Saturday, June 10, 2017

God of Abraham

By Odon Bulamba

It’s a joy to meet again this morning.  Today all over the world people have been celebrating Easter.  Some are shouting, drinking, spending night in a night-club but here we are meeting this morning not because of the Jesus that passed away but the Jesus that is back to life.

Today’s message is a bit challenging.  I will take it to another dimension where we have to think together and discover the true meaning of Jesus’ resurrection.  God of Abraham.  Why talk about Abraham rather than Jesus’ death and resurrection

Read John 20

This bank note is just a sheet of paper when we don’t know what it is.  It becomes important when we think about its value.  Some people may get killed for this.  Some work hard all their lives to get money.  Maybe for $20 per hour, some will work hard.  Sometimes when I go around the world and I take the NZ banknote, they will say, “no we don’t need this, we need our own currency”.

For the resurrection of Jesus, many will say they don’t know this and they only need their own currency and their own preaching.

Early in the morning, Mary decided to go to the tomb of Jesus that was on the third day.  Remember Jesus told everyone He would come back to life on the third day.  Mary woke up early and picked up perfume and decided to take it with her to perfume the body of Jesus.  Imagine at 5am someone asking you to walk through the cemetery.  You won’t feel comfortable.  I should wait for the sun to rise when day is there. 

Mary with her courage got up early in the morning to start the journey.  Maybe others asked her why?  This is the power of the message today.  How to do things that look strange to human beings that look sense to Jesus.

How often do you wake up early to go close to God to start to pray.  Perfume represents prayers.  When do I wake up early while it is still dark to worship our God?  When Mary entered the tomb, she saw the stone rolled aside and the Bible says that she ran back to Peter and the other disciple that Jesus loved (John) to tell them, “they have taken Jesus somewhere”.  Mary didn’t check inside the tomb but went to talk to Peter and John.  I don’t know where they took his body. 

Very often when we approach a situation from far away and we see just signs, we panic.  Here Mary forgot completely that it was the third day, the day that Jesus was supposed to come back to life.  She forgot about the resurrection of Jesus.  After telling Peter and John, the Bible says that Peter and John started to run together to go towards the tomb.  As they were running, John was faster than Peter and he took off.  Maybe Peter was heavy or fat like me so he couldn’t keep up.

John didn’t think about Peter.  He split from Peter, “You are too slow, I need to go faster”.  In your life you will start a journey with someone, maybe start a business, begin studying or working with someone and somehow the other person will progress faster than you and get all the shining glory but you are back there and they get all the blessing.  My companion is so far ahead but I am behind.  We started together but now you leave me behind.

Haven’t you come through a situation where your friend was with you but they took off and left you behind and they don’t hold your hand to run together but because they are sharper and faster than you.  For example, some are blessed to know the Word of God and others don’t, some get healing quickly and others get it slowly.

Although John was faster when he reached the tomb he stopped and didn’t enter inside the tomb to check if the body of Jesus was there but saw the linen clothing.  Peter who was slow in running, met him there.  Don’t worry in life if someone has gone ahead of you, let God take you there slowly because you will find them stuck somewhere and they won’t know where to go.

John didn’t have courage to enter the tomb while this was the purpose of going.  It’s like you and me going to the cemetery and me asking you to enter the tomb.  The tomb doesn’t have light inside.  Don’t envy those who take off fast or started the journey early.  Keep with your God and you will reach there in the right time.

Not only did Peter see the linen clothes but he entered into the tomb and then saw the napkin that had been around Jesus’ head and that the linen was folded in the corner.  John didn’t see because he didn’t step inside. There are things that you will only receive if you take the step of perseverance, when you accept to come closer to Jesus.  If you say, I’m a catholic/protestant but I stop here and don’t want to get closer then you will only see the linen clothes but if you step in, you will also see the napkin.

Peter told John, look here is the napkin and then he believed.  What did he believe? Not that Jesus was alive but that the body of Jesus was not there.  Peter doesn’t remember it was the third day that Jesus was supposed to be alive. 

John 20: 8 & 9, how often do we do this in life, “God I have been praying to you, I go to chapel and you are not there so I go home disappointed.  People have abandoned me.  I have tried my best to come to your tomb to look after you and you are not there, you keep silent where are you God?  I give up religion and faith, I go back home because I am tired”.  “Many people will ask and it is given to them and others knock and the door is opened but when it is my turn, you don’t answer or show up or consider my problems, God you don’t love me, I give up”.  How often have you given up in your life? 

