Open The Door to Jesus

Revelation 1: 4-8
JOHN 20: 19-31

April 24, 2022

I am sure many of you remember Monty Hall and his infamous game show ‘Let’s Make a Deal.’ Or you are still watching the Wayne Brady version that is on TV today. It’s a blend of comedy, costume, and challenge. Audience members come to the studio wearing their finest Halloween costumes all hoping for a chance to make a deal by trading what they brought with the ever smiling Hall or Brady … for something potentially better. If you make it to the small group of selected contestants you can win a NEW CAR or perhaps a broken down cart pulled by a donkey. Regardless of what you win there is always an opportunity to make a deal and go for what is behind DOOR NUMBER 1 or DOOR NUMBER 2 or what’s behind DOOR NUMBER 3, you just might find out. And, at the end of the game if you are lucky enough … you might be able to trade whatever you have won to that point of the game for a chance at the BIG DEAL.

So, on this Sunday after Easter’s glory who are you most interested in making a deal with? What costumes are you wearing out in the world for others to see? Do you know when the end of your life game is scheduled for that so you can plan on making a trade giving up your life’s accumulations and actions for the really BIG DEAL at that exact moment in time so that you can go out a winner?

There are lots of shiny and popular things out in the world to focus our time and energy on … is that how you are playing the game choosing to take your chances on one of the many offerings placed before you each day? Always looking for the new and popular? Ready to shift as the winds change? Do you put on a different costume depending on who you are with or what you are doing?

Or are you willing to go through the Open Tomb’s revelation to hold onto Jesus Christ every single day and never trade Him away? Are you showcasing to the world your faith energy of Easter morning even on the stormiest of days? Is that always open door to Jesus the one you have chosen for your now and forever moments or are you more than willing to trade away the Easter Jesus or the Christmas Jesus for something your non-church attending … non-faith connecting friends have in a box on their stages of life?

I guess that is the ultimate challenge for each of us even though we are in church today. The sparkle and the glitter … the chanting attacking crowds and the pat on the back postings … versus the peace and joy and yes challenge that comes from living with the Holy Spirit … accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior … and also understanding and accepting the fact that God both exists and also has expectations for those who believe. Choices put in front of us each day; choices that truly do matter. Matter for us as individuals and in a way our decisions also matter for our family members and friends who see who we truly are and what we believe.

And, we hear today the truth of Jesus Christ; you may remember Him because … HE IS RISEN <HE IS RISEN INDEED>> “Grace and peace to you from the One who is and was and is coming … Jesus Christ, the faithful witness.”

Jesus, friends, who came not only so that we could have an Easter holiday with family where we hunt for eggs and baskets of chocolate or a Christmas holiday with trees and glittering wrapping paper but Jesus the Christ … Jesus the Messiah … Jesus the ONE who was with God in the beginning; Jesus who was essential through Creation; and Jesus who is the “light shining in darkness … the light for ALL people … a light that darkness cannot extinguish.”

John in his first chapter of the Gospel continues referencing his friend, named Jesus, his Messiah, and one whom he spent so much time with. “The Light was in the world but the world did not recognize The Light. The Light came to His own people but His own people did not welcome Him.” So, John was an active witness to those who chose another door rather than the door of salvation even if they labeled themselves or were costumed as Jesus’ people … even if they declared they were one of his crew when their hearts, souls and minds were not really there.

Because, friends it is easy to reject Jesus in the world, even if on occasion we say we are His. It is extremely easy to not welcome the teachings of Jesus in the year 2022 because the powerful have a different gospel they adhere to and their followers rush to embrace that message. Frankly, if you were to randomly choose one of Jesus’ lessons but not say Jesus said it and asked a friend or co-worker what they thought about a certain “comment or proposal” … well, how about this one … “Go sell what you own and give the money to the poor” … how would your friends react if you said that you heard a leader say that sentence or even if you said the leader suggested selling only a few things and giving those profits to the poor? I can just imagine the pejoratives …

The average person hears between 20 and 30 thousand words every day. Now, I am not sure how many of those words we pay close attention to and I am sure that there are a number of spouses out there who will say that their life partner doesn’t hear half of what they say. The words we hear deliver messages that cross our minds and frequently are the determinants of our life’s journey depending on who we hear them from.

