Tag: Maundy Thursday

I Am the Way to God

John 14:6

GPS a wonderful invention. When equipped with accurate maps can take lot of guesswork out of travel. Usually a reliable guide that can be trusted in unfamiliar places. Can be a fun exercise – use GPS in area where you are familiar, then take shortcuts and back roads you know about. “In 300 feet turn left.” No, it’s the next left. “Recalculating… turn around as soon as possible.” And so it goes, not taking turn suggested, taking turns not suggested. Even if you do become disoriented, just follow directions given and will most likely arrive at destination.

Lots of folks treat eternal destination in similar way. Believe they have some sort of internal GPS makes it possible for them to take any road, make any turns they choose, still arrive at good destination at end of life. God may be at end of road, could be heaven or nirvana or nothing at all. Whichever it happens to be, are confident can live life how they choose and still arrive where they intend.

Many of same folks at least profess to live by principle that truth is relative. What is true for you does not need to be true for them and vice versa. What is true in one situation not necessarily true in other places or at other times. According to them, definitely is not any body of truth that applies to all people in all places in all time. One absolute truth exists… that there is no absolute truth.

Would also be of opinion that mankind has prerogative to decide when human life begins, when it should end. If they believe certain procedures are not unjust taking of life, then abortion is ok. If they believe a particular life is not worth sustaining, well then, end it by assisted suicide or euthanasia. Anyone who dares to challenge those views is obviously wrong, should not have a voice in the discussion. Is especially true when challenger has temerity to say their way is the only way of rightly responding to all these issues.

Christian should not be satisfied with these answers to questions foundational to all of life. We must ask “has God said something about these topics? If so, what did he say?” He said: “I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Same truth expressed elsewhere in God’s word the Bible – cannot blame exclusive nature of Jesus’ statement on bad translation.

Much of what you will hear now through Sunday… have heard before. Is good to review, be reminded of truth, have it reinforced in thinking so are better equipped to declare truth to others. Is helpful to begin at beginning – think about what Jesus said… unnecessary unless Jesus speaking to genuine area of need.

— if Jesus is the way, must be that we need a way, know where to find it, how to access it

— if Jesus is the truth, not simply a truth but the truth… must be that it exists, we need to know it and it can be known

— if Jesus is the life, then apart from Jesus mankind is cut off from life, the kind found only in Jesus

A. we need a way (Gen. 3:21-24)

perfect fellowship broken / ended by sin

God said “let there be… and there was, God saw, God rested – all creation very good in God’s estimation… satisfied with what came into being in response to command

God said all this… but not this; serpent said, woman saw, no longer good – all that was very good now scarred and cracked and darkened… distorted and defaced from original condition

true of every human relationship – now contorted by sin, deception, accusation, frustration and opposition

original way guarded / off-limits

way to fellowship with God now blocked; where only truth existed, now falsehood and twisting of truth; those once alive now beginning to die, the inevitable outcome of sin

way to perfect eternal fellowship with God guarded by flaming sword, off-limits to man and woman fallen and corrupted by sin

impossible to make own way – Job 9:33

God showed great mercy guarding his presence from sinners – holiness and purity would have destroyed them, tree of life would have condemned to hopeless future

God made original way to his presence, only God can make another way – beyond ability of mankind to restore what was lost

are estranged from God, from our side with irreconcilable differences

fallen sinners have no desire for any contact with God – first parents with pretty small collection of sin hid from God’s presence, resisted his efforts at reconciliation

B. there is a way (Isaiah 35:4-10)

a highway and a road

many places nearby, some we have checked out over past summers – nature trails – some well-made, clearly marked, others not so much… hard to find trail markers, impassible certain times of year

way God makes is clearly defined – is highway for safe travel, well defined and marked, constantly accessible and in good repair

limited access

only certain types permitted to use this highway, has only one way of access; provided with effective guard rails keeping travelers in right way, safe from harm

no unclean on it, reserved for redeemed, ransomed of the Lord; whoever uses it never get lost; unerring leads to final destination

way of holiness, gladness, joy

way that leads in holiness to perfect holiness – purity in all things and suitable for God’s presence; not burdensome, pleasant surroundings that supply joy and gladness… disperse sorrow and sighing

C. we know the way (John 14:4)

…but not everyone does John 8:14

Jesus spoke plainly to Pharisees: “I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from and where I am going.”

also spoke plainly to his intimate followers: “You know the way where I am going” – both destination and route to get there

had to help the Eleven adjust focus from immediate to eternal – not going to “Father’s house” in Jerusalem but real one

his followers must make other followers

is task Lord Jesus has left his followers – go make more… show and tell, at every opportunity, help others find only way that leads to eternal life

need not be overwhelmed by task – not our job to reach all the lost (all several billion) with the Gospel – one at a time… pray, meet people, tell them about Jesus

D. he is not a new way (John 1:51) (Rom. 4:5, 9)

Gen. 3:15 – promised

important note: Adam and Eve sinned, under God’s condemnation; before righteous Judge issued sentence, declared message of hope for fallen sinners

God would supply someone who would overcome evil Serpent had brought into the world, in process would deal with Serpent

Gen. 28:10-17 – confirmed

way to tree of life perhaps only dim memory passed down through generations; not hard to believe mankind wondering if anything would ever change, if God’s presence to be forever off-limits

Jacob leaving town and murderous brother, stops for night, has dream: “a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; … the LORD stood above it”, renewed covenant, now with Jacob

Jacob’s response: “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!” – God confirmed he would make way

Lord Jesus added more detail – told Nathanael “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” (John 1:51)

John 19:30 – completed

that new and living way into house of God completed when He cried “It is finished”, then on third day rose from the dead

