Summary: At Easter, God commends His love to us ... that Christ died for us, espite our sinful state
NO GREATER LOVE
For God so loved the world …
When I got ready to order the invitations for the Thirtieth Anniversary Service I was frustrated by the choices that were available to me from my printer. Every layout that had a Cross was a “crucifix:” all of them had a representation of Jesus, still nailed to the Cross.
Old Baptist boy that I am, I am very sensitive to crucifixes. We believe it is important that any time the Cross is represented it is a plain Cross – that Jesus is not on it … “‘cause we know He came down from that Cross, and on the third day morning He got up, with all power in His hands!”
And there, in very simple terms, is a summary of the focus of a typical “Easter Sermon” – not just in the Baptist Church, but pretty much wherever you go in Protestant/Reformed/Evangelical circles. The primary focus of a good Easter Sermon, for most of us, is to preach about the familiar theme “He Is Risen, as He said He would!” And especially in the Baptist Church where every sermon is judged on its merits by whether it takes the audience through the Crucifixion and all the way to the Resurrection.
Which is why I hope it won’t mess with your theology, too much, if I go in a different direction this Easter.
I want to suggest to you that the events that transpired on that weekend were important, to be sure, but long before that horrible time of Passion – in fact, long before God ever implanted His awesome seed into the anointed belly of a chosen virgin – in fact, long before that maiden was ever conceived in her mother’s womb – in fact, long before the foundation of the world – some principles had been set in place in the heavenlies that would overshadow the events of Calvary with purpose!
Here on Easter Sunday in the Year of our Lord 2005 I am standing flat-footed before you to declare to you that there is NO GREATER LOVE than this that a man would lay down His life for His friends.
I stand before you to tell you that GOD LOVED THE WORLD SO MUCH that He gave His only-begotten Son so that anyone who believes in Him will not perish but will have everlasting life!
Easter was God
Loving you … Calvary
Was God Loving you
Jesus looked down from the Cross and declared, “Daddy, I love ‘em”
I know they deserve to be wiped off the face of the universe – especially for what they are doing to me,
right now, but forgive ‘em …
‘cause I love ‘em, but don’t just forgive ‘em
That He gave His only-begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life
May they all be one, just as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You. May they also be one in Us, so that the world may believe You sent Me. I have given them the glory that You have given to Me. May they be one just as We are one. I am in them and You are in Me. May they be made completely one, so that the world may know You sent Me and that You have loved them just as You have loved Me. (John 17:21-23 Holman CSB)
I want to provoke you again to consider the depth of God’s love, when you notice that the very first person chosen to be an Evangelist of the Gospel – the very first person chosen to carry the news that Christ is Risen was a woman who had spent her life outside the fringes of “decent society” – a woman who had been plagued by demons and confined to the dregs of her community – until the day she had an encounter with Jesus and He set her free.
Now she is more than just a woman of ill repute, she is the person designated to come with oils and spices to anoint the body of the Lord in the tomb.
That Jesus is the God of the “whosoevers”
That He came into this world for the express purpose that “whosoever” would have a right to everlasting life.
Let me set this sacred algorithm before you
Jesus said that that whosoever believed in him would not perish …
And then in chapter 15 He said that the “whosoevers” that believed in Him and did His commands would be His friends …
And because they were His friends, He would lay down His life for them …
And in laying down His life He would be entitling them to have everlasting life.
So I have a message for the “whosoevers:”