Category Archives: Sermons from Matthew

Sermons from the Gospel of Matthew, preached at Central Schwenkfelder Church, Spring 2010

“Two Different Versions”

The following message is based on Matthew 27:62-28:1-15.  It addresses why the resurrection of Jesus is important to Christians.  This greatest of all miracles defies all conspiracy and is the only catalyst for man’s peace with God.  It was delivered on Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013.

Recently, I was reminded how people prefer a certain version against the original.  Hence, one church is said to start their services with a song, followed by a reading, then a time for silent reflection, then a greeting of others.  At first glance, we might think that this is a welcoming church.  But it is not a church at all.  Rather it is an atheist gathering, which meets in Islington, a community north of London.  In place of a sermon, a talk is given, this time a physicist talked about wonder.  An offering is taken to care for the facility.  The group’s motto is “Live better, help often, wonder more.”  And enthusiastic participant said: “It’s got all the good things about church without the terrible dogma.”[1]  This is one version of church.  Not a very good one, I argue.  Dogma is teaching.  If your religion does not teach you anything about God, His character, His grace and what He requires of you, then it is not worth much!

At Central, we teach that the church is the gathering of God’s people, known by their faith in the risen and reigning Jesus Christ.  It is made of people who have been transformed by a God who is limited by nothing.  It offers hope in a God who conquered death by raising Jesus from the dead.  And that resurrection is the basis of how and why God continues to change lives today, nearly 2,000 years after the fact.

Our Scripture for today provides a different version of the Easter story alongside of the real one.  Jesus, the itinerant preacher from Nazareth, described his approaching death and resurrection many times. Many things have transpired up to this point in that original “holy” week.  According to Matthew’s gospel, Jesus was anointed for burial in Bethany as the woman used the costly fragrant oil, pouring it on Jesus.  Our Lord celebrated the Passover with his disciples, prays in the garden, is arrested and sent to a series of unfair trials, is handed over to the Roman governor, flogged, then crucified at the demands of an angry mob.  His body was requested by his followers and laid in a new tomb outside of Jerusalem.  Thankfully, this is not the end of the story.  Actually, it is where we take up, on the eve of God’s greatest miracle.  What can we learn from our text?  We first discover that…

MAN TRIED TO THWART THE RESURRECTION.

Matthew 27:64: “So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” 65 “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.”

Verses 62-66 Depict man’s efforts to keep the resurrection from happening.  The chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate.  Only Matthew gives us this exchange which uncovers man’s twisting and deceptive attempts.  But notice that Jesus is called “Deceiver” in verse 63.  His claim to be the Messiah was seen as the first deception and these officials would keep the “second” from happening.  Notice the statement: “The second would be worse than the first.”  Although the resurrection was part of Jesus’ message (Matthew 16:21, 17:23 and 20:19), even the disciples did not absorb it.  They had no frame of reference, so they concentrated on the fact that He was going to die, not on His promise that He would rise from the dead.

Yet, the chief priests and the elders here are making sure that the latter could not appear as though to happen.  They understood His veiled references to His resurrection, like the sign of Jonah in 12:40 and 16:4.  But in order to “keep” that appearance from taking place, the tomb was to be made secure, for fear of the body being stolen.  How was the grave secured?  By sealing the stone and setting the guard.  Donald Carson states that this was done with a cord and an official wax seal.[2]  These were extra efforts to keep any quell any confusion surrounding Jesus’ death.

By doing so, these set the stage for God’s greatest miracle.  J.C. Ryle states: “They little thought what they were doing; they little thought that unwittingly they were providing the most complete evidence of the truth of Christ’s coming resurrection.  There were actually making it impossible to prove that there was any deception or imposition.  Their seal, their guard, their precautions, were all to become witnesses, in a few hours, that Christ had risen They might as well have tried to stop the tides of the sea, or to prevent the sun rising, as to prevent Jesus coming forth from the tomb.  They were taken in their own craftiness: their own devices became instruments to show forth God’s glory.”[3]  In so doing, they proved themselves to be the real deceivers, vainly trying their best to make sure that the resurrection would not happen, or would not appear to have happened.  But in doing so, they set the stage for God’s greatest miracle ever.  Although, MAN TRIED TO THWART THE RESURRECTION, we find that…

NOTHING COULD THWART GOD’S PLAN.

