Passage: John 3:16–3:17, John 20:1–20:18, John 21:15–21:17
Well this is the conclusion of our sermon series on the Bible’s New Testament book of John! For the last month and a half, both campuses of Spirit & Life Church have been in a sermon series studying the major highlights of the New Testament book John.
We’ve seen how the Word of God became flesh in Jesus Christ.
We’ve seen the miracles Jesus worked during his Earthly ministry.
We’ve seen that Jesus is the Great I AM!
We’ve heard Jesus farewell discourse.
And just last week, we witnessed Jesus arrest, trial, and crucifixion.
And now, today, we see the exciting conclusion of John’s firsthand eyewitness account. The Resurrection. And along with it, Jesus’ guarantee of eternal life for those who believe. I would like to thank Pastor Matt & Matt for doing all the heavy lifting of preaching on chapters 1 thru 19 and giving me the “Big Reveal” of chapters 20 and 21.
As Jesus himself taught Nicodemus, and teaches us way back in John chapter 3…
John 3:16-17 (ESV)
There is a reason that this one verse is easily the most recognized in all of Scripture, for it contains the essence of the gospel message, the heart of God is that ALL are loved, ALL are precious in His sight and ALL are worthy of Jesus dying on a cross that we might be saved and granted eternal life with God.
And now, this promise made by Jesus very early on in the Gospel of John now reaches its fulfillment with the Resurrection of Jesus—the firstborn among many brothers and sisters—the first to be raised of all of us who will also be raised with him. Romans chapter 6 verse 5 tells us that “if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” Our promise of resurrection to glorious eternal life is now guaranteed in Jesus’ own resurrection in glory. In John chapter 20…
What scares you? If we made a list of things that scare us, it might include things like:
The future—The unknown—Having to deal with that crazy person at work. But of all the things that scare us, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ in John chapter 20 proves to us that death does not belong on that list. For the Christian, for the one who believes Jesus’ promise of eternal life, death should not be a scary proposition. Because, for the Christian, we know that death is not the end. Death is merely a doorway through which we pass in a moment as we enter into God’s promised heavenly eternal life.
Throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus mentions eternal life forty-seven times! Forty seven times! That’s what I call a major theme. Eternal life is a big idea in John’s writing, because it was such a big part of Jesus’ teaching! And maybe the coolest part is, eternal life is not something we have to wait for. If you have Jesus Christ as your savior, your eternal life starts now! New resurrection life with Jesus Christ is not something on the horizon or over that next hill, but it’s something that we can begin to experience right here, right now, on earth.
In John, we read that Jesus came that we may have life, and have it more abundantly here and now! Not more abundant stuff! But more abundant life! Abundant life is not about what we have. It’s not about what we get. Ultimately, abundant life is about what we receive as a gift from God and to live knowing we are vessels of the blessings of God.
In John, we see Jesus working miracles in real people’s lives, here and now! Jesus is not just the Lord of the dead; he’s the Lord of the living! And by his power, Jesus shows us that disease and pain and the mortality of this life don’t get the final word!
Remember in John 11:25, Jesus says “I am the resurrection and the life! He who lives and believes in me shall never die. Because I live, you shall live also!” Do you REALLY believe this? Not just with your minds but with your lives, with your actions.
If we really believe this, if we honestly take Jesus seriously, this fundamentally changes the way we see life and death. Life AND death! During the last Men’s Emmaus walk I was on, we learned a song called, “Christ in me”. It had a powerful message about how we’re supposed to live if we REALLY believe.
And what, what if I believed in your power and I really lived it, what, what if I believed Christ in me, what if I believed? I would lay my worries down, see these hills as level ground if I believed, Christ in me. Oh I would praise You with my life, let my story lift You high, if I believed, Christ in me.
You see, it fundamentally changes the way we look at life and death. It fundamentally changes how we view growing older and it fundamentally changes the way we will all one day face our own mortality. So…what’s heaven going to be like?
Through the glimpses of Heaven we get in scripture, we see there is no more pain, no more mourning, and no more crying. But it’s not just pearly gates and golden streets! Through Jesus Christ, we can begin to know heaven’s joy here and now! When we love one another, we experience heaven’s joy here and now. When we forgive one another, we experience heaven’s joy here and now. When we forgive and love ourselves and when we allow ourselves to BE LOVED AND TO BE FORGIVEN by God, by others and ourselves, we experience heaven’s joy here and now. Let’s look at John chapter 21 for a glimpse of that kind of forgiveness.
Most look at this section of John as the redemption of Peter, he’s been re-instated after his denial of Jesus three times. Jesus needed to get through to Peter that he was forgiven and was going to play a big part in what came next. He could have asked him, will you truly follow me and not flake out on me again? But he didn’t, he just asked him if his words were going to be followed through by action. And Peter (with the help of the Holy Spirit) proved that to be true.
When we look at life’s temporary, earth-bound problems through an eternal, heavenly perspective, we experience heaven’s joy here and now, as I am sure Peter did even when he was being persecuted for spreading the message of Jesus. Peter didn’t focus on the red part of the rope did he? He was focused on the part that stretched out to eternity.
Think about the last earthly problem that really bothered you. Maybe you walked in here thinking about that problem here and now, today. From an earthly perspective, not having enough money for this or that seems like a big deal and it is. But from a heavenly perspective, what’s money!? Or what’s a few extra pounds really matter in light of eternity? And, looking at all of our earthly issues in the light of Heaven and in the light of life eternal watch how they all fall into perspective.
In the Lord’s Prayer we pray for God’s kingdom to come and for God’s will to be done on Earth as it is in heaven. We pray for God to give us our daily bread. We trust that God will provide in this world and in the next, we don’t stress about the things that we have no control over because we trust that Jesus has gone ahead and prepared a place for us. We know that Jesus is way the truth and the life, he is our rock and our redeemer and he will NEVER EVER forsake us. That is our blessed assurance.
What does it mean for us to think and live and act on Earth as if we were already in Heaven? Adam Hamilton puts it this way: “Every conversation we have, every decision we make, every action we take is an opportunity for God’s kingdom to come on earth as it is in Heaven.” We often say we wish we saw more of Heaven on earth. But what if we were the ones who brought it? What if we lived with such unshakeable joy, such unmovable faith, such unwavering peace that we ourselves, and everyone we came in contact with got a little taste of heaven in every meeting with us? What if we took the promise of resurrection and eternal life so seriously, that we recognized we were already living it?
WHAT IF I BELIEVED IN YOUR POWER AND I REALLY LIVED IT?