Tag Archives: Mary

Resurrection! – John 20:1-9

Resurrection! – John 20:1-9
By Pastor Lee Hemen
April 16, 2017

We are at a spiritual crossroads in history. We live in a day and age whereby folks do not use critical thinking but rely on their instinct or passion. This is dangerous because we are then motivated to think that what we feel is more important than facts. Or worse, that we can distinguish what is right or wrong in life simply by how it feels to us. From personal relationships, what we believe in, or to whom we vote for is a matter of feelings and not what we truly know. We end up hurt and confused when our emotions have steered us in the wrong direction.

The resurrection is not a matter of emotion or personal feelings. It is a historical physical fact. This is why later when Mary is crying by the empty tomb and the angel rebukes her by reminding her of the facts, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! 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.'” (Luke 24:5-7 NIV) And later here in John the angel bluntly reminds Mary to stop relying on her emotions by asking her, “Woman, why are you crying?” (v. 13) As believers or seekers we must come to the realization of the fact of the resurrection because if we do not we are still standing outside of an empty tomb that has no effect on our lives. Therefore this morning let’s look anew at the resurrection.

READ: John 20:1-9

When people die and you put them in their graves, contrary to any TV fiction, they do not get up and walk around! The dead stay dead! Except in the truth of the resurrection! In light of what occurred we must first ask…

I. Why is the tomb empty?! (Vv. 1-2)

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

1. Now there are some pretty nifty sleight of hand arguments concerning which Mary was where at what time. However, I believe we have to take each one as they were written realizing that the authors were remembering the event as it was told to them or as they saw it for themselves. John relates what he remembers that “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.” It was early Sunday morning, probably right before the sun rose and the sky was still dark but the dawn of the new day could be seen. We discover that Mary Magdalene went to the tomb first. We know from other accounts that she was with other women who wanted to finish the burial preparation of Jesus’ body. Her gratitude and devotion to Jesus came from her deliverance from bondage to Satan. She had been an observer at the cross and now was one of the first folks at the empty tomb. She saw Jesus die and evidently knew where he was buried; now the heavy stone had been removed from the entrance! Mary does the first thing she could think of, “So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!'” Mary knew the tomb was empty but did not realize why and could only think of the logical answer, someone had taken Jesus’ body! Why is the tomb empty?

EXAMPLE: Go into any grocery store and Fred Meyer, Wal-Mart, or WinCo and you would find aisles of Easter eggs, cards, candy, baskets, bunnies, chicks, Peeps, and chocolate this or that. Yet you would not find the one thing that is most important part to all of Easter: the empty tomb! Easter is not found in bunnies, eggs, baskets, or Peeps. It is discovered in the fact that several thousand years ago folks found the tomb where Jesus’ dead body was laid empty. It therefore begs the question for us every Easter, “Why is the tomb empty?” Paul knew full well that “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead”! (1 Corinthians 15:17-20 NIV) The tomb is empty!

Hindsight is always 20/20 but when you’re in the thick of it one’s vision can become very myopic indeed. As the facts of the empty tomb just keep coming and what is revealed makes one wonder…

II. Where is the body? (Vv. 3-7)

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen.

1. Whether Peter is bewildered or he simply suspects what has happened is not at first clear, but he does the one thing most of us would do, “Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb.” Peter and John “Both were running.” Both understood the importance of the news Mary had brought them and as they head to the tomb where Jesus’ body was laid to rest, the younger John, “the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.” Being younger perhaps John was fearful of defilement of entering a tomb or perhaps he was afraid of what he may or may not find inside. John therefore, “bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in.” Whatever the reason, “Simon Peter, who was behind him,” and being older and more impulsive “arrived and went into the tomb” while the hesitant John waited outside in bewilderment. Peter also “saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head.” In fact we know this is an eyewitness account because of the detail described by John. Peter saw exactly how the burial cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head was lain aside and how neatly “The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen.” The burial cloths were there but the fact remained, where is the body?

