You Will Die (a 7 minute summary of a 40 minute sermon)
YOU WILL DIE
by Pastor Josh McPherson
A 7 minute summary of a 40-minute sermon
Fact #1 Death Is Everywhere
Star-date log is April 2020, and death is everywhere. Newsfeeds, newspapers, empty streets and schoolyards all daily remind us that death looms as close as a sneeze. The possibility and inevitability of death has pushed its way to the forefront of our global psyche like never before in our lifetime.
COVID-19 has reminded us that death is no respecter of person. You can’t buy, cheat, reason, argue or persuade your way out of death. Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives, men, women, young, old, rich, poor, white, black, brown, and red, all have one thing in common: we will die.
Fact #2 Jesus is Everywhere
This isn’t my pastoral bias coming through, this is just the cold hard facts. Jesus is more talked about, argued over, sung about, and written of than any other person in the history of the world. No rival. Not even close.
More businesses, missions, and charities have been started in His name than any other name on the planet. No army formed, congress assembled, or navy launched has matched His power. No king enthroned or president appointed has rivaled His global influence.
Not bad for a dude born to poor peasants in the backwater hill country of small-town nowhere. Not bad for a dude who never owned a company, held public office, leveraged a paid staff, or had the global benefits of technology and the internet. He was crucified as a criminal and died without a penny to his name at 33. And yet 2000 years later we’re still talking about him?
Jesus is in a class all by himself.
Fact #3: Royalty Is Everywhere
We are infatuated with royalty. Everywhere you look we are crowning kings and queens. Michael Jackson? King of Pop. Elvis Presley? King of Rock. George Straight? King of Country. Lebron James? King of the Court. Richard Petty? King of Nascar
But we don’t stop there…we not only crown kings around us, we crown ourselves king. “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” That’s our motto. Sounds really cool to say. It’s so intoxicating, isn’t it? The self-made man. That’s right. Stand aside fate. Back away Coronavirus. Be done with your negative circumstances. So exhilarating indeed!
The only problem? The guy who wrote that is dead. So…he was master of his fate, until, you know, he wasn’t. So much for that ship.
So where is this all going? How does this have anything to do with you? Well, there’s a story told in antiquity that brings all of these statements together…our fear of death, our love of kings, and Jesus’ wild popularity.
I give you…David and Goliath. It’s a familiar story to be sure, but tragically a wildly misunderstood one as well. It took place in antiquity, around 1080B.C., and is often associated as a moral tale of courage. “It doesn’t matter the size of the dog in the fight, but rather the size of the fight in the dog” is typical of the sort of moral dribble that gets perpetrated as the big take away of the story.
Which is a bummer, since that pretty much totally misses the entire point of the story.
When David goes out to meet Goliath, he’s not just the underdog in a cage fight, he’s the champion of a nation, the carrier of their destiny.
Allow me to explain. The deal went as follows, by Goliath’s own words: “Send someone out to fight me. If he kills me, we’ll serve you. But if I kill him, you’ll serve us. Whahahaha” (cue deep, wicked laugh). That part is in I Samuel 17:9. It’s an all or nothing deal, if ever there was one.
This is called representative battle, and here’s the big idea: David was not just symbolically representing the people of Israel, he was legally representing them as their warrior-champion. He was not just fighting for them, he was quite literally fighting as them. As he went, so they went. He carried not just hopes and dreams on his shoulders, but their future and destiny as well. What he won would be their reward. What he lost would be their doom.
The stakes could not be any higher.
The entire point of the story was to demonstrate that in order for God to save his people he had to send a warrior savior to fight in their place. The destiny of Israel was bound up in the destiny of David.
IMPUTATION, NOT MOTIVATION
Which means David didn’t save the people of Israel by rallying them together and motivating them to victory. David didn’t win a great victory by inspiring them to positively visualize a better version of themselves and then leading them out to self-actualize their greatness.
David saved the people of Israel by fighting in their place and winning for them what they could not win for themselves. In other words, victory for Israel came not through motivation or inspiration, but through imputation.
The reason we miss the point of the story is we insert ourselves into the wrong part of the story. We read it and go “Ok, David conquered his giant, so I need to conquer mine.” Not even close. The point of the story is to show us that God has always needed to send a savior who goes down into the valley of death to rescue His people from defeat by fighting battles they couldn’t win.
A BETTER DAVID
Which brings us to the point of this whole story. In the first Christian sermon ever preached (Acts 2:14-41), the Apostle Peter points out the rather obvious but nevertheless discouraging fact that although David was Israel’s greatest warrior king, King David was now very much deceased. In other words, he couldn’t help nobody, no more because he dead.
Which begged the question from the crowd…would God send a better Warrior King? Thankfully yes, Peter replied, He would. He did. Jesus, the resurrected Christ, went down into the valley of the shadow of death and emerged the Champion King over death for all the world. And the point Peter makes is clear…what King David did for Israel existed as an example to create a category of understanding to grasp what King Jesus would do for the world.
Jesus Christ, as the BETTER WARRIOR KING, doesn’t save us through inspiring us to be better people or motivating us to live better lives, he saves us through living the life we couldn’t have lived. It’s not emulation of Jesus’ life that saves us, it’s the imputation of Jesus’ life that saves us…his perfect righteousness, his substitutionary death for ours, his victorious rise over death all given freely for us.
When King David walked out of the valley of death holding the severed head of Goliath, everyone in Israel knew there was a new king in town (cue awkward moment of Saul). And when Jesus walked out of the tomb having crushed the head of the serpent death (Gen 3:15), everyone in the world knew there was a new King over Death.
THAT’S GOOD NEWS
The hope of Christianity is not pollyanna optimums where we put our heads in the sand and deny the reality around us and pretend life isn’t hard. The hope of Christianity is not that we pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and captain our own ship through the storm. The hope of Christianity is not a positive visualization to motivate us to be better humans.
The hope of Christianity is that our King went down into the valley of the shadow of death and gave his life in battle for us in order to legally purchase a victory we could not have won ourselves. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection satisfied the wrath of God, crushed the enemy of death, and is now freely attributed to us by grace through faith.
Jesus is the most popular man in history because before he came to earth as a baby he was King over creation. You were made to love a King, and your fear of death can be put to death when Jesus is your Warrior-King. He came out of his tomb of stone so you could come out of your tomb of sin. He went down into the valley of death so you could come out of death into life. His victory can be your destiny.
When the people heard Peter proclaim this good news, they cried, “What must we do to be saved?” The answer was stunningly simple. Repent of your sins and believe in King Jesus.
So the only question left to ask is not, “Is Jesus King?”, but rather, “Is He your King?” He can be, today. You need only repent and believe.
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.