Easter Thoughts

This morning our church, Morningview Baptist Church, celebrated our 60th anniversary as a congregation. As part of our celebration, we had that mainstay of Baptist life, the old fashioned dinner on the grounds. Actually it was more dinner in the fellowship hall since it was raining torrentially all morning. But more importantly than that, we had our former pastor, Dr. Greg Belser, back in the pulpit for the first time in four years. What a blessing!!! I even told him that about the only thing that could have made that better would have been to have a nice warm chihuahua in my lap during the sermon. He smiled at me and said he had never received that particular compliment before and hoped to never again.

I won’t rehash his message word for word, but one of the things he urged us to do was to meditate on the sufferings of Christ during this week coming up. If we have been in a biblical church for any length of time, we know the story well. That He shared a meal with his disciples, went into the garden to pray, was betrayed by Judas, tried, scourged, crucified, died, and was resurrected on the third day. We know the story so well, that I think it is easy to overlook it much the same way we really no longer see a beautiful picture that hangs on the walls in out home, although it is there in plain view.

I want to point us to Paul’s writings in his letter to the Phillipians (chapter 2:5-11). In one of my favorite and one of the most beautiful passages in New Testament scripture, Paul presents us with this magnificient section of scripture:

(v5)Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,  (v6)who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, (v7) but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, {and} being made in the likeness of men. (v8) Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (v9)for this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, (v10)so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, (v11)and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Now one of the applications for this passage is a call for us to have extreme humility. I hope we don’t miss that when we read through this section of scripture, but even more importantly it describes the theological concept of kenosis. Now I’m hesitant to wade these waters and try to define  kenosis. I’ll be the first to admit that I do not fully understand it. It’s one of those mysteries that will be revealed in glory. But I do think it is safe to say that Christ did not shed any aspect of his deity, but concealed his glory. Remember that God tells Moses that no one can see his face and live. Jesus Christ left the glory that was His in heaven with the Father and came to earth, born as an infant, fully man, yet still fully God (Hypostatic Union). He lived a sinless life in perfect obedience to the will of the Father, and went Calvary in perfection submission.

How much did He give up? Well let’s look at another magnificient passage from Paul’s writing (Colossians 1:15-20). In his letter to the Colossian church, the apostle gives us one of the clearest pictures of the nature of Christ:

(v15)He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. (v16)For by Him all things were created, {both} in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created through Him and for Him.  (v17)He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.  (v18)He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.  (v19)For it was the {Father’s} good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him,  (v20)and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, {I say,} whether things on earth or things in heaven.

Now I hope you didn’t skip over reading this passage. If you did shame on you, go back and read it now. Meditate on the words that Paul wrote. If it doesn’t just fill you with awe and make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, then something is wrong. Read verse 16 again. All things have been created through Him and for Him.  Think about the vastness of the earth and the infinity of space and all the wonders of the universe. Think about the complexity of the human body and how perfectly the earth’s biosystem fits together. All things have been created through Him and for Him. Get the picture now? Get the idea just how much He humbled himself? Remember the words from Phillipians: taking the form of a bond-servant, {and} being made in the likeness of men. (v8) Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Can you see just how much he had to humble himself?

The Apostle John recorded these words in chapter 17 of his gospel:

(v1)Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, (v2)even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. (v3)This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.  (v4)I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do. (v5)Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.

Now there is so much rich truth in this section of the high priestly prayer, that I couldn’t possibly exhaust it in something like a short blog post. But there are several obvious things I don’t thing we want to overlook:

  1. The glory of the Son glorifies the Father.
  2. Eternal life is not just having our problems taken away and living in heaven forever and ever. It is that, but eternal life is intimacy with God himself.
  3. Christ has authority over all people.
  4. The chief reason for sending the Son was for God’s own glory.

Now some of you are screaming after having read point 4: “For God so loved the world……” and I say amen. amen, amen. But we exist for God’s glory, not He for our glory. To demonstrate his matchless love, He sent His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him will have everlasting life. To demonstrate His perfect love He sent His beloved Son and ordained that He would suffer like no man before or since. He took our sins upon himself (if we believe) so that he might bear the punishment that we as sinners, totally depraved by our sin nature, might be found cloaked in His righteousness and be adopted as sons in the kingdom to enjoy everlasting fellowship. He gave up His life on that horrible cross, and took His life up again after three days in the grave. And Jesus being the firstborn among the dead we too shall one day rise, being crucified with Christ so it is no longer we who live but Christ who lives in us.

So as Easter approaches let us not look upon the gospel the same way we do that picture that has been hanging in our home for so long that we no longer see it even though it is there in plain sight. Instead let us look at the gospel with the new and fresh eyes we had when we first hung the picture. Christ humbled Himself beyond what we can understand. Let us love Him, let us honor Him, let us serve Him. May He not just be our Saviour, but our King as well!! To Him be the honor, and the glory, forever and ever amen.

 

 

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4 Responses to “Easter Thoughts”

  1. I’m glad you hogged the computer last night writing this. Very well spoken….do you think we sould watch “the movie” with Girly Girl this year? Is her heart ripe for the message? I ♥ U!!!~~em

  2. I know this isn’t the main point of what you wrote, but let’s suggest that to Shawn. Morningview’s “Take Your Pets to Hear the Gospel Day”!

  3. I am in awe at the Scripture you pointed to and the summary of your interpretation, or rather, the sermon’s interpretation. Mojo – there is a deeper part of you besides the photographer/jokester/door-seller, and I’m so glad to be a part of watching it emerge.
    🙂

  4. Happy Easter. As I wait for my kids to go to Church this am, what a great way to start the day.
    Great passages.
    Hope your family enjoys Easter together.

    If by the movie you are referring to the “Passion of the Christ”
    My son was 9 last year and he “got it”—I think.

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