Sunday, 28th November 6.00 pm Order of Service

WELCOME

SONG MP 689 Thine be the glory

Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son,
endless is the victory thou o’er death hast won;
angels in bright raiment rolled the stone away,
kept the folded grave-clothes where thy body lay.
Thine be the glory, risen, conquering Son,
endless is the victory thou oer death hast won.

Lo! Jesus meets us, risen from the tomb;
lovingly he greets us, scatters fear and gloom;
let the Church with gladness hymns of triumph sing,
for her Lord now liveth; death hath lost its sting.
Thine be the glory…

No more we doubt thee, glorious Prince of life;
life is nought without thee: aid us in our strife;
make us more than conquerors, through thy deathless love:
bring us safe through Jordan to thy home above.
Thine be the glory…

PRAYER

READING MATTHEW 28

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

The GuardsReport

11 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.

The Great Commission

16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

SERMON ALIVE

I am absolutely astounded at what I read in Matthew 28:17. Much of the story is so well known that it is hardly needful to rehearse it with you – how the Mary’s went to the tomb to put more spices on the lifeless body of their dear friend Jesus : of the angel of the Lord coming in all his shining glory and rolling back the stone of the tomb to reveal that the body was missing – no-one witnessed the actual rising of Jesus – no-one needed to : of the ladies arriving to find the angel at the tomb – inviting them in to see where Jesus body had been laid – of them going off and being met by Jesus Himself – what a day in THEIR life EH ? – of the guards at the tomb – utterly dumbfounded by the whole incident and their plot with the religious leaders to spread the story of their sleeping while the disciples stole the body of Jesus (although how they expected anyone to believe that ! – if they were sleeping how would they have known who took the body ? !) – of the women going to tell the 11 disciples about meeting with Jesus and instructing them to meet Him on a particular mountain .

All this you know – and you know the bits that the other Gospel writers fill in regarding other resurrection appearances and Peter’s re-instatement to service for God and the information which comes to us from 1 Corinthians 15.

But now you must read carefully – for you may see something here which I confess I must have missed over all the years and all the times I have read this passage – and it is something which leaves me quite bewildered – maybe you can shed some light on this !

In verse 16 we read that the 11 disciples went to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go – and when they saw Him they worshipped Him – so far so good – all this you would expect – surely these men being reunited with their beloved Jesus would have been thrilled to bits and excited beyond measure ?

But the next bit of the verse is the phrase which bowls me over – But some doubted.

Can you believe that ?

Now some of the commentators try to get round this by saying that this could have been the occasion mentioned in 1 Cor. 15 where Jesus appeared to more than 500 people at the one time – but there is absolutely no indication of that here – it simply mentions THE DISCIPLES!

Other wise men reckon that this simply means that they did not recognise Jesus in the distance – only as he came closer – verse 18 – did they recognise Him and their doubting cease. Although this seems a possible answer, the verb used is not a verb to recognise – it is the word to DOUBT – just as we would use it today – it is used in only one other place in the Bible – namely Matthew 14:31 – Peter has just about drowned because he had been walking on the water to Jesus and suddenly he took His eyes off Jesus and looked at what was under his feet and he panicked and doubted – and Jesus says to him : You of little faith, why did you doubt ?

I come to the conclusion that some of the eleven disciples – even at this stage in the story have spiritual doubts about Jesus. He has appeared to two of the disciples on their way to Emmaus and broken bread with them. They have met Him on a couple of occasions in their upper room – He has shown them His hands and His side and the wounds. He may already have eaten fish with them at the shore of the Sea of Galilee. But some doubted.

Many people say to me – maybe some of YOU have said to me If ONLY Jesus would come back NOW and show Himself- the world would believe Him ! Never been more needed than now !

Now, in the light of what we read here, I ask you to review that statement. WOULD a visible appearance of Jesus actually change anyone’s heart ? I say ” NO ! “. If people are not prepared to accept the very substantial evidence which is available to us today, then not even a resurrection appearance in Falcon Square would have any effect. Do you not remember the story of the rich man and Lazarus. Lazarus finding himself in hell pleads to be given the opportunity to go back to earth to warn his brothers – but he is given the reply :

If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead!

Don’t you see that the problem is not an intellectual one. People can be convinced in their minds that Jesus is risen from the dead and is alive today – but the heart of their problem is the problem of their HEARTS. Brilliant lawyers have found themselves entirely convinced by the evidence of Jesus – but not an inch nearer salvation.

I find this one of the greatest challenges imaginable. It seems all too possible that some of the 11 closest disciples of Jesus – having walked with Him, talked with Him, watched and apparently worshipped him over three years – now having witnessed His resurrection on several occasions – are STILL DOUBTING !

And the warning couldn’t be any clearer. It matters not an iota what is your Church and spiritual pedigree – you may still harbour doubts in your hearts – even with some of the finest spiritual encounters of which to boast.

Friends, make absolutely sure, this night, that your faith is firmly grounded in the Living Saviour : make doubly sure that it is your heart and not your head alone which trust in the Risen Lord Jesus.

Go and Make Disciples

The text passes quickly on from that staggering sentence to the Great Commission from Jesus. Maybe you know that as a preacher I must preach as if every Sunday was potentially my last opportunity to preach to you. For some of the congregation this turns out to be so – they are called away from this life before hearing another sermon from the Urquhart & Glenmoriston pulpit. It may be that I am struck in some way that would render it impossible for me ever to preach to you again – and so, in company with countless preachers, I testify that every time I stand in this place, I am aware that this could be my last opportunity to appeal to you to come to Christ and to keep on His way throughout your days – and tonight can be no exception.

