Sunday, March 29, 2015

Luke 19:28-44 – Palm Sunday

Luke 19:28-44 – Palm Sunday
By Pastor Lee Hemen
March 29, 2015 AM

I was wondering what you thought about peace. You know what I mean, not the peace the world tries to aspire to because that is impossible. I am referring to the peace that passes all understanding that only comes from intimately knowing the ruler of peace. Perhaps you have realized peace does not come from people, places or things. Education, money, or power cannot give you the peace you need or seek. Only the one who died for you can give you peace when all else in life falters, fails, or falls apart. The absence of war, strife, or personal hurt is not the peace He gives. His peace comes by the sword of His truth that pierces the human soul right down to the spiritual bone marrow.

The Jews of Jesus’ day were searching for a worldly peace, a solution to their national and personal problems. Just like much of the world today. They had not learned from their history that going to war, throwing out the oppressor, or striving to have it all does not bring the peace God desires. Many were of the same mindset as Judas, who betrays Jesus, and desired a manmade answer to their problems. Some saw or heard what Jesus had done at the tomb of Lazarus; certainly He had to be the one who could throw out the Romans and establish the governmental utopia they desired. To show their acceptance of this idea they welcomed Jesus by throwing their cloaks and palm branches on the road, recognizing Him as their king. Let’s discover anew what happened on that Palm Sunday…

READ: Luke 19:29-44


Goals in life are important, if you do not have goals you will never achieve in life what you may expect or what God desires. Jesus was reaching the goal of His life. What would become known as Palm Sunday in the high-church arena, we see as His triumphal entry into Jerusalem for the last time. The world and its allies do not see this as much of an accomplishment, yet here…

I. We find Jesus making the proper preparations! (Vv. 29-35)

As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, "Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, 'Why are you untying it?' tell him, 'The Lord needs it.'" Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, "Why are you untying the colt?" They replied, "The Lord needs it." They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it.

  1. Jesus had just given the crowd a parable concerning the fact that the kingdom of God had already come, but the ones He had chosen to take care of it, share it with the world, and invest their lives in it had done a pretty poor job. And now the one who would bring about the fulfillment of the kingdom was coming into the city of His temple, “he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem.” However, as “he approached Bethphage and Bethany, at the hill called the Mount of Olives” we discover “he sent two of his disciples” on a particular mission. Interestingly, Jesus gives them very specific instructions. He tells them, ‘Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs it.’” The wording for “Lord” some think simply means “master” as in Rabbi, while others see it as the folks already knew who Jesus was. It could be that Jesus had planned this with the owner, but I believe it is another example of His knowing what God desired of Him. God knew the colt would be there and probably had prepared the owner that Jesus would require it. In fact, Matthew relates that they would “find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her.” (Matthew 21:2 NIV) Luke tells us that, “Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, ‘Why are you untying the colt?’ They replied, ‘The Lord needs it.’” I find this both fascinating and comforting. It teaches us that when God makes plans His preparations are always perfect! We learn that, “They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it.” We find Jesus making the proper preparations!

  EXAMPLE: Proper preparation in life is very important, but far too many neglect doing so. Whenever we find God active in our lives, it is always because of our willingness to prepare ourselves for His purpose. Preparation comes from our willingness to listen and immediately obey. The disciples did not argue with Jesus about who owned the colt, where it was tied up, or why they were chosen to do the task. Far too often, we want to make demands of God and then argue with Him when He asks us to do something for Him. We need to be ready and willing, because God is always able to make the proper preparations when we are willing to obey!

People get excited about a lot of different things in life. We get excited naturally over the birth of a child, puppies, and the latest YouTube video. We find folks getting all shook up over media and movie stars as well. Isn’t it interesting that on this particular Palm Sunday…

II. We find the crowd getting carried away! (Vv. 36-40)


As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: "Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, "Teacher, rebuke your disciples!" "I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out."

