Jesus uses his encounter with two men on Easter to hold up two voices that battle to control us: The voice of the Enemy – Death, that seeks to pull us down with disappointment, hopelessness, fear, purpose-lost lives – or – Jesus’ voice – Life, that offers to lift us up to lives of joy, hope, purpose, seeking the positive possibilities of each new day!
Jesus shows us the way to choose life, with Easter gifts: The 1st – God’s Word for the daily road of our lives! Like those men on the road to Emmaus that Easter, our hope has and will take a hit, and we are pulled down. Jesus responds with a call to God’s Word, which will lift us up, give us the hope and positive plan forward we need. As Isaiah promises, “Those who receive God’s Word will go out in joy and be led forth in peace!”
This truth was discovered by one of our families who put into practice the Family Life Plan I gave you – reporting that their time with the Bible is now the most looked-forward-to time every day…and “It is uncanny how He gives us just the right word at the right time…”
This is the truth Sallie re-affirmed as her (and my) hopes took a big hit, when her ovarian cancer metastasized to her brain. On the first day of her radiation, a nurse gave her a life-lifting card from Isaiah, and a neighbor left a gift at our door with the same Words, which are now imprinted on Sallie’s heart and taped on the dashboard of her car – “Do not fear, I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand!”
Jesus calls us “Do not be thick-headed and slow-hearted.” Believe that your life and the life of your family depend on God’s Word…and make it part of your every day walk of life.
That will lead you to Jesus’ 2nd Gift: He will give us new lives, if we intve him in! This is the message of the painting of Jesus standing at our door and knocking; there is no handle on the outside, we must invite him in. Unless we do, we will only know the Word; for only he can give us the power, show us the way, to live his Word.
This is the insight I reminded you of from our daughter Shannon and her husband Marc – The Pastor at their wedding instructed them, when they have a problem between them, to each go first to Jesus, then with Jesus and his Word, let the three of them work it out. Their lives and marriage have been blessed as a result. As Shannon said, “We can work through all things, because Marc and I are of one heart…Jesus lives in both of our hearts…”
I concluded with a re-gift of an Easter gift I received. It can only be received by listening to the Message on our website. In short, it is the signature sermon of Tony Campolo, an Easter “preach-off,” in which an old Pastor “did him in,” beginning, “It was Friday, and my Jesus was dead, hanging on a tree, but Sunday’s comin’.” The Pastor worked that line for an hour an a half, concluding at the top of his lungs, “It’s Friday!” – 1000 voices shouted back, “Sunday’s comin’!”
It may be Friday in your life, when disappointment and despair and fear are dragging you down. But the Good News of Easter is that the One who died to take away our sins, was raised up from death to live for us, to proclaim and promise us, that with his Word and with him, it may be Friday today – But Sunday’s comin’!”…which thundered forth from our Family…as we proclaimed that Good News for us and all Jesus puts in the daily walk of our lives.
That is the commitment we made as we re-affirmed our Baptismal vows, renouncing the power of evil, re-committing our lives to Jesus as our Lord and Savior; promising to live as his faithful followers; and encouraging others to believe in him…which we sealed by coming to his Table, receiving his forgiveness of whatever stands in the way of living those promises…and being anointed with a cross of oil, sending us to “Go and serve the Lord!”