Sunday, June 7, 2009
He Is Risen... Now What?
He is Risen...Now What
Acts 10:34-43 (New International Version)
34Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. 36You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. 37You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— 38how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
39"We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, 40but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. 41He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. 43All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."
Today is Resurrection Sunday.
Easter is often misunderstood:
A friend of mine told me his Sunday school teacher confused Easter with Groundhog Day, & Told the children that Easter is when Jesus comes out of his tomb . . . but that if he sees his shadow he has to go back inside for another six weeks…
It’s often even more misunderstood than that…
With Easter so often misunderstood, the central premise of Christianity, as a whole, is often misunderstood…
Easter is Resurrection Sunday
Resurrection is the heart of the Christian faith
(Exp: Story of Passion week-
- Triumphant Entry
- Teaching & Healing
- Temple Cleansing
- Last Supper
- Garden & Betrayal
- Trial & scourging
- Crucifixion & Burial
The Resurrection of Christ was not simply God in the flesh, conquering the power of Death.
Our reading from Acts made it quite clear that in the earliest apostolic proclamation about Jesus of Nazareth his death and resurrection were directly linked to two promises, one about the future, and one about the present.
These can be simply stated:
1) The resurrection shows that Jesus was ordained by God to judge the living & the dead
2) The resurrection shows that Jesus is the one in whose name, we can have forgiveness right now!
At first sight this may either seem irrelevant to you or like old news.
It may seem only loosely connected to Easter… but that shows how far we can be off the mark without even realizing it.
This resurrection day is the time all those great Psalms in the middle of the Bible talked about:
All about heaven and earth rejoicing,
-The sea thundering,
-The fields and the trees and the animals celebrating for joy,
-Because YHWH is coming to judge the earth,
-To judge it with true justice
- And the nations with faithfulness & equity.
In other words:
- Easter is about the whole world creation being set right at last,
- Put back on track with the way it was supposed to be,
- The way it had been longing to be…
According to Paul (echoing Genesis), God intended that the created order should be governed by wise human beings reflecting God’s stewardly love into it.
When Humanity rebelled, this purpose went off-track.
All the relationships were broken.
- Our communion with God
- Our sense of community with each other
Our drive towards our original commission, to be fruitful, multiply, replenish the world. To take care of it. Be good stewards…etc.
We see with the Genesis account that the earth gave birth to thorns; thistles…not on it’s own, but because it has been held ransom until the day when humanity would be restored.
Now in Jesus Christ, that restoration has happened!
Jesus Christ was perfectly obedient Man that opened the door for all of us to leave the old ways of death and walk into the new ways of life
Easter Sunday is the celebration of this incredible assurance that God has set the whole created order right at last!
But this has only physically happened in one person so far: Jesus.
But Jesus’ Resurrection is a picture of what God is trying to do for his people, and for All People, and for the whole created order world
This idea in scripture is that one man, Jesus, will come and begin setting all things right and reconciling the world to himself.
In this way, Easter – the resurrection – relates to the rest of the world.
It’s good news for the whole world
We already see that the resurrection sets Jesus up as the world’s true judge.
NOT so much that it qualifies him to sit behind a desk with a black robe and cast judgment from a position of moral superiority
But that He has come to set things right!
BUT that he Himself is the first part of creation to be set right
- After the corruption of evil and death had done its worst to him
- He conquered death & rose from the grave…
- He is now not only the one who can reflect God’s healing justice perfectly into the world, but he is also the one who actually embodies it in himself.
This message of future Judgment we anticipate in Christ is SO Urgently Relevant to several major issues before us right now
It speaks directly to the issues around the world…the social injustice and our role = how we’re supposed to bring change, of climate change and our responsibility for the future of the planet , our responsibility towards others…
(Especially since those most likely to suffer from rapid change are, as usual, the poorest of the poor)
Resurrection of the world
If in Jesus, God has begun to bring about his great renewal of all creation the world, then those who in faith and love embrace Jesus as the risen Lord have the wonderful joy of bringing that renewal to fruition
God was at work in Christ setting all things right, reconciling the world to himself.
Now he is at work through us, as we put out hands and feet and hearts and minds to work rebuilding our world, resurrecting the broken, reconciling the world to God
- So when you see others struggling around you, ask yourself what would Jesus be doing to help? Go & do it!
- When someone’s giving up on life
- People who gravitate toward self-destructive patterns
- When a family is falling apart
- When people you know are going through financial difficulty
- When you see an elderly person being neglected
Do we just sit by & hope for the best?
What would Jesus be doing in the face of these situations?
Would he intervene?
Would he bring healing?
Sometimes it’s as simple as sharing a smile and letting someone know you care…by listening to them and their struggles…
First, Jesus really is alive again.
Second, therefore he really is the Messiah, the world’s true Lord.
Third, therefore God’s new creation has begun.
Fourth – and this is the sharp edge of it all – therefore you have an urgent and important job to do, and a new identity to do it with.
Jesus is raised, therefore the world is a different place, and we are called, as witnesses of the resurrection, to announce it, to make it happen, and to find ourselves remade in the process.
The second strand in the apostolic proclamation of Easter is equally powerful and equally urgent.
Jesus is the one, in whose name, ‘forgiveness of sins’ is available to all who believe.
This is closely linked to what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15: if the Messiah is not raised, your faith is pointless and you are still in your sins.
