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Apr 08, 2018

EPIC #8 - Christ's death and Resurrection

Passage: Philippians 2:1-11

Preacher: John Huizinga

Series: The Grand Story of God

Category: EPIC

Keywords: death, empty self, loss, paul, philippians 2, resurrection

Summary:

The Grand Story of God Part 8 – Jesus’ Death and Resurrection: John Kass tells a story about his mom’s rescue when the Chicago riots started on news of Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination: The day after King was assassinated, just as the riots were beginning, my mom was out on Madison, west of the Loop, at a lawyer’s office when the lawyer cut the meeting short: You’ve got to go, he said. Office workers were spilling out of the buildings, West Side blacks had begun to break windows, police sirens were screaming. And there was my mom, with her purse and white gloves, a white lady on the corner alone, not knowing what to do. “Lady, get in the cab!” shouted a cabdriver. She was in and he was rolling before she realized he was black. He told her to lie down, then drove around barricades and the gathering mobs, and took her to Gage Park, where whites were manning the viaducts to defend their neighborhoods. Civility can snap so quickly, de-escalate into barbarism. And it can also be restored by acts of kindness, like the cabdriver putting himself at risk to take my mom into a neighborhood where he was in danger. The cab driver’s courage and grace illustrate what faith in God is and is supposed to be. Because Jesus is God come in the flesh, he did not use his power and status to his own advantage, but took the form of a servant and gave himself to rescue those broken in sin. Just as we experience the living Lord present in our deaths, spiritual, material and physical, so when we choose to bless others, risking our presence with them in their deaths, the resurrection of Christ blesses with a newness not of our own making. Philippians 2 gives us the pattern of real faith: In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow . . .

Detail:

Did you read about or watch

any of the ceremony surrounding

the 50th anniversary of the assassination

of Martin Luther King Jr?

I hope you had an opportunity

to reflect on this occasion.

This recollection stuck with me:

"Dr. King used to say that

unearned suffering is always redemptive.”

"He said, ‘You don't have anything to say about

when you die, where you die, how you die.

The only thing you can say is

what is it you give your life for.

And you have to give your life

for something every day

so that when you die,

people will know that you were living for others

and you were living out God's plan.'"

 

We’ve been journeying thru that plan this year in

the grand story of God.

Creation-Fall-Redemption-Restoration.

That’s the grand story of God.

The story of God started with creation –

life is a gift from God.

Then human beings broke that gift by willful sin.

But God delivered his people

by covenant promise and exodus.

Then God gave Israel new life

as kingdom witness and justice bearers.

But Israel disobeyed and was taken into exile,

yet God rescued his people again.

And now that reality is made our reality

in the life and death and resurrection of Jesus.

Jesus fulfills the grand story of God.

The invitation from God

is to find yourself in God’s story.

There is a place for you in these final chapters of redemption and restoration right now.

And we find our place every day

in what we give our lives for,

living in the newness of God,

for his purposes and plan.

 

Philippians 2:1-11 outlines

how to live out this story of God.

Jesus lived out this story,

by faith we follow Jesus,

even in his death and resurrection.

Here’s an example of what that can look like:

John Kass: tells about a scary incident in 1968,

right after the news of Martin Luther King Jrs assassination,

and this story from a day in his mom’s life

illustrates living out God’s grand story:

The day after King was assassinated,

just as the riots were beginning,

my mom was out on Madison, west of the Loop,

at a lawyer’s office

when the lawyer cut the meeting short:

You’ve got to go, he said.

Office workers were spilling out of the buildings, West Side blacks had begun to break windows,

police sirens were screaming.

And there was my mom,

with her purse and white gloves,

a white lady on the corner alone,

not knowing what to do.

“Lady, get in the cab!” shouted a cabdriver.

She was in and he was rolling

before she realized he was black.

He told her to lie down,

then drove around barricades

and the gathering mobs,

and took her to Gage Park,

where whites were manning the viaducts

to defend their neighborhoods.

Civility can snap so quickly,

de-escalate into barbarism.

And it can also be restored by acts of kindness,

like the cabdriver putting himself at risk

to take my mom into a neighborhood

where he was in danger.

 

How does this reflect Philippians 2

and the death and resurrection of Jesus?

