The The Resurrection of Our Lord: Easter Day

This is the sermon for The Resurrection of Our Lord: Easter Day. The sermon text is Jonah 2:2-9. The sermon theme is: Jesus has delivered us from the death we deserve. Here is the Written Sermon.

"But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you.   What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD.”" (Jonah 2:9 NIV)
“But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD.”” (Jonah 2:9 NIV)

Jesus Delivers Us From The Death We Deserve.

Children are stubborn. Have you ever noticed this fact? Picture in your brains a mom and a dad with a little two or three year old toddler. Oh, but there’s one more member of their family. They have a kitty. And that little toddler loves more than anything to grab the big kitty’s fur and jank on it. And time and time again the mom and dad say, “We pet the kitty. We don’t pull on his fur.” But what happens? That little boy or girl pulls on the fur. And eventually what happens? The cat bites the child on the arm. And then the child first has this look of shock on their little face. Then the tears start, as if the world is unjustly punishing the child for crimes they didn’t commit. Children can be stubborn. But what if it’s not children who are stubborn? What if grown adults are stubborn? What is our response then? In the book of Jonah we meet a stubborn man. The Lord told Jonah to go way up to the Northeast and share God’s word with the Ninevites. But instead, Jonah got on a ship heading the opposite direction. He got on a ship bound for Tarshish. Tarshish is somewhere around Spain. You see, it’s not only children who can be stubborn. Adults can be stubborn too.

Finally then, Jonah’s stubbornness caught up with him. And the Lord had had enough. So the Lord had him thrown overboard, off the boat he was on. And then the Lord provided a large fish-like creature to swallow Jonah up.1 And when he was in that fish or whale, that is where we pick up the words we have before us this morning. In Jonah, chapter two, we read: “From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God.” (Jonah 2:1 NIV)

So, from inside of the big fish Jonah prays to the Lord. Now, anyway you look at this it is a miracle. Things inside of fish and whales tend to die. But the Lord provided this fish in a miraculous way to preserve Jonah. And then, as Jonah is in this fish he tells us what the whole experience was like for him. We read: 3 You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. 4 I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.” (Jonah 2:3-4 NIV)

What we see here in these words is time. Jonah was in the big fish for three days. And he had time to ponder his ways. But he had even more time than that, didn’t he? I remember when I was young and in Sunday School we learned about Jonah and the whale. And I had this picture in my brain that when the sailors threw him overboard it was kind of like fishing. You throw that fly or that bobber over the water and it lands. And shortly after it lands the fish gets it. That was my picture of Jonah. I had this picture that pretty much as soon as he hit the water the fish swallowed him. But that’s not what we read here. There was time involved. The Lord performed another miracle didn’t he? Before the fish swallowed him there was time to sink. Jonah sank so far that all the light vanished. He sank so far that the deep sea currents whirled all around him. But he sank even further still. We read: 5 The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. 6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you brought my life up from the pit, O Lord my God.” (Jonah 2:5-6 NIV)

He sank so far that the seaweed on the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea wrapped around his legs and his head. And finally, he sank so far that he sank into the mud and and finally hit the foundation.

Think of the time it took. Was it minutes? Was it hours for him to drift into the deep? And in all of that time his stubbornness finally caught up with him. And could say to himself, “I deserve this. The Lord gave me a clear command. And in my stubbornness I ran as far and as fast as I possibly could the other way.” And so he came face to face with what he deserved because of his stubborn sin. He deserved the darkness of death. He deserved to have an icy grave where no one could find his body. He deserved to endure the darkness of hell forever because of his stubbornness.

Jonah could say, “This is what I deserve.” But can say the same, can’t we? We too can say “This is what I deserve.” How many clear commands Has your Lord given to you and you have run as far and as fast in the opposite direction? Just walk through the ten commandments and see your stubbornness. God commands us to love him above all else. And so very often we love all else above him. He commands us to honor his name, and instead we use his name to curse. He commands us to read his word and study it with joy in our hearts. Instead we read other books and find our joy in them. He commands us to obey those in authority and respect them. Instead we complain against them. All this stubbornness we see and we haven’t even gotten half way through the commandments.

And this stubbornness has a consequence, doesn’t it? God is angry with our stubbornness. He is angry at all the times he gave us clear commands for our good and we went as far and as fast as we could in the opposite direction. Truly, if died and wen to hell we could say in all honesty, “This is what I deserve.”

But look and learn from Jonah. The Lord didn’t give him what he deserved. Jonah tells us in verse 7: “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple.” (Jonah 2:7 NIV)

Out of love for Jonah, the Lord had him come face to face with his sin-both with how wrong his stubbornness was and where it led to: an icy death and eternal destruction. And through his word the Lord moved him to repent. And with that repentance came remembering. Jonah remembered dozens of promises the Lord gave to him through his word.

