Sunday, April 1, 2018

Easter Sunday Message - Sticks and Stones

Do you remember the old childhood saying of "sticks and stones"? If you don't, it goes like this, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." I mention this saying, because it reminds me of Jesus's crucifixion and resurrection. The stick symbolizes the cross that he is nailed to. The stone is the big stone placed in front of his tomb after he is buried in a borrowed tomb.

When you consider this analogy, the stick and the stone were meant to do one thing, to keep Jesus from being the Messiah. The cross was to end his life once and for all so that he was no longer an annoyance to some of the Pharisees who saw him as a threat. The stone was to prevent his body from being stolen so that people could say that he had risen from the dead. Both items were to stop him from fulfilling the prophecies foretold 700 years before his birth.

In each of our lives, we, too, have sticks and stones that are used against us. Sometimes, they literally are items used to beat or stone Christians. All around the world, Christians are persecuted for their faith to the point of torture, imprisonment or even death. Christianity continues to flourish even when the enemy threatens death. In the United States, the sticks and stones are verbal assaults against our faith. Some call Christians, "crazy, uneducated and unenlightened." They mock and harass Christians regularly and show no tolerance to those who believe in God and the salvation provided through and by His son, Jesus. Yes, sticks and stones can hurt or be used as obstacles to prevent people from believing.

But, if you look closely, you can also see the sticks and stones as being those sacred items that give us the basis of our faith. Those same sticks used to beat down Christians can be fashioned into the cross which is the symbol of our faith. It points the way to our salvation. When we accept Jesus as our personal Savior and Lord, what was once just a stick or pieces of wood become that symbol that allows us to nail our sins to it and be forgiven. When we nail our sins and our old sinful nature to the cross, we die and are resurrected to walk in newness of life. God forgives our sins. Let us look at Psalm 103:12. The psalmist tells us, "He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west." Our sins are gone once and for all.

As for the stone, Jesus is that tested stone. He is the cornerstone of our faith. Let us look at 1 Peter 2 starting with verse 4. "4 As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him— 5 you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." Jesus is the stone that was rejected by others. When we accept him into our lives, he becomes for us the living stone. He is the stone that is our bedrock, foundation and cornerstone. As we grow in our faith, we become living stones on which spiritual houses are built as an offering to the Lord.

What was thought to be things that stop or prevent us from believing now turn into those things that support and nurture our faith. Another great example of stones being used is the battle between David and Goliath. Goliath is clad in armor and wields a massive sword. David, with only the clothes on his back and a bag filled with five smooth river stones, runs headlong into a battle against a man armed to the teeth and is many times larger than he is. David does not flinch from the fight. He knows that God is with him. God has given him the stones necessary to defeat Goliath. When we face our Goliaths, we can rest assured that God will give us the stones necessary to be victorious over our foe, Satan.

As we celebrate the victory of Jesus over death on this blessed day of Easter, let us always remember the sticks and stones that bring us salvation rather than ruin in our lives. With the cross and the cornerstone always there for us, we know that we have "victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ" and can stand firm in His grace.

May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace. 
~ Numbers 6:24-26 New Living Translation (NLT)

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