Archive for April 22nd, 2012

Crazy Love!

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

Easter Sunday 3B, April 22, 2012
Pastor Brian Henderson-Trinity Lutheran Church, San Diego, CA

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OUR TEXT: 1 John 3:1–7Luke 24:36–49

Just think about this, God loves you so much that He actually became your Father.  “See what kind of love the Father has given to us  that we should be called children of God; and so we are!” [1 John 3:1b]  Paul doesn’t say that God is like a Father to us, He says that He  IS our Father because we ARE His children!  God actually made us His children.  But why?   Because of His love!  Isn’t that something?!    That’s what I call crazy love!

Think about that for a moment.  Even though you sin a lot, every day; even though you don’t love Him like you should, He loves you  more than you can ever imagine.  I mean, just take a look at His love for you: While you were still a sinner, He gave His one and only  Son to die for you, so that you could be His son or daughter.  Jesus Christ paid for your sins with His very life so that you could know  His Father’s love!  But that’s not all, you see God made all things work together perfectly so that you could either come or be brought to  the waters of baptism where He washed you clean and recreated you into the image of His Son; so that you could also be His sons and  daughters.  Now that’s crazy love!

So what should our response be?  We should be willing to give up everything and do anything to show our own love and appreciation to our Heavenly Father!  We should be moved to fall on our knees in worship and adoration to our Savior Jesus who made us right with His Father.  We should be willing to give all that we have to Him who saved us, and shout Alleluia to our King!  And is that what we do?  Is that how we live our lives?  You and I both know we fall far short!  The truth is that most of the time we live our lives in a way that pleases ourselves.  We usually live our lives in such a way that no one would ever know that we are children of the Heavenly Father unless we tell them.  And then, we’re afraid to tell them about God’s love because our walk and our talk don’t match; we’re afraid that we’ll be called a hypocrite.   And because of that fear, we usually avoid giving any kind of public proclamation of faith.  So why is living as a child of God so difficult at times?

Because we haven’t yet become fully, all that God has declared us to be!  We aren’t yet fully like the Son of God, Jesus Christ.  You see, we still live in our sinful bodies in a sinful world that is ruled by the father of sin, the devil.  We still live among our other enemies sin and death; we’re afraid of them, and it’s that fear that can cause us to fight becoming who God says that we are.

A. In our gospel lesson, the disciples were huddled together in fear.  They were hiding behind locked doors because the enemy was out to destroy them.  And as they gathered together in fear, BAM! Jesus appeared in the middle of them and said, “Peace to you” He said.  ‘Don’t be afraid.  Why are you troubled?  Didn’t I tell you that I would always be with you?  Look, here I am.  I’m skin and bones just like you.  Touch me and see.  You can’t touch a ghost, right?  “And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, He said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?”  They gave Him a piece of broiled fish, and He took it and at it before them.”

OK, now that you aren’t afraid any more, will you listen to Jesus?  Why are you finding it so hard to believe that He’s come back from the dead?  Isn’t that the very thing He said He would do?  Doesn’t God’s Word tell you that Jesus had to die and on the third day be raised in order to fulfill all of the promises of scripture?  Maybe if we see how Jesus helped the apostles believe we can be helped in the same way.  So how did Jesus help them and the disciples understand and believe?  He opened their minds.  But how?  Well the same way He does it today, He speaks and we listen! “Then (Jesus) said to them, “These are my Words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about Me in the Law of Moses and the prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled,”  Then He opened their minds to understand the scriptures.” (Luke 24:44-45)  It’s through His Word that God opens our minds and gives us the gift of faith.  It’s through the preaching of the gospel that faith and understanding comes.

Did you know that there’s a right way and a wrong way to hear and read the Bible.  The wrong way is thinking that we can make sense of His Word on our own.  The right way to read God’s Word is by faith, knowing that every word is written to show us Jesus; to show us God’s crazy love.  Listen to Jesus explain it:  “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

Now this is huge; its critical and it is unique.  Jesus is telling all of his disciples, He’s telling you and me that the only way to understand the Bible is through His life, death, and resurrection.  He is telling us that the only way to be right with God, to have forgiveness of sins, all sins is in His name.  No other way or method is available to become God’s own child outside of Good Friday and Easter!

