During Holy Week I was looking at some past sermons I have preached during these holy days of remembrance. Here is a sermon I preached in 2014.
Which side of the rock are we going to live?
On one side there is fear
The women approached the tomb. There was a great earthquake. An angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it.
His appearance was like lighting, his clothing was white as snow.
In fear the guards trembled and became like dead men.
The angel spoke to the women and encouraged them with the words, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here. For he has risen, as he said.”
These words also came with an invitation, “Come, see the place where he was laid. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead…”
We have two responses:
1 - The guards who trembled and became like dead men
2 - The women who received angelic and christological comfort which generated mission for others.
The angel charted for the women a way to move beyond the fear.
Come and see…move beyond the fear.
The women become witnesses and messengers.
The message of the empty tomb was an invitation to move ahead.
Today by the power of the Holy Spirit at work in this resurrection word you are invited to live on the side of the rock that leads you to see life and promise is real.
Here are some moments when God's people in the past have been moved by the spirit to live on the other side of the rock.
Joshua - Jordan river, each tribe grabbing a rock and placing that rock and creating a memorial in Gilgal.
David - Philistines gathered against Israel and he picks up the rock and defeats Goliath. David was able to live in victory because he lived on the promise side of the rock.
Nehemiah - Rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. He lived on the side of promise, even as there were constant threats, he showed the people they could live in the land and rebuild the walls.
Monday Demonstrations at NikolaiKirche in Leipzig. 1989. It was not certain that that East Germany was going to fall away from Communism. But every Monday protestors gathered in the square of the church in Liepzig, confident that the Lutheran church supported their non-violent resistance. Soon Monday protests spread throughout the country as people learned about the boldness of those Christians who stood on the side of hope and promise.
The question is, “What side of the rock are you going to live on? Will you live on the side of fear or on the side of life?”
There is no in-between. The questions of following, worshipping, and acknowledging this Risen one hangs in the balance. The pivot point of our lives upon which we tilt towards fear or tilt towards life is Jesus Christ.
Not our good works or obedience or wealth or anything else will change our lives from fear to life besides this promise. We cannot move ourself towards hope. The move happens when we witness the resurrection of our Lord.
To those of you not yet in the gospel, not yet sure about the good news of Jesus Christ as risen from the dead, the invitation is, “Come and see the place where he was laid.”
To all of us, the scandal to the world is that this good news of Jesus Christ will be shared by those on the side of the rock that is filled with life and promise. It is not filled with our good works, our perfect clothes, our abundant wealth. We are the side of the rock that is filled with the work of God. It is an undeserved love, what kind of live is this that my Lord would die for me.
The angel of the Lord called upon the women to be witnesses of the empty tomb, to tell the disciples that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead just as he said. In the first century - Women were not allowed to be witnesses in court. God uses those women to reveal His truth. He would not be defeated by death.
This was a fear inducing call for this women. Will they be witnesses?
Yes! By the call of God they respond as messengers.
Which side of the rock are you going to live? Will you believe in Jesus to be the one who died and rose again?
By the power of the Holy Spirit we do stand at the tomb in fear and trembling like the guards. We are sent like the women to be witnesses of what we have seen and messengers that their is mission, we go forward with the confidence that there is victory today. Alleluia! Christ is Risen.