Our Savior Lives (John 20:1-10; 1 Cor. 15:55-57)

Resurrection Sunday

Our Savior Lives (John 20:1-10; 1 Cor. 15:55-57)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, April 21, 2019

Let’s think about children and joy. A number of years ago I was cutting the grass when all of a sudden I saw my then two year old, almost three year old, run out the back steps, get on her tricycle and ride up and down the drive way with a huge smile on her face. I saw joy, I saw excitement on her face. [This was not Meagan not paying attention] Now, at that time, we had a somewhat large yard and I was on a riding mower and I know her mother would not have let her out by herself. I was looking for Meagan but she was nowhere to be found which meant that Mercedes had found a way out. Mercedes loved and loves to play outside. I love seeing joy on her face. This made me think of the numerous moments of joy on a child’s face. I have seen it for almost 8 years now. But I think of holidays.

As Mercedes gets older she is really able to understand what is going on. One particular Christmas we carefully set out the gifts so that she could see them. She came out of her room and let out a happy scream and said “Presents!”

Do we have excitement in the Lord? Do we have joy in the Lord?

Let’s read John 20:1-10

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb. So she ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and *said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” So Peter and the other disciple went forth, and they were going to the tomb. The two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first; and stooping and looking in, he *saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in. And so Simon Peter also *came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he *saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb then also entered, and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. 10 So the disciples went away again to their own homes.

Theme: In the next few minutes I want to explain the resurrection and the significance of the resurrection.

