AftershockPastor Jerry Gillis - April 3, 2016
Jesus has a plan to keep shaking the earth, and that plan is people. You are the aftershock.
Community Group Study Notes
- You are the aftershock. You are the plan for Jesus to keep shaking the earth. What is your initial response to hearing that? What do you think you need to do about it?
- What are some ways we can be a small aftershock in the routine, ordinary ways that we live? What is one thing you can do today to allow the love of Christ to pulse through you to someone else?
- Why is it important that you are growing in your intimacy with God? How does this nearness to Him impact what we talked about in this message?
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." - Acts 1:8
The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the single most earth-shaking event that has happened in all of human history. There is nothing, absolutely nothing that compares to it and it has shaken actually the foundations of everything that we know because of the death and the resurrection of Jesus. So it shouldn't come as a surprise to us that when Jesus died and when Jesus rose from the grave that the earth actually literally shook as well.
In fact, just to recap in your memory we're going to be in the book of Acts in just a minute in chapter one but to help us to remember, at the death of Jesus seeing the shaking of the earth, you read about it in Matthew twenty-seven it says: When Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split. Then it goes on to say: When the centurion and those who were with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, 'Surely he was the Son of God.!'
And then at the resurrection of Jesus, you can also see the earth shake in Matthew chapter twenty-eight it says: After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
So even though this may have been a shaking in Jerusalem proper, I don't know how far literally the earth shook in that context, but we do know that the earth shook in Jerusalem. But what we know figuratively speaking is that the entire cosmos began to shake because of new creation and a new kingdom reigned that was breaking in to our time and space and was helping to come into a disjointed and a disordered and a broken world. And this is what changed everything. The death and the resurrection of the Son of God is what changed everything.
In fact, here we are a couple of millennia later still talking about it, still singing about it, still standing in the glow of it and still being empowered by it. This is the single most earth-shaking event that has happened in all of human history. And if the gospels themselves - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - if their record gives us a record of the life and the death and the resurrection of Jesus, the great quake that shook everything, then the book of Acts is actually a book chronicling the aftershocks. That's what you can functionally read when you read the book of Acts. You’re reading the aftershocks of the great quake of Jesus' death and his resurrection.
When we begin to look at the first part of the book of Acts chapter one, we're introduced to the book that Luke is writing to his friend Theophilus, and then he gives us an occasion where the resurrected Jesus shows up and talks with his disciples. Look in chapter one, verse one it says: In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he presented himself to them and give many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: 'Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'
Then they gathered around him and asked him, Lord are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel? He said to them: 'It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth.
You see, functionally, what we're being introduced to in the very beginning of Acts is the beginning of the aftershocks. What we have here that we're recording in the book of Acts, particularly what we just read is probably around the fortieth day of so that Jesus was appearing to people after his resurrection. It tells us that for about forty days he appeared to those that were seeing him after his resurrection and this is probably about the fortieth day that we see it. And it's the beginning of what we would call the aftershocks.
Now you know what I'm saying when I'm talking about the aftershocks, right? I'm just using it as a metaphor, but it's really something that describes after an earthquake, a great earthquake, it's the small quakes that come after that particular earthquake, right? Everybody clear on what I'm talking about there? We've seen - in recent history - we've seen some extraordinarily big earthquakes in recent history. Certainly you could dig through the annals of history and you would find a number of them that have been recorded, but even in recent history we've seen some huge ones.
In fact, the Sumatran Andaman earthquake that happened in the Indian Ocean from back in 2004, you might remember it because of the tsunami that occurred after that - that effected Indonesia, and Sri Lanka and India and Thailand - and it was devastating. This was a 9.2 earthquake on the Richter scale. It was extraordinary in terms of its power and it was devastating in terms of the consequences. And do you know that it actually carried with it the singular power of what they said would be a 100 gigaton bomb. If you're not real familiar with gigatons, which I wasn't either, let me translate. It would be the equivalent of 100 billion pounds of TNT exploding. That would be the power of this thing. I can't even imagine power quite that big. They had some broadband digital seismometers that were placed all over the world when this earthquake happened in 2004, and do you know that this earthquake registered everywhere on the globe? In other words, when this quake happened, quite literally, the whole earth vibrated and shook. The whole earth. And then, of course, you've got the aftershocks that were effecting and that so many people were concerned about because of the devastation that the initial shock had brought.