Let’s get the context,

and then apply the truth.

 

This gracious serving that

shares in death in order to bring life

is what happened when

Jesus met Paul on the road to Damascus.

 

You may not remember the Apostle Paul’s story.

He was a Pharisee, opposed to Jesus,

and actively seeking to arrest,

punish and even kill Christians.

While on the way to Damascus

to arrest Christians there,

he was met by the risen and living Jesus.

Now, here was a man wanting to live a righteous life.

Dedicated to God in all he did,

he was zealous to guard God’s name.

But when the living God meets him on the road

he cries out in fear:

who are you, Lord?

He didn’t know God even tho he thought

he lived to do what God wanted!

When your religious acts are just for your benefit

you don’t really know the Lord.

You can imagine this changed him forever.

And what changed him was meeting Jesus

in his death and resurrection.

He knew Jesus had died – had been crucified.

A criminal’s sentence.

A sinner’s death.

No way in Paul’s mind this could be the Messiah,

that this could be God.

But then, Jesus meets him on the road –

Paul’s road, Paul’s way;

how he thought he lived the righteous life.

But he wasn’t being righteous;

he was being religious,

and there’s a difference.

Now he knew he was dead wrong.

Jesus was alive.

Risen from the dead.

And Paul was dead.

The old ways of Paul’s life was a dead-end.

The death and resurrection of Jesus

in which God graciously redeemed Israel’s story,

now became Paul’s story,

Paul’s way of life.

 

The Philippians 2 words describe this reality:

not only what God did in Jesus,

but now how we meet God,

how we live out faith in God,

and how that is the purpose of our grateful living.

 

I’m going to give you the pattern of faith,

then I want to show how Paul got there,

and then I’m going to apply it,

giving you some suggestions

so that you can make it your own response

of thanksgiving for the glory of God.

 

Look at Philippians 2:6-8

6 Who, being in very nature God,

    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

7 rather, he made himself nothing

    by taking the very nature of a servant,

    being made in human likeness.

8 And being found in appearance as a man,

    he humbled himself

    by becoming obedient to death—

        even death on a cross!

 

Andrew Root describes it this way:

although (x) not (y) but (z).

Though Jesus is God

he doesn’t use his power to his advantage

but instead becomes one of us

in order to die for our salvation.

 

You can even argue that the formula is:

because Jesus is God

he doesn’t distance himself from sin and brokenness

but sacrifices himself for us.

 

How did Paul understand this?

Well, that was his story.

After meeting the risen Lord Jesus,

he heard what Jesus said to him,

why do you persecute me?

But Jesus didn’t destroy him,

he found him in his violent lostness,

and turned his life around in grace.

Paul should’ve been judged and condemned,

but instead he received mercy and salvation.

 

Jesus did this through one of his believers,

one of his followers, Ananias.

If you remember the story in Acts 9

after Paul’s encounter with Jesus,

he winds up blind in a strange house

on Straight Street in Damascus.

While this has happened,

the Lord visits Ananias with a word

and says go to Paul.

Ananias objects,

Lord, this man is coming here to arrest and kill us.

No, says Jesus, I’ve chosen him,

he will serve the gospel,

I will show him how much he must suffer for me.

So Ananias goes, tho afraid,

and in one of the most understated verses

in the Bible,

Ananias comes to Paul,

and lays a trembling hand on him,

and says the healing word, Brother . . .

an enemy has become a brother.

By the power and grace of the risen Christ Jesus.

Ananias reflects this Philippians 2 reality:

Although Ananias is free to protect himself

and live to secure his life,

instead of acting for himself first,

he responds to the invitation of Jesus

to enter into Paul’s experience of death

and minister to Paul Christ’s grace and blessing.

Although he is afraid of Paul

and wants nothing to do with him,

he doesn’t refuse the call to help him in his loss,

and instead share sin Paul’s loss

with the restoring presence of Jesus.

 

Do you see this pattern?

 

We could say it this way:

Because Ananias is saved by Jesus

he doesn’t live for himself

but to serve others with the gospel

even by risking himself

to share in another’s death or suffering.

That’s the exercise of faith in Jesus as Lord.

