The Scriptures Must Be Fulfilled Contrary to all the disciple's expectations, after his brutal crucifixion and burial, Jesus walked out of the tomb victorious on Sunday morning. And when He appeared to his disciples, Jesus did not leave them guessing as to why He had to be betrayed, die and be resurrected. Rather, He instructed them, that all these things had to take place to fulfill the Scriptures. In what was no doubt a fascinating conversation, Jesus demonstrated that all of the Old Testament pointed to him and his triumph over sin and death.
We all yearn for peace and yet, often peace often eludes us. Peace eludes us because we misunderstand what peace is and hence, turn to the wrong things to find peace. True peace is found in the wholeness of relationship with the God who made us. True peace is being reconciled unto God and dwelling in his presence under His reign forever. And Christmas is about God making peace with us.
God makes our joy possible in our earthly circumstances by directing us to place our joy not in things but in Him. He offers us Joy in Christ and joy in Christ is the highest and most satisfying joy.That is why the message of Christmas is one of profound joy. Christmas is good news of a great joy. A great joy that will endure this season and every season into eternity. A joy that is steadfast and immovable. A joy that our hearts long for. A joy that satisfies like nothing else.
Each of us, whether we realize it or not, long for a king. Like the Israelites before us, our hearts cry out for a king, for someone to lead us, for someone to provide and protect us, for someone to entrust ourselves to who is fully trustworthy and capable. Jesus is that King. Prior to his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, Jesus' teaching, authority and power have revealed his true identity. He is the Messiah, God's anointed One. And He has come to rescue sinners by becoming a crucified King.
The Christmas season is distinguished by the joy it brings. Christmas is about good news of great joy coming to unworthy people. It is about joy, happiness and satisfaction brought to us, won for us in and through the person of Jesus Christ. Christmas is cause for rejoicing!
We all yearn for peace and yet peace often eludes us. Peace eludes us because we turn to the wrong things to find peace. We misunderstand what peace is. Peace isn't the absence of conflict or noise; peace isn’t found in individual stillness. Rather, true peace is found in the wholeness of relationship with the God who made us. True peace is being reconciled unto God and dwelling in his presence under His reign forever. And that is what the incarnation of God in Christ is about: establishing true peace in us as we are reconciled to God through Christ.
Palm Sunday is the day when traditionally the church recognizes the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem for the last week of his life before his crucifixion. Jesus intentionally chose to enter Jerusalem according to the prophecy of Zechariah. And in doing so, He was welcomed as King. Yet, crucified just days later. The people of Jerusalem failed to receive the presence of God in their midst and rejected Jesus' terms of peace. And as a result, suffered terrible judgment. Their judgment stands as a warning for us. May we instead receive Christ and accept his terms of peace that lead to life.
As we've been studying, prayer is absolutely vital to the Christian life. Prayer is indispensable to our relationship with the Lord. And yet, our desire to pray fades so quickly. Jesus, knowing our weak and fickle hearts, routinely encouraged his disciples to pray and not lose heart. In multiple parables, Jesus encouraged his followers to persist in prayer knowing that they have a good and loving Father in Heaven who hears them and will give them good gifts.
This evening we celebrate the incarnation of Jesus. And we contemplate the good gifts He brings with him. Jesus is far better than we first realize him to be. He is everything we need and want. And He brings with him the gifts of Joy, His presence as Savior, Peace, Consolation, Light, Revelation and Redemption.
This morning we recognize Orphan Sunday. A Sunday in which we consider the sufferings of orphaned and vulnerable children and examine the commands of Christ to love our neighbor. Sadly, we seldom think about foster children or orphans. We fail to see them and their need for protection and love. And yet, the church is specifically called to love, care for and shelter these little ones. God is calling the church to be mobilized on their behalf in the Name of Christ and our motivation for caring for these children must not be humanitarianism but rather the glory of Christ. Supplemental Text: Psalm 68:1-10