Monthly Archives: April 2017

1 Thessalonians 1:2-2:10

Title: We Persuade Others

Text: 1 Thessalonians 1.2-2.10

Introduction: We’re going to be in 1 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy and Acts 17 this morning.

I want to talk to you today about Building a culture of evangelism at Calvary…it isn’t easy, but how powerful when you feel confident that you can invite someone to an activity at Calvary and you’ll have confidence that Christ will be shared? A culture of evangelism is not a program – it’s a way of life. It is the confidence that you can participate in an activity at Calvary and know that the Gospel will be demonstrated and communicated.

This week and next week, I’d like to focus our attention on creating a culture of evangelism.

This morning I would like to answer this simple question: What is Evangelism?

Evangelism is communicating the Gospel with the sole purpose of converting someone to Christ.

Note the four components:

  1. Communication
  2. The Gospel
  3. Purpose
  4. Conversion

My hope is that we’ll identify these marks in the passage I’ve chosen: 1 Thessalonians. Let’s begin by looking at this first mark.

Transition: Evangelism is

I.     Communication (2.1-10)

exp.: people don’t just come to Christ by osmosis. It isn’t your smile or your stride that makes them turn to Jesus. It isn’t beautiful facilities or awesome programs. People chose to follow Christ because someone tells them. We’ve heard stories of people getting a Bible and reading it and being converted. That means:

  • Going: rd 1.5; 2.1, 5;
  • Speaking: rd 2.2-5; 8-9; 12-13;

While it is true that there are some saved by reading the Bible in a hotel or in a vision during a dream, that isn’t the method God has given to us. You and I have been sent to share. And, the way we do that is with our words.

ill.: There is a quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: Preach the gospel and if necessary, use words. That’s nice, but I’m not the way Jesus told us to Evangelize.

Jerry Falwell, Jr. said in a sermon at the Evangelism Conference in Euless some years ago: You can’t live well enough to save yourself. How can you expect to live well enough to save others?

app.: The truth is that a life lived in a manner unworthy of the Gospel of Christ destroys the testimony of the one sharing it. So, yes, you must demonstrate that what you’re proclaiming to others really does work. You should be able to say: Just look at my life. But, in the same breath I must warn you that a life well lived just isn’t good enough. You must choose to share the same way God did. He used words.

t.s.: And what is it you share? Evangelism is communicating the Gospel…

II.    The Gospel (2)

exp.: εὐαγγέλιον; Translitterated: evangelism; Translated, lit.: good message or good news; 1 Thessalonians teaches us three truths about this Gospel and the 1st is…

  1. The Gospel is a story that is told. Rd v 2.2; In this verse, it is reiterated that the Gospel is something that is communicated, proclaimed, declared; that is what point #1 is all about, so let’s move on.
  2. The Gospel is a precious gift with which we have been entrusted. rd 2.4; Turn to 1 Timothy, I want to show you something. We could go to one of 20 different verses that declare the Gospel is a precious gift entrusted to us to share with others, but 1 Timothy presents this in a beautiful way. The context of 1 Tim 1 is that of unsound doctrine. Rd 1.11-18; he closes the letter with this reminder – rd 6.20; rd 2 Tim 2.1-2; he touches on this gospel in v 8; back to 1 Thessalonians
  3. The Gospel is a story made relevant through your life as it is lived out before others. Rd 1 Thess 2.8-10; Your verbal witness is made relevant by the way you love the ones you’re witnessing to. Some of you may be saying…love? Who said anything about love? Well, you see that word translated ‘dear’? That is the word you know as ἀγάπη in the noun form. ἀγάπη is a verb – ἀγαπητός is the noun. He is saying that they were willing to share their very lives with these folks because of the love they have for the Thessalonians.

app.: Don’t miss this incredible truth: Your words are given meaning when you love the ones you’re talking to. The Gospel is made relevant when we live out this gospel with which we’ve been entrusted before the eyes of those with whom we share.

t.s.: Evangelism is communicating the Gospel with the sole purpose…

III.   Purpose ()

exp.: When I say purpose, I think of the following words: intent, aim, goal, focus. That’s probably our biggest problem in this day and age – believers aren’t purposeful in sharing Christ.

  1. The Gospel was never intended to be passed on by accident. You will not communicate the gospel of Christ on accident. You have to have purpose. You have to make it your intention.

ill.: Read from Evangelism: How the whole church speaks of Jesus by J. Mack Stiles. P. 76-78app.:

app.: wouldn’t it be wonderful if you and I could adopt a philosophy of intention? Maybe you’re thinking that right now. How can I be intentional?

  • Invite them over for dinner. Maybe it is BBQ or a novelty meal, or something foreign. Do one of those fon doo meals. Don’t do it just to show them what nice people you are, but to share with them that God loves them and gave his Son to die for their sin.
  • Go to the shooting range; play a round of golf; invite your lost friend fishing;

t.s.: Evangelism is communicating the gospel with the sole purpose of converting someone to Christ. Let me talk to you lastly about…

IV.  Conversion (Acts 17.1-4)

exp.: When we share, the goal or intent of sharing the gospel is that someone might be saved.

