Eggs! (Easter Sunday) - Luke 24:36-43
Now this morning, because it is Easter Sunday, I thought I'd share with you my egg collection. I have here three different types of egg, and I want you to help me work out what these different types of eggs mean. Now first of all I have here a real egg. And can anyone tell me what comes out of this egg if we were to wait long enough? A lovely little chick (Acetate 1- Chick). So if you like, this first egg represents new life, because out of this shell comes the new life of a small chick. But the second egg I have here is very different. Now I have decided not to bring this egg with me this morning, but I do have a picture of it. (Acetate 2- Faberge Egg) Can anyone tell me what this egg is? It's a Faberge Egg, and these eggs were made for the Russian Royal Family at the start of the 20th century by a man called Peter Faberge and the given to the Russian Royal family as Easter Presents. Now these eggs aren't the sort you can get at Argos because they are very very expensive. Nowadays they would fetch many hundreds of thousands of pounds at an auction. They are very precious. So this egg is a very precious and expensive gift. But I've also got another egg, and this one is an Easter egg. So what is this one for? Not just eating, but if you are kind and generous like me, for sharing with other people.
Now it just so happens that all three of my eggs tell us something about the message of Easter which we are thinking about this morning. Our first egg tells us about new life, that Jesus is alive. Our second egg tells us about a very precious gift, that sins can be forgiven. And our third egg tells us that like my Easter egg, good news is for sharing. And to help us think about Easter this morning, we're going to look at Luke's gospel chapter 24, and we'll see that our three eggs will help us to remember three things that Luke wants to teach us about Easter.
1) Jesus is Alive (Vv 36-43)
(Acetate 3- Titles- Just reveal the first point) So our first egg shows us that there is new life, and with the Easter story that Jesus is alive. And Luke shows us very clearly in verses 36-43 that Jesus is alive. Now just a few days before, on Friday, Jesus' friends had had a terrible time. For Friday was the day on which Jesus had been killed. (Acetate 4- Cross). The authorities had nailed Jesus to a cross, and it seemed as if that was the end of the story. It was the saddest day of their lives. All of Jesus' followers deserted him and that Friday night must have been one of the saddest of their whole lives. But now it was Sunday, and Jesus' closest friends, the disciples were all gathered together in one room and they had heard some disturbing rumours. (Acetate 5- Garden) They had heard for instance that Jesus' tomb was empty and the massive rock that covered the tomb had been moved. Well you can imagine that sort of news was very shocking. Maybe someone had moved Jesus' body? Maybe grave robbers had stolen the body for the spices. But then the news got stranger. As Sunday wore on, people kept on coming to the house where the disciples were and saying they had seen Jesus alive. (Acetate 6- Mary) First one of the women called Mary had rushed into the room and told the disciples that she had seen Jesus alive. 'He spoken to me, she said. It really was him.' But the disciples were not very sure. 'Mary's a bit hysterical, they thought. Probably seen a ghost or just imagined it.' (Acetate 7- Peter) But then one of the disciples themselves came back with news that he also had seen Jesus alive. This time it was Peter who had seen Jesus. Peter was one of the leaders, and he was very reliable. But was it really true? Could they believe it now?
(Acetate 8- Two men) And then to cap it all two people had walked with Jesus for six miles that afternoon. And they were convinced it was Jesus. But not all the disciples were convinced. It certainly sounded like Jesus was alive. But they wouldn't believe it until they saw Jesus themselves.
But that is exactly what happened. Let's see how Luke puts it in verse 36: 'While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, 'Peace be with you.'' (Acetate 9- Disciples with Jesus) So Jesus himself was with his disciples. He was standing there right in front of them. But still some of them had some difficulty believing it, according to Luke. Verse 37: 'They were startled and frightened thinking they saw a ghost. So Jesus said to them: 'Why are you troubled and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself. Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see I have.'' Jesus actually got his disciples to touch him. It was really was him! (Acetate 10- Jesus eating with disciples) And he even proved it was him by eating some fish in front of them. Ghosts can't eat things can they? But Jesus sat in front of them and eat some fish. Luke tells us in verse 43 that Jesus took it and ate it in their presence!
Now it just so happens that I have brought my packed lunch with me this morning, because I wasn't sure what we were doing for lunch. I thought I'd better be prepared. And in this lunch I have a tuna sandwich. Now if I were to take a bite out of this tuna sandwich, you'd be in no doubt whatsoever that I was alive. And imagine that after the service, you bumped into your friend in the street and you got chatting, and then you said: 'Hey, you'll never guess what happened in church today. And they'd say no. And you'd carry on: Well the curate got out his packed lunch in the middle of the service in front of everyone and started eating it! It's absolutely true. It was outrageous!' And your friend might say to you: 'Really, are you sure?' And you could reply: 'Yes, I saw it with my own eyes, and there were lots of other people there as well!' And when Jesus ate his fish, he showed that he really was alive and there were lots of people who could say that the story was true. In fact hundreds of people saw Jesus alive over the next few weeks. So the first thing we learn about Easter this morning is that Jesus is alive. And there can be no doubts whatsoever.
