Ways to have a deeper relational experience with God
Before we trusted Jesus, from birth, nobody had to teach us to sin, to cheat, or lie, or pout, or to put ourselves first, or to demand your own way. All of this came honestly, naturally from conception.
But, for every Christian here, you heard the gospel, and by God’s grace you trusted Jesus Christ with your sins and He forgave every sin. You believed in Him to restore you to God and He welcomed you to the Almighty as Dad. And the Holy Spirit immediately immersed and sealed you in this RELATIONSHIP with God, this union with Christ.
Yet the problem is we've lived so long on our own, that leaving behind our destructive ways of trying to make life work without God and LIVING by faith in Jesus Christ, walking with Him, depending on God, is a long process.
Learning to live out of our relationship depending on God is a life-long process.
We too often slip into religious-thinking, trusting more on our performance than God’s grace. We look for 3-step applications, religious regimens. "Just tell me what to do." But...
God doesn’t give us a three-point applications or religious programs to follow. He gives us Jesus and invites us into relationship.
Okay but how do we make that shift? How do we embrace this? How do we live out of this relationship?
How do we engage in a deeper relational experience with God?
First, it is important to understand that a relationship means knowing God, not just knowing about Him.
John 17:3 This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
Perhaps the biggest difference maker that shifts us from knowing about God to truly knowing God is faith. Trust in the Truth. We take it all personally.
Knowledge about God is meant to shape how we know and respond to God. Whatever we learn about Him strikes us with wonder and shapes how we know God and how He relates to us: O, this is the God who loves me. This is the Savior that I trust. The God that I love. This is the Lord whom I serve.
How do we engage in a deeper relational experience with God?
Second, we engage in a deeper relational experience when we trust and submit to God according to who HE says He is. Not what we want Him to be like…
I say this a lot but titles define the relationship and relationship defines the roles.
God reveals Himself as Father. Savior. Lord. Protector. Provider. We’re His children.
In this relationship, we are dependent on Him for these! As we learn to depend on Him, His wisdom, His provision, His power, we allow God to be all that He is for us.
John 15:1 records Jesus saying, I am the true vine and My Father is the vinedresser.
Jesus tells us about Himself. He’s defining roles—relationship. Then He explains,
John 15:2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.
Some look for a command here. Aha we're to bear fruit. That's what Jesus tells us do! But no. Jesus defines the relationship: “Understand, I Am the vine; I give you life. And my Father prunes you. Together, we love you. We want you to experience fullness, purpose… “When you get that, here’s my command,”
John 15:4 Abide in Me, and I in you. [i.e., stay connected, dependent; drawing from me every day.] As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in Me.
Even when He doesn’t use relational terms, like father, child, bride, He’s relational.
John 15:5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
Though we are declared righteous, Christians can be practical atheists in our experience. We can still rely on ourselves, our old way of thinking, old ways of reacting. And our lives can be as much of a train wreck as anybody’s…
So Jesus says, abide in me. Like a branch to a tree, depend on Me and together we’ll tackle everything that I allow this crazy world to throw at you.
But again, this doesn’t come natural to us. Listen to a few statements:
All our righteous deeds are like a filthy rags.
With people this is impossible; but with God all things are possible
This calls us to believe something negative (with people this is impossible), and to believe something positive (with God all things are possible).
I can do no good thing [negative] yet God can do all things [positive]
The problem is since our diaper days we are taught that we can do anything, which is a far cry from, “I can do no good thing; yet God can do all things.”
Or “I have died yet Christ lives in me.” Or “When I am weak, then I am strong.”
Notice each of these axioms invites humility in relationship, and leads to better lives.
So to think “I can fix this myself” or “I can quit anytime I want” or “God, I’ve got this” not only leaves us weak and vulnerable to sin and Satan. Worse. It hinders dependence, walking with Christ. It circumvents receiving God’s love. Dismisses His offer to love us. Washes our hands of any need for God’s grace.
Meanwhile, some of us have the opposite problem. We know we can do no good thing; it's been drilled into your head all if your life. But you don’t believe that you can do all things through Him who strengthens you.
Some of you get the "wretched sinner" part but you don’t believe God deals with you in grace.
Yet David’s adultery didn’t hinder God’s grace for he trusted God to be gracious even in his sin.
Peter’s lies, denying he knew Jesus, didn’t stop God from using him.
Nor did Saul’s violent acts against the church. Again letting God define the relationship. Relating to Him according to His grace not our works.
You may think your sin disrupts God’s favor, causes Him to withhold His love.
But God says,
Romans 5:20 … where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.
This is why we must submit to His love.
God in His grace opens up the relationship. Trust receives. Humility steps in.
God in His grace doesn’t ask your opinion of what can or cannot be done, He doesn’t fear the impossible.
His grace allows us no excuse because of our inability, or lack of skill. Grace is not devastated by failure. It never fears that you blew your chance for happiness. For God is a generous giver. A very present help in trouble. Whatever God commands, He supplies. Wherever He directs, He goes with us.
How else can we engage in a more relational experience with God?
Classic answers are often the best.
Read His Word daily.
Engage in Christian community regularly.
Serve God and others.
We recommend all these. Yet some of us hardly read or pray, for instance, because it’s not relational.
So how do we allow God to make praying more relationally intimate?
Matt. 21:22 “And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”
Mark 11:24 “Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.
The common denominator is faith. Belief. Trust is intimacy.
As you pray, God says to cast your cares on Him knowing, trusting that He cares for you. Trust is intimacy. Pray, trusting that God is attentive, listening. If we don’t TRUST that He’s present, engaging with us, we may feel we’re talking to ourselves.
Don’t just tell God what you want, bounce things off Jesus, or tell Him then wait. Listen. Trust He’s engaged. Understand His heart—that’s what Jesus did. Give Him permission to lead you. This interchange is at the heart of Christian engagement.
When you’re reading, singing, praying, driving, whatever you do, engage relationally by trusting God hears, cares, and responds to you! Then respond back! This looking to Jesus, this faith and response is what defines an abiding relationship.
But when we don’t live out of the relationship through trust, and we don’t say “Yes,” or respond to God—we slip into a less intimate non-experience.
How else can we engage in a more relational experience with God?
One of the best things, relationally, is to “Yes” to Jesus; this moves us into a friend relation.
John 15:9 Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
Jesus began by telling us, “Abide in me.” Now, “Abide in my love.”
Jesus tells us, "I love you with the same love with which the Father loves me," then says, "abide in My love." Let this truth shape our relationship. Submit to My love regardless of circumstances or feelings.
And notice the process continues,
Abide in His love through faith. Submit to His love even when you may be tempted to doubt it. Then, those who submit to His love learn obedience.
John 15:10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.
There's so much here. To abide in His love is to let God love you. Trusting. Submitting. Allowing Him to love you His way, through humility.
Experiencing His love, you love Him (we love because He first loved us).
And, as Jesus says, "If you love Me, obey Me." Love motivates obedience. And love goes full circle--for He tells us to love others. When we do, finally, as we love God in our actions (obedience, love others), we experience fulfillment.
John 15:11 These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and your joy may be made full.
It starts with God's love; it ends with fulfillment. “That your joy may be full.”
And at the center of all of this is trust, humility and submission.
John 15:12 This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14 “You are My friends if [not "you are saved if", not "you are loved if," but "you are behaving as Jesus' friends if"] you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.
Not all believers act like God’s friends. But all are invited to. It took years of maturing for the disciples. It wasn't till he was 20+ years into his relationship with God that Abraham was commanded to offer up Isaac and he obeyed that he was called a friend of God.
In other words, it's a process. But we take one step, one "Yes" at a time.
Three Reasons To Be Excited About Our Future Resurrection
Four weeks ago we celebrated Jesus’ resurrection and what all it means, but why do WE need to be resurrected? What’s really going to change?
I’m already born again, so why do I need to be resurrected?
Well, maybe this will help: You’re born again, so why do you still sin? The Holy Spirit is in you, so why don’t you feel closer to God? You know God’s will, so why don’t you keep it?
We might say, because Satan is a master enemy. Yes. And the whole world is under his power. But each of these reasons are outside of you. The biggest reason we still sin and don't obey God is because sin dwells in our physical being.
As the Apostle Paul wrote,
Rom. 7:14 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.
He further mentions the “lusts of the body,” the “desires of the flesh.” Calls this body “a body of death.” He says there’s a “principle that evil is present in me.”
Rom. 7:18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not.
Obedience is not automatic for any born again believer—not just you! Why? Because sin still dwells in our body and radically affects our emotions, reactions, desires. The presence of sin within makes us act like the person we don’t want to be.
2 Cor. 4:6 For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. 7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels...
So the question, “I’m born again, why do I still sin?” helps to answer our question, “I’m born again, why do I need to be resurrected?”
One reason we need to be resurrected is because this terrible force of sin that we’ve all inherited from Adam still dwells in our flesh. When Christ resurrects us we will have perfect, transformed, righteous, powerful bodies without a trace of sin.
When we are resurrected we shall freely, naturally, and forevermore live out of our born again self, our righteous new nature. No more struggle. No more inner turmoil. No more shame.
The moment you trust Jesus for eternal life with God the Holy Spirit regenerates your spirit. Your spirit is redeemed! You have a new heart, a new nature, a new identity in Christ. But this body still awaits its redemption at the resurrection.
Rom. 8:23 Not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, [life is hard] waiting eagerly for our [finalized] adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.
