Hit the Back Button to Move Forward

Luke 24:1-3 NASB But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. 2) And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3) but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.

Luke 24:36-48 NASB While they were telling these things, He Himself stood in their midst and *said to them, "Peace be to you." 37) But they were startled and frightened and thought that they were seeing a spirit. 38) And He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39) "See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have." 40) And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. 41) While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, "Have you anything here to eat?" 42) They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish; 43) and He took it and ate it before them. 44) Now He said to them, "These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." 45) Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46) and He said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, 47) and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48) "You are witnesses of these things."

Have you ever been in a class or Sunday school when the announcement went out for a play? Robert Fulghum tells us that Norman was in elementary school when the teacher announced his class would be performing Cinderella. All the hands went up of little girls wanting to play Cinderella and the boys who wanted to be the prince. When everyone realized they couldn’t all play those roles, other shouts went out for the other parts. The teacher made room for everyone.

Norman however wasn’t like everyone else. He wasn’t shy he just didn’t speak unless he had something to say. Norman had a mind of his own. The teacher came over to Norman and said to him, “Norman, all the main parts are taken but we’ll make a role for you if there is someone you’d like to be.”

Norman said almost immediately, “I want to be the pig.”
The teacher said, “Norman, there is no pig in Cinderella.”
Norman said in reply, “There is now.”

Norman created his own costume and created his own part. Norman’s pig mirrored everything Cinderella did. He went where she went, was happy when she was happy and cried when she cried. When the celebration began following the placing of the glass slipper on Cinderella’s foot,

“Norman went wild with joy, danced around on his hind legs, and broke his silence by barking. In rehearsal, the teacher had tried to explain to Norman that pigs don’t bark even in Cinderella. But as she expected, Norman explained that this pig barked. And the barking, she had to admit was well done. The presentation was a smash hit. At the curtain call, guess who received a standing ovation? Of course, Norman the barking pig. Who was, after all, the real Cinderella story. (Robert Fulghum, Uh Oh!, New York, Villard, 1991)”

Norman was stubborn and had no intention of letting the script stop him. His performance brought humor, hope and surprise to a story everyone thought they knew. And that, Mike Yaconelli once wrote, “…was so like Jesus. (Messy Spirituality, Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 2002.)”

Jesus was stubborn like Norman. He redefined what people thought they knew. In essence, Jesus would hit the back button so things could go forward. When others said Messiahs don’t hang out with sinners and that people don’t get healed on the Sabbath, Jesus was stubborn – THIS MESSIAH DOES! When others looked at the law and saw the letter, Jesus looked at it and saw the Spirit – the inspiration of His Father and what was intended. And when others saw death as final, Jesus was stubborn, and said, “Not anymore.”

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus hit the back button five times (Mt. 5:21, 27, 33, 38, 43), making note of things said in the past and then redefining them. He said when he was anointed with oil, that what the woman did would be told throughout the world as a memorial (Mt. 26:13). At the last supper, Jesus said to eat the bread and drink the wine in remembrance of me (Luke 22:19)…Hit the back button to move forward.

The disciples were troubled and doubting following Easter Sunday because the script had said, people don’t come back from the dead (of course they had seen Jesus raise Lazarus). Here, even in the presence of Jesus, they doubted. Jesus was stubborn that the disciples understand, he was alive! He took it in baby steps: Here are my hands and feet – touch them! Give me some food to eat and he ate it (it didn’t fall on the floor like he was ghost). What happened on Friday, was back on Friday, today we move forward with a new reality – death is so out of date.

Jesus remains stubborn, stubborn about life, stubborn about love and stubborn about you and me. Stubborn, that there is something beyond what we think are worthy goals and aspirations. Jesus is stubborn that we are to be witnesses to the resurrection, to what we’ve seen and experienced. At Easter, we remember, we hit the back button to move forward.

Growing up, I saw that image seemed to be everything. People judged others on what they could do, how they dressed, what they had and what they knew. I came to realize I just could not measure up with what the world demanded. I grew angry without hope for my future. But a couple of leaders who were in my Scout troop and who volunteered at church, accepted me for who I was. They were Jesus-stubborn, believing that there was something greater God had for me. Their actions showed me grace, that God saw me differently. I chose to follow Jesus and began living with peace, hope and a future.

I still struggle with being stubborn but I’m nothing compared to Jesus. Every time I’ve turned around in my life, the script changes. Whether it was becoming a pastor or having children or facing testicular or starting a new church – Jesus keeps reminding me, I am following Him.

Think about it, has Jesus ever come along and hit the back button in your life? It is what we call repentance, it means to turn and change course. I’m guessing, but whether you know it or not, Jesus has shown you glimpses of the script He wrote for you – not the script you imagine the world gave you. If you’ve not seen it before, then today, let me tell you something: we’re all “Normans.” Jesus has a script ready and waiting for your life and He is the first one standing there applauding for you, right along with all the rest of us “Normans” who have found a place in God’s family.

Hit the back button and move forward – today is Easter – Jesus IS alive and nothing has been or will be the same again!

H/T to Gavin for allowing me to use his blog title for my sermon title!


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