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Passage Matthew 28:1-10

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We had loads of "C and E" church-goers last week (Christmas and Easter).  Pretty close to the beginning of the talk I challenge them like this... (Do you think this sort of thing is valid / worthwhile??)

...Now imagine if Jesus had died and stayed dead in that tomb?  You know what would have happened, the women would have come, paid their respects to the memory of Jesus, they’d have gone home and gotten on with their lives without Him.

And if Jesus died and stayed dead, that would be an honourable thing to do!  They could come, pay their respects, remember the good times, remember His teaching and His love, then off home for some DIY on Easter Monday.  And perhaps they’d come back again next year, on the anniversary of His death and pay their respects again.

That would make total sense wouldn’t it… if Jesus had stayed dead.

But if He rose from the dead, then, once these women heard about it, they couldn’t dream of carrying on as normal, could they?  Once they hear that He’s alive, they can’t go back to their old lives.  Once the angel tells them, they need to meet this risen Jesus, don’t they?  Paying respects to a dead teacher has been forgotten, now they’ve just got to meet the risen Christ.

Now perhaps this morning, you’ve come to church, a bit like these women.  It is an honourable thing to do – to pay respects to the dead.  It’s understandable that you want to remember the teaching and the love of Jesus.  It’s admirable that you want to mark the anniversary of His death.

But what if He really did rise?  If He really did rise, it transforms everything.  It means Christianity is not about remembering a dead teacher.  Instead Christianity means knowing a Living Lord.

These women went home from the tomb determined to have a living encounter with the risen Lord Jesus.  Why don’t you make the same resolution this morning?  [I go on to explain about our Christianity Explored courses]...

Full sermon text below...................

...continue reading "Easter Sunday All Age Talk"

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I wrote these two last week.  In the end I ditched the first in favour of the second.  We sang about fishes not seeds on Easter Sunday...

Jesus is God's Son. And there was never a time when He was not God's Son.  Equally, there was never a time when the Father was not Father of His eternal Son, Jesus.  Wind back the clock into the depths of eternity and no matter how far back you go you will always find this: The Father possessing His Son in the Spirit, The Father pouring His life into the Son by the Spirit.  The Son receiving His anointing from the Father.  The Son determined in the Spirit by the Father.  The Father and Son have existed in a Begetting-Begotten relationship eternally.  Such relationship is not simply what our God does, it's who He is.  He is this eternal fellowship of the Three.

When was Christ begotten?  The early church rightly answered He is 'Eternally begotten of the Father.  God from God.  Light from Light.  True God from True God.  Begotten not made.  Of one being with the Father.'

Well then Psalm 2 throws up an interesting issue.  Always and everywhere in Scripture Psalm 2 is said to refer to Jesus.  And no matter how you get there, I hope you'll agree that it does.  Well verse 7 is the Son speaking and He says this:

I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, "You are my Son; today I have begotten you.

Well now, how do we cope with the Son of God saying such a thing?  What is the 'today' on which the Son is said to be begotten?  Doesn't this just collapse into Arianism?  Perhaps we think the Father should have said 'Today I declare what has always been true of You - You are My Son, eternally I beget You'?  But he doesn't say that.  He says there's a day of begetting.

Well what day is that?

Answer: Easter Sunday.  Paul correctly identifies the 'today' for us.  In Acts 13:32-33 he tells us that David's intention here is to prophesy Christ's resurrection:

We tell you the good news: What God promised our fathers he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm: `You are my Son; today I have become your Father.'

The resurrection of Jesus is the 'today' in which the Father begets the Son.  The Father and Son exist in a Begetting-Begotten relationship.  And Easter is the Day on which that relationship is (and here I'm reaching for words) manifest?  - too weak.  Concretized?  - closer.  Established?  - too far?

Well if we think that's too far, perhaps we also think Peter went too far in Acts 2:36.  Again speaking of the resurrection he says:

God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.

