Support us on Paypal
Contact Us
Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Mike Novotny » Mike Novotny - Jesus' Empty Grave = My Immortality

Mike Novotny - Jesus' Empty Grave = My Immortality

Mike Novotny - Jesus' Empty Grave = My Immortality
TOPICS: Don't Miss Moments, Easter, Resurrection

So, I was thinking about it, this past week, and it kind of hit me that I feel bad for Easter. They say that there are two "don't miss moments" in the Christian faith: Christmas and Easter. The birth of the Savior who came to rescue us and his glorious resurrection to prove that he had. But I was thinking culturally, just thinking how the way things work in our lives, and would you agree with me that it is almost impossible to miss Christmas, but it is very, very possible to miss Easter? I mean, not everyone celebrates Christmas or worships Jesus as the son of God, but it is really, Christmas day sneaks up on zero people in American culture. But Easter's a little bit different. You ever think of this? When's the last time you had like a "Let's do a half day at work, Let's dress up and bring gifts at our office Easter party"? Right?

Christmas, of course, that's a given. When's the last time you saw a kid who had like a countdown chain until Easter morning and a long gift list that they gave to mom and dad, and grandma and grandpa, and everyone else? When's the last time you had a fight with one of your friends whether you could play Easter music before or after St. Patrick's day? Vicious social media debate. Any of you heard the Pentatonix's Christmas album before? Yeah, a bunch of you. Any of you heard the Pentatonix's Easter album? No, I mean everyone from Elvis to Justin Bieber has a Christmas album, but no pop star's dropping a dozen hits about the empty tomb of Jesus Christ. You know, Christmas, we get like a month preparing our hearts for that big day when it arrives.

Whether you're a church person or not, you can't miss it. But Easter, I mean, you're here so you didn't totally miss it or you're watching at home, so you didn't completely whiff on it, but I wonder if this year Easter kind of snuck up on you. And you haven't thought a ton about it or meditated on it or prepared your heart for it. You're here, but Easter in our culture is pretty easy to miss. I was also trying to think why is that? If in the Christian faith, Easter is a massively important deal, how is it possible that some of us reach this day without being emotionally and spiritually prepared? If you're taking notes at home or in your program, you can grab your pen because I came up with two big answers to that question, why people in our day and in our culture miss Easter.

Here's the first one, for some of you, maybe a bunch of you watching at home, we miss Easter because Easter, no offense, seems crazy. Right? When you really stop and think about the Easter message of Christianity, if it's your first time ever hearing it, if you weren't raised in like a Christian culture, in a Christian home, wouldn't it sound like a bit much? "Wait, you're saying this guy, Jesus, put all these amazing teachings about love and God, you're saying he was actually the son of God"? Yep, that's what we're saying. "And you're saying that he died one Friday and like, his memory rose up and lives in your hearts"? Nope, nope. We're not saying that. We're saying, our Jesus had no brainwaves, no pulse and no heartbeat for 36 hours and then he flipped it. He came back to life on the third day. It just sounds so natural if you've been born and raised with it, but if you're brand new to it, you might be thinking, "Really"?

Maybe your girlfriend totally buys it, and maybe your parents are all about the Christian faith, maybe a coworker or someone like dragged you in or gave you the link to watch this at home, but you're kind of thinking in the back of your head, "Really"? If you're wired to rely on reason, and love logic, and not just be a person who jumps in and blindly believes things, that's pretty tough to swallow that Jesus actually rose from the dead on the third day. And so, yeah, maybe the day on the calendar doesn't surprise you but you're not, like, all in with worships, and prayers, and preparing your heart, because it just doesn't seem all that believable. Or maybe that's not your reason. Maybe the reason that Easter is so missable and sneaks up on you is not because it seems crazy, here's my second answer if you're filling in the blanks, but because life is busy. Is it just me or does spring feel busier than ever?

When I look at my calendar, it kind of hits me that after spring break, my family doesn't get a break until summer break. Like, here in Wisconsin, we've been cooped up for what, four months, freezing? Six months... If you're watching like, in Florida right now, you need to pray for the good brothers and sisters here in Wisconsin. Like, so, finally, finally, finally starts warming up, and then things get crazy, don't they? There's spring cleaning, and there's spring sports. And we're probably starting late so you're rescheduling games and you're cleaning out the garage, and you have to rake the backyard, and then plant the flowers, and plant the garden, and you're just running in every single direction. And then, May comes.

