Sermon Notes from “The Tomb is Empty. Let the Revolution Begin”

Posted: January 18, 2010 in Uncategorized

The resurrection of Jesus was not a magic trick or even just a display of God’s power but the very turning point of history itself.
 
Let’s look at John 20:1-31:

1 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

    3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. 8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. 9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) 10 Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.

 11 Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb 12 and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.

    13 They asked her, “Woman,  why are you crying?”

    “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” 14 At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

    15 He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”
       Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

    16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
       She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).

    17 Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ ”

    18 Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them that he had said these things to her.

 19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

    21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of anyone, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

 24 Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”
       But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

    26 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

    28 Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

    29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

 30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. 

 
Notice that Mary mistakes Jesus for the gardener.  Remember Genesis 2-3? Everything went wrong in the Garden and now everything has been reborn in a garden.

The resurrection signaled so many things and among them is the defeat of evil with the promise of a new world, a new body and a new life. 
 
How will this happen?
 
Peter Rollins’ parable from How (Not) To Speak of God
 
In the center of a once-great city there stood a magnificent cathedral that was cared for by a kindly old priest who spent his days praying in the vestry and caring for the poor. As a result of the priest’s tireless work, the cathedral was known throughout the land as a true sanctuary. The priest welcomed all who came to the door and gave completely without prejudice or restraint.  Each stranger was, to the priest, a neighbor in need and thus the incoming of Christ. His hospitality was famous and his heart was known to be pure.  No one could steal from this old man, for he considered no possession his own, and while thieves sometimes left that place with items pillaged from the sanctuary, the priest never grew concerned: he had given everything to God and knew that these people needed such items more than the church did.
 
Early one evening in the middle of winter, while the priest was praying before the cross, there was a loud and ominous knock on the cathedral door.  The priest quickly got to his feet and went to the entrance, as he knew it was a terrible night and reasoned that his visitor might be in need of shelter.
 
Upon opening the door he was surprised to find a terrifying demon towering over him with large dead eyes and rotting flesh.
 
“Old man,” the demon hissed, “I have traveled many miles to seek your shelter.  Will you welcome me in?”
 
Without hesitation, the priest bid the hideous demon welcome and beckoned him into the church.  The evil demon stooped down and stepped across the threshold, spitting venom on the tiled floor as he went.  In full view of the priest, the demon proceeded to tear down the various icons that adorned the walls and rip the fine linens that hung around the sanctuary, while screaming blasphemy and curses.
 
During this time the priest knelt silently on the floor and continued in his devotions until it was time for him to retire for the night.
 
“Old man,” cried the demon, “where are you going now?’
 
“I am returning home to rest, for it has been a long day,” replied the kindly priest.
 
“May I come with you?” spat the demon.  “I too am tired and in need of a place to lay my head.”
 
“Why, of course,” replied the priest.  “Come, and I will prepare a meal.”
 
On returning to his house, the priest prepared some food while the evil demon mocked the priest and broke the various religious artifacts that adorned his humble dwelling.  The demon then ate the meal that was provided and afterward turned his attention to the priest,
 
“Old man, you welcomed me first into your church and then into your house.  I have one more request for you: will you now welcome me into your heart?”
 
“Why, of course,” said the priest, “what I have is yours and what I am is yours.”
 
However, there was nothing in the old man for the demon to cling onto, no material with which to make a nest and no darkness within which to hide.  All that existed in the old priest’s soul was light. And so the demon turned from the priest in disgust and left, never to return.
 
 This is how evil has been and will be defeated by giving it nothing to hang on to! 
 
How can we do this? Because the Tomb is empty and this gives us faith, which produces hope, which produces love, which produces a true revolution.

We were forgiven and cleansed by the cross in order to become instruments of redemption.  We are called to forgo all loyalties except our loyalty to King Jesus and this will bring light into darkness.

You may object, “I don’t see any light.  I see only pain.  I see only one day exactly like the last.”  But with those with eyes to see and ears to hear you may be surprised by what you see.

In Africa, hundreds of people are building wells to supply villages with clean drinking water.  Why? Because the tomb is empty. 

In Asia, men and women comb the streets to find children sold into prostiution and bring them to safety and even into homes as adopted children.  Why? Because the tomb is empty.

In Florida, scores of Christians are loading planes to bring relief to Haiti.  Why? Because the tomb is empty.

A new people were born as Jesus rose from the tomb.  Everyday does not have to be the same, not if you declare loyalty to Jesus and foresake all others. 

The tomb is empty.  Let the revolution begin.

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