I just left Hope Unlimited, where I spoke with the staff about “being so hopeful in God, that our hope overflows into the lives of others.” It was a wonderful morning, as we talked about Psalm 19 and our desire to consciously see God at work all around us! I told the HU staff of our congregation’s desire to “love Paducah” this year – and they’re super stoked about seeing First Baptist Paducah become the hands and feet of Christ for many people. People who feel hopeless now, but that’s only because they haven’t yet met the Source of all hope. So we’re going to take Him to them.
Early on that first Easter morning (Luke 24:1-12), the women set out for the garden tomb. They had prepared spices in order to provide tender loving care for Jesus’ body. You’ll remember that our Lord had been very hastily entombed just in time for the Sabbath. But you also know the rest of the story: there was no body to be found! The ESV renders the women’s reaction as “perplexed” (coming from the Greek “confused state of mind”) – but their perplexity soon becomes a mixture of stunned and terrified. This dark and sad experience is instantaneously transformed into a scene where angels are shining with the Shekinah glory of God. And the angels announce the greatest news the world has ever heard: “He is not here, but has risen!”
For people still shell-shocked by Christ’s crucifixion, as the truth of Christ’s resurrection begins to sink in, all gloom is replaced by nearly indescribable excitement and joy.
The angels explain that Jesus had made it clear that He would rise from the dead. The angels say that the women have heard these words. So they had either heard them from the lips of Jesus while traveling with the disciples, or they had heard them from the Twelve.
“And they remembered his words” (Verse 8). Way cool! Their eyes have been opened to the glorious realities of a living Savior and King. Returning from the empty tomb, the women are changed forever.
Who are these women? They are disciples (followers of Christ) from Galilee whom Jesus has graciously made whole. Mary Magdalene has been delivered from demons. Mary the Mother of James is apparently “the other Mary” mentioned in Matthew 28:1. Now these women are filled with a hope they can’t possibly contain. It will take a little time for the men to get on board, but Christ will take care of that too. Peter finds nothing in the grave but linen cloths. Reminiscent of the resurrection of Lazarus, but even better. Peter, and then the others, will marvel at what God has done. Our greatest enemy – sin and death – conquered forever!
Are you encountering the risen the Lord Jesus as our church family comes together for worship? Are you excited about what Christ is doing in our midst? If you are, then I urge you not to keep that to yourself. The days have passed when we could expect the people of Western Kentucky to walk through our doors based on their self-perceived need for a church home. The only reason most of them will ever darken our doorway is if you bring them. Just as the women ran to share the hope of the resurrection with the men, I’m urging you not to take “no” for an answer.
Tom Rainer in “10 Symptoms of an Inwardly Focused Church” shares this observation as his number-10: “People are not inviting their friends … where life change happens, people want to attend and invite their friends.”
I believe that we are seeing lives changed. And that we are moving in the direction of taking the gospel to people outside our walls. And that we are developing a kingdom mindset that envisions First Baptist Paducah as a people more than a place. There’s more work to do, but don’t wait to invite and to bring. To go and to take.
We have the best news in the world: “He is risen indeed!” Let’s fill this place to overflowing with resurrection truth, joy, and hope. And may the hope spill over from here.