Wednesday 27 March 2024

There are two fundamental doctrines of the Church which cause widespread controversy, and unfounded rejection to people both outside the Church and to members within.  Failure to believe and accept is to say the Bible is unreliable and untrue.

One of those doctrines we celebrated a few months ago when we told of the Virgin Birth of our Lord. This Sunday we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, as countless millions have done so over the centuries, but we face a battle to proclaim our message as secular extremists try to create a spiritual vacuum. 

The armchair unbelievers will tell you of the impossibility that what w believe could not possibly happen.

Our message is that Jesus Christ is the One who died on a   Cross for the forgiveness of our sins, and rose again on the third day.

If someone had said a hundred years ago, that we could sit in our homes, and by watching a box in the corner of the room, show events then happening on the other side of the world; or that by taking a small handset pressing a few buttons, you could speak to someone in any part of the world, they would have been deemed to be insane.  Yet it happens every day by man’s efforts, and we still question what the Almighty God can achieve. Remember the words of Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus; with God, nothing is impossible

The principal character in our Gospel passage is a woman named Mary Magdelene, who loved Jesus dearly.  Mary came from the village of Magdala on the Sea of Galilee and was one of a group of women who became followers of Jesus, offering financial support and general help.  Jesus had healed her from demonic problems, and she never forgot that.

No one loved Jesus as much as Mary Magdelene. Jesus had done what no other person could ever do, and Mary could never forget that. Silly gossip stated she was a scarlet sinner, but no evidence has ever proved that was so.  Mary may have sinned much, and Mary loved much, and only love was she able to offer.

It was Jewish custom, to visit the tomb of a loved one for three days after the body had been laid in the tomb. They believed that for three days the spirit of the dead person hovered and waited round the tomb; and after only then the spirits depart, for then it became unrecognizable. The friends of Jesus could not come to the tomb on the Sabbath, for that would break the law. Saturday was the Sabbath, so Mary went on Sunday morning.

    Early on the morning, Mary went to the tomb and saw the stone had been rolled away, and the body of Jesus had gone.  She ran to tell Peter and John.    

According to the other gospel accounts, other women besides Mary went to the tomb early that morning.

It is sometimes claimed, that the Bible accounts cannot be true because of variations in the gospels; that in fact only offers credibility.  If everyone here this morning was given a piece of paper, and told to go home and write an account of what happened from the beginning of the service until the time you left, I guarantee when you later compared all the writings, no two would be the same, yet no one could doubt you were here.  Any lawyer will confirm, that when two witnesses offer an identical statement there is an immediate suspicion they have colluded.

John ran to the tomb, and John being the younger got their first, but he let Peter enter the tomb, being the stronger character. 

We notice here two believers, one gentle and reserved as John, whilst Peter was always more impulsive and decisive, each revealing their devotion in different ways.  There is room for all characters in the Church. 

Peter and John left the scene, but Mary stayed; she loved Jesus when He was alive and then was too grieved to leave.  Mary was the last person to stay with Jesus at the Cross, and first to go to His tomb.  This was a testimony to her loyalty, for none of the men stayed.  She remained sobbing, but she was rewarded when she became the first person to meet the risen Lord.

.We see that those who are loyal to Christ are honoured by Him, and those who are most true will have most communion with Him.

 As she wept, she saw two angels in white, and they asked why she was weeping.  She said it was because they had taken away the Lord, and she did not know where they had laid him. She then turned round and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus asked her, why she was weeping, and who was she looking for.

Supposing him to be the gardener, she told him she was looking for the Lord and wanted to find his body so she could take it away. It was rather optimistic and unrealistic for to expect herself, a frail woman, to carry a dead man’s body any distance. Jesus the identified Himself and told her to go and tell His disciples, so making her to become the first Christian witness.

