Let’s go for the word of the Lord in Mark, chapter 16, let’s begin with verse 1, we’ll go probably until verse 8 and we’ll also explore a little bit beyond, but let’s just read that part.
“When the Sabbath was over Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first of the day, just after sunrise they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, ‘Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?’ But when they looked up they saw that the stone which was very large had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb they saw a young man dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side and they were alarmed. ‘Don’t be alarmed’, he said, ‘you’re looking for Jesus the Nazarene who was crucified. He has risen, he is not here. See the place where they laid him, but go tell his disciples and Peter, he is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him just as he told you.’ Trembling and bewildered the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone because they were afraid.”
Father, thank you for this season, thank you for the remembrance through your word that mighty deeds took place 2000 years ago, that changed the course of history, even of the universe, not just human kind, cataclysmic events that transformed destinies and certainly involved us who were yet to be born, and here we are tonight remembering, celebrating these events and even seeking to understand them in the light of our own lives and our own circumstance. We thank you for tonight, Lord, we thank you for every soul present here tonight. All the things that have taken place, all the energies invested to make this service possible, you’re people who are coming by faith into your home, into your house, into your home, yes, Lord, to worship you, to seek your face, to be renewed, Father, to be nourished by your word. Lead us now, Father, continue leading us, accept all that we offer on to you. It is our sacrifice of joy and gratitude. Be with us as we ponder upon your word and give us your nourishment, your bread, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Well, Greg was speaking about the power of the resurrection just as few minutes ago as he made his announcement. And this is precisely what I want to dwell upon in the minutes that I have with you: the power of the resurrection and what that means for us in our lives.
There are several events in history that really are crucial to the calendar of believers. I can think of three particular events that have very powerful meanings for our lives. Of course, we have the incarnation, the birth of Jesus, and we have his death on the cross which last night we had a group from the Latino church, here remembering, praying over and celebrating. And then we have the resurrection. These are three events that really are part of I would call it a system. They’re interlocked, one without the other has very little meaning and very little implication for the spiritual life of the believer. Together they make an absolutely, tremendous assembly of power and of meaning.
The incarnation of course reminds of the love of God who would assume the form of a man and come into the world and the mystery of man transgressing and violating God’s will and word and then a man coming into the world and redeeming symbolically through his actions, through his life that man that had sinned, that mankind that has strayed away from God. Reminds us of the love of God as well that would, as Philippians, chapter 2 suggests, divest himself of his glory, of his absolute power and grandeur and limitless freedom and assume the limited shape of a man to come and live with us and live amongst us.
And then of course, the death of Christ on the cross, the shedding of his blood, the breaking of his body, the carrying of the cross, suggest that amazing love of God, limitless, truly, awe inspiring that made it possible for us to have access once again to the Father, communion with him, communication with him, and to go beyond our sinful condition and to be able to receive from the Father and to be able to interact with him through prayer, through ministry, through worship, all these kinds of things: The cross, the crucifixion.
And then of course, then there’s the resurrection and Paul reminds us in First Corinthians, chapter 15 that without the resurrection, really all those grand events that we’re talking about would have no real meaning because the resurrection is sort of the linchpin of the entire process, of the entire system. The resurrection was not just the challenge, it was the refutation of the most significant, how would I say, argument if you will, of death and negativity and sin that existed.
When Jesus Christ was resurrected through that act, through that life process, I mean, he negated, he denied, he neutralized every negative consequence of the fall, everything that Jesus did and experienced, every moment of his ministry was like a symbolic enactment of some spiritual truth. I mean, his life was just emanated, emanated truth, emanated meaning, emanated message, symbolism. Everything that he did, all the miracles that he did, all the narratives that are related in the gospels, everything about him was just one prophetic declaration after another.
When he healed the sick he was saying, ‘I am more powerful than any disease, because I am the Son of God’. When he defeated the demons and exorcised them and cast them out, he was saying ‘I am more powerful than any demonic presence.’ When he defeated Satan in the desert, in that direct confrontation with the demonic, he was saying ‘Satan has no more, any power, any absolute power over creation, over human kind, I am superior to Satan’.