The Lord delivered Jonah from what he deserved. And that is exactly what Jesus did for us. We clearly and honestly confess that we deserve a strangled, watery death because of our stubbornness. We deserve enduring destruction in hell because of our rebellion. But Jesus has promised to us forgiveness instead. And how did this forgiveness come about? Jesus tells us: “as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matt 12:40 NIV)

We deserved the icy death and darkness of hell. But Jesus is the one who endured death and hell in our place. And not only did he die. He also came to life again. He rose from the dead. And the fact that Jesus rose from the dead changes our lives. We see this in Jonah, don’t we? In verse 8 we read: “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” (Jonah 2:8 NIV)

As Martin Luther reminds us, idols are those things we cling to when times are bad and where we go to make ourselves feel good. Jonah no longer felt smug and comfortable in his stubbornness. No, he hated it. He realized that it was an idol that threatened to drown out his faith. And the same is true with us. Each of us is stubborn. We so stubbornly put other things and other people above the Lord. We stubbornly use God’s name to curse and do not use his name to pray. We stubbornly find more joy in our habits and hobbies than in word and worship. And when we see that Jesus emerged from the belly of the earth with all our sins forgiven through the power of God’s word we too are changed. We too hate our idols in our hearts and cling to God alone.

But that leaves us with one final question this morning. Who will deliver us from these idols not just today on this glorious resurrection Sunday, but also in the days of darkness ahead? Take to heart what Jonah tells you: “But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord.”” (Jonah 2:9 NIV)

Salvation belongs to the Lord. Think about that fact. This salvation that Jesus won for you on Easter Sunday hundreds of years ago is there for you every day. It is there for you as you remember those waters of baptism where Jesus washed away your sin. It is there in God’s word where, promise after promise, he forgives your sin and strengthens your faith. He is there in his Holy Supper where he gives you the very body that died and is now living for you-to take away your sins.

And with all of this Jesus delivers us from the death we deserve. The stubbornness is forgiven. The punishment of death is paid for. And now, whether we live or die, we have the promise that just as he lives, we too will live. So then, my brothers and sisters in Christ, sing. Just as Jonah sang to the Lord in his holy temple, sing to your risen Christ in heaven. Sing, because Jesus has delivered you from the death you deserved. Amen.

1 מִמְּעֵי הַדָּגָה

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Good Friday

This is the sermon for Good Friday. The sermon text is: Isaiah 53:1-6. The sermon theme is: Who Would Believe This Message? Here is the Written Sermon.

"<4> Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses, and He carried our pains; but we in turn regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. <5> But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds." (Is 53:4–5 HCSB)
“<4> Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses, and He carried our pains; but we in turn regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. <5> But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds.” (Is 53:4–5 HCSB)

Who Would Believe This Message?

Do you believe what you see? If you are ever bored one day, go ahead and do a google search for pictures of Jesus. And what you will find will amaze you. You will find pictures of Jesus showing you that he was a white man. You will find pictures of Jesus showing you that he was a black man. You will find Indian and even Chinese pictures of Jesus. But Jesus, of course, was a Jewish man. And most interesting of all, in almost all of these pictures the Messiah you will see is strong and handsome. If only I could have a beard and look as handsome as Jesus. If only I could lift weights and get as huge as Jesus.

You look at all of these pictures and you end up saying to yourself, “I don’t believe it.” But what if you could find out what Jesus really was like? Then would you believe it? About 800 years before Jesus died on the cross, through the prophet Isaiah, God showed us what Jesus-the real Jesus. In Isaiah 53 we read these words: “Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” (Is 53:1 NIV)

In a very unique and amazing way the Lord tells us that he is going to show us clearly and truthfully this Messiah, this Christ. But even if the Lord showed who Jesus was clearly and truthfully, who would believe it? What did Jesus’ life look like? In verse two we read: “He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” (Is 53:2 NIV)

What was Jesus’ life like? In order to answer that question, Isaiah takes us to the vineyard. Every gardener wants all the nutrients to go straight to the grapes so that they are big and plump and tasty. So when there is a sprout that grows and threatens to take away these nutrients, what does the gardener do? He cuts it off and throws it away.

Notice what Isaiah says here. That’s what we do with Jesus. We are the ones who set Jesus aside and throw him away. And in this verse, notice the reason why this is true. We set him aside because, instead of the manly, muscle-filled and handsome Jesus we find in pictures, Jesus’ appearance was not impressive. And in the next verse we see why it was that his appearance was so unimpressive: “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” (Is 53:3 NIV)

Jesus was rejected by people because he was familiar with sorrows and suffering. Put yourselves in Jesus’ shoes for a moment. Adam and Eve rebelled against God. And now all people are sinful because they are born that way. And because of this sin inside each and every person it leads to death. And so, the sinless Son of God comes to this earth and how his heart was filled with sadness-sadness because of all the sickness, suffering and eventually death that he saw.

