Good News for Doubters


When Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection what happened and what did he say?


I hope that we can learn that doubt is a normal and natural part of a life of faith.


We will look at Jesus’ appearance to ten of the eleven remaining disciples and then to Thomas.

Peace First, then Go with Power

Jesus did and said amazing things after his resurrection (John 20:19-23)? Appearing through locked doors to fearful disciples, he stood among them. 1) Both spirit and flesh, he showed them his wounds. 2) Jesus came to their fears and spoke. 3) He stood with them and stands with us. Jesus spoke of peace, and mission and the Holy Spirit. 1) He spoke of peace first, before mission, before power. Jesus is our peace, through the cross: peace between us and our triune God, between us and other Christians, in our own souls (purifying our consciences) and peace in the world. 2) I send you 3) in power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). Receive him when he comes. If people reject God’s messengers, they also reject God, because he will give them power to lead people into forgiveness.

Peace from God

What changed the Apostles from a fearful band of fleeing cowards to men of faith and action? Certainly, the coming of the Holy Spirit caused dramatic changes at Pentecost, but the changes in the Apostles began seven weeks before that after the resurrection of Jesus. The Holy Spirit gives power, but only to those who are prepared. Three times in John 20:19, 21, 26 Jesus proclaimed peace to his disciples. Could peace be a necessary preparation for the Holy Spirit? First came the resurrection, then blessings of peace and a commissioning followed weeks later with the power of the Holy Spirit. Because of their fear we can imagine that the disciples had no peace. Yet, Jesus blessed them with peace. Could it be that peace from God is an important first step on the way to the Church fulfilling its purpose?

Your Sins have Already been Forgiven

Can humans forgive on behalf of God (John 20:23)? This verse does not support going into a booth and confessing to a priest who would forgive. That practice only grew in popularity from 7th to 11th centuries. It also does not say that a priest would have apostolic succession. There is not one Scripture to indicate that this verse was then understood to be a priest-confessor act. What it does say is that as the Father sent Jesus, so he sent them. Who were they? They were the 11 apostles specifically. Does this then apply to us? We could conclude that anyone who is sent and receives the Holy Spirit has this call. Verse 23 literally says in Greek, If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have already been forgiven. They were already forgiven at the cross.

Asking for Faith

Doubt is normal in a skeptical world. We demand proof. But faith is evidence of things without visible proof, a mystery. John 20:25 records some physical proof shown to Thomas. It is written that we might believe and that believing we might have life through his name. Thomas’ doubt is our doubt. We want a genuine faith. If Christ has not been raised, then our faith is useless (1 Corinthians 15:14). We proclaim real victory over death. Faith is neither wishful thinking, nor based on what we see. How can we find this faith? Only the risen Christ can help as he lives in us. Faith has never been easy. We find faith by having faith given to us by God. If we have doubts then let’s not be afraid to ask Jesus to show us his scars.

Are we like Thomas

In the gospel account of Jesus’ meeting with his disciples after his resurrection (John 20:25), we are perhaps surprised to see that Thomas doubts. Yet his weak faith is not unique. It is rather the sometime condition of all of Christ’s disciples, including us. What is more remarkable is the incredible authority that Jesus entrusts to such faulty disciples, the power to forgive sins or not. This is not a contradiction to Jesus’ instructions after giving the Lord’s prayer regarding forgiveness. It relates directly to the gospel message. It is a message of forgiveness of sin to those who accept it. It also contains the message that those who refuse it will not be forgiven. Those who do not accept the message of Jesus, delivered by ordinary people, cannot be forgiven until they do. We have that authority today.

What can a Doubter Accomplish

The thing that most of us remember about the Apostle Thomas is the epithet “doubting Thomas” from his initial doubt at Jesus’ resurrection (John 20:25). Was he then a failure? Thomas went on to Persia, Parthia and India and established several great churches. Though severely persecuted by overzealous Portuguese Catholics in the 1500’s, Indian descendants of early Jewish Christians still exist as various churches today. Despite the shameful persecution by those who claim to be successors of Peter and Paul some of these Thomas Christians still observe elements of their Jewish heritage. Today, various groups of them either adhere to the younger western Catholic Church or are attached to the older eastern Orthodox Church. Historians consider these to be the oldest Christian churches after the Assyrian Church. So, what can a doubter accomplish in Jesus? — a great legacy.

