God's End Game - Part 27
Series: God's End Game
June 02, 2019
We are in a long but I believe fruitful series called God’s End Game where we’re trying to discover what God is up to with us and the world. Where is all this headed? That’s an important question. If you think about it, it’s the most important question of all.
What is going to happen to this world in the end? What is going to happen to us?
To answer that, to discover God’s end game, we began in the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth and us. At first it was all good, very good. There was no shame, no sin, no death, and mankind lived in perfect communion with his creator. This was the way things were supposed to be forever.
But then came the rebellion. Adam and Eve disobeyed God, bringing shame, sin, and death into the world, severing that perfect fellowship they had with God. And in ways we don’t understand, what they did was passed on to us all. We all share in their guilt. We all come into this world separated from God.
God wasn’t satisfied in leaving things that way. God set in motion his end game plan to put all things back to rights. It wasn’t a reaction to what happened. God in his sovereignty knew beforehand man would rebel. He had this plan in mind before the foundation of the world. All of the Bible, all of history, is about God executing his end game strategy to restore things back to the way they were.
Yes, Pastor Brad we know. You’ve been telling us this every Sunday in this series.
Yes, I have, in the hopes we will remember it. That it will take root in our hearts. What we’re discovering isn’t just information to retain. It’s something that has the power to transform us. That’s the goal of doctrine, of theology by the way.
We’ve followed God’s strategy all the way through the Bible to its major play: the coming of Jesus. God’s end game plan revolves around Jesus and has three telescoping parts, one flowing from the other.
It begins with his INCARNATION. Jesus is God with us in the flesh, both 100% God and 100% man.
It climaxes with the CRUCIFIXION. Which we just finished up. We looked at the implications of the crucifixion of Jesus, focusing on the question “what did it do?” With the help of a theology book, we broke down this explanation:
Jesus’s death by crucifixion was a divinely ordained historical event by which he lovingly accomplished atonement, purchased Christians’ freedom from sin’s bondage, won their justification before the Father, and triumphed over Satan’s tyranny.
We could never make enough of what Jesus’ death on the cross accomplished.
NT Wright says…
Jesus’s first followers… saw [the crucifixion] as the vital moment not just in human history, but in the entire story of God and the world. Indeed, they believed it had opened a new and shocking window onto the meaning of the word “God” itself. They believed that with this event the one true God had suddenly and dramatically put into operation his plan for the rescue of the world.
Traditionally, we Western Christians have majored on the crucifixion. That’s what we’ve written the most songs about. That’s what we’ve framed the Christian life with. It’s all about the crucifixion for us and how it allows for the forgiveness of our sins and opens up the doors of heaven to us. Western Christians might even sum up God’s plan this way…
Jesus died on the cross so we could go up to heaven when we die.
There’s nothing wrong with that, but when you look at it in the bigger picture of God’s end game plan, you realize the crucifixion was the means by which God could bring on the final phase in setting all things back to rights, the phase which would set everything in motion towards the end. The biggest play of all.
God’s end game plan for rescuing the world carries on through the RESURRECTION.
I may be wrong here, but over the last few years I’ve come away with the understanding that the early Christians were more about the resurrection and what that meant not just for the hereafter but for the here-and-now.
In fact, for them, the resurrection of Jesus was the link, the bridge between the hereafter and the here-and-now. Heaven wasn’t about when the role is called up yonder day. It was about heaven invading the right now, the present.
I hope to show you how the early Christians would have said, “Jesus died on the cross and was raised from the dead so God could bring heaven down here, so I need to get busy.”
I’m not downplaying the incarnation or the crucifixion, I’m just helping you see how everything else God is up to flows out of the resurrection. I’m convinced we don’t focus on that enough beyond the Easter story.
Let’s actually read the full account of what happened the day Jesus died.
I’m hoping what we’ve discovered about God’s end game plan will help us see this familiar text with new eyes…
Matthew 27:32–61 (ESV) — 32 As they went out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name. They compelled this man to carry his cross. 33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), 34 they offered him wine to drink, mixed with gall, but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. 35 And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots. 36 Then they sat down and kept watch over him there. 37 And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” 38 Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. 39 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41 So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, 42 “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ” 44 And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way. 45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 47 And some of the bystanders, hearing it, said, “This man is calling Elijah.” 48 And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink. 49 But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” 50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. 51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 54 When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” 55 There were also many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him, 56 among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee. 57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59 And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.
We have an advantage over the disciples in that we see the cross looking backward from the resurrection. At that moment, they thought this was the end.
Yes, they had heard Jesus say he would die and return, but I’m pretty sure they thought he was speaking allegorically. He taught using parables which the disciples often found hard to understand.
Thank God that wasn’t the end of the story. Now we get to the part God wanted to get to in his plan, the part from which everything else will come…
Matthew 28:1–10 (ESV) — 1 Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” 8 So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.”
Conclusion: From here on it’s going to be a crazy ride. Be prepared to have your ideas about the Christian life and the afterlife in heaven challenged. You’ve been warned.
The big question today is, are you going to become part of God’s plan? He’s invited you in.
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