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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Offline (Again)

I'm going to try this every week starting on Sunday afternoon and running through Tuesday (Writing Day).

My prayer request for Tuesday is to get about 5 pages written and map out the end of chapter 2.

See you on Wednesday. 

[Matt's Messages] "Arresting Jesus"

“Arresting Jesus”
Certain of Jesus: The Gospel of Luke
March 27, 2011
Luke 22:39-65

We are now just one month away from Resurrection Sunday.

And for the next four weeks, we’re going to continue to go deep into the experience of our Lord Jesus on that last night and morning of His death.

These next few messages will be increasingly more serious and solemn.  Not totally sad–because we know what all of this means for us.  But deadly serious and very solemn as we consider what Jesus went through for us.

I, actually, already know the next four titles of the next four messages that I’m going to preach, Lord-willing. [That doesn’t happen very often!]

Today, Arresting Jesus.
Next week, Judging Jesus.
Then, Crucifying Jesus.
And then Burying Jesus.

And then we get to celebrate the glorious Resurrection Sunday!

Today, it’s “Arresting Jesus.”

We’re going to see what happened when our Lord was arrested by the authorities.

Yes, our Lord has a rap sheet.
He has a record with the authorities.
Jesus knows what it’s like to be arrested.

And today, I’d like to look at it through the lens of His experience.

What did Jesus go through...for us?

We’re going to hang what we see on four hooks this morning.

Four things that Jesus painfully experienced at the time of His arrest.

Four things He went through for you and for me.

The first happened right before His arrest.

And we’re going to call it anguish.

#1.  ANGUISH.

The other gospels tell us that this place on the Mount of Olives was a garden called Gethsemane.  It seems that this was the place that Jesus was going each night after teaching in the temple each day of this fateful week.

And this is the night.

They’ve had the last supper in the upper room.

Jesus has predicted His betrayal, His disciples’ sifting, and His own suffering.

And they’ve left the upper room and gone up to the Mount of Olives, as usual, and there Jesus tells his disciples to pray.  V.39 again.

“Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, ‘Pray that you will not fall into temptation.’”

There will be a lot of temptation to come.  And Jesus urges His disciples to pray and then takes His own advice and gets down to praying Himself. V.41

“He withdrew about a stone's throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.’ An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.  And being in anguish [there’s our word], he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”

How terrible was His anguish, His agony!

It was, primarily, a spiritual anguish.

The physical anguish, the physical agony, will come soon enough.

But this is Jesus’ anguish at just the idea of what’s going to happen to Him.

He is so much in anguish that He sweats as He prays.

How many of us have prayed so intensely that we have sweated?

It doesn’t count if you are praying at half-time of a ball game.

Jesus is sweating because He’s praying so intensely in anguish.

So much sweating that Luke says it was like drops of blood pouring out of His head.

And notice in verse 44 that the more He was anguished, the more He prayed.

We tend to give up prayer if we’re hurting after a praying a bit.  But Jesus knew that more prayer was what was needed when He hurt so badly.

What was He praying, in so much anguish, about?

The cup.

Jesus asks, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me.”

What cup is that?

What cup would make the Lord Jesus so anguished in soul?

There is no other place in the four gospels where Jesus is so anguished.

Most of the time, He is confident, bold, and fearless.

But here, He falls to His knees and almost begs His Father to take away this cup if at all possible.

[And by the way, there is no mistaking how human Jesus really is at this moment.  Just because He’s God doesn’t mean that He isn’t fully human and can experience anguish like we’ve never imagined.]

What cup does this to Him?

What cup, in just anticipating it, anguishes Jesus like this?

It is the cup of God’s righteous wrath against sin.

This cup is the experience of the Cross.

If Jesus drank “this cup,” He would experience the wrath of God.

This language of a “cup” is drawn from about a dozen places in the Old Testament when God promised to bring righteously angry judgment upon the wicked for their sin.

Listen to Psalm 75, verses 7 and 8, “It is God who judges: He brings one down, he exalts another. In the hand of the LORD is a cup full of foaming wine mixed with spices; he pours it out, and all the wicked of the earth drink it down to its very dregs.”

This is the cup of the wrath of God brought in perfect justice, for those who deserve it, to drink!

But, paradoxically, it is not the wicked who is being asked to drink it here.

It is the Sinless One!

The Father has set This Cup of His Righteous Wrath in front of His Sinless Son and asked Him to drink it...for us. In our place.

To experience what Hell is for–the justice of God punishing the ungodly.

That’s what Jesus is staring at that causes His soul to be in anguish.

That’s what’s in this cup.

No wonder He prays.

We can learn a lot about how to pray from verse 42.  A lot.

Notice that Jesus prays to His Father.

God is, to Him, a loving father, and that changes how He prays.

God is not just the Lord of the Universe.  He is Daddy.

And Daddy’s want to be asked for things.

Do you to pray to God as your Father?

And He asks the desires of His heart.

We can learn a lot about prayer from that.  Prayer is offering up our hearts’ desires to God.

Sometimes we are afraid to ask God for big things for ourselves.  This is about the biggest prayer request there ever was!

Take away the cross!  Take away the cup!  Please!

If at all possible.  If you are willing.  Take it away.

Don’t be afraid to ask God for relief from your suffering.  Jesus did.

Don’t be afraid to ask God for big things for yourself.  It’s not selfish to pray for your self.  You can pray for selfish things for yourself.

But the way you know whether you are being selfish or not is how your prayer ends.

Jesus’ prayer ends with glad submission to His father’s will.

“Yet not my will, but yours be done.”

He submits His will to the will of His father.

And there was no other way.

No other way for us to be saved than for Jesus to drink this cup.

All of our prayers should have this submission as part of them.

Whether or not we say the words, “not my will but yours be done.”

Jesus knew the answer to this prayer.

But He still had to pray it.  It was offering up His heart to His Father.

This was as real as prayer gets.  “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly...”

Was He heard?

Did God answer this prayer?

Oh yes. The answer was, “No. I don’t will for this cup to be taken away from you.”

