Palm Sunday 2018 Sermon Preview

Zechariah’s tomb in the Kidron Valley

Just east of the old city of Jerusalem runs the Kidron Valley.  The western slope of this valley runs up against the walls surrounding the Temple Mount.  The eastern slope of this valley runs up (past the Garden of Gethsemane) to the top of Mount of Olives.  The Kidron Valley is both ancient and famous.  Pilgrims have crossed its rugged terrain for thousands of years as they head up to Jerusalem for worship.  If you were to visit Jerusalem today, you would notice something very interesting about this area — not only is it swamped with tourists, but it is also covered . . . with tombstones.

The Israeli equivalent of Social Security, actually covers the burial expenses for all its citizens.  Israeli citizens can be buried for free in any cemetery throughout the country EXCEPT on the Mount of Olives (headed down into the Kidron Valley).  Citizens buried here must pay a premium price.  At this point, we want to ask a question:  WHY are so many people paying money to be buried in this particular location?

The answer to this question is found in Zechariah 14:1-5.  In these verses, Zechariah (a prophet) under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit talked about the promised Messiah — the Savior of the world — approaching Jerusalem by walking down the western slope of the Mount of Olives, across the Kidron Valley, and entering Jerusalem’s Eastern Gates.  A portion of present-day Jews believe a resurrection will accompany the entrance of the Messiah to the city.  Therefore, wealthy Jews who hold this belief want to be buried on the Mount of Olives with their feet facing the Eastern gates of the city.  This way, when Messiah comes, they will rise with Him and enter the city again triumphantly!

Interestingly enough, there is even a tomb in the Kidron Valley ascribed to the Prophet Zechariah.  This way the prophet would be one of the first to rise and enter the city with the Messiah . . . an event he wrote about but did not experience in his lifetime.  Zechariah’s tomb sat between the Garden of Gethsemane (on the western slope of the Mount of Olives) and Jerusalem’s Eastern Gate. 

Here is where this really gets interesting . . . 2,000 years ago when Jesus approached Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, He did so walking down the Mount of Olives, past the Garden of Gethsemane, and past the tomb of Zechariah, riding on a donkey (something Zechariah ALSO talked about in Zechariah 9:9). 

How was Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem a fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy?  What ELSE did Zechariah say, and how come those things have not come true yet?  What is the significance for us today of the events of Palm Sunday?  Join us this Sunday, March 25 at Wildwood Community Church as we will be looking at the events of Palm Sunday through the lens of the prophecy of Zechariah.  In preparation for Sunday, you may want to read Mark 11:1-11 and Zechariah 14:1-5.  We look forward to seeing you in our 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00 service. 



Easter Sunday 2017 Sermon Audio

On Sunday, April 16, 2017 at Wildwood Community Church I preached a message entitled “Resurrection.”  The message was based on John 21:1-19 and was a part of the Easter Sunday celebration.  Below you will find the sermon audio to listen to or share.

To download the audio to listen later, click on the link below:



To listen online, use the media player below:

Easter Sunday 2017 – Sermon Questions

On Sunday, April 16, 2017 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message based on John 21:1-19.  This message was part of our Easter Sunday celebration.  Below are a set of questions related to this message for personal reflection or group discussion.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read John 21:1-19
  3. Have you ever stopped to consider that Christianity is anchored in a historical event, not just a philosophy?  How does the resurrection of Jesus give credence to Christianity over other world religions?
  4. Peter knew that Jesus was resurrected, yet still went back to fishing.  Why do you think Peter returned to fishing even though he knew Jesus was no longer dead?
  5. What are the greatest challenges to your hope today?  How does the resurrection of Jesus provide hope for your life?
  6. Have you trusted in Christ for your salvation?  If so, when?  If not, what is keeping you from trusting in Christ this Easter?
  7. What is one particular application you took away from this passage/message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

He is Risen! Reflections from the Empty Tomb

Kimberly and I at the Garden Tomb
Kimberly and I at the Garden Tomb

18 months ago, Kimberly and I got to go to Israel.  I wrote the following post after visiting the empty tomb.  Join us at Wildwood this weekend as we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection together and its implications for our lives.  Join us Good Friday at 6:00 or 7:30 or Easter Sunday at 8:30, 9:45, or 11:00.

