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Jesus   Christ

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 Hebrews 13:8 NIV

 

 

 

John 3:16

"For God so 

loved the world

 that He gave His

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 shall not perish

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FROM THE PASTOR'S DESK...

 CONTENTS

 
The Bones are not in the Box...  EASTER  2007
Jesus Was Not Just A Miracle Worker
God Does Not Think the Way Society Does

Article by Rev. Jordan J. Greeley

THE BONES ARE NOT IN THE BOX

A few weeks ago, James Cameron, the director of the movie "Titanic", made the brazen statement that he and his coworkers had found the tomb of Jesus, and never mind that but they had found the bone box that contained the remains of Mary Magdelene, that Jesus and Mary Magdelene were married and had a son, Judah.

Of course all this conjecture goes against the written testimony of the Bible that Jesus rose from the dead. The angel said to the women (including Mary Magdelene) "Do not be afraid for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here: He has risen, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay." Matthew 28:5&6. Same thing in Mark 16:6, "Don't be alarmed, you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him." Luke 24:5&6, "Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here: He is risen! Remember how He told you, while He was still in Galilee.  The Apostle Paul declared "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 and that He appeared to Peter and to the twelve, after that He appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles and last of all He appeared to me also as to one abnormally born." 1 Corinthians 15:3-7

The Apostle John gives this witness, "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched - this we proclaim concerning the Word of Life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. (1 John 1:1-2)

Why did Cameron stir up such a controversy? Well, he produced a Discovery Channel documentary and Cameron gets a lot more ink and publicity if he says that they found the tomb of Jesus, instead of, well, we just stumbled across this first century Jewish cemetery. Even the experts don't agree with Cameron. The names are very difficult to read on the bone boxes and even if they are Jesus, Joseph, Mary, and Judah; these were all common names in that era. Matter of fact, one archaeologist said outright that this has nothing to do with the biblical Jesus. Hollywood has always had a love-hate relationship with Christianity. There was the marvelous "Ben Hur" and "The Greatest Story Ever Told" and "Jesus of Nazareth" and the rock opera "Jesus Christ Superstar". A couple of years ago, Mel Gibson's "The Passion" got everyone's attention. But on the other hand, there was Monty Python's "The Gospel According to Brian" and then "The Last Temptation of Christ". The premise that shaped the thinking of Cameron was natural law, otherwise, there is no such thing as the supernatural. God, if there is a God, does not intervene in the affairs of men. There are no such things as miracles. So if Jesus couldn't rise from the dead, then there's got to be a grave out there somewhere and I am going to find it.

Cameron's ideas are not new. I remember reading 40 years ago a book entitled "The Passover Plot". Jesus drugged Himself before He was crucified and survived the ordeal. His disciples came and overwhelmed the guards at the tomb and took the body. Jesus was weakened by the torture and eventually died. What's interesting to me was after these events, the disciples went out spreading the good news all over the world. All of them died martyr's deaths, except for John, who was exiled at a Roman mining colony on the Island of Patmos and suffered a great deal. Peter was crucified upside down in Rome. Paul was beheaded in Rome. Not one of them ever denied the reality of what they saw or heard or experienced concerning the resurrection. Matter of fact, the risen Christ was the main topic of their preaching. I don't know that they would have endured all that pain if they thought Jesus was back in Jerusalem living the good life and Mary Magdelene was a soccer mom making sure young Judah got to his games. I believe in love. I believe that God sent His only begotten Son into this crazy mixed up world to save us from our sin and to give us eternal life. That's what the resurrection is all about.

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Article by Rev. Jordan J. Greeley

JESUS WAS NOT JUST A MIRACLE WORKER

On February 21, we commemorated Ash Wednesday; the first day of Lent, which literally means Spring. On this Holy Day we start down the long road to Calvary. It is a season of preparation, as we make ready for Good Friday and Easter. It reminds me that Jesus has told us to bear our own cross as we follow Him, that in some way we are to participate in His sufferings.

Ash Wednesday forces us to consider the purpose for which Jesus was born and walked these dusty streets. Jesus was not just a miracle worker, even though He did miracles. He was not just a good man, even though He was the most righteous man that ever lived. No, Jesus came into this world in order to save it and He accomplished this by dying on a cross. This truth is the main story of the Bible. The Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John; tell us about the three years of Jesus' ministry. If you read the accounts, you will find that there is an inordinate amount of emphasis placed on the last week of Jesus' life with the climax being His crucifixion and resurrection. Why? Because these events are the central point of the whole message.

Three times in the Gospels Jesus mentions that He has to go to Jerusalem, and there He would die and after three days rise again. This was God's plan for the ages. In Matthew 15 the apostle Peter makes this stunning pronouncement concerning Jesus, vs. 16 "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God." Jesus applauds Peter's statement, vs. 17 "Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah." Then the Lord began to explain to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things, and there He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter did not want to hear this. The big fisherman took Jesus aside and began to rebuke Him, vs. 22 "Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you!" Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; you do not have in mind the things of God.."