EXAMPLE: Where is the body? It was a natural question to ask. The Radio Bible Class relates, “No element in the Easter story is more troubling to unbelievers than the report that the followers of Jesus found the tomb empty that Sunday morning. Some simply deny it, saying that the women and others went to the wrong tomb. Others think that Jesus was not quite dead when He was buried, and somehow He revived and got out of the tomb—even though the Roman soldiers had declared Him dead (John 19:33), an eyewitness saw blood and water flow from the pierced body (v.34), and His body had been wrapped tightly with strips of linen containing 100 pounds of spices (v.39). In the first century, even Christ’s enemies agreed that He had died and the tomb was empty. They bribed the guards to say that the disciples stole His body (Matthew 28:11-15). Jesus rose from the grave in a real body, and that means everything to us. When a Christian friend or loved one dies, we can be confident that we will meet again. The body may turn to dust, but God will not forget it. It will be transformed into a body perfectly designed for heaven (1 Corinthians 15:35-50). This is not wishful thinking. It is an expectation based on solid evidence.” Where is the body? Happily it was not there!

Courage is often found in the strangest of circumstances. Here we discover John found his and…

III. Believed! (Vv. 8-9)

Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb, first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)

1. John in succinct fashion relates how he had gotten to the tomb first but was either too fearful or awestruck to go inside. What he had seen from the outside of the tomb was curious and so he just had to go in as well. “Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb, first, also went inside.” What he saw inside of that tomb changed his life forever. John had run to the tomb out of curiosity, concern, or fear that someone had stolen Jesus’ body. John had run to the tomb merely as a disciple of an itinerant rabbi, but came away a true follower of Jesus. Believing there was a Jesus and believing in Jesus are two different things. John had loved Jesus’ teaching, he had loved and followed Jesus the man, but now he had to believe in Jesus the Messiah. And not just in a Messianic-type person but in the actual resurrection of Jesus the Messiah! The Living God! The first born! The King of kings and Lord of lords! Jesus was no longer just a good teacher; he was John’s Master and Savior. However, John’s personal notation tells us that both he and Peter “still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.” But now they did! They believed!

EXAMPLE: When the dark day of Jesus’ crucifixion drew to a close, it seemed that the most wonderful of all lives had come to an end. For a few brief years, Christ had astounded the crowds and His followers with the wisdom of His teaching and the wonder of His miracles. But Jesus chose not to save Himself from the cross, and now His life was over. It seemed that nothing more could be expected of Him. Hope returned, however, on that first resurrection morning. A painting by Eugene Burnand portrays Peter and John running to the tomb. Shortly after dawn, Mary Magdalene had told them that she and her friends had found the tomb empty. In Burnand’s painting, the faces of Peter and John show contending emotions of anguish and relief, of sorrow and surprise, of despair and wonder as they race toward the tomb. Their gaze is eagerly fixed forward, turning the viewer’s attention to the sepulcher. What did they find? An empty tomb—the Savior was alive! Christ still lives. But many of us go from day to day as if He were still in the grave. How much better to look beyond the empty tomb to the One who can fill our lives with the power of His resurrection!  (RBC, Living With Expectation, March 27, 2004) They believed!

Conclusion:

Why is the tomb empty? Where is the body? They believed!
—-
This article is copyrighted © 2017 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Christmas Is About Three Fathers…

Christmas Is About three Fathers…
By Pastor Lee Hemen
December 25, 2016

The other day as I was changing the diaper of my baby granddaughter it all of sudden hit me that Christmas is about so much more than a baby boy. It is about fathers as well. In fact it is about three of them that I know of. First, I cannot but wonder about the father of Mary who watched as his little pregnant daughter walked slowly down the dusty road leaving Nazareth. The trip would not be long by today’s standards but a huge undertaking for a new couple. Food, clothes, and necessities for a new baby and of course her care had to be carried. We forget people usually did not live past their 40s during this time and at a distance of about 89 miles would be a hard journey. I wonder if he looked at the night sky full of stars noticing that the one which shown brightest was in the sky near the place where his daughter journeyed to and thought about her. Was she safe? Had she given birth? Was Joseph taking care of her? Was the baby born healthy and strong? I am sure this father worried about his daughter so far away from home giving birth for the first time. Loving fathers are like that.