Just outside the walls of Jerusalem’s old city, nestled between mosques, coffee shops, parking lots, and a cemetery sits the most historically important location in the history of the world.  It is here (at a location now called “The Garden Tomb”) that Jesus most likely was crucified, buried, and resurrected.

Of course, we cannot know for certain that this is the actual location of these events, but it is very probable.  The Romans typically crucified their prisoners outside the city walls along major highways.  This was meant to both humiliate those being executed and serve as a deterrent to all who passed by.  The traditional site of the crucifixion (the Church of the Holy Sepulcher) is actually inside the city, making it unlikely that Jesus was killed there.

Furthermore, three of the four Gospel writers describe Jesus death as occurring at the “place of the skull” or “Golgotha.”  Inside the “Garden Tomb” complex is a hillside with three distinct caves located on it side facing Jerusalem . . . that look like the openings of two eyes and a nose on a human skull.

Also, this skull-like hill set alongside a prominent highway in the first century . . . the Road to Damascus.  Again, this makes this site consistent with the kinds of places where Romans crucified prisoners. 

Finally, in close proximity to Golgotha was a Garden where Joseph of Arimathea would have buried Jesus quickly after His death.  Archaeological evidence has confirmed various olive presses in this “garden” as well as a cave like tomb.

Not a great picture, but this is Golgotha. The large cave on the left is one of the three caves making the hill have the appearance of a skull.
Not a great picture, but this is Golgotha. The large cave on the left is one of the three caves making the hill have the appearance of a skull.

All this makes it probable that the Garden Tomb (or someplace like it close by) is the location of the crucifixion, burial and resurrection.  Or course, I say “probable” because we cannot really know for sure.  The reason why we can’t know for sure is because JESUS IS NOT THERE!  HE IS RISEN!!!!!

In the summer of 1995 I was a part of a 6 week mission trip to Russia.  On our way out of the country, we stopped in Moscow and visited Red Square.  While there, I walked inside Lenin’s Tomb and saw the father of Soviet communism literally floating in formaldehyde.  His tomb was occupied.  This made my visit to Red Square historical, but but holy.

Visiting the Garden Tomb however, was totally different.  The tomb was empty, therefore my eternity can be full.  Jesus was indeed the Son of God, punctuated by His triumph over the grave.  The resurrection is an overwhelmingly powerful piece of historical evidence pointing to the fact that Jesus Christ is indeed the promised Savior of the world.

As we visited the tomb, one by one, we entered the tomb, then emerged (most of the time with tears in our eyes.)  I sat there watching all 40 of my travel mates walk into and out of the tomb.  It was a reminder to me of Romans 6:3-4.  These verses say:

“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?  We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”

When we trust in Christ, it is as if we were buried with Christ.  We walk with Him into the tomb and leave behind all our sin.  Then we get to walk out of the tomb identified with Christ and able to live in a newness of eternal life.  It was a tomb baptism of sorts.

How about you?  Have you placed your faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins?  Have you identified with His death, burial and resurrection?  If not, you need not enter the Garden Tomb literally.  By faith, you can spiritually identify with Him and be saved. 

He is not there.  He is risen just as they said!


Palm Sunday 2017 Audio


On Sunday, April 9, 2017 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Psalm 118:19-29.  This message was a part of our Palm Sunday services for 2017.  The sermon audio from this morning’s message is posted below to listen to or share.


To listen offline, click the link to download:

Palm Sunday 2017

To listen online, use the media player below:

Palm Sunday Sermon Questions

On Sunday, April 9, 2017 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Psalm 118:19-29 and Mark 11:8-10.  This message was the basis of our biblical study on Palm Sunday 2017.  Below are a set of questions based on the message for personal reflection or group discussion.


