"A REASON FOR
1. Turn in your Bible to John 20.13 and
stand for the reading of Godís Word: "And they say unto her,
Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken
away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him."
2. The context in which this verse is set
shows us that this conversation between Mary Magdalene and two angels
just outside the tomb where Jesusí body was buried, and had lain for
three days and three nights, took place the morning after His
resurrection from the dead.
3. I would like to take for my text the
last statement of the angels and the first statement of Mary:
"Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have
taken away my Lord." The angels asked her why she was crying and
she told them it was because they (some unnamed people) had taken away
4. Let me make three observations about
Mary Magdalene in connection with this incident before this morningís
1A. First, THIS WOMAN WAS PERCEPTIVE
1B. To be perceptive means you have a
keenness of understanding, and Mary understood one thing while she did
not yet grasp another thing.
2B. You see, this trip to the tomb of
Joseph Of Arimathea, where Jesus had been buried, is her third.
1C. Her first trip to the rich manís
tomb was with the dead body of the Lord Jesus Christ as the
afternoon gave way to evening on the day He was crucified. She and
others went to prepare His body for burial, but did not complete
their task because of the approach of night and the coming of the
Sabbath, when preparation for burial was not permitted.
2C. Her second trip to the rich manís
tomb was on Saturday late afternoon at the going down of the sun,
Matthew 28.1, when she accompanied Mary, the mother of Jesus. At
that time there was a great earthquake, Matthew 28.2, a single angel
from heaven descended from heaven and rolled the stone covering the
tomb away, announced that the tomb was empty and that the Lord Jesus
had risen, and showed them the empty tomb. As they left the tomb to
go and tell others that He had risen they met Him, fell at His feet,
and worshipped Him, Matthew 28.9.
3C. The conversation recorded in our
text takes place during her third trip to the tomb, about 12 hours
later, with Mary Magdalene just missing Peter and John, who left
just as she returned. Only this time when she came there were two
angels instead of one, there was no earthquake as there had been
before, and it was early in the morning instead of approaching dusk,
as in Matthew 28.
3B. Mary and the others seem
somehow dull to us for their unwillingness to accept the obvious truth
that Jesus had risen from the dead, as He said He would. But let us
remember that we have a lifetime of conditioning to accept the
resurrection as a historical fact. For her and the others it was very
much a great step of faith to eventually accept the fact of it, and
then only after Jesus had appeared to them.
4B. That said, let me point out
something to you about Mary Magdaleneís perception that is
oftentimes overlooked these days by folks who consider themselves
superior to her: She realized the importance of knowing where Jesus
5B. My friends, most these days
do not see the significance or appreciate the importance of knowing
where Jesus is, whether in the grave or still on the cross, whether in
heaven at the Fatherís right hand or in each believerís heart. But
Mary was perceptive enough to recognize that itís important to know
where Jesus is.
2A. Next, THIS WOMAN WAS
1B. Why was Mary Magdalene
puzzled? She was puzzled because she did not know where the Lord Jesus
Christ was, all the while somehow knowing that it was important
that she know where He was.
2B. How did she know that
itís important to know where Jesus is? Is it really
important to know where Jesus is, or am I trying to inflate the
importance of something that really is quite minor? My friends, I am
convinced that the very nature of genuine faith demanded that Mary
know where Jesus was.
3B. You see, faith (saving
faith) must have itís proper object. Saving faith must be fixed upon
the Savior. But to be fixed upon the Savior saving faith has to be
informed, since saving faith is faith that contains factual content.
4B. And since saving faith is
likened to "seeing with the eye of faith" it must know where
to look with the "eye of faith" to spiritually see the real
and the genuine Savior.
5B. That is why, I think, the
Word Of God locates the ascended Lord Jesus Christ in heaven at His
Fatherís right hand some 16 specific times. Where Jesus is, where
the Object of our faith is, where the One upon whom we fix our
spiritual gaze is, where the One is we look to for the salvation of
our souls is, is important.
6B. And Mary was puzzled that
she did not know where He was; troubled to the point of weeping. Why?
She had a reason for weeping. Anyone who does not know where Jesus is
has a reason for weeping, especially those who have not set the eye of
faith on Him.
3A. Finally, WE SEE THAT MARY
MAGDALENE WAS PRIVILEGED
1B. How was she privileged? O,
there are a number of ways in which this woman was marvelously
privileged and blessed by God. But the privilege I want to bring to
your attention this morning was in getting settled once and for all
where Jesus was.
