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Life is But a Breath: The Life of Jesus

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Dr. Kirk Sims, both in my current and appointment to come there is a basketball gym within the facility and a night dedicated to pick up playing available. This sport had a significant impact in my life and with the tragic passing of an NBA role model growing up, Kobe Bryant, his death will be on the minds of most fans of the sport for the months to come as he passed away in the midst of a helicopter crash with his oldest daughter, Gianna Bryant. As I heard of this news I was reminded of how brief our life can be and reminded me of the difference between someone losing their life and Jesus willingly offering it for our good. Because the context for this kind of conversation is not a Sunday morning sermon but more conversational immediately prior or following open gym has taken place the vernacular and length of the latter will be shorter and more casual than the former. I hope this contextualization of the gospel is a blessing to you as much as it will be to whomever listens to it sometime in the future.

Notes
Transcript

Introduction

Contextual Gospel Presentation
Giovanni Otero
Dr. Kirk Sims
January 26, 2020
Objective:
Introduction
I wanted to take a moment to thank you all for taking the time to share in the sport that has been so near and dear to my heart. Recently, we all found out about the tragic death of Kobe and his oldest daughter, Gianna. I remember where I was when my wife approached me and said: “Did you hear? Kobe Bryant died!” The following few hours I felt like I couldn’t believe what she had told me, but immediately thought of my nephew, Brayan. Being five years apart, we grew up together with basketball having a prominent role in our relationship, which was more like brothers. He had been watching Kobe since he was a kid first grabbing a ball and loving him because of them having the same name. He was, and still is, a lifelong fan of him and the sport. I called Brayan and his first words were: “I know. I heard about what happened.” I could tell he was emotional. “He just retired. He still had so much to accomplish after retiring from the sport. This is crazy. I just cannot understand” he continued. I assured him I would be thinking of him and that he could call me should he need to talk it out with someone.
Time passed throughout the day and I kept expressing to my wife how confused and conflicted I felt. After getting home and talking to her she told me it would be alright to let myself feel what I was feeling. I broke down in tears. It was the first time death bothered me so much with someone I never knew personally. I felt for his family. I kept getting texts and videos coming up on my phone about how everyone was sad for his passing. In the midst of it all I felt God speaking to me.
“Kobe was among today’s ‘stars’ and treated like one,
but Jesus is the bright and morning star and wasn’t treated as the One.”
“Kobe was among today’s stars and treated like one, but my Son is the bright and morning star and was not treated as such.”

Undeservingly Treated

Treatment of stars today

Our culture today tends to celebrate what the world considers “accomplished” people. In the NBA (National Basketball Association) players’ jersey numbers are retired at the arena of the teams they played for and with which had significant accomplishments. If someone has especially achieved accolades in the realm of basketball they are able to be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame where they are inducted and honored by other legends of the sport. This year (2020) Kobe Bryant will be eligible and most likely inducted where he will be recognized and praised by many others. When players reach a status of Kobe’s caliber they may even have statues built after them and revered by many.

Treatment of Jesus then

God teaches us through his word that Jesus
Philippians 2:6–7 NLT
6 Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form,
Philippians 2.6-7
Jesus was in the form of God before being born but took on the weak and frail form of flesh and bones! We read that he was born as a baby (), grew up like one of us (), lived with every temptation we experience, but without flaw (). He even healed others with incurable sicknesses and took away their isolation from society ()! Would you expect someone of this report to be treated as a star? Maybe nowadays, but Jesus was treated awfully and with contempt. After being arrested due to jealousy and contempt they chose a murderer to be released instead of him (). If this wasn’t bad enough a flogging ensued and then proceeded to crucify him ().
But then God reminded me why Jesus took on all this injustice and pain:
Transition:
1 Peter 2:22–24 NLT
22 He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone. 23 He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. 24 He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed.
He took on our punishment so we could be healed! Jesus took on the wrath of God so we would not have to endure such punishment and judgement.
I kept trying to listen to what God was telling me during this time.
“Kobe’s life seemed like it was tragically taken,
but Jesus’s life was willingly given.”

Willingly Offered

Life tragically taken

I continued to think about why this death was so heartbreaking to me. He had retired from professional basketball less than five years ago. Kobe was on his way back from a game where a former rival had broken one of his records the day prior. He had his daughter along with a few other people on his personal helicopter. He was carrying on business as usual. As I thought about how unexpected this was and how precious him and his daughter were to his family I was reminded of what the Bible says about the shortness of life.
Psalm 39:4–5 NLT
4 Lord, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered— how fleeting my life is. 5 You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.” Interlude
In what would have otherwise been another usual morning returning from a game, the life of Vanessa Bryant, Kobe’s wife, and his three remaining children, Natalia, Bianka and Capri, had been changed with the loss of their husband, father and older sister. It seemed like his life was abruptly taken from him and his loved ones.