Do you know how mad May is? There's final exams, and they're studying for tests, and there's confirmations, and there's graduations, and there's the cousin, your brother, your sister. Then, there's the graduation party that doesn't happen on graduation weekend because they want it to be their special weekend. And so, you're running, and running, and running. Then, there's Mother's Day, and if you miss Mother's Day, you're dead. Alright, God just sends a lightning bolt directly down upon you. So, second, young man, second Sunday in May, don't miss it. She pushed you out of her body, get her something nice, alright? So, I mean, we're running from the start of spring to the end of it, and because Easter's right in the middle of there somewhere, we miss it. And it's not that we doubt it, it's not that we don't believe it, it's not that we don't love it, it's just that even for Christians, we can get to Easter worship and think, "Huh. It's here".

But no matter where you're at, whether, maybe you're not a Christian and it seems crazy, or you are a Christian and you've just been busy, here's the big idea I want to share with you today: the Bible refuses to let you miss Easter. If you're willing to pick up this book and read it, there simply is not a chance that you miss the goodness, and the bigness, and the amazingness of the message of Easter. And I have the nerdy data to prove it. Write this down. I recently cut and pasted the big chunks of the Bible that have to do with Christmas or the birth of Jesus especially Luke 2, Matthew 1, and I learned, because I know you were curious about this, that it totals up to a total of 633 words.

That's what the Bible has to say about Christmas. But Easter, I copied and pasted from Luke 24, from Mark 16, from Matthew 28, from John 20 and 21, from 1 Corinthians 15, the epic resurrection chapter of the Bible, and do you know what it added up to? Not 633 words. Write this down, 3,575 words. So, if you read the Bible, the Bible is saying to you, "Whoa, you think the birth of... you're excited about a little baby in Bethlehem, let me tell you something that is quintuple biblically important". The Bible tells you and then it tells you, and then it tells you, and then it tells you, and then it tells you again, "Don't miss Easter".

So, last night I had the chance to read of all of it, 3,575 words. And what fascinated me so much about those words was this, that whether you think Easter's kind of crazy, or whether you've just been really busy, the Bible has something specific to say to both of you. Like, if you're just here as one of our guests, or if you're just watching at home and you're not sure about the Christian faith, today the Bible is going to speak directly to you about something compelling to maybe, maybe, maybe, make you think this isn't crazy and it's not blind faith, and there's good reasons to believe that Jesus actually rose from the dead. Or if like me you've maybe just been a little bit busy and distracted, the Bible's also going to speak directly to you and say, "Hey, however busy you've been, it might be time to reorder your priorities because this is such good news, and it is so important for your heart and your soul. You don't want to spend another spring missing the bigness of the resurrection of Jesus".

So, because you probably have Easter brunch plans and because our time on TV is limited, I'm not going to read all 3,575 words. I'm just going to read you 12 verses from the accounts of the gospel of Luke. Luke 24, we read these words. "On the first 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, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, 'Why do you look for the living among the dead? He's not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee:"

Here's a Jesus quote. "The Son of Man," nickname for Jesus, "must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.'" End of Jesus' quote. "Then the women remembered Jesus' words. When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven," that's the 11 apostles, and to all the others. "It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened".

Yep. Peter proudly dismisses the women who are spot on right, and I don't love that he did that, but I actually love Luke recorded that. It's almost like Luke is speaking to those of you who aren't quite sure about the Christian faith. Like, yeah, you're not the first. If you're like, "Why do people believe this stuff? It seems like nonsense. Like, don't they think? Bodies don't come back from the dead". Luke is saying to you, "Do you know who thought that exact same thing? The guy we now name Christian churches after". But here's what I love about Peter's reaction, even though he dismissed the female witnesses, verse 12 says this, "Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb".

If he thought it was nonsense, why did he go check it out for himself? Here's the answer. There was something about his theory that it didn't quite fit. Right? There was something about it that wasn't like airtight logical. There was enough of a pebble in his sandal that he wasn't quite sure about his disbelief and his doubt. Right? if there was just one person who was like going on and on about something they said they saw or dreamed or whatever, you could dismiss that, but did you notice it was Mary, and it was the other Mary, and it was Joanna, and it was all these other women? Like, what are the odds that like five or more witnesses have the same like, made up thought in their heads, all corroborating the same story? That didn't make sense. And Peter knew that these were the very women who had been there at the tomb where Jesus was buried, so it's not like they got the wrong address and just saw someone else's empty tomb?

