In Case you missed it: Before and After

Here is the sermon that I shared Sunrise Service Easter Morning in case you missed it.

Mark 16:1-8

Jesus Has Risen

16 When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb 3 and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. 5 As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

6 “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”

8 Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.

When dealing with stories in the Gospels We often have to look to the other Gospels to get the full story. Now the other Gospels tell that the women did tell the disciples about what had happened at the tomb that morning. They also tell that this information triggered a foot race between Peter and John. The only comparison I could give would between Craig (my brother) and I, with Craig giving me a 100 meter head start. On the way Peter had to thinking “Why single me out, out of the twelve why me?” The angel did say to go tell the disciples and Peter.

After all Peter was a nobody. A fisherman from Galilee just as his father was and the father before that and you get the picture. That is until Jesus steps into the boat. He is told to go out further and cast his nets. The nets are instantly filled with fish to the point of sinking both Peter’s boat and Andrew’s boat as well. At this point Jesus calls Peter to be one of his disciples.

Peter’s journey over the next three years would prove to be nothing short of spectacular. Witnessing miracles beyond belief, from the healing of his own mother to the feeding of over 5000 people with just five loaves of bread and two fish. And who could forget walking on water.

However despite all the highs, as Peter running to the tomb, he is at an all time low.

You see the last conversation that Peter had with Jesus while he was alive, came with some disturbing news. Even though Peter was willing to go the end for Jesus, Jesus told Peter that before the rooster crowed the next morning Peter would deny Jesus three times. And despite the court yard’s bystanders attempts It happened just as Jesus said it would.

Peter and John found the tomb exactly how the women described it. Stone, rolled away, tomb, empty, angel, still sitting on the right with the same message to return to Galilee where Jesus would meet them and ultimately set Peter straight, but that’s a whole other sermon for another day.

That morning Peter found the tomb empty marked a turning Point in Peter’s story. From this point on there is a before and an after. Before Peter may have been the unspoken leader of the twelve, but when the time came be was to scared to even be associated with Jesus. After Peter became the outspoken leader of the group and boldly took the News of Jesus where no one else dared to go.

I know for a fact that many of us in this room could tell a before and after story. Some are more simple than others but they’re there.

Think of a moment in your life that changed you. I will leave you to interpret that how you want. Write that moment on the index card you were given. On the other side, I want you to write who you were before and after that moment. You should find pens in the Hymnal holders

(Give two minutes)

I’m sure that if we took a survey of the moments represented on those cards. Your moment is very different from the one sitting next to you.

However there is one moment that we will all have to face at one moment or another. It is the same moment that Peter was faced with. It is the moment at the empty tomb. The moment that you realize that Jesus is indeed Risen from the dead.

That moment you realize that Christ died for you. No matter who you are or what you have done Christ loved you so much he died for you.

That moment you hear of the free gift of God. That all you have to do is believe that Jesus is the Son of God, died on the cross to take your sins, smashed them to smithereens when he rose again anthe d is coming back for each of us.

The moment you cry out to God for this gift. Romans 10:23 states that all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.

I realize that the only thing between you and breakfast is me.

I also realize that we are about to share a meal with one another. Take this opportunity to ask those around you about this gift. Our church has been blessed with three pastors, several laymen and women, and others who have come to this moment and are writing their afters. Go ahead ask any questions you may have and for the rest of you, don’t be afraid to answer those questions.

Let us pray.

The Twist You Can’t Resist

Good Easter Morning.

It’s Sunrise Here in Hamilton IN and things are shaking up in the story of Easter.

It is probably the biggest twist in the Bible. Especially after the events of the past week.

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him. ‘Now I have told you.” So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

—Matthew 28:1-10

When all hope was lost. The Women Found that the Body was missing. Only to run into the body standing and very much alive right in front of them.

It is the reason that we celebrate this morning.

And honestly we can’t resist this amazing twist. He is EVERYWHERE. Literally

Even Jonah learned that you can’t run from God..

Our Lord is Alive. He is risen!  It’s one of those things that left the high priests thinking WHAT? How can this be?

Many found it hard to deny the fact when reports that multiple people had seen and spoken with the risen savior.

The facts are in, The tomb is empty, The Lord is risen and beaten death in the process. Won’t you Let Him into your life today.

Anyone thinking of getting Twizzlers right now?


Cross Examination

What is it about the cross that makes it so special?

In English,the letter “t,”

Math: a sign meaning addition or turned 45 degrees multiplication

Statistics: a type of number used to work on probability.

Sports: time out

Geometry: perpendicular lines

Cooking: the symbol for either a teaspoon or a Tablespoon

In television it is preceded by a Mr.

add it to Google and you get a social networking system.

In England its accompanied with small baked goods (oh wait that’s tea)

to the Roman Empire: a Torturous way to die.

Yet what makes the cross so special in the lives of Christians is not what but whom.

That whom is Jesus and in the timeline of Holy week  Jesus has been in the tomb for not quite 24 hour. Last night Jesus was laid in the tomb as seen here.

As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock.

He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.

—Matthew 27:57-61

Today is a day of rest. The Jewish Sabbath calls for no work to be done, all food was to have been prepared yesterday so that time could be given to God on this day in remembrance that In God rested on the seventh day of creation. Which gives a lot of time for the disciples to think about the cross and reflect on the teachings of their now, but not for long, dead teacher. The Bible skips over this day except to tell us that the women go out to buy spices in the evening to finish embalming Jesus’ body in the morning.

