Sunday, April 25, 2010


In recent times we have witnessed some unexpected events which changed the course of human History. Mr. Nassim Taleb the author of “The Black Swan” regards “almost all major scientific discoveries, historical events, and artistic accomplishments as "black swans" undirected and unpredicted. He gives the rise of the Internet, the personal computer, World War I, and the September 11, 2001 attacks as examples of Black Swan Events. How can we identify these Black Swan events? According to Taleb “The event is a surprise (to the observer).The event has a major impact. After the fact, the event is rationalized by hindsight, as if it had been expected.”

What is a surprise and unexpected to the world should be a no brainer for Christians. Aren’t we called to expect the unexpected?

The earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, China, and the recent volcanic irruption in Ice land could be classified as “Black Swan Events” They came as a total surprise to many, have a major impact on the world’s economy and can be rationalized. When we don’t find adequate reasons to these events we tend to blame it on “Global Warming” as the prime cause for these natural calamities. But is that really true? Or something more is happening that we are not paying attention to?
The recent catastrophic events, are they leading to the end of the world? Is the world coming to an end much sooner than we expect? For Christians when we hear the end of the world means Christ’s return. What does the Bible have to say about the Lord’s return? What are the signs we could expect to happen before the end of the world? Is there any date predicted in the Bible in regards to when Christ would return? How can believers be better prepared to face the challenge of unexpected events (by the world) and help others when they do happen?

In order to find answers to these questions and also to unfold the unexpected events, let’s turn to Matthew 24th Chapter.

The first temple that was built by Solomon in Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 B.C by King Nebuchadnezzar. Subsequently, after returning from the exile the Jews rebuilt the second temple in 515 B.C. The second temple was smaller than and inferior to Solomon’s temple, nevertheless it was a breath taking structure and was the pride of the Jewish race. Jesus’ disciples must have been taken a back when Jesus said, “not one stone here shall be left upon another.” In other words it was going to be destroyed.

It was unthinkable for them to even imagine that one day this humongous, massive structure would not be there. For them it must have been as if the end of the world was at hand. They wanted to settle the matter with Jesus once for all so they went up to the Mount of Olives and privately asked Jesus, saying, “Tell us when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age.” To that inquiry Jesus gave several signs to look for. One sign has already come through according to his predictions the Romans destroyed the temple in 70 A.D. If you turn the TV, and listen to the radio or read the news paper we see many of the signs mentioned in Matt 24 happening right in front of our eyes. The first sign:

A. FALSE CHRISTS & FALSE PROPHETS: Vs 5 “For many will come in my name saying, “I am the Christ and will mislead many.” Vs 24, “they will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible even the elect.” Since this saying many have come and claimed to be the Christ. They performed great signs and wonders and made great promises. Unfortunately many gullible Christians have become victims to false teachings. We are forewarned in the Bible that there will be false prophets in the end times.

In recent times there have been at least 15 people who claimed to be Jesus. Here are a few names to consider. Charles Taze Russell the founder of Jehovah’s witnesses who denied the deity and the atonement of Christ and his return, Joseph Smith the founder of Mormons also known as “the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day saints” claimed to be the Lord’s anointed prophet. Sun Myung Moon, the founder of Unification Church also known as the Moonies, declared himself as the Messiah, Returning Lord David Koresh, the founder of Davidian religious sect. Jim Jones of Jonestown mass suicide thought he was “God of all things” The recent De Jesús from Puerto Rico also known as Jesus Christ Man and he currently lives in South Florida, claimed himself to be Jesus and Anti Christ. The list can go on.

The Apostle John gave a simple acid test to a congregation that was dealing with false prophets.1 John 4:1-3, “We must not believe every spirit, without testing it first whether they are from God or not.” Why? because, there are many false prophets in the world today. Whenever we hear some one claiming to be Jesus, or a prophet of God we must be careful, no matter how powerful they may appear they are false Christs and prophets. How do we know that they are false? Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist.” The second sign tells us that it is a time of strife, conflict at an international level in other words Wars.

B. WARS:( Strife or Conflicts): In the last 200 years our world has seen many significant wars. As we are talking there are several, from major to moderate wars raging. Here is a list of some of the deadliest wars in the 21st Century. Since the First World War there have been 35 million deaths as a result of war. Whether we like it or not almost every region of the earth is engaged in some sort of a war.

