On Easter Sunday morning, the first person who saw Jesus alive, was a woman named Mary Magdalene. Since Saturday was the Sabbath, Jewish law didn’t allow them to prepare the body for burial. They had to just stick Jesus’ body in the grave. They would often have many people buried in them. But Jesus’ grave had never been used, it was borrowed from a very wealthy man.
So early on Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene went to the grave to anoint the body with spices as they did in the Middle East in those days.
“Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
They asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying?
‘They have taken my Lord away,’ she said, ‘and I don’t know where they have put him.’ At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.
He asked her, ‘Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?’
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.’
Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.’ She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!’ (which means ‘Teacher’)…
Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: ‘I have seen the Lord!’ And she told them that he had said these things to her.” John 20:11-18 NIV
Jesus asked Mary two very important questions:
- Why are you crying?
- Who are you looking for?
Mary was crying because she was grieving a loss of her friend. When you’re grieving you often don’t think clearly and see clearly. It clouds our vision. It limits our perspective. God was standing right by her and she didn’t even see Him.
When you’re going through the dark, Jesus is standing right next to you.
Mary thought it was hopeless. But Jesus changes everything with one single word. He calls out her name – Mary. In one word He said, “It’s me. I know who you are. I know you by name. I know where you’re hurting. I care about that pain and I can do something about it.”
And Jesus Christ does the same thing to you today. No matter where you’re hurting, Jesus knows who you are, He knows your name. He knows where you are hurting and He can do something about it.
This Easter, ask yourself the two questions Jesus asked Mary:
- What are you grieving? What causes you disappointment?
- What are you looking for?
What do you think is going to meet all your needs? If the answer is anything besides God, you’re going to be disappointed once again. You’re looking to the wrong place.
Things only start looking up when we start looking up.
You don’t have to try and muster up hope today. All you have to do is shift your eyes and see God who is seated on his throne today.
God isn’t standing, He’s not pacing or worried and there is not one ounce of anxiety in God today. When we look to Him, we find relief. This is true hope.
Most people don’t understand hope. Hope is not some wishful thinking about the future. Hope knows it’s bad, but believes God can bring us through whatever situation we are in. Hope believes God is in control. Hope is a person. His name is Jesus.
When you need real hope, you can look at couple of places.
1. When you look to the cross it reminds you that God is for you and can be forgiven of all your sin.
Have you experienced God’s forgiveness for your sins, regrets and failures?
“You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.” Colossians 2:13-14 NLT
Sin is not simply being bad person. Sin is rebelling against God, it’s putting other things before God. Why did Jesus have to die to forgive us of our sins and make us right with God? Look at what the pay-off for our sin is…
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 NIV
Sin doesn’t make you bad. It makes you dead.
When Jesus died on that cross, He paid the penalty for sin. Now you don’t have to pay the penalty. Hell isn’t a place God sends people that he’s mad at, it’s a place people go to pay the wage for themselves. But you don’t have to. Thank God for the cross.
“Your sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” Hebrews 10:17 NIV
A God who knows everything, has somehow limited Himself to choose to forget our sin. That’s the power of the cross. It applies to all of my past, current and future sin. Have you received this forgiveness or are you still carrying around the penalty for your sin?
“If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:8–9 NIV
The night before Jesus went to the cross, He was in agony. He was sweating blood. Not because of all the physical torture He was about to go through, although that was great, it was because He was about to take on all of the guilt of the world.
If there were any other way for you to be saved from hell and get into heaven, besides Jesus dying on the cross, God would not have wasted the effort. This is the only way you’re going to make it. You can’t earn it, Christ has to earn it for you and give it to you.
God is for you and He’s not holding anything against you. What if you really believed the power of forgiveness flows from the cross, not from you trying to be better?
The other thing we look to today is the empty tomb, because it doesn’t end at the cross.
2. When you look to the empty tomb, it reminds you of God’s promise for your future.
A tomb is where you store dead things. There seems to be such a finality to it. But in reality, the tomb was just a temporary inconvenience on the path to where Jesus was going.
A closed tomb couldn’t hold what God had in store for His future.
They put a stone over it and put a Roman guard around it. But nothing could stop the plans God had for Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. God has the same plans for you and nothing can thwart those plans.
Jesus didn’t stay in the tomb, we’re not staying there either. Even with your sins forgiven and God being for us, life will throw you a curve ball every once-in-a-while. Because this is earth, not heaven.
But where you are is not where you are going. Where you’ve been is not where you’re going to be. It doesn’t even compare.
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9 NLT
This verse is talking about heaven, the place where there is no more crying or pain. No more sickness, hurts, hang ups and no bad habits.
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16–18 NIV
Why did Jesus have to come back to life, wasn’t the cross enough? The cross wouldn’t mean anything without a resurrection. Jesus would have been just another amazing person who died. But Christ’s resurrection didn’t just do something amazing for Him, it did something amazing for us.
“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” 1 Corinthians 15:20
Because Jesus rose from the dead, death isn’t even death any more. It’s just like falling asleep, because Jesus conquered it. Just like Jesus rose, everyone will rise. That’s the power of the King of kings.
