Two weeks ago today, about 30 folks from our Grace EPIC trip and I had the privilege of sharing a traditional Sabbath dinner with a Jewish family in their Jerusalem home. It was one of the most meaningful and beautiful ways we get to “encounter people in context” in the Holy Land.

But while our host family looked like a rather typical young Jewish couple, another of the guests stood out. He was a 6’ 11” African American man with amazing dreadlocks, a lovely wife, and four very well-behaved children. He also looked familiar, but I couldn’t figure out who he was until he introduced his son, Amar’e Jr. And then it clicked—he was Amar’e Stoudemire, the six-time NBA all-star who is currently playing for Jerusalem’s professional basketball team. Turns out, he’s a really great and godly guy who was renting an upstairs apartment in the same building.

But what does an unexpected Sabbath guest have to do with the sermon this Sunday? We will be hearing the story of God’s return to Jerusalem in stereo from Luke 19 and Isaiah 52, two closely related scriptures. But what began as Jesus’ triumphal entry ends in tearful lament as he realizes the city “did not know the time of your visitation” (Luke 19:44). Jerusalem couldn’t recognize the Lord, and the consequences would be much more significant than failing to identify an unexpected NBA player at dinner. How can we be sure we don’t miss the Lord?


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Title: Will We Know the Lord When He Comes? // Scripture: Luke 19:28-44, Isaiah 52:1-12

ARRIVAL / SOCIAL TIME 15-20 minutes Spend the first 15 minutes or so of your time together catching up and socializing with one another. Also find time to catch up together on how the assignments from last week turned out.

SERMON REVIEW 5-10 minutes
This week we heard the story of the triumphal entry of Jesus as found in Luke 19 and foreseen in Isaiah 52. What begins as Jesus’ triumphal entry ends in a tearful lament, a “cry”-umphal entreaty, as he realizes the city “did not know the time of God’s visitation” (Luke 19:44). People of Jerusalem did not recognize their Lord and Savior, and the consequences were more significant than they could have ever imagined. How can we be sure we don’t miss Jesus when he enters our lives?

Jesus stops in the middle of the triumphal celebration to challenge the Pharisees for not recognizing him. They rejected him and called him out, because you can’t see your need for Jesus when you are proud, powerful, or pretentious. Meanwhile, it was the ruined, desperate, and needy disciples who recognized Jesus and cried out to him; you can only see Jesus when you recognize you are bent, broken or burnt out. It is when we depend on our own systems, structures, and solutions, like the Pharisees, that we fail to recognize and receive Jesus’ offer of redemption.

Isaiah prepared the people of Jerusalem for the coming King. He pointed out that in the middle of their wrecked and ruined reality, the remnant waited and watched to receive their redeemer King. Despite lives that felt bent, broken, and burned, they could rebuild with the Good News promise of restoration. It is when we come eye to eye with our own ruin and need that we come face to face with Jesus and recognize the suffering servant’s offer of redemption.

THE MAIN THOUGHT keep this in mind as you facilitate discussion.
When you humbly remember your ruined reality, you can clearly recognize Jesus’ restorative redemption.

SEE ITQuestions 10-15 minutes
Picture (What is the story saying?): Who recognized Jesus in the story? How did they react? Who did not recognize him? How did they react? What was Jesus’ response to the lack of recognition? Why should the people have known who he was? How can we be sure to see Jesus?

Mirror (Where am I in the story?): What are some of the ways you have recognized Jesus in your own life? Where are the places in your life that you might be failing to see Jesus? How can you be prepared to recognize Jesus when he returns? What will he look like when he comes?

Window (How does the story change how I see those around me?): Where might you be missing Jesus in your family, community, workplace, or church? How would each of those places look if you welcomed Jesus into them? What would it look like for you to help the people around you look towards Jesus?

BE IT – Practice Which of these areas is God speaking to you about this week?
Change UP // Exercise 5 minutes
Take a few moments to remind each other of the descriptions Isaiah gives us to help us recognize Jesus. How are those things different from our own expectations? Pray through the promises of Isaiah thanking Jesus for his promised redemption.

Change IN // Group Activity 15 minutes
Play the Monkey Business Illusion video again ( What are some of the things that make us miss the obvious? How can we improve the way we recognize God at work around us?

Change OUT // Life Application Assignment 10 minutes
In the “Window” section we talked about ways we (and others) miss Jesus in our family, community, workplace, or church. Identify one area where your group can work to change that reality. Make a specific plan to bring the Good News of Jesus into that place. What are some practical ways you can each humbly serve the people there and help them recognize Jesus?

Take a few minutes to gather any prayer requests and pray for each other to SEE IT and BE IT this week.

Jon Stallsmith

Jon Stallsmith