There is no guarantee for us to think that the nuclear non proliferation treaty (NPT) which was signed in 1968 would make the world peaceful. As long as certain countries like Iran and North Korea do not abide and threaten to use their nuclear arsenal there is an imminent threat and danger for all human life everywhere in the world. Paul tells the Thessalonians not to be fooled by the so called peace talks of political leaders. 1 Thessalonians 5:3 “While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.” The third sign is earthquakes.

C. EARTH QUAKES: (Shaking of a storm at sea Mt 8:24)
Like never before in the history we are witnessing earthquakes in rapid speed as if the whole earth is shaking. Hebrews 12:26 “At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens?” Is God shaking the earth? Or are these earthquakes mere scientific phenomena as the scientists would like to explain them away? Interestingly these days earthquakes are happening in most UNEXPECTED places.

I still remember waking up to terrible news in September 1993 where an entire village in India has wiped out to a 6.4 magnitude earthquake which killed 8,000 people and injured 30,000 people. The geologists still wonder as to what caused the earth quake there since India doesn’t lie on a plate boundary. The earth quake in Haiti has killed 222,570 people.

It is estimated that there are 500,000 detectable earthquakes in the world each year. 100,000 of those can be felt, and 100 of them cause damage. So today somewhere an earth quake will occur!! The following slide gives us an idea of the increase in earth quakes in recent times.

Why do natural disasters take place? The scientists and the geologists can not give adequate answers. The only credible explanation is found in the Bible. Joel 2:10-11, “On the Day of the Lord, the army of God marches and the Lord thunders at the head of his army. Before them the earth shakes, the sky trembles, the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars no longer shine.”
Job was amazed at God’s wisdom and mighty power when he said, Job 9:4-8 “His wisdom is profound, his power is vast. Who has resisted him and come out unscathed? He moves mountains without their knowing it and overturns them in his anger. He shakes the earth from its place and makes its pillars tremble. He speaks to the sun and it does not shine; he seals off the light of the stars. He alone stretches out the heavens and treads on the waves of the sea.

Romans 8:22 “We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” Earthquakes remind us that man is not all that powerful. The fourth sign we need to be aware is Storms or Natural calamities.
Though there is no direct mention of storms, Tsunamis and volcanic eruptions as one of the end time signs, the Greek word sesmoi could imply to all the seismic activity. It was the same Greek word used for earthquake also used in Matthew 8:24 for a storm, “Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat.” Many came to hear the word Tsunami for the first time as a result of a massive earth quake which struck the western coast of Indonesia in December 2004. Study tells us since 1960 there have been three major earth quakes of 9.0 magnitude and all three of them caused Tsunamis. So there is a connection between earth quakes and storms. How about Volcano eruptions? Are they caused by earthquakes too? Interestingly, there is a connection between earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Could it be possible that the Iceland volcanic eruption was triggered by the recent earthquakes in Chile and China? Michael Reilly a Geologist and reporter notes, “After the magnitude 6.9 earthquake in China early April 14th 2010 morning, things are starting to look a little bleak on this planet of ours. This year is only three and a half months old, and yet there have been devastating earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, and China. Armageddon isn’t here, God isn't mad at us, and there are no aliens playing Jenga with Earth's tectonic plates.” Reilly may suggest that God is not mad at us but I tend to think that God’s patience might be running out. The fifth sign to look for is Famines in various places.

E. FAMINES: The Bible records some of the worst famines that mankind ever experienced. Since the line between famine and plenty depends mainly on the rains coming at the right time and in the proper supply famine was an ever present threat in Palestine. During a famine Abraham migrated to Egypt. During another famine God spared the lives of Jacob and his whole family through the clever management of resources by Joseph. It was during a famine Elijah was kept alive by the widow of Zarephath. There was a famine recorded in Acts 11:28 where we see how the disciples have helped out their brothers.

God often uses famine as a way of punishment.
Psalm 105:16 “He called down famine on the land and destroyed all their supplies of food.” Ezekiel 14:21 "For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: How much worse will it be when I send against Jerusalem my four dreadful judgments-- sword and famine and wild beasts and plague-- to kill its men and their animals.”

