His Story: An Introduction

Title: His Story

Text: Genesis

Introduction: We’ll be in Genesis this morning, and then on through the Bible.

When we enter a book of the Bible, it is almost as if we do so as if we’re walking among the trees in a forest. We stop at different points and look at flowers, birds, leaves, limbs, pine needles, dirt, insects. We don’t just pass through the forest, we stop and smell the flowers; we run our fingers through the dirt; we look up into the trees and shield our eyes from the sun, trying to stay in the shadows; we feel the wind, we hear the wind as it passes through the branches. I love with the deepest of passion to go through books like that.

But I want to do something different – gain a different perspective, if you will. I want to rise above the trees – high above the trees; higher than a drone, higher than a bird. I want to approach the Bible from a bird’s eye view – or maybe an aerial perspective, like flying in a plane. From a plane, you can see how the river flows. You can see the bends in the road. You can see the shape of the lake.

If we were to fly across the US, we could see certain cities, towns, mountains, rivers, etc. We would notice certain landmarks from the sky: where the desert is and where the woods begin and where the mountains are and the plains.

Transition: Today, I want to show you the map we’ll be following through the summer. The first sighting on our map is Creation.

  1. Creation: “It was very good”

Ill.: Steven Curtis Chapman’s All Things New

You spoke and made the sunrise, to light up the very first day
You breathed across the water, and started the very first wave
It was You
You introduced Your glory, to every living creature on earth
And they started singing, the first song to ever be heard
They sang for You

You make all things new; You make all things new

I love the story of creation: broken up into six days. One of my Venture students pointed out something very interesting about those six days: the 2nd three days, mirror the 1st three days. On days 1-3 he separates and creates. On days 4-6, he fills what he has made on the 1st three days.

 

Day 1: Separated Light from Darkness                  Good

 

Day 2: Separated Expanse from the Waters

 

 

Day 3: Separated the Water from the Land                       Good; Brought forth plants, trees, vegetation            Good

Day 4: He filled the Expanse w/ Lights

Stars; moons; Sun                                         Good

Day 5: He filled the waters with Fish/Sea creatures; He filled the Expanse with Birds                       Good

Day 6: He filled the the lands, the vegetation

with animals, the beasts of the fields                      Good

 

Also, God made man in His own image:

1.27: So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. …. Then, 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Now in Gen. 2, we find deeper details to the creation story concerning the man and the woman. It was a wonderful existence. It wasn’t just that they were the only two people on earth, that they were the happiest people on earth! Rather, their existence with God has made it that there has been no one on earth as happy as they. No one has experienced the garden like they did. No one has walked and talked with the animals or enjoyed life quite like they did. It was all so very good.

But that ended the day Adam and Eve ate the fruit that had been forbidden to them. The serpent had lied to them. He disguised the truth and tricked them. That is so like him! Adam and Eve rebelled against what God had strictly instructed them to do – or rather, not to do. They were no longer perfect. Sin entered the picture. And because of their tarnished nature, they could no longer dwell with a perfect, untarnished God. It just wasn’t possible. So they were banished from the Garden. Things would never be the same again – at least not to them.

But God is so good. While it is true that he cursed them both and the serpent, too, God gave them a promise. The promise was that the offspring of the woman would always be at war with the offspring of the serpent. Now, that sounds bad in itself; however, the promise gets better. God promised that one of her descendants would eventually crush the head of that snake.

Just when that would take place…well, that wasn’t made known…. Yet! But, one day, He would come and he would crush the serpent’s head and restore things.

Transition: Next on the map is…

  1. The Fall: “It was not so very good anymore”

The bad news is that although the promise was in place, nothing appeared to be moving in the direction of the promise being fulfilled. The situation went from bad to worse. Adam and Eve had some kids; two brothers to start with. Abel loved God and his work showed it. Cain loved himself and his work showed it. Each brother brought his gift to God, but Cain’s was rejected. So, some of the very effects of sin rose up in Cain: Jealousy, Anger, and Pride. Cain let those things grab a hold of him and build up inside to the point that Cain plotted and planned how to kill his own brother. Oh, God was merciful to him and gave him a chance to repent and make things right, but he just couldn’t get over his Jealousy, Anger and Pride.

And so Cain killed his brother Abel. Now, that is a bad story in itself, but what is truly amazing is how sin spiraled further and further into chaos and trouble. In fact, the world got so nasty that God decided he would destroy it and start over. In Gen. 6 it records: The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.”

You see, God decided to flood the earth and wipe everything clean. Well, almost! God chose one family to save. The very next verse says: But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.

So God flooded the whole earth, but saved one family by having them build an ark of gopher wood. God then commanded Noah to get his family and the animals on board. God brought the rain and flooded the earth. God’s anger was poured out on a world that had rejected him – and so he rejected them. He started over with a new Adam. There was one problem with this New Adam, though. He was just like the old Adam.

As a matter of fact, so much of the 1st story is repeated in this story. Noah is told to go and be fruitful and multiply just like Adam was. We see one of Noah’s son’s be cursed, just like we saw in the 1st story. Why, Noah and his family had barely gotten the animals off of the boat before Noah starts behaving badly.

And as the people multiplied, so did their sinful behavior. One story in Scripture records how a group of people decided to build a tower that would go up to heaven. They must have thought it was pretty big, but it couldn’t have been that big, because God had to come down to see it. The problem with this work that they were doing is that they thought they could do things without God. It appears they had the same thoughts that Adam and Eve had as the serpent had tricked them. So, God scattered the people and gave them different languages so that they couldn’t work together anymore.

But the story doesn’t end there; it really starts to get pretty good from there. God wasn’t done saving his people.

  1. Abraham: The Promise of a Nation

In the next chapter we meet a man named Abram. God chose him and told him to leave his kin and his country for a new land: a place that he would show him when he got there. From the beginning, God promises Abram some pretty big promises. These are the promises boiled down into a short presentation in 12.1-3:

  • Blessings upon anyone who bless Abram
  • Curses upon anyone who curses Abram
  • A land and a people to dwell in that land. Basically, God promised Abram that he would be the Father of a great nation and that all nations would be blessed through him.

Now, you might think that God chose Abram because he was such a great guy. But the truth of the matter is that Abram could be a liar and deceitful, just like everyone else. But there was something very special about Abram and it was simply this: He had the promise of God and he believed God would keep his promise.

It wasn’t that easy though. While Abram, whose name was changed to Abraham, held to the promise of God, it sometimes seemed like God was never going to keep his promise. For example, Abraham was 100 years old before he had his son Isaac. And added to this problem, God told Abraham to go to a special mountain and offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice. So great was Abraham’s faith in God’s promise, that he believed God would actually raise his son from the dead. But, just before Abraham sacrificed his son, God stopped it and gave a Ram to Abraham to offer instead. I guess it was God’s way of saying to Abraham – Never stop trusting me. I’ll always provide for you and keep my promise to you.

Well, Isaac grew up and got married and had two sons of his own: Esau and Jacob. Esau should have received the blessing because he was older, but God chose the younger brother, Jacob. For some reason, that is another theme we find repeated in Scripture. God doesn’t always do things in a logical manner. He has a plan – and he’s working that plan!

God’s plan was to begin building a nation through Jacob’s sons. Jacob had 12 of them! And it wasn’t the 1st or the 2nd or even the 3rd son who got the blessing, but rather the 4th son! His name was Judah. He was told that through him a king would come – one whose scepter shall not depart from Judah. The kingly line would come through Judah, but even more, the promised one – or the one promised from the beginning would come from the line of Judah.

Now, we could take some time to talk about all of these men. I could spend the entire summer on these guys, telling you horror stories of their sinful, rebellious behavior. But I won’t. What I want to tell you is that in spite of these men, God kept his promises. And while they couldn’t see it exactly, they trusted God that he would keep his promises and bring the one who would crush the serpent’s head. They couldn’t see it because it was so far off in the distance.