E. he is the only way (John 14:6b; Acts 4:12)

no access to God apart from Jesus

Lord Jesus is Jacob’s Ladder that stretches from Father in heaven to touch earth – God himself the only one without exception who can establish ladder, a way that reaches from fallen sinful mankind to his presence

Jesus told Eleven “I am the way... No one comes to the Father except through Me.” – unpopular maybe, but consider this:

he did not keep this essential truth hidden from mankind – declared it openly, wrote it down, preserved so all may know

no salvation in any other

another exclusive statement, and so incredibly helpful: don’t waste your life trying other ways, there is no other way to acquire salvation – “there is salvation in no one else”

no other name

no other person, being, method, plan that can provide salvation acceptable to God; and… no other means ever devised by God himself for the salvation of a lost world

God’s entire plan of salvation wrapped up in Jesus – every ritual sanctioned by God in OT worship looked forward to him, in NT looks backward to Calvary and forward to his return

Heb. 10:19-22Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”

Christ Died for Our Sins

1 Corinthians 15:3

Deut. 18:15-19; Isa. 52:13-53:9; 1 Cor. 15:1-4

Christianity stands or falls on what is contained in these two verses. And this is what separates Christianity from every other religion or worldview. Just first statement – Christ died for our sins – is enough. Yes, is a summary, but given what is explicitly stated and implicitly required, is a complete Gospel.

Much masquerades as Gospel in American culture. Sad fact that much of that poison being exported to other parts of the world. What fallen mankind needs is not self-help. Not behavior modification. Not having faith to claim. Drowning ’cause I can’t swim – don’t tell me to dog-paddle faster. I’m drowning, now is not time to tell me pay more attention to how thick ice is. I’m drowning, don’t tell me click my heels and just believe – this isn’t Oz. Reality is… picture of drowning person inadequate – that individual still has life. Natural man not just a little or even a lot messed up but needing help. Natural man left to own devices hopelessly now and forever lost.

Must be no compromise, no confusion on what the Gospel is, who embodies it. Right and wrong are not relative, truth is not what you want it to be, we don’t all worship same god and all roads do not lead to heaven. God’s word the Bible gives us absolute standard of right and wrong, supplies absolute truth that will make us holy and acceptable to God. Tells us there is one and only one true God, the only way to him is through his son Jesus Christ. Those are words of life even when they cost us our life.

a. Intro

must be preached/proclaimed

not sort of thing we know automatically, by instinct – must be communicated to us by external source; not something that can be found in nature, rituals or holy books of another religion

if we know truth, means we have responsibility to communicate it whenever God supplies opportunity, whether preacher or not!

must be received

hearing, knowing, even understanding truth of Gospel not sufficient for salvation – must be received, embraced, evidenced by outward action: Rom. 10:9if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

is unchanging – you stand

idea here is that of being immovable – stand stationary, in one place: only possible if what you’re standing on doesn’t move

Gospel, message that was good news for Adam and Eve is same message every other sinner needs to hear; just as relevant 5000 years in future as in past

will save

Gospel message when accompanied by regenerating work of Holy Spirit has power: Rom. 1:16For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”

is of first importance

everything else in Bible points to it, everything else depends on it for significance – is essential to life now and hereafter

important enough to repeat, clarify, define so there is no question what Paul had in mind – is a summary, but still must be at the core of true Gospel

book published 2014, “The Gospel of Better”: quotes much from Bible, claims to be genuine good news, never mentions sin, the Cross, Jesus’ death or resurrection

according to what God says to us in our text, book does not qualify to be called a Gospel; don’t fall for the lie

A. who did it – Christ

Seed of the woman

the one promised in the Garden shortly after Creation; yes, the chicken did come first, then sin, immediate need for Redeemer

did not prompt God to issue immediate fix – would come in his way and time… as he promised; mankind needed to learn some things first

Adam and Eve not convinced they were truly helpless; didn’t immediately grasp full scope and seriousness of sin

Seed who would bless all families of the world

further promise to Abraham – descendant of his son Isaac (not Ishmael) would bring good news and life to all families regardless of ethnic origin: Jew first, then Gentile

promised Prophet

not just what he would do, what he would say: this Prophet would speak with full divine authority – we know Jesus taught that way, claimed that authority

son of a virgin who is the Son of God

the “who” is important, so also the “what” – was by man that sin came into the world, must be by man that sin would be taken care of

no other type of being is suitable – obviously animals don’t make the grade, even when sacrificed; angels not in running either

David’s son who is David’s Lord (Ps. 110:1)

but not just any man; every other man had his own sin problem, is only the God-Man who meets all necessary qualifications

is only one Jesus, the one in the Bible – not Jesus in other books viewed as sacred, not Jesus of movie fame, not Jesus as sinful man likes to define him

good news is that he isthere, and he did come here, to do exactly as God promised

B. what did he do – died

not a martyr

did not die because of what he believed; enemies wanted his blood because of who he claimed to be – one with God the Father

not a victim

was handed over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God” Acts 2:23 – Judas and Herod and Pilate and others were agents, many irregularities connected with his trial, yet outcome was precisely according to God’s plan

a willing sacrifice

repeatedly declared “I lay down my life”; stated “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself” – John 10:15, 17-18

and he did exactly that – laid down his life, he died, he died – nothing less, no one else, his life just like life of every lamb offered

C. what was his purpose – for our sins

couldn’t be for himself

John didn’t say “behold the Lamb of God who dies for his own sin”; wasn’t “who covers sins of his people”; was “who takes away sin”

any sinfulness in sacrifice disqualifies it as a substitute – if what Jesus did is truly good news, had to be for more than himself

couldn’t just be for Adam

JW, discussion about why Jesus died – to pay penalty for Adam’s sin; asked question: “what about your sin? who takes care of that?” – not good news if only Adam had a substitute

Paul declared: “Christ died for our sins” – not sins in general, mine might not be in there; our sins, personal possessive pronoun difference between life and death

