His Hallmarks: His Grace, Our Hope

Based Upon: John 20:19-31

 Sermon by Glen Dawursk, Jr.
November 9, 2003  
 www.yuthguy.com

 

Story: When I was a kid, my mom and dad collected old beer cans as a hobby; but I decided that was not a good idea for a youth minister to collect them, so I decided to collect Coke stuff instead.  Currently I have an office filled with coke collectables and an entire family room at home filled with coke stuff.  And I still have room for more in case anyone has anything they want to get rid of. 

One thing interesting about Coke is the shape of their classic bottle.  It all stemmed from the popularity of coke when it was created.  Many people tried to copy it and people became confused as to which was the “real thing.”  So the coke company created this trademark bottle design and began advertising it is the “real thing.” 

I.  The Hallmark is a standard identification on precious items.

    A.  Fine metals usually have “Hallmarks” on them:  initials, symbols, etc.

    B.  Done for two reasons:

1.  Started in the 1300 when King Edward of England made a law requiring precious
metals to have a guarantee of purity. He wanted to make sure it was pure silver – it is real!

2.  It tells what “hall” it came from or who made it.

In England a crest is often used” leopard’s head” London; castle: Edinburgh; a crown: Sheffield; an anchor: Birmingham; wheat sheaves: Chester.

 

II.     Today’s Text:  John 20:19-31

          A.  Thomas was not originally with the disciple’s when Jesus appeared on Easter.

            1.  “Unless I see the nail marks in His hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hands in His side, I will not believe it.”  Is this so unusual? He wanted to see it for himself.  Afterall

            2.  “Why did Moses spend 40 years in the wilderness?  Because the men wouldn’t stop and ask for directions.  A lot of us wouldn’t accept someone else’s word.

            3.  We all want to be sure. 

What state could Thomas have been from?  The “show me state” – Missouri. 
He needed to see the proof.  He needed to see the scars. 
He needed to see the Hallmarks.

            4.  In the early church there was a heresy called Docetism.

                   a.  Jesus did not die on the cross.

                   b.  Jesus did endure human pain.

                   c.  Jesus only “appeared” (Greek: doceo) or “seemed” to suffer. 

            5.  Thomas needed to be sure.  His “hope” rested on Jesus’ “scars – those Hallmarks of God’s Grace.  They would testify to Thomas that Jesus was really the savior.

 

        B.  A week later, Thomas saw Jesus.

          1.  “Put your fingers here…do not doubt but believe”

2.  Because of Jesus’ scars, Thomas’ response was “My Lord, my God.”  He recognized the Hallmarks.  He saw the hope for His eternity before Him.  For the first time, he felt God’s love, God’s grace in Jesus Christ.

3.  The risen Christ gave Thomas and gives us today Joy…

4. But too often we miss the “mark” totally! 

a.     Isn’t it amazing how Jesus desires to gives us His grace, but we often don’t want to receive it? 

b.    Or we miss it because our worldly vision fogs up our view of God and we just don’t see the grace God desires for us to have?  Especially at Thanks giving and Christmas time.  Satan desires to fog us of the real focus on God’s grace and on Jesus.

c.     Satan does not want us to feel God’s grace.  So sometimes we need to “seek” it out.   At Christmas we can not  depend upon the media  or the stores to show us God’s grace or to focus us on Jesus.

d.    While justification, the saving grace is a free gift from God, sometimes we need to participate in the sanctification or seeking process in our faith walk.

e.    Mathew 7:8 says: “For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”  How awesome to know that because of His grace, God desires to open doors for us – if we will just seek Him daily.

 

C.  Having God’s Grace gives us Joy and hope, but note, Jesus still had scars and it it doesn’t erase our scars either.  Even Paul had a thorn in his side, physical ailment which “bugged him” – but he said it was a constant reminder of the grace God had upon him.

     1.  The scares of our life are simply reminders of what Jesus endured for us and of how He helps us to endure.

     2.  I Peter 2:24: “by His wounds you have been healed.”

     3.  In turn, our lives – with our scars – become proof of Jesus and His grace to others.

     4.  The scars give us hope – for they are the hallmarks of His ownership.

 

D.  God’s Grace and our hope are based solely upon the empty cross and the open tomb.

     1.  As the hymnist says:  “Our Hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness.”

     2.  At our baptism, Jesus’ blood marks us as His own and from that time our faith and life are constantly being “shaped by His hands.”  But often our Hallmark – or what I like to call, our “Grace-mark” becomes tarnished and hidden behind the world’s “hopelessness” --  Especially at this time of the year. 

But I ask, what does Grace-mark look like? Is your “grace mark” hidden?

a.  Some churches show the crucifix with Jesus still on the cross.  I prefer Jesus not on the cross, for we are a “resurrection” church all year long.  We focus on that holiday above all the rest.  That is why we have worship on Sundays as it reminds us of Easter every week. 

