Introduction Transition video (scroll down for sermon video)
Introduction Transition video (scroll down for sermon video)
Welcome to Life Gate Church. We are thrilled you are sharing your Easter with us today. We have a tradition at Life Gate we've done on Easter for over thirty years. It's what the early church did as they greeted one another. When they encountered, they would say, "The Lord has risen!" The people welcomed would respond, "The Lord has risen indeed!" So let's do this a few times. Humor me and get into it a little, please.
If you don't know who I am, I am Delbert. I am the founding pastor and was the lead pastor here at Life Gate for thirty years. We retired in 2015, and I get to come back and share from time to time. I currently do most of the media things here, i.e. weekly videos, side screens, your What's Going On bulletins, make sure you have notes, bathroom series banners, etc. I am also the Online Campus Pastor at Northstar Church in Panama City Beach, FL, where Judy and I will move one day.
Are you ready to get into God's word? What I want to talk about today is of course, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but not only the day two-thousand years ago. Let's begin with a few questions. Why did God raise Jesus from the dead? God saved us by the precious blood of Jesus and grace through faith, not by raising Jesus from the dead. So why the resurrection? The main question I want to ponder is why one of the ways Jesus continues to appear is a Lamb as if it had been slain? Do you see Him as a Lamb as if it had been slain?
Some see Jesus as the baby with poverty-stricken parents born in a manger. Some see Jesus as the amazing teacher and healer. Some see Jesus crucified. Some see Jesus buried, resurrected, and even ascended to heaven, but do people see Jesus as a Lamb as if it had been slain?
What is Jesus doing, now that He has been resurrected? What's the Lord been doing for two-thousand years? We find the answers to these questions and many more answers in the Book of The Revelation of Jesus Christ. Jesus has been and is busy in four areas. In chapters 1-3 of Revelation, we see Him busy as the Son of man walking in the midst of His church. He's walking here today. You've felt his presence. He's here with you right now. In Revelation 4-16 we see Him busy as a Lamb as if it had been slain. We'll come back to this in a moment. In Revelation chapters 17-20, we see Him busy as King of kings ruling the nations with a rod of iron. You may think the world is out of control. I assure you it's not. "No matter who holds the office, our God still holds the world." In Revelation chapter 21-22 we see Jesus busy as the husband to the wife of the Lamb, the New Jerusalem His church. He's taking care of her, protecting her, and providing for her. Jesus loves you. He will take care of you and provide for you. These four areas make up The Revelation of Jesus Christ.
What I want to focus on for the remainder of our time is Jesus a Lamb looking as if it had been slain standing in the center of the throne. (context)
Revelation 5:1-14 Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, "Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?" But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I WEPT AND WEPT because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep! See, THE LION of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals." then I saw A LAMB, LOOKING AS IF IT HAD BEEN SLAIN, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne.
Please notice it is not the Lamb slain. It's the Lamb, looking as if it had been slain. The Lamb had seven horns (total fullness of power and authority), seven eyes (fullness of omniscient understanding), which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. This is what you felt today. The Lamb, not the Lion, took the scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals.
One of the issues Jesus has been busy with since the resurrection and ascension is taking the scroll and opening the seven seals. The seals contained the four horsemen on the four horses - white, red, black, and pale. It included the seven trumpets, and the seven vials poured out bringing Him the great victory. Those are things we should all be concerned about, but not today. What I want to draw your attention to is this Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne. Is a Lamb as if it had been slain the way you envision resurrected Jesus in the throne? It must be. It's a major part of the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Let's identify this Lamb. (context)
John 1:29 The next day John SAW JESUS coming toward him and said, "LOOK, THE LAMB OF GOD, who takes away the sin of the world!
The thought of the Lamb goes back to the days of Abraham when it became the sacrifice for Isaac. The Lord Himself provided a sacrifice. The Lamb goes back to the Passover Lamb where its precious blood was placed on the doorposts. When the death angel came, it passed over the households who put the lamb's blood on the doorpost. All the millions of sacrificed lambs found their fulfillment in Jesus, the Lamb of God.