  1. Let me start by explaining the Easter Rush.
    1. For the last 20 years or so the Christmas rush has been a bigger and bigger deal. Stores were opening earlier and earlier the day after Thanksgiving. Now, they are even opening Thanksgiving Day. I realized this when I served as a shift manager at a McDonald’s in a commercial area. We were working the day after Thanksgiving and it was a new store. We did not know how busy we would be. The rush began at about 6:30 am and did not end until after 11 am. But before the Christmas rush there was an Easter rush. Let me tell you about the Easter rush.
    2. Jesus has been crucified, the disciples are in mourning. But they do not realize that Jesus cannot be kept down.
    3. Mary Magdalene comes to the tomb to see Jesus.
    4. She was the first to the tomb and she sees the stone rolled away.
    5. Mary did the logical thing, she goes to Peter and John. This is likely John, usually when we read, “The disciple whom Jesus loved” we believe it is John. She runs to Peter and John. She was in a hurry.
    6. Do you think Peter and John would have believed her? I would hope so, but she may be the one whom Jesus casts 7 demons out of in Luke 8:2. She could easily say, “I saw the tomb empty and they may say, “You saw something…” “Come on Mary…”
    7. Peter and John run to the tomb, but John ran faster. Funny thing about running, we don’t need to run fast, just faster than the one we are running with. It is like when I have been running with others and a dog comes after us. I don’t need to outrun the dog, I just need to outrun the other people. This is the Easter rush.
    8. They get to the tomb and see the tomb empty.
    9. John saw and believed.
    10. Verse 9: They had not understood the Scriptures that He must rise from the dead.
    11. Notice that Mary was the first to the tomb and the last to leave (verse 11). She was very devoted and faithful, we can learn from Mary.
    12. This Easter rush preceded any Christmas rush. The Easter rush was a big deal because our Savior Lives! No one can keep Jesus down! He had been resurrected!
  2. The disciples learned the same thing we learn– Our Savior Lives
    1. What is the significance of the resurrection? As I make each of these statements I would like you to respond with Our Savior Lives!
    2. We can have a relationship with Jesus because He lives. If He was not resurrected we would not have a relationship with Him. Our Savior Lives!
    3. Christ is our Savior who cannot die again. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again (Romans 6:9).[1] Our Savior Lives!
    4. Because of the resurrection we have new birth: According to his great mercy, [God the Father] has caused us to be born again to a living hopethrough the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (1 Peter 1:3).[2] Our Savior Lives!
    5. We have forgiveness of sins because of the resurrection. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins (1 Corinthians 15:17).[3] Our Savior Lives!
    6. Because Jesus is raised we have no condemnation. Who is to condemn?Christ Jesus is the one who died — more than that, who was raised — who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us (Romans 8:34).[4] Our Savior Lives!
    7. Because of the resurrection we have the Lord’s personal fellowship and protection.[5] “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) Our Savior Lives!
    8. Because of the resurrection of Jesus we know that we will also be raised from the dead: [We know] that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesusand bring us with you into his presence. (2 Corinthians 4:14; also Romans 6:4; 8:11; 1 Corinthians 6:14; 15:20)[6] Our Savior Lives!
    9. If Jesus was not resurrected there would never be a Christianity. Our Savior Lives!
    10. The Romans would have shown the grave and it would be over. Our Savior Lives!
    11. Jesus’ resurrection shows the grave could not contain Him. Our Savior Lives!
    12. Jesus’ resurrection shows that He is the victor. Our Savior Lives!
    13. Jesus’ resurrection shows again, the miracles are true. Jesus has the power and authority over all nature. It’s not hard to figure out: He can break out because he wasn’t forced in. He letshimself be harassed and black-balled and scorned and shoved around and killed.[7] Our Savior Lives!
    14. No one can keep him down because no one ever knocked him down. He lay down when he was ready.[8] Our Savior Lives!
    15. And all God’s people responded with Amen—AMEN!
  • The resurrection is of the utmost importance in the Christian faith.
    1. The resurrection gives us hope. We have hope eternal, but we can also have a relationship with Jesus because of the resurrection.
    2. Tennent, the President of Asbury Theological Seminary said the following: “Buddhist travel to the remains of Buddha, Muslims travel to Medina for the remains of Muhammed but there is no place in the world you can travel to worship the remains of Christ!” (1 Cor 15) We cannot do that because Jesus arose.
    3. The Bible also says that Jesus is the first fruits of the resurrection. This means that we, if we trust in Christ as our Lord and Savior, will also have a future perfect and eternal body with Christ in His Kingdom.
    4. In 1 Cor 15:3-8 the Scriptures write about Jesus appearing to the disciples and later over 500 people all at the same time. Again, Jesus showed many that He has been resurrected.
    5. Later on in 1 Cor. 15:13-15 the Scriptures tell us that if Christ was not raised from the dead our faith is in vain! This means that our faith is useless. Later on in that same chapter the Scriptures write about our hope in the resurrection. You see, because Christ rose from the dead we have hope. We have hope that when we die it is not the end. We have hope that when our family members and friends who are Christians die they are not gone, but with Christ in eternal paradise. We can see them again because they will have resurrected bodies as Jesus did. Paul wrote, “Where O death is your sting.” (1 Cor. 15:55) There is no sting because we have eternal life in perfect bodies.
    6. Also, Christ’s resurrection shows that this is not simply His normal body coming back to life. No, this is a renewed body. In John 20:11-18 Jesus enters a room when the doors are locked. It seems as though our resurrected bodies may not be as limited as our current bodies. Jesus’ resurrected body will not die. Neither will yours. If you are a believer in Christ, you will have an eternal, perfect body.

I am going to read the words to Because He Lives

 Because He Lives

Think about it:

God sent His son, they called Him, Jesus;
He came to love, heal and forgive;
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives!

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days because He Lives!

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

And then one day, I’ll cross the river,
I’ll fight life’s final war with pain;
And then, as death gives way to vict’ry,
I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He lives!

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

 When I was a child, on Christmas, my birthday and Easter I received gifts (probably too many definitely too many). On Christmas and Easter we would go to my grandparent house in the afternoon and I was always eager to share the news of what I received. After my birthday, I could not wait to share with my friends what gift I received.

When we have joy we share it. Joy is the gift that keeps on giving if we allow it to.

Share Jesus He has risen!

