The Blessing of Jesus' Resurrection
April 4, 2021
The Blessing of the Resurrection, 4.4.21
If you are a visitor this morning, we are so thankful that you are here. My name is Chance Sumner. I serve here as the Senior Pastor, alongside Pastor Jesse and our board of elders. We are so thankful that you are here. I believe this morning out of all the places you could be this morning, being in a church where Jesus Christ is preached and proclaimed is the best of all possible places you could be in the entire universe. Here are Community Bible Church our mission is to know Christ and to make him known. Every Sunday that conviction is what drives the singing, the preaching, and everything else that goes on during our church’s life. We are so thankful that you are here because Jesus is here. And where Jesus is, that is where we need to be.
I always try to engage our young theologians. I’m not sure I always succeed at that, but I always want to. Young theologians, I have a special gift for you this morning. I’ve brought my favorite candy with me today. I have it in my seat down here. I want to give you some of this candy. What you have to do to get it is you have to come up front and tell me what I preached about. So you’ll have to listen to the sermon. OK? After the sermon, come up here and tell me about it. If you do, I’ll give you some of my favorite candy. Now, adults, this is just for the children. So, no, Pastor Jesse, you can’t have any candy.
What we aim to do each Sunday is to open up the Bible. We believe that the Bible is not just a book among books. We believe that the Bible is the book above every other book. The reason why? We believe the Bible is the Word of God.
One of a favorite ministries of mine has been the ministry of Gideon’s International. We have several members of our church who are Gideons. The mission of Gideon’s is to pass out Bibles to people all around the world. A tremendous ministry. At the front of every Bible the Gideons pass out, there is this quotation about the Bible. Listen very carefully.
The Bible contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you, and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword and the Christian’s charter. Here too, Heaven is opened and the gates of Hell disclosed. Christ is its grand subject, our good its design, and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be opened at the judgment, and be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, rewards the greatest labor, and will condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents.
We believe that. We believe that in this book we find the hope, the meaning, the peace, the joy, the forgiveness, the mercy, the grace, the kindness that we so desperately seek. Now we do not worship the Bible. The Bible is a book. It is not God. Nonetheless, the Bible leads us to God. It shows us God, reveals to us who he is and what he has done for us.
And as this statement brought out, central to what God has done in this world, to show his love for you, is he has sent Jesus Christ to this earth. This statement said, “Christ is Scripture’s grand subject.” That’s true. And this morning we want to focus on the Bible. And the reason why we focus on the Bible is to lead us to Jesus.
If you have a Bible this morning, would you please open it to me to Hebrews 13:20. Our passage for this morning’s sermon will include verse 20 and 21. This is what God says to us this morning,
Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
What I want to do in this brief time that we have together is this. I want to take this passage of Scripture, explain what it means, and apply it to your life.
Who is Jesus?
I want to start this morning with this question, “Who is Jesus?” What does this passage tell us about who Jesus is? If we ask that question, the passage provides us with three answers.
Look in v. 21. Notice that the passage describes Jesus as “Jesus Christ.” Now what does that mean? What does the “Christ” mean at the end? The addition of Christ refers to Jesus as the fulfilment of the OT. The Bible has two testaments: and Old and New. The NT teaches that Jesus is the fulfillment of the OT. Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s plan for the word. He did not come by accident or chance. His coming was prophesied and foretold. The Bible teaches that God has always had a plan for the redemption of the world. Central to this plan is the coming of Jesus. Jesus came in the NT but his coming was foretold and anticipated in the OT.
Now, look in v. 20. Notice that the author places the word “Lord” before the name Jesus. Jesus is not just “Jesus.” He is not just “Jesus Christ.” He is also “Lord Jesus.” “Lord” refers to Jesus’ power and his authority. It is a title. He is Master. What makes Jesus wonderful is that he is infinitely powerful. The Bible teaches that he is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. We all desire that type of authority. We all desire to be close to someone who is strong and mighty. That’s who Jesus is.
Have you heard of the word, “milquetoast.” It’s a helpful word to understand in contrast to Jesus as Lord. Miquetoast is a noun. It means this,
A very timid, unassertive, always apologetic, spinless person, especially one who is easily dominated or intimidated.
The word comes from a cartoon series in the 1920s. In this cartoon series, there was a character named Caspar Milquetoast. Caspar was a very timid mad. He’s always agreeable. He never asserts an opinion that might unsettle anyone. He always frets over how others might think of his actions and comments. Never rocks the boat. Never is assertive. One website described him as “the original snowflake.”
Jesus isn’t like that. No. No. No. Jesus is not milquetoast. He’s the opposite. He’s the King of Kings. And the Lord of Lords. He reigns and rules.
The Great Shepherd
Jesus isn’t milquetoast. He’s a King. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t kind, loving, and gracious. Quite the opposite. Jesus is Lord, and is therefore able to care for us. Jesus’ care is expressed in this passage when the author refers as the “great shepherd of the sheep.”
