Summary: The sermon has two purposes: 1) It is possible to get back up when life slaps you down, and 2) to present a booklet we prepared to use in crisis calling. (Booklet subject enclosed)
HELPING PEOPLE UP OFF THE MAT
WHEN LIFE GIVES THEM A BODY SLAM
Hope Christian Church, February 22, 2004
Dr. David L. Haun
Years ago I had a friend who loved nothing more than to go to wrestling matches. What he loved most was when one wrestler picked up his opponent and pounded him breathless into the mat with a body slam. As my friend watched that wrestler down on the mat, he’d get so excited, shouting loudly.
The disciples in today’s scripture are much like that winded wrestler, hurting on the mat. They feel lost. Hurtin, they’re uncertain, deserted, and exposed. They left everything to follow Jesus. They expected an earthly kingdom, with positions of leadership. A few hours ago, victory seemed near. Jesus had entered Jerusalem in triumph, with cries of "hosanna!" Surely, the new kingdom will be established.
Then Jesus called them aside and said words that changed their anticipated victory into an unbelievably painful body slam to the mat. The first slam came: Jesus told them that before long crowds like they had just experienced would turn away and reject him. (John 12:37) Not only would the crowds reject him, but people who believed his message would turn away from him in fear. (John 12:42)
They were slammed down a second time. For Jesus told them that not only would they miss their expected kingdom, but he himself would be killed by being lifted up on a cross. (12:31)
Just as they thought they were getting up, His words slammed them to the mat a third time. One of their inner circle would defect and betray him. (13:18-ff). The scriptures says the disciples looked at each other perplexed and anxious. (13:22)
Then, one more time, the words of Jesus slammed them to the mat. For Jesus said that even these, his closest followers wood deny him and flee in fear. (13:31-ff)
In a heart beat their lives were changed from joy and anticipation to lying on a mat with broken dreams. It was at that moment that Jesus, loving his disciples and seeing their hurt, gave them a promise of hope and comfort. It’s found in John, the 14th chapter, starting with the first verse:
At this moment, Jesus, loving them, shared a promise. Let’s see what Jesus said, and how we can adapt Biblical principles to help people slammed to the mat by
Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me.
A. Jesus didn’t say, "Don’t let your heart be AWARE.
The point is not to deny our situation, but to be confident in it -- to move beyond the trouble into trust. When your world falls apart, Jesus said, keep alive your trust that God is there and you are never alone.
B. He didn’t say, "don’t let your heart be concerned. There are ssituations when help is needed and God may in fact be calling on us to be his hands of service.
C. What Jesus said was "don’t let your heart be Troubled." Being aware of God’s presence, comfort and help when we face trouble today. Holding tight to God and seeing his work during today’s problem will give us a confidence and assurance of God’s help when we face tomorrow’s problems. Jesus tells the disciples a little later that He has "..told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe" (14:29 NIV). They would not need to be afraid when the problems come, because they have already seen his power and heard his promises.
God is trustworthy, and he has sent Christ, who is also trustworthy, to us. No one else deserves our trust.
Jesus spoke the truth. His description of the future was realistic. He has never been proven wrong. We can rely on both Jesus’ teaching and his promises.
Jesus did exactly what he said he would do, return to the disciples after the Resurrection. In so doing, he guaranteed our entrance into God’s presence and our place in God’s house.
Jesus is always with us, and someday we will be face to face with him. Whatever the future holds,
Jesus promised to be our companion. We know who Jesus is and how much he loves us. (1)
In my Father’s house are many rooms;
If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.
There are two meanings that Jesus may have intended in this statement.
A. There are heavenly rooms (Mansions in KJV) that Jesus has gone to prepare for us. In Christ we cannot lose. Because whatever happens to us, when it’s all over, Jesus has prepared us a place of eternal glory.