Do you believe that Jesus died on the cross paying the price for your sins? Sins are the wrong things we do.

The Bible says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). The Bible says that the penalty for sin is death (Romans 6:23). The Bible says that Jesus is the way the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except by Him. (John 14:6). The Bible teaches that sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2). The Bible says that God will not let the guilty go unpunished (2 Thess 1:8-9). Yet, the Bible teaches that God loves the people of the world (John 3:16). That is a dilemma. God can’t tell a lie or He wouldn’t be God (Numbers 23:19). God doesn’t change His mind (1 Sam 15:29). That is why God sent Jesus. The guilty must go punished. Jesus took our punishment on the cross. The penalty of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus, who is the way, the truth and the life.


Let’s pray


[1] http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/can-t-keep-jesus-down

[2] ibid.

[3] ibid.

[4] ibid.

[5] ibid.

[6] ibid.

[7] ibid.

[8] ibid.

Palm Sunday, The Savior Enters Jerualem (Mark 11:1-10)

Palm Sunday, the Savior Enter Jerusalem (Mark 11:1-10)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on Sunday, April 14, 2019 

The Savior Enters Jerusalem

Humility and Royalty, we like both don’t we? We like both of them. For example, many, many people watched when Prince William was married a few years ago. Remember Princess Diana. I think people liked Princess Diana because she was royal and humble. We like those things. We like strength with humility. We like someone who can save us, but also not act better than us, right? In Science fiction this is Superman, but in reality this is Jesus.

I grew up under Superman played by Christopher Reeve.

Clip from superman II when superman flies and you hear the music and then he says “Zod, you care to step outside?”

I love that clip, that is so awesome! The next few minutes in the movie are great! It is exciting, we know that they are about to be rescued. I see the same idea when Jesus enters Jerusalem.

As I looked at this passage I was trying to think of a different theme, but I kept coming back to what I had talked about before. Today, I see the same idea. He enters in humility, but is worshipped. Later, Jesus is humble all the way to the cross.

My theme today is that our Savior Enters Jerusalem

Application: worship Him as Savior

Read Mark 11:1-11: 

As they approached Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples, and said to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, on which no one yet has ever sat; untie it and bring it here. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ you say, ‘The Lord has need of it’; and immediately he will send it back here.” They went away and found a colt tied at the door, outside in the street; and they untied it. Some of the bystanders were saying to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” They spoke to them just as Jesus had told them, and they gave them permission. They brought the colt to Jesus and put their coats on it; and He sat on it. And many spread their coats in the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields. Those who went in front and those who followed were shouting:

Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord;
10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David;
Hosanna in the highest!”

11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and came into the temple; and after looking around at everything, He left for Bethany with the twelve, since it was already late.

  1. I know this is a familiar story, but try to think about it with fresh eyes.
    1. We need to try to read the Bible as if we have never read it before. When this happens we will notice all kinds of new things.
    2. I like how John MacArthur sets up this passage:

The week begins with His arrival in Jerusalem. The year is 30 A.D. by the best chronology. The month is the first Jewish month, Nisan, and the arrival is on the tenth and the crucifixion is on the fourteenth and that all matters because God has established a very firm time table.

Importantly, it is the Passover week of that year and Friday will be the day when tens of thousands of Passover lambs will be slain, none of which can take away any one’s sin. However, on this Passover, there will be one sacrifice made for sin that will take away the sins of all who have ever believed through all of human history and it will be the sacrifice of the true Lamb.

This is neither the heavenly coronation of Christ, nor is it the earthly coronation of Christ. It is not a coronation of Christ at all, it is a mock coronation. It is a false coronation. It is a fraud. There are no formalities here in this coronation. There are no dignitaries. There is no regalia. There is no fanfare.

