Text: Luke 24: 41a, “And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement…”
My elderly aunt was so excited. She had received a call saying that she had won the big prize in the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes. But in order to claim her prize, she was required to send in either 2000 or 3000 dollars to cover the taxes. She wondered if it could be true. We strongly warned her that it was a scam.
An elderly man that I was helping asked me to take him to Wal-Mart because he needed to send a money gram. I agreed to take him but on the way questioned him as to what he was doing. He too had been told that he was a big prize winner who needed to send in a substantial amount of money before receiving the prize. I questioned him about what he was doing. He assured me that he had investigated the source and that it was legitimate. He was a retired policeman so I took him at his word. The Wal-Mart lady who helped with the money gram tried to reason with him, but he insisted on sending the money. And, as feared, it indeed was a scam.
I’ve heard of many similar stories. I regularly receive an email from someone who says a close relative has died and now he or she desires to donate thousands of dollars to a charity such as our church. I’ve investigated. It is a scam, but it is amazing how many people choose to send money or give out bank account information.
I’m sure you have been given this advice. It is good advice. It is advice we need to consider following: “If it is too good to be true, it probably isn’t!”
Have you ever come across a deal that seemed too good to be true? Maybe it was a low mileage car that someone needed to get rid of and was ready to sell it at way below its market value. Or maybe, ladies, it was an expensive dress that was marked down to a very low price. I heard a lady on the Today program Thursday morning talk giving shopping tips and saying how she had bought a dress for $100 that had been priced at $750.
You get the picture. There are occasions that seem too good to be true. They are just unbelievable.
Such was the case for the disciples after Jesus was crucified, buried, and then resurrected to life again. They had seen him die. They had witnessed the soldier ramming the sword into his side. They had observed his body being removed from the Cross and placed in the tomb. That was their reality. Jesus was dead. The fact that he was standing before them very much alive, talking to them, showing them his wounds—it was too much to comprehend. But it was true. It is true. The Gospel is so wonderful that it is hard to believe. It was joy and amazement that counteracted the doubts that they were experiencing. No, it wasn’t a dream. No, they were not hallucinating. Yes, they were wide awake. Jesus is alive.
Over the years I have talked with many different people who just could not believe the message we preach. They say things like, “If you only knew the terrible things I’ve done, you would know God couldn’t forgive me.” I think often of the young lady who just happened into a Sunday night service years ago, who quickly left the building when the benediction was prayed. I knew she was under conviction, so I followed her out into the parking lot. She told me that she was too ashamed to even be with our church people. And she refused to believe that God would forgive her. And she left without finding out that she was mistaken. God very much wanted to forgive her if she would have just let Him. But to her it was TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE.
I want you to know that the Gospel of Salvation we preach is so wonderful, so precious, so unbelievable that it seems to many to be “TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE!”
But God’s Word affirms the truth. Let’s consider:
I. GOO SPECIALIZES IN THE SEEMINGLY IMPOSSIBLE.
a. Do you remember the account of the rich young ruler who came to see Jesus, but, when confronted with the cost of discipleship, went away sorrowfully because he was not willing to give up his riches? In Matthew 19: 23-26, Jesus had this to say to his disciples: “…Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciple heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?’ Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19: 23-26).
–Too good to be true? But with God it is true!
b. In Matthew 18 Jesus told a parable about a servant who owed his master ten thousand bags of gold that he could not repay. After begging his master for more time, the master chose to completely forgive him his debt. But the man thought that was “too good to be true.” So he decided he would collect from others who owed him, thinking perhaps that he would be able to repay the debt that was already forgiven. But instead of showing mercy, he had a man thrown into prison who owed him very little but who could not repay, and consequently, his master withdrew the offer of forgiveness of the debt and had him thrown into prison. And it was all because the idea of being forgiven a debt of ten thousand bags of gold “Too good to be true.” (See Matthew 18: 21-35).
c. One of my favorite stories in the book of Acts is about the time Peter was placed in prison chained to guards to be held for execution. During the night an angel came to him and the chains fell off and the gates of the prison swung open and Peter was able to just walk out. The Bible says that Peter thought he was dreaming until the angel left him and he found himself freed. –It seemed TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE. But the story doesn’t stop there. Peter walked to the house where he knew there were people praying and knocked on the door, When the servant girl named Rhoda came to the door and asked how it was and Peter identified himself, instead of letting him in she ran to tell those who had been praying. And they didn’t believe her. IT WAS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE. But when they finally went to the door to see for themselves who it was, it was true. (See Acts 12) Now doesn’t that sound like us so many times? We ask God for something and then, when He answers, we can’t believe it. IT SEEMS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE!
