Sunday, April 1, 2018
TEXT: John 20:1ff
FOCUS: Resurrection of Christ
Creation. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. He made the sun and the moon and the stars. He made the land and the sea. He made the fish and the birds. The creatures that roam the land. He made the trees, the flowers, the mountains, and the rivers. And then he made humankind. Man, and woman he created them, in his image. And after he created all things, he stepped back, looked at it all all, and said, “Wow! This is good! This is real good!”
We create. I think this is a reflection of God’s image in which we were made. We are creative beings.
Lauren and I spent much of this last week finishing the trim around the windows in my living room and then painting our living room and kitchen. Thursday night, after way more hours than it was supposed to take, Lauren and I sat on our couch and admired our work. We said, “Wow! This is good! This is real good!”
NEW. We like new. There is something about new that always looks good and makes us feel good. Having a new car. Having a new job. Moving to a new house. New things tend to inspire us. Having a new coat of paint on our living walls inspires us to want to keep our living room clean. It inspired us to go through everything we previously had in our living room which resulted in a big Goodwill box. We cleaned up. And it felt good. It still feels good. It almost feels like a NEW house.
You see, NEW changes things. It gives us new life and purpose. It gives us inspiration. We have a new direction and outlook on life. And it is exciting.
But, of course, inevitably the NEW becomes old. I will guarantee that it will not take long for our NEW living room to become old. And once it becomes old it is going to be harder to stay motivated to keep it clean. After our kids color on the walls, a stack of mail on the kitchen ledge, a pair of shoes left out of the closet, a stack of books not put away, it becomes harder and harder to stay excited about what was not that long ago new.
This is what happened to God’s creation too. We are not told the amount of time that passed between when God created Adam and Eve and when they disobeyed God. I’m not sure that matters. What we do know however, was that Adam and Eve grew discontent with what they had. The newness of God had worn off. Doubt and mistrust had set in to their heart. Through their disobedience sin entered the world. The devil was given a foothold. The new and shiny turned to chaos. And this chaos began to rule the
world, wrecking the hearts of the entire human race. It was a disease that spread infecting all of the human race that would follow. All of creation has felt the effect of this chaos.
John 1:1ff we read that in the beginning, even before God created the heavens and the earth, there was the Word. And this Word was God. John goes on to tell us that this word became flesh and dwelt among us. He came to earth, as a man, so that we may know his glory. JESUS was God made flesh.
As Christians, many of us have been taught that the reason Jesus came was to live a perfect sinless life, and to be a sacrifice to atone for our sins. He would be the sacrifice to end all sacrifices. Because up until Christ, our sins had to be atoned for through animal sacrifices. God’s justice, his wrath, needed to be satisfied. Jesus’ death on the cross, the sacrifice of the perfect sinless lamb, thus opened the door for us to be in relationship with our heavenly father again.
While this is true, the reason Jesus came to earth, lived and taught, was not merely to offer his body as a sacrifice once and for all. JESUS CAME TO BRING LIFE.
We see this all throughout the Gospel of John. In the 14 chapter, we read, “I am the way the truth and life… Because I live, you also will live… Peace I leave with you and my peace I give to you.” In the 10 chapter Jesus tells his followers that he has come SO THAT THEY MAY HAVE LIFE, AND THAT THEY MAY HAVE IT TO THE FULLEST.
My question to each of us this morning is: “Are you really living? Are you living your life to the fullest?”
Spencer: “It’s a lot harder to be brave when you only have one live left.”
Fridge: “We always only have one life man. Okay? That’s – that’s all we get. That’s how it works. The question is how are you gonna live it? Which guy are you going to decide to be?”
It was common thought in the ANE that there was no resurrection. Once you’re dead, you’re dead. The Jews however held on to a hope of a resurrected life, of life after death. They were not in agreement, the Sadducees, the politically and economically elite, for the most part sided with the prevailing thought of the day that this life was all there was.