Jesus is made Lord and Christ through the resurrection.  He already was Lord (v34) and Christ (v31), yet the resurrection 'made' Him Lord and Christ.

One other Scripture to consider.  In Hebrews 5, the writer sees the resurrection of Psalm 2:7 as Christ's calling to the Priesthood.

No-one takes this honour upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was.  So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father."  (v4-5)

God calls Jesus to the Priesthood by raising / exalting Him.  And yet at the same time Hebrews had introduced us to the eternal Son in already priestly terms (Heb 1:2,3).  The Son's mediation in creation, revelation and providence is already priestly, and yet He is called to this priesthood on the basis of His death, resurrection and ascension.

This co-ordination of eternal priestliness and His historical calling continues in chapter 5.  Verse 6 reminds us from Psalm 110 that Jesus is a 'priest forever in the order of [beginningless] Melchizedek'.  Yet almost straight away we are told He is 'designated' priest on the basis of His suffering perfection and exaltation. (v10).

So which is it?  Is Jesus eternally begotten or begotten on Easter morning?  Is Jesus eternally Lord and Christ or made so by resurrection?  Is Jesus eternally God's Priest or called Priest on the basis of His suffering perfection and exaltation?  The answer is yes.

How do we put words to this?  Well Ben Myers has done a pretty good job here as he summarizes the argument of Adam Eitel:

God's being can thus be described as a kind of being-towards-resurrection; the resurrection of Jesus is the goal of God's eternal self-determining action. In this historical (or better, this history-creating) event, God becomes what God eternally is - and this is just because God eternally is what he becomes in this event.

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To listen click here

What words of comfort do you commonly use?

Imagine you tell of some bad news:

My credit cards have been stolen, they’ve cleared out my bank account...

How do you finish that sentence?

...still, worse things happen at sea

... serves me right for being so careless

... I suppose I’m just cursed

... I guess I should count my blessings

... at least I’m not being boiled alive in sulphuric acid

... at least I have my health

... such is life

Whatever we tack onto the end of our stories of suffering gives a little window onto our theology of suffering.

Me and a friend have stock lines we use and we make fun of each other for them.  He calls me a cautious optimist.  I call him a stark realist.  When I get to the end of my news I say: “So we’ll see.”  When he gets to the end of his news he says “So there we are!”

What’s your response to suffering?  In church we often have some more spiritual sounding consolations.  Things like “Just got to keep trusting I guess.”  “God’s got a plan.”

But none of these are a patch on one line I heard recently.  It was from a woman suffering with cancer.  And after she’d told people the seriousness of her condition she’d say “Still, nothing a resurrection won’t fix.”  Now that’s consolation.

Nothing a resurrection won’t fix.

That’s what Easter is about.  The darkest day on planet earth was Good Friday when the LORD of Glory was barbarically executed - slaughtered as a lamb.  When you kill your father it’s called patricide.  When you kill a king, it’s called regicide.  This was deicide – killing God.  The Word of creation comes and we silence the Word.  The Light of the cosmos shines, and we extinguish the light.  The Life-force of the world comes and we kill the Author of Life.

The sun stopped shining and the earth quaked when the LORD our Maker was lifted up on the cross.  Abandoned by earth, forsaken by heaven – He’s thrust into the air, hanging between heaven and earth, He dies the death of the rejected.  Spat upon, mocked, derided, a spear thrust into His heart.  Taken down, His cold, lifeless corpse was laid in the tomb and the entrance was sealed.  God was dead and buried.  It was the worst thing that has ever happened.

But Easter Sunday – He burst out of the ground, NEW.  The same Jesus – but now He’s been perfected.  He has passed through the fires of judgement and come out refined, glorified.  He hasn’t just dipped His toe into death and come back.  He has passed all the way through death and come out the other side into immortal, resurrection life.

And on Easter Sunday we remember the stories of how He appeared to His disciples, still bearing the wounds of His crucifixion.  He keeps the marks of His death, because we will praise His death into all eternity.  But they are glorified wounds.  Jesus redeems death – He redeems even His death, even deicide is redeemed through the resurrection.  There’s nothing His resurrection won’t fix.

