04-01-18 “Easter Sunday”
Gospel: Mark 16:1-8
For I am the least of The Apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. The Apostle Paul, the author of most of the New Testament claims he does not deserve the title of Apostle. He’s right, he doesn’t, neither does any person. That is, until this morning. Without God’s grace revealed through the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus we could be nothing more than nothing, now we are heirs.
Sin and death cannot stop us from becoming heirs to the Heavenly Kingdom. Paul says he is nothing because he was struggling with sin. He feared, he doubted, he had guilty feelings, he failed to trust completely. Paul is a perfect example for us today. But we are not here to worship Paul. We can identify our own struggles in Paul’s writings, but we are not here to worship Paul. Who?
We are here to Worship God who has given us the gift of Jesus the Christ, the Messiah. Our Hosanna’s of last Sunday have been heard. Praise God indeed!
We have talked about building the Body of Christ for 6-weeks now. Perhaps last week was a difficult message to hear. Sometimes Jesus message is tough. I felt we needed to connect to the depth of Paul’s struggles. To connect to the depths of Mary’s struggles and St. Augustine’s, Martin Luther’s, John Wesley’s and Dr. King’s. Like them, it is in the challenges of our faith where we find our strength.
I said that even though Christians have been on this journey seemingly ‘forever’ we haven’t progressed very far. It’s like we are on a loop and we keep walking and always end up back where we started. I mentioned finishing the church of God. That is not our mission, that is God’s mission. In fact, God has completed the church. This morning. God has completed the work. Jesus said on Friday, “it is finished.” With those words the church was finished.
No, it is not perfect, it won’t be fully perfected until we all go home to Heaven. Our imperfect responsibility now is to keep offering Christ. Keep our focus on the Greatest Commandments, love God and Love our Neighbors. What better way to show love than to offer Christ. God showed us His great, amazing, perfect, never changing, unconditional love by offering us Jesus. We can never finish the church because Jesus already did that.
What we are supposed to do with every fiber of our Heavenly being is to offer Christ to a broken and hurting world. That is what Paul is demonstrating to us with his life. He is the first one to tell you he is not doing this perfectly.
Does that stop him? Not in the slightest. Why? His fear is a human fear, his doubts are human doubts, his failures are human failures. His grace however is not human, it’s divine.
Once Paul’s heart was transformed by Jesus he could not help himself but tell the world about this man he met.
He was not the only one
From Mark 5: “As Jesus was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged to go with him. 19 Jesus did not let him, but said, ‘Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.’ 20 So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.”
And from John 4: “39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days.”
And from Luke 2: “17 When the shepherds had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.”
And from Luke 9: “8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
And from Lukan account of the crucifixion: “42 Then the thief said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Each of these people experienced Jesus in their moments of trials, their doubts, fears, guilt their whatever. Their challenges were the beginning of their triumphs. Jesus greatest triumph was to defeat death and sin, but that came at great cost, a tremendous challenge. Jesus says His cross is also our cross, we are to take up the challenge, not to finish it, but continue building it. For those who are saved the work of salvation is completed. What about those who have not been saved? That’s where the challenge of living our Easter lives plays a big part. Don’t fear this challenge, embrace it and live it with joy.
Jesus never expected us to live our lives by simply reading about these examples in the scriptures. Jesus wants you, yes you, to come to know Him personally as well. Today you acknowledge the gift of new life. Jesus invites you to begin living like a new creation. Whatever you thought you were on Friday – (cards) is gone. Jesus removed it from you and took it to the cross. Your Friday self was crucified and it died. What has been reborn is a new life a new creation.
You are not the same person as you were on Friday.
Even with the cross, the Apostle Paul knew it would take effort on his part to transform himself from a Christian killer to the Jesus lover. He would not allow the weaknesses of this world win over the strengths of Heaven. You and I have far to great a story to tell to leave it here in this sanctuary. You and I have far to great a life to live, but we can’t if we leave our Christian life here waiting for us until next Sunday.
Telling the world about your Jesus does not mean you are responsible for anyone’s salvation. You are not even in charge of your own salvation, much less anybody else’s.
Telling the world about Jesus is as simple as saying let me tell you about a man I met.
If any of us go into town this week to shop or dine out and another person pulled us from the path of an oncoming car we would probably share that story, at least once. Maybe for the rest of our lives we would tell the story of how a stranger risked their own life to save us, wouldn’t we?
I had my cell phone returned to me by a stranger and I have told that story 20 times so far. My job is not to recreate all the people in this world into nice folks who all return lost cell phones, my job is to tell the story of one who did far more than that for me. I should take joy in facing the challenge of telling Jesus story in the hopes that others would want to hear more.
Come and hear more from Jesus at this Communion Rail this morning.
You are an Easter Sunday Christian, risen from the depth of sin right along with Jesus. What did we ever do to be blessed with the removal of sin? I didn’t do anything, except sit back and watch my Lord carry His cross along with mine. If I allow the guilt of Friday to run my life I will miss out on the new life I have been given. I can’t tell the world about what I have done, I, along with Paul have done nothing. We can, however, tell the world about a man we met, and what He has done for you in your life.
Leader: Go forth in peace. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all
People: And also with you.