A Divine Disruption

The COVID-19 disruption gives us time to focus on the real meaning of Easter.

George Wright
Apr 12, 2020    32m
COVID-19 has disrupted many of our lives. We have been promised that all things work together for good to those who love God & see that this divine disruption may have given us the time and the need to focus on the real meaning of Easter. Sermon by Pastor George Wright Video recorded at Columbia, South Carolina.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

George Wright: 00:00 I do want to encourage you, if you would now grab a Bible, as we step into the Word of God. And I want to say specifically to those of you who are new to Shandon today, or perhaps have never joined us for one of these services, we are so grateful that you are with us on this Easter. It is a privilege to have you join us, and I do want you to know we've been praying for you, and we believe wholeheartedly that God has something very intentional and very personal to say to you this morning.

George Wright: 00:32 We're going to be in John's gospel, chapter 20, John's gospel, chapter 20. And I would like you, if you're willing and able, to stand with me for the reading of God's word. I know that's a little strange, and may be a little awkward on this Easter Sunday. But we stand at the reading of God's word that we all would be reminded that the word of God is our foundation, it is what we stand upon as a people of God. And the word of God reveals to us what God says is right and good and true. So this is the word of the Lord on Easter Sunday. John 20 beginning in verse 19 it says, "On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord." This is one of the beautiful scenes in the celebration of Easter.

George Wright: 01:49 Let's pray now together that God would use this message, and use this day, for his purpose and for his glory in our lives. Would you pray with me? Father God is we come now before you and consider your word on this Holy and sacred day, a day unlike any other, I pray that you would use this word on this Easter Sunday to speak into our lives. I pray that you would open our eyes, and open our hearts, to see what we need to see here on this day. And I pray for each and every one that is joining us for this service, Lord, would you comfort them, would you encourage them, would you meet them in what they're walking through right now in this season of uncertainty? And would you show them, show us, with greater clarity the beautiful gift of the gospel and the good news of your love and grace that has been made available to us? We celebrate the Risen Savior on Easter Sunday, and we pray that you would have your way among us. It's in Jesus' name that I pray. Amen. Amen. You may be seated if you were standing. Thank you for standing with me, and thank you for joining us here on Easter.

George Wright: 03:19 I realize this is certainly a different kind of Easter celebration. It is an Easter Sunday that we probably will not soon forget. And this is something that is so unique, it's so different, this celebration that is often so familiar feels unfamiliar today. This celebration that in many ways we look forward to because of the traditions or the nostalgia that Easter brings into our lives and our thoughts, has been flipped on its head in many ways. And the traditions that we often lean on are certainly different and disrupted here today. The things that we typically might look forward to on an Easter Sunday have been flipped on their head all together. The familiarity that we usually enjoy at Easter has been replaced by that which is unfamiliar and certainly uncommon. And as we consider that, we recognize that all that has been normal for us has certainly been disrupted. All that is nostalgic about Holy week and Easter Sunday has been removed. Consider that for a moment, consider the reality that everything that has been normal has been flipped all the way over. I would propose to you on this Easter Sunday that in some ways that may actually be a gift in disguise. In fact, I would lay this before you here on Easter Sunday, perhaps God is using this disruption as a divine moment. Perhaps God is using this disruption as a divine moment, a divine disruption on a weekend that is so steeped with tradition and nostalgia actually is inviting us to reflect on the true meaning of Easter with greater focus, and maybe even greater clarity than any time before. Because if we consider what the word of God says, we must acknowledge that Easter really is all about a divine disruption.

George Wright: 06:06 With that in mind, I want to walk back through some of what might be familiar in the scenes of Holy Week. Last Sunday we observed Palm Sunday, and Palm Sunday is that great celebration where the streets of Jerusalem are packed with the crowds that have showed up to see Jesus. They are shouting Hosanna, they are excited believing that the King has come to Israel, we talked about that at length last week. And the reason the people are gathered in Jerusalem is because they have come to celebrate the Passover. The Passover was a week, a time, that was steeped in tradition for the people of God. A celebration that would have been incredibly familiar, a celebration that brought to mind that which was nostalgic, and even routine in its familiarity. There was an element of being comfortable with the events of the Passover, doing the same thing every year to honor the tradition of what the Passover was all about.

George Wright: 07:23 If you're unfamiliar with the Passover story, and why the Passover was such an important thing at the time for the people of God, you can read the story in Exodus chapter 12. In fact, I would encourage you to go ahead and turn in your scripture there, we're going to look at a few verses in Exodus 12 in just a moment. The Passover takes place here in Exodus 12, as God's sends the final of 10 plagues to Egypt. Why does God do this? Well, the people of God had been in captivity, in slavery, in bondage under the reign and rule of Pharaoh in Egypt, and God sends these plagues to compel Pharaoh to let his people go. You may have seen the movie The 10 Commandments. Maybe you're familiar with this story, but this final plague, this final plague is the most devastating plague of all, because it is a plague of death. In fact, God would send the angel of death to all of Egypt, and the firstborn of every living creature in Egypt would be killed by this angel of death as God would pass through Egypt to communicate the severity of what had been done. But before God passes through Egypt with this plague of death, through his spokesman, his prophet, his leader Moses, God tells the people, kill an unblemished, spotless, pure lamb, a sacrificial lamb, and with the blood of the lamb, paint the doorposts of your house. So when I pass through Egypt to kill the firstborn born, when I see the blood of the lamb on the door, I will know this is a household of my people and I will pass over this household sparing this family from enduring this hardship. The blood of the lamb would serve as a sign that this was a household of faith, and any house with the blood on the doorpost would be passed over.

