“Jesus Christ, raised from the dead…that is my gospel,” so writes the author of 2 Timothy. That’s awfully personal, as if Jesus Christ rose from the dead especially for him. And if that’s the case, is it possible that that same Jesus Christ, descendant of King David, the Messiah, the Son of God, the Resurrection and the Life; is it possible He rose from the dead for us too? For you? For me? Can this Greatest News of the gospel for the whole world of all times be our Greatest News too? Can it really be that personal, affecting us directly not just for eternity’s sake, but right here, right now?
Is it really possible that that Jesus Christ, Lord of Lords, King of Kings, Who had enough people to worry about with His family, twelve disciples, crowds of thousands; and yet still had you and me in mind when He went up that hill with a cross on His back; and not stopping there, but still thought about us when He walked out of the darkness of death into the light of everlasting life? Can that really be true? Can this Gospel really be not just so incredibly vast encompassing the whole world, but also be so incredibly intimate, so personal, that it’s actually, especially, for us individually?
Now that’s nice and all on Jesus’ part, but we human beings tend to get a little uncomfortable with others invading our personal space, not just in the physical sense, but in the emotions and feelings department. We want to have a say on who gets invited inside to that deepest core of who we really are. And if this Jesus Christ really intended to rise from the dead for us, if He really envisioned this Gospel to be personal, to be for us, He has to know us to our deepest, human, broken core. He has to know absolutely everything about us: every single thing we did wrong, every single evil thought that ever crossed our mind even for a split-second, every naughty urge we ever caved into, every not-so-nice act we tried to cover up for a lifetime; He has to know absolutely everything! How dare He invade our very soul without checking with us first!
Because, you see, this whole Resurrection thing isn’t just for the good parts. When Jesus rises from the dead there’s still those scars, those holes in his hands from the evil hideous world. The brokenness gets redeemed too. And if that’s our Good News, even if we shameful human beings struggle to accept it, that means our brokenness: our past, our sin, our very core gets redeemed too; the entirety of who we are gets saved by that Jesus Christ. That’s our personally delivered Good News!
However, thousands of years later we are now living in a very self-absorbed world, and it’s not just that, it’s that it’s gotten to the point where it isn’t even that big of a deal anymore: that it’s just normal to live your life exactly how you want it, and to be proud of that, and to broadcast it to the world instantaneously. It’s all about finding personal happiness, living your life to the fullest; enjoy every waking moment without a care in the world. But what about that world? What about the people who can’t find happiness at all because a hurricane just ripped their life apart? What about those who cannot live their life to the fullest because of excruciating pain that limits them from even leaving their home? What about those who can barely enjoy any waking moment because they are afraid the next moment might be their last in a war zone?
That’s the downfall with this Great News of Jesus Christ rising from the dead being our own personal saving gospel. We can get so full of ourselves that Jesus loves us so much that He died and rose again for us that we do not have a care in the world, because that Savior of ours took care of it for us. Except He did not take care of our own responsibility as neighbors to each other in this still broken human world. He did take care of our salvation, yes. He did take care of our sin not defining us in this life and beyond. But He took care of that so we may develop personal, intimate connections with our sisters and brothers in Christ, because at some point they will need our help. And at some point, whether we like to admit it or not, we too will need their help. We are vulnerable after all. We live in imperfect, mortal bodies. Nevertheless, this God brought Great News to life for others too, for others to be filled with hope, mercy, and love, so that they will refuse to simply sit back and watch their sisters and brothers in Christ go by without the same care Jesus brought to them time and time again.
So yes, Jesus most certainly had a personal connection with you and me when He rose from the dead, but let’s not leave out the universal scope of it all too. Because that means He had a personal connection with everyone else as well. He died and rose for them too. He had us all in mind on Calvary and out of the empty tomb. We don’t have to understand it. We’re not supposed to. Only God needs to know how to save a whole world, and God most certainly has, and God most certainly will again. And for that greatest news for all of us, we give thanks to God indeed! Amen.
St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
Rev. Dennis Smith, Interim Pastor
Office: Tue - Fri: 9 a.m. - Noon