AFTER THE DARKEST NIGHT
THE BRIGHTEST DAY
CAN YOU EVEN IMAGINE THE JOY?
I know how I would feel if Steve came back to me — or how Chris would feel if her son came back — how so many of you would feel to have one you so loved and lost walk through the door…
I even dreamed it would happen — before each daughter’s wedding. But for me it was the fruit of denial, for I will not see Steve until that great day — but I will see him, because as Jesus said, “I AM the resurrection and the life.” (John 11:25) And I love that He also said, “If it were not so, I would have told you…” (John 14:2)
I think my favorite account in the whole Bible is in Luke 24 where the two disciples are in tremendous grief and Jesus walks up alongside them. They do not recognize him until later when He breaks bread — but they listen to this “stranger” explain the Scriptures to them — how every prophet, every priest, every slain lamb, every suffering servant…all pointed to Jesus. Christ had to suffer He explained. But later, when they recognized Him — OH!
Tim Keller said, “The disciples weren’t thinking: I cannot tell anyone because this might not be in line with their beliefs and might offend them…THEY SIMPLY COULD NOT HOLD BACK THIS EXPLOSION OF JOY!!!
How I pray you are singing today — you serve a risen Savior! Death could not hold its prey! He lives! He lives! Hallelujah — what a Savior!
I’ll keep the homework light this week because I know many of you are away or with family — but let us rejoice together, let us talk about the One who said, “I AM the resurrection and the life!” If you read this today, I have some discussion questions for your Easter dinner — but they could be asked anytime this glorious week of celebration.
1. Do you have any comment on the above?
2. Christianity overturned the world. Never has there been a movement like this. And the only people who have claimed to be God, other than Jesus, had a small band of followers who ended up killing themselves. Christianity, J. B. Phillips said, “Has the ring of truth.” Can you come up with an answer to some of the following objections to the account of the resurrection?
A. This is a story that was made up so that the disciples could start a movement.
B. This is a beautiful fable — but it is not true. (Experts say that a fable would not have embarrassing details that would make the lead characters unheroic — nor would it have unnecessary details similar to nonfiction.) Can you find an example of a detail that is not congruent with the nature of a fable? (Marcus Borg, who has influenced people I love, is one who says this is a fable. Keller quotes him and refutes him beautifully. There are false shepherds out there who do not love the sheep — and we need to be ready to show the intellectual reasons for the resurrection.)
3. There are many reasons that the resurrection was an explosion of joy for the early disciples — but is it for you? If so, explain why.
One of my husband’s partners was Mark Pinkerton, who now practices in Olethe, Kansas. Two years after Steve died, Mark and Tess’s teenage son was killed in a motorcyle accident. Last week I drove down to Olethe to see them. We loved each other before, but now we share a bond of grief. We know what it is like to lose one to whom you are knit. We talked about how we both read Randy Alcorn’s book on Heaven and Joni Eareckson’s book on Heaven the week after the funerals… (We talked about the books on heaven we didn’t like too!) We talked about how thankful we are that Jesus is The Resurrection and the Life — that heaven is real — that we will see the ones we love again.
Mark and Tess also decided to adopt after their son’s death. Three wonderful boys from Haiti! Oh — such fine sons — and I can only imagine what God is going to do with their lives. Here I am with Mark and with Zee — who is such a fine young fifteen-year-old!
How do we go on after the darkest night?
Only by speaking the truth to our souls.
How did Martha of Bethany go on after Lazarus died?
Only by the truth that Jesus spoke to her.
Bible Study: Monday – Wednesday
Though the sisters sent word to Jesus, saying “The one you love is sick,” He intentionally stayed where He was. He can be such a mystery. Now He arrives.
4. Read John 11:17-27
A. How long had Lazarus been dead, and who is the first to confront Him. From what you know about her, how is this consistent with her character?
B. What is the first thing Jesus promises Martha in verse 23? What does this mean to you?
C. Martha sees this as happening in the future, but look carefully at what Jesus says in verses 25 and 26 and find evidence for resurrection life happening the moment a person believes.
D. How does Martha respond in verse 27?
A. This was a huge claim — and yet He made it to a woman. Women were not considered reliable witnesses. So why — do you think, Jesus spoke this first to Martha?
B. Do you think it was hard for Martha to respond as she did in verse 27? Why or why not?
C. In the next passage, Mary says the same words to Jesus — but Jesus responds to her very differently than He did to Martha. Why, do you think?
This sermon is a free sermon preached the week of 9/11 to grieving New Yorkers. This link will look like you have to buy it, but if you choose the MP-3 you will see the cost as 00.00
I also recommend this sermon for 2.50 if you like: Link
6. Share your notes and what you learned.
Before we leave The Great I AM’s, I’d like to have you contemplate, next week, how they relate to helping you overcome the idols of your heart. I’ll also show you the book cover to this book we’ve been studying on and working together on forever. I am so pleased with it and am eager to show it to you — but don’t want to distract from this great day — the best of the year.
You’ve been a wonderful group to journey with through Lent of 2012!