MY Lord and MY God

At the cross all the disciples of Jesus abandoned him. However, after his resurrection Jesus appeared to them and offered his peace. After seeing the scars Thomas exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). This was a very personal expression of faith. He did not say OUR Lord or even THE Lord, but MY Lord AND MY God. This is what is meant when people speak of a personal relationship with God. Jesus then went on to bless those of us who would believe even though we, unlike Thomas, have not seen, at least not with our physical eyes. There is a seeing that is not with the eyes. When we see Jesus with that insight, then we like they will believe. And as Jesus revealed himself to those disciples, so he reveals himself to each of us.


Jesus appeared through locked doors to fearful disciples, and stood among them. He comes and stands with us when we are most fearful granting us the peace of God which surpasses all understanding. Then he sends us back into our world in the power of the Holy Spirit. Peace be with you!


The Gospel is Like Wine

Booze, white lightning, firewater, grog, joy juice, moonshine, hooch, rot-gut, amber brew and a thousand other names have been used to describe the many beverages which contain ethanol. Ethanol is a natural substance formed when certain species of yeast metabolize sugar. Its largest use today is as a fuel. It has been used since ancient times as a natural preservative.
In Matthew 9:17 the gospel is compared to this fermentation process wherein ethanol is produced. New wine or fresh squeezed grape juice in the early stages of fermentation was placed in a sack formed from animal skin where it fermented into wine. During that process, the skin stretched and was thus only able to be safely used once.
If an old animal skin was used, there was the great danger that it had already reached its elastic limit, and would burst during fermentation, losing both the wine and the skin bag. The new wine being prepared pictures the freshness of the gospel, represented by Jesus. The old wineskins represent the old restrictive religion with its regulations about touch not and taste not, which cannot contain the gospel.
Some Christians believe that abstinence from all alcohol is taught in the Bible, whereas others believe that the Bible encourages moderation. Others even proudly announce as a measure of their righteousness, that they have never had a drop of alcohol in their lives.


Certain well-meaning Christians treat the topic with a degree of hysteria or even methyphobia (a fear of alcohol). A few will have a wine, but never a beer or liqueur. Virtually no Christian believes that drunkenness is right. This is a brief introduction to the main causes of division regarding how and if alcohol may be used by Christians.
Almost every Bible commentary and almost every theologian agrees that the terms for "wine" in the Bible’s original languages refer to fermented, that is alcoholic grape juice. There is no indication otherwise, except for those who wish to read their prejudice into the Bible.
Until 1869 when Thomas Welch discovered how to pasteurize grape juice and his son Charles Welch found it profitable to market, the common method of preserving grape juice was allowing it to ferment. Alcohol is a natural preservative created by God. It is not evil. Certainly, alcoholism and drunkenness are evils. It was also a problem in ancient times. The Bible contains a number of warnings against the abuse of alcohol.

The Word Temperance

Some Christians believe that the word temperance means abstinence from alcohol. It does not. Let’s look at the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:23 where some Bible translations use the word temperance. The temperance movement which bans even moderate alcohol use takes its name from this word.
Because of this confusion, dictionaries now define the English word temperance as either moderation or abstinence. But languages change and total abstinence from alcohol is not what the Bible demands at all. That is why a modern translation of the Bible will use the word self-control in Galatians 5, because that's what the original Greek meant, self-control not abstinence.

Wine or Grape Juice

Some people believe that the “fruit of the vine” described in the Bible was unfermented grape juice. But this is a misunderstanding of history and science. Until pasteurization and refrigeration, fresh squeezed grape juice always fermented within a very few days. Certainly "new wine" placed in wineskins is almost totally unfermented. However, this differs from today’s processed grape juice. It has not been killed by pasteurization, and within a short time takes on that characteristic tang of alcohol production. You may have tasted that same zest when you sugared sliced peaches and left them in the refrigerator a day or so. Fresh apple cider will also begin to get tangy or “hard” within a few days.
The idea that some have of ancient peoples keeping bunches of grapes for six months from the autumn harvest to the spring Passover festival so that they could squeeze out grape juice is naïve. Not only is it a preposterous misrepresentation of ancient culture, but grapes would surely have rotted or turned to raisins by that time.