And, “Oh my, son, here is an angel to strengthen you.”  V.43

“An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.”

Hebrews chapter 5, verse 7 says, “During the days of Jesus' life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.”

Notice that, “He was heard because of his reverent submission.”

God said, “No,” but he heard His prayer.

Sometimes, it feels like God doesn’t hear our prayers.

But those times are often Him saying, “No. That would be good but it wouldn’t be best.  No.  Now, trust me.  Reverently submit to my painful will...But I hear you.  Oh, my child, I heart you. And I will strengthen you through this trial.”

We can learn a lot from Jesus’ example of prayer.  V.45

“When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. [They too felt the anguish but it led them to sleep, not pray. V.46] ‘Why are you sleeping?’ he asked them. ‘Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.’”

I think that a key application here is to learn to pray like Him.

Praying to God as Father.
Asking for our heart’s desires.
Offering up our heart to God.
And reverently submitting to His will.
And praying more earnestly knowing that we are heard.

But an even greater application is to thank Jesus for saying yes to the cup.

Because the Father said there was no other way to save us.

There was no other way than to experience (#2.) great injustice.

#2. INJUSTICE.

Jesus did not deserve the cup of wrath.

And He did not deserve to be betrayed by His follower.  V.47

“While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them.”

We saw at the beginning of the month, how Judas and the chief priests and the teachers of the law had made a conspiracy to arrest Jesus when there was no crowd.

The moment of His arrest has come.

Judas, who knew where Jesus normally went at night, led the way.  He was one of the Twelve.  He as an apostle. He was in the inner ring of leadership in Jesus’ band of disciples.  And He betrays Jesus.  V.47 again.

“He approached Jesus to kiss him, but Jesus asked him, ‘Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?’”

With a kiss?!

Kisses aren’t meant for enemies.  They are meant for loved ones.

This is injustice.

What has Jesus ever done to Judas to deserve this?

With a kiss?

“Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

The disciples know that this unjust and try to stop it.  V.49

“When Jesus' followers saw what was going to happen, they said, ‘Lord, should we strike with our swords?’  (Remember the swords they had back in verse 38?)  And one of them [didn’t wait for the answer!] struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. [But that’s not the way Jesus’ kingdom comes. V.51] But Jesus answered, ‘No more of this!’ And he touched the man's ear and healed him.”

“Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, ‘Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs?  Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour–when darkness reigns.’”
       
He is talking about the injustice of it all.
The reason they come at night is because they know that they are in the wrong and they know it.

And Jesus shames them with it.  They are the lawbreakers!

“Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour–when darkness reigns.”

And darkness is going to reign for the next several hours.

They are the darkest hours in all of human history.

Injustice.

We’re going to see that even more next week when we study Jesus’ trial before the religious and civil leaders.

But here is the surprise–the application is not just to be just and to seek justice where there is injustice.

But to thank God for this injustice.

To thank Jesus for undergoing this injustice.

Jesus accepts Judas’ kiss.
He lets the authorities arrest Him.

Not only does He heal the man’s ear who has come to drag Him off to a farce of a trial, but He also doesn’t run and (more to the point) He doesn’t just blast these guys into the oblivion they deserve.

Do you remember back in chapter 4 when a big mob in Capernaum got mad at Jesus and drove Him to a cliff to push Him off?

What happened then?

Luke 4:30 “He walked right through the crowd and went on his way.”

Jesus could have done that right here.

But He didn’t.  And He didn’t for you and me.

Thank Him.

Praise God that Jesus accepted injustice to make the unjust just, to make the unrighteous righteous.

“Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.”

That was injustice, but God used it to bring justification!

The kiss of Judas was reversed to become the kiss of God for you and me.

#3.  REJECTION.
The focus shifts to Peter.  V.54

“Then seizing [Jesus], they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. But when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, ‘This man was with him.’ [Here is Peter’s chance!  He was the one who chopped off that ear.  He can be bold now. He can proclaim his allegiance to Jesus just he had earlier that night. “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!” And this isn’t a soldier or a priest. It’s a servant girl.”] But he denied it. ‘Woman, I don't know him,’ he said. [One.]  A little later someone else saw him and said, ‘You also are one of them.’ ‘Man, I am not!’ Peter replied. [Two.]  About an hour later [while terrible things are happening to Jesus inside] another asserted, ‘Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.’ [You can tell by their filthy accent!]  Peter replied, ‘Man, I don't know what you're talking about!’ [Three.] Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. [And this is the most haunting thing.  Wherever Jesus was, He could, at this moment see Peter and Peter see Him.] The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.’  And he went outside and wept bitterly.”

Jesus was not just betrayed by a disciple.

He was abandoned by all of them.

And rejected...denied...disowned by Peter.

Just like Jesus said he would.

Three times before the rooster.

Can you imagine the moment when they locked eyes across that courtyard?

It was a terrible moment for Jesus.  He was rejected and alone.

And it was a most terrible moment for Peter.  He went outside and wept bitterly.

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.”

And that’s what happened.

It’s important for us to realize that this could happen to any of us.

We like to beat up on Peter because he’s a good punching bag.

But would we have done any better?

Do we do any better?

How many times have we denied Jesus ourselves by simply being silent?

We need to take heed here and not be proud.

This could be us.

Thankfully, we know how this ends.  We know that Peter’s tears are repentant, unlike Judas’. And we know that Jesus forgives Peter and puts him back to work in ministry.

There is hope for those who have momentarily rejected Him.

But, even more importantly, I think this passage call us to OWN JESUS ourselves.

To not disown Jesus like Peter did but to own Him.  Publicly.

Before others.

To not be silent. And to no deny.  To speak up and identify ourselves with Jesus as His followers.  To own Him.

I’ve enjoyed teaching our baptism class the last several weeks.

I think we’ve got a big bunch of believers who are going to go public with their faith on Resurrection Sunday.  I’m hoping for as many as 10 on day!

That’s awesome.

Because baptism is one of the ways that God designed for us to not be ashamed of Jesus to but own Him before the watching world.

Own Him.

Talk about Jesus.
Identify with Jesus.

