Key Passage: Luke 2:1-7
Paul wrote in Galatians 4:4, “In the fullness of time, God sent for his son.” This 2-part was designed to answer the question, “What was the world like when Jesus entered into it – why was it the fullness of time?” Jesus was birthed into a specific context. The biblical writers understood that context and wrote believing their audience did as well. The problem is that the majority of people today don’t have a clue what the true Christmas context was. This series sought to rectify that. And this particular teaching takes a macro view of the world at that time, looking specifically at the Roman Empire (ruling the world at the time), and understanding Caesar Augustus, mentioned in Luke 2 (since Luke is pitting Caesar vs. Jesus), who was not only the most powerful man in the world at the birth of Jesus, but the most powerful ruler the world had yet seen.
One of the most monumental conversations Jesus ever had with his disciples took place at Caesarea Philippi. It was here where Jesus asked them, “Who do you say that I am?” What most people don’t consider is why Jesus asked this question at this location? And like so much in the Bible, the answer is found in the context. This not only helps us better understand the conversation, but also why Jesus calls Peter “satan” within a few short moments of blessing him. It’s a remarkable story, and one filled with utter shock. But what’s equally as shocking is how often we act like Peter, and we hold on so tightly to our expectations of what we believe God should do or should’ve done that we completely miss the new thing God is doing in our midst. If you ever struggle with unmet expectations with God, this teaching will be particularly helpful.
Key Passage: Matthew 16:13-23
The future is often really fuzzy. And trying to figure out what is to come or understand what God is doing can leave us confused, frustrated, anxious, or even angry. So how we do we approach an unknown future? This teaching seeks to answer this by looking at a key passage in Isaiah in light of the details of Jesus’ last week as well as those of Pentecost. Be prepared to have your mind blown because God is a God of the details, and He does care about what’s unfolding in your life and future!
(Also, this was my first Sunday back at Central, which made it even more special.)
Key Passage: Isaiah 11:2; Acts 2:1-15
Good Friday is the day Christians commemorate the death of Jesus on the most shameful instrument of death conceived in the ancient world – the cross. Crucifixion wasn’t invented by the Romans; but it was perfected by them. And in the eyes of everyone, a crucified messiah was no messiah at all. Just another victim in the Roman rampage to take over the world and eliminate anyone threatening their “peace.” Which is why Mark’s gospel and how he tells the crucifixion story is so fascinating because not only is he writing to Rome, the heart of the empire, but the way he tells the crucifixion story would have left his audience speechless. Only when you understand the Roman Triumph can you appreciate more fully Mark’s message of Jesus’ Triumph.
Key Passage: Mark 15:16-39
This teaching tackles “Palm Sunday.” Due to the title we ascribe to it (“The Triumphal Entry”), it is often understood to be a time of great joy and excitement. And yet, Jesus cries vehemently in the midst of it. Why? Because he’s met face-to-face with the reality that many missed the heart of his message. The majority in the crowd were looking for a military leader who would take care of their problems – namely Rome, and Jesus was good to them as long as he fulfilled their expectations. Jesus was going to deal with a much bigger enemy (sin and death), but he realized in that moment that the people weren’t going to trust him to do what he needed to do in the manner he needed to do it. Jesus was going to disappoint them because there was going to be a gap between expectation and reality. We understand that gap as well. The questions becomes, “how do we respond well when we’re disappointed by Jesus?” What we learn is that in our disappointment, God desires to birth something new within us. And until we die to our expectations, we won’t experience the new life waiting to blossom.
Key Passage: Luke 19:39-44
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