Or maybe you remember just five years ago, 2011, it was about this time, it was mid-March actually of 2011, when the incredible earthquake happened off the coast of Japan. Many of you remember the devastation that that wrought. It was another 9.0 plus on the Richter scale and it was extraordinary. In fact, they said that the aftershocks there were incredible. I'll give you a little graphic that you can look at. If you look in the ocean there you'll see what looks like the sun, the big yellow ball. That was the initial earthquake and every one of those red dots is an aftershock from that quake. That's how many there were, I mean you've got basically red dots piled on red dots when you look at this graphic. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of aftershocks. And they said that the aftershocks of that particular earthquake might last for decades. That's how strong it was.
And in the United States we've had some earthquakes, some not quite the same, maybe as that, but we've had some. Some of you might remember back to the San Francisco, the great San Francisco earthquake, but if I took you back a little bit further into 1811, 1812 there was an earthquake in New Madrid, Missouri. So about the border of Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee where they all come together, it was in that sphere right there, and now they call it the New Madrid seismic zone. And they had an earthquake that was so significant there back in 1811, 1812 that they felt the earthquake in Boston and in New York City. And do you know it's historically documented - back in those days they had sometimes big church buildings with steeples that had bells in them that you could ring, you remember that? Not a lot of those anymore, but there are still some. And in New York City and in Boston that earthquake rang bells. Church bells rang because of this earthquake. What's interesting about this particular quake is they said that the aftershocks would last and they even recorded some not terribly long ago, they said it would be roughly 200 years of aftershocks.
Could you imagine that? I mean, this is an extraordinary thing when I start to look at it and start to thinking about it, and in the book of Acts what we have is we have the early aftershocks out of the great earthquake that was the death and resurrection of Jesus. And here where Jesus is actually showing up after his death and resurrection, he's probably doing so about day forty, or close to it, because this is a last record before he ascends to the Father, which we'll talk about next week.
And so, what you and I have to understand is this idea of Jesus showing up and speaking to his disciples was not just some fanciful thing. Jesus did this over the course of forty days on a number of occasions. This isn't just some, when we talk about the idea of the resurrection, this isn't just theory. This is Jesus Christ who was flesh and bone, who died, who was buried, and then who on the third day rose from the dead in bodily form in a new resurrection body and started showing himself to people.
Now we talked about last week in the Easter time frame, we talked about his interaction with Mary Magdalene and when you fuse all of the gospel accounts together you would know that there were also some other women that showed up to the tomb as well, that Jesus showed himself first to these women, Mary Magdalene and some other women, another Mary and others. Interestingly enough, that wasn't the only time Jesus every showed himself in his resurrected body to people over the course of forty days. There were loads of times that he did this.
And just to refresh our memory, I can even remind you that in the, a little bit later on after that morning of the resurrection and the afternoon, Jesus was walking on the road to Emmaus where he showed up to two people who were on the road to Emmaus, one named Cleopas and then it says another disciple, it could have been Cleopas' wife, Mrs. Cleopas, it doesn't give us her name. So Jesus shows up among them then. It's recorded in Luke chapter 24. Here's what it says: Now that same day two of them (two disciples - same day of the resurrection) were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.
