- THE ORIGIN OF MAN:
Sunday, April 29, 2012
Monday, April 23, 2012
Sunday, April 8, 2012
Part of the challenge in raising young children is being there for them and patiently answering hundreds of questions throughout the day especially “What If” questions, such as “Hey Dad, what if I jumped out of the car while it was moving? What would happen?” “Hey Mom, what if I stuck my tongue in the socket?” What would happen if never went back to school? “What if I only eat Ice cream and drank root beer for meals?” However silly and stupid these questions may sound we make room for them. How about “What if” questions in the Church such as, what if God did not exist? We say Hey, don’t ask that question here. We’ve not always handled our outside inquisitors, our faith-teetering skeptics and our wearied doubters with gracious elegance and honest engagement.
First Easter Sunday was full of inquisitors and skeptics. Jesus’ very own disciples were faced with, What if moment in their lives. The may have had questions in their minds, “What if Jesus remained in the ground after three days? They were so consumed with their own doubts they couldn’t believe any report and what they saw with their own eyes even when Jesus appeared to them face to face. It must have been disheartening for Jesus to see the height of skepticism and unbelief among his own disciples.
How did Christ handle their doubts? Was he angry, did he rebuke them for their lack of faith like other times? How did Jesus respond to one particular disciple who had a ‘so what’ attitude? What was the reaction of the disciples when finally the truth dawned on them? To find out answers to some of these questions let’s look at John 20:19-29. Read.
This passage can be divided into three parts. Firstly, the disciple’s what if moment (Vs19-20) Secondly, Jesus’ offer of peace when we are in doubt (21-23) Thirdly, Thomas’s what now moment (24-27).
I.THE DISCIPLE’S WHAT IF MOMENT: (Vs 19-20)
It was Sunday the first day of the week. It has been three days since Jesus was crucified and buried. As the disciples waited for the most anticipated resurrection of Christ what must have gone through in their minds? Doubts! Doubts! Of all sorts! What if Christ would never come out of the tomb as he had promised that he would rise again after three days? What if all what we believed is simply a lie? What if the Roman soldiers who killed Jesus’ now come after our lives? To add to their anxiety and doubts, Mary Magdalene of whom seven demons were driven out claimed that she had seen the LORD. Could they trust her words? Moreover her words seemed to them like nonsense. Doubts! All over again! In their minds they became prisoners to their doubts hence were paralyzed by their fears. They locked themselves up in a room for fear of retaliation from the Jews.
Don’t we all wrestle with these what if moments from time to time in our lives? Not only Children but adults also ask “What If” questions such as, “What if I married the wrong person? What if I never went back to that horrible job? What if I never became a parent to these children? What if I hit the lottery? And so on. What if the decision I have made is going to back fire? What if my business partner cheats me? What if I receive a bad report from my doctor? What if I get bad grades and fail in my exams? What if I am not accepted in college?
Personally in our immigration journey we have had many ‘what if’ moments. Doubts and fear paralyzes us from taking any action. The good news is that Christ would not leave us to our fears; he comes to us in our doubts. In our text we read that “while all the doors were closed Christ came and stood among them.” What did Jesus have to say to the disciples in their “What If moments?”
II. JESUS OFFERS PEACE WHEN WE ARE IN DOUBT? (Vs 19; 26)
How do we deal with people who come to us with questions and doubts about God and life in general? Unfortunately we often act more like Job’s friends than Jesus. We lecture them about faith and trusting God. Instead of praying we may be critical this further makes them doubt God’s nature and his character. How would Jesus deal with those who have little faith?