Matthew 28:5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.”  Many visited the tomb that day, but the first were women.  We are told in 28:1 that Mary Magdalene and another Mary approach the tomb.  These are two women who had benefited from Jesus’ ministry.  Mary Magdalene whom Christ had delivered from demon possession (Mark 16:9) and Mary the mother of James the lesser and Joses, as Mark 15:47 tells us.  They were changed by Jesus.

There are certain things which facilitated the resurrection. First, there was an earthquake.  Secondly, an angel of the Lord appears saying: “Do not be afraid.”  The angel at the tomb had a brilliant appearance.  His countenance was as lightning and that the guards become as dead men.  These were God’s answers to the seal and the guards.  But the angel did not come for the guards.  He came for Jesus’ disciples.  Notice in verse five and following, the angel’s monologue.  He tells the women three things: Don’t be afraid; Jesus is not here; Go and tell.

Verse 8: the women’s reaction was one of fear and joy.  And Jesus meets them.  He told them to rejoice!  Easter is a happy time that comes after a sad time.  Women held his feet and worshipped.  Verse 10: Jesus said: “Don’t be afraid.  Go and tell.  The disciples were to proceed to the mountain in Galilee, where Jesus would give the Great Commission in verses 16-20.  And that’s essentially what the Great Commission is: “Go and tell.”  This message was the capstone, the implication to the greatest miracle ever witnessed!

And the greatest miracle was the conclusion of the greatest story ever told.  Man, made in the image of God, fell out of relationship with Him as a result of the fall in the Garden of Eden.  Through their disobedience as our representative heads, you and I come into this world out of harmony with God.  That friction is realized through our own sins and moral mistakes.  Death exists today as a result of such a rift (Romans 5:12).

The good news is that in this predicament, Jesus Christ came to this earth.  He lived a sinless life, satisfied God’s moral requirements, and then went to the cross as our perfect sacrifice.  This was done as a service to God and mankind.  For instance, Jesus described His death as a ransom payment in Matthew 20:28.  His mission was one of service in that He: “…did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

WHAT DOES GOD’S PLAN HAVE TO DO WITH ME?

What difference does the resurrection of Jesus make in our lives?  I would argue for four differences.  One there is a personal, spiritual difference.  Through faith in Him, we are spared from God’s wrath, given eternal life and are reconciled to God.  In other words, if it were not for the death and resurrection of Christ, there would be no hope for a relationship with God, life after death, or peace through the suffering.  In summary, Jesus’ death saves us from the righteous anger of God against our sin. It would truly be a hopeless situation.  Through His death and resurrection, Jesus gives forgiveness, spiritual life, and a home in heaven to all who trust Him.  Why do Christians count the resurrection of Jesus so important?  One commentator noted: “Jesus resurrection demonstrated His victory over death, vindicated Him as righteous and indicated His divine identity.  It guarantees the believer’s present forgiveness and justification, and it is the hope of eternal life in Christ for the believer.”[4]

Two, there is a personal, physical difference.  Jesus rising from the dead gives me hope, that although my body is in the process of giving way; that I encounter illness, some serious, some not so serious; and I’m often reminded of my emotional, physical and spiritual frailty, as I’m moving toward my last breath, death cannot reign over me.  Jesus will one day raise me up and I will overcome death because He has overcome death.

Thirdly, there is a psychological difference: the resurrection of Jesus rescues me from a world where there is so much death and despair.  In the most recent issue of Christianity Today, Philip Yancey recalls the events of Newtown, Connecticut and argues that the resurrection of Jesus provides a welcome remedy for the sorrow and depression we face through loss and tragedy in this life.  He uses the example of Bishop Desmond Tutu, who was an agent of social healing after apartheid government ended in South Africa.  Tutu, after hearing testimonies from the victims of brutal assaults, where blacks were shot in cold blood, and collaborators with Apartheid were “necklaced,” where tires were hung around their necks and set on fire, he came away being convinced that evil doers are held accountable; that right and wrong do matter and that love does conquer evil.  He stated: “For us who are Christians, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is proof positive that love is stronger than hate, that life is stronger than death, that light is stronger than darkness, that laughter and joy, and compassion and gentleness and truth, all these are so much stronger than their ghastly counterparts.” (See Christianity Today, “National Tragedy and the Empty Tomb,” 2013, April: 24)

