The last word – surprise!

We have covered all the last words from Christ on the cross

– He forgave

– Through the terrorist on the cross we learned that he just loves us for us

– With Mary and John we learned that he is always with us and our with-ness is important to remind others of His love

– it sound like Jesus being forsaken was a bad thing but in reality God had a better plan as he does with us so often if we will choose to trust him

– being faithful in the little things causes great things to happen

– He completed the task so we could have relationship with the Father and begin to live out the Kingdom of God on earth

Today is a day of surprises in so many ways…People all over Jerusalem were caught off guard that early Sunday morning…the ladies whom came to the tomb (I’ll talk about them later) Peter and John as they came and then all of the disciples…God loves to surprise us and especially those who don’t feel they are as important to God James (called the less) was one of those

James the less – Christopher

Luke 24:35-49 tells the story James just shared with us

Everyone was surprised! But why? Jesus had told them over and over again that he must die and then rise from the dead but when we grieve, when we are hurting it is hard to see possibilities, especially when we feel small, as if we are not as important as other people.

 In first century Israel the testimony of a woman was virtually worthless. It was a patriarchal society so whatever a man said was golden and whatever a woman said was less than half the value of a man’s word. But that is not God’s way of thinking because in the beginning he created mankind (both male and female) made in the image of God…in Israel in a court of law a woman’s testimony was worthless…but here is what God did

John 20:1,11-16

Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance.

Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in. 12 She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. 13 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her.

“Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”

14 She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. 15 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?”

She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”

16 “Mary!” Jesus said.

She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).

The first person to see Jesus alive was a woman, someone who’s testimony would be worthless someone who was surprised by Jesus being alive….she had come to add spices to his body for burial but in his love…he didn’t care about position, or power he looked at the heart and he met Mary someone who would seem worthless to their society but he always makes those who feel worthless to see their value

In John 20:2it says this

She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have puthim!”

Why Peter? 

Mark 16:1-8

Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. 2 Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. 3 And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” 4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away—for it was very large. 5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.

6 But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. 7 But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.”

8 So they went out quickly and fled from the tomb, for they trembled and were amazed. And they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

Peter had betrayed Christ, he had denied that he knew him and had any relationship with him…he was afraid of what might happen to him if he admitted to being a friend of Jesus’.

How much lower can you feel than knowing that you betrayed your best friend, you had turned your back on him at their time of need

There are things we have all done, things we feel have separated us from God, maybe not so much that we are afraid of going to hell but why should we deserve to have God do anything for us. Others are so much more important to God than we are but that is because we are looking through human judgment, human eyes not the eyes of the one who loves us the most.

Jesus made it a point to tell Mary…tell all of the guys and especially Peter…surprise Peter….Jesus died for you too and He is alive again for you too…His love for you is not conditional instead is unconditional

Romans 8 tells us that nothing can separate us from God’s love

Peter was in great overwhelming pain feeling at his lowest point thinking how he could ever be forgiven and that His friend whom he thought was the Messiah was now dead…the pain would have overcome him

Mary Magdalene was at the cross and watched him die, held his mother in her arms and wept with her too

She may have been there as Joseph of Arimathea laid Jesus in his tomb and she wept again

Still in unbearable pain she makes her way to the tomb only to find his body stolen her pain is multiplied

CS LEWISauthor who you may know from the Chronicles of Narnia, wrote in the book, the problem of Pain

“God often chooses to move more through the windows of pain in our life than any other time”  

If you are walking through some valley of pain right now, even though everyone is here to celebrate Easter Sunday with their smiles on, you may be crying inside…Remember Jesus made a habit of surprising people in their pain, in the middle of their deepest valleys…

Martha and Mary were in a valley of pain, then surprise Jesus showed up and raised Lazarus…John 11:1-45

A woman condemned to death for committing adultery then surprise instead of death Jesus gave her abundant life and love John 8:1-11

A woman with no hope, in the pain of rejection by her community fitting in nowhere..surprise Jesus shows up and accepts her, loves her and frees her John 4:1-42

A man feels valueless, worthless, been an invalid in both body and mind his whole life…surprise…Jesus makes him whole in mind and body John 5: 1-15

Do you need a surprise this morning? Do you feel like James, that you are less that anyone else or are battling some thing that is so overwhelming in a few minutes we are going to invite you to receive prayer

I want us to notice something else here about this woman whose testimony would have been unimportant in a court but whom Jesus found as valuable…Mary was once again the first to see him but let’s look at the discourse again

John 20:14-16

14 She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. 15 “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?”

She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”

16 “Mary!” Jesus said. She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).

For some reason Jesus was unrecognizable at first…The jesus you may have been taught about maybe he is unrecognizable as the real Jesus

….uncaring just someone who started the world and has more important things to do than to worry about your little life

….maybe he is a vengeful wrath-filled God who is just waiting to punish you at any moment that you fail

….maybe he is frail and weak like the Jesus portrayed in so many of the Easter movies that he has no power help himself let alone you and your problems

If you thoughts about Jesus are any of these you would be wrong. Jesus told us in John 10: 3,4 His sheep know His voiceso….

Yes, he is the same God who was at creation and through him everything was created (1 Corinthians 8:6) but… 

– Psalm 139 tells us he cares about you so much so that he knows the number of hairs on your head, every time you sit down every time you stand up 

– he is actively involved in your life because Romans 8:34 Tells us he is always praying for you!

Yes he is the judge of the world and he has every right to judge us, condemn us for our sins, and send us to hell, but… 

– the reason he went to the cross was so that no one needs to go to hell (2 Peter 3:9) 

– Lamentations 3 tells us His mercies on us are new every morning. 

– He showed us by the story of the woman caught in adultery, the Samaritan woman, and Zacchaeus that… 

– he has no desire to destroy us because of our sin but instead wants us to be free and walk in the destiny he design us for from the beginning of time. 

– He went to the cross for our freedom from sin not to condemn us of it.

Yes, he is gentle and meek but… 

– he is also the mighty warrior, the king of Kings and Lord of lords 

– he came with power to destroy the works of the enemy in your life and my life and he came not just as fire insurance from hell because he is the door and the gate to the Kingdom of heaven 

– he took back all the authority Adam and Eve had been given by God but they gave to Satan. He then gave it to us so that we could live as part of the kingdom of heaven here on earth full of peace, love, joy and righteousness and bring destruction to the enemies plans for people in this world as we recognize our place in the Kingdom we become overcomers and conquerors over everything.

If you are feeling less today, like Mary like John, let Him surprise you come today and allow someone to pray for you and introduce you to the one who loves you the most and allow Him to show you.

If you are in some pain today, some dark valley, there is no need for you to stay there…the plans God has for you and has had for you since the beginning of time have been for your good, to give you a hope and a future according to Jeremiah 29:11

If you have thought of God as this vengeful, neglectful, or weak and uncaring God, he knows you and he is the one who loves you the most in fact Jeremiah 31:3 says he loves you with an ever lasting love isn’t it time you allowed him to show you how much he loves you