Tell your co-worker what you believe about Jesus.

Tell the kid at the desk next to yours, the locker next to you, at school.

Tell your neighbor.

Ask them to come to Resurrection Sunday and hear these testimonies of faith in Jesus.

Imagine if Peter had said it all the other way.

V.57, “I do know Him.”
V.58, “Yes, I am one of them.”
V.50, “I know what you’re talking about.  You’re talking about my Lord!”

And later, Peter does just that.

And so should we. Own Him.

And thank Jesus for being rejected.

The worst thing here was not what happened to Peter but what happened to our Lord.

#4. TORTURE.  V.63.

“The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. They blindfolded him and demanded, ‘Prophesy! Who hit you?’ And they said many other insulting things to him.”

This is where the story become excruciating to tell.

Our master was mocked.
Beaten.

Have you ever seen anyone get beaten?

They made fun of Him.  They put a blindfold on Him and hit him and made Him play a cruel guessing game.  “Prophesy!  Who hit you?”

Ironically, Jesus had prophesied that they would hit Him!

That’s two prophecies in a row that Jesus got right.  Denied and Beaten.

He probably wished that His prophesies didn’t come true!

And they said the meanest things to Him.

I’m glad we don’t know all of what they said.

The Greek word here is blasphemo, these insults were, literally, blasphemies.

He was tortured.

Psychological torture.
Physical torture.

His spiritual anguish became physical agony.

And He didn’t deserve it one bit.

He drank the cup!

For you and me.

If you are not yet a faith follower of Jesus Christ, why not?

He did this for you, will you not turn from your sins and trust in Him and His payment for your sins on the bloody Cross?

He was tortured to save His people.

Turn from yours sins and receive Him as your Savior and Lord.

He endured a Hell on Earth so that you wouldn’t have to endure a Hell after your life.

Anguish, Injustice, Rejection, and Torture

For you and me.

For those of us who are faith followers of Jesus Christ, this passage should make us cringe with the injustice of it all but also make us so grateful that we want to sing songs of praise.

Where these men used their tongues to insult and blaspheme and mock, we should use our tongues to say, “Jesus, Thank You!” and “Hallelujah, What A Savior!”

Messages So Far In this Series:

Certain of Jesus
The Back-Story of Jesus
The Birth of Jesus
Jesus - A Very Special Child
Preparing the Way for Jesus
Jesus Is the Son of God
Jesus in Galilee
Jesus and the Sinners
Jesus Brings Real Joy and Rest
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part One
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Two
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Three
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Four
Amazing Jesus
Disappointed with Jesus
Loving Jesus Much
Jesus' Real Family
Jesus Is Lord
Who Is Jesus?
Following Jesus
Sent By Jesus
Q&A With Jesus
Sitting at Jesus' Feet
Jesus Teaches Us to Pray 
Jesus Is Stronger Than Satan
More Blessed Than Jesus' Mom
Jesus and the Judgment to Come
Being Real with Jesus
Jesus and Our Stuff
Be Ready for Jesus' Return
Jesus and Tragedies
Set Free By Jesus
Jesus and the Surprising Kingdom
Jesus and Jerusalem
Jesus at the Party
The Cost of Following Jesus
Jesus and the Lost: Part One
Jesus and the Lost: Part Two
Jesus and the Lost: Part Three
Jesus on Money
Sneering at Jesus
Jesus and the Great Chasm
Jesus Said to His Disciples...
Thanking Jesus
Jesus and the Coming Kingdom
Jesus Says, "Keep Praying"
The Proud, the Humble, and Jesus
Jesus Does the Impossible
Why Did Jesus Come?
Investing for Jesus in 2011
King Jesus
Jesus and the Temple
The Authority of Jesus
Jesus and Caesar
Jesus and the Sadducees
Jesus' Turn
Jesus and the End of the World
The Plan for Jesus to Die 
Jesus' Last Lessons

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Certain of Jesus' Passion

The next 4 messages in the Certain of Jesus sermon series:

  Arresting Jesus
  Judging Jesus
  Crucifying Jesus
  Burying Jesus

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Defiled by Gossip

Gossip is yucky.

One of the surprises (which shouldn't have been) of working on this doctoral project on the sin of gossip is just how sinful gossip can be.

I wanted to pick a "garden variety" temptation that we all face daily and write helpful things about it, and gossip rose early as a possibility.

What I wasn't expecting was that, as I got further into researching it, I would discover depths of depravity and feel dirty just by getting close to it.

This shouldn't have surprised me.  Gossip finds itself in terrible company in list of sins in Romans 1 and 2 Corinthians 12.  Gossip is always seen as negative, distasteful, undesirable, dangerous in both testaments.  Gossip is bad news delivered badly from bad hearts.  Gossip is sin.  Sin is yucky. What did I expect?

A few weeks ago, I read Scorpion Tongues: Gossip, Celebrity, and American Politics. It was well researched and clearly written but it made me feel icky to read all of that dirt about people who should be honorable (and some of them were honorable just had their names drug through the mud).

I'm glad to be able to write about resisting gossip and about responding when it comes at you so that the gospel remedies for this problem get taught to others.

But I'll also be glad to be free of the yucky-ness of gossip, too.  That's a good reason by itself to work to finish this project quickly and well.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

I'm Back

Thank you for praying for my writing week!  I had a great week, productive and joyful.

I wrote 30 pages of dense, "academic" prose.  One day for outlining and then 4 days of about 7+ pages/day.  I think I have about 10 more pages to go for this chapter to be ready to submit to my adviser.  Hooray!  Thank you for your prayers.  It now seems inevitable that I will get chapter two done, and even soon.  (It doesn't yet seem inevitable that I will finish the whole thing.).

My online fast went really well, too.  I found that I didn't miss it, and it really cut down on the "noise-level" in my heart and life.  It went so well, that I'm going to try to do it more. I am going to start going offline every week from Sunday afternoon to Tuesday morning.  I really found that I had more time for prayer and family.

