Summary: This is part 2 of the Risen Series. It is a challenge to live all out for Christ and stop playing it safe.
Projectionist: Play Clip 5 from Risen DVD
So we are going to start a little different this morning. This is a balance beam. You’ve seen them in the Olympic games. Imagine that we are at the Olymics…I approach the beam with confidence, and then, I lay on beam and wrap arms around it and hold on for dear life!
While laying on beam continue: Dr. Scott Dudley, Sr. Pastor of Bellevue Presbyterian Church in Bellevue Washington states that “we have created today the most risk-averse society in history. We are the most seat-belted, bike-helmeted, air-bagged, knee-pad wearing, private-schooled, gluten free, hand sanitized, peanut avoiding, sunscreen-slathering, hyper-insured, massively medicated, pass-word protected, valet-parked, security-systemed, inoculated generation in history—and all it has done is make everyone more afraid of everything.”
We are so afraid of uncertainty, that we refuse to venture out—to take any risks. We insulate, inoculate, isolate, then pray that we’ll die in our sleep without any pain and wake up in heaven, never facing any real challenges.
(Dismount beam with great fanfare, throwing arms in the air like I just completed a great routine.) Come on, be honest—could you imagine watching someone do that in the Olympic games and expecting a great score? Probably not. Truth be told, a person with the skill set I just demonstrated wouldn’t even be in the games!
But here’s the big question: When did we as Christians get the idea that God calls us to safe places to do the easy things? Where do you see that in the Bible? Abraham was called to leave everything he knew to follow God and was never even told where he would be going. Moses was called to go back to the country that wanted him for murder and deliver generations of slaves. David was called to face Goliath, a shepherd boy in a life and death battle with a trained and skilled soldier. And Isaiah was called to devote his life to a ministry that by all human accounts appeared to be a failure—called to preach to a people who did not want to hear Him. We could go on and on and on.
So, when did we start thinking that God’s will is an insurance plan, not a daring plan? We live in fear and we allow that fear to cause us to approach the will of God with a better-safe-than-sorry mentality. We get trapped in a cage of fear and we allow those fears to dictate our decisions; and we generally want some sort of guarantee before we are willing to step out in faith! If we think there are risks involved, we opt for the “tried and true” safe route.
There is an interesting account in Matthew’s Gospel—Matthew 16:21-28. Jesus had just quizzed his closest followers about what the word on the street was about Him. They report that some people think He is John the Baptist come back to life, others think He might be Elijah the prophet, or Jeremiah, and then there are others who aren’t sure who He really is, but they agree that He has to be one of the prophets.
After hearing these answers, Jesus narrows the question and asks them, “’But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’” (Matthew 16:15, NIV84) And “Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’” (Matthew 16:16, NIV84).
That sets the stage for today’s message. “From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” (Matthew 16:21, NIV84).
Nobody likes bad news. These guys to this point have been riding high. Up to now Jesus has been very popular with the people, evidenced by what they are saying about Him, and Peter made the declaration of a lifetime, and in response Jesus praised him, said that his insight was God given, and then told them that on Peter’s confession an entire movement would form that hell itself could not stop!
These guys were excited! Then, with this one statement, Jesus bursts their bubble! In the midst of popularity Jesus talks of suffering. After just receiving accolades of being God’s anointed one--the Messiah, the Christ—He’s talking death and resurrection.
Here’s what we know: they heard the death part, they apparently missed the resurrection part. We know this from Peter’s response in our text, and we know it from all of His followers’ response to His crucifixion. The only people who were worried about Jesus coming out of the tomb were the people who were responsibility for putting Him in the tomb—the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law. They got it, they remembered this part of Jesus’ claims so they set out to make sure there would be no shenanigans; no missing body.