Jesus’ First Miracle

Jesus’ first recorded miracle was at a wedding in Cana (John 2), where he turned water into wine. It was wine and not grape juice. In accordance with Jewish custom, they were drinking real wine. It was a joyful wedding with probably several hundred people attending, so Jesus helped when the wine supply became prematurely exhausted. If he had given them mere grape juice instead of the finest wine, there would have been complaints rather than compliments.
We are told in the Bible that a feast is made for laughter, and wine makes merry (Ecclesiastes 10:19). The wedding at Cana in Galilee, where Jesus turned water into wine, was a feast. There is absolutely no logical reason, no indication in Scripture or historical context demonstrating that this was grape juice.

The Last Supper

When Jesus took an early Passover the night he was betrayed, he passed a cup of wine to his disciples. It is not logical to claim that this was merely grape juice. Passover is in the northern hemisphere's spring, six months after the end of the grape harvest, which concluded in the autumn, around the time of the Feast of Tabernacles. There was no way to preserve grape juice. When wine reaches an alcohol content of around 10-12% it is naturally preserved. Even the skins of hanging grapes will ferment or create alcohol within a short period of time.
Have you ever been involved in the preparation of communion at a church that uses grape juice instead of wine? Even with refrigeration, once the bottle is opened, the grape juice will go off after a few short weeks. Perhaps you too have wondered at the uselessness of this bias against a God-ordained method of preservation.
There was no refrigeration, and pasteurization had not yet been invented. Granted there are methods to keep moldy old grapes around for six months and squeeze out fresh grape juice, and perhaps some ancients had even thought of making a kind of grape powder to add water later. However, the most logical explanation is that the wine Jesus used for the Lord’s Supper at the Passover season was fermented wine. Jewish historians agree. It may have been mixed with a little water as was an ancient custom, but that does not make it grape juice either.
The expression "fruit of the vine" was "employed by the Jews from time immemorial for the wine partaken of on sacred occasions, as at the Passover and on the evening of the Sabbath” (The New Westminster Dictionary of the Bible). That wine was fermented. Granted, God was well aware that with the passing of time, the meaning of the expression "fruit of the vine" would change from the common Jewish meaning of fermented Passover or Sabbath wine, and I'm sure that he even knew that over 1800 years later, someone would invent pasteurization and that the term could be applied by some also to grape juice. So, perhaps God is not really concerned either way. Perhaps the whole division over this issue is just more crap.

A Blessing in Measure

The real reason that some ban alcohol for all Christians today is not the result of good theology, a thorough study of ancient history or even linguistic analysis of biblical Greek and Hebrew. It arose around 1830 during the temperance movement in Britain, which at first encouraged abstinence from distilled spirits but not beer, because whisky and other spirits caused a greater problem with drunkenness. Later on the temperance movement banned all alcohol. The temperance movement began in northern Europe where consumption of strong drink was more common. In southern Europe, where the consumption of wine was more common, the temperance movement did not make much headway.
If used moderately, wine was designed by God to be a blessing in the body of a normally healthy person. It cheers God and men (Judges 9:13), gladdens the heart (Psalms 104:15), gladdens life (Exodus 10:19), makes the heart rejoice (Zechariah 10:7), cheers up those who are depressed (Proverbs 31:6). Wine is to be imbibed with a cheerful heart (Ecclesiastes 9:7). It makes life merry (Ecclesiastes 10:19).

A Curse if Abused

Yet, like most things in life, alcohol can be abused. The Bible does not condemn moderate consumption of alcohol, but does strongly warn against drunkenness (Proverbs 20:1). Those who linger too long or keep mixing their drinks are inviting grief (Proverbs 23:29-32), as are those who drink all day and night (Isaiah 5:11).
Sometimes it may be good to avoid eating certain foods or drinking certain drinks, especially when it may cause someone to stumble (Romans 14:21). We could apply this principle to friends who may be alcoholics, drink excessive volumes of coffee or soft drinks, teetotalers, overeaters, vegetarians or people on a diet. Some apply this only to alcohol and not to foods, and so avoid drinking alcohol at all, or only in public, which is inconsistent because the verse also speaks about foods. It is a judgment call, not a rule. The choice is ours.
There is also another principle here which we must consider. Christ is the final word on any topic, not the writer of Romans. If we look at Christ's example, he did not avoid alcohol in order not to offend those at a wedding party. In fact he turned water into wine for all to enjoy, whether or not some of them may have been problem drinkers. He also drank wine at the Passover season, six months after the wine harvest, in order to introduce the well-known Christian ceremony of the bread and the wine.
The writer to the Romans was not making a religious rule about alcohol or even food, but teaching the importance of not offending. Yet at times Jesus purposely offended the Pharisees to wake them up. Curiously enough, usually those who are most offended by Christians drinking are other Christians. We naturally have the tendency to create lists of rules that are not Christian essentials. That was also a problem with a religious group 2,000 years ago, the Pharisees. We need to focus on the important ideas of Christianity, not picky rules.