D. I love the way Paul expresses this in Ephesians 3: 20-21—“Now to him who is able to do immeasurable more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations, forever and ever! Amen.”
II. THE GOD WHO DID THE SEEMINGLY IMPOSSIBLE IN THE BIBLE IS THE SAME TODAY.
A. Now through the ages there are many accounts of God’s miraculous grace and mercy.
a. George Mueller lived in the 1800s (1805-1898). For many years he ran an orphanage and completely trusted God to provide the means. One of the stories goes like this: “The children are dressed and ready for school. But there is no food for them to eat,” the housemother of the orphanage informed George Mueller. George asked her to take the 300 children into the dining room and have them sit at the tables. He thanked God for the food and waited. George knew God would provide food for the children as he always did. Within minutes, a baker knocked on the door. “Mr. Mueller,” he said, “last night I could not sleep. Somehow I knew that you would need bread this morning. I got up and baked three batches for you. I will bring it in.” Soon, there was another knock at the door. It was the milkman. His cart had broken down in front of the orphanage. The milk would spoil by the time the wheel was fixed. He asked George if he could use some free milk. George smiled as the milkman brought in ten large cans of milk. It was just enough for the 300 thirsty children. –(www.Christianity.com) Sounds TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE? But it was true. And God still specializes in the impossible.
b. I can tell you of things that have happened to me that seemed at the time to be “TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE.” Some years ago our denomination adopted a strong recommendation that pastors should be allowed a Sabbatical every seven years. By that time I had served this church at least 25 years, and that didn’t include the time I had served 4 other churches. AnnTomlinson, a dear friend that I miss greatly, began to pressure me to take a Sabbatical. One day she asked me to describe a place I would like to go if I could go anywhere I wanted. After giving it some thought, I described a tropical scene with beaches. I knew that would never happen. But a few weeks later I received a phone call from a missionary that I had never met asking me if I would be interested in coming down and staying in his home while he and his wife were on furlough. I would have to teach and preach, but would have time to enjoy the location—an island in the Caribbean—The Republic of Dominica. TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE. Not really thinking I could do that, I told him that I would not go and be away from my wife the 10 weeks he wanted me there, but if she could go I might consider it. She was teaching in a small Christian School and I knew there was no way she could be gone. But, to my surprise, the school told her she could be gone for a month. So, what seemed to be TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE became a DREAM COME TRUE as we enjoyed our Sabbatical on a tropical island on the Caribbean.
c. I could tell you of physical healings—events that doctors had to admit that only God could have healed.
d. I’m sure if we took time, there are many stories you could tell of things that seemed TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE but God intervened.
III. THE GREATEST “TOO BE GOOD TO BE TRUE” MIRACLE IS GOD’S PROVISION FOR OUR SALVATION.
>Think about the message in Romans 5: 8—“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Do you understand that by definition a “Sinner” is one who is openly in rebellion against God? To sin is to knowingly break God’s laws. It is to treat the Blood of Christ that was shed for us disrespectfully. The writer of Hebrews describes those who turn their backs on God as “…crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace…” (See Hebrews 6: 6). For God to choose not only to keep on loving us when we were openly defying Him, but to also take our sins upon Himself and die in our place—that just seems “TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE.” But it is true! >In 1 Corinthians 1 Paul wrote, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God…but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God, For the foolishness of God is wiser that human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength” (Romans 1: 18, 23-25).
The disciples were overwhelmed with joy and amazement at what seemed TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE—that Jesus was alive. And today, we who were born dead in our trespasses and sins, are made alive unto God through Faith in Jesus Christ—We should be filled with joy and amazement too at what from a human standpoint seems TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE—BUT IT IS!