As I closed Easter Sunday and locked up the doors, I felt a mixture of relief and also a great joy. He is Risen! He is Risen indeed! This truth comforts in the darkest parts of life, but also challenges when things are status quo. Living a life that is wrapped up in Easter is what being a Christian is all about.
Often, my sermons become challenging to myself. All the relief and joy had a tinge of self-analyzing. My entire sermon was on Mary Magdelene experiencing Jesus when she heard the Risen Lord say her name:
Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
After many Sundays I am left hearing the echo of my own words. Do I know Jesus’ voice? How do I know I am following Him?
I believe there is one true evidence of knowing Jesus’ voice: the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. John 16 is a chapter that there wasn’t time to give attention to the theology of the Holy Spirit in this sermon series. But the Holy Spirit is the third part of God. It is literally a helper, a guide, a giver of gifts to those who have committed their hearts and lives to Jesus.
There are hundreds of stories of people having their lives transformed and acting completely different when giving everything over to Jesus. Of people acting bizarrely when becoming a Christian. This is the initial work of the Spirit. But it is the Spirit that continues the relationship as the link between the believer and God and Jesus.
In modern terms, the Holy Spirit is the GPS system that unites two different persons across great differences, and moves them closer and closer through a great journey. With different people, the journey is shorter or longer depending on life circumstances. But the Holy Spirit works!
Do I know Jesus’ voice? The answer is a resounding, “YES!”. Just like Mary’s response, I can hear Jesus’ calling of my voice and I answer. It is the work of the Spirit that makes hearing possible.
This year, it is my prayer that you as an individual and we as Hope Church become attuned to Jesus’ voice through the work of the Spirit. And be ready for a longer sermon series on the Spirit of God!
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Scott Martin is pastor at Hope Community Church.