Key Passage: Matthew 4:17-22
As Jesus launches his ministry, one of the first things he does is invites several young men to join him as disciples. In understanding the culture of the day (teaching explores the Galilean Education System), we recognize quickly they were teenagers. What’s astounding isn’t their age – that was the cultural norm – it was that they were chosen. They weren’t the best of the best, and yet Jesus pursued them! For many of us, we simply see Jesus as someone who saves us from our sins. Or additionally, we live with a belief that Jesus is annoyed with us, frustrated that we struggle to get things right. It’s almost as if we subtly believe that we are projects that Jesus has to deal with – problems that need to be fixed or solved. But we learn in Jesus calling his first disciples is that Jesus pursues us not as projects, but as partners to join him in bringing restoration and goodness into the world. The story is so much bigger than just our individual salvations.
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
Moses prophesied that at a future point, God would raise up another prophet like himself (i.e. a 2nd Moses) from among the Israelite people. Moses was known for leading the Israelites out of their slavery in Egypt. Ironically, when Jesus enters the New Testament story, he also comes out of Egypt, symbolizing that his story is going to be lived out on the canvas of the Exodus, and he’ll do so as the 2nd Moses leading a New Exodus. Whereas, the first Exodus entailed freedom from the Israelite’s slavery to Egypt; this Exodus entailed freedom from humanity’s slavery to sin. Jesus came to destroy the controlling power of sin in our lives, but all too often, we get caught back in Egypt – the place that serves as a metaphor for the things that enslave us today (debt, addictions, busyness, unforgiveness, fear, bitterness, etc.). The season leading up to Easter is an invitation to leave Egypt behind, and to walk in the newness of life that Jesus came to give. For as Jesus made clear, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
Key Passage: Deuteronomy 18:15, 17-19
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