When God came into the world and He really started something. His kingdom came down and the world has never been the same since.
Over 2,000 years ago Jesus was arrested in the Gethsemane, tried before the Sanhedrin, Herod, and Pilate, ridiculed and flogged, nailed to a cross where he died, was buried in a tomb that was intended for someone else, and then when the women or Mary Magdalene, depending on which gospel you read, went there to anoint his body they found the large stone rolled away and the tomb was empty. They were certain that someone, grave robbers probably, had stolen his body and taken it somewhere else.
The first thought that any on them had when they found the tomb empty wasn’t that he had risen from the dead as he said that he would. No, they immediately thought that some unscrupulous scoundrels had over powered the guards or paid them off and then stolen the body from the tomb.
What would you think? If you had been one of Jesus’ disciples and had been there when he told all of them that he would be killed but would rise again in three days would you believe that he had risen from the tomb? If you had been there with the disciples when he told Lazarus to come out of the tomb would you have believed that Jesus would be alive? What would you think?
What would you think if you’d been with the other disciples when Mary came back and told everyone that she’d found the stone rolled away and the tomb completely empty, not one sign of Jesus’ body anywhere, other than the strips of linen cloths Joseph and Nicodemus had used to wrap his body with the spices? What would you think? Would you believe that God could actually raise him from the dead?
Friends, that’s really not the point today is it? The point is what do you think today? What does you faith believe? Do you believe that Jesus defeated death and rose from the tomb, and if you do, why? What evidence do you have that He did rise from the tomb? How do you convince someone that you believe in a risen Savior of the world?
Peter told Cornelius and his family and friends that he was a witness to everything Jesus had done prior to his crucifixion. He said that he and the others were chosen by God to be witnesses to the fact that Jesus rose from the dead. They ate and drank with him. We know Thomas was skeptical until he saw for himself the nail holes in his hands and the place in his side where the spear had pierced him. Even Thomas believed then. But we haven’t seen the nail holes or anything.
No one here has actually seen the risen Savior. How do you believe? What do you believe? When someone questions you how do you answer? What do you say when someone questions you about going to church to worship a God who sent his Son to be crucified and suffer for the sins of the whole world? How do you explain that it was because God loved his creation so much that he sent his Son to die for us and suffer beyond anything we can imagine so that we could be assured that we could live for eternity in glory?
In all four gospels Jesus first appeared to women and asked them to tell the others where to go to see Him. They were responsible for getting the message out that Jesus was risen. What a huge responsibility. And did they believe them? No, just like most men they had to go check it out for themselves. These women couldn’t possibly have been seeing things as they really were. They must have missed something. After all they were distraught over Jesus’ death. But friends, the facts, as they are recorded in the gospels written by a man’s hand, was that the women were the first to spread the word about the risen Lord.
And they didn’t do any better than you or I could at convincing them that he really was alive. That is until they saw Him with their own eyes.
So back to my original question, “What do you think?” Instead of coming to me for answers today I would ask you to go to one of our confirmation students and ask them that question. They may not have the answer either but they have been thinking about that same thing for quite a few weeks now.
Every one of them has put some words down about what they do believe and it might be insightful to hear them tell why they believe Jesus is alive.
Friends, I serve a risen Savior. I believe he is in the world today. Thanks be to God. Amen.