Peter and John went home.

John 20:11, she didn’t stay there she went back to the tomb and was outside and she started to cry.  Peter and John left and didn’t even consider Mary, they left her there and took off.  I have seen a mother leave a child at the supermarket because the child doesn’t obey.

Why was Mary crying?  Because she was left behind? Because the body of Jesus was not found?  Peter and John didn’t search for the body?  She brought that issue to Peter and maybe she trusted Peter would do something?  Peter let her down.  How often in your life do you share a serious problem with someone and they let you down?  How does it feel when they don’t care?  That is what Mary was crossing.

Mary was crying and she looked inside the tomb and she saw two angels.  How will you react if you see an angel?  You may scream.  If I see two people sitting in the tomb I will be afraid.  Only one body was in the tomb but now there are two.  In Africa, we will believe they are ghosts and I won’t come close.  Ghosts are not a joke. 

Several years ago, I was in the church praising God and we saw fire flying inside our church.  The fire came in and all together we saw it.  How many people remained in the church?  Many were trying to jump out the windows to escape.  Fear made us scream and shout for help.  It was a witchcraft.  Whenever a danger comes, not many will face it.

Mary saw those two people.  They asked her, “why are you crying?”  How often has God asked you why are you crying?  Maybe because of your children, boss at work, pain in your body, your finances, what you are trying to achieve is not successful, your neighbours make your life hard, your police, those around you treating you badly.  It is up to you now to tell your God why you are crying.  “This is my problem.  I’m not crying for joy or fun but because something is wrong”.

I have never seen a shop where they sell tears.  Tears don’t come out because you want to please yourself.  Some people can pretend to cry but normally tears only come out when you are joyful or very sad, you can’t control yourself.  The power in your heart pushes your tears to come out.  In New Zealand when you cry someone will rub my shoulder and say, “it’s alright”.  It doesn’t change the situation and it is still your own problem.  I will suffer until the day I find a solution.

Mary told the angels, “I’m crying because they have taken away my Lord and I don’t know where they have taken him”. When someone dies, we usually put them in the grave and abandon them but not Mary, she continued to look after a dead body.  A dead body is eaten by the worms.  She felt bad for the dead body not being there.

Maybe she was disappointed because those two people weren’t what she wanted.  She turned around and saw this man and it was Jesus.  Mary used to live with Jesus but she doesn’t recognise him.  “Here I am”.  She looked at him and thought it was maybe a gardener of the cemetery.  Jesus asked her, “why are you weeping?”

Mary said, “if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him and I will take him”.  She assumed that Jesus maybe took the body of Jesus.  How often do we assume things wrongly and judge people?  I’ve lost my phone, “oh Tyrone if you took my phone give it back”.  Why should I think Tyrone took my phone?  Because he is suspect.

Very often we suspect people doing things they may not do. When we suspect them we don’t even want to know more.  I see someone touched my stuff, it must be that guy.  To suspect is not a sin but going closer and asking the person if they have seen the stuff is better.

John 20:14, “when I’m talking you will know it’s me”.  By listening to a person’s voice you can tell who they are.  Mary still did not recognise Jesus.  Jesus called her name meaning he knew her.  Imagine someone says your name on the street, you will turn around.  If you recognise the voice, you will know who the person is that is calling your name.  Mary spent a lot of time with Jesus but did not recognise him.

The sheep know the voice of the shepherd.  Wasn’t she a sheep among the shepherd?  She called back, “Master”.  What pushed her to call him master without recognising him as master?  Jesus said, “don’t touch me but go back and tell the brethren that I am getting ready to go back to my God and your God”.  He doesn’t call them disciples but brethren.  Who are the brethren?  Those that Jesus used to preach to became his brothers. “Mary tell them that I am ascending now to go back to my God and your God, my father and your father”.

The God of Jesus is my God.  The father of Jesus is my father which means that Jesus is my brother.  If your God Jesus is my God, then we are brothers and belong to the same family.  Jesus lowered himself to say my God is your God.  When I shouted on the cross, “my God why have you forsaken me”, this was not only my God but your God.

Jesus is telling us that I’m bringing you up a level higher so we can have the same father and same God. Mary went back to talk to the disciples and told them what she had seen.  Mary didn’t report to all the brethren, only the disciples.

