November 2, 2014
Stetson Memorial United Methodist Church
Sermon Series: The I Am Statements of Jesus
Sermon 6 of Series:
“I Am the Resurrection”
John 11:17-27 the Message Bible
Let us pray…Pray for the Spirit’s leading and that God’s word would be heard…
Today we celebrate All Saints Day. It is a day that we celebrate those saints among us and those who have gone before us. Now let me give you a little history about All Saint Day. (From: http://www.churchyear.net/allsaints.html)
“It is when the Catholic Church and some Protestant churches commemorate every saint, known and unknown. The concept of All Saints Day is connected to the doctrine of The Communion of Saints. This is the concept that all of God’s people, on heaven, earth, and in the state of purification (called Purgatory in the West), are spiritually connected and united. In other words, Catholic and Orthodox Christians (and some Protestants) believe that the saints of God are just as alive as you and I, and are constantly interceding on our behalf. Remember, our connection with the saints in heaven is one grounded in a tight-knit communion. The saints are not divine, nor omnipresent or omniscient. However, because of our common communion with and through Jesus Christ, our prayers are joined with the heavenly community of Christians.
Remembering and honoring the saints are beneficial practices, because to remember the heroes of the faith and follow their examples are good things. Many Christians seem to strongly oppose remembering and celebrating the lives of great Christian men and women, yet have no problem celebrating the lives of secular heroes like George Washington. All Saints Day is kind of like a Christian Memorial Day or Presidents Day, a day to celebrate the lives of all the great heroes of the Christian faith, and to celebrate the deep communion we have with them. While celebrating secular heroes is admirable, how much more admirable is celebrating those who fully dedicated their lives to Christ!”
Our church knows a lot about the saints. We have had many go before us in the past year and we may have our own questions of what happens after we die. We may be asking if there really is a resurrection of life. We may be asking if there is really anything after life. It has been hard and we may find ourselves losing hope as we have seen one after another go on to glory. But Jesus has given us the answers to our questions. You see He is the Resurrection and the Life.
We have entered into the Season that we begin to journey towards a manger…the Season that we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ. As prepare for the pilgrimage we are looking at the seven “I Am” statements that Jesus made while He walked among us. My prayer is that as we do, we will realize what really happened that day, how that one day changed the tide of sin and death. It’s all about the name and what goes along with that very same name…not just who a person is but also what that name implies.
We have talked about the name I Am and that Jesus, the Great I Am, is always with us even when we don’t feel His presence with us in those times when we feel we are walking in a dark tunnel and not seeing the light at the end. Jesus is The Bread of Life and Jesus fills us spiritually so that we never will hunger again for those Spiritual things that we need for our faith walk. He is “The Light of the World” giving us light for the journey. He is “”The Gate” that keeps us safe in the pasture of His love and grace. Being the perfect gate…Jesus truly is “The Good Shepherd” who shepherds us with His love and peace. Jesus is also the Resurrection and the Life. It is through Him that we rise again and have life eternal.
In the scripture I read this morning, Jesus said the He is “the Resurrection and the Life” but what does that mean to believers? What that means is that through Him we may die but we will have life with Him in paradise…in heaven. Now does that mean we will never die? Certainly not…at least the death we may think…that death that leads to nothingness. It means that though we may die to our earthly bodies, we will live eternal with Him.
The life we now live with Christ is one with promise. The life we live now gives us hope since we have accepted His invitation to new life. When we accept that invitation we die to self, we die to the life we once lived in order to live out that new life in Christ. We know that we WILL have life eternal with Him because we have the hope of His promise. Can you imagine living your life not knowing what the future holds? Can you imagine living life thinking that “this is it…it is all there is…”? We have hope about our death and the life beyond. Not just for us but for all the saints before and after us. Can you imagine losing a loved one and not know that there is a hope in their “afterlife”?
We may have all suffered some kind of death in our life. The loss of a job, the end of a life that we are living, a situation that seems impossible, the list goes on. But…but…we may have also seen new life come from something we thought was dead. I am reminded of a scene in one of the Harry Potter Movies. It is one where Harry is talking to a Phoenix and all of the sudden it burst into flames. Now he is all upset because he thought he did something to cause it. He is happy when he is told that the phoenix must die in order to be reborn. His face lights up as he sees the phoenix begin to rise out of the ashes. What ashes are you sitting in waiting for Jesus to rise you up out of?
In the scripture Jesus does something that gives us hope. Before Jesus here talks about eternal life in John 3:16, “Anyone who believes in Me will not perish but have eternal life”, but here, Jesus provides more detail saying that even though a believer experiences physical death, he will still have life. He is referring to those who die in faith. Here Jesus id confirming that the single qualification…the single thing that has to be done, for eternal life is to believe that His death paid the entire cost for our sins…
Today we celebrate All Saints Sunday…we celebrate those saints that have gone before us as well as the ones we still have. Jesus’ words of hope are perfect for a Sunday like this…I Am the resurrection and the Life…those who believe in me though they die they will have eternal life… May we go forth as the Saints of this world bringing it the hope and joy that it so richly needs. May we bring wholeness and healing to those who are morning their “death situation”. May we rise above the ashes of life into new life. May we have the persistence of the Saints as we usher in a new way of life…one that brings life out of death. May we proclaim the Good News of the Resurrection and the Life…our Risen Lord, Jesus Christ.
Pray about Jesus being the Resurrection and the Life…