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Encountering the Resurrected Jesus

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Today on Easter Sunday, Pastor Ed Allen preached a sermon from John 21, looking at Peter's encounter with the resurrected Jesus.

Jesus is alive today and encounters each of us in the way we need.  He's still offering Himself to us.  To the fisherman Peter, Jesus called out from the shore, just as He had done when they first met.

What do we do when we have a spiritual experience?

When we encounter the resurrected Jesus, we have a choice:

We can ignore it.

We can minimize it.

We can radically adjust our whole life around it.

Let's look at three things from Peter's example:

1)  When we have an encounter with the resurrected Jesus, we should pursue Jesus with single-minded abandon.

Peter threw himself into the water and swum immediately to shore.

Jesus wants followers who are single-mindedly abandoned.  He wants relationship, not religion.  Religion can facilitate a relationship with God, but it's not a substitute for it.

A real response cannot be a partial response.  We need to abandon all else with single-minded devotion.

Surburbanites like our lives, just wanting it a little better.  That's not a deal Jesus is willing to make.

2)  When we have an encounter with the resurrected Jesus, we should allow ourselves to be led to real repentance.

Real repentance only happens because of God's intervention in our lives.

We're completely in favor of change in the abstract.  But to make it happen we need God's help, we need to allow God to change us.

Jesus gives Peter an emotional poke and confronts Peter with himself.  Then he predicts that a new version of Peter will emerge.

The point is not guilt, but a new person.  Peter is led to repentance and change, not guilt and despair.

Go be the person God created you to be!

3)  When we have an encounter with the resurrected Jesus, we should commit to being a radical follower.

Fishing was what Peter knew -- but it wasn't what he was designed for.

A few pages later, in Acts, Peter is leading the new church.

If the Resurrection happened, it changed everything.

Jesus is alive.  He's always speaking in ways designed for us.  Sometimes we hear His voice.

So what will you do with that experience?

We can ignore it, minimize it, or put on our outer garment and throw ourselves into the sea.

Allow ourselves to be led to real repentance.

Submit ourselves to following Him, even if it changes our lives.

Understanding Spiritual Blindness

Today is Palm Sunday, so Pastor Ed Allen preached a sermon from Luke 19:28-44, where it describes Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem.  At the end of the passage, Jesus weeps over Jerusalem and predicts its destruction.

Spiritual blindness, by its very nature, doesn't see itself.  It is the enemy of personal growth and blocks our healing (Matthew 13:14-15).

The religious leaders around Jesus were spiritually blind.

Nothing about him was how they expected the Messiah to be.

Yet Jesus believed they should have known better.  ("Even you" - vs. 42)

For Jesus, this is a point of profound sadness.  He wept over Jerusalem.  Spiritual blindness leads to ruin.

In Luke 18, we read about Jesus and the rich young ruler.  Jesus told him his whole lifestyle was holding him back.  Yet right after that in Luke 18:34, it says about the disciples:  "But they understood none of these things."

Jesus was surrounded by spiritual blindness -- even his disciples.

Everyone around Jesus was at least partially blind.

This is how the story becomes personal for us.  The default human setting is not getting it. 

John 1:9-10:  "the world did not know him"

Ephesians 4:17-18:  "the futility of their thinking... due to the hardness of their hearts."

Our spiritual understanding begins with the realization that we are blind.

Three questions about spiritual blindness:

1)  Why are we spiritually blind?  How did we get this way?

God sometimes blinds us (Zephaniah 1:17).

The devil blinds us (2 Corinthians 4:4).

The main reason:  We choose it.  We love darkness (John 3:19-20).  We suppress the truth (Romans 1:18-20).  We choose not to see.  That's our default setting.

2)  How do we get over spiritual blindness?

Revelation from God is the key.  If we're going to see, God must open our eyes and show us (Matthew 16:17).  God reveals Himself to us (1 Corinthians 2:10-16).

We are powerless to accomplish this.  We're spiritually dead.  Dead people don't arouse themselves to life.

We have to say Yes.  We have to accept God's movement.

We see because God opens our eyes.

3)  What do we see when our eyes are opened?

God is in control; we are not.

Things happen by design.  Palm Sunday was orchestrated by God.

We'll see Jesus -- God squeezed into human skin.

"I was blind, but now I see!" (John 9)

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