The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the foundation of the Christian faith. It is the reason Christianity exists today. The disciples were not transformed because the tomb was empty; they changed when they saw Jesus alive. Jesus began to appear to his disciples giving them evidence that he was truly alive. Jesus had predicted that their sadness would turn into joy.
The gospel is not good news without the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. It was a horrifying weekend for followers of Jesus. Their hopes and dreams were shattered by a cross on Friday afternoon. Jesus was the one they thought would restore the kingdom to Israel, their expected messiah; whom they did not expect would die; neither they expected him to rise from the dead. They thought everything ended with the death of Jesus.
Today is Palm Sunday according to our calendar; we remember the time when Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem riding on a donkey. Most people may know this when they hear the phrase “Palm Sunday.” This is the inauguration of what we know as passion week. The week leading to Christ death and resurrection. This event is known in the Bible as the triumphant entry. What was this about?
The Bible is God’s Word; God’s message to the world. It has the power to transform lives. God uses it to change us; to train us and to equip us to be seasoned disciples. There are people who read it and listen to its message but still don’t experience transformation. Have you ever wondered why that is? Why is it that a person may have been brought up in church their whole life, but doesn’t show sign of maturity as a developed follower of Jesus?
Kids make their parents happy and proud when they do things according to the standard of their parents; when they do well at school or perform well in the play or at the field. A father was devastated when he was told by his younger son that his brother had said the s word. Later, the father was relief to find out the s-word his son used was “stupid.”
In the last couple of weeks, I have been discussing our new identity once we choose to follow Jesus. There are many people who profess to follow Jesus, but they still don’t understand what it means to truly follow Jesus; they don’t know who they are in Christ. As followers of Jesus we must know him, and we must know who are to be as his people. Not knowing who we are in Jesus would have us misrepresenting God in the world.
Last week I talked to you about the new identity God’s people have because of their relationship with Jesus. If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Being a Christian is to have a new identity. The Bible uses lots of metaphors or imageries to help us understand who we are and what we are supposed to do. We are Christ’s ambassadors in this world…
When you become a follower of Jesus you made a transition from death to life, from your old self, to a new self in Christ; you transition from darkness into light.
When you were born you were given a family name, an identity. If you end up in prison, you lose that name and your identity becomes a number. When you travel to other countries, you must have a passport which tells the immigration agent where you are from. Certain jobs give you new identities by which people would identify you. For instance, officer so and so, Doctor…x, NCIS, NYPD, ect. They are not just known by their names, but also by what they do.
When you go over a bridge you exercise great faith in the structure of the bridge, the cables, steel and concrete which keep the bridge from collapsing. Our beliefs function as the structure upon we build our lives. Our beliefs determine our behavior or actions; in other words, how we act or behave is governed by what we believe. When you examine your lives and you realize you live in fear and insecurity, when you feel overwhelmed by life’s challenges; then I must ask you to ask yourselves, “what do I truly believe?”
Today two football teams will be facing each other; at the end of the day one will rise victorious and the other defeated. The champion is the one who overcomes the challenges the opposing team will throw at them.
We all face challenges in life. In order to move forward in life, you must overcome challenges. You either overcome them or get overcome by them. Giants were impeding the Jewish people to go and take possession of the land God had promised to them. That was what was keeping the Israelites from enjoying their inheritance. After 2 years and about three months Israel made it very close to the land of the promise. (Nu.10:11). God commanded Moses to send out spies to inspect the land. Twelve men from each of the twelve tribes. They were to spy out the land for 40 days and bring back report.
You and I face challenges in every area of our lives. As long as you live, you will have to battle against things in order to accomplish your goals. You will come against obstacles, barriers on your way to accomplishing your goals. In the Christian race you are running, you will be challenged to quit. Growing in Christ is no walk in the park, it requires determination and hard work. The church of Christ will face a great many challenges in her attempts to fulfill Christ’s mission.
Our church is going through the election of elders and ministry leaders. Which get appointed every three years. In most evangelical churches today, you hear the word elders to refer to the leadership of the church. It’s clear to me that there are still people who don’t understand the role or function of elders. We made a pamphlet to guide you and remind you of the biblical qualifications for elders. The Bible also tells us what they did, and we will be looking at a passage in which there are three words to help us understand the biblical functions of elders.