At Gateway Church in Austin, John Burke shared a powerful message on how every season points us towards the love of Jesus. Here are some of the thoughts he shared:
“Easter celebrates the amazing story of God’s loving pursuit of the people he created. God has demonstrated that this is not just myth or just a story. God reveals this message of hope into history and put reminders into the seasons of life – not just summer, fall, winter and spring, but the spiritual seasons we go through. No matter what season of life you’re in, God offers hope for you today.
Remember the summers of life when you were young and so alive? Summer represents life, freedom, excitement, adventure, friendship, and love.
Our memories are actually better than the time really was because it’s not actually those childhood summers we’re longing for – it’s something even better. Our Nostalgia is a divine echo of a life that we were created for. Nostalgic summer-time memories are merely a shadow of the real thing God created us for – a shadow of what’s to come.
When you think about the best times of life—do you think about God? Ironically, most people don’t. Instead of seeking God out of gratitude, we develop an arrogant attitude like, “I don’t need God—I’m doing fine.” Or we think that we don’t want God messing with our life because we fear He’d kill the joy, the freedom, the good times of life.
The message of Easter is that God is the creator of life – all the joy, laughter, love in your soul, etc.. All the good things we love about life come from the Creator. We have Him to thank for anything we’ve ever loved about life – even the things we misuse or abuse. In Him, the Endless Summer is alive forever.
God’s hope was written into history, reverberated in Every Season of life. The Dead Sea Scrolls (found in 1947 and written 200-300 before Christ was born) contains the full Easter story written in advance so we would know it’s from God.
“There will be a time in the future when Galilee…will be filled with glory. The people who walk in darkness will see a great light…For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity.” (Isaiah 9:2-7, 680 BCE)]
700 years after Isaiah first penned these words, Jesus taught throughout Galilee saying, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 Jesus came to reveal that God is the Source of Life and all we love, and He longs for us to experience the summers of life in increasing measure every day.
Jesus was full of life—so much so, many people who seemed far from God were magnetically drawn to the life and hope they saw in Jesus. Because of this, the stuffy religious leaders called Jesus names: “‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’ But wisdom is shown to be right by its results.” Matthew 11:19 Jesus and his followers didn’t crash parties to kill them, they rescued them. They did life to the full, yet Jesus never sinned. He showed the path to experience the fullness of life without turning away from God.
Jesus taught us how good God is. “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.” Matthew 7:9-11 God wants to give you good gifts—not just external gifts that never satisfy, internal gifts of love, joy, peace, patience, self-control – Real Life from the inside out.
Are you in the Summer of life right now? That’s awesome! Good gifts are coming your way, good things have happened in your life. You’re loving life—celebrate it! Do you thank God and seek God since He’s the Source of all you love in life? That’s what God hopes we will do, but that’s not what we usually do. Often it’s the Septembers of life are when we realize something’s wrong. It’s then that we consider maybe we need God.
We wish that summer could last forever, but it never does. Not in the seasons, not in our circumstances. Autumn comes…with beauty, and warning—whispering, “Prepare-winter’s coming.” The fall of life is this mixture of goodness and beauty, yet with this long slow warning that God has written into the script of every life.
Easter’s message is despite the trials, the struggles, the decay of life—we can find great hope. Scripture says,
“Our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us…For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” Romans 8:18-21
What’s Life really about? Love—It’s the birthplace of an Eternal loving Family for God. The only one problem-love requires freedom—that brings with it the real possibility of evil and suffering.
