Part 1 of the Easter series, "Suffering and Resurrection." We all love a good story. Good stories have the power to connect with us emotionally and to even transform our heart and perspective. But, above even the most inspiring fiction, it is the true story that typically has the greatest impact upon our existence and actions. Why? Because if the story is true, then perhaps it can also be true for us. This is the focus we must remind ourselves of when re-imagining the Easter story. The telling of Christ's death and resurrection is more than just something to touch our hearts or even our character. It tells of an event in time that will revolutionize everything we are...if we'll only believe the stories are true.
Part 2 of the Easter series, "Suffering and Resurrection." When guests enter our home, we love to clean house. But the home they see isn't often reflective of how we normally live. More often, our homes can me messy, but that's not the picture we typically wish to show others. In the same way, even as Christians, our lives can be a mess and we don't want anyone to see. But as Jesus demonstrated so many times as he ministered to others on his way to the cross, God wants to enter the home of our hearts with a sign out front that says, "Welcome to Our Mess!" It is only Jesus who can clean the impurity of our hearts. But we must first recognize our need to be cleansed before inviting him to enter.
Part 3 of the Easter series, "Suffering and Resurrection." Very soon before he would enter Jerusalem to trigger the events that would lead to his suffering on the cross, Jesus had his purpose and his future glory re-affirmed by God on the mount of Transfiguration. God reminded him that he was his "chosen one." Jesus was (it appears) counseled and encouraged by Moses and Elijah, reminding him that his purpose was rooted in the foundations of all that had come before and that his destiny was foreordained before the world began. Because of Christ's finished work on the cross, we too are God's chosen ones, sons and daughters chosen before the world began to share in the fellowship of Christ's sufferings so that we might enjoy the power of his resurrection. In this way, the Easter story has a direct impact, not just on our eternal destiny, but on how we persevere and overcome in the here-and-now.
Part 4 of the Easter series, "Suffering and Resurrection." On Palm Sunday, many churches, like they did so long ago, enter the sanctuary with palms in hand, praising our Savior, Jesus. But, what kind of God are we worshiping? The King who will come again in glory? Or the Suffering Servant who sacrificed himself of the cross? This sermon looks at the last week of Christ's life, detailing the human drama and dramatic irony, and demonstrates that our Savior calls to us in glory, but still bears the wounds of his suffering. Worthy is the lamb who was slain for your sin and mine. Both his suffering and resurrection deserve our focus when we choose to honor him.
Part 5 of the Easter series, "Suffering and Resurrection." The Apostle Peter boldly preached the Gospel, the suffering and resurrection of Jesus and our need to repent and follow him, on the day of Pentecost. But only several weeks prior, we see a different Peter, one without hope, one who is essentially ashamed of the true Gospel of Christ. What brought this change? Peter certainly had a hope in God's Messiah, but the events of the crucifixion and his own denial of Jesus brought him face to face with the reality that perhaps his hope wasn't the hope Jesus offers us all through his suffering and resurrection. At least in part, our hope must be that no matter how badly we might have abandoned him, Jesus will not abandon us...to the grave, or to the corruption of our own hearts.
Part 1 of the post-Easter series, "Cristo Vive" (Christ Lives). Did Jesus really rise from the dead? How confident are you? Could you convince a skeptic? Our belief in the "historicity" of Christ's resurrection is vital for our faith. It's even vital for our very salvation. And so, while the ideal is to believe without seeing or having absolute proof or certainty, God still understands that our faith at times needs to be strengthened by physical evidence, and more importantly, by the evidence of transformed character in our lives and the lives of others. This sermon examines some of this evidence for the truth of Christ's resurrection. Did Jesus really rise from the dead? There are ways to build our faith in this area and become more sure.
Part 2 of the post-Easter series, "Cristo Vive" (Christ Lives). What is it that brought Jesus back from the dead? God? Certainly. But specifically, we must assume based on the principles throughout Scripture, that he was made alive again by the breath of God, by God's Spirit entering in once again. You and I have the promise of a future resurrection because Jesus was the first to rise. But, we don't have to wait for heaven to experience this. In many ways, our resurrection begins now: through the regeneration of our heart, our mind, our emotions, our focus, and actions. We can live as a new creation and in newness of life long before heaven. But to do so we must, like Jesus, first breathe in the breath of God's Holy Spirit and honor God's Spirit in everything that we do.