Are You A Follower of Jesus?

April 30, 2017

Playing the game of hockey is an ongoing learning experience. Each week when I play I carefully watch the better players. I watch what they do on the ice. Then I often ask a player why did he this or that? Or why didn’t he do this or that? I try to remember what they tell me. Sometimes I go home and write it down. But I don’t just write it down. I also try to put it into practice when I am on the ice. By doing this my game has improved. I’m continually learning.

Living the Christian life is an ongoing learning experience. Jesus Christ is our primary teacher through the Holy Spirit as we prayerfully read the Word of God. Believers who are further along in the faith also have much to teach us, but we must always recognize that people will disappoint us. All followers of Christ are students and subject to failure. There is never a time in our Christian life when we no longer need to follow Jesus. And as we look at Jn.21:15-22 we see that Jesus Christ, our Lord, challenges his disciples to follow him.


It is hard to know how things unfolded in those weeks after the resurrection of Jesus. The disciples had gone to Galilee just as Jesus told them to do and last week we saw in Mt.28 that they met Jesus on a mountain in Galilee. But in reading the accounts of Jesus’ post resurrection appearances, we see that Jesus would appear and then disappear. Here in Jn.21 it seems that this was a time of uncertainty for the disciples. There was a lack of clarity about what they were supposed to be doing. In that uncertainty, Peter decides that he wants to go fishing and 6 other disciples think that is a good idea. Obviously not all of the disciples are together.

As far as I can tell from the text, it’s not as if Peter decided to go back to the old life of being a fisherman. They didn’t know what to do and so fishing was as good as anything else until things became clear. But they fished all night and caught nothing. As dawn approached, Jesus appeared on the shore and since they were not far from shore, he called out to them, asking if they caught any fish.

When they said, “No,” he told them to cast the net on the right side and they suddenly had an abundant catch. Just as John seemed to be the first to believe Jesus had risen from the dead, here John was the first to realize that it was the Lord. Peter threw himself into the sea and swam back to shore while the others came in the boat with the fish.

When they got to shore the first thing they saw in v.9 is a charcoal fire. Jesus is grilling some fish for breakfast. It is interesting to note that there is only one other mention of a charcoal fire in John’s gospel in Jn.18:18. There Peter is standing in the courtyard of the High Priest as Jesus is being questioned about his disciples and teaching. Peter is warming himself by the charcoal fire. It is in that courtyard that Peter denies the Lord 3 times.

Now, according to 1Cor.15:5, after his resurrection Jesus appeared to Peter before appearing to the 12. My thought is that at that meeting Jesus would have assured Peter of his forgiveness. This situation is meant to restore Peter’s place of leadership among the disciples. Adding some fish to the fire, they all eat breakfast. From my reading of v.12-14 it does not appear to me to be a free and easy time with Jesus. I’m not saying the meeting was filled with tension, but there seems to be an uneasiness, hesitation, in the presence of Jesus. In v.13 we are told that Jesus took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish.

There are a number of exegetical issues found in these verses. I do not want to take the time to address them because from my study I do not believe they are significant enough to change the meaning of the passage. I could talk about them but that would take too much time.

Here Jesus addresses Peter and he asks Peter three times, “Do you love me.” The fact that Jesus asks three times coincides with the three times Peter denied the lord. Twice Peter responds, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” By the third time that Jesus asks the question Peter is grieved, and he responds, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”

But notice that the first time Jesus asks the question he says, “Do you love me more than these?” Was Jesus asking, “Do you love me more than you love these other men?” Was Jesus asking, “Do you love me more than you love fishing?” Was Jesus asking, “Do you love me more than these other men love me?” All three ideas make sense and speak to the matter of discipleship to Jesus. But as we think about Peter we are reminded that Peter was the one who pledged his undying loyalty to Jesus. In Mk.14:29, Peter says, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” When Jesus told Peter that he would deny him, Peter responded, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!" And all the disciples said the same.” In the garden of Gethsemane it was Peter who drew his sword to cut off the servant’s ear. He was ready to fight for Jesus. But despite his promises of loyalty and bravado, three times he denied ever knowing the Lord.

Men and women, being a follower of Jesus calls for full surrender of our lives to Jesus. But do we not see Peter in each of our lives? You may not have denied the Lord in so many words, but have we not all pledged our allegiance to the Lord and surrendered our lives to the Lord only to act in willful disobedience to him? In fact, all of us regularly find ourselves resisting the good commands of Jesus in one way or another. And some of us may have, in fact, denied the Lord by choosing not to publicly identify ourselves with him for fear it might jeopardize our career or our standing with our co-workers and friends.

