How can every Christian church share every year about the resurrection and the story stay alive? How can the same story be talked about for two-thousand years and remain alive, pertinent, and life changing? It’s because Jesus is alive and he is The Story That Will Never Die!
By Pastor Delbert Young
The Story That Will Never Die!
The Story That Will Never Die!
Luke 24:9-11, John 20:1, John 20:2, John 20:3, 9-10, Luke 24:12, John 20:19-20, John 20:24-28, Acts 1:3, Romans 10:9-10
Welcome to Life Gate Church. We are happy you are here with us for your Easter church time. If you’re a guest with us and don’t have a good home church, this is one. We’d love to meet you. Hang around, shake some hands, and ask some questions after the service.
The first-century church had a unique way of greeting on another. When they encountered one another, they said, “The Lord has risen!” The reply was, “The Lord has risen indeed.” So when I say, “The Lord has risen,” you say, “The Lord has risen indeed” back to me. Even if you’re not a believer play along. It won’t hurt you.
We Christians believe some strange things and today we celebrate the strangest. We believe God raised Jesus from the dead. How do you feel about the resurrection of Jesus? Does it seem strange to you? If so, it’s alright. You are in good company, but you can’t stay there. The people who were with Jesus for over three years, who saw the miracles – the healings, deliverances, people raised from the dead, feeding five thousand with two fish and five pancakes, who heard his teachings and observed him confound the religious establishment – even they had trouble believing the resurrection. In fact, they didn’t believe it. However, Jesus is the Story that will Never Die.
Today, I want to show you (1) They didn’t believe the resurrection. (2) Why they came to believe the resurrection. (3) It’s imperative you believe the resurrection. You cannot go out of here today and not believe, or know the importance of believing the resurrection. Many who think they are saved actually don’t believe God raised Jesus from the dead. You cannot experience salvation unless you believe the resurrection because Jesus is the Story that will Never Die.
First, I want to show you even those close to Jesus didn’t believe.
Luke 24:9-11 When THEY came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. BUT THEY DID NOT BELIEVE THE WOMEN, BECAUSE THEIR WORDS SEEMED TO THEM LIKE NONSENSE.
Though Jesus told them he would rise again, no one believed. It was nonsense. We will talk about this today, and I’ll show you the necessity of believing God raised Jesus from the dead.
I was thinking how this is the thirty-first Easter – Resurrection Sunday – sermon I’ve done here. That’s a lot of Easter sermons, right? Not many people get to preach thirty-one Easter sermons. How does one preach about the same thing thirty-one times and keep it alive? Well, I love to learn, and I learn something every time I read about and teach this, but the primary reason is Jesus is ALIVE so the story is always alive. It’s The Story That Will Never Die!
In fact, every Christian church, not only in our nation but around the planet is talking about this event today. Millions of churches are talking to one-third of the earth’s population, 2.2 billion people, about the same event today. How can this be? The reason is Jesus is alive, so it’s The Story that will Never Die!
The story of the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus Christ happened two-thousand years ago. How can something happening two-thousand years ago repeated again and again remain so pertinent and life changing today? The reason is Jesus is alive, so it’s The Story that will Never Die! You remember the story.
John 20:1 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.
Mary Magdalene was one of the most famous and dedicated female followers of Jesus. She believed about Jesus what most people believe today. Mary Magdalene believed Jesus was a miracle worker, an extraordinary teacher and communicator, a revolutionary, brought a level of compassion unknown to the world, etc. Jesus was like no other person she’d ever met. He’d changed her life, but on this first Easter morning, Mary Magdalene believed Jesus was dead, and she believed he was going to remain dead. However, Jesus is the Story that will Never Die.
Religious haters arrested Jesus early Friday morning. He went through trials. Eventually, Pontius Pilot condemned him to crucifixion. Normally the crucified person would be left hanging on the cross for days after death then thrown into a garbage dump. As part of the judgment of a crucifixion, the person was not allowed a proper burial. However, with connections, or bribing the centurion, a body could be acquired and buried. A man named Joseph of Arimathea had connections. He went to Pilot and likely bribed Pilot to secure Jesus’ body. As the sun was setting, Joseph of Arimathea and another man named Nicodemus hurriedly took the body of Jesus and put it in the tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathea. They did what they could by adding spices and wrapping the body in cloth before the sun went down and the Sabbath Holy Day began. Then they rolled the stone to seal the tomb’s entrance. Jesus was dead, dead! However, Jesus is the Story that will Never Die.
The way burial was done back then was to leave the body in the tomb to decay until nothing was left but the bones. After sufficient time passed, they opened the tomb, gathered and cleaned the bones, and placed the bones in an ossuary (image) to keep. They found thousands of ossuaries (bone boxes) in the area. The tomb was repeatedly used as a place to collect bones. It is what they thought they would do with Jesus. He would decay, and they would later collect his bones. The point is they had no idea there would be a resurrection. Jesus was supposed to decay like everyone else.
Think about this. Jesus was dead Friday, Friday night, Saturday, Saturday night, and Sunday morning. A dead body is not in good shape after this length of time. It’s taken over by rigor mortis. It smells. However, Mary Magdalene went back to the tomb before sunrise to properly prepare the body of Jesus. Why? Probably she thought the two men didn’t do a good job.
