Seasonal Friendship Ablaze! Sermons
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Friends Tell Friends About Jesus

This sermon outline and prayer, for use on or near Easter, can be used as a stand-alone Friendship Sunday worship or as the culmination of a series of worship services leading up to Friendship Sunday. To be effective, every Friendship Sunday worship celebration should involve preparationand followup. See “Welcoming Guests Well” and “Developing an Intentional Follow-up Strategy.”

Target: More people attend church and return to church based on their Easter Sunday experience than at any other time of the church year. This material could be used on the Sundays after Easter with proper preparation. Whether it is done on Easter Sunday or one of the Sundays following Easter, it is important that your church be prepared for guests on the Sunday following Easter because many will return if they enjoyed the Easter celebration. The focus is on unchurched friends, under-churched friends and members who may have become inactive recently. The service and message should be upbeat and relational. A great addition to the celebration would be a brief testimony from a person who joined your church after being invited by a friend to church.

Text: Matthew 28:1-10 (NIV)

     1After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. 2There 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. 3His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men. 
     5The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6He is not here; He has risen, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay. 7Then 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.”
     8So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to Him, clasped his feet and worshipped Him. 10Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Theme Development:  The focus of this celebration and its message is on the women who first discover the resurrection and run to tell their friends, Jesus’ disciples, about it. In the friendship celebration and message, you will want to talk about how your guests’ friends invited them to this special celebration because they, like the women, wanted their friends to hear the good news of the resurrection.

  • Matthew 28:1 tells us that several friends (named in Mark 16:1 as Mary Magdalene, Mary the Mother of James, and Salome) went to the tomb to care for the body of their friend Jesus.
  • The visitation of the angel to roll away the stone and announce the resurrection to the women provides a powerful backdrop as the women not only hear the good news but bear witness to the empty tomb in verse 6. Take advantage of the angel’s words in verse 5, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified,” to share briefly the significance of Jesus’ life and death on behalf of all people that those who believe in Him may be His friends (John 15:13-14). 
  • It is also worth highlighting that twice the women hear the words, “Do not be afraid.” The first time they hear this is from the angel in verse 5. The second time they hear this is from Jesus in verse 10. God sent Jesus to remove our fear of Him because of our sin and to restore our friendship with God.
  • Note in the text that the women are charged twice with the responsibility to go and tell the disciples the good news of Jesus’ resurrection; the first time by the angel who appears to them (verse 7), and the second time by Jesus Himself (verse 10). Both times the women respond positively to the charge to tell this good news to their friends (verses 8 and 11a).
  • The friends that invited the guests to this special friendship celebration invited them because they want them to hear and believe that Jesus died for them to restore their friendship with God. His resurrection is a guarantee of that friendship.

Prayer of the Day:
Almighty and everlasting Father, we praise Your name on this day when we celebrate the resurrection of Your Son, our friend Jesus. We rejoice in the peace we have with You through His death and resurrection. We celebrate the friendship we have with You and thank You for our friends who shared this good news with us. We pray for our friends who do not know peace and friendship with You through Jesus and ask that You would use our friendship with them to bear witness to Your great grace in our lives in both word and deed. We ask this grace in the name of Your Son Jesus. Amen.