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Sunday, April 08, 2007

God's Mission

On Mark 16:1-11...

"He is not here… he is risen… go tell the world!"

That is the essential message of Easter morning and what I've focused on in past years. You'll read a summary of that in the most recent church newsletter. We do not worship a dead human being, whose body might be dug up or venerated. We worship a risen God-man, who even now is in Heaven as our representative and our Savior. The women and then the disciples were charged with telling this news, and we are charged with telling this news.

All of that is true, and this morning I want to add to that and focus on one particular phrase in the Easter story. After the angel tells the women to "go, tell his disciples and Peter," he tells them this:

He is going ahead of you… (v. 7)

I highlight that phrase for several reasons. For one, it's just plain exciting, great news – that we are not sent out to tell the world on our own steam, but that God goes ahead of us. But, it also ties in to some things we have been talking about at church for some time now.

First, there's the lighthouse/searchlight theme that we've had all Fall and Winter. As we explored that theme, we saw that we are on a mission, not for God, but with God. The light we bear is that of Jesus Christ, the light of the world. And God sent Jesus into the world to seek and to save the lost. We are to be salt and light, a city shining on a hill, so that people might be drawn to God through Jesus and even rescued from darkness. All along, as we've explored this lighthouse/searchlight theme, we've realized that God is still on a mission to the world, and our opportunity and responsibility is to join in with that mission. God still goes on ahead of us.

And then, during Lent, these past six weeks leading up to today, we have followed the people of Israel as God led them from slavery in Egypt to a new land, the Promised Land of Canaan. God was on a mission to rescue and deliver – to save – His people, and that story is recorded in the Old Testament in Exodus, Numbers, and on through Joshua. And as we read those stories, we hear the same thing: God is on a mission and God is going ahead of His people. It's there in Exodus and Joshua, when an Angel of the Lord "goes ahead of them." It's there in Numbers, where a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night "goes on ahead of them."

Later, in the New Testament, we have this story, of Jesus "going on ahead" of the women to see the disciples. Later, in Acts, the Holy Spirit "goes on ahead" to lead the early church in God's ongoing mission to the world.

The point is that God has been and continues to be at work in the world, rescuing those who are lost and apart from him and restoring people to a relationship with Him. God has accomplished the means of that rescue once and for all through the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ. But God continues to move among us, bringing people to Himself through trust in Jesus.

And so, we share in the mission the angel gave to the women: "Go and tell."

But our mission is God's mission, and we may be encouraged that God's Holy Spirit goes on before us, preparing the way and showing us the way, that we might join ourselves to what God is doing even now through Jesus the Son.

Be on the lookout for what God is doing. Seek opportunities to join yourself to Him and follow after Him. We do so because God desires to rescue those living apart from Him and because our joining in God's mission honors God's name.

Go and tell, for God goes on ahead of us!

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