The grace and mercy that Jesus showed in restoring Peter is surely extended to every follower of Jesus. Peter did not draw away from the Lord. He loved the Lord. In fact, I believe he loved the Lord even when he denied the Lord. When Jesus told Peter that Satan demanded to sift him like wheat in Lk.22:32, Jesus said, “but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers."

Do not become so grieved over your disobedience that you do not turn back to the Lord. Satan desires to sift all of us like wheat. And he does. And we fail. Followers of Christ continue to follow Jesus despite willful disloyalty. He knows all about it. He is full of forgiveness and love for you. Always turn back to him.


When Jesus said, “but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers," he implies that forgiveness and restoration opens a door for ministry. Here in v.15-17 Jesus tells Peter 3 times, to feed or tend the Lord’s sheep. He was giving Peter a ministry. Peter was to nourish and care for Jesus’ sheep.

Let’s think about this ministry. Peter is given a ministry that flows out of his brokenness and his relationship with Jesus. Jesus didn’t commission Peter with an elaborate installation service. He commissioned Peter at a very humbling moment in Peter’s life. He didn’t commission Peter by endowing him with great authority. He commissioned Peter by questioning his love. I don’t want to diminish the role of Peter and the other apostles, but I do want to say that all who follow Jesus are given ministry to the body of Christ, the sheep. And all of us are to serve the Lord and each other out of our love for Jesus and our brokenness. Our brokenness helps us be humble and gracious towards each other. We are to forgive one another as Christ has forgiven us. We are called to build one another up in the Lord by speaking the truth in love and honoring one another above ourselves.

If we love the Lord Jesus, then we will seek to care for his sheep. You say, “I don’t know how to do that.” Well, here’s how to begin. When you read the New Testament, especially the epistles where instructions are given for how we are to treat one another in the church, ask yourself, “How could I do this?” For example, when Paul says, “Bear one another’s burdens,” ask yourself, “Is there anyone in the church whose burden I can help bear.” Ask the Lord how you might help bear someone’s burden. There are many of these “one another” passages. If Christ is our Lord we will seek to follow him in faithful service.


When we read the book of Acts we see that Peter has a prominent role in the church from the very beginning. It is Peter who stands up among the others to urge them to replace Judas among the twelve disciples. It is Peter who preaches on the day of Pentecost. It is Peter who is thrown into jail for preaching the gospel. It is Peter who receives the vision about including Gentiles in the church. And it is Peter who brings the gospel to the house of Cornelius, the Gentile centurion. Peter had a ministry of preaching and healing. He moved about freely giving leadership in the church. He wasn’t the only leader. There was James the brother of Jesus, and there were the other apostles. But Peter stands out.

In these verses we learn that a day would come when Peter would no longer move about freely. In fact he would experience a time when he would be at the mercy of others who would take him to a place he did not want to go. John explains that Jesus was giving Peter an indication of how he would die. The words of Jesus have often been linked to the tradition that Peter was crucified upside down.

But notice in v.19 that John tells us that Jesus was showing Peter by what kind of death he was to glorify God. How interesting is that! Do you realize that followers of Jesus glorify God in their death? How can that be? How can death bring glory to God?

In John’s gospel, Jesus alludes to the cross as a means for showing the glory of God and bringing glory to God. In Jn.12:23-24, Jesus says, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Through the cross Jesus accomplished the will of the Father in defeating the powers of Satan, sin, and death. His death was the means to eternal life through his resurrection.

Jesus took up his cross and he calls all his followers to take up their cross in self-denial. But more than that, when we come to face our own death, we also have the privilege of bringing glory to God. In Phil.1:20 Paul writes, “it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.” When we come to the day of our death we desire to bring glory to God, dying in the faith, fully trusting in Jesus, faithful to the end. That is our goal.


It is very common to compare oneself with others. Competition can bring the best out in us, but it can also bring the worst out in us. Clearly Peter got a little distracted when he saw John, the disciple whom Jesus loved. How would you like that? You have been having a meaningful conversation with the Lord, but then out of the corner of your eye you see the disciple whom Jesus loved. I imagine Peter has some sense that John was very close to Jesus. And something like that can really get under a person’s skin.