2) Sins Can be Forgiven (Vv 44-47)
But there is another thing that Luke tells us about Easter. And our second egg gives us a clue. Like the Faberge egg, it's a very precious gift. And this gift is that sins can be forgiven. (Acetate 3- Titles again- shows points 1 and 2) Now if I were to ask you what do you think the Easter message is all about, how would you sum it up, what would you say? I guess you might say 'Jesus is Risen!' or something like that. But actually Luke tells us that the real message of Easter is 'Sin can be forgiven! You see if we were all to go home saying Jesus is alive, then we might think 'well so what?' What does it mean for me? But actually Jesus rose for a reason. He rose again to prove that he has the power of death and that he is God and is able to forgive sins. His death on Good Friday for all the things we have done wrong was proved to be true on Easter Sunday when Jesus rose again. Let's see how Luke puts it in verse 46: 'Jesus told his disciples: 'This is what is written [in the Bible]: The Christ [Jesus] will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day. And repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations.' Jesus says that his life was prophesied in the OT and that it was about coming to earth to forgive our sins. And the fact that Jesus rose again proves who Jesus is and that he really can forgive sins. Now if that is true, then it is the best news in the whole world. Because it means that all the things we do wrong, all the things we fell guilty for, all the things that cut us off from God can be forgiveness and paid for.
Let me show you what I mean with these two chairs. Now this first chair represents you and me, and this second chair represents God. Now at first the two chairs are facing each other because man was perfect and was friends with God. But the problem for us is that we don't do what God says, we ignore our maker's instructions and we rebel against him. We turn our backs on him. (Turn chair 1) It maybe we say 'I'm no great sinner. I'm nice and decent. But in God's terms, none of us are perfect and we simply do what we want with us as the boss. And the problem with that is that God because of his justice and holiness turn away from us. He cannot have dealings with those who rebel against him. (Chair 2 turned around) If you like there is a huge chasm between us and God which we can do nothing about. (Acetate 11- Sin Chasm) But that is not how it stays. Because the good news of the Easter story is that because Jesus died for us on the cross, because he took the punishment we rightly deserve, then God can have us back. Justice has been seen, because someone else has died for us in our place, Jesus Christ. And his resurrection proves that the job is done. (Chair 2 turned back again!) (Acetate 12- Bridge on top of Ac. 11) And it means God is longing for us to turn back to him. He's urging each of us here to receive that forgiveness that Jesus died for and to come back into relationship with the God who made us. And that is why Easter is great news. Because Jesus is alive and sins can be forgiven. And this morning would be a brilliant day to come back to God and receive his forgiveness for the very first time. Because Jesus came to this earth to offer us a very precious gift. The forgiveness of sins. And it's a gift each one of us can receive.
3) Good News is far Sharing (Vv 48-49)
But we've one final egg to look at. So far we've seen that Jesus is alive and that sins can be forgiven, new life and a precious gift. But what did our third egg tell us. This Easter egg is for sharing, and it shows us another thing about Easter that good news is for sharing. (Acetate 3 Titles again- all three!) Now of course the brilliant thing about having an Easter egg is that you can eat all the chocolate yourself. Now that would be fine. But do you know, there is a much better thing to do with an Easter egg, and that is to share it out! (Share Easter egg!) And Luke tells us in verse 47-48 that the good news about Easter that Jesus is alive and can forgive our sins is for sharing: 'This message is to be preached, that is told to people, to all the nations beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.' So Jesus tells the disciples that they are to tell the whole world about Jesus and his forgiveness of sins. And that command has now been passed on to us. We are to go and tell the whole world about Jesus. And why? Because it's such good news. I cannot think of any better news than that Jesus is alive and he is able to forgive our sins and brings us back to God. There is no greater news than that. And it's for sharing.
And what is the first thing we do when we receive good news? It's to tell someone. Now a few months ago, some friends of ours had a baby and they called her Phoebe. (Acetate 13- Phoebe Burton!) And what was the first thing they did? They told all their friends about Phoebe. They sent pictures over the internet, they wrote letters, they phoned. They did everything they could to get the message of Phoebe's birth to everyone they knew. But we have some much better news don't we? Not just that a baby has been born, but that Jesus is alive and he has died for us so we could be forgiven of our sins. That is the best news in the world. And God commands us to tell this news to the world. And we should take and pray for lots of opportunities to tell others about Jesus. In fact there is a brilliant opportunity coming up in the second week of May as we have our mission, called the Big Issue. And there we can bring people to church, we can take them to the pub, we can bring friends to our children's clubs, all sorts of things so they can hear the good news about Jesus. Because really it's very selfish to keep good things to ourselves. If I had kept my egg to myself, you'd have thought me very mean. And we have a priceless gift to share with others. So good news is for sharing.
So we've seen three things about Easter from Luke's gospel this morning. (Acetate 3 titles again) And my three eggs have helped us to see what they are. First Easter tells us Jesus is alive, second Easter tells us sin can be forgiven, and third Easter tells us that good news is for sharing. Well let's thank God for this great news now, and ask him to help us to tell others!
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