Lastly, the resurrection of Jesus helps me understand death and loss, that it is the last enemy that will be overcome.  Recall our Thought for Meditation from 1 Corinthians 15.  As I witnessed the funeral of Norma Krauss, a long time member of this church and a real saint.  Hearing her children comment on her life, it was a reflection on a Christian woman.  Pastor Bill stated that our great hope as Christians is that Norma is now with Jesus.  And that Bob, Jr., oldest son, ordained Schwenkfelder minister and USAF chaplain, stated what his mom taught: “Jesus is not just a teacher to tell us about a way to heaven; He is the way, the truth and the life.  I couldn’t agree more!  How loving that the God of the universe would go out of His way to reveal this!

But in order for someone to have a repaired relationship with God two things that must occur.  The Bible calls these faith and repentance.  Faith is embracing God, following Christ, wholeheartedly giving Him your life.  Repentance is a turning from sin, asking for God’s forgiveness and determining that you want to go from your way of living to God’s way of living.  Have you done so?  Have you trusted Christ?

The good news is that no tomb in Jerusalem contains the bones of Jesus.  And that’s why we celebrate Easter.  This is why Peter wrote: Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope though the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3).”  That is also why John Donne, the 16th century Anglican priest and poet, who buried many parishioners due to disease and who lost his wife at 33 while she gave birth to their 12th child, wrote:

  • Death be not proud, though some have called thee
  • Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so…
  • One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
  • And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

[1][1] “Sans Dogma,” Christian Century, 20 March 2013: 9.

[2] Donald Carson, “Matthew,” The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984) 588.

[3] J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Matthew (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1986), 401.

[4] “The Resurrection of Jesus,”  The New Geneva Study Bible (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995), 1653.

A Series of Gifts: Forgiveness

The following message is based on Matthew 1:18-25 which tells us of the angel’s message to Joseph.  It was delivered on December 2, 2012.

Christmas is the season of giving.  Some gifts are those we find in a department store, in a catalog or online.  Others are such that a pricetag cannot be placed upon them.  Consider the following story.

Louis Pasteur, the pioneer of immunology, lived at a time when thousands of people died each year of rabies.  Pasteur had worked for years on a vaccine.  Just as he was about to begin experimenting on himself, a nine-year-old, Joseph Meister, was bitten by a rabid dog.  The boy’s mother begged Pasteur to experiment on her son. Pasteur injected Joseph for ten days- and the boy lived.

Decades later, of all the things Pasteur could have had etched on his headstone, he asked for three words: JOSEPH MEISTER LIVED.  For Pasteur, it was just one physical life, who by the way, ended up dying of something else eventually.  But through the death and resurrection of Jesus, millions will be able to live eternally through faith in Him.

The highest honor of any believer is to bear the title: “Christian”, because it recalls the One who laid down his life for us.  But it is not just a name.  It is a name associated with a deed.  It speaks of what Jesus did for you and me.  Although much of America and the western world equates Christmas with materialism, I would like for us to consider the spiritual blessing we who are Christians have because of Jesus and His coming.  The one gift that I would like to elaborate on is forgiveness.  For that, we turn to Matthew chapter one.

CHRISTMAS CELEBRATES THE GIFT OF JESUS.

Matthew 1 gives us the scene of Joseph, a righteous man, engaged to Mary.  Both are from the village of Nazareth.  Notice that verse 18 states: “This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.  His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.”

The fact that Mary was pregnant and was probably beginning to “show” should have bothered Joseph.  He was betrothed to Mary.  He was considered to be “her husband (verse 19).”  And yet, there was only one thing he could assume: Mary had been unfaithful.

Jewish betrothal was something serious.  The only way a betrothal could be disestablished was divorce.  To proceed with the marriage, would have meant Joseph was immoral.  To divorce Mary openly would have subjected her to shame, ridicule, and in the most extreme cases, possible death by stoning.  But Joseph was just and merciful.  He sought to do the most inconspicuous of things.  The Scripture says in verse 19: “Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.’”