The second father I thought of was Joseph. Here he was a father for the first time, far from home town himself, and the only spot he could find for his pregnant wife was a stall for sheep and goats. It was comfortable at least, with some new hay for Mary to spread a cloak down. But now the baby, his baby, their baby was going to be born. I am sure growing up in a small farming community like Nazareth Joseph had watched siblings, other family members, or friends’ children being born. Certainly he watched as sheep gave birth. But now it would be his bride and his child. He could place the baby in the clean swaddling clothes they brought from Nazareth with some of the new hay in the feeding trough. I wonder as Joseph looked up at the stars shining in the night sky if he realized all the work being a father entailed? The mentoring, the training, the discipline, devotion, and the imparting of the love of God, would he be up to it all? As he looked at his little wife did he wonder at his role in being the father of the Messiah? I am sure he did and so much more because loving fathers are like that.

The third and final father I thought of was God himself. The mystery, the shear wonder, and the amazing thing God the father had decided to do since the beginning of all creation was about to occur. I stand in utter awe thinking about the fact that this was God the father’s plan all along: To come himself in the form of a human baby, born to a young Hebrew couple from a small village, in small stable on such a silent night. The birth as amazing as it truly is, is just a moment in time and fades in stature to the cruel death he would willingly face; a death that would become the sacrifice for all of our sin for those who believe and even those who do not. I wonder that as the stars danced in the sky he had created and as the young woman cried in the pains of childbirth if God the Father did not smile as his plan was being born. It makes me smile. I do not think he worried about anything at all, after all he foreordained it all. He had predetermined that on this particular night that this young couple would give birth, well, to him! He had told them both it would happen just as he knew it would and it did. As angels sang, shepherds trembled, Wisemen wandered, and mad kings plotted the plan of God the Father came together perfectly. The plans of our loving Father are like that.

Merry Christmas!

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Family, what are you going to do? — John 7:1-10

Family, what are you going to do? — John 7:1-10
By Pastor Lee Hemen
February 22, 2015

A comedian once quipped, “The problem with relatives is that they tend to be family.” I am not sure exactly what he meant by that, but I am sure there are some folks in our families we would rather not relate to. Families can be close or they can be dysfunctional, sadly, far too many in our day and age are the latter. We know that Jesus had younger brothers; James, Joseph, Jude and Simon to name four (Mark 6:3), and some sisters as well. We also know that Mary was his mother was still alive and yet Joseph, his adoptive father, was probably dead by the time he began his ministry. And, we also discover that his family did not fully understand Jesus’ calling nor who he was (Mark 3:21, 31) and tried to dissuade him from following the path God had set for him.

I remember well when I decided to follow God’s calling in my life, how my own family reacted. It wasn’t all rose blossoms and birds singing. In fact, they kind of thought I was weird in doing so because at the time, none of them understood what it meant. Here in John’s gospel we discover Jesus’ family, namely some of his brothers, attempting to get Jesus to do what they desired instead of following what God desired. Isn’t that the way sometimes families can be? Family, what are you going to do? let’s discover what this meant for Jesus and what we can learn from it this morning…

READ: John 7:1-10

A builder in California has come up with an innovative idea to sell his houses. He thinks that a good way to make a house more appealing is to have a family there when showing the house. So he hires actors to play happy families in his company’s model homes. Would-be buyers can ask them questions about the house. Each fake family cooks, watches television, and plays games while house-hunters wander through. Have you ever wanted to hire a fake family? Here in John’s gospel we discover that in the case of Jesus’ family…

I. Faith is not necessarily found in the nearness to one’s family! (Vv. 1-5)

After this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life. But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to him, “You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” For even his own brothers did not believe in him.

