Easter 2020 Message

Easter 2020 Message

THE RISE OF I AM
John 1:1-25
Key Verse: 13 & 14

One of the earliest accounts of Jesus’s life is found in the book of John. It is in John’s Gospel where we have the privilege to learn more of The Great I AM. John, who very proudly identifies himself as ‘The Disciple who Jesus loved’ embodies himself as an eye witness testimony. This author is responsible for having documented numerous accounts of Jesus including his 7 miraculous signs. John’s mission was centered to shed light on Jesus and tell the world what he witnessed. Traveling with his journal and pencil, John followed Jesus every step of the way, ready to write his next report. Revealed in this book, are a number of observations that are full of miracles and controversies. Stories like Jesus turning water into wine, Jesus healing a paralyzed man, Jesus feeding a crowd of 5,000, to Jesus’s death and resurrection are all accounts that took place only to name a few. Today, however, we will visit John’s final report, the epilogue, the concluding story of Jesus’s one last act as he leaves behind The Holy Spirit. It is here where I hope to reveal The Rise of I AM and his unmeasurable patience, his abundance of grace, and his great commission. There are 3 parts.

Part I. I AM is patient

As a quick back story, the words I AM are a culmination of two sets of 7 instances where Jesus has used that very phrase and it all highlights one of Johns core claims about Jesus. Words I am or in Greek “Eh-Go-Eh-Me” is a Hebrew translation for Gods covenant name. John strategically places 7 moments in this story where Jesus says I AM. For example, “I Am The Bread of Life, The Light of The World, The Gate for The Sheep, The Good Shepherd, The Resurrection, The Way, Truth, & Life, and finally, The True Vine. So, now we can see why The Rise of I AM has a stronger meaning to His resurrection.

Previously in chapter 20, John records that Jesus is killed and buried in a tomb. Days later, through Mary Magdalene, a couple of the disciples discover and confirm that the body of Jesus is missing. Subsequently, the disciples lock themselves inside a house (quarantined) out of fear that the Jewish leaders may be out searching to kill them. One evening, as they remained locked in the house, Jesus appears to them for the first time after his resurrection showing them his hands and side. John writes “the disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.” A week later, John again testifies that Jesus appeared to them once more, a total of two times. This leads us to today’s opening scene of John’s final chapter.

Look at the first 2 verses, “Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together.” Here we can assume that their quarantine was lifted! No more lockdown! The disciples were now allowed to go out freely without any fears whatsoever! What was next? No more lockdown, no more Jesus? The attitude, though it seemed, was ‘Well, let’s go fishing!

Look at the first part of verse 3 “I’m going out to fish, Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So, they went out and got into the boat. Now, there’s nothing much to make of this, at least not initially. From a human standpoint, we can totally relate. In the eyes of the disciples, Jesus is dead, and they’re stuck at home fearing that something outside is out to hurt them. Time passes by, fear subsides, and eventually they come out of their house and into the world again. And the first thing they want to do is fish. But what’s revealing here is that they found themselves going back to their old ways of living. After all that time Jesus invested in them, and they in him, their response to his death was to reopen their fishing operation. This is something very telling. When we lack faith, or lose faith for that matter, we actually lose sight of God’s presence. Consequently, losing sight of God’s presence may very well cripple our belief in the power of HIS resurrection. In a way, these disciples were headed towards their unbelief. They almost found themselves in a brink of losing total hope. As a result, we begin to depend on ourselves (what I’m I going to do we say). We then rely on our government for financial assistance. We look for home supplies and perishable materials for protection. We search only for the things that are man-made, human resources if you will. We quickly discover that this seemingly carefree, I’ll just go back to my usual lifestyle attitude will only bring us despair and emptiness. Look at the last part of verse 3, “but that night they caught nothing.” What a terrible feeling that must have been for these disciples. The feeling of defeat, disappointment, and rejection, all hung around deeply in the mind of these fishers.

Meanwhile, Jesus is standing there all along shaking his head in disbelief. But whether or not he felt unsettled, Jesus was not quick to anger. His response was “I’ll just keep reappearing.” Here, we can learn that Jesus demonstrated his patience through passive persistency. He appeared once, no luck. He appeared twice, nada. And then, he casually appears a third time from a distance, and he finally gets their attention. Furthermore, Jesus also reminds us that when he knows your heart, he’s not going to go away. You may deny him just as Peter did, you may go back to your old ways, or seek other gods, but I believe that once Jesus has planted that seed into your heart, he’s only going to keep reappearing until you gets your full attention. Let’s not forget that our Risen Jesus is very much alive and let us not forget that there is power in His resurrection.

Part II. I AM is full of grace

Look at verses 4-6, “Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, ‘friends haven’t you any fish?’ No, they answered. He said, “throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.’ When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.” What a turn of events. In one moment, these men find themselves stuck in this abyss with much despair and emptiness. And by means of simple obedience, they then find themselves catching so much fish that the net becomes too heavy to lift it overboard.

The Risen Jesus has a grace that reaches further than anyone could ever imagine. Being fully human, Jesus too lost everything. In his own way, Jesus also felt defeated and rejected. But his obedience to sacrifice his life for the sins of this world also brought him a great reward. Jesus conquered evil by letting it conquer him and gained victory through an act of self-giving love. This also tells us that his grace is counterintuitive. It almost makes no sense. Through human wisdom, Christ should have forgotten about these fishermen. Jesus, through the eyes of humans should have searched for a new group of disciples. Jesus kept reappearing showing them his wounds and in return they failed to believe. But Jesus loves us so much that our human understanding means nothing. What’s important is that Christ is in control. The Risen Jesus redirected their faith by graciously blessing them with plenty of fish. Gods counterintuitive ways tells us that we should love and bless those who have done harm to us. This is the bases of his resurrection. It is the idea of being born again with Christ and sharing a new heart with others.

