Here is the text of my Easter sermon. It was not exactly this word for word, but it was pretty close.
“My name is Will Caire, and I am a doctor at the hospital. My wife is Allison, and I have four kids David, Peter, Annie, and Sarah. I thought I would never be asked to preach, because I don’t have the ability to do it in Spanish. But Jens checked with Damaris and she said I could preach in English. Then I thought to myself, I will get it over with now, and after everyone has heard me they will never ask me to do it again. So here goes.
When I was thinking about what I should be speaking about, I was convinced that it needed to have something to do with the resurrection and that it needed to be encouraging. This is the biggest day on the Christian calendar, and we need to remember it. And it has changed our lives. It has changed how we live and what we live for! I don’t pretend to be a preacher nor do I like to preach, and so I did not have many ideas on how to accomplish this. But I am fortunate to have a fun family to live with on a daily basis, and one of my five favorite people, my son David, thoughtfully reminded me that “You can never go wrong with the Bible”. He then went on to tell me that he thought Luke did a good job of sharing the story of Jesus in his death and resurrection. So I am going to take his advice and start with that. Lets read Luke 24 together.
Do you wonder how wonderful and weird that was for them? But it is only starting to get strange. Jesus continued to reveal himself and make himself understood better by his disciples. Let’s keep reading because it is better in the Bible than by my own words. Right David? Luke 24:13 – end
So why did Jesus rise from the dead? Why is this how God made the way for us to get to heaven? Besides it being a fulfillment of prophecy, as well as the perfect atoning sacrifice for our sin, what does it mean for us? What does it mean for us here in Peru? I cannot say that I know for sure why God did it this way, but I do believe that it makes a difference for us that he did. I am certain that his resurrection has changed things for us! Through his death we are raised with him to a new life in union with Christ, a new citizenship in a new heavenly culture, a new friendship with God, and we are part of a new family. Let’s read Romans 6:4-11 in which we learn that we are united by faith to Jesus, not just to his death which is our death to sin, but also in his resurrection which is for us a new life.
Romans 6:4-11 “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
And then in Corinthians we learn more about this “being united, alive in Christ”
1 Corinthians 6:15 and 17. Do you not know that our bodies are members of Christ himself . . . he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.
What does it mean that we are united with Christ? My union with Christ allows me to act out how Jesus would act, to think like Jesus would think, and to feel like Jesus would feel. We can know the power of his rising, we can share in his suffering and we can be conformed with his death. And what was Jesus like and how should we be? He dined with the sinners lost in darkness, he looked out the lost, he considers the children as important as the adults, he celebrates at the salvation of sinners, he cries at the pain of sin and death, he loves perfectly, and he gives his life, for the sake of those who hate him and who are his enemies. For while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. He lives out perfectly the fruits of the spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control. And yes, we are united with him in some mystical way so that all those things are a part of us now. When we pour out our life to be filled with his spirit, joy follows suffering and life follows death. We experience life with Jesus Christ. So his character becomes our character, his concerns are our concerns. His joy is our joy, and his suffering is our suffering. Yes, and this was accomplished through his resurrection. And what more is accomplished through his resurrection?
Philippians 3:20 tells us that we are citizens of heaven. We are a part of his kingdom and his culture.
How does that citizenship in heaven affect us?
Through the resurrection my identification is in Christ, and my citizenship is in heaven. I carry a heavenly passport, stamped with the seal of the Holy Spirit. I have all the rights and privileges that come with that heavenly passport. And so I am free from the sinful culture of earth. I do not have to act like an earthly citizen, and I do not have to follow the dictates of my earthly, sinful, nature. It reminds me of what if feels like to be a Norte Americano in Curahuasi, Peru. Even though I live here, I am not from here. I am from the United States. And I still act like I am from the US. This may not be the nicest way to describe this, but it is the truth. I see some of the things that the Curahuasinos do that I think are weird or even wrong; I feel very free not to have to do them. I am not bound by this culture, or by this manner of doing things. In fact, it might even cross my mind that “Hey, I am an American, and we shower every day. And even if it is not the culture here to shower every day, I am going to shower every day because that is what we Americans do. My citizenship is in the US, and I am a stranger here.” And yet, how much more true and strong is my citizenship in heaven. I could revoke my right to citizenship in the US. I could become Peruvian or even a German. But the blood of Jesus has bought me and now I am part of the kingdom of heaven. I am not only a in this kingdom as a slave, although I surely am a slave having been purchased by his death, but after his purchase of my life, he has set me free and made me a citizen of his kingdom. I can act from the knowledge of being a citizen of God’s kingdom and God’s culture.
We are in his family. Jesus himself has told us that this is true.
Mark 3:35 “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”
Even better, through the resurrection God has made me part of his family as a son of God and a brother of Christ (that sounds weird, but it is true!). I certainly know who I am in my earthly family, and I know what that means for me in how I interact with this world. Allison and I at times will remind our kids that they are in our family. As an example, if some kids are doing something or acting in a way that we do not agree with, we will tell our kids that we don’t do that because we are Caires. We are not like the world; we are different. We don’t say that in pride, but in a way to share with our kids that they are not alone in a standard of behavior or in a way of being. The people who love them the most on this earth, Mom and Dad, are with them in this expectation and will live this out with them. And how much more am I a member of the family of God, the perfect Father who loves perfectly. I am the brother of Christ who is the perfect brother who will be my friend and support as only a brother or sister can be.
And we are his friends as well.
John 15:14-17 “You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.”
How does being a part of God’s family influence us? How is it to be a friend of God?
How do you act with your friends? I enjoy my friends, and I love to be with them and hear what they are thinking and what is going on in their lives. And I am loyal to my friends, holding them in a special place in my mind and heart as people to whom I am committed. And so God loves to be with us and he loves to know what is going on in our lives, and we also will love to be with God and know what is going on with him. He is loyal to us and we will be loyal to him. There are friends that are close than a brother, and Jesus is one of them.
So what has the resurrection done for us? The resurrection has given us union with Christ. The resurrection has given us a citizenship in a heavenly culture and country. The resurrection has given us an adoption into God’s family. The resurrection has made us friends with God. Through this union we become able to act and think and feel and live like Jesus. We look to serve the poor, to deal honestly, and live out the gospel of Christ. We consider others better than ourselves. When we are confronted by the temptations of this world, we are free to remember to which kingdom and country we belong. We remember that we are part of a heavenly culture, of God’s kingdom, and the culture of this world is alien to us and we do not have to act like we are a part of it. We can act like we belong to a different culture and country, a culture of truth, justice, faithfulness, gentleness, patience, kindness, and of heaven. When temptation comes to reject God and his atoning work, we are able to remember who our best friend is, a friend who will never betray us and likewise we will not want to betray our good friend. We are freed by the resurrection to be different. We are certainly strangers in a strange land, made different by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the wondrous work of God in the resurrection.