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Sunday, March 20, 2016
Sermon - Rev Jack Arnold
Church of the Faithful Centurion - Descanso, California
Today’s sermon brought the Collect, Epistle and Gospel together and is partly contained in the forewords above.
Consider these words from the Collect:
… thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, to take upon him our flesh, and to suffer death upon the cross, that all mankind should follow the example of his great humility; Mercifully grant, that we may both follow the example of his patience, and also be made partakers of his resurrection…
In the Collect, we acknowledge God sent His Son to be our Savior. Think about that, the Creator, Lord and Master of the Universe sent His only Son to live amongst us and not just provide us with instruction and leadership, but to give His earthly life as a one time sacrifice for our sin that we might be accounted as perfect in out final accounting, the resurrection. How much did God value His Son? Consider what Paul tells us - Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Then consider How much God valued His Son and How Much He values us that He sent His Son here to teach us to guide us, to love us, and finally to give His Life for us that we might be free from the bonds of sin and death. Our Father indeed has a terrific amount of love for us. He loved us so much that He sent His Only Begotten Son, that we should not perish, but have everlasting life with Him. Jesus set an example of humility and patience, both rare qualities in us, that are impossible for us to follow without God’s help, hence the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost was sent to us that we might have understanding, comfort, strength, perseverance, courage, inspiration; all things we fall short on. However, these are all qualities, if we accept the Holy Ghost, we can have added to our character. These qualities that the Holy Ghost can breathe into our life, can help us in our path of following our Lord. With Jesus’ sacrifice and the help of the Holy Ghost to follow Him, turning our backs on this world, we can be part of His resurrection. The resurrection itself sets a pattern that we should follow. We must first die, that is to stop our sinning, then rise again, that is to live, with humility and patience like the example Jesus set for us. We must resurrect our lives and transform them into something new. There was a reason why Easter was set in the spring time. Not only was it close to the actual time of His death and rising again, but it came at a time where the flowers bloomed anew, having been dead in winter, as Christ had been dead, and rose again, just as those flowers bloom again. This is very symbolic of His Death and Ressurection and it is no coincidence that Easter happened during this time.
Jesus set the standard of obedience to God’s will and He expects us to follow Him. It is a hard thing to do. We want to be in charge, we want to do what we want! It is hard to do what God wants. We just plain don’t want to do what we need to do, what we must do. It is hard! But, do you think your path is harder than that set forth for Him as laid out in the Gospel for today? No matter who you are, the answer is never going to be yes. For no matter what bad times we go through, it is nothing compared to what He went through. And in the end, the path we must follow will still be easier than if we refuse to follow Him and try and forge our own path. We have to let go of our self centered wants and concentrate on what He wants for us instead. And listen to what He says and to follow it. We will be far happier if we follow his example and lead a righteous and steadfast life, full of grace and humility, as well as patience.
Think about that before you do what you want to do. Is what you want in line with what God wants? Think about the answer. If you let the Holy Ghost in to your heart you will know the answer, you will know what you are supposed to do. You may not like it, but you will know it. Which is more comforting than the World’s way, which seems to go off in every which direction, and they are never certain about anything. However, we can be certain about what we know, what believe and we can translate that certainty into our actions. This certainty is very consistent, just as God and His actions are consistent through the Bible in His Plans for us.
Jesus knew what was coming, how much it would hurt both His Body and Soul as He went through with the crucifixion and subsequent descent in to Hell. Yet, He also knew this was God’s Will that we might live. If He did this for you, how can you not follow Him wherever His Will takes you? If He was willing to do that for all of us, then how can we not repay Him to the best of our ability? His Sacrifice demands that we repay Him to the best of our ability, by the sheer nature of it, his perfection being offered in place of our imperfection.
Recall Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem on this day so many years ago. Only Jesus knew of the upcoming crucifixion, every one else, including Jews, Romans and the Christians, thought he was making a triumphant entrance in to the city to take control of things and kick the Roman occupation force out. The moon was almost full, this was the year of the Messiah according to Daniel. Jesus chose the route into the city, through the King’s Gate. The people saw Him coming and met him at the Mount of Olives. They expected Him to come in and proclaim His rule. And that He did, but not in the way the people were looking for. Those who thought of Him as Lord looked for a Kingdom of this World to be established. Sunday was a day of triumph and fulfilled the anticipation of the Jews of a day for which they had waited four centuries. The Messiah had finally come, at the time predicted by scripture. They were certain that He would free them from the burdensome and cruel yoke of Roman rule. The Jews would finally be on top of the power pyramid. They would rule the world under Him! As the week went on, they found that was not to be. He did not come to rule this world, but to bring us to His World. He came to give them the key to eternal salvation. This is a far more important gift than to have power temporarily and for a short time. This is more precious than any earthly jewel, riches or rainment that one can ever find here on planet Earth. He came to take them from this veil of tears to a state of perfect freedom. They wanted someone to throw the Romans out and all God sent them was the key to eternal life. What a disappointment! But to us, it is not a disappointment.
It is a gift of great joy, the fact that we should be all rights dead and headed for the pit, instead headed to a kingdom of joyfulness and laughter and all pleasant things, and a world that will be far better than our pitiful shadowland here. This is indeed the most valuable of all gifts we will ever receive in our lifetime.
By the way, the Chief Priests, who had so much invested in their 613 laws, likely searched far and wide for the crowd to convict Jesus of the crimes they found against their system. Their system, not God’s. Remember, there are none so blind as those who will not see. They would not see because what was being shown to them was a new way that would interfere with their comfortable way of living. A new way that asked of them, no demanded of them, accountability unto God for their actions. While that crowd was no self-forming group naturally set on condemning Jesus, but a handpicked gang. At the same time, many of those in the crowd who condemned Him the morning of Good Friday were in the crowd that welcomed Him to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. What a difference five days can make.
Make no mistake, we are that crowd. And, like Pilate, no matter what we say, we cannot wash our hands of the responsibility. Thus, we must separate ourselves from the crowd. Separate, that is to make ourselves holy, set aside.
When the time comes, how will you ACT?
It is by our actions we are known.
Be of God - Live of God - Act of God