Now, the average person’s reading speed of non-technical material is about 200 to 250 words a minute or approximately 2 minutes per page. Of course, these days we are more likely to be reading on our computers, i-pads, or phones rather than in books that we can hold but that has not altered the average reading speed … I did meet someone recently who had completed the Evelyn Woods speed reading course … Ms. Woods said she could read 2,700 words a minute and understand what she read.

I am bringing up the subject of words because in today’s Gospel we heard that many of Jesus miraculous signs are not recorded in the Gospel but friends, the basic truth and the essential messages and signs of God’s love for us ARE found in God’s Word … we will not have a face-to-face encounter with Christ until our personal game of life is over and we can no longer make a final deal … So we rely on what we have. God’s Word is translated into today’s English, which makes it easier for us to read. We turn to hear testimonies of those who believe like we will hear today from Dave Fish …

Thomas doubted … Jesus gave him the opportunity to rediscover and believe. And, when Thomas got it … when Thomas realized he was with the resurrected and living Jesus … Thomas shouted out with glee, “My Lord and my God! You’ll go down in history” Ok, so I wanted to remind you that Jesus has a connection with our Christmas Holiday …. But what Jesus said next matters to you and to me, “Happy are those who don’t see and yet believe.”

When we choose to open the door to Jesus … even in the midst of this darkened world friends … we will find happiness. We will experience peace and can find the joy that goes beyond anything the Internet can do for us. And, we open the door by opening God’s Word and you know what … there are approximately 18,300 words in Matthew’s Gospel, there are approximately 11,300 words in Mark’s, Luke’s English translation gives us about 19,400 words, and John finishes up by providing us with 15,600 words.

The average adult in America can read … if we choose to read … the Gospel of Matthew in just over 1 ½ hours. The 20th chapter from John from which this morning’s Gospel lesson came from has. 688 words in the Common English translation.

Friends … have you opened the door to Jesus in your life and do you have the time to invest reading 688 words … less than 4 minutes … to learn what Jesus has in store for your life … to discover what God expects from your life … time that you could invest during the average commercial break in a major league sporting event on TV.

But, I know … we are busy people. Even if we might have the opportunity to discover the peace and accept the peace of Jesus Christ … we won’t stretch our our finger … our hands won’t attempt to touch Jesus because inevitably I think … we understand … that our life’s path might be changed when we actually invite Jesus into our world and live as if Jesus lives … by the way HE IS RISEN <<HE IS RISEN INDEED>>

You see as the hymn writer put into those lyrics “He Lives, Christ Jesus lives today” … but the song says “He walks with me, He talks with me along life’s narrow way.” And, the song writer includes a question, “You ask me how I know he lives?” The answer of the hymn is “He lives within my heart …” but that means we have opened up our personal doors, our own hearts to the Son of God and allow the truth that He is living and in the world today no matter whatever men may say.

So, it takes courage … it takes a willingness to show the world we are Christians as Scripture teaches by our love because it is by our love of God and love of ALL of our neighbors that the world will know we are not aligned with the world but with Christ and that takes courage.

It requires worship … “Let every living thing praise the Lord!”

And, yes … it does mean that you and I invest time in our faith walk because we need to understand that the light of Jesus Christ in today’s world comes from the lives and faith walks of believers like you and me. We can no longer hide our faith behind church doors on Sunday’s and then downplay the teachings of Christ in the other 167 hours of week when we are not in worship.

Today, we need to open the doors of this church to the world … leave this place as winners knowing we have already won the big prize but accepting that we leave behind what is behind and strive forward towards the goal, which is the price of God’s loving upward call in Christ Jesus. If we choose to wait … it’s possible we might lose that prize.

Open the door to my heart Lord … I want and need to see Jesus! I hope you do too! AMEN

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