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Brand New You - Easter Sunday

Dr. Jon Morrissette - 4/21/2019

This morning we’re starting a series called a “Brand New You.” There is a verse in the Bible that says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and behold, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). To me, that is what Spring is all about. A new season. A fresh beginning. Creation bursting to life. Color splashing everywhere. It’s exhilarating. But this is also what Christianity is all about—how through a relationship w/Jesus Christ, God activates an entirely new reality within us… such that the old passes away, and the new comes.

In John 12:24 Jesus explains this w/a simple analogy. He says, “Truly I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains by itself. But if it dies, it produces much fruit.” This Spring, our farmers will be planting row after row of grain. Think what a single kernel of grain can become! How it can germinate. How God can cause its roots can form, its stalk emerges, its branches grow, its fruit burst forth. Think how God can multiply such a great harvest from just a single kernel of grain.

But this can only happen how? …If the old is allowed to die …If the old shell is cast aside. What if the reason we haven’t become Brand New Creations is because we’ve been too busy clinging to the old? God wants us to blossom, but there are things were not letting go of, there are things were clinging to other than Christ himself.

This past Tuesday, the Notre Dame Cathedral caught fire. The building was near collapse, were it not for the valiant efforts of some 500 firefighters and countless volunteers. This wasn’t any ordinary “building.” The Cathedral, which took over a century to build, had stood 850 years. It was one of the finest examples of French Gothic Architecture. The Notre Dame Cathedral was one of the tallest structures, and most visited sites, in all Paris. During construction, Craftsmen hand-carved their signatures into its state-of-the-art flying buttresses, arches, and beams—hoping to immortalize their own memories. It’s been referred to as everything from the “soul” of Paris, France, Europe, to Western Civilization. As of Saturday, 1.3 billion has been raised to rebuild. Some have questioned why there is so much alarm about saving this building, while so few have been willing to take hold of the Christian faith that built it in first place!

In Jesus’ day, people clung to the Temple. The first Temple in Jerusalem was designed by God, prepped by King David, and built by King Solomon. Its splendor was unrivaled. We can’t even begin to imagine how it’s gold features must have glistened in the sunlight! The first temple was eventually destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 587 BCE. The Babylonians plundered its gold and carried away all its sacred relics.

But to the Jewish people, the temple was essence of their faith and national identity. They saw the temple as the “soul” of Jerusalem and the “soul” of Judaism. So, they set out to rebuild the temple. As they rebuilt, the older priests (who remembered the former glory of the first temple) wept bitterly. The NEW Temple was no comparison to the OLD temple. It was a major disappointment and downgrade.

In Jesus’ day a secular king by the name of Herod sought to rescue the temple—not unlike the French President. Herod commissioned architects from all Greece, Rome and Egypt to plan the temple’s reconstruction and expansion. To complete the Temple, they had to develop state-of-the-art technology. The builders had to employ a super complex system of pulleys, cranes, and levers that defy imagination. It took some 46 years for Herod to complete the work. When it was all done, the temple was so impressive! Not as impressive as Temple 1.0, but still amazing! The Pinnacle of Herod’s Temple stood 450 feet high (45 stories tall) from the valley floor. The base of the Temple complex was like 4.5 football fields long. The largest stones weighed over 100 tons.

Jesus was never fixated by buildings. The disciples certainly were. On several occasions, they’d call Jesus’ attention to the Temple Complex. But Jesus was like, “Yea, it’s all going to be laid waste. Not one stone will be left atop another.” Time and again, Jesus kept taking his disciples back to the fundamentals—and this is where our focus has to be as well. What matters ultimately? The thing that gets so out of focus for us is that a relationship with Jesus Christ is THE REALITY of this new life, not just some accessory to it. If anyone is in relationship to Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and behold, the new has come!

