“Patsy Clairmont beautifully and movingly portrays the reality of recovering from grief. I quote her words because they are so strongly and lovingly written: “We buried my friend’s 26–year–old son last week. An accidental gunshot took Jeff’s life. We have more questions than answers. We are offended at people who have all the answers and no experience with devastating loss.
‘I watched the heart-wrenching scenes as the family tried to come to grips with their tragedy. I can still hear the travailing of the mother’s anguished heart. I can still see the wrenching of the father’s grief-worn hands. I can still feel the distraught sobs that racked the sister’s body as I held her. I can still smell the hospital and the funeral home. Memories march before my mind like soldiers, causing me to relive the agony. If it is this difficult for me, Jeff’s godmother, how much more magnified it must be for his birth mother! I can’t imagine.
As I watched Jeff’s mom, Carol, the week after his death, I observed a miracle. I saw her move from despair to hope. From franticness to peace. From uncertainty to assurance. From needing comfort to extending it.
I witnessed a mom face her worst nightmare and refuse to run away. Instead, she ran to Him. When grief knocked the breath out of Carol, she went to the Breath Giver. I watched as the Lord placed His mantle of grace around her and then supported her with His mercy. The grief process has just begun for Jeff’s loved ones. The Lord will not remove His presence from the Porter family. But there may be moments when He will remove their awareness of His presence. That will allow them to feel the impact of their loss. For He knows it would be our tendency to hide even behind His grace to protect our fragile hearts from the harsh winds of reality. He offers us refuge, but He also promises us wholeness. Wholeness means we are fully present with ourselves and with Him. Therefore, we have to own our pain. If we do not, part of who we are we must either shut down, avoid, or deny. That would leave us estranged from ourselves and divided in our identity. Also, we would never heal in a way that would allow us to minister to others’ (Under His Wings, [Colorado Springs: Focus on the Family, 1994], 139ff.).
The death of Jesus Christ left his followers devastated with grief similar to the Porter family’s. They had lost their best friend, their leader, and their life’s goals, hopes, and dreams. All meaning had disappeared from life. Meeting the resurrected Christ gave them the assurance and power they needed to recover from their grief realistically, regain their wholeness, and renew their commitment to the goal Christ set before them. We have trouble feeling the same grief and loss the disciples felt at Jesus’ death, but we can feel the glory of his resurrection and the joy of being part of his goal for living and for dying.”
[Butler, Holman New Testament Commentary, Luke, 413-14].
Alternative guitar chords
When I first started playing guitar in high school, I took lessons and began to learn scales and chords
It was awkward at first trying to get my fingers to hold the position for each chord
Once I learned the individual chords then I had to learn how to transition between the various chords, so I could play songs
Many years later, while living in California, the worship leader at the church we attended, introduced me to some alternative chords for E, B, A, and C#m
This knowledge made it so much easier to transition between those chords and to play many worship songs
Let me illustrate it for you this morning on my guitar [Use the song Almighty and show the original chord locations, then show the alternative chord locations]
It took me a little bit of time to retrain my brain with the new location for these chords, but once that happen it made playing so much easier
I was finally able to say, I understand!
The nine times table
How many of us know our nine times table?
Would it be helpful to learn an easy way to remember the nine times table?
[Have everyone hold up their hands with their palms facing out]
[Show how to lower one finger based on the formula 9 x _ and how the remaining fingers will give them the answer]
My guess is that every one of us has a memory of struggling to understand something
It may have taken several people explaining it to us in various ways before we got it
Once we got it, we were able to say, “I understand!”
The women that went to the tomb early in the morning and the apostles and disciples that were gathered together in Jerusalem did not have a resurrection mindset when it came to the first day of the week after Jesus’ crucifixion. They had not fully understood Jesus’ teaching from the Old Testament about His purpose on earth and what was going to happen to Him. So, they were not expecting Him to rise from dead on the third day. After His resurrection, though, Jesus did something supernatural for them that enabled them to understand the Scriptures and it transformed them all. This transformation is what motivated them to preach the Gospel to all nations. We can experience the same transformation today. Through the Holy Spirit that lives within each follower of Jesus Christ, we have the same power as the apostles and disciples. We’ll learn from Luke 24:36-49 that . . .
BIG IDEA – Understanding God’s Word, empowers us to witness.
