날짜: 2018년 3월 25일
제목: 죽는 것이 사는 것입니다
올리브연합감리교회 김배선 목사
20180325 Sunday Worship Sermon
"The Truth of Living by Dying” (Mark 11:1-10)
Today is Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday.
I would like to share with you about “Death.”
Death is not a good thing.
It is not desired nor pursued.
According to the first three chapters in Genesis, death was not originally in God’s plan.
It is a penalty that the sin of humans brought out.
Thus, death is a disaster and unhappiness.
This is not only true to the one who dies, but also to those who love the person who dies.
We hear about death almost every day.
We hear the news of death from all over the world.
People die because of many various reasons.
Do you think a peaceful death after living a normal life would be less sad?
The one facing death may say so.
However, for those who are left behind, such death is just as painful.
Death is ‘as such’ to us.
However, we, Christians are those who have another dimension to death.
In his book, “Discipleship,” Rev. John Stott considers death as one of the essential qualities of discipleship of Jesus Christ.
First of all, we Christians have a belief that death is not the end.
The reason that people hate and fear death, and hurt from death, is that they believe death terminates everything.
However, those believing Jesus Christ have a different perspective to death.
How different is it and why is that?
Believing Jesus Christ means to believe in the resurrection of Him.
Believing His resurrection means to know death is not the end.
The resurrection is an event like the ‘STOP’ button is released and the ‘PLAY’ button is pressed in a recorder.
Before believing resurrection, people thought that pressing the ‘STOP’ button is the end of everything.
But the resurrection of Jesus proved that death is not the end.
The resurrected Jesus appeared in a different figure to His disciples.
He looked like a person in the world in one look, but different in another look at the same time.
He didn’t seem like a person in the world.
He ate with His disciples; but He penetrated through a locked door suddenly and then disappeared.
The disciples developed a different perspective as they met resurrected Jesus repeatedly.
They realized that another world exists after death.
They learned that one advances to another world through death.
The disciples realized that world is not only open to Jesus Christ but also to everybody.
So, Jesus Christ is called ‘The First Fruit.’
Those who raise a fruit tree know the meaning of the first fruit.
That means the tree will bear fruits every year as long as it is alive.
The resurrection of Jesus ensures that the same event will occur to those who believe in Him.
In 1 Corinthians 15:21-23, Paul said:
“For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the first fruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him…” (1 Corinthians 15:21-23)
It means that the event occurred to Jesus who was crucified on a cross would occur to everyone who believes in Him.
In other words, death is not our final ‘STOP’ button.
We are entering into a new unknown world through death.
Thus, Paul said as such:
“If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied…” (1 Corinthians 15:19)
Why did he say that?
Paul left everything he had behind and overcame all the hardship after meeting the resurrected Jesus.
He almost lost his life several times.
But, he didn’t give up.
Until he was martyred, he spread the gospel of resurrection.
It is because he believed that death is not the end.
He believed that death would lead us to the kingdom of God.
Therefore, death is neither fearful nor hateful to him.
As believing the resurrection, death is a process of being new-born into a new world.
Of course, death is a sad and pitiful incident for a human being, but a more blessed and eternal world, which is not comparable to this world, is waiting for us.
Anyone who believes the resurrection can confess like what Paul wrote in the book of Philippians.
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain…” (phil. 1:21)
Not everyone can confess like this.
It can be done only by the ones who believe in Jesus Christ truly and rely on Him.
Since I have served Olive church, I have officiated or attended many funerals.
From those experiences what I confirmed is that there is no order in death, and it cannot be anticipated.
Also, I realized that it is very important to live a life in preparing our death.
There are many ways to prepare our death.
I remember one of church members who passed away few years ago.
She prepared her pink shroud by herself while living.
And also she selected hymns to be sung at her funeral.
Such preparing is good, but the best one was preparing to be born in the kingdom of God through the death.
It was the preparation that death is not the end and not a disaster.
It was the preparation to be embraced into God’s arms in the moment of death without any fear.
That preparation is to believe in Jesus Christ who opened the door to God’s kingdom with his resurrection.
It is to believe that the reason why Jesus died on the Cross is to be purged of my sins.
It is living day by day by calling God as Abba, father, by calling Jesus as Lord in the middle of the guidance of the Spirit.
While we have the time, by living like this, we have to enjoy staying in the condition of “Jesus is within me, I am in Jesus.”
Then, the eyes of our mind will open and see God’s kingdom.
When we see the kingdom, death is not fearful any more.
Few months ago, I had a phone call from a church member.
He was grieving for his father’s sudden weakness.
He was very anxious about his father’ condition and that the final moment would come any time soon.
The more anxious thing is that his father seemed to not have the true faith, even though he attended church regularly.
He asked me to pray that he can be thankful for his father’s salvation when his father passes away.
It was a touching phone message.
I really hope to be that, truly.
Also, I pray for anyone who hears this sermon today to prepare properly for the reality of death, which we don’t know when or how it comes to us.
Yes, we Christians have a belief that death is not the end
Secondly, we Christians consider death as a metaphor.
As if the carnal death to the believers is the passage leading to eternal and true life, certain things that may seem like loss, suffering, sacrifice or failure may be a passage leading to the fruitful results.
We can call these as 'death'.
