Sunday, April 14, 2019
Church of the Faithful Centurion
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 our 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.
Reading this, let us 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. He was God’s only begotten son like John 3:16 says. Consider how precious of a being He is to God, then realize how much He loves us, that He sent His Only Begotten son that we should not perish in hellfire, but spend our eternity with Him and His Son. He let His Son undergo tremendous physical pain, pain that we should rightly have ourselves in this life and in eternity, and paid for all of our transgressions. He humbled himself to a commoner’s death, and not just that of any commoner, but that of a thief. He effectively took our place physically on the cross, physically in the sense we are sinners, and as Paul points out in Romans, the wages for sin is death. Jesus effectively replaced us and took the wages for sin on our behalf so we might have everlasting life.
The Collect calls us to follow the example Jesus set in His actions of His Death and Resurrection, and also calls us to embody His great humility and His great patience, that we might follow the upward narrow path towards heaven and be partakers of His Resurrection. Jesus’s great humility, humbling himself, the being who created this planet, to die for us on the cross, laying down His Life for ours, is an example we must strive to emulate in our own lives, to the best of our abilities.
If we follow His Example and do our best to emulate His humility and patience, we too can be a part of His Resurrection. We will be a part of our own resurrection of sorts. To accomplish this, we have to have our selfish selves die and be replaced with the unselfish self, which we can achieve through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In other words, we need to stop our sinful behavior and replace that behavior with more Godly behavior.
Jesus set the ultimate standard for holding to God’s Will. He is the ultimate example for us. His entire ministry can be seen as actions. He just did not just have nice speeches and messages, He physically lived His Message, which can be seen through His Actions. He expects us to do likewise. It is not good enough to just talking the talk, but we need to be walking the walk. It is one thing to say you are going to do something, it is quite another thing to actually perform those actions. Before you perform any sort of action, take a moment and stop and think about it. Ask if it is what God wants, if it lives up to something Jesus would do? If it isn’t, then don’t do it. If it is, then do it. If we are certain in our beliefs in the Gospel and know the concepts of the Gospel, we will translate that certainty into our actions which will strengthen our faith.
Jesus knew ahead of time where, how and when He would die. He knew with a 100 percent certainty it was going to be a physically and spiritually painful death, 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? And remember His Example, that He knew there would be physically and spiritually painful consequences yet acted anyway. He is the ultimate example for us to follow in perilous situations.
Recall Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem on this day so many years ago. Only Jesus knew of the upcoming crucifixion; everyone else, including Jews, Romans and His followers, thought he was making a triumphant entrance in to the city to take control of things and kick the Roman occupation force out. It was almost a full moon, this was the year of the Messiah according to Daniel. The natural events were lining up as Scripture had predicted which preceded the arrival of the Messiah. 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. When He came in through the King’s Gate, the people were expecting to see their future earthly king. However, they were incorrect, who they were seeing was and is their heavenly king. Jesus had no intentions of establishing a Kingdom of this World. He was looking for followers for the Kingdom of the Next World, of Heaven.
Sunday was a long awaited day for which Jews had waited four centuries. The Messiah had finally come, at the time predicted by scripture. They were under the mistaken perception that He had come to free them from the burdensome and cruel yoke of Roman rule. 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 for the short time of earthly life. This is more precious than any earthly jewel, riches or rainment 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 is we should be by 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 imagined 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. Know the crowd was notaself-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