VBS Sermonettes 2013
Note – This year’s VBS theme was “Road Trip.” These sermonettes are based on 3 of the accounts that were studied during the week.
Sermonette #1 – Numbers 21:4-9
As every parent knows there are 4 words that you can expect to hear again and again and again, if you go on a long road trip with small children, they are: Are we there yet? Since living in Bemidji my family and I have made a number of trips back and forth from Wisconsin to see our families. It’s about a 10 hour trip to get there. It is a given that at some point along the way we will hear those words: Are we there yet? Sometimes we’ll hear them after only an hour and know that the trip is going to be a very, very long trip J!
Well, if there’s anyone in the history of the world who could be asking the question: “Are we there yet?” It would be the OT Israelites. God had powerfully led them out of the land of Egypt through a series of 10 plagues, parted the Red Sea for them to go through, led them all the way to the border of the Promised Land. They were right there, then they sent in 12 spies to search out the land, they all came back with the report that the land was great –flowing with milk and honey – but only 2 of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, said that they could take it. 10 spies said, “The people are too strong!” And unfortunately the people, in general, believed the 10 unbelieving spies. At this point God’s patience ran out and He declared that the people would have to wander for 40 years until the unbelieving generation had died off.
Can you believe that? They were right there! Their journey was just about over! But their unbelief caused their journey to be elongated by 40 years!
Well, 40 years passed and now God led them to about the place they had been, but this time He directs them east to pass through the nation of Edom. They ask for permission to go through their land, but permission is denied. That meant they now had to travel hundreds of miles to the south, the opposite direction of where they were going, then travel east, then travel back north all in order to go around Edom. And, mind you, this is all on foot and through some very rough and harsh desert. “Are we there yet?” Nope! And we’re going in the opposite direction than we need to go!
And knowing that might help us understand their complaint, but it doesn’t make it right or ok. They complained about their “miserable food” but really their complaint was addressed directly to God, it was an attack on God.
And when you or I complain in our life, that’s in essence exactly what we are doing too. We are attacking God, attacking His goodness, attacking His providing care for us, attacking his plan for us, attacking his love.
So, complaining is actually a spiritual problem. And since the Israelites were complaining that meant they had a spiritual problem and God had to address it and the way he addressed it was by sending poisonous snakes among them. And God’s plan worked! The people came to Moses in repentance and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.”
But God had a better idea. Instead of simply taking the snakes away, God had Moses make a snake, put it up on a pole, and anyone who is bitten can look at the snake on the pole and live. “What?!” Sounds crazy! But it worked.
The same is true of God’s plan of salvation. When Jesus, God’s Son, was hung on a cross, every sin of every single human who has ever lived was hung on him. When we look to Jesus on that cross it reminds of our sins, similarly when the Israelites looked at the snake on the pole it reminded them of their problem, their sin. So you might not think it would work, but it did!
Just like those people when they were bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake and lived, so you an I, who are infested with the horrible poison of sin, when we look in faith at Jesus as our Savior, we live, we live eternally, we live under God’s blessing, we live knowing God takes care of us always, we live free from a life of complaining! What wondrous love of our Savior God!
Sermonette #2 – Mark 5:21-43
We sometimes refer to our lives being kind of like a journey or a walk along a path. We “journey” through our lives, we make decisions that lead us down different paths, we go down roads that bring times of happiness or sadness, times of pain and challenges. Some people have a short journey through life, others a long journey through life. But in the end unless Jesus returns soon each one of us faces the same end of our earthly journey: death. And for many people death is a scary, scary thing. Why do you suppose? Well, people like to have control of our their, but death? Who knows how it will happen, when it will happen, and many in our world don’t know what will happen after death. Some people fear death because they know the terrible things they’ve done in life and know exactly what they ought to get after death.
Then there’s Jesus. He comes to settle our fears. How does Jesus view death? To him it’s a simple, plain, non-terrifying, everyday, peaceful thing. To him death is nothing but a sleep. But how? How can Jesus deal with something so terrible as something comforting and peaceful?
Jesus can come, stare death right in the face and say, “Talitha Koum.” And death must obey, it must give up its customer, it must release its slimy grip. The girl and death obeyed. Immediately she got up and started walking around! But Jesus didn’t just have the power over the death of other people’s death, did he? He, Himself, died, his body was placed in a grave. But death, the final enemy, couldn’t win, couldn’t subdue him. Death itself had to submit to His will – Easter morning He burst from the tomb with all power and all glory!
Someday, if Jesus doesn’t return soon, your earthly life’s journey will come to an end, your road trip will be about over. But even when death is staring you in the face remember what Jesus has done to death: He’s transformed it into something sweet, peaceful, and restful. And even though God might not raise you back to physical life after you die, he will raise you to eternal life! Thank the Lord for such a Savior who has power over your entire life’s journey, beginning, middle, and end! Amen
Sermonette #3 – Luke 24:50-53, Acts 1:6-11
So, if you’re going on a long trip, what do you need? Well, you need supplies for the trip, safety for the trip, and you also need to know where you’re going. And if you’ve never been to the place where you’re going, it would sure be nice to have someone who’s been there before to go with you, right?
Well, at the very end of Jesus’ earthly ministry he took his disciples up on the mount of Olives, just outside of Jerusalem and he ascended before their eyes. Jesus earthly journey had ended, but the disciples journey was just beginning.
So, Jesus gave them something for their journey. What did he give them? He gave them the picture of Him ascending into heaven. Just picture it. First, He lifted His hands up to bless them and what did they see on the hands? The nail marks reminding them of how he went to the cross and paid for their sins in full! And notice that He never put His hands down, they remained up in blessing. Then He powerfully ascended into the sky, Jesus, whom they follow is Almighty, all-powerful God! Then a cloud hid him from their sight, no he didn’t leave them, they just couldn’t see him anymore. And someday He would come back and take them to be with Him forever. So what did the disciples have for their journey? The Almighty God to go with them, the very God who had forgiven all of their sins, who’s hands were up blessing them and who would come back to take them to heaven forever!
Sometimes our journey through life can seem long, can seem burdensome, can be tiring, can be frustrating, can be painful, can be exhausting, and can leave us feeling discouraged, lost, confused, and defeated.
But you know what? You have all of the same blessings as the apostles for your earthly journey. The Almighty God is with you (watch as Jesus ascends into the sky). Jesus loves you dearly and has forgiven you (look at the nail marks in his hands). Jesus will work all things out for your good and blessing (look at his hands still up in blessing). Jesus remains with you (see the cloud hide him). And Jesus has already been to the place where we want to finally arrive – heaven. And he knows the way perfectly.
So, “Are we there yet?” No, not yet. But someday we will be. And as we journey through life, we journey with confidence, because Jesus is with us, the same Jesus who was lifted up on the cross for us, the same Jesus who had power to raise people from the dead, and the same Jesus who ascended in victory. No, we’re not there yet. But with Jesus at our side, we WILL arrive there, in heaven, when the time is just right! Amen.