At Gateway Church in Austin, we celebrated Easter with the theme “Lay It Down.”
John Burke spoke at the McNeil Campus, and I spoke at the South Campus.
You can work through the Next Steps here.
Here’s some of what we shared:
Well, today is Easter—billions of people across the globe celebrate the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Right here at Gateway Church over 57 nations represented—why has this man Jesus had such influence, He was born into a poor, oppressed Jewish minority, in Roman occupied Palestine, never had wealth, power, political office, never fought a war or tried to rule or control people, taught us that Loving God and Loving People summed up all God commands. Yet his influence is arguably greater today, 2000 years later, than any other human who’s ever lived. Today, I want you to consider why Easter should matter to you. Because Isaiah said God wants to unburden you and me and set us free from the spiritual slavery that keeps us stuck….
What if the whole point of Easter was to convince you that God loves you so much, he would give everything a human could imagine, his life, to set you free from the excess baggage we all carry. You don’t need the pride, or fear, or worries, the people pleasing, insecurities—you can lay them down. The addictions, harmful habits, and hurts can all be healed—you can be free of the guilt, condemnation, and shame that plagues you. That’s what I want us to consider this Easter—what spiritual burdens did you carry in here today? The whole point of Jesus life, death, and resurrection was so you could lay all that down and be free today. Would you like to be unburdened? Consider that as we relook at that first Easter through they eyes of Thomas, Peter, and Martha—Jesus closest followers—carrying burdens just like us….
What do you do with your guilt, shame, feelings of condemnation? We all get them because we all fail. What God wants is that we would admit our need for his forgiveness, and let Him come be God, so we can love and follow His leadership. Judas didn’t do that. He betrayed Jesus, felt guilt and remorse, and he could have been forgiven. But he believed those condemning, accusing thoughts saying “God can’t forgive you—you’re life is worthless” and killed himself. Don’t believe those lies. No one is too far gone, or too bad for God’s infinite love and forgiveness. Peter did the same thing as Judas, betrayed Jesus. But he turned to God for mercy and forgiveness and help—that’s all God needs. Jesus told Peter he’d be a rock—he’d help lead his church—he did. God sees who you will become, even before your failures. All he needs is For us to lay it down—all our wrongs, all our guilts, all those shaming accusations—he wants to take away that burden. Will you let him today?
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
– Matthew 11:28-30
Maybe you’re life is falling apart, you’re powerless, addicted, you’ve betrayed God or others, you’ve blown it too bad. The message of Easter—God asks, “Will you receive my forgiveness and Get back in the game of life with Me?” Because what God wants most is relationship—“Do you love me?”
Saved=set right relationship with God. We don’t work or do good to be loved and adopted by God—that’s a gift. You ever gotten a gift? What did you have to do for it? Nothing—just receive it with gratitude and use it. Relationship with God is a gift—if you want it, you can have it. If you don’t, he won’t force you. But God sees you as His Masterpiece—His work of art he created in His mind before you ever did anything good or bad—see You are valuable to God just because He created you. Relationship with God is a gift, purchased by Christ that first Easter–we don’t have prove we’re good enough—we don’t have to first keep the 10 commandments, or the Buddhist 8 fold path, or the 5 Pillars, or work off our bad Karma—we just receive the gift of relationship through Christ….
What’s burdening you this Easter? Do you see how amazing God is if Jesus’ is telling the truth? He wants to set us free. He died and rose again to unburden you—whatever the baggage is you carried in—pride, fear, hatred, hurt, bitterness, worry, anxiety, guilt, failure, shame, betrayal—whatever you’ve done, whatever was done to you—you can lay it down at the foot of the cross. It’s where God paid for it all to be taken away, replaced with his unrelenting love, his endless forgiveness, his unmerited favor because He loves you, and he wants to know “do you love me?”
While this song plays, Today is your opportunity to lay your burdens down. You received a luggage tag. I want to invite you to write down what you need to lay down at the foot of the cross.
Maybe what you need to write is “Me—my life.” Maybe you have never accepted God’s gift of forgiveness and adoption as His child. All He needs is tell him “I want what Jesus did to count for me—I want your forgiveness, I want your leadership.” He won’t force you, cause He wants your love—maybe Playing God is the burden you’ll lay down—write “My Life”.
Maybe you’ve done that—you know you’re forgiven, loved by God, but you keep trying to shoulder burdens He never meant for you to carry: Write it down, lay it down—ask Him to teach you his Unburdened Way.
Maybe there’s a regret or mistake or evil choice that has driven a wedge between you and God? He’s already paid to forgive it, but when we hold onto it or justify it or try to punish ourselves, we don’t experience God’s unburdened way—write it down, and lay it down—you don’t need to pay for it, Jesus already did.
Maybe it’s doubt or questions you’ve let keep you from trusting God. You don’t have to have all the answers to trust him—cause you never will. Seek answers, but don’t withhold trust. Lay that question down.
Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us…And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love.
– Romans 8:34, 38