May Leaders Drink?

Some Christians believe that Proverbs 31:4-5 to say that no one may drink. It is not for kings to drink lest their judgment be impaired, but read through to verse 7 and notice it is recommended for the heavyhearted. Are kings, prime ministers or national presidents never allowed drink wine? Jesus, King of Kings, drank wine at the Last Supper (Matthew 26). However, the Bible does advise national leaders that when they are about to make serious decisions that have far reaching affects, they ought to abstain from alcohol for the time being.
What about church leaders? Does Paul instruct Timothy that an elder should not be a drunkard (1st Timothy 3:3; 5:23)? Yes! It does not say he must be a teetotaler. By implication then this "allows moderate use of alcoholic beverages" for church leaders (Walter L. Liefeld, NIV Application Commentary, 1999, Zondervan, p. 120). Paul confirms this by encouraging Timothy to take "a little wine" (1st Timothy 5:23). Some church leaders have had the odd occasion when they were relaxing at home only to be called away on a crisis where they needed a clear head. As a result of similar experiences, some church leaders are careful not to drink much if any alcohol except when on vacation. That is still a personal choice made in wisdom and not a legalistic rule.

A Silly Argument

An old religious-sounding argument asks the question, "How many beers does it take for you to get drunk?" Suppose we guess six. The questioner then replies that with one beer, you are one sixth drunk. This kind of misleading logic totally misrepresents the Bible and its view on drunkenness. Biblically, drunkenness is excess not moderation.

A Key

We are by nature creatures of extremes. The one extreme of drunkenness is a sin, and the other abstinence is allowed but usually unnecessary. Moderation is the key. As Paul told Timothy, use a little wine. A little means not a lot. Paul also specified to the Ephesians not to be drunk with wine, wherein is excess (Ephesians 5:18).

Honesty Check

Teetotalers must be honest in admitting that there is no direct Scriptural statement banning moderate consumption of alcohol and that taken collectively, the Scriptures allow either total abstinence from alcohol or moderation. Teetotalers must also admit that the Passover wine Jesus took at his Last Supper was not grape juice. It was 6 months after the grape harvest, and there was neither refrigeration nor pasteurization. Even a practice of hanging grape bunches allows their skins to ferment into alcohol.
Moderate drinkers must admit that their freedom can at times be a stumbling block to the weak and that because there is no clear line between moderation and excess, they ought to avoid an appearance of condoning overindulgence. Drunkards must admit that the Scriptures clearly define drunkenness as wrong (Romans 13:13; Galatians 5:21) and that no drunkard will inherit the kingdom of heaven (1 Corinthians 6:10).

Cleaning out the Divisive Crap

Dividing the Christian church over a matter that Jesus did not think was important enough to command his disciples is crap. What about the Christianity of its founder, Christ? Would Jesus avoid alcohol just in case he caused offense? What if his avoidance of it caused offense? We certainly do not see him flaunting the use of alcohol, but we do not see him denying his mother’s request when he turned water into an alcoholic beverage either, and far more significantly, we see him even introducing an alcoholic beverage as one of the important elements of communion.
The bigoted man-made rule that Christians must be teetotalers is crap and not Christianity at all. Jesus came to do away with a religion of touch-not, taste-not legalism. There is no biblical ground for bigotry against Christians who drink moderately or for health reasons. Jesus miraculously made wine for a wedding, drank wine at the Last Supper and died at the hands of people who loved Pharisaic lists of religious rules. Let's do away with our Christianized Talmud of do's and don'ts and make our only rules the ones that Jesus plainly taught.

It is not the Christianity of Christ, and therefore a non-essential whether Christians drink alcohol for health, socially in moderation or are teetotalers. That is a matter of personal choice. Either way it does not make someone a better or worse Christian than another. The only essentials here are that Christians avoid the sin of drunkenness and use wisdom if they do choose to drink a little alcohol.