Now, you remember that conversation don't you, if you've read that account, it's a startling conversation and somewhat comedic. Some of the funniest words ever in all of Scripture, in my mind, are in that account and here's why. Because they're talking about all this stuff and Jesus shows up and he says hey, what are you guys talking about? That's funny all by itself, right? And then, here's what they say. Are you like a guest or a visitor to Jerusalem and you don't know all of the things that have been happening? And Jesus, in two words says this: what things? What are you talking about? Oh you mean, oh you mean the death and resurrection of the Son of God that shook the entire cosmos? You mean that? And so they were having a conversation with him. He begins to open up - listen - he begins to open up the Scripture and explain all of what the Scripture says concerning himself. And they're stunned, right? So much so that they say, hey would you stay and eat with us? Sure, I'll do it. And as they're eating he breaks bread and then their eyes are opened and they can see him. Could you imagine that moment? They've been having this long conversation with him, they're like, man, this guy's pretty smart, wow, he's pretty cool you know, then they break bread and they're like what? Wait a minute, it's him, that's Jesus. And then, you know, then he's gone, right? And then they start saying to one another, did our hearts not burn within us when we were having this conversation? I mean, our hearts were set on fire when we were talking to the resurrected Son of God. This is absolutely startling for them.
Later on that night - Jesus got around by the way - in that resurrected body, I don't know how that all happens, but sign me up for one of those. You know what I mean? Like he's just, he's getting around like I'm in Emmaus, and I'm over here, and that night he shows up to the disciples, resurrection night, they're gathered, they're a little scared, they're gathered together except for Thomas. He's the only one that's not with them, and then listen to what it says in John chapter 20. It says: On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them.(By the way, doors were locked, no one opened them - sign me up for one of those. That is a resurrection body right there.) And he stood among them and said "Peace be with you!". After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone's sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."
Thomas wasn't there, though when that happened. And you remember Thomas, he was struggling. He was challenged. But a week later they were all gathered together again and Thomas was there. Jesus decided to show up among them again. Here's what it says again in John twenty: A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them, and though the doors were locked (he's making a habit of this, right) Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here: see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!" Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." That's us.
Well, that wasn't the only time. There was another time in Galilee where the disciples had gone back to Galilee from Jerusalem, and seven of them decided to go fishing. Here's what it says in John twenty-one. It says: 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 (that's James and John) and two other disciples were together. "I'm going out to fish," Peter said and they said, "we'll go with you." So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
Now, it was early, right? So, I don't blame them, there's only one time in his post-resurrection that he actually keeps someone from recognizing him, and that's with the disciples on the road to Emmaus. He kept them from recognizing him. Mary Magdalene, when she saw him in the garden, she thought he was the gardener, but that was, it was early, she wasn't expecting to see him. He wasn't keeping her from recognizing him. But here they look out on the shore and they see someone, but they don't recognize it's Jesus. But it is Jesus - but it's early, and they've been fishing all night and they've caught nothing, right?
And then, don't you love it, later on in that passage, Jesus yells out to them "How's the fishing going? Going good?" Peter's like no, we've caught nothing. And Jesus says "why don't you throw your net on the right side?" Peter's probably going "I do this for a living, and I'm getting instructions from a guy standing on the shore." You know? But of course they throw it on the other side and then they catch so many fish they don't know what to do with it. And then Peter's like, wait a minute, that's Jesus and he's jumping out and he's running and he's talking to Jesus, right? And so and then this great conversation of restoration that happens and Jesus eats fish with them and they have breakfast together and it's an incredible time.
So he's appearing routinely through this forty days. There's another time where the disciples are gathered that Jesus shows up to them and I believe he's shows up to many more besides his disciples in that same gathering. I'll show you what I mean. Listen to what it says in Matthew twenty-eight. It says: Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go, and when they saw him, they worshiped him, but some doubted." Now that could have been Thomas or someone else, but I'm guessing that that was part of a larger group of people that Paul tells us about.
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians fifteen: After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. That probably, it could have occurred at that same time frame.
Jesus also appeared to his half-brother. You remember his half-brother James? James grew up in Jesus' house, right? With Mary. They grew up together. They're half-brothers because they have the same mom, not the same dad. Everybody clear on that? So Jesus' half-brother James is growing up in the house, you know, and wouldn't that would have been challenging, right? It's challenging enough, right that you've got the Son of God as your brother, even though you're not quite, you know, necessarily maybe buying into it, but you know, I wonder if there's any time Mary was ever like "James, could you be more like Jesus?" and James is like, no, I can't, because I can't walk through walls, and stuff.