At the resurrection. Then we will be fully redeemed. Perfect. Sinless. This is our destiny. Jesus Christ will transform our body and give us glory like His.
Philippians 3:20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; 21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.
So be excited for your future resurrection! For you will never again struggle with sin. No more shame. No more inner turmoil. No more anger issues, self-hate, weakness.
No addiction will ever again violate your best intentions.
For our Lord will transform this weak and humble body to conform to His sinless, perfect, powerful, body. And the glory of our future resurrected body will match the glory of our regenerated spirit…
A second reason we need to be resurrected is as long as we are still in this mortal body—this is as good as it gets. This is as close to God as we’ll get. We cannot see God and live. We cannot inherit the kingdom in these bodies. We must be resurrected to be in His presence and to reign in His kingdom.
Moses asked the Lord to show me your glory.
The Lord answered Moses,
Exodus 33:19 … “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.” 20 But He said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” 21 Then the LORD said, “Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock; 22 and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen.”
“You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” [God to Moses]
Just like flying too close to the sun, we cannot survive an undraped, fully displayed encounter with God. Paul explained the plain truth,
1 Cor. 15:50 Now I say this, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
Our regenerated spirit is excited and ready for God’s presence, but this mortal body cannot survive the unveiled presence of the Lord’s glory.
This is why we can get excited at the resurrection, for then our bodies will be changed, made for heaven and earth. We will enter God’s fullest presence, and see His face which far exceeds any joy or ecstasy we have here.
But this body needs to be changed. And that’s exactly what will happen,
1 Cor. 15:52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.
What are some of those changes that will take place?
1 Cor. 15:42 It is sown [buried] a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body…
No physical limitations. No weaknesses. At the resurrection, YOU will have extra-dimensional abilities like Jesus who passed through doors, appeared at will, ascended into the highest heaven, and entered the presence of God—in whose presence is fullness of joy, and pleasures forevermore…
This awaits us.
Another change, our bodies will be luminous, effervescent. Kind of hard to imagine. And it’s not a parlor trick. For our bodies will finally reflect the glory that God has already invested in us through regeneration.
Daniel 12:2 “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground [believers] will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others [unbelievers] to disgrace and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who have insight [who put their faith in Jesus] will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.
Jesus affirms this. He says,
Matthew 13:43 Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.”
John’s revelation shows how Jesus now glows. His face is like the sun. His eyes like flames of fire. His feet like glowing bronze. Rather than hide this from us, and condescend to our level so He can be with us, our Lord will elevate us to His level. We will see Him and not be afraid, but be like Him.
A final reason to be excited for our resurrection is that in our transformed, sinless, powerful bodies, that will shine as the sun, we will fully express our true identity, the glory of who we are.
And the world will see. And we will see. For our bodies will match the glory of our spirit, so that we forevermore live out our destiny as God's children.
1 John 3:1 See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.
This is who you are right now—a child of God. More than a title. More than a relationship. Understand, to be a child of God describes your nature. You are born again. Your spirit is regenerated—the you in this body is now immortal, righteous, alive to God. You are an eternal being with eternal life…
To be called a child of God is more than a relationship, it describes our new nature. We are born again of God.
But on this side of the resurrection, this is something we have to be told. It is something we have to believe. It is something the world does not believe.
And why? Because you and I don’t look any different! Because your body is still unredeemed. For again, we have this great "treasure in earthen vessels."
We’re like Jesus before His resurrection—He was God in the flesh but nobody could tell by looking at Him. His body was remarkably unremarkable. It didn’t reflect His eternal glory as God, in fact it veiled His eternal glory.
In the same way, we are born again, our spirit is eternal, united to Christ, but our physical bodies do not accurately portray who we are. And we too often judge by appearances. So this is hard to believe. Hard to remember.
So he tells us again,
1 John 3:2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be; but we know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.
This is exciting. This is our destiny.
At the rapture of the living and the resurrection of the dead YOU will be complete. Body and spirit. Imperishable. Indestructible. Glorious. Sinless. Righteous. Powerful. Having divine authority to carry out your mission in the kingdom. Able to stand and worship and take in the glory and beauty and splendor of God. You will be fashioned for the kingdom on earth and the glory of heaven.
And every planet, every star, every galaxy, every ocean, every rock, awaits.
Romans 8:19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God… 23 And not only this, but … we ourselves groan … waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.
So the change is cosmic. The ramifications are universal. And practical…
God affirms us over and over again in the significance of our true identity.
You are a glorious being, created by an indescribably magnificent God in his own likeness. Yet you are a fallen glorious being, prone to sin and selfishness. Having trusted Jesus, your spirit is redeemed, restored to glory. But we have this treasure in imperfect, mortal bodies. And at the rapture of the living and the resurrection of the dead, your body will be transformed.
You will be a glorious being in a visibly glorious body, perfect, righteous, with great power, and visible glory. You will reflect Christ without any limitation. Whatever other say. Whatever you think of your looks, smarts, success; even if your life is a train wreck of sin or addiction, this is your destiny.
Even if it’s hard to fully see or emotionally connect with, this is your future. And the day is coming when this will no longer be a great truth to trust, but the truth we shall live.
1 Cor. 13:12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.
Loving Our Children in Helpful Ways
Motherhood is amazing.
Think of it, your mom loved you from the moment she knew she was pregnant. Then she gave birth to you. It changed her body. Hormones amped out. She maybe nursed you, changed your diapers. Made your favorite meals. Drove you wherever you needed. Hosted friends, sleepovers. Did your laundry. Laughed at your jokes. Cherished every recital, game, good grade. Buffered between you and your father. Prayed for you, cried for you, worried over you, rooted for you. Your mom really truly loved you.
Of course, moms are mere mortals, weak, broken, busy, stressed, and exhausted, but how God made it, you are incredibly special in your child’s eyes.
For those of you who are blessed to be mothers, you got to co-create and bring into this world, and nurture a new person made in the image of God.
This blessing of being a mom enables a woman to reflect in a most intimate and wonderful way, God’s love to another person—your child, your children.
I want to encourage moms to keep it up. For you have an incredible responsibility. But yet your primary calling is simply to love them.
The essence of motherhood is relationship.
This seems natural for most moms, but it’s not always easy. It takes time. Energy. Sleep. And help. For your cute little baby has a sin nature. And it doesn’t go away as she becomes an adolescent, as she matures into a teen, an adult. At every stage she requires grace. And you want to give it to her but you aren’t made of grace. You need Jesus, to abide in Christ.
Motherhood is about relationships—first with God.
I don’t have to tell you this. But let me encourage you to take the time to meet with Jesus. Some time in the word. Each day in prayer. Let Jesus fill your cup. Trust Him for the patience, gentleness, and love He offers. Let Jesus Christ forgive you any built up guilt. Any built up shame or regret…
Motherhood is all about relationships—This is the relationship that sustains you and gives you peace to soar. So, first with God, then with your husband, then your child. O and also with experienced moms, godly women.
Titus 2:3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, 4 so that they may encourage the young women [young wives] to love their husbands, [because loving, Christ-centered marriages are the best soil for children to grow in Christ’s likeness. And] to love their children,...
There’s not a lot here when it comes to motherhood—love your husbands, and love your children.
Moms, you’re really good at loving your children. But love as God does.
God's goal is not that we, His children, never experience hurt, loss or sadness. We won’t mature that way, nor be of much help. God loves us in ways that help us to trust and walk with Jesus and mature in His likeness. That's His goal is for His children. And it starts in the home with mothers and fathers...
So I just want to list three helpful ways to love our children…
1. We love our children in a helpful way by growing them in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
This isn’t just the mother’s role; it’s dad’s too. But especially when they are young, moms, you may have a more intimate connection, more opportunities, and you may have an easier time sharing Jesus with them.
The Apostle Paul wrote to a young pastor and friend of his,
2 Timothy 1:5 For I am mindful [Timothy] of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.
2 Timothy 3:14 You, [Timothy] continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 that from childhood [through your mother] you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation [not justification, but sanctification, glorification] through faith in Christ Jesus.
Father’s it’s your responsibility, but dads and moms, teach your children about Jesus. Who He is. You don’t have to be a scholar—tell them what you know. What you trust. Tell them what He did. And why you trust Him.
I.e., Train them in why they can trust and follow Jesus in all they face. Don't expect them to know. And don’t trust the world to teach them.
Don’t so protect them from the world that they don’t know how to combat it. Equip them for the battle.
We as parents, as fathers and mothers need to help our children,
2 Cor. 10:5 We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.
Read them great books. And pray for our children,
Eph. 1:17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him.
They are in class five days a week. They need to hear from you. Bring them to GU Kids each week. They need to talk about Jesus with other kids, too.
2. We love our children in a helpful way by affirming their God-given identity.
Identity is a heart word that is related to who your child is. And it is under siege today. As moms and dads, we need to proactively build into our youngest children a strong sense of identity, significance, and destiny.
Today, we need to affirm their character, and strengths, AND their gender.
Considering the spirit of the age, in some schools, some classes, shows they watch, you need to protect your children at the core of their being.
Your child has a God-given need for significance in his identity. But if this need for significance goes unmet, he can question his identity.
Want to be something more. Or different. Kids naturally question themselves. They don’t always like how they are. Boys may not fit masculine ideals. Girls may not fit in feminine ideals. They may be made fun. Bullied. Feel inadequate on the playground, in the classroom. If they do not feel significant in who they are, and another way to identify is cheered, given high status, the promised significance is alluring.
