Summary: This text focuses on the epistle lesson for the sixth Sunday of Easter (ILCW series A). Peter reminds us how powerful the Resurrection is in our own lives.
Introduction: The human heart is a hard-working marvel. It can keep on beating automatically even if all other nerves were severed. In a 70 year lifetime, it will beat an average of 75 times a minute, forty million times a year - or two-and-a-half billion times. At each beat, the average adult heart discharges about four ounces of blood. This amounts to three thousand gallons a day or 650,000 gallons a year—enough to fill more than 81 tank cars of 8,000 gallons each.
The heart does enough work in one hour to lift a 150-pound man to the top of a three-story building. It exerts enough energy in twelve hours to lift a 65-ton tank car one foot off the ground, or enough power in seventy years to lift the largest battleship afloat completely out of the water.
But what happen, when the heart starts slipping? The cardio-vascular system is the one system that is crucial for the support of all the others. When the heart stops, the rest of the body shuts down within minutes. Maybe that is why heart specialists are some the most highly paid doctors and are in great demand. If a doctor mends a bone or fixes a ligament, a patient is thankful. But when a doctor fixes or replaces a heart, well, it is a life-changing event. Usually, there are lots of life-changes that need to be made, and so the surgeon will instruct a patient how to take care of their new heart.
Because of Easter, you and I have had a heart-transplant of sorts. So, through Scripture this morning, God tells us how to go about Living with a Resurrection Heart. Peter reminds us first, why, we should be thankful for this new heart, because I. It is set in motion solely by God’s Grace (18a, 21)
The Apostle Peter makes some important theological statements in the few verses of our sermon text. But it all centers around the first part of verse 18: For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God… God was the one who gave us new hearts. It goes back to the very beginning, after Adam and Eve fell into sin. Because of their rebellion, the Bible says, we inherited a “heart” problem. Genesis describes it this way:
The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain (6:5-6).
Every man, woman, child and yes even baby is born with a a wicked heart. In Matthew 15, Jesus commented on the corruption of the human heart, “out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander”(19).
In the Old Testement, the Lord said that he was the only one who could change this situation. In Ezekiel, he said, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws… you will be my people, and I will be your God” (36:26-28).
Illustration: I was reading about heart transplants this week, and came across an interview with a mother who had recently lost her 7 year-old son. She had lost her husband a year earlier in a plane crash, now her son had died. The interview took place after she met the family of the little girl who received her son’s heart. The reporter stated, “With tears welling up in her eyes, the boy’s mother said, ‘I see that there was a purpose in my son’s death. He died so that your little girl could live.’”
Application: That is what God says to you. “My Son had to die so that you might live,” or as verse 18 put it, For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. But God doesn’t stop with the message of Christ’s death. No, proves that he is responsible for setting your new heart in motion by Christ’s resurrection. He attaches this miraculous heart transplant with the Resurrection of Christ. For many of us that started already at the baptismal font when we were a baby. In verse 21, he reminds that even there, He is the One who has graciously given new hearts to us, for, as Peter put it, “baptism… now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.