Tag Archives: resurrection

The Sorrows of the Past Will Hurt Us No More

In this 28-minute narrative sermon, we learn that Jesus’s people get confused, sad, broken, and hurt. In this world we have trouble – just as Jesus promised. But Christ enters our trouble and meets us there – and that changes … Continue reading

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Fountain of Life

Scot McKnight describes 1 Peter 1:3-9 as a “chain reaction” of blessing. Another way pf putting it is to say the fountain of life surges through the opening made by the resurrection of Jesus, flows over into every aspect of … Continue reading

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RISE (a narrative sermon on Jesus’s Resurrection)

On a Sunday morning just like this – in fact, it was this week, approximately 1990 years ago – a small group of men sat quietly on chairs and benches scattered around a large upstairs room. Their faces were dark, their clothing disheveled, and most looked like they had not slept for days. The few who tried to speak eventually fell silent, their words swallowed up in the gloom.

Just a week ago, things were completely different. Their eyes danced and their faces were bright. There was a constant din, and the clamor was unmistakably joyous. People were saying things like, “This is it.” At last!” “It will just be a few days now.”

They were happy, giddy even. And Jesus—they had never seen him like this – was magisterial, kingly, intimidating. Determination was written all over his face. They had entered the city at the head of a parade, with Jesus riding on a donkey’s colt. That was no accident! He had borrowed the colt to fulfill Zechariah’s prophecy: “See, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” Jesus was announcing his intentions to rule God’s people. Continue reading

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Easter: So Much Bigger Than You Think

At Easter, Christians commemorate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead and celebrate what his rising means for people and for the world. Too often, though, this vast hope has been so closely cropped that the only thing left is an expectation of a soulish celestial existence following death.

This is far too narrow a view, which is theologically unsupported and biblically unsound. Resurrection is not just about getting into heaven. It is the pivotal event in God’s plan to save creation. It is not simply a way for humans to live again after they die, but to live for the first time as God intended: joyously, vigorously, lovingly, justly, unendingly.

In the Bible, resurrection is viewed as the doorway into the age to come. Most people in first century Israel assumed this to be true. What surprised them was the Christian claim that the resurrection had already begun in Jesus. Their astonishing news was not just that people go on living after they die – most everyone in the first century already believed that – but that the new age had arrived when Jesus rose from the dead. Continue reading

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Finally, Some Good News: The Role of Witnesses in the Gospel

When people see something that interests or impresses them – whether a football game, a scenic vista, or people arguing at the supermarket – they talk about it. After Karen and I were married, we lived in a large apartment complex on our city’s southwest side. One morning around 2 or 3 o’clock, we heard a woman screaming for help out on the street. I jumped up, threw on some clothes, and went running out, telling Karen to call the police. (This was before we had 911.)

As I exited the building, I saw a car stopped in the middle of the street, with a woman on the far side of it – the woman who had screamed, I assumed. She was being pushed into the car by a man. As I ran, the car peeled off, and I never saw them again.

I was hardly a star witness. I couldn’t identify the woman. Was she tall? Short? I didn’t know. What was the man’s race? I wasn’t sure. What did the car look like? It was too dark to distinguish the color. I didn’t see the license plate. If I had been summoned to court, some defense attorney would have tied me in knots. They would have asked if I hadn’t dreamed the entire episode.

If I did, Karen dreamed it with me. I certainly didn’t see everything – the woman’s features or the car’s license plate – but I did see some things: a car in the middle of the street, a woman being pushed into it, the car peeling away as I approached. Karen and I both heard the scream for help.
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There Is Love: The Hope of the Resurrection (1 Cor. 15:19-28)

https://youtu.be/J8H7LpmRyes What are the implications of St. Paul’s teaching (and that of the entire biblical witness) on the resurrection? That is what this audaciously hopeful sermon explores. I invite you to join for the premier at 11:00 this morning or … Continue reading

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First Stone in an Avalanche

In the four Gospel accounts of the life and death of Jesus – this surprised me when I first realized it and it surprises me still – no one ever uses the word “resurrection” to describe Jesus’s return from death, neither the Gospel writers nor the people whose conversations they reported. They talk about how Jesus rose from the dead, but they never use the one word you would expect them to use: “resurrection.” It’s almost as if they were avoiding it.

