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Put On the Resurrection

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S - What the disciples did next

Jesus is risen! Hallelujah! Praise God! Can I get an Amen! Praise Jesus!
The resurrection of Jesus must have been incredibly exciting to the disciples. We heard today that Peter, after running to the tomb, went home, amazed at what had happened. And later in Luke, when Jesus appeared to the disciples, they were first startled and terrified, and then filled with joy, yet still disbelieving and wondering.
And I guess after all the excitement and amazement had worn off, the disciples just got up and started the church, right?
It’s a week or so after Jesus had risen and appeared before the disciples. Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, the Sons of Zebedee and two other disciples were sitting around. I can picture them sitting around a campfire, the sun’s going down, and they’re sitting in silence, not really knowing what to do. They’re in a rut - they don’t know what to do next.
All of a sudden, Simon Peter says “I’m going fishing.” That is, he’s going back to what he did before he met Jesus. And he catches… nothing. All night fishing, and the great fisherman Simon has lost his touch.
Just after dawn breaks, a man calls out from the shore, “You haven’t any fish have you?”
“No,” they answer.
“Throw your nets on the other side of the boat”
“Oh yeah, real smart idea, throw the nets on the other side of the boat. Like that will make a difference.” I can hear Simon Peter saying.
Maybe it’s John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, who says to Peter, “We haven’t caught anything all night, what harm will it do us to do what he says.”
“Alright, alright, let’s throw the nets in on the other side.”
And they do so, and they can’t haul in the load. John realises that it’s Jesus on the shore, so Simon Peter puts on his outer garment, and swims ashore… where Jesus already has some fish on the fire ready to eat...
He asked them for fish, but he already had some. Maybe Jesus really is the master of April Fools Day...

P - Christ has risen… now what?

The problem that the disciples faced is a problem that faces us today. We live in the reality of a resurrected Jesus. We are excited to celebrate his resurrection, but we are unsure as to what to do next. What does this actually mean to us?
We live in a society that is constantly challenging us. There are so many distractions for us that can pull us each any every way.
Have you seen the ad on the TV about the man trying to choose a tomato pasta sauce for his dinner? By the time he’s gone through all the options, he’s grown old, and his son runs up to him who was a little bow and now is a man who has far outgrown his clothes.
It’s a silly ad, but it holds a granule of truth. Sometimes, we can feel overwhelmed by the number of choices presented before us. Supermarkets try and walk the fine line between having enough products so that we can go in there and find what we want, but not so many products that we get overwhelmed by the amount. Psychologist Barry Schwartz calls this the Paradox of Choice - where having too many options leads to feeling overwhelmed and causes non-participation or delay in taking action. Therefore, it can be better for supermarkets to limit the number of choices they have. So instead of every jam known to man, you just have a few different brands, with the same 4 or 5 varieties.
It’s the same with our lives. We are presented with so many different options as to fill the same 24 hours of the day. Do we go for a run, do we go for a walk, do we sit and watch TV, do we jump on the computer, do we wander down to the shops, do we drive down, do we visit a friend, do we go to work, do we go line dancing or square dancing, or swing dancing, or.... the options are limitless. Even in a smaller town such as this, it is impossible to do everything that is on offer in the town.
And part of the things on offer is our faith. Amongst all these things fighting for our attention is our desire to live faithful lives in the reality of a resurrected Christ.
And when we are faced with all those possibilities, sometimes we are overwhelmed and we end up doing nothing. We don’t engage in society, and we don’t engage with God.

O - We are challenged to share Christ’s love

This is a similar thing that was facing the Romans. How do they live lives that honour the God they believe in, when there is so much on offer in society that goes against those beliefs? Paul’s letter to the Romans includes this urgent appeal to them:

Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; 12 the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; 13 let us live honorably as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy. 14 Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

We need to lay aside the things that don’t honour Christ, and instead put on Christ - put on the resurrection. And what does that mean? Paul had just told the Romans in the passage previous:

Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; You shall not murder; You shall not steal; You shall not covet”; and any other commandment, are summed up in this word, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.

How do we put on the resurrection? We put on love. We prepare ourselves to show love to all people.

R - People are transformed by God’s Resurrection power

The resurrection Power of Christ is open to all, and it encourages us to show God’s love to all people, so that they can be transformed like we have been transformed.
When we put on the Resurrection, it is like we have put on a new coat. Sure, we may not be transformed physically, but there’s something different about us.
There was a pastor who was walking down Chestnut street in Philadelphia. He noticed a bum walking towards him. He was covered with dirt and soot from head to toe. There was filthy stuff caked on his skin. But the most noticeable thing about him was his beard. It hung down almost to his waist, and there was rotted food stuck in it. THe man was h olding a cup of McDonald’s coffee and the lip of the cup was already smudged from his dirty mouth. As he staggered toward the pastor, he seemed to be staring into his cup of coffee. Then, suddenly, he looked up and yelled, “Hey, mister! Ya want some of my coffee?”
Now, the pastor really didn’t want his coffee, but knew that the right thing to do was to accept his generosity, so accepted the sip.
As he handed the cup back to the bum, the pastor said, “You’re getting pretty generous aren’t you, giving away your coffee? What’s gotten into you today that’s made you so generous?”
The old derelict looked straight into the pastors eyes and said, “Well… the coffee was especially delicious today, and I figure if God gives you something good, you ought to share it with people!”
Now, the Pastor’s thinking “Oh, man, he’s really set me up. This is going to cost me five dollars.” So he asks the man, “I suppose there’s something I can do for you in return isn’t there?”
And the bum answers, “Yea! You can give me a hug!”
And the pastors thinking, “I was hoping he’d say five dollars.”
So the bum puts his arms around the pastor, and the pastor puts his arms around him, and suddenly the pastor realised something. He wasn’t going to let go! People were passing by on the sidewalk, they were staring at the two. There was the pastor, dressed in his clerical garb, hugging this dirty, filthy bum! He was embarrassed, and didn’t know what to do. And then, little by little, embarrassment changed to awe and reverence.
In that little interaction, despite the walls the pastor had tried to put up, God’s love broke through and spoke into the pastor’s life, Because this bum had decided to put on the love of God, he modeled Christ’s love through every interaction.
When we put on the Resurrection we are transformed, and we have the ability - through the Holy Spirit that Christ left for us - to transform the people around us.

T - Put on the Resurrection

So today, you’re invited to put on the resurrection. Christ is risen! When you look in your wardrobe, may the clothes of Christ be the ones that stand out to you the most.
Because when we put on the clothes of Christ, when we put on the resurrection, we have freedom. We’re no longer bound by sin, no longer bound by darkness. We are transformed, and live in the light of God’s goodness.
We’re going to sing a song about this resurrection power. If you want to claim that for yourself today, then I invite you to join me in singing it. You might like to stand, or to raise your hand. You might like to come forward and spend some time in prayer, or if you’ve never experienced that Resurrection power before, you might like to come forward and ask Jesus to come into your life, and to put away all that is not honourable to Christ, and leave here wearing the clothes of Christ.
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