1. This short section is kind of a pause between another confrontation with Jesus and the religious authorities of his day. And in the midst of the mix we find his own family getting into the act of trying to discourage him from doing what God desired him to do. After Jesus faced off with those who followed him around the Sea of Galilee for food, he now confronts his own brothers. We learn that ” Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life.” Jesus was not stupid and his time had not yet come for him to begin the confrontation that would ultimately lead to his sacrificial death and resurrection. And, in fact, “when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to him, ‘You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.'” The Bible Knowledge Commentary relates that “The Feast of Tabernacles was one of the three great Jewish feasts… This feast, also called the Feast of Ingathering, was a time of thanksgiving for harvest. It was a happy time; devout Jews lived outdoors in booths made of tree branches for seven days as a reminder of God’s provision in the desert during their forefather’s wanderings. The feast also signified that God dwells with His people.” So, it would not be unusual for Jesus’ family to encourage him to go, what greater place than Jerusalem and this feast to show himself to the world! Perhaps they had seen many of his disciples leave after his difficult teachings concerning himself. Perhaps they were trying to push Jesus into publically proclaiming who he was. Whatever the case, it was not Jesus’ desire at this time. And, we learn that “even his own brothers did not believe in him.” There is the truth of the matter. We discover that faith is not necessarily found in the nearness to one’s family!

EXAMPLE: Over the decades I have had many folks try to assume they are closer to God because of a family member who was a missionary, pastor, or deacon. Nothing could be further from the truth. Faith is not inherited. It is not a birthright. Being the son of a pastor, the grandson of a preacher or the nephew of a deacon does not guarantee one’s salvation. What your granddaddy, great granddaddy or auntie did has no bearing on the outcome of one’s life in Christ. Certainly their Godly influence could have had an effect, but spirituality and salvation are one’s individual decision to make and live. Faith is not necessarily found in the nearness to one’s family!

Have you ever had one of those spontaneous moments where one of you cries out, “Family hug!” then you all gather around each other and give one great big bear hug? Of course there is always one killjoy who does not want to be part of this embarrassing scene. That is when you have to insist they join in or else suffer the consequences. You might have to do it in public when they least expect it! Here in John’s gospel Jesus teaches us that…

II. Faith demands we act in spite of our family! (Vv 6-10)

Therefore Jesus told them, “The right time for me has not yet come; for you any time is right. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil. You go to the Feast. I am not yet going up to this Feast, because for me the right time has not yet come.” Having said this, he stayed in Galilee. However, after his brothers had left for the Feast, he went also, not publicly, but in secret.

1. Like many of us, Jesus’ own family misunderstands him. And “Therefore Jesus told them, ‘The right time for me has not yet come; for you any time is right.'” His timing was different from his own family’s desire. They in fact could come and go as they pleased, his life was dictated by different motives than theirs. Jesus always pleased his heavenly father, so his life and what he did with it was directed by his father’s will. It was not time for him to be sacrificed for the whole world. He tells them bluntly, “The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil.” Being part of a sinned stained world, his brothers and their actions would not be disdained or hated by it, but his actions that were directed by the father and therefore were holy, would be hated! The world has its religions, its programs, its plans, its values, but Christ witnessed that it is all evil. This is why much of what believers do in life is disdained by the world or in fact seen as stupid. It is contrary to how the rest of the world reacts and works. He then tells them, “You go to the Feast. I am not yet going up to this Feast, because for me the right time has not yet come.” Here is a difficult thing for some because they wonder, “Was Jesus lying, since he eventually did go to the Feast?” The answer is “no”. Jesus simply refused to be pushed into a hasty decision by his brothers to do that which might not be what God desired! In fact, the rendering here strongly suggests that after a time of reflection, of staying in Galilee, and “after his brothers had left for the Feast, he went also.” However, notice Jesus went privately, in secret and not publically as his brothers tried to push him to do. Remember, there were those who were now plotting to kill Jesus. However, Jesus never allowed himself to be pressured or pushed into doing someone else’s will, he only did what his father in heaven told him to do. Faith demands we act in spite of our family!

EXAMPLE: Working on the playground I have come into contact with a lot of children who come from dysfunctional homes. Many spend their free time watching TV or playing video games. I am concerned that far too many families use these things as babysitting tools instead of including their children in family life. We want to be aware that some of the things we do to make our lives easier can actually deprive our kids. Children need to mix with older generations so they can hear the stories of aunts, uncles, grandparents, and parents. They need a regular meal time where they sit down and eat with one another. This helps them learn from those who have gone before them. Even single parents need to have a suppertime where they learn about their children’s day. Can this be difficult and will our kids always want to share? The answer again is “no” but we can insist and begin to also introduce them to how to use their faith during these times. Faith demands we act in spite of our family!

