Afternoon/Morning. My name is David Sorn. I’m the Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
Happy Easter to you.
You know…there’s nothing better than getting good news, when you’re expecting bad news.
I remember 13 or 14 years ago, when I was in college, I was driving my car, and every time I got up to 40 or 50, the whole thing would just shake violently.
And I remember thinking, “Oh man! This is terrible. Something’s wrong. I surely don’t know what it is, but something’s wrong.”
I was trying to go through the list…in my mind…of what it could be.
But all I can think about is…like…when you go in to get a cheap oil change, and they always come out with a look of pity on their face.
And they say, “Oil change went great…but if you don’t fix your (insert some part you’ve never heard of before)…well, you could die any day. And it’s $3,500 put that in”
“How much do you value your life?”
So I’m thinking of scenarios like that…and measuring it up to the fact, that I probably have like $500 to my name at the time.
Well, I finally bring it in, and the guy said, “Were you driving in that big snowstorm the other day?
I said, “I sure was.”
He said, “You just have a ton of snow packed inside your rims, which is throwing your wheels out of balance
So what’s the solution?
He said, “We just take a hose and pressure wash it off.”
“It’s basically free”
And so I did a little dance J
There’s nothing like good news when you’re expecting bad news.
And today, I want to show you some women in the Bible who got some incredibly good news when they were only expecting bad news.
SETTING UP THE SCENE / THE PASSAGE
The last 3 years of Jesus’ life, he travelled all around teaching people and doing amazing things.
During those 3 years, there was a particular group of women who are mentioned as being his followers at multiple times.
In fact, when Jesus was crucified & killed on the Friday of the first Easter weekend…these women were there.
And on early Sunday morning, these same women got up, and went to go see the tomb where Jesus’ body was placed.
Let’s join the passage there and read what the Bible says about this incredible event
(Luke 24:1-9) – NIV
On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 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? 6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’” 8 Then they remembered his words.9 When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others.
So what’s happening here?
The women are going to the tomb, and they believe Jesus is dead…like dead for good dead.
They’re expecting just more bad news when they arrive.
More hard and difficult feelings.
But they wanted to pay their respects to Him.
They were bringing spices to prepare his body for a proper burial.
It’s a funeral if you will.
They’ll get the body ready…and maybe even say a nice few words about the life He lived.
Except when they get there, they were in for quite the surprise.
Think about the range of emotions they probably went through!
Sadness, fear, surprise, confusion, excitement…all in a couple of minutes!
Sounds just like my life with a bunch of toddlers in the house
The angels say, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?
In other words, “Why you are you looking among all of these dead people…for someone who’s actually alive?!”
It’s this incredible moment.
It’s like getting incredible news when all you were expecting was bad news.
It’s like showing up to a funeral…and finding out it’s been cancelled!
Can you imagine that feeling?
LOOKING FOR LIFE AMONG THE DEAD
I really want to focus on what the angels say to the women in verse 5: “Why do you look for the living among the dead?”
Because I think for most of us as Americans…this is one of our biggest problems.
We’re looking for life…among the dead.
And we’re doing so…because we’re living like Jesus’ funeral was never cancelled.
Let me explain a few ways I see this happening:
Nowadays…perhaps more so than any other time in American history…we’re trying to squeeze as much life and pleasure out of this world as possible
We’re all supposed to have bucket lists.
We’re told that our lives would just be that much more fulfilling if you could cross off these arbitrary achievements…like:
Visit all 10,000 Lakes…
Collect a rock from all 50 states
Get your picture taken with a sloth
Get in an Instagram photo with Justin Bieber.
Then…then we’ll have meaning!
And on top of that, we’re supposed to experience all of these milestones that make us happy…
Go to school…get a nice job…get married…have kids…buy a house
And yet…despite all of our achievements and milestones, we’re somehow the most depressed generation of Americans on record.