Good News of Resurrection Faith


What kind of faith does it require to live as a Christian? It takes resurrection faith. What does that mean?


To help us have faith in the resurrection yesterday, today and tomorrow.


We will look at why there is crying, Easter agendas, why Easter is so important and what is resurrection faith.

Woman, why are you Crying

Probably thinking that Jesus’ body had been stolen by grave robbers Mary began to cry (John 20:11). First a couple of angels and then later Jesus asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” Then Jesus simply spoke her name and she seems to have immediately recognized his voice. After that encounter she exclaimed to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord.” John saw the empty tomb and believed. Peter saw it too but did not believe. Mary saw the empty tomb but did not believe. Then she heard and believed. Belief often comes by hearing the word of Christ. That’s the literal meaning behind Romans 10:17. Why do we sorrow. Let us read the scriptures and hear them read every week at church. Just listen and you will hear the words of Jesus and you too will believe.

Leave our Agendas Out of Easter

Catholics have used John 20:4, 18 to point out that Peter was the first into the tomb and thus deserving of being first Pope. Protestants have used it to show John’s greater faith than Peter’s and thus Peter did not deserve the title of first Pope. Women’s movements have used the same passage to show that Mary Magdalene was the first with the good news of Jesus’ resurrection and thus a woman was the first evangelist. Quite frankly these ideas are disgusting. The political domination of Rome over the western Church, the Protestant rebellion against Rome and the social ambitions of modern women have little to do with the real story. How dare we trivialize or taint the resurrection of our Lord with human politics! Jesus is alive and in him we Catholics, Protestants, men and women are alive too.

Why Easter so Important

In the Old Testament, the most important season was Passover. And during that eight day period, the significant celebration was Passover evening. Since the earliest days in Christian history, Passover has also remained as the most important Christian celebration. English speakers call it Easter, but most languages still call it Passover. The observation has changed dramatically. Whereas many Christians observe a Passover-like celebration of the Last Supper on Holy Thursday, Easter Sunday has taken on a significance not found during the Old Testament Passover festival. As Jesus observed Passover eve a day early, so too do Christians modify the time of observance and also include the far more significant remembrance of the Resurrection (John 20:1-18). Resurrection Sunday has become the chief celebration of the year. Every Sunday is a reminder that he is alive and in him we live.

Victory through Suffering

We are all tempted by immediate gratification. We want pain to go away, now! We are drunk on sugary, fatty, unhealthy foods. When we want satisfaction we may also be tempted to do other things the wrong way. Life delivers frequent tests as to whether or not we want to endure short-term pain for long-term gain. We may be tempted to lie, cheat or steal to avoid that short-term pain, because we want immediate gratification. However, short-cuts can harm us in the long term. Jesus prayed that he would not have to endure the cross, but in the end chose to suffer. Easter Sunday is not about avoidance of suffering but about victory through suffering (John 20:1-18). The natural human desire to avoid short-term suffering can cause long-term pain for ourselves and others. Victory through suffering is sweet forever.

Living in Resurrection Faith

Is the resurrection (John 20:1-18) relevant to our lives now? It was not an Old Testament observance and the Sadducees doubted it. Resurrection Day is part of Christian Passover season, Easter in English. It is a greater celebration than days which more directly picture Passover, like Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. It is our hope after this life, but also something we can live every day. How do we live the resurrection now? One example Jesus gave was that when we have a celebration we ought to invite the poor, the maimed, the lame and the blind (Luke 14:13-15), people not often represented at parties of the rich and famous. By loving our neighbors, we live Easter all year and will be rewarded wonderfully at our own resurrection. Let’s give new life away and live the resurrection today.

Resurrecting Dead Dreams

This dog-eat-dog world is called a jungle, where people walk all over each other. Just to survive, we become tough and and bitter inside. Yet, Jesus came to save us from ourselves and the world around us. That’s what the resurrection is about (John 20:1-18). Romans 5:10 says that we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son and saved by his life. When everything in this world seems to be out to destroy us, God is there to rebuild. Have our marriages been dying? God is there to give them life. Have our dreams shriveled up and died? God is there to resurrect them. Have our spirits shrunk and withered with discouragement? God is there to revive our spirits. He is on our side and wants to save us. All we need do is ask.