2B. Itís a privilege that
many, many people are never blessed with, to their eternal damnation
and regret, because they refuse the clear and certain testimony of
Scripture. But not so with Mary. She truly wanted to know where Jesus
was, and she found out, never again to be uncertain about where her
Master, where her Lord, where her Savior is.
3B. But notice how she finds
out where her Lord Jesus is. I read from John 20.14:
And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus
standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.
Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou?
She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou
have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will
take him away.
Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him,
Rabboni; which is to say, Master.
Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my
Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my
Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.
1. The text that we have
examined is a wonderful portion of Scripture, but seems to be more
closely associated with Easter time than with Christmas time. Would you
2. Permit me, however, to lift
a phrase from our text, now that we have examined it in its context and
have freed ourselves from being accused of using our text for a pretext.
3. As Mary Magdalene had a
reason for weeping "Because," she said, "they have taken
away my Lord," I wish to ask you a question: Do you not also have a
reason for weeping? They have taken the Lord Jesus Christ out of
Christmas. Is that not a reason for weeping?
4. Brother Isenberger now
comes to lead us in a congregational song, after which I will consider
our reason for weeping.
1. There is a great delusion that has swept
across our country. It is the false belief that you can remove
Christianity from the culture and from the society as a valid belief
system and replace it with nothing.
2. It is the great goal of the secularists
to remove all traces and what they believe to be the taint of religion
from the public arena, or at least from all association with anything
having to do in any way with government, and replacing it with . . .
nothing, with the absence of religion.
3. What folly it is, to hold to such a
shallow and naive view of things that it can be imagined that religion
can be replaced with irreligion, or that religion can be replaced with
non-religion. What is not realized by the secularist zealots is that
irreligion is as much a religion as any other religion, and that
non-religion is as much a religion as any other religion.
4. But I stray from my purpose this
morning, which is to cry against the removal of Jesus Christ from
Christmas, which is after all supposed to be the celebration by the
Christian community of the Saviorís birth.
5. How can one celebrate Christmas, with
any semblance of rational thought or behavior, with any factual content
to the observance, without reference in some way to the birth so long
ago of the Son of God?
6. Yet this is precisely what man, in all
his irrationality, has accomplished; the celebration of an historical
figureís birthday without in any way making direct reference to that
figure in history whose birth is being celebrated.
7. I speak to you, this morning, for the
purpose of informing you and for the purpose of appealing to you, with
the words of Mary Magdalene echoing in my ears: ". . . they have
taken away my Lord." Only in this case, they have removed Him from
all meaningful connection with the celebration of His Own birth!
8. Three points for your consideration in
how this is accomplished:
1A. First, THERE IS THE DISTRACTION OF
1B. My friends, we have a great Christian
school here at our Church. We have the very best curriculum that is
available anywhere in the world, we have some of the most dedicated
and competent teachers alive, and we have the very best setting in
which to find a school for children, a local New Testament Church.
There simply is no better setting in which a child can be placed for
his or her preparation for living life the way God wants it to be
lived than here.
2B. Our curriculum is saturated with the
Word of God, with a biblical perspective for every subject studied,
with Bible devotions or preaching from Godís Word every day, and
with catechism and Scripture memorization a required feature for
graduation from our school.
3B. If ever there was an environment in
which the Lord Jesus Christ would be expected to be at the very center
of a childís thoughts related to Christmas it would be expected
here. Yet in chapel on Thursday last there was not a single student in
our school who made mention of the Lord Jesus Christ when I asked what
the students enjoyed most about Christmas (with the high school
students wisely not participating in my informal poll because they
immediately picked up on what I was doing).
4B. Folks, the kids in our school, which I
think is one of the very best schools in existence anywhere, were
almost all concerned with the material benefits associated with
Christmas, without thought for any tie-in between Christmas and the
birth of Jesus Christ.
5B. What should this tell us? What should
this suggest to us? What should this illustrate? My friends, this
should speak very loudly to every one of us, reminding us that the
very nature of mankind, as seen in our own children, is bent toward
the distraction of materialism, even at Christmas time.
6B. Whenever there is a tradition and
custom of giving and receiving gifts, such as we practice in our
observation of Christís birth, human beings are prone to focus more
on the presents than on the meaning behind the presents, more on the
receiving of gifts than on the giving of gifts. Why so? It is the
nature of our race. We are a fallen and selfish species, and even
those who are most given to the correct observation of the Saviorís
birth must recognize the tendency of our own children toward a sinful
preoccupation with things, with stuff, with toys.
7B. Taking this together with the
aggressive drive by businessmen to make money at Christmas time, you
have an environment ripe for shoving Jesus Christ out of the picture,
pushing Him out of the celebration of His Own birthday.
