I just found out that my friend Nick passed away last night. Already I can see the impact it’s having on people. The droves posting their condolences and “I’ll miss you’s” on his facebook page. Nick and I had the opportunity to visit for several hours in my living room just a few short weeks ago. We had gathered with a small group of people to talk about the desire to know God better. A desire he definitely had. We also talked about his amazing friends (whom he was super quick to brag on). Nick knew Jesus. He didn’t understand all of the religious does and don’ts and he wasn’t interested in them. He knew Jesus. He captured this video a few months ago while at a Korn concert. In a lot of ways it reflects his story. And now it reflects his future. He knows Jesus.
2 Corinthians 3:1-18
Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (2 Corinthians 3:4-6 ESV)
The Spirit of God changes people. He changed me. He keeps changing me. He keeps reminding me of errors, pointing out needed improvements, and guiding toward necessary refinement in attitude, doctrine, and discipline. The Spirit changes me.
The biggest and most impactful change the Spirit of God has worked in my life is salvation. I have crossed over from the destiny of death into one of life. Jesus made that possible. God made it sufficient. The Spirit has made it life.
Everywhere that I go. Everyone that I contact and connect with. I hope that I am able to give and share life everywhere! Just as the Spirit has called, empowered, and encouraged me; I hope that I will give life—the life of Christ—always and anywhere.
Read: Revelations 12:1-17
She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne (Revelation 12:5 ESV)
Christmas is awesome. By far my favorite holiday. I love the festivities. I love the traditions, and the time with my family. But, more importantly, I love the reason for the season.
The story of Jesus’ birth is amazing. Many miraculous events surrounded, and preceded it. But it is so much more than the cutesy candy coated Sunday School story we all know and love so much.
The Christmas Story is a story about invasion. It is the beachhead for the divine campaign to reclaim Creation, redeem humanity, and restore the Kingdom. God had set events in motion to become a man. He would walk the Earth. He would feel dirt beneath his feet and oxygen in his lungs. He would work, sweat, eat, love, and even die.
The Apostle John had a unique relationship with Jesus. He was almost like Jesus’ kid brother. And he lived long after the rest of the disciples. Having been exiled after surviving several attempted executions, John was visited at his island prison by Jesus. The Holy Spirit worked in John and granted to him a supernatural vision full of wondrous things—many of which are nearly impossible for me to comprehend. He wrote them all down in a book that has come to be called The Revelation. It is the last book of the Holy Bible, and it includes a passage that always rings so incredibly for me at Christmas time.
Jesus was born into tumultuous human times, but it was happening alongside epic supernatural events. Jesus invaded enemy territory. He stepped into death and brought life. He stepped into defeat and brought victory.
I like the Christmas Carols. Silent Night and Joy to the World are beautiful songs. But I imagine that first Christmas to be something more like D-Day than the latest Christmas Special. And all these centuries later, Jesus is still invading enemy territory to restore families, mend hearts, and breathe hope into hopelessness.
See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” (Luke 24:39 ESV)
Some pretty incredible events transpired in a room that has came to be known as the Upper Room. First, the Last Supper was held there and it is where Jesus instituted Communion. Also, Jesus appeared to ten of his disciples there following his death and resurrection.
Seeing Jesus was almost more than they could bare. Their minds couldn’t take it. It was inconceivable, even to those who had seen Jesus do the impossible time and time again. Some thought he was merely a spirit, and not actually the resurrected Christ. Jesus put that thought to rest by challenging them to see his scars and to touch his skin. He challenged them to experience his resurrected body.
He is still challenging us to experience the resurrection. He beckons us to him to find hope, healing, and forgiveness. Not to just a spirit; but to the resurrected Son of God.
Read: 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. (1 Corinthians 15:3-5 ESV)
I can’t help it. When I consider death I think of the finality of it. It just sounds like an ending. And, in spite of my belief about the afterlife, anytime someone I am close to dies it feels like a forced goodbye.
I think Peter must have felt much the same way about Jesus. The resurrection wasn’t something to they were counting on. No one had done it before. And even though Jesus told them exactly what would happen! it seems like they largely missed the point.
So when Jesus began to appear to his disciples I can’t imagine how they must have felt. It would have been like seeing something you believed to be impossible happen right before your eyes. Like seeing a fallen leaf fall up or a man flying under his own power.
Death feels certain. And life after death unknown. We believe, and we hope we know, but we don’t know for certain. Peter had his conviction steeled the day the risen Son of God appeared to him. The man he loved demonstrate the reality of his deity by returning to life. Everything changed for him he day that Peter saw Jesus.
Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. (John 20:4 ESV)
Peter and John heard that the tomb of Jesus was empty, but they had to see it for themselves. So they ran all way there. John outran Peter, but Peter went in first.
They saw the empty tomb. Jesus was not there. They believed him to be alive, but they didn’t yet understand the significance of the event. It was unprecedented.
Today, it is still unprecedented. People don’t just come out of tombs. When we run to Jesus we aren’t running to the grave. We’re running to the grave robber. We’re running to life.
Read: Matthew 28:1-10
He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. (Matthew 28:6 ESV)
Jesus was raised from the dead after three days in the tomb. He had talked about it, predicted it, and then he did it! The authority of Jesus and declaration of his divinity was he resurrection. It is the linchpin of Christianity. Without Christ’s resurrection there is no redemption. There is no second chance at a renewed life.
Jesus brought people back a few times during his ministry. Each time was a notable event, but his resurrection was altogether different. When Jesus called Lazarus from the tomb Lazarus was still just a man. He grew old, and eventually he died. The other people that Christ raised all would go on to carry out the natural course of their life. Jesus was different. Jesus didn’t lie in a tomb for three days, become miraculously revived, and then go on to die an old man at a later date.
Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, is the inky one to ever be resurrected. His return to life was not temporary—it was permanent. He defeated death, and by his conquering resurrection he has called us into life eternal. He left death behind, and one day so will we.