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LOVING JESUS CHRIST AS A REAL PERSON

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT

THE VILLAGE OF ATHENS

EASTER SUNRISE SERVICE

7 APRIL 1996

BY: Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

John 20:1-18

This morning, each of us had to plan to get up early and come here to this sunrise service.

And hopefully, we all came to see Jesus.

Two thousand years ago, Mary Magdalene also planned to get up early and come to the grave where they had buried Jesus.

She was grieving very greatly!

And perhaps she hadnít even gone to sleep.

Here she was, as tradition tells us, a woman who was condemned to be stoned to death because of her sins, and yet she was alive.

And the One who saved her had been put to death.

Jesus was the hope of her life Ė her own personal Lord and Savior.

She knew Him to be the Messiah.

But she couldnít yet come to understand why the hope of Israel had died.

Her heart ached!

The hope of her life was dead, and she probably could hardly see through her tears.

Feel the agony she is feeling as we join her on that morning nearly 2,000 years ago.

1. Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb.

2. And so she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved and said to them, "They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him."

Not only had she lost Jesus in her life, but now she couldnít even grieve over His body, or at least thatís what she thought.

3. Peter therefore went forth, and the other disciple, and they were going to the tomb.

4. And the two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter, and came to the tomb first;

5. and stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in.

6. Simon Peter therefore also came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he beheld the linen wrappings lying there,

7. and the face-cloth, which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself.

8. So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb entered then also, and he saw and believed.

9. For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.

10. So the disciples went away again to their own homes.

They, too, were distressed.

They didn't understand any more than Mary, and Mary, who was watching all of this, felt even a greater sorrow.

In her heart she was saying, "Is there no one who can help me!"

And she felt so ... so alone.

She felt alone, but she wasn't.

11. But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb;

12. And she beheld two angels in white sitting, one at the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying.

13. And they said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him."

14. When she had said this, she turned around, and beheld Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.

15. Jesus said to her, "Woman why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, "Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away."

She was utterly confused in her grief, and she didnít understand why the angels were there, or even recognized the Lord.

She just wanted Jesus!

She knew He had died, and thatís all that was on her mind.

Then something happened that must have made her heart skip a beat.

16. Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, "Rabboni!" (which means, Teacher).

She probably still didnít fully understand, but Jesus was alive!

The hope of her life and salvation was alive!

She was sobbing so much she couldnít even stand up, and as she fell to her knees, she grasped the feet of the Lord and held on for dear life.

She couldnít let Him go again.

Jesus felt her confusion and pain and joy, too.

But Jesus had to get her mind off Him as a man and focused back upon Himself as Lord.

17. Jesus said to her, "Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren, and say to them, ĎI ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.í "

18. Mary Magdalene came, announcing to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord," and that He had said these things to her.

The hope of her life is alive.

He is no longer dead.

Heís alive!

Many of us also suffer the pains and anguish of life, just as Mary did.

Many of us have also felt the loss of a loved one, and the purpose in life.

Many of us have lost our hope at times, as did Mary.

But now there is hope against despair, not just for Mary, but for us, today.

Jesus can turn each of our lives around, just as He did Maryís.

But each of us must come to believe in Him, too.

We need to fall down on our knees and grasp the feet of Jesus, and feel His loving and forgiving hand reaching down to us and lifting us up to a new and everlasting hope, as He did for Mary.

Jesus is alive!

And He loves and cares for you very much.

He can resurrect your life, as He resurrected His own and Maryís.

Let Him rise in your heart, today, and forever more.

Amen.

 

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