Thankfully we don’t see many famines in the USA. However in the past 200 years we the world has seen some great famines like the Irish Potato Famines in 1740 and 1845 in Ireland. As you read many places in the world are experiencing famine. This will only get worse as the days go by. Nina Fedoroff, the US State department chief scientist is convinced that food shortages will be the biggest challenge facing the world as temperatures and population levels rise. She predicted that Famines will affect a billion people which will threaten global food security during the 21st century.”

When I see and hear about all these natural calamities I can not help but think of the Prophecy of Isaiah regarding the end times. Isaiah 24:17-21 “Terror and pit and snare await you, O people of the earth…The floodgates of the heavens are opened; the foundations of the earth shake. The earth is broken up, the earth is split asunder, and the earth is thoroughly shaken. The earth reels like a drunkard, it sways like a hut in the wind; so heavy upon it is the guilt of its rebellion that it falls-- never to rise again. In that day the LORD will punish the powers in the heavens above and the kings on the earth below.”

Scripture tells us that things will get worse before they get better. Jesus used the analogy of Child Birth to convey the intensity of the signs Vs 8 “But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.” During child birth the woman who is in labor initially has mild and infrequent contractions, but as the time approaches for the delivery the intensity and the frequency of contractions will increase. In the same way the terrible signs we are seeing today are only increase as the time goes by.

In conclusion let me read the words of Luke 21 from the Message (pg203) “Look at a fig tree. Any tree for that matter. When the leaves begin to show, one look tells you that the summer is right around the corner. The same here when you see these things happen, you know God’s kingdom is about here. Don’t brush this off: I’m not just saying this for some for future generation, but for this one too these things will happen. Sky and earth will wear out; my words won’t wear out. But be on your guard. Don’t let the sharp edge of your expectation get dulled by parties and drinking and shopping. Let’s pay attention to these signs of the false prophets, wars, Storms and famines. There are some more signs and we will look at them next time. Amen

Sunday, April 11, 2010


One day when George MacDonald, the great Scottish preacher and writer, was talking with his son, the conversation turned to heaven and the prophets' version of the end of all things. "It seems too good to be true," the son said at one point. A smile crossed MacDonald's whiskered face. "Nay," he replied, "It is just so good it must be true!"

How often do we hear about people engaging themselves in a discussion related to the subject of heaven? We don’t read it in the local News papers, the media doesn’t high lights it and the young person doesn’t dwell on it. The following statistics express the prevailing mood of the society. In 1991 a Gallup poll showed that 78 percent of Americans expect to go to heaven when they die. However, many of them hardly ever pray, read the Bible, or attend church. They admit that they live to please themselves instead of God. I wonder why they even want to go to heaven. In 'The Joyful Christian,' C. S. Lewis said, "It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in; aim at earth and you will get neither."

When I was growing up as a Child I heard my grand mother talking about the beauties of heaven. After I became a Christian I often imagined how wonderful and glorious that place would be. I longed to go there one day. Unfortunately it is rare to find such expectation and anticipation even among some of the born again believers these days. According, to J. Oswald Sanders, “Even among the Christians the so called gospel of “health, wealth, and success in this life has served to dim the desire of heaven. Heaven can be here and now.”

In the midst of such conflicting world views how can you know for sure heaven really exists? And if it does exist and is true then what is it like? And what could hinder you from getting there? To find answers to these questions we will turn to none other than Jesus who lived in heaven and came down to earth to show us the way to heaven. During his time on earth Jesus addressed many of life’s crucial questions. While he talked about the brevity of life on the earth he also exhorted people to look forward to a much better world to come which he referred to as “the Kingdom of heaven or the Kingdom of God” where God and his followers dwell in perfect harmony and comfort forever. HEAVEN: BY FAR A MUCH BETTER PLACE

One of such discourses is found in John 14:1-6. From the Message Bible, “Don’t let this throw you. You trust God, don’t you? Trust me. There is plenty of room for you in my father’s home. If that weren’t so, would I have told you that I am on my way to get a room ready for you? And if I’m on my way to get your room ready, I’ll come back and get you so you can live where I live. And you already know the road I’m taking. Thomas said, “Master, we have no idea where you’re going. How do you expect us to know the road? Jesus said, “I am the Road, also the Truth, also the life. No one gets to the Father apart from me.” Let me explain this passage.

