Sermon for Sunday, 04/19/2020
Texts: John 20:19-31; 1 Peter 1:3-9
Theme: “The Resurrection: What Does it Accomplish for Us?”
Most Christians do not have any difficulty stating why Jesus died. Ask a little child, who has been going to Sunday, and she will tell you in her little voice, “Jesus died for our sin.” That Jesus died for our sins is the good news, which Paul attests to when he writes, “Now I want to remind you brothers and sisters of the gospel I preached to you….. that Christ died for our sins according to the scripture (1 Cor. 15:1-3). But the good news does not end with the death of Christ. There is the Resurrection. That is why Paul continues in verse 4, “that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day, according to the scripture.”
So, since the death of Christ deals with our sin, what does Resurrection accomplish for us? For in his book, The Eternal Seasons: A Liturgical Journey, Henri Nouwen writes, “the Resurrection of Christ is not simply an event, but a living reality.” We experience its effects daily on our journey as believers. It’s like an African mom who leaves her crawling child, sitting on a dirt floor as is the case with many kids born in rural Liberia. While the mom is busy with other household chores, her child crawls to a bucket or tub, spills some water on the dirt flow and begins to play in the mud created by the mixture of dirt and water. By the time the mom comes to realize, her lovely baby had made a mess of itself, being muddied from head to toe. So, what does the loving and caring mom do? she finds clean water and bathe her lovely baby, washing off all the mud, thus making her baby clean again.
But the mom does not stop there, just as Jesus’ work of salvation does not end with his death for the forgiveness of our sin. Christ’s resurrection makes additional provisions, which open up a new chapter for us, just as the mother would wipe her baby, possibly pour some baby powder, dress it in clean clothes, and take it away from the muddy to a clean new spot, so that the baby would have the opportunity to crawl, and play, in a new environment.
That is what the Resurrection accomplishes, for us. It gives us brand new chance and a new opportunity. The first benefit that God makes available to us, through the resurrection is a new life. Our text (1 Peter) reads, “Blessed be the God, and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth, into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the death. Christ’s death deals with our sin, and his Resurrection restores us to a new life. Paul makes the analogy that in in Romans 6:4, in our baptism, we die with Christ to our old life, and in his Resurrection, we rise with Christ to a new life . And let me say this is not something we can purchase or achieve no matter much power or wealth we have. The basis of the new birth is the Resurrection, of Jesus Christ. In our new birth, God is restoring his image in which we were created, which was defaced when humankind fell to sin. Not only new birth, but the Resurrection also gives us a living hope. The text says, “By his great mercy, God has given us a new birth into a living hope.
I read a beautiful story about a teacher assigned to visit children in large city hospitals. She got a routine call requesting that she visit a child. She took the boy’s name and room number and was given instructions by the main teacher. “We are studying nouns and adverbs in his class now. I’d be grateful if you could help him with his work, so he doesn’t fall behind the others.” But it wasn’t until the visiting teacher got inside the boy’s room, that she realized it was located in the hospital’s burn unit. No one had prepared her to find a young boy horribly burned and in great pain. She felt that she couldn’t just walk out, so she awkwardly stammered, “I’m the hospital teacher, and your teacher sent me to help you with nouns and adverbs.” When she return the next morning, a nurse on the burn unit asked her, “What did you do to the boy?” Before she could finish the profusion of apologies that immediately came out of her mouth, the nurse interrupted her,” You don’t understand. We have been worried about him, but ever since you were here yesterday, his whole attitude changed. He is fighting back, responding to treatment. It’s as though suddenly he’s decided to live.” The boy later explained that he had completely given up hope until he saw he teacher. It all changed when he came to a simple realization. With joyful tears, he expressed it this way, “They would not send a teacher to work on nouns and adverbs with a dying boy, would they?”
Hope is what sustains us; hope is what keeps us going in the midst of adversity; it is what tells me as I go to bed tonight, that tomorrow is a possibility.That as long I have air going in and out of my nostril, there hope, but the basis of this hope is not anything we have done or capable of achieving; the basis of our hope is Jesus Christ, the one who did not only die for my sins, but who rose again, so that we can have new life and a living hope. In addition to new life and a living hope, we are also given an inheritance through the Resurrection of Christ. This is a familiar word. Many of us who have been blessed with more, do appropriate or pass on land, houses, estates, trust, endowment, or investment for our children, but Peter is talking about something more than this. He uses the modifiers like imperishable, undefiable, and unfailing to make the distinction. God has something secure for us. What this says to me is that everything that I may build my hope on here, as good as they may seem, or make my life comfortable, they are perishable, uncertain, and insecure. They can go away at any time. Situation can change at any moment. Life here is characterized by so much uncertainty and unpredictability. If there is one thing that this health crisis has taught me, is that life and its conditions here are so uncertain; that each day, you and I live with some degree of vulnerability, no matter how secure we may think we are. Certainty and our security are found only in God.
Peter wrote this letter to a group of Christians in Asia Minor whose life experience was very similar to ours today. Like us, they had never had the opportunity to see the empty tomb, nor the prints in Christ’s hands and side, yet they put their trust in him, and for this, Jesus tells Thomas, that we are blessed. Like us today, those early Christians were going through difficult times, uncertain times, and Peter was given them these words of hope and assurance based on the what our risen Lord has accomplished for us. May all of you listening or reading these words, who may be going through a very difficult, challenging, uncertain and fearful time, be reminded that we are servants of Jesus Christ, who did not only die, but who was raised from the dead, singling victory.
It is he who tells us “Lo, I am with you “. Know that he watches over us day and night; he is our defense, our shield, and our fortress.
God bless you.