Mary Magdalene loved Jesus so much, was so moved by his ministry, so touched by his life, that she was going back into the tomb to unwrap his body, clean it and properly prepare his body to decay. Now think. For whom would you do this? Who would do this for you? Perhaps you felt a loved one wasn’t properly prepared. Would you exhume the body and prepare it correctly? Or would you say, “Nah nothing much I can do. They’ve been dead three days anyway.”?
My point is, this morning Mary Magdalene believed Jesus was dead and was not coming back, but the extraordinary love she had for Jesus was amazing. She loved Jesus more than you or I do. She saw things you and I will never see. She appreciated Jesus more than you or I ever will, but Mary Magdalene, even with extraordinary love, believed Jesus was dead and not coming back. There was no thought or hope of a resurrection.
John 20:2 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!”
She didn’t say he has risen from the dead. She said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb.”
When she saw the open tomb she was startled. She ran to Peter, John, and the others. So, where were they? They were hiding like cowards afraid they’d be arrested and crucified next. They were not outside the tomb waiting for Jesus to come out. No one expected a resurrection. They were not huddled up outside the tomb doing a sunrise countdown. Not one single disciple stood outside the tomb expecting Jesus to come back to life. They believed, as so many of us today believe, how Jesus was a great man, an amazing teacher and communicator, miracle worker, etc. but they believed Jesus was dead and not coming back.
John 20:3, 9-10 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb… (THEY STILL DID NOT UNDERSTAND FROM SCRIPTURE THAT JESUS HAD TO RISE FROM THE DEAD.) Then the disciples went back to their homes
Luke 24:12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and HE WENT AWAY, WONDERING TO HIMSELF WHAT HAD HAPPENED.
Peter and John went to the tomb, but not thinking resurrection. They wanted to know where they’d taken the body. They did not even understand a resurrection was supposed to happen. They saw the linen wrappings and head piece, but no body. They didn’t remain at the tomb waiting for Jesus, or go looking for him. They went back to their hideouts still not realizing a resurrection happened. Not one disciple, not even Peter, John, or Mary Magdalene believed a resurrection. So, if you struggle with the resurrection, you are in good company, but you can’t stay there. You must believe God raised Jesus from the dead.
What happened to cause them to change into the apostles of Jesus Christ who gave us The Story That Will Never Die and how does it play out for you, me, and our children?
John 20:19-20 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, WITH THE DOORS LOCKED FOR FEAR OF THE JEWS, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
Jesus appeared to them proving he was alive.
John 20:24-28 Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. 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 IT.” 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!” 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.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Their attitude was, “Unless I see it for myself, I will not believe it.” Jesus knew this, so he continued to appear to them. Thomas said, “You’re not going to trick me. I’m not falling for some paint marks looking like scars. Unless I put my hand inside him and know it’s real, I will not believe.” Do you think putting your hand inside the living body of Jesus would bring you to belief? It would me, and it did Thomas.
Acts 1:3 After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and GAVE MANY CONVINCING PROOFS THAT HE WAS ALIVE. He appeared to them over a period of FORTY DAYS and spoke about the kingdom of God.
Maybe you could convenience someone once or twice you were someone else, but not for forty days. They knew God raised Jesus from the dead, and nothing would ever change what they saw. You can believe wrong, and most of us have, but when you see something, you know what you saw. Nothing could change what they saw! They would die before they would deny and they all did.
What does this mean for us and our children? You and I will not have the opportunity they had to see Jesus and put our fingers and hands into his wounds, but realizing every one of them died before they would renounce Jesus resurrection is convincing proof to me.
Let me tell you about these men. Peter was crucified upside down. Andrew, Peter’s brother, was crucified but hung two days on his cross preaching Jesus before he died. James, the brother of John, was put to death by a sword by Herod Agrippa. John died a prisoner on the Isle of Patmos. Philip was crucified. Bartholomew was beaten, skinned alive, and beheaded. Thomas was run through with a spear. Matthew was stabbed to death. James Alpheus was beaten, stoned, and clubbed to death. Thaddeus was crucified. Simon the Zealot was crucified. People don’t do this to perpetuate a lie. I might lie, but not if it’s going to cost me my life, especially crucifixion. I could even see one or two of them dying for a lie, but not all eleven of them. They all died before they would deny. It rolls out as proof to me and my family.
But, why is it imperative I believe God raised Jesus from the dead? Can’t I go to heaven and not believe this? No.
Romans 10:9-10 That IF YOU confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and BELIEVE IN YOUR HEART THAT GOD RAISED HIM FROM THE DEAD, YOU WILL BE SAVED. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.
You will not be saved – go to heaven when you die, spend eternity with the Lord, however you want to say it – unless you believe in your heart – your deepest area – God raised Jesus from the dead.
It’s not Jesus lived. It’s Jesus LIVES. He is The Story That Will Never Die! You can struggle with the resurrection. We all did, but you can’t stay there. You’ve got to know people saw Jesus raised from the dead after he was dead three days and they died before they would deny. You must know it is imperative you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart God raised Jesus from the dead to be saved. I’m going to lead us all in a prayer, and I want everyone in here to say it after me out loud. “Delbert I don’t believe it.” Then you don’t pray it, but everyone else pray it. “Why do I need to say it out loud?” You need to hear yourself say what you believe. After we’ve prayed, continue to bow your heads.
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