Tag: One Another

Comfort One Another

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

John 2:12-22; Mark 16:1-8; 1 Cor. 15:12-22; 1 Thess. 4:13-18

Have a great luxury (something inessential but conducive to pleasure and comfort) – vast majority of the time, are insulated from death. Even from a lot of the dying process. Not in our faces, integral part of everyday life like for much of world’s population. See it on the news, movies, but rarely if ever for real in our personal space. Is rare indeed that we would take active role that “Mary Magdalene and the other Mary” did, intending hands-on preparations of Jesus’ corpse for permanent burial.

Has, I believe, contributed to unhealthy attitude toward death: get to deny it, pretend like it didn’t happen. I know that doesn’t apply to everyone; but is true for increasing numbers of people every day. So how is this text still relevant? If more people are refusing to grieve, how does this text speak to them? If they are denying sorrow, what meaning is there in Paul’s words?

Truth is, this text doesn’t speak to them. In fact, it isn’t written for them – the ones who refuse to acknowledge death and loss. Not written to those who are determined to hold on to bones of the past, refusing to give up their grief / grudge. Is written to those who grieve, whom Paul could rightly consider brothers and sisters. His words are intended to inject hope into sorrow and prevent despair regarding those who “sleep in Jesus”.

A. remember and believe (John 2:22)

Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.”

remember the Scripture

genuine hope for the future that provides comfort (gives moral, emotional, spiritual strength) must be sourced in Scripture

all kinds of people with all kinds of opinions (written, expressed verbally) that are just that, opinions, no basis in God’s reality

Bible makes it explicit: there’s this life, the next life; your standing before God in this life determines your destination in next

Bible also makes it plain what we can expect – not as comprehensive as we’d like :-), but everything God figures we need

remember his words

side note: promise of resurrection not an after-thought; came right up front in Jesus’ ministry, even before he identified all the 12

dot-to-dot, a fun little activity for children – for developing motor skills, counting ability, etc; problem with life is all dots aren’t necessarily numbered… often takes passage of time, successive events to supply numbers

we don’t get to see whole picture all at once, usually don’t recognize all details at time things happen – often more focused on finding the next number than figuring out what we’re drawing

after he had risen they remembered – probably John implying “oh, duh, this is what Jesus meant; now we get it”

Dad, in hospital, struggled with communication, “want to go home”… not across bridge to SoPo – didn’t get it then, needed more maturity, life experience, just like disciples

those who fail to remember, refuse to face truth cheat themselves of God-given opportunity to learn and grow and be comforted

have confidence in God’s word

confidence should not come from historical accuracy, beauty of language, cohesiveness of story told, number of translations or copies printed, practical benefits of book we call the Bible

should have confidence in Bible because we have confidence in its author – his knowledge, power and goodness

didn’t leave anything out, has the power to make it happen, has our best interests at heart

all those other things help to confirm our confidence in Bible is not misplaced – MAPS, for example

must translate into more than intellectual confidence – have confidence in your doctor, writes out a scrip, thank him, stick on the fridge? no, follow directions; same should be true for God and his Word

B. you will see (Mark 16:7)

“But go, tell His disciples; and Peter; that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.”

required putting faith into action: go

seeing empty tomb, folded graveclothes a start, but could only provide limited comfort; hearing declaration of angel stationed in the tomb reinforced their hope, but…

wasn’t the angel they were looking for – “you seek Jesus of Nazareth”; at that point, nothing short of real living Jesus would satisfy

apparent from Mary Magdalene’s exchange with one she thought was the gardener – he was only important as source of information and help, she wanted Jesus

fully grasping the reality meant they had to go from the place of death to place of the living – “why do you seek the living among the dead, he is not here, for he is risen as he said”

required verbal witness to faith: tell his disciples

angel had said “don’t be alarmed” but his words had little effect – they kept a grip on it as long as angel could see them, then took off at top speed: trembling, amazed, afraid

totally different response from shepherds at beginning of Jesus’ earthly life – they told everyone they could what had happened

two Mary’s didn’t let off the throttle until they were back with Jesus’ disciples – friendly faces, shared perspective

Matthew adds important detail: left “the tomb with fear… and great joy” – same emotions present for us today, tug of war between

joy won out – they did indeed tell his disciples, all the others present with them – the telling helps to reinforce the reality

only then will you see

had the ladies and disciples set up vigil inside the tomb, candles and all the rest, would not have experienced the risen Lord

Jesus was done with death, had reached lowest depths of his humiliation, already begun his triumphal march back to his Father

if we expect to see him, must believe the words Jesus said, put that belief/faith into action, confess it to others, and follow Jesus among the living

C. in fact, Christ has been raised (1 Cor. 15:20)

But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”

hope is for more than this life

previous verse (19) “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.”

