What Would Jesus Say to... Part 2
What Would Jesus Say to Dracula?
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
October 31, 2004

 

He was there one moment and the next he was gone. In a puff of smoke, he disappeared before my very eyes. And then, without warning, a bat swooped across the stage to the gasp and approval of the audience.

I was only a young boy at the time, but I was old enough to enjoy the live-action theatre play based on Bram Stoker’s Dracula. My grandmother recognized that I might enjoy seeing it, so she took me. And to this day, it remains one of those exciting moments of childhood that I may never forget.

This being Halloween, we’re sure to have a variety of creatures come to our doors this evening. Ghosts, witches, hockey players, Donald Trump… you name it, it may be at your door tonight. What are some of the costumes you’ve worn for Halloween?

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The best costumes, of course, are the creative ones. I remember once I went as a tea bag. But one of the classic costumes that still draws a lot of attention is dressing up as a vampire… specifically, Dracula.

Who is Dracula? Is he just a literary villain, or is there more to him than that? Well, before we get to him, let’s talk about vampires in general.

If you were to research vampires specifically you would discover that many cultures around the world have their own folklore about the “undead,” dating back as far as the Greek civilization in AD 125. As the story spread, it was absorbed into the already existing folklore of each new land. In some cases, these undead would be the ghost of a dead person, in most cases someone who was a witch, died a suicide, was the victim of an unavenged murder, as born as the seventh son, or someone who had been bitten by a vampire themselves.

Sometimes, vampires would be able to assume a normal appearance and operate within society during the day and operate as vampires at night; in other cases they would always be a vampire, hiding out in a dark, secluded location during the day and only coming out at night.

In many traditions, the vampire has the ability to change shape. Perhaps the vampire can change into a bat, a cat, a rat, a wolf, a spider, a raven, or a misty cloud. One description I read even mentioned that a vampire can become an ectoplasmic mass that can pass through walls. I have no idea what that means, but that’s what I read. An interesting part of the folklore is that a vampire is not able to enter a home unless it is invited in. But once it is invited, it can come and go as it pleases.

Of course, our normal (if you can call it that) view of a vampire is, is a man who goes around wearing a cloak, has dark, slicked back hair, talks in a strange voice with a Hungarian accent, casts no shadow or reflection, and has an unquenchable thirst for blood. In fact, the vampire has to drink the blood of humans or animals to survive. And as long as the blood supply holds out, the vampire can live forever.

That is, unless a vampire slayer is able to do him in. So what tools would someone like Buffy or Van Helsing use to fight and kill a vampire? You tell me…

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(Crucifix, wooden stake, silver bullets, cut off its head and bury it separately from the body, burn the body)

It’s interesting to me how many of these traditions are rooted in the Bible. Joe was telling me after the service last week that in some legends the first Vampire was Judas. During the night, Judas betrayed Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, Jesus was nailed to a stake or a cross, Judas regretted what he had done and committed suicide. Also, Judas is believed to have had red hair, and in the older traditions vampires had red hair.

So who was Dracula? Some say he was Judas. Most recently, the movie Dracula 2000 that was out a few years ago promoted this view. But most histories of Dracula point back to a Transylvanian named Vlad. Vlad Tepes, or Vlad the Impaler. We’ll get to that name in a minute. But this is who Bram Stoker based his novel on. Vlad was born in approximately 1431 and he died in 1476. (Or did he?) Vlad led a less than peaceful life. His father was a soldier and a good one at that. He was even knighted and given the Order of the Dragon, or the Order of Dracul. )In Romania, Dracul means devil or dragon.) Their emblem was a Dragon with outstretched wings hanging on a cross. So with his father becoming known by Dracul, Vlad became known as the Son of Dracul, or Dracula and eventually ruled over his own region.

Now, about the title Vlad the Impaler. As the name implies, Vlad had a nasty habit of impaling people. One story tells about how he encountered a man on the street and notices that he was wearing a dirty and ragged shirt. He asked about the man’s wife, discovered that she was healthy and quite capable of doing the laundry, and determined that she must just be lazy. So he order that both her hands be cut off and her body impaled. Then he found a new wife for the man, show her the former wife, and the new wife never had a problem with being lazy.

He would frequently have his enemies put to death by impaling them, which was a particularly slow and painful form of execution. He particularly enjoyed having a number of victims impaled at once, having the stakes hoisted upright, and watch them die as they slowly slid down the stakes. He would even set up a banquet table so he could leisurely eat a meal while watching the victims die.

Now, in case you’re wondering, Vlad’s tomb was opened in 1931 and his skeleton was still there… without the head, of course. So he’s not roaming the earth looking for victims today and he won’t be one of the trick or treaters who come to your door tonight.

So that’s a brief history of Vampires and of Dracula. What I want to do for the rest of our time here this morning is explore the question, What Would Jesus Say to Dracula? And we’re going to look at five things in particular that Jesus might just say to Dracula. You can use the notes provided in your Sunrise Update to follow along and fill in the blanks as we go.

