Resurrection Reality: We Have a Meaningful Message to Share

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Watch the livestream beginning at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday. After the livestream is finished, the video will be available to watch at any time.

First Lesson: Acts 3:11-20 (NIV)
Second Lesson:  1 John 1:1-2:2 (NIV)

Gospel: Luke 24:36-49  (NIV)


  • Hymn: CW 938 “This is the Feast”
  • Hymn: CW 459 “Christ the Lord Is Risen Again”
  • Hymn: CW 440 “Christ Jesus Lay in Death’s Strong Bands”
  • Hymn: CW 746 “I Love to Tell The Story”

Easter 3                        April 14, 2024
1 John 1:1-2:2                Pastor Ryan Wolfe

Celebrate Our Blessed Fellowship!

There’s an old folktale that connects with the theme of our sermon today. The story goes that two porcupines in Northern Canada are trying to huddle together to stay warm in the cold weather. Their quills keep stabbing each other though, so whenever they get close they have to move apart. If they stay apart they shiver in the cold. If they come together they jab each other and cause each other pain. They need each other in order to be warm, but they can’t help but hurt each other when they get close.

Have you ever felt that way dealing with people? You care for the other person in a relationship but find yourself alternating between getting close and annoying each other. Those who got to spend a lot of extra time together suddenly during Covid know what I’m talking about. Do you remember what that was like. You wake up and they’re there. Go to sleep…still there. Take a nap, read a book, stare at the walls…yup, still there. Relationships are complicated and messy, but humans need other humans. It’s actually now included in the list of basic survival needs along with food, water, and shelter. And it’s even more true for us believers in Christ. Christians need other Christians. We’re saved through faith individually, don’t get me wrong, but we need other. No matter how much we poke at each other and drive each other crazy, we are blessed to be united in Christ. The word we give this is “fellowship” with each other. Today as we look to John for our Easter message, we celebrate our blessed fellowship, both our fellowship with the Father and the Son, and our fellowship with one another. We are God’s gifts to each other, at least we’re suppose to be. Fellowship with other believers helps us navigate our sinful world here and guides us to a perfect world in heaven.

One of the themes that runs through the book of 1 John is the place of relationships in our lives. It is about a proper relationship with God and the corresponding relationships we have with other people, especially other believers. In fact, one of the key words in this first chapter of the letter is “koinonia” and its related forms. The root of the word means “common” and we translate this word as “fellowship.” To have fellowship with someone means to have something in common with them. To be associated with them. To participate with them in something. It means that there is a relationship there. And though “koinonia” isn’t used in the whole rest of the letter, it is clear that the concept is there throughout. From start to finish John is writing about having a right fellowship with God and right fellowship with other people. This morning we’re going to look especially at the first four verses of the text to see that blessed fellowship. It begins with the things John had seen and heard. “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us.”

If you look closely in your bulletins you’ll notice that the first verse capitalizes the word “Word.” There’s a reason for that. The “Word” is a special name that John uses for Jesus. John had previously recorded the history of God’s Son, the Word that came down from heaven, in his Gospel letter, what we refer to today simply as the Gospel of John. Do you remember how John described Jesus’ coming in the first chapter of that Gospel? “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

You here the similarities between John’s Gospel and this letter, don’t you? As John writes a letter to his fellow believers he reminds them of the relationship that their risen Lord and Savior has with the Father in heaven. Knowing that relationship of Jesus with the Father helps open our eyes to the relationship that we now have with him too. Jesus is the eternal Word. The One and Only Son. God himself. From the very beginning Jesus was with God, and was God. The Father and the Son exist in perfect harmony and perfect peace. The Father does everything for the Son, and the Son does everything for the Father. The Father is a perfect leading head, and the Son a perfect submitting partner.

And a part of the Son’s perfect submission to the Father was his willingness to become flesh and make his dwelling among us. These were the things that John mentions in the opening of our text. The things he had seen and heard and touched. John had seen the miracles Jesus performed. He heard the powerful words he preached. He tasted the bread at the feeding of the 5000 and saw the bitter death on the cross. He was the first disciple to look into the tomb on Easter Sunday. John, as much as anyone, knew the reality of Jesus’ resurrection. The reality of victory over death that gives us peace and life, and a message of hope to share with everyone.

Yes, John knew what Jesus had done. And he and the Apostles were proclaiming that message far and wide. In verses three and four though, listen to what the purpose of sharing that meaningful message was: “We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.”

Knowing that Jesus came to us, true God and true man, is the basis for the joy in our relationship with God today. All around the world and throughout history people have searched to find that right relationship with God we all desire. Everyone recognizes that there is some force of divine justice out there. The ancient Greeks saw it in powerful acts of nature and chose to label those things as “gods.” Some find cosmic justice in the idea of karma, or the thought that what goes around, comes around. Do good, and the universe will return good to you. Do wrong, and you will be repaid with suffering. All of those manmade religions recognize the gulf that separates humanity from the divine, and they seek a reconciliation in our sacrifices, our service, our works.

But the Bible shows us how futile it is to try to repair our relationship with God. We can’t meet God’s standard of perfect righteousness. We can’t balance out our evil with good because the evil still remains. We can’t measure our lives against others because that’s not God’s measure. We can’t say we’ll try harder because we always come up short. But that’s where John’s eyewitness account of this resurrection reality changes everything. John heard and saw it all with his own ears and eyes. John saw Jesus live up to God’s standard. John saw Jesus at the cross as he suffered the forsakenness of hell in our place. John saw Jesus raised from the dead to prove his victory over death. John had heard Jesus’ own words telling him that he was doing this for the restoration of all who would believe it. In Christ, our relationship with God is restored. We who were only his enemies, are now through faith, friends of God. Children of God in fact.

This is what it means to have fellowship with God. God who sees all, knows all, and controls all is not your enemy, but your loving Father. If that doesn’t produce joy and peace inside of you, then either you’re not listening or I’m not speaking clearly. Because you have a personal relationship with Jesus, you have a personal relationship with God. There is no suffering that you’re facing that he doesn’t know about. No dream that he isn’t aware of. There is no good blessing that you need that he hasn’t provided. This is the reality we have because of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Because of his gift of faith. Brothers and sisters, celebrate your fellowship with God.

And as you do, celebrate the fellowship that we enjoy with each other too. John’s focus was on fellowship with the Father and the Son, but he says that he is writing so that his readers would have fellowship with him too. Entering into God’s family means we inherit an uncountable number of brothers and sisters as well. That’s what being a member of a church is all about. No one is going to heaven because they belong or don’t belong to a congregation. But what child in a loving family wouldn’t want to gather with that family to celebrate?

I know sometimes it feels like we’re all just a bunch of porcupines trying to get close, but the fellowship we have with a common Father helps us to overcome the quills and jabs we sinfully make against each other. We interact with other in a holy manner, with relationships characterized by love, not sin. By light, not darkness. In the humility of our Savior rather than the arrogance of Satan. That’s the very obvious meaning of the rest of this whole text. We step out of the darkness into the light and know that the blood of Jesus purifies us all. Most importantly in the eyes of our Father, but also in the eyes of each other.

So you know are blessed with faith in the reality of Jesus’ resurrection, I invite you once again to celebrate the restored relationship he brings us through that victory. We celebrate our blessed fellowship because we are indeed, children of the heavenly Father. And we celebrate our blessed fellowship with each other because we are indeed in Christ, brothers and sisters in the family of faith. Let no one take that joy from you, or drive that unity from us. Perhaps we’re all a little prickly in sin, but we are close in Christ nonetheless. To God be the glory. Amen.

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