Every king in this world gets a grave.
King Tut has a grave, he died in 1323 BC.
Zerxes has a tomb. He claimed to be the most powerful man alive until he died in 465 BC. In Zerxes tomb, are buried four mighty kings who we find in the story of scripture. Darius I, Artezerxes I, Darius II and Zerxes I are all buried there.
Every king gets a grave.
At Westminster Abbey in London you can see the tombs of multiple kings and queens. Every king and every queen gets a grave.
In Paris you can see the tomb of Napolean.
When Jesus was born, King Herod, who was the ruler over Palestine was trying to kill off the baby Jesus who they said was the king of the world. King Herod has the power to exterminate a whole nation of children under a certain age. Not long after he made that proclamation, he prepared for his death and built The Herodian. He died in 4 BC and not long ago his sarcophagus was found and you can see it in the Israel museum.
When Jesus was born, a decree went out from Ceasar Augustus that the whole world should be taxed. He was the most powerful man in the world. He reigned as the emperor from 27 BC until AD 14 and then he died. He’s buried today in the mausoleum of Augustus in Rome, Italy, and you can go see where the emperor lay. You can find Tiberius, who was the emperor of Rome from 14 AD to 37 AD, in that same mausoleum.
But the one they tried to kill early and the one they ultimately thought they crushed on that Friday, rose up out of a borrowed tomb on Easter Sunday and you can’t travel to any spot on earth to see the place where Jesus’ body lay.
Because kings, queens, emperors and rulers all have tombs, but there is no grave that can hold the King of kings, King Jesus.
He is not there, look up!
To every one of us today that steps into that place where Jesus was raised. For everyone of us that joins with His story. We will rise too.
Did you know the word “cemetery”, where we’re all going, is the exact same word, in its etymology, as the word “dormitory”.
- Dormitory: A place you rent for a short time for rest.
- Cemetary: A plot you rent for a short time for rest.
Your body only rests because your spirit, if you know Jesus, is already joined together with Him. When Jesus comes back, He is going to raise your body, roconnect it with your spirit and in a perfect state, you will be with God in heaven forever.
It’s why they put Jesus in a borrowed tomb. You don’t need to buy one if you’re Jesus. You don’t have to take a pilgrimage somewhere to see your King and Savior, because He is not there. He’s alive.
Like He was with Mary, He’s closer than you think. What He is offering is the same power that raised Him from the dead, can raise you from the dead and raise you up out of hell, too.
You can know from this moment on, that because He lives, you live. They may put your body in a dorm room for awhile, but you are going to rise victorious and the grave cannot be your final resting place because the King of kings is alive in you.
So how should we respond to the resurrection?
1. Believe that Jesus is who He said He was.
It’s so easy to sin and be separated from God. We were born into it. But thank God He made it simple to be saved. You believe. It’s faith. It’s trust.
“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.” Romans 10:9 NIV
2. Receive the hope He gives.
Don’t reject God any longer. Receive the hope he offers. Receive the love he has for you.
“Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” Acts 2:38 NIV
Christ is in you by way of the Holy Spirit. You can be baptized as a symbol that says you are in. When you get immersed in the water, you say, “I’m in on the death, the burial and the resurrection of Jesus. When Christ went down, I went down. But now that Christ lives, I can live a new life as well.”
3. Become the person you were created to be.
God created a spiritual family. It’s called the church.
“To all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” John 1:12 NIV
We’re here to help you become the person God created you to be. We’re here to help you live as a child of God.
Check back on your discussion from last week. What do you remember from your discussion? Were you able to make a way for anyone else to experience Easter?
Hear the Word
Read: Luke 24
Most people don’t understand hope. Hope is not some wishful thinking about the future. Hope is not optimism. Optimism is psychological; hope is theological. Optimism is personal trust in yourself; hope is personal trust in God. Optimism is what you think you can do. Hope is what you think God can do. Optimism is often a denial of reality. It’s positive thinking, not permanent trust. Sometimes optimism just denies the facts. Hope never does that. Hope is always real. Hope says, “It’s bad; it’s really, really bad. In fact I don’t think it’s been any worse than it is right now. But I believe God can bring us through this. I believe God is in control.”
Where do you get real hope? You get it from God. You get it from the cross and the empty tomb.
Did anything come to mind when asked, “What are you grieving?”
1. When I look to the cross it reminds me that God is for me and I can be forgiven of all my sin.
- Have you asked for God’s forgiveness for your sins and regrets?
- Are you allowing yourself to receive God’s forgiveness, or are you still carrying the burden?
- Do you believe God is for you, or do you feel that He is often against you?
- Christ commands his blessings be given to those who believe in him. If you decided to see God’s favor in your life, how would that change the way you live every day?
2. When I look to the empty tomb it reminds me of God’s promise for my future.
- Christ guaranteed you a hope and a future. Would you say you are living with that in mind?
- Are your eyes focused on Heaven or the tomb.
Tell Someone Else
Look over the three responses to the resurrection. How have you responded to the resurrection? What is your next step? Where is God leading you? How can your small group support you? When you take your next steps, it encourages others to do the same.
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