Damariscotta Baptist Church
Friday, April 20, 2018
Growing personal relationships with God and community

Lamb of God

 

Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed!

 

We have spent the time of lent, leading up to this day, the day of Resurrection, by looking at some of the names of Jesus. Today’s name we are focusing on is “Lamb of God”. This name carries with it so many threads, which are intertwined throughout the Bible. As I was studying for my message this week I began to realize what a great mystery novel the story of the resurrection really is. In fact, the Bible is still #1 in publication and distribution. So one could say, it is the best “mystery novel” of all times.

 

And God is the author of this novel, and each one of us is a character in the story. Some of us are more of a “character” than others, but we are each “in the story”.

 

I “Googled” the requirements for a “good” mystery novel. It turns out the Bible has covered them all. You could say, God wrote the book on how a good mystery should play itself out.

 

In order to begin to understand what really happened at the cross and with the resurrection I thought we would investigate the story using the “Top Ten Rules for Mystery Writing” by Ginny Wiehardt.

 

Rule #1 – In Mystery writing, plot is everything!

Readers are playing a kind of game when they read a detective novel, the plot has to come first, above everything else. One has to make sure the plot is plausible, and keep the action moving.

 

Well, at the beginning of the resurrection story, the very beginning, the plot is established in the Garden of Eden. The earth is formed, humans have been created, God says they are “good” and places them in the perfect setting. They have everything they could possibly ask for,

 

BUT,

 

They want more. It is plausible, we’ve discussed this before. Should any of us had been there, the suspense would have been too great, and we too would have succumbed to the “lie” offered by Satan himself.

 

Which brings us to

 

Rule #2 – Introduce both the detective and the culprit early on. As the main character, your detective must obviously appear early in the book. As for the culprit, your reader will feel cheated if the villain, enters too late in the book to be a viable suspect in their minds.

 
 
 

Our detective, Jesus, was there, in the beginning. If you remember, he started the whole thing. As for the villain, Satan, he isn’t very far behind. You will also notice some sorcery happening, Harry Potter doesn’t have anything on Satan, as he shows himself as a serpent and begins spinning his lies and messing with Eve’s memory.

 

Had God really said not to “touch the tree.”

 

What would it be like to know good and evil?

 

To have wisdom?  

 

So this is where the plot thickens.

No more Garden of Eden for the humans.

No more legs for the serpent.

 

Rule #3 – Introduce the crime within the first three chapters of your mystery novel. The crime and the ensuing questions are what hook your reader.

 

Are you hooked? How are the humans going to get out of this? Who is going to save them from Satan, from themselves? Adam and Eve have sinned in a way that brings about “death”. They have been banished from the Garden of Eden and can no longer eat from the Tree of Life and live forever. The price they had to pay for knowing good and evil. Their crime produced sin and sin produces death and it turns out sinning also happens to be hereditary.

 

Rule #4 – The crime should be sufficiently violent – preferably a murder.

 

I would say you have sufficient violence. There has been violence and murder starting with the first children born to Adam and Eve. Cain and Abel, come along and jealousy takes over and the first murder occurs. Didn’t take long. Violence doesn’t stop there, the Old Testament is packed with violent stories of jealousy, rape and murder. The New Testament tops it all by killing God himself!

 

Which fulfills…

 

Rule #5 – The crime should be believable.

While the details of the murder --- how, where and why it’s done, as well as how the crime is discovered --- are your main opportunities to introduce variety, make sure the crime is plausible. Your reader will feel cheated if the crime is not something that could really happen.

 

This is the part of the Bible I appreciate most. When I read about certain characters in the Bible they seem real to me, believable. They mess up, just like I do, and God still loves them. That gives me hope. Abraham lies about his wife and nearly gets them both killed. Joseph is sneaky and conniving and seems to get away with it, as he becomes the father of the tribes of Israel. Rahab runs a brothel and her great-grandson is King David, the lineage Jesus himself is born into. King David commits adultery and then kills the other man. Then there is Peter, in the New Testament, who chops off the ear of a soldier and is ready to fight to the death one minute and the next minute he lies three times about even knowing who Jesus is. The list goes on and on. The Bible is a regular “Patton Place” and as I read about these people, I feel right at home with them. I can relate.

 

Now Rule #6 of Ms. Wiehardt’s list of “Top Ten Rules for Mystery Writing” may be the most difficult to compare. She writes,

The detective should solve the case using only rational and scientific method.

 

For those who have not actually read the Bible, the assumption is Christians have faith and faith is not scientific or empirically sound. I argue,in essence, the ultimate solution to the case of the human race, is rational and can be proven by scientific method.

 

As we heard in our Scripture reading today in Exodus 29, a rational system had been established to allow God to dwell among sinners. A blood sacrifice had to be offered. Two lambs, a year old, that were perfect, and had no blemishes were to be killed, one in the morning and one in the evening.

 

These along with some grain, oil and drink offerings would create a pleasing aroma, to the LORD.

 

If these were done, God promised to meet with the people, speak to them, and dwell with them. They would know He was the same God who took the Israelites out of Egypt, who delivered them from captivity, and who was the LORD their God.