The birth of Jesus tells us that at the heart of Christianity is a belief in the miraculous, that God can do the impossible.  It is truly supernatural that one could be born not from two parents, but through the power of God wrought upon a young woman of just 15 years of age.  That is the definition of a miracle: the author of creation intercepting the natural order to perform something that is truly supernatural. How did this happen?  It is unexplainable, as other miracles are.

And yet, it was something that was foretold nearly 700 years before Jesus came.  The prophet Isaiah foretold of a virgin that would bear a child.  His name would be Immanuel.  It took the angel to relate this to the skittish Joseph, as he told of the special circumstances surrounding our Lord’s birth.  Then he gave the reason:  “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”–which means, “God with us.”  What we have in verse 22 is a fulfillment formula that Matthew uses 12 times, to specifically state that the life of Christ fulfills what God promised hundreds of years before.

The virgin birth is more than just a theological tenet.  Rather it speaks of God who came to us as one of us.  I’ve heard it said that Jesus was the missionary “par excellence.”  All missionaries leave their home country, travel to a distant land, learn the language and the customs of its citizens before they start to minister to the people and spread their message.  Jesus set the standard of such activity, when He left throne in heaven and came to dwell among us.  Paul wrote in Philippians 2:6 that Jesus: “…made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!”

What is your response to such a gesture?  Does it inspire you?  Does it humble you?  The fact that God became one of us, to minister to us- does that not do something for you?  Is that not a loving thing to do?

CHRISTMAS ALSO CELEBRATES THE GIFT OF FORGIVENESS.

Notice how the angel instructed Joseph to name Mary’s son.  Matthew 1:21 “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”  The meaning of Jesus’ name ties into His ultimate mission.  The meaning of that term is Savior.[1]  Jesus’ name is a Greek equivalent to the Hebrew name: “Joshua.”  Although many were called “Joshua,” which means “The Lord saves,” only Jesus was given the name with an Old Testament reference to Psalm 130:8: “And He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.” There is deep significance in the name “Jesus.”  Listen to what D.A. Carson says about the name of Jesus.  “It was no doubt divine grace that solicited Mary’s cooperation before the conception and Joseph’s cooperation only after it.  Here Joseph is drawn into the mystery of the incarnation.  Mary was told Jesus’ name (Luke 1:31); but Joseph was told both name and reason for it.”[2]

The reason for His name is given by the angel: “…for He will save His people from their sins.”  The Greek term is swzw which is put in the future form and means: “to preserve from eternal death and judgment.[3]  This is reiterated by Jesus Himself in Luke 19:10: “For the Son of Man has come to seek and save that which is lost.”  And 1 Timothy 1:15: “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.”

When we read what the Bible says about being “saved” we are to understand as a comprehensive process based on Jesus’ miraculous mission.  It involves a person recognizing the moral mistakes they’ve made in their lives; that such things have offended God, recognizing that Jesus came in order that we might be forgiven of those offenses and that by turning from our sin and placing our trust in Him, we are reconciled to God.  This is what the Bible means by being saved.

This is God’s plan for your life.  The Barna Research group revealed the results of a survey several years ago that found that 46% of all men and 40% of all women are still hunting for life’s plan.  Could it be that we are hunting and searching, for a needle in a haystack, while God has made it plain to us through the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ?

The following is a testimony from one of Dr. Drake’s students from China, Keran Wang.  She writes: “I grew up in China without hearing about the Christian faith.  China has been influenced by Confucianism for centuries, and it still exerts influence today. This way of thinking has nothing to say about sin, wrong, or evil.  For the Confucians, each person is created good.  Someone becomes bad or evil only when that one comes into contact with evil things, but education in virtue can prevent evil.   Good education in virtue will create genuinely good people, and then in turn this will make a good society.”

“Confucian teachings, however, are not the only beliefs within China.  Communism now also exerts influence throughout my home country.  Communism encourages people to devote their lives to the state.  Christianity gets in the way.  Because Communists are fearful of the Christian influence in China, they try to control it.  Christians are advised to go to state registered churches, while other churches have to hide themselves to avoid possible persecution.”