2 Cor 5.11 says: We persuade others. That’s what we do. We’ve been given this ministry of reconciliation – and our job is to persuade others to be reconciled to Christ.

But how is that measured? When do you know if someone truly accepts the Lord? Is it enough to just share, let them pray and leave them to it? No! The end game of Evangelism is conversion. That has to be something that can be measured and seen. Article 4 of the BF&M 2000 states:

Article IV. Salvation

Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.

  1. Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.
  • Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God.
  • Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Savior.
  1. Justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ. Justification brings the believer unto a relationship of peace and favor with God.
  2. Sanctification is the experience, beginning in regeneration, by which the believer is set apart to God’s purposes, and is enabled to progress toward moral and spiritual maturity through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in him. Growth in grace should continue throughout the regenerate person’s life.
  3. Glorification is the culmination of salvation and is the final blessed and abiding state of the redeemed.

Note the two parts of our work:

  1. Work on the part of the converted:
    1. Repentance: rd 1.9; how you turned to God from idols. That’s repentance. It is the idea of doing a 180 from your old life to your new life in Christ. When you share Christ with someone and you’re intention is conversion – repentance is a true indicator that someone has been converted.
    2. Faith: rd 1.9b-10; to serve and to wait; you see, when someone is converted, they begin to live by faith. They serve God in faith and they watch for his return in faith. This was true for the Thessalonians: rd 1.2-3; Now that’s the work of the converted… there is more…
  2. Work on the part of God:
    1. Chosen because they are loved: rd v 4; Deut. 7.6-9; that’s the church now. That’s you! That’s the converted.
    2. The Power of the Holy Spirit: when you share, it isn’t your job to guilt or shame someone to Christ. Your job, my job is faithfulness to the story. God’s job is to do the convicting by the power of the Holy Spirit.

app.: He loves, He chooses, He convicts. Conversion is truly a demonstration of God’s power at work through the Holy Spirit.

Conclusion: Dale Galloway in his book rebuild your life tells the story of a little boy name Chad. Little Chad was a shy, quiet young fellow. When he came home and told his mother, he’d like to make a Valentine for everyone in his class. Her heart sank. She thought, I wish he wouldn’t do that! Because she had watched the children when they walked home from school. Her Chad was always behind them. They laughed and hung on to each other. But Chad was never included. Nevertheless, she decided she would go along with her son. So she purchased the paper and glue and crayons. For three whole weeks, night after night, Chad painstakingly made 35 Valentines.

Valentines day dawned and Chad was beside himself with excitement! He carefully stacked them up, put them in the bag, and bolted out the door. His mom decided to bake him His favorite cookies and serve them up warm and nice with a cold glass of milk when he came home from school. She just knew he’d be disappointed; maybe that would ease his pain a little. It hurt her to think that he wouldn’t get many Valentines –maybe none at all. That afternoon she had the cookies and milk out on the table. When she heard the children outside she looked out the window. Sure enough here they came, laughing and having the best time. And, as always, there was Chad in the rear. He walked a little faster than usual. She fully expected him to burst into tears as soon as he got inside. His arms were empty, she noticed, and when the door open she choked back the tears.

“Mommy has some warm cookies and milk for you.”

But he hardly heard her words. He just marched right on by, his face a glow, and all he could say was: not a one… Not a single one. Her heart sank. And then he added, “I didn’t forget a one, not a single one!”

Oh to have a heart that isn’t so focused on me. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could be so focused on the lost around us that we’d work hard to bring them the most incredible valentine ever? To say,  “Christ loves you!”

 

Let’s pray. God give us hearts that see people as you see them. Move us, in our hearts to determine not to forget a one, not a single one – but that we’d share this incredible story of Christ with purpose and intent. Oh God, make us Evangelists.

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Mark 15:21-39

Title: The Son of God

Text: Mark 15.21-39

Introduction: We’ll be in two texts this morning: here (Mark 15) and Psalm 22.

