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Apr 12 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

March 31, 2013 – Easter

INTRO: I would guess that the women who came to the tomb Sunday morning spent a sleepless night, antsy and eager for the sun to rise

Luke says they had already prepared the spices for Jesus’ burial
– which means they had been busy and probably anxious
• they were confident they could give Jesus’ body the care he deserved
• but they worried about the large stone blocking the entrance to his grave
○ like most worries, theirs were unnecessary
○ the “extremely large” stone was already rolled aside
– they were not curious how, they just saw an opportunity and went inside
• they must have been startled and frightened by the presence of a young man sitting inside the tomb

And he said to them, “Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him. But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you.'” Mark 16:6-7

A Jesuit priest showed up one time at my dad’s church with questions
– I was only nineteen or twenty years old, but somehow I was the person he interviewed
• he began:

“I know Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that he came among us, enlightened people to the kingdom of heaven, healed the sick, died on the cross for our sins, then rose from the dead. — So what?”

I was dumbfounded by his question
– “But that’s everything!” I stammered
• forty years later, I have a better idea of what he was asking
• if I were to put words in his mouth, it would go something like this:

I’ve spent many years in rigorous study to get where I am today. I’ve read many volumes of theology and Christian history. I am able to read ancient Hebrew and Greek and one or two other ancient languages, not to mention Latin. Besides that, I have memorized all of the invocations, prayers, exhortations, and benedictions of my church’s worship–in other words, I’ve memorized the liturgy and can lead people in it by heart. So I know all about the Jesus that these hippies are getting so excited about, only I’m not excited. Somehow, in working my hardest to be the best priest and servant of God that I can possibly be, I think I’ve lost my way. How does a person get from a theological concept to the Person? How do you get it to come off the page and into your bones? How can the Jesus we know about from biblical history–that is, the gospels–become a living presence to me today? Right now? In other words, what does the resurrection mean? What does it do for us?

To – find the answer, we have to ask other questions–fundamental questions
– one of our fundamental questions is, What motivates us?
○ What, in fact, is our most basic, human motivation?

Greek philosophers figured out that humans were driven to maximize pleasure and minimize pain
– borrowing their idea, Freud argued that it was backed by science
• all living things were motivated by drives
○ that from the most simple organism to the most complex, certain biological needs must be met
○ this is “need motivation”
– it’s easy to test this theory — begin by holding your breath for two minutes
• you’re okay for first few seconds
○ then you begin to feel discomfort
○ a moment later the tension intensifies
○ soon your body is gripped by desperation
• if your will is strong enough, you may be able to hold your breath until you pass out
○ then what? The biology of your body takes over and your begin to breathe again
○ it’s an involuntary mechanism
– so even if unconscious, the drives to meet biological needs are powerful motivators of human behavior

Biological drives are the most basic, but also lowest form of motivation
– we share this motivation in common with rats and amoebas
– some people behave as if there were no higher motivation

Freud introduced an idea to the maximize pleasure/minimize pain theory that is so counter-intuitive, it is still debated

  1. think first of your body in state of rest
  2. next, it becomes agitated by need (e.g., thirst)
  3. you gratify the drive (by drinking a glass of water)
  4. then your body relaxes and returns to a resting state

– Freud argued that all organisms are driven to return to the original resting state
• that is, when they were “inanimate matter”
○ the ultimate resting state is to “return to lifelessness”
○ Freud called this  the “death drive” (or “death instinct”)
– alive, we’re driven by need, but the dead, we no longer experience need
• he claimed that the desire for death is built into the biology of our nature

If that were true (we’re not saying it is) why would anyone want to be resurrected?
– why would Jesus want to rise again? Return to all this unrest?
– why would he want to lead the way for others to transit from death to life?
• why not just stay dead and rest in peace?

The answer is, the resurrection is something different
– the resurrection is not about returning to this biological life with its drives and agitations
• what follows the resurrection is a higher life, a transcendent life

To focus our minds on the human nature leads to death, but to focus our minds on the Spirit leads to life and peace (Ro. 8:6)

CONC: This is what the resurrection does for us: It changes everything!

it transforms our lives by giving us a new motivation
– a motivation that is no longer dominated by physiological needs
• we are drawn to a greater reality and to conforming to it
• we are even drawn to the process of conforming to it
○ in which we discover our creativity, our capacity for God, out soul
– we still have desires – but they are also transformed
• they are satisfied, yet intensified at the same time
• each time they’re gratified, they move one level up

When our motivation stems from desperation to meet a need,
– we look at other people and evaluate them in terms of their function
• this is the way we think of our doctors, clerks, and fire fighters
○ but we do this also with our children, our spouse, our friends
• how do they function to serve “me”
– but when our motivation transcends our physical drives,
• we are at last free to see a person for who he or she is
• for who they are in themselves and not as a tool 

Do you remember what Jesus said to the Samaritan woman as they sat by a well?

Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life (Jn. 4:13-14)

We can stop trying to find the source of life in something outside of us
– we find the transcendent life within us

Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life (Ro. 6:4)

Jesus’ resurrection launches us into the heart of life’s mystery
– where we are gripped by a motivation that is greater than hunger and thirst
– the motivation to become whole people, growing into the fullness of Christ

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