Up until now, the family of Jesus on earth, were known as disciples, this disciplined to follow Jesus obediently, now, these disciples were growing

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1 January 29 they were called Christians, for no other word could describe them Epiphany people are Christ s first and foremost, even at the expense of everything else including national allegiance Acts 11:19-29 Focus passage The Church in Antioch 19 Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. 20 But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. 22 The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, 24 for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. 25 So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians. 27 Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius). 29 So the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers living in Judea. Up until now, the family of Jesus on earth, were known as disciples, this disciplined to follow Jesus obediently, now, these disciples were growing

2 into their identity as true followers of Jesus and so they were known to be Christ-Like or Christians. Disciple definition - There was trouble in the air, a famine had spread across the region, the romans were cracking down on one uprising after another, and the Jewish hierarchy was in disarray, trying to hold onto power, and come to terms with this growing sect of Jesus followers among them. Despite all this, the Church at Antioch doesn t say the hell with the rest of the world, we have to feed our own children in the midst of this famine and keep ourselves safe from the turmoil and violence of the day, no, they reach out in love to those in greater need then themselves, to the people of Judea who were suffering under worse conditions of famine and violence, and so they send aid by way of Barnabas and Saul, to people they don t know in the natural, but only through the love of Christ. They were called Christians or Followers of the Messiah, because that was likely the word that accurately described them. You couldn t call them Syrians, or Jews or Greeks or Cyprians or Africans, (Saul/Paul, of Tarsus (Asia Minor/modern Turkey), Pharisee Acts 7- Barnabas/Joseph a Levite, a native of Cyprus, (Acts 4) Med. island Simon Niger the black man from Africa Lucius : Cyrene north coast of Africa Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, (Galilean or Judean)

3 John Mark a Judean Jew? Acts 1:4 they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians-- we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God. 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: 17 "'And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; ACTS 2 38 And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself." ACTS _ Peter and Cornelius Italian soldiers and families 11:18 When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, "Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life." 20 But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord Acts 13:1 Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.) although they represented all those people groups, none of those titles could describe them. They were called Christians because their allegiance to Jesus transcended their allegiance to their tribe or national origin. They lived as Jesus people first. They were obedient to Jesus first. They understood where true authority comes from and where Jesus stands in this line of authority.

4 Did they know that the Law and prophets of the O.T. commanded God s people to take care of the sojourner, the alien, the stranger over 80 times? Or perhaps they knew Jesus parable of the Good Samaritan, from which Jesus commands us to see even our enemies as a neighbor we should compassionately take care of in times of need. As needs arose, like the ones due to the famine and heavy handedness of Rome their hearts were moved by the Holy Spirit to reach out in love to those in need. They were living as the Body of Christ, the Church; can we? Are we, as the church always be open to the cry of the poor, the needy, the refugee from wherever it comes? The first Christians were not just known as the messiah s people/christians as a catchy title. They were known as people who, precisely because that Christ was Jesus himself, were committed at the deepest level to giving themselves in love to one another and to all in need. They understood that to walk as a follower of Jesus was to walk in generosity, love and compassion, even looking to take care others needs who were more dire than theirs ahead of their own. I don t think they asked to be known as Christians, the phrase just fit. Does it accurately fit us? Let us pray; Collect prayer: Set us free, O God, from the bondage of our sins, and give us the liberty of that abundant life which you have made known

5 to us in your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. Responsive: Psalm 77:14 You are the God who works wonders; you have made known your might among the peoples. Gospel: Matthew 4:23-25 Jesus Ministers to Diverse Crowds 23 And Jesus went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. 24 So his fame spread throughout all Syria, and they brought him all the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, those having seizures, and paralytics, and he healed them. 25 And great crowds followed him from Galilee and the Decapolis, and from Jerusalem and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan. Collect prayer: Set us free, O God, from the bondage of our sins, and give us the liberty of that abundant life which you have made known to us in your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

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