Do not be surprised – Convicting Easter Sermon

If you are a pastor or lay person who wants to use this to preach in church – that is why I posted it.  I don’t care about credit, I only care that God’s word is preached and Christ is glorified.  I pray He uses this sermon in a mighty way through you.  You have my permission to alter it (it’s longer than usual) and use it however God leads you.  God bless you in your ministry. You can bookmark this to check out the other free written sermons on my blog.

Surprise 1 –

  • Messiah as a baby – Regarding Jesus’ birth—

*Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

*Isaiah 9:6: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

*Micah 5:2: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

Yet when the time comes, no room for them and the King of Creation, the Savior of the World is born in the midst of animals and the shepherds, the lowest members of society come to give testimony to His birth.

Surprise 2-

  • Messiah on the cross – Isaiah 53:3-7: “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.”

Yet when the time comes, Peter denies, the disciples scatter –

Jesus Himself on the cross and the resurrection-

He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.” But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it. ~ Mark 9:30-32

Surprise 3-

Yet when the time comes, nobody is looking for the resurrection – the women go to annnoint the body –

How amazing would it have been if the story had gone like this:

And it seemed like that stone was never going to move. We sat there all through Friday night, watching and praying, but we didn’t expect it then. And when the sun came up on Saturday, we kept saying to each other, tomorrow…. tomorrow… tomorrow…. And talk about a day dragging on. On Saturday the sun would just not go down. We watched and waited and prayed, but man, that was the longest day ever. And then the sun went down. And then it must have been after midnight. And Peter thought he saw the stone move, but no. A false alarm. We couldn’t stay awake when Jesus asked us to stay awake and pray in the garden, but do you think anyone was able to sleep this night? Not on your life. Every cricket chirp Peter thought it was the stone moving. He was driving us nuts. But then…. but then… the stone moved. No angels. No nothing. The stone just rolled uphill, out of the rut it was in. It was a miracle. And then Jesus walked right out, right there, right before our eyes… Just like He said. And He said, Hey guys….what’s up? Peace to you. I’m so glad you knew what I was talking about, that you believed me, and that you had the faith to be here to greet me.

But we know that is not how it went down. We know how it went down – they gave up on Him.

Surprise 4-

And we are not so unlike the disciples. Because He has told us that He is coming back. And He told us how to live until He does. And in spite of what He told us, we go on living life as if He is not coming back. We go on living life as if we can care only about ourselves. We are not living how He told us to live. And if any of us think we are, we are deceiving ourselves.

What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus? I have 300 “followers” on my blog – other writers who have followed me. Of those 300 followers, there are about 3 who regularly read my blog. The other 297 just followed my blog so that I will follow them back. They are not really interested in my writing, but they want to gain followers. So they are interested in what their “following” me gets them. They are not in it for following me. They are not really following me.

There’s another surprise I want to warn you about. Matthew 25:31-46

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

I almost titled today’s sermon, roll away the stone and follow me. And by that I mean, too many of us think church is the goal – the destination. When the church is actually the means to accomplish the goal – which is to love Jesus. And we know we are his when we show God’s love to a lost and dying world. And we are each responsible only for following Jesus ourselves.

In John chapter 21, Jesus restores Peter, and Jesus tells Peter, “Follow me”. Peter says to Jesus, “What about John?” Jesus says, “You don’t worry about Him. You worry about you. And you worry about following me.”

I end here, to let you know I am not judging any of you for how you are following Jesus. But I know from the Scripture from Matthew that people are going to be surprised. Even people who do a lot of good works will be surprised. And people have always been surprised, even when they have been warned.

We were not surprised at Christmas when we celebrated the birth of Jesus the Messiah in a stable. We were not surprised on Good Friday when we mourned that He died on the cross for our sins. We were certainly not surprised this morning when we gathered to proclaim that “He is risen”. Because we are looking at all of those events in the rear view mirror. But just as they were surprised by all that lay ahead of them, there will be some among us, some who have everyone fooled, who will be surprised when He says, “depart from me, I never knew you.”

But unlike all the people who lived through the other surprises, they still had a chance after the surprise. When the final surprise comes for each of us, it is indeed finished. When He says, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.” That’s final. And when He says, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” That’s also final.

And this is not a bad news sermon. This is a message of Good News. Each of us still have time. Those we love still have time. Pastor David Jeremiah once said, “The more dangerous the prescription, the more important the warning label on the medicine bottle.”

This morning you and I have a chance to examine your relationship with Jesus Christ.

If you are lost, it’s better to be way lost, because at least you know where you stand. Is there anyone here who would readily admit they are not saved? If that is you, count today a blessing, because you can change that.

For the rest of us…..

Do I justify my own lukewarm life by comparing myself to others?

Do I love Him or do I love what He can do for me?

Am I truly following Him or am I just trying to impress others?

Will He put me in line with the sheep or the goats?

The most dangerous place to be is to believe without following.

Today, I invite you to recommit your life to Him and pray for the Spirit to help you follow and serve Him.