Three Days Later: The Jesus Conversations We gather together on Easter weekend to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus came to this earth with one main goal and objective. His goal was to provide anyone salvation who would live in relationship with Him. He left this earth after being crucified and rising from the dead. He spent about forty days talking and spending time with His followers before ascending into heaven.

Today I want to tell you three stories of people that Jesus encountered three days after his death and in the days following His resurrection.

The three days Christ spent in the tomb are really significant because if He wouldn’t have emerged alive you and I would be left in our hopelessness about out future in eternity.

1.    From Weeper to Worshipper

Early on Sunday morning,[a] while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

3 Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb. 4 They were both running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He stooped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn’t go in. 6 Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, 7 while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings. 8 Then the disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed—9 for until then they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead. 10 Then they went home.

Mary was standing outside the tomb crying, and as she wept, she stooped and looked in.  She saw two white-robed angels, one sitting at the head and the other at the foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying.  “Dear woman, why are you crying?” the angels asked her.
“Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”

She turned to leave and saw someone standing there. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him. “Dear woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who are you looking for?”

She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”

“Mary!” Jesus said. She turned to him and cried out, “Rabboni!” (which is Hebrew for “Teacher”).

“Don’t cling to me,” Jesus said, “for I haven’t yet ascended to the Father. But go find my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

Mary Magdalene found the disciples and told them, “I have seen the Lord!” Then she gave them his message.

So that is the story of the first person Jesus encountered on the first Easter morning. This conversation took place three days after his death. Who was this Mary Magdalene? This is a woman that Jesus encountered early in His ministry and the Bible says he cast seven demons out of her when He first met her. She was a wreck and a mess. Her life was in ruins when she met Jesus and He healed her in a way that would change her life for ever.

Now the one who gave her life and hope and a purpose is dead and she is grieving. Even three days later we find her going to the cemetery.  She is weeping and can’t stop.

The point of this story is simply this: An encounter with Jesus will transform you from weeping to worshipping. Following Christ won’t insulate you from sorrow and heartache and tough life situations but there is a grace extended to those who encounter Christ that turns them into worshippers even in the midst of great sorrow.

What’s going on in your life?
What are you facing that has you weeping and crying?

The heart of a worshipper worships God even when the world feels like it is turning upside down.  Somehow there is a grace extended to the worshipper not unlike the gift that Jesus gave to Mary. She was hurting maybe more than anyone and He appears to her first. She didn’t have to wait any longer for some good news.

C. S. Lewis describes the role of suffering in the life of the believer as “soul-making.” It is the shaping of the Christian with the hammer and chisel of adversity. Lewis also said “God whispers to us in our pleasures; speaks in our consciences; but shouts in our pains.”

“Sing to the LORD, all you godly ones! Praise his holy name. For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Psalm 30:4-5

Now we come to another story following Christ’s resurrection. His name was Thomas and he was a disciple of Jesus. He was analytical about everything and his mind people don’t come back from the dead. I mean, yes Jesus had raised people from the dead but really you could explain that away by thinking perhaps that they really were not dead just really sick.

Thomas had watched Jesus be tortured brutally, hung on a cross with spike nails in His hands and feet and he had watched his side as it was punctured with a spear or sword. He had watched the blood and water gush out of our Lord. He had watched and listened as Jesus offered His spirit to the Father and breathed His last. It was traumatic and unbelievable but he had watched it all. Now here is his story:

2.    From Doubt to Devotion

One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came.  They told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.”

Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!”

“My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed.

Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”

All of us may have times of doubt from time to time. We may be so sure of what we know to be the facts but even in the face of what you believe to be facts, don’t forget God and His power.

Do you have doubts about God today? Do you question everything and analyze everything? Then you can relate to Thomas. It was just his personality but even that didn’t stop him from trusting when he encountered Jesus on this day.

