Sermon Notes for Sunday, September 24
Made Us Alive
by Tanner Fox
Jack Peebles walked us through Ephesians 2:1-10. The passage reminds us of our status apart from Christ and the newness of life given freely by Jesus as we trust in him.
First, Paul says “you were dead in your transgressions and sins… following the ways of the world... gratifying your sinful desires… like the rest we were objects of wrath.” In other words our sin both in action and in nature makes us deserving of God’s righteous wrath. The curious thing about dead people is that they cannot do anything. So Paul means to say that not only are under God’s wrath but beyond that, we are powerless to remove ourselves from that place. We cannot get into God’s good graces, on our own, anymore than a dead man could get up and walk. Only when you can truly appreciate the severity of the sinful state that you were/are in can you truly appreciate the person and work of Jesus Christ.
There is a story of Jesus visiting some friends on one particularly sad occasion. He has come to visit his friends Mary and Martha and their brother, Jesus friend, Lazarus has recently died. The three mourn the loss of Lazarus together for a moment. This is the story in which we find the shortest verse in all the Bible, “Jesus wept.”
As a few in their midst question Jesus’ power, Mary even remarks that if Jesus had come earlier, Lazarus would not have died. And she is right: Jesus could have healed his body before he passed. Instead, Jesus chooses to pluck Lazarus from the grip of death and give him life again. Jesus thanks his Father for listening and calls Lazarus to come forth. He calls a dead man to get up and walk to the glory of God.
This miracle reveals the power of Jesus over physical death, but the piece of this story that we often miss are all the other hearts that Christ rescued from death that day as they found new life through faith in Him. Verse 45 tells us that many, “had seen what Jesus did, (and) put their faith in him.” Jesus chose to reveal his power through one death and one resurrection for the purposes of resurrecting many more, which points precisely to what he would later do on the cross. The lesson of the story of Lazarus is threefold: Jesus holds the power over our dead hearts, over our physical bodies, and he will conquer death, once and for all, upon his return. Revelation 21 reminds us that Christ will do away with the old order of things and death will be no more.
You alone, apart from Jesus, are powerless. You may think you have power, you may think you are in control... but your best attempts at being good, your most holy acts, all are considered as filthy rags apart from faith in Jesus. You may not feel like it, but you need saving. Again, if you don’t see the need, you will never ever cherish Christ and the work that he has done.
Ephesians 2:4-5: But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”
Tanner Fox is the Minister for Mission at First Pres. He’s a recent grad of Reformed Theological Seminary and holds deep affection for people, movies, sports and Jesus Christ. As Minister for Mission, he leads the charge to help you love and serve the city and the world. firstname.lastname@example.org