Jesus of course knew and believed in the resurrection. But the reality was that the resurrection would not be possible without his obedience to his Father’s will. He was tempted with the option to forgo the crucifixion. Throughout all of Jesus life he was tempted with power and fame and fortune. He could have had it all. He could have lived it up! But he availed himself to the fate that was set before him because he was living in God’s kingdom.
I want to make the case this morning that Jesus was just as much alive throughout the crucifixion and the week leading up to his resurrection than he was on that Sunday morning at the empty grave. Jesus did not fear death, because he was already alive in the kingdom of God. The things he valued were not wealth, power, or fame. He was not interested in receiving people’s approval. ALL JESUS WANTED TO DO WAS TO OBEY HEIS FATHER! And this gave him great joy. He was able to endure the cross and scorned its shame because of the HOPE he had from living in God’s kingdom. Living in the will of his father. All the affirmation he needed, he received from his father. And nothing else mattered! That was all he needed. Knowing that he was doing what his father wanted him to do. I believe that even with all the sin of the world on Jesus shoulders, the moment the Father turned his face away from him, he still possessed the assurance that he was doing what his father willed. And there was a peace that came with that.
I have heard stories and stories of martyrs who were burned at the stake, who were tortured, who have been killed horrifically, and all the way through the end they were able to sing praises to the God who made them, the God who loves them more than anything. There is a peace that is possible. A peace that defies all reason and explanation. That in the time of great trial and tribulation, that when our world around us is falling apart, that we can still have life. That we can live with the HOPE for a better tomorrow. That we can live with a PEACE that surpasses all understanding. That we can live with a LOVE in our heart that has the power to transform even the hardest of hearts.
THIS IS WHAT CHRIST CAME TO DO. THIS IS WHAT CHRIST CAME TO GIVE US. THIS IS WHAT CHRIST SHOWED US TROUGH HIS DEATH AND RESURRECTION. We don’t have to live in fear. But we can live in boldness, and we can live life to the fullest.
We live in a dualistic world…
Hitting the target. Bounded box. You either are a Christian or you are not. We look at Christ and consider the call to be like him, and we say, “Well, that’s great for some people, but that will never be me.”
Do you know how many miles it is to PA? > 2,500. It takes a really long time to drive there. Especially in a big motor home. Nearly two years ago my wife, three daughters and I piled into an RV and made the long trek from ORàPA. It felt like we were never going to get there. Just ask my daughters. But the reality is we never would have gotten there had we not gotten in the RV and pointed it toward PA and drove.
Where is your life pointed? Don’t worry as much about whether you have arrived. Whether you are “in” God’s people or not. Don’t worry so much about the fact that your life does not now look like the life of Jesus. Don’t worry about the fact that other people are closer to Jesus than you are. Stop comparing yourself to those who are further away from Jesus than you. Instead, WORRY ABOUT THE DIRECTION YOUR LIFE IS GOING. Where is your life pointed?
After Jesus’ resurrection, he did not first appear to the religious leaders to prove to them how wrong they were. Nor did he appear to Pilate to gloat. He appeared to Mary Magdalene. To a woman. And when he appeared to Mary, the message she heard was, “I love you. You matter. Your life has meaning and purpose, not because of what you do, but because of who you are. You are now a child of God. Believe and live.
In some third century writing we read about an account were “Peter says to Jesus: ‘Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of Life.’” This was how women were viewed in the first century near East. Even today, in many Eastern cultures women are continued to be considered not worthy of life. And dare I say, even in our western, technologically advanced, culture, women are often viewed and treated with less worth and value than men. You see, Jesus came to give life. Not just to men. Not just to the privileged. Jesus came to give life to ALL who would believe and would be called children of God.
John tells us in the final verses of the twentieth chapter “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (20:30-31, ESV).
Are you looking for something NEW today? God wants to make your life new.
Like Mary, Jesus wants to speak worth and value into your life today. You may be wondering if you in fact are a child of God. Rest assured that God wants you, he has chosen you, to be a member of his family. If you have not yet placed your belief in him I encourage you to not leave today without doing so. You may also be sitting here today and you just need a new coat of paint. You’ve realized that the life you are living, is not in step with the life that Jesus came to show us. I encourage you today in our response to