  1. Matthew’s gospel relates that, “A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.” (Matthew 21:8 NIV) Can you imagine folks using their best garments so Jesus’ donkey could step on them? Would you be willing to throw your Sunday best on the road for the Lord to step on? This is exactly what these folks did. Luke writes that, “As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.” Wow, can you imagine what a scene that would have been! “When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen.” What miracles was Luke referring? John tells us that, “Now the crowd that was with Him when He called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. Many people, because they had heard that He had given this miraculous sign, went out to meet Him.” (John 12:17-18 NIV) They knew that only the Messiah could do such things and the crowd wanted to see the one who had raised the dead! And, perhaps, Jesus was the Messiah king they had longed for, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” they shouted. “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” The religious leaders however had a problem with this public display and “the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!’” John remarks that they were fearful of their standing and that the people liked Jesus better than them and whined, “See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!” (John 12:19 NIV) Jesus bluntly responds, “I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out”, we find the crowd getting carried away!

  EXAMPLE: How sad to realize that it was an unsaved crowd who got so excited about Jesus that they could not be silent. They sang the praises of God, gave Him glory, and professed Jesus as Messiah! The religious leaders desired they not make this public display. Which crowd do you find yourself belonging to this morning? I am not talking about worship service; I am speaking about a public display of your devotion to the Lord? We live in a day and age where there are those who try and find offense at the least little thing. So we often remain silent about our faith, when we should be the ones to sing, shout, and praise the Lord openly. We find the crowd getting carried away over Jesus, why don’t you?
   
We may forget that here in these few verses are some of the most startling contrasts of the world we live in. We have folks who even though they saw, heard, and experienced Jesus, refusing to believe. We have others who perhaps had never see Jesus before or experienced anything He had done, believing. And then we see some very personal moments from Jesus and discover that…

III. On that day, Jerusalem was condemned and cried over! (Vv. 41-44)


As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace--but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you."

  1. There are a few times in the Bible that can give the reader pause and this is truly one of them. The dusty gravel strewn road slowly ascends and as the traveler makes his way to the top the ridge, there is a moment where you cannot see the Holy City ahead and then it rises to view as you gain the crest. It is at that moment we find Jesus, “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it.” The poignancy of the moment is not lost. Touched with a tender concern for His people, Jesus’ natural passions are moved, and His tears fall readily from His eyes. This must be understood that here the Messiah is showing us His humanity. He shows His concern for those He came to die. But more than this, Jesus knows that the city will be destroyed and the temple razed within a few years because of what its rulers will do to the one who weeps over them now! He prays, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.” How sad to realize that there are those who refuse to see with their eyes and listen with their hearts to the call of Jesus. Jesus pronounces judgment on the city and as such the entire nation, “The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side.” When the Jews rebel, in 66 AD, after Rome pulled some of its troops out of the country, they soon returned. Nero dispatched Vespasian to restore order. In 68 AD Nero died by his own hand, creating a power vacuum in Rome. In the resulting chaos, Vespasian was declared Emperor and returned to Rome. Jerusalem later fell to Vespasian’s son Titus in 70 AD. Jesus predicts, “They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you.” And it came true. The Romans besiege Jerusalem for seven years building ramps against its walls and starving its citizens inside. On that day, little did the world know that Jerusalem was condemned and cried over!

  EXAMPLE: How would you respond to those who not only disdain you personally but also ignored you completely when you are trying to rescue them? Jesus’ whole nation is at risk of being destroyed because of their deliberate disobedience and spiritual blindness. The closest Israel came to being obliterated by God before was when it was busy molding golden calves to worship when God was personally giving them the Law on Mt. Sinai. Yes, they were sent into exile several times because of their disobedience, but this time there would be no rescue. Israel would be judged for its deliberate blindness and disobedience. They would be judged for murdering the Son of God when they knew He was innocent. Yet, through all of this, we find Jesus crying over His people who would so readily betray Him. On that day, Jerusalem was condemned and cried over!

