Years ago there was a great commercial on television that, as we watched, we knew exactly what the message was. It was a ketchup commercial. As the commercial runs, we watch as the bottle turns on its side and the ketchup slowly, very slowly, moves towards the opening and then just as slowly drips onto the hamburger or hotdog. All the while the song “Anticipation” is playing. The message was clear – this ketchup (to be left unnamed) is so thick and tastes so good that it was well worth the wait it takes to actually get the ketchup to your food.
With that in mind, you and I and indeed the whole Christian Church live in anticipation throughout Lent and Holy Week. We live in anticipation of Easter and the resurrection of our Lord. It was hard to hear the words that Jesus must die in order for us to live. It was hard to know that Judas would betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. It was hard to listen as the prediction of our Lord that Peter would deny him came true. It was heart breaking to think of Jesus dying on the cross, being removed and placed in the tomb. Those three days of darkness, while Jesus lay dead in the tomb, were almost more than people of faith can stand. Yet through it all we lived in anticipation of the good news that would come on Easter Sunday morning. The news that tells us Jesus is not dead. Jesus is not in the tomb. Jesus is alive, and he is coming to meet his disciples. Alleluia, Christ is risen!
But the truth is that we lived in anticipation. We knew all these things must take place, but that the end result is well worth the wait. For in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, everything evil and everything scary that we face in life is defeated. The penalty for sin and our eternal bondage to it is now defeated. Satan’s claim has been stamped invalid. Death is conquered, and we too anticipate a resurrection to eternal life through Jesus Christ. His defeat of death is our defeat of death. Good news!
We lived in anticipation for seven weeks, just waiting to celebrate and proclaim the resurrection. But now let us ask ourselves the following question: what are we going to do with what we have long anticipated and now enjoy? The answer to this question brings us to the purpose of the Church. The Church’s role and our role as Christians is to tell the world about Jesus Christ and make disciples. That is mission one! Everything else we do flows from the successful carrying out of that mission. How will people know about the risen Lord and God’s gift of reconciliation if we don’t tell them?
I’m often told that being an evangelist is hard. In truth it’s not that hard. We are evangelists in two ways: 1) by the lifestyle we live and model. We are to reflect the risen Christ in all we do and say. When people see that we are different, they are attracted to that difference. The difference is Jesus Christ. And 2) we are evangelists as we tell people about Jesus Christ and invite them to come with us to hear the gospel and be a part of the fellowship of all believers. If we know people who have no faith, or who are seeking for a faith, invite them to come with you. Sometimes, simply by being present, the Holy Spirit touches a person and a conversion takes place. But our invitation is essential.
We all live in “anticipation” of something. Anticipation of good things today. Anticipation of good things in the life to come. But one thing we can share today is the joy that comes from the reality that our anticipation through Lent and Holy Week is realized. We have arrived and the good news is proclaimed. Now, let us be present every day and every Sunday to continue to proclaim it to the world, and especially that world where we live.
All week long, every week, I anticipate seeing you praise God in worship. I hope you have the same anticipation every day of your life. I hope you look forward with anticipation to praising God for the gift of a Savior and for the forgiveness of sin. We are a people who live our lives in anticipation. See you Sunday!
Pastor Butler +