If you've ever stood beside the grave of a loved one to say "goodbye" one last time before the casket is lowered into the ground... if you've ever wept at Easter or Christmas or a birthday or any other time of year when memories of cherished moments with someone who has died come flooding back... if the thought of your own death makes you a little uncomfortable or downright terrified, this Sunday is for you! Following the darkness of Good Friday and a Saturday filled with uncertainty, the sun comes upon on Easter morning to reveal glorious and unexpected good news!
"I'd rather be..." You've seen the bumper stickers or social media posts. And we can all think of places we'd rather be and things we'd rather be doing at certain times, especially when we are dealing with troubles and pain and persecution. But, as Christians, our perspective on what is most important and most desirable is shaped by faith and not by sight; by the world to come and not by this world.
Jesus once took three of his closest friends up on a high mountain, where they experienced something incredible. On that mountain, they got a glimpse of Jesus' glory, a sight they would remember for the rest of their lives, a sight that would sustain them until they saw his glory again when they entered eternal life. This Sunday, you and I get to climb that mountain where Jesus wants us to bless us too, as we see his glory together.
Uncertain and afraid, they hid behind locked doors. And after they had seen Jesus alive, what did they do? They still hid. You've felt like that, haven't you? You have the greatest message in the world to share, and yet you hide in fear. Fear of rejection. Fear of failure. Fear of persecution. Fear of _________. How can we overcome our fears? What made Peter, the frightened follower of Jesus, into Peter, the bold witness?
Jesus appears as the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One. Anointing is how God prepared Jesus for his mission. Since the days of Othniel (Judges 3:10), the Spirit of the Lord empowered God’s heroes to do his saving work. At his baptism, God anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit and with power and declared this son of Mary to be who he always has been, the Son of God—the one anointed to be the Savior of mankind. And yet there's still more! -- You are empowered by your baptism into Christ!
You are illuminated by the Light! Jesus appears as the light that shines in the darkness. Dark places remain covered in the shadow of sin and unbelief. Now there are, however, bright places, too, and there you find God’s children. Jesus shines his light by preaching repentance and the good news of the nearing kingdom, and he invites us to follow him to a life illumined by him. God has made you new in Christ. Following him means living in the joy of freedom and walking in the light of love for God and neighbor. You are illuminated by the Light!
It is one of the greatest mysteries of the Christian faith. We worship one God in three persons and three persons in one God. All three persons - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - are God, yet there is only one God. It is a truth we accept by faith, because it is a truth clearly taught in the Scriptures. And it is a truth that we celebrate, because only through the work of our Triune God are we blessed to be children of God and heirs of heaven!
You are REDEEMED by the Lamb! Today we’re continuing our sermon series with John 1:29-41 where Jesus appears as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. This Lamb would take away the sins of the world and bring both Israel and the Gentile nations into the kingdom of God. Everything is new, and so are you, in Christ Jesus! You are redeemed by the Lamb!
"Why am I here?" That's a question pastors often get asked. It comes from a confused teenager, from a depressed dad, from an aging and ailing Christian. In reality, it is a question we all should be asking every day - not in confusion or despair, but to make sure we are living our lives in line with God's plan. This week, we hear Jesus himself give an answer to that question, an answer that he wants to shape our lives every day. Jesus gives purpose and power to our lives!
In Christ you are new. In Christ, you are set free. In fact, Jesus says you are salt, you are light. You are the light of the world, so be light for the earth. You are the salt of the earth, so be salt for it. This is gospel-driven living. You are blessed, in Christ. Let your light shine! Our calling as sons and daughters of God means our lives will reflect our new status, and the world around us will be blessed by us. Our prayer is that God would help us to believe and do the things that are pleasing in his sight. Alive in Christ, you are set free to do just that.
On June 25, 1530, a group of Lutheran princes presented a statement of their faith to Emperor Charles V in Augsburg, Germany. The truth they confessed was not new. It was the truth of salvation by grace through faith as revealed in the Scriptures. But it was a truth that had been lost, distorted, forgotten, or hidden within the church. How tragic! With those Lutheran princes, let's treasure that truth and confess it boldly, so that we and many more will receive the salvation Jesus has won for us!
How do you figure out where you are going? Do you count on your GPS? Are you a paper maps kind of person? Do you trust in Google Maps or Mapquest? Or do you just have an innate sense of direction? What happens if you lose your way to find your way? By nature, we are spiritually lost. Our sense of direction always leads the wrong way. It is quite literally a dead end! And there's only one way out.