The Events leading up to the crucifixion –

  • Our series began in Chapter 14.1 where Jesus was anointed for burial. That event caused quite a stir among some, especially Judas who was so offended, he betrayed Jesus into the hands of those who wanted him dead.
  • Jesus celebrated the Passover Meal with his disciples – including Judas – on the night before his death. It is sometime during this meal that Judas slipped out and went to the religious leaders, having already agreed to betray Jesus into their hands.
    • As a side note: tomorrow night, Jews around the world will begin celebrating the Passover. Calvary is privileged to have an Orthodox Jewish man who was converted to Christianity through a VBS trophy. He’ll come and share with us how the meal was observed by Jesus and his disciples, and, what the different parts to the meal mean to the Christian. You’ll want to be here and take notes. 6 pm…
    • At the end of the Passover meal, Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper. These events are what we remember every time we partake.
  • There is the prediction of the falling away of all the disciples and of course, Peter’s denial – which of course he denied. Jesus takes the disciples up to the Monte of Olives and then the three to pray with him in the Garden of Gethsemane. It is here the three who were adamant about their faithfulness cannot watch and pray for one hour with him.
  • Judas comes to the camp bringing a mob. Jesus is then arrested and led away to the High Priest. I believe Matthew tells us this is Caiaphas. Jesus will spend the night before an informal gathering of the Sanhedrin. They will accuse Jesus falsely, but in the end, get him to say what they need to condemn him. Peter will be just outside in the courtyard denying he knows or is a part of Jesus.
  • In the morning, the Council (Sanhedrin) will gather and officially charge Jesus, but then take him to Pilate to deal with this issue of Jesus being the ‘King of the Jews’.
  • Pilate, of course, will find no fault in him.
  • Pilate appealed to the crowd to release to them Jesus, as was the tradition he had begun some years before at this time. But instead, the crowd chose Barabbas, a man who had committed murder and was a revolutionary. The crowd’s desire was to have Jesus be crucified.
  • So, Pilate had him scourged and turned over to the soldiers. That is where our story picks up this morning… we begin in v 21; however, the language dictates that this section actually starts in v 16

I’ve outlined the message this way:

  1. The Crucifixion of the Son of God
  2. The Rejection of the Son of God
  3. The Death of the Son of God

Transition: I think Mark’s story is simple, brief and restrained. He doesn’t try to move us to sympathy for Christ as he is tortured and punished; Nor, does he try to make us angry at Christ’s enemies. So, let’s pick up in Mark 15, v21 Where we see…

I.     The Crucifixion of the Son of God (21-28)

exp.: The crucifixion is a process of execution. Pilate commissions his Roman soldiers to carry out that execution. Mark is very matter-of-fact about his storytelling. He almost lists these moments and actions as bullets. For example, he begins each sentence with And they… did such and such. Notice, Mark begins this for us in v 16 and continues through v 24; “and they”;

Mark is making it clear for us that these soldiers are the ones acting here. In our section, their first action is to keep the process going. Jesus has been so mistreated that he can’t keep going. He is just too weak. It was customary for the victim to carry his own cross. It is most likely that he didn’t carry the whole thing himself, but rather just the traverse beam. He fell beneath its weight and needed someone else to carry his cross beam. So, (rd v 21) they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. It is amazing that Mark includes some interesting information her for us.

  • Simon is a Jewish name – so we assume that this man was a Jew. Of Cyrene means he was from North Africa, making him a Jew of the Diaspora – i.e.: the Exile.

The question would be why? Why would Mark add this to his story.

  1. I believe he wants us to see there are witnesses to what is happening. Sure, the disciples wimped and ran, but not others. In a moment, mark will add to these folks, some women who were present.
  2. It is highly possible that this Rufus, probably just a child here, is the same Rufus mentioned in Romans 16.13. Consider, Mark served in Rome under Peter. This Gospel is considered written to those people. This would be a natural tie. However, with that said – it doesn’t make it so. But, if that is the case, it would make sense that Mark would add witnesses who they would know.
  3. In 1941, an Israeli archeologist unearthed a burial cave used by a family from Cyrene. This burial cave was used just before the destruction of the Temple and found on the western slope of the Kidron Valley. The valley that links the Temple and the Mt of Olives. What got the attention of these scholars was an inscription on one ossuary. It was written twice in Greek: Alexander, son of Simon. To be sure, these were common names by people in that day. I’m sure there were other Jews from Cyrene who had moved back Israel. But it is interesting, nonetheless.

So what is Mark doing? I think he’s just dropping names. Here are the witnesses and you know them or can easily find them and ask them yourselves!

ill.: As a boy I was a huge fan of Earl Campbell. I just dropped a name. A famous name – in Tyler nonetheless. He lives here near us and we can all bear witness to his athletic prowess. Even those of you who don’t follow sports probably know who Earl Campbell is!

exp.: Well, they (the soldiers) brought him to Golgatha – the place of the skull.

ill.: Show Pictures. The 1st one is from the early 20th Century… the 1900’s. the 2nd, is a pic from modern times – probably in the last 30 years. Now look at this past summer. Should Jesus tarry in his return, our children will only be able to see old pictures. The decay is occurring at an alarming rate – and because it is Arab owned, there is nothing that can be done to preserve it.

exp.: So, they offer him some wine mixed with myrrh. I was taught growing up that this was probably used as a painkiller. There are stories of women who would mix frankincense with wine and offer it to the condemned. However, consider that those who offer the wine aren’t the women, but the soldiers. Because of this, it is possible that this is more of the mockery they have been pouring out on Jesus – offering him the finest of wines for a King.

