Bethlehem Lutheran Church

The Heart of Bay Ridge
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Sunday Service 10:30am
4th & Ovington Avenues
Brooklyn NY  11209
Rev. Paul H. Knudsen
Pastor Paul's April Message
Bethlehem Lutheran Church ®  |  4th & Ovington Avenues, Brooklyn NY 11209  |  718.748.9502
A member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)

Dear Members and Friends,

​In my background research for my Palm Sunday sermon on King Jesus, I read about the time of the Divided Kingdom of Israel. After King Solomon, there was an uprising and Solomon’s son, King Rehoboam, was opposed by Jeroboam, who led the Northern tribes in revolt. I referenced the fact that there was king after king in both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. These earthly kings have absolutely nothing to do with our lives today.

What I found interesting and somewhat disturbing is that the prophets of that time period were very politically involved in these kingdoms. Prophets would support potential kings and help them gain power and then sometimes oppose them once they took control. Even the famous prophet Elisha, instigated the revolution that brought Jehu to the throne of Israel. I wondered whether the prophets should have been more focused on faithfulness to God, rather than the latest potential political conquest.

What a sharp contrast these Old Testament stories are to the message of Holy Week and Easter. King Jesus did not ride into the royal city of Jerusalem to begin a political uprising. There were no plots or schemes to overthrow any government. The words and actions of Jesus are just as meaningful today, as they were 2,000 years ago. Jesus had a mission and purpose that went way beyond human authority. When shown a coin, Jesus responded, “Give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Jesus’ thoughts and actions involved eternal spiritual concerns. In his words to Pilate, Jesus proclaimed, “My kingdom is not from this world.”

Jesus lived to provide a holy example of the Godly life, with divine messages to pass down through the ages. Jesus suffered and died as a sacrifice for our sin, so that we would know that the essence of God is sacrificial love. Jesus rose from the dead to claim victory over death and give the hope and assurance of eternal life to his followers. None of this is specific to a time and place. The Good News of Jesus Christ has everything to do with our lives today, and it is our responsibility to pass that Good News along. We, the prophets of today, need to know what is important and what is not important. Jesus Christ crucified, Jesus Christ risen, Jesus Christ alive: This is the Good News. The focus of God’s people and God’s church must be to proclaim this message. 

In God’s Service,