Summary: Are you alive? It is a trade-off: In Jesus, God makes us an offer: “give Me everything you have, and I’ll give you everything I have.”
Turning Towards Life
Easter Sunday April 16, 2006
This resurrection Sunday morning is all about life. About new life, resurrected life, about abundant life. It is not about fixing up the old, making a few repairs, tweaking things here and there so that we can get by, so that we can cope, so that we can wearily trudge through yet another meaningless day. In Christ, the old is gone – removed, destroyed, obliterated – and the new is come. Jesus said, “I am making everything new” (Rev 21:5). This resurrection Sunday morning is all about life.
I want to ask you now, and I’m going to ask you several times throughout this message – are you alive.
A Trade Off
It is a trade off. In Jesus, God makes us an offer: “give Me everything you have, and I’ll give you everything I have.” That simple – it really is.
Let’s look for a moment at what we have:
• weakness and frailty
• slavery to poor, destructive choices
• a limited ability to love and be loved
• death; spiritual and physical
Now, I don’t know why God wants that… but He does! What does He offer in return?
• freedom to choose the best
• a unlimited ability to love and be loved
• life; abundant and eternal
The first part of this transaction takes place on the cross – Jesus took our pain and hurt. He took our sin. He took our weakness and frailty. He took our disease. He bore the consequences of all our destructive choices. He became helpless. He dies for us.
The second part of this transaction takes place at the empty tomb. Jesus conquers the pain and hurt and offers healing. He conquers sin and offers forgiveness. He conquers weakness and offers strength. He conquers the power of our destructive choices and offers the freedom to choose the best. He conquers helplessness and offers power. He conquers death and offers life – abundant and eternal.
Are you alive?
On Tuesday afternoon, I was driving home across the Quesnell bridge and looked down at the river to the west. I noticed how it was still covered with ice – blocked, stuck, not flowing freely. That same evening I was coming back to the church for an appointment and looked down at the river to the East – and I saw clear, un-stuck, freely flowing water. I was surprised, as just a few hours earlier I had seen the river stuck, so I looked over to the west, and sure enough, it was still covered with ice. The contrast hit me – on one side of the bridge – stuck, blocked, imprisoned. On the other, clear, flowing, free.
In the middle was the bridge. The cross and the empty tomb is exactly the same thing – on the one side are people who are stuck, blocked, covered with ice; and on the other are people who are free. The bridge represents the transaction point. Which side are you on?
I Understand Skepticism:
If the story were not so familiar to us – that Jesus died on the cross, was dead and buried, and then on the third day was resurrected from the dead – we would likely find it somewhat difficult to accept. That is ok; even some of the earliest followers of Jesus we skeptical, which we are going to look at in a moment.
They were skeptical because dead people don’t come back to life – that is not how things work in this world. Dead is dead – period. We are skeptical because we perhaps haven’t seen the drastic change, in ourselves or in others – we think we’ve made the transaction and “given up” our stuff, but we don’t feel like we’ve received God’s part back. We are going to look at that in a moment also.
One of Jesus’ twelve disciples is a man named Thomas. He has been labeled by history as “the doubter”, as a result of this story from John 20:
“19On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
21Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." 22And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."