Sermons


The Swan song

Apostle André Pelser, 2017/06/11
Preached at a Sunday Morning service

I thought of both ballets about Swans: Tchaikovsky’s ‘Swan Lake’ as well as Saint-Saens’s ‘The Dying Swan’. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky wrote his famous symphony for ballet in 1877 about a girl named Odette that was turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer. Camille Saint-Saens, the French prodigy, wrote ‘The Swan’ in 1886 but it was revised and became ‘The Dying Swan’ in 1906. Pavlova the famous Russian ballerina performed ‘The Dying Swan’ 4 000 times!

My attention turned to how men and women of God had their ‘swansong’ in the Bible.

We know how long Adam lived, but not how he died. Cain murdered Able with a rock. Israel (Jacob) drew his feet up onto his bed and worshipped as he leant on his rod and finally prophesied to his 12 sons before he blew out his last breath. Henoch walked with God and was not – he was taken up while walking!

Rachel died when she gave birth to Benoni (son of sorrows) whom Israel renamed Benjamin (son of my right hand) after she died.

Moses was taken up from a high mountain.

David rested with his fathers after he did the will of God in his own generation.

Samson pulled down the two pillars on which the roof of the Philistine Temple rested and killed 3 000 of them with himself when the roof collapsed.

Isaiah was sawn in half when his enemies put him in a tree trunk and cut the trunk in half.

Elijah was taken up in a whirlwind after a fiery chariot and horses separated between him and Elisha that followed him closely.

John the Baptist was beheaded. Stephen the first martyr for Christ was stoned to death. He saw the heavens open and the Son of God standing at the right side of the throne.

John the beloved Apostle was burned alive in boiling oil but survived it and then they buried him alive on the isle of Patmos.

Peter was crucified upside down because he said he was not worthy to be crucified like his Master.

They all had their ‘swansong’ or their last moments on earth.

I thought of how my grandparents died and how my father died. My grandfather Andries Pelser called all his children together when he was taken up in hospital at the ripe old age of 85 and told us to greet him because he would not be there the next day. We came back from holiday in Durban to be with him. The next morning he was gone – just like he said.

My grandmother Daisy Pelser died sitting next to me at the lunch table. We had rice and red Vienna’s in a tomato and onion sauce, so it was on a Thursday. We always had the same meals in my parent’s home every week! She pushed her plate away from her and said: ‘Kitty, I’m not hungry,’ and then her head fell to the side and she gasped her last breath. My mother jumped up to revive her, but my father just kept on eating and said, ‘leave her, she’s gone!’ We carried her into her room and laid her on her bed.

My father was busy shaving when he gasped for his breath three times and then fell to the floor with his head on the step of his shower. My mother heard him in her bathroom and when she opened the door he was dead.

I thought of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. He also had his ‘swansong’ on the Cross of Calvary. But this time it was different: ‘the dying swan’ died, but rose again! He came back to life!

And then I thought, isn’t it time for someone to compose a ballet where the swan comes back to life again?

Here’s what I see: the swan dies among many other swans. Then all the other swans die, one by one. Then the main swan comes back to life, flutters its wings and rises up out of death! Because the main swan overcomes death, suddenly all the other dead swans also come back to life! It is a resurrection en masse!

Death is swallowed up in victory! Death where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, but Jesus paid the price for sin and we are all forgiven if we believe in him, so we may all participate in this new ballet: ‘The Living Swan!’ Because of Jesus Christ we are all living swans! Hallelujah!

Now we can look at all the Christian Martyrs in the Roman Empire in Rome & Paris that was thrown to lions, burned alive at stakes, drowned in the River Seine in Paris; we can look to all the martyrs that were murdered by heathen people in India and Egypt; and we can read the portion of Scripture that Paul wrote: ‘the dead in Christ shall rise first!’ when Jesus Christ returns in a cloud from heaven with all the saints with Him!

Then we who are alive shall be caught up in a moment of time to meet Him in the air and so shall we be with the Lord forever!
(I Thessalonians 4:17-21) What a wonderful prospect! What a great event to look forward to! What Good News! What a wonderful theme for a ballet performance!

We ought to encourage one another with the good news: ‘Jesus is coming soon!’ Those who have this hope, purify themselves to meet Him in the air!

In I Corinthians 15 Paul writes to tell us ‘we shall all be changed, in a moment, in a twinkling of an eye! For this corruption must put on incorruption and this mortal must put on immortality’ in order to meet the Lord in the air!

What a great event this will be! Every eye shall see Him! My dad prophesied in 1961 already that it would be through the medium of TV long before South Africa had TV. We only got TV in 1975!

How are we all going to get up into the air?

John G Lake told a story about a certain minister from England that sat in the front row as he was preaching somewhere. The man had his eyes closed, arms folded and legs crossed and he rose up in his chair into the air, once, twice and three times! Every time he went higher and higher out of his chair!

John Lake asked: ‘is this the art of levitation? I think not. It is the attractive power of the Spirit of God that lifted the man out of his chair and up into the air!’

If the same spirit that raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you it will quicken your mortal body! (Romans 8:11) It will break the power of gravity and lift us up in the air to be with the Lord! Right now that power is quickening your mortal body! You have resurrection power working in you right now!

The real swansong of believers is not a sad ending to our human story but a glorious breakthrough of power that will shatter the power of this world, the power of our weak flesh, the evil power of the devil, the corrupting power of sin & destructive power of sickness once and for all! Jesus proclaimed: ‘all power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth!’

That is the Gospel we preach! It is a powerful Gospel! It is a glorious Gospel! It is an eternal Gospel! It is a living Gospel! Because we serve a Living God! Hallelujah! Glory to God in the highest!

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