Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. 14 The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. 15 Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: “The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things! 16 The Lord’s right hand is lifted high; the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!”

17 I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done. 18 The Lord has chastened me severely, but he has not given me over to death.

19 Open for me the gates of the righteous; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord. 20 This is the gate of the Lord through which the righteous may enter.

21 I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation. 22 The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; 23 the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. 24 The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.

29 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

Psalm 118

I heard it again this past Tuesday and Wednesday at Mornings with Mommy.  The director asked the kids, “So, what is Easter all about?  Is it about Easter Bunnies?  NO!  Is it about Easter Eggs?  No!  It’s about Jesus who died and rose from the dead so we get to go to heaven!”  She is right! Because Jesus lives we too shall live in heaven, even after we die on earth. This is the promise upon which Christians have built their life since the day Jesus rose from the dead.

We build things all the time. By the end of this year two of my children will be living in homes they built. We built this church together four years ago.  We just moved into our new church home in Rockwall into a church that was built 100 years ago. We build things all the time. When my son Jake was little he would build things with his “Connects.” I would ask him what he was building and he probably didn’t hear me the first time because he was concentrating so much on what he was building. This makes me want to ask you all a question on Easter Sunday.  What are you building? I don’t mean a porch, pool, or palatial mansion, but what are you building for your life?  The Psalmist compares our life to a building project.  It has been the historical Psalm used on Easter Sunday for about 2,000 years because it teaches us that if we are not building our life on Jesus Christ, we are building a life that is guaranteed to fall. Therefore, may the Holy Spirit use the words of Psalm 118 so we can have our faith

Built On Jesus’ Resurrection (because)

  1. Everyone is Building Something
  2. Everyone Makes Mistakes
  3. Everyone Will See What Happens

Setting – those who celebrate the Passover may recognize that Psalm 118 is the last of a series of Psalms sung.  It would have been the last Psalm Jesus sang with his disciples before walking to Gethsemane. What do you think was running through Jesus’ mind when he sang,

22 The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; 23 the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. 24 The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.

Jesus knew who those builders were. They were the ones who opposed Jesus, planning how to capture Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane and plotted his death. They were supposed to be the people’s religious leaders, but they were building a religion without Jesus. It was bound to fail. But, this Psalm can also point to everyone who is trying to build something without Jesus. You can build a church, house, temple, palace, kingdom, family and even build hope.  Everyone is Building Something!

This is part of the way God created us. We all want to exist for something, with some purpose in life. If your neighbor has a load of wood dropped off in his driveway and you go over and ask, “What’s the wood for?” He isn’t going to say, “Oh, I don’t know.”  Or you ask your engineer son, “What are you building” he isn’t going to say, “I don’t know.” A person isn’t satisfied with just being busy, we want to build something, have goals, dreams and aspirations! We want to try and make our vision a reality. Think about it. When a girl has a dream date she will put on her make-up and pluck her eye-brows, take, what, an hour to pick out dress, shoes and accessories because she has some dream for the future. At the very least she is hoping he will say, “You look pretty” to feel good. She is working at building something—a future to live happily ever after with this guy and probably have a couple of kids. Or how about the 23 year old? He is building something when he carries 17 hours at school, works 3rd shift to make some bucks, and have little if any social life.  He has a vision of how he wants his life to become and is taking the necessary steps to build it. Or the 62 year old who is pumping every extra penny into his retirement account—he is building for the future of fishing, golfing, travel and wants to turn his vision into a reality. Even the guy who appears to have no aspirations, can’t hold down a job, catching the waves during the day and drinks cold brews with his buds at night is building something. He is taking steps to make sure his life turns out to be nothing. To all of these people, yes to each of us we could ask the same question, “So, howz it workin’ out for ya?”  Is your current behavior working for you to turn your vision into your future? The Psalmist says it.  Jesus says it…. We’re all building something. So, how we build must be important so let’s be careful to listen to the Psalmist because

Everyone Makes Mistakes

He wrote,Psalm 118 22

22 The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;

The rest of Scripture identifies this rejected stone as Jesus. The religious leaders of his day rejected him, and many today reject him still.  However, I don’t think anyone here today rejects Jesus as their Lord and Savior, or why would you be here? Did your mom, wife, or girlfriend drag you here? I’m going to put the best construction on everything and say you’re here because you want to be here and want Jesus to be a big part of your life. It’s this second part that worries me. That you want Jesus to be a part, instead of the center of your life. Many make the same mistake. They fit Jesus into their schedule when it’s convenient, or if they feel like it. But, the warning if clear,

22 The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;

You see, it isn’t enough for you to make Jesus one brick of many in your life. You wanna receive the benefits of Jesus in your life, he needs to be the cornerstone!

In today’s language we might say the foundation. We first put down our foundation and then the rest of the building will be built on top of that. In Jesus’ day it was the cornerstone that was the most important brick. All other stones and walls were draw from this cornerstone. Unlike today with trusses and such, in Jesus’ day to have the walls less than 90o would cause the walls to collapse in short order. The point: If Jesus is just a part of your life, that you kinda fit into your life somewhere, you are in danger of having your whole life come tumbling down. Jesus must be the foundation, the cornerstone, or you’re making a big mistake and setting your life up for failure.

