prophets of old performed mighty miracles but only a few believed.

c.       Jesus came into this world as the Son of God and He was crucified.

d.      Lazarus arose from the dead and this only hardened the opposition to Jesus (John 12:10)

e.       Jesus Himself rose from the dead, and the soldiers who were eyewitnesses to this event lied about it to save their own necks.

III.   The return of someone from the dead would serve no good purpose for good reasons.

God has made other provisions
a.       "Moses and the prophets" refers to the Bible

b.      God has already told us everything we need to know in His Word

B.     It is only His provisions which will work
a.       People do not fail to believe because of a lack of truth. They fail to believe because of the attitude of their heart. (Romans 10:8-10)

b.       Miracles may make people question and seek for the truth, but they will not make people believe.

CONCLUSION:  Even a voice of one who came back from the dead would not help because you need nothing else. The testimony of those eyewitnesses is sufficient evidence.  This evidence is the power of God to make you wise unto salvation. Today the Father calls you to believe this simple yet life-changing message. He is risen! He is risen indeed Alleluia!  A blessed Easter!

Friday, April 18, 2003

Good Friday

Good Friday
April 18, 2003
Luke 23:46
7th Word - "The word of Conclusion"

INTRODUCTION:  "Father into Your hands I commit My Spirit" This is the 7th and last word of our Savior spoken from the cross. Having spoken these words the Son of God breathed His last and rendered up His life.  What can we draw from this final testimony of the Son of God?

1.                  Notice that Jesus dismisses His own spirit.

A.     Jesus' death is different from any other

1.      The wages of sin is death - the Bible tells us. Each man must die as a result of sin. We will face death because of our common corrupt nature - found in every person who has ever taken the breath of life.  Jesus' death is different, as He never sinned.

2.      The Bible further tells us; "It is appointed for man once to die and after this comes judgment" We will face the judgment seat of God once we die. There will be a day or reckoning for every soul upon this earth. Again, not so with Jesus. His was a perfect sacrifice. As He was innocent and yet charged and judged. Yet He bore our punishment for us - that His sentencing might be sufficient for the sin of the entire world.

B.     Jesus' death is absolutely voluntary - no one else- including His enemies or the devil himself -can take His life from Him. The death of Jesus is a supreme sacrifice.  Jesus tells us plainly "No one takes My life from Me - I lay it down and I take it up again"

Transition:   Jesus dismisses His life voluntarily. He does it of His own will. This selfless act is necessary and essential to your salvation.

2.                  This voluntary element is absolutely essential to salvation.

A.     It had to be voluntary for God to be just. There is an element of justice with God. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life. Each sin must be dealt with. Total payment must be made. The debt for sin must be paid. Jesus Christ by His voluntary death paid the ultimate price for sin.

B.     It had to be voluntary for God to be God. People can't kill God. We can ignore Him.  We can defy Him. We can abandon and disown Him. But we can't kill Him. The devil thought in his heart of hearts that he had killed the Lord of life. Not so! Remember those words of Jesus "No one takes My life from Me - I lay it down and I take it up again.  That's why Jesus could pray "Father, into Thy hands I commit My spirit."

C.     It had to be voluntary to display fully His love. The death of Jesus was not a selfish act. It was a labor o life to demonstrate fully His love for us. Jesus says in John chapter three: "God loved the world so much that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life."

CONCLUSION:  See what manner of love the Farther has for us that we might be the children of God. As the Son has given up His life for you now you are free and your sins they are no more!

Thursday, April 17, 2003

M Thursday

Maundy Thursday 
April 17, 2003
John 19:30
6th Word - The word of completion

INTRODUCTION:  From the 6th hour to the 9th hour the Bible tells us, the sun was hidden from view. Darkness covered the land. Then at the 9th hour Jesus offered to us His 6th word - a word of completion. It is finished! When Jesus cried these words what exactly is finished? I would suggest four things were brought to completion on the day Christ died -

1                    The first thing to find its conclusion is the physical sufferings of Jesus.

A.     This was the plan of God from the very beginning. On the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus Jesus had to explain to the two from Scripture that the Son of God had to be arrested, tried, crucified, died and rise again.  The crucifixion of Christ was never a surprise to the Father. It happened all according to His divine plan.

B.      Because the Savior fulfilled this divine plan we no longer have to fear that we will have to suffer for our sins. Oh yes, there might be consequences that we might have to bear because of sin. For example; a thief might have to do time when caught.  Running a stop sign might mean an accident. However, we need not fear that we will have to suffer for our sins as punishment from God. All suffering for punishment was finished at the cross - mark the words of Jesus well: "It is finished!" 