So he appeared to James, and James was not a believer, not a follower. He wasn't closely attached to Jesus until after the resurrection. And it says in 1 Corinthians fifteen verse seven it says that He appeared to James, then to all the apostles.
And then of course, we have this final piece here in the book of Acts where Jesus shows up, it's probably on the fortieth day right before his ascension and then he tells them these words that Luke records for us: that You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Now this is significant, this happened probably on the Mount of Olives. And this is significant because Luke is recording for us in the book of Acts what Jesus was saying right before he left. And he's saying something very specific to the disciples about they were going to be witnesses when power comes on them. They were going to be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, to the ends of the earth.
The good thing that we have from Luke is we've actually got a parallel account or an additional account because Luke wrote a gospel as well as writing the book of Acts. That's one thing that's great for us because we can look back in the book of the gospel of Luke and understand some of what's going on and at the end of chapter twenty-four in the gospel of Luke, we actually hear some of the same phraseology of Jesus talking to his disciples that we do in Acts chapter one - that Luke is helping to refrain for us and understand.
Listen to this conversation in Luke chapter twenty-four that the resurrected Jesus had, he says: While they were still talking (the disciples were still talking) about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost doesn't have flesh and bones, as you see I have." And after he said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe because of joy and amazement, he asked them, "Do you have anything to eat?" They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence. He said to them, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms."
Listen to this statement: Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, "This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all the nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high."
You see, here's what's happening. Something is beginning to come into view for the disciples that they didn't recognize beforehand. Has that ever happened for you where maybe you realize something after the fact and then had to look back and go, wait a minute.
It happens to me sometimes in movies. I'm pretty perceptive, but sometimes in specific movies it does happen to me. There was a movie from a lot of years ago called The Sixth Sense. Maybe you - everybody's going, oh - no, no, no. I know what you're talking about right there. It's happened to me, too, Jerry. And if you haven't seen the move, spoiler alert! I'm about to ruin it for you. But it's from a long time ago and you should have seen it by now so it's your problem. All right? And so M. Night Shyamalan just goes ahead and does this little dance where you've got Bruce Willis, the character, and you've got Haley Joel Osment, I think he was in it - I can't remember - Bruce Willis was in it for sure. And Bruce Willis' character through the whole thing - here's the thing - you're following him through this whole movie. And then you get to the end of the movie and you realize he's been dead the whole time! What??!! He's a ... what?? So now, I have to go back through the whole movie. Right? In my head, I'm going back through the whole movie. Wait a minute - he was dead the whole time? How was he dead the whole time? And I'm going back through the whole movie figuring this thing out, because I couldn't believe it until the end. And I had to look back on it and make sense to me.
Maybe if you didn't see that movie you saw one from a few years ago that Denzel Washington was in called The Book of Eli. Some of you saw it, some of you didn't. Spoiler alert - I'm about to ruin this one for you as well. But it's been out for a number of years. You should have seen it by now. Your problem. It was pretty graphic from a violence - it was kind of like it just went Old Testament violence on people. It was pretty rough. But Denzel Washington's character basically has this book, right? And it's a Bible, and he's trying to get this Bible to safety in this post-apocalyptic world. And so he does all kinds of things, right? He travels to all of these places. He walks everywhere he goes and he's got a sword and a gun. He gets in sword fights and gun fights and he wins all of them. And fist fights - whatever, you know, he's doing all this action stuff. It's incredible. You get to the end of the movie and he finally gets this Bible where it's supposed to go, and then you know what you find out? The Bible's written in Braille and he's blind. What??!! How did he win all those fights? How did he shoot people??!! So I have to go back through the whole movie and then you realize every single thing that he's doing in the movie - he's listening, he's hearing steps, when's he's about to walk up a step he kicks the step and then walks up and you don't pick it up until you find out what happened at the end and then you roll back through the whole move in your mind and go, ooohhhh.
