The Jesus I Never Knew - Easter Sunday

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing; and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, "Why do you seek the living One among the dead? "He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again." And they remembered His words, and returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now they were Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James; also the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles. But these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them. But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings only; and he went away to his home, marveling at what had happened. (Luk 24:1-12 NASB)

There it is. There is the single most significant act ever in the history of humankind! HE – IS – NOT – HERE – BUT – HE – HAS – RISEN! I wonder, if Mary Magdalene had her iPhone and she updated her Facebook, it wouldn't have gone something like... Mary: OMG! And 1 sec later - Jesus: FINALLY!

You cannot add anything to this story and why would you even try? It is the greatest story ever told regarding the greatest person to ever walk this planet and shares the greatest truth ever given - God loves you and me so much that he would give his only son.

I have heard and seen the excuses about following Jesus (which usually are couched in something to do with going to church). They are far from original and as stale as a 2 day old doughnut. But the problem, Philip Yancey writes about in “The Jesus I Never Knew,” isn't primarily based on such things. No, the problem is in our knowing the end of the story.

What we have read, heard or seen come at us from 2,000 years of someone else's interpretations and a matter of fact attittude regarding the miracle of a person being raised from the dead. Easter doesn't translate as well into rhymes of Christmas Carols and cute cards depicting a sparkling clean baby Jesus moments after birth.

What do YOU really know about this Jewish Rabbi, born to a teenager mother, raised by a carpenter in the first century? Yancy quotes Walter Wink's rather pointed observation: “if Jesus had never lived, we would not have been able to invent him (pg 23).”

Over three years ago I embarked on reading through what are called the “Synoptic Gospels,” the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Not to disrespect John's Gospel, but these three scholars have demonstrated borrowed from one another, namely Mark in their writing. For three years, I took 1 of the Gospels and read it through, over and over again. The next year, I would change to another. I made no notes and I didn't try to memorize them (I'm terrible at that). I wanted one thing – to get to know Jesus.

I realized then, as Philip Yancey did, that there is a Jesus I never knew.

There is a Jesus we all know. His story is written about and debated. There are paintings and pictures of Jesus in every culture that show Jesus as Asian, Mongolian, Russian, Nigerian, as Anglo-Saxon and yes, even as a Jew. Sometimes he is skinny other times he is a buff body builder. There are movies galore that depict his life on Earth – from Mel Gibson's graphic retelling back to days of black and white. These show the Jesus we all know.

I realized then, there is a Jesus I never knew. This Jesus can't be spoken of in the past tense – he is the resurrected Jesus and it is He who lives and acts and makes us His priority.

Sadly, it is easy to miss the resurrected Jesus.

A resurrected Jesus is uncontrollable, unable to be manipulated. A resurrected Jesus appears in locked rooms. A resurrected Jesus cooks up trout on a campfire. A resurrected Jesus breaks bread at the table. In short, the resurrected Jesus does just whatever He pleases, with no regards to your's or my comfort or consideration for our plans for retirement.

A resurrected Jesus is also an expert in camoflauge and concealment tactics that no Navy SEAL or Marine Corp Recon team can touch. You see, when he talked about being resurrected, Jesus made clear, he could be anywhere! Digital camo or Mossy Oak has nothing on the resurrected Jesus! “You'll find me in the stomach of the hungry and in the thirst of the parched. You'll find me in the retirement home and the ER. Whatever you do, don't miss looking for me in the most of the way places like the prison, the Youth Detention Centers or naked in a homeless shelter either (Matthew 25:35-36)!”

For three years I read and studied the historic Jesus. And then in the fourth year, this year, I met the resurrected Jesus. Some of you have wondered and asked about how I was doing. You worried and prayed for me and I thank you for it but I think you need to know something on this point – the resurrected Jesus met me here, in the experience and the people of a new church start called Crossroads.

Ben Sweetland, author of the book, I Will, wrote, ”The world is full of abundance and opportunity, but far too many people come to the fountain of life with a sieve instead of a tank car, a teaspoon instead of a steam shovel. They expect little and as a result they get little.” His right except I think he misses, that it is in coming to the Fountain of Life, our lives are really nothing more than sieve and teaspoons. It is the fountain, poured out and over flowing, that stretches, molds and remakes us – if only we let the resurrected Jesus do just that.

Luke's words tell us that women believed but the disciples, except for Peter, doubted. Peter ran to the tomb and saw the evidence and marveled. Matthew 28:17 notes that when Jesus appeared, some worshipped and others still doubted right in the literal Face of Jesus! Why so different a response?

They too, I believe, met the Jesus they had never known – the only Son of God.

Some today will hear and believe. Others will doubt. And for some, they will meet the Jesus, they have never known, and they will begin the journey of becoming a glorious mess. And when we walk out of here today, we can truly say, HE IS NOT HERE!!! Nope, the resurrected Jesus will go out – go out with everyone who who will give over their teaspoon and say to Jesus, “Fill me up!”


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