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God Came Back

John 20:1-31

Adapted from a sermon by William Wilimon in The Intrusive Gospel

 

Ford Motor Company spends more money each year on health care for it's

employees than on steel.

 

Some of the largest, overbuilt buildings in La Crosse are labyrinths ...try

to find your way around in them once. I'm talking about? They are ? Lutheran

& Franciscan/Skemp Hospitals

 

Almost every town is the same. The reason: They serve as the greatest hedge

against mankind's greatest fear ....DEATH

 

We may one day tame that monster called the national deficit but I guarantee

that no health plan of any kind will solve the problem of .....DEATH. Life

is terminal from the beginning

 

DEATH & TAXES - Taxes ruffle our feathers but death really jerks our chain.

 

The Pharaohs built pyramids in an elaborate defense against, man's ancient

enemy, death

 

America builds sophisticated defense systems as well as elaborate offensive

death systems.

" We build bombs and we build hospitals for much the same reason." William

Willimon

 

Deep Theological Thought For The Day: God wants us to do with our lives

daily what He did with Jesus on that fateful Friday long ago. " Take up your

cross and follow me. "

 

Everybody had seen the crucifixion but who was expecting The Resurrection?

 

Nothing in this life prepares us for what happened in the graveyard on that

wonderful Sunday morning. An empty tomb!

 

Those who went out to the city of the dead that morning were prepared to

anoint a body but unprepared for what they encountered.

 

In their wildest imagination they might have conceived it if they had picked

up upon the clues that they had been left by He Who is the Lord of Life.

 

God had been revealing for centuries that He was in the life business not in

the death business.

 

His-story from The Fall to The Resurrection is a history of salvation from

God and His steadfast resolve to overcome death's dominion over man.

 

The resurrection is the fatal blow not the opening shot of God's war against

death.

 

A visual was presented just before The death of Jesus when He with a shout

of victory over death said, " Lazarus, come forth."

 

Each of Jesus' miracles, signs, wonders, cures were Passover (Easter)

preludes; small resurrections, mini-restorations to life. Previews of more

to come.

 

Jesus birth was the sign that told man that death was spiritually terminal

without His help.

" You shall call His name Jesus for He shall save his people from their

sins." Matthew 1:21

 

Every event in Jesus' life demonstrated that death was losing it's grip upon

mankind. Every cripple that walked, the blind that now saw, the leper who

was cleansed, the prisoner of sin who broke free, the dead who arose were

witnesses to the fact that death was being dispelled by Jesus and life was

breaking forth dispelling mortality with a promise of immortality.

In 1993 a Duke freshman who was part of the chapel choir was crushed by a

bus. A school therapist came from Counseling & Psychological Services came

and told a group of grieving students , " You are all doing just fine, right

on schedule with your grief, this is good. " Death reigned supreme.

 

Five days later at Amy's memorial service , the chapel choir stood and sang

defiantly, raucously, "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all

be made alive. " Death slinked off the campus, his great victory party

ruined by those who refused to acknowledge that death can snuff out life.

Because? ... God came back.

 

" There arose in Egypt those who knew not Joseph," says Exodus 1:8. That

Pharaoh made God's children his slaves, placed unbearable burdens upon their

backs and killed their baby boys ( just the first of many of Satan's

attempts at genocide against God's chosen people ).

 

Are you surprised that lots of us love slavery. Oh, the work is hard but at

least we get three square meals a day. It's not too bad once you learn to

adjust. Our bent backs grow calloused to the sting of the slave-master's

whip if we just compromise, adapt, adjust. We'll survive.

But then God came back.

 

To Moses, minding his own business, a bush burst into flame, and a voice,

God's voice, " I have heard the cry of My people. I'm going to free them, go

head to head with Pharaoh, and guess who's going to help Me? " Moses

stammered .... Aaron stumbled; but God came back.

 

Israel was free; free at last. Then from the north came chariots,

war-horses, and the iron spears of the Assyrians. Cities of Israel were

burned and pillaged. People killed and made the spoils of war. The Hebrew

tribes were carted off into cruel exile. ( the first of many pogroms (an

organized massacre) and deportations of God's chosen.) Death ... Deportation

... Defeat ... exile and loneliness ... The weeping prophet, Jeremiah,

graphically proclaimed their home coming party saying, " again you will take

your tambourines and go forth in the dance of the merrymakers." Jeremiah

31:4

 

Whenever the people on the bottom of society's pile get uppity...You know;

down in the ghettos, down in the slums and barrios and began to make music,

pull out their tambourines & dance; tyrants, Assyrians or otherwise, get

edgy and call out the national guard.

