Epic Jesus - Why is Jesus so great?
His church serves him!
Chad/Tim P/Greg – Time to Invite Easter video
Did that video fool you like it fooled me? Great message though. People need Jesus. And people come in all shapes, sizes and tattoos. I have hundreds of invite cards for you today to make it as easy as possible for you to invite someone to one of our three Easter services on April 23 & 24. Plus – look inside your newsletter and you’ll find a little white insert asking you to write down the names of three people. I want to invite these folks to worship the risen Son of God with me on Easter Sunday (Sat Night?) On Easter weekend I will begin a brand new message series entitled, “Back from the Dead!” I feel the need to scary laugh every time I say that! Come discover from Luke 24 what it means to come back from the dead and live a resurrected life! But that’s Easter! I’m also starting a new series today called EPIC JESUS!
The word epic has been making the rounds recently. I’m not sure why. I just know we say – or have heard say, “That was an epic battle, an epic contest, or epic war, - there’s Epic Mickey and Kirby’s Epic Yarn. The British are anticipating an epic wedding and Japan just experienced an epic tragedy. Just want does epic mean? Epic is defined as “heroic, majestic or impressively great” I’m not sure about you – but “heroic, majestic or impressively great” makes me think of the Son of God! EPIC JESUS! The Apostle Paul would agree. Turn in your Bible to 1st Corinthians 15. Do you need a Bible today? Talk about an epic book! The Bible isn’t just information. An encyclopedia is information. The WWW can provide information. The Bible is living – the actual word of God!
The Apostle Paul begins both 1st Corinthians and 2nd Corinthians by saying, “To the church of God in Corinth…” Corinth is a place. Actually it was a place. Corinth was a key city in ancient Greece until the Romans destroyed it in 146 B.C. Julius Caesar rebuilt Corinth as a Roman Colony about 100 years later.[i] Corinth is also a church. Acts 18 tells us Paul visited Corinth during his 2nd missionary journey. Paul will leave Athens only to make his way to Corinth. (MAP) What was the most popular way to travel in AD 54? You’d better have some good walking shoes. Plug in your GPS and Athens to Corinth was around 50 miles due west.[ii] Probably took Paul around three days to make the journey – that’s an average of 16 miles a day! I only want you to walk 3.1 miles. Pull out a little green insert in your newsletter. Paul walked 4 his faith. How about we walk for our faith! Follow these instructions!
After Paul’s 3rd missionary journey he’s living in Ephesus and he receives word from people in Corinth that the church is really struggling. He writes a letter. James Smith sums it up for us, “Corinth was Paul’s problem church. It bristled with social, ethical, spiritual and doctrinal problems.”[iii] And these problems created questions! Not questions like “why DO dogs bite their owners?” Dogs bite their owners because they dress them like this and this and this! Funny but cruel. The Corinthians had deep questions about marriage, public worship, communion, spiritual gifts and the resurrection. This church was divided – believer against believer and falling for Satan’s lies regarding sexual temptation! Let’s read the very last verse in 1st Corinthians 15. Find verse 58.
Why does Paul urge the Corinthians to “stand firm?” What do you think it means to stand firm? Well, the opposite of standing firm is to fall flat! To give up. To concede defeat. To conclude “what Jesus wants me to do is too hard.” When it comes to faith in God and his Son today – are you standing firm or are you a little shaky? What could possibly make a person want to give up on God? Maybe you have money issues and it’s causing pressure to build up in your marriage? Maybe one of your kids is sick seemingly all the time? Maybe you’re facing surgery or your doctor has given you a grim diagnosis? CNN reported that the unemployment rate in this country dropped to 8.8%, but you still do not have a job. All of those trials or temptations can lead a person away from God. But Paul has another reason in mind. Do you still have verse 58 handy? Paul starts this verse with a raucous “therefore.” What do you love? I LOVE my wife, kids, sunny days and star lit nights. I love Round Lake, apple pie, banana salad and I love “therefore’s!” The reason is simple! Go back a verse or several or a chapter or several chapters. In this case it’s a chapter. What is the main focus of this 15th chapter? Hebrews 11 is the great faith chapter. 1st Corinthians 15 is the great resurrection chapter. Paul writes this letter in A.D. 54[iv] Jesus died around A.D. 30[v] 54-30 is 24! It’s only been 24 years and these Corinthians doubt whether Jesus rose from the dead. Here’s what Henry Blackaby would call a classic crisis of faith. (Find verse 16). (Read 16-19) If Jesus didn’t rise from the dead what chance do I have of rising from the dead?