Peter’s question is literally, “Lord, but this man, what?” O my! Do you know how many pastors look at other pastors and say, “Lord what about this man? Why is his church doing so well?” And it’s not just pastors. In local congregations it is not uncommon for some to wonder about others. “Why do they get to be in charge? Why does so and so seem to be so blessed?”

Jesus’ response to Peter is just as terse. “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what to you? You follow me!”

When it comes to following Jesus it is easy to get derailed by looking at others. The Lord does not shortchange any of his followers. Maybe Peter thought John was going to get a better assignment or more recognition. Jesus makes it clear to Peter and to all of us, that we must keep our eyes on Jesus. If we don’t we will be unhappy and disappointed followers of Jesus. We must die to seeking our own glory so that we may live for the glory of God. Don’t worry about the next person in the church, you follow Jesus.

This doesn’t mean that we are to be loners in the church, it just means we are not to be busybodies, interfering in the lives of others. In our ministry to others we seek to serve selflessly, graciously and respectfully. We do not push ourselves on others. If we have any inkling that we may have offended someone, we seek to address the matter. Our goal is to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.

  Watch anyone long enough and you will be disappointed. That is because every one of us is deeply flawed. The smartest people often do not understand themselves. The most successful people are often their own worst enemy. I have been preaching quite a bit about discipleship. Does it sound difficult to be a follower of Jesus? It is, especially in this world. But actually everyone’s life whether a follower of Jesus or not, is difficult in this world. In many ways this world is hostile to life, because it is hostile to God. Proverbs 4:18-19 says, “The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day. The way of the wicked is like deep darkness; they do not know over what they stumble.” Men and women we are wise to follow Jesus at all costs. His pathway is like the light of dawn. Amen

Go and Make Disciples

April 23, 2017

If someone says, “I follow the teachings of Buddha,” we know what they mean. We understand that at the very least this person agrees with the teachings of Buddha. We also recognize that the person might actually try to practice the teachings of Buddha. This is the essence of being a disciple of someone.

A disciple is a student, apprentice, follower of someone else. Usually it is someone who is successful or very skilled in business, the trades, or the arts. It is someone who has developed a compelling philosophy or healthy way of living. If your discipleship to someone has positively impacted your life, you will very likely share that with others. This morning we read about the resurrected Jesus’ conversation with the disciples in Galilee. The conversation has to do with discipleship and evangelism. We see that the most significant endeavor for followers of Jesus is disciple-making.


On Easter Sunday we noted that when the women saw the risen Jesus they fell at his feet and worshiped him. Here we see that when the eleven disciples saw Jesus on the mountain in Galilee, they also worshiped him. There was a fundamental change in their understanding of and relationship with Jesus. Before his resurrection they believed Jesus to be the Messiah, now they realized that he was far more. Maybe they could not fully articulate what that “more” was, but it called out of them worship of Jesus. In other words I believe there was a level of recognition that Jesus is God in the flesh.

Verse 17 is a little confusing. On the one hand we have a specific reference to the eleven disciples who worship Jesus, but then we read that some doubted. A better translation is “hesitated.” Does this mean that some of Jesus’ hand-picked disciples were not sure that it was Jesus? It is suggested that there were other followers of Jesus present along with the disciples and that it was some of these others who were hesitant. I am inclined to agree with this.

But I am also encouraged by this sentence. Faith involves a lifelong journey of trust. And in that journey there are seasons of hesitancy, especially for those of us raised in a time of great skepticism. This is not the place to try to lay out an airtight apologetic for the Christian faith. Suffice it to say that both belief and unbelief in the existence of God are a matter of faith. And where you have faith, hesitancy and even doubt is sure to be lurking.

What I appreciate about Jesus is that he does not take these hesitating disciples to task. Based on Jesus’ response to Thomas in Jn.20, I would say that Jesus was as gracious to these disciples as he was to Thomas. In other words he sought to strengthen their faith.

But these verses also challenge us to consider our own relationship to Jesus. What does it mean for us to say that we worship Jesus? As I was thinking about this it occurred to me that a way to discern what we worship is to ask, “What is it that determines our lives.” In other words, could it be that your employer, your spouse, your boyfriend or girlfriend, your friends at school, your dreams, your desires, have more say or influence in your life than Jesus? It’s one thing to attend a worship service that demands relatively little from us and it is another thing to actually worship Jesus.