And what I want us to understand this evening is that Christ’s death and resurrection isn’t just an example of how, sometimes, good can come out of suffering.  This isn’t an example – it’s the engine of God’s cosmic redemption.  What God did through Jesus that weekend – He will do to the whole universe.  There’s nothing His resurrection won’t fix.

Just before Jesus died He said this in John 12

24 I tell you the truth, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.

Jesus is the Seed who falls dead into the ground, but rises up new to produce MANY seeds.  His death and resurrection is the pattern and prototype and power for MANY resurrections.

Put it another way – Jesus is the Head of a new creation.  And as He takes the old humanity down into the grave He rises as Head of a new humanity.  And all who are united to Him by faith are raised with Him.

Put it another way – Jesus is like the needle going through the thick black cloth of suffering, judgement and death.  And Jesus bursts through the other side – taking with Him, the thread.  Us – anyone who trusts in Jesus is united to Him and takes the same path.

Easter Sunday is not just an example of new life.  It is the pattern, the prototype, the power for cosmic resurrection.  And it’s what God is doing in your life.  He is moving you from Good Friday through to Easter Sunday, and there’s nothing His resurrection won’t fix.

...continue reading "An Easter Sermon – Job 19"

http://vimeo.com/8355162

And with vimeo you can burn it onto DVD and use it in a small group for instance.

Good innit?

PS - I hope someone washes that black shirt of Rico's.  Get's a lot of use...

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Jesus is God's Son. And there was never a time when He was not God's Son.  Equally, there was never a time when the Father was not Father of His eternal Son, Jesus.  Wind back the clock into the depths of eternity and no matter how far back you go you will always find this: The Father possessing His Son in the Spirit, The Father pouring His life into the Son by the Spirit.  The Son receiving His anointing from the Father.  The Son determined in the Spirit by the Father.  The Father and Son have existed in a Begetting-Begotten relationship eternally.  Such relationship is not simply what our God does, it's who He is.  He is this eternal fellowship of the Three.

When was Christ begotten?  The early church rightly answered He is 'Eternally begotten of the Father.  God from God.  Light from Light.  True God from True God.  Begotten not made.  Of one being with the Father.'

Well then Psalm 2 throws up an interesting issue.  Always and everywhere in Scripture Psalm 2 is said to refer to Jesus.  And no matter how you get there, I hope you'll agree that it does.  Well verse 7 is the Son speaking and He says this:

I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, "You are my Son; today I have begotten you.

Well now, how do we cope with the Son of God saying such a thing?  What is the 'today' on which the Son is said to be begotten?  Doesn't this just collapse into Arianism?  Perhaps we think the Father should have said 'Today I declare what has always been true of You - You are My Son, eternally I beget You'?  But he doesn't say that.  He says there's a day of begetting.

Well what day is that?

Answer: Easter Sunday.  Paul correctly identifies the 'today' for us.  In Acts 13:32-33 he tells us that David's intention here is to prophesy Christ's resurrection:

We tell you the good news: What God promised our fathers he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm: `You are my Son; today I have become your Father.'

The resurrection of Jesus is the 'today' in which the Father begets the Son.  The Father and Son exist in a Begetting-Begotten relationship.  And Easter is the Day on which that relationship is (and here I'm reaching for words) manifest?  - too weak.  Concretized?  - closer.  Established?  - too far?

Well if we think that's too far, perhaps we also think Peter went too far in Acts 2:36.  Again speaking of the resurrection he says:

God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.

Jesus is made Lord and Christ through the resurrection.  He already was Lord (v34) and Christ (v31), yet the resurrection 'made' Him Lord and Christ.

One other Scripture to consider.  In Hebrews 5, the writer sees the resurrection of Psalm 2:7 as Christ's calling to the Priesthood.

