This Is Not The EndApril 18-22
This is Not the End
But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. – John 20:11 (ESV)
Ignacy Jan Paderewski, the famous Polish composer-pianist, was once scheduled to perform at a great American concert hall for a high-society extravaganza. In the audience was a mother with her fidgety nine-year-old son. Weary of waiting, the boy slipped away from her side, strangely drawn to the Steinway on the stage. Without much notice from the audience, he sat down on the stool and began playing “chopsticks.” The roar of the crowd turned to shouts as hundreds yelled, “Get that boy away from there!” When Paderewski heard the uproar backstage, he grabbed his coat and rushed over behind the boy. Reaching around him from behind, the master began to improvise a countermelody to “chopsticks.” As the two of them played together, Paderewski kept whispering in the boy’s ear, “Keep going. Don’t quit, son… don’t stop… don’t stop.” Just as Paderewski stood over the young boy, encouraging him to go on, so God stands over us, encouraging us to keep going. The Lord is saying to us, “Don’t quit, my child. Don’t give in. It’s only for a little while longer. I’m coming soon.” (Daily in the Word)
The disciples believed all was lost on the first Easter weekend. Jesus had been crucified on Friday. Mary and others went on Sunday to continue the burial and embalming process only to find an empty tomb. Mary believed things had gone from bad to worse and Jesus’ body had been stolen. She believed, at that moment, that this was the end. Eventually, the angels and Jesus would reassure Mary that this wasn’t the end and keep going!
Easter is a clear reminder that this life is not the end. When have you felt all hope was lost? How does an empty tomb change the way you see what might otherwise be a hopeless situation?
Praise God for the empty tomb and that the story didn’t end with the crucifixion of Jesus. Ask God to give you the motivation you need to not quit in discouraging moments.
Jesus Turns Doubt into Faith
They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. – John 20:13-14 (ESV)
A defendant was on trial for murder. There was strong evidence indicating guilt, but there was no corpse. The lawyer, knowing that his client would probably be convicted, resorted to a trick. He said, “Within one minute, the person presumed dead in this case will walk into this courtroom.” He looked toward the courtroom door. The jurors, somewhat stunned, all looked on eagerly. A minute passed. Nothing happened. Finally, the lawyer said, “Actually, I made up the previous statement. But you all looked on with anticipation. I, therefore, put it to you that there is reasonable doubt in this case as to whether anyone was killed and insist that you return a verdict of not guilty.”
The jury, clearly confused, retired to deliberate. A few minutes later, the jury returned and pronounced a verdict of guilty. “But how?” inquired the lawyer. “You must have had some doubt, I saw all of you stare at the door.” The jury foreman replied, “Oh, we looked, but your client didn’t.” (source unknown)
In John 20, Jesus walked into the room. Mary doubted that Jesus was alive. She was convinced He was dead and His body had been stolen. However, within a few minutes, Jesus would appear and turn her doubts into faith. Mary would have faith that God had the power to raise the dead and that Jesus was in fact the resurrected Messiah.
Scripture continually reminds us that God is not afraid of your doubts or questions. God reveals Himself to us in many ways to grow our faith. What are some of the ways God has revealed Himself to you in the past to grow your faith?
Thank God for not abandoning you in your seasons of doubt. Praise God for the ways He has revealed Himself to you in those seasons.
