Pastor's Pastor

Pastor's Pastor: Living as Jesus died- Easter sermon seeds

Pastor's Pastor: Living as Jesus died- Easter sermon seeds

All went well until he drew the scalpel across the patient's soft skin and it parted like the Red Sea*

Floyd Bresee is the Secretary of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

Jesus' death shows us how to live:

1. He died forgiving. As the cross bearing our Lord dropped with a thud into its black hole, Jesus mounted His last pulpit. "And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him. ... Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:33, 34).

We all tend to have forgiveness problems. We have trouble forgiving those who abuse us and so have trouble believing that Jesus really forgives us when we abuse Him. Thus we have a double forgiveness problem—trouble forgiving and trouble accepting forgiveness.

The first thing Jesus did on the cross was to forgive. We're not going to get anywhere in our Christian experience until we first learn to forgive and accept forgiveness. And if Jesus was able to forgive those who nailed Him to the cross—if He did it even before they asked to be forgiven—then surely I can believe that when I come seeking forgiveness He'll forgive what I've done to Him.

2. He died proving the seriousness of sin. Working as a hospital orderly during my college years, I was pleased when one of the doctors invited me into surgery to do some insignificant task assisting him in an operation. All went well until he drew the scalpel across the patient's soft skin and it parted like the Red Sea. The gushing blood made me turn away for a moment. But the doctor didn't! Years before, his first sight of surgery had probably upset him a bit too, but now he had become so accustomed to it that he wasn't bothered in the least.

Sin can be like that. The first time you committed that sin, you were so conscience-stricken you immediately turned away. Next time, it didn't seem quite so sinful. Now it hardly seems serious at all.

Jesus' words from the cross remind us how sinful sin is. "And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matt. 27:46).

Sin had come between the Father and the Son. And Jesus' dilemma was so much worse than ours. When sin comes between us and Christ, we can confess it and be one again. But Jesus couldn't con fess the sins He bore, for they weren't even His sins.

What killed Christ? Not the cross—it took days to die from crucifixion. Not the spear—He was already dead. The thing that killed Him was the agony of separation from God caused by sin. If separation killed Christ, how foolish of us to think we're really living while separated from God.

3. He died thoughtful of His loved ones. How long has it been since you phoned or wrote your mother?

Jesus' death reminds us to be thoughtful of our loved ones. "When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home!" (John 19:26, 27).

We excuse our thoughtlessness by saying we're just too busy to take the time to be kind. Surely none of us has ever been as busy as Jesus dying on the cross—yet He took time to think of His mother and His disciple.

Turning to Mary, He said, "Woman." Now, that doesn't sound too tender but it was. If He had called her "Mother," the mob would have taunted, "Well, Mother, where's Father? Hail, Queen Mother!" Jesus was too thoughtful to let that happen. The great Giver gave His mother a new son, and He gave John an ongoing reminder of Jesus' confidence in him.

4. He died having finished what He started. We all start a lot more things than we finish. We begin the new year resolving to read our Bibles through, but give up halfway through the "begats." We make overwhelming promises at the wedding altar, then let our home relationships deteriorate into bickering and battling.

Jesus was different. The Crucifixion story climaxes, "When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost" (John 19:30).

Some of us have changed sides more often than a windshield wiper. When we're with the religious, we're religious. When we're with the worldly, we're worldly. Like Peter, we confess Jesus, then deny Him before the next sun rises. Don't give up. What Jesus started at Calvary, He finished. What He has started in you, He plans to finish too.

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Floyd Bresee is the Secretary of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

March 1989

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