Summary: 15th in a Lenten Series on Psalm 51
Psalm 51:15-17 4/1/18 (Easter) (Create in Me a Clean Heart #15) O Lord, Open My Lips
Well, we started this series on Ash Wednesday, and oddly, Ash Wednesday this year fell on Valentine’s Day. And instead of taking your date to a restaurant, many of you came here and were blessed to hear once again the greatest love story ever told. And it’s the greatest because it isn’t a story. It’s the real thing – that God so loved the world and you in it that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. So, the Ash Wednesday/Valentine’s Day thing worked out perfectly.
But what do we do with Easter falling on April Fool’s Day? Well, we certainly embrace that also. Folks, nothing seems more foolish than for almighty God to create the heavens and the earth, and all the plants and animals, the flora and the fauna, and place man on earth as the pinnacle of His creation, - and from the foundation of the earth He knows that they will rebel and throw away their perfect world, so He plans ahead of time to send His only Son into the world so that He can be punished in our place and suffer death on a cross instead of us. We wouldn’t do that, so why would God? As the Apostle Paul said through the Holy Spirit:
Slide: “The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18 NIV)
The power of God is the cross, not our worldly wisdom, not our works, certainly not any of the ways of this world. No, the power of God is an ugly, blood-stained cross.
Tonight NBC is going to air a live presentation of Jesus Christ Superstar.
Slide: J.C. Superstar cast pic
And I expect some of you will watch it. And, we may too. It might be worth it just to see Alice Cooper play the role of King Herod. And the songs are catchy and at this point it’s just part of our history. But it is not of course real history. It is a mixed-up retelling of history – which is exactly what NBC, CBS, ABC, the History channel and so on have been selling us for years. The idea is basically that Peter and Paul and the disciples created a mythical story around Jesus, but in the end, He was “just a man”, like the Mary Magdelene song in Jesus Christ Superstar. Really? Folks, that would be truly the biggest April fool’s joke of all time! And the cruelest. As Paul himself said:
Slide: “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” (1 Corinthians 15:17–19 NIV)
Instead, God played Satan for a fool. His spite and desire to be God himself blinded Satan to what God was doing on Good Friday – until Jesus knocked down the doors of hell and proclaimed his victory over death and sin and Satan and anything that would separate us from our loving God.
But have you ever thought about what a Peter/Paul conspiracy story might actually look like? If they really had decided to make up a story about Jesus rising from the dead and start their own religion? I have. So has the creator of Lutheran Satire videos, Hans Fienes. And with his permission we’ve adapted and present this very awful, first attempt at a stick puppet skit, NBC version of what really happened:
Slide: Jesus’ Resurrection – Response to Atheists skit
As I said, a truly awful skit, but I hope it makes the point. And I ask you:
Slide: “Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.” (1 Corinthians 1:19–21 NIV)
Not those who plot or plan or those who try really hard to make up a good story or live a good life, but those who simply believe in the foolishness and the amazing grace of Jesus Christ on the cross for us. And when you do, it changes everything. You go from a drifting, aimless life to a life of purpose and meaning and hope. You go from confusion to clarity, from pessimism to proclamation. And you get to say with King David: