If You're Looking For A Savior... Luke 24:1-12 (Easter Celebration)
In 1984, Bonnie Tyler, was “Holding Out For A Hero.” How many of your remember that song, featured in the movie Footloose. The chorus went like this (no, I am not going to sing it):
I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero ‘til the end of the night
He’s gotta be strong and he’s gotta be fast
And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight
I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero ‘til the morning light
He’s gotta be sure and it’s gotta be soon
And he’s gotta be larger than life, larger than life…
In her music video that apparently has nothing to do with the movie, Tyler is under attack by three “evil” cowboys...and as she sings through the song, with an angelic choir singing backup, she waits, house burning to the ground, until her gun-toting hero shows up to save her.
The Hebrew people were holding out for a hero too. We have talked about it several times. They were looking for that warrior…for a mighty “goliath-slaying-military-routing-death-dealing” king like David to come and wipe out the Romans and free Israel from being a doormat for one nation after another. We talked last week about how they thought they had found just that in Jesus. They saw hope in Jesus like no one else…they heard Jesus teach with authority that was greater than the wisdom of King Solomon, healings greater than that of the prophet Elijah, and miracles that even dwarfed the acts of the great Moses. Yet, when he was confronted by Temple Guards and arrested and then turned over to the Roman Authorities by the Sanhedrin, Jesus did nothing topple Rome. We talked last week about Jesus lack of action might be part the reason the people were so easily swayed to cry out for Barabbas’ release and Jesus’ crucifixion, for Barabbas had drawn blood, while Jesus had healed the ear of a servant which had been cut off as Peter tried to defend him.
Some hero…that’s even what those gathered at the foot of the cross had said, “‘He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!’ The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wire, and saying, ‘If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!’ …One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him saying, ‘Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!’”[i]
But Jesus did nothing…he hung there…asked God’s forgiveness upon those responsible for his death…and died…Joseph and Nicodemus had laid him a tomb and sealed it. Then, at dawn on Sunday morning, a group of the women who had been following Jesus, went to his tomb. Their plans were to weep, mourn, and anoint his body.
When they arrived, they were not greeted by a rock sealed tomb…they were not greeted by the smell of three days of death…they were not even greeted by a body wrapped in linen clothes. They were greeted by two men in dazzling clothes who said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.”
In other words, “Why are you looking for your hero, why are you looking for your savior, in a place of death…Remember what he told you, “He is the Living One.”
Talk about a hero…he defeated the one enemy that was far greater than Rome…He defeated death. He had been killed in the most horrific of ways, he had been placed in a sealed tomb, and yet HE LIVES! In three days time, Jesus proved that He is the Messiah, that He is the Savior, that He is the Hero that everyone had been holding out for…in three days time Jesus took out the greatest enemies that humanity has ever faced…enemies that not even the great David had been able to escape…Jesus, in the morning light, proved that both sin and death were forevermore defeated.
Brothers and Sisters, so many today, possibly many of us, are still “holding out for a hero,” still “looking for a Savior,” and the worst part about it is that we, like the women visiting the tomb, are looking for our hero, our Savior, among the dead…or in the places of death.
Some of us look for our hero in the tombs of alcohol abuse and drug use. We decide that in the mist of our personal pain and tragedy that the numbness of alcohol or the exciting high of pill, a joint, a hit, or a fix, will free us from our struggle. What we find is addiction and death. There is no Savior in the tomb.
Some of us look for our hero in the tomb indiscriminate sex. We are tired of feeling alone. It doesn’t matter who it is…it may be someone we’re dating, it may be a friend, it may even be a stranger we met in a bar just moments earlier…all we are concerned about is hooking up and feeling close to someone, at least for a moment. What we find in the end, is desertion, disease, and death. There is no Savior in the tomb.
Some of us look for our hero in the tomb of hoarding stuff. If we have enough, then we can be sure that there is nothing we need. And we keep gathering and gathering and gathering, accumulating more and more stuff. What we find in the end is a bunch of worn out or never used stuff, indebtedness, and death. There is no Savior in the tomb.
Some of us look for our hero in the tomb of power and violence. We heed the saying, “the best defense is a good offense.” We figure we can be our own hero if we have the right weapon, and we can deal death to anyone who comes at us. We’ll be our own gun-slinging hero riding in on the white horse. We forget Jesus’ words, “Those who take the sword, die by the sword.” What we find here is fear, grief, and more death. There is no Savior in the tomb.
We know these places and other places of death for which we have looked for heroes and saviors. Places that give us a brief flicker of false hope, only to descend upon us with a deeper darkness that we were in before. Why do we look for the living among the dead? If we’re looking for a Savior, we need to seek the Living One!
The Living One…Jesus Christ…Our Hero…Our Savior…
He is the One who can bring light into the darkness of our lives:
As the prophet Isaiah says as he give the Jewish people a vision of the One who is to come, the One who has come: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness on them light has shined.”[ii]
He is the One who can bring hope to the hopeless:
Remember the woman, standing there, probably bound, waiting for the rocks to start raining down upon her, death would be there soon: “And at once he bent down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, sir.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.’”[iii]
He is the One who can bring healing to the sick:
She had been bleeding for years, “…no one could cure her. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his clothes, and immediately her hemorrhage stopped…When the woman saw that she could not remain hiding, she came trembling; and falling down before him she declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.’”[iv]
He is the One who can get rid of demons:
Remember the boy with epilepsy, who repeatedly would fall into the fire and water, and the disciples failed to be able to do anything about it: “…Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him, and the boy was cured instantly.”[v]
He is the One who can fulfill every need:
“The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.”[vi]
He is the One with the power over death itself:
“…he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’”[vii]
Death could not hold his friends, death could not hold him:
“While they were still talking…Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ Thy were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, ‘Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.’…and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things…”[viii]
You are witnesses of these things, so to those who are holding out for a hero, tell them to forget Bonnie Tyler and then:
Go! Tell everyone the news is glorious.
Go! Tell everyone He is victorious.
Death is defeated; its power is done!
If you’re looking for a Savior, seek the Living One!
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit! Amen!