The next chapter, Matthew 17, has the narrative of the transfiguration where upon a high mountain, Jesus meets Elijah and Moses, and the disciples see the Lord in all His glory. They tried to make sense of it all. Peter wanted to erect three shelters. Jesus tells them not to tell anyone what they observed, vs. 9 "until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead." What was this "raised from the dead?" In hindsight, we know that Jesus is referring to His resurrection, to Easter. But Peter, James and John had no idea. The disciples had this experience with God, yet they had no context to relate to. Then they heard a voice from out of heaven saying, vs. 5 "This is My Beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased." It all comes down to the person of Jesus. Who is He? What has He done?

Growing up in Boston where most of my friends were Irish Roman Catholic, and I being Protestant, I noticed this strange custom on Ash Wednesday, this smearing of ashes on the forehead. Today, I think it is a noble tradition, because it reminds me of the need for repentance - repentance from sin. In our culture, it appears that we don't want to deal with the fact of sin, especially our own. It seems an archaic word, a foreign concept. We like Fat Tuesday instead of Good Friday. But Jesus came to save us, to save us from what - SIN. If there is no sin, then there is no need for Jesus. The Bible says we live in a moral universe and there are ramifications for doing evil. Sin is breaking God's law. Sin separates us from God. There is this vast gulf between God and man. There is nothing we can do to bridge this chasm. It doesn't make any difference how educated or smart you are. You can't work your way to God. You can't earn your way into heaven. The Bible says that all have sinned and fall short of God's standard. The Hebrews recognized their failure in the eyes of God and in the Old Testament you find this complex system of animal sacrifices because without blood there could be no forgiveness of sin. The message of the New Testament is that Jesus became our sacrifice, that He shed His blood so that our sins can be taken away. Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. How can we partake of God's Forgiveness? We have to humble ourselves and confess our sins and repent - that is what the ashes symbolize, sorrow and sadness. Yet on the other side there is deep seated joy because the guilt has been removed as far as the east is from the west and we are put right with God. It is a free gift of God's love. It is received by faith. Jesus paid the price for you and me. What we have to do is accept it.

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Article by Rev. Jordan J. Greeley 

God Does Not Think the Way Society Does

I would like to deal with a question often pondering our day and age. Is there life after death? We read about out of body experiences. We hear about a long tunnel with a light at the end of it. Bob Dylan sings about "Knockin' On Heaven's Door." After the tragic death of his son, Eric Clapton asks in his music, "will there be tears in heaven." In the Bible, Jesus states, "In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you." John 14:2

But lets imagine, as John Lennon puts it, that there is no heaven, that man has no destination, that we are just caught in this endless crazy cycle. There is no rhyme or reason or purpose, that we are just stuck here on this little bit of polluted space dust that we call earth. And when we are dead and buried, that is it, no more or no less. No beginnings. No endings. No justice, just decaying flesh. Does that make for a better world? If man has no destination, then he has no responsibilities, no duty, no obligations. If there is no future to aim at, then there is little motivation to be good, to be righteous, to accomplish something for the well being of everyone. If man has no destiny, no one to hold him accountable, then who is to say what is right or wrong? Who is to say that a husband should be faithful to his wife, or a wife should be true to her husband? Who is to say that sleeping around is detrimental? Who says you can't abort a fetus? Who says you can't destroy another person, if he or she gets in your path as you drive your way to the top? Like the salesman who defended his illegal practices by declaring "Let's not confuse business with ethics" or the Navy intelligence officer who sold top secret information to Israel for $6,000. The betrayal had nothing to do with beliefs or honor, only money. It is your value system against mine. No guidelines. Existence is reduced to weekends, paychecks, and cheap thrills. "The existentialist," writes existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre, "finds it extremely embarrassing that God does not exist, for there disappears with Him all possibility, and man is in consequence forlorn, for he cannot find anything to depend on, within or without himself."

If man has no standards to adjust his behavior to, if he has no goals to reach in the future, if there is no hope, then man isn't worth very much. Matter of fact, his value can be reduced to the chemicals that make up his or her body, which is mostly water and carbon. But we find it difficult to live like this, so we set up our own value systems. We say that you are valuable if you are pretty. We say that you are valuable if you have a lot of power and influence. We say that you are valuable if you can slam-dunk a basketball or hit a golf ball over 300 yards. We say that you are valuable if your name has a Rev. Dr. in front of it or a Ph.D. at the end of it. We say that you are valuable if you have a six-figure salary and drive a BMW. Worth is measured by two criteria, appearance and performance. But where does that leave the ugly or uneducated, the sick or infirmed? Where does that place the aged or the handicapped?

Yet God does not think the way that society does. In the Lord's economy, we are heading somewhere. We have an amazing destination. We are being prepared for Glory. We are going to live with Him forever. So, no matter what our position on this planet, trash collector or CEO, we count in the eyes of God. We are valuable just because we are who we are, not because of what we've done or haven't done. We are valuable because of our relationship with Jesus. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." John 3:16

But remember, decision determines destiny. What you choose now settles the issue of where you spend eternity. Decide to follow Jesus, and the Scriptures say that heaven's gates are opened wide.

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Last modified: April 06, 2007