Pray for my re-entry into online life and full bore ministry.  I came back to work Tuesday morning to 164 emails and a number of pressing ministry needs.  Pray for the quick establishing of priorities and for fruitful engagement in people's lives.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Offline

Call me the Hermit of Lanse. 

I'm going offline for a week starting this afternoon.

This week is my writing week.  I hope to write Chapter Two of the project (approximately 25 pages of biblical/theological writing about the problem of gossip).  Pray for productivity, precision, and perseverance for this project!

And while I'm doing that, I decided to take a one week online fast -- no email, no Facebook, no blogs, no favorite websites, etc.  I still might need to use the internet to find a fact or something for my project, but I'm going to pretend that I'm a hermit this week and focus on prayer, writing, and family.

I'd appreciate your prayers for this.  I'm kind of a "wired" guy who likes to be "in the know," so this is a stretch for me--but I think a good one.

Thank you!  I'll let you know how it went in a week or so.

[Matt's Messages] "Jesus' Last Lessons"

“Jesus’ Last Lessons”
Certain of Jesus: The Gospel of Luke
March 13, 2011
Luke 22:24-38

We are at the Last Supper.

Thursday night of Passion Week.

The night before Jesus’ crucifixion.

Last week, we talked about the plan for Jesus to die.  First, the plan of His enemies (verses 1-6) and then the plan of His Father which Jesus also chose (verses 7-23).

Jesus planned to die.  And at this Last Supper with His disciples, He told them about that plan and gave them a beautiful, simple, and powerful illustration of that plan in what we call “The Lord’s Supper”–the bread symbolizing His body and the cup symbolizing His blood, the New Covenant that He would inaugurate with His death.

We’re still right there at that Last Supper together.

A shadow has passed over the room.

What began as a glad celebration of God’s deliverance in the Passover has taken on a graveness and a sober character because Jesus continues to predict His suffering and His death.

It’s getting dark inside.  Night is falling.

So what we read next (verses 24-38) is “Jesus’ Last Lessons” for His disciples before  His crucifixion.

This is His last chance to deliver some teaching.

His last chance to give them some instructions before He is dragged away.

More was said at this last Supper than what we have here in Luke.

If you read Matthew, Mark, and John, you can see more of what Jesus taught His disciples in the Upper Room.  John, especially, has a lot more teaching to share there.

But this is what the Holy Spirit led Luke to emphasize in His Gospel.

And it’s what the Lord wants to say to us today.

Jesus’ Last Lessons.

The disciples sure could be real dummies, couldn’t they?

Jesus has just given them the most hauntingly beautiful prediction of His death that there ever was (bread and cup), and these dummies are arguing about their ranking in Jesus’ organization.

Which of them was the greatest?!  V.24

“Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest.”

Do you think it’s me?
Do you think it’s me?

Or maybe they were taking each other’s sides.

I think Peter’s the greatest.  I think Matthew’s the greatest.  I think that John’s the greatest.  How about Judas?!

Dummies!

And this was not the first time that they had had this argument.  We heard them arguing about this already in Luke 9.

But you might have thought they had learned something by now.

Not yet.

These guys could be really thick-headed dummies.

And that’s good because that’s me.  Right?

That’s us. It’s sometimes hard for us to learn.

We want to be first.  We want to be “great!”

Well, Jesus doesn’t say that being great is bad, but He turns the idea of greatness on it’s head.  V.25

“Jesus said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.”

Here’s lesson #1 today of 3.

#1. SERVE.

In Jesus’ kingdom, to serve is to be great.

The one who is greatest is the one who serves.

Jesus says that the world does it backwards.

“The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors.”  That’s a joke.

“We’re your Benefactors!  Bow down.  Do what I say.

Do what the Great Benefactor commands!”

Don’t be like that.  Titles are not where it’s at.

You can say that you are Benefactor without benefiting anyone.

Jesus wants the opposite. V.26

“But you are not to be like that.”  Don’t lord it over others. Don’t insist on being first, on having your own way, demanding and dictating.

“You are not to be like that.  Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest (the youngest in that culture were the ones with the least amount of clout) and the ones who rule like the one who serves.”  V.27

“For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.”

The Gospel of John tells us that at this very meal, Jesus actually got down and washed all of their feet.  Like a common servant.

“I am among you as one who serves.”

Now, that does not mean that Jesus stopped being the Lord.

He didn’t relinquish or abdicate His authority.

So, this does not abolish authority in the home, the church, or the world.

But it does tell us how we need to exercise our God-given roles of authority.

Namely, “as one who serves.”

Serve.

How are you doing at serving others?
Take a mental inventory of your last week.

How did you serve other people this week?

In what ways did you bend over and wash someone else’s feet?

That’s where greatness can be found.

Do you know who I think are some of the greatest people in all of the world?

Mothers of young children.

They have to serve people and they have to stoop to do it.

The world gets excited about politicians and rock stars and movie stars.

But they aren’t great like a mother of young children is great.

Often they are also the ones serving at the table, aren’t they?

Last week, we had our Wild Game Dinner.

And Keith and I and Dr. Dave got to hold the microphone and stand up front.

You might think that we were great.

And somebody needs to do those things.  They are valuable.

But if you wanted to know who was truly great, then go back behind the doors to the kitchen.

See who was there hours before setting up chairs.

Who was swabbing the deck afterwards.

Who was praying in secret and we don’t know what their name was.

In Jesus’ kingdom, the greatest are those who serve in both attitude and actions.

Let this be an encouragement to you if you are active in service and so many of you are.

And let this be a lesson to you if you are not.

Serve.

Now, here’s how.  You can afford to serve others because of the reward to come. V.28

“You are those who have stood by me in my trials.  And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

Now, these disciples have just been real dummies, but that doesn’t stop Jesus from giving them great grace.

He notes that up till now they have stood with Him (even if they didn’t understand Him), and He is graciously giving them a Kingdom.  Wow!

“Just as my Father conferred one on me.” Double Wow!

Here’s to expect, “so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

That’s the big feast coming that we talked about last week in verse 18.

There is a Messianic Kingdom coming, part of the 1000 year millennial kingdom that will come when Jesus returns.  And these disciples will sit on thrones (king!) judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

They can afford to serve because they will receive reward.

