“A Glorious Burden”
June 7, 2015
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bossier City, LA
INI + AMEN.
(3. We have all sorts of burdens and struggles in this life.)
We all have burdens. We’ve got struggles. Life can be difficult. There’s things that happen in this life, whether in our control or out of our control, that weigh us down. Things cut deep. The worst comes from those we love, those who are closest to us. They could be friends, family, or even church family! When love is expected, desired, or craved, and what follows isn’t love, it hurts. This is something even Jesus knew. Besides all the other disciples abandoning Him, He had Judas. The Spirit foretells what Jesus felt about that situation in Psalm 41, “Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me.” Or even more vividly in Psalm 55, “For it is not an enemy who reproaches me; Then I could bear it. Nor is it one who hates me who has exalted himself against me; Then I could hide from him. But it was you, a man my equal, My companion and my acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, And walked to the house of God in the throng.”
Yeah, we can pretty much feel that. Can’t you echo those words? We get those kinds of burdens more often that we care to admit from those we interact with on a daily and weekly basis. We can try all we want to put a positive spin on it, put it in the best light, and if all that fails we can try to turn our frowns upside down, but then there are those times, again more often than we care to admit, where St. Paul’s words to us today go in one ear and out the other, bounce right off us, or even grate in our ears. He says, “We don’t loose heart.” Yeah, that’s easier said that done. We do become disheartened. A bruised heart is hard to mend, and the burdens we face are real. They happen now. Our present afflictions, our hurt hearts have a weight to them. They do weigh us down, bring us to the brink, they wear us out. We get worn thin. Our time in this life, these burdens, the lack of love we experience—at times it all makes us feel like we’re wasting away: like too little butter spread on too much toast. We have all sorts of burdens and struggles in this life.
(2. The affliction is light and gives way to a burden of eternal glory.)
But what if I told you that Paul’s words are true. He’s right: “We don’t loose heart.” That’s right: “We don’t loose heart although our outer man is wasting away, but our inner man is being renewed day by day. For the present lightness of our affliction over abundantly works out for us unto an eternal weight of glory.” Our burdens get swapped out for something weightier: eternal life. Is this just pie in the sky hope for Paul? For you or me? Is it that we just have hopes that, I guess, someday that “the sun will come out tomorrow”? No! Not at all, and it’s all rooted in Christ Jesus, in His death and resurrection. That’s Paul’s point.
How do I know that? He says, “THEREFORE we don’t loose heart.” He’s basing that on something. Christ’s death, which is victory in itself, gives way into even more victory in His resurrection. Think about the burdens which Christ bore. Well, sin of course, but more than that! He had all the diseases, sicknesses, and demons that He took on, bore, and cast out. But even more than all that! Think about what I said before, when I talked about Judas and His other disciples. Jesus bore rejection. Rejection by His own people. Rejection by the religious leaders. He bore their un-love head on, but He also bore the abandonment, the rejection, the un-love of those closest to Him. All of His disciples had been with Him three years, but Judas still loved money more than his Savior. That cut deep, I’m sure, even deeper than the nails and spear.
In spite of this, Jesus’ death is shown for what it is, taking death head-on. It manifests the conquering of death. Living a life without loving those around you, no matter who they are, what they’ve done to you, or what your perception of them is—living that type of loveless life is really being already dead. But Jesus bears even that. Not just His own, but others. And His resurrection manifests that new life comes forth, a loving life comes forth. All the other junk is left in the tomb. That’s partly Paul’s point immediately before our text today.
But the victory that Christ wins, that His death gives way to victory in His resurrection, that victory is ours. We don’t consider what we can see (the burdens, the heartache, the unlovingness). Jesus bore all of it, not just that of others, or His own, even ours. We don’t consider those things. We look for what we can’t see: Jesus’ strength and love, the eternal life He gives us. That’s what Paul means when He says, “We look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are temporary, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” We know that “The One who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us with Him and bring us into His presence.” That’s what Jesus gives us. He gives us the unseen things (strength, love, eternal life) in the midst of what we can see and experience (burdens, heartache, lovelessness). Oddly enough it happens through things we can see Water, Word, body and blood. In those ways we’re given the death and resurrection of Jesus. That victory is ours no matter what comes our way.
(1. We believe this and can’t help but speak of this.)
We believe this, don’t we? How then can we not speak of His love? As the Psalmist says, “I believe, therefore I speak.” We speak of this Jesus, the died and risen one, to those who don’t yet know the Lord Jesus, but not just them. We speak about Him to those closest to us. And His love gushes forth to those closest to us, those we meet on a daily and weekly basis no matter who they are. After all, “We have the same spirit.” We are one in the Spirit by Whom we speak about Jesus’ death and resurrection: the release from burdens. The burdens we bear from others, the grudges we bear toward others. Jesus releases us from them all. Jesus bore them all, hanging them to the tree. You can try and take them back and bear them yourself, but then you just waste away. But no! We talk about, exude the love of Jesus. Not just pastors but you also, we and you together proclaim this, live this so that “the grace that abounded through many may abound all the more for thanksgiving to God’s glory.”
WITH CHRIST THIS IS THE TRUE BURDEN: ETERNAL GLORY WITH HIM.
And that’s not much of a burden at all.
INI + AMEN.