8B. How aggressively must we, then,
counter this materialistic tendency by focusing our attention, and by
focusing our childrenís attention, on the Savior. To this end, there
is perhaps no more important time of year to be faithful in Church
than during the Christmas holidays, for no other reason than to offset
the tendency to push the Lord Jesus Christ out of peopleís thoughts
in favor of Santa Claus, in favor of Christmas vacation, in favor of
getting presents, instead of reflecting on and celebrating the birth
of the Son Of God.
9B. It is the depravity of our race that
so inclines us away from Jesus to things unimportant, to things
material, to things glitzy. Therefore, let us see mankind as mankind
really is, let us see our kids as they really are, and seek to offset
the effects of depravity as best we can.
2A. Next, THERE IS THE
DEMONIZING OF CHRISTIANITY
1B. Listening to talk radio for the past
couple of years, there seems to be a consensus among most
non-Christian callers that Christmas celebrations are not offensive to
their sensibilities. And I remember going to public school when the
Word of God was read over the intercom every morning before school
prayer. Who did that hurt? Who did that offend?
2B. Yet in our day the assault against
expressions of Christian thought or ideas in the schools, in the
government, and even in the marketplace, is progressing at full speed.
You would have thought that there would have been a temporary
suspension of the war against Christianity in the wake of the
September 11th tragedy, but no.
3B. Listen to what I pulled off the web
just this week: the Washington Times in a recent article
-- A Frederick County school employee
was prohibited from passing out Christmas cards at school because it
"may not be a legally protected right on a public school
-- A Pennsylvania fourth-grader was
stopped from giving Christmas cards to classmates.
-- Two Minnesota middle-schoolers were
disciplined for wearing red and green scarves in a Christmas skit
and for ending the skit with a Merry Christmas wish for the
-- Two Massachusetts students were
forbidden from creating cards saying "Merry Christmas" or
depicting a nativity scene.
-- An Oregon school superintendent
required removal of religious, but not secular decorations from
-- A Georgia school board, after being
threatened with a suit by the ACLU, deleted the word
"Christmas" from the school calendar.
4B. A syndicated columnist
wrote, "Notice that all of these involve public repression of
voluntary student action. You can dress them up in noble-sounding
civil rights language or the enlightened vernacular of
multiculturalism and pluralism, but the bottom line remains:
Expressions of Christianity are becoming increasingly taboo in polite
American society today. Yet expressions of utter disrespect for
Christianity and what it holds sacred are celebrated in some circles.
The University of Northern Iowa, for example, recently hosted
"Corpus Christi," a play depicting Christ having sex with
the 12 apostles."
5B. He continues, "As you
probably know, the war against Christianity and Christmas is not a
phenomenon localized to the public schools. A county executive in
Washington State issued a memo decreeing that any holiday celebrations
must be "religion-neutral" and "held in a respectful,
inclusive and sensitive manner that does not favor one religion over
another." Greetings were ordered to be generic ("Happy
Holidays"), and decorations were not to include "religious
symbols." The memo added that before holding a holiday social
gathering all employees ought to be consulted and care should be taken
to protect from retaliation those who do not concur with holding the
gathering." And this county official is an ordained Baptist
6B. But donít think this
assault on Christianity began in our schools or in our court system.
Not at all. It really began, culturally speaking, in the business
community and in the entertainment industry:
1C. In the movie "Itís
A Wonderful Life," which is played every year at Christmas
time, there is a single prayer to Jesus at the beginning of the
movie, a single reference in the entire movie to the Savior, in one
of the most popular Christmas movies ever made.
2C. But in the movie
"The Miracle On 34th Street," that used to be one of the
most popular Christmas season movies, with some fellow named Kris
Kringel who turned out to be Santa Claus, responsible for mending
relationships and making everyone love each other, there is not one
single reference to the Lord Jesus Christ or His birth anywhere in
3C. And what about
contemporary movies? Tim Allen played Santa Claus several years ago
in a Christmas movie that made no mention of Jesus Christ. And was
it not last year that a movie was released titled "The Grinch?"
They even took the word "Christmas" out of the title of
the book, "How The Grinch Stole Christmas," when they made
4C. Then there is the record
industry, with all their "Christmas" songs: "Jingle
Bells" and "Iím Dreaming Of A White Christmas" and
"Jingle Bell Rock" and "The Twelve Days Of
Christmas" and "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer" and
so on. Gradually, over time, references to the Lord Jesus Christ
excised from the public consciousness . . . during the celebration
of His birth!
5C. And youíll rarely hear
of business advertisements during the Christmas season making
reference to the birth of Christ. Why not? Theyíre interested in
selling merchandise and making money, not reminding folks of a
Savior and causing people to think about their sins and their need
to be forgiven.
