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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Easter, The Cast of Characters - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Easter, The Cast of Characters - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Easter, The Cast of Characters - Part 2
TOPICS: Easter

2020 was an episode of tremendous shaking. It was presented to us as a great threat to our health. We heard about a virus coming our way from Wuhan. Except when we first heard about it, we couldn't say "Wuhan". I stood on this platform and every time I said "Wuhan," they took us down and our online audience would blow up with angry people. And because I'm not fully transformed yet, I would frequently say "Wuhan". I repent, kind of. It was presented as a great threat to our health. But the outcome was a visible shaking of established things. Almost everything seems to have changed since the spring of 2020. Our churches were shaken.

I can speak to this when I spent my adult life in the Christian church. We were told we were non-essential and to disband. And we complied. The outcome has been a greatly diminished participation in church. In the last few months, I've been in more than 20 major American cities trying to encourage pastors and church leaders. And I can tell you, across the board, the church is in trouble. Participation rates are at historic lows. The enemies and adversaries of the church are gleefully reporting that we're in some sort of a post Christian something or other, as if God has withdrawn from the stage. Folks, God does not need the majority for his truth and power to be exerted in the earth.

Don't ever be confused. You choose to identify with Almighty God. The Hebrew slaves did not outnumber nor did they threaten their Egyptian captors. But the power of God did. Jesus in a tomb, having given up his life, did not pose a threat to the Roman guards that had crucified him, but they pretended they were dead when they were confronted with the power of a living God. You gladly and willingly align yourself with Almighty God, you will never regret it. The outcome of our church is being shaken. Tragically, it's been a more timid, compliant church which seems to be subjugated to the voices of our culture. I believe our assignment is to be the conscience of our culture, to be salt and light, and we have to step towards that assignment.

Science was shaken. We were told to follow the science, that it would keep us safe and provide the best pathway forward. I began my academic career in the sciences. I have no problem following science. I'm an advocate for science, but there's a great difference in following the science and following the scientists. They can be clowns, manipulative, deceivers. You need to know the difference. Science is a method. It's a way of understanding our world. Science is measurable, reproducible, and consistent. What we experienced was not science. It differed from state to state, governor to governor, and the scientists, unfortunately, for the most part, didn't say anything to challenge the narrative.

Our faith in public institutions was shaken. Trusted sources of information proved to be untrustworthy. You can build your own list. The CDC, the FBI. Propaganda replaced our observable reality. I began encouraging you to watch and listen, to think and to act. You've got to be aware in our world, these days. We were told to go home and shelter in place for 2 weeks and you could return to normal. If we gave them the benefit of the doubt, and say they responded with the best information they had at the time, at the end of the 2 weeks when they were wrong, we deserved an adjustment, an apology, a realignment. It didn't emerge. It was propaganda. Censorship has become commonplace. We have new labels. We haven't had them before in the way we use them today. Misinformation, disinformation, malinformation.

We used to defend this little novel concept we called "freedom of speech". It didn't require you to tell the whole truth in order to be able to express your opinion. But we've accepted a circumstance where you can be silenced, canceled, swept away from the public arena, because someone deems what you said something they don't agree with, which means some higher authority, and it isn't God, is deeming what's acceptable in the public square. It's wrong. Well, I want to submit to you in the same sense that there were multiple shakings in Jerusalem, I want to use the imagery that Jesus used, the beginning of birth pains, that on October the 7th of last year, we experienced another episode of shaking.

Another contraction, if you prefer. There was a vicious attack from Gaza led by Hamas launched against Israel. I've seen the video footage. It was brutal, inhumane, purposely degrading, murderous violence against men, women, and children. It's the greatest loss of Jewish life in a single day since the Holocaust. In candor, I didn't recognize the full impact on the day of the attack. I understood the threat and the challenge 'cause of my friends in Israel. But since that day, as I've watched what's unfolded, I understand now that God was shaking the earth again because I can see the impact of the shaking in the days which have followed. Things have become clearer today that were not clear on October the 7th.

I did not know the degree to which our elite centers of academia, the places that we aspired for our children and our grandchildren to be able to participate, I didn't know they were bastions of hatred against the Jewish people. They've refused to condemn Hamas. They've tried to establish some sort of a moral equivalency between what those murderous terrorists did. There's been widespread support for the behavior of Hamas. They have publicly declared, it's a part of their charter, their intent to commit genocide against the Jewish people. And yet we have powerful voices, supposedly educated voices, elite voices, that refuse to condemn them. In America leaders at the highest levels to continue to call for sanctions to limit Israel's responses.

In the past week when the UN Security Council voted to demand a humanitarian ceasefire without the release of the hostages. It was led by China and Russia, if you didn't know. The United States refused to veto it. Anti-Semitism, it's a fancy word for the hatred of the Jewish people. It's flourished throughout history, but we rather naively celebrated at the end of World War Two, we hoped it was put away forever, that it had been pushed to the back of the closet. It was once believed in this nation to be as uncommon as the measles. Tragically, both are now flourishing in our midst again. The shaking is revealing the intent of people's hearts and the nature of their alignments. The calls for a humanitarian ceasefire are shouted out daily.