See, the disciples were in that spot now after the resurrection. What they were just starting to latch onto was that this whole idea of Jesus coming and dying and rising from the dead was not an accident. It was exactly what God had designed as his plan. And they were going ooohhhh. Oh, you mean so the Scripture thats say (unintelligible). Ooohhhh. That's what that was about. Oh, you mean I was living right in the middle of that and didn't even see it, now I'm looking back going ooohhh. That's what they were doing. So their minds - Jesus is opening their minds to the Scripture to understand that the plan of God was very specific, very pointed and was exactly what God had designed. This was not accidental.
But their minds were also starting to get opened to another reality that Luke is helping us to see in Acts chapter one and at the end of Luke's gospel. And it's this - that not only - listen, not only did God have a plan for his Son, that was very specific that this plan of Jesus coming, being born of a virgin, living a sinless life, dying on a cross, rising from the dead was exactly the plan that God had in mind to shake the earth. But now it was coming into view for the disciples that Jesus actually had a plan to keep shaking the earth and that plan was people. Jesus has a plan to keep shaking the earth, and that plan is people.
Jesus, when he's having this last resurrection appearance (about the fortieth day) - he's having this meeting with his disciples - he ends up saying to them you'll be my witnesses. And in Luke's gospel we hear you're going to be my witnesses and that forgiveness of sins is going to be preached in my name to all nations. Well, what's the point there? The point is people. That Jesus has a plan to keep shaking the earth and that plan is people.
Now, if we would allow for our minds to be opened to the Scripture, we would have known that and they would have known that then. Part of what I think Jesus was doing when he opened their mind to the Scripture was not only seeing - that everything that God was doing in Jesus death and resurrection was according to plan - but that also they could see that God has always used people to shake the earth and he is going to continue to use people to shake the earth.
Have you ever been reading the Bible and feel like that would be a good prayer for you? Jesus, would you please open my mind so I can understand the Scripture? Has anyone ever felt thick headed when you're reading the Bible by yourself? Okay - just me? I'm alone here? Thank you. I'm encouraged by the community of brothers and sisters in Jesus who've left me alone in front of thousands of people to say I'm the only one who's thick headed apparently. Thank you. Forgive me for being so stupid in your presence. I apologize. I'll be shutting my mouth now and letting some of you take over.
If we realized what the Scripture was showing us all along, we'd begin to understand how when Jesus is talking about this idea of witnesses, he's actually referring to something that has been his plan all along.
Here's how he began this idea. In Genesis twelve, God selects a man named Abraham because God is going to enter into a covenant with Abraham because he says I'm going to basically bless the world and rescue the world through you. I'm going to make a people through which I'm going to do something. I'm going to shake the world.
In fact, you see it in Genesis twelve beginning in verse one. It says: The Lord said to Abram, "Go from your country, your people and your father's household to the land I will show you. I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."
Now, Abraham was an unlikely candidate, but God sought him out, chose him and said I'm going to birth a people through you that we would know eventually become Israel. And through that people I'm going to proclaim my message to the world. It's going to be a startling thing. Now, God certainly did that as you see when the book of Genesis unfolds but then you see the instructions that are the exhortations that are given to Israel in terms of what their supposed to do. They're supposed to be witnesses. They're supposed to be messengers. They're supposed to be proclaiming something about the nature of who God is.
In fact, you can read this in the Psalmist in chapter ninety-six of the Psalms. It says: Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary. Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into his courts. Worship the Lord in splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth. Say among the nations, "The Lord reigns."
You see, the idea is that the psalmist is being reminded that God is saying to Israel you are to be proclaiming the greatness and the glory of who God is in all of the earth, in all of the nations. This is a part of the exhortation that you are to be doing. Why? Because God's intent is to shake the world with his glory, and he's choosing to do that through his people Israel at this time.