Conclusion:

We find Jesus making the proper preparations! We find the crowd getting carried away! On that day, Jerusalem was condemned and cried over!

This article is copyrighted © 2015 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Who Are You Looking For? - John 7:33-36

Who Are You Looking For? - John 7:33-36
By Pastor Lee Hemen
March 22, 2015

In the movie Alice In Wonderland by Walt Disney, the main character, Alice, meets up with the goofy Cheshire Cat. He appears first of all as a great big row of smiling teeth. She wants to know which way she should go, which road to follow in order to find the white Rabbit she has been chasing. He responds by telling her, "Well it depends on where you want to get to." She says it doesn’t really matter, so he tells her, "Well then, it really doesn’t matter which way you go." Then he begins a whole series of nonsensical statements concerning Alice's desire to follow the White Rabbit. He finally tells Alice that "everyone is mad here." I have discovered that this is the way a lot of folks live their lives, meaning that they are not sure what or who they are looking for.

Last time we left the chief priests and the Pharisees trying to arrest Jesus because he told them he was the Messiah in so many words. They fully understood what he meant and what he meant was that he was God in human flesh. In our day and age many folks are looking for someone or something to follow. They are looking for a cause. We find that misguided youth are trying to head to Jordan, Iran, and other places in order to join terrorists organizations like ISIS. I also learned this past week that there are Christians who are actively joining those who oppose these groups and are fighting on the other side. It makes one wonder what in the world or who are these people looking for. Let's find out what happens in John's gospel…

READ: John 7:33-36

Herein John's gospel we begin a crescendo in the life of Jesus that builds to his death, burial, and resurrection. He begins some of his greatest teachings concerning himself and confronting his enemies and detractors. His desire is to do the will of his Father and to complete God's plan for mankind. His enemies want to thwart him at every turn, but they find their efforts difficult. I believe it is because…

I. They were confused as to where Jesus was going! (Vv. 33-34)


Jesus said, "I am with you for only a short time, and then I go to the one who sent me. You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come."

  1. As noted earlier, the leadership of the day were now actively trying to arrest Jesus and kill him because of his miracles and his teaching about God. Like many confused folks in our day, they did not understand who he truly was and what he was sent to do for them. Jesus was trying to let them know that he was only going to be with them only "a short time." The time Jesus had left was determined by God and not the human authorities who wanted to murder him. His ministry would only last three to three and a half years. However, it's impact would change the world as we know it. In our day and age there are those who are desperately trying to make Jesus into just another religious icon or figure. They do so because it then gives no credence to who Jesus was and where he came from, just as those in his day tried to do the very same thing. Not only would his ministry be short-lived, but he would return to the one who sent him, namely God the Father. We often forget that unlike those who follow Joseph Smith, Mohammed, Buddha, or any myriad of other dead folks, Jesus is alive and at the right hand of the Father in heaven making intercession for his followers. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit working in perfect harmony, making up one Godhead in three personalities to do the work and will of God Almighty! Israel would continue, as it does now, to "look" for the Messiah, but they did not find him then and they could not go where he was headed! Later on Jesus would tell his disciples, "The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. Men will tell you, 'There he is!' or 'Here he is!' Do not go running off after them. (Luke 17:22-23 NIV)" In fact, during the last days, right now, Jesus warned, "At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ (Messiah)!' or, 'Look, there he is!' do not believe it. For false Christs (Messiahs) and false prophets will appear and perform signs and miracles to deceive the elect--if that were possible. (Mark 13:21-22 NIV)" Even Peter, one of Jesus' closest disciples, would be confused and later ask, "Lord, where are you going?" Jesus replied, "Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later. (John 13:36 NIV)" Like today, they were confused as to where Jesus was going!

