Jesus’ death was much more than a resuscitation or a near-death experience. He was dead, but God brought him back to life. Because of this, death is not the last chapter in the book of our lives, but the introduction to the next book–the book of eternal life. Jesus, who leads his people like a good shepherd, has made an end to sin and death for those who will follow him. Will you follow the Good Shepherd?
Jesus was very alone on the cross: the people had turned against him, his followers had deserted and even denied knowing him, and God himself turned his back on him as Jesus suffered the consequences of our sin. Jesus’ response to rejection and betrayal is remarkable. How great is his love!
Matthew 21:1-11. On what we now call “Palm Sunday,” Jesus entered Jerusalem as a king, but not the kind of king the people thought. Jerusalem was the stage for the final battle against sin and death, with Jesus emerging the victor and establishing his kingdom of peace and salvation.
John 17:6-26. As Christians, we often say, “I’ll be praying for you.” Sometimes this promise is encouraging and other times it sounds like a polite Christian cliché. But suppose Jesus promised to pray for you–would that impact the way you think about life? It seems like it ought to be encouraging, even empowering to know that the Son of God is praying for us.
Jesus was the incarnation of divine love but it was not the sloppy notion of love that we often hear about today. When he instructed the disciples to love one another he knew it was a difficult assignment that would involve complicated choices. When he said that God was a loving heavenly father who would provide only good gifts to his children, he really meant it but his definition of ‘good’ and our idea of ‘the good life’ are often quite dissimilar. He did not promise that loving one another and being loved by God would solve the problem of suffering. When Jesus was about to leave this earth he told the disciples that their life would not be a rose garden. Here is the stark reality: loving God and loving people actually produces suffering. How is that good news? The words of Jesus are always good news but they are not always easy.
John 16:5-15: Jesus talks to the disciples about coming difficulties, his leaving, and his sending the Spirit. How was it a good thing that Jesus was leaving? What were the benefits of the coming Spirit?
John 15:1-20. Jesus’ admonition to his disciples to “remain in me” was both a mystical spiritual reality that defies precise definition and a practical directive to abide in him (the vine) and bear fruit. Discipleship is a combination of at least three things: it is a way of thinking, a way of living, and a mystical supernatural experience. Come on Sunday and let’s think more about what it means to be “in Christ”.
John 14:1-11. Christ-followers past and present experience tension and a sense of mystery in living with two worlds in view–this world and the next. The way Jesus addressed the disciples’ questions about the future didn’t give them all the answers, but it provided them with perspective for a journey that is not aimless but includes an ultimate destination.
How do we reconcile the seemly harsh, judging God of the Old Testament with the emphasis on Jesus’ love and kindness in the New Testament? Dr. Paul Copan is Professor of Philosophy and Ethics at Palm Beach Atlantic University and the author or editor of numerous books.
Josiah speaks about the role of the Holy Spirit in shaping our church community.