Posts Tagged ‘Sermon’

Easter: The Unexpected Event That Changed History

Don’t you just love a good joke?

As a culture, we sure seem to enjoy humor. Many of the top TV shows and movies are ones that make us laugh. Newspaper editors confess that they can change news coverage with barely a whimper from the public, but mess with the cartoons and there’s an outpouring of opinion!

What makes a good joke? During my doctoral studies, I had an entire seminar on humor in literature – no, it wasn’t very funny – analyzing why some things are amusing and others are not. It appears that humor typically arises from the unexpected. A story progresses normally, then suddenly takes an unexpected turn. A good joke involves a surprising twist; a great joke catches you flat-footed.

In that sense, Easter is the greatest joke in history – not because it isn’t an authentic historical event, but because it caught everyone by surprise. The resurrection of Jesus was the surprise ending of Holy Week – the unexpected twist that caught everyone off guard.

His disciples certainly didn’t see it coming. In the hours after His crucifixion, they huddled together behind locked doors, fearing they would also be arrested by the religious authorities. Three years with Him had come to this: fear, loss, despair.

Then, suddenly, He was there among them! The one who had died and been buried three days earlier now stood in their midst, and they were shocked – then, in the words of C.S. Lewis, they were “surprised by joy.” The joke was on them!

That’s the way it is when we experience Christ in our lives. Bound by sin, we are suddenly freed by God’s grace. Theologian Jurgen Moltmann calls it “the laughing of the redeemed, the dancing of the liberated.” If you have given your life to Christ, then you have also been “surprised by joy.”

Easter was also a joke on His accusers. They thought it was over, and that they had won. This would-be messiah was out of their hair, never again to question their authority or ridicule their self-righteousness. So they laid their heads on their pillows Saturday night, secure in their confidence that this Jesus movement would soon be forgotten.

Perhaps Satan himself laughed with devilish glee as he watched Jesus’ head fall onto His chest, the last breath leaving His body on that terrible Friday afternoon. “We have won!” he cried, and the demons echoed his victory shout. On the battleground of the cross, they had defeated God’s love.

But the joke was on them, for early on that first Easter morning, the forces of evil that sent Jesus to a cross now encountered a glorious, risen Christ who had conquered death. It was the great 4th century preacher John Chrysostom who, in an Easter sermon, portrayed the risen Christ laughing at the devil. On Friday, evil chuckled at its apparent triumph, but on Sunday the tables had turned. The Divine Surprise had been revealed, and history would never be the same.

            During World War II, a London church was celebrating the harvest season and a time of thanksgiving. In the center of a decorative display were some ears of corn. The services were not held, however, because before the time of the service the air raid sirens sounded, and German bombs left the church building in ruins.

Months went by, and as spring arrived onlookers noticed among the ruins a patch of green shoots. As summer approached, those shoots grew taller, and soon there was a flourishing patch of corn growing amidst the rubble. Not even bombs could destroy the life in those seeds.

The forces of sin and death and evil thought it had all ended that dark Friday at Calvary. As He was buried, they dusted their hands and said confidently, “Well, that’s that.”

Come Sunday, though, the joke was on them. God’s great surprise exploded into history as the risen Christ walked from the grave, laughing and victorious.

This Easter, He invites you to share His laughter and experience His joy.


Michael Duduit is Dean of the College of Christian Studies ( at Anderson University, and Executive Editor of Preaching magazine (

The Rich Old Ruler

This week I spoke in chapel at Anderson University and did a first-person narrative sermon based on the biblical story of the rich young ruler. In this message, he is reflecting back on his encounter with Jesus. Here is the text:

The Rich Old Ruler

Rachel, please send a message to the governor that I greatly appreciate his invitation to dinner next week, but I will be on a business trip to Antioch those days. Oh, and let the Temple foundation know that I won’t be able to attend their fund raiser next Tuesday. Maybe next time.

One thing you discover when you have money is that everyone is your friend. Every club wants you as a member, every cause wants you on the board, everybody loves you and wants you to be involved. Even at a young age I was considered an elder of the synagogue in my town. It’s OK, I understand – they all need people with resources. I just happen to be one of those folks here in Judea that has more resources than most.

I guess I never knew anything different. You see, I made my money the old-fashioned way: I inherited it! But I managed to take the money my father left me and build it into an even bigger fortune. I guess you could say I have a way with making money. I’m pretty good at coming up with products people want to buy. For example – you’ll love this one – I noticed how inconvenient it was when people had to carry around books and long documents on those large, heavy scrolls, so I came up with a miniature version – I call it the iScroll. People lined up to buy these things – can you believe it?

So here I am with a great business and lots of wealth and days full of decisions. What will I do next? Who should I take on as a partner? Where should I invest my resources? Decisions all day, every day. Well, you know what I mean, I’m sure. Some of my decisions have been very good, and some… Well, I’ve made a few bad decisions in my life as well.

But the worst one… Oh, my, that was the worst decision I ever made. Let me tell you about it.

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