Conclusion:

Faith is not necessarily found in the nearness to one’s family! Faith demands we act in spite of our family!

This article is copyrighted © 2015 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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The Wedding! — John 2:1-12

The Wedding! — John 2:1-12
By Pastor Lee Hemen
October 19, 2014

According to a recent article by Kelsey Thibodeau of WGGB/CNN, “Marriage can be an expensive adventure. But can the size of your ring be a predictor of how long that marriage will last? New research from Emory University suggests the bigger the diamond, the shorter the marriage. Researchers surveyed 3,000 adults who’ve been married at some point. They found that men who spent between $2,000 and $4,000 on engagement rings were more likely to end up divorced than those men who spent less than $2,000. The same appeared to be true for women receiving rings. The more expensive it was, the more likely the woman reported being divorced. The study also suggests the more expensive the wedding, the higher the divorce rate. Women whose wedding cost $20,000 or more are 3.5 times more likely to divorce than women who spent $10,000 or less.”

Here we find Jesus invited to a wedding in Cana. It is a wonderful retelling of an intimate event in Jewish life. And what makes it even more delightful is the fact we not only find Jesus, but his mother, and the disciples there as well. I find it somehow comforting that Jesus enjoyed the normal things, the traditional things, and the joyous occasions of family and friends. What could be more enjoyable than a wedding of a friend or beloved relative? It is here we see the Savior at the wedding…

READ: John 2:1-12

I know that some pastors would rather do funerals than weddings; as one minister related to me, “Grief over death makes people see life in a healthier perspective and silences the obnoxious relative.” However, we find the wedding a place where…

I. Jesus does his first miracle! (Vv. 1-5)

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” “Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

1. The third day could refer to three days after meeting Nathaniel, three days after Meeting Peter, or three days following John the Baptist telling his disciples to look intently at the Lamb of God. More than likely it was three days after meeting Nathaniel. And now, “a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee.” We also discover that “Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.” She must have had a major part in the wedding planning and execution of the celebration, the feast, and the events. The reason I say this is because of her involvement in what occurs next, her concern for the wedding couple, and the embarrassment it would cause them, because “When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, ‘They have no more wine.’” A simple guest would not have been aware of such an intimate detail and certainly would not have been concerned. Yet we find Jesus’ mother both knowledgeable and anxious about the couple being embarrassed. And, interestingly John never names himself nor uses the name of Jesus’ mother. Here we read Jesus replies, “Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus’ response has been dissected and discussed for centuries; however, within the words he uses we see his respect and love for her. Could she have known of her son’s ability to perform miracles or of his Messianic status? I would say “No” because we find her and the rest of Jesus’ siblings trying to discourage him later in the direction his life would take and John notes, “This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. (v. 11)” And, we see Jesus immediately responds to her request, “My time has not yet come.” It was not time for him to reveal himself to the general public through any outward sign. His mother commands the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” He still had not called all of his disciples yet to follow him and he was not willing to do something dramatic to draw attention to his self but out of respect and love for his mother, he does his first miracle.

EXAMPLE: “Keep calm and eat bacon.” “Keep calm and put the kettle on.” These sayings originate from the phrase: “Keep Calm and Carry On.” This message first appeared in Great Britain as World War II began in 1939. British officials printed it on posters designed to offset panic and discouragement during the war. My favorite would be, “Keep calm and ask mom!” There is something very endearing about Jesus doing this act of kindness. I do not believe Mary forces him into doing something he does not desire to do. The answer that Jesus gives his mother might be better translated as, “What do you want of me? I am not prepared for this.” Yet for sake of a young couple and because he loves his mother, Jesus performs his first miracle.

Jesus is always using the simplest of things for great things. He does this when feeding thousands, using a fish net, or in providing wine for a wedding. We discover that…

II. Jesus provides the very best using the mundane! (Vv. 6-12)

Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him. After this he went down to Capernaum with his mother and brothers and his disciples. There they stayed for a few days.

