Summary: This is a series of Easter sermons designed to go with the film Risen

Projectionist show video clip 1a—Risen DVD

Today we begin a brand new series based on the movie, Risen. If you haven’t seen it yet, you need to go see it. Better yet, ask a friend to go with you, go out to dinner and see this movie! Then, invite them to this series. Here’s a look at what we will doing:

Today—“The Jesus You Never Knew” Most of us have ideas about Jesus and I imagine most of us think we know Jesus pretty well. The problem is, most of our ideas about Jesus, is nothing like who He really was and is! We picture him like this guy or maybe this, but never like the fearless leader He really was.

And worse, we have a tendency to make Jesus just the way we want Him. We love Jesus the Lamb; we can control that Jesus. But we’re terrified of Jesus the Lion of Judah who is untamable. Most of us settle for a picture of Jesus that is so unlike Him.

Historian Arnold Toynbee once observed, “Most people have not rejected Christianity but rather a caricature of it. They have created a straw man, called that ‘Christianity’ and decided against it.” And often that straw man begins with a caricature of the founder of the movement, Jesus of Nazareth. We are going to look at this in more detail, but let me first give you where we will be heading for the rest of this series. Next week we are going to look at the subject, “The Jesus Who Calls Us to Stop Playing it Safe.” Then on March 24 we’re going to look at the topic, Resurrection: Myth or Miracle. Then on Easter Sunday March 28th, we are going to look at the topic “The Greatest Comeback in History.” Then we will conclude this series with “The Jesus Who Wants Us Fully Alive.” So that is where we are headed, you won’t want to miss any of these Sundays. Come and bring a friend or neighbor with you.

Just for the what-it-is-worth department, every once in awhile we remind you that 82% of people living in a 10 mile radius of our church don’t go to church anywhere. Do you know the most common reason given by people who don’t attend church as to why they don’t? It’s not what you think. Here’s the number 1 reason people don’t go to church: “No one has ever asked me to go to church.” It is that simple and it is that sadly.

The Easter season is the perfect time for you to invest and Invite people to church. We have these door hanger cards to help you, make sure you grab some on the way out.

Now, The Jesus You Never Knew. We have to start by understanding that Jesus was the only person born to die. Bet you never thought of that. When God created the world, and when He created us humans, His perfect plan was so that we would live not die, but He warned our earliest ancestors, “the day you decide to disobey me, the day you sin, you will die.” (Genesis 2:17, Pearrell Loose Translation). And that is exactly what happened. Paul put it this way, “When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.” (Romans 5:12, NLT). God’s will was for life; our rebellion brought death. God’s intention was not that men and women would die—that was never His intention, nor was His intention that anyone should be lost for eternity; hell was not created for mankind, it was created for fallen angels. Peter reminds us, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9, NIV84) Repentance means we have a change of mind that leads to a change of heart that results in a change of behavior.

God’s purpose is life but to obtain that purpose, Jesus had to die. He was the only man born for the purpose of death. An anonymous hymn-writer wrote, “He came to die on a cross of wood yet made the hill on which it stood.”

The cross was not “plan B.” God knew before He ever created mankind that we would rebel against Him. The Bible describes the event in Revelation 13:8 when it describes Jesus as “the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world.”

Before the Triune God ever uttered the first fiat of creation, He already knew what it would cost Him. The Son participated in that creation with full knowledge of what He would have to do if His creation was to be redeemed. To me, that is unfathomable! Come on, think of it—we are not that important. God did not need us. He wasn’t lonely in Heaven. Despite what some people seem to think, He did not need His ego stroked—I mean if you listen to the modern atheists, one of their big complaints is thinking that God is a cosmic narcissist who just craves our attention. Nothing could be further from the truth!

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