To worship Jesus is to bow before him in faithful, loving allegiance. It is not just acknowledging his place as king. It is taking steps to find out what he desires and to actually seek to do what he desires. I’m not so much talking about having a list of Christian rules that we had better do or else. No. Rather I’m thinking about bringing before the Lord the various activities and loyalties that we have in life and holding them up under his scrutiny. “Lord is this pleasing to you? Is my relationship with my girlfriend or boyfriend pleasing to you? Is the way I conduct myself at work pleasing to you? Are my priorities in life pleasing to you? Do I honor you in my marriage? Does this or that activity bring honor to you?”

In my relationship with Angie, I don’t measure my love for her by checking off a list of do’s and don’ts. It’s not that there aren’t any do’s and don’ts, but the more fundamental issue is do I give my life to her. After the Lord, does she have the place of priority in my life? I don’t mean to say that I worship Angie. And yet, second to my worship of the Lord, Angie has priority over the other loyalties of my life.

In our relationship with the Lord, we will often disappoint him because of our self-will, but if he has first place, if he is our primary focus of worship, we will regularly repent and pursue a life of surrender and obedience to him. Worshipping the Lord is the foundation of everything else that we do in life, including disciple-making.


What actually changed for Jesus after his resurrection? I mean, he could do miracles and forgive sins before his crucifixion. He seemed to have divine knowledge and he certainly exercised authority over the wind and the sea, and over life and death before his crucifixion. So what actually changed? What seems to change is the sphere in which his authority operates. The late New Testament scholar, Leon Morris writes that this, “…points to an end to the time when he was ‘a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief…stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.’ Now he has received the fullest possible authority, for it is authority in heaven and on earth. He is making clear that the limitations that applied throughout the incarnation no longer apply to him.” Suffice it to say that Jesus has all authority over the entire universe. And since he has all authority we listen to and obey him.

Based on his authority Jesus commands his followers to go out and become part of his disciple making ministry. Now what does that mean? Well, it means that the disciples of Jesus would go out and continue to do what Jesus had taught them to do. You remember that before Jesus died he sent his disciples out to proclaim the kingdom of God. He gave instructions and then sent them out on a practice assignment. You can read about that in Mt.10, Mk.6, and Lk.9. Listen to Mk.6:7-11. “And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff--no bread, no bag, no money in their belts--but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. And he said to them, ‘Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them."

Notice a few things here. First there is intentionality. Jesus sends them and they go with purpose. Then note that it is a ministry of dependence upon the Lord. They were to travel light, trusting in the Lord’s provision. We see that Jesus instructs his disciples to have a ministry of presence with others. It is a ministry which involves spending time with others, serving others, and being patient. It is a ministry that requires trusting the Lord to work in the lives of others. It is a ministry of peace and reconciliation and proclamation. Judging from the parable of the soils, and from the general response to Jesus, I would add that disciple-making will be a slow and often fruitless endeavor.

After the church began in Jerusalem it wasn’t long before persecution came and the church was scattered. Believers lived as followers of Christ wherever they went. The apostles proclaimed Christ in many places. As you know Paul and Barnabas undertook a number of missionary journeys. Over the years many methods and tools for witness have been developed, but I would suggest that the basic principles of evangelism given by Jesus are foundational. We share the gospel seeking to be present with others as faithful followers of Jesus, practicing a life of worship, obedience, love, service, and reconciliation. As students of Jesus, our desire is to help others become students of Jesus. This is discipleship-evangelism.

One more observation. Jesus includes baptism and teaching as part of the process. But being baptized and listening to instruction does not make a person a disciple of Jesus. In other words, baptizing someone and getting them into a class doesn’t make them a disciple. If we think this is all there is to being a disciple of Jesus, we have reduced the gospel to checking off a couple of boxes. “Were you baptized? Check. Did you take the class? Check. My work is done here.” No it’s not. Being a disciple of Jesus means that a person surrenders to Christ as Lord in repentance and faith, surrendering themselves fully to Jesus. As a person embraces Jesus they honor and bear public witness to Jesus in baptism. They desire to learn about how to obey all he commanded.

It takes disciples of Jesus to make disciples of Jesus. We say, “Seeing is believing.” Unbelievers need to see committed followers of Jesus Christ in daily living. In other words, as we follow Christ as Lord, because he is our Lord we will have an awareness and be intentional about making disciples. This command of Jesus will significantly shape our relationships. Does my daily living and conversation contribute to pointing others to Jesus Christ or not.