GOD (Luke 24:36-49)
Physical proof (vv. 36-43)
While they were still talking about this
We have to go back to verses 13-35 to understand what they were still talking about
Those verses share the story of the two believers who encounter Jesus on the road to Emmaus
If you remember they were traveling from Jerusalem to Emmaus when Jesus began to walk and talk with them
Jesus wanted these two men to express, openly, what they were thinking and feeling about His death and burial, so He acted as though He wasn’t aware of everything that had just transpired in Jerusalem
After hearing their hearts, Jesus began to use Scripture to explain that everything that had happened over the past several days had been foretold by Moses and the Prophets
The two disciples asked Jesus to stay with them when they arrived in Emmaus, which He eventually agrees to do
As they were sharing a meal together, Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them
At that moment, their eyes were opened and they recognized Jesus
They weren’t able to talk with Him anymore, because He disappeared
They returned to Jerusalem immediately, found the other disciples, and told them what they had experienced
This is what the group of disciples was talking about when Jesus appeared to them behind locked doors
Jesus’ supernatural appearance
Jesus stood among them and greeted them with Shalom
PRINCIPLE #1 – Jesus is all-powerful (omnipotent).
The disciples were gathered together behind locked doors for fear of the Jews (John 20:19)
Jesus didn’t have the key and He didn’t need a key
He was able to supernaturally appear to them
We don’t know exactly how He did it, but we know that He did do it, because He is all-powerful!
This principle and truth should give us hope as we face life’s struggles
The disciples were experiencing fear because of the political and religious atmosphere of their culture
Some of us can definitely identify with the disciples – we are experiencing fear because of the political and religious atmosphere in our culture
Maybe our fear is centered around our health, with the coronavirus and the vaccine
Perhaps our fear and anxiety stem from financial struggles as a result of the coronavirus or the loss of a job
There are those who are experiencing fear, anxiety, and depression due to the loss of a loved one or a broken relationship
Hebrews 4:15, For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet without sin.
Jesus is able to sympathize with us through our weaknesses, heart break, fears, anxiety, and depression
He’s not only able to sympathize with us, but He is able to do something about it, because He is all-powerful
He is waiting for us to sacrifice our independence and self-sufficiency, and rely completely on Him
Philippians 4:6-7, Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
#1 – My Next Step Today Is To: Recognize Jesus’ omnipotence by crying out to Him with my fears, concerns, and anxious thoughts.
PRINCIPLE #2 – Jesus’ presence brings peace.
When we cry out to God and present our requests to Him with thanksgiving, then we will be able to experience His peace
It’s a peace we cannot understand, because it’s supernatural – it comes from a source outside of ourselves
I’ve experienced it when I’ve gone through difficult times, and I can’t explain the feeling of peace when I should be experiencing a churning stomach and unrest
Perhaps there are those of us here today, that have experienced God’s peace that doesn’t make sense to our finite minds
We can rejoice and worship the Lord for providing His peace
It appears as though the disciples were not experiencing peace, though
The disciple’s fears were elevated
They were terrified and thrown into fear
They were already fearful and on alert because of the Jews
And now someone or something had gained access to their secure location
It’s a ghost!
I remember as a child, waking up in the middle of the night, once, and thinking that I saw the doorknob on my bedroom door twisting. I tried to work up enough courage to walk past the door to my parent’s room, but it took a couple of tries. In fact, I didn’t walk – I ran. I was already wearing glasses at that age, so I’m certain, now, it was just my eyes playing tricks on me
My sister has always been attuned to the spiritual realm. It wasn’t until I was in college or perhaps after Judy and I were married that she told me about seeing the Grim Reaper standing at the foot of her bed. It didn’t happen just once, but multiple times.
Since the disciples had not understood Jesus’ teaching about His resurrection, they were not expecting Him to show up, in person
So, their assumption was that this was Jesus’ ghost
Jesus realized what they were thinking, so He asks them a question and then gives them two physical proofs that He is real – He is alive – He has been resurrected!
“Why are you troubled [frightened], and why do doubts rise in your minds [heart]?”
If they had understood Scripture and Jesus’ teaching they would not have been frightened or had doubts – they would have been celebrating Jesus’ appearance
It meant that He was alive!
Scripture had been fulfilled!
Jesus had defeated sin and death!
God’s plan of redemption for humanity had been accomplished!
