Sermon Series: The Christ

1/7 - 2/19/2023

What is it about Jesus that is unique? This series helps us as followers of Jesus to better understand the person of Jesus (in the Trinity) and his singular importance in the world and in our daily lives. A proper understanding of Jesus is what theologians call a “Christology.” The old hymns teach us to lift high the cross. When we keep Jesus elevated, the Christian faith makes sense, even in its mystery and lament. But when we allow Jesus to be lowered, all sorts of sanctimony and social unrest take its place in the thrones of our hearts and our communities.

This series uses images established in Scripture to explore important images that illuminate the person of Jesus Christ. Each of these are declarations by and about Jesus. Our goal is that by better understanding who Jesus is, we may rightly place him high on the thrones of our lives, become better followers, and discover life in abundance.

Messages

2/18 - 2/19/2023 (February 18 & 19) | The Author and Finisher of Our Faith

Jesus is more than a distant ruler or authority in a castle. Authority is authorship. To whomever you give authority in your life, you give the ability to write your life’s story. Hebrews is clear: when we follow Jesus, Jesus becomes our author. When we allow Jesus to author our lives, we become a new creation. Consider one of many transfigurations that happen through Scripture when we submit to the authority of the Lord. Gideon said, “Forget it, unless you send me better brothers, I’m not doing anything!” But Gideon the Timid became the Gideon the greatest judge of all of Israel. This may happen to us as well, when we allow Jesus to be our author.

A new season is a new opportunity to return to first things. Let us begin with the most important thing. On what is the foundation of our faith built? On nothing less the Jesus’ blood and righteousness. On Christ the solid rock we stand. The unique claim of Christianity in world history is the person of Jesus Christ. As the apostle Paul wrote, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor 15:3). This single event — the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ — is the hinge of history.

2/11 - 2/12/2023 (February 11 & 12) | The King of Kings and Lord of Lords

We talk a lot about kingdoms. But you cannot have a kingdom without a king. Who is the king, not just of our private hearts, but the entire world? From the beginning, God’s design was to be the people’s King. There is no other solution; no other authority is worthy. Jesus is the King and has been given all authority over creation, in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). The authority does not solely lie within the past (tradition) or the future (progress) or a strongman leader who will save us. Rather, Jesus is the authority. Only Jesus can save us, and he has already done so through the cross. It is only when we stop looking to other authorities, and even to ourselves as authorities, and recognize Jesus as the authority of our lives, that the problems of the world abate, and we discover peace. Jesus is clear: the Kingdom of God is not found in the formation of political systems and in the exercise of human power, no matter how noble the intent. The Kingdom of God is only found in the presence of God and is only built by Jesus (Matt 16:18). Jesus is the only good, true, and beautiful source of authority.

2/4 - 2/5/2023 (February 4 & 5) | True Vine : The Bread of Life

Jesus is the source of all life. When we, as branches, are connected well to the vine, we bear fruit. When we become disconnected, we whither and die. This is one of my favorite images because it is a clear image of how Jesus is the giver of life. When we are connected, we flourish. When we become disconnected — by disease, by outside forces that harm us, etc. — we whither. Another great aspect of this image is that we can be grafted onto the vine, so even if we were connected to the wrong vine, when we become attached to the true vine, we flourish.

When Jesus said he is the bread of life, he answered the question raised in the prayer he offered to the disciples in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus is the source of sustenance (Matt 6:11). But bread is more than just physiological; it is also a primary sign of fellowship and hospitality, which are core convictions to God’s people. Abraham used bread for hospitality when he shared bread with his three visitors (Gen 18). David used it as a symbol to invite Mephibosheth to his table (1 Sam 9:7). Jewish custom breaks bread at the beginning of every meal. Third, bread is a symbol of our covenant with God. It is manna (Ex 16), an image of God’s faithfulness, which Jesus carries forward in the New Covenant he makes in the Upper Room (Matt 26:26).

1/28 - 1/29/2023 (January 28 & 29) | The Way, The Truth, and The Life

He is the way — a way of living, a rhythm of life, the practical decisions of daily existence. He is the truth - truth is not a proposition or a philosophy, but only found in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the life - Jesus is clear that the life abundantly lived (John 10:10) only comes through him.

