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Blessed are those who have not seen

and yet have believed. John 20:29b

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pastor Rob Rogers was born in Seattle Washington. He has a B.A. in Communication from Concordia University, Austin, TX and a Masters of Divinity from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO. READ MORE >>

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        Easter Sunday – April 16, 2017
Text:            Matt. 28:1-10

Theme:         Fact Check = He Is Risen! 

 

      Some of you know that I take a week a quarter to work on upcoming sermons.  I do a great deal of the text study and planning during this week so that the sermons each week already have a lot of the preparation done before I even start to write. Anyway, I was working on today’s sermon the week of September 25th last year.  You might remember that the first presidential debate between Secretary Hilary Clinton and now President Donald Trump took place that week.  One of Secretary Clinton’s constant refrains was “fact checking.”  President Trump had a way of making statements of opinion sound more like facts and Secretary Clinton wanted to be sure that everyone knew that she didn’t think that whatever he was saying was a fact.  Well the internet fact checkers were abuzz that night.  I have never heard the phrase “fact-check” used as often as I did the nights of the debates.

      Facts are facts—or so they say. In a sense, that’s certainly true. If it happened, it happened. If it’s true, it’s true.  And facts make a difference.  Facts are, or at least they should be the bedrock of all of our opinions.  We can have opinions about the facts but to have opinions with no facts are just feelings and you know how I feel about feelings! 

      We know the resurrection of Jesus is a fact. Almost no responsible historian will argue that there was large population who reported Jesus Christ risen from the dead and even witnessed him alive and well after his death.  Now skeptics might explain that in different ways but the fact is that many people reported him alive after he died.  The resurrection of Christ is not just the musing of a human fiction writer from 2000 years ago.  This is a fact that was checked with multiple sources.

      From day one we have the reports from women coming to the tomb to take care of the body of Jesus.  It took about 75 pounds of spices to prepare a body for burial and they had not had time on Good Friday to do what must be done for a dead body.  It was near sundown on the Sabbath and you couldn’t have dead bodies lying about on the Sabbath.  So they put off their task until after the Sabbath was over, hence Sunday morning. 

      The women are unbiased reporters because obviously they did not think he would rise from the dead as he had promised or they would not be hauling 75 pounds of spices out to the tomb to bury him!  Besides that, they watched him die.  They witnessed him being placed in the tomb. They absolutely did not believe that he would rise from the dead.

      In these women, we see ourselves. Our words and outward actions may seem great.  We are willing to state the fact of the resurrection, but we, too, bear burdens of unbelief.  Remember that in God’s plan, death was never supposed to happen.  Our sin brought death into the world, but from the moment Adam and Eve ate the fruit, God was insistent that this would not be permanent. Death would never reign supreme in his world.  The women at the tomb had acquiesced, as we too sometimes do, to the certainty of death, so they were looking for a dead Jesus instead of a living savior!  Look at the facts!  But contrary to their expectations, our savior was quite alive and well, just as he said he would be!

      To these women, the Lord sent his messengers—two angels in dazzling apparel. Through them, he confronts the women with the fact of his resurrection, but not just the fact that a dead person they loved became alive again.  No resurrection is more than just reanimating an old dead body.  That was done for Lazarus – old news – resurrection is something new.  Remember what Jesus said. He had told them all that he must be crucified and the third day rise again. 

      Ok, but if he’s the Lord of all creation, why would he have to die? He did not die for himself!  His death and resurrection are for someone else.  It was for you, and for me.  He did what he said he would do: bear our sins, bear our guilt, bear our unbelief! And then to prove that he had done it all, he rose from the dead in a new, healed, holy, resurrected body!

      The angels brought to the women’s remembrance all Jesus’ words concerning his death and resurrection. This is what it was all about! The Lord had done all this for them! They started to grasp that this really was a fact and what this fact meant!  They ran back to the upper room to report all that they had seen and heard!  And on the way back, SURPRISE!  There he is standing before them, their living, risen, resurrected Lord!

      The good news of Easter is not the fact that a dead person became alive again. If that were the case, we might as well worship Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead.  No, the good news of Easter is that the one who bore our sin and died on the cross, and suffered Hell for us has not been extinguished.  He returned, and he returned triumphantly, having accomplished all that he said he would accomplish. We die because of God’s wrath on our sin. But this death of ours was destroyed by the death of Christ. All of our sins have been forgiven, paid for by Jesus.  So we have no fear of judgement and when the Lord removes from us the fear of judgment, he also removes our fear of death.

      The fact is, Jesus is risen.  The women at the tomb ran back to the disciples to report this fact and the disciples checked it out for themselves.  Moreover, Jesus appeared to them time and time again for the next 40 days.  We’re told that more than 500 people saw him during this time.  That’s a great many fact checkers.  This is not a fairytale in which we believe.  Our salvation is not based on a dream some person had or magical tablets found in a cave.  Our faith is based on absolute fact.  On this day, Jesus Christ died on the cross, suffered Hell and rose again from the dead in a new, holy, resurrected body, to prove once and for all that we are saved and that we, as well, shall rise again, in new, holy, resurrected bodies.  Read the Bible and check your facts.  They are 100% true.

 

 

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