For generations leading up to Jesus, the Israelites celebrated the Passover. However, this event was a foreshadowing of the true Passover in which Jesus, the messiah, died for our sins on the cross. Many parallels can be drawn between the Jewish Passover and the crucifixion, including the invitation and sacrifice of a lamb without blemish. However, unlike the sacrificial lamb during Jewish Passover, Jesus’s resurrection three days later was proof that he was the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. His resurrection is proof that there is life after death and proof that God has won the victory and defeated death and sin.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believe in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

Pastor Jon introduced a new series on Nehemiah and how the direction of the church should follow the principles that Nehemiah led his life by. He explained how the series is not meant to be surrounded by the expansion project of the church as much as it is about building people up both in the church as well as the community. Nehemiah’s life journey led him to go from being the cup bearer of the king to building up people to accomplish something greater than they could ever imagine on their own by rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. Pastor Jon also laid out the historical background that laid the foundation for Nehemiah’s success, ranging from Adam and Eve in the year 4000 B.C. to the life of King David in 1000 B.C.

Nehemiah 1:1-11 depicts Nehemiah’s heart for Jerusalem and its people. His instinctual response upon hearing news of Jerusalem’s hardships was to cry out to God and intercede for Jerusalem. Nehemiah identified with the people of Jerusalem during and confessed their sins instead of accusing others for Jerusalem’s plight. In doing so, he not only took ownership of Jerusalem’s past transgressions but also of its future.

Similarly, Pastor Jon challenged us to view Buffalo in the same light that Nehemiah saw Jerusalem. Buffalo has long been in a period of disarray and dormancy – but it is also on the cusp of revival. Like Nehemiah, we should continue to intercede on behalf of our city and its people.

Pastor Jon integrated the excitement and anticipation of the groundbreaking of the expansion project with the events of the book of Nehemiah. He reiterated the theme from the previous two weeks that this project is not about a building; it is about people. As was Pastor Bender’s vision for those who he didn’t know, the building project is about making a place for those who are yet to come. This comes with a heightened sense of responsibility and focus that requires prayer and intercession in order to accomplish greater things that God has for the church body. Pastor Jon concluded his message by explaining an example of a pottery wheel that he used in his first sermon with an emphasis placed on the fact that God can take burned stones and transform them into a new creation. Burned stones in his example referred to people who have been hurt in their family, relationships, career, and previous churches.