Love meets this need with affirmation. A father and mother’s affirmation builds into our young children a strong sense of identity, significance, destiny.
A helpful way to love your child is by affirming who God made him or her to be. Their character. Strengths. Their sex. Affirm your son’s masculinity. Don’t nag that he’s too aggressive. Help him to value being a boy, a male in all its meaning. Affirm your girl’s femininity. Don’t mock her fears. Instill the value, beauty and strengths of being a female.
Moms and dads can love your child in a helpful way by affirming and helping them to see the strengths and talents, the character traits and qualities that our Lord wove into them.
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Know your child. Help them reflect God’s image, not yours. They need the grace of a parent to understand them. To see how God blessed them. To see things in them that they don’t see. They have so many insecurities. They don’t always like how they look, who they are, or how they compare.
Affirm their strengths.
Moms, you’re probably doing this naturally. You love your children.
Here’s a third helpful way to love your children, and this may be a common blindspot for many moms today. And more and more fathers too. BUT…
3. We love our child in a helpful way with diligent discipline.
Our heavenly Father loves us even when we are pig-headed, disobedient, totally selfish, and totally justifying our sins. But for our sake, He lets us know what is right and wrong, and He does not simply ignore our actions.
Revelation 3:19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.
God knows that if He doesn’t intervene we can just go on in our sin. And if we do they will destroy us. He calls fathers and mothers to love their kids this same way. He uses very strong love language to communicate it to us,
Proverbs 13:24: Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.
He says this frequently; He says this is loving. He says this a lot because we think think discipline is unloving. We feel guilty disciplining. But this is loving; this is helpful. This is an area to humble ourselves and yield to God.
Hebrews 12:11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.
Moms, you only want to express love to your child. Awesome. Godly discipline is an act of love! It is never fun, it’s painful. But in the long run, diligent, loving discipline blesses your child with wisdom and boundaries to prepare them for a righteous life marked by peace, not violence. (Trust Jesus Christ)
This doesn’t negate that motherhood is ultimately relational, extending love and grace. Things moms value. For these are the very qualities God extends to us. Love and grace are what draw us to Him. Because of His grace, we can be honest with Him. Because of His grace, discipline works.
And if this is so in our relationship with God, how about with our kids?
When you trust God with this you aren’t doing this alone.
And when it’s all too hard. And you don’t have any more strength or patience or gentleness, Christ is your strength, your help in times of trouble.
Take a break. Open your bible. Pray. Cry out to God whenever you feel overwhelmed, when chaos has overtaken the home. Get with your husband.
Call a godly friend. And remember what God has promised you…
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
2 Corinthians 12:9 … “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”
You don’t have to be strong or on top of it. In fact, best to admit YOU'RE NOT. And to trust the Lord and turn to Him.
How Is Jesus Different After His Resurrection
We just celebrated Jesus’ resurrection. People ask what’s the big deal? Many people were considered clinically dead and then came back to life.
But they weren’t too dead. They were revived or resuscitated, not resurrected. They survived a near death experience, they didn’t conquer death.
And not one of them walked out with a transformed body, new life, and immortality. Plus each died or will die again. Even those Jesus raised…
Question, how many people did Jesus resurrect from the dead? ZERO.
How many people did Jesus raise from the dead? History records THREE: Lazarus, Jairus’ daughter, the widow’s son. All three died a second time.
But Jesus’ resurrection—and which He promises us one day—is fundamentally different. On Good Friday, after mortally suffering for six long hours,
Luke 23:46 … Jesus, crying out with a loud voice, said, “Father, INTO YOUR HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT.” Having said this He breathed His last.
When Jesus’ spirit left His body, just as with us, that’s death. Nothing is inside to animate life. The heart ceases. Breathing, brain and brain stem function all ceases. And Jesus’ vacated body began the irreversible process of decomposition. Not only that but He was dead for three days.
Yet on Easter, Jesus walked out of the grave in the same yet transformed body. He wasn’t a ghost, a disembodied spirit; He was in a physical body.
And for all the internet hype and memes, He wasn’t a zombie.
If Jesus was a zombie, He wouldn’t have eaten breakfast with His disciples, He’d have eaten His disciples for breakfast.
The angels wouldn’t have said to the women, “Do not fear!” They’d have said, “Run for your lives!” Rather than be disgusted by Jesus’ rotting body, they were overcome with joy.
After His resurrection, Jesus’ body was different.
While He was here on earth, He was Eternal God but He veiled His glory. His natural body reflected His new humanity not His eternal deity. Yet now that Jesus Christ has been resurrected, His glorified body reflects, for our sake, the radiance and glory of both His divine and human nature.
Jesus’ body was put into the earth like a seed, and by through resurrection, it sprung forth into something glorious and new, like an oak sprouting out from a buried acorn.
So what does Jesus look like now? What was different about Jesus after His resurrection?
1. After His resurrection, Jesus’ body was different enough to go unrecognized by His followers.
Mary didn’t recognize Jesus. Neither did the two on the road to Emmaus.
John 20:14 When [Mary] … turned around and saw Jesus standing there, she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”
It wasn’t poor lighting! His resurrection body is different. He was glorified. His body took on a glory that matches His identity and reflects who He is, immortal, indestructible, physical yet spiritual. Fashioned for earth and heaven. To live with us and to “live with the Father in unapproachable light.”
Unapproachable light. Remember, no mortal can see God as He is (in His full glory, His full identity) and survive. The Lord told Moses,
Exodus 33:20… “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!”
We’ll talk about that next week as we consider what God says about our future body. But we must be changed, we must put on immortality before we can see God fully. And Jesus was in a glorified body, living among not yet glorified beings. He still couldn’t show the full change. We’ll see that soon. But even still, He was different enough to go unrecognized…
We see this with two of His followers that were heading to Emmaus,
Luke 24:15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them. 16 But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him.
Even after this, seven of Jesus’ disciples went fishing, and caught nothing.
John 21:4 But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.
Even after seeing Him several times now, they didn’t recognize Him. So this stranger tells them where to cast the nets and they do, and the nets are miraculously full of large fish. That’s when John said, “It’s the Lord!” And Peter swam to the shore while the others rowed back with fish in tow.
Jesus not only appeared differently in His resurrected body,
2. Resurrected Jesus was also able to vanish at will.
Luke 24:28 As they approached the village where they were going, and He acted as though He were going farther. 29 But they urged Him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is now nearly over.” So He went in to stay with them. 30 When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and He vanished from their sight. 32 They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” 33 And they got up that very hour and returned to Jerusalem, and found gathered together the eleven and those who were with them, 34 saying, “The Lord has really risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35 They began to relate their experiences on the road and how He was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread.
3. Post-resurrection Jesus could also appear at will.
Luke 24:36 While they were telling these things, He Himself stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be to you.” 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought that they were seeing a spirit. 38 And He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. 41 While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish; 43 and He took it and ate before them.
Not a ghost, not a zombie, not an android body. Jesus is nothing less than fully human. Yet He goes wherever He wants. He teleports through walls. He enjoys food but doesn’t need it and He is not affected by calories…
Jesus' resurrection shows that the body is good.
He wasn’t trapped in human flesh as if it wasn’t a part of Him. But His body that died and started to decay is now utterly transformed. Metamorphosed. Fashioned for heaven and earth. Eternally reflecting who He truly is. Unlimited. Glorious.
I said His body is fashioned for heaven and earth. In His resurrected body,
4. Resurrected Jesus entered in and out of heaven
Acts 1:9 And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men [angels] in white clothing stood beside them. 11 They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”
So Jesus could pass through locked doors, fly or ascend into the highest heavens and return to earth. Which in the future remember, He will reign from His throne on earth, and from the right hand of the Father in glory.
Jesus is luminous, He radiates holiness, power, glory.
But this leads to one final observation. After He ascended to heaven, He appears to be even different from His forty days on earth after His arose.
A few of the disciples got a glimpse of this when Jesus told them,
Matt. 16:28 “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” 17:1 Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. 2 And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light… 5 [Then the Father spoke,] “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified.
Paul described his experience in Acts, “I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining all around me and those who were journeying with me. And when we had all fallen to the ground,” Jesus spoke to him.
In the book of Revelation, we read John’s experience,
Revelation 1:12 Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lamp stands [seven churches]; 13 and in the middle of the lamp stands I saw one like a Son of Man, [he looked human like us] clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. 14 His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire. 15 His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters. 16 In His right hand He held seven stars [angels], and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength. 17 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, 18 and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.”
This is how Jesus looks now that He ascended. This is how He is in heaven.
Yet this is discomforting for some. This thought of Jesus seems scary, less personal. True, every time His followers saw Him they were frightened and fell to the ground! We don’t want scary Jesus, we want fully human Jesus. He’s more personal, relatable, gentle. BUT will He be less intimate in heaven? No, even in His radiant omnipotence God is love. That’s His nature…
He is all-powerful yet merciful and gentle. He is holy and transcendent yet intimate and personal. His voice roars like many waters, yet it will match who He is—in holiness, power, and love. His eyes aflame like fire, yet with them He looks into your eyes and says, “I am yours and you are Mine.”
Jesus’ body human didn’t reflect all that He is, it didn’t reflect His essential nature as God. Just as man. But after His resurrection, He now does. The One we love and pray to glows with power, and radiates brilliant glory…
He reflects who He is as God the Almighty. And and as man. One of us.