Let me introduce you to a few people![vi] This is Harry Coover. Harry Coover invented Super Glue. This is Paul Baran. Paul Baran is credited as being one of the pioneers of the Internet. This is Drew Hill. He played wide receiver for the Houston Oilers and was a favorite target of Warren Moon.[vii] This is Frank Neuhauser. Frank won the very first National Spelling Bee is 1925. His winning word was gladiolus.[viii] Here is Geraldine Ferraro. Ferraro is best known as the first female Vice Presidential candidate. And finally, actor Michael Gough. Gough played Alfred, Batman’s famous butler. What do these people all have in common? They all died in the last 20 days.
Paul tells the Corinthians “stand firm.” Because the all time single greatest reason why we doubt our faith and start to get weary is DEATH! Death confuses us. Death frustrates us. Death depresses us. But most of all, death makes us this think God doesn’t care! Do you know what makes Jesus EPIC? Do you know what makes Jesus impressively great? He overcame death!
The 2022 FIFA World Cup was awarded to Qatar. But before officials said yes they were concerned about the extreme heat playing havoc on the players and the fans. So they were promised a cloud.[ix] No kidding. Scientists in Qatar are building ½ million dollar floating clouds to block the sun. I think that’s pretty amazing. But Psalm 147:8 says, He covers the sky with clouds… If God wants a cloud, he just makes one! Isaiah tells that no one can fathom God’s power and understanding. He’s so powerful he raised his son from the dead. Go back to 1st Corinthians 15:58. (55-57) Jesus is EPIC! His resurrection changes everything. Stand firm church at Corinth. Stand firm church at Westerville. As a matter of fact don’t just stand firm, but do this too. (vs. 58 again) What makes Jesus EPIC is that his church serves him! He’s our example. He came to serve and not to BE served. Now – we serve him. Why? The resurrection makes it all worthwhile. Paul gives three commands and one promise in vs. 58. Now I’m curious. Just what is the “work of the Lord?” The Gospel of Matthew gives us the answers. Matthew 9 – Jesus tells his disciples to pray for workers. Matthew 22. Jesus sums up the entire Old Testament law in four words – love God and love people. Matthew 28. Jesus says, Go and make disciples. The work of the Lord is to make disciples. The church is made up of various shapes and sizes of disciples. The church is not this metal building. The church is Jesus’ body in this world. WE are the church. Are you fully invested in Jesus’ body – the church? Do you use your spiritual gifts to point people to Jesus? Are you willing to put your money where your faith is and give money to God’s church so people can be reached and lives changed? I have one prayer in regards to Five Smooth Stones. My prayer is that everyone is involved. My prayer is that everyone gives something.
One of the funniest things happened to me not long ago. After church on a Saturday Night three ladies were in a little circle talking. My wife Tricia, Erica Maxeiner and Kathy Wince. I came up around Kathy and tapped her on the shoulder and she “shushed me.” It was hilarious. She thought I was one of her kids. At least I think she thought that. “I’m busy talking here. Don’t bother me!” Is Jesus going to shush you one day? Stop telling me that you love me. Telling me that you want to serve me. It’s time to just serve. It’s time to take a step of faith and give. Let’s not forget Paul’s promise in this 58th verse. Serving God is never a waste of time. Some things we do won’t make any difference. I have numbers on screen. (26.2) What do they mean? In early February Belgian runner Stefaan Engels set a Guinness World Record after crossing the finish line of his 365th consecutive marathon.[x] He ran 365 consecutive marathons in 365 consecutive days. Engels told The Associated Press that he did it as a personal challenge and to be an example for others.[xi] You want to be an example to others? Serve the church Jesus died for! Serve his body! Serve the one who went through a marathon of pain – died and lives today! Now come!
[i] Wilkinson & Boa, Talk Thru the New Testament, 381
[ii] Dennis Gaertner, CP NIV Commentary, Acts, 283
[iii] James E. Smith, The NT Books Made Simple, 74
[iv] H. Wayne House, Chronological Charts of the NT, 16
[v] H. Wayne House, Chronological Charts of the NT, 103
[vii] www.si.com, March 28, 2011, 20
[viii] www.si.com, April 4, 2011, 24