“I became a Christian when I moved to the Netherlands.  At Christmas time in 2003 I realized that I needed Jesus as my Savior.  While I had been taught many other ways to believe throughout my life, I came to realize that my wrongdoing could not be excused by education or overcome by devotion to the state.  Instead, I needed to have my sins wiped away by Jesus.  He was the only one who could forgive me and grant me life.”[4]

Each one of us must know that forgiveness and transformation is found in a person- that person is Jesus.  It is not a philosophy or an ideology.  Forgiveness is one of the greatest gifts we could receive but it takes a formal reception, which is asking Christ to rule and reign in your life, turning from sin and seeking His forgiveness.


[1] New Geneva Study Bible, 1506.

[2] D.A. Carson, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: “Matthew,” (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984), 75.

[3] BAGD, 798c.

[4] Drake Williams, Joy of the World:31 International Christmas Devotionals, 8-11.

The Reason for Hope

The following message is based on Matthew 28:1-10 and was delivered at the Central Schwenkfelder Church in Worcester, Pennsylvania on Easter Sunday, April 8, 2012

Hope.  It is a powerful word.  It’s something that many people look for, yet many live without.  Or they put their hope in places or people that prove faulty.  Tomas Schreiner, New Testament scholar at Southern Seminary, tells the following story: “In the American West, the United States routinely mistreated Native Americans, making them promises and then violating them when they wanted more land.  Native Americans set their hopes on several charismatic leaders, even thinking that they could not be wounded in battle if they wore ghost skirts.  But they were profoundly mistaken.  The ghost skirts did not protect them from the bullets of their enemies.  Their hopes were crushed and their land was taken away.”[1]  Hope is a powerful word.  It can mislead many. With it, one can bear up under the most difficult of circumstances; without it, the rich, the famous and the beautiful fall into self destruction.

Hope is the central theme of Easter Sunday.  It centers on the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  This morning, we read a factual account of the first Easter morning.  Interestingly it is shrouded in attempts to disprove its authenticity.  But all of these efforts are proved null and void. Let’s look at a couple of interesting observations in our passage today.  First, we see that there are a couple of…

SURPRISING FIRST RESPONDERS

If you read all of the gospel accounts that there were many who visited the tomb that day, but of special note is the fact that the first were women.  We are told in 28:1 that Mary Magdalene and another Mary approach the tomb.  These are two women who had benefited from Jesus’ ministry.  Mary Magdalene was someone who Christ delivered from demon possession.  Mark 16:9 tells us: “Now after He had risen early on the first day of the week, He first appeared to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons.”  Mary came from the town of Magdala, along the western coast of the Sea of Galilee.  She was controlled by demons, which could have meant a completely different personality, possibly throwing her into convulsions, foaming at the mouth, becoming violent, etc.  As long as the demons controlled her, she had no hope.  But Jesus showed up and delivered her, giving her hope.  Thus, she showed him incredible devotion.

Mary the sister of Lazarus is often commended for her waiting at Jesus’ feet, upon His visit to the home.  But Mary Magdalene was one of those that followed Jesus wherever He went, she hung on to every word.  Whether it was from town to town, helping to support Him, to Jerusalem, and even when the disciples fled, Mary followed Him to the cross.  And in our passage, she is among the first to go to the tomb to anoint His body with spices.  Mary Magdalene is a great example of faithfulness.

And then there’s Mary the mother of James the lesser and Joses.  She, too, was a great follower of Jesus. Mark 15:40 tells us:  “There were also some women looking on from a distance, among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the Less and Joses, and Salome. 41 When He was in Galilee, they used to follow Him and [f]minister to Him; and there were many other women who came up with Him to Jerusalem, as Mark 15:47 tells us.  These women were changed by Jesus.

And now they would be changed even more.  There are certain things which facilitate the resurrection. First, there was an earthquake.  Secondly, an angel of the Lord appears.  Many times in the Scripture, humans are scared at the sign of angels hence the statement: “Do not be afraid.”  Angels were used by God to announce Jesus’ birth to Mary in Luke 1:30 and to the shepherds in 2:10.  Both were given the instruction: “Do not be afraid.”  The angel at the tomb had a brilliant appearance.  His countenance was as lightning and that the guards become as dead men.  These were God’s answer to the seal and the guards, man’s efforts to keep Jesus in the tomb.  As the hymn states: “Death in vain forbids Him rise.”  But the angel did not come for the guards.  He came for Jesus’ disciples.  Notice in verse five and following, the angel’s monologue.  He tells the women three things: Don’t be afraid; Jesus is not here; Go and tell.  The statement: “Behold, I’ve told you.”

