Just As He Said

I spend a bit of time in cemeteries.  One of my responsibilities as a minister is to perform funerals.  So one spends time in cemeteries comforting those who grieve and saying, “Farewell” to the dearly departed.  When someone is buried, then it becomes all too real.  Through tears and sorrow, you realize that they’re not coming back.
As they laid Jesus’ body in the tomb, there must have been such a sense of finality and shock.  How could it be over?  How could He be gone?  Why did it have to end this way?
Beaten and battered.
Jesus was being put into the tomb and those who were putting them there were trying to figure out what was going to happen next.  They had no idea!
Upon arrival at the tomb, they discovered that the stone had been rolled away!  The body of Jesus was not there!  How could someone have taken the body?  How could they have overpowered the squad of Roman soldiers?  How was this possible?  All of a sudden two angels appeared and explained what had happened.
They reminded them of Jesus’ words.  He told  them what was going to happen.  He told  them that He would be killed and that He would rise again.  Now, it had happened, just as He said!  The tomb was empty!  Jesus had triumphed over the grave!  He was alive!
For those of us who put our faith in Jesus for salvation, the grave is not the end of the road.  It is little more than a speed bump on the way to our own resurrections.  For though we will one day pass and be buried, we will rise…just as He said.

Luke 24:1-12 (NIV)

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words.

When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away,wondering to himself what had happened.


The Father’s House, Our Home

The sermon from Griffith First Christian Church from October 19, 2014.


A Temporary Tomb

What was it like for Joseph to handle the dead body of Jesus?  Luke says that he had been waiting for the Kingdom of God (verse 51, NIV).  He had disagreed with their decision to put Jesus to death.  What was the basis for his dissension?  Was he a believer?  I think that he was.  He placed Jesus in his own tomb so that this homeless carpenter would have a place of rest.  Perhaps this was an act of worship.  Maybe it was just a kind act.
Little did Joseph know that Jesus’ use of his tomb was only going to be temporary!  The grief that they all felt was only going to be temporary.  The women were preparing spices for Jesus’ body, but they were spices that would never be used.  Jesus had promised that the Father would raise Him to life on the third day and that is exactly what would happen.  At this point, though, everyone had forgotten this promise.  They did not realize what was about to happen.  They just knew that Jesus was dead and buried on Friday.  They didn’t understand that Sunday was coming.
Luke 23:50-56 (NIV)

50 Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, 51 who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God. 52 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body. 53 Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid. 54 It was Preparation Day, and the Sabbath was about to begin.

55 The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. 56 Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.


Inspiring Faith

Jesus, hanging from the cross, inspired faith by His death.  When He breathed His last, the crowd took notice.  The Roman centurion remarked in faith, “Surely this was a righteous man” (Luke 23:47, NIV).  The crowds, once mocking Jesus and insulting Him, now beat their chests in sorrow as if to exclaim, “What have we done?!?”  The realization of who Jesus really was had hit them.  Truly He was the Son of God!
Nearly 2,000 years later and Jesus’ death still inspires faith.  But it is not His death alone.  It is also His resurrection!  For many religious leaders have come and gone.  They have preached their messages and have lived “good” lives.  They have gathered followers by the thousands and even the millions.  But they all have one thing in common – they died.  Jesus, though, is different.  Yes, He came in the flesh.  Yes, He preached His message of love and hope and He lived a perfect life.  He gathered followers by the thousands and today it numbers over 1 billion people who claim faith in Christ.  Yes, He died, but He didn’t stay dead!  You can find tombs of religious leaders all over the world.  Their remains are in their tombs.  Not so with Jesus Christ!  He conquered death and He defeated the grave!  He rose from the dead on the 3rd day and walked out of His tomb and He never went in again!  Now we await our Savior from Heaven who will give us the victory over sin, death and the grave.  Only through Jesus Christ can we have the victory.  Let us live our lives in such a way that we will inspire others to remark, “Surely Jesus is the Son of God!”

Luke 23:44-49 (NIV)

44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” When he had said this, he breathed his last.

47 The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.” 48 When all the people who had gathered to witness this sight saw what took place, they beat their breasts and went away. 49 But all those who knew him, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.


The Security Of God’s Hands

Good Wednesday morning to you!  I posted the following verse on the GFCC facebook page last night.

I, yes I, am the Lord,
    and there is no other Savior.

12 First I predicted your rescue,
    then I saved you and proclaimed it to the world.
No foreign god has ever done this.
    You are witnesses that I am the only God,”
    says the Lord.

13 “From eternity to eternity I am God.
    No one can snatch anyone out of my hand.
    No one can undo what I have done.”​ – Isaiah 43:11-13 (NLT)​

I love how God says in verse 13 that no one can snatch us out of His hand.  Our salvation is secure in God’s protective, loving hands.  Our salvation is secure in the nail-scarred hands of Jesus.  The only one who can take you out of His hands is you.  In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the father was willing to let his son go out on his own.  He let his son leave home to find whatever it was that he was looking for.  The father was also willing to let his son come back home and be welcomed back into his family.  You can walk away from God.  He will welcome you back when you wake up and realize what you’ve done.  But know this – no one else can take you out of God’s mighty hands.  When God saves you, no one can un-save you.  When God says He loves you, no one can separate you from His love.  When God forgives you, no one can make Him un-forgive you.  Our God is compassionate and abounding in love.  His love satisfies like nothing else can.  Rest secure in His promises, His love and His peace.

We Had To Celebrate

The latest sermon from Griffith First Christian Church in Griffith, Indiana.


The Forgiving Heart Of Jesus

Jesus’ heart is a heart that beats with compassionate forgiveness for people.  There are three evidences of this in Luke 23:32-42.
First, the fact that Jesus was hanging on the cross was evidence of His desire to bring forgiveness to people.  The Bible says that without the shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22, NIV).  Jesus shed His blood on the cross as the perfect human sacrifice to take away the sins of the world.
Second, as He hung on the cross, He prayed for forgiveness for His executioners.  As Jesus was writhing in agony, He prayed:

Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. – Luke 23:34 (NIV)

He knew that these people who were mocking Him and killing Him did not understand the role that they were playing.  By crucifying Jesus, they were ushering in a new age and a new covenant (Hebrews 8:8-12).  Jesus knew what they were doing.  They would not have been allowed to do it unless it was the Father’s will.
Third, Jesus forgives the sins of the criminal on the cross next to Him.  By a simple confession of faith, this criminal was pardoned at the last possible moment!  Jesus, the One who has the authority to forgive sins, forgives this vile offender who truly believed.  When this sinner took his last breath on earth, his next one was taken in paradise with Jesus.
Nearly 2000 years later, Jesus’ heart still beats for forgiveness.  Those who put their faith and trust in Christ are pardoned by God’s grace.  He laid down His life and He still asks the Father to forgive us for we are like helpless sheep who don’t know what we’re doing.  We’re like the criminal on the cross who proclaim our faith by repentance, confession and baptism.  We’re all guilty and we know it.  We’re all sinners and we know it.  We all deserve death and destruction, but instead we get forgiveness and freedom.  It’s all by His grace and mercy.  We cannot earn it or buy it.  We cannot be good enough for it.  It’s a gift and we must merely accept it.  It costs us nothing, but it cost Jesus everything.  And He was willing to pay the price for our salvation.  Hallelujah!  Praise His name!

Luke 23:32-43 (NIV)

32 Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.

35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”

36 The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar 37 and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”

38 There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the jews.

39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”


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