7B. The battle against
Christianity is not uniform, either throughout the society or
throughout the calendar year. The hot spots are those institutions
that most affect the minds and hearts of people; institutions of
learning, the court system, entertainment and media. And the intense
times of opposition are those times when Christianity is most in the
public eye, during Christmas and during Easter.
8B. The goal in opposing
Christianity? To demonize the Christian faith so that it becomes
unpopular, politically incorrect, making the publicís perception of
Christianity warped and twisted.
1C. Imagine Christianity
being portrayed as intolerant, a religion of men and women who
publicly admit themselves to be sinners worthy of damnation but
forgiven through the gracious offices of the Savior, Jesus Christ.
2C. Imagine Christianity
being portrayed as racist, a religion that rapidly moved beyond its
cultural and racial beginnings to embrace every kindred, tongue and
tribe . . . without, as Islam does, requiring converts to adopt the
culture or language of its first disciples.
3C. But most of all, consider
the absolute lunacy of those madmen who think a society is
well-served, who think that citizens are benefited, when all
references to Jesus Christ and all exposure to truth about the
sinless Savior, the Son of God, are eliminated, creating a spiritual
vacuum that sucks all kinds of junk in to fill the void.
9B. My friends, I need to turn
for home because we are running out of time. But you and I have a
reason for weeping. Though our circumstances are different, like Mary
Magdalene, you and I are saddened by the fact that "they have
taken away my Lord." They have all but removed Him from public
consciousness and consideration. How very sad this is.
3A. Finally, THE DEFENSE OF
1B. I have noticed, while
talking to business representatives on the telephone and customer
service personnel over the last month, that fewer and fewer people say
"Merry Christmas" Anymore. Instead, they say "Happy
Holidays." Letís just celebrate the holiday without making any
reference to what the celebration we are celebrating happens to be.
2B. And what are
"Christians" doing while this secularizing of the season is
taking place? What was done when Jesus Christ was slowly excised from
the movies and from music? What was done when Jesus Christ and
references to God were removed from public schools, from public
displays at county courthouses, and from virtually every area of
public life? Nothing really.
3B. Now, donít get me wrong.
Iím not sure we should be doing anything in response to this
secularizing of Christmas. After all, what we see is an accurate
reflection of the spiritual condition of our country and culture, is
it not? We are seeing things the way they really are.
4B. The celebrating of
Christmas is nothing more, really, than a symptom of the real problem
in our country. And the real problem in our country is that very, very
few so-called "Christians" are truly converted, and the
popular "Christianity" around us is really quite anemic and
ineffective in influencing and affecting those who are exposed to it.
Why? Itís not real.
5B. If there were even 100
truly converted people in our town, would our city council have ever
approved the construction of the abortion clinic? I donít think so.
Would Monrovia High School be referring pregnant teens to Planned
Parenthood if there were 200 truly converted people in this city? I
donít think so.
6B. Jesus said Christians are
the salt of the earth, having a flavoring and preserving impact on
those around us more profound than we can imagine. So, when the
culture is secularized itís because there are so few true
7B. What is our task, then?
Evangelism. The Great Commission. Bringing the lost to Jesus Christ.
My friends, we have to get after Ďem. We have to compel them to come
1. On a chilly night some 2000
years ago a baby was born to a young Jewish virgin. Unknown to the
entire world, the eternal Son of the living God had completed His nine
month journey from the throne room of heaven and His Fatherís right
hand to a manger in a poor little village of downtrodden people.
2. The Word was made flesh. Yet
no one would have known had they not been told. Thank God they were
told. Thank God they were told.
3. Some 33 years later that same
Jesus suffered and bled and died an atonement for sins. But He didnít
stay dead for long. After 3 days and nights He arose, victorious over
sin, death, Hell and the grave. Thank God His disciples were told. Thank
God His disciples were told.
4. After He returned to His home
in glory, to there wait until the time of His second coming, His
disciples began to then tell others. Thank God they told others.
5. And so it went down through
history. Men and women were told. Then those men and women told others.
And they, in turn, told others. And so itís been, down to this day.
6. Are you a Christian? Itís
only because someone told you. Thank God someone told you. Amen? Thank
God someone told you.
7. Now itís time for you to
tell someone else. What would have happened if the shepherds had not
been told, while watching over their flocks by night? What would have
happened if the disciples had not been told on Easter morning? What
would have happened if they had not told others? What would have
happened if others had not told you?
8. Now is the time for the burden to be shouldered by you. Now is the
time for you to do your part in telling others.