When he quieted the storm, or when he did miracles of a natural sort where he created things, as when he told the disciples ‘go and get two fish out the water and there you’ll find some coins…’, and so on and so forth, he was speaking about his power over nature and over all the creation.
And when he refuted arguments that were presented before him, he was saying ‘I am superior intellectually to any argument, any objection that might be presented against me or before me.’
So, Jesus was always doing these miracles, everything that he did, there’s meaning and that’s why we can preach about the different aspects of his life and his ministry, because everything was there to give us insight into some aspect of his nature, of his ministry, his calling or some aspect of what God wanted us to learn from him for our own Christian life.
And certainly the resurrection falls into that category in a very, very exceptional way because the resurrection was a direct confrontation of the one thing that human kind can never conquer, never get away from, never defeat, which is death. I mean, death was the very essence of the fall. God said, when you eat of this fruit, you will die. And so death has been that element that it’s been there always as that central concern of human kind. And Jesus in being able to rise from the dead and being risen from the dead by God, I mean, he was going for the gold. I mean, that was the big piece of the entire system, of the entire mystery.
And this why the Apostle Paul, when he wrote in First Corinthians, chapter 15, he took his time to really unpack that whole aspect of the resurrection and what it really means. So, this is why it’s so important for us to understand why the resurrection is so crucial to us. He says, for example, in First Corinthians, chapter 15, verse 56:
“….. the sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law, but thanks be to God, he gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Where, oh death, is your victory? Where, oh death, is your sting? –and verse 54 says,- …. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable and the mortal with the mortality, then the saying that is written will come true, death has been swallowed up in victory….”
So, you see that in resurrecting Christ there was something very powerful there. There was a spiritual struggle taking place. It was a spiritual warfare in its absolutely most powerful, and God was establishing a precedence. He was saying to us, ‘through the resurrection of my son I have established a precedent that death is no longer irrefutable. Death is no longer unavoidable. Death is no longer unconquerable and now you can also have hope that you also will conquer death, that you also will go from death into life, that for who believe in my Son, who has established the precedent, death is no longer that monster, that threatening, terror inducing phenomenon.’
So it was a very powerful thing that was going on in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. But you know, the thing that concerns me the most, the thing that I find really revealing about the resurrection is not that other worldly sort of theologically high content of the resurrection that we’re talking about here, for the moment, the implications for the after life and the person of Jesus.
All those things are beautiful, very important but I’m sometimes a little more practical than that, and I say, ‘hey, what is in there for me in this life, now, as I try to live my life as a believer, all the struggles, you know? Because in a sense the remanence of the fall are still here with us, we’re still living in a world that is awaiting its full redemption. We’re still dealing with the consequences of the fall, with disease and poverty and threats and failure and sin, temptation and all the inconveniences of the fall, they’re still with us; the limitations of my body, the things that I don’t know, the things that I fear.
All these things are here with us as believers. And we live in that zone of, what is it, the now but the not yet, something like that? You know, we have been resurrected in a sense, we have experienced the power of the resurrection but we’re still waiting for something and while we live in this nebulous zone, we ask ourselves, ‘well, what advantage does the resurrection offer us? Is there any implication for the daily life of the believer about the resurrection? And this passage I think is a wonderfully insightful passage in that sense. It offers a few teachings, a few insights into.. you know, how to extract from the resurrection some meaning for our own lives.
And by the way, you know the Bible is just full of this idea that the resurrection of Jesus Christ has released for us all kinds of advantages and gifting and resources for living life today. You know, this is why Paul said that he wanted to know Christ and to know the power of his resurrection, because, by the way, both the resurrection and the crucifixion have implications for us. We have to carry our cross, for example, Jesus said, and we also need to know the power of the resurrection.
There’s so much… to me, when I, as a believer, enter into the Kingdom of God I enter into the zone of the resurrection. I enter into the resurrected life in one sense, which is that the power that Christ released through his resurrection has opened up a domain that we can inhabit in. As we move in life and as we struggle against the implications of death, and the consequences of death, we can get, we can derive benefit from the resurrection. There’s power, there’s victory in that.
