This week I opened the message with another Vintage 21 Jesus video, Video #4 to be exact. It was perfect timing for this video for 2 reasons: 1) It was Palm Sunday and the video is set on that Sunday, 2) the question posed humorously in the video was a question that John 14:6 addresses – how do we get to heaven?
After the video I got a student volunteer (impromptu) to read John 14:1-14 for everyone. I am finding that students will listen to their peers read a scripture passage more intently than they will listen to me read that same passage. The bonus is that it’s another way to get a student involved in the worship service.
John 14:6 is a bold statement that screams exclusivity in two different ways. 1) The word, “the,” in the context of “the way, the truth, the life,” exhibits exclusivity in that Jesus is not an option – “a way, a truth, a life,” but He is exclusively THE! 2) The exclusivity of Christ is reinforced in the 2nd half of this verse: “No one comes to the Father except through me.” As a result of looking at John 14:6 I posed the first question to the students:
- These are all things everyone wants to find: the way, truth, abundance of life. If these are all things we are looking for why aren’t we satisfied when we find them in Christ?
I let the question “hang in the air for a minute,” like a friend and role model in ministry, Derwin Gray, will say from time to time. And I did just that, I let the question go unanswered from the stage and challenged believers, especially, to wrestle with this truth.
I then transitioned by asking two students to come up on stage to get a FREE CD, no string attached. One student received a Pillar CD, the other a Starfield CD. However, on of the cases didn’t have the CD in it. I got booed by my kids as I really didn’t give the student the CD, just the case. I used that awkward moment to talk about how their friends, and even them, may carry the “Christian” label but that doesn’t mean then are a Christian. I also took advantage of the way they responded in distress over an empty CD case and asked if they cared near as much for their friends who say they are “Christians” but aren’t. It was awkward, but I believe God used it for something awesome. I reinforced John 14:6 and that by believing in Jesus alone is the only way that we have access to the Father. Then I challenged them with John 14:12, “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.” Which led to question #2:
- What does the fruit of your relationship with Christ look like?
I let that question hang in the air a little bit longer than the last one. And I left it there.
We then wrapped up with a time of communion and worship in which I encouraged the students to wrestle with that question in light of what Jesus did for them so that they could have eternal life and asked them what they were doing with their lives to thank Jesus for His sacrifice. I presented the Gospel in that moment as well and students were instructed to go to 1 of our 4 communion stations or come talk to me about pursuing a relationship with Jesus.
I didn’t anticipate that the sermon would go so heavy and to the heart in my preparation but it definitely did. I didn’t anticipate students being so upset over an empty CD case but seized that moment to challenge them why their hearts didn’t break near as bad for their friends who say they have it all together but inside are dying. Sometimes the most powerful moments in worship are the ones we don’t plan.