Sermon 1 – A Call to Partnership
We are starting a new series! On this side of the resurrection, we have been invited into the greatest mission of all – partnering with our risen King to bring shalom into the world. What is shalom? Shalom is the joining together of all creation in peace, justice, goodness, and fulfillment. It’s the way things ought to be.
Bible Passage: John 20:11-22. Genesis 2:7. Ephesians 4:1
Big Idea of Message:
You have been called by God to bring shalom.
How can I partner with God in bringing shalom to chaos?
Because of Jesus, those of us who follow Him have been forgiven of our sins, invited into His family, and restored to our rightful roles as partners with God. Now, as forgiven and redeemed people, we are called by King Jesus to continue the work He began: Bringing shalom to chaos. We can do this by knowing our efforts are not in vain because there will come a day when Jesus returns to finish what Hes started.
The hope that they have a part to play in making the future brighter and better than the past.
Identify their calling and begin the work of bringing shalom to chaos.
Box of Lies
Segue – What am I good at? What do I love? What does the world need? The idea of Calling.
1) Setup & Scripture (10 Minutes)
Because of Easter, everything has changed. Today we’re looking at John’s account of what happened on that historic Sunday morning, 2000 years ago. Along the way, we’re going to look at some truths about God, about us, and the mission we’ve been invited into.
Our world is crazy. And chaotic. People are crying out for peace, justice, and for wrong things to be made right. That thing we’re looking for – and honestly longing and yearning for – is the thing that the Jewish people call shalom. What is shalom? Usually just understood as “peace” but it is more than that.
Peace is usually just the “absence of conflict or trouble”. As long as people aren’t fighting and nothing is burning that shouldn’t be, there is peace.
But Biblical peace is so much more than this. Jesus invites us into something so much bigger than just the absence of conflict or trouble.
Peace that Jesus offers is shalom. Shalom is the joining together of God, humanity, and all of creation in justice, fulfillment, and goodness. Shalom is the presence of God’s rule and reign here on earth as it is in heaven. Shalom is the presence of God’s way of doing things, the right way of doing things, on earth as it is in heaven. Shalom is the way things ought to be. It’s the way we all – consciously or subconsciously – long for things to be.
Through life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, shalom has been brought into our chaotic, fallen, world. And we get to both experience it and play a part in bringing it to the chaos around us.
Before we get to the Bible – it’s been said that the easiest way to become an atheist is to read the Bible. And if you have been on the internet for more than a day, you’ve probably seen memes where people take a Bible verse and use it to paint the Bible as oppressive, God as a monster, or Jesus as a jerk. And to be honest – I don’t blame people for thinking these things. Because trying to read the Bible the same way you would read Harry Potter or the news or a textbook is a great way to misread it. So we are going to keep working to understand the Bible so that we don’t misread it and misapply it in ways that are not true, not good, and be harmful to others.
Do you need to go to Bible college? No. The same Spirit that was working in people while they wrote the Scriptures is at work in us when we read the Scriptures – and so every time we read it, we open ourselves up to the transformational power of God’s Spirit.
So how do we read the Bible more wisely? Two principles. 1) Jesus is King. 2) Context is everything.
Jesus is King
The Bible is a single story that leads to Jesus. When we read the Bible as Christians living on the other side of Easter, we read it through the perspective of our crucified and risen King. Jesus Himself said all Scriptures point to Him. So as we’re reading, we should be looking for how what we’re reading leads us to Jesus.
Is what we’re reading supposed to show us what Jesus is like? Is it supposed to show us what Jesus isn’t like by highlighting the injustices people have committed? I would argue that every part of the Bible is intended to transform us into the kinds of people that can love God with all that we are, and who can love others in the same way Jesus has loved us. Sometimes that comes from teaching us what to do, and other times it comes as teaching us what not to do.
Context is Everything
When we rip something out of context, we basically can get it to mean whatever we want it to. This happens all the time in the news and on social media, and all the time with the Bible.
If we want to read the Bible wisely, we have to learn the context of what was being said, and that takes time. Because until we learn what a passage of Scripture would have meant to the original audience, it is really hard for us to know what it is supposed to mean to us today. (A scripture can never mean what it never meant.)
Historical Context – when was it written? Cultural context – What would these words mean in their culture? Biblical context – How does this passage fit into this chapter, book, and whole story?
- Jesus is King. 2. Context is Everything.
Let’s dive into the text, picking up in John 20. It’s Easter Sunday – the first Easter Sunday. Some of Jesus’ followers had showed up as His tomb, only to find the tomb empty and the large stone that was covering the entrance having been rolled away.
