April 26, 2020

Online Worship Service for Easter Three, Sunday April 26, 2020

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Passage: John 5:24-29
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Sermon for Easter Three, Sunday April 26, 2020
Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you. (1 Peter 1:3–4, NIV84)

John 5:24–29 (NKJV)
24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. 25 Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, 27 and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

In the name of Jesus, the Christ,
Whose rising from death secures for us eternal life,
Dear Fellow Redeemed in His Most Precious Blood –

The words of Jesus upon which we meditate this morning were spoken long before Jesus arose from the dead. The Savior was in Jerusalem for one of the religious festivals of the Jews when he came upon a man who lay by the pool of Bethesda. He was lying by the pool because people believed that an angel would stir up the water and the first person who got in after the water was stirred up would be healed.

It was the Sabbath Day and Jesus asked the man if he wanted to be made well (John 5:6). He thought that Jesus was offering to help him get in the water at the appropriate time. Then Jesus simply said to him (John 5:8):
“Rise, take up your bed and walk.”

What would happen if you or I were to tell a paralyzed person to do the same? Well, nothing, we have neither the power nor the authority to overcome paralysis with a word. It would be considered a stunt and the person probably wouldn’t care much for comment.

It’s different when Jesus speaks. When He speaks sickness, nature and even death must listen and obey. So, the man who had been unable to rise for 38 years (John 5:5) got up, picked up his bed and started for home. He had been rescued from the doorstep of death with a handful of words. Hallelujah, right?

The miracle caused a stir…but not like you would think. As the formerly paralyzed man made his way home with bed under his arm, some of the Jews accosted him for working on the Sabbath Day (by carrying his bed).

Eventually, these self-righteous people traced the miracle back to Jesus. They criticized Jesus for ‘working on the Sabbath’ even though the work amounted to speaking seven words. Jesus didn’t apologize, but reached out to them and explained to them that both He and His Father were working and would continue to work to save sinners.

They didn’t listen or believe Him, but persecuted and even sought to kill him (John 5:16). They thought they were enlightened and doing the work of God, but they were spiritually dead.

So, Jesus invited them to listen to Him and told them what they’d get out of it and what was to come. They refused.

On this the 2nd Sunday after Easter, we look at these words with the Resurrection of Jesus as the backdrop. If Jesus had not arisen from death, these words would be empty, would hold no comfort, no beauty, no hope.

BUT…Jesus Lives! So, what does this mean…to each of us, individually, personally? It means that Jesus has authority to give life eternal; that Jesus has delivered us from all judgment, that Jesus enables us to rise and live for Him, and that Jesus will with a word raise all the dead.

Let us pray:
Lord God, Heavenly Father, you remind me in Your Word that your mercy is new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23). You encourage me to rejoice today, for it is the day you have made (Psalm 118:24). When I look on my life in many cases I’ve made a mess of things. If only I could do things over. Instead of focusing on my mistakes and sins, help me to focus on the death and resurrection of Jesus. Remind me that my past is forgiven and my future is in your merciful hands. Help me to live this day with joy in my heart, starting fresh as your redeemed child. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

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“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life.”

In the Gospel of John, in 25 different places, the Holy Spirit records solemn promises made by the Son of God. In each of these cases, the Savior begins by twice repeating the word ‘Amen’, a word of certainty, the certainty of God. The KJV translated: “Verily, Verily.” The NKJV translates the words: “Most Assuredly” which is meant to capture the fact that this is a serious promise from the Son of God to all who will hear, especially His people.

There are two of these promises in these six verses.

In the first, Jesus promises that whoever listens to His Word and by grace trusts the message of the Father who sent him…that person already possesses everlasting life. If Jesus body still lay in the grave of Joseph of Arimathea; if we could visit that tomb like that of so many other human beings, would we take stock in these words? If Jesus had never rose from the dead, then we would question and doubt – like the Jews did – whether He has the authority to make such an audacious promise. Jesus Lives, and only a living Jesus can promise and deliver everlasting life.

Why? He alone has earned it and can give it. He said that He is the way, the truth and the life. Jesus’ Resurrection confirms His Word and all of His Promises have power. The same Jesus who promised that He would rise again the third day…did. The fact that Jesus arose gives the Father’s golden stamp of approval and confirms that we can count on His Promises.

The paralyzed man experienced the power of Jesus’ Word firsthand. Jesus didn’t need to enlist the help of the disciples to carry the man’s limp body down to the water. He simply said: “Get up, take your bed, go home.”

We, by the grace of God, also rely upon His Promises.

Jesus not only promises Eternal Life, but also promises that He has delivered us from all judgment.

…and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

Our consciences when they work…tell us that we have sinned. God’s Word also confirms the conscience when it declares that we have sinned. In the 24th Psalm it asks a question and furnishes the answer and it’s not good (Psalm 24:3-4):

“Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully.