Then, after this long processional, v 24 tells us that Jesus is crucified. Rd v 24; I think this is much more important to Mark in the story telling – Jesus is fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies concerning him. Here, Mark quotes from Psalm 22 – Specifically, v 18. Turn there. Mark makes clear references to:

V1:        My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?

V6-8:     But I am a worm and not a man,

scorned by mankind and despised by the people.

    All who see me mock me;

they make mouths at me; they wag their heads;

    “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him;

let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”

 

V15-16, 18: 15  my strength is dried up like a potsherd,

and my tongue sticks to my jaws;

you lay me in the dust of death.

16     For dogs encompass me;

a company of evildoers encircles me;

they have pierced my hands and feet—

18     they divide my garments among them,

and for my clothing they cast lots.

 

app.: Truthfully, you can read so much more into Mark from Psalm, especially when you know this story through the eyes of the other Gospels. Mark’s intent is for us, the reader, to see that Jesus is fulfilling what was spoken of him through the Prophets and the Writings.

exp.: Mark gives us a timeline in v 25 – 9 am when he was crucified. The place a placard – an inscription with this charge: King of the Jews. And they crucified him between two thieves.

t.s.: First, The Son of God is Crucified and 2nd, he is rejected.

II.    The Rejection of the Son of God (29-36)

exp.: Jesus is rejected while hanging on the cross. There are people who pass by and mock him on the cross. The religious leaders also continue mocking him (29-32). But something very interesting happens about noon: Darkness. Man I wish we had time to spend taking about darkness.

  • Not a solar eclipse: it lasted 3 hours – vs. 2min and 25 sec.
  • I think of the 9th plague: darkness: a Darkness to be felt! I think of Isaiah 9.2: 22 And they will look to the earth, but behold, distress and darkness, the gloom of anguish. And they will be thrust into thick darkness.

For to Us a Child Is Born

But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.

    The people who walked in darkness

have seen a great light;

those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,

on them has light shone.

That famous passage on the promised coming Messiah…

What is going on here? Well, I believe it is a demonstration of the Father’s reaction to the sin of the world. This becomes clearer for us as Jesus cries out “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” You probably noted this earlier when we read Psalm 22. At this point I can’t help but think of the song:

How deep the Father’s love for us– How fast beyond all measure

That he should give his only son– to make a wretch his treasure

How great the pain of searing the loss– The father turns his face away

As wounds which mar the Chosen One– Bring many sons to glory

If you’re having a tough time with this – the actions of God – Can I let you in on a little secret? There in Psalm 22.24 we read: All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel! 24 For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him. God sacrificed his Son for our sins. But he did not abandon him. I think that is important.

exp.: I believe the mocking continues as someone grabs a sponge and offers Jesus a drink, but hesitates to see if Elijah will come to his rescue (33-36).

app.: I picture this ‘someone’ with the reed in his hand as Jesus dies…

t.s.: The Son of God is Crucified, is rejected and finally he dies…

III.   The Death of the Son of God (37-39)

exp.: Jesus cries out and breathes his last breath. It is finished. He is dead. But something absolutely incredible happens: the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.

Many have asked if this could be true. Well, for the believer, we have God’s word. But as for secular history, the answer is yes. Listen to Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah:

 

“And now a shudder ran through Nature, as its Sun had set. We dare not do more than follow the rapid outlines of the Evangelistic narrative. As the first token, it records the rending of the Temple-Veil in two from the top downward to the bottom; as the second, the quaking of the earth, the rending of the rocks and the opening of the graves… while the rending of the Veil is recorded first, as being the most significant token to Israel, it may have been connected with the earthquake, although this alone might scarcely account for the tearing of so heavy a Veil from the top to the bottom. Even the latter circumstance has its significance. That some great catastrophe, betokening the impending destruction of the Temple, had occurred in the Sanctuary about this very time, is confirmed by not less than four mutually independent testimonies: those of Tacitus, of Josephus, of the Talmud, and of earliest Christian tradition. The most important of these are, of course, the Talmud and Josephus. The latter speaks of the mysterious extinction of the middle and chief light in the Golden Candlestick, forty years before the destruction of the Temple; and both he and the Talmud refer to a supernatural opening by themselves of the great Temple-gates that had been previously closed, which was regarded as a portent of the coming destruction of the Temple”

Well, all of these miraculous, supernatural events take place as bulleted notes by Mark. Then, the centurion, who has charge over the detail, stood facing Jesus. As he witnesses the death of Jesus he remarks, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”(37-39).

app.: this statement is in line with what we’ve been reading in Mark for a year now. In chapter 1 Mark tells us this in the first verse. Then, in v 13, God says, this is my son! The demons recognize him as the chapters roll by. In about Chapter 9, on the Mt. of Transfiguration, God once again declares the identity of who this is: His Son! Not once does a human acknowledge this, until now. And Mark closes out his book with this revelation. Theologians call this a melodic line. There is a phrase that echoes through the book called a melodic line.

t.s.: And for Mark, it is this: Jesus is the Son of God.