This is a wonderful promise. The presence of Jesus is with each individual follower of Jesus at all times. Why did Jesus say this when he gave what we refer to as the great commission? I suppose one could say that since he was going to ascend to the Father, he wanted them to know that he would still be present with them. But surely it is more than just a piece of information. This is meant to be a comforting promise to his followers as they go and make disciples. The world is not particularly interested in discipleship to Jesus. Followers of Jesus who are about the Master’s business of making disciples will experience everything from polite rejection to martyrdom. What a joy and encouragement to know that Jesus Christ himself is with us.

Now I don’t know how you engage this command of Jesus to go and make disciples. I’m sure that there many professing followers of Jesus who just ignore it. They have no interest and of course that raises a question about whether or not Christ is Savior, Lord and King. If this describes you then I urge you to evaluate your relationship with Christ.

There are others who seem to be very effective in making disciples. They seem to have a gift for it. And that is wonderful.

My sense is that most of us who follow Christ do take this command seriously and feel some guilt in our inability to share Christ with any measure of success. Maybe you’ve tried but it just doesn’t seem to work. Eventually we give up in frustration.

I have thought long and hard about this matter. I am a fairly outgoing person. I am able to strike up conversations with people without fear. I have a love for people in general. I carry within myself an ongoing awareness that I am a follower of Jesus and I desire to bring Jesus to others. If someone asks me about Jesus I have no hesitation to talk about him. But when I think about this matter of making disciples of Jesus, I would say that I am a dismal failure. In my 63 years of life I can point to one, maybe two people, apart from family members, who I know are following Christ as a result of my efforts. I have been trained to use all sorts of evangelistic tools and have used them. I have learned various ways to communicate the gospel and have shared Christ many times. And there have been times when people have prayed to receive Christ. But to my knowledge none of those people are disciples of Jesus today. Perhaps you can relate.

Here is what I have come to. I’ve decided to just try to be my Christian self around people, just as they are their unchristian selves around me. So, since Jesus is the most important person in my life, I talk about Jesus and things associated with Jesus. When I say, “talk about Jesus,” I don’t mean specifically sharing the gospel. People talk about the books they are reading or the music they are listening to. They talk about things that happen to them at work or at home. And so I do the same. I talk about the books I am reading and the things that happen in my life as a Christian because that is what I am about. For example, I’ve been reading a book called, “The Crucifixion.” In the locker room I began telling a guy about the book. I’m sharing a part of my life with him. If I have read something in the Bible that spurred my thinking, I might say, “You know, I read something interesting today in the Bible that really got me thinking. I am not ashamed of Jesus, but nor am I trying to force a conversation. I am just being my Christian self. I find that people in general have little interest in Jesus. If anything they have been pushed away from Jesus. If they do have an interest I am happy to go deeper. I pray that the Lord will open the hearts and minds of the people I interact with. Now if your Christian self is not very Christian then you need to ask yourself if you are a Christian. This is why I said that disciples of Jesus make disciples of Jesus.

So this promise of the presence of Jesus is significant. He is present in every conversation I am a part of. He knows what is in the hearts of the people I spend time with. He knows my willingness to share the gospel. I am seeking to trust him to move the conversations along. God’s presence takes the pressure off. I’m looking to the Lord in every situation.

As followers of Christ, making disciples is something we embrace because our life is in Christ. Living our lives a followers of Christ is what we are all about. Ask the Lord to help you be a part of his work of making disciples. Amen.

Worship Jesus!

April 16, 2017

After a 17 minute rain delay, Ben Zobrist hit an RBI double in the 10th inning. The 108 year long wait for a World Series championship came to an end for the Chicago Cubs. The fans have enshrined this 2016 Cubs team in their hearts forever. This past Monday, fans waited two hours in the rain and cold to raise the World Series banner at Wrigley Field. As the banner was raised the fans rose to their feet in joy to honor the team. Designated hitter, Kyle Schwarber said, "For generations of people now to be able to see what we did, is pretty cool."

It is not unusual for us to give high praise to people who have accomplished something amazing. This morning we are looking at Jesus, who accomplish something that no one has ever done. Jesus was crucified on a Roman cross. He was dead as dead could be. He was buried and the stone was sealed over the entrance of the tomb. But today is Easter and we are celebrating the miraculous resurrection of Jesus from the dead. And I want to say that because Jesus conquered death, he is worthy of our worship.