And they were absolutely convinced word by word, they're like, quoting things that Jesus once said which didn't seem hysterical or illogical. There's enough things that just didn't fit in Peter's head, that he had the humility and the curiosity to explore it for himself. And if you're not so sure about the Christian faith, that is my prayer for you too. Maybe you believe this, and I know a lot of people say this that you know, some of the things about Jesus in the Bible are kind of myths and made-up stories. "He was an actual person. Had a lot of good things to say about spirituality, but you know, it kind of got blown out of proportion over the years, and he turned into the Son of God, and he rose from the dead, but that can't be true. Right? Maybe it's just a story that people made up to feel good, or to get rich, or to get famous, or to get a following".

But if that's what you think what do you do with the evidence? We know that the gospel of Luke wasn't written like, 500 years after Jesus supposedly rose when all the eyewitnesses were dead. We know that it was written like 20 to 30 years after it happened. So, how do you make up a story when all the people who could say if it was true or false are still there? And if Luke was making up this story just to make Peter look good, why does Peter look so bad? I've never gotten that. Like, if you actually read the Bible, you should know that the leaders of the early Christian church are buffoons. They're very flawed. They look totally, they doubt Jesus. They get in stupid fights all the time.

So, if this is just a made-up story to make these first Christians rich and famous, why wouldn't they have edited out the parts that make them look so, so bad? That doesn't fit. And did you know this, that in the 1st century Jewish culture, Jewish men were so sexist that they wouldn't even let women testify in court because they'd be "hysterical women who couldn't be trusted. Their words were nonsense". So, in that culture, if this was a made-up story, why would Luke put the fact that the first witnesses of the most important day were not men but women. Like, what do with that? I'm seriously curious. If you don't believe the story, what do you make of that? If you're taking notes, here's what I want to say to some of you who aren't so sure about Christianity just yet. Don't miss Easter's evidence.

I don't want you to shut off your brain. I'm not asking you to have blind faith. I'm just asking you to look at what has been written, what's historically been proven. I want you to engage your logic. I'm not saying that a resurrection of the dead is natural. It is absolutely a miracle, but it is a miracle that has strong evidence to support it. Many of you are members of this Christian church, many of you watching at home are devout followers of Jesus, so what is Luke saying to us? We don't think it's crazy. We don't think it's nonsense. We don't have our doubts. Write this down as long as you have your pens in your hand. I think Luke is saying to us, "Don't miss Easter's life".

Like, there is so much life in the Easter story. Here's how I'm defining life. You might want to fill in your blank with a capital L. I'm talking about a kind of life that has joy, and peace, and purpose. I'm talking about the kind of life when you wake up in the morning and hopefully, one of your first thoughts is a thought of joy. No matter how busy you are, no matter what's going on in your life or your family, like you think "I seriously have a good life". Smile starts to creep onto your face. "What an amazing day this is".

You start to rejoice from the very first moment, joy. And I'm talking about peace. So, you get to the end of a day, and it might have been a stressful day. It might have been a crazy day. None of the boxes got checked. Stuff happened with people you care about. You made decisions you probably shouldn't have made. You said things you probably shouldn't have said. But instead of living with fear or anxiety, or guilt, or shame, or regret, you're ending the day with peace. Joy and peace. And in between when you wake up and when you go to bed, I'm talking about purpose where you actually believe that your day mattered. Even if the kids at school didn't notice a thing, even if you could have been at home, your boss wouldn't have known the difference. I'm talking no matter what you do or where you do it or for whom you do it, however many followers you have, however many likes or shares, like, that doesn't matter. I'm talking about saying, "This day mattered. I matter". Life. Joy. Peace. Purpose.

I have a hunch that you want it as much as I do, but here's the problem, life happens. I mean, we want capital L, Life, but then you're just battling anxiety or you're coping with trauma. You're trying to keep your family together or recover it because she doesn't want to be married to you anymore. You're trying to deal with craziness at work, and too few employees, and extra hours. You're dealing with final exams, and graduation, and finding a job. You're trying to figure out relationships and your next door neighbors. Like, that's the stuff that gets in the way of our joy, and our peace, and our purpose. Doesn't it? And so, you and I all have this kind of idea, "Oh, you know, but, if I can get this, that'll fix it. If I could just... that would give me a good life".

But here's the problem. So often you and I go looking for capital L, Life, in all the wrong places. And it's not always falling off the moral cliff and just doing crazy things over things over the weekend like living a Vegas lifestyle. Sometimes, we just get so focused and so busy with good things that we miss the best things. Do you think when I'm having like a really hard season at work, I don't know how to raise my daughters during the teenage years, or I really mess up and just say something just dumb and sinful, and I'm feeling bad at the end of the day, do you think I stare up at the ceiling in my bedroom and think, "But Mike, you can moonwalk. It's going to be a good day". Like, no, right?