For example, the sacrifice with love, even though it seems painful, bears precious fruit that cannot be compared to the pain.
This also is true when we sacrifice for children, sacrifice for our parents, sacrifice for the kingdom of God, and sacrifice for the church.
The list continues and is true with those that sacrifice for missions and also for their country.
Those are literally sacrifices and suffering.
However, the precious fruit will be harvested through it.
Jesus already said this truth in John 12:24.
“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” (John 12:24) (ppt)
Jesus was referring to His physical death here.
What Jesus meant about His death was not just that He would go to the kingdom of God after His death.
Jesus foresaw that a lot of fruits would be reaped through His death.
This can’t be imagined unless the eyes of the heart open and see the kingdom of God.
Having faith means living in this truth after comprehending this paradoxical truth.
The truth of belief often appears contradictory and sometimes paradoxical.
The worldly people only believe what they can see.
They believe materialism and don’t see beyond this material world.
Hence, they determine, calculate, and behave based only on the things visible.
They think all disappear after death; if anything goes out of their hand, they consider it as a loss.
So, they think what is best for them is to own and enjoy as much as possible.
However, once we have faith, we begin to see what has been invisible.
We come to know that what is visible is not all and also that there’s more than what we can enjoy in this world.
We believe this world is not a continuity of accidents, but in God's providence.
Therefore, we can sustain losses, sometimes even compromise or give up our ownership and sometimes endure unfairness.
We confirm the truth that lowering ourselves is being raised, that serving is governing and that dying is living.
Hence, we often go in the opposite direction of this world.
Faith is demonstrated by “practicing the truth with the belief in the paradox of the truth.”
It’s easy to confess accepting Jesus as Lord.
But, it is not easy to abandon without any regrets when we need to give up and to retreat willingly and to be lowered cheerfully when we have to.
We can only do so when we truly believe in God and truly believe in the invisible world.
When this belief grows, we will not hesitate to take a life like Jesus when it is needed; this is real faith.
I would like to share a story of the Romanian Baptist Pastor Josif Ton.
He preached the Gospel during the period of the dictator Ceaucescu.
He was threatened by the secret police as he poured harmful remarks on the unjust regime.
From this threat, Pastor Ton responded,
"Sir, your supreme weapon is killing. But, my supreme weapon is dying.”
Who could reply to the one threatening you like this without believing in God’s eternal kingdom?
Only those who believe in the paradox of truth that dying is living can act like this.
Brothers and sisters, today is Palm Sunday, which is to celebrate the day when Jesus entered Jerusalem upon the completion of all His activities in Galilee.
The Passion Week starts today.
Jesus entered through the Golden Gate, which was in the east of the Temple in Jerusalem.
The Jews believed that the messiah would come through that gate.
Hence, those who were of influential positions frequented that gate.
Jesus also chose that gate.
The crowd who were gathered there welcomed Jesus, waving palm branches.
However, Jesus did something very strange; He rode on a young donkey.
Probably, those who regarded Jesus as the messiah did not find it unnatural, but for those who didn’t know who Jesus was, thought it looked ridiculous.
An adult man on a donkey’s foal!
Why did Jesus do that?
One thing for sure is that it was not because Jesus couldn’t find a horse.
Today’s verses record that Jesus had arranged someone to secure a colt in advance.
Gospel of John clearly mentioned the reason why.
John quoted Zechariah 9:9 as he recorded the following:
“Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; See, your king is coming, Seated on a donkey's colt."
Horses are for war and donkeys are for labor.
Working hard for human beings are donkeys.
Donkeys symbolize obedience and humility.
God, through Prophet Zechariah, prophesized that the messiah would come as a person to serve.
Having accepted this prophecy to be about Himself, Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey.
A few days before Jesus’ entrance, a similar yet completely different event took place at the same spot.
Pontius Pilate, riding on a splendid horse, followed by a procession of chariots and soldiers, passed by that area.
Judea at that time was controlled by the Roman governor.
As a governor of Judea, the parade of Pontius Pilate was splendid and frightening.
And it was enough to overbear the people of Jerusalem.
Those who had viewed Pilate’s parade must have mocked Jesus riding on a donkey.
Compared to Pilate’s power and glory, Jesus was nothing.
It seemed evident that the world was being ruled by the emperor of Rome.
However, Jesus, entering Jerusalem on a donkey, thought otherwise.
Jesus may have thought, “Here I come, the real One; the one stronger than warhorses and javelins.”
Jesus believed in the truth of ruling by serving and living by dying.
On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus said the following to His disciples:
“Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many…” (Mark 10:43-45)
Nobody at that time could imagine that the messiah would come in this fashion, riding on a donkey, looking powerless, to suffer and die on a cross.
For although they thought they believed in God, they believed only what they could see.
They didn’t believe in the truth of dying in order to live.
They didn’t believe in God’s governing hands.
But, Jesus believed.
That’s why He entered Jerusalem on a donkey and finally died on a cross.
People regarded that Jesus on a donkey was defeated by Pilate on a horse.
However, soon after that, everything was clearly manifested.
The power that was ruling the world was not Pilate or the emperor, but God.
Brothers and sisters, I would like to close my sermon with sharing Paul’s confession, who firmly believed in the paradox of truth and lived by that paradox.
“Through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything…” (2 Corinthians 6:8-10) Amen.