Then you get to the prophets, and when Isaiah starts talking, he starts using very specific language about being a witness. Listen to what he says in chapter forty-three. God says to Isaiah: All the nations gather together and the peoples assemble. Which of their gods foretold this and proclaimed to us the former things? Let them bring in their witnesses to prove they were right, so that others may hear and say, "It is true." But the Lord says "You are my witnesses, and you're my servant whom I've chosen, so that you may know and believe and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed. I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses," declares the Lord, "that I am God."
And the next chapter, chapter forty-four, Isaiah reminds us of something as well. He says: "Don't tremble, don't be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one."
You see, it was very clear to the people of Israel that they were to be a people that was declaring a message and demonstrating by their lives about the glory of God. They were witnesses to what God had done and they were demonstrating that to the world. But you know and I know that Israel didn't always do real well at their job. And so thankfully, because of the covenant, through Abraham's seed comes the Lord Jesus Christ, born of a virgin, living sinlessly and becoming, as a true Israelite, a representative for Israel who became everything that Israel was supposed to be. He perfectly demonstrated the glory of God and was declaring to the nations through his life and through his death and through his resurrection the glory of God and he himself was the perfect witness. And then when he rises from the dead and he is commissioning the church, here's what he saying: you are my witnesses.
This is something that's already been said, but now it is said in an even different manner in a very specific manner. We are disciples of Jesus, are his witnesses. This is what Luke tried to tell us in Acts chapter one. It's what he tried to tell us in his gospel in chapter twenty-four. That we are his witnesses. That Jesus has a plan to keep shaking the earth and that plan is people.
Now, sometimes in the New Testament we're called witnesses and at other times we're call other things. But still meaning the same thing. For instance, Paul uses the term ambassadors. Listen to how he phrases it in 2 Corinthians chapter five. He said: from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal (to the world) through us. (Here's the appeal:) We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. (Why? Because) God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
We are ambassadors of that message. We've been commissioned by our King to represent our new country by bringing a message to the world that we live in that is foreign territory and we are bringing a message that they can be reconciled to God because of what God has done in Christ through his death and his resurrection - ladies and gentlemen - the event that shook the entire cosmos - because of that great earthquake, you by faith in Jesus, the earth shaker, can be reconciled to God. This is the message that we've been given. We're ambassadors.
But I can hear it right now in your heads. Because I'm in your head. I can hear it in your head right now. But Jerry, you know, man, I'm not a Bible guy. I don't know that much. I get nervous because if I start talking to somebody about God and they say stuff and I don't know how to answer them. And I don't really know what to do all the time and I don't have all the answers. Well, stand in line! I don't have all the answers. This is what I do. And I don't have all the answers. This is what I've studied and I don't have all the answers. But that's not really the point. See, some of you are concerned because you're thinking, yeah, I can't be a witness. I can't be an ambassador. I'm just not qualified. Oh.
See where you fall when Paul gives us this description. Here's what he says in 1 Corinthians one: Brothers and sisters (that's you), think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things - and the things that are not - to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God - that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: "Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord."
Here's the thing: you may feel like, you know what? I don't know a whole lot. I'm not come from super smart stock, and I didn't do real well in school and I'm not sure if I could be a great representative and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah and every other excuse that you can give, and here's what Jesus says: Yeah, you were unqualified, but I called you and that qualified you. Period. That qualified you. And I know that you may not feel like you're the smartest in the whole world. No worries! I'll be your wisdom. That's what he says. I'll be your wisdom. I just need you to surrender to me and allow me to use you because you're my ambassador. You're my witness. You're going to demonstrate to the world because I've got a plan.
You see, the plan to shake the world was in the death and the burial and the resurrection of the Son of God, but the Son of God still has a plan to keep on shaking the earth and that plan is people. That plan, ladies and gentlemen, is ultimately you which means something real important. You are the aftershock. That's what you are. You're the aftershock. You see, the great earthquake of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus results in aftershocks through the course of time and you are the aftershock. This is the plan that's unfolding that we need our minds opened to in the Scripture because when we get it we start to see things in a different light.