D. how is this good news?

Genesis 2:17; Rom. 6:23 God promised death as consequence of disobedience… both in OT and NT, no hint of changing his mind

on one of earth’s darkest days, when those who had experienced God’s greatest blessings said “His blood be on us and on our children.” Matt. 27:25 God didn’t say, “that’s ok, don’t take it so hard”

heaven was silent in response to their howls of hatred as if God was agreeing – responsibility for Christ’s death would indeed be on those who clamored for his death and all who shared their unbelief

when it comes to sin, is either you or an acceptable substitute

good news is that there is an acceptable substitute, Jesus, who came to save his people from their sins

if your confession is that Jesus is the Lord of your life, you believe he died for your sins, you will be saved… and so will all who have that same confession

this perhaps the most astonishing part of good news: God did all this because of his love for us: 1 John 4:10In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

God loved us while still sinners, but never intending we should stay sinners – purpose from beginning to save his people from their sins, give them a future and a hope

Christ’s death was not an accident, an unfortunate mistake, a hoax that accomplished nothing. It was the necessary sacrifice of the perfect Son of God that paid the penalty for sin, satisfied God’s justice so that all who believe in him might have everlasting life. May God give us courage and opportunity to proclaim that truth to all who will listen.

Love One Another

John 13:31-38

Matt. 22:34-40; John 13:12-17; John 13:31-38

Theme for this Easter season: “One Another” – Love One Another, Be At Peace with One Another, Comfort One Another, Encourage One Another.

Concept that has decided emphasis in NT (40+ times); beginning with this text: “love one another”, 19x total in NT, 5x by Jesus in space of just few hours. Knew the time had come: evening meal was in progress, all thirteen (Jesus plus the Twelve) were present. John introduces scene: “Having loved his own who were in the world, he now loved them to the very end.” John talking about far more than simple sentimental expressions of affection. This was love in action in context of personal relationship…at a time when most of us would have made choices much different from what Jesus did.

Jesus knew what awaited him that evening: soldiers would shatter the quiet of the olive garden and Jesus’ intimate fellowship with his Father. He would endure a mock trial, false accusation, injustice heaped upon insult and blasphemy, all at the hands of lawless men (Acts 2:23). Jesus knew more than that – Jesus knew which of the Twelve would betray him…and yet Jesus washed his feet same as all the rest. Jesus knew that the Eleven would forsake him in the Garden and run away in the darkness (Mark 14:50). But, if it changed anything, that knowledge only intensified his compassion. Jesus knew impetuous Peter would promise the world, few hours later categorically deny any relationship with Jesus. Jesus still treated him with gracious tenderness.

Early in evening, the betrayer left; can almost hear sigh of relief from Jesus at beginning of our text. Immediate oppressive weight of betrayer’s presence, under Satan’s direct control (v.27) no longer present. Jesus recognized this time as final opportunity to prepare disciples for what lay just ahead. Any reserve Judas’ presence might have caused now gone – Jesus speaks openly, affectionately, heart-to-heart with the Eleven. Probably most intimate conversation Jesus had with disciples, “little children”, gently focusing their attention to the future. Full significance of Jesus’ remarks probably didn’t penetrate disciples’ thinking until much later…especially given the startling and profound things he said. For example, putting law (commandment) and love together!

A. it’s new (34a, c)

“Love is usually understood to be a powerful emotion involving an intense attachment to an object and a high evaluation of it. On some understandings, however, love does not involve emotion at all, but only an active interest in the wellbeing of the object.” Routledge

biblical love actually some combination of the two – attachment to and high valuation of an object plus active interest in its well-being

various opinions about Jesus’ statement – “a new commandment” – what did he mean “new”?

“love one another” not new in this sense – love for others was an old command, Jesus in answering the lawyer quoted it

first written down for us in Lev. 19:18‘You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.”

significant difference, though: in God’s original command and in Jesus’ new command, not simply told to love, are told how to love

is a new example, a new standard, a new level of obedience required –

Jesus’ love is the standard

or should we say the Father’s love is the model: John 15:9​”As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you”; the Son’s loveis the fuel: John 13:34 “just as I have loved you, so that you also love one another.”

does not abrogate the second command – love your neighbor; instead, further specifies how we should love our “Christian” neighbor

B. it’s commanded (35a)

3x “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another” (John 13:34); “This is My commandment, that you love one another” (John 15:12); “These things I command you, that you love one another” (John 15:17)

in other words, it’s an order – has full weight of God behind it, just as binding as any other command found in Bible

don’t tell me how to think, I can make up my own mind; Jesus went way over the line – told us who to love and how to love

we talk about there being no Lone Rangers in Jesus’ service; need to be part of a local church, etc., etc. – all very true

more than that, you cannot consider yourself a true follower of Christ apart from mutual loving relationships with other Christ-followers

obedience to command of Christ mandates it, following his example expects it, carrying out his purpose in loving requires it

important qualifier – mutual – is not to be one-directional, should be reciprocal <=> Rom 12:10 “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”

C. it’s about others (34b)

Father loved Jesus, Jesus loved others, we are to love others…with no consideration for what might receive in return

don’t have a problem loving self, do that naturally – that level of love should be directed toward others, neighbors + brothers and sisters, our neighbors in Christ’s kingdom

showed/demonstrated his love for others by…..

serving – “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)

entire ministry life one of serving others, investing in others, living example that culminated in humble act of foot-washing: “I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you”

teaching – called Teacher, disciples asked “teach us to pray”; sat daily teaching in the temple, taught the multitudes, in synagogues, by the sea, his “default” way of relating to those around him

encouraging – with few exceptions, only people Jesus was hard on (rebuked) were those who knew better – religious leaders

miracles were encouragement; lifted up woman caught in adultery; restored Peter after his denial

giving his life (John 15:13) – didn’t come to earth for himself: came to give his life for a bunch of dead people – while we were still sinners (dead in trespasses and sins) Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8)

protecting (John 18:8) – said to soldiers, “you’re after me, let them go”; says same to Satan – Jesus the real enemy Satan is after, of necessity tries to hold us hostage