  1. Israel: A Nation is Born

So far off indeed! Hundreds of years would pass before God would begin to work with this nation that they would become. More years than all the years of history that these United States have accumulated. Think about it. It would be like God promising the settlers of Jamestown a Messiah. Go back to 1608 – it has been 409 years since then and we would still be waiting! That’s a similar time period for these descendants of Jacob – or as he was also known, Israel. Do you remember the promise of God to Abraham: A land and a people to dwell in that land? That land would be like the garden that Adam and Eve lived in. At least, that is what they would be reminded of …. It would be a beautiful land – a land flowing with milk and honey! But for some reason, it didn’t turn out that way. The way it turned out was the people were enslaved in the land of Egypt. Egypt? You say! Enslaved? You ask! How did that happen? God had promised them the land of Canaan.

Well, it’s a long story about a bunch of brothers who hated their baby brother and sold him into slavery. He was a slave and later an inmate at the local prison. As the years passed he rose up through the ranks and eventually became 2nd in command of all of Egypt. A famine throughout the land brought the brothers there looking for food. Because of Joseph’s position, he took care of his brothers and their families. And for the next few hundred  years, they lived in Egypt.

Through time, a pharaoh rose to power who did not know Joseph and he was bothered by the multiplication thing going on with this tiny nation called, Israel. So he made them slaves. And as the years passed, their oppression was great. So, they cried out to God and God sent them a deliver: Moses! And Moses delivered them from their oppression. Actually, it wasn’t Moses, it was God – but it was Moses God chose to use. Moses was their leader, but God was doing the leading. God led them in a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. He led them across the dry seabed to safety and he drowned the Egyptian army when they tried to follow. As Moses followed God, the people followed, too. God was always at work saving his people.

It’s funny… not funny ha-ha, but funny ironic that He was always having to save his people. When they were in the wilderness, he set them up to be distinct. He gave them his commandments. His commandments were outlined so they would know how to act as his people. If they would only obey his commands, then he would lead them to the Promised Land and life would be good. Their crops would be bountiful and their vats would brim over with new wine. Their storage bins would be too full to handle the plenty.

But, if you know the story, and I’m guessing most of you do: you know that they didn’t. They didn’t obey; they didn’t follow. Like Adam, Like Noah, Like the brothers, they rebelled against God’s design, too. God kept his promise and delivered the people to the promise land. They in turn, didn’t do what they were supposed to do to drive the other people out. That hurt them. Yes, because of their disobedience, but even more so, because the people were a thorn in their side. The people, who were supposed to be driven out, influenced God’s people to do bad things.

The Israelites were always fighting with them, or even worse, adopting their pagan ways and rejecting God’s commands. God sent them prophets to guide them. But they wouldn’t listen to them. God sent them kings to rule over them, but the kings made things even worse.

  1. Kings: A King like the Promised King

As the Israelites dwelt with the people of the land and failed to drive them out, their hearts began to desire the very things God hated. One such desire was for a king. God told them how bad it would be if they had a king, but they didn’t care. They wanted a king like all the other nations had. So God gave them a king.

Their first King was Saul. If we were to list his good traits, well, let’s just say there isn’t much to say. Well, he was tall, but that was about it. God decided to remove Saul and choose a man after his own heart. He did. His name is David. He was what you might have expected to fulfill the promise of God. As a matter of fact, other than that King – the Promised One – there isn’t any other King in all of Israel’s history who was better. That really isn’t saying a whole lot!

But, when David was good, man, was he good. Israel was blessed under David’s leadership. But here is where something interesting happens. When David was in his later years, he wanted to build a house for God. God told him no, but God did make him a promise: a promise that was built on the promises already given. He was told that he would always have a son who would sit on the throne. Remember the promise to Judah – a scepter would never depart from Judah; well, this promise was built upon that one. Now, the people would know that the Promised One would be a son of David.

To be sure, David’s son would not be that promised one. Solomon started off well. But, then, he didn’t finish strong. His son did an even poorer job, creating a split in the kingdom: 10 tribes to the north and 2 tribes to the south. The Northern 10 tribes were called Israel and the southern 2 tribes was called Judah. Israel never had a good king. Never! Nary a one! Every single King in the North – and there were 19 of them over the next couple of hundred years – every one of them led the people astray. The Southern Kings didn’t do much better. Many of them were wicked and evil, as well, leading the People of Judah astray. Every few kings, one would come along and try to make things right, but it never took. After 400 years of rebellion, idolatry, and wickedness, God vomited them out of his land, just as he said he would if they rejected him. They responded like Adam and Eve, like the people after Noah… and the list goes on.

The people were in darkness. Lost and without a land, without a Temple, and without a King. It all appeared that the promises of God were now null and void. It was a very dark time indeed.

  1. Prophets: The Nation will not listen

But God’s promises were never snuffed out! God had promised the Snack crusher, Abraham’s son, Judah’s lion, David’s descendant would come. Prophets were sent to assure the people of those very great and precious promises of God. They were told that he would be born in Bethlehem of Judea; that he’d be born of a virgin; that there would be a messenger to prepare the way. He gave these numerous promises through the prophets.

Israel’s problem was that they were so into themselves that they just disregarded much of what God had to say. The WEBS is in Isaiah. In Isaiah we’re reminded that the people of God would pay God lip service or they would do what they were supposed to do in sacrifices and rituals, but their hearts just weren’t in it.

So God sent them prophets; prophets to rebuke them; prophets to guide them; prophets to weep and mourn for them; prophets who would tell them God’s Word. These prophets came in all shapes and sizes and demeanors. God used these men over and over again. But the people of Israel rejected these prophets. They beat them and shamefully mistreated them. Some, they even killed. So God sent them a prophet to tell them that no more prophets would be coming. God told them through Amos that there would only be silence. 400 years of silence.

After all that God had done for them and their constant refusal to listen and follow – there was nothing from God for 400 years. Adam had failed; Noah had failed; Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had failed. The nation of Israel had failed. Kings had failed. Priests had failed. None could image God like God had designed.

  1. The Messiah: The Promised King – but not like they thought…

And after 4 centuries of silence, God began to speak again. We find him at work in a tiny baby lying in a manger. In this tiny baby, God was giving his people a new prophet, priest and king. He was giving them a new law, a new hope, a new sacrifice. He was making all things new. In giving them this baby, he was keeping his promise.

But it wasn’t the way the people thought it should be. This baby grew into a boy and then into a man. His miracles were legendary. He fed the 5,000 and walked on water. He healed the sick, the lame, the blind and the diseased. He taught with such authority, like none they had ever seen or even heard of. He picked 12 men who didn’t seem to fit together. He rode the foal of a donkey and not a white stallion. He came bearing a cross and not a sword. Instead of riding into Jerusalem and taking his royal, rightful throne, he came to die on a cross between two thieves. This one who was supposed to crush the serpent’s head was crushed himself – by his own father!

And yet, this was the plan of God all along. He was keeping his promises all along. For when the savior died and was buried, that wasn’t the end of the story, but rather, a new beginning.

  1. The Resurrection: It is Finished

A new beginning because this one who died on the cross, didn’t stay that way – dead. No, he rose from the dead by coming back to life! His disciples saw him – not just the twelve, but all of his disciples, men and women, both. He appeared to them in the upper room where they were hiding. Paul records that some 500 people saw him at one time. They ate fish with him by the Sea of Galilee. They told their friends that he is raised from the dead! Many couldn’t believe it. Jesus was to be seen with them at various times over the next 40 days. But after 40 days, Jesus ascended to be with the Father – where he sits at his Father’s right hand. And you know what he did then? He sat down next to his Father. There, he rules and reigns in glory.

  1. The Holy Spirit: A gift for the followers

But Jesus didn’t leave his followers alone! No, he has sent us his precious Holy Spirit to guard and to guide – to protect and provide. He has given us the Holy Spirit to bring us peace. Not the kind of peace that world knows, but a peace that surpasses all human understanding. As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit takes up an abode in our spirits and lives within us. In his coming, he convicts the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in Jesus; 10 concerning righteousness, because Jesus has gone to the Father, and; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

  1. The Return: He’s Coming Again!

But there is even more to the promises of God – Jesus is coming again. The Snake Crusher, Abraham’s son, Judah’s Lion, David’s Descendant, Jesus, the Christ will come again just as he promised. He will come again to restore us to the Garden. One day, according to his promise, we will have a restored relationship where we will walk and talk with God. We will know what Adam and Eve had known as they walked and talked with God in the cool of the Day. And there we will be with him forever and ever. There we will know what it means to be perfectly happy. Oh, glorious day!