This is our God. This is our Savior. The Light of the world. Pure goodness.
When Jesus rose from the dead and ministered on earth for 40 days, He still had to veil His glory because His followers were not resurrected yet, they were still flesh and blood. No man may see His glory and live. But after we are resurrected, we will see and be amazed and be drawn in worship. Rather than condescend to our level, He will elevate us to His level.
1 Cor. 15:51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we [who are alive when Christ comes for us] will be changed.
What was Jesus' message after His resurrection?
Following His resurrection from the dead, our Lord Jesus Christ “presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to His many followers, over 500 in fact over a period of forty days” (Acts 1:3).
We will look at several of Jesus’ resurrection appearances over the next two weeks. Today, we’ll focus first on His Words. What was Jesus' message to these believers? How does it apply to us today? Next week, we’ll consider what changed in Him, and what will change in us when we are resurrected?
The first person to whom Jesus revealed Himself is Mary.
If you put all four Gospels together, you realize that Mary Magdalene and several women went to the tomb and saw it empty, she left and told the disciples. And nobody knows what to believe?! So Peter and John go to the empty tomb. Mary follows after them. John now believes Jesus rose from the dead. They leave, Mary stays behind; that’s when two angels appear,
John 20:13 And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” [It’s Easter Sunday! The greatest event just took place. Why are you so sad?!] She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said, “Rabboni!”
Jesus’ initial message was “stop weeping and start believing.”
When He entered the upper room where His disciples were hiding in fear, His message was similar, “stop fearing and start believing.”
And this isn’t just for Easter Sunday.
Whatever you face, however hopeless it seems, however powerless you feel, it’s hard to remain miserable or frightened or hopeless when by faith you believe that Jesus is fully alive from the dead, and you embrace the hope that His resurrection brings.
He told the two disciples that He met on the way to Emmaus pretty much the same, “Stop being so foolish and start believing.”
Luke 24:15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them. 16 But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him. 17 And He said to them, “What are these [sad and hopeless] words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?” And they stood still, looking sad.
After they revealed their initial hope in Him but their current lack of faith,
Luke 24:25 And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! [I.e., stop being so sad and believe! Really, STOP BEING SO FOOLISH, BELIEVE ALL THAT GOD SAYS ABOUT ME. It’s very illuminating that Jesus thinks we are foolish to not believe ALL that God’s Word says.] 26 Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” [Why is it necessary they happen? Because Scripture said it would happen!] 27 Then beginning with Moses [Genesis] and all the prophets [from Amos - Zechariah], He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.
Stop weeping, stop fearing, and stop being foolish! How by believing that Jesus has risen from the dead. And believe everything the Bible says, everything it says about Jesus. Jesus says it’s foolish not to. That’s less of a judgment, more of an outcome—we live foolishly, we think and act like an unbeliever whenever we do not believe what God’s Word teaches.
Again this isn’t an Easter message. However hopeless your current crisis seems, however powerless you are to affect a good outcome, whatever is robbing you or peace or joy in this life. But let me ask, why were the disciples afraid? Why was Mary so sad?
It wasn’t just because Jesus was so sweet and she missed him so much.
John 20:13 … [But in her own words] “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”
Jesus freed her from seven demons. She experienced that. Jesus forgave her sins and she believed Him. She believed Jesus reconciled her to God. He fully accepts her, always, because of Jesus. She longed for this…
Jesus was her Lord. I.e., she trusted and loved Him and gave her life to serve Him. We serve what we love. So, WHEN HE DIED, she’s left asking, “Is any of this true?! Am I forgiven. Does God accept me?”
And now His body is missing and it was just all too much for her to handle…
So Jesus’ initial message to His followers was stop being so sad. Stop being so afraid, so hopeless. Do you see how foolish this is as you believe that I am alive. Jesus’ resurrection means every promise God made will likewise (literally) be fulfilled. His resurrection means Satan has no authority over you, sin is no longer your master, and death’s power is destroyed.
Jesus’ resurrection has an effect on a galactic, cosmic scale, for
“He created all things, seen and unseen.” And “in Him all things hold together.” And “in the fulness of the times, all things will be summed up in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth.” (Eph 1:10). Paul says,
Eph. 1:20 [God the Father] raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, [or any name you can name, any threat they pose] not only in this age but also in the one to come.
Believe this. Frame your understanding of the world around this. Don’t fear the end of the world as others do. Nor the state of the nation; and don’t put all your hope in political parties. Believe that Jesus has all rule and authority and power. Believe this into your situation. See this and believe this over your fears. No problem is too big for Christ in heaven and also in you.
On a personal level, Jesus’ resurrection means we have a God who suffered and died for us, yet lives to save us. He understands through personal experience everything you face.
He knows what it is to be heartbroken, betrayed, hated, frightened, human.
Jesus’ resurrection means you are always loved—by the Almighty. You are always listened to, always cared for, and always interceded for.
Rom. 8:34 Who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.
But there’s more. The fact that Jesus rose from the dead, we can declare,
Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? [NO. for Christ conquered all in His resurrection!] 37 [So] in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. [And rose again for us!]
So Jesus’ early message was stop weeping, stop fearing, stop reacting to the world and culture like its got any power, and believe that Jesus has risen from the dead and therefore we have hope in Him in every situation.
So whatever you face, financial crises, a boring job, a failed relationship, annoying people, a vindictive enemy, illness, aging, or death. By faith live in the hope that Jesus’ resurrection brings. You’ve a living Shepherd…
Psalm 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. 2… He leads me beside quiet waters. 3 He restores my soul… 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me… 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. 6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
Jesus had one other clear message or really mission that He kept sharing,
John 20:19 So when it was evening on that day, the first of the week], and when the doors were shut where the disciples were , for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.”
This was specific to His disciples. He was sending them out as His apostles. The Holy Spirit wouldn’t be sent to the whole church, all believers, for another fifty days, but until then He came to these for a special empowering.
Which shows the importance of believing that the resurrected Christ sends us His Holy Spirit and we need to be led by and to rely on Him to be effective.
He also gives us the privilege to announce to others God’s forgiveness of their sins and guilt and shame. We get to announce freedom and forgiveness in Christ. And if they believe they are forgiven and restored to God, and given infinite worth, identity, clothed with glory, as God’s possession.
Mark 16:15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel [GOOD NEWS] to all creation.”
Share the good news that the risen Savior entrusts with us.
Believe that there are people out there whom God will grant to believe and be saved. Share with those who are sad, empty, feeling hopeless, afraid. People have epic fears today. COVID shows how much people fear death. People freak that the world will end this way or that. An asteroid. Global warming. WWIII. Well we know how. And we know who. We’ve a message that saves all who believe in Him. For we know who made them and loves them and died for them. Not just for us. Jesus defeated Satan for them, destroyed the power of death for them, offers to forgive them and give eternal life to them.
Jesus Died And Was Buried, So Why Worship Him?
What kind of God would allow Himself to be so disgraced, so brutalized, killed by His own subjects? The God and Father of our Lord, and Jesus Christ His Son. The God who in His love chose to endure suffering on the cross to reconcile us to Him.
Jesus’ arrival was anticipated long before He came. In fact, He is the only person in history who was pre-announced more than a thousand years before he was born by no less than 18 different prophets that predicted his birth, life, and death. And several were impossible to fulfill, yet Jesus fulfilled them,
Isaiah 7:14 Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.
Micah 5:2 From you, Bethlehem, One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.”
Jesus made shocking and self-aware statements that went along with those prophecies. I Am the eternal One, the first and the last, the Beginning and the End; the Giver of life. Abraham rejoiced to see me (2000 years before). Moses wrote about Me (1500 years). David called Me Lord (1000). I am the only way to God; nobody comes to the Father but through Me. I am the Judge of the living and the dead and the Forgiver of sin. The dead shall hear His voice (ominous) and “unless you believe in Me,” Jesus said, accepting His provision for you, “you will die in your sins.”
Adding weight to His claims, Jesus did incredible things. While we may now be familiar with these, or we’ve seen crazier things in movies or a galaxy, far, far away. People simply don’t have the power to do these things.
Like stopping violent storms in their tracks, and casting out gruesome and frightening demons which terrified whole cities. Jesus cleansed people of leprosy & healed paralytics, caused the deaf to hear, and the blind to see. “So even if you won’t believe my words believe what my works say of me.”
His followers did. Gradually, imperfectly, in fits & starts, but they believed.
So when Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, and people celebrated, it made perfect sense. But by Thursday, Jesus was arrested, put on trial, and His claims were judged to be false. The religious leaders, cultural elites, and the state all decided He is not God. Not Christ. Not even good.
Many unbelievers today say Jesus is a good man; they said he’s a criminal.
When Jesus was beaten into jelly and mocked with a crown of thorns, it seemed to confirm the world’s assertions. For the cross was about judgment, control, and shame. And in all the world’s religions, what kind of god would allow himself to be treated like this?! No real god at all. So even His closest followers at this time were distancing themselves from Him.
With each lash of the whip, each strike of the nail through His flesh, each passing hour on the cross, the world looked more and more convincing, Jesus looked more pathetic, and His followers looked more foolish.
Finally at 3:00 PM Jesus breathed His last. He’s dead. A spear was thrust into His side for good measure, and for an exclamation point. As the stone was set over the tomb, his body never to be seen again, all hope was lost.
