April 21, 2019
Fr. Philip Eberhart
How many of you have seen the movie RISEN?
I want to do a showing here in the next few weeks.
It is the story of a roman centurion who is placed in charge of finding the body of Jesus after the crucifixion. His quest takes him further and further away from the many gods of the Roman pantheon and toward the God of the Hebrews, and to His perfect image and Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
Two scenes in the movie are really amazing:
the first is his interview with one of the soldiers who was present at the tomb, now pardoned and drunk in the back of a bar. But in relating what happened at the tomb that morning, he suddenly becomes lucid, staring off into an experience that he cannot fathom. "The stone flew away from the tomb like a leaf!" "I was looking at a light - like the sun - shining from the tomb" "...so bright I could not look at it."
the second scene, is when the centurion, bursts in on the hidden disciples and Jesus is there with them. He recognizes Jesus from the cross and is stopped in his tracks. He drops his sword and edges over to the side of the room and slides down the wall to sit on the floor, a few feet from the Savior, who is showing his wounds to Thomas (and the centurion, by the way.)
One of my favorite verses in the NT is a verse that I used as a text on the day I preached my father's funeral: It was the verse I was preparing for a sermon during the week he was in the hospital, unresponsive to either I or mom. It is from First Peter 1:
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
the event we commemorate and celebrate today is more than just something that happened, a long time ago and far far away! It more than the stuff of movies, though it certainly is that!
It is the stuff of life change!
If we fully grasp the significance of this day, the "weight of glory" that it holds for us who believe and indeed, for all persons;
If we take ahold of its meaning for us and for others;
If we take the time to ponder the questions it poses to us, especially in our modern world:
Who is this Jesus?
What is the meaning of this death?
What happened to the body?
If Jesus rose from the dead,
... then what?
When we simply conclude, as the centurion did, that ITS ALL TRUE,
THEN it changes everything!
It changes our whole life!
It changes our past, our future.
It changes our brokenness & our success!
It changes our loneliness, our relationships, our friendships, our companions.
It changes our eating, our drinking...
the bread and the wine.
It changes everything... if it's true.
But is it?
Have you come to the conclusion of your quest? I presume if you are here this morning that you are at least on the quest! The quest to find the answer to those questions for you. To find the thing that changes everything about our existence on planet earth. That explains it all and gives it meaning and purpose.
Peter calls it A LIVING HOPE!
Alive indeed! Because the Lord is RISEN INDEED!
Can you imagine the scene in the Upper Room that first night after that morning. The news had come from the women, from Mary, who had been told to go tell "the disciples AND PETER." Isn't it interesting that Peter was singled out by the Risen Jesus for the news. Why? Not because Jesus didn't consider him a disciple anymore, but because Peter himself probably didn't. He was in the room, but can you imagine the shame - no leadership here anymore! Just shame. Along with the whole crew who abandoned their Lord in His time of need.
And suddenly Jesus is standing there. Peter hears the corporate gasp of the other disciples and slowly turns to meet the Risen One, face to face. All the color - all the life flows from his body and he falls to his knees, his face buried in the robe of Jesus for shame.
Jesus reaches down and lifts him up with nail scarred hands. He lifts his shamed face to look into the face of His savior. And he says,...
What do you hear Jesus say to you?
We are all Peter! We have all betrayed and abandoned him at times in our lives, from day to day.
What do YOU hear Jesus say?
"I told you so!"
"You're sure a sorry disciple!"
"So... Wha'd ya learn?"
NO! None of the above.
What were Jesus' first words to all the disciples?
"PEACE BE WITH YOU!"
Is there anyone here who would sign up for "Peace"? "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give you. Not like the world gives, give I unto you."
Now imagine with me again, the moment of reunion.
Jesus appears that evening to all the disciples. Peter turns around and sees Jesus there - falls to his knees, his eyes sad with guilt, his fisherman's frame shaking with tears -
And Jesus - comes over and puts his hand down on Peter's head - and then lifts him up by the shoulders, from kneeling to standing face to face.
Peter's eyes are still downcast. And Jesus says it - "Peter."
He lifts his face and their eyes meet, just like three nights ago in the courtyard, right after his denial; but this time, Peter recognizes that familiar lilt in Jesus' voice, and realizes that He - Peter himself, the denier, the coward before the accusation of a teenage girl slave - Peter has been forgiven, and this is all really happening!
Pinch yourself - go ahead, do it!
It's all real.
Jesus wants that reality to sink in here this morning! Because what happened to Peter and to James and John and all the others will happen to you and to me and to all the whole church. WE GET HIS PEACE AND JOY FOLLOWS!
Almost 60 times in the New Testament alone the word JOY is used. Just when I look up at you I want you to say the Word JOY - insert it in some of the more familiar examples:
[Luk 1:44 NASB] Elizabeth said: 44 "For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy.
[Luk 2:10 NASB] 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;
[Luk 10:17 NASB] 17 The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name."
[Luk 15:10 NASB] 10 "In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."
[Luk 24:41, 52 NASB] 41 While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" ... 52 And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy,
[Jhn 15:11 NASB] 11 "These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.
[Jhn 16:20 NASB] 20 "Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy.
[Act 13:52 NASB] 52 And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
[Rom 14:17 NASB] 17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
[Gal 5:22 NASB] 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
[1Th 1:6 NASB] 6 You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit,
[Heb 12:2 NASB] 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
And as we heard esrlier, from Peter's own pen:
[1Pe 1:8 NASB] 8 and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,
And from John, the beloved disciple:
[1Jo 1:4 NASB] 4 These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.
[2Jo 1:12 NASB] 12 Though I have many things to write to you, I do not want to do so with paper and ink; but I hope to come to you and speak face to face, so that your joy may be made full.
And finally in the JUDE DOXOLOGY: (GET YOUR BELLS
AND KEYS READY AGAIN) [we're going to do something here that is unusual in church... Imagine your team just won the World Series or the Super Bowl! That is the scale we're talking about here! Get ready -
I want your outside voice!]
[Jde 1:24 NASB] 24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, 25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever.
AND WE ALL SAY. AMEN!
ALLELUIA! THE LORD IS RISEN!!!
THE LORD IS RISEN INDEED. ALLELUIA !!!!!!!!!!
(SUSTAINED STANDING OVATION FOR JESUS!)
(CHEERS AND WHISTLES)
Hallelujah! The Lord is Risen!
The Lord is Risen indeed! Hallelujah!
Let us pray:
Lord Jesus Christ, on this day you have overcome death and the grave. You have come back to life and brought us with you from the dead! We who were dead in our sins, worship you. We who doubted, believe. We who walked with you without knowing Who you were, have our eyes opened. We hear you say, Peace be with you.
We receive your Peace - the peace that comes in Your Presence.
We walk in the fullness of JOY! Joy that You have given us!
Help us to come fully to believe in You, Lord Jesus. To have a Living Hope. to be Inheritors of the imperishable. Make us truly yours, Lord Jesus. Help us to see in your death, the grace for our whole life. Restore us to fully walk with you in our day to day, listening to your voice, hearing your words, filled with love for you and for others, and obeying you in every way, because we love you, Risen Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ.
In your Name and for the sake of Your Kingdom, we pray.