So, what are you building? A financially secure future? Big Savings? Lots of investments? Will that mean an ok future? Really? Nothing to worry about? What happens when you get sick with one of those incurable diseases? You can say to the doctor, “Do whatever it takes to heal me!” but if he says, “There is nothing I can do” then all the money in the world isn’t going to help you and your life is going to tumble down in ruin because you made the mistake of building your future on the wrong foundation  Or how about building on your family because a solid family makes me happy, feel secure and safe. What happens when you put them into the ground?  You will be quick to blame God and maybe fall into such deep despair that you consider putting a shotgun into your mouth! Sounds scary but Jesus said this,

Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me”

Matt 10:37

Now don’t take this verse out of context.  Jesus also said we are to love and take care of our family members. Jesus is telling us to compare our love for our family to our love for Jesus.  Yes, love your family, but love Jesus more. Look, Jesus isn’t a narcissist looking for attention, but he does know that there is no other way to the Father in heaven except through the solid foundation he gives. Let me explain:

What ruins life?  Death! No matter what you do in life, death ruins it. They even did a survey of people on death row who were asked what they wanted for their last meal. There were some interesting things learned from this survey.  The last meal was often more than 3,000 calories and contained twice the recommended daily allowance of fat. In 50 years no one had ever ordered a vegetarian meal. Popular items were steak, pizza, lobster and hamburger and fries.  But, do you know what the most common meal request was: NOTHING!  Because death ruins even the tastiest meal if you know your going to die after you finish it!  What’s your favorite song?  I promise that you would not be bobbin’ if I were holding a gun to your head and you were going to die after the song ended. What’s your favorite movie? You wouldn’t enjoy it if you knew that you were going to die at the end of that movie. Death completely ruins our ability to enjoy anything!  Whether favorite meal, song or movie you won’t be able to really enjoy it if you don’t first acknowledge that death is coming first.  Otherwise you’re setting yourself up for failure!

But, if you want to set yourself up for success over death, then you need to avoid the mistakes of most and build your life on the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ! And

Everyone will see what will happen

When you build your life on the foundation of Jesus Christ, then 1: you will have the blessings mentioned in Psalm 118.

17 I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done. 18 The Lord has chastened me severely, but he has not given me over to death.

We all know that Jesus never did anything that needed chastening. He fed the hungry, healed the sick, helped the hurting. So why was he punished? Isaiah tells us,

But he was pierced for our transgressions,  he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed”

Is 53:5

Jesus took the punishment of all our sins.  Which sins? The sin when you loved Jesus, but not as much as other things. I know, you loved him, just not as the most important thing, not as the foundation—those are the sins the Father placed on his Son when he died on the cross. He was

chastened me severely,

but did you hear what came next?

but he has not given me over to death.

The Hebrew word here is the same word for “abandoned.” That’s right, Jesus died to pay for sin, but then he was raised from the dead 3 days later by God the Father because he accepted the payment Jesus made for you and me.

This makes Easter your Great Receipt! You know the guy at Best Buy or Samm’s who is standing at the door waiting to see your receipt so that you walk out with what you bought? You have the receipt to show God! “The price has been paid!” You don’t have to pay it again. So the Psalmist writes,

14 The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. 15 Shouts of joy and victory resound in the tents of the righteous: “The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things! 16 The Lord’s right hand is lifted high; the Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!

You no longer need to fear death!  People will see that you are safe and secure!

2: Build your life on the resurrection of Jesus Christ and you will have an eternal perspective on life!  Death from a believer’s perspective looks like this:

17 I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the Lord has done.

This is Bible Talk. Yes, we are going to die physically, but the Bible also talks about a second death (Revelation) and that’s the one to fear! It is hell! It is being separated eternally from God’s love and only experiencing his wrath. We don’t have to fear death because of Jesus. The Bible says Jesus is the Firstfruits. Because Jesus died and rose again, he will also raise us up as well. This is a game changer!  If you refuse to build on the resurrection foundation of Jesus then when you lose your spouse in death you will slip into despair and blame God for taking them from you. But, if your foundation is built on Jesus’ resurrection you will love your spouse, but love Jesus more!  Then when your spouse dies people will see you praising God for taking them to heaven, and your relying on God’s promise that you will be reunited with all your loved ones in heaven again some day with a perfect resurrected body. Dear friends, do not make Jesus just a part of your life, but the foundation!

3: There is one more blessing the Psalmist speaks about when we build on the resurrection of Jesus:

23 the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. 24 The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.

When you see the beauty of all Jesus has done for you, then you are so overwhelmed that you want to gather with other believers to praise and worship him and tell others about him.  In church we call that worship and evangelism—you can see it—the basic foundation of any church’s ministry plan.

We build things all the time. Go ahead and picture your life as a building project. Is it to build money?  Then you’ll build a bank.  Is it the guy saving for retirement to go fishing, then you’ll build a cabin on a lake. But, if you’re a person who has seen Jesus and you believe that Jesus is working through the gospel in Word and sacrament to build something really amazing, then your foundation is being built by Jesus that will last forever.

So, leave here today asking yourself this Easter question: What foundation are you building on? What is greatest passion of your life? Is it Jesus Christ?  If the answer is No, then what? Well, what do you do if your building project is turning out all wrong?  Did anyone ever come up to you and say, “Maybe you should tear it down and start all over again!” Dear friends, if you’ve been building on any other foundation that the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, then tear it down.  Go for a second chance! Listen to the Psalmist:

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

You see, Jesus is so good he is always working to build your life. He will continue to use his Word that shares his life, death and resurrection as our foundation so that heaven is yours. A blessed Easter today is yours as you continue to build your life on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Amen!