It's worth noting that although in the conflict, the war, between Ukraine and Russia there have been more than 500,000 deaths, we don't hear those same calls for a humanitarian ceasefire. What's happened there dwarfs the numbers involved in Gaza. Anti-Semitism, this is important. Anti-Semitism, the hatred of the Jewish people, is motivated by the spirit of Antichrist. The Jewish people, God's chosen people, the covenant he established with them, enabled them to deliver a redemptive message for all of humanity. My Lord and King, Jesus of Nazareth, is an observant Jewish rabbi. The spirit of Antichrist has hated the Jewish people. Long before Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the spirit of Antichrist was at work in the earth.

What you should understand is that same spirit that drives the hatred and the persecution of the Jewish people, hates all the covenant people of God. And what you see expressed towards them will be expressed towards you if you stand on behalf of Jesus of Nazareth as Lord, Christ, and King. It's worth noting that historically, that persecution has had the greatest expressions from religious people. And the book of Revelation tells us at the end of this age that that spirit of Antichrist will have its full presentation in the earth with a leader that the Bible refers to simply as beastly. We're in a season of shaking. Our families are being shaken.

Forces beyond us have imagined they can redefine family, that they can redefine marriage, that the authority in the home no longer rests in that nuclear family, that the government has rights and privileges regarding your children, overriding the authority of parents. It's a shaking. Are you watching? It's important to be aware. Our educational systems are being shaken. You're finding the true intents and thoughts of the hearts of those who have led. We watched over our children's shoulders as they took classes online during the lockdown and we were appalled at what was being taught. Then we heard the presidents of teachers unions saying that they had a greater authority than parents in determining the criteria and the curriculum for the students.

There's a word with which I would respond. It's a Greek word. It means I disagree. It's "baloney". They have no such authority. If they imagine they have that authority, they should be removed from office. There's been a shaking of our financial systems. We've experienced some minor tremors, but I fully anticipate, I would love to be wrong, but my expectation is there's a significant shaking in our future. It's not bad news. We've celebrated Easter with more people than any year in my journey, and I've celebrated a lot of Easters now. There's people turning to the Lord with greater enthusiasm, making greater effort in that than at any time in my lifetime. There's a shaking taking place. That doesn't mean it's bad. It means there are choices being elicited. It's time to determine what you believe.

In the midst of all the shaking, there's an opportunity being presented. It reaches across all the barriers which we've imagined that separated us: our accent, our nationality, how we look, our economic status, our educational background. Those things may have a place but they are secondary to our relationship with Jesus. The truth is available and accessible, but just as there were, it was in Matthew's narrative, there is a cost that is often attached to embracing the truth. It will put you on the outside of people who prefer the deception. So I have a question for you this Easter morning. What will you do with the Jesus story? What will you do? I'm not talking about hiding in a church.

Folks, sitting in church does not make you a faithful disciple, any more than sitting in the gym makes me an Olympic athlete. Don't we wish? I'd take doughnuts and go to the gym every morning. Some of us do that. We come to church and we plan what we wanna do as soon as we get out from under this miserably confining experience. What will you do with the Jesus story? I would submit to you that the shaking we've seen begin will intensify in both frequency and strength.

I wanna encourage you to be intentional in choosing to honor Jesus. Do not allow the silence and the inactivity to be your expression of a choice. Don't imagine that you can just play possum, that if you stay silent and step into the shadows and you pretend not to notice and you just stay focused on what you really want, that somehow you'll navigate these waters and come out the other side in a better place. I don't believe that's true. God is the one who's initiated the shaking. He's giving every one of us an opportunity to choose. Ignoring the truth does not diminish its authority. Nor does it change the reality.

When truth is brought into the public square, even if it's an uncomfortable truth, an awkward truth, a truth you would prefer not to acknowledge, celebrate the truth. The prophet Isaiah described a time when truth would fall in the streets and we are witnessing that. Deception is celebrated. People tell bald-faced lies with a bravado and a hubris that is difficult to imagine. I mentioned the border a while ago. How many people of great authority and power have we seen look into a camera and tell us our border is secure? Now, whatever you believe about immigration and immigration policy, that statement is a brazen misrepresentation of the facts on the ground. Choose the truth.

I brought you a prayer. We're going to take Communion together in just a moment as we conclude this service. But before we do that, I want to invite you to join me in a prayer of preparation. Communion is intended for the believers, for people who believe that Jesus of Nazareth is Lord, Christ, and King, who have yielded to him as Lord of their lives. It's not for the religious or the churched. It's an opportunity for us to present ourselves before the throne of Almighty God and to find the grace and mercy that we need to help us in our times of need. The best preparation I know is to be certain that you've given primacy in your life to Jesus.