Several scripture passages tell us that Christ was and always is compassionate towards those who doubt and are frightened and offers peace to them. Remember when the disciples were caught in a storm they were absolutely frightened for their lives. All of a sudden Jesus appeared walking on the water. When they saw him they were doubtful whether it was the Lord or not in fact they thought he was a ghost. Did Jesus rebuke them for their fears and lack of faith? No! He said, “Take courage! It is I don’t be afraid.”(Matt 14:27)
On another occasion the disciples were distraught and fearful upon hearing Jesus’ plan of leaving them and going to heaven. Jesus said to them, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me…. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.( John 14:1,27)
Paul reminded his audience in the Church of Rome that Jesus was and is indeed the prince of peace. He encouraged them to take courage in the midst of trails and hardships because the God of peace will soon Crush Satan underneath their feet.” (Romans 16:20)What were the first words of Jesus after his resurrection? They are “Do not be afraid”, “Peace be with you” In our text we hear the same assuring words to his troubled and frightened disciples Peace be with you.
The disciples were over joyed when they heard those comforting words except one disciple named Thomas? What was his experience like? Where was he when Christ appeared to them?
III. THOMAS’S WHAT NOW MOMENT? (Vs 24-25)
It is interesting to note that when Christ appeared to the disciples the scripture tells us simply he was not with them? Where was he? We could only assume where he might have been. Was he so distraught that he needed to be alone? Was he bitter and hardened his heart because all what he learned of Jesus seemed a lie? Or was he angry that they killed his LORD that he was out there hatching a plan of revenge? We don’t know. Excitedly, the ten reported to Thomas that they had seen the LORD.” When he heard that did he say great and shared their joy? No he felt skepticism and doubt all over him so he said, Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”
Thomas was kind of a guy who is not merely convinced by simply hearing someone else’s report he needed tangible evidence. He needed the facts. Thomas represents many skeptics of today who don’t easily believe that God exists and that Jesus is the savior of the world. They look for visible signs, for them seeing is believing. These skeptics also exist in our homes and in our churches. They will have hard time to believe that God is at work in their lives. They question saying; I only believe in God if appears to me the way he appeared to Moses in the burning bush, or to Paul on the Road of Damascus? God has no problem to show himself the way you are asking him to do provided that your are willing to become blind for three days and spend the next forty years in the wilderness.
It is interesting to read that Jesus let Thomas remain for a week with his doubts. Why did Jesus take one week before he answered Thomas’s doubts? That tells me that some times God lets us wander in our doubts but nevertheless sooner than later he comes to turn our ‘what if’ moments to ‘what now’ moments. Some times he may only delay in coming to us quickly so that we may become strong in our desperation of exploration of Him.
Jesus never turns away any one whose heart is sincere in knowing him. He doesn’t push, ignore, punish, patronize or marginalize the doubter instead he comes to them in ways in which they will come to know him. We read in Vs 26; Jesus returned a week later; again the disciples were in the house; the doors were closed; but this time Thomas was with them. Jesus came and stood among them and spoke the same words, “Peace be with You.”
This time Jesus went one step further, he engaged the doubting disciple with tangible evidence. Jesus knew exactly what proofs Thomas was looking for, so he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” This is Thomas’s ‘what now’ moment, a clear encounter with the Lord himself. When Thomas was presented with a “What now” moment how did he respond to that sudden revelation? All he could say to Jesus was “my lord and my God”.
Jesus gave Thomas the help he needed even when he was in a “what-if?” mode. Even though Thomas was wondering “What if Jesus is still in the tomb?” Jesus still was willing to meet him in the place where faith and doubt intersected. Today many in our churches and homes stand in the legacy of Thomas. But as was the case with Thomas, when the risen Lord comes and stands before you today what would be your response? Would you embrace Jesus and worship him with these words, “My Lord and My God? Amen
Sunday, April 1, 2012
One of the most familiar pictures on American TV screens is that of the president of the United States walking across the South Lawn of the White House to board Marine One, his white-topped VH-3D helicopter, for the quick trip out to Andrews Air Force to board the Air Force One, the flying White House. You get an idea of what the Air Force One contains in the 1997 Harrison Ford movie. It all looks impressive. President George H.W. Bush had a treadmill installed on the plane so he could keep up his workout routine. On board Air Force One, the president and his entourage travel with all possible security precautions in place.