I believe that the reason some people struggle to believe in Christ is because they can’t get over their doubts. Thomas went from doubting to devotion and that is all God ever wanted from us. He just wants us to live lives devoted to Him. The irony is that people don’t want God controlling their lives and so they live enslaved to this world which doesn’t serve their best interest. The Creator is the only one that can give us the true guide to living. It won’t come from your television sets or magazines or you neighbors across the fence. The best live is to live the life of community God created us to live. We are simply to live our lives in community with Him and with those that make up Christ body on earth.

This world will take your life from you and give you nothing in return but more sorrow and heartache. Jesus Christ came to invite you into His life. To live the life of a Christ follower with peace in your heart that nothing can disturb.

The apostle Paul didn’t have a perfect life but he wrote these words of devotion:

“What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:31-39

Feelings come and feelings go
And feelings are deceiving;
My warrant is the Word of God,
Naught else is worth believing.

Attributed to Martin Luther, quoted in The Adversary, Mark Bubeck, Moody Press, p. 13.

There is one more story I want to tell you and it is the story of a man named Peter. He was a fisherman when Christ walked by him one day and said, “Follow me and I will make you a fisher of men.” The bible says that Peter left it all behind, his boats, his nets, his equipment and for three years he followed the Lord.

One evening in the midst of the most confusing time of his life he failed. He failed because he didn’t stand up and admit to knowing Jesus. At the last supper Christ had predicted that Peter would deny Him. That was just a few hours earlier and now here he is scarred to death and cowering at the voice of a woman accusing him of being a disciple of Christ.

Let’s learn how Peter went from a loser to a leader.

3.    From Loser to Leader

 Later, Jesus appeared again to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee This is how it happened. Several of the disciples were there—Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples.

 Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.”

“We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night. At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was.  He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?” “No,” they replied.

Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.

Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore.  The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore.  When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread.

“Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said.  So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn.

“Now come and have some breakfast!” Jesus said. None of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord.  Then Jesus served them the bread and the fish. This was the third time Jesus had appeared to his disciples since he had been raised from the dead.
After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”

“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.

Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.”

“Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.

A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”  Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.

“I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.”  Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.”

I have a feeling that right here in this room there are some people who feel like they are losers. You have failed to do what you know is right. You have done the wrong things for so long they feel natural yet in the back of your mind stands Jesus Christ who came up from the grave with the power and love to hand you your life back. He stands with forgiveness and open arms.

The point is Peter wasn’t just forgiven. He was called by God to do great things. Everyone is this room has been called by God to do great things. Too often we equate “great things” with notoriety and publicity, but that’s not what I am talking about. God calls us to live our lives in the love and power of Jesus Christ.

When we live in that power what a difference it makes. It makes a difference in our families. It makes a difference in our relationships with our neighbors, our friends and the people we work with.

One day, two monks were walking through the countryside. They were on their way to another village to help bring in the crops. As they walked, they spied an old woman sitting at the edge of a river. She was upset because there was no bridge, and she could not get across on her own. The first monk kindly offered, "We will carry you across if you would like." "Thank you," she said gratefully, accepting their help. So the two men joined hands, lifted her between them and carried her across the river. When they got to the other side, they set her down, and she went on her way.

After they had walked another mile or so, the second monk began to complain. "Look at my clothes," he said. "They are filthy from carrying that woman across the river. And my back still hurts from lifting her. I can feel it getting stiff." The first monk just smiled and nodded his head.

A few more miles up the road, the second monk griped again, "My back is hurting me so badly, and it is all because we had to carry that silly woman across the river! I cannot go any farther because of the pain." The first monk looked down at his partner, now lying on the ground, moaning. "Have you wondered why I am not complaining?" he asked. "Your back hurts because you are still carrying the woman. But I set her down five miles ago."

That is what many of us are like in dealing with our families. We are that second monk who cannot let go. We hold the pain of the past and we carry it around like a weight or a burden.

The bottom line on this Easter weekend is that Christ came to give you life! He came to dry your weeping tears and erase your doubts and forgive you for your failures. He came to walk with you and talk with you and be in relationship with you.

Can you let it go? Can you lay down whatever is causing you to weep today? Can you lay down whatever is causing you to doubt today? Can you lay down whatever is causing you to not forgive yourself and let the resurrected Christ fill your life with His plans and purpose?