Notes from the leadership journey!

Category Archives: Sermons by Randy

The Resurrection of Jesus

It’s impossible to underestimate the importance of the resurrection of Jesus. It is central to our faith as followers of Jesus!

The Apostle Paul wrote, “if you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord’ and in your heart you have faith that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10.9, CEB). Jesus told his friend, Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even though they die. Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” And, I think he asks us what he asked her: “Do you believe this?” (John 11.25-26).

Everything rises and falls on the reality of the resurrection!

If there was no resurrection, if Jesus did not rise from the dead, then the rest of the gospel has no foundation. Paul put it like this …

If Christ hasn’t been raised, then your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins … If we have a hope in Christ only in this life, then we deserve to be pitied more than anyone else. (1 Corinthians 15.17,19)

This year, I was particularly drawn to Luke’s account of the resurrection. Luke conveys how much of a surprise, and how hard it was for Jesus’ disciples, to comprehend that Jesus had risen from the dead.

When the women arrived at the uncovered and empty tomb, “They didn’t know what to make of this” (Luke 24.4). The angels they met there asked them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He isn’t here, but has been raised” (Luke 24.5-6).

After they reported what they heard to the rest of the followers, “Their words struck the apostles as nonsense, and they didn’t believe the women” (Luke 24.11).

Even after repeated attempts by Jesus to prepare his followers for his death and resurrection, the resurrection was still a total surprise!

Luke also includes the story of Jesus encountering the two disciples on their walk home from Jerusalem. Over the course of a lengthy and painful discussion, their eyes were slowly opened to the reality of Jesus’ resurrection, when all of a sudden, they realized that it was Jesus they were talking to!

The gospel writers conclude their accounts with a commissioning to go and be witnesses of Jesus. Especially for Luke, the end of the gospel is also the beginning of our mission and work on the earth. In Acts 1, Jesus is with the disciples, challenges them with the great commission, and returns to heaven. And several days later, the Holy Spirit is poured out on Jesus’ followers, empowering them to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth!

This all happened because Jesus is who he said he was. He lived, suffered, was brutally killed, and was also raised from dead, conquering sin and death forever. Everything rises and falls on the reality of the resurrection!

Each of us, like Peter, who went to the tomb to check out the women’s story, must investigate the claims of the gospel, including the resurrection. We must choose whether to embrace the reality of the resurrection or to reject it.

I believe Jesus’ words from the sermon on the mount apply …

Everybody who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise builder who built a house on bedrock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the wind blew and beat against that house. It didn’t fall because it was firmly set on bedrock. But everybody who hears these words of mine and doesn’t put them into practice will be like a fool who built a house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the wind blew and beat against that house. It fell and was completely destroyed. (Matthew 7.24-27)

Rejecting the resurrection is like building on sand. But embracing the reality of the resurrection, and living in its power, is like building on solid rock. The resurrection is that important!

Everything rises and falls on the reality of the resurrection!

Cultivating a Movement: Surrender!

As I wrote previously, I just started a sermon series at Centre Grove on Cultivating a Movement. The series began with a focus on surrender. The word “surrender” has mostly negative connotations—on the battlefield, in the political arena, on the sports field, and in life, in general. But in the spiritual life, surrender is essential.…

Cultivating a Movement

I just started a new sermon series called, “Cultivating a Movement.” A few weeks ago, I wrote in an email to church leaders and prayer partners, “I don’t just want to pastor a church; I want to lead a movement!” Now, that may not be the most theologically-accurate statement. By nature, a church is a…