And some of you have experienced this. Like, you can have an amazing trip, like, all-inclusive in Mexico, eating, and then you get home from the trip, right. How long does the joy of that vacation last? Or the peace of these experiences that we... it's not that it's bad, and it's not that it doesn't work and help, but if we want like real life with lasting joy, lasting peace, and lasting purpose, we need more than the stuff on our bucket list. And I wonder if that's the problem that some of you have with Easter. Like, you're just so busy with this stuff that you missed all the life in the good stuff. Like, parents, if you literally spent more time shopping for your kid's Easter basket than talking to them about the Easter gospel, you missed it. You got duped into forgetting about the best thing for lesser things.

And that's why that angel wasn't just speaking to the women years ago. And remember what the angel said in verses five and six? He said this, "Why do you look for the living among the dead"? "Why are you here? You want life? You want joy? You want peace? You want purpose? It's not here because Jesus is not here. Jesus has risen". I want to tell you today that real life like, if you're after, just like I am, that joy, and that peace, and that purpose, it is not in an empty tomb, and it is not in the empty, temporary things of this world, it is found in Jesus. If you want life, fix your thoughts on Jesus. Fix your thoughts on the reality that Jesus loved you so much, he died for you, and he wanted to help you so much he rose from the grave for you.

So, that tomorrow morning when you wake up and pop out of bed, no matter how much drama and brokenness is in your life, no matter how much depression, anxiety or weights you're carrying on your shoulders, if you think, "But Jesus is alive. There's not a second of a minute of an hour of this day that I have to go through on my own. He is a living good shepherd, and he will never leave me and forsake me, what could be so bad about today if the Son of God is living to be by my side"? And then, you get to the end of the day with all the regrets and redos you wish you could have, but you think, "But Jesus is alive. He is alive to prove that when he said on the cross, 'It's finished,' he meant it and he did it".

That means that every mistake, every failure, every struggle, every bit of shame, and every sin, it's not on me anymore. It's nailed to a cross. God likes me. God loves me. His face, I can't see it, but it's shining down upon me. If Jesus is alive then I have peace and I have purpose. Work might not work out like I want it to, life might not go anything according to plan, but my Jesus, who is living and active, who's by my side all day long, he says that what I do matters. Jesus sees every kid who honors his father by obeying on the first time. That matters to him. Jesus sees every one of you who's working and you're kind of snubbed by a snarky email but instead of replying, you pray, and you forgive. It matters to him.

When the baby wakes up and cries, and you're awake and your wife's awake, and instead of pretending like you're asleep, you get out of bed. Was I the only one that did that? That matters to Jesus. He actually said, "If you just give a cup of cold water to a little kid in my name, you will not lose your reward in Heaven". You don't have to be rich. You don't have to be famous. You don't have to be, no one even has to see it, because Jesus is alive, so he sees all of it. If Jesus was a bunch of bones in a Jewish tomb, he wouldn't wake up with you, he wouldn't walk with you, and he wouldn't be there at the end of your toughest days, but thank God, amen and hallelujah, he's not in that tomb. He is risen. And that means if you trust in him, you are forgiven. Friends, I know it might seem crazy and I know you're super busy, but don't miss Easter. If you find Easter, you find Jesus. The one who called himself "The way, and the truth, and... The life". Let's pray:

Jesus, thank you so much for being here. When we're done with this program, when we log off online, when we walk out these doors, life's going to be waiting for us and so will you. You're going to get up from the chair that you took next to us today and with all the angels, and the Holy Spirit, and our heavenly Father, you're going to be with us. And if that's true, what could stop us? What could stop us from being loved, or forgiven, or saved? What could prevent us from mattering and being important in your kingdom? Thank you so much for every spiritual gift that is ours because you died and rose for the forgiveness of our sins. Heavenly Father, this day and this week, let's make a huge deal out of Easter. Stir our hearts. Remind us of this message so that we would pick up a Bible or log on to a Bible search engine and just read, and reflect, and realize that in you and in the empty tomb, we have so, so much. So grateful for you today, Jesus, that there are countless religions in the world that make us earn it, we have to be a good person, but not you. You said the prodigals are welcomed home. That your love is so restless and reckless that even wandering sheep are brought back to the fold. We're so grateful for grace, and mercy, and salvation, and a place at your table that is a free gift, that is not by works so that none of us can boast, and all of us can have hope. So, fill us with that hope today. God, we're so grateful for your Son, We're so grateful for the life that we find in him. We pray all these things confidently and joyfully, In the name of Jesus Christ. And everyone who believed it said, "Amen".

Are you Human?:*