Resurrection: Climax of the story
April 8, 2007 Series: Easter
Passage: Luke 24:13–24:27
April 8, 2007
Happy Resurrection, I hope you haven't let the satan-bunny infiltrate your home with his demon eggs. Kidding. Welcome to our church today. We're new, this is our first Easter, and honestly, we don't really know or care what TRADITIONS say we're supposed to do on these serves. I can't help but laugh at how different churches try to get people in their doors. You probably came because you expect a big show...we thought about hiring a popular football player, or some guest speaker, or having a pyro-technics show, or a resurrection re-enactment...but then we decided we'd just talk about our hero-Jesus. If you saw are ad, we tried to warn you. At our church, we don't preach on Christian advice, we don't organize our songs thematically, and we don't get an extra large offering plate for days like today. We preach Jesus. We have one theme for our music, Jesus. And we expect that our bills we will be paid for by Jesus seeing as this whole things was his idea to build anyway. So welcome.
The love of story...why I became an English teacher?
A few more people than normal usually show up on Christmas and Easter. I think that people come on Easter and Christmas because it's like the CLIMAX of a story. It's like putting in a movie just to watch the incredible fight scene or some humorous clip. Or reading ahead in a book to find what happens to the hero of the story...who wins. You really never go the end of the book, it is near the end, but never the end. I can appreciate the CLIMAX of things because I'm usually in a classroom all week as an English Teacher. That's right, I have a real job...
My journey from teaching to preaching is very long and confusing, AND NOT OVER, probably even more so is how I became a teacher at all, an English teacher at that! You see, I hate reading. Well, not any more. But at the time I hated to read. To make it worse, I am the brother with three sisters who love to read-the classics of all things-in addition to the different novels with author's names I can't pronounce! They would sit, still do, and fly through novels like drinking water. NOT ME. The reason I became an English teacher is that there are stories. Everyone likes a good story. I like a good story. I didn't say everyone likes to "read" a good story, because for some of you reading is worse than root canal work. There is nothing like a good story. I can keep the kids entertained with just the mention of a few words from a story... "Let me tell you how I asked my wife to marry me...or let me tell you the sasquatch story....or did I ever tell you how I got this tattoo...do you know why that man looks like that? " We love stories. We want to know what happened...what's the story behind it all.
Stories are how we figure things out
All life is a story. This isn't some new concept. A lot of writers have filled pages talking about the great myths that run through all novels, and movies, etc. I like to keep things simple though. It seems like we watch TV and go to the movies to find someone else's story...perhaps something to help us understand our own. We learn a lot, if not all, of our important lessons through stories, how to be courageous, how to go on a journey, what is true love, etc. etc. If we take these simple stories a bit deeper, we find that they all really address the same questions-: Who are we? Where are we? What is wrong? What is the solution?
The Bible has a story and today is its climax.
What is a climax? It is the highest point of tension in a story. It is the point where the two opposing forces in a story meet head on...and one is defeated. If today is the climax, though, what are the other parts of the story? Today, I will talk about the resurrection of Jesus Christ, how he overcame death and is making all things new. But before I do, I want to zoom out a bit from this day and try and look at the larger picture. I'd like to start right after Jesus in fact rose from the dead and see how his disciples were faring...
That very day ï»¿two of them were going to a village named Emmaus, about seven milesï»¿ from Jerusalem, 14 and they were talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. 16 ï»¿But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, "What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?" And they stood still, looking sad. 18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, "Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?" 19 And he said to them, "What things?" And they said to him, "Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was ï»¿a prophet ï»¿mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and ï»¿how our chief priests and ï»¿rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was ï»¿the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now ï»¿the third day since these things happened. 22 Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. ï»¿They were at the tomb early in the morning, 23 and ï»¿when they did not find his body, they came back saying that ï»¿they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. 24 ï»¿Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see." 25 And he said to them, "O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 ï»¿Was it not necessary that ï»¿the Christ should suffer these things and enter into ï»¿his glory?" 27 And ï»¿beginning with ï»¿Moses and ï»¿all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. 
They missed the bigger story...
These two disciples were sad, confused, and distraught. Even though Jesus told them what would have to happen, even though the entire Old Testament declared what was to come...they didn't like how they thought the story ended. What is most amazing, however, is when Jesus opens their eyes FIRST to recognize him and SECOND, to tell them THE BIG STORY.
We miss the story. The Bible is a story; we have fragmented the Bible into disconnected bits
We make the mistake of breaking up the bible into little bits-moral bits, systematic theology bits, devotional bits, historical bits, narrative bits, and all kinds of other bits. We do this because the Bible is a set of books, not just one book. It may appear like a hodge-podge collection of stories, but if read somewhat carefully and completely-a unity appears.
Even though it contains 66 separate books (39 Old Testament and 27 New Testament),
- written in three languages (Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic),
- over a period of more than a thousand years,
- by over 40 authors (of varying ages and backgrounds),
- on three continents (Asia, Africa and Europe).