Conclusion: so, let me wrap this up.  Let me leave you with a couple of thoughts.

Application:

  1. The Christians of the early church who were suffering persecution would have been encouraged by this story. Persecution, suffering and death are not necessarily a sign of God’s absence, but rather his active work in our lives and in the lives of others.
  2. There is irony here:
    1. In how Jesus is treated; what they call him and who he really is.
    2. They call him to save himself, but by staying on the cross he will make it possible for them to be saved.
    3. Although all rejected Christ, he will not reject anyone who comes by faith.
  3. God judges sin and the penalty for sin is death. Therefore, all sinners must die. However, Christ died for the unjust, giving us hope. Let Christ pay your death penalty and set you free today.

 

 

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Mark 15:1-20

Title: Who Killed Jesus?

Text: Mark 15.1-20

Introduction: Who killed Jesus? Don’t answer too quickly and don’t give me a Sunday School answer! You probably have some ideas, but it isn’t as easy as just blurting out an answer. You blame one person or group and there are answers to clear them. So, who killed Jesus?

This question has cause many throughout the last couple of millennium to cast accusations and stir up hate. People have gone to war over such things. Even before the holocaust in the 30’s and 40’s which I’m sure you’re familiar with…

Well, let’s look at the text and walk through the possible candidates responsible for killing Jesus:

  1. The Jews
  2. The Romans
  3. The People
  4. The Soldiers

I’d like to identify these 1st three groups as those who didn’t want him…

I.     The Jewish Authorities didn’t want him… (1)

exp.: rd v1;

  1. As soon as it was morning; Their work was done in during the night hours; from this, we actually get a time line;
    1. 1: as soon as it was morning
    2. 25: it was now the 3rd hour
    3. 33: the 6th hour to the 9th hour
    4. 34: the 9th hour
    5. 42: and when evening had come;
  2. …the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole counsel;
    1. Many have argued that they did put Jesus to death and that has cause anti-Semitism to spread down through the centuries. As early as 66 AD; massacres occurred in the Nile Delta in Egypt; 113-115 AD another report of massacres. Repeated ad nauseam to the Holocaust of the early 1900’s; This has led others to rise up in their defense of the Jews.
    2. Many other scholars have reported that the Council couldn’t put Jesus to death. They say it would have illegal for the Jews to put anyone to death. But if that is truly the case, explain Stephen in Acts 8; They put Stephen to death by stoning him and Saul was there holding the coats of those who cast their stones and giving approval.
    3. No, I think they held their consultation with the whole counsel for the purpose of determining this particular charge. If Jesus claims to be King, well, that’s high treason, punishable by death. I think that is why they didn’t kill him themselves. They could get someone else to do that – and they did. Besides, a Roman death would be so much more public and humiliating. With the holidays upon them, they wouldn’t have to break their own laws by executing someone during the festival.
  3. Two words stick out here; they’re repetitive as we continue reading v1. And they bound Jesus and led him away and delivered him; (14.53, 15.1, 10, 15, 16, 20); these two words direct us through the timeline and the process;

app.: these two words will help us identify that none of these folks wanted Jesus – so they led him away and delivered him over to someone else.

t.s.: So, Did the Jews kill Jesus? To be sure, these religious leaders started all this, but they didn’t actually execute the charge. Instead, they delivered Jesus over to Pilate;

II.    The Roman Authorities didn’t want him… (2-5)

exp.: rd v2a; King of the Jews; I think Mark is giving us some direction here; this term King of the Jews is another repetition; after not appearing in Mark at all, it now appears 6x’s in this chapter; here in v 2, 9, 12, 18, 26, and as King of Israel in v 32; So, this is probably the charge the religious authorities present to Pilate; rd v 2b; now in English, we cringe! Did he just condemn himself? Well, in the Greek it is so ambiguous that your just not sure what he said; The English translation try to make it that way, but it just doesn’t work:

  • ESV: You have said so…
  • NASB: It is as you say… this is so far from a literal translation I don’t know where to begin. If you have a NASB, you’ll not the first three words are in italics, meaning those words have been supplied.
  • NIV: gets even further away… Yes, it is as you say.
  • CSB: You have said it… closer than the others, but still not correct.
  • KJV: Even the King James adds words to make a sentence. Thou sayest it.

Why? Because Jesus is ambiguous in his reply: Subject: You; Verb: say, It’s like an incomplete sentence – an incomplete thought.

Now the Religious Leaders throw accusation after accusation, but Jesus doesn’t respond – to Pilate’s amazement.

