He is Risen (March 27)

Art by Megan Corbly
Art by Megan Corbly

Read: Mark 16:1-8

Death is the great equalizer.  No matter where you are born, no matter how much money you have (or don’t have), no matter what language you speak, no matter how healthy you are today . . . ALL will taste death.  The two common denominators for all of humanity are (1) being made in the image of God.  (2) we will all die.  These are two realities we have to deal with.  The ironic thing is that at some level BOTH of these commonalities scare most people to death. Our fear shows up in our questions:

Who is God?  Can I have a relationship with Him?

How do I avoid death?  AND, what happens to me after I die?

These questions keep many up late at night.  BUT, at the resurrection of Christ, BOTH QUESTIONS are answered . . . for all people!  Jesus is God, so He can be known . . . and further He WANTS to be known.  Jesus also triumphed over the grave, showing us the way to eternal life.  The resurrection is the historical event that answers some of our deepest fears.  Because of that it is somewhat ironic that in Mark 16:8, the author tells us that the disciples first emotion related to the resurrection was fear.  However, empty tombs can do that to people initially.  Eventually, though, empty tombs fill our hearts with hope and life and (most importantly) . . . JESUS Himself!

Question of the Day:  What are the biggest fears you have in life?  Is death one of them?  How does the resurrection of Jesus answer our fears concerning death?

Jesus is Buried (March 26)

Art by Mikayla Bradley
Art by Mikayla Bradley

Read:  Mark 15:42-47

Rather than allowing Jesus’ body to hang dead upon the cross for several days, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for permission to bury Jesus in a nearby tomb.  Pilate granted this permission and Jesus’ body was buried by Joseph.  In the process a Roman centurion, Joseph, and Mary Magdalene and another Mary all were able to see and confirm the fact that Jesus really died.  This is important.  Jesus did not just pass out or fall asleep.  He died and was buried.  The picture of Christ’s burial is echoed in Romans 6:3-4 as the Apostle Paul reminds us that all of us who have placed our faith in Christ identified with Jesus in His burial.  If we trust in Christ, that means that all we have done that is worthy of God’s wrath and judgment was also buried with Christ!  We are free from that body of sin.


Question of the Day:   Is there any sin from your past from which you desire to be set free?  How does faith in Christ make this freedom possible?

The Death of Jesus (March 25)

March 25

Read:  Mark 15:33-41

The anguish that Jesus went through on the cross was multi-faceted.  The physical pain and torture of Roman crucifixion was a brutal way to die physically.  The public humiliation and ridicule he went through would have been a trial emotionally.  The abandonment of His disciples would have been a blow relationally.  But at the moment of His death, Jesus cries out revealing the depth of His suffering SPIRITUALLY.  Jesus cried out to His Father God, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  This quotation from Psalm 22, demonstrated the full reality of Jesus death.  In judging sin on the cross (and in a mystery hard for us to understand) there was a separation in the fellowship of God the Father and God the Son as the full wrath of God for mankind’s sin was revealed.  Jesus real death paid the real penalty for our real sins.  The spiritual weight of that moment is hard for us to comprehend. 

Question of the Day:  Do you regularly remember that our sins have consequences?  Do you regularly remember that the “wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23a)?”  Are you trusting in Jesus death on the cross to make the payment that your sins deserve?

Thieves on the Cross (March 24)

March 24

Read: Luke 23:32-43

It is sometimes difficult to be loving or patient.  In fact, it is somewhat “human” to be easily irritated or selfish when we are sick, hungry, tired, or in pain.  Knowing that about ourselves, we can better understand the situation with the thieves on the cross who were crucified with Jesus.  One of the thieves thinks only of himself and lashes out against all around him – including Jesus.  The other thief, however, remarkably defends Jesus and addresses Him with respect and faith.  Jesus receives this step of faith from the thief and (in spectacular fashion) encourages, comforts, and cares for the repentant criminal by offering salvation.  Jesus response is even more remarkable when you realize that the thief had NOTHING to offer Jesus, and Jesus was dealing with unfathomable mental, physical, and spiritual pain.

Question of the Day: What does the thief on the cross tell us about what is necessary for us to receive eternal life?

The Crucifixion (March 23)

 

Art by Campbell Cornwell
Art by Campbell Cornwell

Read: Mark 15:21-26

After hours of trials, ridicule, and beatings, Jesus is finally sent to the cross.  People sentenced to crucifixion would be required to carry the crossbeam of their cross to the site of their execution.  In His exhausted state, Jesus collapses under the weight of the crossbeam, so the Roman officials “draft” Simon of Cyrene to carry the crossbeam for Jesus.  This is a powerfully symbolic moment.  The one who was guilty was supposed to carry the crossbeam to the crucifixion site.  Simon carrying that cross is symbolic of all of humanity.  It was our sin and our guilt that Jesus was dying for.  Simon of Cyrene’s role in this story helps drive home this point for us.  As the Hymn “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us” says, “It was my sin that held Him there.”