The first instinct wasn’t to celebrate that Jesus had risen. The first instinct was that someone stole the body. Why? Because they weren’t expecting Jesus to come back from the dead. They were expecting Jesus to do what everyone else does when they die: stay dead. As such, after investigating the tomb, Jesus’ disciples left and went back to where they were staying. Some of Jesus female followers, including a woman named Mary stayed behind. Pick up in verse 11.
11 But Mary stood outside the tomb, crying. As she was crying, she stooped to look into the tomb. 12 She saw two angels in white sitting where Jesus’s body had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “Because they’ve taken away my Lord,” she told them, “and I don’t know where they’ve put him.” 14 Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know it was Jesus. 15 “Woman,” Jesus said to her, “why are you crying? Who is it that you’re seeking?” Supposing he was the gardener, she replied, “Sir, if you’ve carried him away, tell me where you’ve put him, and I will take him away.”
Jesus’ tomb was apparently in a garden, and because of that, Mary assumed Jesus was just some random gardener. Which is brilliant on so many levels. We’ll talk about some of those later. Until then, we rad Jesus’ response to Mary in Verse 16.
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
At the sound of her name, Mary recognized who this man was…
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
Turning around, she said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!”—which means “Teacher.”
Can you imagine the emotions she must have been feeling? Her teacher and her friend – who she saw murdered at the hands of Roman soldiers – is standing in front of her. But wasn’t he supposed to be dead?
17 “Don’t cling to me,” Jesus told her, “since I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them that I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”
Jesus tells her to go and tell the disciples about Him. But why doesn’t He just tell them Himself? Put simply, it’s because God had chosen to accomplish His work through willing partners. This has been the way He’s operated from the very beginning. So in verse 18:
18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord!” And she told them what he had said to her. 19 When it was evening on that first day of the week, the disciples were gathered together with the doors locked because they feared the Jews. Jesus came, stood among them, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 Having said this, he showed them his hands and his side. So the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace [Shalom] be with you. As the Father has sent me, I also send you.”
Jesus, after being murdered on a Roman cross, was standing in the presence of His followers, speaking the word shalom. And He tells them He is sending them out as the Father has sent Him. What does this mean? It means He is sending them to continue His mission. What is that mission? To bring shalom to chaos. But before He sends them, Jesus does one more thing.
22 After saying this, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
What is so interesting about this entire sequence of events is how John, the Gospel writer, is intentionally trying to call us back to the Creation story found in Genesis. The creation narrative found in the first few chapters of the Bible takes place in a garden. And when God creates human beings, He breathes His breath – the breath of life – into them.
Then the LORD God formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being.
He gave human beings the job of cultivating the garden, literally being gardeners, on his behalf. John is trying to help us see that Jesus’ resurrection is the beginning of a new creation. So when Jesus says to His disciples: “Shalom be with you. As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” Jesus is inviting us to continue the work He started – the work of bringing shalom to chaos. Another way of saying it is this way:
You have been called by God to bring shalom.
So, the question then becomes: how do we do that? How do we as teenagers in 2022, fulfill the calling we’ve been given: partnering with the God of heaven and earth to bring shalom; His goodness, justice, mercy, grace, and compassion; His way of doing things here on earth as it is in heaven?
2) Questions & Discussion (10 Minutes)
Testimony Opportunity: How to identify what you’re called to do: What are you good at? What do you love? What does the world need?
3) Wrap Up & Prayer (5 Minutes)
What are you good at? What do you love? What does the world need? The place where all those questions intersect is a great place for you to start in your journey of bringing shalom to chaos. You have been called by God to bring shalom.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus where he urges them to live out the amazing calling they have been given:
Therefore I, the prisoner in the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
There’s a story about a Christian college professor, Dallas Willard, who after one class one day asked one of his students to stay behind. After everyone else left, Dallas looked at this student and said, “On the next test, I’m going to give you an A.”
The student was a little confused because he hadn’t taken the test yet. Dallas continued and said, “No matter how well you perform, I’m going to give you an A. All I ask is you to do whatever work you feel is worthy of that grade.”
Can you imagine that? How would you respond? What would you think if one of your teachers said that to you? While some of us may be tempted to slack off, I think the majority of us would actually commit ourselves to putting in the work to live up to the grade we’ve already been given.
What you need to understand is that you have been given a gift. The gift of life, purpose, meaning, and fulfillment found in a relationship with God. A gift that He paid for with His own life. The question is, will you choose to live a life worthy of the calling you’ve received? The calling of partnering with the God of creation to bring shalom to a world that is desperate for it.