This really is very similar to His birth. In His birth, His mother arrives in Bethlehem in humble obscurity riding on a donkey. Here He arrives in Jerusalem riding on a donkey. Yes, He is the true King, King of kings, Lord of lords, Son of Man, Son of God, Messiah, Savior, and no monarch in all human history remotely compares to the Lord Jesus Christ. There is none so magnificent, powerful, wise, sovereign, just, pure and holy and all the elite and all the monarchs of all human history collectively together stacked on top of each other wouldn’t go high enough to touch the hem of His all-glorious garment. This is a true King, but this is no coronation.[1]

  1. As we look at this passage, we notice where Jesus was coming from being Bethphage.
  2. We can notice that in the first few verses Jesus’ disciples obeyed Him and went and got a colt.
  3. Then we see the parade in the following verses.
  4. Before we get there, it is important to make note that in this Gospel Jesus’ Divinity is called a “Messianic secret.” Jesus would tell them not to tell anyone. An example of this is Mark 8:29-30. Peter had confessed Jesus as the Messiah and Jesus told him not to tell anyone about this (Mark 1:43-45 is another example.).
  5. However, in this case Jesus allows people to worship Him. In this case He allows Himself to be known as King.
  6. Jesus is the authentic King, He is the True King. When I was twenty years old I was looking for a car. I was at a dealership and my dad showed up. I thought, “This is great, my dad is here and can co-sign.” I did not realize that that was not why he was there. My dad came to the dealership because a few weeks earlier my older brother bought a car at this dealership and traded in his old car. But when my brother traded in his old car he gave the dealership a fake title. Really. What happened was that my brother was making payments on his car to my dad and mom. When my brother turned 21 my dad declared the debt paid and gave him a title, but it wasn’t the real title. The real title was in my dad’s safe. My dad made a simple title on the computer. What is funny in this mess is that the dealership did not figure it out. My dad realized this was the case and brought in the real title.
  7. There are a lot of fake Messiahs. In fact, there had already been fake Messiahs in Judaism. But Jesus is authentic. There are people out there who promise eternity and all the answers. Just watch politicians. Jesus is Truth and He has the answer to eternity. When He came into Jerusalem the people recognized this.
  1. In verses 8-11 we find the parade. Jesus now makes His entrance.
    1. But He is going to enter riding on a donkey. Come on, you and I know that no one of importance rides on a donkey!!! A donkey! Well, to the Jewish people it was quite royal to ride on a donkey. In fact, in 1 King 1:33 we see David having his son ride into town on his donkey.
    2. Now, to the Romans the donkey wouldn’t be anything of royalty. In fact, a few years ago I heard that while Jesus is riding into one end of Jerusalem on a donkey, Pilate of Rome was riding into the other end of Jerusalem on a war horse with soldiers. What a contrast. But Jesus is the real King.
    3. There is another reason he is riding a donkey: Mark doesn’t really tell us why this happened, but Matthew does.  Matthew 21:4: “This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet.” What prophet? Zachariah, 500 years before Zachariah 9:9, Zachariah said, “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold your king is coming to you gentle and mounted on a donkey, not even a donkey but even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden…the foal of a donkey.’”[2]
    4. Now, they put coats on the donkey for Jesus to sit on and then they put coats and leafy or palm branches on the road. Spreading coats under a person was recognition of royalty.
    5. Now, this happens during Passover and Jewish hopes of a Savior ran high, so Rome, not wanting any trouble, had extra soldiers around.
    6. People in front and all around Jesus were shouting: “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord; blessed is the coming Kingdom of our father David; Hosanna in the highest!” This comes from Psalm 118:26. Hosanna is Hebrew and means “save us.”
    7. Someone wrote:

On Palm Sunday, my 5-year-old niece, Stephanie, sat on my lap while we listened to the pastor’s sermon. He described Jesus’ approach to Jerusalem and how the crowds cried, “Hosanna, Hosanna!” At that, Stephanie perked up and began to sing, “Oh, Hosanna, now don’t you cry for me!”[3]