The Lamb looking as if it had been slain is Jesus, but what does this mean? Why was it important Jesus continued to be a Lamb looking as if it had been slain? Why wasn't it the Lion in the throne? If I were God, I would put the Lion in the throne, not a scarred-up Lamb looking as if it had been slain. Why did Father God leave Jesus scarred all over his body with holes in his hands from the nails, a large hole in his side from the spear? Why did Jesus want to keep the scars? If God could raise Jesus from the dead, then God could have done cosmetic surgery. Why didn't he? Why does Jesus desire we see Him as a Lamb looking as if it had been slain?
There is a lion and a lamb in all of us. Which of these do you resurrect to stand in the throne of your life? We all can roar, bite, devour, and hurt. It's good to be strong and roar at times, but it's the lamb looking as if it had been slain part of you that is worthy to open the scroll of your life and bring you great victory.
Jesus told all His followers He was getting up the third day after they crucified Him. They forgot or didn't believe it. Some of us still don't buy it. Jesus revealed Himself to Mary Magdalene. She was upset and weeping (Joh 20:11) thinking someone had stolen the Lord's body. Then Jesus went on a seven-mile walk to Emmaus with two disciples who did not recognize him and were also very upset (Luk 24:13-35). Sometimes Jesus will disguise Himself to us. God doesn't need us to be happy to show up in our lives. Sometimes He reveals Himself best when we're not happy. John was weeping and weeping in the throne room when a Lamb looking as if it had been slain came. Mary was weeping when Jesus said, "Mary." These walking to Emmaus were sad and disappointed when Jesus came to them. Are you sad and upset? Jesus may be about ready to show up.
Luke 24:27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, HE EXPLAINED TO THEM what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
Jesus walked with them seven miles, talked with them, and explained the scriptures to them, but they did not recognize Jesus. It doesn't matter how good a preacher is or how well he knows the scriptures, sometimes he can't show us Jesus. These Jesus walked with invited Jesus in to eat.
Luke 24:30-31 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and BEGAN TO GIVE IT TO THEM. THEN THEIR EYES WERE OPENED AND THEY RECOGNIZED HIM…
Jesus took bread. Though a guest, Jesus took over. Jesus won't barge into your life, but once invited in, he begins to take over. He gave thanks. Jesus has manners. He broke it and gave it to them. It was then they recognized Him. Let's relive this. As he gave them the bread, they would have had to see the holes and scars in his hands where the nails had been. He'd walked with them seven miles. He explained the scriptures about Himself, but it was not until He gave them the bread and they saw the places and scars in his hands their eyes were opened and they recognized him. They saw a Lamb as if it had been slain.
I can walk miles with you. I can explain to you the Word of God and tell you all day long how God loves you and will heal your broken heart, but it is not until you see scars, His and mine, that you will believe. Then your eyes will be opened. Jesus didn't show them the Lion. Until people see a Lamb as if it had been slain in Him and me their eyes are not opened and they will not believe. Scars and places where wounds happened have a tremendous effect on people. Scars tell a story.
Later the same day, the day of the resurrection, we read,
John 20:19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with THE DOORS LOCKED FOR FEAR of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "PEACE BE WITH YOU!"
Fear always locks the doors to our hearts. We attempt to lock others out by locking ourselves in. We can be a disciple, loving the Lord, sitting in church today and have a locked heart. Fear will lock out people and by doing so lock out Jesus, but Jesus will pick the lock of your heart. He wants to show you His scars.
John 20:20 After he said this, HE SHOWED THEM HIS HANDS AND SIDE. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.
What did he show them to prove it was Him and give them peace? His hands and side. He showed them the places His wounds were. He showed them a Lamb as if it had been slain. Jesus was not ashamed of His scars.
As we talk about resurrection today, I wonder where you've been wounded. We've all been wounded. Are you ashamed of your wounds? It's when people see where our wounds were they know we're not an imposter impersonating a Christian. It's when they see a lamb as if it had been slain they know and their eyes are opened.
We attempt to prove God's presence in our lives by how perfect and successful we are - how we are a lion in life. Jesus proved His presence and success with His scars - the places the wounds were. He's a Lamb looking as if he had been slain. Jesus showed off His wounds.