Easter teaches us that resurrection faith is for yesterday, today and forever. Let us live that resurrection every day.



This world’s leaders of all walks of life from government and industry to education and even the church have proven themselves to be faulty and totally incapable of solving humanity’s problems. Pontius Pilate is a caricature of human government leadership. Jesus’ Palm Sunday parade into Jerusalem serves as both a mockery of world governments and a symbol of the humility of God’s government.


Let us compare human failure to govern itself with God’s wonderful government, the kingdom of heaven.


We will look at the Palm Sunday parade from Matthew 21:1-11.

Jesus the Colt Whisperer

A colt is an untrained animal. It is symbolic that Jesus rode an untrained colt into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:5). As he calmed the storm, he calmed the unbroken animal. Our lives can be like a wild colt, untamed and unpredictable. But, if we let Jesus take the reigns, he’ll calm things down. People often try to steer a church like a business, but it fails miserably, because a church is made up of volunteers. In business, if a person does not want to help, bosses yell and blackmail workers with their pay check. Churches cannot be yelled at unpleasantly or blackmailed. People just leave. So, in church work, as in all volunteer work, we are grateful for those who help, but we do not browbeat those who do not. We look to Jesus the colt whisperer, to change hearts.

Why a Colt

The arrival of Jesus in Jerusalem on a colt should be contrasted with the dignitaries of this world. One monarch has over 100 coaches and carriages in the royal collection. One is covered with gold leaf, weighs four tons and requires eight horses to pull it, decorated with cherubs, crowns, palm trees, lions' heads, faces, tritons and dolphins. Most countries’ leaders use something like the US President when flying. Contrast that with Jesus’ royal entry into Jerusalem on a colt with its mother trailing behind (Matthew 21:5). The old world order is over. The new kingdom is already here preparing a people. Old world leadership was self-aggrandizing and arrogant. New world leadership is self-effacing and humble. The colt symbolizes a new day for humanity, a change in leadership style and those who change will join Jesus at his return.

Mocking a Cavalry Officer

Jesus’ parade into Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt (Matthew 21:8) would have been seen as a mockery of Pontius Pilate’s proud tradition as a cavalry officer. History records accounts of Pilate as a Roman equestrian, a knight of the Pontii family from the central Italian region of Samnium. His name Pontius comes from his family name. He was a cavalry commander appointed prefect of Roman Judaea, a military ruler of several provinces (Judea proper, Samaria and Idumea) and his duties would have included policing and collecting taxes. Pilate insulted the Jews by hanging worship images of the emperor throughout Jerusalem and minting coins with both pagan and Jewish religious symbols. Jewish criticism of Pilate made him vulnerable to discipline from Rome, and the Jews capitalized on this and Jesus’ insulting parade to obtain a death sentence on our Lord.

A Palm Sunday Parade in the Heart

There is historic evidence that Pilate was marching in parade into west Jerusalem with his army to police the large Passover crowds as Christ entered from the north. Jesus’ procession was a counter-cultural challenge to and a mockery of the government of the day. Experts believe that this is a deeper reason behind Pilate’s inaction regarding Jesus before the crucifixion. The world believes that the solution to human problems is a war horse instead of a peace donkey, using the word “donkey” as an insult instead. A world that more than ever disparages the Gospel, is more than ever in need of it. If we have suffered at all at the hands of our fellow human beings, we can rejoice with a Palm Sunday parade in our hearts (Matthew 21:8) that heaven’s king is coming to set things right.

Easter, a Change in World Power

For Christians, Easter is not merely about bunnies, eggs and resurrection. It is about a change in world power. Jesus has conquered the powers of this world. Death, sin and evil forces have had control over our lives too long. Jesus triumphed over death and it is worth celebrating, the beginning of a new creation. Jesus’ new world order has put an end to a world run amok. Palm Sunday remembers a parade celebrating that victory (Matthew 21:8-9). Forgiveness of sin is now a way of life. Jesus offers both us and our neighbors the freedom of life without condemnation. This evil world only had the power to put Christ on the cross. He willingly allowed it because he has power beyond the grave. Our dead lives have been raised with Christ as a new creation where love prevails.

