Pentecost 24 – All Saints Day, 7th November 2021
The stories about Jesus in the Bible indicate a day’s wage was equivalent to a penny. That means the widow in today’s gospel reading gave the equivalent of an entire day’s wage. Presumably there was no one to replace her income. That is the point of naming her as a widow. She was on her own. Her gift was out of poverty, not abundance.
Based upon the average wage in New Zealand today, that is around $250.00. Have you ever donated the equivalent of your day’s wage to a cause? It is difficult for us to comprehend the sacrifice of this widow. Even today when we finish our working career, there is a pension to be had. This widow had nothing: she was giving from the savings set aside for her livelihood. She was literally giving her life to the Temple.Such generosity is admirable. It is obvious she had a sense of purpose in her life. She comprehended a higher value than our materialistic society promotes. She understood a life principle I hope to expand today:
The widow’s gift was to God, not the priests. She was supporting the promise of Scriptures, not the teachings of the Temple. She believed in God and that her gift meant something in eternity.
Today’s sermon is titled, One Offering for All. I want to expound the passage from Hebrews read earlier. I pray that we will be able to see with the same type of holy vision as that wise widow. I hope we can see:
- Waiting for Justice is a life of hope.
- Waiting for Judgement is a life of peace.
- Waiting for Jesus is a life of action.
Our life is a steppingstone to eternity. It is given as a space in Time to choose our Creator over creation. Our choices are made possible because of the offering Jesus gave. His gift was superior to even that of the saintly widow for Jesus gave his very life, body, and soul for all. We will all see Jesus one day according to the sermon text. That is what gives our life its sense of purpose.
Waiting for Justice is a Life of Hope
The Book of Hebrews provides imagery difficult to digest. It speaks of Christ entering heaven itself. I appreciate the post-modern religion of “science” mocks our belief in heaven. Yet they are proving how it exists! Their exploration of multiple dimensions and existence in and outside of Time as we know it underscores the accuracy of Scripture.
Heaven is another dimension. It is a literal place. Its beings are of a substance not unlike ours. The Bible speaks of the “flesh” of humans and “flesh” of angels. Their existence in the spiritual realm is not a fantasy but a yet-to-be understood alternative reality.
Jesus was able to pass between the dimensions of heaven and earth. In fact, Scripture indicates that the earthly sanctuary built under Moses’ instruction was “a mere copy of the true one.” The true sanctuary is in heaven, and it is in that place of worship where Jesus sprinkled the mercy seat of God. Jesus entered the throne room of heaven and earth, providing an offering for all; all time, all people, all dimension.
It was a one-time event. It was not something caught up in a time-loop that made it an eternal transaction; it was something that transcended time. Jesus appeared “in the presence of God on our behalf.”
Have you ever looked back at your wedding photos? They bring back emotions of joy and family. You remember the music and food. What made that day so special was the fact it was a one-time event. You both will not marry each other again! You only do it once.
That is the point. The reason you had a big event was because you do not get married every month or every week. You marry your spouse just once. The reception that follows impresses upon your mind for years afterward. It was a significant experience. It is a once-in-a-lifetime event.
The book of Hebrews is stressing that the death of Jesus happened ‘once and for all’.
It was precisely something that happened once. It could not and should not be repeated. This is central to the way in which Jesus’ sacrifice is ‘better’ than those which were regularly offered by the priests in the Temple, under the regulations of the old covenant.NRSV Bible For Everyone Commentary on 9:23-28.
We have a life of hope because Jesus provided a means that transcends humanity and provides forgiveness of sins and life after the human body expires. Jesus entered heaven itself and sprinkled his blood on the mercy seat. The act of purification was not to cleanse heaven from sin but rather to prepare it for sinners.As we wait for justice to be served; as we anticipate the coming of Jesus; as we look for righteousness prevail on earth, realise that our
Mary, the brother of Lazarus, comprehended this life principle. As her brother’s decomposing body laid in the grave, she proclaimed, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:32). All Saints Day is a celebration of Christ’s resurrection power experienced on earth.
Jesus’ sacrifice manifests God’s love for us. He is preparing a place for us to live in eternity that has no sin, no sickness, no sadness.