It’s as if everything lies in anticipation for tomorrow when the Cross takes on a whole new meaning.

No longer is it a symbol of Rome’s presence in Israel, but a reminder of what Christ went through to defeat the grave and our sins for all eternity.

So What’s so special about the Cross?

It was the mechanism that saved all who call on the name of the Lord and took all the sins of the world and smashed them to smithereens.

You’re Not Cut Out For This

Ever have one of those days where everything seems to go wrong. Those days when all hope seems to be lost?

November 2012, I was still on an internship for Huntington University. For me it was evaluation weekend. The weekend that a professor came down and observed how I was doing and gave me the grade that he thought I deserved, based on interviews with others and my performance within the ministry. Let’s just say that it was not a pretty sight. We sat down and chatted when it was all said and done and he pretty much stated “You’re not cut out for this.” That moment when everything changed for the worse. I no longer felt motivated to be at that ministry, yet at the same time I wanted to prove my professor wrong. That I could do this, that I could be successful in a ministry setting.

Yet the next semester goes by, and I can’t seem to find a job. I looked at all sorts of internships and fellowships that I could do, but nothing seemed to fit or else I got turned down. Through a friend I found out about Shepherd Community Center in Indianapolis applied for a fellowship position and prayed real hard. I got the chance to go, but not for the year-long fellowship like I was hoping for. Still it changed my life in a way I will never forget. But now I am at square one all over again. Right back in that same position I was in at the end of the semester only this time, I have to start paying back those loans I took out for college.

I felt like I was doubting my call to ministry, maybe my professor was right maybe I wasn’t cut out for this. Yet if this is not what I am supposed to do then what is?

Much of what you just read was a draft that I wrote on one of the days when I felt like all hope was lost in finding a ministry. When I thought that God had gone silent and wasn’t answering. I can only imagine what the disciples had to be feeling as these events were happening.

As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull).

There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS.

Two robbers were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!”

In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the King of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ “In the same way the robbers who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

From the sixth hour until the ninth hour darkness came over all the land. About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.” Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”

And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people. When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

—Matthew 27:32-54

I’m sure that all hope for them had gone out the window. Many had forgotten the words that Jesus would raise from the dead, as they often misunderstood what Jesus taught. They may have thought that they hadn’t signed up for this and that they weren’t cut out to deal with what had just happened. The next day was the Sabbath and as Jews they would go to the Temple then the probably stuck together in a room somewhere within Jerusalem or in Bethany where they had been staying for the week. No doubt that they reminisced about the past three years the highs, the lows, the time that this happened and that happened.

What they don’t know is that It’s still only Friday, The best is yet to come.

Stick around this weekend. Something will be posted  each day cultivating on Monday with the Message that I have been asked to give at my church’s Easter Sunrise service that will end this year’s version of Journey to the Cross.

Pot(aye)toe is Not Pot(ah)toe

Have you ever been in one of those situations where two people are saying the same exact thing, just using different terminology (or accents) to get there? Take the word “potato.” Depending on where you’re from or how you grew up it will sound different. Same word, different pronunciation.

Take a look at this.

 Those who had seized Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were gathered together. But Peter was following Him at a distance as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and entered in, and sat down with the officers to see the outcome. Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, so that they might put Him to death. They did not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward. But later on two came forward, and said, “This man stated, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to rebuild it in three days.’ ” The high priest stood up and said to Him, “Do You not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?” But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, “I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said* to him, “You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see The Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy; what do you think?” They answered, “He deserves death!” Then they spat in His face and beat Him with their fists; and others slapped Him, and said, “Prophesy to us, You Christ ; who is the one who hit You?”

Matthew 26:57-67

Let me set up the situation that sets above. Jesus has been brought before the Sanhedrin, the top Jewish leaders in a trial like format. The catch is that this is taking place late at night or very early morning. Jewish law forbids that the Sanhedrin meet at night. There are many false witnesses, also illegal, and as a result many contradictions. It is not until the comment is made about an earlier comment about Jesus tearing down the Temple and rebuilding it in three days mixed with frustration that Jesus is not saying anything that problems begin to arise

Note that when Jesus made these comments he was talking about Himself  and the events that would unfold later and celebrated in about a week in the Christian faith, not the actual Temple which took decades to build and complete.

It is only after the Priest uses the name of the living God does Christ finally speak and then he does not deny what the other have said against him. Rather we get into what we today would see nothing wrong with. A statement that Yes I am the Son of God and from today on you will see me sitting at the right hand of God and coming on the clouds of Heaven. Potayto Potahto Right?


Brief History Lesson.

At this time the Sanhedrin is split into two groups of thinking Sadducee and Pharisees. You would think that the Pharisees would want to be fair you see, and give a proper trial in daylight and by the rules. However they are not the ones running the show. The word that Jesus spoke went directly against the thought of the Sadducee. They believed that there was no life after death making them very sad indeed. This is where the “blasphemy” charges come from. Which boils down to a charge of “We don’t like you for bruising our egos” charge which makes for a little more humorous interaction with Pilate later. (all puns intended, try reading this paragraph out loud if you missed them)

In this case there are two very different ways of living are colliding in what could be a massive debate, bringing in numerous scriptures and ways to interpret them. However Jesus remains silent after this statement. Allows the slaps, punches, spitting, mocking and everything else that comes his way. He knew this was coming and carries out his father’s will. Two ways God’s way and what the Laws had become after hundreds of years of human translation.

Potayeto is not always Potahto