1. John relates that “Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.” This was no small gathering but rather a large celebration where perhaps the whole village was invited or at least a large group of folks. We find that there is between 120 and 180 gallons of water, and soon to be wine involved! This was not a few bottles of Champagne! Jesus tells the servant to “Fill the jars with water” and to fill “them to the brim.” They have no idea what is about to occur but in the time it took them to finish filling the jars and when the master of the banquet tastes the newly drawn liquid, it miraculously changes! Jesus simply tells the servants, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” Obediently they do so “and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine.” The water was used for purification rights before the meal so the participants would come to the meal clean. The master of the banquet “did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew.” This ceremonial water that was turned into wine ceased to be what it was before and became what it was not: celebration wine! The wine used in Hebrew meals was far weaker than what we drink in our day because wine for the Jew was seen as a food item to be enjoyed as part of the meal and not something to get a buzz from. And during most feasts folks would bring out the stronger wine first. This is why we learn that when the master of the banquet “called the bridegroom aside and said, ‘Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.’” The plain water of cleansing became the joyous drink of celebration! Jesus uses the mundane to provide the very best!

EXAMPLE: How often have parents planned and schemed to give a child a present they wanted only to later find them playing with the box it came in instead. I loved getting a refrigerator or washing machine box and turning it into a rocket ship, army tank, or play house. It is taking something simple and turning it into something wonderful. However, what Jesus does is more than using one’s imagination, it is the power and presence of God actively involved in the lives of those he loves. The Savior of the world provides the very best using the mundane! How truly marvelous is that? And yet this is exactly what Jesus does with our lives when we trust him with them? I believe so.

Conclusion:
Jesus does his first miracle! Jesus provides the very best using the mundane!

This article is copyrighted © 2014 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Do you share the Good News? – Matthew 28:1-10, 16-20

Do you share the Good News? – Matthew 28:1-10, 16-20
By Pastor Lee Hemen
April 20, 2014 AM

“What a wonderful Easter service we had this morning,” gushed a mother as she and her family drove home. “So, what do we do about Christ’s resurrection,” asked her older daughter. “What do you mean, honey?” “I mean Christ’s resurrection supposedly changed everything. We say it changed our life. It seems to me we should be doing more to indicate Christ has made a difference in us and He wants to make a difference in others.” It made the mother realize that she needed to share the good news with others joyfully and more consistently. Let me ask you, “How does your celebration of Easter influence your daily service for Christ?”

As Sunday morning dawned, two women went to visit the tomb of Jesus. Suddenly an earthquake occurred, and an angel of God rolled back and sat on the stone at the entrance of the tomb. He told the women not to fear because Jesus had been raised from the dead. The angel then instructed the women to tell Jesus’ disciples He was alive and would meet them in Galilee. Later, the disciples met Jesus on a mountain in Galilee. Jesus told them all authority had been given to Him and instructed them to share the good news with the world. Their resurrection experience changed their lives. It caused them to desire to share the Good News, let’s see why…

READ: Matthew 28:1-10, 16-20

Our resurrection experience should cause us to…

I. Share the Good News Eagerly! (Matthew 28:1-7)

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Sunday, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” (Matthew 28:1-7 NIV)

1. After Jesus died, He was buried in a new tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathea (Matt. 27:57-60). Visiting the tomb on Saturday was forbidden by Jewish regulations; but as soon as Sunday began to dawn, two women went to the tomb. All of the Gospels mention Mary Magdalene as being among the women who visited Jesus’ tomb and saw the resurrected Jesus. The other Mary may refer to the mother of James and Joseph. Luke relates that the women came to anoint Jesus’ body (Luke 24:1) and perhaps to mourn and pray at the site of Jesus’ burial. When Jesus died, an earthquake had shaken Jerusalem (Matt. 27:51). As the women arrived at the tomb, another earthquake shook the area. In the Old Testament, earthquakes sometimes indicated God’s presence. Through this earthquake and the descending angel, God announced His presence to the women at the tomb. The angel rolled back the stone that sealed the tomb, not to let Jesus out but so the women could enter and confirm the tomb lay empty. Jesus had already risen from the dead. The angel simply assured the women of Jesus’ victory over death. The angel then triumphantly sat on the stone. Humans had rolled the stone before the tomb’s entrance to seal the crucified Jesus inside forever, but neither stone nor death could contain Him. God raised His Son Jesus from the dead. Victory and joy replaced death and loss. The angel’s appearance reflected God’s glory. In fact, “The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.” How ironic the soldiers assigned to guard a dead body became like dead men themselves while the corpse they guarded was raised to life! The angel tells the women, however, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified.” The angel brought news of great joy, not of condemnation. The angel told the women they would not find Jesus in the tomb because He had been resurrected from the dead. The angel encourages them with, “He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay!” The invitation indicated the women had the correct location. Then they are instructed to go tell the disciples Jesus had been raised from the dead and would meet them in Galilee as He had said. They were instructed to share the Good News eagerly!
EXAMPLE: We all have experienced events in life so wonderful and joyous we could not wait to share them with everyone we saw. We eagerly knocked on doors, made telephone calls, and sent e-mails. We need to share the good news of Jesus’ resurrection in the same way with others, knowing their lives can be changed by Jesus even as ours have. Why is the good news of Christ’s resurrection exciting to you? We discover that the women were instructed to share the Good News eagerly!