We are told in verse 8: the women’s reaction was one of fear and joy.  As they turn to leave, Jesus meets them.  He told them to rejoice!  Women held his feet and worshipped.  Verse 10: Jesus said: “Don’t be afraid.  Go and tell.  The disciples were to proceed to the mountain inGalilee, where Jesus would give the Great Commission in verses 16-20.  And that’s essentially what the Great Commission is: “Go and tell.”  This message was the capstone, the implication to the greatest miracle ever witnessed!

THE FIRST RESPONDERS WERE ALSO THE FIRST MESSENGERS.

When you think about it, these two women were chosen to bring the news of the resurrection.  They were not of the 12; not a part of the 70.  Yet, they are the first to bring the world’s greatest news.  I think that this is something given the setting.  In first century Greco-Roman culture, women were a little better than property.  Often, Jewish males would thank God that he had not been created a gentile, slave, or a woman.  Women received little education and were restricted in their social circles to strictly other women.  In public they were expected to be veiled; many social restrictions led to the isolation of women.  But Jesus shows up on the scene and fully accepts them, regardless of their social or marital status.  He treated them with dignity.  Examples are plentiful (Peter’s mother-in-law, Jairus’ daughter, women with hemorrhage, etc.).  In our passage, God gives them the high honor of being the first to experience the resurrection.

And the greatest miracle was the conclusion of the greatest story ever told.  Man, made in the image of God, fell out of relationship with Him as a result of the fall in the Garden of Eden.  Through their disobedience as our representative heads, you and I come into this world out of harmony with God.  That friction is realized through our own sins and moral mistakes.  Death exists today as a result of such a rift (Romans 5:12).

The good news is that in this predicament, Jesus Christ came to this earth.  He lived a sinless life, satisfied God’s moral requirements, and then went to the cross as our perfect sacrifice.  This was done as a service to God and mankind.  For instance, Jesus described His death as a ransom payment in Matthew 20:28.  His mission was one of service in that He: “…did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Through faith in Him, and repentance from sin, we are spared from God’s wrath, given eternal life and are reconciled to God.  In other words, if it were not for the death and resurrection of Christ, there would be no hope for a relationship with God, life after death, or peace through the suffering.

In summary, Jesus’ death saves us from the righteous anger of God against our sin. It would truly be a hopeless situation.  Through His death and resurrection, Jesus gives forgiveness, spiritual life, and a home in heaven to all who trust Him.

In the 1994 movie, “The Shawshank Redemption,” there’s a scene at the lunch table where Andy (played by Tim Robbins) is talking with his friends, including “Red” (played by Morgan Freeman). He mentions about hope and living their lives in prison.  He uses music to bridge that subject.

Andy Dufresne: That’s the beauty of music. They can’t get that from you… Haven’t you ever felt that way about music?
Red: I played a mean harmonica as a younger man. Lost interest in it though. Didn’t make much sense in here.
Andy Dufresne: Here’s where it makes the most sense. You need it so you don’t forget.
Red: Forget?
Andy Dufresne: Forget that… there are places in this world that aren’t made out of stone. That there’s something inside… that they can’t get to, that they can’t touch. That’s yours.
Red: What’re you talking about?
Andy Dufresne: Hope.

Red: Hope. Let me tell you something my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane.

Then Andy, after breaking out of prison, knowing that his friend Red is nearing release, writes: “Dear Red, if you’re reading this, you’ve gotten out. And if you’ve come this far, maybe you’re willing to come a little further. You remember the name of the town, don’t you? I could use a good man to help me get my project on wheels. I’ll keep an eye out for you and the chessboard ready. Remember, Red. Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies. I will be hoping that this letter finds you, and finds you well. Your friend, Andy.”

Hope is a good thing.  In contrast, for Christians, hope empowers us and changes our lives.


[1] Thomas Schreiner, “Why the Resurrection of Jesus Matters,” Southern Seminary Spring 2007, 2.

Welcome!

Welcome to “Central to Life,” a website which contains the sermons of Rev. David McKinley.  Hopefully you find some spiritual encouragment of some sort. 

Isaiah 26:3 tells us: “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.”  May the Lord bless you as you seek His will for your life.