So, you know, as I live my life, I’m always trying to live it aware that the resurrection has released a certain way of living for me, that I am called to live in that power of the resurrection, to live in that power that God has made possible through Jesus Christ. Just as he healed the sick meaning that I can also be healed, and I can be an instrument of healing through the Jesus Christ who healed the sick, just as he vanquished the demons and that enables me to vanquish demons through the power in the name of Jesus Christ, just as Jesus did miracles and I can do miracles through his power, that he released by doing these things and establishing these legal precedents, in that same way, through his resurrection I can also live within that power, in the power, in that death denying life, that life that looks at the inconveniences, the challenges, the inertia, the resistance of this world and says, you know, I can live above it. I can live beyond it. Christ took death and he cancelled it, he neutralized its sting and therefore all the consequences that death brought with it, all the little sufferings of life, also can be conquered through the resurrected Christ.
And here, there’s a few insights that we can get from this passage. You know, it says that these women, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices. You know, it begins, the story begins in a very negative way. Jesus has died on the cross, I think the disciples were expecting him at any moment to be whisked away from the cross, and angels to come and free him and you know, for his Messiahship to be revealed, and they waited until the very last minute. Nothing happened. And they were totally dejected, totally disappointed. The Master has died, a couple of days have passed, nothing has happened. It’s all very negative. The disciples have spread out all over the place. They are defeated, they are disappointed in the extreme and these women, we find them here in a sense, exercising a very symbolic defeat. I mean, they are gathering the spices, gathering the substances with which they’re going to embalm the dead body, the lifeless body, the assassinated, tortured body of who they thought was the Messiah, the Son of God. And so they’re getting ready to go and just fulfill a duty.
And, you know, there’s two problems there that they’re considering. Number one is that, the dead body of their Master, and number two, they have a problem because they’re looking ahead and they’re saying, you know, his body was put in a tomb, that tomb was closed with a huge rock, it was been rolled. It had to be rolled by very strong men to cover it up and they’re asking themselves, ‘how in heaven are we going to roll that rock? We’re just three weak women.
And so I see one thing here: they do not know, they do not know that those two problems, that they’re considering, their Master’s dead body and the rock that blocks their access to it, those two problems have already been solved. And when they get there, they discover, number one, that the body is no longer there, but they are informed by this angelical figure that he has risen from the death, as he had promised them that he would; and they find that the stone has been rolled away. And not only has the stone been rolled away, I find a fascinating detail in Mathew, chapter 28, verse 2, where there’s a different version of the same event, and it says that:
“… there was a violent earthquake for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, and going to the tomb rolled back the stone and sat on it….”
I like that. Sat on it. I mean, the Bible has intention in everything that it says. I don’t think that angel sat on that rock just to rest because he was tired from the earthquake, or whatever, of traveling from heaven down to earth. I mean, he sat on that stone because he wanted to make a statement of victory, that obstacles that prevent our access to the miraculous moving of God have no meaning for a believer, have no meaning for the people who are in God’s plan, those who need to have access to that power, to that presence, to that miraculous moment. And in a sense it was a statement for us as believers to live in and to move in. And so, you know, what I see first of all is that the power of the resurrection is already ours, it’s already ours. These women, when they were getting ready to go see their dead Master, they didn’t realize that already, and that’s the key consideration, already their problems were solved in the spiritual dimension, in the spiritual domain, there was no problem, God had taken care of it already. They simply needed now to align their life and their consciousness with what God had already done. He had lifted the body of his Son as he had promised, he had given it life and he had removed the obstacle. They were still moving in their outdated perception. But, in another realm God had already done what he had promised that he would do and what they needed to do is simply catch up with that power that God had made possible, that God had released.
And you know, isn’t that somehow what our predicament is in life? You know, God has done things in the spiritual realm and the Bible tells us, for example, it says that he has blessed us with every spiritual gift in the heavenly realms. He has done it already. Our problem is being able to align ourselves mentally, emotionally, spiritually with that amazing declaration. The Bible says that we are seated along with Jesus Christ right next to the throne of God beyond all circumstances, beyond all adversity, beyond all challenges and yet here I am, in Roxbury, Massachusetts, struggling with a cold. And, you know, dealing with the remanence of my humanity and yet, there’s another realm where I am totally victorious, positionally superior, beyond, like those planes that are flying above the eye of a hurricane, I am beyond the problem, in the spiritual realm. And somehow I need to catch up with that, somehow I need to align myself with the reality that God had us released.