Conclusion: There you have His Story; 10 stops along a beautiful journey over the next 10 weeks. We’ll look at the good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly.

Before we leave this morning, let me offer you an opportunity to respond to this incredible story.

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Genesis 1-2; Romans 14:12-14

Title: Accountability

Text: Genesis 1-2; Romans 14.12-14

Introduction: We’re in Genesis 1-3 and Romans 14 this morning. We’ll start w/ the Genesis passage – go to Romans 14 for a moment and then come back to Genesis.

I performed a wedding this week and I always try to start the wedding ceremony in Genesis 1 and creation. You see, God created marriage and for the Christian, that is important. If you’ve ever wondered why Christians are so up in arms about marriage, it isn’t because we hate anyone. It’s because we see the world messing with what God has created.

Well, I was reminded in preparing for that ceremony of something incredible; rd Gen 1.26-27; 26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Here’s where I am going with this: God is plural – Elohim; Elohim said, Let ‘us’ make man in ‘our’ image, after ‘our’ likeness. The Triune God created a single man to be like the Triune God – his image, his likeness. Don’t you find that fascinating?

If you’re thinking to yourself that you just don’t get it. Well, that’s ok! No one does. There are a lot of people smarter than you and me who’ve never been able to process that!

So God creates a man and he creates him incomplete. A plural God. A Single man. God has created so much in the 1st 6 days and proclaims it is all good. But, when he creates the man and sees him working alone in the garden, God says, “it is not good for man to be alone.”

Now I’ve always taken that and understood that in the context of marriage. But, I want you to see that there is even more there that we can learn from the creation account. Three lessons of community in creation:

  • Lesson 1: The Trinity is a model for us. God has set for us an example of community in Himself.
  • Lesson 2, Man, that is, mankind, was created for relationships. He was created to exist within the context of community.
  • And Lesson 3, whereas God is the perfect example for us of what Community looks like through the Trinity, we have corrupted the opportunity for perfect community through our sinfulness.

t.s.: Let’s begin with this 1st Lesson…

I.     The Trinity is our model for Community (Genesis 1, 2)

exp.: We saw in Genesis 1 the Three in One at work. They are not independent of each other and they are not co-dependent on each other. They are interdependent – each functioning within the other. One writer commented on such unity and interdependence that it something like God (Father) speaks and The Word of God (Jesus) creates. The Holy Spirit is the breath of the One who is speaking. Perfect Unity and yet, Three persons.

ill.: Julie Gorman, author of Community that is Christian writes: Community is rooted in the very nature of God’s personhood and, therefore, existed before creation. Consider this: we understand our God as one God and yet he is expressed to us in three persons. Talk about perfect unity! So perfect are they and their unity that when Philip asked to see the father, Jesus said if you’ve seen me, you seen the father.

ill.: To be fair, this is mind blowing. No rational, logical person can truly wrap his mind around this concept. Listen to A.W. Tozer: Our sincerest effort to grasp the incomprehensible mystery of the Trinity must remain forever futile, and only by deepest reverence can it be saved from actual presumption. Wow! That is deep what Tozer is saying is that we as humans will never be able to totally comprehend the Trinity. And if we do think that we have–we’re in deep trouble! No one can truly comprehend God.

app.: But we can begin to understand what he has made known to us. And what we know, what we understand is that God created us in his image. In other words, we were created to exist in relationships; we were created to exist in community.

I love in the next chapter in Genesis; God sees that the man he has made is alone. And he says – it is not good for man to be alone. I’ll make a helper suitable for him. He created, he fashioned a woman to be in relationship with the man.

t.s.: So, we see the Trinity is our model for community. But what exactly does that mean for us? What is the implication?

Implication: Because of this (The Trinity is our Model for Community), then Community is not a program.

  1. Community is not a program.

ill.: Joy & Shelton, in their book The People of God: The only thing strong enough to build and sustain Christian Community is the gospel and the refuge found therein. Demographics, money, location, shared interests, curriculum, or good causes will not create the deep, true community for which God designed us.

exp.: just like marriage isn’t a program; raising your children isn’t a program; it is real life. Church isn’t supposed to be a program. And sure, you can be a part of organizations that do good things, but the Church was designed to be more than just a civic organization. It is designed to be a community.

app.: 1st, the Trinity is our Model for Community and the implications is that Community, then, isn’t a program.

t.s.: 2nd lesson, we see…

II.    Humans were created for Community.

exp.: You were created for community. You were created for relationships. As you begin to understand the Trinity is our model for community, you then need to wrap your mind around the truth that God is completely and perfectly happy in Himself. It is interesting to do a word search on the word pleasing and then to link that concept with God and what pleases him, verses people and what pleases them. Are you aware of what brings God pleasure – that is, when he is most pleased? I say the word pleasure and most of you think: bad – no! Me no likey pleasure! God no likey pleasure! This is where you hear the record player scratch across the record…eerrrpt! The reason you think pleasure is wrong is because the sinful nature has corrupted this beautiful trait of the Trinity! God designed us for pleasure – but Satan corrupted that beautiful gift.

ill.: This is so beautifully illustrated in Genesis 2 as our story continues; God creates this couple and places them in the perfect environment for community to take place. 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

In this moment of Genesis, we find perfection. This couple is experiencing community in perfection. But something happens … and that is our 3rd lesson…

III.   Humans corrupt Community with our sinful behavior.

exp.: let me read that last verse again: 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

What? Naked, and unashamed?!? I don’t know if you’ve noticed it or not, but we’re all wearing clothes here today. And isn’t it wonderful! That’s a big change from what we see at the close of Genesis 2. But something happens in chapter three that mars this perfection, this innocence. Adam and Eve reject and rebel against God’s design. 3.7 reads: Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

app.: here’s the point: You and I were designed to find pleasure in this life through our relationships! We find pleasure in our relationships when we live them out perfectly through community. The problem is this corruption of sin in our lives. We will never be that way – living in community in perfect unity – as long as we have sin in the world. Imperfect people make an imperfect community.

t.s.: So what are further implications are here for us?

 

  1. Community takes work.

exp.: relationships are hard. You’ve heard me say that before, but it fits here so well. You and I are marred by sin’s affects and we have to fight through our desire for sin and self. We argue that others don’t behave that way so why should we? But God doesn’t set our brothers and our sisters as examples. He set himself! The truth that relationships are hard work rings true across the board as it comes to community.

ill.: People leave churches because they’re unhappy. It is easier to leave than to sit down and talk through our differences. In Smith County there are over 400 churches you can move to. You can go to a church for 1 year, then go to another for a year. If you do that, you’ll never have to worry about relationships. With 100 Southern Baptist Churches in Smith County, you won’t even have to change denominations! It is just too easy.

Here’s another implication:

  1. Community brings accountability.

exp.: The Bible teaches us that Community is the source to help us with accountability. Accountability implies responsibility. You are responsible to someone for something. And, for that, you are to give an account. But, here is the problem. As sinful humans, we don’t want to be responsible for each others and we don’t want others to be responsible for us. Because of our sinful nature we don’t want people holding us accountable.

ill.: Bruce Larson,  There’s a Lot More to Health Than Not Being Sick:

Behavioral Sciences in recent years have expounded the simple truth that “Behavior that is observed changes.” People who are accountable by their own choice to a group of friends, to a therapy group, to a psychiatrist or a pastoral counselor, to a study group or prayer group, are people who are serious about changing their behavior, and they are finding that change is possible.

Studies done in factories have proven that both quality and quantity of work increase when the employees know they are being observed. If only God knows what I’m doing, since I know He won’t tell, I tend to make all kinds of excuses for myself. But if I must report to another or a group of others, I begin to monitor my behavior. If someone is keeping an eye on me, my behavior improves.

exp.: Scripture teaches us that we need accountability because we have responsibility. Romans 14.12ff

  1. To God:12 – 12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God. This is 1st and greatest responsibility.
  2. To each other: 14.13 – 13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. I think this passage is often times misquoted to make others behave in a manner that lines up with our beliefs. We say to someone – you shouldn’t do that because a weaker brother might stumble. The reality is our pharisaical rules and regulations and traditions go against that behavior. What this verse isn’t saying is to make your brother in Christ behave the way you want him to behave. But, what this verse is clearly saying is that we have a responsibility to our brothers and for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Therefore, behave that way.
  3. To ourselves:14 – 14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. You are accountable and responsible to yourself. Your conscience should be clear before God.

t.s.: Community helps us in regard to relationships – through accountability, through the hard work of relationships. You were created for relationships. It is hard work, but hard work can be so rewarding. So,

  • The Trinity is a model for us of what community means and looks like.
  • Second, you were created for relationship. And those relationships bring responsibility.
  • And Third, whereas God is the perfect example for us of what Community looks like through the Trinity, we have corrupted the opportunity for perfect community through our sinfulness.

