Audio

Famous Last Words: My God, My God, Why have You Forsaken Me?

What would it take? That’s the question I’ve been asking myself this week. From time to time our kids disappoint us. We are at times upset about their choices. But as disappointed as we can be we would never abandon our children . . . would we?

And yet God the Father did exactly that. Jesus cried out those words, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” because for the first time in all eternity he was truly alone.

The day after I preached this sermon a friend of mine messaged me as he was listening to it and contemplating adapting it for his own Easter sermon. It wasn’t until we began chatting about the message that I remembered the huge influence John R.W. Stott’s The Cross of Christ had on me and this message when I originally wrote it in 2009. Stott’s book was one of those transformational tomes that I read years ago and have never seemed to put down.

Rather, it’s never put me down.

In chapter three, Stott dissects the different views of Jesus’ “cry of dereliction.” Quoting John Calvin, Stott concludes:

As Calvin put it, ‘If Christ had died only a bodily death, it would have been ineffectual . . . Unless his soul shared in the punishment, he would have been the Redeemer of bodies alone.’ In consequence, ‘he paid a greater and more excellent price in suffering in his soul the terrible torments of a condemned and forsaken man’. So then an actual and dreadful separation took place between the Father and the Son; it was voluntarily accepted by both the Father and the Son; it was due to our sins and their just reward; and Jesus expressed this horror of great darkness, this God-forsakenness, by quoting the only verse of Scripture which accurately described it, and which he had perfectly fulfilled, namely, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.’

I was amazed again at the timeliness of this message. Even though it was written six years ago it spoke directly to many needs currently in our congregation. I credit that to the wonderful way God works through his word and, unfortunately, the universality of the feeling of abandonment.

Audio

It Is Finished! An Easter sermon from John 19:28-30

Easter is the Super Bowl of Sunday services.

I’m pretty sure I’m not the first person to say that. So feel free to quote me.

I do my best on Easter Sunday to meet a few qualifications in my preaching. They are as follows (in no particular order):

  1. Be brief
  2. Be clear
  3. Be memorable.

Last year’s Easter sermon was “The Good News of Bill Gates.” I wish I had a recording of it. It went over well. People still quote parts of it back to me. That’s always important, but I think especially so on Easter.

There are always going to be those in the service who are only there for Easter and you want to make sure they hear you. You’re also going to get those who came with their grandparents or parents because there’s promise of a meal afterwards. As much as we may complain about CME’s (Christmas, Mother’s Day and Easter….”C ME! I’m in church!”) they desperately need the gospel and it needs to be understandable to them.

I will also confess this: I put a lot of effort into Easter sermons. I like to get my time’s worth. So, this was a “retread” of one I preached back in 2009. I shortened it up a bit and changed a few things around but the points are essentially the same. That’s ok, though, because the gospel hasn’t changed either.

Most of my Easter sermons are retreads these days. Face it, there aren’t that many different texts to preach on Easter and there’s only so many ways to say it.

I also almost always go back to Romans to back up my points on my Easter sermons. It seems to work well.

So, here it is. “It is Finished!” Technically, this would have been a Good Friday message, I guess, but since we didn’t hold a Good Friday service it works for Easter too!

I was puzzling this week over how to end this message. I borrowed the whole “you have one chance” part from a Tullian Tchividjian sermon (part of his Romans series). It was an interesting point, but when I tried it out last Tuesday with my leadership I could see I needed to work on it a bit. The message from my friend could not have come at a better time.

In case you couldn’t make it out, the visual aid this week was a mallet and a railroad spike. I guess it was kind of an auditory aid too.

As a side note, I know of a church–a large church–that had no preaching on Easter this year. They’re in between ministers and didn’t get anyone to fill in and bring a message. Instead it was all singing.

I hate to be “that guy” but that seems terribly wrong to me. The more I think about it the more it hurts. People came, heard some great songs (I’m sure they were wonderful) but there was no gospel message. That’s just sad.

I would be interested in your thoughts in the comments below.

Spring is a Promise

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It seems to me people don’t really like spring. I think they like the idea of spring but they don’t like the reality of it. If it’s a sunny and warm spring day people will complain and say, “Don’t get used to it! It’s going to get cold again soon!” If it’s a cold and snowy spring day they complain and say, “I thought it was spring! What happened to the warm weather we were supposed to have!?!?!”

Don’t act like you’ve never done it before. I’ve seen your Facebook posts! Continue reading