Sunday, April 21, 2019

Sermon: Luke 24: 1-12 Remember...

How good is your memory? Are you good at remembering things? We’re going to see just how good you are at remembering things.

Here’s a group of twenty objects. Take a wee while to look at them, and then we’ll see how many you can remember...

Ok, so, shout out which objects you can remember, Let’s see if we can get them all?
butterfly house lock apple
chair pencil scissors computer
clock ice cream guitar globe
rainbow phone bulb plant
kite plane hammer cake

Did anyone remember all twenty? Maybe you aren’t so good at remembering pictures. Are you better at remembering words? Here are twelve words. A research project suggests that 90% of people won’t be able to remember all twelve.

Is there anyone thinks they can remember all twelve?
vase cookie holiday bridge magic office
computer crown fox ink green vehicle

So how good are you at remembering things? In our Bible reading today there are three words that are repeated. Do you think you can remember what they are? The words are: find/found; wondering; remember. So listen out carefully for those words - they are important in all that we’ll hear about this morning.

This morning, very early, when it was still dark, some of us got up out of bed, and went along to the Argory. Has anyone ever been to the Argory? Have you been at 6am? now, what took us over at that time of the morning?

It’s because Easter starts at sunrise. Look at verse 1. On the first day of the week, that’s Sunday; very early in the morning, that was 6am; the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.

These are the women who had watched Jesus die on the cross. And they watched where Jesus was buried in the tomb, a cave with a big stone rolled across the entrance. And they go with spices on Sunday morning. And there, we get the first of our special words. What is it? Find/found.

We’re told that they FOUND something when they got to the tomb. What was it they found? ‘They found the stone rolled away from the tomb.’ (2) The big heavy stone had been rolled away. That’s what they found when they got there.

But what did they not find? ‘But when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.’ (3) They had come to bring the spices for Jesus’ body, but they didn’t find him there.

So they found - the stone rolled away; and they didn’t find - Jesus. And that made them do the second of our words for this morning. What was it? ‘Wondering.’ They were wondering where Jesus’ body had gone to. They were wondering why Jesus wasn’t in the tomb.

It was ‘while they were wondering about this’ that two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning - angels - stood beside them. To misquote Bohemian Rhapsody, they gleamed like lightning, they were very, very frightening.

They ask the women a question: ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead?’ They were looking for something that didn’t fit in. So, I’ll show you four objects - which doesn’t belong? Here’s the first - it’s the plane. They all have wings, but the plane isn’t a bird. Here’s the second - it’s the carrot, all the rest are fruit. They were looking for Jesus in the tomb - but they were looking in the wrong place, because Jesus wasn’t dead any more. The angel says: ‘He is not here; he has risen.’ It’s no wonder they were wondering why they couldn’t find him.

Now, so far we’ve seen two of our words - what were they? Find/found; and wondering. What’s the third? Remember! Did you remember that one?!

The angel uses that word as he tells the women what they need to do, to understand what they’re seeing. He says: Remember! ‘Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: “The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.”’ (6-7)

Earlier we were trying to remember the words that were on the screen. The women had to remember the words that Jesus had spoken about what was going to happen to him. You see, Jesus had already told them everything that was going to happen. They should have known, they should have remembered. But it took the angel to remind them, to help them to remember. And then they remembered what Jesus had told them, back in Luke 9:22:

‘The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.’ (Lk 9:22)

Sometimes to help me remember what I need to get, I’ll write a list. And when I get each thing, then I check it off the list. That’s what the women had to remember.

Jesus was going to be delivered into the hands of sinful men. Check. That happened on Thursday night. Jesus was going to be crucified. Check. That happened on Good Friday. Jesus was, on the third day, going to be raised again. Check. That happened on Easter Sunday. They should have known in advance, but they had forgotten those words of Jesus.

But now, with the angels reminding them, ‘Then they remembered his words.’ (8) Jesus had said what would happen. And now they’ve remembered that he knew what was going to happen to him.

But remember that each of our special words was going to appear twice in our reading. Which word have we only seen once? We’ve had find/found; we’ve had remembering. What’s the other one? It’s wondering.

The women go to tell the disciples the good news that Jesus is alive, that he has defeated death, that everything had happened just as Jesus had said. But the disciples, they can’t understand it all. In fact, look at verse 11: ‘But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense.’ (11)

You’re having a laugh! You’re making it up! It seems like it’s nonsense. They know that Jesus died on the cross. How many disciples were there now? Eleven. How many go to look? Luke tells us that Peter got up and ran to the tomb, to have a look for himself.

He saw the strips of linen that had been wrapped around Jesus’ body, lying by themselves. And then he went away, ‘wondering to himself what had happened.’ (12) Even after he had been told, he was still wondering about it all. It was such a surprise - that Jesus who had died was now alive again. But it is true. Jesus really is alive. And we can celebrate. We might still be wondering about it all. But think about what the women found - the stone rolled away, and they didn’t find Jesus inside. And remember what Jesus had said in advance about what would happen - He has completed his checklist. Delivered over, crucified, raised again.

Will you remember this good news? And celebrate this good news. Jesus is alive!

This sermon was preached at the Family Service in St Matthew's Church, Richhill on Easter Sunday 21st April 2019.

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