Conclusion: Pamela Reeve in her book Relationships (as recorded by Chuck Swindoll) writes: Not long ago I walked by a wall poster that brought me back for a second look. I can’t remember the artwork, but I’ve never forgotten the pithy, pointed message: “Involvement with people is always a very delicate thing….It requires real maturity to become involved and not get all messed up.”

Community groups are important because they involve relationships – Relationships on a much deeper level than in any other church related activity: It requires real maturity to become involved and not get all messed up.”

Let’s pray…

Invitation: remember the fig leaves – a weak attempt to cover themselves. The end of that chapter tells us that God covered them. He made clothes for them out of animal skins. That was the first sacrifice. That penalty is still the same – the wages of sin. Jesus paid that penalty for us.

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Fellowship (In light of Community Groups) Outside These Walls: 2017

Title: Fellowship (In light of Community Groups; Outside These Walls 2017)

Text: Philippians 1.27-2.1

Introduction: Last summer we experienced with a change of pace: Outside these Walls. For the most part, it went well. We chose to not meet inside these facilities on Wednesday nights, but rather to gather outside the confinement of these walls and instead to meet out in the community. We served, we played, we worshipped. The elders want to build on that idea of going outside these walls this summer.

Outside These Walls: 2017 is similar in fashion but different in design. Here’s how: we still want to meet outside these walls, but we want to refine our attempts by setting some goals.

  1. We want higher participation.

Consider this: if we have 80 people on Sunday morning, we had half of our people participating in OTW in the summer of 2016. That’s ok, but not good. Are you ready for this? I’m praying for 100 people to be participating in Community Groups in 2017. Some of you are thinking I’m crazy. I know, I know! If we only have 85 people in worship, how is it that we’d have 100 in Community Groups? It really is a no-brainer! You and I have to invite families to join ours.

  1. We want bigger buy in.

Consider this: one week we’d have 40 participants and the next week we’d have 12. There are so many reasons folks drop off the next week. Often times, people participate in activities where they have a vested interest. My hope and my prayer is that you’ll buy into a Community Group. There are so many reasons why, and these messages over the rest of May will present some of those reasons. I hoping that everyone will buy into this concept.

Warning: Some of you have started tuning me out. You have a bad attitude about Community Groups and you’re not going to give it a 2nd thought. But can I stop you there. What is your reason? Did you have a bad experience? Please don’t judge all small groups by your bad experience. I find often times that our attitude skews the event we’re participating in. Are you worried about your Bible Study group that meets on Sunday morning? Don’t be. We’re not recommending canceling Sunday morning activities for this.

  1. We want to personalize it.

Each group will be different. Sunday morning Bible Study right now is studying the Gospel Project. I love the Gospel Project. Community Groups will study what they want. Marriage 101, Grace Based Parenting, A book (Kay Arthur, Beth Moore, Dennis Rainey, Jonathan Leeman) A book of the Bible, Digging Deeper into this past week’s sermon. The elders want to provide you with resources.

You might want to choose your group because of the teacher, you might want to choose your group based on its location and closeness to your home or your office, you might choose it based on the curriculum.

This month, you’ll be reading about it in the bulletin and hearing about it in the sermons. I’m hoping to begin having sign-ups for our groups by the 21st of May.

Now, I’m rambling. I know this is a long introduction. However, I felt it important to offer a bit of what’s coming and just how these sermons will impact that event. You see, I don’t want to talk about Community Groups as much as I want to talk about purpose and direction. Community Groups will only be used if they can help us accomplish the principles found in Scripture of what and who we are to be.

Our purpose statement is …developing passionate followers of Christ. Michael Wright led the church to develop this purpose statement. I like it and so have kept it through the years. It contains the elements of worship, discipleship, evangelism, fellowship and ministry. I wonder if we might need an update – only because I’d like the glory of God in it somehow. You know… all for the glory of God; maybe to clean up and clear up and verbiage so that it is concise and says exactly what we do and who we are.

So, who are we? What do we do? I’d like to turn our focus upon answering this question during the Month of May. Turn your attention to Philippians 1.

κοινωνία is the word from which we get our word fellowship. Our biggest problem with this word in English is that, when it is spoken and used in our language, it simply connotes the idea of eating together after church. Rarely do Baptists convey the idea of fellowship without the involvement of food!

ill.: Announcement: we’re having a fellowship in the Fellowship Hall after worship today. What did you think? Most of us identify whatever we’re meeting for and whatever we’re going to accomplish with food being served; at least a desert or sweet of some kind will be served.

In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he uses this word κοινωνία quite often. It appear 6x’s total in 4 chapters in its lexical form or in a compound form. Let me give those to you for your own personal study: 1.5, 7; 2.1; 3.10; 4.14, 15.

These six references form three sections on κοινωνία; however, they have nothing to do with food or fun. This has been eye opening for me. I knew this, but through the years have been lazy about it meaning in the church. Maybe, as we make our way through Philippians this month, you’ll see you’ve taken a laxidazical attitude about this matter as well. Here is my outline: Read the verses where κοινωνία is…

  1. Fellowship in the Gospel (Ministry/Mission) 1.3-11
  2. Fellowship in Unity (Being like minded; one Body; Evangelism; Witness) 1.27-2.2
  3. Fellowship in Christ (Discipleship) 3.1-10
  4. Fellowship in Unity (Being like minded; one Body; Evangelism; Witness) 4.1-9
  5. Fellowship in the Gospel (Ministry/Mission) 4.10-20

Maybe we should call the church The Fellowship. Because fellowship is more of a word that describes more of what we do: Evangelism, Discipleship, Missions, Ministry, and Prayer, Worship.

We could use other synonyms: Sharing, Participating, Partnering, and Having in Common;

Warning: Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying when I say fellowship. You see I did! I wrote out a prospectus for community groups and gave it to our elders. And, in preparing these messages, I’ve found I wasn’t seeing things clearly. I want you to grasp what we’re trying to do here.

ill.: – James Hewett tells the story of a woman who was in between flights at an airport. She had about an hour and a half wait and decided that she would spend the time looking over the newspaper. She had a little twinge of hunger, so she dropped by the lounge and picked up a small package of cookies and sat down at a table to look over her paper.

While she was reading, she began to detect a small rustling sound, almost like cellophane being crinkled and torn. She looked over the top of the newsprint and, to her amazement, a well-dressed man, sitting at the same table, a total stranger to her, was opening her cookies and helping himself.

Flabbergasted, she didn’t want to make a scene, and so she just kept the paper up in front of her face and reached around and deliberately took the package of cookies and slid them toward her and took out one and began to eat it.

About a minute passed and, to her amazement, she heard more crinkling of the cellophane. She looked around the paper and the man, not looking at her, was simply eating another of her cookies.

Before she could reach over (by now they were at the bottom of the stack), he looked at the last cookie and broke it in two and with a frown slid it across to her side. He finished his half cookie, picked up his briefcase, and made his way down the terminal.

She was fuming as she munched on her last half of cookie. Then she heard the call for her flight and began to make her way to the gate where she would get on the plane. She needed her ticket, and so she opened her purse and, to her shock, she saw her package of unopened cookies still in her purse.

Somewhere in that same airport was a man still shaking his head, wondering how this strange lady had the nerve to eat part of his cookies!

app.: Funny how we misread what is right before us. You know you do it, too. I was wrong on this word Fellowship. Let me show you…

Calvary Baptist Church

Community Groups

Outside These Walls 2017

Prospectus

He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3.30

 

Purpose: The purpose of Calvary Community Groups is to foster a sense of community among Calvary Members as we develop passionate followers of Christ.