The Apostle Paul, third illustration of that, a passage that I return to obsessively, over and over again in my preaching, it’s Ephesians chapter 1, where Paul tells us that he prays that the eyes of understanding, that we may have the spirit of wisdom and revelation, referring to the mind. Remember that he was talking about the mind is the first thing that needs to be transformed? Because the mind is the first thing that suffers from the fall and the consequences of sinfulness, and when we come into the Kingdom of God we need to ask God to update our mind to give us a new hard drive, to give us more power to understand what he has declared.
He says, “….. the wisdom and revelation so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlighten in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance to the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe, that power which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms…..”
In other words, he’s saying, I pray that your mind will be open, that you’ll receive such understanding that you will be able to align your mind, your understanding, your ability to interpret life with what God has done, the power that he has given you, the energy that he has given you, the authority that you have received. You have it. You have it in you. I have it in me, I carry more power than a thousand hydrogen bombs or whatever the most powerful weapon that exists, I carry it within me. You carry it within yourself. God has declared it on you as a believer through the power of Jesus Christ, through the name of Jesus Christ, through his spirit that dwells in you, through the richness of his word that he has just released on your life and on my life. We have it.
The problem is that we live in a reality that denies that. Just as these women were living in a reality that denied what had really taken place. They didn’t understand what had taken place. They were still dealing with the problem with the dead Master and the stone that had been unrolled. But God had done something different in another realm and you know, so much of the Christian life, the struggle is precisely that, that we… and I’m the first one that need to apply what I’m saying to you, we need to pray, ‘Lord, do a supernatural work on my mind so that I might truly be able to comprehend how much authority I truly have, even as I struggle with the limitations of my life, of my character, of my body, of my limitations as a man, my understanding, whatever.’
‘Father, help me to be able to align myself, so that I might undertake greater things for you, so that I might be able to move in faith, that I might be able to declare things, that I might be able not to rely and whether I feel good or I feel bad, whether I’m depressed, or whether I’m happy, whether I feel secure or not, but I simply move in what you have declared and I undertake things. And if I get scared in the process, that’s my problem, that’s the problem of my biology, it’s not the problem of my spirit or what you have declared. I’ll deal with my biology. I’ll deal with the fear, I’ll deal with the survival instinct that feels threatened, but I’m going to proceed in faith because you have declared, and because I cannot depend on circumstances and because I don’t know, circumstances fool me all the time. I have to believe, I have to live on what you have declared and then put the problem squarely in front of you, you deal with it, Father. You have taught me to live in a certain way, now, I lay the problem, not belligerently, not in a threatening sort of way, but you know, the threat is for me, I’m saying, ‘hey, you take care of yourself, just do what the Bible says, just do what the Lord says. You worry about yourself in some other way. Let the Father worry about these certain things, because of what he has declared.’
You know, the Bible is full of these ideas that we live in the power, but we don’t know it. God has changed the reality but we don’t realize it. Look at Elijah’s servant, surrounded by an enemy army, by the Syrian army. He’s surrounded by them, he’s scared, he’s terrified, he screams, ‘they’re going to kill us’. And Elijah said, ‘Father, open the eyes of this man, open the eyes that he might see the other reality’, and for a moment God opens the eyes, the spiritual eyes of Elijah’s servant, and what does he see? He sees and entire army with fiery chariots surrounding the Syrian army that is surrounding them and Elijah says, ‘Do not be afraid for more powerful are those that are with us than those that are against us, more numerous, more powerful.’
And I wonder how many times in situations when we are only so mindful of our problem, our limitations, what we cannot do, the number of the enemy, the power of the enemy, God is there saying, ‘oh, my son, my daughter, I wish you would simply be able to understand all that I have already declared to enable you to go beyond that situation. It’s already there. It’s around you, all you need to do is trust in it, believe in it. Move in it, by faith and as you do I will show you.’
