Sermon Details

Indiana Jones, Jesus Christ, and You

July 16, 2023
Wabash Avenue Presbyterian Church in Crawfordsville, IN invites you to join us every week for Sunday morning worship. Today's 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time worship service will be led by Pastor John Van Nuys and Liturgist Jim Howerton. Pastor John's sermon title is "Indiana Jones, Jesus Christ, and You". Hymn accompaniment, prelude and postlude will be performed by Alan White and Jim Heinzman. Special Music by Andy Karle. Thank you for joining us remotely.
(18) You have not come to something that can be touched, a blazing fire, and darkness, and gloom, and a tempest, (19) a trumpet sound, and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that not another word be spoken to them. (20) (For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even an animal touches the mountain, it shall be stoned to death.” (21) Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.”) (22) But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, (23) and to the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, (24) and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
– Hebrews 12:18-24

Not to spoil the new movie, but there’s a consistent theme in all Indiana Jones movies: There are Capital “M” Mysteries. Some want to possess those Mysteries. But ultimately, man can’t control Mystery. Humans can’t harness Holiness to make its Power serve us. There’s a limit between the human and the Holy – between what’s natural and supernatural – between this world and the next – which good men wisely honor and evil men foolish ignore.

The take-home lesson from the Indiana Jones movies is: “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10).” And: ““The fear of the Lord prolongs life, but the years of the wicked will be short (Proverbs 10:27).”

You don’t have to watch Indiana Jones movies to know that. That Biblical truth is evident in the news we read and in human behavior we see. Embezzle money long enough and you will get caught. Experiment with hard drugs and eventually you will get addicted. Mess around in matters of life and death and, sooner or later, your luck will run out.

Whether you are trying to steal the Arc of the Covenant to help Germany win World War II or whether you are cheating on your taxes or your spouse, you’re playing with fire. And if you play with fire, sooner or later, you’re gonna get burned – not because God is punishing you, but because you are reaping exactly what you’ve sown.

Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: That’s true, but confusing: God is love (1st John 4:8). Perfect love casts out fear (1st John 4:18). So, why are we to fear God (Proverbs 9:10)?

God created us to be in loving, right relationship with God, neighbor, and creation. Being part of that network of relationships is like being an electrician working with a live power grid. We need to be aware that we are interacting with power and that requires care. Relating properly to that network and that power brings blessings. Relating improperly to that network and that power results in consequences.

What God said to the Hebrews before they entered the Promised Land, God says daily to us: “I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity. Follow the law that I have given you and you will live. Turn from it and you will die. Choose life so you may live (Deuteronomy 30:15-20).” Money, sex, power, possessions, our freedom to make choices: These are all good things. And these can all be bad things. It all depends on how careful or careless we are in our choices.

Fearing God doesn’t mean being afraid of God. Fearing God means being clear-eyed about the fact that the God of Life has given us the miracle of life – and in this life, we can do great good and great harm. So, be aware of that – the same way a mountaineer both loves the mountain she is climbing and also respects what its demands and her limits are.

Our passage refers to two mountains: To Mt. Sinai where the Hebrews trembled before the Transcendent God (verses 18-21). And to Mt. Zion where we tremble before the Crucified God (verses 22-24). As believers, we tremble not out of fear, but awe: That the God, who gave both the law at Sinai and who gave his life at Calvary, loves us enough to do both: To give us the law, the way of life, and then to be that Way when we had forever lost our way.

As the old songs says, such Love “causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.” Trembling in sorrow for Christ’s suffering and my sin. Trembling in awe over Christ’s redeeming love given freely to set me free. Trembling in heartache because so many suffer hungry and hurting. And trembling as I face the inescapably good, hard, holy question: Will I love them as Christ loves me (John 13:34)?

There are powerful realities and daily mysteries that surround us: Life – and death. Blessings – and curses. Salvation – and sin. Heaven – and hell.

Thanks be to God for the Holiest of all Mysteries, which is also THE ultimate Reality: Jesus Christ is risen today. Our Risen Lord gladly invites us all into his Easter Kingdom of love, justice, and peace. By grace, we have a place in that new order, new covenant, new creation. By grace, Christ chose us. By grace, we can choose Christ through wise choices that ground us in his Power that pulses with Life. As we love, forgive, share, labor for peace, and lessen human suffering, we shall be part of that Life. We shall be by Christ’s side and inside his peaceable kingdom.

In the end, Indiana Jones always does his best, but he always goes home empty handed. But all we need to do is to take Christ’s hand. As we do, we will make our way home as well – except that the holy treasures that are forever beyond Indy’s grasp shall be freely shared by Christ with us in full.

In reading this, your heart may be stirred. What you’re feeling is the Holy Spirit drawing you to Christ. To begin or renew a relationship with Jesus, just pray:

“Lord, help me receive your love. I regret the wrong I’ve done. Forgive me. Jesus, I believe you are God’s Son and the Savior of the world. Be my Savior. Save me from myself. Save me for yourself. Enter my heart. Fill me with your Holy Spirit. Help me to serve you faithfully and well. Help me to love as you love. Lead me in your Way, Truth, and Life now and forever. Continue to show me who you are and who I am in you. Amen.”

If you pray this prayer, contact a pastor. They’ll show you how to live for Christ with purpose, peace, and joy. Jesus says: “Behold, I make all things new.” That definitely includes YOU!