That’s how it worked for Jesus!

He served and will be rewarded with the kingdom.

Serve.

#2.  STRENGTHEN.

Jesus pivots, in verse 31, and talks directly with Simon Peter about how hard it’s going to be in the next few hours.  V.31

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

There is so much here to think about.

What a strange passage.

Jesus says His name twice, “Simon, Simon.  This is important, listen.”

“Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.”  And the “you” there is plural.  The 2011 version of the NIV says, “Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat.”  That’s right.

But it’s Simon Peter that Jesus is most concerned about at this moment.

What does it mean to be sifted like wheat?

We don’t do that today.

But it means tested, right?  Separating the wheat from the chaff?

Testing you like wheat.

How did that test work?

It involved shaking.

Simon, Satan wants to shake you.

He’s asked for it.  Who did He ask?

He asked God.  Like He asked God to shake Job.
And that should scare us and comfort us.

Scare us that God is involved in our being shaken.

Ultimately, He decides. 

Even if it’s Satan shakes Japan, He’s got to get permission first.

But it should comfort us.  Because Satan has got to ask permission!

The evil one is not in charge of the world, even of the evil things in this world.

God is in ultimate control!

And He’s somebody we can trust.

And even more comforting. V.32

“But I have prayed for you.”  Who is “I?”

“But Jesus has prayed for you.”  How comforting is that?

That’s what Jesus is doing right now for you and me who belong to Him.  Praying. Interceding on our behalf.

“I have prayed for you, Simon, that you faith may not fail.”

What was the answer to that prayer?

Well, Simon certainly failed.  We’re going to see that real soon.  Tonight.

He didn’t think he was going to.  V.33.

“But he replied, ‘Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.’ [Bring it on!  I get it, Jesus, you’re going to suffer.  Count me in!  V.34]  Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.’”

Peter is going to fail.

But, I’m not sure that his “faith” failed (v.32).

He sinned.  He denied.  He broke.  He failed.

But Jesus’ prayer did not.

He knew that Peter would turn back. He would make a comeback.  V.32 again.

“But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

I love that call for Peter, when He turns back, to strengthen His brothers.

He’s going to be shaken.

And He’s going to fail.

But he’s going to get back up and when he does, he’s got a job to do.
               
Proverbs 24:16 says, “though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity.”

“Though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again.”

And when he does, he’s got a job to do.

Strengthen your brothers.

Some of you feel down this week.
Beaten down.
Fallen down.
Broken down.

I know the feeling.
So did Simon!

But here’s the lesson from our Savior: Get up and get busy strengthening others.

He’s praying for you!

Don’t let your sins beat you down.
Don’t let the shaking of Satan keep you down.

Get up and get to work, strengthening your brothers.

When Peter is “officially” reinstated at the end of the Gospel of John, Jesus tells him to feed his sheep.

Who are you strengthening today?

We tend to just look at our own sins and shortcomings and trials and troubles, and we don’t look up and see who needs our help.

Strengthen your brothers.

#3.  SUFFER.

Serve Others.
Strengthen Your Brothers.
Suffer.

Here’s Jesus’ last last lesson in the Upper Room from Luke.

It’s a call to be prepared for suffering.  V.35

“Then Jesus asked them, ‘When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?’ ‘Nothing,’ they answered.”

This is a reminder of the times when Jesus sent them out with nothing but His mission and God’s providence to supply for them.

And they didn’t lack because God was faithful.

Jesus wants them to remember that for two reasons.  One, because God is faithful.  They will need to remember that soon.

And Two, because the situation is now changing. They will no longer be popular.

They will no longer be a part of a Rock Star Entourage.

They will need to be prepared to suffer.  V.36

“He said to them, ‘But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.  It is written: 'And he was numbered with the transgressors'; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.’  The disciples said, ‘See, Lord, here are two swords.’ ‘That is enough,’ he replied.”

What’s going on here?

No longer can they expect favor with others.  Not that it won’t ever happen, but that’s not going to be norm now.

Take supplies with you wherever you go.  Be prepared.

Even take along a sword for self defense. He’s not starting an army here. That’s not how His kingdom comes! But things will get rough, and it’s okay to defend yourself.

Be prepared to suffer.

Following Jesus from here on out will be difficult.

Here’s why. V.37

“It is written: 'And he was numbered with the transgressors'; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me.”

What’s that mean?

Jesus is going to be numbered with the rebels.

He’s going to be seen as a rebel, a bad guy.

He’s going to identify with wrong-doers, and get labeled as one.

And if that’s what is going to happen to the Master, then how should the disciples expect to be treated?

“You’re with Jesus?

Jesus was a troublemaker, so must you be.”

That’s how we can expect to be treated as followers of Jesus Christ.

It’s an historical anomaly that in America and in Europe, Christians have been highly respected.

And that’s wonderful.

But it’s not our right and it’s not what we can expect forever in the future.

Jesus told His disciples to be ready to suffer.

I don’t like hearing that.

I don’t like being readied for suffering.

But we need to hear that.

So that we don’t get huffy and whiny about how we are treated.

But instead are like Peter and John in Acts chapter 5.

They got this.

They had to go before the authorities and they were flogged (ouch) and ordered not to speak in the name of Jesus. And they (Acts 5:41), left the Sanhedrin rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name of Jesus.

Suffer.

Because Jesus suffered for us.

Can anyone tell us where this prediction of Jesus came from?  In verse 37?

“And he was numbered with the transgressors.”  Where is that from?

Isaiah 53.

Listen to Isaiah 53.

“Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground.

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.

By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.

He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.

Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.

After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.

Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors.

For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”

Written over 700 years before Jesus was born.