Paul’s argument goes on – our hope not only in this life, it extends into the next life because our trailblazer is already there

don’t lose sight of first point – dependence on Scripture: only way we know about any of this is the Bible, only way we can understand significance of any of it is Bible illuminated by Holy Spirit

emphasis this morning: Jesus’ resurrection; in the big picture, that event nearer the end than the beginning

because we know the beginning of the story from the Bible, we understand why we need hope

also understand that really important things not what is limited to this life, earthly existence

talking with woman: father just died (6 wks from cancer diagnosis); he was Christian, so is she; her confession – “I’ve learned that most of what I’ve pursued in life is stupid; it is relationships that are important.”

her point: the stuff of this life stays in this life; relationships, people are part of next life as well as this one

guaranteed by Christ’s resurrection

what keeps us who hope in Christ from being miserable deluded idiots is the resurrection of Lord Jesus

think of it this way: if Son of God could not break bonds of death, what hope can we possibly have? what better hero is there?

since “Jesus died and rose again”, verified by numerous witnesses over several weeks who were still alive when Paul wrote, we can have hope that death not the end of existence

good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is this: there is a life after this one, unspeakably and incomparably better than this one… for those who trust in Christ alone for their salvation

he is the prototype / firstfruits

“That which is apart and portion of the whole which is to follow, and which is the earnest or pledge of that; as the “first” sheaf of ripe grain was not only the first in order of time, but was the earnest or pledge of the entire harvest which was soon to succeed.” Barnes

Jesus the pledge of the entire harvest of redeemed believers – all those who will be raised to new life on that great day

Paul makes clear who this applies to: “as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.” (22)

begs the question: are you in Adam or in Christ? no middle ground here, is either one or the other, is matter of eternal life and death

trusting in your own merits to satisfy God’s scales of justice? or… trusting in Christ’s merits, one with him by faith, believing God will accept Jesus’ payment for your sin in your place

if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Rom. 10:9)

D. we will always be with the Lord (1 Thess. 4:17)

family and friends are great, but…to be with Christ is far better

what formed basis for Paul comfort of Thessalonian believers: confidence that “thus we shall always be with the Lord.”

who is “we”? – those who “believe that Jesus died and rose again”, “those who sleep in Jesus”, those who when they died believed in the death / resurrection of Jesus

we will be with one another; but more important, we with one another will be with the Lord, the one whom God raised from the dead

timing doesn’t matter – his ascension guarantees his return guarantees our future with him, no matter when he comes

declaration of God’s messengers (Acts 1:11) connected ascension and return – “This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way”

not an event we will miss or miss out on: we will either come with him or meet him, whichever way timing works out

Even Jesus could not endure agony in the Garden without help – “Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him.” (Luke 22:43) Father did not remove Son from suffering, did not allow him to bypass or take shortcuts through it. At one point, even felt to Jesus like God had abandoned him to his suffering, but we know rest of the story!

“He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32) God not only delivered him up to suffer for us all, God raised him up to be the firstfruits of us all. And he told us about it in his word to comfort us, and as we find comfort and strength in those truths, to comfort one another.

“thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

Be At Peace with One Another

Mark 9:42-50

Psalm 34:11-22; Isaiah 32:14-18; Acts 10:34-43; Mark 9:42-50

Why this on Good Friday, talking about peace? Reflecting on that Friday nearly 2000 years ago, was not a peaceful day. Harsh treatment (and unjust) of Lord Jesus by Temple guards and Sanhedrin. Next best thing to a riot when Pilate resisted religious leaders’ evil designs on Jesus’ life. The violence of public executions accompanied by taunts of by-standers. Even the earth itself rebelled against the unthinkable – that the God-Man could die!

Matt. 27:50-54And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit.And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split.The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised,and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”

The bigger conflict hidden from view – spiritual conflict Jesus waged on our behalf and won, victory over sin and Satan and eventually death. Is hard to see in a whole lot of life how any victory has been won. Seems to be one conflict after another, at every level of society. And, sad to say, even the church is not immune.

Would anyone deny the need for peace? How about the promise of peace (Luke)? Did the proclamation of the angel host mean anything? And how does peace fit into the “one another” paradigm? Sure, Jesus commanded it, but seriously? Is it possible? Many profess a desire for peace, some even write songs about it…

“I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony… “I’d like to see the world for once, / All standing hand in hand / And hear them echo through the hills / For peace through out the land.”

The need for peace is obvious; the obstacle to peace is also clear from God’s word, so is the solution. And the answer to our need was given on Good Friday.

