Sermon transcript, 5 April 2015, Sunday of the Resurrection

We stand in joy by Fr. Dana

Acts 10:34-48, Psalm 118:14-29, Colossians 3:1-4, Mark 16:1-8


“Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy…” [Luke 2:10] – Wait a minute: that’s the wrong season; that’s what the angels said.  And they were right – and they weren’t just talking about the birth, because the birth isn’t complete without the death, and the death isn’t complete without the resurrection.

Whoever believes in Him

From the first reading: “But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him…  43To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.” (Acts 10:35, 43)  That is where we stand today.  That belief is not just in a single fact: believing that Jesus lived isn’t enough; the demons believe that, it’s true [James 2:19].  Believing that He died, believing that He rose: Satan knows that Jesus rose from the dead.  He tried his best to stop Him, and it didn’t work.  No, belief was described by Jesus at the Last Supper: “If you love Me, you will obey Me” [John 14:15].  Not that we are perfect yet: we all sin and fall short of the glory of God; but if we believe, then His death and resurrection have changed us and will continue to change us.

The one in whom we believe

Read Psalm 118:14-15.  We rejoice: the Lord is our strength, He is our song.  He is why we sing and He is what we sing.  Who is “the right hand of the Lord”? – Jesus, who is sitting at God’s right hand.   And what’s He doing?  He’s interceding for us: He’s praying that we will continue to be changed by His death and resurrection, that we will continually be conformed to His image.  It is Jesus at the right hand of God, the Author and the Finisher of our faith, the Alpha and the Omega. [Hebrews 12:2, Revelation 1:8]

What are “the gates of righteousness”?  Who is “the gate of the Lord”? (Psalm 118:19-20)  He said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6)  Jesus is the gates of righteousness; and I will go through them: I will go through Jesus into the Holy of Holies, into the presence of the Father, and I will praise the Lord.

Read Psalm 118:21.  How incredible is that: the Lord God, the Creator of all things, the Judge of all men, He’s the one who created the Law we could not keep, He is the one who paid the price that we could not pay.  He satisfied the perfect justice of God by setting aside His Godhead, becoming incarnate as a man, living a perfect life, dying a perfect death, rising a perfect Redeemer.

“You died…”

Read Colossians 3:1-4.  Think on that: “For you died…”  The “you” that was born from your mother’s womb, born in sin, the natural man, you died.  When you are baptised into His death, when you come out of the water, you receive His life.  You receive the mind of Christ; and that doesn’t mean we know everything He knows, and that everything we want He wants – but it does mean that we are re-wired, our mind and heart and soul is re-wired so that we can begin to understand who He is and what He calls us to do.

Jesus tells His disciples at the Last Supper – and these are the men who have been with Him for three years – “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now” (John 16:12). “You’re not ready for this, you can’t handle it, and if I told you, you wouldn’t understand.”  In fact the things that He told them – “The Son of Man has to be tortured, crucified, died, buried, but I will rise again” [Mark 8:31] – they didn’t get it; they couldn’t get it.  Read John 16:13-14.  The disciples – even the disciple Jesus loved, who reclined against His death, could not comprehend what He was saying until after He was crucified and was risen.

Joy that no one can take away

Read John 16:16, 20-22.  This is where we stand today:  we stand in joy.  We’ve come through the anguish of Lent – not that it compares at all to the anguish Jesus went through, but we do it: we do without, we pray more, we give more, we listen more, to identify ourselves with Jesus.  We stand in joy that no one can take from us – not trials, not persecutions, not lack, not hardships, not even ISIS, not even death can take our joy.

How did Jesus finish that Last Supper?  He prayed for His disciples, but not just them: He prayed for you and for me (John 17:20-22).  2000 years ago He prayed for us here today, and for everyone who came before us and everyone who will come after us.  Hear His prayer for you: this is Jesus praying directly for you and for me.

Read John 17:9-10.  He is glorified in you.  Read John 17:11-14.  When I was young that wasn’t so obvious: I didn’t notice anyone actively hating me; now it’s in the papers, on the street, in the courts: He knew what He was talking about.  Read John 17:14-15.  This is not escape: He is not praying that we would never die, but that the evil one would not snatch us away from salvation, from a relationship with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Read John 17:16.  When you were baptised and born again, you were no longer of the world.  You came out of your mother’s womb “of the world”, but when you were baptised and received Christ you were reborn and “not of the world”.

Read John 17:17-18.  Who is His Word? Jesus Himself is the Word; He is truth; and as God sent Him into the world, He sends us into the world.

When we end the Mass today, we will pray that God will “send us out to do the work [He has] given us to do: to love and serve You as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord”.  Each of us – every single one of you – has a destiny created by God, that He has given you to fulfil, a unique purpose for your life.  I don’t know what that is; you probably don’t know what that is: you may have a good idea, or you may not: you may have no idea; you may be 98% of the way through it – I don’t know: I don’t know the future.  But you have a unique purpose; and our prayer will be, “Let us go out, then, and do that work, the work He has destined us to do, to keep focused on that, that that would be the “potato” – remember that sermon?

And as we go out to do that work, let us carry with us – not “drudgery”, not “oh, all right” –let us carry with us the joy that no one, no thing, not the world, not the flesh, not the devil, can take away from us; made bold by the power of the Holy Spirit and the words of our Messiah, Jesus Christ, who said In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)