You see, we are the ones who bring the message that the resurrected Son of God can resurrect your dead soul and can resurrect your dead body. This is the message that we're bringing. And that you can be reconciled to God through the one who has been resurrected from the dead, who's paid for your sin and that by your faith in him you can be transformed in this life - a resurrected soul, and you can be transformed in the life to come. That you can be just like the first fruits of resurrection. Jesus had an immortal body and an imperishable body. You can receive one too at his coming when he comes and he resurrects his own. It's a startling message of hope and reconciliation that we have and that we bear.
A matter of application as we're landing the plane here. Let me remind us of a couple of laws of aftershocks. There are actually scientific laws surrounding aftershocks and there's two that I want to point out because I think that they're helpful for us in terms of application. I think if we grab hold of them, they'll help us.
The first one is Omori’s Law. Now, Fusakichi Omori, who was Japanese, as you can probably tell by the name, in about the late 1800's, was both a student and a professor at the Imperial University of Tokyo. And he came up with a mathematical formula that basically looked at aftershocks after an earthquake. And the mathematical formula just basically said this: it said that the frequency of aftershocks decreases in relationship reciprocally to time. In other words, the longer that time goes by after the main earthquake, the less aftershocks there will be. And he had a mathematical formula and it's called Omori’s Law. You can look it up.
And you know why I think that's important for us? It's because the beauty of our relationship to Jesus is that we don't have to be distant from the earth shaker. This isn't just something for us from 2,000 years ago that we look backwards on and go, oh, wow. You know, it's been 2,000 years so I'm sure that the aftershocks are going to be much less. Oh, oh.... The one who shakes the earth lives. And we can know him. And the level of intimacy and the level of knowledge and the level of time that we spend with him - do you know what happens in our hearts at that point is that if we continue to press in to knowing the earth shaker, that our hearts begin to reverberate with the power of the resurrection and that everywhere we go and the people that we're around begin to shake because of what God is doing in us.
You see, this is actually the point of what we understand when we can say how do we apply this? We stay close to the earth shaker because in doing so he begins to shake the world through us. That the power of the resurrected one that lives inside of us, the resurrected King that lives inside of us can begin to transform the world that's around us.
There's another law as well, and it's called the Gutenburg-Richter Law. Let me tell you what this law means. This is an interesting law that says that upon the earthquake, afterwards you'll have a lot of small aftershocks and very few large ones. Let me tell you why that's important. Because the world that we live in - even believers - we get drunk on wanting our fifteen minutes of fame. And we want to make it about we're waiting for our time in the sun where we can be big time for God. Well, here's what I'm going to tell you. You being big time for God is not the lion's share of his plan. Everybody giving small aftershocks all over the place - that's more what we're talking about. Certainly God will from time to time choose to use somebody in a very large way to send off a large aftershock. But generally speaking, he wants to use me and you in everyday ordinary ways to be able to reverberate because if you and you and you and you and you and you and you and all of us in this room, or in the East Worship Center or watching online or at any of our campuses - anyone who's under the sound of my voice - if all of us are reverberating because we stay close to the earth shaker, if all of us are reverberating in our little areas, our little worlds - maybe it's our school, maybe it's our home, maybe it's our place of work, maybe it's the dance studio, maybe it's the soccer field or the baseball field (it really should be the baseball field), maybe it's the place where you socialize or where you shop or whatever you do, right? Maybe it's that book club. Whatever it is in your little world - when you stay close to the earth shaker and he begins to reverberate the message of the gospel through you in your little world - if all of us are shaking our little world do you know what happens? The whole earth shakes. That's what happens. The whole earth shakes.
You see, this is what we have to understand. I don't know what that looks like for you. Maybe for you that looks like in your everyday living, in your ordinary living choices, you make choices that people could look at and go they really must believe that Jesus is alive. They really must believe that there's more than just this life because the way that they make choices with their possessions, with their stuff, with their time is indicative that they believe that Jesus actually lives and that there is more than just this brief mist of a life. That maybe the choices that we make - I don't know what those would look like for you. But you're deciding you're going to be a witness because of the power of the resurrected Christ that's living in you. Maybe that's serving the marginalized. Maybe that's fostering a child. Maybe it's helping to plant an urban garden so people can learn to get food for themselves. I don't know what it looks like for you. Maybe it's sending that email to that friend or family member, just sharing your story of grace and how Jesus has transformed you. Maybe it's buying a copy of a message that you want to share with a friend so that they can hear the gospel story as well. Maybe it's bringing somebody with you. You see you never know what's going on in the aftershocks.
