Morning. We’ll try and answer some of those big questions today.
David Sorn. Lead Pastor at Renovation Church. Happy Easter to you!
Have you ever lost something? I’m guessing you have.
It can range from annoying to terrifying.
Depending on how you feel about what you lost.
Like if you lost your keys.
Even more so if they’ve been in your pocket the whole time.
There have been times in my life where my mind has really been elsewhere, and I’m trying super hard to find something…and it’s actually in my hand.
Now that’s embarrassing!
But what if you lose something that really matters to you.
For some of you that’s your phone…your life.
I have two kids…2-year-old twins.
I’ve never lost them…thankfully…but I’ve had those moments that every parent does when you don’t see your child for a moment.
And for a split second, you’re going, “Where’d they go?!?”
Jeremiah? Jeremiah?! JEREMIAH???
When you lose someone you love, you want to find them!
We’re going to see a story of pursuit today. A story of love. From multiple angles.
I want to give you a different look at what’s happening during the Easter story.
A look at what’s happening with two women and Jesus.
Let’s take a look at that passage in the Bible.
It’s found in the book of Matthew…1 of 4 books about Jesus’ life in the Bible.
I’d love for you to follow along
(the Renovation Church app) Bible – Weekly Verses
(Matthew 28:1-10) – NIV
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. 2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. 5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” 8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples.9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
THE WOMEN PURSUE & FIND JESUS
So you have these two Mary’s…not to be confused with Jesus’ mom Mary…(I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that “Mary” was #1 on the Social Security Baby Name website at the time)…
These two Mary’s are going to Jesus’ tomb early on Sunday morning
We read in the Gospel of Mark that their plan is to bring spices to the grace.
They’re essentially going there to embalm the body…a respectful thing to do in their culture
And they don’t know yet Jesus has been resurrected…even though he told His followers it was going to happen
And when they get there…an angel shows up…and tells them that Jesus isn’t there…that he’s in fact alive! He’s been resurrected!
They’re then instructed to tell the disciples about it, and that they’ll find Jesus in Galilee.
So the women head out.
They want to find Jesus!
When you love someone…you want to find them!
And I’m guessing if you’re here today…in some way…you’re looking for Jesus.
Maybe you know Jesus already…and you’re just trying to understand Him more.
Or maybe you’re looking to find out what He’s actually all about.
Even if you just came for the egg hunt (or to steal all your kids’ candy from the egg hunt), I’m guessing there’s still something about Jesus that intrigues you.
In some ways, I believe your story isn’t all that different from these two Mary’s.
Matthew 27 tells us that these 2 Mary’s watched Jesus’ crucifixion from a distance.
Then on that first Easter Sunday, they came to his tomb…and maybe in the back of their mind…they were hoping it wasn’t the end of the story.
And maybe that’s you…you’ve been watching Jesus from a distance…hoping…that maybe there’s more to the story.
And I want to tell you…THERE IS!
We see in the passage that when the women search for Jesus, they find Him.
Verses 8 and 9 tell us that they even start running.
They’re so excited…they start running!
And while they’re running, it says, SUDDENLY Jesus met them.
If you seek God, you will find Him
This is a common theme in the Bible:
(Matthew 7:7) – NIV
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
It’s a theme that’s echoed throughout the entire Bible
For instance, in the Old Testament, God speaks through the prophet Jeremiah…telling his people this principle:
(Jeremiah 29:13) – NIV
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
And this is true for you and your life.
If you seek after God…you’ll find Him.
What does that look like?
Maybe it’s just reading the Bible for the first time.
If you don’t have one, you can take the Bible under your chair.
Or, you can read the whole Bible on our app as well…complete w/ Bible reading plans to help you know where to start.
Maybe it’s as simple as just committing to come to church…and hear…and learn more about God.
Maybe you make a commitment to say… “I’m going to be here…every Sunday for…the month of April…I’m going to give it a shot this time”
But whatever it looks like for you, if you seek after God, you’ll find Him.
JESUS PURSUES & FINDS THE WOMEN
And let me tell you why.
When you seek after God, you’ll find Him…because…He’s been seeking after you.
See, this story is not just the story of 2 women looking for Jesus.
It’s 2 stories.
2 stories that meet as one.
It’s the story of 2 women pursuing and finding Jesus, but it’s also the story of Jesus…pursuing and finding the 2 women.
Because…when you love someone…you want to find them.
And Jesus…wants to find you.
