HOPE CHAPEL - Sunday, April 4, 2021
Easter Sunday – “Unbelievably Good News”
Weekly Topic - “Easter Promise Hunt”
Text – Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20 and other Easter promises
On ‘Good Friday,’ we left the events of Easter with Jesus having just died on the cross and been buried in a tomb, the disciples cowering in fear, his followers confused and overwhelmed with inexpressible grief. The next 36 hours would be for many of them the longest they had ever experienced—eyes swollen from crying, head aching from lack of sleep, nerves frayed, dazed and confused. It’s at this point that the story continues, with the women, scared and tired, but determined to honour their Lord in the only way they knew how…by properly preparing his body for burial, already laid in the tomb for a day and a half. They are about to receive some news that was unbelievably good.
UNBELIEVABLY GOOD NEWS – Matthew 28; Mark 16; Luke 24; John 20 (harmonized)
Saturday evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went out and purchased burial spices so they could anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise while it was still dark, they went to the tomb taking the spices they had prepared.
Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone, and sat on it. His face shone like lightning, and his clothing was as white as snow. The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint.
On the way to the tomb, the women had been asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” When the women arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside. So they went in, but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes.
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? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, 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.”
Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and several other women told the apostles what had happened. But the story sounded like nonsense to the men, so they didn’t believe it. Mary ran and found Simon Peter and John. She said, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”
Peter and John started out for the tomb. They were both running, but John outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He stooped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn’t go in. Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings. Then John who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed—for until then they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead. Then they went home.
But Mary remained standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. “Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her.
“Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”
She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?”
She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”
“Mary!” Jesus said.
She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).
“Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them his message.
That same day two of Jesus’ followers, one who was named Cleopas, were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. But God kept them from recognizing him… After spending the afternoon talking with him, suddenly, their eyes were opened at their evening meal, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared!
They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” And within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem.
That evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. 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. And just as they were telling about it, Jesus himself was suddenly standing there among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. But the whole group was startled and frightened, thinking they were seeing a ghost! As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! Still they stood there in disbelief, filled with joy and wonder. Then he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he ate it as they watched. Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”
One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. They told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.”
Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”
“My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.
Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”
There was a lot of disbelief that surrounded the news that Jesus was once again alive—the angels carried the message, but the terrified women struggled with the news; the women carried the message and the doubting disciples thought they made no sense; the disciples carried the message yet Thomas refused to believe his friends; Jesus himself showed up and the disbelief remained for some—it was such unbelievably good news!
Jesus knew that his resurrection was a difficult thing for his followers to understand and believe, even though contained in the prophetic writings years earlier. For most of them, believing required seeing and even then it wasn’t enough for some to accept that the man they saw crucified was really living again. Jesus made it clear that seeing him should not be a requirement for belief in his resurrection, “Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”
We live in a time when ‘believing without seeing’ is the common means to faith in Jesus, but we have something they did not. We have God’s word complete with the promises made to us as a result of Easter, something not available to Jesus’ first followers.
This morning, we’re going to go on an Easter Promise Hunt…
EASTER PROMISE HUNT (NLT)
John 11:25-26 “Jesus told her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die.” – Jesus is our resurrection source
1 Peter 1:3 “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation.” – we live with hope for the future
1 Corinthians 15:21 “So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man.” – we all experienced death through one man, Adam, but now all experience eternal life through one man, Jesus
Romans 10:9 “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” – belief in the resurrection is essential
1 Corinthians 6:14 “And God will raise us from the dead by his power, just as he raised our Lord from the dead.” – God will raise us just as he raised Jesus
Romans 6:9 “We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him.” – once resurrected, there is no more death
Romans 8:34 “Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.” – Jesus is in heaven interceding for us
1 Thessalonians 4:14 “For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died.” – all those who die before Jesus’ return, will come with him
John 14:3 “When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” – he is preparing a place for us
Colossians 1:13-14 “For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.” – we belong to a new kingdom of life, made possible through Jesus
Luke 9:23 “Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.” – allegiance to Jesus is required to enjoy the benefits he offers
1 Corinthians 1:18 “The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God.” – the cross only makes sense to some
Revelation 21:4 “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” – life eternal will be perfect, never having been infected with sin or death
The tears and the fears of Jesus’ early followers had turned to utter amazement. Gone is the confusion, replaced by fierce loyalty that will help them face uncertain days. 2000 years later, have we lost some of the amazement at Jesus’ resurrection? Have we heard the story so often that it has become commonplace? If we have ever tried to share the fact of the resurrection with a non-believer, they will soon remind us just how extraordinarily unbelievable the events of Easter are. But that should not stop us. Yes, we know some unbelievably good news and we have been called to share it.
Let’s never forget Jesus’ final words to his disciples—including us—from Matthew 28:18-20, “Jesus came and told his disciples, ‘I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go disciple all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’”
Further Study – 1 Peter 1
Next Week – Sunday, April 11, 2021- “Revenge!” (Genesis 34) - ONLINE Only
Pastor Jane Peck, Hope Chapel
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!