His followers are like, “How could we have missed it?! Everything He did was amazing. Everything He said rang true. Wasn’t that God’s voice that affirmed, ‘This is My Beloved Son.’ We saw Him cast demons into pigs, right?! We were in the boat with Him when He stopped that storm from drowning us in the sea.” But He is dead. It doesn’t matter. We were wrong.
EXCEPT, for months Jesus publicly stated that He was going to the capital where He’d be betrayed, arrested, executed and then rise from the dead.
And He put all the weight of every claim and promise on His resurrection.
Matthew 12:39 “An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; 40 for just as JONAH WAS THREE DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS IN THE BELLY OF THE SEA MONSTER, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
And just weeks before this, one of Jesus’ best friends was sick. His sisters dispatched a message to Jesus, “Lazarus is really sick. Please, come quickly.” As His followers start packing for the trip, Jesus says, “We’ll stay here for awhile.” Then, once Lazarus dies, Jesus says, “Let’s go visit my friend."
So they show up and Lazarus is already dead and buried. Martha, his sister, comes out to Jesus and says, “You’re late! He’s dead. You weren’t even here for the funeral. And here we told everyone all about You, how You would heal him and instead You don’t even show up. Not only did You blow a great opportunity but you make it harder for us to trust in You.”
Jesus doesn’t apologize. He doesn’t scold her for not believing. And He doesn’t tell her, “Martha, I know how to resurrect dead people.” He says,
John 11:25 “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies [He’ll resurrect your body], 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die [speaking of our spirit]. Do you believe this?”
Then, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. The news of this really boosted the crowd noise on Palm Sunday. This was also the miracle that united Jesus’ enemies to hatch their plot to have Him falsely arrested and executed.
So that’s all good and well. But Jesus died. He’s dead. End of story. What makes Him special or any different? Why do we still talk about Him today? Why should I or anyone trust in Him or worship Him? He’s dead. Buried!
Regarding his burial, there’s a story of a man named Joseph of Arimathea, and this takes us right into the Easter story, which gives the answer,
Luke 23:52 this man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53 And he took it down and wrapped it in a linen cloth, and laid Him in a tomb cut into the rock, where no one had ever lain. 54 It was the preparation day, and the Sabbath was about to begin. 55 Now the women who had come with Him out of Galilee followed, and saw the tomb and how His body was laid. 56 Then they returned and prepared spices and perfumes.
Luke 24:1 But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, the women came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. 2 They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3 but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4 While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men [angels] suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing; 5 and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? ||| 6 “He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, 7 saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” 8 And they remembered His words, 9 and returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest… 11 But these words appeared to the men as nonsense, and they would not believe them.
“Silly woman! You probably went to the wrong tomb. C’mon, He’s dead. It’s over. We were wrong.” Except, she was right!
John 20:3 Peter and the other disciple went forth, and they were going to the tomb. 4 The two were running together; and [John tells us he] ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first; 5 and stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in.
But Peter did. He saw the linen that was around Jesus’ body but no body.
John 20:8 So the other disciple [John] who had first come to the tomb also entered, and he saw and believed. [He believed what? That Jesus rose from the dead! That Jesus is alive. AND His promises are true and everything they’d had hoped in is real. All because of the empty tomb.] 9 [For up until this, they] did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.
And remember, Jesus put the weight of all His claims on this miracle. And He did rise from the dead just as He said, just as the Scriptures said. And the world which looked so right in its judgment against Jesus, is wrong…
Everything Jesus claimed to be, He is. Every word Jesus said is true.
Jesus is the Lord and Giver of life. He reconciles us to God. What we see is not all there is. This life is not all there is. The sadness, the hurt, the struggle, sin and death—it all gets resolved. Utterly transformed and renewed,
1 Corinth. 15:52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable [immortal, everlasting, indestructible] and we will be changed [made something new].
The other question needs to be answered—what kind of God would allow Himself to be so disgraced, so brutalized, killed by His own subjects? Until this, the answer was a weak god, a false god, or no god at all. Now the answer is the God who created us. Who has all power and dominion and authority. The God of Abraham and Isaac, Moses and David, Peter and Paul. The God and Father of our Lord, and Jesus Christ His Son. The God who in His love chose to endure suffering on the cross to reconcile us to Him.
1 John 4:9 By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation [the perfect payment that satisfies justice] for our sins.
Even if you were raised a skeptic. Or raised in a church that messed you up, sorry. Even if none of your friends are believers and the one Christian you know is kind of odd.
Or even if you think there is no god, or all religions believe in the same God—no, Jesus is not one god among many, or one dead man among billions. The empty tomb doesn’t allow that.
Jesus’ resurrection validated Jesus’ unique claims, and vindicated His holy name.
Acts 4:12 “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
Yet there are lots of religions with their gods and founders over the centuries. But only one of them, Christianity, has a founder who was predicted to come, offered words of life, demonstrated great acts of power and love, and provided irrefutable proof of who he was by rising from the dead.
May you hear His words and believe,
John 5:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.
How to Respond When Your Faith is Attacked
Christians in America are not beheaded for our faith in Jesus but persecution extends beyond martyrdom to include harassment, insults, discrimination.
Jesus acknowledged this when he said,
Matt. 5:11 Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.
Accordingly, blessed are you whenever you are targeted, hassled, or sued for practicing your faith; when students are shamed for sharing your faith on campus. Blessed are you when someone on Facebook attacks you because you post a bible verse that refutes one of their sacred tenets; when companies refuse to hire you for your stance in Christ; when your boss forbids you from talking about Christ; or when political leaders, famous people, or Twitter derogatorily label believers anti-choice, anti-science, or transphobic or backwards or bigots because we champion God’s design—these are forms of attack, persecution. If we don’t see the blessing of it, it’ll keep us silent.
And the way things are trending, this will become more and more common.
So expect it. Jesus said, "If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you… A slave is not greater than his master; if they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you…" (John 15:18-20)
So how are we to respond when our faith is attacked?
The answer is NOT to be silent! It is not to keep mum about Jesus, how to be forgiven, or where they can discover infinite worth, perfect love, eternal life.
The darkest forces in the world want our silence but people the world over need to hear God’s message. We are not called to be silent but to share the good news, wherever we go (Matthew 28:18-20; 1 Thess. 1:6-9).
While being public with our faith may result in attacks on our faith, persecution, our goal and purpose is not to avoid persecution but to soar with Jesus in it.
How do we do that? How do we respond when our faith is attacked?
1Pet. 3:8 To sum up, all of yoube harmonious, [be a supportive community for each other. Be] sympathetic, [GK, sumpatheo, lit., "suffer with" one another, be present for each other. Be] brotherly, [love as family. Be] kindhearted, and humble in spirit [not arrogant, nor acting in the flesh;] 9 [And when you are called names, or discriminated against for your faith do not retaliate:] not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.
Extra rewards in heaven are promised for expressing grace in submission.
After Jesus said, Matt. 5:11 Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. [He said] 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
The way you respond to people who discriminate against you at work or attack you online is important to God. But it never feels good.
Nobody wants to be called a hater! Or a fool. We take it personally. Shame is triggered, and our pride and self-defense mechanism retaliates. But know that this is a spiritual attack on Jesus Christ, not your personal worth.
Jesus said, The world hates Me, because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil. (John 7:7) The world hates God. Hates His authority. His morality. It loves the darkness. Calls evil good. This is the world Jesus came to save. And this is the world that you and I are to represent Him before, today.
So if they call you fool, rejoice, they notice. Hear what God says, “the real fool is the one who says there is no god.” You aren’t a fool, for God has revealed to you the mysteries of God in Christ. You know the Way and the Truth and the Life. And you aren’t on the wrong side of history, you know the One who is the Beginning and End.
For those who don’t know, He is
Rev. 1:5… Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth… He loves us and released us from our sins by His blood—6 and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
When social media attacks, when co-workers turn on you, rejoice and turn to Him. Don’t play victim or counterattack, but 1 Peter 3:9 give a blessing instead: for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing.
Then Peter quotes Psalm 34,
1Pet. 3:10 For, “THE ONE WHO DESIRES LIFE [the good life], TO LOVE AND SEE GOOD DAYS [even under hostile conditions], MUST KEEP HIS TONGUE FROM EVIL AND HIS LIPS FROM SPEAKING DECEIT. 11 HE MUST TURN AWAY FROM EVIL AND DO GOOD; HE MUST SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT.
1) Guard your lips and keyboards. Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from deceit.
2) Turn away from evil and do good—don’t react in shame or pride, cling to Jesus. V9 “Don’t return evil for evil or insult for insult, but give a blessing instead.”
3) When haters hate, “seek peace and pursue it.” Don’t back off your beliefs. Don’t just agree with them to pacify them. But seek a peace not a battle.
Then Peter quotes more from Psalm 34, which gives us several assurances,
1Pet. 3:12 FOR THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE TOWARD THE RIGHTEOUS [assuring us of God’s care and protection], AND HIS EARS ATTEND TO THEIR PRAYER [reminding us that God gives grace to the humble], BUT  THE FACE OF THE LORD IS AGAINST THOSE WHO DO EVIL.” [So do not fear them.]
Peter then asks an important question: 1 Peter 3:13 Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. [Christ will reward you in addition to heaven. So live your faith out loud, bring Jesus to work, and into the public sphere, share what He means to you with others and if you suffer for it do this with Christ. He quotes Isaiah Ch. 8] “AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED”,
Isaiah 8:12 And you are not to fear what they fear or be in dread of it. 13 It is the LORD of hosts whom you should regard as holy. He shall be your fear, and He shall be your dread. 14 Then He shall become a sanctuary…”
If you regard Him as holy and awesome, towering over demons, presidents, superstars, superheroes, nations, galaxies, technologies, philosophies, if you regard the LORD of hosts as YOUR God and Defender, then you won’t fear any threat, accusation, or derogatory name men call you! And then, He will become your sanctuary, your holy place, your safe place.
