36 While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 37 They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate in their presence.
44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46 and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.
THE WORD OF THE LORD.
On September 12 (1982) Michael Baucam, a 21 year old college student, and son of the millionaire founder of an electrical company in (La Marque) Texas, was kidnapped; and for 5 days was buried alive in a small grave in a wooden coffin. Kept alive only by two small tubes of air rising above the ground, the young man tried to make sense out of what was happening to him. Many times, understandably, he gave way to despair. Miraculously, on the 5th day, he heard the sound of shovels hitting the top of his wooden coffin. He heard someone calling his name. The wooden top of the box cracked, and dirt began to fill where he lay. Then suddenly, a hand reached down in the hole above his head and grabbed his hand. He seized it, and pulled. He was saved. When asked what he needed, he said he wanted a cold soda. Days later, surrounded by his family and the people who rescued him, Michael said his deliverance from the jaws of death had changed him. “You got me out of the hole,” he said. “I am free. I am alive.” Now he wanted time to decide what to do with his life.
How would you live after such a dramatic rescue? The entire season of Easter, in fact each Sunday, reminds us that we are the recipients of such a deliverance. We too have been buried. Then, out of nowhere, a voice is heard, the barriers removed, and a helping hand reaches down and lifts us out of the grave. This rescue is as real and as dramatic as the one experienced by the young man buried alive. We are reminded of the great lengths God will go on our behalf.
If the young man asked himself, “How shall I spend the rest of my life,” we too must ask ourselves this question before we move to quickly past the Easter message. If God has delivered me from being buried alive, then how shall I spend the rest of my life?
The first thing I would do is to live a grateful and fulfilled life.
A fulfilled person is one who follows this advice from the book of Ecclesiastes – “Whatever it is in your power to do, do it with all your might.”
Work hard because it gives you a sense of satisfaction. I continue to work now as a minister because it still gives e a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction, in preaching the gospel, visiting people, and helping people in their time of need.
Most of us go to work day after day, year after year, not simply because we have bills to pay, but also because we believe we are making a contribution to the life of others. Sometimes because of fatigue or difficulties, we may question what we are doing. But eventually we find a way to continue to make a contribution to the world with our life and work in order to make the world a little better place for ourselves, our families, and for others.
Many of you here do a lot of volunteering here at church and elsewhere. Why? Because such effort gives you a sense of satisfaction and realization that you are making a difference in people’s lives – in small or big ways.
In the book entitles, “The Seasons of a Man’s Life,” Daniel Levinson writes that adults can find satisfaction if they will renounce the tyranny of the idea of success, and instead, replace it with the idea of fulfillment. He states, “When a person no longer feels he or she must be remarkable, he or she is free to be himself and work according to his or her own wishes and talents.”
Having been delivered from being buried alive and the need to prove ourselves, let us be transformed with the response of gratitude and fulfillment.
Secondly, besides the response of gratitude, let us also respond with the idea of maturity.
Immature and insecure behavior abound because people are afraid, and because people either have not heard the good news of what God has done for us, or they do not believe it. Yet, if it is true that God has rescued us, then let us be not only grateful but also mature.
And what is maturity? Maturity is the ability to settle differences without destruction. It is the ability to see the differences between yourself and others and not fear them. Maturity is also the ability to face frustration, loss, and defeat without collapse. This is what it means to be a true son or daughter of God. God became a child so we might grow up. God became human so we would become more humane. Thus, being a true human being is see yourself as you truly are – to be honest when you are wrong, and not to gloat when you are right.
Thirdly, we should spend the rest of our lives not only in gratitude, fulfillment, and maturity, we should also spend it in service.
Albert Einstein, in his Princeton University office, once had pictures on his wall of Isaac Newton and Copernicus. Late in his life he took down those pictures of Newton and Copernicus, and replaced them with pictures of Gandhi and Albert Schweitzer. When someone asked him why he had done this change, Einstein replied, “It is time we replaced the idea of success with the idea of service.”
A man upon seeing so much pain in the world complained to his minister that God had made a mess of things. “Why,” the man said, “I could make a better world myself.” “Good,” replied the minister, “go out and do it, for that is why you are here.”
Finally, Karl Barth – the great Swiss theologian and pastor – once said that the reason people come to church each week is because they want to know if it is true. “Is it true what the Scriptures say?”
I agree. You and I come to church each Sunday because we want to know if it is true. Is it true what we are being told about Easter – about this resurrection story – about our hope for a fulfilled life now and in the life to come. We want to believe that there is a God who delivers us from being buried alive by our responsibilities, our worries, our fears, and our deaths.
The story is true. You and I have been given a new life, just as surely as the young man saved from being buried alive was given a new life.
How then shall you and I spend the rest of our lives? How shall we utilize our new found freedom?
Maybe we should follow the example of this man – Martin Luther King, Jr. who -assassinated 50 years ago this month – said he was willing to risk his life to help others gain their freedom. So, he said, each day he woke up and asked, “Lord, what do you want to accomplish through me today?” Amen!
(Copyright by Jack Hughes Robinson – 2018. Use by permission only.)