Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Faith for Life - The Resurrection Revolution

Preached on Resurrection Sunday (Easter Sunday) April 16, 2017, at the Community Sunrise Easter Service by the Columbia River, at Desert Aire/Mattawa, WA

Scripture reading: John 20:1-18

Even though Jesus showed the power to raise people from the dead, his disciples had never been able to grasp that Jesus might also be able to raise himself from the dead; no matter what Jesus said about it before his crucifixion.
Community Easter Sunrise Service
On the Columbia River
April 16, 2017
All four gospels show us that the friends and the followers of Jesus were full of doubt and fear at the discovery of the empty grave. John believed something when he saw it for himself, but we are told (and he’s the one telling the story) that he couldn’t understand it. He couldn’t understand how Jesus rising from the dead formed any part of the witness of the Scriptures.
All of the friends, and followers, and believers of Jesus were properly dazed and wonderstruck. His rising from the dead broke all of the rules of the world as they knew it, and this blew their minds.
We should all be more like them: more mind-blown!
But would that be right? Would that be safe? Isn’t it wiser and much more mature to accommodate, and to accept things as they are? I’ve been told this, many times. They’ve told me, “Dennis, don’t be unrealistic.”
April 2017, Photos Around Desert Aire/Mattawa, WA
 If I had listened to such people, or even to my wiser self, I would never have gone into the ministry because I was told that I didn’t have the aptitude or the gifts for it. I already knew that. I didn’t even want to do it.
If I had listened to such realistic people, I might not even be able to drive a car. But that’s another story.
The good news of Jesus made me unrealistic and foolhardy. Jesus himself forced me to be unrealistic and foolhardy.
Jesus forced an alternative reality on those who knew him and loved him most. There is another world beside the world as we know it. Jesus rules both worlds but it’s actually that alternative world that will have its way over you and me. That alternative world will win. This world as we know it, this world that we are so tempted to accept and accommodate ourselves to, will pass away.
Something inside us knows this. Otherwise our outrage, and anger, and sorrow, and grief, in the face of so much wrong in this world wouldn’t make any sense. If we were made for the world as it seems to be to everyone else, we wouldn’t have enough imagination to be outraged.
We know this. When the world maddens us, when we madden ourselves, we are right to respond so. Let’s not “settle” for things, or settle for ourselves, or settle for others as they are. Jesus represents something completely different and, truly, so much better.
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! He rules. He has defeated evil, sin, corruption, sickness, pain: all of this world’s injustice. Jesus has conquered death. He rules over it, and he will destroy even death, in time.
We know this is right. The Bible tells us so. Love tells us so. Jesus tells us so. I believe our greatest growth will come from learning to live accordingly.
This growth is what prepares us for Jesus, because Jesus has created the reality that makes this growth possible. He makes life in the new reality possible, by dying on the cross for the sin of the world (and for our sin) and so becoming the conqueror of that sin; and by rising from the dead, and so becoming the conqueror of death.
Sometimes this seems too much for us. We don’t want to be so wonderstruck, and surprised, and overwhelmed by glory.
I think, in our churches, we try to keep things safe. We’re like Mary Magdalen, holding onto Jesus in such a way that tries to keep everything from changing.
That’s why Jesus told Mary to let him go. We want to hold onto Jesus and keep things steady and familiar. Jesus wants us to let him go, at least for our own sake, so that he can push the boundaries for us. We want to hold on when Jesus wants us, ourselves, to go forth, and to be willing to push the boundaries of our own lives. Jesus wants us to push the boundaries of our serving him and our neighbor.
Jesus wants us to let go, so that we can go forth for him, and with him. Jesus wants us to let go, so that we can go forth for him and for others.

That’s why Christ has risen.

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