Summary: Fifth of the Eight Milestones on the Journey of the Fruitful Followers. This message of the series happens to fall on Easter, so there is some Easter emphasis.
9 If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. 21 For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; 22 for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
A couple of weeks ago in the Time magazine, there is a cover story about, “Why we should teach the Bible in the public schools.” The point the author tried to make was that the American society uses a great deal of biblical words and thought that many none Christians don’t understand. The politicians often quote the Bible in the speeches; the comedians often quote the Bible in the jokes. It leaves the biblically illiterates behind. When I was young, learning English in Burma, I was told my teacher that, “If you haven’t yet read the Bible, you haven’t learned English.” In that classed the teacher was a Muslim and half of the students were Muslims. There is a major disadvantage to live in the English speaking environment to not to know the Bible.
This week Mike sent me a story about biblical illiteracy. It is about three men that died and are at the pearly gates of heaven. St. Peter tells them that they can enter the gates if they can answer one simple question. St. Peter asks the first person, "What is Easter?" He replies, "Oh, that’s easy! It’s the holiday in November when everyone gets together, eats turkey, and are thankful..." "Wrong!," replies St. Peter, and he didn’t let him in.
St. Peter proceeds to ask the second guy the same question, "What is Easter?" The second one replies, "Easter is the holiday in December when we put up a nice tree, exchange presents, and celebrate the birth of Jesus." St. Peter looks at the second guy, shakes his head in disgust, tells him that he’s wrong, and send him away.
Then he peers over his glasses at the third guy and asks, "What is Easter?" The third guy smiles confidently and looks St. Peter in the eyes, "I know what Easter is." "Oh?" says St. Peter, incredulously. "Easter is the Christian holiday that coincides with the Jewish celebration of Passover. Jesus and his disciples were eating at the last supper and Jesus was later deceived and turned over to the Romans by one of his disciples. The Romans took him to be crucified and he was stabbed in the side, made to wear a crown of thorns, and was hung on a cross with nails through his hands. He was buried in a nearby cave which was sealed off by a large boulder." St. Peter smiles broadly with delight. Then the third man continues, "Every year the boulder is moved aside so that Jesus can come out...and, if he sees his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter."
Don Emmitte said, if Easter says anything at all to us it is that Jesus will always be with us. The pyramids of Egypt are famous because they contained the mummified bodies of ancient Egyptian kings. Westminster Abbey in London is renowned, because in it rests the bodies of English nobles and notables. Mohammed’s tomb is noted for the stone coffin and the bones it contains. Arlington cemetery in Washington, D.C., is revered, for it is the honored resting place of many outstanding Americans. The Garden Tomb of Jesus is famous because it is empty!
In today’s scripture reading, Paul said that Jesus is the first fruit. His resurrection is our forerunner. The resurrected Jesus is the sample of our future. Jurgen Moltmann, the German theologian, said that Good Friday to Easter covers the entire human history—past, present, and future. Good Friday is our past. Easter is our future. We are now living between Good Friday and Easter. He said, "God weeps with us so that we may someday laugh with him." That is the greatest example of mercy.
This week we are focusing on the fifth beatitude. Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.” This topic fit perfectly on the Easter message. Today I want you to take home three characteristics of a merciful person.
If you want to be bless by God as a merciful person,