 

And notice this man Ananias is not an apostle,

he isn’t one of the pastors Paul mentors

like Timothy or Titus,

he’s just your garden-variety Christian.

He follows this pattern of redemption set by Christ.

 

Getting the pattern in your mind?

I know being a believer in Jesus is hard.

I know we not only fail at it all the time,

we also doubt as quickly as Peter or Thomas.

I know it’s especially difficult

for our young people and young adults today

because of all the prejudice against Christians,

because of some great failing

by those who claim Christ as their Lord,

and because of the pressures of

the material and technological world.

So how do I endure and mature

through my own doubts, fears and failings?

 

We’ve said this grand story of God is our story.

Our Heavenly Father does not let us go,

and Jesus promises to be with us always,

even in our greatest failings,

addressing us like Paul even in our greatest pride.

And we’ve been asking along the way

what’s my story?

 

Just as the death and resurrection of Jesus

fulfill the grand story of God,

all of Israel’s life and death,

and the journey from death into new life,

all of it,

carried by Jesus to the cross,

and all victory given through his resurrection . . .

that’s the story of God’s people.

Now that same journey is our story,

and the way for us to know it’s reality

is in this same disciplined pattern:

although and because Jesus died and rose again

not this

but that,

not self first,

not fear first,

but bless and serve first,

share in another’s pain, or loss

and this is the journey to new life.

This is living by faith alone in the Son of God.

 

OK, to understand this

we need to do a little Bible study

for a moment together.

If you know a little about the book of Romans,

you know that one thing Paul accents

has to do with Abraham,

and righteousness.

How is it that we are declared righteous

in God’s sight?

That we are forgiven and set right,

that our lives are rightly ordered,

that we live the right way?

 

Paul says in Romans 4 –

What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3 What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

 

Paul is saying,

we tend to believe that for me to be a good person

it’s up to me to order my life the right way.

And I am declared righteous by God

by what I do and don’t do.

But we know there are problems with this:

namely, how do you know if you ever do enough?

And how can any good you do from now on

make up for what you did before?

And then, who decides what is good?

 

But thru Paul’s experience he’s come to know

that our goodness, our being made right,

happens not by what we do, by what Jesus did,

and sharing in this by faith.

Faith that serves as Jesus did in life’s losses.

So Paul says look at Abraham:

“Abraham believed God,

and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

 

By faith alone in Jesus.

Long time Christians and Bible study veterans,

you know this.

But did you know

that there is another person in the Bible

to whom it is said

it was credited to him as righteousness?

If you were paying attention a little earlier in worship

you encountered him,

In Psalm 106 we read:

30 But Phinehas stood up and intervened,

    and the plague was checked.

31 This was credited to him as righteousness

    for endless generations to come.

 

Who is Phinehas?

His story is in Numbers 25 –

Phinehas is a priest in the line of Aaron.

At a time of great disobedience in Israel

he acted with severe righteousness:

let me summarize that story -

Israel is sinning.

Moses calls a meeting to say stop it.

Right in the middle of the meeting

an Israelite man does the very thing

that has caused the Lord’s anger.

Phinehas sees this,

excuses himself,

grabs a spear,

and goes into this Israelite man’s tent,

and kills both the man and the woman.

 

Psalm 106 says:

this was credited to Phinehas as righteousness.

Same phrase is applied to Abraham.

Paul was following the way of Phinehas

when Jesus stopped him on the road to Damascus

to say, no Paul,

I have fulfilled all righteousness,

it is not the way of Phinehas but the way of Christ,

promised long ago to Abraham.

It is not for you to make yourself

into one like Phinehas,

you are to follow Jesus:

who died for you,

who carried the cross and commanded

deny yourself and take up your cross

and follow me.

 

Paul was on the road with spear in hand,

we could say,

in order to be proved righteous.

But meeting the risen Lord,

being ministered to by Ananias,

hearing from Jesus

the call to suffer for Christ’s name,

revealed to him that righteousness comes by faith.

Faith that follows this pattern in life,

journeying from life to death to new life.

 

When I share in the death of another –

not just physical,

but any suffering or sacrifice or dead end

or failing or trouble,

when instead of hiding or securing myself

or judging another,

I share in your loss for Jesus’s sake,

then Christ is there to bring a newness

not of our own making.

