Messy Easter Luke 24:1-12 April 21, 2019
Let’s begin with reading Luke 24:1-12
One: Ownership – Easter is Messy - “While they were perplexed about this…” v. 4
No matter how frequently or infrequently we pray to God, attend worship services or anything else connected to the issue of God, the Easter story starts out messy. Its awkward. Women arrived at the tomb of Jesus to finish caring for his deceased body. They assumed Jesus would be laying in the tomb, dead. It’s not like they came to participate in a countdown for him to exit the tomb.
The messy part to Easter begins when they arrive. • The Bible says they found the stone seal to the tomb had been moved. • Then they saw that the tomb was empty. • The women were perplexed or puzzled. • Then the story really gets bizarre when two men show up out of nowhere standing beside the women. • You heard the scripture describe their appearance they were wearing “dazzling clothes” = a good indicator their angels. • The angels question the women, “why are you searching for the living among the dead? He is not here he has risen.” vs. 2-5
This is the messy part to Easter. The Bible claims something has occurred that: Cannot be proven, but we’re supposed to believe it is true.
The women are not given an explanation how it happen, just that it happened. All their told to do is “remember what Jesus had told them.”
REASONS FOR SKEPTICISM It’s understandable there is skepticism about the Easter story.
It has been suggested that somehow, some way the disciples of Jesus stole the body. Afterall, two men who were admirers of Jesus buried his body.
However, I think it is only reasonable to believe there was no way the people who were powerful enough to have Jesus killed, were going to let his disciples pull off a cheap stunt like stealing his body so they could claim Jesus came back to life just like he promised.
If the Romans or even the Jewish leaders that falsely accused Jesus had taken the body, they would have made more of a spectacle of the dead Jesus just to squash any resurrection/alive again type of talk by those who believed in Jesus.
Yet the tomb was empty. The disciples didn’t have his body. The Romans or the Jewish power brokers who hated him didn’t have his body, so what happened to Jesus after he was laid in the tomb?
Without faith, Easter is an awkward clumsy story.
Life is Messy But Easter really isn’t the first clumsy, messy story we live with every day. There is a story that both religious people including Christians and even non-religious people who don’t believe in God share and that is explaining the beginning of our existence. We constantly wonder about how the universe/life began.
Creation of the universe is the first of life’s messy stories. It is a story that can still leave us like the woman at the tomb - perplexed. For those of us who believe in a divine being with a divine design behind all of existence, we still stand in awe of the miracle of creation.
But if the objection is raised about a divine creator as the first cause for our existence, then we are back to a real big question as big as “why are you searching for the living among the dead?
For some who are purely scientific and atheistic, their views will say – no God, no divine being created life. If God created life who created God and where did God come from? Those are fair questions. But then even the non-spiritual who believe we got here without some supernatural reason cannot explain how something began from nothing; yet they also stake their belief on faith that in time human knowledge will resolve the riddle.
But even some scientist and philosophers who hold no belief in God admit explaining the reality of life is messy!
The late physicist and atheist, Stephen Hawking once said, “All evidence seems to indicate, that the universe has not existed forever, but that it had a beginning, about 15 billion years ago.” P.69
The messy part of explaining how life began even from a scientific, point of view hasn’t explained what began the beginning either. Like the women at the tomb science is also perplexed.
And if we are going to resolve this question of all questions logically, isn’t more reasonable to trust a divine power beyond anything material is the author of life; rather than there was nothing and then particles and atoms just appeared, which almost sounds more like magic than science.
WHAT DO WE DO WITH EASTER? So, what do we do with the messiness of the Easter story?
Like cleaning up a child who has had unlimited freedom to the Easter candy, miracle stories like Easter require the right approach.
The messengers said to the women, “Remember how he told you while he was still in Galilee, the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners and be crucified and on the third day rise again.” v.7
Those words from the messengers prompted the women to question what they remembered Jesus teaching them and promised them.
I would suggest allowing the Easter story to prompt a question or two in us.
If we know something cannot come from nothing, is our struggle to believe in a divine being a matter of understanding or a matter of surrendering?
Is it more irrational to believe that something came from nothing or a power, a source beyond the physical reality created something?
If you can create something out of nothing, then is it really irrational to believe the divine source behind all of life, could not chose to restore or give new life once again to one who was dead?
Last question - if you come to this earth like Jesus, you live, love, teach, perform miracles and then after you are brutally murdered, you come back to life – shouldn’t you be seen as one with credibility to follow?
TIGER WOODS Illustration: Last Sunday, golf fans and many others know that Tiger Woods won his first major golf championship in eleven years. Many of the analyst said after his victory that the way he won, they think Tiger is back and will win more. What caught my attention about Woods is they described how Tiger had been through so much adversity, some of his own doing. Some experts thought even a year ago it only rationale to
believe Tiger’s chance of ever winning again, especially a major championship were dead; but he came back, his career has been resurrected and now he is a force and authority to be reckoned with again.
What do we do with Easter? Jesus came from the deadness to new life by the power of God. He can be trusted to follow even when life for us gets messy.
We get hurt by those we love and we hurt those we love. We do or are tempted to do that which we know is not good. We suffer because life is not fair. The list of how life is messy can go on, but the good news today is an open heart, a small amount of patient faith can experience the presence of God in our lives.
Pastor Timothy Keller, writes in his book, Reasons for God: “If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all he said; if he didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said? The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teachings but whether or not he rose from the dead. This is how the first hearers felt who heard the reports of the resurrection. They knew that if it was true it meant we cannot live our lives any way we want. It also meant we don’t have to be afraid of anything, not Roman swords, not cancer, nothing. If Jesus rose from the dead, it changes everything.” P.202
It changes our fears, tears, bitterness, grief – it changes us.