It must have been awful for the apostles and disciples of Jesus when their leader was nailed to a cross. You know that time when things don’t go as you expected; when your hopes and dreams come to a halt. Jesus was the one they thought would restore the kingdom to Israel. This hope and dream was shattered on Friday by a wooden cross, but three days later, the unexpected happened…
Today is what is known as Palm Sunday in our calendar. A week before Easter or Resurrection Sunday. What is significant about Palm Sunday? The story is recorded in the four gospels as the triumphant entry. The day Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem riding on a donkey; this was the day that Jesus openly identified himself to the world as the expected Messiah.
God was ready to fulfill his promise to Abraham of freeing his people from slavery and embarking them on the journey to the Land he promised to give to them. God sent Moses to Pharaoh with the command to let his people go, but Pharaoh didn’t listen. God had sent nine plagues or catastrophes to Egypt; through these plagues God showed his power humiliating the Egyptian gods. The LORD told Moses he was going to send a final plague on all the land of Egypt. However, God provides deliverance, he gave instructions to Moses for the people to follow and escape his judgment.
We have discussed and preached about getting to know God; last week we talked about knowing Jesus, and today I would like us to get to know the Holy Spirit better. Part of knowing God is knowing the persons in which he is revealed. There are so many stereotypes when it comes to the Holy Spirit. If you talk too much about him some people think you are charismatic. Some think that to have the Holy Spirit is to shout, speak in tongues or fall backward when pushed by the preacher. In some churches you hardly hear about the Holy Spirit; he is the forgotten God that Francis Chan talks about in his book.
People have so many different ideas about Jesus’ identity. Today people think Jesus was a great teacher; the founder of Christianity; a Jewish rabbi. There are religious groups that have certain beliefs about Jesus. Jehovah Witnesses believe Jesus is Michael the arch angel; Mormons view Jesus as a god, but again everyone can become a god in their theology. They also see Jesus as Satan’s spiritual brother. For Islam, Jesus was a prophet like Muhammad.
With so many beliefs about Jesus, don’t you want to shout: Would the real Jesus please stand up?
It seems to me that there are lots of people who have not idea who God really is; the God that Scripture talks about. There may be a lot of people worshiping the Lord and not know who he is. You can be very religious and still not know God. You could have been raised in the church or a particular religion and do religious duties and still not know the one you claim to worship. The Bible tells us that you can be religious and still not know God and therefore not make it to heaven. Religion won’t get you there.
Some people struggle with their own identity. People’s identity may be tied to their career, accomplishments in life, spouse, parents, looks, etc. A person whose identity is connected to their job or career may suffer an identity crisis when they lose their job.
In the movie “The Bourne Identity” stars Matt Damon as Jason Bourne, a man suffering from extreme memory loss and attempting to discover his true identity amidst a clandestine conspiracy within the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Jason Bourne doesn’t really know who he is despite the skill sets he knows he has.
The Bible tells us of people who experienced identity crisis in their lives. However, these people were used by God in mighty ways, once they got passed their struggles with whom they were.
Last week we talked about God giving leaders in his church for the purpose of building it up. When we talked about the nature of the church we said besides being global, it is also local. We are told in the book of Acts how these local congregations came about. Paul and Barnabas were apostles and they traveled preaching the good news of Jesus. They established churches in every city they went. These churches were led by a group of elders. Acts 14:23 (They appointed elders in every church. With prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed
We have been talking about the church, the church belongs to Christ because he bought it; He is its founder. Last week we talked about the church as the body of Christ, every person in the church has a part to fulfill. A role to play.
Last week we started a series on the church, why the church matters. It matters because it belongs to Christ, he bought it with his own blood. We learned that the church is made of those people who profess faith in Christ, they recognize Jesus as their Lord. Jesus promised eternal destiny for his people, the church.
Maybe you have heard people say that they love Jesus, but don’t like the church. There are people who think they can have a relationship with Jesus apart from his church. They would just love Jesus and believe in Jesus but don’t want anything to do with the church. Nevertheless, When we go through Scripture and study the church of Jesus Christ, we will then understand that Christ’s church matters.