Good morning and Happy Easter to all of us. Today we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. As all of know, this is the triumphal epilogue of the Good Friday Story.
In my Good Friday message we saw that what Jesus promised us through His will is John 17:24 (NKJV) Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. Now to make this happen, Jesus needs to reach the place where we think He is going to be right? He needs to be in a place where we would long to be isn’t it?
Since January of this year, starting with the New year message, I have been preaching here about the topic of suffering and the responses of us to the issue of suffering. We did study the example of Peter and his response to the declaration by Jesus about his own imminent suffering and death. This was from Matthew 16: 13-22, where Peter was all willing to accept the glory that came with the promise, but was not really ready for the suffering and death that came packaged with that promise. Jesus was promising him Great things like building the Church on him, and giving him the keys to heaven, and giving him authority to bind or let lose people for heaven while on earth. Peter could not fathom a dead person being able to do this. Peter wanted the promise to be fulfilled, but not the suffering and death part that was associated with the same.
How about us? If we had only Good Friday, if we had only the death and burial of Jesus Christ, if the story had ended there? Would we have been as excited about His will that he wrote in John 17? Would we have been excited about the inheritance described in John 17:24 (NKJV) Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. Would that inheritance meant anything to us, if all that Jesus did was to stay put in the tomb? Would we have been excited about the will then?
Let us face the facts? The answer is no.. None of us are looking forward to spending eternity inside a tomb, even if it is a “rich man’s “ tomb, isn’t it? We need a better place? We don’t expect our God to take us to such a place.
And He did not. He meant business when he said John 14:1-2 (NKJV) 1 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. He sure was not talking about a place in a tomb. He was talking about a place in heaven. For that to happen He had to get out of that tomb and ascend to heaven, and that is the resurrection day that we are celebrating. For the will to take effect, the author of the will had to die, and for the inheritance to be complete, the author had to rise from the dead and sit at the right hand of God the Father. 1 Peter 1:3-4 (NKJV) 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you,. You see , our inheritance is reserved for us in heaven, and to make that fully available to us, Jesus had to be raised and He had to ascend to heaven, so that we have hope that we can claim the inheritance that he promised us. That is the resurrection that we celebrate today. Verse 3 is key here. The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the foundation of the hope of every Christian. It is through this resurrection that the Father has begotten us again. It is through this resurrection that we have been regenerated. It is through this resurrection that we are reborn. To claim the position that we inherited to sit at the right hand of God, we need to be raised with Christ Colossians 3:1 (NKJV) 1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.
1 Peter 1:4 (NKJV) describes our inheritance beautifully. 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, In other words, our inheritance is death-proof, sin-proof and time- proof.
Incorruptible, means imperishable. Our inheritance is not something that will perish. It will not deteriorate. All of have experiences with our refrigerators right? Fridges are getting bigger and bigger. The problem with bigger Fridges is this. More stale food stored for more time. We keep a perishable fruit at the back of the refrigerator and then forget about it. But soon, the fruit will perish, and then we will be forcibly be reminded of it when the smell hits our nostrils when we open the fridge.
Peter tells us that because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, our inheritance is imperishable. It is not going to go bad over any period of time. It is an eternal inheritance.
Leslie used to tell me of an instance when she was in boarding. Leslie loves raisins, and when some visitors come, she asks them to bring raisins. Leslie’s sister Diane is also in the same boarding, and naturally the visitor who brings raisins would like Leslie to share the same with her sister. So Leslie used to play the “virtual defilement” card with Diane. Leslie will tell Diane that the raisins looked like “ticks”. That was enough to put Diane off her inheritance and she would disgustingly let Leslie have her share of the inheritance also. Leslie could virtually and verbally defile the inheritance of Diane of the raisins.
Fortunately for us, what Peter is telling us is that because of Jesus’s resurrection, our inheritance is undefiled. It cannot be touched by sin or our own inefficiencies, because it has been sealed with the perfect blood and the victory over sin has been completed through Christ’s resurrection.
A 60 year old lady went to a Dentist. While sitting in the waiting room the lady saw the full name of the Dentist. The name sounded a bit familiar and suddenly it reminded her about the tall, handsome, dark haired boy with the same name in her high school class. She wondered whether the dentist could be that same boy on whom she had a secret crush. However upon seeing the dentist, she discarded any such thoughts. This balding, gray haired man with a deeply lined face and a bulging stomach could not have been my class mate, she thought. But after the teeth examination was over, she decided to ask him if he studied in St Xavier’s school. Yes, Yes.. he gleamed with pride. When did you graduate?, she asked. 1982 , He said. Why do you ask? Then she couldn’t contain her excitement anymore. We were in the same class , she said excitedly. The dentist thought for a moment and asked innocently. Oh really? Which subject did you teach? “…. You see, time can do a lot of damage to how we look. Many of the possessions fade away with time.
Fortunately for us, Peter tells us that because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, our inheritance in heaven is time proof, it does not fade away. It is eternal, it is permanent.
Let us get to the next question. What do we need to do to gain fully from this Imperishable, undefiled, inheritance that does not fade away?
On Good Friday, I ended the message by establishing that Jesus did write a will and left an inheritance to those whom the Father had entrusted to Him. This was done by studying the various characteristics of a will, and comparing John 17 with those attributes/ Characteristics
So let us pick up from there. So what happens when the person who wrote the will dies. Does the inheritance come to those to whom it is bequeathed automatically? Legally, the beneficiary still needs to go through certain legal procedures to get complete benefit of what he/ she inherited. You have to have substantial proof of the inheritance, and if the will has specified any special conditions, then the beneficiary needs to also have the proof that those conditions have been met. Then the beneficiary has to legally apply for the legal document to transfer the inheritance in his/ her name.
How about Jesus’ will? What do we need to do to ensure that we get the full benefit of that will?
Peter tells us two things.
1 Peter 1:12 (NKJV) 12 To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven–things which angels desire to look into. The salvation message was revealed to the prophets not for their own benefit but for ours. In other words, we have come to know about our glorious inheritance because someone preached the Gospel to us. Hence it is our responsibility to ensure that the other beneficiaries of this will know about the inheritance awaiting them. It is our duty to tell others about this inheritance that we have received.
Secondly, 1 Peter 1:13-16 (NKJV) 13 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
This passage tells us many things. He starts with the word therefore, which refers to the previous verses, where he establishes us as honored, blessed, distinguished etc. Peter is telling us that we have a long journey to undertake and we need to gird up the loins of our mind and prepare for that journey. Let us not let our mid wander, and let us not let our minds dwell on useless things, but let us gather our thoughts, be obedient, be sober, be vigilant against any extravagant thoughts or actions. Fixing our hope fully on the Grace that has been given to us through Jesus Christ. Being Holy, since He is Holy.
Let us pray
Benediction: And now, may the God of peace, who brought back again from the dead our Lord Jesus, equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, all this is pleasing to him. To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.