D. it’s our identifier (35)

they will know you are a Christian by your: denominational membership; Bible version; charitable contributions; theological understanding; Confession

most of those are good, also not what Jesus said

don’t miss the emphasis here: Jesus’ point was not that his followers are loving and other people aren’t; was their love in community he underscored

if we want people to find Jesus attractive, must first show our sincerity in our love for one another – don’t tell the pagan Jesus loves him and you love him while you treat fellow-Christian like trash

The only way people will know that you are my disciples, says Jesus, is to demonstrate it, not individually, but by your relationships — for there can be no real apologetic without a community of love and relationships. “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” After we have given all the arguments, the defenses and the evidences, this indeed is the final apologetic.” Ravi Zacharias

E. it’s unconditional (38)

Jesus not only commanded love for one another, he declared his love for his disciples – as I have loved you (34b)

Jesus loved, he did that knowing of Peter’s disloyalty, the shortcomings and falterings of every one of his followers

issues didn’t stop with resurrection, with 40 days of “graduate school”, nor with ascension, not even Pentecost and outpouring of Spirit – NT just like OT a record of God’s people still struggling with sinfulness throughout earthly pilgrimage

Jesus loves us through all that, in spite of it, and gave his life to redeem us from our sin and sanctify us, ultimately making us pure and fit for his presence

Cannot look at the cross with understanding and fail to love one another

For ever let us cling to these thoughts about the crucifixion. Let us remember that painting and sculpture [and movie] can never tell a tenth part of what took place on the cross. Crucifixes and pictures at best can only show us a human being agonizing in a painful death. But of the length and breadth and depth and height of the work transacted on the cross, — of God’s law honored, man’s sins borne, sin punished in a Substitute, free salvation bought for man, — of all this they can tell nothing. Yet all this lies hid under the crucifixion. No wonder St. Paul cries, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Gal. 6:14) J C Ryle

Son of God, Man of Sorrows

Matthew 14:22-36

From time to time seems to be an obsession with trying to make Jesus out to be world’s best stand-up comic. Or at least to have a killer sense of humor.

“The Bible clearly paints a picture of Jesus of Nazareth as a clever guy, but he never seems to laugh, much less crack a smile. Did Jesus really have no sense of humor; didn’t he ever laugh?” Author goes on to explain how “contemporary Christians may be missing the humor that Jesus intended and that his audience understood.” Reclaiming Jesus’ Sense of Humor, James Martin, Special to CNN (January 25, 2012)

I’m sure Jesus knew how to smile, recognized humor and probably used it when appropriate. But… how does God the Holy Spirit describe God the Son? As one who overpowered arguments and attracted followers by his wit? We read of Jesus calling down curses on “scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites” (Matt. 23:13ff); being moved with compassion on multitude “like sheep not having a shepherd” (Mark 6:34), the emotion most frequently attributed to Jesus; desiring “with fervent desire” to eat the last Passover with his disciples (Luke 22:15). Also are told in Luke 10:21 he rejoiced or “exulted in the Holy Spirit” over the ways of God in bringing many sons to glory.

Remember what we just read in Isaiah 53:3

He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Being described this way doesn’t rule out other facets of personality, but in eyes of God humor was not prominent in the Lord Jesus. Ambrose, leader of church in 4th century referring to Matthew 26:37 description of Jesus in Gethsemane – “he began to be sorrowful and troubled”:

I not only do not think that there is any need of excuse, but there is no instance in which I admire more his kindness and his majesty; for he would not have done so much for me, if he had not taken upon him my feelings. He grieved for me, who had no cause of grief for himself; and, laying aside the delights of the eternal Godhead, he experiences the affliction of my weakness. I boldly call it sorrow, because I preach the cross. For he took upon him not the appearance, but the reality, of incarnation. It was therefore necessary that he should experience grief, that he might overcome sorrow, and not shut it out.”

In the Garden not the first time during life on earth or his public ministry Jesus experienced sorrow and grief – mental anguish and heartsickness. At every turn, Jesus was reminded of his mission, why the Father sent the Son into the world – to be the Savior of the world (1 John 4:14). Wherever he went, whatever he did, whomever he interacted with, Jesus was confronted with evidence, why world needs a Savior.

A. broken world – the wind was against them v.24

originally everything very good; entrusted to mankind for him to manage – created things cooperated with Adam and Eve, the garden giving freely of its bounty for their enjoyment

enter Satan and temptation, Adam and Eve’s disobedience; then God appears again, issues his declaration of judgment

in just brief space of time, entire order of things radically changed – Satan and ground cursed, Adam and Eve began irreversible dying process

cooperation between natural world and mankind no longer a given; in fact, changed to opposition, resistance

Son of God was there at Creation – participated in it, gloried in the work of his Father’s hands, knew the perfection with which God had designed and produced everything

left off praying, went across the lake to his disciples – knowing the wind and waves by original design should not have been contrary

there were his friends, struggling to follow his command to “go to the other side” – oh, if only like at the beginning, would have been an easy sail

but no, cause for sorrow in heart of Creator that his friends, his brothers must endure brokenness in nature because of sin

B. broken vision – “if it is you” v.28

Jesus already had encounter with those whose physical eyes were blind; in fact, one was demon-possessed, blind and mute (Matt. 12:22)

how could Lord Jesus who had already spent an eternity in perfect union and pleasure with his Father not be moved by plight that fellow was in – under control of one of Satan’s minions, unable to communicate yet able to hear

for that man, sin entering the world eventually resulted in blindness; but, greater problem than physical blindness

best example – the Pharisees, offended by Jesus’ recognition / denunciation of their hypocrisy; went so far as to call them “blind leaders of the blind”, even told his disciples to leave them alone (Matt. 15:14), let them fall in the ditch if they would

referring to spiritual blindness here, profound inability to recognize spiritual truth as found in God’s Word

it’s a blindness absolutely every human being suffer from time of their birth until such time as they are born from above

disciples had been with him 2 years, saw Jesus coming toward them, responded in fear

immediately speaks, identifies himself, tells them to have courage, not be afraid – “it is I”, expecting they would recognize him

Peter, one of inner circle with James and John, had spent more time with Jesus than any others – how does he respond?

