“Up from the grave He arose. With a mighty triumph o’er His foes. He arose a Victor from the dark domain. And He lives forever with His saints to reign. He arose!. He arose!. Hallelujah! Christ arose!” These words from the famous hymn, describe perfectly the feelings of Easter Sunday. All other religious leaders and gods of other religions are dead. But not our Jesus. He is alive and is seated at God’s right hand. Praise God!
As you can imagine, there are many things that can be preached about on Easter Sunday. A few folks asked me if I was excited to preach the sermon I preached to our folks and my answer was ‘yes!’ But there’s another reason…last Easter, we livestreamed our Easter service due to COVID restrictions. It was really good to have our church full on Sunday to celebrate our risen Savior together. So, yes, I was excited!
The subtle, simple Kingdom:
As I mentioned Sunday, the Resurrection is a bit understated in the gospels. And one of the reasons I mentioned Sunday was because this is the way that God works. Allow me to explain more fully here.
As Westerners, we love the big splash, the amazing event, the life-altering moment. We like big, brash, bold. But what’s fascinating is how subtle and simply the Kingdom of God works in our world. Think about it:
- Jesus came as a baby, born to 2 ‘nobodies’, who were from Nazareth (“does anything good come out of Nazareth?”). And He wasn’t born in a cathedral, He was born in a manger (like a barn).
- He went to the Temple, like other Jewish boys. He learned from the Temple priests, like others. And He was raised in a normal Jewish way.
- He gave His message and power to 12 key followers, who preached the same message and did the same acts as He did (albeit without the exact same saving effect).
- His followers are called to love their spouses/children, be faithful in their jobs, serve others, be humble, love well, forgive people who hurt us, and represent Jesus. In other words, nothing that’s a big splash…just faithful, plodding.
- And this is the way that God’s Kingdom is advanced and grows.
Now, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t moments of miraculous power…the Resurrection is one of those. But those are non-normal moments. The usual, normal way that God’s Kingdom moves forward is through faithful followers of Christ, living everyday lives, faithfully before and for their King.
The power of grace:
As a young preacher, I found myself attempting to stir people to obey God by giving them God’s demands of them and showing them God’s displeasure of them if they sinned. But a verse that just kept banging into my soul was Romans 2:4, which says, “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance (emphasis mine)?” That last phrase always bugged me. I would say things like, “well it’s God’s kindness that He didn’t send you to hell.” But that really doesn’t bring to light the fullness of God’s kindness. Nor does it bring to light of why God’s kindness would lead us to repentance.
Well, grace does explain this. Grace is the kindness of God on display to people who don’t deserve it. It’s God’s kindness to love us, when we’re unloving. It’s God’s kindness to be faithful to us, when we’re unfaithful. And the list could go on. But here’s what God’s kindness does to us…it draws us to God.
I believe that’s what was going on in Peter. None of us can imagine the regret that he must’ve felt. Yet, when He heard Jesus was raised from the dead and later when he saw Jesus on the beach cooking breakfast in John 21, Peter could’t wait to see Jesus. Why? Peter knew he wouldn’t be judged, condemned, browbeaten. He would be accepted, loved, and forgiven. Grace makes you run to Christ.
And I think this is the difference between condemnation and conviction. Condemnation sees your sin and makes you look to yourself with regret, disappointment in yourself, and leaves you under guilt. Conviction sees your sin, causes you to feel sorrow for it, but points you to the risen Christ, who not only forgives you, but empowers you to change. Condemnation leaves you with your sin. Conviction leaves you with Christ. Big, big difference.
Grace is more powerful than our sin. Grace is more forgiving than our consciences. And grace motivates us to change and inspires us to love Jesus more.
From the Cheap Seats:
- Started our baseball season on Monday. I love coaching baseball…I know that surprises you.
- Whew! Man City 2 Borussia Dortmund 1. Could be wrong, but Phil Foden needs to chill out when he has scoring chances.
- I really thought that Gonzaga vs. Baylor was the 2 best teams in College basketball. After watching the championship game…the Bears were amazing. Congrats to them on an incredible rebuild after what went down in the early 2000’s in that program. Here’s a history lesson if you want it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rj9OVZTyCbQ.
Happy week after Easter…you know what that means?? Live in light of the risen Savior. And Lord willing, I’ll see you on Sunday and we’ll celebrate the risen Savior together.
To watch or listen to the sermon described in this post, please click here.