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04.15.18 Corrupt no More Acts 13:30-43 Sermon Summary

by on April 16, 2018

Note: This sermon was delivered in first person as David.

So I don’t mean to frighten you, rising up from the grave and all. But you know me. I’m David. I’m the little shepherd boy who killed the giant Philistine Goliath with a sling shot. By the way, I looked nothing like Michelangelo’s statue. I actually resembled more the depiction by Donatello.

I was the court musician to Saul, and as a song writer, I was also a psalmist. Some of my Psalms have received some interesting interpretations. This happens, especially with sacred texts. They get picked up and applied to new situations, and their meaning changes.

Take Psalm 16 for example. I wrote it out of a personal struggle—I can’t even remember now what it was. I started by calling out to God for help: God—and only our God—not other gods, like others did: Offering a sacrifice here, making a pilgrimage there, in the hopes that one of these gods would help, hedging my bets. No. I went to our God and our God only.

Then I remembered my blessings. And I professed being open to God’s guidance—even through my dreams! Then I continued by praising God for not abandoning me to death and not letting me see the decay of death. Instead, I wrote about God guiding me in the paths of life.

Psalm 16 is only 11 verses. It’s a good Psalm for guiding your life. . .

Anyway, the author of Acts really liked verse 10: “God, you will not let your holy one see decay.” Or some of your translations say God’s holy one will not “experience corruption.”

Well, eventually I did die. And my body did see the decay of death. But Acts applied the verse to Jesus, my descendant. He also died. But he was resurrected by God so that his body does not see decay or experience corruption.

Acts thinks I saw that coming. In a sermon in the second chapter Peter calls me a prophet. I have to say I really didn’t see it coming that way. I was writing about my life. But sacred texts get interpreted and applied to new situations.

I guess after the resurrection, everything looks different. Remember those two disciples on the way to Emmaus? There they are grieving Jesus’ death and confused about reports of his resurrection and along comes a stranger who interprets the Bible for them around these events of death and resurrection. Then, when it appears he’s going to keep traveling on, they invite him to stay. He agrees, blesses bread, breaks it, and their eyes are opened. They recognize him! It’s the resurrected Jesus!

They start seeing new meaning in suffering, new meaning in doing good, new meaning in death, and new meaning in sacred texts. Just like Acts does with my Psalm 16. I don’t mind.

Paul says that what God promised long ago to his ancestors—to me—God  has begun to fulfill in Jesus’ resurrection.  Well, if that’s true it really is good news, because God only intends good things for his children, and God is faithful to bring them about.

In my day, we thought that meant in this life. So we prayed to live long enough to see it. But by Jesus’ day, they were envisioning a life after death. And there, in the afterlife, after our resurrection, God could sort things out and fulfill his promises.

When will that resurrection take place? It still hasn’t happened. The Bible says God is patiently waiting, giving as many people a chance to turn to God, not wanting anyone to perish.

But with Jesus’ resurrection, Paul says, we know it’s going to happen. Jesus is the first fruit of resurrection, but everyone else will follow. And then God’s intention for the creation will be fulfilled: Everything is set free from the power of sin; the judgment of death is cancelled—for everyone, from the first Adam on down!

This is how Acts interprets my psalm “God will not let his holy one see decay.” I wrote it about my own hope of deliverance in this life. Acts applied it to Jesus’ resurrection. That is good news indeed, and I hope you believe it. It’ll give you hope and comfort and strength in the face of injustice, but also in suffering, and especially in death.

But please don’t forget my other point in that Psalm. I trusted God that if I was faithful to him and didn’t pursue other gods, God would keep me safe and guide me and lead me in the path of life. This is another way I wouldn’t see decay.

As I’ve said, “corruption” is the word your Bible uses. Today that word has primarily a political meaning. You talk about “corrupt politicians” and a “corrupt justice system.” What is true, just, and right is bribed away, distorted, and bent.

This is the “corruption” I don’t want you to forget. And neither does Paul. In his letter to the Galatian churches (6:8) he writes, “If you sow to your own flesh, you will reap corruption from the flesh; but if you sow to the Spirit, you will reap eternal life from the Spirit.”

Listen, you will experience corruption if satisfy your pride, if pursue your self-centered ambitions. You’ll wander from the right path, from the path of life, from Jesus’ narrow road and small gate. Your spiritual life will be corrupted.

But it doesn’t have to be if you remember that Jesus is resurrected. He’s your high priest. He’s praying for you right now. He’s also with you by the Spirit—not just with you, IN you. You CAN be faithful to God. You CAN follow God’s guidance. You CAN overcome your ego. You CAN walk the narrow path and enter the small gate. You CAN avoid the corruption of your spiritual life by remembering Jesus’ resurrection and God’s promises being fulfilled in it.

Remember your sins are forgiven and your life in God begins now in this life and continues in the life to come.

Now I’m going back to bodily decay. I’m waiting for the general resurrection just like you. Let us keep faith until it happens, trusting God’s promise of corruption no more. Amen.

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