A Jewish businessman in Brooklyn decided to send his son to Israel to absorb some of the culture of the homeland. When the son returned, the father asked him to tell him about his trip. The son said, “Pop, I had a great time in Israel. By the way, I converted to Christianity.”
“Oh, my,” said the father. What have I done?” He decided to go ask his friend Jacob what to do. Jake said, “Funny you should ask. I too sent my son to Israel, and he also came back a Christian. Perhaps we should go see the rabbi and ask him what we should do.” So, they went to see the rabbi. The rabbi said, “Funny you should ask. I too sent my son to Israel. He also came back a Christian. What is happening to our young people?
Perhaps we should go talk to God and ask him what to do.”
The three of them prayed and explained what had happened to their sons and asked God what to do. Suddenly a voice came loud and clear from Heaven; The Voice said, “Funny you should ask… I, too, sent my Son to Israel …..
When we were in S.C. there was a friend whose name was Carston. He and his wife were from Australia. He preached the Sunday before me during the Lenten Sundays and opened about six different ways for me to preach and inspired me to take a detour from the traditional Palm Ave. We enjoyed a Spirit led message on having Christ in our midst highlighted by an Australian preacher using some southern lingo! (very amusing) One of the notes I put in my Bible was how Jesus said to his disciples “They will know that you are my disciples if Christ’s love is in “all-ya-all”!
Carston explained the difference between “having love “for” one another” and having the love of Christ “in our midst”. What a truth he proclaimed! Having the love of God, the love of Christ, permeating the midst of the body!…The way we talk, the way we walk (or our actions) the way we honor and encourage one another, choosing to use our giftedness to build one another up and build the church as we do our part to grow the Kingdom of God! That, my friends, is what Jesus wants the world to see. That’s what Jesus wanted the church to experience. And, I want to take a step in that direction today by sharing this thought; that the birth and the ministry of Jesus Christ, and the events of Passion week leading to Easter, (the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus as the final sacrifice for sin, as important and awesome as these were concerning the message of the Gospel)…that the gift of the Holy Spirit was the continuation of God’s plan and purpose in ultimately building the church and pro-claiming the only way of salvation to the world.
Just a little further in the Book of John; It was Jesus who said in John 16:7-15 “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Ad-vocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned… “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. (Now listen to this;) He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”
Carston stated that this is what it means to have the “mind of Christ”… “for no one knows the mind of a man except the spirit of the man, and only the Spirit of God knows the mind and the will of God… and His Spirit speaks to our spirit concerning truth, and sin and righteousness…” The Holy Spirit is not only our comforter, He is our teacher, our leader, our enabler, our power, and it is the Holy Spirit “in our midst”…in the midst of all-ya-all…that makes us the body of Christ, the church! It’s not the building, the Eagles, the Elks, the Moose, and the Masons all have nice buildings…It’s not because we gather on Sundays to sing and listen to a sermon…We are the body of Christ because the Holy Spirit of Christ is in our midst!
Without a doubt the most important roads Jesus walked were those during what we call “Passion week”. The Gospel writers focused more on the events of this time period than on any other portion of Jesus ministry. In fact, the biblical record seems to slow down rather than speed up as it gets to details of Holy Week. As Christians, we say that this is the most important week of our faith.
Some of the things that took place just during that week were; the plot to betray and arrest Jesus; the triumphal entry into Jerusalem we recall today; Jesus clears the temple of the money changers; Peter’s confession of Christ; and his later denial…The Lord’s Supper takes place in the upper room; Jesus prays in the Garden of Gethsemane for himself, for His disciples, and for us, those who would come to know him through their preaching and teaching. Then, of course, his subsequent arrest by the Roman soldiers in the same Garden of Gethsemane; His appearance before the authorities and before Pontius Pilate; His crucifixion on Calvary’s hill; His death; His burial; and His resurrection; His appearances which follow His resurrection; and finally, His ascension to the Father in heaven. Wow! Do you think this was an important week in the life of Jesus?…And we think we have some busy days!
Jesus knew all about the what, where, when, why, and how of His mission, His pur-pose, yet knowing that all this was to take place, and, especially knowing that just over the horizon was the cross looming like a monster ready to consume Him, Luke tells us that in spite of it all, “As the time approached for Jesus to be taken up to heaven, He RESOLUTELY set his face to go to Jerusalem…Why?…LOVE!…It was the power of love! The love of God for His creation; the love of Jesus for His Disciples and His church, as well as the world; The power of love that Jesus told; suggested; no commanded that they have for one another! The power of love that was to be “in their midst!” and which was to be the driving force of the church; His body!
There is no doubt that something powerful took place in the lives of the disciples over 2000 years ago that transformed and multiplied what we call the “church”. A combustible faith was ignited and the flames of Pentecost swept like a prairie fire throughout the then known world!
In Acts chapter 5 in reference to the disciples it says “day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news about Jesus!” It is one thing to accept the teachings of the Bible and be a believer; it is another to be an active disciple! That person is a “doer of the Word” as James tells us. A disciple never stops learning and wanting to learn. A disciple is always active and involved in the activities and ministries of the church; using his or her God given and Holy Spirit empowered gifts. A disciple is always teaching and telling. But, a disciple also is convinced of his faith; and a disciple is empowered by the Holy Spirit; and a disciple experiences God daily in his or her life!
A disciple “can’t help but tell all about what he has seen, and heard, and learned, in the hope that his friend or his neighbor and yes, even his family will come to know the assurance of heaven and the transforming power of Jesus Christ which saves them from the pits of Hell!
What was it that was drawing people into the early church? What was it that attracted them? Was it a nice building? Was it the fact that they had a program for every age group? (No) Was it the fellowship? (No, you can find fellowship in any bar in town.) It was the same thing that has always attracted people to Christ and the church…They see the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. They see a change in people that they don’t see or find in the world. They see people who are controlled by love, and joy, and have a peace in their lives that surpasses all understanding, and they see people who are patient with one another, allowing God to do His work. They see people who are faithful and steadfast in their beliefs. They see people who truly care about and carry one another’s burdens. They see people who demonstrate self-control and are willing to forgive those who lack it… You don’t find these things in the world! Many don’t find these things even in their own families; And when they see this and feel this, it brings glory to God and lifts up the name of Jesus…who said “If I be lifted up, I will draw all men unto myself”… But, when they see the lack of these things, they only see hypocrites! Having Christ in us changes our destination, having the Holy Spirit changes our Destiny!
“They will know that you are my disciples when the love of Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, is in All-ya-all!”