Do you want to live a life of meaning and purpose; a life full of God’s love?  Good, then read God’s Word with the expectation of seeing both the cross and the empty tomb of Jesus and you will find both of those things.  Now that doesn’t mean that every Word in the Bible or every page of the Old Testament is about Jesus life and death; clearly that isn’t true.  But what it does mean is that only the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus can bring meaning and purpose to every word that God has preserved in scripture. It means that God has preserved His Word in such a way that when you read it, you can know for sure that not only does He love and forgive you as a Father, but He does it unconditionally!

But why is it so important to know that God loves us as a Father?  So that you will believe and receive His Son, Jesus Christ as your Lord and God.  But why must we believe Jesus is our Lord and God?  Because if you will not receive Him as who His Word says He is, you will never know forgiveness of sins and the love of your Heavenly Father!  Unless Jesus is your Lord and God, you will never know true peace; you will never experience real victory!

Several years ago, a barbers’ supply company held a large convention in a metropolitan city.  To show the world how good their products were they organized a publicity stunt. They went to the worst section of town and brought back the dirtiest and most helpless drunk they could find. They presented him on the stage. Everyone saw how dirty and unkempt his hair and beard were. Then they took him out and cleaned him up. They shaved him. They shampooed and styled his hair. They sprayed him with cologne. They washed him with a new kind of soap they were trying to sell. They bought him a new suit, a new shirt, new tie, and shoes. He looked great. He looked and felt like a new man. They brought him back to the stage to show him off, saying to all the world, “This is what our barber supplies can do for you.” The audience could hardly believe that this was the same man they had seen earlier that day. Looking at the man on stage no one would ever have guessed that he was living in the streets just a few hours before. He was completely changed.

The very next day the organizers of the convention went looking for this man again. Would you like to guess where they found him? That’s right — lying in some gutter, filthy and drunk! They changed him on the outside, but who he was as a person was left unchanged.

Friends that is not how God works.  When God’s Word is received by sinners it doesn’t just clean them up, it converts and changes them.  When God’s Word is active in our lives it reminds us each day that we have His crazy love; a love the world will never understand.  It reminds us that through the cross our sins have actually been paid for.  And in the waters of our baptisms we really have been recreated and each day we are being renewed in that recreation!  When we confess our sins to God each day, His Word reminds us that we are His actual children and that it is His joy to forgive us.  When we come to His table for His Holy Meal, He tells us that the bread and wine are in fact His body and blood, and that when we eat and drink of it, not only are we remembering His sacrifice for us, we are truly eating and drinking God’s crazy love, His forgiveness of all our sins!

This morning, God is declaring to each of us that we are His children.  Through His Son, Jesus Christ we have all of His gifts; gifts that are guaranteed to change us and sustain us through all trials and temptations.  This morning God is assuring us that if we will continue to use His gifts of love, then on the day when Jesus returns, we will all become like Him!  When Jesus calls our name as a true child of His Father, each of us will see God as He actually is!  And it is this promise of God’s forgiving love and grace that sustains and purifies us each day as we wait on our Savior’s call!

Let me close our message this morning with a bit of a challenge.  You know, during each Easter season, we love to say, “He is risen!  He is risen indeed!”  But this year I want to ask you to really  think about what that means.  Does the resurrection make a difference in your life or are you still living in fear?  Are you willing to stand up against the sin that is within you and around you?!  If you do that, God promises you that your unbelieving neighbors, family, and friends will take notice and be forced to give Him glory!

This morning, God’s crazy love is calling us to stand up and fight the enemy within us an around us as long as we still have breath in us. God does not want us to hide behind closed doors while the war against sin, death, and the devil is raging around us.  This morning, God wants you to know that to give in to sin is to turn away from His love, His crazy love for you!  In your baptism, God not only recreated you but He also clothed you with His power from on high, power that enables you to not just fight against sin, but eventually enjoy complete victory over it.   And as you fight the good fight of faith, others will notice and ask you why you do what you do.  And when they ask, you can tell them that it’s all done because of God’s crazy love for you and for them.  What’s His crazy love?  Simply this, while we were still no good sinners, Christ died for us… He saved us, and now invites us into His love. AMEN!