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Summary: The Apostles Creed - He ascended into heaven and is seated at teh right hand of God the Father

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by Danny Saunders

Since we announced that Ali is pregnant a number of our friends have lent us various baby & pregnancy books. We’ve got baby name books, the girlfriend’s guide to pregnancy, pregnancy journals & magazines & even a book written by a male especially for new Dads. These books are meant to answer all our questions & tell us what to expect & prepare us for the labour & birth.

But when it comes to labour, I’m starting to think that nothing can prepare us for what’s in store. All the books talk about the pain of labour in matter of fact & extreme terms. Labour, as many of you know, is painful. It’s gonna hurt. & of course the only motivation to go through such a thing is that when it’s all over you meet your new baby boy or girl, & your pain turns to joy.

This is one of the magazines you can get on pregnancy, it’s called "Practical Pregnancy". Let me read one of "inspiring birth stories" that are featured.

- I could tell it was going to be a good story after reading that line.

- all the pain of labour is totally forgotten when you hold that little life in your arms – all the worry, pain, and feeling alone simply vanished when I saw my baby girl.

This is a real life story of the pain of labour & yet the great joy of bringing a child into the world. And surprising as it may seem, this story provides an insight into the thoughts & feelings of the disciples as they mourn the loss of Jesus.

Jesus uses this very illustration. He tells the disciples that: 16:21 When a woman is in labor, she has pain, because her hour has come. But when her child is born, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy of having brought a human being into the world.

So it is with the disciples, Jesus says they have pain now, but he will see them again, and then their hearts will rejoice, and no one will take their joy from them.

Let’s imagine for a moment what it must have been like for the disciples, Jesus their great leader had asked them to drop everything & follow him. From that day they had lived with him, traveled with him, prayed with him. They had been taught by him & they witnessed all his miracles & teaching & they enjoyed an intimate & close relationship with him. They lived like this for around 3 years. It’s no wonder then that the thought of losing Jesus meant anguish & sorrow for the disciples.

But although the disciples didn’t understand his death and they mourn the loss of Christ they then rejoice at his resurrection & this joy becomes overwhelming when the disciples receive the Holy Spirit.

Jesus knows that it’s better for him to leave because it means he could pour out the Holy Sprit throughout the world. As strange as it may seem, Jesus leaving the earth was more beneficial to the disciples & to us than if Jesus had stayed. This is so dramatic & significant that Jesus compares the event to child birth. There will be pain & sorrow, but this sorrow will turn to joy & no-one will take that joy from them. And as we’ll see this morning the reason for this joy is not only the coming Holy Spirit but the fact that Jesus our Lord & Saviour is our firm foundation. Jesus is our anchor & this anchor is well and truly secured in heaven. [repeat/pause]

A few weeks ago I asked the question: If Jesus is given all this authority and power as God’s Son & as the promised Davidic King, why does he suffer and dies on a cross? – And over the last few weeks we’ve seen that Jesus first had to suffer and die so that he could carry our sin as God’s perfect sacrifice for sin. Jesus had to die as a ransom & substitute for us. This is the good news, in dying in our place Jesus pays the price for our sin, he takes the judgment for our sin that we deserve & this allows us to go free.

And so last week we saw that in the resurrection death is defeated and has no power over Jesus. So when a Christian is united with Christ they are freed from slavery to sin and they are freed from God’s judgement. In Jesus we have new life, new life here and now and a future eternal life in heaven to come.

But this is not some pie in the sky when you die. Eternal life begins now, it is living a new life with God here and now. And we can be sure of this because our life is united with Christ. The pain & suffering of this life is turned to joy. Christ is our anchor and this anchor has been well and truly secured in heaven. These ideas are expressed in today’s statement from the Apostles’ Creed: I believe … He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.

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