2.                  The humiliation of Jesus Christ is now finished.

A.       Because Jesus has suffered all His mission of humiliation is finished. What is the humiliation? The humiliation are those steps Jesus deliberately took where He had all of the power and glory and majesty of God but refused to use it.

B.        Let's retrace those steps again-

Ø   He was born of the virgin Mary

Ø   He suffered

Ø   Under Pontius Pilate He was crucified

Ø   He died

Ø   He was buried

3.                  The whole program of the Old Testament is now finished.

A.     The gap bridging institutions of the Old Testament was no longer necessary nor are they valid. A question - why don't we sacrifice animals any more?  Why don't we observe ceremonies established in the Old Testament any more? There is a clear answer - "It is finished!" These things are no longer necessary because they were a focus of things to come. Their substance belongs to Christ.

B.      To symbolize that these practices had come to an end the veil in the temple was torn from top to bottom. The rent of the veil in the middle of the temple speaks volumes - the animosity and the barrier that separated God and man are now broken down! Why do we have nothing hindering the chancel area in the front of the church? Because Jesus speaking from the cross said: "It is finished! The cross reminds us that there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!

4.                  The work of redemption is now finished!

A.       The center of Christ's of redemption is found at the cross. Throughout the pages of the Old Testament we see a common thread that says at the fullness of time, at just the right time - the Son of God would suffer and die on a cross for the redemption of man. The whole world's salvation is focused on the cross. Your personal redemption is found at the cross. When the Son of God suffered and died on the cross all sin was forgiven. At the cross all debts were canceled. So the cross now stands at the center of the entire world's and your personal salvation.

B.        What does this mean for us today?

1.   God and man are now reconciled. St. Paul tells us "there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus"

2.   The conflict of the ages is already won. Now there is peace on earth and good will toward men. The powers of sin death and Satan are now rendered powerless. They have no control over you. They are no longer in control. They can no longer have any power over you.

3.   Because of Jesus' work on the cross a door is now open to all to receive the Lord's free salvation. It is great and free. A glorious future awaits you because this redemptive work has been completed.

CONCLUSION: It is finished!  It is finished indeed! 

Wednesday, April 9, 2003

The 5th Word

April 9, 2003
John 19:28
5th Word - "The Word of Personal need"

INTRODUCTION: One can only imagine the personal sufferings of Jesus on the cross. There is trauma on a number of levels. Jesus suffered sleep depravation, the trauma of four trials; three Jewish and one Roman.  For a period of roughly twenty-four hours he was beaten flogged; spat upon, humiliated and mocked. Jesus shows us that there is human suffering on the cross as he cries His fifth word: "I thirst!"

1.                  The 5th word of Jesus "I thirst" shows us the extent of His physical suffering.

A.     One can only imagine the level of Jesus' suffering. The monitoring of physical pain has become a major concern of those in the health care field. Those enrolled in the hospice program, for example, must meet certain criteria. To enroll, they must have a physical sign off on their care. They must certify that the patient in question has six months or less to live. A terminal condition must be verified. The patient must also sign off on any prohibitive measures. In hospice care creature comforts and pain tolerance needs are the most critical issues.

In our day and time we strive to alleviate pain. We can do this with continuous dosages of morphine. The Romans of Jesus' day the focus was on inflicting pain and making a science out of it. Once I remember a twenty-six year old medical school resident at the Indiana University medical center telling a parent not to trust any pain medication older then he. Modern man is fixated on relieving pain. At the time of Christ the Romans spent decades perfecting the craft of human torture through the art and craft of crucifixion. As Jesus cried from the cross "I thirst" He was ravaged by extreme physical pain.

B.     Yet, in the midst of His sufferings and pain Jesus will not speak until words of concern for others are spoken first. Did you notice that? First He has compassion the world's sin followed by words of comfort for the dying thief. Next His own mother. Not until He has addressed the needs of others does He consider His own.

Jesus would not place His needs about any other. If this were not so His goal of winning the world's salvation would have been diverted. Had He placed His own needs above others the Father's plan of salvation would have been perverted. Jesus would not think of His own needs thus He remains for us the Lord's suffering servant being abandoned by God and by men

Transition:  Why was it necessary for Jesus to utter this phrase "I thirst"?  As Jesus cries out "I thirst" we find Him to be truly human.