Rage against the Machine

Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem was symbolic of a new world order challenging today’s corrupt world. A younger generation once expressed it as “rage against the machine.” Christianity is a protest. It is a protest against all the corruption and greed that has destroyed human life as we know it. The good news is that Jesus’ triumphal entry was a real success. It was not a success as the world views it. The world does not see triumph in the cross, but self-sacrifice is the ultimate victory. It is the victory over self-centeredness. It is a victory over all the forces of evil in our world and worthy of a parade (Matthew 21:8-9). Overcoming is our triumph and must also be like that of Jesus, refusing to win by worldly means with violence but by godly means with self-sacrifice.


Jesus approached Jerusalem with bands of Passover pilgrims chanting "Hosanna" (“save” Matthew 21:9; Psalm 118:25). His entry portrayed him as the King of Peace, not a worldly king with great wealth seeking vengeance but bringing peace between people and between all humanity and God, a peace that passes all understanding. Worldly business, worldly government, worldly entertainment are not there to give but to get. They are there to get our money and to get power over us. We retire to become hermits because we are tired of people because people hurt us. Palm Sunday is to remind us that there is need for a new king, a king who will bring reconciliation between people and between people and God. Let us welcome Jesus into our lives as the peacemaker between ourselves and between all of us and God.


New Christians can still rely on human government to solve our problems. The lessons of history continually remind us of the failure of this world’s governments. Pontius Pilate is a caricature of human government and Jesus’ Palm Sunday parade into Jerusalem serves as both a mockery of worldly government and a symbol of the humility of God’s government. Our only hope is the establishment of God’s government in our hearts and Jesus’ return to save the whole world. Be a part of the future and allow God to rule in our hearts today. Hosanna! Lord, save us!

Good News: Take off the Grave Clothes


What kind of life would we lead if we were guaranteed not to die? How would we live if we knew already that we were immortal like a kind of Superman or Superwoman?


I want us to realize that immortality is not just the stuff of Hollywood fiction but a reality in Christ.


We will examine the resurrection of Lazarus as an act of the One who dares to call himself “the resurrection and the life” as a taste of our own resurrection to eternal life.

Dilemmas in the Passage:

Why God Delays

Sometimes we pray and God delays. Why? Perhaps a look at the healing of Lazarus in John 11:1-45 will provide some clues. Though not one of the twelve disciples, Lazarus was clearly one of Jesus’ closest friends. When Jesus heard of his friend’s sickness, he indicated God’s purpose by saying that the illness would be used for God’s glory and God's Son’s glory. While others panicked and were concerned, Jesus was calm in his faith. Then he went on to say that God’s purpose was “so that you may believe.” Lazarus’ sisters both responded quite emotionally that if Jesus had been there sooner he would not have died. By this time, he had been dead four days. Again Jesus emphasized the necessity to believe. Even his prayer, which was a public prayer, was said so that hearers may believe.

A Real Man Weeps

Jesus wept. Why? What is it that made the manliest of men weep? Theologians speak of Jesus having been the most complete human being to have ever lived since Adam. Adam sinned. So too have we. Yet Jesus did not. He was like Adam in every regard except one — he never sinned. He had human nature in its pure, unblemished form. He was the only man who ever lived to have pure, untainted manliness. He was manhood personified as God intended it to be. If we look in John 11:1-45 we see that Jesus was deeply moved. Men who have no feelings are not real men. Was that emotion anger as some translations suggest or heartfelt compassion upon people with so little faith? It’s hard to tell. One thing for sure: a real man was moved to tears.

A Great Miracle

Some people seem almost obsessed with miracles. They chatter incessantly about people being healed and promises of wealth. Among those addicted to the fad, the greatest miracle of all is spoken about in terms of someone resurrected from the dead. Such a miracle is recorded in John 11:1-45. However, even that miraculous resurrection was only temporary. It was not the greatest miracle of all that Jesus can perform. When we are overly focused upon physical miracles, the ultimate resurrection seems to take a back seat. That event will be no temporary resuscitation to life, but a resurrection to permanent life forever more. Charlatans and false prophets easily take advantage of the hysteria surrounding those who desire miracles now. When we focus our minds on our permanent home, it is much harder for such deception to take hold of us.

