Easter-2019

Good morning Journey Church!  My name is Phil Human and I’m thoroughly enjoying worshipping with you this glorious Easter Morning!  From baptisms to incredible worship – this is a party.

And it should be – because – listen on Friday night we had a somber celebration of the price Jesus was willing to pay in order to settle the charges for the crimes of humanity.  The charge was guilty – the penalty was death – and Jesus took our punishment so that we don’t have to.

But Easter?  Easter is a party.  It’s a celebration.  Because Jesus died – and he went into the grave and he took all of our sins with him into the grave.  And three days later Jesus walked about of the tomb – alive.  And the bible says,

17 And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. 18 In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! 19 And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.

20 But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead.

This is the Bible’s claim.  And we’re going to read an account of the events surrounding the resurrection this morning and ask three questions to help us get a clearer picture of exactly what went down that first Easter morning and why it’s so beautiful and important and life changing.

But first – I have a little bit of news to pass along to our church family.   Over the past five weeks we’ve been talking about where we are going as a Church and what it will take to get us there.

Now for those who are visiting today and you haven’t been here recently, we are so glad you are here – and we hope you love you experience at Journey.  We started Journey ten years ago last month – specifically to help people who are a bit skeptical about the existence of God and perhaps cynical about the church – and we started the church for you as well as for those followers of Jesus who enjoy being in this kind of church.  And so we have people all over the spectrum of faith today.  Long time followers of Jesus as well as long time skeptics of everything we are talking about today – and we’re fine with that.  We welcome you here today and every week.

So welcome, those who are newer to Journey.  And please allow me this moment to talk to those who are regular attenders – because we’ve been talking about what it will take to put a building on some dirt we own in town.  And I promised everyone that today is the day we will disclose how much has been pledged to the effort.

However – before I do that I simply must commend this church.  You responded so incredibly to the challenge we put out five weeks ago – we asked that you make every effort to attend over the last five weeks and we’ve had record breaking attendance over these weeks – and that’s noteworthy and commendable.  Thank you for making the effort to be here.

Now for the news.  We have asked all of our regularly attending people to give us an idea of what they might be able to give over the course of the next two years for the ministry of Journey.  We’ve asked people to give us one number that encompasses our ministries, our bills, our mission work in Haiti and Africa and locally through our assistance fund – as well as funding the building project.

We’ve been praying that 2.5 Million dollars would be pledged to the future of Journey, with 1.2 million of that earmarked specifically to the building.  This number is ridiculous – and we admitted it.  But we felt that now is the time to get that building up – and we feet a sense of urgency – and we asked you to give us an idea of your ability to support it.

And we said that if the number is less than 2.5 million we will not freak out.  It’s okay.  God’s in control.  We’ve been meeting in a school for ten years.  It’s okay if it takes three years instead of two to be able to afford to begin construction.

And we said anything over 2.5 will be earmarked to the building – so we could end up borrowing less money and therefore have a smaller mortgage.

Well – are you read to hear how much has been pledged?  By the way – if you didn’t get a pledge card turned in but would like to yet – the pledge cards are on the information table – fill one out and we will include it in the next hour and keep you up to date, okay?   We’ve been praying for 2.5 million.  The pledge number is…

$2,554,937!

Now what does that mean?  God willing, we will be able to begin building a home for Journey within 24 month.   We have many steps between now and then to get done, and so keep praying and let’s see what God is going to do!

Let’s pray and give thanks!

Okay – now let’s talk about Easter!  Because as exciting as all that might be – the real excitement – the really good news – is that He is risen!  Jesus is risen!  He is not dead.  He is alive!

So let’s read the story and then I’m going to ask three questions about what we’ve read.

And we’ll read from Luke 24.

On Friday night we used Luke 23 to talk about the events surrounding the death of Jesus on the cross.  On Friday he died.  Day one.  Saturday in the tomb – it was the Sabbath and any work, including preparing the body for a proper burial was forbidden – and so Jesus lays in the borrowed tomb on Saturday – day two.  Now it is Sunday – the third day – and at the crack of dawn – the earliest they would have been allowed to work on the body of Jesus – they head to the tomb.  And this is where we pick up the story…

But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. 2 They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. 3 So they went in, but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes.

5 The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? 6 He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.”

8 Then they remembered that he had said this. 9 So they rushed back from the tomb to tell his eleven disciples—and everyone else—what had happened. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and several other women who told the apostles what had happened. 11 But the story sounded like nonsense to the men, so they didn’t believe it. 12 However, Peter jumped up and ran to the tomb to look. Stooping, he peered in and saw the empty linen wrappings; then he went home again, wondering what had happened.