Life willingly given

Again, the contrast between Kobe and Jesus at the end of their lives was sharp. We learn from from a Scripture in Isaiah:
Isaiah 53:7 NLT
7 He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth.
There was a certain willingness of Jesus giving his life in this way and to go through the oppression. From one of his last words as recorded by the gospel of Luke:
Luke 23:46 CSB
46 And Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I entrust my spirit.” Saying this, he breathed his last.
It is almost as if he knew this was what needed to happen. But why would someone give up their life? God reminded me:
John 15:13 CSB
13 No one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends.
1 Peter 2:22–24 NLT
22 He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone. 23 He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. 24 He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed.
It was becoming clearer what God was reminding me through this unfortunate passing of a cultural icon.
It was becoming clearer what God was reminding me through this unfortunate passing of a cultural icon. Although death may come to us inevitably, Jesus went through it willingly because he loves us so deeply.
Romans 5:6–8 NLT
6 When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. 7 Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. 8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
While some of us might not even be willing to die for a good or righteous person, God sent Jesus to die for us when we still did not even care for him. God was motivated to mend this broken relationship between us and himself and gave the person most precious to him, his Son.
At this point I thought I would have learned everything that God had to say to me through this experience, but there was one more thing he wanted to get across to me.
“Kobe’s death might have left his potential unfulfilled,
Transition:
but Jesus’s death fulfilled the greatest purpose.

Majestically Returned

Much of what was written about Kobe after his passing was how much potential was unfulfilled due to his passing. He had begun to elevate the status of women’s basketball by coaching his daughters’ teams. He entered the entertainment business and won an Academy award. He opened his own basketball training camps for young athletes.

Unfulfilled potential

Much of what was written about Kobe after his passing was how much potential was unfulfilled due to his passing at the age of forty-one. He had begun to elevate the status of women’s basketball by coaching his daughters’ teams. He entered the entertainment business and won an Academy award thanks to his animated short Dear Basketball. He opened his own basketball training camps for young athletes and wanted to accomplish much more. This all seems to be cut short due to his passing.

Fulfilled purpose

And as you might have guessed, here is yet another contrast found in the life of Kobe and Jesus. Whereas Kobe was not able to fulfill his full potential because of his death, part of God’s purpose was accomplished through the death of Jesus. You have hope for a full life through relationship with God. Jesus wanted to enjoy life as it was meant to be and gave his life so we would be able to do so. The gospel of John records Jesus saying:
John 3:14–18 CSB
14 “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. 16 For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Anyone who believes in him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God.
John 3:14–16 CSB
14 “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. 16 For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
John 10:10 CSB
10 A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.
And one of the most important points I want you to hear through this message from God is found in these words:
John 3:14–18 CSB
14 “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. 16 For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Anyone who believes in him is not condemned, but anyone who does not believe is already condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God.
Jesus 3.14-18
Life that last forever and lacks nothing are not based on what we can accomplish, but on what God has done through his Son, Jesus. This takes all the pressure away from having to earn or work for something that has already been accomplished thanks to Jesus.
Transition:

Conclusion

The passing of Kobe Bryant was unexpected in many ways. Nobody expected him to pass so suddenly at such a young age. I did not expect to be affected by the death of someone I never knew personally. But through it all God spoke much to me through this experience and I can only hope and pray for his family to feel God’s comfort and support during such a trying time. This whole experience reminded me how great God is and how short life can be.

Summary

In short, through the life of Kobe and how starkly different it was from Jesus I was able to hear a message from God. Jesus endured on our behalf so we would not have to face the wrath and justice of God. Although our lives can be taken unexpectedly Jesus gave his life willingly because he loves us. Through the death of Jesus we can experience a full life here and forevermore.

Application

This means that there may be actions and thoughts from which God can pardon us thanks to what Jesus endured. Because Jesus took on the full wrath of God we no longer have to be afraid of what we have done in our lives. We do not have to be fearful of past behaviors that bring shame or guilt to our minds.
Additionally, we can know we are loved and have been pursued. I mean, how many people do you know who would die in your place willingly? Not only that, but would die for you even while you were still against them. Only someone who truly loves you. Jesus did that for us today.
The beauty is that because Jesus has the power over death he has come to give us life abundantly. So now, not only are we free past burdens of guilt and shame in our lives, but we have the ability to live a life that pleases God now! If we trust Jesus to do the work in us he already began a long time ago he can transform what we believe about ourselves, what we think, and how we live.
Jesus willingly gave his life because he loves us.
Jesus brought hope and fullness of life through his death.

Prayer

Coros:
I appreciate you being patient with me as I shared what I thought God was giving me. I have hope and joy because I know it has resonated with some of you. I would be honored to pray with you all. Let’s pray together:
Heavenly Father,
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I am thankful that you speak to us. I am humbled by your willingness to be with us even when we are not worthy of your presence. I thank you for providing your Son, Jesus, to be our Savior. Whatever there is within us that might not please you: anger, lust, envy, jealousy, deceit, immorality, lack of self-control, hatred towards family or other people, we ask that you would take it from us. Take any guilt from our past. Break any chains hold us captive within. Help us to see your greatness and the delight it is to follow you. We trust your sacrifice. We trust your love for us. We ask you would make us clean and help us to follow you closer moving forward. May our lives bring you glory and be a beacon of light to those who are hopeless. I pray all of this in Jesus’s name. Amen.
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