“Lord, if it’s You” – both physical and spiritual vision clouded enough so he failed to recognize Jesus with certainty

don’t you expect Jesus felt a little twinge – one of his closest friends didn’t know him, needed reassurance

not last time Jesus would experience this – two disciples, Emmaus – “how slow of heart to believe”

C. broken spirit/heart – “little faith”v.31 Mat 8:26, Mat 16:8, Mat 17:20

going back to beginning – Adam and Eve didn’t have to learn to love God, trust God, follow God; they simply did it until…

following deception of sin, trust had to be rebuilt; faith in God no longer natural, had to come from Him as a gift

God also gives opportunities for faith to be tested, to grow in strength and ability; probably won’t involve walking on water

Peter started out well – faith got him out of the boat, onto the water, a few steps away from safety, then it happened

two years of intense training with the Master, seeing him demonstrate his power repeatedly – helped Peter develop some faith

can almost hear Jesus sigh of sadness – “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

the baggage of brokenness brought into world by sin hindered Peter’s faith and its growth, ours also

yet they did at least for moment finally recognize Jesus’ true identity: “Truly You are the Son of God.”

for the moment, because 2x more in Matthew’s gospel Jesus chided his disciples for their little faith

D. broken bodies – all who were sick v.35

perhaps the most poignant reminder of all that something is wrong with our world – sickness and infirmity

physical infirmity hard enough, cause enough for sorrow – no respecter of persons, strikes all ages, all strata of society

infirmity caused directly by powers of evil – those who are demon-possessed – an even greater source of sorrow

Jesus more so than anyone else knew ultimate source of their trouble – his sworn enemy and theirs, Satan

people like sheep without a shepherd, many under direct influence or control of Satan, people bound in patterns of self-destructive behavior, afflicted with all manner of diseases for which there was little help, much less a cure

Jesus didn’t blow it off, say “oh well, that’s life, suck it up and deal”; listened to their cries for help, expressed his sorrow through compassion

E. broken bread – given for you – see also Matt. 26:37-38; John 12:27

throughout Jesus’ ministry, see joy and sorrow coexisting

“exuberant gladness, a gladness which fills the heart” (Warfield) over the methods and means his Father used to convert sinners (Luke 10:21)

earlier in week, Monday, contemplating what rest of his work week would entail, half to himself and half to Heavenly Father

John 12:27 “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.”

evening he was betrayed:

Jesus told his disciples: “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” (Luke 22:15)

knew that just as bread was broken, wine was poured out, he was to be the sacrifice, giving himself for the sins of his people

later that evening “He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed.” (Matt. 26:37) so much so that he sweat drops of blood; how can it be?

ravages of sin on this world caused and continues to cause our Lord Jesus great sorrow; but, here’s the good news,

“our Lord did not come into the world to be broken by the power of sin and death, but to break it.. He came as a conqueror with the gladness of the imminent victory in his heart; for the joy set before him he was able to endure the cross, despising the shame.” Warfield

Jesus’ mission not a hopeless one; outcome never in question – he was called Jesus because he would save his people from their sins; he would successfully complete the task his Father sent him to do

Each time we gather around the Lord’s Table, several things are evident:

==> have physical tangible symbols of something real that took place: a real person Jesus really gave his life a sacrifice for sin, paid penalty in full, completely satisified God’s demands for justice

==> declare by our actions that we believe those facts to be true, that we believe by faith that Jesus died for us, that we are all brothers and sisters because of our fellowship in Christ and adoption into God’s family

==> as we go through the “ritual” and the reminders of what happened 2000 years ago and what will happen in future when Lord Jesus returns, our souls are nourished and faith is strengthened

Son of God, Man of Sorrows

Matthew 14:22-36

Isaiah 53:1-4Luke 8:49-56

From time to time seems to be an obsession with trying to make Jesus out to be world’s best stand-up comic. Or at least to have a killer sense of humor.

“The Bible clearly paints a picture of Jesus of Nazareth as a clever guy, but he never seems to laugh, much less crack a smile. Did Jesus really have no sense of humor; didn’t he ever laugh?” Author goes on to explain how “contemporary Christians may be missing the humor that Jesus intended and that his audience understood.” Reclaiming Jesus’ Sense of Humor, James Martin, Special to CNN (January 25, 2012)

I’m sure Jesus knew how to smile, recognized humor and probably used it when appropriate. But… how does God the Holy Spirit describe God the Son? As one who overpowered arguments and attracted followers by his wit? We read of Jesus calling down curses on “scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites” (Matt. 23:13ff); being moved with compassion on multitude “like sheep not having a shepherd” (Mark 6:34), the emotion most frequently attributed to Jesus; desiring “with fervent desire” to eat the last Passover with his disciples (Luke 22:15). Also are told in Luke 10:21 he rejoiced or “exulted in the Holy Spirit” over the ways of God in bringing many sons to glory.