When a loved one dies, of course those closest to the deceased grieve deeply. It is very common for family members and close friends to go to the grave to sit and ponder the deep loss. When Jesus died on the cross a number of women, disciples of Jesus, were there. Among them was Mary Magdalene. Mary Magdalene was deeply devoted to Jesus because Jesus had cast a number of demons out of her. Another woman was Mary, the mother of James and Joseph. Many think this may have actually been Jesus’ mother. These two women accompanied Joseph of Arimathea as he took Jesus’ body and laid it in a tomb that he had prepared for himself. As was customary, a large stone was rolled over the entrance to the tomb. In Mt.27:61 we see that these two women were just sitting opposite the tomb. Eventually they went home. At dawn of the next day, which would have been Sunday, these women got up early to make their way to the tomb. They just wanted to be there in their grief.

If you read the gospels you know that even those closest to Jesus did not understand what Jesus was about. They believed that he was the promised Messiah or anointed king, but they thought in terms of the physical, political kingdom of Israel. They understood him to be someone empowered by God, but they did not think he was God in the flesh. They had seen his life changing miracles. They had heard his life changing teachings. But, even though Jesus had made it clear that he was going to be killed and would rise from the dead, they just didn’t understand. They never thought he would die on a cross. And so mixed in with their grief was also a sense of disappointment. The wonderful future they had envisioned came crashing down.

But unbeknownst to these women, before they arrived at the tomb, God was up to something. An angel descended from heaven. It says there was a great earthquake. The angel rolled back the stone from the tomb. The guards that had been posted to watch the tomb were so frightened that they became like dead men. And let me just say this now. The angel did not roll the stone away so Jesus could get out. Jesus had already risen from the dead.

Before we move on in this passage I want to point out that all of us experience grief and disappointment in life. Some of you have already experienced grief and deep disappointment. Maybe you had some dreams for the future, but events transpired to bring your dreams crashing down. An unexpected illness came. The job you were counting on fell through. The career you prepared for never materialized. A fire destroyed your home. Your husband, wife, or child died. This is the way of life in this world. The loss can be so deeply felt that one despairs of ever knowing joy again.

But this text suggests that there is always more to our lives than what we can see. There is more going on because God is good and God is always working even in times of disappointment, grief and despair. Rather than blame God for what has happened in your life, I want to encourage you to think better of God. You see, God loves you. God is always working to turn our attention to him. The last thing God wants to do is to push you away from him.

I’m not referring to some vague idea of, “Keep your chin up. Things will get better. It’s always darkest before the dawn.” Instead I’m talking about a work of God in your life to draw you into his love, goodness and life. These women didn’t know that God sent an angel to roll away the stone and to give them some good news. God was doing something wonderful to help them come to a better, joyful understanding of himself. And God wants to do that for you. I don’t mean that God wants to make you wealthy or even that God will heal your illness or keep your loved one from dying. I mean that God wants to bring each of us into a better, joyful understanding of himself through his Son, Jesus Christ. To know God is to enter into a new kind of life even in the midst of the disappointing experiences common to life in this world. And so this morning my prayer is that our hearts and minds will be opened to consider the goodness and love of God even in the midst of grief and disappointment.


When the women arrived at the tomb and saw the angel they were afraid. Fear is the usual response in the Bible when seeing an angel because seeing an angel is uncommon. The angel had some good news for the women. “You seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said.”

The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is presented as a historical reality in the New Testament. From reading the gospels one clearly sees that none of these people anticipated that Jesus would rise from the dead, but they were all convinced that he did. It is often asserted today that the New Testament accounts of the resurrection of Jesus, along with his other miracles, were invented by his followers years after Jesus lived.

In this passage there is an observation that undermines that idea. During the time when the gospels were written the world was extremely patriarchal. Women were considered to be inferior to men. In fact, because of their emotional nature and lack of education, women were considered to be so unreliable that their testimony was often dismissed. If you were inventing a resurrection story, you would not use the testimony of women as your primary evidence. But in each gospel women are the first to learn of Jesus resurrection.

No one disputes that Jesus was crucified on charges of blasphemy. The Jewish religious leaders could have easily quashed the assertion of the resurrection by just producing the body. But they didn’t. Added to this is the general historical reliability of the New Testament. Suffice it to say that the resurrection of Jesus was as completely unexpected in Jesus’ day as it is in our day. And yet there it is. “He is not here, for he has risen.”

