Today's Word for Pastors...
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance.
Today's Preaching Insight...
From Doubt to Declaration
When you woke up Easter morning of 2003 you already knew how the story of Holy Week ended. You did not wake up wondering whether or not Jesus of Nazareth was still in the grave. You did not wake up to a world where death and the grave seemed to have won the final victory. You already knew how the story ended. When you walked into the door of the church someone greeted you with the words "Christ is risen" and you responded by saying "He is risen indeed!" We know how the story ended. It is important for us to remember that on that first Easter day so many years ago the disciples of Jesus did not wake up with that same assurance. Whatever they were expecting to face that day, it is clear from the story that resurrection was not on their minds.
Our text today takes us to the evening after the resurrection of Jesus had occurred. The text invites us into the midst of a group of broken-hearted and confused disciples. We can observe them as they wonder what they will do with their lives now that the man they believed to be the Son of God and the savior of the world was taken down from a cross and sealed inside a grave. Parts of three days have passed by and the disciples had remained out of sight, still afraid that what had happened to Jesus might also happen to them if they showed their faces in public.
But now it is Sunday morning, and some of the women who had followed Jesus during most of his earthly ministry were determined to leave that upper room hiding place and go to the tomb where their Lord had been buried. Peter, James and John did not go with them, because someone on the street might still recognize one of them. After all, it was just four days earlier that three different people had picked Peter out of the crowd and announced that he was one of the followers of Jesus. Three times Peter denied even knowing Jesus; and those encounters took place at night when faces are harder to see. Now it is Sunday morning and the chances of detection were simply too high, so the women go to the tomb alone.
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Illustration: Easter, Resurrection
In his day, Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin was one of the most powerful men on earth. Bukharin was a Russian Communist leader who took part in the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, was editor of the Soviet newspaper Pravdaand was a member of the Politburo. His works on economics and political science were big sellers.
A story is told about a journey he took from Moscow to Kiev in 1930 to address a huge assembly on the subject of atheism. Addressing the crowd, he aimed his heavy artillery at Christianity hurling insult, argument and proof against it.
An hour later, he was finished. He looked out at what seemed to be the smoldering ashes of men's faith. "Are there any questions?" Bukharin demanded. Deafening silence filled the auditorium, but then one man stood. He surveyed the crowd, first to the left then to the right. Finally he shouted the ancient greeting known well in the Russian Orthodox Church: "CHRIST IS RISEN!" En masse the crowd arose as one man and the response came crashing like the sound of thunder: "HE IS RISEN INDEED!"
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