And on that night before Jesus was arrested, He said, “And I tell you that this must be fulfilled IN ME.  Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”


Messages So Far In this Series:

Certain of Jesus
The Back-Story of Jesus
The Birth of Jesus
Jesus - A Very Special Child
Preparing the Way for Jesus
Jesus Is the Son of God
Jesus in Galilee
Jesus and the Sinners
Jesus Brings Real Joy and Rest
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part One
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Two
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Three
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Four
Amazing Jesus
Disappointed with Jesus
Loving Jesus Much
Jesus' Real Family
Jesus Is Lord
Who Is Jesus?
Following Jesus
Sent By Jesus
Q&A With Jesus
Sitting at Jesus' Feet
Jesus Teaches Us to Pray 
Jesus Is Stronger Than Satan
More Blessed Than Jesus' Mom
Jesus and the Judgment to Come
Being Real with Jesus
Jesus and Our Stuff
Be Ready for Jesus' Return
Jesus and Tragedies
Set Free By Jesus
Jesus and the Surprising Kingdom
Jesus and Jerusalem
Jesus at the Party
The Cost of Following Jesus
Jesus and the Lost: Part One
Jesus and the Lost: Part Two
Jesus and the Lost: Part Three
Jesus on Money
Sneering at Jesus
Jesus and the Great Chasm
Jesus Said to His Disciples...
Thanking Jesus
Jesus and the Coming Kingdom
Jesus Says, "Keep Praying"
The Proud, the Humble, and Jesus
Jesus Does the Impossible
Why Did Jesus Come?
Investing for Jesus in 2011
King Jesus
Jesus and the Temple

The Authority of Jesus
Jesus and Caesar
Jesus and the Sadducees
Jesus' Turn
Jesus and the End of the World
The Plan for Jesus to Die 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Breakthrough on Project & Preparing for Writing Week and Online Fast

I had a "breakthrough" this morning as I was thinking about the gossip project.

It's kind of like most "aha" moments in not seeming like a big thing afterwards, but it was a long time in coming and also was just in time.

For the last several months, I've been trying to organize my work on the biblical data about gossip around the major story-line of the Bible, the redemptive/historical Big Story of the Bible.

But gossip just doesn't fit very well on that story-line.  The "doctrine of gossip" just doesn't have much of a development throughout the Bible.  I can make a case for a minor level of development, but not a major one.

So, it just doesn't make sense to organize my research that way.  Simple, no?

So, now I'm re-thinking my organizational schema, and my heart is much more at peace.  Thank you, Lord.

Next week is a whole week dedicated to writing.  I'm not going into the office, not doing counseling, teaching, visitation (except for emergencies or crises), etc.  Just 5 eight hour (plus) days of writing.

My goal is to write Chapter Two of the project (Biblical and Theological Foundations).  I hope it's do-able in a week.  I believe it should be as long as I don't lose my focus.

And to keep focused, I'm going to try something I've never done before--a total online fast.  I'm not going to check email, Google Reader, or Facebook. I'm not going to write emails.  I'm not going to visit my favorite sites.  I'm going to try to go offline for an entire week, starting Monday.

There may be some things I have to get online--information for the project.  And I'm not sure how I'll keep from doing email since my to-do list for the project is embedded in my email.

But I'm going to try.

The goal is to spend any time that I might have done that on: prayer, family, or the project for one whole week.

I'm trying to get myself ready for that.  I think it could be really hard good.

Pray for me.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Back in the Saddle

Tomorrow is my first full writing day in 2 weeks, and I'm looking for prayer.

Please pray that I would get quickly reorganized and finish my research/outlining so that next week, which is a whole week devoted to writing, will be productive. 

My goal is to finish Chapter Two of the Project (Biblical and Theological Foundations) by March 19th.  That seems really difficult, but I believe it is possible with the Lord's enabling.


I've decided to try to work on chapter 3 (Historical Precedents and Current Cultural Conditions) and chapter 4 (the ministry book: Resisting Gossip) at the same time.


So, you can pray for that, too.  Thank you!

Sunday, March 06, 2011

[Matt's Messages] "The Plan for Jesus to Die"

“The Plan for Jesus to Die”
Certain of Jesus:  The Gospel of Luke
March 6, 2011
Luke 22:1-23

We’ve reached another turning point in the Gospel of Luke.

For the last couple of months, we’ve seen Jesus win again and again in his fight with the Jewish religious leaders.  Every since He came to Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, Jesus has been in a daily confrontation with the leaders of Israel.
And try as they might, those leaders cannot win one against Jesus.

They have been stymied again and again and they are very unhappy.

Jesus has answered their questions and asked questions they could not answer.
He has warned the people about them, and He has predicted the judgment and fall of their temple and city.

And nobody has stopped Him.

The last chapter ended by saying, “Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, and all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple.”

He was growing and growing and growing in popularity.

But, now, that’s all going to change.

Because a conspiracy is about to be hatched to get rid of Jesus.

A plot is conceived to rid the world of Jesus and do away with Him.

And it is a plot that will succeed.

“The Plan for Jesus to Die”

#1. THEIR PLAN.

Look at all of the people who are involved in this plan.  V.1

“Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people.”

They couldn’t just come out and grab him, because they were scared of the crowds.

Jesus was more popular than a rockstar at that moment, and they would lose their power if they tried a frontal attack.

They’ve been looking for an opening.  We saw that in chapter 19, verses 47 and 48 and chapter 20, verse 19.  But they couldn’t find an opening.

But, now, here’s one.  V.3

“Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve.”

Satan steps in.

Remember Satan?  The tempter? The one who tried back in chapter 4 to get Jesus to sin and to rebel against His Heavenly Father?

And lost.

Luke said then that the devil left Jesus waiting for an opportune time.

The time as come.

Satan enters Judas, who was willing to be entered, and tempts and leads Judas, one of the Twelve(!) to betray Jesus.  V.4

“And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted (see them rub their hands together!) and agreed to give him money.  He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.”

The conspiracy has begun.

They have a deal.  There is now a contract on Jesus’ life.

The leaders have offered blood money to Judas for handing Jesus over (v.6) “when no crowd was present.”

This is just what they needed to get Him.  They needed inside information about when Jesus would be alone.

So the crowd could not stop them from getting rid of the troublemaker.

That’s their plan for Jesus’ to die.

Notice again who is planning here.