 Do you have clean hands? I’m not asking if you’ve washed them lately. Have you used them for sin? They aren’t clean.
 Do you have a pure heart? Have you never pondered sin in there or made plans to carry it out? It’s not pure.
 Have you ever made something else more important than God? Then you’ve lifted your heart to an idol.
 Have you made a promise to God and not kept it? Do I need to go on?

Can we ascend to the hill of the LORD, that is to say, stand in His presence? Well, not unless we are pardoned.

Now look again at Jesus’ Promise. He doesn’t only promise that those who listen to His Word and believe the message of His rescue will have everlasting life. He also promises us that will not come into judgment; we have been delivered from all Judgment.

Our consciences may question such a promise and ask…

How can that be? We have not measured up to God’s Law, how can we not be condemned by it?

 We have been pardoned by faith in Him. Jesus fully kept God’s Law, and when the Holy Spirit granted us the faith to trust in Him, we were also credited with Jesus’ sinless life. Now God looks at believers and sees Jesus’ perfect life.

What about our sins? Have not our sins earned a debt with God? Must we not pay that debt in punishment?

 Jesus took everyone’s debt of punishment. The Son of God became human to become our substitute; to suffer for our sins; to die to forever satisfy God’s Justice. He was separated from the Father so that we never need to be.

So, when Satan accuses you; when conscience confirms your sins, remember that Jesus death is your death. Jesus’ resurrection is also confirmation that your sins are forgiven and you have been delivered from every threat of judgment. The Word of God comforts our hearts by looking at it from a negative point of view. The Holy Spirit directed the Apostle Paul to declare what would be the case if Jesus had not arisen. Then He assures us that Jesus Lives.

“…if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”

Jesus Lives! You will not come into Judgment…your debt is paid! There is more. We who have been raised to spiritual life are enabled to live for Him until the day we depart this life.

The Living Jesus offers another promise:

25 Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, 27 and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.

When Jesus spoke these words, He was not standing before Lazarus’ tomb or in some other cemetery. He was not speaking to corpses, but before the people who rebuked Him and did not believe that He was equal with the Father. He wasn’t speaking of a future ‘resurrection to life’ but of one that could happen right then and now if they would only listen to the voice of the Son of God.

These words are quite similar to those that follow in the next verse…except that Jesus qualifies the promise with the important words -- ‘and now is.’ The opportunity to be raised from unbelief to spiritual life was being offered to them, then and there with no strings attached. If they would only take in and listen to Jesus, they too would come to believe and rise to spiritual life, being born again. If they did not, they would ultimately have to stand before the Judge, who was standing before them, authorized to carry out judgment and punishment on the Last Day.

Sadly, they did not receive His Word. For the powerful word can be rejected, refused and opposed. We wouldn’t listen either, but the Spirit of God has intervened, opened our ears and overcome our unbelief. But…we didn’t decide for Jesus any more than the paralyzed man helped Jesus to heal him.

By the grace of God, you have heard and the Holy Spirit has enabled you to trust in Him. Now you no longer live for yourselves, but for the one who lived and died for you. It’s not that you are any better than those Jews, it’s rather that Jesus’ powerful word has given you a reason to live for Him.

So, it is written (2 Corinthians 5:14-15):

14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

We wonder how the infirmed man lived the rest of his life. We hope and pray that he lived and died believing in Jesus. For by grace through faith He will be raised with all the dead hearing Jesus’ voice again:

28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

If they were dumb-struck by Jesus’ promises still more amazing things were to come. The Living Jesus, who has the keys of the grave and of death promises that the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come out.

Look at that again…all the dead will hear His voice and come out. There will be one physical resurrection of all the dead on the Last Day. When Scripture speaks (Revelation 20:5-6) of a first and second resurrection, it’s speaking of a spiritual and a physical resurrection. The spiritual resurrection takes place when we are born again. The physical when we are raised, soul and body reunited on the Last Day.

Jesus will raise all from the dead…but the final destination of all won’t be the same.

In Jesus’ first promise in this section, He said that those who hear and believe obtain life everlasting. The deciding factor is faith in Christ, who was sent by the Father. When these rise from death, they will go on to life everlasting. It won’t be because they were ‘good people’ in their own eyes or in the eyes of other human beings. Rather, the God pleasing deeds produced by faith (Hebrews 11:6) will stand as evidence of God given faith.

On the other hand, those who have practiced worthless things; those who have lived for themselves to satisfy sinful desires and have not listened or believed Jesus was sent by the Father to save…will rise to death eternal. They will have earned their place.

 May God grant that we continue to listen to Jesus, believing that He was sent by the Father to save us.
 May He also grant that we not fear death, for we will rise from it following our Savior Jesus, to life everlasting.

Jesus Lives! Hallelujah!
Amen.