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JESUS IS RISEN!
WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO NOW?

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT

THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
American Baptist - United Methodist

7 APRIL 1996

BY: Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Matthew 28:1-20
1 Timothy 6:10
Hebrews 13:5

This morning, at the sunrise service, we looked at Johnís account of what happened on this day nearly 2,000 years ago.

We looked at this day through the heart and soul of Mary Magdalene.

Now we are going to take a look at Matthewís account, but unlike earlier this morning, weíre hopefully going to look at these things through our own eyes.

Weíre going to look at this Resurrection Day as the Lordís call to us.

"I am risen!" says the Lord.

"What are you going to do now?"

Letís think about what weíre going to do, as we turn to the Scriptures, Matthew 28:1-20:

1. Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave.

2. And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it.

3. And his appearance was like lightening, and his garment as white as snow;

4. and the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.

This is so true of people; they persist in doing evil and never bat an eye, but when they become aware of the presence of the Lord, they turn to mush.

Our God is just the opposite; He comes into our presence to give us the strength to overcome the evil in this world.

He gives us the power to live with unconditional love and compassion, when others are full of hatreds, fears, and have hearts as hard as rock - the same kind of hardness that crucified the Lord of Glory.

But the love and power of God overcame their hardness of heart.

5. And the angel answered and said to the women, "Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified.

6. "He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.

7. "And go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going before you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you."

8. And they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples.

Even though they had some fear within them, they still did as the angel told them.

Jesus has told us what to do, and yet very few do these things.

Personally, I donít understand why most people are like this, but I do know one thing; that for those of us who do follow through in their faith with love, there will be everlasting joy.

Additionally, these faithful ones will be witnesses against those who remain in the hardness of heart.

And once we decide to follow the Lordís direction for our lives, He will meet us just as He did the disciples.

9. And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him.

10. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they shall see Me."

They clung to the Lord because they realized He truly was alive, and because they were afraid they would lose Him again, for they failed to fully understand the power of the Resurrection.

The disciples continue to follow Jesus, for He overcomes their fears with love.

The followers of the devil are not like this.

They are really cowards at heart, and when they no longer perceive the presence of the Lord, they fake their power.

Those guards knew the truth, but note what happened after the angels departed from them.

11. Now while they [the disciples] were on their way, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened.

12. And when they had assembled with the elders and counseled together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers,

13. and said, "You are to say, ĎHis disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.í

14. "And if this should come to the governorís ears, we will win him over and keep you out of trouble."

15. And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this day.

These soldiers knew the truth, but they sold the truth for money.

Itís just as we are told elsewhere in Scripture:

1 Tim. 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith, and pierced themselves with many a pang.

And,

Heb. 13:5 Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,"

The disciples believed and became stronger in the faith, for the Lord proved to them the meaning of the promise.

The guards never gave the Lord a chance.

If only they would have repented of their ways, and sought the Lord, and not just feared Him, they, too, would have been saved.

But they refused, and as with Judas, they sold themselves for money.

Money can do many good things, but nothing good will ever come from this kind of money.

16. But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated.

17. And when they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful.

Even if you doubt to some extent, still come, as did some of these, for you cannot be in the presence of the Lord very long and still doubt.

18. And Jesus came up and spoke to them saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.

19. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,

20. teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

I suppose this is why we are here today.

Some of us are here to spread the message of the Gospel of Love.

Some are here to hear this message, in the hope that it will improve their lives.

And to them I say, the Lord knows what is on your heart. Hold fast to Him, and you will not be disappointed.

But there are others here today, who have come to fulfill some sort of imagined annual obligation.

And to them I say, the Lord doesnít seek your presence in church once or twice a year; Heís seeking to be present in your life every day of the year, even for all eternity.

Donít be like the guards who both saw and heard the truth and left it for other things.

At least be like the disciples who remained in the presence of the Lord, even though they still had some doubts.

The Lord can give real and lasting meaning to your life.

He can improve your family relationships, and bring true love, peace and joy to your life.

So, now that the Lord is risen, the question is still laid before us today.

What are we going to do now?

Many run around trying to fulfill the Great Commission, as they call the last two verses of Matthew, but they fail to live and teach Jesus' message of unconditional love, compassion and peace.

And, that doesn't bring true and lasting salvation, the kind that radiates the love of the Lord to the whole of creation.

The loving and compassionate hand of God is reaching out to you in a very personal way.

Are you willing to let Jesus into your heart, and take all that He has for you?

I am!

I pray you are, too.

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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