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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Sermon 04212013 3rd Sunday After Easter


May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  AMEN.

Let us pray!  O God, our maker and redeemer, You have made us new creatures and enabled us to see and experience the resurrection of Your Son for all of mankind. Yet, some still question and doubt Your Words and the Witness of the scriptures.  Enable us to see not with fairy tale eyes, but with eyes of faith and be able to discern that this is not mystery or magic, but the clear manifestation of the salvation of all of mankind including all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel this morning.  AMEN.

With the bombings in Boston and the manhunt to find the perpetrators this last week uncertainty in our world is clearly and definitely manifest daily, whether in a major city like Boston during the running of the best known Marathon in the world or even in a small farming community like Goodland, KS.  We daily encounter uncertainty especially as we are exiting winter the slowest, coldest and dreariest part of the year.  When we look to the fields as we drive by we wonder if the winter wheat that in the Fall didn’t germinate will this Spring.  We ask God and ourselves, did we get enough moisture during the winter and will the corn that we plant whether dry land, irrigated circles or sunflowers will get hailed out, have a pest that our sprays can’t combat or a wind storm that lays everything down.  All of this is uncertainty manifest in our lives right now.  We wonder and worry about things that we do not have any control over.

Uncertainty is a daily occurrence for us today and even for the disciples of Jesus day.  It is a daily battle everybody faces.  Consider if you will our passage this morning is from before Jesus was betrayed, crucified, died, buried and resurrected from the dead.  For Jesus to know the future and speak directly to the uncertainty of what would occur should be a comfort for us today.  Jesus knew what He would encounter, knew what He would endure and knew that we would hear about it today with the uncertainty of our spring and summer crops.  But why should we not be uncomfortable, but comfortable with uncertainty?
Mark Batterson in his book, “In A Pit With A Lion On a Snowy Day” speaks clearly about uncertainty and how we could relate to it today.  He says:

p. 89 – “[We should] Embrace relational uncertainty.  It is called romance.  [We should] Embrace spiritual uncertainty.  It is called mystery.  [We should] Embrace occupational uncertainty.  It is called destiny.  [We should] Embrace emotional uncertainty. It is called joy.  [We should] Embrace intellectual uncertainty.  It is called revelation.”

Uncertainty is not our enemy, but our opportunity.  With Jesus disciples from our text the uncertainty of what would occur led them through three distinct stages and reactions that our text delineates.  The disciples questioned, they grieved and they rejoiced.  Each of these three stages are natural and we do them as well.
When the disciples heard Jesus words, “A little while, and you will no longer see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me.”  The disciples were just like the kids with a magic trick, always trying to figure out what and how the trick occurred.  The disciple like all of us begin with a list of questions trying to figure out what it means or how it was done.  We cannot let the ‘magic trick’ have any mystery or uncertainty.  Hence the disciples asked questions of Jesus both to clarify what He meant and for it to make more sense for them in their present circumstances.

But Jesus knowing their questions will not be fully answered until they experience and in this case ‘lose’ Him tells them what their next stage will be.  He said, “you [that is the disciples] will weep and lament…you will grieve” because you have lost that which you knew, that is me, Jesus Christ in the flesh.  Just as a family grieves for a family member that loses the battle with cancer or any disease that takes them from them, or a family loses all their possessions in a house fire, or a farmer loses all the wheat that was ready to be harvested because of a freak thunderstorm, tornado or wind storm.  Or a husband or wife experiences the sudden loss of a job, a friend or family member moving because there is no more work in the community or their parents employer is transferring them, when we lose something that has become a part of our genetic makeup we lose a part of ourselves.  We grieve in the deepest way because what we have lost we felt was almost an extension of ourselves.  It was so tangible because of our experiences that nothing will be able to fill the gap that was left.

Jesus knew His disciples would experience this in the most horrific way when they saw Jesus crucified on the Cross.  When Jesus endured the pain and torture of the whips, the spitting of the guards and the despising by the crowds, Jesus knew the disciples would turn and run and then grieve after the fact that they didn’t do anything to prevent it, make His pain less bearable or intercede on His behalf.  Yet the reality is that there was nothing that anybody could do.  Jesus Christ had to suffer the pain, torture and turning of His disciples and even His own Father in order to pay for our sins.

For in Jesus experiencing this, His suffering and death yielded the greatest gift given to mankind, our salvation through His resurrection on the third day.  Because of His fulfilling the plan of salvation our questions turned into grief would be transformed into our rejoicing after His resurrection.  It was through Jesus Christ resurrection that the disciples “grief will be turned into joy.”  The question to understand transformed into grief then into rejoicing, because the plan of salvation from the beginning of time was for Jesus to pay the ultimate price.  Thus, just as Jesus reminds His disciple, even women who have experienced labor do not remember the pain, we just as well do not remember the questions or grief, but only the rejoicing of the salvation of mankind.

We are set free and no longer bound in uncertainty, but set free by the Cross of Christ and His innocent blood on Calvary for all of mankind.  We rejoice because of the grief that Jesus experienced and do not remember that which occurred, but only why it occurred, because of Jesus Christ great love for all of mankind.  This gift of salvation offered to and for each of us is the greatest gift that we could have.  This is God’s gift through His Son Jesus Christ offered for all of mankind.  We are recipients of God’s gift of salvation, nothing else on this earth should matter.  For this gift and transformation that allows us to embrace uncertainty and transforms us from questioning to grieving to rejoicing is God’s gift for all of mankind, including all of us saints that are gathered here at Emmanuel this morning through salvation that  Jesus Christ offers to and for each and every one of us.  AMEN.
//trial script