The Occupied Tomb

The Occupied Tomb

occupied_tombPrayer Before The Word.

Father in Heaven, please open our eyes and minds so we may read and accept your Word.
You Word is all-powerful.
You spoke your Word and the universe was created.
You commanded and your Word became flesh and your Son was that Word.
Father, please open our hearts so all of us may believe and trust in your Word.
Open our very souls in complete acceptance and servitude.
Please give us the strength to live your Word in every moment of our lives.
We ask for protection against all evil that may try to turn us from your Word.
And we thank you for the gift of your Word for our Salvation in Jesus, the Christ and Messiah.
Amen

Sermon

Have you ever been afraid?  Have you ever felt abandoned?

I have an outline of recommendations and structure of what a good sermon should have.  The first on the list is a joke or anecdote to get everyone interested and whet their appetite for more.

I don’t have a joke.

I don’t have an  anecdote.

Instead, I am going to offer you a testimony.

Around 1992 or 3 I got divorced, lost my job, lost a house and all of my personal possessions except for a trumpet and some clothes and a few pairs of mis-matched socks with holes in them.  All of these were in a decrepit van which was my home.

I was depressed, dejected, lonely and felt like the world had abandoned me.  I made a little money here and there playing music which went mainly for food and gas to keep my sleeping arrangements from being towed away.

I had no unemployment and I lived on a package of hot dogs a week.  My only other treats was mustard and cigarettes when I could get them.

After my first two months, I had worn out the welcome of my friends and was on totally on the street.

My mother lived fifteen miles away, but I had forgotten that fact, probably due to embarrassment and fear.

I was all alone and afraid.  In fact, I was very alone and very afraid.

I did not know what was going to happen next.

I was depressed and even thought about choosing the coward’s way out.

I had the blues.

Let’s Jump back in time about one thousand nine hundred and sixty-some years.

Jesus was tried, tortured and died an unimaginably painful death on the cross between two thieves.  This was reserved for the worst criminals.  In fact, there were laws that prevented any Roman citizen from being crucified.  This was the worst death possible.

Jesus was taken down from the cross, wrapped in strips of burial clothes along with 75 pounds of aloe and spices, as was the Jewish custom and sealed in a tomb.

The apostles gathered together, except for Judas, and hid from the Jews that persecuted Jesus.

They felt abandoned.  They were  afraid for their very lives.

The tomb was occupied.

They had the blues.

They did not know that Sunday was right around the corner.

We know this because the apostle John tells us:

John 20:19 (NIV)
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews…..

Besides being in fear for their lives, they felt abandoned, and they evidently had no idea of what was going to happen to them.

The tomb was occupied.

They had the blues.

They did not know that Sunday was right around the corner.

How do we know this?

You can see from their reaction later.  Luke tells us:

Luke 24:36-49 (NIV)
36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost.
38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?

Under the stress of Jesus’ death, the apostles completely forgot what they had been told over and over and over again.

Matthew 17:22-23 (NIV)
22 When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men.
23 They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” And the disciples were filled with grief.

Matthew 20:17-19 (NIV)
17 Now as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and said to them,
18 “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death
19 and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!”

Mark 14:27-28 (NIV)
27 “You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written: “‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’
28 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”

They even seemed to forget a most memorable event: Jesus took some of them up a mountain and talked with Moses and Elijah!  How could some forget that?

Matthew 17:1-3 (NIV)
1 After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.
2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.
3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

Matthew 17:5-9 (NIV)
5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
6 When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified.
7 But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.”
8 When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.
9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

While the apostles may have forgotten that Jesus was going to rise up from the grave, the chief priests and Pharisees did not forget and persuaded Pilate to seal the tomb and post guards there

Matthew 27:62-66 (NIV)
62 The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate.
63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’
64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”
65 “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.”
66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

The tomb was occupied.

They had the blues.

They did not know that Sunday was right around the corner.

Now, the apostles had to be devastated when they heard or heard of Jesus shouting the first line of Psalm 22.

Matthew 27:46 (NIV)
46 About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”–which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Jesus Himself was feeling abandoned by His Father, the Creator.

Jesus then realizes the end is near.

John 19:30 (NIV)
30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

With these words, Jesus completed His sacrifice.  The apostles evidently took this for Jesus’ end.

So let’s see what we have so far:

The Apostles Feared for their lives.

They felt abandoned.

It seems they totally ignored the fact that Jesus told them He would rise from the dead after three days.

Their closest friend, teacher and the Messiah, is dead in the tomb.  At this point they KNOW they have been abandoned.

The tomb was occupied.

They had the blues.

They did not know that Sunday was right around the corner.

Part of Friday, all day Saturday, which was the Sabbath, and part of Sunday the tomb was occupied.  The apostles had no conscious idea of what was going to happen next.

The DID have the biggest case of the Blues the world has EVER known.  After all, Jesus Himself had given up, RIGHT?

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” followed by “It is finished.” sound pretty well terminal.

The tomb was occupied.

They had the blues.

They did not know that Sunday was right around the corner.

I want you to think back in your life and see if you can find a time where you lost faith or felt abandoned.

Ask yourself this question: Did I overlook the solution?  Did I overlook a sign that something was about to happen?  Did I ignore help, either offered to me or available for the asking?

Did you have the blues?

Did you know your Sunday was right around the corner?

I didn’t.  I ignored the fact my mother was a few miles down the road.

I also overlooked an even bigger help: Jesus was there for me just for the asking!

Luke 11:9-10 (NIV)
9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
10 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

The tomb in our mind may be occupied.

We may have the blues.

But our Sunday is coming.  It’s right around the corner.

Jesus is there for us!

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