Part of the problem is this: When you live as if those women had a funeral for Jesus that day…when you live like his life was just something of the past…
You’ll then try and find life, not in God (the eternal), but in the decaying…
As the angel said, “We’re looking for life among the dead”
Let me explain: When God created you…He designed you to find LIFE in a certain way.
And so even if you do hit all of the milestones, (you get a house, 2.5 kids, and a 3 car garage…)
Why do you still feel empty?!
Why is it possible that you can cross all of things off of your bucket list and still feel like there’s a hole in your bucket?
It’s because God didn’t create you to find your deepest meaning in temporary things…but He created you to find life in Him…the very alive, everlasting, God.
And see it all comes back to the funeral that never was.
If Jesus really was the Son of God, and he was raised from the dead, and He’s alive right now…then that means that there truly is a God who can give you true meaning, true purpose, and true life.
And you can find life, not among the dead & decaying, but among the living!
And it’s not just people outside the church that are living like the angels never came, and like the women just had a funeral that day…
Sometimes you even see it inside the church.
Maybe for you, when you look in at Christianity…honestly, it feels like a dead religion.
That’s how I felt for the majority of my life.
I spent the first half of my life thinking Christianity was rather boring and lifeless.
By the time I was a teenager, I determined that people who lived like it was real were off their rocker.
I didn’t see what they saw in it.
I even mocked many of them.
Maybe you’ve even been around church some before…maybe you grew up in it some…and it’s always felt a bit “dead” to you.
Perhaps to you…Christianity has always just felt like a bunch of ceremonies and rituals that have become lifeless over time.
Or maybe you’re like many…who would say, “Jesus is a likeable enough guy…but there’s just NOT a whole lot of reason for you to be overly interested in Jesus”
After all, he was just a great teacher.
No different than Confucius, or Immanuel Kant…or any other great moral teacher of the past.
And so because of this thinking, the majority of Americans live like Jesus died on Friday, but was never resurrected on Sunday.
They live like Easter never happened.
They live like the angels never stopped the women and said, “Hold up! Cancel the funeral!”
In a lot of ways, the way that most Americans look at Christianity is very similar to what the women were feeling on their way to the tomb …before they found out the truth
They were very somber…walking slowly.
They were simply doing what they “should do.”
They were honoring the past.
But when they find out that Jesus is alive in the PRESENT…
That it’s a RELATIONSHIP they can have right now…the Bible says in multiple places…that they start running!
It reminds me of a true story that Pastor John Ortberg once told of his friend who lives here in Minnesota.
His friend used to travel to little rural communities where they didn't have pastors to perform funerals.
He would always go out with a funeral director, and they would drive together in the funeral director’s hearse.
One time, they were on their way back from a funeral, and the pastor was feeling extremely tired.
He thought it would be a little weird, but he really needed a nap, so he decided to just lie down in the back of the hearse while they drove back to the metro.
After an hour or so, he felt the car slow down and stop, and he looked up, and they were at a gas station.
So he sat up in the back of the hearse.
As he did so, he noticed a guy next to him pumping gas.
The man looked like he was going to faint and immediately turned around, and just started running.
And here’s what I want you to know:
If this is real…
If the funeral was cancelled…
If Jesus really did rise from the dead…proving He was the Son of God..
The only thing you can NOT do is shrug.
If someone rises from the dead…and you believe it, it will move you to action.
C.S. Lewis once brilliantly said:
"Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, is of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important." – C.S. Lewis
REMEMBERING HIS WORDS
So what if this is real?
What if this is real…and you just…for whatever reason…haven’t paid it much attention?
If so, you’re not the only one.
One of the most striking things of this passage in Luke 24 is found in the words of the angels in verses 6-8
(Luke 24:6-8) – NIV
6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’” 8 Then they remembered his words.
See, Jesus had already told the women that he was going to resurrect after they killed him.
They had heard it…they just didn’t remember.
It didn’t sink in.
And honestly, I think that’s a lot of Americans.
They’ve heard that Jesus died on the cross…and Easter is his resurrection.
They just haven’t really given it that much thought before.
And because they haven’t…they basically live like it never happened.