What to Expect before a Miracle

Before Lazarus’ resurrection (John 11:1-45) several things happened, perhaps serving as clues as to what we might expect before God intervenes. Delay: God may not always intervene immediately. Jesus stayed several more days after hearing of Lazarus’ death. Opposition: When Jesus finally decided to go, the disciples tried to dissuade him. Negativity: Thomas tried to disparage Jesus’ plans by suggesting they may as well all go and die. Blame: Martha and later Mary told Jesus that if he had been there her brother would not have died. Doubt: Martha also doubted that anyone could do anything after her brother had been dead four days. God may choose to bless us with a temporary miracle, and our faith may be tried by delay, opposition, negativity, blame and doubt. But that miracle is insignificant compared to the permanent resurrection of salvation.

Public Prayers

Jesus taught to pray in private (Matthew 6:6)? Why then do others pray in God's house (Matthew 21:13), with others in a small group (Acts 1:14), by a river (Acts 16:13), on the seashore (Acts 21:5) and everywhere (1 Timothy 2:8)? The context of Jesus’ instructions regarding private prayer and these other examples show that he did not teach us about one exclusive place for prayer, but rather to highlight what our motive ought to be in prayer. If we are uncertain that our motive may be to show off spiritually or promote ourselves as super-spiritual, then it would be better to pray in private. In fact Jesus himself prayed in public but from a different attitude of heart. His motive was for the benefit of others, that they may believe (John 11:1-45).

The Good News in the Passage:

AM the Resurrection

A close friend of our Savior was named God-helps (Lazarus) who came from a town called Affliction (Bethany). He died. He had two sisters, Obstinacy (Mary) and Mistress (Martha). They too were close friends of Jesus. The healing of Lazarus (John 11:1-45) includes vision for the here and now, not just the future. When speaking to Martha, he did not say that he would be the resurrection on that final day, although he certainly will be that too. He spoke in the present tense, “I AM the resurrection and the life.” Could it be that when we believe in Jesus, we already enter from death to life? We live in Affliction of death. God helps. We no longer need to fear death, because when we believe in him who is life, we have life too.

I am the Resurrection and the life

What a great claim to divinity (John 11:1-45) that Jesus has the power over resurrection and life! Notice that he said “am” and not “will be.” He personalizes resurrection in himself. That could have been a clue about what was to take place. Jesus demonstrated his authority over life and death by raising Lazarus. The one who believes in Jesus, even though dying like all human beings, will live. He will never die. The body may die, but the spirit lives on received into heavenly places. The resurrection of Lazarus is a mere temporary sample of what Jesus will do for all believers after death of the body. We may seem dead at times. Our hopes and dreams may seem to be dashed. Jesus promises life to all who put their trust, not in this world, but in him.

Take off the Grave Clothes

From the day we are born we begin to die. Our body’s cells are like a wound up clock winding down. It’s as if our bodies are already dressed in grave clothes. As marvellous as science is, it has not yet mastered life’s greatest enemy, death. Yet there is someone who has the power over life and death and has already proven it (John 11:1-45). As "God in the flesh", Jesus resurrected people temporarily from death, which was a foretaste of the resurrection to eternal life. In a skeptical world it is quite a challenge to hear that whoever lives by believing in Jesus will never die. That’s what he said as he boldly claimed, I am the resurrection and the life. So let’s take off the grave clothes. If we believe in Jesus Christ we are alive forever.


Our bodies may be dying every day, but our spirits will live on in Christ. Let us take off the grave clothes and live our lives in Jesus, the life of those who will live forever.

Topic: Public Prayer

Jesus taught his disciples to pray in private (Matthew 6:6 when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret)? Why then do people pray in God's house (Matthew 21:13 My house shall be called the house of prayer), with others in a small group (Acts 1:14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren), by a river (Acts 16:13 on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made), on the seashore (Acts 21:5 we kneeled down on the shore, and prayed) and everywhere (1 Timothy 2:8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting)?

The context of Jesus’ instructions regarding private prayer (when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men) and these other examples show that he did not teach us about one exclusive place for prayer, but rather to highlight what our motive ought to be in prayer. Hypocrites pray to show off. If we are uncertain that our motive may be to show off spiritually or promote ourselves as super-spiritual, then it would be better to pray in private. In fact Jesus himself prayed in public but from a different attitude of heart. His motive was for the benefit of others, that they may believe (John 11:1-45 Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me). The pastoral prayer follows Jesus' example. It is not meant to be a time to show off but as encouragement for others to believe.

All Bible quotes: King James Version public domain