 

This system worked, until the first Good Friday. When God himself became the final sacrifice, the ultimate sacrifice. The curtain between the place called “Holy of Holies” where God existed and the temple where the people existed was torn in two. God no longer remained behind a tent, but had had enough blood, the blood of his only Son, to cover the remaining sins, forever. No more blood sacrifices. The price had been paid, in full, for all of us.

 
Rule #7 is a no-brainer – it reads

The culprit must be capable of committing the crime.

 

The culprit, Satan, started out as an angel of light and then evil took control and he has been trying to lure others to join him ever since. Is he capable of committing the crime? Oh yeah. The problem today is people don’t believe he exists.

  
Most Christians Don't Believe Satan Is Real

CBNNews.com Sunday, April 19, 2009RSS

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The majority of U.S. Christians say they believe in God but not in the devil or the Holy Spirit, a recent study found.

The latest Barna Group survey revealed that about 60 percent of believers either strongly agree or somewhat agree that Satan isn't "a living being" but rather "a symbol of evil." About 58 percent also said they strongly agree or somewhat agree that the Holy Spirit is "a symbol of God's power or presence" but not "a living entity."

"Most Americans, even those who say they are Christian, have doubts about the intrusion of the supernatural into the natural world," said George Barna, founder of The Barna Group. He's also written several books on America's faith.

"Hollywood has made evil accessible and tame, making Satan and demons less worrisome than the Bible suggests they really are," he added. "It's hard for achievement-driven, self-reliant, independent people to believe that their lives can be impacted by unseen forces."

Click here to read the results of the Barna Group survey.

In comparison, only 35 percent of those surveyed said they believe Satan is real and 34 percent said they believe the Holy Spirit is real.

Those remaining said they were not sure what to believe about the existence of the devil or the Holy Spirit.

Americans, however, still showed a belief in evil spirits or demons. About two out of every three Christians agreed that these spiritual forces exist.

The study also found that most Americans who don't completely believe in the Holy Spirit still feel the Bible is accurate in its teachings. According to the Bible, the Holy Spirit is God's power or presence, not just a symbol.

The Barna results were based on phone interviews of 1,871 adult Christians given at the beginning and end of 2008.

Source: The Barna Group*

For Americans today, the idea of whether Satan is capable of doing evil is not really the question. We have entered a time when the very existence of Satan himself is questioned.

How clever of Satan to come through the back door again, and use the very things around us, media and entertainment, in the guise of “good” to deceive us into not even believing he exists. Then why would we need to aware? Very crafty indeed.

 

Rule #8 is, In mystery writing, don’t try to fool your reader. All clues should be revealed to the reader as the detective finds them.

 

Again, the Bible is spot on. Since the beginning, God has been putting clues down as to how he is going to save his people. Some people may ask why He uses prophesies and parables rather than coming right and saying it. For those of us with a heart that “wants to hear” we get it. Paul writes in Ephesians 1:18

 

“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,…”

 

That is my prayer for you all here today.

 

Rule #9 is – Do your research. Get all essential details right. Mystery readers will have read a lot of books like yours; regard them as a pretty savvy bunch.

 

I consider you a pretty savvy bunch and this is my encouragement to you. Don’t take my word for it. Do your research. Read the Bible for yourself. Get all the essential details right. How exactly does the crucifixion/resurrection thing work? How does if fit in the big scheme of things? I challenge you to start at the beginning, where we first messed up in the Garden and follow the concept of Messiah until you get to the last chapter of the book, Revelations. You see, the resurrection is just another chapter. Jesus isn’t finished, yet. He

is planning to return and when He does, we get a new heaven and a new earth, a new body and a new beginning. There won’t be any more mystery novel themes, because evil will be separated from good, forever. Over the past weeks of the Lenten season we have been just skimming the surface of what the Bible has to say about the Messiah and how people took the facts and came up with false conclusions. Much like a good mystery novel, you don’t know if you have solved the mystery until the last pages.

 
 

Rule #10 – Wait as long as possible to reveal the culprit.

 

God did wait a long time before returning to earth, as Messiah. And when He finally did, He was misunderstood, and mocked and eventually crucified. But like a good novel writer, He knew this all along. He had a fool proof plan which revealed who He really is, stronger than death, and a loving God who desires that each of his creation, that includes you and me, also have the strength to conquer death, and have eternal life with him.

 

At this point in history, we have a great deal of the mystery of Christ revealed to us. We can put the pieces of the mystery together. From the first sin, to the need for the blood sacrifice of a perfect lamb, to the ultimate perfect lamb being sacrificed, God himself, for all sins, for all time. We still have a bit of the mystery remaining, because again God has not told us the time or place He will chose to return again. We have some clues and we can try to put them together but ultimately we can be assured of eternal life because the Lamb of God was not only slain, but has risen. The best part of this story which is unlike the books Ginny Wiehardt writes, which are fiction, Jesus’ story is not, and the mystery has been revealed.

 

May each of us leave this place today realizing the mystery of Christ is one of the best mysteries ever told.

 

Let’s pray,

  

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.”

 

Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed!