Sunday Evening English Worship
April 1, 2018 - 5:00 pm
Messenger: Don Frank
Bible Passage - Acts 4:13
Introduction - The month of April begins today and today is a special day for several different reasons. What day is today? Of course, today is Easter, one of the most special holidays of the Christian calendar. Also, today is April Fools' Day, the day that many people enjoying making jokes. Today also happens to be my brother's birthday. You can imagine how many jokes he had to put up with in his lifetime because he was born on April Fools' Day! So what's the date today? April 1, 2018. Please take a careful look at that last set of numbers, 2-0-1-8.
I've been seeing this often as I have been doing more and more weddings recently. During each wedding, that couple signs their marriage certificate and they write the date as well. Every time you look at the date or write the date, you are a acknowledging the life of Jesus Christ. When Christ came into our world, He split history in two! Whenever we write today's date, we are remembering the life of Jesus Christ, the most important person in history!
If Christ is the most important person of history, then today has to be the most important day in all of history. And that's what I want us to look at this evening as we study the Bible - Easter Day. The scripture passage that I'd like to begin with tonight doesn't talk about Easter, but talks about the power of Easter. It's found in Acts 4:13 (ISV). "Now when the Jewish leaders saw the boldness of Peter and John and found out that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and realized that they had been with Jesus."
Just by looking at Peter and John, the Jewish leaders could see that they had been with Jesus. Christ had so changed their lives that everyone could see they were Christians. And that's what Jesus taught. He said in Matthew chapter 6, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Jesus had utterly changed the lives of his disciples. Everyone could see clearly that they were followers of Christ. And when did this start? It started on Easter Day. So let's walk together through three events of Easter Day, from morning till evening.
1. - Morning - The Open Tomb - It all started early this morning with the greatest miracle of history - Christ's resurrection! Matthew 28:1-4 tells us this, "1 Early on Sunday morning, as the new day was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went out to visit the tomb. 2 Suddenly there was a great earthquake! For an angel of the Lord came down from heaven, rolled aside the stone... 4 The guards shook with fear when they saw him, and they fell into a dead faint." The birth of Jesus Christ is often described as a silent night and a holy night, but this was a completely different story! A truly bright angel came down from heaven itself, rolled back the stone and a great earthquake shook everything! The soldiers were so shocked that they just passed out on the ground as if they were dead. The whole scene was affected by the power of Christ's resurrection!
But the morning had just begun. After the women went back and told the disciples what had happened, then Peter, John and Mary Magdalene when out to the tomb to take a look. After Peter and John had checked everything out, they went back and Mary stayed there at the graveside. John 20:14-18 tells us this, 14 "Mary turned to leave the tomb 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”). 17 'Don’t cling to me,' Jesus said, 'for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.' " 18 Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, 'I have seen the Lord!' Then she gave them his message."
Mary was so honored to be the first person to see Jesus after He came back to life! And she was filled with joy and went right away to tell the disciples what had happened! She had been with Jesus that morning and her life would never be the same after that!
2. - Afternoon - The Open Scriptures - The next event takes place in the afternoon with two of Jesus’ disciples walking back from Jerusalem to the city of Emmaus. They had been through a tough, yet amazing weekend and now they were heading home. As they were walking along the road, the Bible tells us the story in Luke 24 that I’m sure all of you know very well:
13 That same day two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking with them. 16 But God kept them from recognizing him... 27 Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. 28 By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if he were going on, 29 but they begged him, “Stay the night with us, since it is getting late.” So he went home with them. 30 As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. 31 Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared! 32 They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” 33 And within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem. There they found the eleven disciples and the others who had gathered with them... 35 Then the two from Emmaus told their story of how Jesus had appeared to them as they were walking along the road... Luke 24:13-35 (NLT)
This time it wasn’t just one person that Jesus appeared to, but two of Jesus friends. The first time Jesus appears, it’s outside the open tomb. This time Jesus chooses to have a long conversation with these two men as he opens the Scriptures. God himself was right there explaining His Word to His disciples! Who needs a Bible commentary when you have the author of the book right there to explain it to you! And because of this meeting with Jesus, the two men’s hearts caught on fire and began to burn with a new energy for their risen Lord!
3. - Evening- Their Open Hearts - Now the final event that I’d like to share with you this evening happens on Easter evening, just like today. As we saw at the end of our last event, the two disciples from Emmaus decided to go directly back to Jerusalem and tell the other disciples what had just happened. They arrived at the locked room where the disciples were staying and began to tell their story. And here is what John chapter 20 says about that:
19 That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. 20 As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! 21 Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” John 20:19-22 (NLT)
As these two disciples were telling their story, suddenly Jesus was right there in the room with all of them! Now, seeing angels at the grave like the women did must’ve been a big shock, but this was even more of a surprise! Here’s the real Jesus standing right before their eyes! They couldn’t believe what they were seeing, so Jesus helped them out by showing them his hands and his side. Luke tells us in Luke 24 that they still had trouble believing and were filled with joy and wonder, so he asked them, “You guys got anything to eat around here?” And they gave him a piece of broiled fish and he ate it as they watched! He was indeed real! Now, their hearts were open!
Then in this Bible passage, John tells us that Jesus breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.“ Now, we know that it wasn’t for another 10 days after Jesus went back to heaven that we celebrate the day of Pentecost which is the coming of the Holy Spirit in power. So, what is this that Jesus is talking about? I believe this is a symbol or a preview of what was going to happen soon. I also believe this is like Jesus blessing them for the ministry that they would soon begin.
Conclusion - And so it is with us 2018 years after Jesus. Before Easter, we were just like the disciples, scared and hiding inside of our hearts. Then Jesus comes to us and gives us the power of the Holy Spirit and we are never again the same! Because of the power of Easter, when people look at us will they automatically be able to say, “This person has been with Jesus!“? That’s my prayer for us tonight. May the power of Easter and the power of the Holy Spirit change our lives so that people will always know that we are Christians! (Read also Acts 4:33 and Philippians 3:10!)
Closing Prayer - Now, let’s finish up our time as we usually do by taking one of our Bible passages and reading it together. Let’s use our last passage, John 20:19-22 (NLT).
19 That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. 20 As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! 21 Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
Now, we’ll transform this Bible passage into our closing prayer and read it together as we finish our evening.
Dear Risen Lord Jesus, we are so happy we could celebrate Easter today. Please take away all of our fears and show us Yourself every day. Give us Your peace that passes all understanding and fill our hearts with joy. Please give us the power of the Holy Spirit every day. Help us to live a life of happiness and to serve you with all of our hearts. May everyone know that we have been with you. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.