And is shouldn’t surprise us that the suffering that agonized his soul overflowed into his life. If you were around Jesus you were around a sad and suffering man. And there is where you have answer to the question we begin with this evening. Why is it that we do not believe what we see in God’s word about Jesus? We do believe this message about Jesus because we don’t want a sad Savior. We want a happy, triumphant Savior. We do not want to see the sad life of Jesus because it might make us sad too. Why do you think it is that there books on the top ten best-selling book list with names like “Your best life now” and “Every day a Friday?” By nature we don’t like to wallow in sadness. But that’s exactly what his life was. It was full of sadness. For he saw all the sin in the world and in our hearts.

And when we see how sad Jesus’ life is, we reject this part of God’s word. We reject this picture and message-despite how true it is. And so, who would believe this message? Who would believe that his life was so filled with sadness? But in the words which follow we find an even more powerful reason to not believe this message from God’s word. Isaiah tells us: “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.” (Is 53:4 NIV)

Who would believe how full of sadness Jesus’ life was. And as Isaiah says here, who would believe how full of suffering his death was? When I was a freshman in high school they made us read this old book by Charles Dickens called, Great Expectations. And in this book there was a boy names Pip. Pip was in love with a girl who was way above him. So he would go out and visit with this girl he loved and be reminded how uneducated and un-wealthy he was. And then where would go next? He would go home. And there, when he sat down to eat was his brother-in-law, Joe. Now, Pip’s parents had died, so Joe took care of Pip. And after going to visit a clean and beautiful girl, Pip would come home to Joe. He would come home to a man whose hands were permanently stained and burned from the work he did as a blacksmith. He would come home to a man whose back was hunched over from the hard labor he did all day. And there we discover the most bitter irony in the whole book. Joe burned his hands in the forge to put food on the table for Pip. Joe’s back was hunched over so that there would be clothes on Pip’s back and a roof over his head. What Pip should have seen as marks of love, he saw as marks of shame and embarrassment.

And my dear friends in Christ, what Joe when through in his work as a blacksmith is nothing compared to what Jesus endured out of love for you. For here we read that he “carried our transgressions.” Be careful and stop when you read these old Latin words. What is a transgression? A transgression is where for our good and for our protection God draws a line in the sand. And we, in our selfishness, step over that line in rebellion. And so the Lord has told us not to lust, but we do. He has told us not to lie, but we do. He has told us not to hate, but we do. He has told us not to harbor envy in our hearts; but we do.

And because of these transgressions there is also iniquity. Again, my brothers and sisters in Christ, pause and ponder when you bump into these old Latin words. What is “iniquity?” Iniquity is a guilty verdict. We have rebelled against our Lord again and again just as Adam and Eve did so long ago. And the bitter irony in our lives is that Jesus endured our guilty verdict and we turn our backs on him. One would think that if someone would lay down his life for another the one still living would remember, respect and rejoice in the one who made that sacrifice. But our sin is shown in our lack of love toward God, our lack of worship of him, our lack of time learning about him in his word.

And so, let us go back to our question once again: Who would believe this message? Who would believe that Jesus is the Christ? We are annoyed by Jesus’ sad life. And we are embarrassed by his suffering death-even though it is the death and punishment we deserved. So what then is the answer to that question: who would believe this message? The answer to that question is: no one. None of us by nature believes what the bible says about Jesus. And we do not believe the truth of God’s word because we are born this way. We are born in sin. And as a result we are annoyed by Jesus’ sad life and embarrassed by his suffering death. And that’s why the words which come next are so important and so beautiful: 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Is 53:5-6 NIV)

In these words we find two amazing miracles. First, Jesus knows the number and the depth of our sins. He knows sick and sinful our hearts are. And his arms and his side are pierced for us. He sees all our rebellions. And yet he is the one who is crushed in hell in our place. And because Jesus paid this price the sins of the entire world are forgiven. That is the first miracle. But the second miracle is just as amazing. Through the very message that we despise Jesus performs a miracle. As it says in the New Testament, “faith comes from hearing the message” (Rom 10:17 NIV). Through this message that you hear preached about Jesus and through God’s word that you read at home Jesus performs a miracle. Through his word we see Jesus as he actually is-not through made up images on google. Through his word he gives us faith to know that because Jesus was punished, I am forgiven. Through God’s word he gives us faith to rejoice that because Jesus died and suffered in hell, I will never suffer in the hell that I deserve.

Who would believe it? What a great amazing joy it is to know that through the price paid on the cross my sins are forgiven and through the gift of God’s word I now believe it. Amen.

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