That’s how I lived the first part of my life.
I knew ABOUT Jesus…I just didn’t KNOW Jesus.
Then…I started, out of the blue, to read the Bible.
And as I read about Jesus, most of the time I read with my mouth wide open
This guy was not boring. This guy was incredible.
Charismatic. Full of life. Absolutely brilliant.
And it started to soften my heart.
A few months later, in a moment I’ll never forget, I heard someone praying in a really personal way…for the very first time.
I had only heard people recite memorized prayers for most of my life.
And I was at this event, and this woman started praying, “God…we need you…be with us tonight”
And as all the Christians were going “MmmHmmm”
And I was standing in the back with my eyes open, thinking, “Oh my…maybe this is actually real”
Maybe they’re actually talking to someone who isn’t dead.
THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING
And see, if the resurrection happened…
If Jesus not only died on the cross, but was resurrected from the dead…that changes everything!
He’s no longer some dead religious teacher like all of the other founders of religions…He’s the risen Son of God.
The difference can be seen in something as simple as going to a grave.
You ever go a cemetery?
Maybe to honor your parents who have passed? Or a sibling? A friend.
When you go, you put flowers down, you think about the person, shed a tear…
It can be inspiring. Moving.
But the one thing it’s not, is it’s not relational.
You’re talking, but as hard as it is, no one is talking back
This how many people seem to look at Christianity.
It’s like they’re standing outside Jesus’ tomb…there to pay their respects
They think about some of Jesus’ teachings.
They remember some of the things he did.
But…for the most part…it’s fairly lifeless experience…and it’s certainly not relational!
But friends…the funeral was cancelled!
He’s not dead.
He rose from the dead
And He’s very alive today!
And more than that…He wants a relationship with you.
He wants to talk to you and forgive you and love you.
My prayer is that the reality of that changes your life
Think of it this way:
One of the more difficult things I faced growing up as a kid was the countless number of funerals I had to attend.
All 4 of my Grandparents died in a span of 5 years.
It seemed like at times, that I was going to a funeral of a grandparent, an uncle, a cousin…every 6 months.
And none of those funerals are more vivid in my memory to me than the funeral of my first grandfather to die.
It was as if it was out of a movie.
It rained the entire funeral.
It was dark…wet…and everyone was dressed in black with their umbrellas over their heads.
On top of that…my Grandfather was a WWII veteran.
So as the rain poured down on us, the noise from the gunshots of the military salute rang out in the dark skies
And as a young kid…trying to understand death for the first time…all I wanted…was for someone to say, “It’s cancelled.”
“This was all one big mistake. He’s fine. He’s right over there…you can go talk to him right now”
And today, I want you to understand this on an even grander scale.
The funeral of Jesus Christ WAS cancelled.
He IS right over there, and you CAN go talk to Him.
He’s not dead!
And because of that….your life can be really different.
Not only is He alive, but He’s been pursuing you your entire life.
He never stops thinking about you.
And his great desire is that…because He is alive…that you would know Him personally.
And that’s what I found out years ago.
That Christianity wasn’t the lifeless religion I thought it was.
I was living like women who were coming to pay their respects at the tomb…
But when I saw…I realized…I experienced…that He was alive…I came alive.
See, not only was his funeral cancelled, He cancelled my own.
I came to life.
Let me explain.
See Easter…is really about Easter weekend.
It’s Friday when he died…and Sunday when he rose.
Look again at what the angel says to the women:
(Luke 24:6-7) – NIV
6 He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 7 ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’”
Jesus had said to the women that He MUST be delivered to die.
The women didn’t understand this.
And it’s why they didn’t anticipate the resurrection.
And their misunderstanding is identical to most people today:
They knew Jesus had died, but didn’t know Jesus HAD to die.
This is another reason why a lot of people kind of shrug at Jesus and Christianity.
They hear cross…tomb…Easter…blah blah blah…
But they don’t know…Jesus HAD to die before he was resurrected.
