Easter is the most attended Sunday of the year for Christian churches around the world. We celebrate bunnies, chics, brightly colored eggs brought to us by bunnies that don’t lay eggs and the resurrection of Jesus… wait… what???
Traditions! Every culture has them. For most, the traditions of Easter have become meaningless. They have no meaning, no purpose and that is quite frankly, tragic.
Tradition without truth leads to tragedy!
I remember the birth of our son, Joshua. Everyone had gathered at the hospital in great anticipation of our first born son. It was a big deal! Especially to my mother-in-law who comes from a Jewish background. She and my wife Staci relayed the importance of this day to me and asked if I’d participate in an ancient Jewish tradition. They asked that I wear a traditional Jewish celebratory yamaka. It was important to them so it was important to me. Of course I obliged and proudly walked around the hospital displaying our sons Jewish heritage with what I later discovered was a woman’s breast pad. There was in fact no such yamaka tradition, at least not in my mother-in-laws home.
There was no truth in that tradition and it was in deed a great tragedy!
That’s how many people look at religion. Religious people get up, go to church, do their time and unfortunately their lives are none the richer for it. What a waist of time! That is a tragedy!
We at Convergence are at the beginning stages of a new church. We’re establishing rhythms and routines in our community. It’s our goal to make sure that our ethos, our culture, our reason for being is rooted in tradition that is founded on truth. The truth of God’s Word.
The reality is that eggs, bunnies & baby chics are traditions that represent new life. They represent a new beginning, a new start. Those are things that we can relate to as a new church. I don’t have a problem with Easter Eggs, Easter Bunnies and Jelly Beans as long as we understand the significance of these traditions. The most important Easter tradition, however is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ! The resurrection is about the ultimate new beginning.
We performed our first baptism as a church a few weeks ago. Baptism signifies a new life in Christ better than anything else. In our baptism we identify ourselves with Christ’s death burial and resurrection. Our submersion symbolizes our death to this physical life. As we come out of the water, we symbolize our resurrection into a new spiritual life in Christ.
For some of you reading this today, it could be time for you to begin a new life in Christ. This could be the day when it all clicks for you. When you begin to understand the truth behind the tradition. Maybe today you’ll understand the gift of the gospel!
I remember the day the gospel became real to me. It was almost 30 years ago. I was 13 years old, attending a church in Phoenix, Arizona with our family on an Easter Sunday. The Pastor preached about the crucifixion of Jesus and how He had done that for me. I remember walking out of that room with tears in my eyes, for the first time understanding the weight of my sin and the love of the Father.
Unfortunately, I walked away from that day and had very little understanding of what to do next! How should I respond? Since we didn’t have a home church, I wandered through the rest of my teen years with very little understanding of what my purpose in life was. It wasn’t until my 20s that I fully surrendered my life to Christ!
When I finally did, not only did I find Christ, but I found a new purpose in Christ! I did what anyone that’s found true purpose in life would do. I threw all caution to the wind to pursue it. When you find that thing that you’re uniquely created to do, you do whatever it takes to pursue it.
Many of us wander through life devoid of any real purpose. We cling to traditions that have no truth. We pursue the 9-5 rat race of making money so the we can have a bigger house a bigger car and a bigger bank account. For what purpose?
Staci and I have chosen to reject that lifestyle. We’ve thrown all caution to the wind and are pursuing the purpose that God has for us and Convergence Community Church. It’s not easy, but it’s truly fulfilling!
The resurrection not only gives us the hope of a new and better life, it also gives us the promise of purpose!
Convergence is all about helping the people of God converge with the purpose of God in establishing the kingdom of God. And we know that the only place we’re going to be able to do that is in Christ!
Jesus knew His purpose and although He endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him (Heb 12:2), it wasn’t fun for Him. In fact, He asked God to find another way if it were possible, but it wasn’t. There was no other way. (Matt. 26:39)
Let’s talk for a second about Jesus’ purpose. What if I told you that Jesus wasn’t the king of the Jews as we have been so accustomed to proclaim. Once again, we’ve adopted a tradition that isn’t based on truth. Jesus wasn’t the king of the Jews. The Romans gave him that title. The Jews didn’t want him. They rejected Him. In fact, Jesus didn’t even say that he was the king of the Jews. The Romans did!