No-one takes this honour upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was.  So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father."  (v4-5)

God calls Jesus to the Priesthood by raising / exalting Him.  And yet at the same time Hebrews had introduced us to the eternal Son in already priestly terms (Heb 1:2,3).  The Son's mediation in creation, revelation and providence is already priestly, and yet He is called to this priesthood on the basis of His death, resurrection and ascension.

This co-ordination of eternal priestliness and His historical calling continues in chapter 5.  Verse 6 reminds us from Psalm 110 that Jesus is a 'priest forever in the order of [beginningless] Melchizedek'.  Yet almost straight away we are told He is 'designated' priest on the basis of His suffering perfection and exaltation. (v10).

So which is it?  Is Jesus eternally begotten or begotten on Easter morning?  Is Jesus eternally Lord and Christ or made so by resurrection?  Is Jesus eternally God's Priest or called Priest on the basis of His suffering perfection and exaltation?  The answer is yes. 

How do we put words to this?  Well Ben Myers has done a pretty good job here as he summarizes the argument of Adam Eitel:

God's being can thus be described as a kind of being-towards-resurrection; the resurrection of Jesus is the goal of God's eternal self-determining action. In this historical (or better, this history-creating) event, God becomes what God eternally is - and this is just because God eternally is what he becomes in this event.

UPDATE: By the way, this is by no means an endorsement of Hegel.  God's being is not constituted by any God-world dialectic.  Rather it's the Father-Son relationship in the Spirit that constitutes God's being. 

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It's common to hear people speak of the death of Jesus as simply according to His human nature.  This is insisted upon because it is assumed that His 'divine nature' could have nothing to do with death.  It's less common to hear the same people trumpeting the resurrection as simply according to His human nature.  Why?  Because the resurrection is tied in the closest possible way to Christ's divine identification:

He was declared with power to be the Son of God, by His resurrection. (Rom 1:4)

God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ. (Acts 2:36)

For many it seems that the death of Jesus is quite a human thing.  And His resurrection something more divine.  But this is wrong.

First, Jesus death is considered similarly to be an identification of Jesus' divinity:

e.g.  "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I AM WHO I AM." (John 8:28)

Second, Jesus divinity is not spoken of as separate from His humanity at any point, including (and perhaps especially) His crucifixion:

They... have crucified the Lord of Glory. (1 Cor 2:8)

In a loud voice they sang: "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise!"  (Rev 5:12)

Third, the whole of salvation - incarnation, life, death, resurrection and ascension - is accomplished by the Man Christ Jesus.  And at the same time He is never anything less than the eternal Word of the Father.

Fourth, we just don't have a high enough view of Man.  Man is the true ruler of the cosmos (Psalm 8).  Man is the Head of creation.  Seated on the throne of the world is Man - and this has always been God's intention.  Though Adam was a corrupted and corrupting king, even so God showed the importance of man.  God took Adam's rule very seriously. He tied the destiny of the whole creation to the actions of this king.  And now with Adam's Lord - the true King, the heavenly Man (1 Cor 15:47-49) - comes the restoration of all things:

Since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead came also through a man.  For as in Adam all die, so in Christ will all be made alive. (1 Cor 15:21-22).

Adam and Christ

Christ's work in reversing Adam's failures could be nothing other than the work of Man - true Man.  And at the same time His triumph could be nothing other than the triumph of God - redeeming, reconciling, ruling.  To be true Man can never be at odds with 'the divine nature.'  The divine nature shines forth at its strongest in this Man - the Head of the New Creation.

So this easter rejoice in Man restored.  Rejoice in the true King and Head who summed up all your Adam-ness and put it away for good.  He rose up again as King, bringing His Kingdom with Him.  His resurrection renewed Himself, His people and the whole earth. 

In the meantime you have your flesh from Adam and your Spirit from Christ.  You are, for now, the scene of an almighty struggle.  You groan.  Creation groans.  The Spirit of God groans.  But when Christ is revealed so too will His Kingdom be revealed.  You and the whole earth will be reborn and renewed under the rule of Man.

Praise God

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