I’m also reminded of the lepers, I think it was four lepers, and that other passage dealing with Elijah as well. A huge army is besieging Samaria and famine has struck the city and there’s no food and all kinds of horrible things are happening because the people cannot go out to get food or water, and the things are absolutely desperate, and Elijah has said, ‘Do not worry, tomorrow you will be eating beyond your wildest dreams, everything that now costs an immense amount of money will be very cheap’. And there’s a guy there who laughs and says, ‘how can that be possible? Where? There’s no way that that could happen. And meanwhile there’s these 4 lepers, totally hopeless, walking around and they have nothing to lose and they go where supposedly there’s a huge army and they find dead bodies all over because God has done a tremendous miracle and has destroyed the enemy completely. And they find food for a huge army, they find clothing and weapons and horses and absolutely everything because the night before the angel of the Lord had completely destroyed that immense army. And yet, back in Samaria people are still thinking that they’re still besieged, they’re still defeated, they’re still in despair. Their perception needed to catch up with the reality.
And many of us are like that, you see, we live in the power of the resurrection, God has declared it. I mean, I always see that what God does in the spiritual realm is always ahead of our perception of it. We speak of revival and you know, is revival here? If revival has arrived? This and that we don’t see it because what we see is in the contrary, you know, things are not happening in the physical realm. Well, what God does, what God declares is always away ahead of what we understand, of what we can do. What we need to do is trust and move, not only….
I pray, ‘Lord, help me not to live but what I see, but what I know, but what I experience, because if I do then I will always be limited. Help me to trust in what you have declared, what my spirit, I believe, has discerned and then to walk accordingly.’
So, that’s one thing, we need to understand, that power that God has released through the resurrection of Jesus Christ is already ours just as it was for these women. Even if the circumstances seem to deny it.
The other thing is precisely, the other implication of that is that we cannot, that power is not attained by eyesight or by experience, it is attained by faith. As you walk in it, the power is released. You know, I wish God would make it easier for me to live a victorious life as a believer, I wish he would provide for me all that I need before I undertake the journey. I wish he would provide irrefutable signs that he is with me and that he will support my journeys and my undertakings and that he will give me all the papers and stamp everything and give me a big wad of money and everything, that assures me ‘don’t worry, I’m not going to let you make a fool of yourself.’
And yet, it’s the very opposite. He sends me and he sends you and us on journeys and he delights in not giving you what you need for it and he delights in seeing you squirming in your seat as you drive to the place of encounter. You know, that’s why he sent the disciples two by two and he said, ‘Do not take anything for the road.’ Leave your American Express, leave your money, the charge cards, the ATM card, everything leave it here. Just go with whatever gas you have in your gas tank and just go by faith. He wanted to teach them something. He wanted to teach them that the resources for the journey need not be provided ahead of time, that what you need to do is just begin walking by faith and as you walk by faith you are releasing the power of God and the blessings, the resources that you need will be provided for you as you go.
To their credit, these women did not wait to know who was going to roll the stone. They didn’t call Peter and John or whoever three burly men to go with them and know that somebody was going to roll up the stone. Interestingly the didn’t know but they walked, they went, they went to the place. They didn’t have the resources but they took a journey of faith, they took the spices and everything, defeated as they felt, sad as they felt and along the way, the blessing became evident.
And you know, this is something that I have learned in my life, that we need to just move by faith many times in our life. If you are going to wait until you have all that you need, until everything is aligned in your life and you have all that you need ready and provided for, believe me, you will not get anywhere.
I mean, the problem is that we will be in agony, I don’t know if you’re like me, I’m an agonizer and sometimes I get into these big situations and then I’m wondering, how the heck did I get into this and how am I going to get out of it? And then I struggle and I agonize, and I complain and so on, but I am walking just by shear discipline because I have learned that this is the way that you release the power of God. As you crucify your flesh, as you crucify your reason that demands having everything previously provided before you undertake journeys, that crucifixion of your reason releases through the crevices that are opened up, the power of God. God delights in seeing somebody sweating it out, even as they walk towards the giant and saying, ‘I’m going to cut your head off and I’m going to strike you with the stone, and I’m going to do this and this to you’, meanwhile your knees are shaking as you go towards it. But you do it because you believe that God will not allow you to be ashamed.