There is something else I’d like to note: the other Gospels tell us of how Jesus was sent to Herod, but Herod didn’t want him either; Mark doesn’t tell us this part. I guess for him, it wasn’t necessary to tell us this story. But something I think, that is important about that detail is that it shows Pilate really didn’t want to deat with this. Pilate didn’t want Jesus either.

app.: And, with the help of the other gospels, we know that Pilate found no guilt in this man. So he sought to pass this problem on to Herod; and then, he sought to release him;

t.s.: We find out something very interesting by the way that Mark presents this release and it’s found in this third section…

III.   The Crowds didn’t want him… (6-15)

exp.: I think the way this works actually begins in v 8, but Mark fills us in on the details in 6-7, so v 8 will make sense; they initiate a release, not Pilate; A question you might have is: who is the ‘crowd’? v 11 tells us the religious leaders have worked the crowds, but who made the request?

  • Was it followers and supporters of Barabbas? We often think of him as a criminal and a murderer, but there are those who love that he was zealous and rising up against the Romans.
  • The ‘crowd’ could have been the high priest’s henchmen who started this up. It might have just been circumstantial or situational as the religious leaders see it – you know, an auspicious occasion in their eyes. So, in v 11, they begin working the crowds for Barabbas’ release.

Now, v 10 lets us in on Pilate’s thinking – that he perceived this whole circus was orchestrated by the religious leaders and they did all that they were doing because of envy or sometimes translated jealousy. I love the Gk word, its’ spelling beings phth – φθόνος; Isn’t it funny, I mean ‘odd’ or ‘peculiar’ what jealousy can lead us to do to others?

t.s.: There is one last group here… you could add them to the list of those we might accuse of killing Jesus.

IV.  The Persecution of Jesus (16-20)

exp.: at this stage of our story, Jesus is mocked, beaten, and ridiculed by those entrusted with his execution; they humiliate him repeatedly.

t.s.: Who killed Jesus and why?

Review:

  1. The Jewish leadership pushed for Christ’s death at the hands of the Romans. It was their plan from as early as Mark 3.6 to destroy him. They may have instigated it all, but they didn’t pull the trigger.
  2. Pilate clearly found no fault in him and wanted to release him. When he found a way, the crowds rejected his proposal and asked for Barabbas’ release. You could add Herod here to the list of Roman Authorities. Although Mark doesn’t add that part of the story, the other Gospels let us in on it. Herod was interested as far as observing Jesus as a sideshow, but nothing more.
  3. The crowds may have been worked up into a frenzy; however, their call for his crucifixion wasn’t as if they pulled the trigger either.
  4. The Battalion cruelly mistreated Christ, but only a few will actually carry out the orders to crucify Christ. And I’m not so sure these guys are all on board, even though they’re obedient, for we will see next week the Centurion standing at the foot of the cross proclaiming, Truly this man was the son of God.

So, which one of these killed Jesus?

  1. I think they all did. Not one is more responsible than the others. Furthermore, the Bible teaches us that it was God’s Will to accomplish this. Let that sink in – these people all acted within their won free will to exercise their jealousies and hate, but God was in charge the whole time. And, I guess added to this you and I killed him. It was because it was for your sin and my sin that Jesus died.

Transition: I think it is interesting how each one wielded what power they had to do their deeds. And that brings me to the application for this morning.

Application: Power is a scary force.

  1. The Religious Leaders use their power to bring Jesus before Pilate. They use their power as influence over the crowd.
  2. Pilate uses his power as authority to execute Jesus.
  3. The crowd uses its power as a vote to release Barabbas and vote to crucify Jesus.
  4. The soldiers use their power to humiliate and mistreat Jesus.

So, let me ask you:

  1. Where is your power and how do you use it?
  • With your family? – over your wife or husband, over your kids. Sometimes one of the spouses holds the purse strings and lords it over the other. Spouses us their power to without favor – sexual favor, getting their husband or wife to behave or do or act or… Sometimes, the oldest in the family use their power to get what they want. Maybe it is money they have and they use their money to get their grown up kids to do and act and … I’ve even seen little children run a family – using their power over their parents.
  • In your work or business? – over other employees or coworkers? Do people have to come to you to get things done? Do they need your permission and you hold it over them until they perform or do or act or behave…
  • What about at church? Elders, Deacons, Teachers, Pastor and staff…we all have power through position and influence. Where do you use your power and how do you use it?

Here is the point: you do have power. I think of little children at school, even, who use their power as influence over other children.

Ill.: years ago I was taken a group of children to Children’s Camp. There were a group of three boys in the group of children. One of these boys would play the other two against each other, wielding his power like a mob boss. On the trip, he pulled out a bag of candy. He then proceeded to give one of the other boys some of his stash. The 3rd boy asked for some and was refused. This little boy began to offer money for a piece of candy. Eventually, the little boy offered all the money he had brought for the week. That little mob boss refused to sell his candy to the other boy at that inflated rate.

Pause: This sinful nature never seems to leave us does it? It will rule over us, unless of course, there is a change.

You see, the one person in this story who doesn’t execute the power he has – and he has the ultimate power – is Jesus. I think of Phil 2: although Jesus had the right of heaven, he let go of his rights to the throne of heaven and became a man – a simple man, a humble man. Through his obedience to his father, he humble himself and became obedient to death. That’s what we see going on here.

