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
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(REVISED IN 2021)
(Powerpoint slides are available at no charge. Just e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org & request PP #216.)
TEXT: Acts 2:22 36
ILL. You probably don’t remember the name Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin, nor should you. But during his day he was the 2nd most powerful man in the Soviet Union.
A Russian Communist leader, he took part in the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, was editor of the Soviet newspaper Pravda (which means "Truth"), & was a full member of the Politburo.
There is a story told about a journey he took from Moscow to Kiev in 1930 to lecture a huge assembly on the subject of atheism. Addressing the crowd he aimed his heavy artillery at Christianity, hurling insults, arguments, & what seemed to be proof against it.
An hour later he was finished. He looked out at what he considered to be the smoldering ashes of men’s faith. “Are there any questions?” he asked in gruff tones that would scare the stoutest of men. Deafening silence filled the auditorium, but then one man approached the lectern standing near the communist leader.
He surveyed the crowd first to the left then to the right. Finally he shouted the ancient greeting known well in the Russian Orthodox Church: "CHRIST IS RISEN!" En masse the crowd arose as one man & the response came crashing like the sound of thunder: "HE IS RISEN INDEED!"
I say to you this morning: CHRIST IS RISEN! I am convinced! I have faith that Christ was dead & buried. That I believe. But, this too I accept as true: He rose from the dead & will come again in glory!
Today I want to celebrate His resurrection with a message that I have titled, "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.
(Acts 2:22-24) "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 2:32-33) "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 2:36) "Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord & Christ."
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. 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 yield to the lust of the flesh, searching for some kind of temporary 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 material things, thinking "If only we can get our pot of gold." 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.