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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Mark Batterson » Mark Batterson - Run to the Tomb

Mark Batterson - Run to the Tomb

Mark Batterson - Run to the Tomb
TOPICS: Easter, Resurrection, The Doubters Club

Over the course of 1500 years, 40 human authors inspired by the spirit of God. They were farmers and fishermen. They were poets and politicians. They were doctors and tax collectors and kings. They wrote 66 books, in three languages, on three continents, that we call the Bible. It begins with a bang, a big bang. God says, "Let there be light". Those four words are still creating galaxies at the outer edge of the universe. And it ends the way it begins. God says, "I am making all things new". The end of human history. As we know it, is the beginning of eternity. It's this dimension of reality beyond our four dimensions of spacetime that the Bible calls heaven. It's a place where there is no more sorrow or sickness or crying or pain, it's a place where wrong is made right. It's a place where God is with us and we are with God.

Now, between Genesis and Revelation, you've got the fall of man, the great flood, Israel's exodus out of Egypt. You've got judges and kings, the rise and fall of nations. There are villains and heroes, tragedies and comedies but please hear me, of all the events recorded in this book. There is one tipping point. There is one turning point. There is one defining moment. There is one inciting incident that changes everything and it is an empty tomb. Everything that predates the resurrection points forward and everything that postdates the resurrection points backward. It's the day when heaven invades earth, when eternity invades time. It's the day when life defeats death. So I say, Christ is risen and you say, Christ is risen indeed.

Welcome to National Community Church. If you are a guest, either in the house or online, it's a joy and privilege to celebrate the resurrection together. This weekend we begin a new series called the doubters club. And you can meet me in the last chapter of Luke's gospel, we'll get there in a minute. But let me frame this series. Faith is not the absence of doubt, any more than courage is the absence of fear. In fact, you can't have one without the other. Now I wish I could say no doubt but I can't, why? Because I'm human. Listen, there's a moment in the gospels where Jesus is on his way out of Jericho and he meets a man whose son is suffering with seizures. The father isn't sure where to go, what to do. He says to Jesus, "Have mercy on us and help us if you can". Jesus says, "All things are possible to him who believes".

Then the boy's father says this and it's so authentic, it's so unassuming. He says, "I do believe, help my unbelief". That moment is a microcosm that father speaks for all of us, does he not? All of us are a mixture of faith and doubt. Listen, as soon as I am omniscient, I will let you know but I would not hold your breath. I do believe but help me overcome my unbelief. All of us, are card carrying members of the doubters club and we are in good company. By definition, the word doubt means to feel uncertain about and it comes in lots of sizes and shapes. There are intellectual uncertainties, we're not sure what to think. There are theological uncertainties, we're not sure what to believe. There are circumstantial uncertainties, we're not sure what to do. Something happens and it doesn't make sense. It doesn't add up, doesn't fit our worldview and it creates this internal anchor, so am I in the right room?

And it's when bad things happen to good people. It's when we experience injustice. It's when we feel like we get a difficult diagnosis or go through a divorce or grieve the loss of a loved one. This is where those who love Jesus find themselves right after the crucifixion. And that's where we pick up the story. Their minds are racing. Their hearts are breaking, the compass needle spinning. And that's where we start reading Luke chapter 24, verse one. On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb. And when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. As they stood there puzzled. Some translations say perplexed. Two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes, the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground.

Now that word puzzled is... in the Greek, it means perplexity, anxiety, uncertainty. One translation says, they didn't know what to think. Another translation says, they were confused. A literal translation from the Greek would read, I am in doubt. They don't know what to think, don't know what to do and neither would you. There is no precedent, there is no category for what is about to happen. Verse five, then the men asked, "Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive"? Good question. He is not here, he has risen. Verse six, remember what he told you back in Galilee that the son of man must be betrayed into the hands of simple men and be crucified and that he would rise again on the third day. Then they remembered his words. I love this moment when their memories are jogged.

Now we have a tendency, to remember what we should forget and forget what we should remember. And that often is the difference between faith and doubt. I think faith is a function of God's faithfulness. Doubt is forgetting what God said and what God has done. And so I think our prayer during this series is, may God jog your memory. May you be reminded of what God has spoken to you and about you and for you. Verse nine, when they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the 11 and to all the others. And then we're introduced to who the kinda main players are here. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James and the others with them who told this to the apostles, that come on. I kinda like this, women are the first witnesses to the resurrection.