In that passage in Philippians, Paul urges his readers to become more like Jesus – to take his attitude in all things. And his plea to take on the mind of Christ comes from his plea in v1-4; 2.So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Paul’s talking about relationships within the church. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Let’s pray…

 

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Mark 14:53-72

Title: A Tale of Two Stories

Text: Mark 14.53-72

Introduction: Mark 14.53; Psalm 88; Daniel 7; I’d like to begin by looking at an outline of the overall story we’re following in Mark and where we’re headed over the next few weeks leading up to Easter:

His Arrest leads to the following events:

  1. He is brought before Caiaphas, the High Priest
  2. The Inquisition before The Sanhedrin
    1. Lack of Witnesses
    2. Lack of agreement between Witnesses
    3. Before the frustrated High Priest once again
    4. His testimony condemns him
  3. The Trial before the Sanhedrin the next morning where he is found guilty and sentenced to death
  4. Sent to Pilate
    1. Found not guilty
    2. Pilate brings him before the Crowd who find him guilty
  5. He is Delivered to the Battalion to be Crucified
  6. He is Crucified between two thieves
  7. His Death
  8. His Burial
  9. His Resurrection

In our text this morning, two events are occurring simultaneously: Jesus remains silent while he is being falsely accused by the religious leaders and Peter is blatantly denying any connection to Christ while being accurately identified as one of his followers by a servant girl.

We see this in the form of writing Mark employs. His introduction is in v 53-54; then the two stories are told in 55-65 and 66-72.

I.     A Contrast of Two Responses (53-54)

exp.: v 53 tells us to events; He is brought before the High Priest. The High Priest summons the Council. The events we’ll be looking at took place over many hours in the dark of night. In the time in between his trials, Jesus was probably held in a cell – something more like a dungeon. When I went to Israel last year, we went to the place where Jesus would have been held. He would have been brought out before the High Priest and then again, with the Council. And each time they wanted to deliberate, they would have sent him back to the dungeon. We went down into this dungeon, this holding pit, and read Psalm 88.

I think there is so much more that goes on between these sentences. I’m sure, the religious leaders are scrambling – but what to do with a prisoner waiting to stand before them. He would have been held here while the members of the Sanhedrin are summoned. According to their rules, they only need 23 of the 70 members to form a quorum. So, they don’t have to get every member – just the ones they want.

In the times between, Jesus would have been lowered into this holding pit. He would have been alone. It would have been absolute darkness. Maybe they hung a torch above, but why waste that resource? He might hear other prisoners crying out in agony. But, other than that, he would have only his own heartbeat and breathing. I wonder if Psalm 88 crossed his mind. Read Psalm 88;

exp.: at the same time, Jesus was going through his struggles, Peter was outside waiting and watching. Rd v 54a; I’m having a moment here because I can picture this; Jesus is in the pit and Peter is right outside – waiting and watching. I’m guessing as Jesus is brought in and out and back and forth, Peter saw him. rd v 54b;

app.: So, Mark has set us up using a form of writing that indicates for us that these two stories are to be understood in light of each other: Two different responses to each situation – Jesus, before the religious leaders and Peter outside by the fire.

t.s.: Let’s look first, as Mark has outlined it for us, at Jesus …

II.    The Integrity of Christ (55-65)

exp.: rd v 55; 1st, I don’t think whole indicates all 70 were there; I think it indicates that there was enough to have a full quorum. Enough is there to conduct business as it were. Their business is focused – to fulfill the goal they’ve set way before – kill Jesus. According to Scripture, the only way to do this is with enough witnesses who can verify that he is guilty. But they found none!

  1. First of all, they were lying. Rd 56; So they found some other liars; rd 57-59;
  2. 2ndly, they couldn’t get their testimonies to agree. Remember this is all taking place in the night hours.

So it all ends in frustration. They are unable to find 3 witnesses who have the same story. So, the high priest stands up and takes over; rd v 60-61a; silence; rd 61b; Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” That’s a loaded question!

  • Christ: the anointed one; the messiah; this is something only God can confer upon someone. We’ve seen it in the book of Mark already (this is my beloved son…);
  • Son of the Blessed: The Blessed One is God. i.e.: are you God’s Son.

And Jesus answered quite simply: “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”

The High Priest tore his garments; that means he probably isn’t wearing his priestly garments; these guys finally have what they’ve wanted; you see, Jesus says some pretty bold statements here:

I kind of picture the High Priest responding like Tom Cruise at Jack Nicholson’s confession to issuing the Code Red. But instead of stepping aside and saying; if it pleases the court, I suggest the members be dismissed so that we can move to an immediate Article 39a session. The witness has rights. This high priest tears his clothes and cries Blasphemy. Why? There are two verses of Scripture Jesus alludes to when he speaks. The 1st is Psalm 110.1: The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”  Which is a clear reference to the Messiah. Probably, the most quoted verse in the OT! I don’t know that for sure, but it has to be in the top 10. 2ndly, he quotes from Daniel 7. Turn there and let’s read that together.

