There was a young child named Abe in a small Boston town who was quite good a whittling. He could take a small piece of wood and whittle it into virtually anything he chose. This day he was completing a little sail boat. He placed a mast on his small sail boat and a sail. He then trotted out to the local stream to see if it would float and indeed it did. He spent many hours playing in the water with his new creation. One morning the winds picked up and blew his sail boat across the waters and down the stream. He tried, but could not retrieve his little boat.
Many years later as an adult Abe was passing through the town he grew up in and passed by a used toy store. He noticed a little sail boat that looked surprisingly like his sail boat he created as a youngster. He went in to look at this boat and indeed it had all the markings of his boat. He went up to the owner and told him that it was his boat that he had whittled many years prior. The owner said it was not his boat and that if he wanted it he would have to pay. Since the owner was not to be denied his money for the boat, Abe paid the price for the boat. As he stood outside the store looking at his boat, he thought to himself,
“I have owned you twice. I created you and now I have bought you back.”
Abe’s story is the story of God and his ownership of us. He created us and has bought us back at a heavy cost…the death of his son. This is the message of the Bible, but I want to share another message that might resonate more with our children, who in so many cases have rejected the first message.
Alistair Begg has been discussing death over the past week in his morning messages. He speaks to the message of death as a message that wakes us up as we grow older. How can this message wake up our children and so many in this country who mock Christianity?
I remember when my children were younger, and the discussion of clothes came up before they left the house. Whether it was not enough clothes or looking like a recluse I or my wife would say, “You are not going like that. In fact, you can’t go looking like that.”
1 Corinthians 15:50-58 New International Version (NIV)
50 I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
What do we need to “put on” to go into God’s Kingdom? Our bodies are perishable. We all have a maturity date. Adam sinned and we all now live in sin and are perishable because of his sin. Jesus took on sin and passed on to us victory over it and offers it to us. The illusion is that we can enter the Kingdom of God with our current bodies, though. Even Nicodemus had a problem with that. Flesh gives birth to flesh and spirit gives birth to spirit. You must be born again! You can’t go into heaven with just one birthday. You must put on new clothes and those clothes are imperishable.
Another way to put it was illustrated by Alistair: Many of you know of a golf tournament in which one of it’s rewards is a green jacket. The jacket is a symbol of entry into one of the most exclusive golf clubs in the world. I might think that I can get one of those jackets, but my friends who play golf with me would say there is not a chance. The only way that I could get in is if someone else plays for me and then allows me to wear the jacket.
That’s it isn’t it. That is the message of Easter. Joe, you cannot come in here looking like that would be the response after death. I cannot earn a jacket on my own. Therefore, I will never come in unless wearing a jacket provided by another. I cannot be so proud as to say that the only way I am going is if I earn it myself!
It is time that all of us admit that another greater than us has achieved what we could never achieve so that we can enjoy what we could never earn and that is exactly what Jesus has done. I could never earn the wonderful glorious cloaks of eternity. He merely asks me to take off the rags of my righteous endeavors and allow Him to clothe me in that which will make me fit for entry.
Have you ever done that? That is the message of Easter.
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