Tuesday, May 15, 2018

"And Sits at the Right Hand of the Father Almighty"; Psalm 110, Acts 2:22-36

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Sunday, April 29, 2018

Follow Jesus; Matthew 8:18-22

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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Jesus Our Shepherd; Psalm 23, Matthew 14:13-21

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Monday, April 16, 2018

More Than Just for Sin; Isaiah 53, Matthew 8:1-17

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Giving Thanks with All Creation; Psalm 136, Colossians 1:15-20

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Monday, April 2, 2018

Foolish with Christ; Matthew 28:1-15, I Corinthians 1:18-31

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Saturday, March 31, 2018

The Whole World is Gone After Him; John 12:9-19

Today is our day of joy as we begin Holy Week. We welcome Jesus as King with the crowds. Yet it is Jesus’ enemies, not the crowds, who make the most profound statements of truth about Jesus, His power, and His reign. They had more theological insight than the crowds that lined the streets, and yet they would not believe. John gives us insights into the triumphal entry that the other gospel writers don’t include. John lists as Jesus’ last great miracle the resurrection of Lazarus from the dead. Jesus performed other healings after this one, like making blind Bartimaeus able to see again, but Lazarus was the most profound of Jesus’s last miracles. It probably occurred just a few weeks or a couple of months before Jesus’ final entry into Jerusalem. John includes in that story the culminating “I am” statement other than the final “I am” periods that Jesus will make. Prior to raising Lazarus, Jesus says to Martha, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. He that believes in me, though he were dead yet shall he live, and he that believes and lives in me will never die.” Martha professes that she does believe. I doubt that any of Jesus’ enemies were privy to that conversation, and yet the weight of Jesus’ claim about Himself is not lost on them. The religious authorities had already set out to kill Jesus before He raised Lazarus. In fact, it is when Jesus decides to head back to Bethany from Galilee to raise Lazarus that Thomas says to the other disciples, “Let us go with Him that we too may die with him.” They all knew it was dangerous for Jesus to go back. Why was the raising of Lazarus so significant? After all Jesus had already raised a woman’s son, a centurion’s servant, and Jairus’s daughter. Lazarus had been dead and buried for 4 days—his body was in the process of decay when Jesus called him from the tomb. Clearly Jesus had power of life and death, and the authorities knew it. They knew in their heads, yet they still refused to believe in what they knew to be true. They knew others would recognize the signs of Jesus’ kingship and Messiahship, yet they refused to bow to King Jesus. They couldn’t stand to admit they were wrong. Their pride kept them from Jesus. When has your pride kept you from admitting to the truth? Is your pride keeping you from Jesus? After learning that Jesus raised Lazarus, Caiaphas too makes a prophetic statement about Jesus. He proclaims, “It is better that one man die for the people than to have the whole nation destroyed. Even though the rulers knew Jesus power and popularity, their fear of the Roman Empire was greater. They didn’t have faith that Jesus would protect them from Rome, while the people saw Jesus as their Savior from Rome. Fear was another factor that kept Jesus’ enemies from believing in Him. What fears cause your faith in Jesus to waver? Does fear overcome faith or does faith overcome fear? Is there anything keeping you from the truth of Jesus? The priests were right. Jesus did not come to save them from Rome. On the other hand, fear shouldn’t have kept them from the truth. Jesus came to save them from something greater than Rome. He came to save them from the power of death itself. He came to save them from eternal separation from God. He would die not only to save the nation but the world. Jesus had proven that He has power over death, but what no one knew was that Jesus had the power to raise Himself from the dead. The crowds cried, “Hosanna! Save now!” having no idea that the salvation Jesus came to offer necessitated His death. The witness of Lazarus was so compelling that more and more people came to believe in Jesus. The news spread quickly. (Two dinner parties. One on Saturday before Palm Sunday @ Lazarus’s house. One on Holy Tues. at Simon the Leper/Pharisee’s house). These believers or would-be believers are the ones who lined the streets and formed the entourage greeting Jesus as He came riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. Curiosity had drawn them to Jesus. What drew you to Jesus? The testimony was so compelling that Jesus’ enemies sought to kill Lazarus as well. Some bible scholars and church historians think that continued death threats against Lazarus was why his story is not included by the other gospel writers. How strongly does your life testify to the power and person of Jesus Christ? The religious leaders recognize that this event, the resurrection of Lazarus “caused the whole world to go after Jesus,” and yet they would not repent. Seeing the crowds following Jesus, they thought their plans to kill him and Lazarus were foiled, but they didn’t know that Jesus had come to Jerusalem intentionally. They didn’t know that He would willingly surrender to death, not because of their clever scheme to get rid of Him, but to do the will of His Father in heaven. They didn’t know how easily the shallow crowd would turn once Jesus was arrested. Is your faith in Jesus shallow or whole-hearted? The crowds honored a Messiah they didn’t understand. Some were waiting to see what would happen. Others placed their faith in Him. Some continued to wait for signs. Others believed what Jesus had already told them. The religious leaders refused to worship what they knew to be true. Yet Nicodemus, Joseph, and other Pharisees trusted in Jesus as the Messiah. They refused to participate in the mockery of the trial that was to come. How would you characterize your relationship with Jesus? Are you disappointed when He doesn’t conform to your image? Do you submit in worship to the One who is the True Living Way? Are you willing to trust Him even when you don’t understand? I wonder what Jesus’ expression was as He rode into Jerusalem—Jesus who knows the hearts of all people… The first Palm Sunday might not have been that joyful for Jesus. Jesus was riding in silence. “The whole world has gone after Him” was an inspired exaggeration. We know that in Jerusalem at that time were people from every part of the Roman Empire as well as anywhere the Jews had gone—from Egypt to Afghanistan to Spain. All were there for the Passover and Pentecost feasts. They might not have had a clue on Palm Sunday, but in a few short weeks, thousands would turn to Jesus, believe and be baptized on Pentecost. They would return home and spread the good news of Jesus Christ. Though the whole world hasn’t gone after Him, there are those of every nation, tongue, and tribe—people of every ethnic group who have and will go after Jesus. Jesus is King, not only of Israel but also of the world. Jesus did and will have His victory, and that is why we can celebrate joyfully today. We don’t have to plead for the Lord to save us. He has already saved us. We only have to recognize with the saints described in the book of revelation who continuously proclaim, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb! Praise, glory, wisdom, strength, honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” If you haven’t acknowledged the gift of salvation that Jesus Christ has offered you, don’t wait. Don’t reject the gift like the religious leaders.