Let’s say the president is coming to
If it takes all that for the president of the
I. THE REASON FOR THE TRIP:
Presidents usually go where they were invited to make a speech or attend a meeting. Jesus received no invitation to come to
Jesus explained to his close disciples about the nature of his death and resurrection as it was written by the prophets yet his own disciples did not understand the plan. Even today God communicates His truth through the Bible and the sermons you hear on Sunday or from other sources yet just like the disciples we lack understanding. On this Palm Sunday and during the Holy week; let’s ask God for understanding and clarity of his message. Why did Jesus come to the earth? The primary reason for his trip from heaven to earth was to seek and save a lost sinner, that is you and I, and restore us back to the father.
The reason why he made his trip to
II. DONKEY ONE:
Jesus couldn’t have picked any other moment to make this spectacular entry. The city of
The disciples went and found a donkey exactly as Jesus described. As they were untying the donkey the owner asked why are you untying the donkey and the disciples said, “The Lord has need of it” that’s it; no more questions were asked, the disciples brought the donkey to Jesus. What can we learn from this incident? Four things: First; the Lord needs some thing or some one to accomplish his purpose. Secondly; as Christ needed a donkey to communicate a message concerning his kingdom to the people of
Coming back to our text in the midst of jubilation Jesus made his entry on a donkey. Imagine, the King of the universe! Came riding on a donkey? What a sight that must have been? It must have shocked some but given hope to many. Why did Jesus choose “Donkey One” as his mode of transportation? The scholars have noted three significant reasons for the usage of the donkey:
A) The donkey was a traditional mount for kings, rulers and prophets in the ancient Near East; Jesus was therefore making an implicit claim to be the king of his people.
B) In the Old Testament horses were associated with war and human pride, the donkey may have presented the image of peaceful humility. By riding on a donkey Jesus was making a statement regarding the nature of his kingship and kingdom. In fact he was ushering in another kind of Kingdom where Love and Peace reigns.
C) The image of a King on a donkey approaching
A young donkey the mode of Jesus’ transportation was perhaps even more symbolic for the crowds gathered than Air Force One is to us. By riding into
Behold your king is coming to you, your king He is Just and endowed with salvation, Humble and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” In a way Zechariah was prophesying about the future messiah, King Jesus. Instead of a display of power and might with armed security and fighter escorts, this King comes in humble and riding on a donkey. Jesus’ unassuming arrival without any pomp and military power must have sent mixed reactions in the crowd. While the Pharisees, scribes and teachers were offended and disgruntled by the shouting of Children, how did the crowds along the way respond?
III. THE CROWDS ALONG THE WAY:
The ordinary folk, the farmers, many of these people probably wouldn’t have passed a Secret Service screening, but they nonetheless lined the road for the approaching donkey-cade, were simply delighted with joy. As Jesus entered through the gates, the crowds went out of their way, some took off their cloaks (outer garments), and some cut Palm branches from the trees and laid them on the road. The young, the old and little children began to shout joyfully, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David. Hosanna in the Highest” What does Hosanna mean? It is a Hebrew expression meaning “Help or Save”
Throughout his ministry wherever Jesus went even under normal circumstances crowds followed him. However, Jesus was not impressed by huge crowds because he knew their hearts so he wouldn’t entrust himself to anyone easily. But this time it looks like the crowds got it right; really? They were shouting LORD save us; but what were they asking the Lord to save them from? Was it from the tyranny of the
Jesus is not easily fooled, even when people shout Praise God and Hosanna in the Highest, he sees right through to what is in their hearts. Christ passed through the cheering crowds, disgruntled Pharisees and saw the actual state of the whole city of
A few days prior to Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem this is what he said out of vexation of it’s constant refusal, we read in Luke 13:34-35, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate.”
What happened to the city of
Palm Sunday is a great time to assess our preparation for the King’s arrival, not only in our individual hearts but also in terms of the end times. If our King comes to us so gently and humbly, how might we prepare for his return by following his example? Would we be prepared? If Jesus were to arrive in our congregation this Sunday, how would you welcome him? What would you be proud to show him (or ashamed to show him)? With what songs and shouts would you praise him? Sing and shout Hosanna today for the Lord to not only save you, but the whole world we live in. Amen