You've got to make a decision about Jesus. Who do you believe he is? A historical figure, a miracle worker, a Rabbi, a teacher, an invention of religious fanatics? Or do you believe he was the incarnate Son of God? Now believing that is important, but it's not sufficient. You can believe Jesus was actually the Son of God. The next step is more transformational. You have to choose him as Lord of your life. You yield to him, you belong to him, with that choice. He becomes the one who establishes the boundaries, the moral boundaries. He establishes your calendar.

It's no longer my life and my time and my feelings. I'm a servant of the King. I serve at his pleasure. And then we live for him as our King. I want to invite you to join me in a prayer. It's in your notes. They'll put it on the screen. If you're watching at home, it'll be on the screens. You say it with us, wherever you are. If you're on this campus today, we'll say it together. If you're someplace else, you say it with us. If you're here with us outside, let's use our outdoor voices. Pray with me:

Heavenly Father, forgive me for all the times I have resisted You. Thank You for Your great love and the mercy You have shown. I want to honor You with my life, to honor Jesus in my life, in everything I do. Forgive me of my sins. I forgive all those who have sinned against me. Today is a new beginning, a new life for me. Jesus be Lord in me and through me each day. I thank You for my freedom. In Jesus' name, amen.

Hallelujah, congratulations. I'll give you just a moment. If you're joining us online, you can go grab a cup of water and a saltine. You don't have to have one of our handy-dandy Communion packs. I don't mean that disrespectfully, but you don't need a religious symbol stamped on a special wafer in order to participate in this event. Jesus himself implemented this. That night in Jerusalem, prior to his betrayal, he celebrated the Passover meal with his disciples and he attached a meaning to that meal that they wouldn't understand until they had lived through his crucifixion and his resurrection. They report the events of that evening. But it's very clear from the larger narrative that they're not really fully understanding what's happening around them, no matter the fact that Jesus has told them. But that night at the end of the meal, he took bread and he took bread from a place that was reserved for Messiah. And he said, "This bread is my body that's broken for you. As often as you eat this, you do this in remembrance of me".

Again, the disciples would not understand the significance of that until they've had an encounter with a resurrected Jesus. But it was so important to them after the fact that they've reported it for you and me. When we come to the Communion table, we don't come to observe a religious tradition or some expression of public worship. It's a personal invitation from our Lord himself to receive what he appropriated for us through his redemptive death on the cross. You see, the cross represents a divinely ordered exchange. The perfect, sinless, obedient Son of God took upon himself everything that was due by divine justice: my godlessness and my rebellion, and yours too, in order that I might receive, that you might receive, all of the blessings that were due his perfect obedience.

So when we come to the Communion table, we're not just commemorating some historical event. We are appropriating by faith the redemptive work of Jesus. We live in a fallen world, but Jesus has made provision for us. Through his blood, we have been delivered out of the hand of the enemy. Through his blood, all of our sins have been forgiven. Through his blood, we have been justified, acquitted, declared not guilty, made righteous. Through his blood, we have been sanctified, set apart for the purposes of God. The blood of Jesus canceled every accusation, every legal claim that Satan had against us, that we might become children of Almighty God, beneficiaries of a covenant established long ago with Abraham. For those reasons, we come to the Communion table.

So whatever you may have arrived this Easter morning with in your life, I assure you, that through the blood of Jesus, the redemptive power of God is available. The same power that shook those stones in Jerusalem, that rolled away the burial stone, the same power that terrified hardened Roman soldiers, that power is present in our midst today if we will believe. So as we receive the bread and the cup, I want to encourage you to receive God's life, God's forgiveness, God's mercy, God's hope. Don't stare at the darkness and be afraid. Turn your face towards the King and celebrate, amen? All right, I hope everybody's received that wanted it. Jesus said that as often as we take this bread, we do it in remembrance of him. Let's receive together. Then he took a cup, the one reserved for Messiah. He said, "This cup is a new covenant," literally, a new contract, "sealed with my own blood. As often as you drink it, you proclaim my death until you see me again". Let's receive together. Now, if you'll stand with me, I'd like to pray:

Heavenly Father, I thank you for your great love for us, for your provision in our lives in sending your Son. And Lord Jesus, we praise you for your faithful obedience, that you offered yourself that we might be set free. And today, as we have received the bread and the cup, we receive your life into our lives, your strength into our bodies, your hope into our souls, your peace into our midst. We thank you that no weapon formed against us will prosper, that no threat we perceive is greater than your love and your power expressed on our behalf. I thank you that no matter what happens on the earth that you're our protector, you're our strong tower, you're our deliverer, you're our redeemer, that if you attend to the funerals of the sparrows, that you carefully watch over our days. We praise you for it. We rejoice that the same Spirit that brought you out of the tomb is alive within us this day, in Jesus's name, amen.

Hallelujah. The Lord even sent a siren to celebrate. How cool is that, huh? There's a greeting that is as old as the Christian church. Before you go, if you met someone and you weren't sure they were a believer in Jesus, you would say, "He is risen". And if they were a Christ follower, they would say, "He was risen, indeed". Do you know your line? "He is risen".
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