George Wright: 10:05 In Exodus chapter 12 verse 13 and 14 we see the word of God reveal this. It says this, "The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt. Verse 14 “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast." And this is the feast that we see being celebrated as we look to the events of Holy week. Generation after generation have been following this celebration of the Passover. They celebrated the gift that God had delivered them from bondage through the blood of the lamb. They celebrated the grace that God had given them as he spared their families and freed them from bondage. For hundreds and hundreds of years, this Passover celebration had been observed, traditions had been established, rituals were followed. Every year the people would gather to celebrate the Passover, and to be reminded of this gift from God.

George Wright: 11:45 And everything changes when Jesus goes to the cross. You see in the midst of this celebration that had become so steeped in tradition and nostalgia, a celebration that was very familiar to the people of God, God brings about a divine disruption. God flips the familiar on its head, and blows tradition out of the water. You see on the night that Jesus was arrested and taken away to be crucified he gathered with his disciples to celebrate a meal that would kick off their Passover celebration. We call this meal that Jesus shares the last supper, it's where we get our ordinance of the church the Lord's supper that we often celebrate together. This is the scene where Jesus washes the disciples feet. This is the scene where Jesus says to the disciples, I am establishing a new covenant. I am giving you a new sign to reveal the good news of the forgiveness of sin once and for all, that would come through my sacrifice and my shed blood for you. But the disciples are having a hard time understanding this. They're steeped in tradition. They're comfortable with what's familiar, and they're confused by some of what Jesus is saying. What does this mean? A new covenant? What does this mean? A meal that represents the body and the blood of Jesus. This is so strange. This is so unfamiliar. This does not feel like our tradition, this is so uncomfortable. And at the end of this meal, after Jesus teaches the disciples, John 13, 14, 15, 16 you can read this, the beautiful gift of the word of God revealing to us this sacred moment, this sacred night shared by Jesus and his disciples.

George Wright: 14:18 At the end of the meal, after all that Jesus has said, as the disciples struggle to make sense of it all, listen to what Jesus lays before them. John chapter 16 verses 32 and 33 don't miss this, Jesus says, "Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; for I have overcome the world.” Church, are you seeing this? Are you hearing this? Don't miss this. As the church is scattered right now, each to his own home, as our traditions have been flipped on their head, as all the has felt familiar, now feels uncomfortable. Are you seeing what Jesus has revealed? Jesus is saying to his followers, take heart, I recognize in this world you will face tribulation. You, right now, are facing tribulation, but I have overcome the world. I have done for you what you could never do for yourself, and this tribulation that you face in the world invites you back to what matters most. To see the proclamation of good news that I Jesus have overcome the world. You see, the tribulation of the world will not have the final word. The tribulation of this life, the tribulation of this world, the tribulation of this circumstance that we find ourselves in right now will not have the final word. And the good news is, in Jesus Christ, we can know that there is one who has overcome the world. Christ has overcome sin and death. Christ has made a way for us when there seem to be no way. The good news in this world of tribulation, is that Jesus Christ has stepped into this broken world and provided a divine disruption that crushes the power of sin and death and invites us into the promise of peace with God in the gift of salvation. That is in fact our only hope, the promise for all who are in Christ.

George Wright: 17:55 With that in mind, we come back to where we started this message on this Easter Sunday as Jesus appears to the disciples after the resurrection. That first Easter Sunday recorded for us in John 20, as the room is locked with some fearful disciples inside. Look back at John 20 verse 19, "On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the day we celebrate today, Easter Sunday, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews." You know, the 2020 version of this might read, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the coronavirus, or for fear of endangering those who are at high risk, or for fear of the uncertainty, or for fear of the unknown that is swirling around us. Whatever your fears may be today on this Easter Sunday, look at what the scripture says. Jesus comes into the room where the disciples are fearful, stood among them and said, peace be with you. And I believe with all of my heart on this Easter Sunday, that the message is the same for you and for me. Jesus is standing among us saying, peace be with you, I have overcome the world. Peace be with you in the midst of this tribulation that you now encounter. Peace be with you as your traditions have been flipped on their head. Peace be with you as everything that has felt comfortable now feels uncomfortable. Peace be with you as your normal has been divinely disrupted. Peace be with you, I have overcome the world.