There’s a story here in Luke about two men on the road who encounter the living Jesus – and we’re jumping over it for time, but you can read it yourself in Luke chapter 23 anytime…  but we’ll pick it up in verse 35…  And here we have two men who had just seen Jesus reporting to the disciples that they too have seen the risen resurrected Jesus…

35 Then the two from Emmaus told their story of how Jesus had appeared to them as they were walking along the road, and how they had recognized him as he was breaking the bread. 36 And just as they were telling about it, Jesus himself was suddenly standing there among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. 37 But the whole group was startled and frightened, thinking they were seeing a ghost!

38 “Why are you frightened?” he asked. “Why are your hearts filled with doubt? 39 Look at my hands. Look at my feet. You can see that it’s really me. Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost, because ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do.” 40 As he spoke, he showed them his hands and his feet.

41 Still they stood there in disbelief, filled with joy and wonder. Then he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he ate it as they watched.

Okay – so this is just a small section of one of the four books in the bible (Matthew Mark Luke and John) that give details about the life, the death and the resurrection of Jesus.

But as I read this section – there are three questions that I feel are worth talking about… especially for those in the room who are not convinced any of this actually happened.  There are questions here worth asking.

  1. Why did the disciples have so much doubt?
  2. What’s the deal with Jesus eating a fish?
  3. If Jesus is living in a resurrected body – then why does Jesus still have nail marks?

First – why were the disciples, of all people, filled with doubt about the resurrection?  The women go to the tomb expecting to see a dead Jesus.  John tells us the women thought these two angels were gardeners at first and were perturbed – where did you take his body!?

When they make it back to the disciples – it says they dismissed them as hysterical – it didn’t even make sense – only two of the 11 remaining disciples even bothered to go check it out for themselves?

Thomas – famous doubting Thomas – wouldn’t even believe the other disciples and he says famously – until I put my fingers in the nail holes, I will not believe.  Later Jesus shows up and says – go for it dude.

Now why are the disciples incredulous?  Here’s the answer:  Quite simply – it’s because the disciples are smarter than you are giving them credit for.

See this is the time of year when we get to hear people be interviewed on television and they like to say things like, “Well you know – back then – people were simpletons and they were primitive, I mean we live in an enlightened age now – we know that dead people don’t come back from the dead.

But – every single time we read about someone hearing the news about the risen Jesus – they respond as you and I most likely would respond.  Complete disbelief.

They doubted because no one expected it to happen.   Sometimes people say things like – well you know in their grief they wished themselves into believing that Jesus was raised from the dead.  But why?  No one taught about the resurrection.  Not Jew.  Not Romans.  Not Greek.

Did you know that there’s only one place in the Old Testament that even mentions the idea of a resurrection?  Daniel Chapter 12 – and if you read it- it talks about the end of time, and being resurrected in some kind of bright luminescent kind of imagery.

So the Jews weren’t expecting a resurrection.  And the Romans and Greeks looked at the body with disdain.  It was a vessel for the soul, but practically worthless – a nuisance – no greek, no roman would espouse an actual bodily resurrection.

If you read the book of Acts – there is this incredible scene in Acts 17 where Paul is having a debate with the Greek philosophers in Athens – and things are going well – but then it says in verse 32. 32 When they heard Paul speak about the resurrection of the dead, many laughed in contempt, and the next verse says –33 That ended Paul’s discussion with them.  Why?  It was ridiculous to think that a dead person can come back to life after three days in a tomb?

We must not think that just because they lived 2000 years ago these people were dumb and easily fooled into believing something they hoped would come true.  No one was expecting it.

Furthermore – the reports we read are so weird, they simply must have happened.   I mean – if you were going to make up a legend about Jesus in order to get people to worship him – if you were making up a legend, as many try to claim happened – what would you include in the legend?

I mean – we recently watched the Captain Marvel movie when at the end fo the movie she kid of flies into space and looks at the aliens and tilts her head and her eyes are like the sun and she does this thing with the hands and pounds them together and lightning flies out of her elbows.

I’d at least have a Matrix type moment when Jesus kind of flexes and reality warps around him.  I mean – give me some kind of special effects here people – the man just rose from the dead.

Does Luke do this?  No – what does Luke say that happens?

Jesus walks into the room – and he says, “You guys got anything to eat?”  And behold!  We gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he ate it!”  Behold!

If you were going to make up a legend about Jesus, why would you make Jesus sound like your college dorm roommate?   Only if it actually happened.  It’s too mundane to include.

So here’s the second question.  What’s the deal with Jesus eating the fish? 

Well in one sense he wanted to be sure that the disciples understood he was real – and not a ghost or an apparition – he was real and wanted food.

But there’s much more going on here.  Even in our day and age – if you invite someone into your home to have a meal with you – it’s an invitation to intimacy – to a relationship – to a friendship.  You are saying – I want to be your friend.  I am inviting you into my life – come and share you story.

If that’s the way it is now – in the first century it was even more so.  And to the Jewish person it was very symbolic – eating with someone was a sign of peace – and I’ll throw this out there for those of you who are into theology – when Moses receives the Ten Commandments – God has a meal with Moses and the Elders.  Peace.  An invitation to a friendship.