How Jesus handled His wounds told the story more than His words. It's how we handle the holes people and life put in us that show who we really are. It's the spears and stabs telling your real story.
Christianity is not cosmetic surgery so you can hide and cover up your scars and people think you are perfect. Jesus didn't come into your life to do cosmetic surgery. He came to reveal your wounds, turn them into scars, and give you peace. He's a Lamb as if it had been slain.
John 20:24-25 Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "UNLESS I SEE THE NAIL MARKS IN HIS HANDS AND PUT MY FINGER WHERE THE NAILS WERE, AND PUT MY HAND INTO HIS SIDE, I WILL NOT BELIEVE IT."
What did Thomas need to see? Others telling Thomas about Jesus wasn't enough. The places where the wounds were, not the words is what people need to see. Even Jesus told them several times he would get up from the dead. Our words do not speak nearly as loudly as the places our wounds were.
We all have wounds and scars. We all have dysfunctions. You may be wearing long sleeves, but if I rolled your sleeves up, I'd find wounds or scars. (Stephen Furtick)
John 20:26 A WEEK LATER his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!"
Thomas had to wait. Have you ever had to wait for Jesus to show up and prove Himself? Have you ever had to wait for your healing, wait for a financial breakthrough, wait for a phone call, wait for a job, etc.? There's a waiting period with God. Some of you here today are waiting for Jesus to show up. He's about to.
John 20:27-28 Then he said to Thomas, "PUT YOUR FINGER HERE; SEE MY HANDS. REACH OUT YOUR HAND AND PUT IT INTO MY SIDE. Stop doubting and believe." Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!"
Jesus said, "Hi Tommy. I heard you wanted to see my scars." Jesus showed off his scars to Tommy. Jesus let Thomas inspect His scars. I want us to see something. Jesus didn't show Thomas the nails or the spear. He showed Thomas where they had been. Even Jesus came out of his bad situation scared. Bad situations wound us, but there is a difference between wounds and scars. You don't want to go through life wounded. A wound means it's not healed. A wound is bleeding and perhaps infected. You don't want to be a wounded parent or a wounded spouse. We Christians say God's healed us for a bad situation. If God healed us, why are we so touchy? Scars don't hurt. Wounds hurt. They hurt because we have not forgiven. Let's look at this next verse.
Luke 23:34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO.
When someone is crucifying me, I say, Father, they know exactly what they are doing. (Stephen Furtick) It always takes me time to forgive, but while they were doing it, Jesus forgave them. While Jesus was hurting and bleeding, He forgave.
Forgiveness does not remove the scars. It does heal the wound. Forgiveness doesn't mean it didn't happen. Forgiveness is not denial. Forgiveness means the nails are not there now and the spear is not there now. It means the place is not infected. It says what was holding us and piercing us is no longer holding us or piercing us.
Be proud of your scars. Show people the scar of your divorce, but how God has restored you. Show people the scar from when you went bankrupt, but how God has blessed you. Show people where you got a bad report from the doctor, but how God healed you. Show them where you were laid off from work, but how God made a way. Yes, you were abused. Yes, you were mistreated. Yes, you were betrayed. Yes, they lied and talked about you and turned people against you. It happened. Show them where the nails were, and the spear was. Show them the nails didn't hold you and the spear didn't stop you. Show them you are authentic. Show them a lamb as if it had been slain.
Two more thoughts and we will pray for people. Jesus needed those nails. Jesus needed the spear. Jesus needed to be nailed to the cross and be a Lamb led to the slaughter. If the blood had not flowed, our forgiveness would not have come. Jesus kept the scars. As bad as it was we needed those nails and spears in our lives. From it God intended something good to flow. The wounds made us who we are today. God's not going to remove your scars. God wants you to show them off.
My last thought is not only have we all suffered nails and spears, but we've also inflicted nails and spears. Some of us have a pocket or pocket book full of nails and a spear in each hand waiting for the opportunity to use them. We need to empty our pockets and pocketbooks and lay down our spears. We need to forgive so our wounds will heal and become scars with a story.
Who has you nailed to the cross today? What is spearing you today? How many nails are in your pocket? Are you really going to use those spears?