Community is not the goal in the mission of God; bringing Himself glory through the making of disciples is the goal. Community is the primary context God designed to take the church there. (The People of God, p. 78)

So let me reiterate: the purpose is to foster a sense of community.

 

Goals: To enable members to experience community through (or simply: Making Community Possible through):

  1. F-fellowship
  2. A-accountability
  3. D-discipleship
  4. E-evangelism

Correction: Making Community Possible through fellowship (John 6.58) 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.”

  1. B-breaking bread
  2. R-relationship building
  3. E-evangelism
  4. A-accountability
  5. D-discipleship

 

Benefits: So much of our gatherings at Calvary are only surface deep. My heart’s desire is that the membership will benefit as they:

  • Grow in Christ through digging deeper into Scripture
  • Grow in their personal relationships with other community group members
  • Reach out to their community by inviting a lost family

What is Fellowship (κοινωνία)? The Dictionary of Bible Themes (2009) defines it this way…

Fellowship: An association based upon the sharing of something in common.

ill.: I’m reading Steven Curtis Chapman’s Book, Between Heaven and the Real World: My Story. He tells the story in there about how his community group got together to watch the National Championship Game involving the Tennessee Volunteers against Florida State in the Fiesta Bowl. Some of the women left early for various reasons. After the game, Steven writes that their family was all in bed when the phone rings. He learns that a vehicle of one family – a mother and her two daughters was in a tragic car accident. Mary Beth, his wife, stayed at home with their children, but Steven changed into some clothes and headed up to the hospital, where he learned that the mom and one daughter were in critical condition, but one of the little girls had died. A teenage, driving way too fast, lost control of his car and hit them broadside.

Steven’s relating the story is so incredible as you watch this community group that he is a part of come together and minister to the family. But what adds to the storyline is that in 10 years, the Chapman’s world would be rocked in the loss of their own little girl, Maria – also involving a vehicle. This family who had been ministered to by their small group, would now minister to the Chapman family and walk with them through their struggle.

app.: Community Groups bring the larger fellowship stability. As individuals come together in fellowship, they experience: relationships; accountability; acceptance, discipleship, evangelism and ministry. And, can I say, this cannot be accomplished in the corporate setting.

Transition: Stephen’s story shows us the extremes of fellowship – from a football game to a hospital emergency room.

Conclusion: Believers have fellowship with one another simply on the basis of:

  • Their common relationship with God in Christ, (which puts them in relationship with each other); Philippians has 104 verses using 433 different words. Christ appears 61 times in those 104 verses in various forms of nouns and pronouns.
  • Their participation in the blessings of the gospel (Did you know that? You participate in the blessings of the gospel through your marriage, your children, your church…) at times the word κοινωνία appears or is implied in Philippians, so does the word εὐαγγέλιον. 1.5, 6; 1.27 (2); 3.10
  • Their common task of missions and evangelism (I am so proud of our work in missions! It is my prayer, however, that our fellowship may refine and get even better at missions through community groups. I can’t say I have the same pride in our evangelism. It is my prayer that evangelism will begin to take place as we partner together in community groups.) You probably remember from earlier in the message, this letter is bookended with the idea of their partnership in Paul’s work of missions and evangelism. : in 4.15; no church partnered in word with me, but you alone. It appears they committed to this fellowship with Paul in ministry and mission with their words and so followed through with their deeds.

In light of all this, you could then say: True fellowship is demonstrated through personal concern for and practical commitment to one another. Note these two words: Concern/Commitment.

Application:

  1. I hope you’ll begin praying for how you can participate in a community group. Over the next couple of weeks, leading up to June 7th (our launch date), we will be posting our leaders, their groups and their curriculum. This will allow you to pick a group based on location, subject, or your peers. Please start praying now.
  2. We know you can’t be at every Wednesday night session of your community group; however, you can plan to be at most. You will only go to the group meetings you make plans to be at.
  3. Sign up!

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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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Mark 14:27-50

Title: The Abused Shepherd-King

Text: Mark 14.27-50

Introduction: We’ll be here in three different texts this morning: Mark 14, Zechariah some; Psalm 118. Mark these places for convenience.

My outline this morning will follow the geographical map for these guys:

  1. As they move out to the Mt. of Olives, Jesus offers The Prediction: They will all fall away
  2. Then, Jesus & the 3 move to Gethsemane, The Garden Prayer: Alone, because the others are sleeping
  3. Finally, Jesus and the 3 move back to the Mt. O w/ the disciples and are joined by Judas and the Mob, The Prediction: It is fulfilled as they all flee!

rd v 26; I wish I knew the hymn; we can safely assume it was one of the hymns of the Hallel; at this stage of the Passover celebration they were probably at Psalm 118 – which would be sung antiphonally;  (Read it together); then the mood changes as Jesus tells them plainly in v 27;

I.     The Prediction: Fall Away (27-31)

exp.: As they walk and sing, the mood changes when Jesus the reality of this night and tomorrow hit him hard in v 27: You will all fall away, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ Now you might expect Peter to pull Jesus aside and tell him once again not to be so negative – but that didn’t work out so well the last time that happened!

This Scripture Jesus quotes is from Zechariah; Zechariah is filled with prophecies about the Messiah; we learn a lot about the Messiah from Zechariah. One characteristic in particular is Zechariah’s emphasis on the Messiah as the Temple Builder. He is like the shepherd-kings:

  • Moses, who as the shepherd-king built the 1st Tabernacle which traveled with the children of Israel.
  • David’s Son: I say ‘David’s son’ because his is the Son of David. David , the shepherd-king was not allowed to build the Temple, but instead that task was given to his son.
  • Zerubabbel: He, too is a pattern, a type of Christ; he, too is a Temple builder; he came and rebuilt Solomon’s Temple after the devastation of the exile. The sheep were scattered abroad and he served as a ‘shepherd-king’ re-building the Temple. The Word of the Lord came in Zechariah 4.6-10;

Mark seems to be very familiar with Zechariah, taking from the 2nd half of Zechariah some of his prophecies and adding them to the story for us to follow

  • The Messiah’s Character – we see this future figure filled with righteousness and yet displaying deep humility (9.9); His Reign is Universal (9.10); This unique combination of humility and sovereignty is seen in the imagery of a abused shepherd-king;
  • The Shepherd-king Pattern: When I say shepherd-king, Can you see Moses? Can you see David? Zechariah continues to build on this imagery of this shepherd-king is one who is abused; rd Zech 12.10; 13.7; the Lord speaks to the sword: Strike the shepherd;

Jesus is quoting from this text where Yahweh says to the Sword: Strike the Shepherd. This is the Lord’s doing; Isaiah: Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him. But Jesus doesn’t end with this statement: you’ll all fall away. Look at what he says next: rd v 28; I’m going to die, you’ll be scattered, but I will be raised up and we will be brought back together. And, I’ll meet you in Galilee.

But Peter doesn’t catch all of what Jesus is saying. He only hears the negative statement of their falling away.

ill.: Do you ever do that? Listen to the 1st part of what is being said, but not the whole thing? It seems that Peter has done that constantly, starting back in 8.31; here, Peter has missed it again. Jesus is going to die and rise again. If Peter dies defending Jesus, he’ll miss that part!

app.: Well, Jesus leaves the sound of their voices resonating in the air. Me, too!

t.s.: So, they arrive at the wherever it is they’re staying at Gethsemane.

II.    The Garden: Gethsemane (32-42)

exp.: rd v 32; this word ‘sit’ has different meanings and from the situation at the end of this passage, it seems to mean ‘set up’ here. This word is used in the OT by God to tell David that he will set a descendant of his on the throne. So, these guys set up camp – maybe it already kind of was. Rd 33a; Jesus then takes the three others with him: Peter, James and John.

Think about these three:

  • Peter has just declared that he would never abandon Christ. He will go to prison or even fight to the death for him. Keep that in mind.
  • These other two were the ones that asked him previously that one of them might sit on his right and the other on his left. They declared that they were able to be baptized with the baptism of Jesus and drink from the cup that he will drink from. They said so ignorantly. ‘Cup’ often times has the idea of wrath with it. It is ‘poured’ out. They just don’t get it.

