Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Easter Sunday Message:
‘Easter Sunday: Great Expectations, Greater Revelations’
© April 1, 2018 by Steve Mickelson
Announcements & Call to Worship; Prayer
Opening Hymn #163: Christ the Lord Is Risen Today; Choruses
Prayers and Tithing; Hymn #572: Praise God from Whom All Blessings
Responsive Reading #644: Christ and Immortality ( from 1 Corinthians 15)
Message by Stephen Mickelson:
‘Easter Sunday: Great Expectations, Greater Revelations’
Let us pray…
“He is Risen!” (Congregation responds: “He is Risen, Indeed!“) Welcome to Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church’s Easter Sunday Celebration Service. Moreover, as this year Easter falls on the first Sunday of April, we celebrate the Lord’s New Covenant with Communion.
Today’s lesson is entitled: ‘Easter Sunday: Great Expectations, Greater Revelations,’ where we will examine the difference between the expectations of the disciples and the actual events that transpired on that Easter Day that Christ, Jesus rose from the dead. Let us start our lesson with the Scripture passage of Luke 24:1-12 (ESV):
24 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. 2 And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. 5 And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” 8 And they remembered his words,9 and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, 11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.
Verse 10 of Luke 24, identifies several women, namely Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women arrived at the tomb of Jesus, expecting to embalm the body of their Lord. You may recall from our Good Friday lesson, in Matthew 27:62-66, that the chief priests and the Pharisees, in conjunction with Pilate had the large stone at the entrance of Jesus sealed and secured by guards. So it was not surprising that the women who travelled to the tomb speculated on whom they would ask to help move the stone, so that they could prepare the body of Jesus, Mark 16:1-4 (ESV):
16 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?”4 And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large.
There were several revelations that surprised the group. Not only was Pilate’s seal broken, the large tombstone had been rolled back, the body of Jesus was nowhere to be found, and two angels, who looked much like men in dazzling attire, waited inside. But the most surprising revelation came when the two told the women what had happened to the Lord, Luke 24:5-7 (ESV):
5 And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? 6 He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, 7 that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”
With the stone removed from the tomb of Jesus, Luke’s account does not mention where the guards assigned to guard the tomb were.
The women disciples had forgotten that Jesus had prophesied not only his crucifixion and his resurrection on the third day. The women remembered the Lord’s prediction, and rushed to bring the good news to the apostles, Luke 24:8-11 (ESV):
8 And they remembered his words,9 and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, 11 but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.
You will note in Verse 10, Luke describes the followers as apostles or messengers of Jesus, no longer are they identified as disciples or students of the Lord. Sadly the apostles are skeptical to the news of the Joanna and the two Marys’ treated the account of the women as a contrived story. It seems that disbelief and lack of faith were unique to the apostle Thomas. At least Peter followed up upon the news of Jesus’ resurrection by running to the tomb to investigate the report, Luke 24:12 (ESV):
12 But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened.
Another account of the resurrection, from Mark’s Gospel, continues to contrast how greatly the disciples’ expectations differed from the reality of events, Mark 16:9-12 (ESV):
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
9 Now when he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons.10 She went and told those who had been with him, as they mourned and wept. 11 But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.
Jesus Appears to Two Disciples
12 After these things he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. 13 And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.
Remember how Jesus would choose to minister first and foremost to the people considered to be the outcasts of the day, including criminals, adulterers, the disabled, tax collectors, lepers, and so on. It is not surprising that Jesus chose to reveal himself as the Resurrected Christ to those not generally respected in the day, first to the women, next to two minor disciples, and later to a man who was responsible for the arrest and murder of many Christians, Saul of Tarsus, known after his faith conversion as the Paul the apostle of Jesus. Again, Jesus sought to teach humility as he had when he washed the feet of his disciples.
You will note that the women first ventured out from the locked Upper Room, to face the guards of the tomb and at potential personal risks to their own safety, to take care of the body of Jesus. And we find two Jews, who were also followers of Jesus encounter Jesus while they walking on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus, lamenting their Lord’s death, even after hearing that the women had encountered their resurrected Lord, earlier that very day an account told in Luke 24:13-35 (ESV):
On the Road to Emmaus
13 That very day two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven miles[a] from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” 19 And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive.24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” 25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
28 So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, 29 but they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. 31 And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?”33 And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem. And they found the eleven and those who were with them gathered together,34 saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread.
It seems that Jesus had encountered more doubt and skepticism from Cleopas and the other disciple about the women had witnessed at the tomb. Jesus had to reiterate the prophecies concerning himself, as the Christ and Messiah, that he is not a prophet of God, but the living Christ. It was only at the breaking of bread did the Lord reveal himself to the two disciples. Unfortunately, like the disciples cloistered in that Upper Chamber, they disbelieved the two disciples in the same way they had doubted the women.
It seemed the only way for Jesus to convince the disciples in the Upper Room of his resurrection, the Lord would have to reveal himself to the disciples in person, Luke 24:36-49 (ESV):
Jesus Appears to His Disciples
36 As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish,[b] 43 and he took it and ate before them.
44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance for[c] the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
As happened on numerous occasions before his crucifixion, Jesus called out the disciples for the lack of faith, Luke 24:38-39 (ESV):
38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”
Jesus was expected, as God the Son, to ascend into heave to sit beside God the Father, as an advocate for the sinners, and in order to send God the Holy Spirit to admonish his believers in the truth of his Gospel, and the Spirit would help to convict those with little or no faith. We see the Lord’s ascension described in Luke 24:50-53 (ESV):
50 And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple blessing God.
If the disciples had remembered Jesus’ had told them that he would be first crucified; only to be resurrected three days later, the women would not have gone to the grave to anoint a body that was not there. Further, the two disciples would not have embarked on a journey to Emmaus, but would have remained in Jerusalem. Finally, the remaining disciples would have unlocked the door to the Upper Room, anticipating with confidence, the return of Jesus, as their resurrected Christ. The disciples no longer need to fear penalty of death, which is God’s judgement for humanity’s sins, as Christ, Jesus has paid the price for us all. This is summarized in our final Scripture verse, from Corinthians 15:20-26 (ESV):
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
On his return, as the Resurrected Christ, Jesus revealed the good news that the judgment for sin that was unleashed upon Adam and Eve, and their descendants, expunged for all generations. The proof of the truth of the Gospel lay not in an empty, open tomb, but by Christ’s resurrection from death, his ascension to the Father in heaven, and by the gift of the Holy Spirit. He Is Risen Indeed!
Let us pray…
Communion: Responsive Reading #626 (The Last Supper – Mark 14)
Closing Hymn #284: Yesterday He Died for Me
Benediction – 2 Corinthians 13:14: May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.