 

What Would Jesus say to Dracula?

 

1. You want eternal life? I’m offering it.

According to the folklore, Dracula is essentially immortal. And he doesn’t want to lose that. He wants to live forever. So Jesus might tell Dracula what He said in John…

John 10:10 (NLT)
“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give life in all its fullness.”

John 14:6 (NLT)
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”

Or Jesus might just remind Dracula of what Paul wrote in Romans. Read this with me…

Romans 6:23 (NLT)
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

So Jesus might say to Dracula, “Drac, you want eternal life. You haunt and plot and scheme to achieve that, and in the process you do all kinds of evil. I need to let you know, Drac, that because of all the evil you do, what you deserve is death. In fact, that’s just what you’ll receive. You may think you’re immortal, but you’ll discover soon enough that you’re not. The only way you can have eternal life is the same way anyone else can have eternal life… because I give it to them. Not as a reward for what they’ve done, but as a gift so that no one can brag about how good they are and what they’ve accomplished. It’s a gift that is only given by My grace in response to your faith and commitment to Me.”

It’s amazing how many people think they will enter Heaven and enjoy eternal life because they’re good people. But what they need to realize is that no matter how good they try to be, they will never be good enough to measure up to God’s standard of goodness and holiness. Have you ever told a lie? Even a little one? Have you ever been jealous? Have you ever in your entire life mouthed-off at your parents? Have you ever gossiped about someone else? Have you ever had an impure thought? Have you ever helped yourself to office supplies or stolen a pencil from the bank? If you’ve broken one of the Commandments, you may as well have broken all of them. If you’ve ever done just one thing wrong that’s against the standard God sets in His Word, then your entire life is contaminated. And because of that you deserve death. Whether you’re as good as Mother Teresa or Billy Graham or as evil as Dracula, you deserve death, because you just don’t measure up to the holiness of God. You’ve fallen short.

Romans 3:23 (NLT)
For all have sinned; all fall short of God's glorious standard.

Did you know that sin is an archery term? To “sin” literally means “to fall short”. It means you miss the mark. It means you miss the target. If the target is goodness and holiness and righteousness, then we’ve all sinned. We’ve all fallen short of the target. But even so, Jesus would say to you, to me, and to Dracula this morning, “I offer life. You may deserve death, but my gift to you is life.”

Yesterday some of us went to Zellers to give away apples. Several of you were involved in picking the apples, and we bagged them all and gave them away free of charge yesterday afternoon in Zellers. This is the second year we’ve done this, and it’s always interesting to see the reaction from different people. Most people can’t believe they’re actually getting something for free. After all, nothing’s free in this world, is it? Several people offered to make a donation, but that kind of defeats the purpose. We were giving the apples away as a free gift… no one could earn them, no one could buy them, no one could make a donation and feel like they deserve them, because that’s what a gift is like. There are no strings attached. We were giving the apples away as an expression of God’s love, and nothing they could ever do would make them worthy of that kind of love.

Ephesians 2:8-9 (NLT)
God saved you by his special favour when you believed. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

And then there’s the most popular verse in the Bible: John 3:16. We’ve all seen people at sporting events holding up a sign saying, “John 3:16”, but 65% of us don’t know that John 3:16 teaches that whoever believes in Jesus can have eternal life. Here it is… read it with me…

John 3:16 (NLT)
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

So that’s one thing Jesus might say to Dracula. A second thing is this:

 

2. You’re right, Life is in the Blood. Mine.

We all know that Dracula needs blood. What’s his catchphrase? “I have come to…” What? “…suck your blood!”

That’s what Dracula’s all about. That’s his mission. To get your blood, because that’s how he plans to achieve eternal life. So Jesus might tell him, “Dracula, you think you can achieve eternal life because of blood? Well, in a way you’re right. But it’s not your blood, it’s not your victim’s blood, it’s not your enemy’s blood… it’s my blood. You can only find life because I was willing to have my blood spilled out for you on the Cross.”

Part of the legend of the Holy Grail is that it is the cup that caught the blood of Jesus as he was hanging on the cross. So as the legend goes, anyone who drinks from that cup will experience prolonged or even eternal life. And like most legends, there’s some truth behind it. Because the shed blood of Christ is the secret to eternal life. But you don’t have to find some mythical cup and drink from it to experience it.

Let me tell you something: Jesus suffered and bleed and died for us. Our rebellion… our sinfulness… required punishment, and you and I should have been the ones punished. But Jesus took our place, suffered for our sins, and did it all so the penalty would be served and we could go free. Of course, the great news is that even though Jesus died, He didn’t stay dead. Jesus proved that He was God and that He has authority over sin and death by rising from the dead.

Check this out…

John 6:53-54 (NLT)
So Jesus said again, "I assure you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you cannot have eternal life within you. But those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them at the last day.”

And in Romans…

Romans 3:24-25 (NLT)
Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God's anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us.