Did you notice in verse 5 that the angel says, “I know you are looking for Jesus.”
Well, how did the angel know that?
Who do you think sent the angel to talk to the women anyway?
Jesus is pursuing the women.
Because He loves them.
And no matter where you go…He will look for you.
There’s no place on this earth that you could go…that God wouldn’t pursue you.
In Luke 15 in the Bible, Jesus tells you that you are like a lost coin or a lost sheep
Like the woman in his parable of the lost coin, if he lost you, he says he’d turn over every object in his whole house trying to find you
Or like the shepherd in parable of the lost sheep, if you were his lost sheep, he says he’d leave the other 99 sheep behind to go out…and find you.
And yet, we rarely see that flip side of the story. We often just see our own effort of pursuing Jesus.
It reminds me of my own life.
For the first 18 years of my life, I wasn’t very interested in Jesus or spiritual things.
I thought Christians were weird and I went out of my way to mock them.
But then some things started happening.
One night, when I was 18, I came home at 2 in the morning from a friend’s house, and had this overwhelming feeling that I should try reading the Bible.
And so I did. At 2am.
And for the next 6 months, I’d go in my room at night and read the stories about Jesus in the Bible.
And I’d always lock my door first…because I didn’t want anyone coming in and seeing me read the Bible…that’s weird.
And I continued to pursue Jesus.
I went to an event where I saw people actually praying to Jesus for the first time (not just reciting a memorized prayer)
I read a book that talked about how people became Christians.
I was pursuing Jesus.
But…who was pursuing who?
When an 18 year old who isn’t interested in God feels compelled to read a Bible at 2 in the morning…who is pursuing who?
God came after me.
God wanted to do something with my life…and I…his child…was lost.
So he came after me…the lost sheep…and he started to get my attention.
And he did it over and over again, until I found Him.
Or rather, He found me.
And maybe today…maybe even for the first time…it feels like he’s looking for you.
But what you do with that?
Do you follow Him?
Honestly, it’s the most important choice of your life…and it’s not easy.
It wasn’t even easy for the people who were first-hand witnesses to decide who they were going to follow.
Think of our passage today.
What about the guards who were watching the tomb?
They felt the earthquake!
They saw the angel!
They heard him say that Jesus is alive!
Why didn’t they start Jesus for Jesus?
Why didn’t they pursue him like the two Mary’s?
Jesus pursued them!
He gave them a chance to see the truth plainly!
And yet they refused. They didn’t give their lives to him.
In fact, if you read on in chapter 28, Matthew tells us that the guards instead went back into the city…and took a bribe to make up a lie about what really happened!
Sometimes, even when we see truth and love right in front of us…we put off God’s advances.
I did this!
There were times before I surrendered my life to Christ at 18 when God was pursuing me…and I was kind of interested…
But in the end, I said, “Nah, I don’t want that. I don’t want to pursue that,” and I went my own way.
And I would say to you this morning…if you know God’s moving in your life…And he’s found you…maybe for the first time…maybe for the first time in a while…don’t put off his advances……follow Him.
And say, “You found me”
He’s so good!
He’s been looking for you because He loves you.
No matter what you’ve done or where you’ve been.
But, you can see in the passage…that it’s a choice.
I want you to know that God is always looking for you…always seeking you.
The question is…when He finds you…and you seem to find Him….WILL YOU FOLLOW?
It’s your move.
God won’t force you to do anything, but if you sense he’s found you, it’s time to stop watching from a distance.
He wants to be in a loving relationship with you, so he gives you free will…for you to decide
But WILL YOU FOLLOW?
Think of the two Mary’s.
When Jesus finds them, it says they fall at his feet and worship Him!
3 days ago, He was just a great teacher to them
Now, they know He’s God.
And the worship and follow.
And I can tell you…as a person who’s followed Him…and NOT followed Him…He is ONE HUNDRED PERCENT worth following.
And it goes back to what Easter is all about.
Why did Jesus have to resurrect from the dead in the first place?
Because he was crucified. Murdered. Killed on the cross.
Why? Why did he die?
On the one hand, because the religious leaders didn’t like him…at all.
But, from the beginning of time, it was always planned that he would one day come…and he would die.
And die for us…for you…for me.
Because the Bible says that you and I sin.
We ignore God…we’re selfish…we hurt others…the list goes on and on.
MY list of sins is probably miles long.
And from the beginning pages of the Bible…sin has always required justice…punishment.