And God came back ... and back ... and back again ... and finally He was

silent.

 

Scene 2: A little jerkwater town in the backside of Judea, first century,

Roman troops on every corner, registering these Jews, enrolling them in

order to better oppress them ... suppress them ... overwhelm them. The

greatest, most powerful army on earth on call for the most ruthless dictator

they had ever seen. What could anybody do? Assyrians ... Syrians ...

Babylonians ... Romans, it's all the same. Keep your heads down, eyes

averted, say your prayers, ... hope.

 

But .... down in the barrio, in a stable out back, a young woman was singing

" My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior ....

He has scattered the proud ... He has brought down the powerful from their

thrones." Luke 1:46-52

 

Mary, why do you sing? Well, you see, I'm going to have a baby. God came

back. Friday took no one by surprise. If you know how the political

establishment works, religious or otherwise, you knew what was coming from

the first day He cleansed the temple. He ignored the elite disregarding all

social convention ... eating with tax collectors and harlots. He touched the

wretched lepers, conversed with woman and gentiles, flaunted the religious

rules,

 

....and you should have heard what He called the clergy.

Friday's bloody businessis no surprise to us in the know. He was headed for

Golgotha, The Place of the Skull, Execution hill, from the day He healed the

first person on the sabbath.

 

After all, you can't fight city hall. Pilate had the troops ... Herod had

Caesar's ear ... the priests had Herod in their pocket, what chance did we

have? ... especially when the crowds turned on us. The One we followed ...

nailed to a cross, death's latest spoils. We should've known better.

 

It was good while it lasted though, wasn't it? We told the women, " Go on

out in the cemetery and take these flowers, show our last respects to Jesus.

We'll come later, when its daylight." And the women went out into the

stone-yard of death and .... Surprise ... God came back.

 

On their way back from the cemetery being instructed by an angel to tell the

others ... Hello! ... It's Jesus. And they fall at His feet and worship

because ... God came back.

 

The shout of the women. You've heard it before. That day as Pharaohs

chariots mired down in the mud and the sea surged back ... in the great

homecoming celebrated with tambourines ... in Mary's war chant lullaby ...

you've heard it before ... Greetings. I'm back.

 

When will we throw off the shackles of death's oppression and see the

invasions of God into his territory. The whole history of God's intrusions

among us are a tale of the defeat of death's dominion. When will we get it?

God always comes back for His people.

 

That's Resurrection Day, a saga began long before in the mind of God, a

narrative not yet finished..

 

They told him, " Once a drunk, always a drunk. It's like a disease,

something genetic; in your family, something in your blood, fixed,

determined. " This young man that he met said to him, " Jesus can set you

free, just trust Him. You don't have to give up anything that's good. "

I call it my own little AA group. I attribute it to the fact that .... God

came back ... just for me.

 

Crohn's Disease? ... terminal they say? Untreatable, nothing to be done,

they said. Curtains. She said, " I'll live with it, but I won't just keel

over and die because of it. " Some called it grit. She said that it was

because even in her illness. .... God was there... God never left.

 

Her grit was more than the fruit of her emotional resolve, more than

psychological chutzpah. It arose from her Christian conviction that God is

in the business of life dominion and that long ago had worked out a plan of

death's defeat through the resurrection of Jesus that had relevance to her

struggle with death .... And ours.

 

Who you gonna believe? The world says adjust, adapt, bad things happen. A

student is crushed by a bus, a nation is enslaved, I'm a drunk. He's a

homosexual. After all it's the nineties.

 

Pin the blame on someone else, grow up and smell the roses, adapt, adjust,

you can't win. That's just the way the world is.

 

Then the choir sings the Hallelujah Chorus, the trumpet blares ... because

God comes back!

Are you ready?

When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound and time shall be no more and the

glories of the resurrection share. The saved of earth shall gather over on

the other shore ...

><> GARY

" In your rush for success, don't miss the joy of being. " Kinserdahl