Summary: Precious jewels are often deceptive. You have to grow in your appreciation of their quality before you really begin to see their value. (*Powerpoint Available - #216)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
CENTRAL CHRISTIAN, BROWNSVILLE, TX
(Changed e-mail address: Powerpoint slides are available at no charge. Just e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your request - #216.)
A. The time of the year that many people celebrate as the "Easter Season" is here. The Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans & Rio De Janeiro, the Charro Days parades & festivities here in Brownsville, & many other such celebrations - all had their origins in man’s efforts to highlight the good news of the resurrection of Jesus.
And during the next few weeks we’re going to be looking more carefully at some of the events surrounding that glorious event, culminating on April 15th, Easter Sunday, with an early-morning Sunrise Service, & then with our Choir presenting that message in the Cantata, "For God So Loved the World" at our 10:30 Morning Service.
But this morning I want to kick off the season with a message that I have chosen to title, "Four Jewels of Easter." And in order to do that, please listen to these words of the apostle Peter to the thousands of people crowding around him & the other apostles on the Day of Pentecost.
"Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders & signs, which God did among you through Him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose & foreknowledge; & you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross. But God raised Him from the dead, freeing Him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him" [Acts 2:22-24].
"God has raised this Jesus to life, & we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, He has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit & has poured out what you now see & hear" [Acts 2:32-33].
"Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord & Christ" [Acts 2:36].
Now with that proclamation of the death, burial, & resurrection of Jesus ringing in our ears, please listen to this story.
ILL. Alexander the Great of Greece was one of the greatest military leaders in all of recorded history. During the brief years of his rule his army swept through most of the known world, conquering all in its path. Even the mighty Persian Empire proved to be helpless before him.
As his army marched through Persia the soldiers went into the villages & cities, taking whatever they wanted. In the capitol, they entered the palace of Darius, & one soldier found an attractive leather bag. He looked inside & there were the crown jewels of Persia.
But being ignorant of the value of precious stones, the soldier looked at them for a moment & decided that they were simply worthless, shiny rocks. So he dumped them out, but kept the leather bag. He was seen time & time again, carrying his prized find, a leather bag, & boasting of the attractive container in which he carried his food.
B. We smile at a story like that, don’t we? But I wonder how often in life we hang on to worthless bags & throw away precious jewels?
1. How many times do you suppose we have clutched the bag of pleasure & pursued those things that bring us only momentary satisfaction? We eat too much. We eat the wrong things. We drink the wrong things. We dull our minds with chemicals, & in the process we throw away the precious jewel of our physical health.
2. Or how many times do people succumb to the lust of the eyes & flesh, searching for some kind of temporary sexual gratification? They cling to that little leather bag, & in the process throw away the precious jewel of a good marriage.
3. Or how many times have we pursued the material things of the world, thinking "If only we can get our pot of gold, then satisfaction will be ours." So we work extra hours & weekends. We separate ourselves from our families, clutching that bag of material gain. And in the process we throw away the precious jewel of our children & our families.
I think that we may often be guilty of that at Easter time - grabbing bags that are valueless & throwing away the precious jewels of the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus.
PROP. Let me share with you this morning 4 precious jewels of Easter. And as I mention them, you’re going to think, "Those are precious? I don’t see anything precious about them."
You see, precious stones are often deceptive. When you first see them you’re not sure if they’re valuable or not. You have to see them shimmer in the light. You have to grow in your appreciation of their quality before you really begin to see their value.