Messages from Pastor Bob

April 2024 A Source of Joy, Comfort and Peace

Dear Friends of Zion,

It amazes me to see how the disciples struggled so much to believe in the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. After all, Jesus told them three times that He was going to be handed over to the chief priests, suffer many things, be killed, and on the third day rise. And yet, on the day of resurrection, they were all in denial, believing that He never rose.

We are not much different than the disciples. We, too, can struggle with believing that Jesus really did rise from the dead. When we are dealing with personal problems, it is easier to think that Jesus never rose. When we look at the condition of our society and world, it may be easier to think that Jesus’s dead body never left the tomb. When we stand by the graves of our loved ones, it is hard to believe that Jesus is alive and risen from the dead.

Thomas is known for his doubts about Jesus. Ten of the disciples had seen Jesus on Easter evening, alive and risen from the dead. Thomas would not believe unless he saw Jesus for himself with his own eyes, and touched our Lord’s wounds with his own hands. A week later Jesus appeared again and told Thomas to each out, do what it takes to overcome his doubts. Thomas responded, saying, “My Lord and my God!” He was convinced.

Jesus said to Thomas, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29) We are the blessed ones that Jesus spoke about, people who have not seen and yet have believed. For these words can help overcome our own doubts, replacing them with the truth of our Lord’s resurrection, His payment for our sins and His promise of eternal life. Jesus said, “Because I live, you also will live.” (John 14:19)

The risen Lord continues to be a source of joy, comfort, and peace, whether it is at the graveside of a loved one, or in the face of the challenges that we deal with in life. “I know that my Redeemer lives; What comfort this sweet sentence gives!

He lives, He lives, who once was dead; He lives, my ever-living head.”

Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!


March 2024 We Are Alive in Christ!
Dear Friends of Zion,

Somethings seem so final. Standing by the grave of our loved one reveals the end of a life that has been precious to us. No more do we see them in our home; no more do we hear their voice. We know that we do not have the opportunity to share a meal with them and enjoy their presence with us.

Jesus once said to grieving Martha at the death of her brother, “Your brother will rise again” (John 11:23). Martha responded, saying, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day” (John 11:24). Martha still grieved, even though she knew that she would one day see her brother alive, with a glorified body at the final resurrection.

But Martha was in for a surprise. Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die” (John 11:25-26). After He spoke these words, Jesus showed His power over death and the grave when He went to Lazarus’ tomb and spoke three words: “Lazarus, come out.” And Lazarus was alive again because of Jesus.

Jesus is the resurrection and the life. At the end of March we remember His death on the cross where He was “wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5). Our sins were laid on Him and He suffered and died because of them. And on the third day, God raised Him from the dead. St. Paul states that “He (Jesus) was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for out justification” (Romans 4:25). God accepted His atoning sacrifice and raised Him from the dead. By His death and resurrection, we have been given life and immortality.

For those who are in Christ, death is not final. We are alive in Christ, who loved us, gave Himself for us, and rose. As St. Paul wrote, “We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over Him. For the death He died He died to sin, once for all, but the life He lives He lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 6:9-10).

Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!


February 2024 The Greatest Love
Dear Friends of Zion,

Lent represents the forty days that Jesus spent in the wilderness. It begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Easter. Sundays are not included in the forty-day period, although we do include Lenten themes during our Sundays in Lent. In our church liturgical view, Lent is referred to as a penitential season because of the emphasis on Christ’s sufferings and His atoning death for us. During Lent we are reminded of our sins and our need for repentance and faith in Christ.

This year Ash Wednesday falls on February 14. How appropriate. It’s Valentine’s Day. A day that is marked by hearts and focused on love is the day that our Lenten journey begins. It doesn’t get any better than this. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) And that is precisely what Jesus has done for us.

St. Paul wrote, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” (Romans 5:6-11)

Lent clearly reveals the greatest love that has ever been shown to another. God has displayed His love for us in Jesus, who loved us, suffered for us, and died for us for our sins. And through His death God has reconciled us to Himself. There could never be a greater display of what love is all about. And by the grace of God we see it in Jesus.

So, Happy Valentine’s Day. And God bless your Lenten Observance.