Aug 5, 2018 – The Resurrection and Heaven
Preacher: Rev. Charles Drew
Luke 24:36-43, Revelation 21:1-8 (ESV)
24:36 As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” 37 But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw 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 And while they still disbelieved for joy and were marveling, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate before them.
21:1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
Introduction: Many of us wrongly think of heaven as a quiet (and boring) place of clouds and quiet conversations with other dead people. The resurrection of Jesus teaches something very different.
I) God means to renew this world
A) Jesus’ resurrection was a miracle of physical renewal
- Fully alive and out of nowhere
B) Jesus’ resurrection appearance is “ordinary”
- Jesus “stood” and was recognizable
- Touch me—palpate my body
- Give me something to eat
- Renewal, not abandonment
- Revelation 21: The end of suffering (v. 4) and evil (v. 8), not of embodiment
II) God means to share all this renewal with us
A) Jesus’ attitude towards his disciples
- Shalom to you
- Questions and teaches until their terror turns to joy
- Eats before them as a promise of meals to come.
- Beneath it all—the joy of love
B) The joyous invitation of Revelation 21
- Wedding—on earth
III) How do we live in the light of all this?
A) Not as naïve utopians
B) As people animated by hope
- Eyes to see
Questions for Reflection
- When you think of heaven, what comes to mind? What questions arise?
- Read over Jesus’ resurrection appearance in Luke 24:36-43. What things are strange about it? What things are not strange? What does the combination of the strange and the ordinary tell us about the purpose and promise of the resurrection?
- Read over Revelation 21:1-8. The passage stresses discontinuity between the heaven and earth that we now know and the heaven and earth that we will know. What will be absent (v. 4 and v. 8 tell us)? What will remain in renewed form?
- Read over Revelation 21:1-2. Who is the bride? Who is the groom? Who is walking the bride down the aisle? Where is the wedding take place? What is significant about the location?
- Reflect on the following statement: “Heaven is the sphere of God’s governance, an unseen but ever present cosmos running parallel to the cosmos we know and see. The promise of heaven, intimated by Jesus resurrection, is that the heavenly cosmos will finally and fully merge with the cosmos we know. God’s will, in other words, will be ‘done on earth as it is in heaven.’”
- To live in the light of the promise of heaven does not mean to be naïve utopians—thinking or acting as if we can end poverty or obliterate injustice. What happens, what has happened historically, when people make this mistake? Have you ever operated under the influence of a utopian fantasy? What happened?
- To live in the light of the promise of heaven means that we cultivate a mindset and lifestyle motivated by the conviction that everything and everyone everywhere on this planet belong to Jesus Christ and are scheduled for demolition and/or redesign. Is there any part of life, or your life, that you do not conceive of in these terms? If so, why not? How might you do about it?
- Reflect on the following statement: “Those who are animated by the hope of a new heaven and earth look for ‘signs and foretastes’ of that hope everywhere. They discover energy to work for ‘signs and foretastes’ of heaven in all that they do—in relationships, creation care, the arts, and social justice—even if no one notices, even if their efforts appear ineffective. The energy comes from knowing that those efforts matter and are in keeping with what has begun and will come in fullness.”
- The hope of a new heaven and earth means that we can enjoy life in all of its fullness—we can enjoy good food, good sex (that is, sex within the bonds of marriage), good wine, good music, dance and sunsets. We can and should enjoy doing science, cleaning streets, reading history, learning math, designing buildings, teaching students, fixing up an apartment, riding the Staten Island ferry, etc. What pushes the joy out of your life? What can you do to allow God’s promise to re-enchant your world and re-invigorate your joy?
- Is there anything in life that you enjoy without sharing that enjoyment with God? Why is he not included?
Prayer of Confession
Loving Redeemer, you raised your Son from the dead by the power of your Spirit. We have in him the promise of renewal everywhere enjoyed in the presence of your love and the love of one another. Forgive us for how little we allow this hope to affect us. We allow the problems in and around us to overwhelm us. We avoid the hard work of love. We too easily cave in to dehumanizing temptations. We envy and use people. We deny our sin and selfishness. Spirit of Christ, change us by the power of our hope. Amen.