After the greatest act of love ever committed, Jesus lay dead in a donated tomb. His loyal companions and followers were stunned, sickened by what they had witnessed. But beyond the gory details of this death, they were hit with the uncomfortable thought that perhaps all they had known the past 3 ½ years was a lie, fake, delusional. This man Jesus they had trusted and loved was dead. He died like everyone else. There was no last minute fire from heaven to kill the Roman soldiers or the angry mob of his own brethren demanding his death. There was no angelic rescue team to pull him off that dreaded piece of wood. He was dead. For real. No one was coming to save them from the Roman rule. They would not be sitting on anyone’s right hand in the new government. They had seemingly been duped. Now what? Well, three days later, it was imperative that the risen Jesus convince them beyond a shadow of doubt that all he had promised was REAL and was happening. His followers needed to be 100% convinced and energized to tell the Good News at any cost to all who would listen. The man Jesus was gone forever, but the spirit Jesus would have life within himself, and power to restore all of mankind back to his Father. They needed to urgently tell that story to you and me. How did they go from feeling ultimate betrayal and grief to absolute certainty and joy?
Thinking about the death of Jesus always produces a variety of emotions. On one hand, we feel a deep sense of gratitude, hope and praise, for without his willing sacrifice and ignominious death, we would all remain under the sentence of sin with no possible way out. In short, we and the entire human race would be doomed to destruction. On the other hand, when we think of his death we feel the dull, persistent aching pain of sadness, because we know Jesus was an entirely innocent man who was subject to the most unfair and devious kinds of deception, mistreatment and torture. Did you ever wonder what was behind the events that brought Jesus to the point of crucifixion? Did you ever think about who did what and why to position the Savior of all mankind as an enemy of the state?
We are so shortsighted. Most of us can only see as far as the next phone, tablet or computer screen and we really don’t think much about we are seeing – we just want to see it, to have our minds toyed with and occupied, never giving thought to what is beyond and what is lasting. In our obsession with the occupation of our moments, we have completely lost one of the greatest things that we could ever personally bring to our world. We have lost the value of LEGACY. Legacy by one definition is “something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past.” You see, we have the ability to leave a lasting and positive impression on our world, if we would only realize that potential and act on it. Elijah is a great example of legacy. In fact, Elijah left one of the most unique and powerful legacies of any Bible hero. What legacy did he leave? How did he do it?
George Orwell’s 1949 book “1984” was about the future. It was a scary and suggestive look at what could happen to society if we didn’t protect our freedoms from totalitarianism. The idea that “Big Brother is watching” was a fearful one, as this fictional story gave the feeling that what we say and think are monitored and forcefully used to keep us in line. So, here it is, 2017, and the year 1984 passed 33 years ago without Big Brother watching. But wait a minute – the sexist and alarming thought of Big Brother watching would invade safe spaces and be recognized as a potential trigger for some. We need to be gender and social status-free in our policing of the masses. Instead of Big Brother watching, we should say, “Thought interpreting humans are guiding the collective.” The point is, we have entered a time in history where the policing of thoughts and words has overtaken us in a unique and disturbing way. What would Jesus do in this environment? Would he stand in support of it or against it? Would Jesus be politically correct?
Christmas has come - the hustle and the bustle, the lights, the music, the trees, the ornaments and the garland. Christmas has come – Santa and reindeer and elves and Frosty and movies and presents and gift wrap and cards. Christmas has come – whether you feel you can say “Merry Christmas” or just “Happy Holidays,” we are wishing well to those around us, for it is the season of good cheer and smiles. Christmas has come – family and dinner and cakes and pies and cookies and giving and receiving and football and dressing in new clothes. Yes, Christmas has come. It has certainly made its indelible mark on us yet again…. You know Christ has come – the prophecies said that he would and God’s plan said it was time. Christ has come – he was born to live so that he could die and redeem all of humanity. Christ has come – his gift was simple, yet it was the greatest and most powerful gift that could ever, that would ever be given to this world. Christ has come – and as a result, all of the human race has the opportunity for eternal life. Christ has come – has he made his indelible mark on you?
People want to be happy. They think about it, they talk about it and they do things do find happiness. The United States' Declaration of Independence speaks of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” Yes, we all want to be happy but have you ever thought about “joy”? Have you ever heard of people wanting and pursuing joy in their lives? Happiness and joy have several similarities in that they are both elusive and often fleeting. But joy, well, there is something profoundly special about joy. You see, joy is deeper than happiness. It can become a state of mind that unequivocally transforms you. Here is the catch – if you go looking for joy, you are actually pushing it further away from you. So, how do we find joy? Or more clearly stated, how do we let joy find us and change us in our every day experiences?
Inspiration elevates people. Everyone loves inspiration and wants to be inspired. We love to hear or watch stories that bring us inspiration, and we will go back to those stories again and again to refuel. Even more than going back to those stories, we would love to be inspiring to others – we would love to be that story that people go back to again and gain. Jesus was like that. He was a constant source of inspiration in everything he said and did, and for the last two thousand years, billions have gone back to the accounts of his life to be inspired and directed. Well, what if you could learn how Jesus inspired others and begin to become an inspiration yourself?
The life of Jesus truly is the greatest story ever told, for because of his life, all of mankind will also have life. The life of Jesus reflects all that is good and selfless in humanity. The death of Jesus reflects all that is courageous and noble and the resurrection of Jesus – well, that reflects all that is godly and loving. Jesus truly did leave us a legacy to follow. Today we honor his resurrection by following some of the legacy he left behind for us during his last day.
Palm Sunday is the day that Christians celebrate Jesus and his triumphant entry into Jerusalem. This event was a major step in the preparation of his final days leading to his crucifixion. On this program, we will look at three other events spread throughout his ministry that also prepared him and sent a clear message as to who he was – the three events are the three times he raised people from the dead. Were these connected? What was the message?
So, Christmas day is here. Hopefully it is filled with family, joy and happiness! Hopefully it provides some time to sit back and reflect on the amazing opportunities we have for freedom. Honestly, sometimes we at CQ look at Christmas as a bittersweet holiday. While we enjoy the story of Santa and his elves and do appreciate the goodwill that does seem to surface at this time of year, we feel a sadness at the lack of attention paid to the real story of Christmas. It is really too bad we are so afraid to name the name of Jesus Christ at Christmas! Well, not today, not now! Stay with us as we stop everything else and honor the real story!