Summary: If we choose to live for and with God, then we must understand who we are in Him.
1. Last week we celebrated the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and we looked at the tale of two gardens, the Garden of Eden and what happened to humanity when they disobeyed God and the Garden of the Empty Tomb and what it undid from the first garden. As I prepared that message, I was also thinking about what it means to live in light of Easter because we like to hear the story but we sometimes struggle to understand what it means for us, 21 centuries later.
2. Today, two things are a part of this sermon and service:
a. We are going to remember God’s love for us as we take communion together.
b. I am going to overview the April series, Living In Light of Easter because I believe that we need to understand either who we can become in Christ or, if we have made a personal commitment to God through confession and repentance of our sins, who we are in Christ.
3. In your bulletin this morning is an insert titled “Communion Reflection” that is for you to use this day. (This insert also appears at the end of this text). A certain points I will ask you to write something down as part of our time together today.
4. A constant point of contention among the people of Jesus’ day was His identity. Some thought He was a demon, others thought He was a prophet, still others thought He was a Rabbi, and then others believed Him to be The Son of God. In fact, a good topic of study is to follow the Disciples through the gospel accounts and observe their unfolding understanding of Jesus Christ from their first encounters to the opening chapters of the book of Acts. Jesus was often the subject of mistaken identity. For question number 1 on your insert, write in Jesus Christ.
5. Now, mistaken identity is a source of embarrassment and some times hilarious humor. Take for example the story of the two kids who were sitting in the front row for an Easter pageant at their church. As Jesus was entering Jerusalem, one of the characters announced his entrance by shouting, “The King is coming!” One of the kids in the front row jumped up in the seat, looked toward the back of the room, and shouted, “So that’s Elvis!” Or how about the minister who was running out of time to prepare for a funeral service? Using his computer he found the funeral service he had used last, and doing a global “search and replace” had the computer put in the name of the newly deceased, “Edna,” as a replacement for the woman in the previous funeral, “Mary.” Everything went fine until they came to the Apostles’ Creed wherein the minister recited that Jesus was born of the Virgin Edna. Now in statement number two on your insert, write your first and last name. Who are you? Underneath question 2 spend a moment and write a brief answer to that question.
6. Our text for today has the element of identity to it because as we read those who questioned Peter and John regarding their message, they recognized them, as we read in Acts 4:13, “as men who had been with Jesus.” They could tell these two were ordinary men. Ordinary to them, but not to God. They did not have special training. They did not have the education their questioners had. But, they had the power and presence of Christ all over them. Their boldness, as we also read in verse 13 was because their identity, their character, was due to their relationship in Christ. Now in question 3 fill in the blanks with the words, “in Christ.”
7. Who can I be in Christ? That is a very important question. It is a question of identity. It is a question not of personality but of character. Someone has written, “if you spend too much time on polishing your reputation, your character will become tarnished.” We so desperately want to be liked. We live in a time when we are focused on personality. And because it is, our relationships are so unpredictable. The saving work of Jesus Christ is focused on our character because it is our character that is the problem. It is our character that is need of transformation. Our character, our nature, our disposition is what needs to be transformed by the blood of Christ and the sanctifying, the purifying, work of the Holy Spirit.
8. To be in Christ means that our character must change in the direction that God wants it to change. But change to what? Change how? What kind of character do I need to have if I profess, if I acknowledge a personal relationship with God through Christ? Good question. In the blanks on question 4 write, “I be.” What must I become?