John 14 begins with one of the most assuring words of our Lord Jesus to his disciples saying, “Let not your heart be troubled.” What has troubled the disciples so much that made Jesus utter these words? To understand the context we must go back into the previous chapter. Jesus knew his hour had come to depart from this world and go back to the father.
During a meal Jesus disclosed his departure plans but did not tell them where he was going, not only that to add to their frustration he said, “Where I go you can not follow me now, but you shall follow later.

Just imagine parents calling for a family meeting and announcing to the children that they were going to divorce. What do you think will go through the minds of those children? All sorts of things like anger, sadness, frustration, confusion, disbelief and so on. Upon hearing Jesus’ plans the disciples were troubled. The word troubled here explains not so much of their sadness but their state of confusion and unbelief. Infact, unbelief is one big concern that the author John was addressing throughout this gospel.

It is interesting to note that the word “believe” occurs about 150 times in the Bible and out of which it occurs 49 times in the gospel of John alone. What does that say? It means that John was dealing with a bunch of skeptics of his time who did not believe the claims of Christ including the disciples. John 20:30-31 “Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book, but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God and believing you may have life in His name.”

Not only during the first century even more so today mockers and skeptics discredit every claim of Christ and Christianity. Isn’t it ironic to note that it is harder to live out Christian ideals in a so called Christian society than elsewhere in some other parts of the world? What hinders us from sharing our faith boldly in public? What keeps us from letting our light shine brightly in the darkness? Is it because we don’t believe in Christ in the first place or are we afraid of being politically incorrect?

Let me illustrate, in John 12:37-43, “Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence they still would not believe in him. Yet at the same time many even among the leaders (rulers) believed in him, but because of the Pharisees, they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogues. For they loved praise from men more than praise from God.” Could this be said of us too? Are we concerned about what people think of us more than what God thinks of us? Are we afraid of loosing our reputation? Do we love praise from people more than praise from God? The unbelief among the Jews, Greeks and among his own disciples is what has upset Jesus more than anything else because unbelief is sin.

Jesus gave hope to the confused, fearful and disheartened disciples with assuring words. He called their attention to believe in God and believe in him. What kind of hope did Jesus give to his disciples? He pointed them heavenwards which he affectionately called My Father’s house. In a world of economic instability and insecurity where can we find hope?

John 14:2-3In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”(KJV)
As a Pastor I know these words bring tremendous comfort and consolation to the bereaved to know that their departed beloved is after all in a much better place. They also give much needed hope to the weary traveler on life’s Journey, a persecuted believer, a struggling saint, a faithful Christian, knowing that one day all his earthly troubles and groaning will be over and he will enter the heavenly city.

This particular scripture “In my Father’s house are many mansions” (KJV); Over the centuries has indeed inspired many to write songs of hope and comfort of a beautiful land that is far away. In 1898 Eliza Edmunds Hewitt wrote a popular Hymn “When we all get to heaven”. It has inspired believers in Christ to anticipate the glories that await us in God’s great Home.

Eliza Hewitt was a schoolteacher in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Eliza had her career cut short by a serious spinal problem. As an invalid she turned to hymn writing. Eliza had written her songs with the goal of reaching and teaching children with the truths of the gospel. I wish we could impart to our Children such precious eternal truths. Let me read a few words of that song.

"Sing the wondrous love of Jesus,
Sing His mercy and His grace;
In the mansions bright and blessed
He’ll prepare for us a place.

When we all get to heaven,
What a day of rejoicing that will be!
When we all see Jesus,
We’ll sing and shout the victory! "

Will mansions be truly awaiting us in heaven? The translator’s use of the word “mansions” in King James Version however has given rise in some people’s minds to a concept the word was never intended to convey. The other day we were driving through Cambridge, we saw pretty big dream homes like mansions over there. Of course who wouldn’t be delighted to live in a huge mansion? But brace yourself, what I am about to say may upset your version of a mansion.

When Jesus used these words he did not talk about mansions, the original Greek word is translated as “the dwelling place” It did not have that grandeur as suggested by KJV version. So it can be read as “In my Father’s House there are many dwelling places (rooms)” Whether there will be mansions or no mansions in heaven the very words “In my Father’s house” struck a deep personal chord to the disciples who have risked their lives and have left everything to follow Jesus. In a literal sense, “the father’s house” means a home.