And the story is more beautiful than most realize
It’s not just a death…it’s a rescue mission!
So why did he have to die?
He has to die...because you and I will never be good enough to enter heaven on our own.
(Romans 3:23) – NIV
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Not one of us has done enough to EARN the right to sit in the presence of a Holy & Perfect God for all of eternity.
What about all the “not good” things we’ve done?
But God, because He loves you so much, sends his one & only son Jesus on a RESCUE MISSION for you…to die on the cross in your place.
And what Jesus is doing when he dies on the cross…is taking the punishment for your sins.
And the Bible says, that you can be forgiven, you can have the punishment of your sins taken off of you and put onto Jesus, and thus you can go to heaven…IF you put your faith in Him dying for you.
(John 3:16) – NIV
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
And this is the only way.
Jesus HAD to die.
Think about this…if you could be made right with God…by somehow being good enough…or nice enough…or religious enough…would God have ever let His own son be killed??!
Jesus HAD to die…out of love…as a substitute in our place.
And…He HAD to resurrect…to show that He was the Son of God.
To show that He’s alive today.
And that not only do you have the opportunity to be completely forgiven by Him…but you can start a relationship with God.
The funeral was cancelled. He’s alive!
And He can come into your life and start changing you.
And I’m telling you, it WILL change your life.
It absolutely changed mine…in incredible ways.
I should have died for my sins…past, present, & future.
But he cancelled my funeral…cancelled my eternal punishment…and gave me life instead!
And so I ask you…do you believe the resurrection is true?
Because if you do…then the only thing you can’t do…is shrug.
And so if this really happened…that means that Jesus is alive right now…and is calling YOU to Himself.
He wants to forgive you of everything, start a relationship with you, and have you follow Him…right now.
To do so…is to acknowledge truth…and to be forgiven.
To not to do so…is to risk dying with the punishment of your sins, still on you, and not on Jesus.
Let Him rescue you!
And so today, I want to give you an opportunity to tell Him you believe that not only was His funeral cancelled, but that He can cancel your funeral…He can completely forgive you.
That He can give you life…everlasting.
In fact, let’s just have everyone bow their heads and close their eyes as I want this to be a special moment between you and God.
If you want to do this …in just a moment, if you’re ready to believe in Jesus Christ…to give your life to him for the first time…I’m actually going to ask you to respond by quietly standing up right where you are.
It’s a symbolic way to say to God, “Here I am. I want to follow
NO ONE will be looking at you…no one (don’t even think about that!). This is about you and God.
I just want to give you an opportunity to draw the line in the sand.
So wherever you are, if I’m talking to you.. and you’d like to become a follower of Jesus Christ, to enter into a relationship with Him, and accept his gift of forgiveness, I want you to stand up wherever you are.
If God is nudging your heart in this…that means He’s real. That means…it’s TIME. If you feel it in your pulse…in your heart…that’s God. Accept His forgiveness. Start a new life with Him. It’s amazing!
If you’re standing up, would you pray this prayer with me?
It’s not a magic prayer…but just a prayer to tell God where you’re at… the Bible says, we 1) believe in our hearts and 2) confess with our mouths.
So I want you to say it out loud with me. Repeat after me
IN fact, there are a lot of other believers already in the room, and this is what we believe.
So, let’s all say it together with these new believers.
Repeat after me
I confess to you, that I have sinned against you.
But God I believe, that you sent your Son Jesus, to take my place
And God I thank you, for forgiving my sins.
And now I commit, to following you, with my life.
(you can keep your eyes closed)
If you are standing, I need you to do one more thing for me.
It will only take 2 minutes, but it’s 2 of the most important minutes of your life.
In just a second, I’m going to pray, and right as I begin praying, I need you quietly sneak out of your row, and go to the back of the room
Our follow-up team is back there by the blue rectangle to give you some extremely important resources to get started on the most important journey in your life.
So head back there…it’ll only take 2 minutes…and you’ll be able to sneak back to your seat.
Let me pray (You can go back)
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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