The Nazi prison camp made life miserable. Chaplain Ewen MacDonald was chaplain to the American soldiers enduring this hard life. MacDonald spread the message of hope the best he could to the men.

One unforgettable morning, a big tough soldier slipped him a message that read: “The Scotsman wants to see you now!” MacDonald carefully walked to the barbed-wire fence that separated the British and American soldiers where he met a Scotsman by the name of MacNeil. Shortly before their meeting MacNeil tuned his underground radio to the BBC. Barely hiding his smile behind his mustache he simply said, “They have come!” He didn’t say another word. He didn’t have to; it was enough.

Chaplain MacDonald told every American prisoner, “They have come” and each one understood the meaning. It was June 6, 1944, and the Allied forces had begun their invasion of France. Deliverance was on its way now! The excitement of the POWs was ecstatic. The guards were dumbfounded as to why these crazy Americans were whooping it up in camp. After all, they were prisoners; nothing had changed. Yet, those prisoners knew everything had changed. Their rescuers were on the way, and they were changed from the inside out by what had transpired.

Easter screams that deliverance is on the way now! Everything may appear the same on the outside as life continues, but the obstacles of sin and death have been overcome by the blood of Christ. The resurrection of Jesus is the proof of God’s love and power of victory for all who will believe and put their faith in Him.

There were many obstacles as the disciples came to the garden tomb that first Easter morning:
• The stone placed in front of the opening weighing a ton, positioned so it could not be moved, sealed and with guards (John 20:1).
• Confusion as to what had happened to the body of Jesus (John 20:2).
• Fear of entering the tomb and what might or might not be found (John 20:4-5).
• Strips of burial cloth and linen laid so neatly (John 20:6-7).
• A profound sense of loss (John 20:11).
• No recognition of who Jesus was (John 20:14-15)
Jesus came to deliver us from our personal obstacles.

He Helps Us Overcome the Obstacle of Intimacy (John 20:16)
Mary was heartbroken because she thought the authorities moved Jesus’ body so it would be hidden from His disciples. Rumor had it that He would rise again, and the Sanhedrin would not have His disciples coming to take the body and claiming He had risen. The Sanhedrin would be one step ahead of these frauds. Mary turned to leave the tomb, and there stood a man who she mistook for a gardener—a sexton in today’s language—who managed the cemetery plots that included this cave tomb where Jesus had been laid to rest.

After spewing forth words of anguish from her heart, Jesus simply said her name, “Mary.” Immediately, she recognized the voice. John said she spoke in Aramaic, which was the everyday language of the common people of Israel of the first century. There was no formality here, but the intimacy of close, personal friendship. Jesus was the One who broke down class divisions. Everyone is someone to Jesus.

Jesus knows your name. Everything about you is known to Him. Even before you were formed in your mother’s womb, Jesus knew you. He cares so much for you. He wants to be your intimate Friend, your Redeemer and your Savior. That is why He went to the cross to break the obstacle that would keep us from an intimate relationship with God! The resurrection is the proof of God’s love…not just for Jesus…but for us. It is the affirmation of Christ’s power to break sin’s hold on our lives.

Can you hear Him call your name?

Jesus Calls Us to Know God (John 20:17)
The resurrection of Jesus is a call from God to have authority in our lives. When Jesus spoke to His disciples about their relationship to God, He said, “Your Father.” Jesus’ unique relationship with the Father overcomes all obstacles that would destroy our spiritual lives!

A kindergarten teacher told everyone in class to draw a picture of what was important to them. Everyone was done except little Johnny. The teacher asked him what he was drawing. Without looking up, he just kept drawing and said, “God”. The teacher kindly said, “Johnny, no one knows what God looks like. He answered, “They will when I’m through.” 

Jesus shows us the face of God and calls us to know Him.

Jesus Calls Us to Experience and Share God (John 20:18)
After her encounter with Jesus, Mary could not keep still; she had to share what she had just experienced. As Christians, we must not be silent about what we have seen and experienced with the Lord.

John Bunyan said, “Dost thou see a soul with the image of God in him? Love him, love him. Say to thyself, “This man and I must go to heaven together someday.” Who is your friend that you need to get to heaven with you?

The resurrection of Jesus overcomes all obstacles and becomes a fact in all believers’ hearts! Shout it from the rooftops: “He is Risen!”

View more sermon illustrations for inspiration for your next message.

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About The Author

Rev. Derl Keefer pastored in the Church of the Nazarene for over 30 years. He currently serves as the Adult Development Ministries Coordinator for the Sunday School Ministries department at the Church of the Nazarene Global Ministry Center. He received his B.A. in Religion from Southern Nazarene University and his M. Div from Nazarene Theological Seminary. His other books include Let's Get Committed, Wedding Sermons and Marriage Ceremonies, and Open Doors.

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