Jesus’ purpose was not to become a king because He was already the King.
He wasn’t just a king, He was the King of kings. The purpose of Jesus’ life can only be understood by studying the significance of His life, death and resurrection. They were all part of His true purpose!
The life, death and resurrection of Jesus signify His power and purpose to give you a new life… To give you purpose.
The purpose of the cross is to make it possible for you, me and all those that are far from God to be welcomed into an eternal kingdom; the kingdom of God! The kingdom of God is a kingdom with eternal purpose. Jesus wasn’t just a king, He was the King. He was the King of Kings. He was a spiritual king and a physical king. Acts tells us that He is both Kairos and Christos; both Lord and Savior. (Acts 2:36) He was the king of a kingdom that was not of this world, a world that is here today and gone tomorrow. He was and is the king of a kingdom based in truth! Look what John tells us in chapter 18 of his gospel.
33So Pilate entered his headquarters again and called Jesus and said to him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” 34Jesus answered, “Do you say this of your own accord, or did others say it to you about me?” 35Pilate answered, “Am I a Jew? Your own nation and the chief priests have delivered you over to me. What have you done?” 36Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” 37Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered,“You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” 38Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”
After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him. 39But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?” 40They cried out again, “Not this man, but Barabbas!” Now Barabbas was a robber.g John 18:33-40 ESV
Jesus wasn’t the king of the Jews, He was in fact rejected by the Jews. His purpose wasn’t to become a king, He was already the King. That’s why His first message was “Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.” (Matt 3:2) His resurrection not only proved Him to be the king of an eternal kingdom, but it was the inauguration of that new kingdom! That’s what we celebrate on Easter. Not only the resurrection of Jesus, but what it signifies. A new life, a new kingdom, a new purpose. And all of that is available to us today!
Some of you reading this today have been rejected by life. You have no passion, no purpose, no life. Unfortunately, I have to tell you that you’re not going to find it in this world. You’re not going to find it in a 9-5 job, a new car or a new house. Dare I say that you won’t even find it in your family or family tradition. You’re not going to find fulfillment in this life until you find fulfillment in Christ and His purpose for you and your life. You won’t find purpose until you find Christ.
Ultimately, His kingdom was not of this world, so it doesn’t make sense to those of us living in this world. It won’t make sense to your until you fully surrender your will to His will. That’s what it means to make Him the Lord of your life. Look at what Paul tells us in Romans 10:8-13.
“But what does it say? “THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART “-that is, the word of faith which we are preaching, that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “W HOEVER BELIEVES IN H IM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “W HOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”” Romans 10:8-13 NASB
Our belief is based on tradition & that tradition is based on truth. We believe in our hearts and we confess with our mouths, “Jesus is Lord!”
We confess to the truth, affirming our faith.
Jesus knew His purpose, do you know yours? His purpose was not just to be a king, but the King of kings. Have you accepted Him as the King of your life?
If you’re still wondering what your purpose is, let me help you out.
Jesus’ purpose was to give you purpose.
That’s what a true king does. He serves and protects His people. He leads by example and sacrifices His riches, His glory, His life for His people.
In order to be the King of Kings that reigns over all, that reigns over truth, that reigns over an eternal kingdom He had to offer up a true, righteous and perfect sacrifice once and for all.
The Bible teaches us that we were all perfect from the beginning of time. Unfortunately that perfection was lost through the curse brought upon humankind in the garden. Now, because of our imperfection we are separated from God’s the garden and God’s presence. The only thing that can break the curse and restore us into right relationship with God is the sacrifice of a perfect life. Since no human is capable of perfection, Jesus, the Son of God, God Himself had to be that sacrifice. A perfect life offered up on the cross for the sins of the world.
When Christ was broken on the cross, the curse was broken for eternity!
When He rose from the dead He proved, in truth, that death no longer had power over Him. As children of God, partakers in the kingdom of God, death no longer has power over us either. Jesus conquered death so that He could restore you and I into perfect life. He desires you and I to have communion with Him, which is our ultimate purpose. To love, worship and serve Him forever. There’s no greater purpose than that.
True purpose can only be found in and through Christ!
Jesus knew His purpose. It was a purpose based on the universal truth of who He is and who we are. Jesus knew His purpose, do you know yours?
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might.” (Ephesians 1:18, 19 NASB)