Sermons

Summary: There are multiple gateways to the heart, but there is one source of new life, the risen Christ.

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The other night at music practice, when I was preoccupied with tuning my guitar or figuring some music out, someone made a joke - of which I was the brunt.

This is not unusual. I tell you, pastors just don’t get any respect around here. Actually, I don’t mind in the least bit. But everyone was laughing and at me and I didn’t know why. I STILL DON’T KNOW WHY!

I was tuned out so I missed something. I was missing a piece of the puzzle-a key piece of information.

I suspect that has happened to you at some point in your life. It happens to some of us more often than others! You miss out on something important because you’re somewhere else-mentally or physically.

Perhaps you missed our celebration Sunday because you were on a cruise. Or maybe you missed the first day that Cornerstone met together as a church because you, like me, lived in Texas!

Sometimes you miss out - not really through any fault of your own but you’re missing some pieces of the puzzle that you would like to have. Such was the case with two men in our scripture this morning-Thomas in our gospel passage and Apollos in Acts.

Both of these men knew more-or-less what was going on but had some gaps in their knowledge that needed to be addressed. Thomas, of course, was one of Jesus’ twelve disciples - the bravest I might add. It was Thomas who in John 11 says to the other disciples, "Let’s go, too--and die with Jesus."

Well, in John 20:19-23 the risen Jesus had appeared to the disciples who were locked in a room. Jesus gave them his blessing-breathed on them and said "Receive the Holy Spirit." However, Thomas was not there when all of that happened!

Verse 24-"One of the disciples Thomas (nicknamed the Twin) had volunteered to do a pizza run and was not with the others when Jesus came. They told him, ’We have seen the Lord!’"

Can you imagine how annoyed Thomas was? How is it that he missed out on possibly the most important event in all history? His best friends had all been there-but he was off on the errand. NO WAY! He couldn’t believe it! How could it be?

If this were really true it would have happened to him, too. Why would he be left out?

And so he responds, "I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side."

He had missed out and he wanted proof-something he could touch and feel. He didn’t just want to hear someone’s well-presented account of what he missed. He didn’t want to see the slides or the video. He wanted some kind of personal experience!

And, of course, you know the rest of story. Jesus does appear to him eight days later and invites him to see and touch. Thomas exclaims: "My Lord and my God!"

Apollos is the other unfortunate but faithful man. His story is found in Acts 18:24. Meanwhile, a Jew named Apollos, an eloquent speaker who knew the Scriptures well, had just arrived in Ephesus from Alexandria in Egypt. He had been taught the way of the Lord and talked to others with great enthusiasm and accuracy about Jesus. However, he knew only about John’s baptism."

Somehow Apollos had only heard part of the story-that is, the part that John the Baptist told. Perhaps he had been in Judea on business when John was preaching that Jesus was the Messiah and that all should repent and turn to the Lord. He caught the gist of the message but had gone back to Egypt before the crucifixion and resurrection.

Or maybe one of John the Baptist’s followers had resettled in Alexandria, Egypt and began teaching John’s message. And Apollos heard his teaching. Who knows! It had been about 20 years since the death and resurrection of Jesus but somehow only part of the story had reached Apollos.

He was missing some key pieces in the puzzle but he was more than willing to share what he knew. When he arrived in Ephesus-he began to teach about Jesus the Messiah in the synagogue.

Can you imagine Priscilla and Aquila’s surprise when they showed up at the synagogue on Saturday morning and heard this totally unknown Egyptian Jew preaching about Jesus? They must have been elated-especially since by Luke’s account he was not only enthusiastic but he was also extremely articulate--a great debater.

No surprise, after all he was from Alexandria, which was the university center of the ancient world. The great scholars of the first century lived and taught in Alexandria. Alexandria had the great libraries. This was the Oxford-the Harvard of the ancient world.

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