loren Eric Swanson: Exerpt from JB's Easter Sermon

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Exerpt from JB's Easter Sermon

I got a note from John Bruce (pictured left), dear friend and pastor at Creekside Community Church--an externally focused church in San Leandro doing a great work and having a great witness in their community. Easter is a time to remember the kingdom and the work God has called us to do. Acts 1:3 explains why Jesus stuck around for 40 days before his ascension--to teach about the kingdom! Acts closes with Paul under house arrest teaching about the king and the kingdom. Below is JB's thoughts. He is right on the money.

When we read the four accounts of the resurrection of Jesus in the Gospels, or we read what the other New Testament writers have to say about Christ’s resurrection, we’ll find that nobody ever says the resurrection of Christ is all about going to heaven when you die. In fact, there is very little about going to heaven when you die in the New Testament. Sure, Paul tells the Philippians believers that they’re citizens of heaven, but he doesn’t just mean that heaven is where they’re going to end up. Philippi was a Roman colony in Macedonia and a lot of the Philippians were Roman citizens. But that didn’t mean Rome expected them to return to Rome when they retired. Their job was to spread Roman culture in Macedonia. And when Paul tells the Philippians they are citizens of heaven, he doesn’t just mean they’ll go to heaven when they retire. He means their job is to spread heaven’s culture on earth. Which is the point each of the Gospel writers make in their accounts of Jesus’ resurrection. If Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John had wanted to say that “Jesus is risen; therefore you will be too!” they certainly had the opportunity. But they don’t. What they do say is, “Jesus is risen. So let’s get to work!” Because His followers now have access to a new life, to a new power and to a new mission. Christ has risen and God’s new world has begun. When Paul wrote an entire chapter about Christ’s resurrection, his conclusion wasn’t, “So let’s celebrate the fact that we’re going to heaven.” No, his conclusion was 1 Cor. 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. Christ has risen and God’s got a job for us to do - so let’s get to work. And what’s that work? To bring the life of heaven to earth.

Jesus’ resurrection is the beginning of God’s new project on earth; not to snatch people away from earth to heaven, but to colonize earth with the life of heaven. Isn’t that what Jesus prayed? “Your will be one on earth as it is in heaven.” The bodily resurrection of Jesus is more than proof that God can do miracles, more than proof that the Bible is true, more than proof of life after death. The bodily resurrection of Jesus is the beginning of a new way of life for us and ultimately, for the entire world. It is the beginning of a new age - a new creation - which will ultimately make all things new.

You see, Christians have made Easter less than it is - which is probably why we had to throw in the silly rabbit and eggs, just to keep things interesting. Easter is about more than me and the fact that I can have a personal relationship with the risen Christ - as much as that means to me. Easter is about more than a guarantee of life after death. Easter is the beginning of God’s new world. When Jesus defeated death and burst out of the tomb, the history of the universe changed course. That’s when the real New Age began. Easter is the victory of the Creator over evil, and of life over death. Easter shouts that God is victorious, that His kingdom shall come and His will shall be done on earth as it is in heaven. Easter is revolution is its most fundamental sense. The status quo is upset. The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of God and of His Christ. And every child of God - every new creation - is now summoned to labor for that kingdom; to show what the kingdom of God is like by our character, our virtue and our actions,


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