Sermon Summary 9/3/17) “The Certainty of Hope” (Luke 23:44-46; 24:13-14; John 20:1-7)
When we walk away from Jesus, we walk away from hope. We may not know it, but we walk away from hope. But even then, Jesus comes along side us to prod us, to nudge us (prevenient grace). The two disciples on the road to Emmaus had lost hope (“we had hoped he would be the one to save his people.” Lk24:24a) Had hoped, they had lost hope. Jesus came along side to nudge them. “Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he to interpreted them the things about himself in all of scriptures.” He nudged them. “Were not our hearts burning within us as he talked to us on the road?” All we need is say “Yes.”
This is Luke’s story of the post-resurrection appearance of Jesus to his church. The tomb was empty. We can be certain. He appeared to his disciples. We can be certain. We can be certain of the resurrection. We can be certain of our resurrection. We can be people of hope.
Tim Keller has become on of my favorite author’s. Sometimes known as the CS Lewis of the 21st century, he knocks down reason after reason that skeptics have for not believing. They demand ironclad proof. He points out that there is no proof, and no proof either for their assertion that there is no God or our faith that he exists. But what Keller provides are clues, clue after clue, dozens of clues to the existence of God. It takes far more faith not to believe than to believe.
Clues like the “Big Bang.” (then beginning with Moses, the creation story), the empty tomb and resurrection appearances, the immediate understanding by the disciples in the divinity of Jesus (Hymns in Colossians and Philippians, and John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”) Something happened to make them believe! Then most of all, the response of the disciples to build the church even in the face of death. Folks, nobody is willing to die for what they know to be a lie. You can be certain of the resurrection. You can be certain in your resurrection. You can be people of hope. And that changes everything.
The clues are overwhelming. It takes far more faith not to believe than to believe. The certainty of hope gives you reason for being. It gives you purpose, to be a follower of Jesus. It gives you guidelines for livings, placing the interests of others above self. Hope changes everything.
If we pick up the Easter story after Peter and John have left the garden (John 20:7), we find Mary Magdalene in the garden alone. Mary is without hope until Jesus nudges her. “Mary.” Can you imagine the sweetness in his voice? She runs and tells the disciples, “I have seen the Lord.” Mary, like us, became a person of hope, certain about the resurrection. Certain about her resurrection. Hope. That changes everything. We can live as people of hope. Amen.