If you think about sheep, they have many natural predators. One natural predator is a wolf. Wolves can and do ravish sheep. For sheep to survive, they must be protected from wolves. There are demonic forces and evil people in this world who seek to harm you, who seek to drag you into destruction. You need protection from those forces. Because Jesus is Lord he can protect you. He cares. He lives to protect you. Can you believe that? That Jesus’ purpose is to care for his people? Incredible.
He also protect sheep from themselves. Sheep can be quite foolish creatures. They might wander off into danger of find themselves wandering off cliffs. They need protection from outside harm, like wolves, but they also need protection from themselves. That’s us, too. We need Jesus to protect us from ourselves. We need someone to watch out for us. We need someone to correct us sometimes, to guide us through all of life’s difficulties. We need someone who we can look to for help, aid, protection. We need someone who we can trust. That is Jesus. He offers us that.
Jesus is the Great Shepherd. He is strong. He is able to protect us. And he desires to protect. He will never leave his flock. He will always care for them. He will never leave them or forsake them.
What Did He Do?
That is who this passage describes Jesus as. Who is Jesus, according to this passage? He is Christ, Lord, and the Great Shepherd. Now let’s ask the question, based upon this passage, What did Jesus do? What to this passage say Jesus did?
What we first observe, regarding this question, from this passage, is that Jesus died. Look at the end of v. 20. It mentions,
The blood of the eternal covenant
Pastor, I think blood is kind of gross. I understand that. I myself am not scared of blood, but I don’t terribly enjoy it. I understand how someone might be. I get it. Let me explain what this passage is saying. We don’t want to miss the profound truth here.
When the Bible talks about “Jesus’ blood,” it refers to the payment that Christ paid when he died. Blood refers to Jesus’ death. The blood of Jesus is a reference to the death of Jesus. When Jesus died, he shed his blood. Blood is a symbol for death.
Jesus’ blood, his death, was not like other people’s death. All people die. Some people have their blood shed when they die. That fact does not make Jesus unique. What makes Jesus unique is that his blood, his death had a significance that other blood, that other deaths do not have. Jesus death was a death of eternal significance. Notice that the passage says, “blood of the eternal covenant.” Jesus’ blood, his death sealed for us, guaranteed for us that God’s plan would take place. Jesus death had eternal significance. Jesus’ death brought about God’s promises and blessings for us. The Bible teaches that life comes through death. More specifically, it is through the death of Jesus Christ, through his blood of the eternal covenant, that we have life.
This idea is a paradox, that through Jesus’ death we receive life, that idea is a paradox. A paradox. What a paradox is this,
A seemingly self-contradictory statement that is true.
Paradoxes occur all through life. Here’s an example of a paradox as it pertains to finance:
To make money, you must spend money.
Those to ideas—making money and spending money—seem to contradict each other. But they don’t. To be successful in business, you must invest money, take risk, spend money. That is how you make money. You spend it. If you want your farm to grow, you have to buy more land and equipment. You have to hire more people to work for you. All of that requires spending money. It’s a paradox.
Jesus death is kind of like that for us. We receive life through his death. That seems like a contradiction, but it isn’t. The way that we have life, the way we receive the eternal covenant of God, is through the blood, the death of Jesus. It’s a paradox. It goes against how we naturally think. But it’s true.
Jesus died, yes. But he didn’t stay dead. He shed blood of eternal significance and he rose from the dead. No one sheds that type of blood, and no one rises from the dead. Jesus is both significant and unique in his death and in his resurrection. That is the reason why we gather as Christians. Every Sunday is when Christians celebrate the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. But we do so especially so on Easter.
Let me very clear about what I mean by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I mean it actually, literally, historically happened. The resurrection is not a metaphor for our inner peace or something like that. Liberal Christianity teaches that Jesus rose in the disciples’ heart but that he didn’t necessarily rise from the dead bodily. No. No. No. No. He actually rose. He physically rose. He bodily rose from the dead. There’s no deeper truth here. That is the deepest truth. Jesus conquered sin, death, and the devil. Jesus is actually alive right now. One day the Bible says he will return to judge the living and the dead. That’s literally, physically true.
What Does It Matter for Me?
We covered a lot of ground in this passage so far. We answered from this passage, “Who is Jesus?” and “What Did He Do?” Now we want to ask the question of relevance. What’s difference does it make? So, what, Pastor? Show me the money! Bring it home. Convince me why I need Jesus.
He is the Avenue of Blessing
There are points of application from this passage I want to highlight. To understand this, I want us to look at the text again. Look at the end of v. 21. There’s this little prepositional phrase. It says,
That little prepositional phrase opens up for us the application of this passage. By using the “through Jesus,” the author is communicating to us that the blessings, which we will get to in a second, the blessings of this passages come through Jesus—the Christ, the Lord, the Great Shepherd, who bled, died, and rose from the dead. The blessings of this passage come through Jesus.
This passage is all about blessings. This is a benediction. This passage comes from the end of Hebrews. Many times at the end of the books of the NT you will notice benedictions. That’s what we have here. Many Christian traditions perform benedictions at the end of their services. Benedictions are the invocation, the bestowing, the declaration of God’s blessings upon God’s peoples.