I have said it before, you know, this English ministry is one such act of folly on my part, it’s not the right time and there’s a lot of reasons why this perhaps should not be undertaken at this time, but I believe, you know, that God called us to do it. So, you enter into the journey and you sweat and you doubt and you agonize and you question and you wonder where the resources are going to come from and where the people are going to come from, and where you’re going to find the time and the personnel to do this and that and you simply walk Saturday by Saturday, day by day, action by action and you trust and you hope ‘God, don’t let me make a fool of myself. I’m just trusting in you. I’m waiting on you.’
You know, you project buildings and you haven’t finished one building and you’re already thinking of another building that needs to be built for the Latino congregation, you know, where’s the money going to come from? And where are you going to cut by half the cost of building and the materials and the people that are going to…. ? You walk by faith. I mean, it’s not that you’re foolish, understand me, there’s nothing wrong with having a Plan B, there’s nothing wrong with looking at things in a hard way, calculating, planning, strategizing, being specific, being concrete and so on, praying like crazy, looking for resources, making alliances, getting council from skilled people. All those things are good, but there’s one dimension, you see, that after you’ve taken all that into account, there’s still a big deficit and you feel that God is calling you to do this because it is in his will, and it’s something that you’re not doing it out of pride or because you’ve got a chip on your shoulder, but it’s really for the glory of God. Everything aligns spiritually, then brother, my sister, simply start walking by faith. Start making decisions. Start talking like you are the most secure, assured people in the entire universe, even though inside you may be quaking in your boots and you simply walk and let the Lord take care. If it takes a little bit longer the journey, that’s fine, that’s parts of what he likes, that’s the way he does things, but do not wait until everything is clear. The power of the resurrection is with you.
You do not live by sight. You do not live by emotions. You do not live by feelings. If you allow those things to dictate what you undertake you will never go anywhere. The writer of Ecclesiastic says that if you look at the wind or the clouds, you will never plan anything. We have to just undertake things by faith and believe my God is more powerful than any circumstance. Do not let, don’t ever let difficulties and limits, physical limits prevent you from undertaking anything that you believe is aligned with the will of God. Never, whether it’s a study, a situation, financial decision, a step of faith in moving to a place or undertaking a ministry or a big decision that you need to make in any dimension. If after you have prayed, studied the word, sought counsel, meditated before the Lord, examined yourself there is still that voice saying ‘go for it’, in the name of Christ, go for it. Because if even if you don’t get to where you thought you were going to get when you made that decision, the place where you get to will always be good and it’ll be better than if you had stayed where you were. That’s what I believe. And you will grow from the process.
In the Christian life there are no failures, there are just experiments that you learn from and that extricates you when he wants you at the right moment, more insightful, wiser, more dependant on him, humbler, but you will always be in a better place than if you had stayed back there wondering, what if….. just walk by faith. It is a journey of faith.
The Hebrews were told, start walking. Put the arch in front of you, you have to cross the Jordan, it’s full of water, it’s springtime, all the waters from the mountains have come down now, all the snow that has melted, and I promise you that when the feet of the priests hit the water, the river will part. It wasn’t before, it was when they touched the water, or probably one millisecond before they touched the water, the river parted. Can you imagine these guys sweating it out there and saying, we’re going to make fools of ourselves. The Gucci shoes that I bought just a couple of days ago, 500 dollars, I’m going to ruin them. And then as they just proceeded by faith, just by faith, the water opens.
God delights in sending us into those journeys and seeing us sweat. I mean that’s a odor that he loves to aspire. The sweat of the believer saying, ‘am I going to make a fool of myself or is God going to honor what he has promised? It is by faith not by sight that the power of the resurrection is released.
And the last thing, the third thing that I see here is that you know, the power of the resurrection is not for those who are qualified, but for those who dare, for those who exercise diligent, the diligent, not the qualified are the ones that are blessed with the release of the power of the resurrection in their lives.
Think about it, the men would have been the qualified individuals to experience this miracles, to do the things that these women were doing. But the men were back home quaking in their boots, they were watching TV with the curtains down so that nobody would see the flickering of the TV screen because they were afraid that any point the Gestapo was going to walk in and get them arrested, because they were with the wrong guy and he happened to be a loser after all. And so they’re back there, doubting, lamenting, fearing what’s going to happen now, thinking ‘we wasted all this time, we thought we had the right candidate and he’s lost the election and now I lost my job and what do I do now?’.