Back to 1 Peter, Peter says the same thing to New Testament Christians,
1Pet. 3:14… “DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED”, 15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts!
This is the same thing Isaiah said but Peter connects Jesus Christ to be the Lord of hosts!
To sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts is to have the highest regard for Jesus Christ and His His will, His authority. (For me I have to focus on His grace first: His authority and Lordship are awesome and good, but it is His grace that draws me to Him.) So sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, have a relationship with Him that affects what you do, the choices you make. This may be more gradual, in fits and starts. But to sanctify Christ as Lord is to not make every decision on your own, and don’t fear that others are in control of you either. Submit to it—Christ is Lord. He is sovereign. Nothing can happen without His okay. He loves you. He watches over you. If He allows bad to happen, He is with you and He will bring you through it and reward you for it.
But if you live like that, be ready to to suffer and to be share about Jesus.
1Pet. 3:15 But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always be ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence…
When we show that we trust Jesus, and we aren’t afraid to speak, we don’t fear what others do, and if we are insulted we love rather than curse, some may ask—How do you respond that way? How do you love like that, or forgive like that? Why aren’t you afraid? Why are you so hopeful?
I know of some who start with their weakness. What they struggled with, anger, guilt, relationships. This can set the scene for you to tell them what Jesus did for you. How you found hope, value, love, forgiveness, mercy.
Some personally explain a passage like John 3:16 or 1 Pet. 3:18 “Christ died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.”
Maybe have a 1 minute elevator spiel prepared. For me,
“My hope isn’t in people doing the right thing or that good things happen to good people. My hope is in the God who made the universe and created every one of us in His image; that even though I rejected him for so long, I am of great worth Him. I know it's true because He sent His Son, Jesus Christ. And while powerful men put Him on a cross and killed Him, unjust as it was, Jesus flipped it on us, He went to the cross for my good. He dealt with all the stuff that messed up my life and that kept me from God. And after He died for us, He rose from the dead. And He promises us eternal life with Him. I trust this. And God honors my trust. I know God forgives me, even for the things I can’t forgive. And I know God welcomes me, and He wants me to know Him. And the more I know Him, the more my hope increases for this life and for the life to come. So no matter how good or bad I am, no matter what you or anyone thinks or says of me, even if the worst happens, just as Jesus rose from dead, so will I. And this world will be made new—full of love and authentic joy. No sadness, injustice, no pain. That’s my hope. That's His promise to all who believe.”
The world wants us to conform to its image. “Act like us. Think like us.” And if not, at least keep your faith private, offline, out of the public square. Don’t even share your beliefs with your children, for that’ll interfere with our plans for them.
And too many believers oblige, thinking, if we keep quiet and we keep the peace and we make the world happy—we’re really good people for it.
But church, it’s holy week, Jesus didn't even make it through Friday night.
And we have the best of news. Our message still blows the angels away. It is the power of God to save everyone who believes. It defeats the power of sin and hell and death. And it confers entrance into the kingdom of God and to the throne of grace and of His presence in glory. Believe it. Live it. Share it.
1Pet. 3:12 For THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE TOWARD THE RIGHTEOUS, AND HIS EARS ATTEND TO THEIR PRAYER, AND THE FACE OF THE LORD IS AGAINST THOSE WHO DO EVIL. 14 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, DO NOT BE TROUBLED, 15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.
God, Marriage, and Husbands
This sermon was recorded on Sunday April 3, 2022.
Just as an observation, it seems like most of what our culture says about men, women, marriage, sex, husbands and wives, leads to worse marriages, broken homes, and selfish, unsatisfied individuals.
And societally, the “good life” seems to boil down to immediate gratification for the individual. Desires win out every time. Self-control loses.
And women often lose in this.
And families. And men.
Deep stuff, like preferring the other, long-suffering, and extending forgiveness, love and respect, as a necessary grace—things that great marriages require—take a back seat to desire, individual indulgence. But again the fruit of this is rotten and painful. And the cultural too often has ripple effects on the church.
So when God speaks about marriage, sex, husbands and wives, it sounds either outdated or counter-revolutionary.
Women, you are liberated. If you are a slave of Christ you are free. But do not use your freedom to indulge sin, use it to serve Christ who loves you.
1Pet. 2:13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution,
Just as Jesus Himself submitted to perverted authorities and unjust laws, and religious rulers who targeted Him for His faith. We’re all to submit like him to government, and to our bosses at work, even horrible bosses.
1Pet. 2:19 For this finds favor, [GK., lit., "For this is grace"] if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. 20 … When you do what is right and suffer for it [and] you patiently endure it, this finds favor [lit., "this is grace"] with God.
Understand, this is grace. For it takes an act of faith and love for Jesus to do this. This is grace, for it is something only God who is working through us who can do this. This may even find favor with the person to whom we are extending grace—or in a word, respect. And this pleases God.
1Pet. 2:21 …You have been called for THIS purpose, since Christ also suffered FOR YOU, leaving YOU an EXAMPLE for you to FOLLOW in HIS steps, 22 who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; ||| 24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.
And God rewarded Christ Raised Him from the dead. Seated Him at His side. And God applies this same principle of submission in marriage,
1Pet. 3:1 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. 3 Your adornment [your beauty] must not be merely external—braiding the hair, wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; 4 but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet [peaceful, respectful] spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. 5 For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves [this is how they made themselves beautiful in the sight of God], being submissive to their own husbands; 6 just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, [Even though Abraham acted in fear, not trusting God, he put Sarah at risk, but She hoped in God and expressed courage and strength beyond his. She is one of the greatest women in history], and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.
Even if you disagree with him. Even if you disagree on a big issue.
This is how you trust Jesus and demonstrate grace as a wife. God finds this incredibly beautiful. Grace. Faith. Love. Respect. You are building your husband. Christ is building him up through you.
As much as you need to be loved or cherished, even on a bad day—you’re husband needs to be respected. His masculinity. His opinion. Leadership.
If you argue and point out all that’s wrong and disregard him—that’s not just you being you. That disrespects Him. That wounds him. But by doing this, you are building a longterm relationship and a lasting good. And as we’ve seen throughout 1 Peter, God will eternally reward you in this.
Now Peter speaks with husbands. You too are called to follow Jesus in your marriage. He doesn’t tell husbands to submit to your wives, since you are her head, not boss, but the head, just as Christ is head of the church,
3:7 You husbands in the same way [as Jesus], live with your wives in an understanding way, [GK., "live with them according to knowledge"] as with someone weaker, since she is a woman [GK., lit., "as a weaker vessel, as a woman"]; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.
This is likely implying to live with them in an understanding way. But it says to live with them according to knowledge. According to the truth, since she’s weaker, since she’s a woman. A direct reading to the Greek says,
(Greek) 1 Peter 3:7 You husbands in the same way, live with them according to knowledge, as [since] a weaker vessel, as [since] a woman; and show her honor as a co-heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers are not hindered.
Western culture has such an antagonistic, us-versus-them, women-against-men spirit that it takes offense at this. Since culture influences believers, some of us might recoil at this too: a weaker vessel? Since she is a woman?
Yet this is God’s Word, God who loves us and made us, male and female…
Weaker vessel refers to your wife’s physical body. Not her mind or her will.
And for all history, the physical strength of males over females is undisputed. That’s why men did the heavy labor, went into coal mines, off to war. It’s why men don’t play contact sports against women or race them; it’s why women tee off from a closer tee box. Men have a physical advantage.
This is not demeaning but simply acknowledging God’s design.
God gave women her physical body, ⅔ size of muscles, wide hips, soft curves, and a uterus, the ability to bear children. God made your wife different. He made you, men, to be physically stronger, muscle mass for speed and power, for hard work, labor, battle (provide and protect)…
In Seinfeld terms, “The female body is a work of art. The male body is utilitarian, it’s for getting around, like a jeep.”
If the male body is a Jeep, the female is a fine-tuned Ferrari. A man is more like Tupperware, a woman is fine china. More delicate, more fragile—meaning, treat her with due care.
Yet today our society insists there are no differences, and no absolute truths about men and women. Even obvious differences are social fabrications or constructs. So it is a diabolical sin to suggest that women are any less manly, or any weaker or slower or different than men.
I really don’t think women are valued in a progressive world as they are by God. As much as our culture claims to hate men, it tries to make women more like men. It values masculine qualities for women over feminine ones.
And there is real confusion in the world. In young people. It’s tragic…
So men, in a culture where women appear angrier, more aggressive. The nasty women movement. Fight like a girl. When so many movies and commercial presents woman as the hero who can beat up five men. Peter says to know the truth. And I think God speaks to a man’s heart with this,
1Pet. 3:7 You husbands in the same way as Jesus, live with your wives in an understanding way, [lit., “Live with her according to knowledge.” Understand that she’s not the same as you, she is not as strong as you. So treat your wife with special honor] since she is a weaker vessel, since she is a woman…
It doesn’t matter if Facebook, the media, or the culture shout at you, “Your wife doesn’t need your protection, or your provision, or your leadership.”