A. the need

blame game: figure it started between Adam and Eve Gen. 3:12; really came before that, “has God indeed said…?”

seeds of conflict, planted and watered by sinful action, immediately bore fruit – no longer at peace

–within themselves: “the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked”

–with one another: “they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings”

–with God: “Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God”

continued on through OT: Psa 34:14, Psa 133:1(so much for evolution!)

exhorted to seek peace and pursue it; “how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity!”

first family ravaged by brother murdering brother, thousands of years later brothers still didn’t / don’t live at peace

picked up by Jesus…in our text – addressing disciples’ arguing over who would be first in the kingdom (Mark 9:34)

wasn’t like disciples didn’t know their arguing was wrong – if was so right, why didn’t they answer Jesus’ question?!

knew it was wrong, were ashamed because they got caught, not ashamed enough to give up on the idea

also “high priestly prayer” – John 17:11, 21-23

“Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.”

“that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”

two different groups of people targeted in Jesus’ prayer: his disciples (11), “those who will believe in Me through their word” (20)

Jesus knew wasn’t only 1st generation who would struggle, succeeding generations in the church would experience conflict and division, lack of unity with one another

Jesus also identified serious fallout because of that: would contribute to further unbelief on part of the world

wonder why more people aren’t coming to faith in Christ? why the church is small and weak?

That the world, so full of animosities and fightings, may see the power of Christian principle in overcoming the sources of contention and producing love, and may thus see that a religion that could produce this must be from heaven.” Barnes

then carried on by Paul: Rom. 12:18; 2 Cor. 13:11

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” “be of one mind, live in peace” – 25 years later still an issue

B. the obstacle

hindrances to peace are not:

weapons of any kind of destruction – nuclear warheads, unregulated firearms, abortionist’s instruments

unjust distribution of resources – answer to ISIS not more jobs, poverty not cause of inner-city violence

religious ideologies – 11-13th century Crusades, 17th century 30-Years War, 1948 Arab-Israeli War, 20th century Cold War

use or misuse of all those things not the problem…are symptoms of the real issue – “heart of the problem is it is a problem of the heart” Krabbendam

slavery to sin, self, Satan

prophet Isaiah: thorns & briers, forsaken palaces, deserted cities “untilthe Spirit is poured upon us from high”

something else had to come first: the heart problem needed fixing –

Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel a nd the house of Judah,not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD.But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” (Jer. 31:31-34)

I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” (Ezek. 36:25-27)

Jesus told his disciples, recorded in 3 of 4 Gospels: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Matt. 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23)

problem is…never get to part of taking up our cross and following; on our own, just can’t bring self to give up self

hardest thing Jesus told us to do: we love our self, like our sin, listen to Satan’s lies and guess what happens to peace

let’s be careful, not give Satan more credit than he deserves!! Remember why humanity is “fallen” – true, Eve listened to serpent, but what did she really do? put self before God and her husband, did what was right in her own opinion

C. the solution

already considered some of world’s solutions – remove hindrances to peace; can add meditation, big government, church committed to social justice and overcoming poverty

as you might expect, none of that is effective; read the history books – there has been an illusion of peace at times

but only temporary, and only on certain level – nation may not be at war but what about co-workers, neighbors, family members

God’s solution: remove the source of hostility, refocus attention of his people

source of mankind’s hostility, lack of peace with one another – not environmental (prisons would be safe); not economic (rich would get along); not political (Congress would actually work)

doesn’t mean we ignore any of these issues – should make sure laws are just, tyrants are held accountable; vote and work and be a good neighbor, encourage others to do the same; but….don’t count on those means to fix the problem; they will help keep symptoms in check

at it’s deepest point, conflict with others is outward evidence of conflict with God; so long as we are enemies of God, will be enemies of one another

only one means to that end – the cross: we talk about the cross, nothing sacred about some ancient lumber and hardware; were many of them lining the roads around Jerusalem and other major cities in Roman Empire, estimate thousands of people executed that way

not even anything magical about the symbol in itself, whether worn or made by gesture or on display

significance of the cross is wrapped up totally and completely in the one person who by dying in that way changed the world

see Rom. 5:10; 2 Cor. 5:17-20; Eph. 2:14-18; Col 1:19-23

“while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son” (10)

“God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself” (19)

“that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, ​and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross” (15-16)

“reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” (20)

reconciled man to God; made Jew and Gentile one, new – Christian; Jesus the common denominator, reconciling all things

reconciling required removing the source of hostility: sin, and with it, the penalty for sin; the “cross of Christ” then has supreme significance: listen to what apostle Paul declared –

And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” (Col. 2:13-14)

is your faith, your confidence of your acceptance before God in Christ alone? not works, not church membership, not what Jesus did plus something else, but in Christ only? if so, then…

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1)

if we are at peace with God, we must live at peace with God’s people – one another, fellow Christians, brothers and sisters

something will help us do that: staying near the cross of Christ – reminds us of who we are, who we belong to, who is not only Savior but Lord as well

we don’t remember Jesus on the cross, he finished all his work there; we remember what sent him there (our sin), what he accomplished there (our redemption)

if Jesus loved us enough to take our punishment for us on the cross, can’t we love him enough to do as he said?

love one another, live at peace with one another, show the world by our relationships with one another what it means to follow Christ, then trust him for themselves

 

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