And here they have an opportunity to step up. For what they don’t see – and honestly, what I’m not sure we grasp – is Christ’s moment of…. Fear? Uncertainty?

I know, you’re like: what a minute Fred! This is God in the flesh. He ain’t scarit of nuthin’!

Bear with me….

Rd v 33b-34; note those three words:

  • Distressed
  • Troubled
  • Sorrowful (even unto death)

So in this state of distress, trouble and sorrow (even unto death!) he ask the three to remain here and watch. The idea is to stay awake and be alert.

Then, what does Jesus do? He walks a little distance away and cries out to the Father. Rd v 36; “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

Here is Jesus acknowledging that all things are possible. And here’s his request: Remove this cup from me.

This is big, for a couple of reasons:

  1. Chiasm: the structure of this passage…
  2. The Prediction: Fall Away (27-28)
  3. Reply: Peter’s Denial (29-31)
  4. Disciples: Sit here (32)
  5. The Three: Watch and Pray (33-34)
  6. Climax: Distress, Troubled, and Sorrowful (33-36)
  7. The Three: Sleeping times 3
  8. Disciples: joined with Judas and the Mob
  9. Response: Peter’s Defense
  10. The Prediction: Fulfilled

 

So, with this information, let’s take a deeper look at this passage. If, this is correct – Mark’s focus then would be this moment – Christ’s suffering emotionally, spiritually.

  1. This is so… Un-Christ-like. Mark has presented to us someone who is unflappable in the Messiah. The Religious Leaders have tried to trip him up many times. Through all of the healings, feedings, struggles, storms – never once does the Messiah show weakness. But take his reaction to this now and compare it with many who’ve died for the faith.

Ill.: I am always amazed at the strength and courage of martyrs for Christ. Consider seven brothers and their mother, who praise God and mock the arrogance of Antiochus the king even as they are one by one gruesomely tortured and executed. After six have died, the youngest refuses to recant and even taunts the king:

But you, unholy wretch, you most defiled of all mortals, do not be elated in vain and puffed up by uncertain hopes, when you raise your hand against the children of heaven. You have not yet escaped the judgment of the almighty, all-seeing God. For our brothers after enduring a brief suffering have drunk of ever-flowing life, under God’s covenant; but you, by the judgment of God, will receive just punishment for your arrogance (Strauss, p. 637).

Or consider Polycarp, bishop of Smyrna, when brought before a magistrate and told he would be burned at the stake if he did not recant. Tim Keller records it this way:

The magistrate said in effect, “I will give you one more chance: You can reject Christianity, you can recant, and avoid execution.” Some witnesses wrote down Polycarp’s reply: “The fire you threaten burns but an hour and is quenched after a little….You do not know the fire of the coming judgment….But why do you delay? Come, do what you will.

Keller, in his book on Mark, also tells of Nicholas Ridley and Hugh Latimer, who were burned at the stake for their faith in Oxford in 1555. They were tied side by side, and when the fire was lit, it is said that Latimer said to Ridley: Be of good comfort Master Ridley, and play the man: we shall this day light such a candle by God’s grace in England, as I trust shall never be put out (Keller, p. 191).

But Christ is struggling in this moment. You know the story already, don’t you? He returns and pleads with them to stay awake and pray. Do they? No, these men who in their arrogance tried to instruct Christ – whimp out.

app.: Isn’t that so like most of us as humans? We speak boldly of a faith in Christ and if called on to die, we’d march right up to the stake and volunteer our hands to be tied. Die for Christ? Yes, and we’d sing praises to God as we burned at the stake. But ask us to watch and pray for one hour and what is our response?

We are whimps when it comes to praying. You and I are not willing to give up sleep.

As a church, I hear you say – we should be praying – we need a time of prayer about this matter. We have one: every Wednesday night.

So what is it about this struggle that is different than these Martyrs? Well, Christ isn’t being martyred. He is going through something quite different. He is about to bear the sins of humanity. He is standing on a precipice which overlooks the flames of hell. He is standing before the open gates of hell and he feels the rush of heat blow past his soul. He is about to bear the penalty for your sin and my sin.

t.s.: The wages of sin is death…but the free gift of eternal life would not be a possibility today if he hadn’t paid this price. He returns a third time to find them sleeping in v 41, but it is too late to prepare in prayer now – rd v 42:  Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.”

III.   The Prediction: Fulfilled (43-50)

exp.: display the chiasm; Jesus returns to the place where he left the disciples earlier in time to meet up with Judas and a mob that has come to arrest him. Judas betrays Jesus with a greeting and a kiss. They lay hands on Jesus and Peter decides now to act in defense. He cuts off the ear of Malchus, but Jesus stops it all. Rd v 48-49; and the prophecy comes true in v 50 – they all left him and fled. So quick to get away, one young man who had stripped down to his towel, probably cleaning himself up for the night, when someone grabbed him….rd 51-52;

t.s.: And the prophecy is fulfilled.

Conclusion: I wouldn’t say that Christ was depressed in our story. But, he sure was hurting, struggling with all that he was going through.

Application: Christ was distressed and troubled as his soul became very sorrowful, even unto death. While at his lowest point, entering into the suffering and persecution he would face, all of his friends – and enemies, would abandon him. Even the Father would turn his back on him as he carried the sins of the world on his shoulders (Ps 22). That is why he cried out, “My God, My God why have you forsaken me” while hanging on the cross. He endured this suffering and death alone.

Therefore, in light of this:

  1. When we endure the hardest of times, there is one who understands far better than we know! Tim Keller writes: “there’s a gap between the desires of your heart and the circumstances of your life, and the bigger the gap, the greater the suffering.” I think the trick then is to close the gap between our desires and our circumstances. I know that’s not easy. I’m not saying it is. Maybe I’m saying just try to be more realistic and genuine in where you are. And Remember, The writer of Hebrews reminds us that God has promised us that he will never leave or forsake us. Let us then hold on to the promise of God.
  2. Let us be cautious and not so glib in our commitment to Christ. Sure, we stand and say, I’ll not abandon you, I’ll go to prison for you, I’ll even die for you! But, what are we like when he asks us to watch and pray for just one hour with him? Is the commitment of your displayed mostly in your activity with others? Or, can you honestly say you fight and defend the faith on your knees before the Father in prayer.
  3. Let us be cautious when we handle the Word of God – not to take part or even some, but the whole counsel of God. Peter heard the part about Jesus going to die, but he missed the wonderful part about their planned reunion.
  4. As you consider Christ facing Hell in all of its horror and terror, do you know that without Christ, that penalty is still yours? Won’t you trust him this morning as your Passover Lamb?

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Mark 14:12-26

Title: Celebrate and Remember!

Text: Mark 14.12-26

Introduction: Can you remember special Christmas mornings growing up? Maybe you’ve got some memories as an adult with your own kids. Maybe some of those special memories go back to when you were a kid. I grew up opening presents on Christmas Eve. Christmas morning was reserved for presents from Santa Clause. Others grew up opening just one present on Christmas Eve and then diving in early Christmas morning for all of the rest of the present.

Christmas is special for us all in some way. Traditions have been established and you love them. I love the way the Baker’s open a present on Christmas Eve and it is a new set of PJ’s! They wear them that night and avoid the world the next day – staying in their pajamas all day long Christmas day. That’s sweet!

Hopefully, as I’ve just mentioned Christmas and Christmas Traditions, you’ve been taken back to a time or place and your heart rejoices at what you remember – and who you remember.

Our topic today is that way for many Jewish people who celebrate the Passover. It is a very special holiday – holy day. For them, it was the very 1st one established by God. To understand it, we’d have to go back to Exodus 12 and see what they did and when they did it. In many ways, the Passover celebration is no different today for our Jewish friends and Messianic Jewish brothers than it was for Jesus and his disciples.

Sure, there are some differences, but as to the basics – those traditions have been around for … well, thousands of years!

Rd Mark 14.12; what is Mark talking about? Let’s turn to Exodus 12 and see if we can gain some insight into their celebration;

You know the story: Abrham; Isaac; Jacob; 12 sons; Egypt; 400 years and enslaved; God has yet to reveal who he is to them; Moses; to lead them out of slavery and Egypt to freedom and to become a nation – a people; There have been 9 plagues – all a part of what God has been doing to show the people his power. Now, the time to lead them out has arrived – and it will come when the 10th plague hits – the death of the 1st born.