This does not mean that we literally drink the blood of Jesus. Christianity is not about being cannibalistic. What it means is we accept that what Jesus did He did for you and for me. It means we identify ourselves with what He did. It means we recognize and accept that Jesus took our place, shed His own blood, and paid the penalty we deserved to pay. And it was all because of His great love.

 

3. Remember, light always overcomes darkness.

As you can recall, sunlight can greatly weaken or even kill a vampire. So Dracula would sleep in a coffin during the day and only come out at night. Of course, darkness has always been associated with evil and light has always been associated with goodness. And the Bible uses that to express who Jesus is. Talking about Jesus in John 1, it says…

John 1:9 (NLT)
The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was going to come into the world.

Jesus is called the light. Light represents what is good, true and holy. Darkness represents what is evil and false. If Star Wars taught us anything, it's that. And when light meets up with darkness, it always wins out. When the sun rises the night disappears. When you turn on a light in a dark room, the darkness disappears. And it's like that with Christ. When the light of His truth, His goodness, and His holiness shines on the darkness, the darkness disappears.

John 1:4 (NLT)
Life itself was in him, and this life gives light to everyone. The light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

The light of Christ penetrates the darkness. When the light of Christ touches a life, it makes a difference. Let me share with you three way it does that…

Three ways that light makes a difference:

a. It convicts

Ephesians 5:11-14 (NLT)
Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, rebuke and expose them. It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. But when the light shines on them, it becomes clear how evil these things are. And where your light shines, it will expose their evil deeds.

With the light of Christ shining in your life, you will become aware of areas of darkness… you will see the garbage that has become a part of your life that needs to be cleaned out.
 

b. It guides

Have you ever tried to find your way around on a dark night without a flashlight? You bump into things, you trip and fall, you get hurt, you get frustrated, you get lost, and it's very difficult to accomplish anything.

Back when I was in high school I went driving with a friend of mine just to explore. We were going on some back roads around the outskirts of Fredericton late at night, and my friend decided that he wanted to know how dark it was outside. I guess he wanted to see the stars. So he convinced me to turn off the lights for just a few seconds while we were still driving. Dumb idea. But I did it, and when I turned them back on we were looking at a concrete wall that we had just enough time to swerve around.

John 8:12 (NLT)
Jesus said to the people, "I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won't be stumbling through the darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life."
 

c. It grows

At one time in my life, I was studying Biology at UNB. One of my textbooks had a chapter on photosynthesis that began with the words, "Life on earth is solar-powered." And it went on to explain how the sun is responsible for the ongoing existence of life on our little planet.

Let me tell you something: Life is dependent on the Son, and I'm not just talking about the one in the sky. The light of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, is what is necessary for real life.

1 John 1:5, 7 (NLT)
This is the message he has given us to announce to you: God is light and there is no darkness in him at all…
But if we are living in the light of God's presence, just as Christ is, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from every sin.

 

And the fourth thing Jesus might say to Dracula is…

 

4. I’m still offering you forgiveness.

“Dracula, no matter how evil you’ve been and no matter how lost and beyond forgiveness you may feel, I’m still offering it to you.” That’s something Jesus might say. He might even quote Isaiah…

Isaiah 1:18 (NLT)
"Come now, let us argue this out," says the LORD. "No matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can remove it. I can make you as clean as freshly fallen snow. Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you as white as wool.”

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You know what? I’ve mentioned this before, but I believe that Jesus would even offer this kind of forgiveness to Judas. Judas betrayed Him and handed Him over to be executed by crucifixion on a cross, but even so I believe Jesus would have forgiven him. Unfortunately, Judas committed suicide and was never able to experience that forgiveness.

I mentioned earlier that some believe that Dracula is actually Judas. If you’ve seen the movie, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, then at the end of the movie you know that Dracula repents just before he dies. In fact, his whole countenance changes at just that moment. And while our concept of Dracula is just a fictional character with some rather loose ties to history, there’s a pretty important Biblical truth expressed in that scene: Forgiveness is real, and it’s offered freely to everyone.

Jesus offers forgiveness that can wash Dracula’s sins away and make him pure, and He can do the same for you and me. But here’s the key: we must intentionally receive His forgiveness. He’s offering it, but we must reach out and take it. We do that by expressing to Him that we’re sorry for the times we’ve hurt Him and we ask His forgiveness. We tell Him that we accept His leadership in our lives. And we tell Him that we choose to live for Him from this moment on.

If you’re familiar with the life of King David, you know that there was a time in his life when he did some pretty awful stuff. He had an affair with a married woman, got her pregnant, arranged for her husband to be killed, and then took her as his own wife. When David was confronted with his sin, he wrote a Psalm, and in it he said…

Psalm 51:7 (NLT)
Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Read that again aloud with me…

Psalm 51:7 (NLT)
Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

 

If you’re here this morning and you’ve never received the forgiveness of God, then you can do that this morning right where you are. All you have to do is pray silently from your heart, express that you’re sorry for the wrong things you’ve done no matter how big or small they may seem, and invite Him into your life. And you can be sure that He will wash you as white as snow.
 

 

 

 

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