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Happily Ever After

• Greg Boyd

This sermon challenged us to think about how our “story” ends. We long for justice, meaning, “happy ever afters.” As Christians, our story is found in Jesus, the reality to which all great mythology and story telling points. Compare your relationship with Christ to the greatest love stories ever told, and you won’t find a more dramatic, sacrificial story…and it ends with a big “happy ever after”!

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Greg began this Easter message with a biblical insight. Many people in Jesus’ time are portrayed as seeing Jesus without really recognizing who he is. In Luke 24, we find two men walking on the road with Jesus, and they are discussing the events that had just occurred. Jesus was the main character in their conversation, but they did not recognize him as he walked with them down the road! And then, suddenly, their eyes were opened and they saw Jesus for who he really was. Jesus vanished, and upon reflection, they said to each other that their hearts were burning as they went, even though they did not understand. This sermon is about that burning of the human heart, that longing for salvation that we all have. So much of our basic human expression testifies to this inner desire that we are designed with.

After a quick review of the movie “Titanic,” Greg illustrated how the beauty of the story is in the ending. The end makes the story worth telling. Rose is willing to give up her riches to be with Jack; Jack is willing to sacrifice all to save Rose from death. It is a beautiful ending. Poets and storytellers have been offering stories like this for as long as humans have been around.

Greg proposed that we ask ourselves, “How does our story end?” Is there a happy ever after for us? Our hearts refuse to believe that the story ends with mere destruction. We long for justice, meaning, happily ever after, love to conquer all. To fall short of this makes us question whether the story is worth telling. As Christians our story is found in Jesus. In Christ we find the reality to which all great mythology and story telling points. Christ completes what other stories approximate and anticipate. This is a story like no other.

Love stories are marked by a gulf between two lovers that must be crossed, a sacrifice that must be made, and the satisfaction of love expressed and reciprocated in the end. In our Christian story, the greatest gulf is crossed, the greatest sacrifice made, the greatest love expressed. Is there a greater gulf than that between life and death? Christ died and defeated death. Is there a greater gulf than that between God and a human being? Christ became a human being to redeem every human being. Is there a greater gulf than that between God’s Holiness and our sin? Christ became sin to destroy sin. Is there a greater threat to our loyalty to God as King than our service to the kingdom of darkness? Christ entered Satan’s domain to overthrow the kingdom of darkness and make us heirs to the true King. Is there a greater gulf than that between heaven and hell? Christ came down from heaven and entered hell to make a way for all to reside in heaven eternally. In all of these ways and more, Jesus’ story completes all myth, all love stories, all hopes.

Not only is this the greatest story ever told, it is better than a story because it is actually true! Greg alluded to how this story fits the historical evidence best. It explains prophecy best. It makes the most philosophical sense. It’s the only story that explains the human longings we have, this burning in our hearts for something more. Where did this longing come from? If Christianity is true, God gave you this longing which God wants to fill.

Is all of this wishful, naïve optimism? Let’s ask this question differently. Who could have dreamed up such a story as this? Reconsider the brief summary of the gulfs crossed, the sacrifices made, and the unity established. If a human being thought this up and it were not true, then it is a terrible blasphemy! Who are we to presume such kinship with God!?! This could never have entered into our hearts and minds…it surpasses the greatest stories on earth, but only if it is true and revealed by God to us. And this is indeed what we believe.

Our hearts burn for this, all of our dreams, hopes, longings, our search for love, pursuit of joy, all of this is a search for the Jesus of this story. Is this your story?

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Topics: Defense of Christian Faith, Salvation

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Focus Scripture:

  • Luke 24:13-35

    13Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven milesa]">[a] from Jerusalem. 14They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16but they were kept from recognizing him.

    17He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

    They stood still, their faces downcast. 18One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

    19"What things?” he asked.

    “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. 20The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; 21but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. 22In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning 23but didn't find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. 24Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.”

    25He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26Did not the Christb]">[b] have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

    28As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. 29But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

    30When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. 31Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. 32They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

    33They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together 34and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” 35Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

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