WHY?  Because if He were still dead, we would have no hope for the future.

b.  But some people live as if Jesus were still on the cross.

Is he still on your cross or is Jesus off your cross? 
Is He dead or alive in your life?  Where is your hope?

 

     Story:  The school system in a large city had a program to help children keep up with their schoolwork during stays in the city’s hospitals.  One day, a teacher who was assigned to the program received a routine call asking her to visit a particular child.  She took the child’s name and room number and talked briefly with the child’s regular class teacher.  “We’re studying nouns and adverbs in his class now,” the regular teacher said,” and I’d be grateful if you could help him understand them so he doesn’t fall too far behind.”  The hospital program teacher went to see the boy that afternoon.  No one had mentioned to her that the boy had been badly burned and was in great pain.  Upset at the sight of the boy, she stammered as she told him, “I’ve been sent by your school to help you with nouns and adverbs.”  When she left she felt she hadn’t accomplished much.  But the next day, a nurse asked her, “What did you do to that boy?”  The teacher felt she must have done something wrong and began to apologize, “No, no” said the nurse.  “You don’t know what I mean.  We’ve been worried about that little boy, but ever since yesterday, his whole attitude has changed.  He’s fighting back, responding to treatment.  It’s as though he’s decided to live.”  Two weeks later the boy explained that he had completely given up hope until the teacher arrived.  Everything changed when he came to a simple realization.  He expressed it this way: “ They wouldn’t send a teacher to work on nouns and adverbs with a dying boy, would they?”  The teacher reflected hope.  What do you reflect?  Is Jesus still on the cross for you?  Or have you felt his scars and seen His life?

     Claire Boothe Luce once said “there are no hopeless situations; there are only people who have grown hopeless about them.”  In the same way, I would say there are no “graceless situations – only people who do not seek His grace.”

3.  We need to live in the grace and “hope” of things to come.  Thomas knew that.  He wanted proof of Jesus’ life because He knew that His eternal life depended on it.

     Story:  Through hope, a self-made millionaire Eugene Land greatly changed the lives of a sixth-grade class in East Harlem.  Mr. Lang had been asked to speak to a class of 59 sixth-graders.  What could he say to inspire these students, most of whom would drop out of school?  He wondered how he could get these predominantly black and Puerto Rican children even to look at him.  Scrapping his notes, he decided to speak to them from his heart.  “Stay in school,” he admonished,” and I’ll help pay the college tuition for every one of you.”  At that moment the lives of these students changed.  For the first time they had hope.  Said on students, “I had something to look forward to, something waiting for me.  It was a golden feeling.”  Nearly 90 percent of that class went on to graduate from high school.

 

     4.  The Gospel message of Christ is not just that He rose, but also that he endured the scars and sufferings of our life and He grace gives us hope that we too can endure.

 

E.  Thomas went on to become a great apostle for Jesus.

     1.  He did not hide in the room behind a locked door all his life.  No.  When He witnessed Christ’s resurrection and touched His scars.  Thomas boldly took the risk of faith and responded with his life -- he became a martyr. 

     2.  In a Rebecca St. James song her 8 year old brother says the following words: “Unless you have something to die for, you haven’t really lived.”

     3.  How do you respond to Jesus’ scars?  His life, His hope, His grace?

     4.  Someone once said,
“You may be the only Jesus some people will ever see.” 
Will people see His “grace-mark” on you?

 

     Story:  As Vice President, George Bush represented the U.S. at the funeral of former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev.  Bush was deeply moved by a silent protest carried out by Brezhnev’s widow.  She stood motionless by the coffin until seconds before it was closed.  Then, just as the soldiers touched the lid, Brezhnev’s wife performed an act of great courage and hope, a gesture that must surely rank as one of the most profound acts of civil disobedience ever committed: She reached down and made the sign of the cross on her husband’s chest.  There in the citadel of secular, atheistic power, the wife of the man who had run it all hoped that her husband was wrong.  She hoped that there was another life, and that that life was best represented by Jesus who died on the cross, and that the same Jesus might yet have mercy on her husband.

 

III. Conclusion: 

We all have scars.  Some physical, most invisible – but there never the less.  We all have struggles.  We all have daily problems.  Being a Christian is simply not easy.  And to make it worse, Satan is out to get us. 

What comfort it is to know that Jesus has been through it all. 
The Bible tells us that His grace is sufficient. 

When I think of the concept of “Hallmark”, I can’t help but conclude with the Hallmark greeting card company’s slogan: note how it applies perfectly here.  God truly did send us “His very best.”

Blessing:  May God empower you with His Spirit to daily live with the joy of His birth and our re-birth, may the hope from His resurrection give us life today, and may the hallmarks or grace-marks of Jesus’ death be your strength as we endure life’s hardships from now until heaven.  Amen