We pick up in v 1 of Exodus 12 where we see God establishing the Institution of The Passover.

I.     The Passover: An Established Institution (12-16)

exp.: rd Ex 12.1-2; Wow! A new beginning! You have right here the establishment of a new calendar! According to the Jewish Calendar, it is the year 5777!

So the calendar is created, and what is a calendar without holidays? Rd v 3-6; So dates are given: the 10th and the 14th; get a lamb; kill the lamb; rd 7; sacrifice this lamb and take its blood and put it on the doorposts and the lintel. Rd v 8-10; Roasted Lamb; unleavened bread and bitter herbs; rd v 11; So there you have it: the Lord’s Passover; 12-13;

So, this Passover is to be:

  • Celebrated: starting in v 14, we learn that this is also to be
  • Commemorated: rd v 14-15; This is a fun time for the family as the women clean the house from top to bottom to ensure that no leaven is found in the house. However, the wife will usually leave a small bit on the counter. The father walks through the house and finds the leaven on the counter and sweeps it away into the dustpan. A reminder to the children of what they’re doing. Rd v 16-17; So this week long celebration is instituted here, as a part of the Passover Celebration basically going from the 10th-21st.

app.: So, this is what is going on with Jesus and his disciples. In Mk 14.12 they basically say to Jesus: its time for the Passover Celebration. Tell us what to do to get it all ready. Rd 13-16;

  • A man carrying a jar (13): that’s pretty unusual.
  • Wherever he enters, say to the Master of the house (14). Now, 1st off, it is a holiday, Jesus could have very easily have made plans with a follower for this occasion. This could be supernatural, and I think it has supernatural flavors about it. The point here is that a place is already prepared for these men to set up shop for the night. There are still chores to be done, food to be purchased, wine to be bought.

They prepared the Passover (16). This celebration commanded by God was about to be kept and commemorated.

t.s.: And v 17 tells us he came with the rest of the disciples to celebrate. Which brings us to the 2nd part of our passage this morning:

II.    Passover: An Event to be Remembered (17-21)

exp.: rd 18a; While they are eating; Jesus would be the one presiding over the celebration. It would be during this festive time while eating this wonderful meal that the mood in the room changed: rd v 18-19; from v 10-11, we know this is Judas;

app.: Something incredible takes place here. There has been all of this symbolism during the course of the meal. And all of it has been purposeful. As we read in Mark, we get the sense that Judas is dismissed to go work his evil in v20-21.

t.s.: But Jesus, the presenter, then ties the Passover Celebration together with a new institution to be recognized and remembered by those who believe. And, he gives to us, his followers…

III.   The Lord’s Supper: An Institution to Celebrate and Commemorate (22-26)

exp.: As they were eating, he took the bread and he broke it and he blessed it and he gave it to his disciples. This he said, is my body. In the Aramaic, there would be no verb. We supply it here so that it makes sense grammatically. But to the eyes and ears, Jesus would have taken the Unleavened Bread and tore it down the middle and said: this…my body.

The Passover Meal was consumed. It was a Lamb that had been sacrificed on their behalf. They knew that God had said when the 10th plague came upon Egypt: The firstborn of every household will die tonight; however, if you’ll trust me, do this: sacrifice a lamb which shall die in your place. Put the blood on the door as a sign of this faith. And your actions demonstrating that faith in me will save that life.

Jesus says: this is my body which is broken for you. Like the Passover Lamb, you place your faith in me with your actions and my death will save you.

Rd v 23-24; There are 4 cups of wine that are used during the Seder dinner. Each cup represents 4 promises God made to his people:

  1. For rescuing them from Egypt,
  2. For freeing them from slavery,
  3. For redeeming them by his awesome power, and
  4. For a new relationship with Him.

Now, I’m no expert in the Seder dinner, but from what I’ve read, the third glass of wine is the glass Jesus would be holding when he came to this part of our passage. I’m standing here wondering what it would be like for these guys who know what is supposed to be said and done. They’ve heard this many times over and yet, they must be caught off guard as Jesus leaves the script with which they’re so familiar.

“This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. The shedding of his blood is what will redeem them by his awesome power. And then, Jesus says something very interesting: 25 Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

I’m reminded of the guys in Acts 23 who wanted Paul dead. More than 40 men said something like what Jesus said here in reference to destroying Paul. They said they would eat no food until Paul was dead. Well, they had to break their vow or die! And that’s the point. A vow like this is like saying: I’m going to get this done if it’s the last thing I do. Or something like: Even if it kills me, I’m going to….

Jesus is telling them here that he will give himself to die. He is going to become our Passover Lamb. His body will be beaten and whipped to shreds. His blood will be poured out as a payment for our sins.

Therefore, the one who looks to this Lamb for salvation, a new exodus will come, a new Passover will occur. And from this moment forward, he will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until it is accomplished.

t.s.: Maybe that is why he said on the cross when he was done: It is finished.

Conclusion: When we lived in Wyoming we heard a lot about the Yellowstone fire of 1988. Ashes from that fire fell down and covered our little town. Cars, houses, streets… all covered in ash.

It is interesting how life comes from death. When a tree dies, seed is spawned and there is rebirth. You can survey a hillside of ashes just a couple of months after a devastating fire and see the seedlings of many trees rising up out of the ashes.

Tim Keller tells the story of how he read in National Geographic years ago of just such life coming out of the ashes. It seems that there were some Park Rangers tasked with surveying the damage. And as they made their way up a hill, they came to the charred remains of a bird, sitting there perfectly still. The sight of this bird bothered the ranger – it seemed so eerie and out of place. So, he grabbed a stick and pushed the dead bird over – when to his surprise, three tiny chicks came out from under the shadow of her wings.

She could have flown away, but instead faced the hell that burned around her and sheltered her chicks from raging fire.

We’re going to participate in observing the Lord’s Supper and remembering Christ’s great sacrifice. If you’ve never trusted in the saving work of Christ, I want to give you a chance to do that this morning. Your prayer should be something like Psalm 57.1: Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.

Let’s pray.

You don’t have to be a member of Calvary, but you do have to be a member of the body of Christ! Also, I’d like to warn you not to enter into this time lightly. If there is any sin or rebellion or animosity you have toward a brother, please abstain from taking this morning.

Observance of the Lord’s Supper

 

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Mark 14:1-11

Title: What do you seek?

Text: Mark 14.1-11

Introduction: Our story is bookended with a typical Markan Sandwich. Two separate stories with a common theme that bookend another story which is related to them. Here, the bookends deal with the desire of the Religious Leadership to arrest and kill Jesus and a disciple who is tired of how things are going and is ready to hand him over to his enemies for the right price. The middle story – our focus, is the story of how a woman comes and anoints Jesus’ body for burial.

The religious leadership wants him dead; he says this woman’s actions are to anoint his body for burial; Judas is ready to make that happen by betraying him into their hands.

 

To tell this story, I’ve outlined this message in three scenes:

  1. An Evil Plot
  2. An Extravagant Gift
  3. An Embittered Betrayal

I.     Scene 1: An Evil Plot (1-2)

exp.: The 1st item on Mark’s agenda is to give us a time reference. Mark doesn’t do this too often in his book;

 

Have you ever wondered why Easter is different each year? Like, why isn’t it the 3rd Sunday in April or whatever? – Well, from what I understand, Easter is set to coincide with the Jewish Passover. Passover is at the 1st full moon after the Vernal Equinox – which marks Spring. V 1 tells us it was just before Passover (Exodus 12) and the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

This is important because the crowds have swelled in Jerusalem way beyond their normal numbers. 2nd, some of our theology is informed by this event. Paul helps us here by telling us that Jesus is our Passover Lamb. So, the timing here is important. Mark wants us to know what time it is.

V1 continues to tell us that the religious leaders were seeking… “Were seeking” is an imperfect verb – which indicates a repeated action in the past; Mark has told us of three such incidents in the past (3.6; 11.18; 12.12); their goal was two fold

  1. to ‘arrest’ him by stealth
  2. to ‘kill’ him.: in deceit to arrest and kill him. The word deceit means to bait or to lure.