Are you among the brethren?  Or only a disciple?  When God tells you to go somewhere, do you only go to one tribe and shrink the mission to those that we know and those that will accept us and listen to us and cut off others.

The Ruakura centre has a few hundred of workers and in one office you will have 20 people and then you have a small team in the office.  The small team doesn’t care what is happening in the other offices (except to gossip).  Our mission is not limited.

Jesus appeared to his disciples.  The same evening, the third day evening, Jesus appeared to his disciples and said, “peace be unto you”.  Have peace?  It changes nothing.  It doesn’t mean I will get it.  Peace where? In my heart, in my family?  Jesus instead of saying, “hooray, here I am”, He said, “peace be unto you”.  He knew the disciples were waiting but He comes talking about peace.  The disciples talk about their own things.

He showed his hands and side.  It means that they don’t recognise him and that it is the third day and that the Lord is alive.  Then they started to have joy, it is the Lord.  Today is the third day today, we forgot about that. 

Jesus instead of joining His disciples to rejoice, He said again, “peace to you”.  We are celebrating and talking about joy and Jesus talks about peace.  Peace to you, this is weird.  Instead of celebrating our joy.  Peace as the father sent me, I send you too.  Where? 

Jesus breathed on them.  Receive the Holy Spirit.  Breathing on me and I will receive the Holy Spirit?  This is a big challenge of faith.  For the first time in Genesis 2:7, God breathed on someone’s nostrils and that was Adam.  Jesus comes and breaths on the disciples and they receive the Holy Spirit.  When someone breathes on you, maybe you will find it strange, annoying, maybe their breath stinks, we will think they don’t respect themselves, how can they breathe on us adults.

Jesus vanished.  Thomas was not present.  When Thomas came back, they told him the story. “No Jesus can’t come”.  The pictures on the bank note are different on each side but still the same bank note.  Jesus was showing everyone that He was showing one side of Him and now I’m talking about the true story of resurrection. 

When you see the print on my hand and side with your human eyes, you can see.  When I speak and breathe, you can’t see it.  Thomas said, “I have to see Him before I believe him and I need to touch the scars to put my fingers in the print so I can believe that Jesus is alive”.

For some, when things are tough in their life and someone tells them that they prayed for you and that they will get what they need and the Bible says this is the answer to your problem, they won’t believe it unless they see it in their hands, unless they touch it, that is the only moment that they will say God has answered.

We get very easily disappointed in life because we don’t get what we see with our eyes.  Jesus didn’t appear to Thomas for eight days and then He called him, “these are my hands, touch them now”.  “My God and my father”.  Thomas didn’t repent that he was doubting.  When I am wrong, instead of saying, forgive me, I think that it has past now, let it go.  We sometimes forget that accepting we are wrong and asking forgiveness, is the only visa to heaven.  You can have money, know the Bible but without repentance, you won’t enter the Kingdom of God.  It doesn’t cost anything. 

Jesus said to Thomas, “better those who believe without seeing”.  Do you really believe without seeing?  When you are going through problems and challenges, do you believe God is the solution without seeing? Jesus is nearby you and telling you why are you weeping?  Tell Jesus your problem and trust Him.  You don’t need to touch Him as He told Mary not to touch him.

A prophet in Africa has 500,000 followers but he works for satan and people become one of his to gain what they need.  In order to get what they need, he must cut the back of their neck with a razor blade and then he sucks the blood.  You will collect money.  Then he will tell you, the power from your blood doesn’t work anymore.  I need your son, husband or wife because I need more blood.  People sacrifice each other because of the love of money and they want to see answers quickly. 

Pastors go there to collect the power so people will fall over when I speak.  This is the end of the time when Jesus is telling us, “peace, don’t look for anything else”.  Not joy.  Peace because if you have peace you don’t care about the rest and you will only have peace when you decide to do what is right.  If someone hurts you, forgive them and keep your peace. 

God chose Abraham because he was a man of peace.  Someone took his wife.  A king.  Abraham allowed his wife to be taken because he needed peace.  If you were Sarah, how would you feel?  God asked for Abraham’s son to be sacrificed.  For peace, Abraham gave his son to God.  Sarah wanted a son and she told Abraham, “you must take my servant”.  To have peace, Abraham did it.

Fight for peace in your life, family, work place.  Churches often forget about this message.  We try our best to forget about peace and only think about joy.