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Something Unspectacular - By Pastor Thomas Engel


An empty tomb. Soldiers were ordered to seal the entrance, but the seal had been broken. Running to the tomb, Peter sees the heavy stone that has been rolled aside. He bends down, and walking into the tomb, he does not see Jesus’ body.

The women have said, “He is risen!” They have seen Jesus alive. Does not seeing Jesus’ body in the tomb verify what the women have said?

Peter would wrestle with this news about Jesus’ resurrection from the dead all day long. Jesus did talk about rising on the third day. But did it really happen?

That evening as Peter and the other disciples were together in the upper room, Jesus came and appeared to them, and they came to believe that Jesus had risen from the dead, even Thomas who had so much doubt has come to believe.

Other than the first twelve disciples, Jesus had more disciples and followers like the women who had come to the tomb. Two of these disciples were leaving Jerusalem and were on their way to Emmaus on that first Easter day.

Like Peter, they, too, wondered about what the women had said about Jesus’ resurrection. For some unknown reason, they were not able to see that it was Jesus who was walking along with them.

Jesus went through what the Scripture and the prophets had said about his death and resurrection. When they sat down for a meal, they recognized Jesus, and they came to believe also that Jesus had risen from the dead.

If I can say, there seems to be a pattern when it comes to people’s reactions to the news about Jesus as Lord and Savior of the world.

When an angel came to tell Mary that she would have a child although she was a virgin, she did not know how it could be. Joseph needed to be persuaded in a dream to take Mary to be his wife and to be the earthly father of Jesus. The shepherds were struck with fear when an angel came to them to tell them to go to Bethlehem to see their new-born Savior.

A young poor girl, a carpenter, shepherds, a little town, a stable, a manger, and then Nazareth, a small place where nothing really happened of any importance, but it is where Jesus grew up.

If we look at the different parts of Jesus’ life, we see nothing spectacular. To be sure that I am clear here, I mean as far as the world sees spectacular. For someone who is the King of Kings and Lord of all, there is nothing here that has striking effects that catch our attention.

Fisherman, a locust-eating prophet, a donkey, bread, sandals and dusty roads, no place to call home, washing of feet, mocked, beaten, whipped, a crown-not of gold-but of thorns, and lastly, nails and a cross.

When John the Baptist announced Jesus to the world, he said, “Look the Lamb of God, who has come to take away the sins of the world.”

He did not say, “The Lion of God.” Or he did not say, “The General who has come to lead an army?” John said that Jesus was a “Lamb.”

How can a “lamb” do anything to save and protect people from harm? How can a “lamb” do anything but to have it let others lead it to the slaughter?

But letting others take this “Lamb” to its death is exactly what God had planned from the beginning back when humans first had fallen into sin. Before Jesus came to earth, lambs were sacrificed and their blood covered the sins of the people.

Jesus was the final sacrifice, and his blood would cover the sins of all people forever. Here again, we are seeing something that is unspectacular when it comes to fighting a battle and the gaining of a victory over the enemy.

When it came to the final battle against sin, Satan, and eternal death, Jesus was passive.

Thinking in a strategic way when it comes to fighting an enemy, he did not put up much of a fight. Jesus did not call up an army; he did not raise up a sword; he did not wrestle with the temple guards when he was seized in the Garden of Gethsemane; he hardly said a word before those who accused him of claims that deserved the penalty of death.

On the cross, Jesus did speak seven times. One of those times gets to the heart about why Jesus went to the cross. In a loud voice, he cried out to God the Father, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

It was at this point that God the Father turned His back on His own Son and left him to die on the cross and suffer for all the sins of the world.

Jesus took the punishment that we deserve for our sins. Then, just before he would take his last breath, Jesus said, “It is finished.” At that moment, the battle between Jesus and sin, Satan, and eternal death was over.

To the onlooker and even from the disciples’ perspective, it seemed that Jesus had lost this battle.

But Jesus had won, and we know for sure that he was victorious when he rose on the third day. Jesus was alive, again.

For those who believe in this good news, it is the most glorious news. We know that in Jesus and with all that he has done for us that we do not have to fear anything ever again.

Jesus’ death and resurrection for the forgiveness of sins and the gift of eternal life is the center of our lives and runs through every part of us. We can rejoice every day because each day is a day of salvation.

Too many people get tripped up by this simple but awesome truth of the Gospel. People struggle with Jesus because most of what he did was far from spectacular.

Yes, he did do miracles to show that he was from God the Father, but these miracles were not enough for the people. For as much time that the disciples spent with Jesus, they forgot about the calming of the storm, the feeding of the five thousand, and the raising of Lazarus.

For something to be spectacular in these high tech days, it must be impressive with some kind of big bang and bright flashing lights, and most of all, it must have immediate effects on what we want. It must meet and satisfy our human desires.

Jesus does satisfy but in unspectacular ways that are not of this world because, most of all, he had come to satisfy our spiritual needs.

A kingdom, not of castles, but of righteousness. Not riches of gold and silver, but rich in the blessings of God. Not perfection in body, but grace that is sufficient. Not the power of technological advances, but the power of divine love and care.

To the world, because Jesus is not of the world, many people will find Jesus to be something unspectacular. But to people of faith, Jesus is more than spectacular, for in Christ Jesus God comes and brings us everything of heaven and earth.

In baptism, we have water that with the Word changes us forever. We are now children of God and have His constant love. And in bread and wine with the words, “This is my body,” and “This is my blood,” we have forgiveness of sin and the assurance that Christ lives in us.

A devotion, a prayer, sitting and reading the Bible in some quiet moments. Once again, speaking from a worldly viewpoint, nothing spectacular here.

But coming from faith, how God comes to us in His “unspectacular” ways brings everything to us from all of heaven and earth that fulfills our every need in every circumstance. Comfort and joy. Peace that is beyond all human understanding. Love and care. Mercy and grace.

And nothing that happens in this world or in our lives can take us away from these things from God in Christ Jesus.

Just how spectacular is that?

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