Sunday, April 21, 2019

'I Will Come Back'

Easter Sermon 2007 - I Will Come Back

Easter Message – April 8, 2007
                  “I Will Come Back”
                        Luke 24:36-49
On December 7, 1988 … at 11:41 a.m. local time … {PP} (of earthquake devastation) … a magnitude 6.9 earthquake shook northwestern Armenia (which borders Turkey). It was followed four minutes later by a magnitude 5.8 aftershock.
In his book … When Christ Comes … Max Lucado tells a beautiful story that came out of this tragedy … which I want to share this morning to teach about Easter … and the promised return of Christ.
He writes … “The Armenian earthquake needed only four minutes to flatten the nation and kill thirty thousand people. {PP} (2nd earthquake picture). Moments after the deadly tremor ceased … a father raced to an elementary school to save his son. When he arrived … he saw that the building had been leveled. Looking at the mass of stones and rubble … he remembered a promise he had made to his child … “No matter what happens … I’ll always be there for you.”
{PP} (Black screen)
Driven by his own promise … he found the area closest to his son’s room … and began to pull back the rocks. … Other parents arrived and began sobbing for their children. “It’s too late” … they told the man. “You know they are dead. … You can’t help.” Even a police officer encouraged him to give up.
But the father refused. … For eight hours … then sixteen … then thirty-two … thirty-six hours he dug.
His hands were raw … and his energy gone … but he refused to quit.
Finally … after thirty-eight wrenching hours … he pulled back a boulder and … heard his son’s voice. He called his boy’s name … “Arman! Arman!”
And a voice answered him … “Dad … it’s me!” … Then the boy added these priceless words … “I told the other kids not to worry. I told them if you were alive … you’d save me … and when you saved me … they’d be saved too.
Because you promised … ‘No matter what … I’ll always be there for you.’ ” [PAUSE] 
Do you know that God has made that same promise to us? … He says … no matter what happens … “I will come back.”
In John 14 Jesus said … {PP} (John 14:1-3) “Do not let your hearts be troubled. … Trust in God … trust also in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms … if it were not so … I would have told you. {PP} (John 14:1-3) I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you … I will come back … and take you to be with me … that you also may be where I am.”
Can we believe this promise? {PP} (Blank)
Do we dare believe this promise?
Maybe you … never have doubts. Maybe you’re like that boy … who just knew … (even with the world crashing in around him) … that his father would come and rescue him. … But I think most of us … myself included … experience times of doubt. Is God really there? … Will He really come back for us?
How can we know for sure? … How can we know that Jesus will do what he said? … That He will return … and set us free from the crushing rocks of pain … and death that crash in on us in this life … and take us to be with Him? … [PAUSE]
We know … because He’s already done it once. [PAUSE] 
And if Jesus has risen from the dead … then He has won the victory over death. And if He has won the victory over death … then we share in that victory.
In Romans 6:5 … Paul says …  {PP} (Romans 6:5) “If we have been united with him like this in his death … we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.” {PP} (Blank)
You see … if we are included in His death … we will also be included in His resurrection. … He conquered death. When Jesus went down to the grave … he took down death itself.
Paul told the Thessalonians …  {PP} (1 Thessalonians 4:14) “We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.”
And to the church in Corinth he wrote …  {PP} (1 Corinthians 15:22-23) “For as in Adam all die … so in Christ all will be made alive. … But each in his own turn … Christ, the firstfruits; … then, when he comes … those who belong to him.” {PP}(Blank)
Paul is saying that the resurrection of Jesus … is a preview of our own resurrection. [PAUSE] 
Because Jesus is alive … He will come back for us … and we will experience a resurrection like His. … That’s the promise.
But can we trust this promise? … Is Jesus really alive today so that He can come back for us?
The entire hope of Christianity hinges on Jesus really being alive today.
Did Jesus really rise from the dead?
This is not only a good question. It is the question. Paul also wrote … {PP} (1 Corinthians 15:22-23) “If Christ has not been raised … your faith is futile … you are still in your sins.” {PP} (Blank)
Simply put … if Jesus is alive … His followers will join Him and be with Him forever … but … if Jesus is not alive … there is no hope in Christianity.
But why would you believe in something so remarkable as a person rising from the dead?
To explore the answer … let’s look at Luke chapter 24 … and why the original disciples believed in the resurrection.
Jesus had just appeared to two of His followers … on the road to Emmaus … and revealed Himself to them when He opened the scriptures to them … and broke bread and prayed with them.
So these followers come to Jerusalem to find the apostles and tell them what happened. … We’ll pick up the story in Luke 24:36-49 which says … {PP} (Luke 24:36-49) “36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 
37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. {PP} (Luke 24:36-49)
38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” {PP} (Luke 24:36-49)
40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” {PP} (Luke 24:36-49) 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish … 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.
44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” {PP} (Luke 24:36-49)
45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
{PP} (Luke 24:36-49) 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” [PAUSE] {PP} (Blank)
In this short passage … Jesus does four things … that change the lives of His disciples forever.

He answers the doubts of their minds.
He satisfies the needs of their hearts.
He transforms the direction of their lives.
And then He shows them His hands and His feet.
Four things.

