Sunday, April 8, 2007

Easter Festival

Easter Festival Service
April 8, 2007
Luke 24:1-11
Reasoning through the Resurrection

Introduction: Luke’s account is devoid of the spectacular: an earthquake, rolling away of the stone, terrified soldiers, and the appearance of Christ at the tomb, men rather than angels. Luke uses reasoning as proof of the resurrection. It is modern man’s version of the resurrection as proof of the resurrection. It is modern man’s version of the resurrection because today we cannot have a reappearance of the risen Lord. Luke answers the question how we of today can be convinced of the reality of the resurrection.

1.    The cold fact of an empty tomb – Vv. 3 “but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.”  - Luke 24:3

The tomb of Jesus is empty!  This is the reality of the resurrection.  The tombs of other great religious leaders contain the bones of these dead men. Christ’s tomb remains different. We base our faith the one simple yet important fact. An empty tomb and the visible appearance of Jesus Christ to His disciples.

2.    The logic of the situation – Vv. 5 “In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?”   Luke 24:5

St. Paul would remind us, “But if Christ is not raised from the dead you are still in your sins and we are to be pitied above all men.”  But now Christ is raised from the dead. The logic of the witnesses rings true. “Why do you look for the living among the dead?”  Christ will not be found there in a tomb. He is alive.  For a period of 40 days Jesus appeared to His disciples time and again so they would know without any doubt that He truly is alive and risen from the dead. In fact, the testimony of the early disciples was simply this, “we have seen Jesus alive from the dead” And remember, these disciples did not run off to Athens or Rome. They remained in the very city where Jesus had died. While the church scattered due to persecution the disciples remained in Jerusalem bearing witness to any who would hear that they had seen Jesus with their own eyes.

3.    Trust in the words of Jesus – Vv. 6-8 “He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee:  ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words.”  - Luke 24:6-8

We are called to live this same faith. Recalling Jesus’ words we live by them. Recalling His promise of life beyond death we live in this sure and certain hope. For the Christian death is not the end. We trust in Him who has conquered death and given life and immortality to all who believe. 

Conclusion: He is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Hallelujah! 

+ Soli Deo Gloria +

Easter Dawn

Easter Dawn Service
April 8, 2007
Luke 24:2
The Stone Rolled

They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, - Luke 24:2

The big problem for the Easter women was the rolling away of a huge stone to get to Jesus’ body. The body of Jesus had been buried in haste as the Sabbath was approaching. Having rested on the Sabbath they were returning back to the tomb to finish the burial of Jesus. As they traveled, the asked each other “who will roll the stone for us?”   People always face the problem of moving obstacles which seem insurmountable.

1.       The problem – to do the impossible: move the stone. For

the women to get to Jesus they would have to have the stone which was very large rolled away from the tomb.  Just how huge was that stone?  The tombs outside of Jerusalem at the time of Christ had an entrance of between 4.5 – 5 feet. A stone to cover such an entrance had to weigh between one – two tones. Yet wonder of wonders Luke will tell us that the stone is rolled away from the entrance of the tomb. The stone is rolled away not for Jesus to get out – but so that the witnesses of the resurrection may enter.

What they find is that the tomb is empty. “They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.” – Luke 24:2-3  

2.      There are stones that need to be rolled away to get us to get to Jesus; pride, doubt, religion – non-Christian training (influences) in childhood.  If Christ is to have His way with us in the Easter season such influences must be purged from us.  If Christ is to have His effect in our life all obstacles must be removed so that He can rule in our life. If Christ is to have an impact in our life He must be at the center of that life.

How is this done? Christ gives us His Holy Spirit. We pray in the Lord’s prayer, “Thy Kingdom Come.”  The Kingdom of God comes to us…When our heavenly Father gives us His Holy Spirit, so that by His grace we believe His holy Word and lead godly lives here in time and hereafter in eternity.

This is what we pray for when we ask for Christ’s kingdom to come to us. We ask that God would graciously grant us true faith and a godly life. Says St. Paul, “As you have therefore, received Christ Jesus, the Lord, so walk in Him.” –Colossians 2:6

As we pray for the Savior’s kingdom to come we ask that He would extend His kingdom of grace on earth through missions and evangelism. What an excellent time for you to share your faith with others. Our message is the same as those early 1st Century Christians.  We simply share with others that “we are witnesses of theses things.”

We pray that the Savior would hasten the coming of His kingdom of Glory. Our prayers needs to be that which is recorded in Revelation 22:20 “Even so, come, Lord Jesus, come even today.”

