Tuesday, April 7, 2015

“Numbers of Hope-153” (John 21:11)

S-1491 RS/3B 4/05/2015 Hymns: (O) #; (S) #370; LS #146; #314; #155;

Texts: Psalm 118:1-2, 15-24; Isaiah 25:6-9; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Mark 16:1-8; John 21:1-14

Theme: “Numbers of Hope-153 (John 21:11)

9th sermon in sermon series on “Numbers of Hope

(Bring a fishing pole to the pulpit)

So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn.” (John 21:11)

Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! (3X) People of the cross, it has been a long journey that you and I have taken. We packed our bags, put on our sandals, carried our lunch and traveled up the hill to Jerusalem. Throughout our journey the Lord of heaven and earth has been our guiding light of hope as we followed Him from His triumphal entry on a donkey to being lifted up on a wooden cross. We have tagged along to the Upper Room and witnessed His great humility as He took on the role of a slave and washed the disciples’ feet including Judas. We listened attentively as He celebrated the Passover and instituted the Lord’s Supper. With sadness, we heard of Judah’s betrayal and Peter’s denial.

We have gone along to Gethsemane and saw Him in anguish praying for the Cup of Suffering to be lifted up. And then…then, we saw Him dragged by the High Priest’s guards and taken to Caiaphas’ house. We huddled about the fire as we listened to all of the accusations and charges against Him. We saw Him beaten, bloodied and bruised. We beheld Him, spit upon, stripped and scourged. Early on Friday morning in the Praetorium, we heard the shouts of the people “Crucify Him! “Crucify Him!” We followed Him as He carried His cross to Golgotha, and there we heard the pounding of the nails driven into His hands and feet. We heard Him crying out to His Father saying, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?” “I Thirst”, “It is Finished!” “Father, into Your hands I commit My Spirit” and at His death we heard the centurion confessing, “Truly, this was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:39).

We saw two Pharisees—Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus take His body of the cross, wrap and buried body I n a borrowed tomb. All of the disciples hid for fear of the Jews that their Leader has been taken away from them. All their hopes and dreams seemed to have been dashed.

Throughout this journey, by the Holy Spirit’s power we have shared together the Numbers of Hope—Living Hope based on the death and resurrection of Christ. We spoke of these numbers that gives us eternal hope40, 12, 70, 7, 969, 144.000, 30, and 3. But that was then…

But today, while still dark, we gather at the empty tomb with the women and hear the glorious proclamation of the angel on that first Easter morn: “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; He is not here!” (Mark 16:6). Today, the Holy Spirit reminds us of the necessity of Christmas, the magnitude of Lent and the Victory of Easter. God became man that mankind might be brought to God. PAUSE.

Today, we consider another number as the disciples return to their former trade—fishing. As they are out fishing, Jesus appears and prepares a meal for them. They didn’t recognize Him on the shores at first. But He invited them for breakfast and asked them to bring some of the fish they caught. Peter, the one who denied Him 3 times grabbed the net and brought the fish on land and there were 153 fish. This too, is our Number of Hope.

Like all the numbers we have considered throughout this Lenten journey, today’s number is one of those glorious numbers that shows again and again that God uses everything in this world for the good of His bride—the Church.

153 fish were in the net. Do you think that John included this number in his gospel by accident? Absolutely NOT! This shows that Christ is in the details. The 153 fish represents the number of languages spoken at the time Jesus’ rose from the dead. The number 153 is the number of hope that brings the gospel to all people...it is the only cure for death, for human hurts, for the hopelessness in life and for the endless tragedies of History...Jesus.

Jesus is the answer to every dilemma, to every disaster and to every adversity. The risen Lord Jesus removes your doubts, forgives your sins, comforts your souls and open heaven’s gate. Jesus is the hope in the midst of hopelessness, the help in the midst of helplessness and offers heaven to those who are hell-bound. PAUSE.

Let me illustrate: Martin Pistorius was a normal, active and happy child. At age 12 he came complaining to his mother that he had a sore throat. An unknown illness left him wheelchair bound and unable to speak. He spent years unable to physically or verbally communicate, though his mind was fully intact. After 12 years in a vegetative state, he came back to life.

For 12 years everyone around him thought he was done. They called him the “Ghost Boy”. He was visible but no one noticed him in his vegetative state. He never spoke a word, never moved his eyes, mouth, hands or feet. Many told his family to put him in an institution which they did until one nurse noticed a slight movement in his eyes. By God’s grace they taught him to communicate via a computer and he told them his thoughts and ordeal.

In His book he writes: “God has always been there for me. In fact…Had it not been for God’s hand, I would not be where I am today. I am sure of that. If I stop and think about everything that happened to me and the odds of not only surviving but coming back to life, there is no doubt in my mind that this could only have happened through divine intervention.”

This is the story of the Resurrection. Jesus on the third day rose victoriously from the grave. Number 153 gives us hope because it is the gospel in action touching lives and changing lives forever. The gospel is the life-blood of the Church of Christ. Christ is helping us to tell the story of hope to those who are trapped in their sins and don’t know Him yet.

This should be our desire also. The desire to share with others with boldness the hope we have in Christ. As Paul explained in the middle of his discourse to King Agrippa, “…I would to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains” (Acts 26:29).

Yes, beloved, through the wood of the cross, joy truly has come into all the world: the joy of sins’ forgiven, death defeated, Satan crushed and love’s unconquerable triumph. The cross is our God saying: “You can’t make Me hate you! I love you and forgive you in the blood of My precious Son!”

To Satan we might be ghost boys. But to God we are very visible. He is here walking, guiding and guarding us from every harm and evil. As He was with the disciples on the shores of the Sea of Galilee He is with us here too. As He gave hope to the disciples in the 153 number so He fills our hearts with the same living Hope. Christ Jesus cared for them and gave them what they needed at that moment. He is here also today. He is here caring for you and giving you everything you need. In His body and blood He gives US everything and more than we could ever need in this world—the everlasting joy that leads to eternal life. PAUSE.

On this Easter Sunday, remember the beauty of the Biblical numbers—they give us hope. The number 153 gave hope to the 11 disciples on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, that they took the gospel to the ends of the world. Because of their message there are more 153 languages today that know of the saving name of Jesus—the God-Man crucified for the sins of the world. Because of their message of HOPE, there are over 2.5 billion people in the world claiming allegiance to the One who was crucified and risen—Jesus Christ.

With great joy on this Triumphant Day, I, as your Pastor, say to you and encourage you to regularly read and study Scripture, so you know that God would have you place your hope in Him alone. Not in the things you have or the things you know. But only in the One who is the great mathematician and author of the Numbers of HOPE Jesus Christ.

This is the hope given to the disciples on the beach in Galilee and given to us today as we stand by the empty tomb and here the glorious message of the angel, “He is not Here! He is Risen as He said!” For this reason, as the people of hope—hope in the Giver of Numbers—Jesus Christ, we, with gladness, boldness and joy say to one another Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! Amen.

Now the peace…


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