The chief priests, the teachers of the law (v.2), (v.3) Satan Himself the spiritual personification of sin and evil, Judas Iscariot (one of the Twelve), and the officers of the temple guard (v.4).
That last one is terrible. The officers of the temple planning to kill the Lord of the Temple.

They are all terrible!

Every one of these people should have worshipped Jesus but instead were planning for Jesus to die.

Even more people will get into this conspiracy before it’s done.

Including you and me.

Well, that’s their plan.

But their plan is not the only plan.  In fact, it’s not the most important plan for Jesus to die.

#2. HIS PLAN.

There is another plan at work here.

A plan that takes into account and even uses their nefarious plans for God’s own good purposes.

It’s God’s plan.

It’s Jesus’ plan.

Verses 7 through 13 tell the story of the preparations to be made for the Passover meal.  This takes place, on what we would call Thursday of Passion Week. V.7

As I read it, note the word “prepare” or “preparations.”  See how many times Luke uses it. V.7

“Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed.  Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, ‘Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.’ ‘Where do you want us to prepare for it?’ they asked.  He replied, ‘As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, and say to the owner of the house, 'The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?'  He will show you a large upper room, all furnished. Make preparations there.’  They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.”

Did you catch all of the “prepareds?”

There is a lot to be done to prepare for a big meal.

We saw that yesterday with the Wild Game Dinner.

I was at church and there was a parade of people came through getting this thing or that thing together for the meal.

And the Passover meal was a very special meal, supposed to be done in a special way because it commemorated the Passover–when the Lord spared Israel because of the lambs’ blood on the doorposts, passing over those homes and not taking their firstborn children.

It celebrates the Exodus and the Red Sea Rescue–when Israel was delivered.

So, there is a lot to prepare.

But notice how Jesus has it all planned out.

On the day when they did the ritual slaughtering of the Passover lambs, Jesus sent a team of two, Peter and John, to make the preparations.

And it’s kind of cloak and danger.  Like a couple of spies.

V.10

“‘As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. [Is that normal? Do men normally carry the water in jars?  No.  That wouldn’t be unheard of, but it would be unusual.] Follow him to the house that he enters, and say to the owner of the house, 'The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?' He will show you a large upper room, all furnished. Make preparations there.’”

Now, it’s possible that this shows Jesus’ divine foreknowledge and it’s miraculous.

But I think it’s more likely that Jesus has made some secret preparations of His own.

He doesn’t want to be interrupted at this moment.

Very few people know where Jesus is going to be at this moment–even though He’ll be with all of His closest disciples.

And I think the real thing that Luke wants us to see is that Jesus has a plan and He’s working it out.

Jesus is in control of His own destiny.

Remember the donkey a few days earlier?  I think it’s that story over again.  Jesus has everything planned out–down to the donkey, down to where they will eat together and He can free share His heart with His disciples. V.13

“They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.”

Just as Jesus had told them.

Jesus has a plan.

And it’s a plan, not just for supper but, for suffering.

And at that Last Supper before His death, Jesus tells them about His plan.

And He gives them an amazing picture of that plan in deeply powerful symbols–what we call the Lord’s Supper.

This is one of those passages that you just can do any justice to.

My words will fall far short of communicating the deep things that are present right here.

But we’ll try anyway. His plan.  V.14

“When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table.”

Not like in Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous painting. Not upright chairs, but reclining on low “couches” like spokes on a wheel towards a central table.

Very intimate.  Very close. 

Jesus is the head. He is leading the seder supper.  He is acting as the host at the Passover meal and He adds His own twist to it, creating something new.

Luke reports that Jesus had strong feelings about this supper.  V.15

“And he said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”

Notice two things there.

Jesus’ eager desire.  The King James says, “with desire I have desired.”

Oh!  I wanted this.  For us to be together this last time.

For me to share these things with you.

For me to tell you how much I love you.

And notice also the last few words, “before I suffer.”

That’s His plan.  Again, He knows what is coming. He has chosen it.

The disciples didn’t get it.  They knew there was danger, but their Master had bested the leaders at every turn.  And He was so popular!

But now, Jesus talks as if suffering is right around the corner.

And it is.

“I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. [v.16] For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.’”

Jesus predicts that He will not have another Passover Meal until the Kingdom of God comes in all of its fullness.

Remember, the Kingdom has come, and the Kingdom has not yet come, but the Kingdom will come!

And when it does, the Passover will be fulfilled.

The Passover itself was just a shadow of what is to come.

Jesus passes out some wine in a cup to emphasize this idea.  V.17.

“After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, ‘Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’”

This was probably one of the earlier cups in the traditional Passover meal.  Probably the first cup because He’s saying how much He wanted this meal with them and saying that it’s His last.

And saying that He won’t drink wine again until the Kingdom of God comes.

The book of Revelation pictures the coming of the eternal kingdom as a great wedding feast–the wedding Supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:9-10).

I’ll drink it again, Jesus says.

Isn’t it interesting how Jesus is tying the past, present and future together?

The first Passover, the present passover Lord’s supper that He’s creating and then that day when all is fulfilled and Jesus gets to eat and drink in the kingdom of God.

Isn’t that what it’s all about?

Notice that Jesus passes this cup around.  V.17 again.

“After taking the cup, he gave thanks [by the way, the Greek word there is “Eucharisteo” and it’s where we get the phrase “Eucharist” for the Lord’s Supper.  It just means, “Thanksgiving.”  He gave thanks’ ] and said, ‘Take this and divide it among you. [pass it around.  Give it to one another.]”

I think that points towards unity and intimacy among Jesus’ followers.  We share a common cup, the one our Lord gave us.

And then the heavy symbolism begins.  V.19

“And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’”

That’s the plan for Jesus to die.

He plans for His body to be broken like we break bread.

And He says that it is “given for you.”  For you.

In your place.

A gift.

His sacrifice.

“Do this in remembrance of me.”

Why don’t we just take a second right now and do that?

Would the men come forward and take the bread and hand it out?

Just leave your Bible open.  We’ll keep going in a second.

Please only take the bread if you are a believer and follower of Jesus, walking in fellowship with Him.