Healthy; Abundant Christian living demands that we understand fully what is going on here.
Again, It isn’t just a matter of saying that because Jesus happens to have been raised from the dead, so now he possesses special quasi-magical powers that enable him to give out this strange thing called ‘forgiveness’.
Rather, it is that his resurrection demonstrates that on the cross he really did accomplish the defeat of the powers of corruption, evil and death that were at work in the world for us.
If he hadn’t, he wouldn’t have been raised from the dead; it’s as simple as that.
And, in the middle of religion’s debate about whether there was in fact a literal bodily resurrection, many have begun to hold the view that says nothing is all that wrong;
- Sin is an outdated concept
- With little more enlightenment, democracy, psychiatry and general common sense we will see ourselves through.
Well, sorry: read the newspapers, think of Iraq or Iran or Darfur or a thousand other places, think of stabbings and shootings on our streets, not to mention corruption and folly in high places.
But, you say, what has forgiveness of sins got to do with all that?
Isn’t forgiveness is what happens when someone realizes that they’ve done something they shouldn’t, and repents to God and says ‘sorry’.
Well, yes, that is true, and it matters more than I can say.
But ‘forgiveness of sins’ was never simply a random individualistic concept.
For any first-century Jew, it was much bigger: it involved the whole notion of a people in exile because of their sins, so that when God forgave them at last this would mean the restoration of an entire nation.
And when the early church announced ‘forgiveness of sins’ in the name of Jesus Christ, this didn’t just mean that individual sinners could get right with God,
But it also meant forgiveness as:
- A whole new program
- A whole way of life,
- The new covenant way of life, in which the restoration - which God offered to all who believed in Jesus - was to characterize families and communities, worldviews and life-paths,
- A Jubilee movement that, whenever it came upon anything amiss in human relations or society, would move heaven and earth to put it right, to restore things to the way they should be.
- To Fix relationships, to restore brokenness, to set things right through love!
And now we begin to see, perhaps, that judgment and forgiveness are not two extremely different things, but two ways of saying the same thing.
Both of them following directly from the Easter victory of Jesus Christ, through whom all things are put right and in whom all who believe find themselves made right in advance of the final great day.
If God’s judgment is the form his mercy takes when faced with a world out of joint, God’s mercy is the form his judgment takes when faced with penitent sinners.
But we may well ask, what does all this large-scale, important but somewhat big, construction got to do with me, with us, with today?
Resurrection of God’s People
Think about this: God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself is at work reconciling the world to himself and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. (2 Cor 5:19)
God has always chosen to work alongside and through humanity.
Continually throughout the narrative of Scripture, God is at work choosing people to show these ways of restoration, justice, and love to the world:
- Seth’s godly line down to Noah
- Israel as a nation
- Now the church
God is at work through people, bringing about this reconciliation.
He calls us to be his hands and feet.
To feed the poor
To clothe the naked
To heal the sick…etc
He calls us to be a picture of heaven to the world
- a picture of the way life is supposed to be
- a picture of peace and love
- a living example of what heaven’s going to be like
This is why we don’t view church as what happens here on a Sunday.
Sadly, Westernized Christianity has represented heaven to the world as an eternal church service, with preaching; choirs …etc.
Church is you, and me, and us living gospel-centered life together in Community.
- Eating and drinking
- Enjoying Life and Art
- Creating culture
- Engaging in mission together
- Putting our hands to the making right of all things
- Living everyday with a gospel intentionality
- Counseling and gospelling one another (letting iron sharpen iron)
- Sharing the love of God in TANGIBLE ways with a hurting world
- This is the church!
- That is a picture of heaven
God is at work resurrecting the world
And He’s doing it through his church!
But it doesn’t stop there!
He’s at work resurrecting you
In order to change, we must be changed…
In order to transform, we must be transformed
In order to reconcile, we must be reconciled
In order to resurrect, we must be resurrected
When does this resurrection begin?
When we are filled with the spirit of God and identify with Him!
Romans 8:9-11 - But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won't know what we're talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God's terms. It stands to reason, doesn't it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he'll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ's!
He “lead captivity captive and give gifts to his people” –
In other words - he released the old ransom that had bound creation from the beginning and showed us how to begin setting things right – then he gave us the power/gifts to do so by his Holy Spirit
The resurrection of Jesus Christ was more than one man – God in the flesh – conquering death.
The resurrection was reversing the power of death in a world torn by Death’s reign, to give a new life to all things
The resurrection was our Messiah, paving a road to restoration for all of creation to follow.
The resurrection is the call of our savior to come and live this life more abundantly – to put our hands and feet to the work of resurrecting our word, reconciling people’s communion with God, their sense of community with one another, and our commission to the world to repair the brokenness within the systems of government, economy, environment…etc
This resurrection is the invitation to take our part in the repainting of the world by actually being a picture of what heaven looks like to a world rapidly losing hope.
May you also experience this wonderful resurrection in a personal sense by the promise of being filled with the Spirit of God
May you enter into resurrection life – and as you do –
May you take the world with you,
- by putting your hands to restoration,
- by using the gifts God has given you to create a new world
And may we show this world a living picture of faith, hope, and love
Jesus, My prayer today is that we may know you as a living reality in our lives, in our family’s life, in our participation within community, in our engaging the world around us with Gospel Intentionality and
That we would put our hands to healing and loving and resurrecting a broken and dying world…etc.