1/21 - 1/22/2023 (January 21 & 22) | The Good Shepherd

Jesus also describes himself using lamb imagery, saying he is the Good Shepherd. A bad shepherd snoozes while wolves come, or allows a stray sheep to wander off. A good shepherd does his job well. He chases after the one (Luke 15:3-7). He puts his own life in danger in order to protect us. When we understand ourselves as sheep, we see that we are prone to wander. We are basically dumb. We make bad decisions. We need someone to protect us from harm. Jesus is our Shepherd.
Psalm 23 — the proactive nature of the Shepherd

1/14 - 1/15/2023 (January 14 & 15) | The Lamb of God

Jesus is the last lamb who came into Jerusalem as a lamb to be slaughtered (Ex 29:38-42), shed his blood on behalf of all humankind, and was the completion of Passover and the fulfillment and resolution (the telos) and reconciliation of people to God (1 Cor 5:7). He was perfect as lambs were required to be (Ex 12:1-6), and thus he died without deserving it. But he was no weak lamb; instead, he was a warrior lamb who, though he was one with God (Phil 2), took on the weight of the world’s sins because of his all-encompassing love for the world, and thus demonstrated once and for all that love conquers death. In this way, Jesus demonstrates for us how through our own willingness to die (to self and even unto life), we show what true love is, and thus overcome evil with good. (This is Christus Victor — in my theology of atonement, penal substitution and Christus Victor aren’t competing ideas, but sacrifice is part of the larger story of victory.)

1/7 - 1/8/2023 (January 7 & 8) | The Alpha and Omega

Jesus is eternal (John 1), the agent of all creation (Col 1:16), and through his life, death, and resurrection, inaugurated the end or telos (John 19:30), now (Matt 12:28) and forever (Matt 24:44). When we follow Jesus, we can be confident that he is God and one with God.

All Series

More Than Conquerors
5/14 - 6/19/2022
In the early first century, culturally speaking, everything was positioned around the idea that a nation ought to expand and conquer to accumulate power and influence. In this way, the movement that began with Jesus was positioned well to be a religion that was focused on going out in the world, spreading its message to new nations, and converting others to this system of beliefs. The world was primed for a religious movement that would respond to the great commission, and in effect, go forth and conquer. Yet, the church was not about conquering. It did not hope to extinguish and assimilate every other person and culture. Instead, the early church grew on the basis that it had the ability to universally speak to the human condition of brokenness and offer hope and promise in the wake of that very condition. The church would be more than the conquerors. Everyone was coming to believe in the promise of God. The Gospel reached into different cultures, differently idioms and languages altogether. In this message, they preached and believed that Jesus would return again, and would return again sooner rather than later. Nobody could have fathomed the idea that 2000 years into the future, we would still be waiting on this return. They were teaching each other lessons and lifting each other up in the hopes that they would be alive to see the grand return. However, those lessons taught have a practicality that transcends any time period. In growing over this time, the church moved beyond the disciples. What was once an effort of individuals and leaders who had all had direct connections to, and conversations with, the risen Lord now transitioned to a movement of different ages, nations, and races of converted believers who had simply heard the Good News of the Gospel. They would lean on their own spiritual experiences of the divine rather than tangible interactions with God Incarnate. What will leadership look like in this new Church? Who can be a part of this faith movement? What will be required to participate? Most importantly, how do those messages speak to us today?
Appeared
4/23 - 5/8/2022
Easter has come, Christ has been resurrected. We have enjoyed the big celebrations, the Easter egg hunts, and the family meals, but we forget that there was more than an empty tomb after Christ was resurrected. There were more visits than the brief encounter of the women in the garden. A fully resurrected Christ is a free Christ. Jesus could have gone anywhere and done anything after the resurrection, and yet he chose to search for the disciples. Jesus sought out the ones who abandoned and failed him more than anyone else. The ones who swore loyalty disappeared. The ones who followed in his footsteps for three years turned their backs on the suffering Savior. The ones who pledged to help transform the world abandoned the mission in fear and shame. Yet the story of the cross and resurrection is true for each of us through the power of God’s grace: we are more than our worst moments. The worst thing is never the last thing. What might those disciples have been feeling after the cross? Can you imagine the deep silence between them? The shared knowledge of their failures? The unrelenting question: “What now?” Brene Brown defines shame as “an intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love, belonging, and connection.” It is not hard to imagine the deep shame of these disciples, one that each of them knew intimately and yet did not want to name. Shame assigns identity based on our worst moments. It thrives on secrecy. It is “the fear that something we’ve done or failed to do, an ideal we’ve not lived up to, or a goal we’ve not accomplished makes us unworthy of connection” (Brene Brown, Atlas of the Heart, 137). We see over and over again in the Gospels and Acts scenes of redemption and healing through God’s grace. Jesus could have chosen to abandon the ones who left him at the cross, who pretended they did not even know him, to start from scratch with better disciples. Yet in God’s infinite grace and unrelenting love, the disciples were chosen for connection, relationship, and entrusted with the mission of Christ. Jesus confronts their failures head on. This is the Christian story: our deepest shame is redeemed and we are transformed into world-changing disciples