Jesus did indeed claim to be God. Why that matters.

“How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe.  The works that I do in my Father’s name, these bear witness of me.  But you do not believe because you are not of my sheep.  My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me….” (John 10:24-27).

If Jesus Christ is not the God-man, then we’re out of business and the universe is in the dark.

Nothing is more basic to the Christian faith and everyone’s hope than His deity.

Theological liberals like to say Jesus never claimed to be God, that this claim was put in HIs mouth by Christians who came later.

What fun they have with the story of Jesus.

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They had the greatest message ever, but needed one thing more. So do we.

I told a friend once that if I have gone to seed on anything in Christian theology, it’s the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I’m about to qualify that. As essential an element in the Christian faith as it is, the resurrection of our Lord did not end the fears, settle the nerves, conquer the phobias, or break the chains with which the early disciples were bound. It took one thing more.

To be sure, when the Lord Jesus Christ walked out of that garden tomb on the first Easter Sunday morning, it settled a lot of issues. His identity was forever established. His claims were solidly substantiated. His promises had just received the guarantee of Heaven.

When Jesus arose victorious from the grave, His enemies were routed. His opponents were silenced (or should have been, had they possessed a smidgen of integrity). His executioners were shamed. A bamboozled Satan and his imps were beside themselves with rage.

The resurrection of Jesus answers our questions, excites our hopes, and escalates our anticipation. It draws us back to the Scripture, back to the Church, and back to a new reality.

No wonder the disciples’ later preaching centered on the single key ingredient of belief in Jesus’ return from the grave as an essential element of saving faith. “If you confess with your mouth Jesus Christ as Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)

Settle that–that Jesus actually died on that cross, that He lay in that grave from Friday afternoon until Sunday morning, then walked out whole and healthy–and so many things fall into place.

Everything, that is, except one. And we see it in the Lord’s disciples, as recorded in John 20.

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If there is a God and God is like Jesus, then, what’s the problem?

“Come now and let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18). 

“Why should it be thought incredible by you that God should raise the dead?”  (Acts 26:8).

If there is a God, and if this God is the omnipotent Creator of the universe, then a thousand questions are settled.

–If God is God, then raising the dead should be no big deal.  After all, He made the universe of nothing and made humans from the dust of the earth, so anything after that should be a piece of cake.

–If this God exists, then the Person of Jesus Christ with all that Scripture affirms about Him is completely logical.  Jesus said, “No one has been to Heaven except the One who came from there, even the Son of Man,” referring to Himself (John 3:13).

–If God is God, then a Virgin Birth is no more miraculous than any other birth, which is to say, every birth is a miracle of the highest order.  Ask any new parent holding their treasure for the first time.

–If God is God, then the miracles Jesus worked during His earthly years were little more than child’s play.  Turn water to wine, feed thousands with a child’s lunch, heal the blind, raise the dead.  This is the God who spoke the worlds into being (Hebrews 11:3). What’s the problem?

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Five things I want the grieving to know about death

One: It’s not wrong to hate death; our Lord hated it also.

He broke up every funeral procession He came to by raising the dead.  Scripture calls death an enemy (I Corinthians 15).

Two:  Scripture says death is out of business.

“Shall never die” (John 11:25-26).  Jesus promised that.   “I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6).

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Laying aside the earthly. You might want to get ready for this.

“For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”  (2 Corinthians 5:1)

“We do not want to be unclothed, but to be clothed, in order that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” ( 2 Corinthians 5:4)

My wife gets attached to cars. I do not.  Recently, I gave my 2015 Camry to my oldest granddaughter.  I’ve done that several times before–starting with the ’96 Camry to my son many years back, later the ’05 to a granddaughter, the ’09 to our twin granddaughters, the ’13 Honda C-RV to my son, and now this one.  I’m happy to pass them along, and as one might expect, they enjoy getting them.

To me a car is a thing, an instrument we use.  My oldest granddaughter names them.  The ’05 is Sandy and this ’15 is Pearl (names based on their colors).  Like most cowboys in the old west, I don’t name my mounts.  I take good care of them and have them serviced by the dealer on the recommended schedule, and thus have almost no trouble from the car.  But when it’s time to replace it with a newer version, I’m happy to let it go.

Think of that as a parable.  We let things go so they can be replaced by something better.

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Easter Foolishness

Here are twelve things we church leaders do on Easter Sunday that undermine our own effectiveness in reaching people for the Lord Jesus….

1) We fuss at those who come.

“Well, good morning! We would like to welcome those of you we’ve not seen since Christmas!  Hope you had a good winter!”