In fact, Mary Magdalene is known as the apostle to the apostles. But as they share the news, guess what? The apostles are the are members of the doubters club as well, okay? And so verse 11, it says, "They did not believe the women because their words seemed to them like nonsense". Just on behalf of all the guys, can I apologize to the ladies right here? Not much has changed and so I would just say, little... within a servant. Men believed the women, they're right. Okay, there you go. God bless, we'll see you next week. No, no, we'll keep going. They did not believe the women because their words seemed to them like nonsense, verse 12. Peter however, got up and walked to the tomb. Come on, are you with, are you reading this? No, that's not what it says. It says they ran to the tomb. I love those last four words.

And so here's the big idea, when your circumstances don't make sense, run to the tomb. When it feels like your life is falling apart, run to the tomb. When you are wrestling with doubt, you've gotta run to the tomb. When all else fails, you have to run to the tomb. The empty tomb is the answer to a thousand questions. The empty tomb is the solution to a thousand problems. And so I'll say it again, Christ is risen. On April 14th, 1755, General Edward Braddock sailed up the Potomac River to a sleepy little town called Georgetown. That is where Braddock anchored his ship. If you like history, this is also where he picked up a 23-year-old recruit named George Washington, who would serve as his aide-de-camp.

Now, if you drive West on Constitution Avenue, right where it turns into the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge, just a stone throw from the Lincoln Memorial, there is a non-descript stone well with a small historical marker. In fact, I have a picture to show you. There's a manhole cover on top of it. There's a ladder inside of it. And 16 feet below the surface is a rock, it's called Braddock's rock. And it's the place where general Edward Braddock anchored his ship on April 14, 1755. It ranks as the oldest landmark in the nation's capital and it predates America by several decades. It was the initial point for the earliest surveys of the capital city. If you look at old maps, it's called the key of all keys, why? Because it establish the coordinate system for the entire city. Every principal meridian that divides East and West, every baseline that divides North and South is measured from Braddock's rock.

Now hold that thought. 2000 years ago, Jesus of Nazareth was betrayed and arrested and ultimately crucified at a place called Golgotha, which means the place of the skull. In first century, Judea, death by crucifixion was not uncommon. Some archeologists estimate, a thousand crucifixions per year around the time of Christ. That's three per day so the crucifixion of Jesus between two criminals is par, for the course. Lots of people died on Roman crosses but please hear me, only one person predicted their death, pulled it off. And his name is Jesus. He is the way, the truth and the life. He is the resurrection and the life. And when he died on that cross, his body was placed in a tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathea And you gotta love this, who borrows the tomb? I'll tell you, someone who's only gonna need it for three days, that's who borrows a tomb.

Now it's a subplot in the story but it fulfills this ancient prophecy. There are more than 300 prophecies in the old Testament that are intended to help us identify who the Messiah is. And this one is rather curious, 700 years before the birth of Christ. The prophet Isaiah identifies the Messiah this way. Isaiah 53, nine, he was assigned a grave with the wicked and with the rich in his death. In other words, he would have two graves. Well, who has two graves? I'll tell you who, like every other person crucified by the Romans, Jesus would have been assigned a grave with the criminals. Which fulfills half of this prophecy, the other half is fulfilled when a rich man named Joseph of Arimathea offers his tomb. And so Jesus is placed in that tomb, a rock is rolled in front of it. Then according to Roman custom, the tomb was not only sealed, it was protected by the Roman guard, why? Because there was this rumor that someone was going to try to steal the body.

Now, of course, that plan backfires, why? Because the guards who were meant to prevent something from happening actually, provides circumstantial evidence, that it didn't. That no one stole the body, in fact, it was a super natural moment. And so it's done on the third day. And the women go to the tomb and as they approach the tomb, they notice that this rock is rolled away. Matthew's gospel records it this way. There was violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. The guard shook, became like dead men. Then the angel spoke to the women, "Don't be afraid, I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, he has risen just as he said".