This would have been almost the last occasion that Jesus had to speak to the disciples physically – and what is the message which is to be His swan-song. With what does He wish to leave this band of men – what is uppermost in His mind as He goes back to His Father – back to His throne in Heaven ?

His thoughts are with the world in darkness. ARE YOURS ? Jesus sends the disciples out with this :

1) ALL authority is mine

This word is needful in a day when authority is shunned from almost every quarter. We need to believe in authority – and we need to place ourselves FIRMLY under the authority of Jesus. We can do this gladly and willingly NOW – or we can do it kicking and screaming when we die – what do you want ? ! Don’t be foolish – accept that Jesus is the only authority in the world with power.

{The story is told of the government inspector who went to a farm to do some measurements – the reluctant farmer only let him into the field when the man produced official documents granting him authority. However, the wily farmer let his bull into the field and told the inspector to show the document to the bull! The man had authority – but no POWER to enforce it!}

Jesus has both the authority OVER the world and the power IN the world – and we do well to place our entire lives under His powerful authority.

And more than that – we actually go into the world WITH His power and authority !

2) Therefore go and make disciples of all nations

Three things here. Firstly, they were told to GO ! As Christians we cannot just sit on our rear ends and WAIT for people to be converted.

GO-ing involves an active participation on our part. Think on that!

Secondly we are told to make disciples. Notice Jesus doesn’t simply say “Make friends” – neither does He say “Make converts”. Jesus is only interested in us making disciples – and disciples are those who go the whole distance with Him – they start a life-long learning process – the graduation ceremony being in heaven ! Some of the big evangelistic Crusades are guilty of peddling cheap Christianity – the Gospel is both offered at a cut price and the results are measured in such a way as to inflate their value! Jesus wants life-long commitment (that’s why our relationship to Him is likened to a marriage in Ephesians). Think on that!

And thirdly we are to go to ALL NATIONS. How does this command affect your daily life ? This is Jesus last – and arguably His greatest command – how has this affected your life today – this week – this year – throughout your entire life ? ALL THE WORLD – that means even beyond the boundaries of Glenurquhart and Glenmoriston. Think on that!

3) Baptise and teach them

Baptism is not a problem – when someone is truly converted – they will want an outward sign to show the world they have been changed on the inside. And indeed, today we also baptise the children of believers . But the next thing is TEACH THEM. Oh, I wonder how many in our beloved Church have even the slightest desire to be taught ?! Is it not the case that most folks think they learned all they were going to learn in Sunday School. Church is for something else (although exactly quite what we’re not sure !).

I come here week by week to teach you the Scriptures. I may not be very good at academic things, I may not be good at sports or running coffee mornings – I may be awful at a whole host of things, but ONE THING is my sacred duty week by week and that is to TEACH THE SCRIPTURES. You may like that – you may not – but that is my only reason d’être – my reason for being here. Would you want a minister who didn’t teach you the unsearchable riches of God Word to feed your souls ? Maybe some of you would !

4) And surely I will be with you always.

And the closing words are of the greatest encouragement. Jesus says He will be with us ALWAYS. Jesus is ALIVE – and HE IS WITH US.

In 1896 David Livingston received the degree of Doctor of Laws from Glasgow University. He rose to speak, gaunt, haggard as a result of hardships in tropical Africa, his left arm, crushed by a lion, hanging helplessly at his side; he announced his intention to return to Africa. With no fears and indeed gladly he said: “Would you like me to tell you what supported me through all the years of exile among a people whose language I could not understand and whose attitude towards me was always uncertain and often hostile? It was this ‘LO I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS, EVEN UNTO THE END OF THE WORLD’. On these words I staked everything and they never failed.

PRAYER

Hymn MP 672 There is a Name I love to hear

There is a Name I love to hear,

I love to sing its worth;

It sounds like music in my ear,

The sweetest Name on earth.

O how I love the Saviour’s Name,,

O how I love the Saviour’s Name,,

O how I love the Saviour’s Name,,

The Sweetest Name on earth

It tells me of a Saviours love,

Who died to set me free;

It tells me of His precious blood,

The sinners perfect plea.

O how I love the Saviour’s Name,,

O how I love the Saviour’s Name,,

O how I love the Saviour’s Name,,

The Sweetest Name on earth

It tells of One whose loving heart

Can feel my deepest woe;

Who in each sorrow bears

A part that none can bear below.

O how I love the Saviour’s Name,,

O how I love the Saviour’s Name,,

O how I love the Saviour’s Name,,

The Sweetest Name on earth

It bids my trembling heart rejoice.

It dries each rising tear.

It tells me, in a still small voice,”

To trust and never fear.

O how I love the Saviour’s Name,,

O how I love the Saviour’s Name,,

O how I love the Saviour’s Name,,

The Sweetest Name on earth

Jesus, the Name I love so well,

The Name I love to hear:

No saint on earth its worth can tell,

No heart conceive how dear.

O how I love the Saviour’s Name,,

O how I love the Saviour’s Name,,

O how I love the Saviour’s Name,,

The Sweetest Name on earth

Benediction

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