Rd 7.9-14; Jesus isn’t claiming to be an earthly king – he’s claiming to be part of the Godhead. When he says, sitting at the right hand of Power and coming with the clouds of heaven, He’s making a definitive statement about who he is and, the High Priest gets it – as does everyone else in the room. Rd 63b: “What further witnesses do we need? Rd 64; 64 You have heard his blasphemy. What is your decision?” And they all condemned him as deserving death.

Now it gets ugly. It’s one thing to despise a man because you think him an idiot or you hate his politics or theology. It is another to physically abuse him because you don’t like him. Rd v 65: so these godly, humble men…spit on him! They cover his face and hit him! They deliver him over to the Temple guards and the beat on him, too.

t.s.: I’m guessing some of this is even seen by Peter. Remember he’s right there.

III.   The Failure of Peter (66-72)

exp.: rd 66-68; Jesus is peppered with questions and accusations that are false. Peter is hit with questions and accusations that are totally true. But, Peter denies it. In v 70 the same girl speaks up.

  1. The 1st time it was to him alone.
  2. The 2nd time she speaks to the bystanders
  3. The 3rd time one of the bystanders speaks up – according to another Gospel, it is his accent that sticks out.

ill.: note the contrast between these two men:

  • Peter is accused by a servant Girl; Jesus, by a mob.
  • Peter is faced with true accusations; The accusations against Jesus are all false
  • Peter lies to his crowd but is left alone; Jesus tells the truth and is condemned for it

Rd v 72; Luke’s narrative has always intrigued me. If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to read what Luke writes:

60 But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” And immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the saying of the Lord, how he had said to him, “Before the rooster crows today, you will deny me three times.” 62 And he went out and wept bitterly.

This verse moves me because I can only imagine what the eyes of Jesus communicated to Peter. Were his eyes blackened? Swollen? Bloodied? Here is a man who has been more than a friend. The look; the rooster crows; the remembrance of the prediction – all of these culminate in a moment of realization for Peter. And in that moment and in those eyes were the compassion of a messiah whose heart is filled with forgiveness for those who reject and deny him, even this fallen apostle.

Conclusion: Oh, the countless times I’ve failed or denied my savior. And Oh, the gravity of his forgiveness that haunts my mind, as I understand I am so undeserving of his mercy.

Application: Well, what do I want you to remember from this message? Jesus is the promised Messiah, the Son of God. He rules and reigns in power. He alone will stand as judge over the earth. In light of this, I want you to know:

  1. The actions of his life demonstrate perfect faithfulness and truth.
  2. The promises in his words are perfectly sure and trustworthy. ‘then Peter remembered how Jesus had said’…What he has said will come to pass.
  3. Because of these two truths:
    1. Restoration is now our hope.

Oh sure, we can live in failure, but why? It is interesting that Mark records neither Peter’s restoration, nor Judas’ suicide. If we were left with, ‘And he broke down and wept’ But never heard anything of Peter again, those would be sad words indeed.

I got the following story from Chuck Swindoll. He got it from Nicholas Halasz, as quoted by Robert Raines, in Creative Brooding:

One morning in 1888, Alfred Noble, inventor of dynamite, the man who had spent his life amassing a fortune from the manufacture and sale of weapons, awoke to read his own obituary. The obituary was printed as a result of a simple journalistic error. Alfred’s brother had died, and a French reporter carelessly reported the death of the wrong brother. Any man would be disturbed under the circumstances, but to Alfred the shock was overwhelming because he saw himself as the world saw him–“The dynamite King (the weapon maker),” the great industrialist who had made an immense fortune from explosives. This– as far as the general public was concerned–was the entire purpose of his life (so said the obituary). None of his true intentions–to break down the barriers that separated men and ideas– were recognized or given serious consideration. He was quite simply in the eyes of the public a merchant of death, and for that alone he would be remembered….

As he read his obituary with shocking horror, he resolved to make clear to the world the true meaning and purpose of his life. This could be done through the final disposition of his fortune. His last will and testament would be the expression of his life’s ideals… and the result was the most valued of prizes given to this day to those who have done the most for the cause of world peace–the Nobel Peace Prize.

It makes you think for a moment, doesn’t it? What will I be remembered for? Who will I be remembered as? Our text today compares two stories: Jesus, the faithful and Peter, the faithless one. But I’d like to close comparing two other stories.

Mark interestingly doesn’t include Peter’s restoration. He also doesn’t include Judas’ suicide. But we remember both of them, don’t we?

If your obituary were written and published this morning in the Tyler Morning Telegraph, which of two stories would be told? Would you be remembered like Judas, whose failure stamped his life? Or, would you be remembered like Peter, whose failure was a stepping stone to a great and influential life: a life like his Master’s?

Let’s pray. God, thank you for the hope of restoration.

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