Even though its authors include kings, peasants, philosophers, fishermen, poets, statesmen, scholars, etc. Books include history, sermons, letters, a hymnbook, and a love song. There are geographical surveys, architects' specifications travel diaries, population statistics, family trees, inventories, and numerous legal documents.
Even though it covers hundreds of controversial subjects...it has ONE STORY.
So, what is the story? The Bible's story unfolds as many other stories do. There is a SETTING, a NARRATIVE HOOK (A conflict), HEROES, VILLAINS, RISING ACTION, A CLIMAX, and an eventual RESOULTION.
What I would like to do today, is show you how the event of today, The RESURRECTION, fits in this one big story so that you can see what kind of God you are dealing with here. Many of us probably have dismissed much of the Bible as irrelevant, outdate, or just simply confusing. What I want to try and do is line it all up for you so that it makes sense as ONE BIG STORY that explains who God is and who we are, and what this God wants to do with us.
The Setting & the characters (FORMATION/CREATION)
Genesis 1.1, 31
In the ï»¿beginning, God created the heavens and the earth...ï»¿And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
The story begins with a perfect God who creates. This first verse begins the story by answering the question of "Who made the world and everything in it." In a week's time, this God creates everything visible and invisible. He does not create because he has to. He is love, and in a sense he creates to express that fact in action. He doesn't create just a world, he creates a world that is perfect and good, very good.
We are introduced to the main characters....GOD, MAN, and SATAN.
The Narrative Hook (DEFORMATION/CURSE...The problem to be solved)
Then something happens. God's moral law is broken. Mankind, the ones put in charge of all of creation disobey God. This is more than just taking a bit of an apple...if it even was an apple. God said, don't eat from the tree. Man ate.
4 ï»¿But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise,ï»¿ she took of its fruit ï»¿and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, ï»¿and he ate. 7 ï»¿Then the eyes of both were opened, ï»¿and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
Genesis continues and in chapter 3 we see the beginning of the reversal, deformation, and "fall" of what has been created. This is the introduction to the CONFLICT of the story answers the worldview question, "what's the problem?"
Sin effects not just individuals but all of creation, all realms of humanity and nature. The first 11 chapters of Genesis show a fast unraveling of creation. The world was created as a place of complete flourishing and harmony under the rule of God. SIN, led by the villain of villains SATAN, resists God's authority. Relationships with God, other races and classes, individuals and physical nature itself disintegrate where God is not acknowledged King. Sounds similar to our world today....
But in the midst of conflict, at the moment of deformation and destruction of all that was perfect, there is a hint, a promise of a future hero---a plan to FIX IT ALL, a mission to bring all things back under the authority of God.
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel."
The Rising Action (PROMISE of a HERO...one will rise)
But this is just the beginning of the story that GOD WROTE before the foundation of the world. It is a story of God FIXING THE PEOPLE who broke themselves. It is the story of the creator PERSUING the CREATION...it is a story of the JUST GOD DECLARING INNOCENT a GUILTY PEOPLE...and doing it himself. Ultimately, God's story of redemption will ultimately entail the complete healing of creation, including social justice, the reunification of all humanity and the end of physical decay and death.
So God chooses a family from which this HERO will come. Perhaps he choose this family to ensure there was no mistaking WHO the hero was, whatever the reason, we know that it was not because the Hebrews were some superior race. God simply chose by his will.
The rest of Genesis concerns the descendents of Abraham, Issac, Jacob, and Joseph. Although God chooses Abraham and his eventual descendents the nation of Israel, he does so as part of the larger story to reveal himself to the world and bless all people.
Now the Lord said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." [i]
The strangest of people
At this point, the story is quite funny and, for me, quite real and raw. You know what God's plan is. His plan is to save his people. I guess if I was going to save humanity, I would pick some better people. These "patriarchs" are the most dysfunctional bunch of religious folk you could ever meet. They have family issues, sex issues, anger issues, religious issues, just about every issue you could imagine. And ALL OF HUMANITY'S HOPE is in their hands! Sounds quite similar to the fellowship of the ring...it is funny how many stories in our culture reflect the story we are actually living.
Exodus is the story where God the Creator reveals himself as God the Redeemer of the people who bore the promise he gave to Abraham. For generations, the Israelites had been slaves and now God would free them (redeem them) from their bondage and deliver them to a greater place. In fact, this one story is a picture of the bigger story. Do not make the mistake about WHO is the hero of this story. It is not Moses. It is God, the same hero in Genesis all the way through Revelation.
The next books of the Bible, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy are terms of the relationship that God will have with his people. In essence, he tells them that if you do it God's way, then you will receive blessings. If you do it your own, you will experience curses.
As the story continues, prophets rise up and speak for God. Now, although most of them at first glance might appear to be just whiny religious guys who are a bit uptight, their role was in fact to speak for God and REMIND them of the terms of the covenant or agreement that God made with them. And slowly by these prophets to this one culture in the middle east, the creator God reveals more and more of WHO HE IS. OF course, this happens at the speed of the people. It took centuries for him to reveal who he is.