Husbands, live with your wife according to knowledge. Know the truth. And love her like you don’t care what the world says about women or marriage.
Cherish your wife. Honor her femininity, protect her heart, protect her! Cherish her, lead her in love, and provide for her. No, this doesn’t mean your wife can’t work, but it does mean you need to (1 Timothy 5:8).
Husbands, live with her according to knowledge. Know her strengths. Value them. Rely on them. Allow her to soar in them. And know her weaknesses. Her fears. And protect her in them. Love her in them. Allow her to be vulnerable with you. She may have more fears, worries. Okay, she’s a woman.
And fear comes out like control or anger. Be gentle.
Col. 3:18 Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them.
Fear sounds like control. It sounds disrespectful. Understand her. Listen to your wife, she has lots of opinions. And I have not mastered this, but even when she thinks you are the problem. Be gentle with her. But also be strong. You are the head. God holds you responsible. So turn to God. Together. Act in love. Don’t do what you like but what is best for both of you.
More and more young husbands are growing up in broken homes. Single parent homes. Many of us didn’t have a great role model in the home.
The apostle Paul tells us,
Eph. 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church…
No we may not have seen a godly husband loving his wife when we grew up, but we have Jesus, who both models and helps us to love our wives,
Eph. 5:25 Husbands, [agape] love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, ||| 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, ||| 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.
God tells husbands to agape love your wives. In other words, This is one-way love. Love regardless of response. Regardless of merit. Treat her well, as Christ does the church, even when it feels she disrespects you. Even if she treats you like your opinion has little weight, your leadership is unimportant.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her. This is grace. And she needs it as much as you do.
And this is how Jesus loved the church.
Some wives believe this means her husband must do whatever it takes to make her happy. “Happy wife, happy life.” But this is not how Jesus loves the church. Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her [set her heart apart to Him], having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word [speaking the truth in love & uniting in the truth], that He might present to Himself the church [His wife] in all her glory.
Jesus does whatever it takes for His bride to become all that God has for her. He gave His life for us. He leads us in His Word. He protects and provides for us. He lets us make mistakes though too. He doesn’t leave. Not even when we are stubborn, proud, argumentative, or uncaring. He loves and forgives us, He tells us our worth, and He values our partnership.
As the husband, as a servant leader, this means you serve your wife, and really your family, by leading and protecting and providing for them.
As much as your wife totally respecting you, your leadership, your character, your role as husband, and how much that touches your heart, your loving actions can impact your wife’s heart. The more you, by God’s grace, cherish and honor and nurture your wife, as Christ does, the more beautiful your wife becomes. But no doubt, just as a wife’s respect doesn’t always transform a husband, your love won't always transform your wife. BUT…
5:33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.
Wives, if a husband does treat you with honor, and he protect you in your weaknesses, and he works hard to provide for you—double respect him. Know that he loves you. He’s trusting God. And He’s going against the culture. But you’ve got a good man. Of course, we can all grow. You may want him to be more, but grace is what wins it. But #respect. #submission. #Helpmate. Help him. Not by your many words, but by your quiet spirit and respect.
Husbands, if your wife shows respect, if she does submit to you, hey, protect her and value her even double. Know that she’s trusting God, she’s going against an ungodly culture. And she’s acting as a holy woman with the strength and courage of Sarah. See this. Honor her for this. Value her submission with protective wisdom and love. Cherish her even more…
So treat her with special honor as the weaker vessel, since she’s a woman.
Also, show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life.
She is not only a precious gift to you she’s a precious child of God. At your side is a coheir of eternal life, a holy woman of God, a servant of the Lord; she belongs to Him; she is loved and honored by X. Together you bear His image, male and female. In marriage you two reflect Christ and the church.
Lead her with love early on, for you’ll be married for years, and your actions have consequences. Things we do early in marriage have lasting results. How we treat our wives has an effect on our fellowship with God…
Our sin doesn’t prevent God from answering our prayers. Our pride does. Our arrogance. If we treat our wife as inferior to you, unworthy of love and grace, that’s the pride that wounds her, defies God, and rejects His grace.
God, Marriage, and Wives
In Peter 3, God speaks to husbands and wives. But He doesn’t start hereHe’s told us we are holy to Him. Belonging to Him. God gave us a new identity in Christ and a new heart. And he calls for holy behavior to match,
1Pet. 1:15 like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in ALL your behavior; 16 because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
1Pet. 2:12 Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.
Then he explains “excellent behavior” with a single word—submission.
To submit is to voluntarily place oneself under another’s authority. Submission is an act of trust which recognizes the authority God’s given another. But our submission is given to God, though expressed to the other person.
1Pet. 2:13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution [that’s the main point, submit for the Lord’s sake to every human authority! Then he applies this to different authorities in our life—submit yourselves to the govt.], whether to a king as the one in authority, [governors, police…]
Regardless of how much you despise the individual or his policies. Then he applies this principle of voluntary submission to our boss at work,
1Pet. 2:18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. 19 For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.
Jesus doesn’t want you to submit out of compliance to a horrible boss. That’s not Christian submission; submit out of trust, by serving to Jesus.
Eph. 6:7 With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men,
So again submission fully relies on Christ, and demonstrates godly grace.
1Pet. 2:21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 [Jesus] committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23 while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but [instead, Jesus] kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 and [trusting Abba to do right, He could do right, even suffer—thus] He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.
Here is the God and Savior whom we serve. X is our example. He changed our lives. Our destiny. And now Peter applies this to marriage: here is the excellent behavior that follows Jesus extends grace between a godly husband and wife, and this is what God is calling us and maturing into us,
1Pet. 3:1 In the same way [in the same way that Jesus submitted for our sake], you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. 3 Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; 4 but let be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. 5 For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; 6 just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, [Sarah, one of the greatest women in history] and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear. [Remember who Sarah was and what she faced. Sarah expressed a strength and courage that surpassed her husband’s. Speaking of husbands:] 7 You husbands in the same way [as Jesus], live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.
First, what does our culture have to say to a wife submitting?
Hell no! For good reason, there is a lot of mistrust. Not all men, but some have mistreated women forever. The loudest voices are adamant, a wife must never submit. It is degrading. It’s men’s way to control women…
Meanwhile, society assures women, YOU are the leader. You are smarter than your husband, stronger. Besides, you are your own person. You don’t need him. But this way of thinking creates self-centered women, unloving women with no vulnerabilities, therefore no needs, and no way to be loved. But that’s okay, you don’t need a man’s love. Terrible marriage advice!
I imagine our reactions to this are mixed. Some husbands might think, “How do I live in an understanding way with a wife I literally do not understand?” Some women might be thinking—“This is sexist and wrong. Why are there six verses for wives and just one for the men? I’m not doing this.“
So before we go on, a reminder that this is the Word of our Lord who loves you and gave Himself for you. He formed you and knew you even in the womb. He knew some of your childhood dreams of being a wife and a mother. This is His counsel to bless wives, husbands, marriages, families.
This is not written to offend but to liberate you unto godliness. Verses 1-2 empower women. Verses 3-4 highlight your beauty, and free you from impossible standards. Verses 5-6 assure that you can be among history’s greatest and godliest women who courageously serve God without fear.
Rather than take offense, I wonder if it’s more of an honor that he spends 6 verses on wives. Maybe this passage reveals how much culture corrupts us.
So what if we accept the premise that everything God tells us about marriage is good, and anything the world says which is contrary to God is bad! For we know the one who runs it is a liar who came to steal, kill, and destroy.
What if we look around and admit that the world’s ways do not lead to contentment, personal fulfillment, better marriages, or Christlike love? Women aren’t happier. Marriages aren’t healthier. Families aren’t stronger.
What if we admit that the problem isn’t with what God says, and the solution isn’t what the world says. And we confront our own flesh and fears and we embrace God’s counsel, and by His Spirit we let Him form us to be the wives and husbands He is working in us to be, and we help each other and give grace one to another as we seek to follow Jesus in our marriages?
Let’s look again at what this passage says,
1Pet. 3:1 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands, [not to men in general. Not to your friend’s husband. But to the husband you married; even ungodly husbands] so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.
In these verses, God tells Christian wives to submit to your husbands regardless of merit or fault. He also says this is powerful, this is what reaches your husband’s heart; not your many words but your respectful behavior.
If the Lord was a marriage counselor, and you asked what one thing can I do in my marriage to reach my husband, this is the first thing He’d say. That’s the first thing he says to wives in 1 Peter, Ephesians, Colossians, and Titus.
God understands how hard marriage is. How much hurt we can cause each other over the years. How trust can be harmed.
So what does God want you to know in these verses?
The main thing God wants wives to know is what He is calling you to do can truly bless your marriage.
As you voluntarily submit to your husband, this grace shown to him can have a powerful effect. For this is grace. Grace is the environment for growth, repentance, maturing. Grace through love can overcome shame. This is what can change his course. “Without a word by the behavior of his wife, as he observes your innocent and respectful behavior.”
Don’t underestimate the power of this. It seems some wives trust in the power of their words, arguing, telling him all the things he’s doing wrong.
Peter says, you have this subtle power available when you demonstrate grace in your behavior, submissive love, respect, and honor; for these can even reach into the hardest heart of a sinful or unbelieving husband.
This is not only powerful, it is beautiful.
1Pet. 3:3 Your adornment [your beauty] must not be merely external — braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses [don’t spend all your time on that, this is short-lived, and not an eternally significant beauty]; 4 but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God.