  1. The people are ready for a Savior. They are worshipping Jesus as King. Now as they shout and worship the Lord this bothered some. It’s not listed in Mark, but John’s Gospel chapter 19:39-40 adds: Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”
  2. Jesus will be worshipped one way or another. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
  • The people worshipped Him then, are we worshipping Jesus now?
  1. The Romans weren’t worried and they shouldn’t have been. For less than a week later Jesus would hang on the cross and say, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
  2. Jesus, the King comes into Jerusalem, the people worship Him, the people were eager for a Savior.
  3. A few years ago, okay, maybe like twenty-two years ago, ESPN believed Vinny Testeverde was the Savior for the Browns. He wasn’t and couldn’t have been. There is One Savior and He is not a sports player.
  • Let’s apply this a little more. We must think about the following:
    1. We must also worship Jesus as King.
      1. He is your king as well. The Romans missed this, the Jewish elite missed this. They missed that the King and Savior of the world is making His entrance. They missed it, you don’t have to.
      2. When you leave this place, leave in worship and leave in excitement. Praise God that He did enter Jerusalem on a donkey for if He hadn’t we wouldn’t be saved. He had to come to Jerusalem to die in our place. Worship Jesus as King!
    2. They were excited about Jesus entering Jerusalem, am I excited about Jesus in my life?
    3. Think about Jesus’ example. Jesus enters in humility and He goes all the way to the cross in humility. Live this example.

Author and educator, Howard Hendricks, sat in a plane that was delayed for take off. After a long wait, the passengers became more and more irritated. Hendricks noticed how gracious one of the flight attendants was as she spoke with them. After the plane finally took off, he told the flight attendant how amazed he was at her poise and self-control, and said he wanted to write a letter of commendation for her to the airline. The stewardess replied that she didn’t work for the airline company, but for Jesus Christ. She said that just before going to work she and her husband prayed together that she would be a good representative of Christ.

Doing it for Christ’s sake adds another dimension to submission. You are submitting not just to your employer or husband or parent, but to the Lord, because of your love and gratitude for him.[4]

Can we humbly bow to Jesus in this way?

In reality, later during Holy Week they think that they defeat Jesus, by killing Him, but in killing Him we all win.

Jesus, our King, Our Savior, hailed as royalty right now, will humbly go to the cross and win on our behalf. He did this for us.




[1] https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/41-56/the-false-coronation-of-the-true-king

[2] https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/41-56/the-false-coronation-of-the-true-king

[3] Brenda Fossum, Duluth, MN. Today’s Christian Woman, “Heart to Heart.”

[4] Lorne Sanny, “The Right Way to Respond to Authority,” Discipleship Journal (March/April 1982)

The Law of Love (Gal. 5:13-15)

The Law of Love (Galatians 5:13-15)

Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, April 7, 2019

Recently, I watched a documentary about Billy Graham. I am fascinated by the way God used Billy Graham. When I lived in Cincinnati, I would watch his sermons on Saturday evening. Long before that I saw Billy Graham in 2002. I have read a biography of Billy Graham and I also read the autobiography titled, “Just as I am.” There are many things I respect about Billy Graham. One of them is his humility, another is his courage. Let me explain. Billy Graham was preaching during the race riots and segregation of the south. Yet, he refused, yes, refused to preach where the people were segregated. In fact, he saw ropes setup to divide the people. Graham asked the usher what was going on and they explained how the ropes separated the whites from the blacks. Billy told him to take it down. The head usher said no. Billy Graham told him again and the head usher said he would quit. Billy Graham then walked over and took the ropes down himself. After that Billy Graham spoke out against racism and segregation. Billy Graham was a true servant of the Lord. He united with Martin Luther King Jr. and included blacks in his crusades. Listen, we do not do good things like that to others if we do not start with good thoughts about others.

In the passage today, Paul calls us to love others.

