FROM THE DESK OF WILL SPOKES, SENIOR PASTOR
Words For Reflection:
Jesus’ resurrection provides the energy and conditions by which we “walk before the Lord in the land of the living” – the great psalm phrase (116:9). The resurrection of Jesus creates and then makes available the reality in which we are formed as new creatures in Christ by the Holy Spirit. – Eugene Peterson
For next Sunday:
Sermon Text: John 20:1-29
Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing - Adoration
Come, O Come Thou Quickening Spirit - Confession
Amazing Grace - Grace
The Church’s One Foundation - Response
Glorious Things of Thee are Spoken - Communion
Doxology - Old 100th
The Bible Project:
As a way to help you grasp the over-arching story of the Bible, I am going to include each week a link to one of The Bible Project videos that summarizes in a few minutes one book of the Bible.
This week check out the summary of 2 Thessalonians.
If you are looking for help to read the Bible in a more regular way, you may find this approach and this app helpful.
Hope For Birmingham Resource:
Brown v. Board of Education, a landmark United States Supreme Court Case in 1954 led to the desegregation of American Schools. The young girl behind the case was Linda Brown. She died on March 25, 2018. To listen to the story check out 'The Daily' podcast from the New York Times.
Singing To God (Psalm 95:1-5)
Crown Him With Many Crowns
Crown Him the Lord of life,
Who triumphed o'er the grave,
Who rose victorious to the strife
For those He came to save.
His glories now we sing,
Who died, and rose on high,
Who died eternal life to bring,
And lives that death may die.
Bowing Before God (Psalm 95:6-7b)
Prayer of Confession
Father, Son and Holy Spirit, each day of our lives has proved us guilty in your sight. Prayers have been uttered from a prayerless heart; our best efforts to love you and others are but filthy rags. All things in us call for our rejection but all things in Christ plead for our acceptance. We appeal from your throne of perfect justice to your throne of boundless grace. Grant us to hear your word assuring us of the gospel of your Son: that by his stripes we are healed, that he was bruised for our iniquities, that he was made sin for us that we might be declared righteous before you, that our grievous sins, our many sins, are all forgiven. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Words of Grace
He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
1 Peter 2:22-25
Hearing From God (Psalm 95:7c-11)
Sermon Text - John 20:1-29
1. The Plausibility of the Resurrection
2. The Good News of the Resurrection
3. The Power of the Resurrection
The Heart of the Message
Christianity is a religion based on certain facts of history, the most important of which are the death and resurrection of Jesus. The Apostle Paul insists that if Jesus has not been raised from the dead there is no forgiveness or freedom from sin. In other words, everything about Christianity falls apart. But to believe in the resurrection also means believing in something none of us have ever seen. However, John anticipates our very situation when he writes, “these things are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (20:31) In other words, the resurrection isn’t an event with no relevance to us. It is the path to life! It is exploding with good news for sinners. Think about the Disciples. They have all betrayed Jesus out of self-preservation. They are all afraid of what might happen to them if the Jews figure out who and where they are (v. 19) At least in Thomas’ case he is adamant that he will not believe unless his demands are met (v. 24-25). Self-preserving, fearful, cowardly, and demanding people. Those are the people Jesus appears to and the first word he speaks to them is, “Peace be with you! (v. 19, 21, 26) In other words, he is saying, “We are good. I will help you. Let me show you.” He is saying my peace is not dependent on your loyalty, fruitfulness or response. It is a gift of grace. Jesus wants his followers to know they are family, that what is true of him is true of them (v. 17). Not only that, he also intends to use them to be his instruments of good news and forgiveness to the whole world (v. 21, 23) promising to be with them to the end of the age (v. 22). Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed (v. 29).
- What features of this story stand out to you the most? What do you notice about the characters?
- How plausible do you think the resurrection of Jesus really is given the way John wrote his account? Do you think it’s a fabricated story or historically reliable? Explain.
- How do you see yourself reflected in the Disciples?
- What does it mean to you that Jesus’ last word on the cross was “It is finished!” and his first word to his Disciples after his resurrection was “Peace be with you”?
- What is one aspect of the resurrection you can take with you this week that speaks good news into your life?
Confession of Faith: The New City Catechism, 2017
Q. 13. Can anyone keep the law of God perfectly?
A. Since the fall, no mere human has been able to keep the law of God perfectly, but consistently breaks it in thought, word, and deed.
None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have
no one does good,
not even one.