Perhaps there are those here today who are afraid of death and/or have doubts about life after death or about who Jesus is
The Gospel writers and New Testament writers tell us who Jesus is
The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)
He is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6)
He is the light of the world (John 8:12)
He is the resurrection and the life (John 11:25)
He is the bread of life (John 6:35)
He is the stone the builders rejected that has become the cornerstone and salvation only comes through Him (Acts 4:11-12)
He accomplished this through His death, burial, and resurrection
We don’t have to fear death or have doubts about life after death, because Jesus has defeated sin and death
We may still have to experience physical death, but eternity with Jesus will far outweigh that experience
Physical death, for followers of Jesus, means eternal life with Him in a perfected body
You can have assurance about life after death, because of Jesus
First, we have to admit that we are a sinner (Rom. 3:23; Rom. 6:23) [Ten Commandments]
Second, we have to believe in who Jesus is and why He came to earth (1 Cor. 15:3-4)
Third, we have to choose to repent and turn to Jesus for salvation
2 Corinthians 7:10, Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.
Repentance is intentionally and purposely turning away from sin and toward righteousness
#2 – My Next Step Today Is To: Choose to repent of my sins and turn to God for His salvation.
As followers of Jesus Christ we can claim the promise found in Hebrews 13:5b-6, . . . God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?”
God is always with us – He is omnipresent!
Jesus provides two physical proofs to ease the disciples fears and doubts
Two physical proofs
Nail marks in His hands and feet
“I have flesh and bones, touch me – I’m real! I’m alive!”
“Ghosts don’t have flesh and bones, but I do”
This first proof didn’t seem to convince them, probably because they were in shock
They were so happy to see Jesus alive, but they were struggling to understand how it happened
Nothing like this had ever happened before (someone coming back to life on their own – they had seen Jesus raise Lazarus and others from the dead, but that was different)
While the disciples are trying to wrap their minds around what they are seeing, Jesus asks them for something to eat
This is part of His second proof
A ghost was not going to be able to take something tangible, solid and eat it
Jesus proved that He was alive by taking the broiled fish and eating it in their presence
Jesus provided physical proof on the day of His resurrection that He was real, He was alive!
At a later time, He provided intellectual proof also
Intellectual proof (vv. 44-49)
We don’t know the exact time frame between verses 43 and 44, but it was sometime during the 40 days that Jesus spent with His disciples between His resurrection and ascension
Jesus fulfilled Scripture
Jesus reminds His disciples that everything that happened to Him while He was on earth was in fulfillment of Old Testament Scripture (Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms)
PRINCIPLE #3 – God keeps His word, even when it involves things that seem impossible.
God promised to send a Savior
Genesis 3:15, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
Isaiah 7:14, Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel (Immanuel means God with us)
Jesus is that Savior – He is alive!
Jesus opened their minds so they could understand Scripture
It’s not that the disciples didn’t know what Jesus was about to tell them
They had heard it countless times, even more times than its recorded in our Bibles
They were struggling to make the connection between Jesus and what was written in the Scriptures
In an electrical circuit, all the components are there to have power
In order for power to run through the circuit the switch has to be engaged, completing the circuit, otherwise no electricity and no lights
This is similar to what had happened with the disciples
All the components were present – Jesus and the Scriptures
The circuit had not been completed in the disciple’s minds – the switch needed to be engaged
When Jesus opened their minds, the switch was engaged, the circuit was completed, and the light came on
“We understand! Why didn’t we see this before?”
Once the switch was flipped, Jesus reminded them of the past and foretold the future
The recent past
While it was written about, hundreds of years before, the events had just happened days before
The Christ will suffer (Isaiah 53)
The Christ will rise from the dead on the third day
Both of those things happened to Jesus
Repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem
Jesus was telling them what they would be doing in the future
They would tell others what they had seen and heard concerning Jesus and His ministry (that’s what being a witness is)
They were going to spread the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the known world
They had to wait for the empowering of the Holy Spirit before they began their mission
Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Acts 2:1-4, When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
We know that Peter stood up with the Eleven and preached the Gospel boldly and about 3,000 were added to their number that day (Acts 2:14, 41)
Understanding God’s Word, empowers us to witness.
PRINCIPLE #4 – The Holy Spirit gives us power to witness for Christ.
The same power that the Eleven experienced at Pentecost is living inside of every follower of Jesus Christ
The Holy Spirit comes to live within us when we repent and turn our lives over to Jesus Christ
The command and commission that Jesus gave to His disciples is for us also
Mark 16:15-16, He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”
Matthew 28:18-20, 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.”