 

Too often today

we still choose the way of Phinehas.

I’ll show you what’s right.

I’ll show you who is right.

I’ll judge what is right.

I saw this Facebook post this week:

can you defend the resurrection?

Notice the language.

I don’t think the Holy Spirit

who is Lord over all hearts and minds

and can take captive every thought for God

needs us to defend the resurrection.

But he does require us to LIVE IT OUT!

 

So the Spirit gives us

this pattern of discipleship instead:

although or because of

not that

but now this.

That’s the daily journey from death, from loss,

through grace, an undeserved response of

mercy or kindness,

to new life in Christ.

That’s faith in Jesus.

 

Jesus is God

but he didn’t destroy us in our rebellion

and unholy living

instead he became one of us

to minister to us through his death

and bless us with his sacrifice.

 

Get it?

Ready to try it this week?

here are some suggestions:

Paul gives some throughout the epistles:

1 Thessalonians 2 –

even though as apostles of Christ

we could have asserted our authority

Instead, we were like young children among you.

Just as a nursing mother cares for her children,

so we cared for you.

And to Philemon:

although in Christ I could be bold

and order you to do what you ought to do,  

yet I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love.

So tho you are in your rights

to punish your slave Onesimus

I ask you to give up that right in the name of Jesus

and welcome him as a brother in Christ

and a co-worker in his kingdom.

 

And right here in Philippians 2:

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

So blessed by the grace and resurrection of Jesus,

don’t act selfishly,

instead look to the interests of others.

 

How about us?

Here’s some examples:

Altho you’re busy with so many commitments and don’t have time for your co-worker,

you decide to put aside your own agenda,

to minister to her with time and a listening ear.

Altho your spouse has been rude

and disrespectful to you,

instead of reacting to your feelings and emotions,

you see your spouse in the promise you made

and show respect

without looking for anything in return.

Altho you are concerned about your financial needs, you hear of a neighbor in great need,

hearing her story of loss,

you prayerfully put aside your own fear,

and offer some financial help to bless her in her loss.

Altho you think all the reporting about

Martin Luther King Jr’s assassination remembrance

is just media hype,

because you remember that Jesus died

for the sin of the world,

and each person is made in his image,

you confess your lack of empathy and compassion, and decide you will learn more about

the sin of racism in our country,

maybe by reading a book,

or by daring to ask a person of color you know

about their perspective.

Tho we live in a culture

that separates sex from love and marriage,

and you can do whatever you want sexually today

in the name of freedom,

instead you trust in the wisdom of God,

and remember your body is a temple

of the Holy Spirit,

and so prefer to be obedient to God’s commands

to keep the marriage bed pure

and refrain from sexual immorality.

Tho you know you are way to obsessed with alcohol, or drugs, or gambling, or pornography,

and you think you can hide your addiction,

even tho you risk being embarrassed to say so,

you join an aa group,

or seek help to battle your addiction.

 

In each situation there is some loss,

but faith believes Jesus is present with us

in those losses,

so when we join another in her or his loss,

to serve or help in Jesus’ name,

Christ is there in his resurrecting power

bringing something new:

a new grace,

a new deliverance,

a new rescue,

a new hope,

a new healing,

a new situation . . .

not of our own making,

but God’s power to save.

 

See, getting some ideas?

When we decide out of gratitude to God

to take the posture of ministering, serving,

showing mercy or kindness,

because of what Jesus did for us,

in order to give thanks to him,

that is where faith grows, matures,

and witnesses to saving grace.

 

Why don’r we do this naturally?

Because we have been convinced

to have as little as possible to do with loss.

To put others ahead of ourselves

is a loser’s life.

But the cross assures us

that’s where we’ll experience the true God

who loves us so much he gave himself for us.

For Jesus was vindicated by the Father

for his obedience to death on the cross.

And his name,

his life,

his presence

is above all others in love, mercy, truth and power.

We don’t have control over our daily deaths

or losses,

but we do have control over what we give

our lives for.

The way of Christ was vindicated

as the way to true living.

 

Jesus died and rose again,

made in his image Jesus meets us in our deaths, spiritual, material and otherwise,

to bring resurrection,

and we give him glory,

by serving others in his great name.