Jesus Turns Despair into Hope
Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” – John 20:17 (ESV)
A traveler visiting Amsterdam was intrigued by a chiming tower in the middle of the city. Every hour, when the melody was played on the chimes, he would watch and listen. He became so interested that he asked permission to climb to the tower room to watch the musician. Once he got there, however, he didn’t hear any music. All he heard was the thump and bang of the keys. In the chime room, there was nothing but a terrible clatter, yet beautiful music floated across the city. In a small way, this illustrates the difference between what we see happening in our lives and the beautiful work God is accomplishing in us as He works through us. Often in the clatter and thump of life, we wonder what is happening. But if we are faithful to God and obedient to His Spirit, others will see and hear the beauty and harmony of Christ’s life in us. Let’s hope in God. No matter how discordant things seem, He keeps the melody playing. —P R. Van Gorder
The person playing the chimes’ work may have seemed like a waste from where he was playing, but in fact, he was producing a beautiful melody. The events of the first Easter weekend were no doubt confusing and had produced despair in the heart of all of Jesus’ followers. Jesus reassured Mary with a message that He was headed to heaven where their God and Father resided. Death would not be the end of Jesus and it would not be the end of His followers.
Have you experienced the difference between a funeral for someone who clearly loved Jesus and had placed their faith in Him and the funeral of someone who appeared to die without the hope of heaven? What was the difference?
Praise God for the promises of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.”
Jesus Turns Death Into Life
Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her. – John 20:18 (ESV)
A Sunday School teacher asked her class on the Sunday before Easter if they knew what happened on Easter and why it was so important. One little girl spoke up saying: “Easter is when the whole family gets together, and you eat turkey and sing about the pilgrims and all that.” “No, that’s not it,” said the teacher. “I know what Easter is,” a second student responded. “Easter is when you get a tree and decorate it and give gifts to everybody and sing lots of songs.” “Nope, that’s not it either,” replied the teacher. Finally, a third student spoke up, “Easter is when Jesus was killed, put in a tomb, and left for three days.” “Ah, thank goodness somebody knows,” the teacher thought to herself. But then the student went on, “Then everybody gathers at the tomb and waits to see if Jesus comes out and if he sees his shadow.”
Pastor Jim reminded us in the sermon that one of the clearest messages of Easter is that Jesus can turn death into life. In John 20:18, Mary Magdalene returns to the disciples and announces, “I have seen the Lord.” The resurrection of Jesus Christ changes everything. In 1 Corinthians 15:17-18, the Apostle Paul writes, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.” Because Jesus turned death into life, death is not the end for us and sin no longer has a hold on us.
What do you think Easter means to most of society? How can you be a part of sharing the true meaning of Easter and the difference it makes?
Praise God that death is not the end. Thank Him for the hope you have of seeing loved ones again. Ask God for opportunities to share the true meaning of Easter.
“And whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:44-45 (ESV)
Back when communism reigned in Russia, stories from the underground church would surface from time to time. On one particular Sunday, a group of believers gathered for worship. They arrived throughout the day so as to not arouse suspicion by KGB informants. By dark, they were all inside, windows closed, doors locked. They began by singing a hymn quietly when suddenly the door was pushed open, and in walked two soldiers with automatic weapons, demanding that they all line up on the wall. One shouted, “If you wish to renounce your commitment to Jesus Christ, leave now!” Two or three left quickly. After a few more seconds, two more. Finally, a couple more slipped out into the blackness of the night. After a few moments of complete silence, the soldiers closed and locked the door. They said, “Keep your hands up in praise to God. We too are Christians and we have learned to not trust anyone who is not willing to die for their faith.” (Source Unknown).
In Mark 10, before the crucifixion, James and John approached Jesus asking for positions of prominence in His Kingdom. Jesus responded by teaching them that being His disciple meant a life of serving others and dying to self. They didn’t realize that Jesus was literally about to die on the cross. Eventually, all but one of the disciples would die a martyr’s death. As we grow as disciples, our life should look more and more like the life of Christ. The leaders of the faith should be known by their self-denial and service and not by the number of people that serve them.
Easter doesn’t end with us simply praising Jesus. We now have the privilege of serving Jesus and others as we die daily to ourselves. If Jesus came to serve and we are followers of Jesus, it makes sense that we should be serving others. Where or who are you currently serving on a regular basis?
Thank Jesus for paying the ransom price for your sin. Ask God to make it clear to you where He would like for you to serve.