The reason they chose not to do this at this particular time is given in v2: because they didn’t want to upset the crowds of people gathered for the Passover; they feared the people who loved Jesus and saw him as a man of God.

t.s.: So, be clear here: this is their goal and has been for some time; however, they’re not going to do this dastardly deed at this time. Nonetheless, life is continuing on as normal. There is so much going on and these guys are busy during this time of Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. There are services to be conducted. People, people, people are everywhere. And though these guys are making plans and think they’ll act on their own accord when the timing is right, God has other plans.

Transition: You might see this next part of the story as a “meanwhile, back at the ranch” kind of scenario. Let’s pick up there in v 3… I call this section…

II.    Scene 2: A Extravagant Gift (3-9)

exp.: Mean while; at the house of Simon the Leper; truth is, we don’t know who Simon is. There is a lot of speculation, but no one today really knows. Some say he is Mary, Martha and Lazarus’ father. Others say he was a leper whom Jesus healed. Truth is…we just don’t know. I’m guessing that Mark’s readers know who he was. But for us, it doesn’t really matter.

So, Jesus is at this man’s house when in walks a woman. The other Gospels which tell this story, tell us that she was a woman of ill repute. A prostitute, maybe? We don’t really know her sinful behavior. My guess is that we don’t really need to know.

I think this is wonderful. Let’s talk about you for a moment, because I don’t want to talk about me. I’d rather talk about you. Sinner. My guess is that you’re a sinner like her. Maybe your sin is different than her’s, but it is still embarrassing and nasty just the same.

Maybe that’s why Mark doesn’t tell us, because it really doesn’t matter.

So, Jesus is reclining at the dinner table (3) when she comes up to him and breaks an alabaster flask of perfume – a very costly perfume (5). As this is taking place, Jesus looks at her. But, he sees something totally different than these guys in the same room with see.

You know the funny thing about us as humans is that we often times only see the physical. Too often we’re pinned into a scenario that overtakes us in the physical realm. Physically, this should be upsetting:

  1. She is a woman. That’s a big no-no.
  2. She is a ‘sinful’ woman. Jesus, a man of God shouldn’t be consorting with such people.

Ill.: One morning, while on my way to class at UMHB – an 8 am class – I was singing a song I had been working on. I loved the chorus and was working on getting it right. When all of the sudden, this woman jumped out in front of my vehicle. I slammed on the brakes to keep from hitting her. She, begged me to help her. Her face was bleeding and bruised. Someone had beaten her severely. Her clothes were nice, but tattered from the fray.

I let her in and drove away. As we talked, I found out her pimp had beat her up. I’d love to tell the whole story to you this morning, but for now, let me just say I was so afraid. Not of her pimp! But, I was afraid of the Christians who knew me that they might see me driving around so early in the morning with a prostitute in my car!

You’re probably not thinking bad of me, because I’m telling you the story. But, would most of you not judge me if you had seen me? First, have you ever noticed that women of the night dress differently than most of the women who go to church here? 2ndly, she was not a white woman – She was African-American – a black American female.

Yes, I wanted to help her – and I did. Lisa and I were dirt poor, and we didn’t have money. But I tell you this story not because I’m proud, but because I look back on that time and wish I wouldn’t have been so worried about the Christians I might have been seen by – But instead, I would have had all of my attention on her and her needs.

App.: you see, you and I, we just can’t get past the physical aspects of our lives.

  1. The flask she has is a very expensive heirloom. It would be something that took years to make – probably passed down from family and would have possibly been her dowry…that is, if she were to marry.
  2. Its value would have been in the range of what a normal person makes in a year: a year’s wages. Let that sink in! Identify how much you make in a year. Apply that figure to this flask!
  3. It’s broken and spilled out on Christ.

These guys are thinking: What a waste! A year’s wages!

And they scold her! You see that in v 5;

Yep…I say funny… I don’t mean ‘ha-ha’ funny, but rather ironic. You and I would probably do the same, because you and I are trapped in cultural and social dimensions that we filter our experiences through. But not Jesus!

Man, to be able to see what’s going on in the spiritual realm; to not get trapped in the physical all the time. Rd v 6; And then Jesus gets to the heart of the matter; rd v 7; wow! They don’t know this, but the reader has a little insight from v. 1-2 and v 10-11; Jesus has but a couple of days left. Then, he’ll be gone. Rd v 8; burial! This must be so confusing for those listening in. And then, Jesus let’s us in on a little more… rd v 9; whenever the Gospel is proclaimed!

ill.: the word Gospel means good news. Good news. Everything we’ve been reading about is good news. The deceit of the religious leaders: good news. The frustration of disciples at the extravagant waste of this sinful woman: good news. Burial means death: also, good news.

app.: That’s the advantage of seeing into the spiritual realm!

t.s.: Well, we know from other gospels that Judas is the one who was most upset. And, from our story, his frustration spills over into life and he acts. Unable to see that God is at work here, he takes matters into his own hands. And, I call this…

III.   Scene 3: An Embittered Betrayal (10-11)

exp.: rd v 10; lit.: give over; The context tells us that frustration takes over from the waste of this extravagant gift. Judas has had enough. What we learn in the other Gospels is that he’s chairman of the finance committee! For three years he has walked with Jesus and there is no sign that Jesus intends to be the Messiah that Judas has been expecting. So, for a small sum (isn’t it odd that it all comes down to finances again), Judas agrees to betray his friend.

Transition: So the stage is set. Jesus is being set up. In this story, a sinister group of religious leaders delay plans to capture and kill Jesus. They don’t want to act on their desire to arrest and kill Jesus in front of the people.

You see, they think they’re laying out plans to do away with Jesus. I sincerely believe they think they’re doing God’s will. Little do they understand, that they really are pawns being moved by the mighty hand of God. And though they think they’ll wait – God has other plans.

Then, there is this Sinful Woman who makes her way onto the scene of a dinner party. Man, oh man, she is out of place. Women aren’t supposed to be mixing it up with men. She, however, thinks she is showing a display of her gratitude for Jesus. In her heart of hearts, that is what she is up to…but Jesus let’s us in on what God is doing. She’s anointing his body for burial. She is exercising her will, but accomplishing God’s will.

Judas thinks he is … well, I don’t really know what is going on in the head of Judas! He’s obviously frustrated at how things have turned out. He’s follow Christ for three years with the hopes that this really is the Messiah of God. So, he takes matters into his own hands – so he thinks. If you think about it, he is accomplishing the will of God, too – unbeknownst to him.

Conclusion: You see, in all of this, God is working out his plan…his perfect plan. And he’s using all of these people in his play…His Story.

As I look at this story with all of these people acting on their own accord, thinking they’re doing something according to their own plans, I realize that in all of their ‘doing’ they really have no idea what God is up to or that God is even up to something.

Application: I’d like to close with some questions for reflection:

  1. Do you know that God is up to something in your life? I have no idea what some of you are enduring right now. But can I encourage you to not see your life through the physical realm (like these guys did), but instead, to trust that God is at work in the Spiritual Realm just out of sight. My guess is that God is up to something absolutely incredible in your life that will bring Glory and Honor to himself through your circumstances. I think of Henry Blackabee’s Words: Don’t just do something, stand there!
    1. Why? Because you don’t want to work against God. 1st of all, you’ll fail! 2nd, I’m sure you want to be on the right side.
  2. Do you worry too much about what others think or about what others do – and not enough about what God thinks or what God is doing?
    1. The Chief Priests and Scribes worried about what the people thought.
    2. The Disciples worried too much about this woman’s wastefulness.
    3. Jesus doesn’t appear to be worried about any of it.
  3. What are you searching for? Our story is bookended with this one word: They were seeking and he was So, let me ask you again? What are you searching for?
    1. For the religious leaders, they were seeking to save their power over the people.
    2. For those listed in v 3-9, they were seeking financial gain, upset over this lavish waste poured out on Christ.
    3. Is it money or is it power, or is it more like what Judas appears to be going through? Can I encourage you to focus in on this ‘sinful’ woman? She is seeking to be with Christ. She takes what would be considered her future and destroys it – pouring it out on Christ.
    4. So, I’ll ask you one more time. Think deeply now: What are you searching for?

 

Let’s pray:

 

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