Resurrection – Palm Sunday Service

Renegade-Gospel-Main

“Resurrection” # 6 in Series: Renegade Gospel
Sunday, March 29, 2015
Passion/Palm Sunday

1 Corinthians 15:12-14, CEB

On the front cover of our bulletin today you find this quote from theologian N.T. Wright: “Take away the stories of Jesus’ birth, and you lose only two chapters of Matthew and two of Luke. Take away the resurrection, and you lose the entire New Testament and most of the second-century church fathers as well.”  What conclusions can we draw when we compare the amount of the four Gospels devoted to Jesus’ birth with the amount devoted to the account of the events leading up to his crucifixion and resurrection?  The significance of Jesus’ passion, death, and resurrection gives true meaning to Jesus’ birth.  Without this week, this truth, Jesus’ birth is just another day.

Our video today addresses the radical implications of The Resurrection and how to deal with the doubts that hold us back from our God-created purpose.  In The Apostles Creed, we say these words:  [I believe] in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; the third day he rose from the dead; he ascended into heaven…  Think for a moment what you really believe about Jesus and his resurrection.

[VIDEO: #6 – “Resurrection”]

Our Conversation:
Why is Jesus’ physical resurrection so important?

  • Our text says that without the resurrection our faith is in vain.
  • The original followers of Jesus based their whole commitment on this truth.
  • Paul describes how Jesus appeared to more than 500 people at the same time.

How does Mike Slaughter differentiate between historical and scientific evidence?

  • Historical evidence cannot be tested in a laboratory; it’s based on the credibility of the witnesses.
  • Their credibility is based on their moral integrity.

Faith and doubt seem to go together. What does Mike say about doubt and how does he pray about it?

  • “I believe…help my unbelief” – (Mark 9:24)
  • It’s OK to doubt; in fact, I believe it is essential to our faith. Doubt breeds questions and questions lead us to answers and answers deepen faith.

What do you think of when we talk about “mustard-seed-faith”?

  • Impossible vs. Possible
  • What can God do through me if I am willing to act based on what little faith I have?
  • Paul wrote to the Hebrews: “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we cannot see.” (11:1)
  • Throughout history people have believed in certain ways that were later proved to be wrong.
  • People once thought the earth was flat.
  • Television was just a passing fad.
  • Human beings could not walk on the moon.
  • Mustard seed faith is about believing in the endless possibilities of God – a God who is not limited by our limitations.

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life did a world-wide study of on the growth of Christianity.

  • They found that most of that growth was taking place in the developing world.
  • Consider this:
    • Today, more Roman Catholics will attend church in the Philippines than in any single country of Europe.
    • In China, where in 1970 there were no legally functioning churches at all, more believers probably gathered for worship than in all of so-called “Christian Europe”.
    • In Korea, where a century ago there existed only a bare handful of Christian believers, more people attended the Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul than all of the churches in significant American denominations like the Christian Reformed Church.

Where do you think God does God’s best work?

  • Christian faith seems to flourish in times and places where people face persecution and doubt. Why do you think that is?
  • Is it possible that, in America and Europe, we are simply too comfortable in our churches to be passionate about our faith?

Mike talks about the commands of Jesus to his disciples after the Resurrection.  He cites three specific action verbs.  What are they? …

  • LOOK…TOUCH…SEE

LOOK AT THE CREDIBLE EVIDENCE:

  • When Jesus visited his disciples he said: “Look at my hands and feet.”
  • Mike reminds us that the credibility of historical evidence lies in the fact that the eye witnesses have integrity and that there are simply too many witnesses to ignore.
  • Countless testimonies throughout the two thousand years since Jesus lived from people who claimed to have seen their lives transformed because of their encounters with the Living Christ.
  • In the Bible Jesus tells the Disciples – and us – LOOK, the undeniable evidence is right in front of you.

TOUCH – AN INVITATION TO INVOLVEMENT

  • In the gospel Jesus invites the Disciples to touch his hands and feet to verify that he is who he says.
  • We know from the witnesses that Jesus revealed himself to his followers in very personal and specific ways.
  • But, when Jesus left them with The Great Commission and the Holy Spirit, he made it clear that it is impossible to truly know him without a commitment to become intimately involved in his life and his mission.
  • To “touch him” is to make an intentional commitment to active participation in Jesus’ way of life and his mission to transform the world.

SEE – THROUGH THE EYES OF THE RESURRECTED CHRIST

  • Once we have encounter the Rebel Jesus we are given new eyes through which to view the world.
  • We become real eye witnesses to the transforming power of Jesus Christ when we begin to see how our faith in him has transformed us.
  • We are able to see with our own eyes how different our lives are in the company of Jesus and his presence affects the way we look at others.
  • This series brings me full-circle, back to my favorite verse in Scripture; it brings new meaning to the verse that led me into ministry:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

Discovering the Rebel Jesus and recognizing the huge challenge he places in front of us is daunting.  But, everything we have learned over the past six weeks leads me back to Jeremiah’s reassuring words.  I realize that, whatever God asks of us is possible, IF AND WHEN we are willing to make a complete, all-in commitment to believing in the promise of the Resurrected Jesus.  When we can truly embrace the power of the Living Christ, there is absolutely nothing we cannot do within God’s will for the world.  Is it God’s will that any child should go to bed hungry in Sand Springs tonight?  I don’t believe that it is and I do believe there is something we can do about it.  Is it God’s will that any person be denied the opportunity love, worship, and serve God?  I don’t believe that it is and I do believe that there is something we can do about that too.  The list of these questions with the same answer goes on, but you get the point.  If it is in God’s will, you can say to that mountain, “MOVE!” and it shall be moved!  Amen?

HOMEWORK:  Consider this: “We don’t have time to ‘play’ church…we’ve been called to BE the church of Jesus Christ in the world.”  Relate that statement to our mission: “Love God…Love Others…Change the World”

Please pray with me:  Lord, by no means do I fully comprehend who you are. But I commit today to give my life to you…not just in words, but in action. With all my imperfections, I accept your love and forgiveness, and I extend it to others. I pledge my allegiance to the rebel Jesus and commit myself to the renegade gospel. Not my will but your will be done. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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