All of that to say this, the empty tomb is our key of keys. That rock that was rolled away is how we measure time and eternity, life and death. This is where God asserts his authority, asserts his sovereignty. This is where heaven invades earth. We don't believe in happily ever after, we believe in something so much bigger and better and longer and stronger. We believe in happily for forever after, why? Because the tomb is empty. Christianity is not a moral code. And yes, we practice something called the Sermon on the Mount. And we love our enemies. We bless those who curse us. We turn the other cheek. We go the extra mile but this is not behavior modification.

Listen, Jesus didn't come just to make bad people good. He came to bring dead people to life and I might add abundant life. Christianity is not just a religion, it's a relationship with a risen Savior. I serve a risen Savior, he's in the world today. I know that he is living, whatever men may see, I see his hand of mercy. I hear his voice, a cheer and just the time I need him. He is always near. And so I close with two questions. 2000 years ago, the world woke up to an empty tomb. The sinless son of God who had been crucified on a cross conquered the grave on the third day. And when Jesus walked out of that tomb, all bets are off. All things are possible. And so here are the two questions. One, do you believe it? And two, are you living like it?

Romans 10, nine and 10. If you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. You cannot prove or disprove the resurrection of Jesus Christ, it's a tentative faith either way. And we'll talk a lot more about that in the course of this series. But I'm telling you this, it makes all the difference in the world. It is the locust of our confidence. It is the foundation of our faith. It is the Genesis and Revelation of our hope. And so, have you ever made a profession of faith? Have you ever surrendered your life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ? You can do that right here, right now. It's as simple as ABC. Listen, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We're all in this thing together.

Believe in the Lord, Jesus Christ then you shall be saved. Say, confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord" and you shall be saved. I believe that Jesus is who he said he was. I believe that he is the sinless son of God. That he died a death on the cross in my place, that he rose on that third day and that he is seated at the right hand of the Father. And so if you wanna make that decision today, listen, we wanna come alongside you and help you begin that journey. Listen, whether you're watching online or here in person, I think you'll see a little QR code. You can click on that QR code and we wanna help you, send you some resources, help you take that next step or And then I wanna extend an invitation, we have a wonderful Alpha course.

If you have questions, listen, we think the most important decisions ought to be the most informed decisions. And so open invitation, One, do you believe it? And two, are you living like it? Few years ago, Craig Rochelle wrote a book titled, the Christian Atheist. Now that sounds like an oxymoron, right? Well, it's someone who believes in God but Lives like he doesn't exist. Craig asked this question, if you were put on trial for being a Christian would there be enough evidence to convict? The resurrection is not something that we celebrate one day a year with Easter Bunnies and Easter Bonnets. It's something that we celebrate every day in every way, why? Because the same spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in us.

2000 years ago, if you were placing bets on the Roman Empire or this thing called Christianity, listen I'm guessing you would place your bets on the Roman Empire, Rome ruled the world. Jesus had a handful of followers and let's, they were unschooled and they weren't exactly first round draft picks, okay? And so here we are 2000 years later and you may eat an occasional Caesar salad but you can't even name seven Caesars. The Roman Empire is long gone, but 2 billion people call themselves Christian. One third of the world's population, identify with this person named Jesus of Nazareth. And what's that about, how does that happen? Listen, I think the best explanation is an empty tomb. Do you believe I and are you living like it? So I challenge you with this. I commission you with this, run to the tomb and if it's empty, start living like it. Let's pray:

Father would you help us, may the reality of your resurrection, right now invade our hearts, in our minds in a new way. God I pray that you would activate our faith. That Lord we would believe you for the impossible because of what happened on the third the day. We thank you for what you accomplished on the cross. Our sin is nailed to that cross but you are not. And the tomb is empty, we know that you are at the right hand of the Father and you are intercession for us right now. And so if God is for us, who can be against us? He began a good work, will carry it to completion. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. His goodness and mercy are following me all the days of my life. God is preparing good works in advance. His mercies are new every morning. And so God we stand on your promises, we stand on your word. We celebrate who you are and what you've accomplished for each one of us. And so Lord, I pray that maybe just maybe, we would sing a little louder that we would declare with a little bit more conviction, that we would not just sing these words but that we would believe them with every fiber of our being. And so Lord thank you for the empty tomb, give us a revelation in Jesus name, amen.

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