I put this in the same category as those who begin a worship service by rebuking the congregation.  You’ve heard this, and possibly done it (I have): “Well, good morning, church!”  And then, “Oh, come on.  You can do better than that.  Good morning, church!”  Oh great.  We begin the greatest hour of the week by fussing at the people of God.

2) We put on a “dog and pony show” instead of preaching the gospel.

Whatever we do to attract people to our church will be required to keep them. So, if we put on a spectacular to get people in but follow it with our normal run-of-the-mill uninspired preaching/singing/etc., we are doing no one any good.

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12 things about the resurrection of Jesus you may not know

“But now is Christ risen from the dead and become the first fruits of those who sleep….” (I Corinthians 15:20).

Even those who have served God all their lives need reminding of the importance of the resurrection of Jesus sometimes. Those new to the faith enjoy learning the full dimensions of the new life they have received in Christ.

Here are an even dozen aspects of the resurrection of Jesus that instruct our minds, inspire our hearts, and inform us all….

1) No one expected Jesus to rise from the dead.

Jesus’ resurrection was as much a shock to the disciples as His death had been. Thomas, known forever as the doubter, was merely voicing what most of them felt when he declared he would not believe in the risen Lord until He had done his own thorough investigation. (See John 20.)

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“Dead Man Walking” — My Easter Sermon

Since I’m no longer a pastor, and pastors want to be in their pulpits on Easter Sunday for good reason, I rarely preach an Easter sermon any more. But I love this wonderful day and all it represents.  Here is a message on one aspect of the Lord’s resurrection…

The text is John 12:9-11….

“Now, a great many of the Jews knew that (Jesus) was (in Bethany at the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus); and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead. But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also, because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus.”


When the family goes with dad to a convention, they hope it’s in a location like Orlando so there are plenty of activities for everyone. If possible, they like to arrive a couple of days early or stick around after the meeting for fun activities.

It has always been this way.

In the first century, Jewish families traveled long distances for Passover in Jerusalem. This was their big event of the year. The family’s calendar revolved around the Passover Trip. And, lest we misunderstand at this remote distance, the trip–all on foot or by slow animals–was not all drudgery either. Families joined up together and crowds made the trek over several days. Cousins who had not seen each other in a year excitedly hugged and chatted and played. Romances were formed among young people on these annual outings.

Once the families arrived in Jerusalem’s outskirts, they erected makeshift tents and set up housekeeping for a week of religious and social activities. And then they began looking.

The parents were giving in to the cries of their children. “What is there to do here?” “Is there anything for the children!”

And then someone told them.

Over in Bethany–just on the back side of the Mount of Olives–there is a man who was dead for four whole days. And yes, it was Jesus, the Nazarene, who raised him to life.

“Let’s go see!”

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Windows Reflecting The Resurrection

I love to find a story in an old book that stops me in my tracks and provides a great illustration of some spiritual truth. The book may be old, but the story is a fresh insight and any congregation appreciates that.

First, a tiny bit of history which pertains to both stories that follow. At the end, I’ll give the sources for the stories.

In June of 1940, when the Nazis took over France, they sealed off the northernmost two-thirds of the country and left the southern one-third to the administration of the French government which was headquartered in the small town of Vichy. Thereafter, Vichy France, while imperfect in a hundred ways, became known as Free France and the longed-for destination of countrymen suffering under Nazi control. The Germans did everything they could to prevent citizens from crossing the borders and escaping.

First story: A door in the back of the cemetery.

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Helping Mark With His Easter Sermon

“Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came early to the tomb, while it was still dark, and saw the stone already taken away from the tomb.” (John 20:1)

Mark is a young pastor in his first church, and is still laboring under the back-breaking, death-defying habit of getting up on Monday morning and deciding what he will preach the following Sunday. That’s why today, Monday before Easter, when I threw out my weekly question to him and the other two pastors–Jim and Carl–he had only a partial answer.

“I knew you were going to ask that,” he laughed. I had said, “What are you preaching this Sunday?” This is the one Sunday of the year that almost no preacher varies from the subject on everyone’s mind, the resurrection of Jesus. But Scripture has so much to say on the subject that a pastor can pick a text and head out in a hundred directions.

Mark said, “All I have is an idea. In Easter, we have the open tomb, right? Well, it seems to me that that’s not all that was opened on Easter Sunday morning.” He paused and said, “I haven’t figured out what, but I know there has to be an answer to that!”

I said, “All right, guys. We have our assignment. Mark wants our help with this sermon.”

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