Easter Sermon for April 2000
This is Easter weekend and, other than having a burden to pray for someone the Lord has
laid on my heart, this weekend has had me in a reflective mood. I’ve been contemplating
the period between Maunday Thursday and tomorrow, Easter Sunday, and what was
going on during that time for Jesus.
Some might understand what I mean if I reword that and say “what is going on for Jesus.”
One of the things that has been going through my mind is that when we leave this life, we
cease to exist in lineal time. Existence totally changes to the spiritual realm, which is not
on a time line, per se, and it was into that aspect of a literal, spiritual Hell to which Jesus
descended during that period between His Death on the Cross and His bodily Resurrection
on Easter. By Jewish reckoning of time, Jesus was in the grave three days (I have been
told that portions of a day count as a day in Jewish thinking) but that was three days of
linear time such as that in which we live while we exist in these three dimensions. Jesus’
time in Hell was an expanded present and, whatever actually transpired during His “time”
there cannot be measured as seventy-two or less earth hours. While running the risk of
some considering me a heretic, let me say that I believe that time and space totally shift
when we leave this life. Jesus left this life temporarily when He descended to Hell and
accomplished something then that affects the present tense now for those who will
believe on and trust in Him.
Therefore, one’s new life in Christ could almost be measured from Easter to Easter, rather
than from the day when you first believed and received Jesus as your Lord and Savior.
Your are alive today because He rose from the dead. If that had not happened, you
wouldn’t be alive right now, but still would have been dead in your old life.
It is possible to be dead and still animated, you know. Our pre-Christian life proves it. We
are dead in our sins. Death is always working in us while we’re unsaved until we receive
Jesus and then, because He removes (present tense, though He died on the Cross 1,970
years ago) the price of sin and the curse of death from us, life, His Life, now is at work in
us. Amen. While I do not believe in reenacting the Sacrifice of the Cross over and over in
some ritual, I believe that, in the spiritual realm, it is always going on across the
millennia because His Death and Resurrection are still so efficacious for us today.
I guess I’ve come to this conclusion because I’ve seen His grace and mercy on a daily,
sometimes even more frequent, basis in my life. I guess having nearly died in February
caused me to value each day now and not take it for granted. His mercies are unfailing
and I am beginning to realize what St. Paul meant when he said that we are renewed
spiritually daily, even though our physical existence is at peril and perishes a little bit
more every day.
I reflected over the meaning and purpose of my life this past week, during Lent and Holy
Week, and came to the conclusion that for me to live is, indeed, Christ, and to die is only
to finally attain and gain that Kingdom to which we have been struggling to return since
the fall of our ancestor Adam. It is natural that we want to return, even though our
physical limitations tell us that “we can’t go home to Eden anymore.” But that’s not so!
If we are trying to return to the Eden that our ancestor knew, we’re aiming too low. Jesus
has died, descended to Hell, defeated the Adversary and Risen again Bodily from the
dead, so that we “can go Home again,” although we’ve never been there before. It’s our
real Home and Jesus sent us His Holy Spirit fifty days after His Resurrection to enable us
to walk in this Way and to reach that Goal, that Place, Where He has gone on ahead to
prepare for our arrival.
Some of you reading this are bereft of a loved one -- a spouse, a child or someone who,
even though you and they were both Christian believers, their departure has left you
feeling adrift and incomplete. But that is part of our fallen condition. We are not
“completed” by another human being. We are completed only by God and, ultimately, this
is what He is restoring you to. Rather than sitting wondering how you’ll spend the rest of
your years without your love one, make them count in the most God-honoring ways you
can. It’s great preparation for your own Departure and, in the little while before it comes,
will acclimate you to Heaven’s Climate. Why sit here pining for what was never complete
in the first place and couldn’t be in this physical world? It’s all going to go. But so are
you, and you’ll be up and out of your body without ever tasting death because the Bible
reassures us that “Jesus tasted death once for every Christian believer.”
In the past, I have written reports on trips I had taken, etc., as though they were those
tiring, redundant grade school reports we used to entitle, “How I Spent My Summer
Vacation.” No! From now on I want to tell you how I intend to spend the rest of the time I
have left. Remember, it’s borrowed time. For me, I’m not just on borrowed time since that
pulmonary embolism nearly killed me in February but rather, I’ve been on borrowed time
since I was born again in 1961! How am I going to spend the rest of it?
Well, I had a talk with God about that while sitting alone in the sauna the other night,
about a week ago. It was the beginning of Holy Week, I had just returned from Kansas and
for some reason, no one showed up there. That sauna made a great prayer closet and I
had 40 minutes (don’t worry, the heat was on “low”). I just found a prayer coming out of
me that was one of those, well, maybe you’ve had this kind too. It was what you wanted to
say but had not planned on saying it when you did or in the way it just came out. But
when it came out, you knew it had touched the Heart of God.
I told the Lord that only He knew how much time I have left and therefore, I didn’t want to
waste time any more, and wanted to make every day really count for Him in one way or
another. I also wanted to see every sermon be anointed like it never had been before,
every pastoral conversation one of depth and substance, in short, that nothing would be
wasted. And you know what happened?
Well, for starters, consider the subject of linear time again. As you age, you obviously
have less and less of it. What, so often, is the one thing that so many people facing death
wish for? Time! “If I could have just a little more time!!” At that point, time has greater
value to them than anything and the burden of guilt for frittering so much of it away for
the preceding seven decades must be intolerable!
To show you how things work in the spiritual world, they are quite illogical by the mind
that is based solely in the physical world. You know, things like “the more you give away
the more you have.” That makes no sense in a three-dimensional world. Likewise, in the
physical world, we would see the solution to, say, giving more time to God as, well, taking
it away from our sleep and our recreation, etc. I’m here to tell you that I have been a
Sabbath breaker for years-- I rarely take one. I like to think that I work for God seven days
a week. But wait! No, I’m really working for myself those seven days a week because I get
so into a treadmill existence, that I often forget that the Prize of the High Calling is Jesus
and not my “professional clergy calling.” God is not impressed by my burning myself out.
The passage of time for me has already entailed one of the slowest moving Easter
Weekends I have ever known. It has gone extremely slow, in fact, but has given me a lot of
time to meditate, as well as to nurse a prayer burden the Lord laid on me last night. Time
has slowed down this weekend; normally, the older you get the faster it goes. That’s what
has happened until now since I prayed a week ago.
For the future, my goal of “not wasting any more time and to make every minute count for
Him,” does not mean taking it away from rest and recreation. For me, it means getting
more sleep (after all, that’s to my benefit as He says in Psalms that He gives to His
beloved in sleep) and finally taking a bit more time off -- a Sabbath, something that goes
right back to Exodus chapter 20.
Maybe other people make their new year’s resolutions at New Year’s, but this year, mine
started with Easter. Maybe Christians ought to measure their lives from Easter to Easter,
rather than from one January 1st to another.