The message of Easter is that God reached out to us, to bring any willing person into right-relationship with her Creator. In Isaiah 53 God foretold how He would reveal His Arm—a person we could relate to who would experience his own Autumn:
“Who has believed our message and to whom has the Arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground…He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.” (Isaiah 53:1-3, 680 BCE)
Jesus revealed a 3D slice of God—not all of God because that’s beyond comprehension—the arm of God reaching toward us in relationship. Jesus experienced all our trials, tribulations, temptations. He lost his father, he was rejected and despised, his friends betrayed him, he was tempted in every way you’re tempted. No one understands you more. Jesus said “In this world you will have troubles (the Autumns will come), but take heart—I’ve overcome the world.” [And I can work all things together for good for those who love me]
God’s Easter promise is that He can work all of it together for your good, when we offer it all up to him He can make something Eternally beautiful out of the junk of our lives. Will you let Him before Winter comes?
Winter is the loss of all that’s beautiful and good, but with God death doesn’t signal the end, but a new beginning.
You don’t have to stay in the winter of life. It comes to every life, but it’s not meant to be your final destination. The winter of life is not just old age, though some might not face it until old age. Winter is the darkest time, the complete loss, the grief, the divorce, the final curtain on your dreams. Winter is a pivotal time – a time we either turn to God and find New Life, or we turn from God and our hearts grow harder, colder, bitter.
Why not just bypass winter all together? Why can’t we go from Fall to Spring to Summer? Because God loves us so much, He will do whatever it takes (short of forcing us) to wake us up to reality so we will Live Eternally with Him. Sometimes, in our stubborn pride, we have to hit rock bottom before we’ll ever look up. Sometimes God has to let us destroy our lives before we realize we’re not the center of the universe. Sometimes it’s only when we feel like we’re dying that we are willing to humble ourselves and live. We quit playing God, and let God BE God of our lives.
Jesus experienced the winter of life far worse than you or I ever will. Isaiah and many other prophets foretold that horrible Friday when Jesus was nailed to a cross: Isaiah continues in chapter 53:
“See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were appalled at him—his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness-so he will sprinkle many nations…He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all…He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death….” (Isaiah 52:13-15, 53:5-9, 680 BCE)
Jewish and Roman historians confirm that Jesus was said to be this Messiah, did surprising works, and was nailed to a cross.
We ask “Does God care, Does God understand? Why doesn’t God do something about all the evils, all the suffering, all the brokenness? God says, “I did—I entered into your poverty, I experienced your pain, I felt your rejection, I bore your sorrow, I took on the condemnation for all your wrongs, I purchased your peace, by my wounds you can be healed. Because of Easter, all who turn back to God in faith can be forgiven, restored into right relationship with your Creator. This solves the human problem because “there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1 We don’t have to fear God’s punishment, his condemnation. We can find confidence to let God lead us even as we’re failing and falling because he’s already paid our debt. Now in gratitude and love, we can let God guide us to become all He created us to be—loving, sacrificing, giving and forgiving people.
Spring is so beautiful, so promising, a new start, a new chance for a new life. Spring IS Resurrection – that which was dead lives again. God wrote the story of Resurrection into nature, but he also wrote it into Isaiah’s prophecy. Isaiah 53 continues: “Though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring [children] and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand. After he has suffered, he will see the light of lifeand be satisfied.” (Isaiah 53:10-11, 680 BCE) God foretold Jesus’ resurrection to help us see the Truth, and one day, all God’s children will live.
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?’ “ John 11:25-26 It’s a VERY important question—do you believe, will you trust?
Spring can come to your soul in midst of any season of life because God wants to fill you up with His New Life. He’s not only the all powerful Creator who controls history, he’s the person who created you to love him, reached out to you through Jesus so you could relate, who laid down his life so you could find New Life in him. What will you do with Jesus? Maybe you’re not sure, this is all new. If so, will you explore faith with us? Keep coming, go listen on our website to more messages like this on “Exploring Faith.”
If you’re a Christ follower in the summer of life will you fully follow Him in gratitude, or act like you don’t need him? If you’re in the autumn of life, will you trust in him to help you overcome, or go your own way? If you’re in the winter of life, will you let it harden your heart, or will you lean into his resurrection power to faithfully hold on, knowing spring is coming? Consider what season you’re in, and decide what you’re going to do with Jesus.