Passover was – a meal.  Psalm 23 says the Lord prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies. What does that mean?  God’s our friend, and so no enemy can mess with you.

Conversely – fasting was always a sign that something was broken – something needed to be addressed –

Here Jesus shows up and says – let’s eat dinner together.  Peace.  Relationship.  This is Jesus’ announcement that he desires a friendship, a close relationship with his disciples.

And he offers the same to you and me today.  Check out this verse from Revelation 3:20.  It might sound familiar to some – but it says. “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. 

Who is Jesus speaking to?  You and me.  The offer stands today.  Do you hear Jesus knocking on the door?  If you let him in – if you invite him and receive him for who he is – well, a friendship is born.

Listen – Jesus died on the cross in order to make this possible.  In order to make it possible for us to be with God without fear – to be able to approach him boldly and form a close personal friendship with God.

So Jesus was eating a meal as a sign of friendship, peace between him and the disciples – who you will remember fled and betrayed and hid – and Jesus says – it’s okay.  Let’s eat.

Lastly – what gives with Jesus – if he is now in a resurrected Body – why does Jesus still have nail marks on his hands and feet?  Shouldn’t our scars be healed at the resurrection?

Do you have any scars on your body?  I have a few.  Though I learned to never tell stories about your scars – one time I was like I got a scar once I fell off my bike!  And the guy I’m playing golf with is like I have some scars too – I was in the jungles of Vietnam!  Okay stop.  I’ll never tell the feel off my bike scar story again.

We all have scars – some worse than others.  And perhaps the worst scars are the invisible ones.  Events in the past that did not leave visible wounds but wounded our souls deeply.  They left scars behind…

You know – one of the most difficult questions to answer in life – for anyone in this room – is why the scars?

Jesus’ scars inform us about our scars.

What do I mean?

You know – everyone want a happy ending to their story.  Since I’ve already mentioned Marvel – in a few days there is another movie coming out – the second half of a movie – and I have to admit I’m not really up to date about everything that happened in the first movie.

My understanding is that a really bad guy named Thanos is in charge and that when he obtained power he wiped out half of all of humanity.  And I remember Spiderman kind of disintegrating along with half of humanity.  And so I assume – as do you, that the sequel will be the story about these heroes somehow defeating Thanos and rescuing humanity.

That’s what we want, right?  What if the story ends with Thanos evaporating the second half of humanity.  I have a feeling ticket sales would plummet.  Because we like movies like the Avengers where good wins.

Now – I am going to make a prediction – not only will the good people win in the upcoming movie – but even better – somehow the movie will figure out a way to incorporate the bad things that have happened into the final victory.

Instead, let’s go back to a movie that is an old movie – but worth watching.  It’s called Signs.  And the movie starts rough, okay? one bad thing after another.

The main character’s wife has died in a tragic accident.  His brother in law is washed up athlete that kind of feels like his best days are behind him and now he’s a bum.  He has a daughter with an Obsessive Compulsive disorder who drinks a sip of water and then has to get a new cup of water – so glasses of water all over the house.  And He has a son with terrible Asthma who is like always on the cusp of dying.  And then the world gets invaded by aliens.

And at some point you’re like why am I watching this movie?  It’s one bad thing after another!

Now what makes the movie great in my opinion is NOT that they are rescued in the end and the movie ends well.  What makes the movie great is that all of those things that happened to them – each on their own difficult terrible things, they become part of the redemption story.  Bad thing, bad thing bad thing, and yet at the end they come together- they are woven up and taken into the good thing.

Why does Jesus have the scars?  Author timothy Keller writes, “Three days earlier – the disciples thought – the nails ruined their lives.  Now Jesus shows up to say, “no – the nails saved your life.”

Someday – this is the hope of faith in Jesus – someday those things that scar us – the things that we think ruined our life – will become part of what saves us.  Only Jesus can take our scars and weave them into our redemption story.  Only he can make sense of our scars.

The resurrection guarantees for us that one day God will be able to make sense of our scars as well.  There is hope for us.  Because He is a God who took the ultimate scars on our behalf, in order that our scars would not be in vain.

Don’t you want a God like that?  Don’t you want a God who is able to make sense of our life?

The resurrection is God’s proof that the price Jesus paid was enough for you and I to be able to put our past rebellion against God aside.  Our sins become history at the cross.  How?  By thinking highly enough of Jesus to trust him with your life.

Do you sense God pulling you toward himself?  Will you listen to him?  Is he knocking at the door of your life?  He will not barge in.  You must open the door and you can do that any time.  Pray to him.  Tell him you are ready.  Use these words – say Lord I hear you knocking and I’m opening the door for you to come in.

Maybe you are thinking – But I have so many doubts still – great!  Bring them with you.  It’s not faith or doubts – it’s always faith in the midst of doubts.  We’d love for you to be part of this adventure with call faith with us here at Journey.