And that brings me to the second point from our passage:
Waiting for Judgement is a Life of Peace
Hebrews 9:27 states: it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgment.
The truth from Scripture is expressed daily in our conversations – often unknowingly:
- “His time was up.”
- “It was her time to go.”
- “We only live once.”
As we enjoy the celebrations of Diwali with our Indian friends and neighbours, let us also remember that life is not cyclic. There is no reincarnation that repeats itself until you reach perfection. You have only one life to choose Christ. Jesus reached perfection and offers his life to you. Accept his blood and not that of literal animals or figurative sacrifices to Light. Jesus is the only way to heaven.We die once and it is followed by judgment. When your relationship with God is one in Christ, waiting for judgement is a life of peace. Your life does not have to be filled with weary or dread. The Judge is your Heavenly Father! Your Advocate, Jesus Christ, is your Brother.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his people
and God himself will be with them;
he will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Death will be no more;
mourning and crying and pain will be no more,
for the first things have passed away.”
And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.Revelation 21:1-6a (NRSV)
One of the great martyrs in early church history was a woman named Perpetua. She was a noblewoman who lived in the 200’s A.D. She embraced Jesus Christ as her Saviour. Her father tried to dissuade the 22-year-old who was also a new mother. She would not deny her faith. She was led to the centre of an amphitheatre, singing Psalms as she went. The cruelty of Christ-haters tortured and then killed her in a crowded arena. She was faithful to the end.
Ah, most valiant and blessed martyrs! Truly are you called and chosen for the glory of Christ Jesus our Lord! And any man who exalts, honors, and worships his glory should read for the consolation of the Church these new deeds of heroism which are no less significant than the tales of old. For these new manifestations of virtue will bear witness to one and the same Spirit who still operates, and to God the Father almighty, to his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom is splendour and immeasurable power for all the ages. Amen.From The Acts of the Christian Martyrs, by Herbert Musurillo (Oxford University Press, 1972). https://www.ssfp.org/pdf/The_Martyrdom_of_Saints_Perpetua_and_Felicitas.pdf
In closing, I want to say:
Waiting for Jesus is a Life of Action.
You will notice how our sermon text ends:
So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin, but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. Hebrews 9:27
Our Church Calendar upon which the Lectionary is built, culminates to the Reign of Christ. The Reign of Christ Sunday is only two weeks away. We will then repeat the calendar and start the countdown to Christmas through the season of Advent.
The Advent of Christ is two-fold: a coming to earth ‘to deal with sin’ and a return to earth ‘to save those… waiting for him’.
The climax of the calendar is the Reign of Christ. That is when heaven comes to earth. That is when justice and judgment will prevail.
Our text today hails the return of Jesus Christ. As we eagerly wait for him, we are to be working out our faith. Those caught up in prophesy/conspiracy theories have the wrong focus. They look at world events and anticipate the coming of anti-Christ. The deception means many saints are not serving as they ought. You were saved to serve, not sit and wait for Christ’s return.
Waiting for Jesus is a life of action. It understands that the judgement to come is bearable because of Jesus’ sacrifice made once for all. Our lives our meant to be lived with hope, not despair. Stop listening to prophets who pretend to know the time of the End when even God’s own Son does not know!
Start working for the Kingdom. Commit your life to the Cause of Christ. Serve through your local church in the community. Your life has purpose and meaning. There is hope for the hopeless; help for the helpless; love for the unloved; charity for the needy.Are you eager to see Jesus? Life is so short. You will face Christ soon. In the context of eternity, 70 years on earth is but a vapour. The smoke soon rises and dissipates into thin air. It is gone. And so too will your life on earth soon disappear. Determine to do something with your life. Commit yourself to a cause that is Christ honouring. Embrace your life as something valuable. It is a divine gift. YOU are a gift from God to humanity. Give your life to Christ and experience peace and joy while acting out your faith.
Prayer of Application
God of Reconciliation,
On the cross, you reconciled the world to yourself through the death of Christ. All things were made new in his obedience. As we move through our day, remind us that we, too, are called to be reconcilers in this world. Help us to share your hope in all that we do.
In the name of Jesus Christ,
You can watch the sermon being delivered in recording of full worship service on our YouTube Channel here.