You know, at 8:00 this morning, you know every 8:00 people gather for prayer here before anything begins and just people from our church show up and they pray. And do you know this morning as they were gathered for prayer - and, listen, it's just people, right? They come. We had somebody come to Jesus in the prayer meeting this morning. They came with friends and they had never received Christ and they were at our prayer meeting and they gave their lives to Jesus at a prayer meeting. You know what that is? That's little aftershocks in their world doing what they do. And when little aftershocks are doing what they do in their world, in this place, and all over the place the whole earth shakes. See, Jesus has a plan to keep shaking the earth. And that plan is people. That plan is you. You are the aftershock.
Let's bow our heads together. Before we're dismissed I would encourage you that if you're here and maybe you're one of those folks who said, maybe I was here at Easter and you were kicking the tires on the story of Jesus and what it meant to become a disciple and a follower of his. And maybe you need to receive Christ. Maybe you need to give your life to Jesus - the one who laid down his life for your sin. The one who is your only hope of being reconciled to the Father. The invitation stands wide open to you. And if that's your need today, then when we dismiss in just a minute, when I let everybody go, would you just come by the Fireside Room. It's in the Atrium. It's clearly marked. You can see it. Just walk in there. There's no scary people in there, just some pastors and some other folks that are in there. Just come and take somebody by the hand and say, you know what? I need to receive Christ. I need to begin this relationship with Jesus. I need to know what it looks like to have my sins forgiven and to be changed. Whatever your words are, just come in and let them know. And let them take a moment to talk to you about what that looks like.
For the remainder of us, I prayed for us all this morning and the thing that I think that we really need, is we need to be people who are receptive to what the Spirit wants to say to us. To be willing to receive what the Spirit wants to say to you. And I wonder if you, in your own heart right now you would just say God, by your Spirit, whatever it is you've said to me today, I want to ask you to empower me by faith to do it. I want you to empower me by faith to do it. Because I know that I am a part of your plan to shake my part of the world. Now that doesn't mean grabbing a bullhorn and screaming at people. That means sharing with them and showing them the love of Jesus. But it's not just showing, it also has to be shared. They need to hear the message of reconciliation and see the message. So what does that look like for you? What step will you take? I want you to ask the Lord and I want you just to do what he asks of you.
Father, I pray that we would all have a posture in our hearts that say that we want to hear from you and do what you ask us. For some maybe you're putting it on their heart to be able to send an email or give a phone call or meet up for coffee with someone so that they can share with them the love of Jesus. For others of us you've called us into places to serve so that we can build relationships and not only show the gospel but also have the opportunity to be able to share the truth of our lives and the choices that we make and the reason that we make them because of our faith in the living resurrected Son of God.
Father, I pray that when we do those things that you would strengthen and empower our faith. I remember what it's like even as a believer who's just gotten serious with you in college to be able to sit down with friends that were wild and saw me not at my best at times. But to sit down with them and to talk to them about how Christ has changed me and what Jesus would want to do for them. Lord, those are spiritual lines in the sand that we draw that we say we are going with the resurrected one. We are followers of Jesus come hell or high water. That this is where the investment of my life is going to be in following Jesus and in being a part of his plan to shake the world with the incredible message of reconciliation of what God has done for the world in Christ and how friends and family members and work associates need to hear that message and need to see its reality in our lives. So by the power of your Spirit I pray that you would speak to us and you would empower us and you would help us to be witnesses of the resurrected Son of God who shakes the world. We pray this in Jesus' name, amen.
Bless you guys - love you. Have a great week.