Sermon Questions:

  1. Pray
  2. Read Psalm 118
  3. Do you have a favorite Easter tradition in your house?  Any favorite Easter music?
  4. Psalm 118 was a song sung over Jesus as He entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.  What stands out to you about this song?  Beyond tradition, why do you think they were singing this song?  What does it reveal about what they were hoping Jesus would do?
  5. Though the crowds sung this song on Sunday, they shouted “CRUCIFY HIM” on Friday.  I mentioned this morning that often times people will reject Jesus for a couple of reasons, one of them being “what He does” and the other “what He doesn’t do.”  What are some examples of people rejecting Jesus because of what He does?  What are examples of rejecting Jesus for what He does not do?
  6. The One who was rejected has become the cornerstone.  What does this tell you about the value of following Christ, even when it does not look popular and many are rejecting Him?
  7. What is one particular application you took away from this passage/message?

To access these questions in pdf format, click here.

Palm Sunday Preview

This Sunday is Palm Sunday. For 2,000 years Christians have gathered on this day and remembered Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem just days before His crucifixion.  This event is important:  after all, it has a 2,000 year history of tradition in the church and is recorded by all 4 Gospel writers (Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-10, Luke 19:28-40, and John 12:12-19).  However, this event is also confusing.  How is it that crowds of people can honor Jesus on a Sunday, then shout “crucify Him” on a Friday?  What was really going on there?

This Sunday at Wildwood Community Church, we will be celebrating Palm Sunday together.  In our morning services at 8:30, 9:45, and 11:00, we will sing songs together, have the kids join us waving palm branches, look back at last week’s baptism service, look ahead to next week’s Easter services and this summer’s Pine Cove “Camp in the City” . . . but also we will be reflecting on the historical events of Palm Sunday to see WHY people rejected Jesus in the final week of His earthly life.  Some rejected Him because of what He did.  Other’s rejected Him because of what He did not do.  This pattern is amazingly consistent with what we see in our lives and in the world today. 

The Jews in Jerusalem in the first century needed to receive Jesus for who He was and is . . . and so do we.  Let’s look more closely at Jesus together this Palm Sunday as we sing “Hosanna” together.  See you Sunday at Wildwood!

Many Thanks to our Wildwood Artists!

Easter Collage.001

I just wanted to take a quick minute on this Easter evening to thank the many Wildwood artists (young and older) who donated their skills to illustrating the art for the Lent Devotionals this year.  For the past two months, we have been blessed daily by their gifts.  Join me in praising God for how He used their contribution to focus our hearts on Christ in the days leading up to Resurrection Sunday.

I would also like to thank the staff of our children’s ministry, most notably Eileen Winfrey and Brooke Harrison for their role in curating and collecting this art and posting it each morning.  THANK YOU!

In Christ,



Easter Sunday Sermon Audio/Video

Post Easter 2016.001


On Sunday, March 27, 2016 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon titled “What Happened?”  This message was based out of Mark 14:66-72, 16:1-7, Acts 2-4, and Luke 24:27 and was the Easter sermon for 2016. Below, the sermon audio and video have been posted for you to listen to/watch or share.


To download the sermon to listen to offline, click on the file below:

What Happened?


To listen to the sermon online, use the media player below:


To watch the sermon video, use the Vimeo video below:

The sermon video will post here when it becomes available.

Easter 2016 Sermon Questions

Christ is Risen Promo 2.001

On Sunday, March 27, 2016 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a message called “What Happened?”  This message was the Easter Sunday sermon.  Below are a set of questions for personal reflection or group discussion.

Sermon Questions:

  1. Read Mark 14:66-72 and 16:1-7
  2. Who are some people you have known in life who have had significant life change?  What brought that change about in their lives?
  3. Since all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, all have moments from our past that we are ashamed or embarrassed about.  How does Peter’s life change encourage you in your life?
  4. Between our past and our future stands a crucifixion and resurrection.  In what way does the resurrection of Jesus encourage YOU?
  5. How does knowing  Jesus help educate you to make sense of the ret of the Bible – including the Old Testament?
  6. When Jesus resurrected from the dead, He sent the Holy Spirit to indwell the Christian’s heart. The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  What are some instances in your life where the Spirit has empowered you (or those around you) to exhibit these fruits?
  7. Any particular applications you took from today’s message?

To download a pdf of these questions, click here.