Oswald Sanders notes, “Home means different things to different people. To the homeless it remains a tantalizing mirage, an unattainable ideal. To others it conjures up memories of strife, abuse and absence of love.” Ideally speaking home is a place where the parents provide emotional warmth, love, care and protection.

For many in the eastern society Father’s house still means a lot. It is a place of permanence. Jesus used this analogy of a home to describe the heavenly fathers’ home. Figuratively speaking the father’s house meant the family of God or the Kingdom of God. It was something that they could experience then and there but also something they were to look forward to with much excitement and anticipation.

The Kingdom of God is permanent and there is place for every body. This is what Paul envisioned when he said in 2 Corinthians 5:1 “For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” This is what was promised to all the heroes in the hall of fame of faith. In Hebrews 11:8-10 “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the Promised Land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For, he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”

Heaven by far exceeds all our understanding and wildest dreams. It is a place beyond human comprehension. Based, on the scriptures Oswald J Sanders mentions, ten blessings of Heaven. (Rev 7:16, 21:1-23). Though some of them may sound negative nevertheless they are blessings because in heaven you will only find blessings no curses.
1. No temple: Rev 21:22, there is no need for a physical temple the Lord himself be it’s temple.
2. No sea: 21:1, No shipwrecks, pirates and Tsunamis. Instead there is a River of life Rev 22:1
3. No death: 21:4, No heartache of loosing a loved one. No one will die anymore.
4. No mourning and Crying: 21:4 there will be no grief due to bereavement.
5. No pain: 21: 4, “We don’t need any pain killers. I will be free from my Gout forever.
6. No Hunger or no Thirst: Rev 7: 8 “Every one will have plenty to eat and be satisfied”
7. No tears: 21:4 “I don’t know what kind of Handkerchief the Lord will use” said Charles Spurgeon but He will wipe away all the tears of every citizen of heaven.
8. No night: 22:5 thieves will never break into our heavenly home. Our heavenly bodies do not need sleep to be recuperated like our earthly bodies.
9. No Sun or Moon: 22:5You won’t be scorched during the day, you don’t need the moon at night because the Lord will be our light.
10 No Evil: 21:27, There will be no impurity in heaven, no crime, violence, no terrorists.

Yeh right, that’s what you might be going through in your mind. This can’t be true? This is all an illusion. Prove to me that heaven indeed exists? If so where is it? Has any one gone to heaven and came back to earth tell us how it looks like? These are legitimate questions. I can’t answer all these questions but Jesus. He is not only the resident but also the president of heaven. He lived in heaven, and came down to earth to explain what heaven is like.

Before he departed he said, I am going ahead of you to prepare a place for you and I will came back to take you to be with me for ever. Moreover he said, “you know the way to that place” One of his smart perhaps somewhat skeptic follower asked, Lord we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way? To that Jesus uttered these most profound words of all time. “I am the way and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Even after living with Jesus for a long time, listening to his teachings, seeing all the miracles the disciples still had a hard time believing his words. Philip challenged Jesus saying, then show us the Father that is enough. In other words, show us God. Jesus must have been grieved in his heart with that, “Don’t you know me Philip I have been among you such a long time. Any one who has seen me has seen the father. How can you say, Show us the Father? Don’t you believe in me?

If Jesus were standing here before you and ask you “don’t you know me”? Don’t you believe in me? What would you say?

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Dennis Rainey of Family Life tells this cute story: As grandpa Bob drove into the driveway he could see his 4-year-old granddaughter, Julie, and a couple of her friends playing in the backyard. It was almost Easter and he wanted to know how much these children knew about the Easter story. Approaching the three little girls he asked, “Who knows why we celebrate Easter every year?”
One friend chirped up first: “Oh, that’s when you go sit on the big bunny rabbit’s lap and tell him what you want in your Easter basket.”
Her second pal’s answer was no better: “No, no, no! It’s when you get a tree and hang eggs on it—and you wake up on Sunday and there’s presents under it and …”
At this point Grandpa interrupted and gently said, “Those are good guesses. Julie, do you know why we celebrate Easter?”
Julie nodded her head. “It’s when Jesus was crucified. He died, and His disciples put His body in the grave. Then, on the third day, the stone rolled away …”
Grandpa was really encouraged that Julie knew so many details, she continued
“… And then the entire town would come out by the grave,” “And if Jesus came out and saw his shadow, they knew there would be six more weeks of winter!”