The symbol of that punishment used to be animal sacrifice. Still true in many cultures around the world today.
The animal would symbolically take the punishment the human deserved…
And thus the human would be forgiven. Have their slate wiped clean through the sacrifice
And Jesus comes to earth…as a “sacrifice” for you and me
And when he dies on the cross…he dies for our sins…
He’s taking the punishment for every single sin you ever committed and ever will commit.
He’s dying in your place.
Satisfying God’s holy justice.
And 3 days later, He rises from the dead on that first Easter.
Proving that He indeed is the Son of God…and that his sacrifice was accepted as worthy.
He’s in love with us. A love like most of us could never dream of.
A love that we’re not even worthy of!
Philip Griffin, a pastor in Wisconsin, describes it this way.
He says, he once saw a lost dog sign claiming a big cash reward that said the following:
"My dog’s only got three legs, he's blind in the left eye, he's missing his right ear, his tail has been broken off, he was neutered accidentally by a fence—ouch!—he's almost deaf, and he answers by the name 'Lucky.'"
The dog isn’t…lucky.
But he IS lucky that he’s got an owner that loves him and wants him back…no matter what he’s been through.
And that’s what God is doing with you.
He’s pursuing you…and I’m praying that He’s finding you.
See, He wants you to follow Him…
And no matter what your past is, He wants to be in your future.
But in order for that happen…in order for us to follow Jesus…we have to first admit we’re lost.
That we can’t do it on our own.
That we need Him to find us.
And that…I think…is the hardest part.
I read the story recently of an eleven-year-old boy who got lost in the Rocky Mountains.
To make things more complicated, he was also was deaf and losing his eyesight.
The boy wandered off during a late-afternoon game of hide-and-seek.
He had been blowing a whistle that was given to him for just such an occasion, but couldn’t hear how close he was to a nearby stream.
The roar of the water made his signal impossible for those searching for him to hear.
After a traumatic night on his own, the sun came up, and he started blowing his whistle again.
The search-and-rescue team finally found him, very cold, but okay.
Afterwards, while commenting on the story to the media, one of the search-and-rescue experts said, the key to survival hinges on ONE thing: knowing and admitting that you’re lost.
She said, ‘That’s why kids are found more often than adults.”
“Kids don't stray as far.
“They usually curl up in a sheltered place and wait for their rescuers.
“They know they’re lost right away.
The expert continued, “Unlike many adults who get lost in the Rockies, kids don't desperately try to save themselves.
Instead, they’re not afraid to stop and admit that they’re lost.
That they need to be found.”
And that’s what it takes.
Because Jesus died on the cross to forgive our sins, but it’s a choice that we all have to make to believe in…to say we need it.
It’s not automatic forgiveness for all.
To be forgiven, to go to heaven, to spend eternity with God and not hell…
.in other words…to have your sins paid for…and not to have judgment looming….
We need to accept that sacrificial act of love by Jesus Christ on the cross
We need to believe and follow.
We need to admit that we’re lost without Him…and need saving.
It’s a hard thing to do…but it’s also oh so simple.
(Romans 10:9) – NIV
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
And that’s it!
Isn’t that amazing?!
And so maybe you’ve been interested in God…starting to pursue him…
And now you know…that all this time…he’s been lovingly pursuing you.
In fact, from that first Easter weekend 2,000 years ago, he’s been pursuing you.
And so now the question is…will you follow?
In fact, I want to give you that opportunity to follow Him this Easter morning.
To tell Jesus that you believe He’s real…that He really did die for your sins…and that he really did resurrect from the dead.
And to start a relationship with Him today.
Where you can be 100% completely forgiven!
It’s an amazing thing, and SO many people in this room have made this exact decision at a service just like this, and it’s completely changed their lives…for now…and for eternity.
And I want to give you an opportunity to make that incredible choice too.
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, 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, “You found me. I believe. I’ll follow”
NO ONE will be looking at you…no one (don’t even think about that!). This is about you and God.
This is just a way for you to symbolically say, “I believe. I’m putting my faith in Jesus. He’s found me, and from this moment onward, to the best of my ability, I will be a follower of this amazing JESUS.
Maybe you are here today and have believed God exists, but you don’t have a relationship with him. You’ve never made this commitment. This is a time for you to do so.
So wherever you are, all across this room right now.. If you’d like to become a follower of 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 as we get back into worship and you can head back.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
You may use this material all you like! We only ask that you do not charge a fee and that you quote the source and not say it is your own.