Readings: Acts 10:34-43 • Psalm 118:1-2; 14-24 • 1 Cor. 15:19-26 • John 20:1-18
This week’s theme is Christ is Savior for all. The Psalmist starts off by reminding us God’s love endures forever. The Lord has become our salvation. In Acts 10 Peter shares the hope of salvation with Cornelius and other Gentiles, telling them that everyone who believes in Jesus receives forgiveness. Paul refers to Jesus as the 2nd Adam in his letter to the believers in Corinth. “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” In John we read the story of the resurrection—He is Risen!
Resurrected for ALL
Introduction: The sermon is short to allow for other readings, drama, songs, etc. Have someone begin the service by reading John 20:1-18 or Luke 24:1-12 to share the story of the resurrection.
Welcome to Easter 2019
In Jerusalem one of the most popular places to visit is the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. This has been identified as the place of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. It is a place of pilgrimage for many Christians. Despite many mutilations over the centuries, the Holy Sepulcher remains a gathering place for Christians of all denominations. Many Christian pilgrims walk down the Via Dolorosa—the street Jesus walked down toward his resurrection—and then enter the Holy Sepulcher. It’s a moving place to visit.
The Church of the Holy Sepulcher was built over Golgotha and now sits inside the walls of the city of Jerusalem—a city considered Holy by Jews, Muslims and every denomination of Christians.
The Western Wall, which is the last remnant of the Second Temple, is the most holy site in Judaism and Jews from all over the world pilgrimage to Jerusalem to pray at this wall.
Also in Jerusalem is the Dome of the Rock—a most sacred place for Muslims. Along with the dome, sitting atop where the Hall of Solomon once stood, is the oldest Islamic shrine the Al Aksa Mosque, the third most important mosque in Islam. Muslims trace their heritage back to Ishmael, the son of Abraham (Ibrahim).
Three of the major religions refer to Jerusalem as the Holy City, though only one—Christianity—acknowledges Jesus as the Messiah and Savior.
Is it any wonder as Jesus walked down the Mount of Olives on his last trip into the city, he stopped and wept? He was going there to die for all of humanity, and most would reject him—and most still do.
But here’s the good news! Reject him or not, Jesus is the Lord of All and he was resurrected for all. And that’s why we celebrate. Not just because he was resurrected for you and me, but because he was resurrected for every believer and nonbeliever, for every slave and free, for every Jew and Gentile, for every man and woman. Easter reminds us that Jesus—the Son of God—our Redeemer and Savior—went to the cross for all and was resurrected for all.
The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ shows the profoundness of God’s love. Some call it reckless, some call it preposterous, some call it radical, Paul said it comes across to others as foolishness. Why would God die for people who don’t even acknowledge his presence? For the same reason he died for all those who do acknowledge his presence—because God loves all his children; Jesus came for all.
The apostle Paul is talking about the resurrection of Jesus when he says:
For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive (1 Cor. 15:21-22).
Jesus died for all—Christians, Muslims, Jews, atheists, sinners and saints—and he was resurrected for all. This is why we celebrate—God doesn’t show favoritism. Let’s not forget what Peter says in the book of Acts.
Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all” (Acts 10:34-36).
This statement makes some a bit uncomfortable—that Jesus Christ is the Lord of all.
The sad truth is his message of peace is not as well received as we would hope. In the Holy Land, each group believes they have the cornerstone on truth, and because of this, they are superior to the other groups. Even within the groups there is competition—which Jews are more holy than others? Which Muslims are truly fulfilling the words of the Koran? Which denomination has the best understanding of theology, doctrine and practice? We are still competing, which means we still don’t grasp the significance of who Jesus is, what he did and what his death and resurrection mean for humanity.
Imagine what it would be like if we truly believed Jesus died for all, was raised for all and was Lord of all? Don’t just rush through that thought.
This next section is the crux of your message. Take your time asking the following questions. Allow the members to think things through, write things down, share their thoughts. Either expound these points by sharing how the truth changes the way you look at Jesus, yourself and others, or ask open-ended questions leading to discussion.
- What if it’s true that Jesus died for all?
- How would you look at him differently?
- How would you view yourself differently?
- How would you view others differently?
- What if it’s true that Jesus was raised for all—that just as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive?
- How would that change the way you view Jesus?
- Would that change the way you look at yourself? Your sins? Your need for control?
- How would you view others differently? Would they still be categorized as “other” or “sinner” or any other label?
- What if it’s true that Jesus really is Lord of all?
- Would you look at him differently? Would you think he’s foolish, or have more respect for his sacrifice?
- How would you view yourself differently? If he is Lord, you can’t be, so would that mean more trust on your part?
- How would you view others differently? Rather than seeing them as “other,” would you see them as sheep without a shepherd? Children who don’t know their father? Would this change the way you treat others?
Easter changed everything. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. Jesus made us one. Do we believe this?
Ask God to help you see this truth more clearly. Ask him to help you respond accordingly—with a bit less judgment, a bit less animosity at times, a bit more compassion, and a lot more understanding. Ask God to help you follow the new commandment—to love others as he loves us.
Let’s make Easter more than a day of celebration; let’s make it a day of change.
Small Group Discussion Questions
- What does having a new beginning in Christ mean to you?
- Describe your new beginning in Christ to the group.
- What does it mean Jesus is Lord of all whether they realize it or not?
- What areas of your life are you struggling to surrender to Jesus’ lordship?
- If Jesus doesn’t show favoritism, how does that change the way you think?
- About yourself?
- About your church?
- About others?
- Read and discuss the passage in I Cor. 15:19-26.