What would you say if you were asked why we celebrate Easter I am afraid some of our answers can be as confused as those Children’s answers were. My neighbor business man painted flowers and bunnies on his glass door to remind people of the season. Here in the west, Easter coincides with Spring season. Beautiful spring flowers, cute baby animals are born this time of year, the bunnies, ducklings and chicks. So is Easter merely a Spring holiday? Or is there more to it?
For me Easter is one big Encounter. The word Encounter means, “A coming together, especially when casual or unexpected. Let me share with you a face to face Encounter of two people who were on the Road to Emmaus on the first Easter Sunday. They Encountered Jesus and their lives were transformed.

Background: Over the centuries the city of Jerusalem has always been a city of religious importance for God fearing Jews. They made several trips back and forth from Jerusalem in search of peace and hope. On Palm Sunday Christ along with his disciples made a triumphal entry into Jerusalem among a huge fan fare of Jews shouting Hosanna.. which means “Lord Save us” Seeing these crowds many living in Jerusalem at that time had hoped that finally the messiah has come and he would deliver them from the tyranny of Romans. Contrary to their expectations Jesus was crucified and has been buried now for three days. The dejected and frightened disciples were scattered all around and some of them even made plans to leave Jerusalem for fear of persecution. We pick up our story from here.

The first Easter Sunday was a day full of encounters. Some shocking and unexpected things have happened. The highly protected tomb where Jesus was buried became empty, two angles appeared to the frightened women and said “He is not here; He has risen.” The women in turn went back to the disciples and reported all they had seen and were told. On the same day two of the disciples were going to a village called Emmaus about seven miles from Jerusalem. As they were walking and talking along unexpectedly “Jesus himself” came and joined them, but they were kept from recognizing. It was a divine encounter.

What was so divine in this encounter? First of all it was “Jesus Himself who came to join them” It was his initiation. Secondly though Jesus was with them they couldn’t recognize Him, why? Because they were kept from recognizing Him, we see this a few times playing out after the resurrection. In the same way even today Christ may be walking closer with you than you realize. Unless Jesus opens our eyes we too remain blind to his presence and his work in our lives.

As the three of them walked and talked, Jesus asked them what are you discussing together as you walk along? Look at their response “they stood still, their faces downcast, sad, gloomy or sullen.” What made them so sad? Obviously the horrific death of their close friend and master, but more than that they were sad because of something else. When Jesus pressed them further they shared what they knew about Jesus of Nazareth. They said he was a prophet, and was powerful in word and deed. They also shared how he was sentenced to death and crucified. This is what made them so sad, “but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel.”

The Jews had been waiting for a deliverer or a messiah for a long time. When finally Jesus appeared on the scene they thought their redemption was near. They pinned their hopes on Jesus, but with his crucifixion all their hopes seemed to have disappeared. When you are teenager you have lots of dreams and hopes about the future. Young girls dream of a beautiful life which consists to be out and about on the weekend, to be a slim trim 135 pounds, a size 8 dress, a college degree, a nice little home in suburbia with a white picket fence with Ikea furniture, and two or three children. That is an ideal dream. But the hard reality is that not all dreams and hopes will be realized. Boy when that happens, it is painful. The Bible says Hope differed makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Prov 13:12

The disciples thought, now Christ is dead all hopes and dreams have come to nothing but they did not realize that they were just having a hope Encounter with Jesus. Paul urged the Thessalonians to “put on the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” I Thess 4:9

Jesus’ suffering, crucifixion, the burial, the death and resurrection were all prophesied long ago by prophets and reiterated by Jesus a number of times. Yet the disciples could not grasp it otherwise they would not have searched for the dead among the living. When the women came and reported to the eleven apostles about what the angels had told them the disciples did not believe the women because their words seemed to them like nonsense. For the past two hundred years so many skeptics developed a number of theories to discredit the fact of the resurrection. One among them was the Swoon theory, The Swoon Hypothesis refers to a number of theories that aim to explain the resurrection of Jesus, proposing that Jesus didn't die on the cross, but merely fell unconscious ("swooned"), and was later revived in the tomb in the same mortal body.”