George Wright: 20:33 And verse 20, what a powerful, powerful verse. John 20:20 says, "When Jesus said this, he showed them his hands and his side." When Jesus stood among his fearful disciples, after the resurrection and said, peace be with you. He showed them his hands where the nails had been as he hung on the cross, he showed them his side with a spear had been thrust as he hung on the cross, and he showed them the new covenants, the fulfillment of the prophecy that the perfect lamb of God has come. He showed them that all their traditions, and all their rituals, and everything that had been so familiar to them and the Passover celebration is actually meaningless without his death on the cross. Because all of these traditions, and all of these rituals, were intended by God to point us to Jesus. And he says, look at my hands, and look at my side, and see what I have done for you as the Passover lamb. This divine disruption, is an invitation for the disciples to see the savior. And this divine disruption here today on Easter Sunday in the midst of so much uncertainty, is an invitation for you to see the savior. An invitation to see the perfect spotless lamb of God who has come to provide the gift of salvation as he has overcome the world.

George Wright: 23:01 The second half of verse 20, in some ways, it's almost comical in the language that John uses as he pins this story through divine inspiration. This is perhaps one of the greatest understatements in all of the scripture. It says, when Jesus showed the disciples his hands and his side, look at the verse, "Then the disciples were glad that they saw the Lord." Well I guess so, this is it, the culmination of what their hearts have longed for, the fulfillment of the prophecy of God. All of their confusion, and all of their uncertainty, and all of their struggle in the midst of tribulation, has led to this moment where they see the gift of the risen savior standing right in front of them. As Jesus says, peace be with you. I have come to do for you what you could never do for yourself. I gave my life at the cross willingly for your sin, for the sins of the world, so that through the power of my resurrection, through the power of an empty tomb, through the power of the risen savior, you could know peace with God through the one who has overcome the world. This divine disruption is an invitation to see the savior.

George Wright: 24:50 And so if you are here joining us for this service today, feeling like you are in the midst of tribulation, feeling like everything that is normal has been disrupted, feeling like you are overwhelmed because of the uncertainty, because of the unknown, overwhelmed by your current reality. And if you're wondering today, where is God in all of this? Well, just like we see in John chapter 20 on that first Easter Sunday, as Jesus comes and stands among his disciples, Jesus is here among us today. Look at my hands, Jesus says, see where the nails were placed, where the blood of the lamb came pouring out at the cross. See my side, and recognize what I have done for you to defeat sin and death as the perfect sacrificial lamb. And as I have overcome the grave through the power of my resurrection, see the peace of God that has been offered by the one who has overcome the world. If you are overwhelmed, and you are longing for hope, and you are desperate for peace, look to Jesus on this Easter Sunday. He is standing among you, showing you that he has overcome the world, and he has overcome your sin. And if you trust in him, you can take heart for the gift of salvation will be yours.

George Wright: 27:19 I close with these words of Jesus, in the midst of his ministry, speaking to a worn out, exhausted, tired crowd. Matthew chapter 11 verse 28 and 29, Jesus says, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Rest for your soul. This is the invitation of Jesus, the one who has overcome the world, the one who offers peace to you, peace with God. In the midst of uncertainty, the risen savior says, come, come to me and I will give you what your soul so desperately is longing for. In Jesus you will find rest for your soul. The savior is alive, and the savior is offering you today peace that has overcome the world, if you will trust in him. The beautiful gift of Easter, as a divine disruption, reveals for us the power, the love, and the grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Look to Jesus, look to Jesus and see the peace of God.

George Wright: 29:39 Let me pray for us as we close today. Heavenly Father, I am so tremendously grateful that even in the midst of so much uncertainty, and even in the midst of the familiar being flipped on its head, and traditions being turned upside down, we can see in this divine disruption that you are inviting us to see the good news of the resurrected Savior. This is an Easter Sunday unlike any we've experienced before, but I believe this is an Easter Sunday where you are at work in even greater ways than we ever could have imagined. And so I pray right now for those who are joining us on Easter, who have been longing for hope, who have been desperate for peace, who have been struggling in the tribulation of this world, I pray that today on this Easter would be a day of resurrection for them. They would see what Christ has done, see the perfect, spotless lamb of God who has given his life for our sins and who has defeated sin and death by resurrecting from the grave. I pray that today would be the day that they would trust in you Jesus as their savior and their Lord. That they would cry out to the one who has overcome the world and say, Jesus, I'm ready to follow you. I need you. I'm ready for peace in my soul. I'm ready to be right with God, and so I'm asking you to forgive me of my sin, and I'm ready to turn and follow you in the gift of new life, peace with God that has overcome the world. Oh Lord, we praise you for this gift of salvation, we praise you for those who are trusting you even now. And we pray, Lord, that you would lift our hearts, and lift our eyes, and lift our spirits,. to be reminded that even in uncertainty, you are in control, and you are at work in the midst of a divine disruption to lay before us exactly what we need to see. I pray that we would see Jesus. Oh, we thank you for the gift of Jesus Christ our Lord, and the power of the resurrection on this Easter Sunday. It's in Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Recorded in Columbia, South Carolina.
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Shandon Baptist Church
5250 Forest Drive
Columbia, South Carolina 29206