How can we share a new heart? After realizing that it was the Lord who had provided them with so much fish verses 7-9 tells us that Peter quickly puts on his shirt, jumps into the water and swims ashore to meet with Jesus. Similarly, as soon Peter makes a move, the others begin to follow suit. Peter swam towards Jesus while the others sailed in, towing their net full of fish. It was clearly obvious that a change in Peter’s attitude took place as soon as he realized what the Lord had done for them. Gods grace was so rich, Peter could not handle the fact that God still blessed them even though they rejected him . It was the grace of Jesus that moved Peter’s heart. Hearts are moved the moment when Jesus blesses you knowing that you deserve only his punishment. This new heart also changes attitudes. Suddenly, it becomes contagious. Peter’s influence permeated through the rest of his fishermen. Additionally, we are also that we must consecrate ourselves first before we meet with Jesus. Putting on his outer garment and jumping into the water, Peter indirectly depicted a symbol of cleansing. We must come to Christ in our purest and cleanest version ourselves.

To no surprise, Jesus’s grace continued to pour over as he offered to cook for his disciples. “Come and have breakfast,” writes John, quoting Jesus in verse 12. None of the disciples dared to ask him, ‘who are you?’ They knew it was the Lord. And finally, in our key verses 13-14, John writes “Jesus came took the bread and gave it to them and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead. This highlights Jesus’s mission of his resurrection. Jesus came back only to continue to feed us with his holy bread and his holy presence. May we never lose sight of that. Let us pray that we may remember the Lords resurrecting mission, which is to continue to feed one another with his holy word. This leads us to our finale.

Part III. I AM commissions

In chapter 20, Jesus commissions his disciples by sending the spirt as he promised so that his mission from the father can now be carry on through them “receive the spirit, as the father send me, so I send you” declared Jesus. As a human, Jesus can only be in one place at a time. But The Spirit, or also commonly known as The Advocate, can be Jesus’s divine personal presence at any place at any time. The Spirit offers that personal presence and that loving unified relationship between father and son. And Jesus says that The Spirit will come to live in his people and draw them into that Father and Son Holy sandwich if you will. Jesus disciples are the ones who abide or remain in that divine love, that personal love of God in which it fills the person’s life through healing, transforming and making them new. Moreover, the spirit will also empower Jesus followers to carry on his mission in the world and to fulfill the great command of loving one another. The Spirit will all enable his people to bear the witness to the truth and expose and name the sinful ways of which we treat each other, and finally to declare that in Jesus God has saved the world through him because he loves us!

Lastly, after getting their full and undivided attention, Jesus, through his showing of great patience, and overflowing grace, finished having breakfast with his disciples and begins to have a talk with Peter. Similar to the military, Jesus’s resurrecting mission was to establish his workforce and commissioned spiritual officers to lead the way. This was Jesus unfinished business if you will. Christ never stopped appearing to these men because they were personally chosen by God to be his leading officers. That personal calling had to be filled before Christ departed to heaven. Through Gods grace, Peter was chosen to be a unique leader in the Jesus movement. The commissioned consists of a dialogue where Jesus asks Peter three times if he loved him. And three times Peter replied, yes Lord, you know I love you. But Jesus was emphasizing his concern for his sheep and lambs. Christ was testing Peter’s faith and love by asking him to take care of his sheep, to take care of his lambs, and to feed his sheep. Some argue that the meaning behind the number 3 is that because Peter denied Christ 3 times, Jesus subtly asked him 3 times to see if Peter would truly obey to his commission. But in any case, like any father who cares for his children, Jesus did not want to leave his physical body until the last act was completed. Jesus would have appeared to these men 40 times if he had to. His main concern was to make sure someone trustworthy was appointed to take care of Gods sheep.

Next, Jesus indicates in verse 18 that Peter too will give up his life one day. John writes “Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” It is said that Peter most likely died by crucifixion after the great fire of Rome. This message, however, I interpret it as unless we allow Christ to raise us and groom us to become like-mined and live before you, someone else may try to corrupt you through their false teachings. Simply put, if we don’t allow Christ to drive the bus, someone with evil intentions.

Afterwards, in contrast to Peter, the last moment of the story focuses on the author of the gospel, John, a.k.a. “the disciple who Jesus loved.” And, unlike Peter his job was not to lead the Jesus movement but rather to spend his long life bearing witness to Jesus so that others might believe in him and that’s exactly what he did right here by authoring this amazing story about Jesus the messiah the son of God. John lets us know who he is and what he did in the last two verses. “This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. Jesus did many things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” What a wonderful writer. John took us through every moment where the light on Jesus was captured through his writing, telling the world behind the scene insights about him. But as great of an author as John was and as thankful as we are to have read his gospel the true and greater author of this world is The Risen Jesus. The Rise of I AM.

In conclusion, we learned that to meet Jesus, we must open up the book of John and study his report. Moreover, we learned that the words I AM are seasoned throughout John’s gospel as Jesus claims to be The Bread of Life, The Light of The World, The Gate for The Sheep, The Good Shepherd, The Resurrection, The Way, Truth, & Life, and finally, The True Vine. Furthermore, we learned that The Risen Jesus has unmeasurable patience, a great abundance of grace, and has the divine ability to commission those who are interested to become spiritual officers by feeding his sheep. And finally, through John we also learn that his role as Jesus personal reported made a huge impact in the bible. As he mentions in chapter 20 “the purpose of this book is to believe that Jesus is alive and real and that he can change your life forever.” I hope today, we can walk away with this same belief! Amen

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