Ressurection Sunday

Happy Easter! This is the day we celebrate Jesus conquering death and the grave. During our service today at MCC, we heard an amazing testimony of redemption and restoration, literally a story of a life bound for death and destruction to a life of promise and hope. It reminds me of God's goodness. It makes me crazy about God. I want more of Him. On Easter, there is so much pressure to preach well in hopes that people will love the message and return for more. How do I get this message right today? If I do well, maybe people will come back for Christmas. How do I make Jesus’ torture, crucifixion and death exciting? How do I explain the resurrection which is the most exciting part? All of this is hard for some to believe because they don’t understand. But actually, people believe a lot of things they don’t understand and can’t explain. God wouldn't be a God worth believing in if we understood Him completely. He is a big, amazing God. We just need to ask the right questions.

In considering the message today, I looked to Jesus for answers. The Gospels talk about Jesus and how He spoke to large crowds with lots of visitors and guests. What did He do? I usually try to make things simple and easy but Jesus seemed to make things more confusing. In Luke 8:4-10, He tells the parable of the sower. Keep in mind, people had traveled long distances to see Jesus speak and hopefully perform a miracle. They’d heard about healings and teachings and raising of the dead. So what did Jesus teach this crowd of guests and visitors who were so anxious to hear Him and see Him? He taught them a parable and then closed with the statement, “Anyone who has ears to hear should listen and understand.” His take on his talk that day was,  “If you get it you get it (and if you don’t, you don’t).” Then, He just walked away, dropped the mic, left the stage. The disciples were so curious to know what He was doing. They followed Him and asked about the meaning of the parable later. Jesus explained that the parable was for the seeing who don’t see and the hearing who don’t understand. Parables were not supposed to be easy to understand. He taught parables so the ones who really wanted to understand would go after Him. He was trying to reach those who wanted to search out the truth. He only wanted to speak to the ones who really wanted to hear and learn and understand. Like the farmer in the parable, He wasn’t going to take time to water a beaten down path where seed could not grow. He knew He couldn’t get through to people who couldn’t receive because of the cares in this world. That ground was not ready. Those seeds would wither and their roots wouldn't go deep. He knew that those who wanted God would clear everything else out of their lives in pursuit of learning and understanding what God was saying. The disciples were those people. They were all in. They wanted something different so they did something different. A farmer looks for good soil. This is where he will water.

Jesus knew those seeking truth would come after Him. They were hungry for the truth. Are you hungry for truth? Often, we don’t want to know the truth. In fact, belief systems are often based on desires rather than truth. John 8:32 tells us that we will know the truth and the truth will set us free. If we accept the truth, we will be set free. Unfortunately, we want the lie in many cases.

Jesus was tortured, taking on our iniquity in exchange for His healing. He took on the crown of thorns for our thoughts and mental health, and He shed His blood for the remission of our sins. He conquered death and the grave.  Through his death and resurrection, He restored us to God. Jesus’ passion shows us the truth and He did it all for each of us. In fact, He would have done it even if we were the only one who needed it. Before Jesus, people could only approach the temple with an animal sacrifice which did not deal with sin but covered it for a time. Jesus’ death and resurrection restores us to real fellowship with God. We can talk directly to God and be in His presence. The perfect sacrifice was made that paid the price once for all.

There is a story of a famous artist who found his very first painting on display in an antique shop in his hometown. It was dirty and the frame was broken. The painting needed restoration, but it was no longer his to restore.  Even though he was the artist, he couldn’t just walk in and take it. He had to purchase it to restore it and bring it back to its original beauty. Jesus purchased healing and restoration for us. Why did Jesus die on the cross? He did it to bring us forgiveness, new life and hope for the future.

Are you restored? Are you living the life Jesus paid for? Let me use a Detroit Motor City analogy. To be a Christian you have to have Christ in your car. Christian has Christ in it. If you are a Christian and Christ is in your car, where is He sitting? Is He in the trunk? Do you let Him out when you get to church and say “Come on Jesus. Let’s go in to church for religious happy hour? Is He in your back seat? Maybe He is your companion in the front passenger seat? There are some who have given Him the driver's seat. So, if He’s in the driver's seat let me ask you, are you a back seat driver? When He wants to turn down the road of forgiveness or generosity, do you tell Him to turn the other way? When you let Jesus drive, you will see the fruit of His spirit begin to develop in your life - love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. He paid for you to have life and to have it more abundantly. Give Him the driver’s seat. Let Him take you wherever He wants to go. We are Easter Christian’s living in a Good Friday world, but Sunday's coming! Jesus can restore situations in your life. He can make beauty from ash. Do you need to reposition Jesus in your car? Or do you need to ask Jesus to climb into the car for the first time? Take possession of all God has for you today. Clear the way for God to have control in your life. Know the truth and the truth will set you free. Life goes better when you put God first.

Happy Easter!