Our resurrection experience should cause us to…

II. Share the Good News Joyfully! (Matthew 28:8-10)

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” (Matthew 28:8-10 NIV)

1. Although the angel invited the women to enter the tomb and see for themselves Jesus was not there and Matthew does not indicate whether they did. Instead, he specified they obeyed the angel’s command to go quickly and tell Jesus’ disciples. The angel’s words had not completely removed their fear, but his announcement of Jesus’ resurrection had given them a joy they had not possessed and enabled them to obey his instructions. As the women ran to tell the disciples the good news, Jesus suddenly met and greeted them. The word Greetings translates a Greek word that served as a typical greeting in Jesus’ day, much like our greeting hello. Yet the Greek word can also mean rejoice. Both meanings fit the account beautifully. Jesus greeted the women as devoted friends but also encouraged them to rejoice at His resurrection. The women immediately recognized Jesus and rushed to Him. The statement they clasped His feet emphasizes Jesus’ physical body. As the women grasped Jesus’ feet, their hands did not pass through a ghostly apparition. Their hands touched flesh supported by underlying muscle tissue and bone. Jesus rose from the dead not as a disembodied ghost but as a person with a physical body people could touch and hold. Seeing Jesus led the women to worship Him. Through Elijah and Elisha God had raised individuals to life. In each case they were an instrument for God. Jesus also had raised the dead during His ministry. Yet no human stood before Jesus’ tomb and called Him forth. God raised His Son to life, indicating Jesus’ Deity and authority. Earlier the women would have reserved worship only for God; but here they worshiped Jesus, whose resurrection clearly indicated His oneness with God. Jesus repeated the angel’s instructions but chose the significant word brothers to describe His disciples. In His greatest hour of crisis just a few days earlier, the disciples had abandoned Jesus. One had denied Him. Rather than condemn them for their lack of faith, Jesus forgave them, referring to them as part of His family. Jesus invited them and invites us to join Him in the work of sharing the Good News joyfully!
EXAMPLE: How can you help others to experience the joy you have as a Christian? The disciples had failed and would fail again just as we fail to be the people God calls us to be. Yet Jesus stated, “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:50 NIV), inviting us to work with Him in helping individuals find faith and life in Him. Despite the women’s fear, joy overwhelmed them when they saw the risen Jesus. We share our faith out of joy, not out of guilt. Through our confession of faith Jesus has saved us and has made us part of His family! God’s great gifts to us through Christ lead us to share the good news of Christ’s resurrection so others might experience the joy we know. We should share the Good News joyfully!