Their national stories reveal more about the RISING action in the GRAND STORY that God wrote before the foundation of the world. When Israel desires a King, God uses the opportunity to further redefine the promise of a future redeemer given to EVE and given later to Abraham. To David he says,
11 from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. 12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, 15 but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.'[iii]
Finally, when the nation of Israel goes into Exile after being conquered by the Babylonians, the prophets prophesied of future restoration that would be fulfilled in the Messiah, the seed promised in Genesis, the offspring of Abraham, the son of David who would reign forever.
Everything points to Jesus:
Every book communicates something to us about the perfect creator and our great imperfections. We learn about how broken we are, and yet see a God who continues to pursue us. A few examples include:
- Ezekiel (37.4): Who envisions people (us) as a valley of dry bones in need of someone (GOD) to breathe his living word in us again.
- Daniel: a story of a young man who enters into a godless evil culture and in the midst of it remains faithful.
- Hosea: Where the prophet Hosea, a spokesperson and representative of God goes and purchases his wife...a prostitute.
The list goes on and on...all pointing to one person. So, today, we don't celebrate an event, we celebrate the CLIMAX of the story that started at the dawn of time. Today, we celebrate the victory of our hero in the story which still continues today.
The Climax - ENTER HERO (REFORMATION)
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,[iv]
On Christmas, our Hero enters the world in the strangest of ways.
Like any hero, he enters with the deck stacked against him. Son of an unmarried virgin 16 year-old Mom, lower class family, born in a animal food trough, hunted by a king...it's foolish. But isn't that how the best stories go?
On, Easter, our Hero declares victory and takes his rightful place as king.
Then, after 33 years, which include 30 years of "normal living" and 3 years of miraculous signs, in ONE WEEK'S TIME, we see the greatest and fastest fall from glory until N-Sync or the dot-com era. But on that cross, and on this Sunday, we see the Kingdom of God has returned, and so begins the renewal of all creation by the re-entry of God's ruling power through Christ's death and resurrection. Hearts, relationships, communities, and practices are healed and rewoven with one another to the degree that they come under the authority of Jesus, through his Word and Spirit.
The Gospels all declare the good news differently...but still all the same news
- Matthew - written to Jews: The book of Matthew links Jesus with the promises of the past and proves he is the promises messiah. The book starts with a "genealogy of Jesus" going back to Abraham and David. The word for genealogy, when traced back to its greek then Hebrew origins, finds it as a term meaning "continuing history".
This is the climax of the one story. This is where the hero is victorious and things change. This was the planned before the foundation of the world.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.[v]
The Fall Action & the Resolution (RESTORATION)
The Bible tells us the kingdom has arrived and a new king reigns. He has declared his authority and Lordship over all things and slowly, through individuals and communities, he is finding ways to redeem this world back to its intended glory. We are sent to proclaim and live this...
0 When he had said this, ï»¿he showed them his hands and his side. Then ï»¿the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As ï»¿the Father has sent me, ï»¿even so I am sending you.[vi]
In Acts & later in Paul's Writings:
The church is now the elected people. They are to reveal God to the world what God has revealed about himself to them. The inclusion of all peoples, Jews and Gentiles (non jews) is a culmination, a mystery revealed in this last chapter of God's Big story.
The People of God are like a preview to a movie. A movie trailer gives actual footage of the movie that is coming in the future so that people will want to watch it. The people of God are kingdom preview. Now, we all know that sometimes previews can really sell us a bill of goods. Like some kind of Will Farrel movie where every funny part is given away in the trailer. Then, when you go to watch it, the movie is only funny in those parts and the rest is disappointing.
Sometimes the movie trailer is just wrong. People look at Christians and can't believe the horror film that they see. It looks nothing people of God's kingdom, but more like some slasher movie where the Christian runs around with a hockey mask on killing all the sinners he can find.
Revelation: This book completes the big story of God by showing the final triumph of God over the evil in the world, but also gives us glimpses of the fully restored kingdom to come which includes a JESUS all TATTED up to come back and kick some toy for the kingdom. This time, he is not some marginalized peasant coming to die...He is a king coming to kill for his bride. The Seventh day of creation has returned to God and God fellowships with his redeemed people again.
This is our story...CREATION, FALL, REFORMATION in JESUS, and Final RESTORATION in heaven.
There are a lot of stories that try and answer the Who are we? Where are we? What is wrong? What is the solution? and I don't feel compelled to try and sell you on this one because it probably sounds somewhat foolish to you. But I'll tell you, I've read a lot of stories, and none of them can answer those questions with any sense of satisfaction except this one. And none of them have a hero like Jesus...
- only ONE story starts with a loving and personal God
- only ONE story helps me understand why things are broken
- only ONE story has a God who says...I will fix what you broke-I'll send a HERO
- only ONE story has its HERO dying for me
- only ONE story with a HERO whose grave location we can't agree on...because
- only ONE story has a HERO who defeats death because in him is life
The question is not whether the whole of our lives WILL BE shaped by some grand story. The only question is which grand story WILL SHAPE our lives.