The key to understanding any verse of Scripture is context. There is the immediate context — the verses before and after it, as well as the larger context of Scripture — how the verse fits into the overall story. There is also the historical and cultural context — how the verse was understood by its original audience in light of their history and culture.
Today, I’m going to talk about “Intentional Discipleship” with a sermon title, “Imago Dei.” The word “Imago Dei” means “Imitating God.” In order for us to imitate God, we first have to know who God is. In Genesis 1, God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth. So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Here God described Himself as plural rather than singular since He introduced himself as the tritune God–Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It means that when God made us, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit worked together to make us in their image. The book of Genesis said that God created male and female in his image. But what does it really mean that God creates us in the likeness of God?
This morning, we celebrate the Day of Pentecost! What is the Day of Pentecost? It was the day God sent us the Holy Spirit. The Day of Pentecost was also one of the three religious holidays among the Jews. 50th day after Jesus had risen from the dead; the Holy Spirit came to the people who were praying at the Upper Room. After Jesus was taken up to heaven, the disciples immediately returned to Jerusalem and began to have a prayer meeting. Luke said in today’s text, “They were all together in one place.”
This is a time of the year when the high school or college students graduate from their schools. I see graduation as an ending or accomplishment. But I also think graduation as a new beginning. Today is a Big Day since we are celebrating 56th year of our church’s anniversary. The first Sunday worship held the parking of 7-11 Store on A1A on May 28, 1961. Today is also last Sunday for Ruth Deveny who has been a member of our church for 32 years and is moving to Buffalo, New York tomorrow. I thank her faithful services for many past years. We all know that Joyce Graham will be leaving us, too in order to live with her son Kyle. We are going to miss both of them greatly and send them with our blessings. It will be new beginnings for both of them.
Likewise, I see the ascension of Jesus as a new beginning. Jesus completed his 33 years of the earthly life and went back to heaven to start a new life there. Aa a matter of fact, that was where He came from originally. I wonder how much you know about the ascension of Jesus. I want to talk about Jesus’ ascension because it is the Ascension Sunday according to the church calendar.
This morning, I am going to talk about what Jesus said and did before, during, and after his ascension. Whenever we recite the Apostles’ Creed, we say this, “I believe . . . in Jesus Christ his only Son . . . he ascended into heaven,and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.”
In the Gospel of John, the author describes Jesus by using a phrase, “I AM.” They are seven “I AM” in this gospel. But today, I’d like to talk about “I am the good shepherd.” John describes our relationship with Jesus by using the relationship between the shepherd and the sheep. Even in the Old Testament, God is often pictured as the shepherd, and the people as his flock. David said in Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd and I shall not be in want” (v.1). Psalm 77:20 says, “You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.” The prophets like Jeremiah and Ezekiel also described the leaders of God’s people as the shepherd of God’s people and nation: “Woe to the shepherds who destroys and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” (Jeremiah 23:1). Ezekiel rebuked the false leaders who only sought their own good rather than the good of the flock. He said in Ezekiel 34:2, “Ah, you shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep?” Today’s text describes Jesus as the good shepherd and his relationship with his flock. So I want us to find out two things on this morning through Psalm 23 and John 10; First, what makes Jesus the good shepherd. Second, what makes us good sheep.
As you know, I had to miss last Sunday worship because I was attending “Walk to Emmaus” at Central Baptist Church in Daytona Beach. I give thanks to Ms. Mary Yochum who shared God’s words.
“Hi, my name is Joseph Kim. I am in Florida Sonrise Walk to Emmaus Walk #48. I worship and serve at Riverview United Methodist Church in Ormond By the Sea. And I am sitting at the table of John!” This was how I introduced myself every time I said something to the rest of the group during the formal meetings. I was also told not to tell all the detail about the programs I had experienced there since they wanted to make it a surprise to the people who would walk this journey in the future. So I will not share the detail, but I can tell you this. It was a heart and life transforming experience. This is something that I want to encourage all of you to attend next year or sometime in the future.
The early church theologians such as Augustine, Gregory of Nyssa, and John Chrysostom observed the Sunday after Easter as “Holy Humor Sunday: “a day of parties, picnics, humor, practical jokes, and general merriment. Since these theologians interpreted the resurrection as God playing the ultimate practical joke on the devil by raising Jesus from the dead, they believed that God had the last laugh. So they called it “Easter laugh.” So I’d like share a couple of Easter Jokes with you this morning.
1. How do angels greet each other at Easter? They say, ‘Halo’.
2. What do you get if you pour hot water down a rabbit hole? Hot cross bunnies!
3. What do you call a rabbit with fleas? Bugs Bunny!
4. Why shouldn’t you tell an Easter egg a joke? It might crack up!
5. A friend was in front of me coming out of church one day, and the preacher was standing at the door as he always is to shake hands. He grabbed my friend by the hand and pulled him aside. The Pastor said to him, “You need to join the Army of the Lord!” My friend replied, “I’m already in the Army of the Lord, Pastor.” Pastor questioned, “How come I don’t see you except at Christmas and Easter?” He whispered back, “I’m in the secret service.
We had celebrated the resurrection of Jesus last Sunday with Sunrise Service, Breakfast, Infant baptism, special music, reception of a new member and Easter Message. But I want you to know that Easter does not end on an Easter Sunday. Eastertide (also called the Easter Season) is a season that focuses on celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. This season begins on Easter Sunday and lasts seven weeks, ending with the coming of the Pentecost Sunday. For this reason, we are going to keep this cross with white linen in our sanctuary throughout Easter Season.
I want this Easter Cross to be the reminder of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I want to encourage all of you celebrate the resurrection of Jesus as well as the hope of your resurrection throughout this Easter Season. Just like God who had the final laugh by raising Jesus from the dead, we would also be the one who laugh finally! It is the resurrection of Jesus that gives us hope in hopeless situation. It is Christ’s resurrection that enables us to become final victors in midst of so many obstacles and challenges in our lives!
Along with Christmas, Easter is one of the most joyful seasons to many Christians in the world. It is the day Jesus has risen from the dead! Why have many Christian Churches celebrated Easter and have made it such a big deal, since the first Easter, more than 2000 years? Why is it so important for us to believe in the resurrection of the dead? On this glorious Easter morning, I want to share the answers to these questions, with the help of Apostle Paul.
We started the forty day journey of Lent on Ash Wednesday. Those of you who came to our service heard me saying, “Remember that you came from dust and to dust, you shall return.” Including myself, none of us will get out of this world alive. So the question we should answer is not if or when we are going to die, but HOW we will die. Not “how” in terms of a medical condition, but “HOW” in terms of the spirit, attitude or faith with which we face our death.