Many of us have fear about sharing the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with others
Remember, we have the power of the Holy Spirit living in us to help us share
The Holy Spirit has opened our minds to Scripture and with that understanding we are empowered to witness for Christ
#3 – My Next Step Today Is To: Ask the Lord to empower me, through the Holy Spirit, to be a witness of the Gospel to someone this week.
Do you need to recognize Jesus’ omnipotence by crying out to Him for help today?
Do you need to rest in the fact that Jesus’ presence brings peace?
Will you repent of your sins, today, and turned to God for salvation?
Who will we witness to this week?
Who will we pray for and then invite to the revival services on May 17-23, 2021?
“After years of urban living had ground down my childhood love of nature, I found it suddenly rekindled through my friendship with a young photographer named Bob McQuilkin. I was working as a magazine editor at the time, and Bob seemed determined to drag me out of my stale routine and reintroduce me to the joyous world outside.
Once Bob drove his jeep to my office and insisted that I come see two baby owls he'd just rescued. For months he fussed over those scraggly orphaned owls, chasing barn mice and lizards to feed them, then trying to teach them to hunt on their own, and to fly. (Bob teaching a bird to fly!) They'd flutter in soaking wet from a rainstorm—not wise enough yet to find shelter—and Bob would patiently pull out his electric hair dryer and blow them dry. …
Bob was as fully ‘alive’ as anyone I have ever known. And so when I heard [in the fall of 2000] that Bob had died on a scuba-diving assignment in Lake Michigan, I could hardly absorb the news. Bob, dead? It was inconceivable. I could picture Bob doing anything at all—anything but lying still. But that is my last image of him: a 36-year-old body in a blue-plaid flannel shirt lying in a casket. … I would never ski with Bob again, never sit with him for hours viewing slides, never again eat rattlesnake meat or buffalo burgers at his house.
Susan, his widow, asked me to speak at Bob's memorial service. Without a doubt, it was the hardest thing I have ever done. When I stood before them, the magazine editors and art directors and family and neighbors and friends, they reminded me of little birds—Bob's owls—with their mouths open begging for food. Begging for words of solace, for hope. What could I offer them?
I began by telling them what I had been doing the very afternoon Bob was making his last dive. That Wednesday I was sitting, oblivious, in a café at the University of Chicago, reading The Quest for Beauty, by Rollo May. In that book the famous therapist recalls scenes from his lifelong search for beauty, among them a visit to Mount Athos, a peninsula of monasteries attached to Greece.
One morning, Rollo May happened to stumble upon the celebration of Greek Orthodox Easter, the tail end of a church service that had been proceeding all night long. Incense hung in the air. The only light came from candles. And at the height of that service, the priest gave everyone present three Easter eggs, wonderfully decorated and wrapped in a veil. ‘Christos Anesti!’ he said—‘Christ is risen!’ Each person there, including Rollo May, responded according to custom, ‘He is risen indeed!’
Rollo May writes, ‘I was seized then by a moment of spiritual reality: what would it mean for our world if he had truly risen?’
I read Rollo May's question the afternoon that Bob died, and it kept floating around in my mind, hauntingly, after I heard the news. What did it mean for our world that Christ had risen? Why were monks staying up all night to celebrate it? The early Christians had staked everything on the Resurrection, so much so that the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians, ‘And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.’
In the cloud of grief over Bob's death, I began to see the meaning of Easter in a new light. …
On Friday Jesus' closest friends had let the relentless crush of history snuff out all their dreams. Two days later, when the crazy rumors about Jesus' missing body shot through Jerusalem, they couldn't dare to believe. … Only personal appearances by Jesus convinced them that something new, absolutely new, had broken out on earth. When that sank in, those same men who had slunk away in fear at Calvary were soon preaching to large crowds in the streets of Jerusalem.
At Bob McQuilkin's funeral, I rephrased Rollo May's question in the terms of our own grief. What would it mean for us if Bob rose again? We were sitting in a chapel, numbed by three days of grief and sadness, the weight of death bearing down upon us. What would it be like to walk outside to the parking lot and there, to our utter astonishment, find Bob. Bob! With his bounding walk, his crooked grin, and clear, grey eyes.
That image gave me a hint of what Jesus' disciples felt on the first Easter. They, too, had grieved for three days. But on Sunday they caught a glimpse of something else, a startling clue to the riddle of the universe. Easter hits a new note, a note of hope and faith that what God did once in a graveyard in Jerusalem, he can and will repeat on a grand scale, for the world. For Bob. For us.”
Source: Philip Yancey, "The Great Reversal," Christianity Today (April 2000).