But here you have these women whom we see at the foot of the cross, we see them exercising faith, we see them here walking in faith, we see them wanting to honor the body of their Master. These are the individuals that are blessed with the first annunciation of the resurrection. They’re blessed with the sight of this angel that says to them, ‘He is not here any more, he has risen. Now, you go and tell those other cowards that their Master has risen from the dead and that he goes ahead of them to meet them later on.’
And you see that time and time again in scripture, God doesn’t choose the obvious candidates. He chooses those whose heart is aligned with him, regardless and very often he delights in choosing the underdog. The classic example, David. God sends Samuel to anoint Saul’s successor and he goes to David’s father house and he doesn’t know who it is, but he knows that he belongs to that house. And he gets to the address and David’s Father, Isaí, he brings out his strongest, most handsome looking son, and Samuel says, ‘yes, that must be him, absolutely. He’s got the blue eyes, he’s got the blond hair, he’s got the big teeth, he’s got the height, he’s got the muscles. It’s him’. And God says, ‘Do not look at him because I do not look at the outside, I look at the heart.’ And he goes through one after another and they all seem very promising and none of them… and God says, ‘none of them, that’s not him, that’s not him….’ And then, finally, in frustration Samuel says, ‘hey, is that all? I mean, do you have anybody else?’ Oh, yeah, that’s right for God, little David, he’s back there somewhere with the sheep. Let’s call him. And God says, ‘yes, that’s him. That’s him, that’s the one I want, because he may be small in stature, he may not be very promising as a warrior, but his heart is the heart of a lion. He loves me deeply. He would die for me. That’s the one that I want’.
Gideon, when the angel encounters him and says, ‘the Lord is with you, mighty and diligent warrior’, and Gideon looks around and says, ‘Who you’re talking to? Me? I’m the youngest of one of the smallest families in the smallest tribe in Israel, you’re talking to me?’ And he says, ‘yes, yes, you are a mighty warrior.’ ‘Me, a mighty warrior? I’m here scared, hiding from the Midianites, I’m here threshing the wheat, hiding from these guys and you’re saying that I’m going to be the one to liberate Israel?’ ‘Yes, because you have the heart, you have the attitude, you have the ability to obey and that is what I’m looking for, you are doing precisely, you’re working hard, you’re trying to protect your harvest. That’s the kind of man that I want to serve me.’
God always chooses the underdog, whether it’s Joseph among his brothers or anybody. You know, you see it time and time again. The Apostle Paul says in First Corinthians, you know, none of you are very strong or outstanding or well known, or rich, or intellectually gifted, but God chose the little things to shame the big things. He chose the foolish to shame the wise. You know, God looks at your heart.
Are you willing to believe God? Are you willing to undertake the journey? Are you willing to take risks for him? Are you willing to let your love for him and your loyalty to him lead you to do foolish things like these women regardless of your gifting or your precedent or your pedigree or whatever?
You know, I always tell my people the lower you are, the more impotent you are, the less educated you are, the more traumatized you have been in life, the more difficulties you have faced in your youth, that makes you the best candidate to do something great for God, for God to delight in lifting you and blessing you and gifting you and cleaning you up and showing his great and mighty power through you. The less qualified you are, the more qualified you are to be a bearer of God’s strength.
Do not let anything prevent you from undertaking things that will release the power of the resurrection in your life. That’s who we are my brothers and my sisters tonight. This is what…. The resurrection is great for thinking about it theologically and writing great books about it, and so on, it’s wonderful. Very profound, very complex thing but really what we need to understand is, hey, I live within that and I move within it and it has implications. There’s a calling for me to live in a certain way as a result of that resurrection, to live by faith, not by sight, to look at things and call things that are not as if they are, and to not let anything in my life, any little difficulty or any trauma of life, anything that would seem to incapacitate me prevent me from undertaking great things from the Lord.
God has done the work already, now my call is simply to believe and to move in it. Let us tonight leave from here with a determination to live by faith in the power of the resurrected Christ. Amen. Amen.