This is what Easter is all about, the real spiritual message that Jesus rose from the dead, not the money making enterprise it has become. Easter is celebrated to remind us, that when our days on this earth are over, we have the assurance we shall live with our Lord; if we have accepted Him as Saviour.  The resurrection is the foundation of Christianity.

Whilst there is much about our faith that is respected by people who are not practising Christians, such as being forgiven of sin, hearing that God is love (very popular), but they think that is  free for all without any commitment.  They will come to Church for a baptism, and make all sorts of promises simply because it is a necessary requirement, but they don’t take things seriously or literally. 

Things are not made any easier by the irresponsible liberals within the Church, who themselves question much of the faith. We are performing a sacred service, which has no validity because they don’t understand, or believe, what they are saying and doing.

It is factual, that in many Churches a phone call to the Church requests a Baptism, (often called a christening) and are told to be at the Church at a stated time and date. No explanation as to what Baptism means and demands.

If Easter had not happened; if Jesus had not been raised from the dead, then we have no faith.  Christianity rises and falls on the resurrection of Jesus.  This has been proclaimed down the ages and if not true, the Bible writers would have lied, and millions of people would have made great sacrifices in the cause of the faith in vain.  Why would educated men like Paul, and down to earth fishermen, lie when they had nothing to gain by doing so?

If Jesus had not been raised there would be no forgiveness, we would have no future, but the evidence is overwhelming in favour.  First century witnesses and documents tell.  We have testimony from men present at that time, that the resurrection of Jesus was real, objective and physical.  This is what the Church has always believed in over two thousand years of Christian witness, that has sustained the hearts of millions.

The Apostles Creed does not say I believe in the forgiveness of sins and the spiritual resurrection of Jesus, it says I believed in the resurrection of the body.  When liberals challenge this they do so in spite of all the evidence.

After the resurrection, we find the Apostles who had been timid and frightened men, now ready to go preaching openly and fearlessly, and suffering violently for doing so.  Men do not invent stories to be put in prison, and get beaten up, or hung on a cross like Peter, or stoned to death like Stephen.         

Through centuries that have followed, brilliant men and women have experienced the same fellowship and power in their lives, in addition to peace of mind.  They were not simple minded people, but some of the greatest scholars of their day, who have forsaken the chance of earning great wealth in other professions, in order to serve God and His Church. 

Let us always remember that Jesus never changes, He is the same yesterday to today for ever, and will take care of all who believe and put their trust in Him.


     In the evening of that first Sunday, the Apostles were gathered together in a locked room when Jesus appeared. You can imagine the reaction of the Apostles who must have thought they were hallucinating, for most people do at some time have visions, especially if you are longing for someone whom you never expected to see.  The Apostles were delighted to see the Lord however.

Jesus greeted them with the traditional Jewish greeting Shalom, words which mean not only ‘peace be with you’, but every kind of blessing.  He then showed them His hands and side, to prove that it was the same Jesus they had known when they were with Him, but by showing His wounds, it verified that this was the Jesus who had been on the Cross, and was now an alive person.

Then Jesus gave them command saying, just as God had sent Him He was now sending them out to preach the gospel in His name.  This is essentially and fundamentally what the Church should and must be doing, preaching the gospel that He left us.


Jesus then when parting He again said ‘peace be with you’ as a form of good-bye, and then breathed on them.  At His baptism the Holy Spirit was poured out on Jesus, and He now tells the Apostles as God had given Him the Holy Spirit, He (Jesus) was giving them the power of the Holy Spirit, to go out and tell the world about His offer of eternal salvation, for all who accepted and believed in Him.  If anyone did not, they were condemned Meternally.

Jesus has passed on this mission to the Church all down the ages to go out and speak for His message, so that when people hear that message from us, they are indirectly hearing the words of our Lord.

All true Christians, and who love the Church, should, earnestly pray for the faithful discharge of its duty to Jesus, whose voice it is meant to be, and for the proclamation of the gospel, without any amendments.

May God bless His Word to ourhearts and may His Holy Name be praised


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