My theme today is:

The Law of Love

Let’s read Galatians 5:13-15:

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

  1. You are called to freedom.
    1. Notice how Paul begins this section. We are called to freedom. Paul had said this in verse 1 of this chapter.
    2. In context, Paul had just wrapped up a section encouraging them not to go backwards. Paul had talked about how they were doing so well in their Christian walk and then they backed up. They reversed course and now he picks up from that.
    3. There is a strong change in the rest of this letter.
    4. Some people think of this next section like an appendix to the letter.
    5. Paul has written much on doctrine and now he switches to ethics. He now writes about Christian living.
    6. Paul exhorts them of this idea of “freedom” but then uses the pronoun translated as “brothers and sisters.”
    7. We are called to freedom: A story is told of a town where all the residents are ducks. Every Sunday the ducks waddle out of their houses and waddle down Main Street to their church. They waddle into the sanctuary and squat in their proper pews. The duck choir waddles in and takes its place, and then the duck minister comes forward and opens the duck Bible. He reads to them: “Ducks! God has given you wings! With wings you can fly! With wings you can mount up and soar like eagles. No walls can confine you! No fences can hold you! You have wings. God has given you wings, and you can fly like birds!”
    8. All the ducks shout, “Amen!” And then they all waddle home.[1]
    9. We are called to leave our churches, be free and serve. We are called to be the best people. The most loving teachers, the most loving citizens, the most loving lawyers, the most loving coaches, the most loving managers, the most loving waiters and waitresses, the most loving servants.
  2. Don’t use your freedom for sin, but instead serve.
    1. Paul exhorts them not to use their freedom for the flesh.
    2. Using your freedom for the flesh would be doing worldly and negative things with your freedom in Christ.
    3. Whereas the conventional wisdom calls for killing your neighbors with kindness, resident Bryan Stewart took the idea to its literal extreme.

According to the Pensacola News-Journal, Stewart was approached by neighbors about unpleasant yelling and other noises emanating from his home. Stewart responded by exiting the house with his hand in a strike position, wielding a machete with the word “kindness” scrawled across. One of the neighbors stepped in to block the oncoming blow, and in the ensuing fracas, suffered a cut on his left hand.

Police eventually responded and arrested Stewart, who was booked on charges of aggravated assault, aggravated battery and assault with a deadly weapon without the intent to kill.[2]