We’re not going to play music.  We’ll just sit here together like they did.

And think about Jesus.

Jesus knew in advance that He was going to die.

It was His plan.

This bread is His plan.

It symbolizes His body given for you.

In just a few short hours from this moment, Jesus’s body will be sacrificed.

He will be mocked and beaten to pulp.
He will be whipped.
He will be forced to carry His cross.
He will be crucified–and we can’t understand what that means.

If we did, we would throw up.  It’s the ugliest thing in the world.

And Jesus planned it.

He said, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”

Take and eat.

[eat]

Given for you.

Now, of course, Jesus didn’t mean literally that it was His body.

His literal body was right there holding the bread.

It is a symbol, but a deep symbol.  It means that Jesus died for you.

Given for you.

V.20

“In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”

Men, let’s pass that out, too.

Only take it if you are if you are a believer and follower of Jesus, walking in fellowship with Him.

This is a power symbol.

It stands for blood.

His plan was to die, to pour out His own blood.

Again, “for you.”

“Poured out for you.”

This is love.
This is sacrifice.
This is Jesus taking your penalty.
This is Jesus paying your price.
This is Jesus’ blood being spilt instead of yours.

“This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”

Take a drink.

[drink]

Thank you, men, you may go back to your seats.

What does he mean when He says, “This cup is the new covenant?”

What is the new covenant?

What is new about it?

The old covenant was the covenant made with Israel through Moses.

It was a good covenant full of good commands and good conditions.

If they obeyed it, they would have much blessing!

But they didn’t obey it.  Not even one day.

It was good for showing sin and showing the need for a Savior.

But a new covenant was needed.  One that God would fulfill in them.

God predicted this covenant in Jeremiah 31.

Listen to this:

“‘The time is coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,’ declares the LORD. ‘This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,’ declares the LORD. ‘I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.  No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,’ declares the LORD. ‘For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.’”

That’s what Jesus is saying is now here in His blood.

New Promises.
New Power.
New Presence.
New Pardon.

“This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.”

Jesus is not just fulfilling the Passover. 
He is not just fulfilling the Day of Atonement. 
He is fulfilling all of the sacrifices of the Old Testament.

There were so many sacrifices under the Old Covenant.

So much blood spilled to show how sinful sin was.

But now there is a greater sacrifice, once for all, to pay for all of those sins.

A new covenant in His blood.

You might have noticed that I haven’t said a word of application yet this morning.

Here’s the biggest one for you:

Believe in the Blood of Jesus.

His plan was to die for you.

If you have not yet come to believe in Jesus, start now.

Put your faith and trust in what this cup symbolizes–the new covenant in Jesus’ blood.

Believe in the Blood of Jesus.

Everything you have ever done wrong is in that cup.  And it’s paid for by the blood of Jesus.

The cross was no surprise for Jesus.

It was His plan.

His plan to die.

Believe in the Blood of Jesus.

The other application is to Trust in Jesus’ Plan.

In God’s plan.

You can trust Him because His plans always work out.

It’s mysterious how He does it.
He uses other people’s plans without violating their wills, but His plans always succeed.

V.21. Jesus goes on.

“But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. [He knows!  Can you feel this moment?  He knows.]  The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed [as God has planned], but woe to that man who betrays him.’  They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.”

You can trust in Jesus’ plan.

We don’t always know what it is.

We don’t always understand it.

I said that this week at Merrill Nearhood’s funeral.

I don’t understand why the Lord would take Him.

He had just come to believe in God’s reality and power.

He had just been shocked by witnessing the death of a co-worker.  And it had sobered Him about eternal things.

He had a 7 year old daughter whom he loved very much.

He was in our adult baptism class getting ready to proclaim His faith in Jesus Christ.

Why would God take Him on Tuesday?

I don’t know.  I don’t understand.

But I know that God has a plan that includes even that.

And I can trust Him even when I don’t get a peek at the plan.

He has a plan.

And it was a plan for Jesus to die.

For you and me.


Messages So Far In this Series:

Certain of Jesus
The Back-Story of Jesus
The Birth of Jesus
Jesus - A Very Special Child
Preparing the Way for Jesus
Jesus Is the Son of God
Jesus in Galilee
Jesus and the Sinners
Jesus Brings Real Joy and Rest
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part One
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Two
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Three
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Four
Amazing Jesus
Disappointed with Jesus
Loving Jesus Much
Jesus' Real Family
Jesus Is Lord
Who Is Jesus?
Following Jesus
Sent By Jesus
Q&A With Jesus
Sitting at Jesus' Feet
Jesus Teaches Us to Pray 
Jesus Is Stronger Than Satan
More Blessed Than Jesus' Mom
Jesus and the Judgment to Come
Being Real with Jesus
Jesus and Our Stuff
Be Ready for Jesus' Return
Jesus and Tragedies
Set Free By Jesus
Jesus and the Surprising Kingdom
Jesus and Jerusalem
Jesus at the Party
The Cost of Following Jesus
Jesus and the Lost: Part One
Jesus and the Lost: Part Two
Jesus and the Lost: Part Three
Jesus on Money
Sneering at Jesus
Jesus and the Great Chasm
Jesus Said to His Disciples...
Thanking Jesus
Jesus and the Coming Kingdom
Jesus Says, "Keep Praying"
The Proud, the Humble, and Jesus
Jesus Does the Impossible
Why Did Jesus Come?
Investing for Jesus in 2011
King Jesus
Jesus and the Temple 
The Authority of Jesus
Jesus and Caesar
Jesus and the Sadducees
Jesus' Turn
Jesus and the End of the World

Saturday, March 05, 2011

"The irony and mystery could not be greater."

Studying for tomorrow's message on the Last Supper:

"There is irony in the betrayal's sacred setting: a meal commemorating deliverance is also a meal that points to a sacred death.  The moment is emotional on several levels: Jesus is about to be given over to the nation, and the disciples celebrate the nation's freeing by God.  The irony and the mystery could not be greater."

-Darrell Bock, Luke in the BECNT series, pg. 1709.