First … He answers the doubts of their minds.
Jesus comes to His disciples and says … “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”
He wants them to know … unmistakably … that they are not just having a spiritual experience. … He is really alive. Physically alive. … In His body. … The resurrection of Christ was a bodily resurrection.
It really happened in history.

Second … He satisfies the needs of their hearts.
Jesus satisfied the needs of their hearts … by eating with them.
In ancient culture … to invite someone in to eat … meant inviting them into a personal relationship.
And you can only experience this kind of relationship with a living person.
When someone dies … you can remember things they said. … You can keep their room just like it was. … You can see their clothes hanging in the closet … and you can say “I feel like he’s still with me.”
But hanging on to memories … and personal items … is such a vague way of having someone with you that it makes you long to have them really with you.
It leaves you longing for that personal relationship again.
Jesus says … I’m alive. I’m here. Now you can really have a personal relationship with Me. … They ate with Him.
And since Jesus is still alive today … you can also have a personal relationship with Him. You can know Him. Really know Him. … Not just His words. … Him. … And He will satisfy the deepest needs of your heart.

Third … He transforms the direction of their lives.
He transforms their lives by sending them out. He says … “you will be my witnesses.” … Witnesses just report what they’ve seen and experienced. … And what did they see and experience? … Jesus. … Jesus alive again.
They are to go out into the world … as witnesses … totally shaped by what they’ve seen.
Jesus is alive … and that transforms the entire direction of their lives. … It still does. … It did mine. … It will yours too.
If you believe in the resurrection … what happens in this world will not control you.
Most people are consumed with things of this world.
But at some point in your life … you’re going to realize that you’re not going to have the career you wanted. … Or you’re not going to accomplish all the things you wanted to accomplish.
And even if you do … you’ll find they don’t satisfy. … But you won’t.
Maybe you’ll lose your health … and you won’t be able to do some of the things you’ve always wanted to do … or travel to the places you’ve always wanted to travel.
But … if the resurrection is true … living for things of this world doesn’t have to control you.
If the resurrection is true … even losing your health doesn’t have to control you.
Joni Eareckson Tada is a Christian who was paralyzed in an accident when she was 18 and has been confined to a wheelchair ever since.
She says that one time she was in a large Christian meeting … and the speaker said let’s pray. And then he said … “let’s all kneel before God as we pray.”
So everyone kneeled down … but she couldn’t. … And the thoughts came into her head that she would never be able to kneel before God … and she burst into tears.
Then … she writes … “I remembered the resurrection.”  … [PAUSE] … “The first thing I plan to do on my resurrected legs … is to drop on grateful … glorified knees … and kneel quietly before the feet of Jesus. … And then … I’m going to be on my feet dancing.”
“Can you imagine the hope … that this gives someone with a spinal cord injury like mine?” … “Can you imagine the hope” … she writes … that “this gives someone who is manic depressive? … No other religion promises new bodies … a new material universe. … Only in the gospel of Christ do people hurting like me … find such enormous hope to live.”
Do you hear what she’s saying?
Whatever ailment you may face … even if you’re in a wheelchair … (because of the resurrection) … you’re not going to miss out on one single thing.
Things of this world … disappointments … possessions … plan … don’t have to control you.
Because Jesus is alive … He transforms the direction of your life.

Finally … He shows them His hands and His feet.
In the middle of those verses we read … did you catch Luke 24:40 … which simply says … {PP} (Luke 24:40) “He showed them his hands and feet.” [PAUSE] {PP}(Blank)
Do you realize that this is the glorified body of Jesus? … This is the body He will have when you see Him in Heaven. … What do they see … when they look at His hands and feet? [PAUSE] 
The same thing you and I will see on His hands and feet when we see Him in person. … The scars. … The nail holes.
For all eternity … He will keep those scars.
I think I learned some of the answer to this question when I heard Jerram Barrs (spelling?) … a professor at Covenant Seminary … speak on the power of stories in fantasy literature.
We all like happy ending. … Right?

So why does Jesus show them His scars?
Just a few days earlier … the disciples still had in their minds that when Jesus takes the throne as Messiah … they will have key roles in His administration. … They thought this as recently as Palm Sunday … less than a week prior to His death. … They were riding His coattails.
When those nails were driven into the hands and feet of Jesus … all of their hopes and dreams were over. … Those nail holes ruined their lives. … Right?
That’s what they thought.
The nail holes ruined their lives.
But then Jesus shows them the scars. … And He teaches them that the very scars they thought had ruined their lives … had actually saved their lives. [PAUSE]  … The deliverance was not in spite of the suffering … (something that made the suffering OK). … No. … The deliverance was because of the suffering.
When Jesus comes back for you … and He will come back … it won’t be just to make your suffering OK. … The joy of the resurrection will include your suffering  … and redeem your suffering.
And you will learn … just like the disciples learned … that the things you thought had completely ruined your life … may have actually been used by God to save it. … [PAUSE] 
Oh … the resurrection is true … and you can trust His promise to come back for you.


Waterer said...

What a great post! Thank you Scott! A blessed Ressurection Day to you. Praying for our Christian Family in Sri Lanka too.

Scott said...

Yes, this is a great article; Ive seen Max Lucado tell that first story and it makes such a great point. Thanks, you too :)