Remember what we just read in Isaiah 53:3

He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Being described this way doesn’t rule out other facets of personality, but in eyes of God humor was not prominent in the Lord Jesus. Ambrose, leader of church in 4th century referring to Matthew 26:37 description of Jesus in Gethsemane – “he began to be sorrowful and troubled”:

I not only do not think that there is any need of excuse, but there is no instance in which I admire more his kindness and his majesty; for he would not have done so much for me, if he had not taken upon him my feelings. He grieved for me, who had no cause of grief for himself; and, laying aside the delights of the eternal Godhead, he experiences the affliction of my weakness. I boldly call it sorrow, because I preach the cross. For he took upon him not the appearance, but the reality, of incarnation. It was therefore necessary that he should experience grief, that he might overcome sorrow, and not shut it out.”

In the Garden not the first time during life on earth or his public ministry Jesus experienced sorrow and grief – mental anguish and heartsickness. At every turn, Jesus was reminded of his mission, why the Father sent the Son into the world – to be the Savior of the world (1 John 4:14). Wherever he went, whatever he did, whomever he interacted with, Jesus was confronted with evidence, why world needs a Savior.

A. broken world – the wind was against them v.24

originally everything very good; entrusted to mankind for him to manage – created things cooperated with Adam and Eve, the garden giving freely of its bounty for their enjoyment

enter Satan and temptation, Adam and Eve’s disobedience; then God appears again, issues his declaration of judgment

in just brief space of time, entire order of things radically changed – Satan and ground cursed, Adam and Eve began irreversible dying process

cooperation between natural world and mankind no longer a given; in fact, changed to opposition, resistance

Son of God was there at Creation – participated in it, gloried in the work of his Father’s hands, knew the perfection with which God had designed and produced everything

left off praying, went across the lake to his disciples – knowing the wind and waves by original design should not have been contrary

there were his friends, struggling to follow his command to “go to the other side” – oh, if only like at the beginning, would have been an easy sail

but no, cause for sorrow in heart of Creator that his friends, his brothers must endure brokenness in nature because of sin

B. broken vision – “if it is you” v.28

Jesus already had encounter with those whose physical eyes were blind; in fact, one was demon-possessed, blind and mute (Matt. 12:22)

how could Lord Jesus who had already spent an eternity in perfect union and pleasure with his Father not be moved by plight that fellow was in – under control of one of Satan’s minions, unable to communicate yet able to hear

for that man, sin entering the world eventually resulted in blindness; but, greater problem than physical blindness

best example – the Pharisees, offended by Jesus’ recognition / denunciation of their hypocrisy; went so far as to call them “blind leaders of the blind”, even told his disciples to leave them alone (Matt. 15:14), let them fall in the ditch if they would

referring to spiritual blindness here, profound inability to recognize spiritual truth as found in God’s Word

it’s a blindness absolutely every human being suffer from time of their birth until such time as they are born from above

disciples had been with him 2 years, saw Jesus coming toward them, responded in fear

immediately speaks, identifies himself, tells them to have courage, not be afraid – “it is I”, expecting they would recognize him

Peter, one of inner circle with James and John, had spent more time with Jesus than any others – how does he respond?

“Lord, if it’s You” – both physical and spiritual vision clouded enough so he failed to recognize Jesus with certainty

don’t you expect Jesus felt a little twinge – one of his closest friends didn’t know him, needed reassurance

not last time Jesus would experience this – two disciples, Emmaus – “how slow of heart to believe”

C. broken spirit/heart – “little faith”v.31 Mat 8:26, Mat 16:8, Mat 17:20

going back to beginning – Adam and Eve didn’t have to learn to love God, trust God, follow God; they simply did it until…

following deception of sin, trust had to be rebuilt; faith in God no longer natural, had to come from Him as a gift

God also gives opportunities for faith to be tested, to grow in strength and ability; probably won’t involve walking on water

Peter started out well – faith got him out of the boat, onto the water, a few steps away from safety, then it happened

two years of intense training with the Master, seeing him demonstrate his power repeatedly – helped Peter develop some faith

can almost hear Jesus sigh of sadness – “You of little faith, why did you doubt?”

the baggage of brokenness brought into world by sin hindered Peter’s faith and its growth, ours also

yet they did at least for moment finally recognize Jesus’ true identity: “Truly You are the Son of God.”

for the moment, because 2x more in Matthew’s gospel Jesus chided his disciples for their little faith

D. broken bodies – all who were sick v.35

perhaps the most poignant reminder of all that something is wrong with our world – sickness and infirmity

physical infirmity hard enough, cause enough for sorrow – no respecter of persons, strikes all ages, all strata of society

infirmity caused directly by powers of evil – those who are demon-possessed – an even greater source of sorrow

Jesus more so than anyone else knew ultimate source of their trouble – his sworn enemy and theirs, Satan

people like sheep without a shepherd, many under direct influence or control of Satan, people bound in patterns of self-destructive behavior, afflicted with all manner of diseases for which there was little help, much less a cure

Jesus didn’t blow it off, say “oh well, that’s life, suck it up and deal”; listened to their cries for help, expressed his sorrow through compassion

E. broken bread – given for you – see also Matt. 26:37-38; John 12:27

throughout Jesus’ ministry, see joy and sorrow coexisting

“exuberant gladness, a gladness which fills the heart” (Warfield) over the methods and means his Father used to convert sinners (Luke 10:21)

earlier in week, Monday, contemplating what rest of his work week would entail, half to himself and half to Heavenly Father

John 12:27 “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour.”

evening he was betrayed:

Jesus told his disciples: “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” (Luke 22:15)

knew that just as bread was broken, wine was poured out, he was to be the sacrifice, giving himself for the sins of his people

later that evening “He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed.” (Matt. 26:37) so much so that he sweat drops of blood; how can it be?

ravages of sin on this world caused and continues to cause our Lord Jesus great sorrow; but, here’s the good news,

“our Lord did not come into the world to be broken by the power of sin and death, but to break it.. He came as a conqueror with the gladness of the imminent victory in his heart; for the joy set before him he was able to endure the cross, despising the shame.” Warfield