The Swoon theory may sound plausible to a skeptic today but how silly and strange it may have sounded to a Roman soldier who knew how to tell when their victims were dead. The scriptures tell us when the time came to remove the bodies from the crosses the soldiers came and broke the legs of the two thieves, but when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs, instead one of the soldiers pierced Jesus side with a speak, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. (John 19:32-36)

How else do we know that the resurrection is true? The whole account was written by Luke who was not only a first-class historian but also a physician who investigated the matter with the greatest of care. (Lk.1:1-4). (Col. 4:14), Luke having a scientific background, would not have been persuaded of a resurrection from the dead except on the ground of the most compelling evidence. Jesus said “I am the way and truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

When my Mom died in 1989, before she was buried I went to her dead body and earnestly prayed that she would live again but that didn’t happen. We don’t hear many stories where dead people come back to life. On any account it would be highly impossible for a dead person to come back to life that too after being in the grave for three days. But when something like that happens it is nothing but a miracle. There were many such incidents recorded in the bible where dead came back to life, Hebrews 11:35 “Women received back their dead by resurrection;” I do believe that miracles do happen even today. Reinhard Bonke a German evangelist shared and incident where a Nigerian pastor came back to life in one of his crusades.

Jesus said while he was still alive, John 10:17 "For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. Easter is a Power encounter where God demonstrated his power by raising Jesus from the dead. Acts 2:24, "And God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.” The women told the disciples that Christ was raised from the dead but they didn’t believe their words initially until they had a power encounter with Jesus.

No matter how many Proofs are given to attest to the fact that God exists and Christ has indeed died, buried and risen from the dead on the third day, some skeptics will refuse to believe until they too have a power encounter. On the other hand there are those hard core atheists like those while studying at Harvard who found God and their testimonies are recorded in a book called “Finding God at Harvard” by Kelly Monroe. Jesus demonstrated divine power throughout his ministry on earth. After he rose from the dead he showed his power by appearing and disappearing, entering closed door, opening spiritual eyes and in the end by ascending into heaven, only to come back to take all of his children to be with him forever.

We live in a highly pluralistic society where so many religions, cults and ideologies exist. There has been no historical evidence of any of the heads or the founders of these groups have come back to life once they were dead and gone. Then what makes Christianity unique? Its claims and criticism have endured over the centuries, but above all Christ’s resurrection. Luke a doctor recorded in Acts 1:3 “After his suffering, he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. During that time he made several personal appearances:

He appeared to Mary Magdalene (John 20:15), to the frightened disciples three times: Once while the doors were still closed (John 20:19). Secondly a week later made an exclusive appearance to Thomas and thirdly after disciples caught the largest amount of fish to Peter. It was a special heart to heart talk with him after that he restored Peter back to ministry. He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at the same time, and finally to Saul on the Road of Damascus.

In this narrative Christ walked and talked with these two disciples on the Road to Emmaus. It was one of the most personal and intimate appearances where he took time and explained all the Scriptures from Moses and all the prophets concerning himself. As they approached the village Jesus acted like as if he were going farther. The disciples insisted that he would stay with them only then Jesus went in to stay with them.

He is still the same, he never pushes his way. Jesus said, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” Rev 3:20. There are millions of people around the world who have responded to that gentle knock and opened their hearts to the Lord, I am one of them. How about you, have you ever had such a personal encounter with Jesus?

For these two disciples their Journey to Emmaus brought them in direct contact with the risen Lord. Though they walked with Jesus they did not realize it was Him. Jesus rebuked them with these words, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets of spoken.” After that face to face encounter with Jesus the disciples were transformed. They could hardly wait to get back to Jerusalem so the returned at once to Jerusalem. Upon finding the eleven disciples they reported everything what happened to them. They reported “it is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.

Some of you may identify with these two disciples. You may be attending Church for quite a while now, heard the truth of God’s word Sunday after Sunday but just like them you may not have been believing it for yourself. As those disciples invited Jesus into their home we too have to invite Jesus into our life. When the disciples had an Encounter with Jesus their lives were totally transformed. Have you had an encounter with Jesus? Today could be the day for a first time encounter with Jesus, for some of you it may be an encounter of affirmation like Peter had. You may need to hear Jesus’ words speaking hope and purpose into your life once again.