What do these verses say?
A wife’s gentle and quiet spirit is precious, incredibly valuable to God. It doesn’t say don’t make yourselves physically attractive, but there is a beauty in a wife that exceeds and outlasts outward beauty. What is that?
It is the inner beauty of a gentle heart and a quiet, “peaceful spirit,” which is so precious to God. God. Notice, your husband isn’t mentioned here; this speaks to your heart about what God values, builds in you as a wife.
What does our culture say about this?
Regarding beauty, commercials, magazine covers, and pop stars convey that beauty is everything. Beauty is desirable. Powerful. Some voices say don’t make yourself so beautiful. It’s not fair to others. Others say everyone is beautiful, whatever you are is beautiful, like there is no objective beauty.
But regarding women nurturing a gentle and quiet spirit—Hell no! That’s sexist. It’s man’s way to keep us down. Don’t make yourselves pretty, make yourselves strong. Don’t be quiet, be loud. Don’t submit to him, lead him.
Whereas the God who is love, who formed you female and wants you to experience the fullness of who you are, says God values your heart. A gentle and quiet heart is precious, of exceeding value in the sight of God.
He’s not picking personality types. God likes the shy girl who never says a word. No, quiet and gentle contrast to disrespectful and rebellious (Prov. 7:11).
It’s not against a loud voice, but a heart that doesn’t respect her husband, or won’t honor his requests; that argues with him and does her own thing.
1Pet. 3:4 Let your beauty be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in God’s eyes.
You are free. You don’t have to do any of this. But God values this for you.
Anticipating the argument, “Well behaved women seldom make history,” Peter makes a different case. Who’s history counts?
1Pet. 3:5 For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; 6 just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.
While our culture says, “Well behaved women seldom make history.” I just googled this and a list of the ten influential women in history included Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Kamala Harris, yet totally ignored Sarah.
Why did Sarah top God’s list of influential women in history? Because of her devotion to God, Sarah was able to submit to her husband.
Abraham was not trusting God. He was frightened, self-centered, and not protective of his wife. He came up with a cockamamie plan. I doubt Sarah agreed with his logic, but she agreed in her heart. Sarah had such a relationship with God that she submitted to her husband even when his knuckle-headed actions put her at risk. Rather than argue with her husband, she trusted God, and she did as he requested without fear. Sarah demonstrated incredible grace and a greater faith in God courage than her husband.
You have become her children if you hope in God and do what is right without being afraid.
And we see the powerful effect of this in Abraham's life. Peter implies that behind (or coming under) this great man of God was a godly, supportive woman whose submission, rather than her arguing, or perpetually hurt wife, helped win Abraham to grow as a man of God, and a godly husband.
Just knowing what God wants doesn’t solve anything. Perhaps the main thing is to understand who we are listening to. God or our culture or flesh.
We can ignore this and keep doing what we’ve done, blame our spouse, justify our acts, but if I don’t have love I am no more than a clanging cymbal.
Yet the narrow path with Jesus is where we want to be. When we’re on it we can be sure He is with us to comfort and empower and reward us.
The Christian and Horrible Bosses
To watch this sermon check out our Youtube channel.
The last line of Ps 145:20, which we read before we prayed, states, “All the wicked He will destroy.” That’s an ominous statement.
But let me declare God’s Word to you whose faith is in Jesus Christ,
1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…
Far from being identified with the wicked whom God will destroy,
1 Peter 2:9 You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light…
Peter is written to help us soar in our relationship with Jesus when life is hard. He spends the first two chapters telling us about God’s greatness, how His grace transforms us. And says, God has us here as His spokesmen, as His priests, not only to "proclaim" the good news, but to "live" the good news,
1 Peter 1:14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts , 15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”
As God’s holy and loved children, we are to proclaim the gospel, and we're to live out the gospel truths in our behavior. Not only for our sake, but for the sake of God’s glory, and to adorn the gospel for those we share it with,
1 Peter 2:12 Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, SO THAT in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.
But what is excellent behavior? It’s not perfection. It’s not avoiding the wrong people, never having a drink, being candy sweet to people. Instead, Peter casts a vision for excellent behavior with a broad statement,
1 Peter 2:13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution… 15 For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. 16 Act as free men…
Both "excellent behavior" and "doing right" are linked to submission, i.e., placing oneself under another’s authority voluntarily, not coerced. Act as free men. “He whom the Son sets free is free indeed.” “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” Those who serve Christ as Lord are the freest of people. This is the means of true freedom and to holy living.
1 Peter 2:16 Act as free men, [So, I am free to do whatever I want?] and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use [your freedom] as slaves of God.
It seems counterintuitive but whenever we use our freedom to do whatever we please, we are not free, we are actually slaves of sin. But we are slaves of Christ, and that's why we are free. For Christ bought you with His blood. You belong to Him. This is why you are free from slavery to any other master.
1 Corinthians 7:23 You were bought with a price; and do not become slaves of men.
Peter applied this to our relationship with the state, the govt. Today, he applies this same principle to our bosses and to work.
And remember, because our flesh reacts, this is for us to flourish in this life. And because it seems impossible, Christ is with us and we mature into this,
1 Peter 2:18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, [GK phobos—with all fear, not to your boss (scripture tells us not to fear men; fear, be in awe of God alone). So, by faith, thoughtfully serving Jesus, express a willingly attitude to serve your boss] not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable [and hard to work for]. 19 For this finds favor [lit., this is grace], if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.
Just as God relates to us with unmerited favor, He tells us to do the same.
“This is grace” when your job brings sorrows, when a horrible boss treats you unjustly, but by faith you consciously choose to serve Jesus, and you honor your manager, even though she’s a horrible boss; this is grace.
Even if you’re the best employee, but your manager plays favorites and promotes a terrible worker and treats you poorly. Yet you serve Jesus and do a great job. This is grace. This is humility, trusting God with who you are.
We may need to work out past wounds and baggage and and pride. But it starts with being conscious of God at work (19). His presence. Conscious that you serve Him, you work for Him. I like what Paul adds to this point,
Ephesians 6:5 Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; 6 not by way of eye-service, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. 7 With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, 8 knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.
Peter and Paul each emphasize that Christ is the Boss to work for. You don’t work for the man, you’re not enslaved to the company. Consciously, relationally, love, serve Jesus at work; work's an opportunity to glorify Him.
If you serve Jesus at work, then you can do whatever a boss asks. For you are under Christ’s love and authority and protection, and He says to submit unless they force you to disobey Him. If it’s illegal or unethical, refuse them. But if the boss doesn’t appreciate you, Jesus does. He’s easy to work for. His yoke is light. If you serve Jesus, your boss’ lack of appreciation won’t affect your performance, worth, joy, or identity.
But this is a conscious act of faith to serve Jesus when your boss is trying to bust your back or break your spirit. It is a conscious act of faith to render service as to the Lord, not men, knowing that He will reward you for it.
If you don’t serve Jesus at work, then your boss is your direct authority, or you’ll just be a slave to your paycheck. But your job is just work. And if work is boring or your boss is a jerk or your coworkers are lazy, if you don’t serve Jesus, you’ll serve your flesh. If you feel ignored, over-worked, disrespected, you will serve sin. Anger. Discontentment. Comparisons. You may resent lazy co-workers. You may not work as hard as before, or do as good of a job. You may not act in love. Your behavior at work won’t be excellent.
But this is grace, when consciously serving Christ, you patiently endure unfair, discriminatory, undeserved suffering. And this finds favor with God,
1 Peter 2:20 For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.
Or this is grace with God. This is grace lived out in our own lives.
We sometimes think that because we are under grace, everything we do pleases God. That's not the case. Our faith pleases Him. Trusting Jesus pleases Him. His blood atonement, the righteousness of Christ that we wear pleases God. But not everything we do is pleasing.
Yet when we serve Jesus and do the right thing and we suffer for it but by His grace we endure it, this finds great favor with God—and great rewards.
Matthew 25:21 His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.”
If we learn to serve Christ at work, our job takes on eternal significance.
And work becomes an opportunity to demonstrate God’s grace and the power of the gospel to a world that needs Jesus. Work becomes a place where Christ is more important to us. His authority more valuable. And your job becomes a holy calling,
1 Peter 2:21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps: 22 who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; 23 and while being reviled [hated], He did not revile in return; while suffering [unfairly, severely], He uttered no threats, but He kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed [saved]. 25 For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.
Especially if work is hard, this is the One who calls us to follow His example. He knows sorrow. He understands hatred and unjust suffering. When He tells us to voluntarily submit ourselves to horrible bosses, we need to challenge our arguments against this, and believe He has our best in mind. He who loves us. He’s the Shepherd and the Guardian of our souls.
Peter isn’t the only one to say this. A young pastor was taught,
1 Timothy 6:1 All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters [kurios] as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine [our faith in Christ] will not be spoken against. 2 Those who have believers as their masters must not be disrespectful to them because they are brothers, but must serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved. Teach and preach these principles.
Another pastor in Crete was taught to,
Titus 2:9 Urge slaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith SO THAT they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect. [And then the apostle launches into a very familiar passage related to this:] 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, 14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. 15 [As hard as this is for people then and now] These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
We may need to deal with our own baggage, past wounds, current relationships at work. And our own pride…
The biggest thing is to love Jesus and serve Him at work. To value being His slave, bought and owned by Him. Belonging to Him. Serving Him. To learn the freedom that comes with this. And to serve Jesus only at work.