  1. The people of Galatia could face two temptations. One would be legalism. The other would be libertarianism. Paul had talked negatively about the law, but he certainly did not want to see them use their freedom for sin. One writes: This was an extreme form of antinomian teaching that held that freedom from the law meant release from all moral restraints. Paul wrote about and rejected this kind of perverted theology in Rom 6:1–2: “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!” The logic of libertinism was appealing to many who had reduced the message of salvation to cheap grace. They must have argued something like this: “Why worry about moral rules and guidelines or even the Ten Commandments? We love to sin. God loves to forgive. Why not indulge our natural appetites so as to give God all the more occasions to display his grace?”[3]
  2. Instead, Paul gave them a good use of their freedom.
  3. Rather, use the freedom through love to serve one another.
  4. Instead of sinful ways, serve.
  5. The English word “serve” does not adequately translate the Greek verb douleuete behind which stands the common Greek noun for slave, doulos. Through love, Paul said, you should make yourselves slaves to one another. Thus freedom and slavery are not simply mutually exclusive terms; they stand in the closest possible relationship to one another and can only be adequately defined in terms of object and goal: what we are slave to and what we are free for.[4]
  6. Luther insisted that a living faith expresses itself in works of love, in service to the neighbor. That such good works are done in freedom is a consequence of justification by faith. Believers who have been made right with God by faith no longer labor under the compulsion of the law or the self-centered need to serve others as a means of enhancing one’s own status before God. In a sermon on 1 Cor 13 Luther asserted: “One does not love until he has become godly and righteous. Love does not make us godly, but when one has become godly love is the result. Faith, the Spirit, and justification have love as effect and fruitage, and not as a mere ornament and supplement” (quoted in G. W. Forell, Faith Active in Love [Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1954], 84, n. 27).[5]
  7. Of course this is cross referenced throughout the New Testament:
  8. 1 Co 8:9 But be careful that this liberty of yours does not become a hindrance to the weak.
  9. 1 Pe 2:16 Live as free people, not using your freedom as a pretext for evil, but as God’s slaves.
  10. Mt 7:12 In everything, treat others as you would want them to treat you, for this fulfills the law and the prophets.
  11. Ro 13:8 Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.
  12. Jn 13:34 “I give you a new commandment—to love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
  • The law is summed up in one word, love.
    1. Verse 14: the whole law is fulfilled in one word… the implied word is “love.”
    2. You shall love your neighbor as yourself is from Lev. 19:18
    3. Paul’s ethical argument throughout this entire passage is based on the premise that the moral law of God, far from being abrogated by the coming of Christ, remains the divinely sanctioned standard for Christian conduct and growth in grace.[6]
    4. Paul did not mention the first part of the greatest commandment: Love the Lord. I like what one scholar writes about this: Why did Paul call the selfless love of neighbor the fulfilling of the whole law? Not because it is superior to the worship and adoration of God, but rather because it is the proof of it.[7]
    5. Martin Loyd Jones shares: We see them now, no longer as hateful people who are trying to rob us of our rights, or trying to beat us in the race for money, or position or fame; we see them, as we see ourselves, as the victims of sin and of Satan, as the dupes of “the god of this world,” as fellow-creatures who are under the wrath of God and hell-bound. We have an entirely new view of them. We see them to be exactly as we are ourselves, and we are both in a terrible predicament. And we can do nothing; but both of us together must run to Christ and avail ourselves of his wonderful grace. We begin to enjoy it together and we want to share it together. That is how it works. It is the only way whereby we can ever do unto others as we would that they should do unto us. It is when we are really loving our neighbor as ourselves because we have been delivered from the thralldom of self, that we begin to enjoy “the glorious liberty of the children of God.[8]
  1. If you fight you will destroy each other.
    1. We see this interesting idea in verse 15. In my words: if you fight you will destroy each other.
    2. Paul is saying, but… in contrast to love if you fight you will destroy each other.
    3. This verse is a window into the churches of Galatia. It shows that they were back biting and harming each other.
    4. So Paul is essentially saying if instead of loving one another and serving one another they are harming each other then they will consume each other.
    5. I think of this like the threat of nuclear war, we end up destroying each other. Think about it. If a nuclear war breaks out no one wins.
    6. After this verse Paul will jump into the section on walking by the Spirit.

Let’s apply:

  1. We must live out Phil 2:3-4 as we serve Christ. Phil 2:3-4: Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
  2. We are saved freely, but we cannot use that freedom for bad.
  3. If we are harming other people in our freedom then we must understand it is a circular effect of negativity. It is like the fish chasing each other down in a fish tank, no one wins. Or, the school fights where one fights and then another, etc. Or, a football rivalry, only this is bad.
  4. We must do good to those who are mean.
    1. This means that we must think loving thoughts about others.
    2. We must think of others as more important than us (Phil. 2:3-4).
    3. We must not meditate on bad things about people.
  5. We will think of ways to win people with love. We must pray for others. We must love our enemies (Matt 5:43-44).
  6. This helps the Christian witness.
  7. This helps the Christian.
  8. This helps the world.
  9. This worships God.

So, can we be like Billy Graham? Can we love when others hate? Can we love when others dehumanize? Can we assume the best? This starts with our thinking. Can we live this passage? Can we serve one another?

None of us can, but Jesus can and He lives within us.

Walk by the Spirit.



[1] Tony Campolo, Let Me Tell You a Story (Word, 2000); submitted by Debi Zahn

[2] Jelani Greenidge, pastor, Portland, Oregon; source: David Moye, “Florida Man Threatens to Kill Neighbor with ‘Kindness’–The Name of His Machete,” Huffington Post (1-14-19)

[3] Timothy George, Galatians, vol. 30, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 375.

[4] Ibid

[5] ibid

[6] Ibid

[7] ibid

[8] ibid