Jesus’ mission not a hopeless one; outcome never in question – he was called Jesus because he would save his people from their sins; he would successfully complete the task his Father sent him to do

Each time we gather around the Lord’s Table, several things are evident:

==> have physical tangible symbols of something real that took place: a real person Jesus really gave his life a sacrifice for sin, paid penalty in full, completely satisified God’s demands for justice

==> declare by our actions that we believe those facts to be true, that we believe by faith that Jesus died for us, that we are all brothers and sisters because of our fellowship in Christ and adoption into God’s family

==> as we go through the “ritual” and the reminders of what happened 2000 years ago and what will happen in future when Lord Jesus returns, our souls are nourished and faith is strengthened

Till He Come

Matthew 26:26-32

Largest religious gathering in the world ended a couple weeks ago in India:

For up to 80 million pilgrims—think 10 New York Cities—a Hindu festival, Kumbh Mela, that takes place on the banks of the Ganges River in Allahabad, India, is a chance to wash away their sins under ideal astrological conditions. Hindus say that dipping in these waters during the festival when the sun and Jupiter are in auspicious alignment (from 01/14 to 03/10), will free them from the cycle of reincarnation. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323701904578275961736436782.html

Or consider:

A Muslims’s salvation depends largely upon submission to Allah and personal observance of the 5 Pillars of the Faith: confession of faith, prayer 5x daily, giving alms, fasting during Ramadan, pilgrimage to Mecca.

And:

Buddhism supplies 4 noble truths and an 8-fold path of purification as aids to arriving at nirvana – freedom from suffering, liberation from the cycle of life and death.

Finally,

The atheist denies any need for salvation or liberation or redemption because life stinks and then you die. Period. End of existence. End of story.

You might think it took a while for man to invent means of salvation other than what God intended. Think again! Adam and Eve tried to rely on their own fashion design and tailoring ability rather than seeking out God’s solution for their sin. Since then, man has relentlessly manufactured and pursued his own methods to achieve eternal bliss apart from God. But God refuses to accept these attempts; unswervingly committed to his plan of redemption, established even before creation.

We tend to think of redemption in terms of salvation from sin, from torments of hell. And, of course, salvation for good works (Eph. 2:10) and to eternal life. But what are we really talking about here? What will be saved? Our souls? Our bodies? Both? Why is that important on this night, when we remember “the night in which he was betrayed”? It’s important because God has never viewed death as the end; true whether considering death of his Son or that of mere mortals.

Both Old Testament instruction and Jesus personal teaching to his followers: always kept going beyond death, included details about what would follow Lord Jesus’ suffering and death. True also about Lord’s Supper – focus is on Jesus death, but not exclusively so: final words of our text, “till he comes”.

A. his death is essential

a great prophet is not enough

many prophets throughout history; Moses even told of God’s promise to “raise up for them a Prophet like [Moses] from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.” (Deut. 18:18) Muslims accept that.

a perfect example is not enough

Bible full of exemplary people, both good to follow and some shouldn’t even consider it; apostle Peter reminds that “Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” (1 Pet. 2:21, ESV) Sparked In His Steps and WWJD bracelets; Buddhists and JW’s accept that.

a suitable sacrifice is required

even if heed words of prophet – know what we are to believe, follow model of perfect example, still have problem. Not just what we do, it’s who we are: unforgiven rebels. And it’s God who has decided what he will accept as satisfaction for sin – sacrifice of his Son

B. his death will be efficacious

no point in remembering if it has no effect

if only great prophet, if only perfect example, then death only that of a martyr – framed by evil men, unjustly condemned and executed. Too bad for him, no good for us

even less point in proclaiming

birth and particular life details of religious leaders remembered and celebrated; if occasion of death is remembered, almost always with sorrow / grief over their passing. If we do remember “the day the music died”, stirs reflection on what was lost not what was accomplished.

have assurance that Jesus’ death would accomplish its purpose

To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.” (Acts 10:43) Want more reassurance? “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.” (Acts 10:44)

when he comes it will have accomplished its full intent

look more at this aspect on Sunday morning. Yes, accomplished forgiveness of sin, but intended to achieve redemption of bodies as well, even rest of created order. All comes to conclusion at his return.

C. there will be a Church to remember it

if the church is to proclaim it “till he comes”, there will be a church until then

confirmation of promise – “on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (Matt. 16:18) Greatest spiritual forces known to man apart from God unable to overcome church of the Lord Jesus. He has had and will have a church in all ages.

D. Christians need it

continual reminder of dependence

bodies are dependent on bread for life; same way, dependent on Lord Jesus for spiritual life and strength

continual reminder of grace

partaking of elements, remembering historical event, ask question: what did I do to bring this about?? Answer: Nothing. All of grace, no room for anyone other than Jesus to take credit.

continual reminder of forgiveness

proper remembering keeps us humble – right understanding of who we are in God’s eyes: children, yes, but not yet perfect, with ongoing need of forgiveness

continual reminder of its reality

world views Lord’s Table and what it represents as foolishness, maybe not even based on good history; each time believer partakes, declares: I believe the Lord Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of sin for me and my brothers and sisters.