2.                  These words demonstrate Christ's complete humanity.

A.     As true man Jesus felt separated by God. God the Father turned His back on the Son as He once turned His back on Adam and Eve, by the inhabitants of the world at the time of Noah, and by the citizens of Sodom and Gamier when He rained down fire from heaven. Now God will never turn His back on you for He did it once at the cross when He turned away from His own Son.

B.     As true man Jesus was allowed to feel extreme human pain.  We might have to experience extensive and extreme human pain but it will only last for a short season. Even if you have some sort of debilitating or disabling condition it will end in death.  Those who don't know Christ will continue enduring the same pain Christ endured into eternity because they rejected the Son of God.  The rich man crying out to the Father says "send even Lazarus to dip his finger in cool water and rub it on my tongue for I am in torment in this flame!" Any human pain the Christian will experience is temporary for Jesus has endured eternal physical pain at the cross.

C.     Thank God Jesus did suffer the manner in which He suffered. The fact that Jesus did suffer makes His humanity real for us. The work of Jesus, that suffering servant, is a valid and certain work - recognized by the Father. The Father accepts the Son's suffering for you. As the prophet Isaiah reminds us: "By His stripes you are healed".

Transition:  There is still a matter of Old Testament prophecy that needs to be cleared up.  Jesus' suffering fulfills prophetic predictions.

3.                  These words spoken from the cross shows the fulfillment of prophecy.

A.     Jesus' suffering was predicted in Psalm 22 and Psalm 69. Although they were written centuries before Jesus was born David speaks as if He is standing there at the cross.  Read through these wonderful Psalms this week. The prophecies have been fulfilled by Jesus at the cross when He cried out "I thirst"

B.     Fulfilled prophecy authenticates Christ.  If Jesus were to fail in any of the clear Old Testament prophecies which predict what the Son of God would do Jesus would be considered a fake, a fraud, a false Christ. Yet because prophecy has been fulfilled we can say with Thomas "Jesus you alone are my Lord and my God!"

CONCLUSION: The 5th word spoken from the cross: "I thirst" shows the extent of Jesus' human suffering. It helps us endure our own hurts and pains and authenticates Christ as our one and only Messiah - the Savior of the world.

Wednesday, April 2, 2003

The 4th Word

April 2, 2003
Mark 15:34
4th word - "The word of Abandonment"

INTRODUCTION: Christ our Savior suspended on the cross cries out with a heart felt cry: "My God, why have You abandoned Me?"  To understand these words is to understand not only what the cross preaches but also what Jesus hanging on that cross offers for a lost and dying world.

1.                  These words express the extent of Jesus' suffering.

A.     Jesus endured enormous physical agony. Jesus endured a most shameful death. The Old Testament Scriptures remind us of the curse: "Cursed be anyone who hangs on a tree" Thus the sufferings Jesus endured from God were even more profound.

Roman citizens were exempt from crucifixion.  It was reserved for the vilest of offenders. Crucifixion would take days for death to become a reality. It could take a week before crucifixion would run its full course. The cause of death by crucifixion was asphyxiation; a slow, methodical excruciating form of torture. Pain, dehydration, hallucinations were all accompanied this mad form of capital punishment.

B.     The silence of God and nature demonstrate how profound the death of God's only begotten Son would become. The sun hid its face - there was a total eclipse of the sun from noon until 3 PM as darkness covered the earth.

C.     What are we to make of all this?  What was God the Father doing as His Son was dying?  The Father was actually turning His back away from His Son. The Father abandoned His Son so that He would not have to abandon you for He bore your sins in His own body on the tree that dying to sin you might live unto righteousness.

2.                  Then there is the cause of Jesus' sufferings.

A.     On the cross, abandoned by God and by man Jesus Christ was made sin for us. He carried our sin; He became sin for us. At the cross we see the great exchange all of the world's sin including your own is placed on the shoulders of Jesus. Jesus became sin for us. At the cross the Father accepts the Son's sacrifice and removed your sin, stills the Father's anger, and forgives your sin. 

B.     Thus, all of the world's sin was poured out on Him. "In Adam we have all been one; one huge rebellious man. We all have heard that lonesome voice that called us when we ran" Jesus became the world's substitute. All of the world's hatred, misery, sins and guilt have been transferred to the Son of Man. If the world's sin has been transferred to Him what else remains on you?  There can be only one thing left -the Lord's innocence, righteousness and peace.

CONCLUSION:  At the cross the Father abandoned the Son so that you and I could never experience being abandoned by God. Thanks be to Jesus for this most precious gift.