Thursday, April 5, 2018

Because Jesus Is Alive

I am certain that some in our church were disappointed not to hear a complete message on the resurrection this past Sunday. But really, how many messages can be preached on the topic? I do not ask that to suggest that the answer is minimal, but the reality is that most people who attend church on the day the resurrection is remembered (celebrated!), already know the story – and know it well. Now, that doesn’t excuse not mentioning the resurrection because it is the proof for our faith in Jesus and some who come will not have heard the story or will not know its significance. (Yes, the blood sacrifice on the cross is critical but without the resurrection would we know that Jesus was any different than others who were crucified?)

My message this past Sunday was in continuation of Jesus’ message from the Sermon on the Mount. We looked at Matthew 6.19-24 and the comparison of two types of treasures, two types of eyes, and two distinct masters. As I outlined the series, I could only think of one better passage from Jesus’ sermon for Resurrection Day – Matthew 6.33 and seeking first the kingdom and the righteousness of God. But the dates didn’t work, so Matthew 6.19-24 were the choice. Why do I say it is such a good passage for the day?

Matthew 6.19-34 are all one unit and fit extraordinarily well with what precedes (it is as if Jesus knew what He was doing as a preacher!). In the preceding verses, Jesus has taught His disciples to pray to a Father who cares for them and their needs. In the verses for this week, Jesus says that His disciples must choose what is truly important to them. And then the chapter closes with the proof that the Father will supply what His children need if they trust Him. And that leads us back to the resurrection.

The choice of treasures is easy to make if we keep our focus on the resurrection over and against the offerings of the world. The choice of eyes to have is easy to make if we want the light of Jesus to be a part of our lives as opposed to living in darkness. And the choice of masters is easy to make if we realize that money (mammon, all possessions) cannot truly do anything for us and certainly doesn’t care for us like the Master (God) who sent His Son to die and rise again that we might choose to follow Him.

The problem is that far too many people want to celebrate the holiday known as Easter without allowing the truth of the resurrection affect their lives every other day of the year. But if we truly understand that Jesus did die for us (and He did), and now lives for us (and He does), then shouldn’t we also choose to live for Him? And by choosing to live for Jesus, then we should bring all of our decisions into line with the ideas presented within His great sermon recorded by Matthew.

Of course, if Jesus is not alive, then nothing He said matters. And, if Jesus is not alive, then, as Paul, said, “if in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15.19, read 1 Cor. 15.12-28 for complete context). If Jesus is not alive, then I urge you to quit reading this blog because it is a waste of your time. In fact, I should stop writing it weekly, because it is a waste of mine. But I will not stop because I believe Jesus IS alive, and hope you will keep reading (whether you believe that or not) to find encouragement, to be challenged, or perhaps to one day realize that the same Savior who died and rose for me did the same for you and desires to have a relationship with you.

So, yes, this past Sunday’s sermon was a bit different. But my church realizes that I do things differently from time to time. However, my intent is to live my life because Jesus is alive and, therefore, to help others do the same. If that means that I use the day we celebrate the resurrection to talk about the choices we should make to live for Jesus, then maybe it is because we, as people of faith, as a church in Fairfax, or even as the global Church need to arise from our slumber to serve our Lord who rose from the dead. I know I need the reminder sometimes, and Sunday was a good day to remind many others as well.

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