God’s heart is to bless mankind. His heart is to provide wonderful, generous gifts to his people. The Bible is full of benedictions because God’s heart is generous to us. The Bible says God is rich in mercy and grace. These benedictions are in the Bible to show us that, to show us God’s lavish love and grace.
Benedictions in general and this one specifically only occur “through Jesus.” This benediction only happens because of Jesus. Because Jesus is who he is and because Jesus has done what he has done, we can be the recipients of God’s grace. In other words, God’s grace and love comes to us through Jesus. Jesus is the way that we receive God the Father’s blessings.
All or Nothing
Now with Jesus it’s all or nothing. What I mean is this. If you have Jesus, if you have the Lord Jesus Christ who bled and died and rose for your sins, you have everything. It might not look like it. You might be struggling. We might be poor, sick, depressed, and miserable. That might be true. But you just wait, dear friend. You just wait. The Bible says that you will one day live with Jesus with a body like his forever. You just wait. Keep waiting and pressing and praying.
Now if you don’t have Jesus, dear friend, you don’t have anything. It might look like you have a lot. But it’s all passing away.
Living life without Jesus is like building something out of paper mache. When I was a child, I used to make little projects with paper mache. Paper mache is the combination of glue and water with newspaper dipped into it. You dip the news paper into the water/glue, then place the newspaper on something to make a sculpture. It was cool. I would make sculptures for school projects. It even felt kind of hard. It looked great. But it couldn’t withstand much. I remember one time I made this intricate paper mache construction for a class I remember I had to carry that thing so delicately into class. The appearance was great but it wasn’t sturdy. If I dropped it, I would have been in some trouble.
Living without Christ is kind of like that. It might seem that your life is in order but it’s not. At any moment, your life could fall to the ground. Without Jesus, you would shatter into pieces, whether in this life or the next.
With Jesus, we have everything. Without him, we have nothing but a paper mache life.
The Blessing of Purpose
The author specifies two different blessings in this passage that come through Jesus. Look with me at the beginning of v. 21. It reads,
Equip you with everything good that you may do his will.
The subject of this verb is “the God of peace” from the beginning of v. 20. So we might put the two verses together and say this,
Now may the God of peace . . . equip you with everything good that you may do his will.
So this blessing of God the Father comes through Jesus. This specific blessing concerns God equipping us, through Jesus, to do his will. I understand this to be a blessing of purpose. Through Jesus, we receive from God the blessing of living a purposeful life.
The Bible teaches that we are here to do God’s will. If you’ve ever thought about, “What is my purpose in life?” it is this, “Do God’s will.” The answer is right here. And through Jesus, we receive this blessing of living for God. Through Jesus, God the Father equips us to live for him. God provides us with the task we need to do, and He provides us with the training we need to accomplish this job.
There is tremendous satisfaction living for God. Living for yourself only brings disappointment, sorrow, and pain. Living for God brings tremendous satisfaction and purpose. We all long for this purpose. We all crave it. This desire for purpose and meaning only comes through Jesus.
The Blessing of Assurance
The last blessing that we receive through Jesus is the blessing grace. Look with me again at v. 21. The author concludes with this statement,
working in us that which is pleasing in his sight
This statement describes how God will equip us to do his will. How will God do that? He will do it by “working in us that which is pleasing in his sight.”
What this is stressing is God’s initiative and accomplishment of his work in you. In the Bible, over and over again, we are called to strive for God. We are called to exert ourselves to live for God. That’s true. We need to do that. But there is also this instruction in the Bible, over and over again, that God is the one who does the work in us.
Grace vs Christianity
This is what differentiates Christianity from religion. Religion teaches that you have to work at your relationship with God, and your relationship with God is ultimately you’re doing. It’s up to you. You have to do x, y, and z. That’s all on your shoulders. Christianity is differently.
Christianity, what this passage teaches, is, yes, you do have to exert yourself in your walk with Christ. But it’s not ultimately up to you. Your hope is that God would produce it in you. Your greatest hope and your greatest comfort is that because of Jesus he is working in you that which is pleasing in his sight.
What a comforting truth this is. To know that you don’t have to earn the grace of God, that you can have rest, assurance, and peace. To know that your salvation is not contingent upon you, but it is contingent up God. This is the blessing of assurance. We can rest because we have assurance that through Jesus God is working in us that which is pleasing in his sight.
As I conclude this morning, let me ask you a few questions about you and Jesus. Do you know Jesus Christ? And I mean, not like know him from afar, but I mean up close and personal? Is your life about him or is it about you? With Jesus, dear friend, it’s all or nothing. There’s no fense-sitting. There’s no between. Are you for him or are you against him? Are you living out God’s will? Or are you focused on your own will?
Our greatest desire is that all people who walk in this door would come to Jesus. If you have not come to Jesus, you need to now. Will you come to Jesus this morning? Will you come to him? How can you say no to him? How can you deny him? How can you choose your sin over him, considering his goodness, kindness, power. It is to him, as the passage says, it is to Jesus
To whom be glory forever and ever.