The angel told the women to go and tell the 11 disciples that Jesus had risen and would meet them in Galilee. They went away quickly with fear and great joy to tell the disciples. The resurrection of Jesus is highly significant. Jesus had told his disciples a number of times that he was going to be killed and that he would rise from the dead. And he did. The resurrection of Jesus is significant because it validates everything that Jesus said about himself and about entering into life in the kingdom of God by trusting and following him. Jesus claimed to be able to give eternal life. He claimed to be able to forgive sins. He said that if we have seen him, we have seen God. The resurrection is the ultimate validation of every claim he made. That truth was not lost on these women. They could hardly contain themselves because of the joy that they had.

Christianity is the only religion in the world in which its God enters into life as we know it by taking on human flesh and blood. It is the only religion in which God himself bears all the sin and shame found in humanity through the death of his son, Jesus Christ. Christianity is the only religion in which God conquers the powers of sin and death by defeating sin and death through his own death and resurrection. Christianity is the only religion in which all people are invited to enter into the kingdom of God by receiving the risen king, Jesus Christ.

And this is the message of Easter. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus we can enter into eternal life with God in God’s eternal kingdom. We come under the good rule of God. And as we live out our days on earth, we follow Jesus. His way of living is the most fruitful, noble, and joyful way of living. Christ comes to live in and through us. And if we know Christ, then we have come to know God.


These women were close to Jesus. They, along with others of Jesus’ disciples, knew him well. As they were going on the road, Jesus met them. They could see him up ahead and they immediately knew it was Jesus. They recognized him. What I’m trying to say is that these women were familiar with Jesus.

In his book, God Came Near, Max Lucado points out that the name, Jesus, was a very common Jewish name. Lucado writes, “Were he here today, it is doubtful he would distance himself with a lofty name like Reverend Holiness Angelic Divinity III. No, when God chose the name his son would carry, he chose a human name. He chose a name so typical that it would appear two or three times on any given class roll...He was touchable, approachable, reachable. And what’s more he was ordinary.” But when Jesus appeared to these women who knew him well, what did they do? They fell at his feet.

To my knowledge we don’t find the women disciples of Jesus always bowing at his feet in worship. There are a few incidents of women anointing Jesus’ feet with perfume. In Lk.7 a sinful woman washes Jesus’ feet with her tears and anoints his feet with ointment as an act of humble gratitude to Jesus. In Jn.12, Mary, the sister of Lazarus anoints Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume and Jesus sees it as an act of love and devotion. But those were unusual events. Falling at Jesus’ feet in worship was not the normal way his disciples greeted him. Jesus called his disciples friends. Something was different. What was it?

I think these women realized that Jesus is, indeed, God in the flesh. I don’t think they fully understood all the implications of that truth, but what they did understand is that Jesus is worthy of worship in the same way that God is worthy of worship. And Jesus received their worship.

Now men and women, the deepest, most significant act that we can do in life is to worship and honor God and his son, Jesus Christ. Not so that we can be blessed, or receive material prosperity, or be healed of our illnesses! But because Jesus is worthy of our worship. He is Lord of heaven and earth. He alone has the power to forgive our sins. He alone has the words of eternal life. All authority in heaven and earth belongs to him.

At one point in his earthly ministry, Jesus gave some difficult teachings and many were leaving him. He turned to his disciples and said, “Do you want to go away as well?” Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” Wow! Have you come to see who Jesus is? Are you a worshipper of Jesus, bowing before him, yielding your life to him? See the disciples worshipping Jesus.

Perhaps like many, you have experienced disillusionment with the Church. Well, I get it. Today we’ve got priests and pastors involved in child abuse and sexual immorality. We hear reports of church leaders absconding with church funds. You name it, you can find it going on in a church somewhere. One of my friends was planning to be a priest, but a number of things happened and he told me that the Christian faith seemed to him to be like a hologram. It looked real but he began to think that there was nothing real about it.

I would imagine that these women, along with other disciples of Jesus, also felt disillusionment when Jesus died. It all looked so promising, but now Jesus was dead. But wait, what just happened here? Jesus rose from the dead and these women saw him. And he was not a hologram. They fell at his feet in worship. Do not let your disappointment with the Church steer you away from Jesus. Look to Jesus for he is the only Savior, Lord, and King who died and has risen from the dead. Amen.