3.      The solution – “The stone rolled away” God removes the stone away for the women to enter the tomb to find it empty. So He rolls those stones in our lives for us – this is pure grace! This is the good and gracious will of God. Everything God wants to do for you according to His promises is His will for your life. “God would have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” - 1 Timothy 2:4 

Everything that the Father wants us to avoid according to His will is His intent for you. Says, St. Paul, “This is the will of God, even your sanctification.”  -1 Thessalonians 4:3

Everything that the Father wants us to suffer patiently according to His good pleasure is His intent for you. “Then Jesus said unto His disciples, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me.” – Matthew 16:24

As the Father rolled away the stone for the women on that first Easter so He continues to remove those stones in our lives. Thanks be to God who has given us the victory! A blessed Easter in Jesus’ Name.

+ Soli Deo Gloria +

Friday, April 6, 2007

G Friday

Good Friday
April 6, 2007
Luke 23:44-49
The King conquers death with faith

It was now about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the whole land until the Ninth hour, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last. The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

I.        Jesus’ death is different from all other deaths

A.     He was innocent having committed no sin – He was completely innocent.

B.     He alone could call God “Father” (a claim which cost Him His life!)

C.    Qt. from Lion Witch and Wardrobe of Mr.  Beaver; “when an innocent victim, who had committed no treachery, dies in a traitor’s stead - the table would crack and death itself would start working backwards”

II.     His death restores  humankind back to the Father

A.     The curtain of the temple was torn in two.

1.      This was a curtain between the Holy Place & the Most Holy Place.

2.      It’s tearing symbolized Christ’s opening the way directly to God.

a.      Hebrews 9:3, 8

b.      Hebrews 10:19-22

3.      His last words; “Father into Thy hands I commit My spirit” becomes our prayer.


+ Soli Deo Gloria +

Thursday, April 5, 2007

M Thursday

Maundy Thursday
April 5, 2007
Luke 23:13-16
The King conquers evil with goodness

Thus we observe Pilate’s confession of Jesus’ innocence.

The innocence of Jesus - Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. Luke 23:14 If He were innocent why wasn’t He released?

The injustice of the trial, - Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. Luke 23:15 Double jeopardy Herod found nothing against Him so why proceed with a trial?  A prosecutor without a case can not go to trial. Any judge would know this. Pilate proceeds to trial knowing there isn’t a case in which to convict Jesus.

The Lamb without spot will become a sacrifice for sin - Therefore, I will punish him and then release him.’” Luke 23:16 He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God through Him. That great exchange – our sin for His righteousness – by His stripes we are healed.

+ Soli Deo Gloria +

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday
April 1, 2007
Luke 19:27
The King conquers a city with Love

When He came near the place where the road goes down the Mt. of Olives the whole crowed of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen.

The Lord’s Passion according to Luke’s Gospel will be observed throughout the week. Here we observe the total drama of God’s love for His people. .Palm Sunday is an easy scene to recreate. It is so very familiar, but what really is going on here? The reaction of the crowd was bound to have happened as it did.

I.        Raising of Lazarus

A.     Had just taken place just a few days at most. It was “breaking news” something unheard of had just happened.

B.     Was well known to all – How could you keep this news a secret. A man who had been dead for three days had been risen to life. This sort of thing does not happen. If it had happened what could this mean? Who is this Jesus?

C.    Brought things to a head. The hostility between the leadership and Jesus was at its breaking point. The people concluded that Jesus must be the promised prophet predicted by the prophets of old. Could this be the long expected Messiah, the one who would deliver them of all their woes? To the leadership this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. He was at the height of popularity. They could feel their power and influence slowly slipping away. Naturally Annas would counsel his peers “It is expedient that one man die for the sake of the nation.”

II.     The crowd’s reaction

A.     The leaders completely missed the point (they asked Him to quiet the crowd!) They feared a riot. The last thing then needed was an uprising during the holiday.  They could loose everything.  

B.     The people no less miss the point also. They too were clueless.

1.      They linked Him to the Psalms the one who would come in the name of the Lord. (qt)

2.      They should have linked Him to the rest of the Old Testament – the suffering servant – the one who would come to visit His people and bear their sin.

III.   An explanation of the crowd’s turn

A.     They were fickle as most are even to this day. If they don’t get immediate satisfaction they will turn. e.g. political leaders, sports teams, athletes, etc.

B.     They expected a political Messiah one who would care for their every need. They could care less for his spiritual musings they had little use for Him in that respect – He was not a Savior capable of saving, so they turned on Him.

1.      He showed He was not such - “My kingdom is not of this world”

2.      They became disillusioned – “then save/heal Thyself!”

The problem of the Palm Sunday crowd was one of misunderstanding. The people, the leadership of the people thought He was something He wasn’t because they didn’t know who He was. If He were to come to our community today, might the same thing happen? Do people really understand who He is? Our mission; proclaim a changeless Christ to a changing world.

+ Soli Deo Gloria +