E. the world needs it

most important message unconverted can hear – message of the cross

best world can offer deals with here and now, much of the time not well – lies and empty promises that cannot extend to eternity

only message of the cross that offers help and hope regardless of your present, a hope not limited to present – one on whom that hope rests is alive and will return

seems to be paradox: message of death and defeat that promises life and a future

one who has experienced death and also conquered it, the Lord Jesus; has both power and authority to grant life to all who come to him by faith

gift of life also comes with: a future, it’s eternal life; an inheritance, riches in glory from which he supplies our need; a family, heavenly Father and many brethren

“There will never come a day when the world will not need to have the Crucified Christ set before it. There will never be an hour in which there will not be breaking hearts that need consolation, wandering souls that need reclaiming and others who are seeking self-salvation, who will need to be taught that salvation lies in Another—and is to be found only in the bleeding Lamb of Calvary.” Spurgeon

F. only done during His absence

I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” (Matt. 26:29)

here also an indication that, as Passover celebration was temporary, so Lord’s Table only observed for a time – will be superseded by “marriage supper of the Lamb”

no longer need symbols when reality is present

we look back to reality of his death for us, we look forward to reality of his coming for us, declaring confidence that our time apart will come to an end

anticipate when we will experience fullness of life and joy in his presence, when “we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2)

What is to be our occupation until Christ returns? Proclaim Lord Jesus Christ, crucified, risen and coming again, the only one who can reconcile sinful men and women, boys and girls to a holy and righteous God. Have you received God’s forgiveness and the gift of eternal life by trusting in that Lamb of Calvary? Come to the table and find strength for your faith and nourishment for your soul. Are you still estranged from God, trusting in your own goodness to be sufficient? Go and put your trust in Christ, then come to the table with your brothers and sisters.

I Have Given You an Example

John 13:1-17

Jesus’ Humility

So much of culture is about self-promotion.

key to good job: resume that promotes self better than other contenders

key to good commission: pushing product that gratifies self-interest, self-desire

key to feeling good: elevate self above others

key to political office: make self look better than competition

If anyone could expect to have a good job, a good reward, a good feeling of accomplishment, a good office – would be the Lord Jesus. If anyone had right to be served by others – would be the Lord Jesus. If anyone had opportunity and cause to put others in their proper place – would be the Lord Jesus. Picture John gives of what took place that night shows actions of a servant, one much occupied with needs of others rather than self.

Jesus had authority to command his followers. In fact, the Maundy in Maundy Thursday comes from the Latin root mandatum, or commandment, taken from Jesus’ words in John 13:34:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.

Command was given in a context, what we’ve just read – Jesus giving example of humble servanthood that loves others more than self.

A. loved – we can love Christ and one another

loved to the end (1)

didn’t slack off as he approached the end of ministry to followers

loved his enemy (2)

“It goes without comment that one of those having his feet bathed was Judas the betrayer.”

loved knowing his destiny (3)

knew the time had come (1)

knew what Judas would do (2)

knew he had all authority, would return to Father to exercise it (3)

divine origin, divine destiny

loved in deed (4)

others in the room would argue over greatness (Luke 22:24f)

the truly greatest condescended to demonstrate servant-love

same consideration for his betrayer and denier as any of the rest

disciples couldn’t tell from Jesus’ behavior who would betray – had to ask (v.25)

what about us?

love knows no limits regardless of where we are in life or ministry

Jesus said “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Matt. 5:44)

showed us what that looks like in his loving treatment of Judas and Peter

child of God knows his destiny – should motivate us to love others into the kingdom

B. cleansed – we can love Christ and edify one another (1 Thess. 5:11; Heb. 10:24)

their feet (5)

most menial of tasks – delegated to Gentiles whenever possible, never anyone above rank of slave

love doesn’t care about class – no task is beneath one acting in love

clean feet for the disciples wasn’t the big idea – it’s an object lesson being acted out

their attitude (6-8)

something beneath their dignity should also be same for Jesus

wrong attitude result of misunderstanding, soon to be remedied

one who refuses to learn from, acquiesce to will of teacher cannot serve teacher

their understanding (9-11)

if Jesus is giving out a good thing, take all we can get

still didn’t understand full significance

Jesus gives explanation with multiple connections

cultural – take a bath at home, wash feet at destination

religious – Aaron and sons thoroughly washed, given new clothes at time of consecration to office; laver between altar and tabernacle for washing feet and hands (Ex. 40:30-32)

spiritual – signifying heart condition: essential uncleanness removed at conversion; incidental uncleanness from daily contact with sin needs daily removal

Jesus’ main point – the spiritual one, by virtue of reference to Judas

“The washing of the feet was typical of the daily purification of the soul from the travel stains of pilgrimage.” Merrill Tenney

what about us?

build one another up by helping apply biblical principles to life

by encouraging love and good works among brethren

reminding brothers and sisters of free forgiveness for those who repent

C. served – we can serve Christ and one another

taught (12-14)

what he did

humbled himself

Lord and Teacher washed feet

why he did it

because he loved

because they needed to love / serve

showed (15)

how to do it

get dirty if you need to

challenged (16-17)

how to think about self

how to think about Christ

now go do it!

what about us?

can’t let rank get in the way

servants should reproduce themselves – too much work to do for it to be otherwise

effective reproducing requires teaching and showing

we serve Christ by serving one another – doing his work as he enables us for benefit of his people

Let’s go back to v.10-11 for a moment: Jesus told Peter…. True, was using a physical example – taking a bath, washing feet. But,… was making spiritual point, one that applies just as much to us as to men in that upper room. Should prompt each of us to ask the question: do I need just my feet washed or do I really need a bath?

Judas went through all the outward motions of Christianity, belief in Christ. Jesus even washed his feet, but his heart had never been changed.

Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?
Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?
Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Lay aside the garments that are stained with sin,
And be washed in the blood of the Lamb;
There’s a fountain flowing for the soul unclean,
O be washed in the blood of the Lamb!

If you have never trusted in God’s grace to save you through faith in Christ, no time like the present. Repent (turn away from) your sins, turn to Christ in faith as the only one who can save you, seek his forgiveness and determine in his strength to follow him. If you have been washed in the blood of the Lamb, seek his daily cleansing often by confessing your sin and receiving his forgiveness (1 John 1:9). Then come to the Table with a pure heart, demonstrating your union with Christ and fellowship with brothers and sisters.