That ought to raise a question in our minds: Why didn’t they use the word “resurrection?” The answer, I think, comes in two parts, the first of which is very straightforward: The Gospel writers did not use the word “resurrection” because the men and women whose story they were telling didn’t use the word. The fact that the writers refrained from using what is arguably the most important word in the vocabulary of the early church speaks volumes about their intention to faithfully recount what had happened. Continue reading

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Who Are You Looking For? (An Easter Message)

One of the difficulties in telling the Easter story is that there is almost too much material. Each of the biblical Evangelists gives us glimpses into the story from the perspectives of different people who lived it. One tells what Mary Magdalene sees. Another describes what the other women disciples see. Some tell us what Peter sees, one what John sees, another what Thomas does not see, and yet another what the Roman soldiers see. There are gaps in some stories and overlapping chronologies in others. Trying to put all that together into a cohesive narrative can be a challenge.

I’m not going to try to put it all together this morning – there is not enough time for that. Instead, I’m going to tell the story, at least for the most part, from the disciple Mary’s perspective. There are so many Marys in the Easter story that we need to differentiate between them. This one is routinely distinguished by the town she comes from: Mary of Magdala, or Mary Magdalene or, for short, the Magdalene.

When Mary first met Jesus, her life was an absolute disaster. Sometimes you’ll hear people say, “We all have our demons,” but Mary had hers and enough for several other people besides. She was alone, afraid, and confused. Her life was like a bad dream from which she could not wake up. No one was able to wake her up. For the most part, no one even tried; that is, until Jesus.

He woke her up. He gave Mary back her life. He drove away the demons and, in their place, gave her something she had never known: acceptance. And when he accepted her, so did his friends. For the first time in memory, she felt included, wanted. She was part of something, and that felt good. She didn’t always act right, and she knew it, but these people didn’t push her away because she was weird or because she didn’t have it all together. Continue reading

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Holy Saturday: Mary Magdalene’s Story (Part 1)

Here’s how Mary Magdalene might have told her story.

When they killed him, it was like they killed me too – the me I was becoming; the hopeful, happy me. The me that people liked, that had friends. Before Jesus, life was a kind of blur. I just moved from thing to thing, from person to person, but nobody really cared about me and, to be honest, I don’t think I really cared about anybody – including myself. My life was a nightmare.

Then I met Jesus and everything changed. It’s like I woke up. For the first time since I was a little girl, somebody really cared about me. And it wasn’t just Jesus; his friends cared about me too. They became my friends. They took me in, made me one of them. They talked to me, listened to me, laughed with me, sometimes laughed at me—but I didn’t mind because they really liked me. I don’t know how to say it… For the first time I could remember, it wasn’t just me. It was us. I was saying things like, “We should go to the market. We should bake some bread. It felt so good to say “We.”

But we were us only because of him. We all knew it. He was the only thing that held us together. He was our heart. One day I said to Mary and Salome, “We would never have become friends if it wasn’t for him.” Continue reading

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Oddest Things Jesus Ever Said: The Top Four

I’ve been thinking about the oddest things Jesus ever said, the ones his first hearers thought crazy. One could make a case for quite a few of them: “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away” or “Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.” There are many others but let me give you my top four.

Number four on the list: “My flesh is real food, my blood is real drink.” That not only sounds crazy, it seems perverse. Jesus’s first hearers found it repulsive. It shocked his own disciples and many of them left because he said it.

Number three on my list is this: “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). Jesus lived approximately two millennia after Abraham yet claimed that Abraham had seen his day – whatever that means – and rejoiced. When his hearers objected to this, he said: “Before Abraham was, I am.” Those disputing with him had already accused him of being out of his mind. Now, they were sure of it.

Number two on my list of (seemingly) crazy sayings comes from the night Jesus was betrayed. His disciples were confused by something he had just said and Philip, who always appears confused when he shows up in the Gospels, said to Jesus: “Show us the Father, and we’ll be satisfied,” (That tops the list of craziest things the disciples ever said.) Jesus replied, “Philip, don’t you know that anyone who has seen me has seen the Father?” That was like saying, “You want to see God, Philip? You’re looking at him.” Continue reading

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