Becoming People of the Resurrection – 1 Kings 17:8-24
Pastor Doug Klein
There is nothing more wonderful than witnessing an incredible turnaround. Something that was bound to fail but all of a sudden took on a drastic new life. It doesn’t matter if it’s in sports, business, marriage, health or whatever. We love to see a dramatic turnaround. It’s even more powerful however, to witness a resurrection. Where there was once death and decay, there is no life. To be raised from the dead is one of the most astounding things in the world. It’s the promise of Easter for us now and in the future. Instead of fearing or ignoring death, we become people of the resurrection.
The first principle is 1.) A Church unafraid of the darkness. 1 Kings 17: 8-16.
God thrives and surprises in the darkness. The Garden of Gethsemane was a dark place. The disciples left in defeat after the arrest of Jesus to hide behind locked doors. Things went from bad to worse as Jesus was led to the cross, dying an agonizing tortuous death. Friday, things went from bad to worse. But it was only Friday and Sunday was just around the corner.
On this Easter morning, I want to share an Old Testament story that tells the Easter story. I want you to examine closely what happens when God raises the dead. In the midst of a terrible drought, God was at work. Just like he is right now. Elijah was instructed to go into the area of severe famine and rely on God. In the process, he was to be an agent of God in the life of a very poor woman and her son who was close to death. God instructed Elijah to ask the poor Widow for some water and for some bread. That completely goes against the grain of common decency. Leave the poor lady alone, she has nothing at all to give. But God doesn’t see things that way. He is not afraid of the darkness. Elijah even has the gall to ask the poor woman to make him a cake. God had her make the very first Easter cake.
The words “do not fear” are an Easter proclamation that echo throughout the text. He intentionally pursues us in our darkness and most hopeless situations. He is pursuing a people without hope so that they can possess a living hope. God provided for her in a miraculous way. But the best was yet to come.
The second principle is 2.) A church praying with great expectancy. 1 Kings 17:20, 21b.
The real drama begins when the woman’s only son becomes gravely ill. Elijah thought that he had averted the major crisis of the day only to find out that God had some bigger things in store. God was about to demonstrate his power. And the way he usually chooses to do so is through human weakness. It doesn’t get any weaker than this.
The first thing you notice about her reaction is that she’s not a modern woman. Her world view in the ancient world couldn’t be separated from her connection to her family. She wasn’t an individualistic American who believes that I’m totally independent of my family systems or culture. She honestly believed that Elijah’s presence in her life was to bring God’s judgment on her through the death of her son because of something she had done in her life. Even Elijah wasn’t sure what was going on at this point. But Elijah did the only thing any person could do when facing such a dire situation. He became an advocate for the boy and his mother. He represented him before God in prayer. He prayed fervently for him even though he had no idea why any of this was happening. He didn’t try to figure out God and circumstances. He fell upon the grace of God and did what any friend would do: he prayed for God’s miraculous intervention in life.
No one is ever raised from the dead without people praying fervently for them. If you are new to the Christian faith, this power or an outsider, you need to know that the Bible is absolutely historically true on every matter on which it speaks. And it’s especially true when it comes to the evidence for the resurrection. But the reality is this. You need more than great arguments to become a Christian. You need the resurrection power of Christ to raise you from the dead spiritually. God uses the prayers of his people to provide Easter miracles and new birth in Christ.
The third principle is 3.) A church willing to lay life upon life. 1 Kings 17: 19, 21a.
This is a beautiful expression of what our lives should look like together. It’s a biblical view of second mile love. People will never care how much we know unless they know how much we care. One of the ways to preach Christ is for us to out-love the world in every way. Elijah gives us a picture of God’s love flowing through us: he stretches himself out on top of the boy three times imploring God to work. He covered the young boy with his own incomplete faith. And God honored it in a powerful way.
A church willing to lay life upon life is asking for great things from God. Regardless of where you are spiritually, come and see Jesus with us. We see and experience Christ in community in the most profound ways. You help me see Christ and I help you see Christ. So come and see the beauty of Christ as He lives in us as his people. He will become as real to you as He is to us.
The fourth principle is 4.) A church of resurrected people. 1 Kings 17:22-24.
This is what the power of the resurrection makes possible. He uttered these great biblical words that resonate throughout scripture whenever God is present. “You will know that I am the Lord.” It will be unmistakable to you. She had no idea of who Elijah was and the God that he served. But when life returned to her lifeless son’s body, she declared boldly that “now I know that you are a man of God and that this is the Word of the Lord.” That’s what it means to live as an Easter person.
In John 11:25-26, Jesus addresses his dear friends Martha and Mary regarding the painful loss of their brother Lazarus, also a close friend of Jesus. Martha was frustrated about the timing of Jesus and subsequent death of her brother. “If you had been here, my brother would not have died,” she cried out in frustration.
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me,
though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall
never die. Do you believe this?”
He is really speaking of two resurrections: one spiritually and one physically. If you believe in me, even though you die, yet you will live. And if you live (alive in me now spiritually) you will no longer be spiritually dead. You will be spiritually raised from the dead now and when you die you will be raised to life physically.
Put On the New Self
3 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above,
where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things
that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your
life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears,
then you also will appear with him in glory.
If you are a Christian you are filled with the very life of God through his Holy Spirit. The life of Christ is dwelling within you and flowing out of you. You are a very different person.
Who in the world would want to go to a church where people are still in their graves? We are drawn to Easter people.
You need to know that Jesus keeps showing up in some very strange places to reveal the grace of the Gospel. And maybe he’s doing that in. Your life today. Or he could be calling you back to himself after years away.
Christ referred this story when he began his ministry on the earth. It almost got him pushed off of a cliff.
24 And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown.
25 But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah,
when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came
over all the land, 26 and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the
land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And there were many lepers in Israel
in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the
Syrian.” 28 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath.
29 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the
hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. 30 But
passing through their midst, he went away.
My true life began when Christ came to me, offering salvation. The reason I say that is Jesus is life. And he gives life: And He gave his life for you on the cross. Would you receive him today?
So what side of Easter are you living on? Are you still locked in a room of fear like the disciples were before the resurrection? Or are you ready to run with Peter and John and tell your friends. “He is not in the grave. I have seen. He is risen just as he said.” And he’s living in me: Hallelujah!
Faith Presbyterian Church
Easter Sunday, March 27, 2016