Monday, May 12, 2014

“The Gospel of the Second Chance” (Mark 16:7)

S-1429 ES/3A 4/20/2014 Hymns: (O) # 457; #463; S #487; LS. 461; 469; 490; (C) #478

Texts: Mark 15:42-16:3; Psalm 118:10-24; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Mark 16:1-8

Theme: “The Gospel of the Second Chance” (Mark 16:7)

Question: “Would like another chance at life?” Armour, SD

Christ is Risen! (3x). The text for the victory celebration is the Gospel lesson: But go, tell His disciples and Peter that He is going before you to Galilee. There you will see Him, just as He told you.”


Beloved in the Lord we have arrived! After 40 long days of treading up the hill of regret and remorse, the hill of lament and languish, the hill of sorrow and sadness; we stand in the presence of the empty tomb to see the Prince of Heaven, the crowned Jewel of salvation and the Hidden Treasure—the RISEN Jesus Christ.

Today, in the name of the resurrected Christ we say to the devil “you are toast!” Death, “you are done!” “Sin, get off my back!” Today, we celebrate, rejoice and shout to the world the divine courier’s message: “HE IS NOT HERE! HE IS RISEN ALLELUIA!

Today, we listen to St. Mark as He beautiful illustrates the glorious truth that the Rabbi who died on Friday is alive and well and is among us. That what the prophet from Galilee taught saying: “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again!” is true. That He is the Lord who forgives even the worst of sinners and the best of saints. Just ask Peter and he will tell you in his own special way, that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Gospel of the Second Chance.

Come with me to the Garden tomb. Walk behind the women as they wonder who is going to remove the stone and then listen carefully to the divine courier who said. “But go, tell His disciples and Peter that He is going before you to Galilee. There you will see Him, just as He told you.” Did you catch it? Did you hear it? Only two words, but oh the power of those two words “and Peter.

This text is just absolutely beautiful like finding a pearl in an unexpected place. To put it simply, don’t linger here, go and tell the disciples their Master, Savior, Lord and Friend has arisen and will go ahead of you to Galilee. But make sure you tell Peter too. Let Peter know I will be waiting for him where our ministry began in Galilee.

What a statement! What a line! What hope in the midst of hopelessness! It’s as if all of heaven had watched Peter fall when he denied His Lord—and it’s as if all of heaven wanted to help him back up again. Be sure that Peter knows. Be sure that He knows he is not left out. Tell him that one failure or two doesn’t make a flop. Wow! What a message. No wonder they call it THE GOSPEL OF THE SECOND CHANCE. PAUSE.

To be sure our world doesn’t offer us many chances in life. You know this truth first hand. Maybe you have experienced it too. Just ask the kid who sits at the bench, never getting the opportunity to play BB. Ask the young girl who never makes the cut to be a cheerleader. Ask the young woman who got the pink slip while having family to feed. Ask the husband whose wife left him for a richer man.

The world says, “it’s now or never, got to get tough if you want to get ahead, three strikes and you are out or it’s-a-dog-eat-dog world. That’s the ways of the world. But that’s not the way of the Word made flesh.

Ask Peter and he will tell you what the Savior has done for him. One moment he felt dejected and rejected because He denied His Lord. He felt so little he wept bitter tears. But after the resurrection Jesus welcomed him to his bosom and forgave him everything.

No wonder Peter understood what it means to go out of your way to share the message of the Resurrection with the world that they too have a second chance to hear and believe. That is why he traveled to Rome to teach others about the RESURRECTED LORD who forgave him, giving him a new beginning and a new hope. That is why he wrote in his first epistle these memorable words: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1 Peter 1:3). Peter, who failed and hit bottom, now feels like he is on top of the world. Peter has hope. Not just any hope—but living, active and Rooted not in his efforts but in Christ alone! He spoke of this hope to anyone and everyone.

There are some Biblical scholars who say that the Gospel of St. Mark is really the transcribed notes and dictated thoughts of Peter. Perhaps it is. If so, then it would have been Peter himself who included these two words. Can you envision this older rough fisherman sharing these words of hope with Mark? As he did, he may have had to brush away a tear and swallow a lump when he told this story of the Master who forgave Him by dying for his sins and the sins of the world. PAUSE.

Precious children of God on this Easter Sunday, I, as your Pastor, share with you the truth that Christ Jesus suffered and died so that you may have life and have it abundantly. Although the resurrection is not a chancy event, it is real so that we get another chance.

I share this story to make my point. In the movie “Hoosiers”, the setup is in the 1950’s in BB crazy Indiana. It is the story of a defrocked coach, an alcoholic father and a town that needs a second chance.

After the coach uses his own system to build up his team, he seeks out the alcoholic father (who knew much about basketball and asked him to be his assistant coach). Everyone in the community didn’t agree with the coach’s decision and neither did his own (drunken) son. At one point the boy speaks with his coach saying: “What you are doing for my father, is great but he doesn’t deserve it, he is not worth it!” The coach disagreed.

Later during one of the games, the head coach asked the referee to kick him out of the game. He does and the alcoholic father is left in charge. He coaches them to a victory. At that moment the son with joy in his heart and smile on his face says to his father: “Dad, you did well!”

A little later the alcoholic father falls off the wagon and makes a mess of things and the coach gives him another chance and puts him in a rehab center. The whole movie is about every team member getting a second chance and so is the whole community.

There is nothing that gives such courage to the living and such hope to the dying as the cross of Jesus Christ.

God’s undeserved love has been painted on the canvas of human history on a rough, rugged and rude cross outside of Jerusalem. This love that God has for mankind is not like ours. Our love is conditional depending how others acts or behave towards us. On the other hand, God’s love is freely given to every sinner. This love has carried many a soul through its darkest hour and cloud. It is given in a nutshell in these words: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). This is not just any love, but love demonstrated in action. The love of God is not mere words written on a page, but love carried out for the whole world to see on a cruel instrument of torture—the cross. On this cross Christ permitted Himself to be nailed to a beam and lifted up high for all to see. That is the love of God for you. As you study the Gospel of the Second chance—see the cross for what it is and learn that God will spare nothing to let us know of His endless, ceaseless and boundless love.

Everything in Christianity, all of its truth and joys, are embodied in the cross. The cross reminds us of how Jesus suffered for us. It reminds us of God’s mercy and grace. It proclaims that all of our sins have been paid for by the precious and holy blood of Jesus. It proclaims that nothing will ever separate us from God’s love. In the cross and empty tomb we find our greatest comfort, strengthening hope and everlasting joy and peace.

The resurrection means we have hope, not only for today, but forever. Paul, in his resurrection chapter said: “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep… (1 Cor.15:19-20). Yes this is our hope a living hope. Not only to Mary who heard on Easter morning Jesus saying, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” (John 20:15). But also to Peter who denied Him, to His mother who grieved Him, to the disciples who abandoned Him, to the soldiers who beat and crucified Him, to the thief who defended Him and to you and me who sinned against Him!

Today, in this place we know all about the Gospel of the Second Chance. Today, we shout and rejoice saying Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! Amen.

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, may the cross remind us of Your love and forgiveness today; and may we share the Gospel of Your second chance with future generations so that they may know as their Savior and Lord. Amen.

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