                                                                                                                                                                                          

Activity of the Day: The brutality that Jesus experienced on the cross was endured because of OUR sin, not His.  Take some time to confess your sin to your heavenly Father today.

Jesus is Mocked (March 22)

Art by Honor Sagebiel
Art by Honor Sagebiel

Read: Mark 15:16-20

On His way to the cross, we have seen Jesus rejected by almost everyone.  Judas betrayed Him.  The disciples either denied Him or ran away.  The Jewish religious leaders had Him arrested.  Herod didn’t know what to do with Him.  Pilate eventually consents to His crucifixion.  In today’s passage, we see soldiers mocking Him with fake tribute and insult.  All this brings to mind Isaiah’s prophecy about the Messiah in Isaiah 53:3-5 – “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, and as one from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.  Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.  But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed.”

Question of the Day:  Have you ever felt rejected or deserted?  Jesus knows how you feel!  No one has ever suffered the way Christ did for you and me.  He can relate to us in our sorrows.

Pilate Delivers Jesus to Be Crucified (March 21)

Art by Owen Wiley
Art by Owen Wiley

Read: Mark 15:6-15

Barabbas was a murderer.  He was someone who was guilty of a crime, and someone who deserved death as a punishment.  However, the Jewish people chose to have Pilate release Barabbas (the guilty) and have Jesus (the innocent) punished.  This exchange is a great picture of what Jesus offers to you and me.  Jesus, the perfect and innocent Son of God, offers to die in the place of you and me (sinners worthy of God’s judgment.)

Question of the Day: Do you realize that you are a sinner deserving judgment from God?  Have you ever placed your faith and trust in Jesus Christ who has offered to take the penalty that you sins deserve?

Palm Sunday 2016 Sermon Audio/Video

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This morning at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Mark 11:1-11.  This message was a part of our Palm Sunday services.  I have posted the audio and video below for you to listen to or share.

To download the sermon audio, click on the link below:

Here Comes The King

 

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

 

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

Palm Sunday Sermon Questions

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On Sunday, March 20, 2016 at Wildwood Community Church, I preached a sermon based on Mark 11:1-11.  This message focused on the Triumphal Entry of Christ and helped celebrate Palm Sunday.  Below are a set of questions for personal reflection or group discussion related to the message.

 

Sermon Discussion Questions:

  1. Read Mark 11:1-11
  2. Do you have any strong memories of “Palm Sunday” growing up?
  3. Jesus’ Triumphal entry into Jerusalem occurred precisely 69 x 7 years after the decree was signed to rebuild Jerusalem in 444 BC (see Daniel 9:24-27).  Jesus’ presentation in Jerusalem was “right on time.”  What does this tell you about God and His timeliness?  Have you ever felt as though God was “late”?
  4. Jesus’ actions in Mark 11 show a lot about His true identity.  In this morning’s message we talk about His power, His knowledge, His authority, and His divinity.  What stood out to you most about Jesus from Mark 11:1-11?  (NOTE:  the triumphal entry is one of the only events recorded by all 4 Gospel writers . . . this was a very significant moment in Jesus’ life.)
  5. There are a number of significant parallels to see between Jesus first and second coming.  Compare Mark 11:1-11 with Revelation 19:11-21, Zechariah 14:4, and 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17.  What stands out to you most about these comparisons? 
  6. Any particular applications you took from today’s message?

To download a pdf copy of these questions, click here.

Jesus Delivered to Pilate (March 20)

Art by Rachel McMullan
Art by Rachel McMullan

Read: Mark 15:1-5

Pontius Pilate was accustomed to pronouncing judgement over people.  As the leader in the Roman government, he would have issued verdicts and orders of execution many, many times.  It is not hard to imagine that most men who were brought before him would have begged for their lives.  Jesus, however, was not “most men.”  Pilate was fascinated by the fact that Jesus stood mostly silent before Him in the face of serious charges.  Jesus’ silence before this human judge drove home the point that the “right time” had come and He was willingly laying down His life as a sacrifice for the sins of the world.

Question of the Day:  Though His captors used force, they did not need it.  Jesus had more than enough power to force His freedom and more than enough logic to be His own defense attorney before Pilate.  But Jesus remained silent because He knew that He was headed to the cross to die for you and me.  What does it tell you about Jesus that He willingly laid down His life for you?