In John 2, there is this crazy story. Jesus walks into the temple and finds people selling oxen, sheep, and doves. He sees all the money changers sitting there. They were the 1st Century Payday Loan guys, ripping people off, they could care less about authentic worship. They’d turned it into a commercial enterprise, a profit center. Jesus becomes livid at the sight of all the corruption. He spills the money changer’s coins on the ground, he flips their tables, and drives them all away.

But he tells them, “Destroy this sanctuary, and I will raise it up in three days.” The Jews had absolutely no idea what Jesus was talking about. They thought he was talking about destroying/rebuilding the temple. So, they shout back, “This sanctuary took 46 years to build, and will You raise it up in three days?”

But Jesus was talking about a far greater reality. He was speaking of what he alone had the power to do. John 2:21 explains it all. When Jesus said, “Destroy this sanctuary (temple) and I will raise it up in three days” … he wasn’t talking about the Temple complex. “Jesus was speaking about the sanctuary of his body.” In other words, destroy my body and I’ll raise it back up three days later. John 2:22 tells that us that later “when he was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered he had said this. And they believed the Scripture and the statement Jesus had made.”

In John 2 people were thinking what an impossible feat it would be to rebuild the Temple Complex in three days. In France their thinking what an impossible feat it would be to rebuild the Notre Dame Cathedral in five years… But we’re not even in the same stratosphere as Jesus. “Destroy my body and God will resurrect it in three days.” I don’t know how you feel… but building or renovating some cathedral/temple doesn’t even register on the Richter scale of bodily resurrection. Here we’re infatuated with raising buildings from their ashes, but here God’s infatuated with resurrecting new creations from death to life, from old to brand new.

Our focus this Easter 2019 ought to be on who Jesus is. In John 1:1-4 we read of Jesus, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were created through Him, and apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created. Life was in Him, and that life was the light of men.” Such powerful words! “Life was in Jesus.” “Destroy this body and I will raise it up in three days.”

Maybe you are familiar with the story of the Woman at the Well in John 4. Jesus is traveling through Samaria, and stops at Jacobs well, to refresh himself. Not long after a Samaritan woman comes out alone, to draw water. The reason she is alone is because she has been ostracized by her community. She’d had husband after husband and was working on number six!

We don’t know her story—but Jesus does. She’d spent her life trying to quench her spiritual thirst with one failed relationship after another. Jesus tells her, “Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again—ever! In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up within him for eternal life.”

At first, she doesn’t quite know how to respond. She awkwardly pivots the conversation to a question about worship. The Jews worship in Jerusalem… The Samaritans have always worshipped on mount Gerizim. Worship certainly matters. God desires us to worship him in spirit and truth. But what “ultimately” matters? What ultimately matters is eternal life. Was Jesus the Christ? Would she accept Jesus’ offer of living water, welling up within her, unto eternal life?

John 3, Jesus tells Nicodemus (one of Israel’s teachers), “I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Jesus tells him, “No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life. For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” Of all the religious things we do, and think are going to matter, only one thing truly does. Do we believe in Jesus, do we trust him for eternal life?

We can get so wrapped up in Bible Studies. We think if we learn this, or master that, it’s going to matter. In John 5:39-40 Jesus reframes the core issue for us. He says, “You pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, yet they testify about Me. And you are not willing to come to Me so that you may have life.” It doesn’t matter how much we know if we’ve never come to know Jesus.

John 6:26-29. The crowds, motivated by their physical needs, pursue Jesus. They weren’t interested in trusting Jesus, they only wanted handouts. Jesus tells them, “I assure you: You are looking for me not because you saw the signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Don’t work for the food that perishes but for the food that lasts for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you…” John 6:33, 35, “For the Bread of God is the One who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. . . I am the bread of life… no one who comes to me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in me will ever be thirsty again…”


Scripture Verses

2 Corinthians 5:17, John 12:24, John 6:26-29

Worship Playlist

  • Christ the Lord is Risen Today
  • Cornerstone
  • Gospel Medley: How Deep the Father's Love for Us, O Praise the Name, Living Hope, Resurrecting
  • Glorious Day

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