Our resurrection experience should cause us to…

III. Share the Good News Everywhere! (Matt. 28:16-20)

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20 NIV)

1. By mentioning the eleven disciples Matthew reminds us of Judas’s betrayal and suicide. Despite Judas’s tragic rejection of Jesus, the remaining disciples had a task to do (just as we do). Matthew did not record the specific mountain, they knew where to go. Just as mountains like Sinai served as sacred meeting places between God and humans in the Old Testament, so Jesus used mountains as places where people could encounter Him. It provided a fitting place for Jesus’ final instructions. When the disciples saw Jesus, they worshiped Him just as the women had done earlier; but some doubted. It refers not to unbelief but to hesitation or uncertainty. Why would some of the disciples have been hesitant or uncertain at seeing Jesus? Perhaps Jesus looked somewhat different (as He had at His transfiguration), and the disciples at first could not positively identify Him. Perhaps they feared Jesus’ response to their failure to stand with Him. Perhaps the reports of Jesus’ resurrection and then His appearance overwhelmed them since they did not expect to see Him again. We may suppose if we had been there, we would have been among the believers rather than the doubters. Yet we need to admit we too sometimes hesitate and doubt Jesus. Events sometimes overwhelm us, and the challenge of following Christ can prove daunting. Jesus did not berate them but invited them to join the work of spreading the kingdom of God. Jesus tells His disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Jesus’ resurrection validated His teachings and miracles, Jesus is the Messiah! “Therefore,” Jesus tells them, “go and make disciples of all nations”! The Greek term make disciples serves as the main verb of verses 19-20. Go and baptizing, as well as teaching are participles and subordinate to make disciples. Jesus commands followers through the ages to make disciples, which involves going, baptizing, and teaching! We need to go as Jesus commanded us to help others become maturing, committed disciples. We do not do it on our own, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Jesus’ authority and presence empowered His disciples then and still empowers us today! Jesus’ first disciples did not evangelize and disciple based on their strength. Following Christ requires us to share the Good News everywhere!
EXAMPLE: Matthew began his Gospel declaring Jesus as the fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14, the prophecy for a virgin to bear a son named Immanuel, “God with us” (Matt. 1:23). Matthew ended his Gospel assuring us Jesus will be with us until His return at the end of history. The resurrection of Jesus continues to fill us with joy and hope today. Jesus’ resurrection also requires a response from us. We need to let others know salvation and new life are possible through Him. Let me ask you, “How can you participate in making disciples in your community and around the world?” Easter is a wonderful time for Christians to recommit themselves to share the Good News everywhere!

Conclusion:
We need to eagerly share the good news of Jesus’ resurrection.
We need to joyfully share the good news of Jesus’ resurrection.
We can share the good news of Jesus’ resurrection with all peoples.

This article is copyrighted © 2014 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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As Silent Nights Go

As Silent Nights Go
By Pastor Lee Hemen

As silent nights go, it was nothing new,
Noted only by a chosen few.
The evening breeze blew soft that night,
And stars twinkled in heavenly delight.

Shepherds watched their flocks in fields,
Covered themselves from the cold to shield.
While in a little town in a manger lay,
A small baby boy tucked in soft brown hay.

Near his crude crib his father knelt,
His young mother in wonder felt;
Her son so tiny chosen to be,
The one who’d come to set captives free.

Back in the fields angels sing,
Hallelujahs to the Godly king!
Born that day in the tiny town,
A baby wears heaven’s own crown.

The shepherds rush to the manger scene,
To tell the parents of what they’d seen.
The mother wonders at what it meant,
About her son, that God has sent.

How could it be that one so small,
Born in a simple manger stall,
Could be the savior of all mankind,
That even wise men would seek to find?

And yet the carols we still sing,
Of the baby born a heavenly king.
To redeem us one and all,
And rescue us from our sinful fall.

As silent nights go, it was nothing new,
Noted only by a chosen few.
The evening breeze blew soft that night,
And stars twinkled in heavenly delight.

Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 27 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Just Wondering…

I was just wondering, what is your favorite Christmas decoration? You know what I mean; the hand-painted and crafted kind made in China. Perhaps it is a snowman with a corncob pipe and a button nose with two eyes made out of coal. Perhaps it is a jingle bell placed on a little one horse-open sleigh dashing through fake snow. And no, an angel does not get its wings when it rings! Maybe it is a cluster of those Russian nesting dolls made up to look like diminutive Santas. It might be a manger scene of a father, mother, and little baby surrounded by sheep, shepherds, and several wise guys. But why would that be your choice? Only those who have placed their faith and trust in the child in the manger scene, grew up, was crucified, and rose from the dead, would truly understand why. Now let me ask you again, what is your favorite Christmas decoration? Makes one wonder…

Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 27 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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