  EXAMPLE: Recently a Navy Chaplain was broadsided by his assistant, who is gay, with false charges and accusations of homophobic bigotry. The liberal left wants to tear down the wall of moral Christianity and make it inconsequential and it begins by shifting the sands of behavior and making ungodly behavior normal and godly morality abnormal. Sin loves to hide in the respectability of the masses. However, if Jesus is truly who he said he was and he is alive at the right hand of the Father in heaven, then his teaching that he is "the way, the truth, and the life" and that "no one comes to the Father" except by him has consequences if not followed. There are those who would love to convince you Jesus is dead and his religion is dead as well. We have to redo it into our image. Like today, they were confused as to where Jesus was going!

So many folks are spiritually confused in our day and age. They think Jesus is a momentary spiritual fix for their passing weekend depression, after all they do have to go back to work on Monday! There are those who are fooled into thinking Jesus is just another nice guy who taught nice things so we could be nice people. After all, can’t we all just get along? This ungodly confusion is not new. We discover that…

II. They did not fully understand who Jesus was! (Vv. 35-36)


The Jews said to one another, "Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks? What did he mean when he said, "You will look for me, but you will not find me,' and "Where I am, you cannot come'?"

  1. Hindsight is always 20/20, right? We can get frustrated and wonder why in the world these people were so spiritually dense. Yet, we forget the truth is right in front of many today and yet they still refuse to believe it. Remember what Jesus told the incredulous Nicodemus, "You are Israel's teacher and do you not understand these things? I tell you the truth, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? (John 3:10-12 NIV)" We should not be surprised when those who do not know Christ, do not understand his teaching. We forget that as believers in the Messiah, we live with an alternate worldview. Jesus would teach his followers, "If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. (John 15:19 NIV)" I am sure Jesus sometimes wanted to bang his head on the nearest wall. We see the Jews confusion when they wonder, "Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks?" Now they did not mean the actual Greek people but rather the term "hellane" was a derogatory term for anyone not Jewish. Kind of like, "Those people." Was Jesus going to go to "those non-Jews, those people?" Jesus could not go where they could not find him, so they could only think in earthly terms and suggest rather derisively that perhaps Jesus was going to go to the non-Jew heathen who needed some kind of spiritual teaching. Was Jesus going to go and teach the heathen? "Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks?" And in fact, after his ascension, his going back to God the Father in heaven, his disciples would in go to the gentile heathens because his own folks would reject him! We who believe in Jesus as the Messiah today are the result of the Jews' rejection of Jesus! His disciples indeed did go into all the world and teach Jesus' gospel, his good news! They were so perplexed, they repeat their previous question, "What did he mean when he said, 'You will look for me, but you will not find me,' and 'Where I am, you cannot come'?" They did not fully understand who Jesus was!

  EXAMPLE: Jesus' disciples would come to him later and ask him why he taught so often in parables. Jesus responded, "This is why I speak to them in parables: Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: 'You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.' But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. (Matthew 13:13-16 NIV)" Like those today who have the entire truth of the Scriptures right in front of them but refuse to believe in Jesus, they do not fully understand who Jesus was!

Conclusion:
Like today, they were confused as to where Jesus was going!  And like today, they did not fully understand who Jesus was!

This article is copyrighted © 2015 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Jesus, the Messiah? - John 7: 25-32

Jesus, the Messiah? - John 7: 25-32
By Pastor Lee Hemen
March 15, 2015

We misunderstand sometimes what the term Christ means but it is a Greek form of Messiah, both meaning anointed one. The Messiah would be anointed by God to perform and do his will in the world. He would direct people back to God, rescue them from their oppressors. The term came to refer to a future Jewish king from the Davidic line, who will be "anointed" with holy anointing oil, to be king of God's earthly kingdom, and rule the Jewish people during the Messianic Age. In Judaism, the Messiah was and is not considered to be God or a pre-existent divine Son of God as Jesus is. He is considered to be a great political leader that has descended from King David. The Bible plainly teaches us that Messianic prophecies were fulfilled in the mission, death, and resurrection of Jesus and that he will return to fulfill the rest of Messianic prophecy. Still, there are those who ask, "Is Jesus the Messiah?"

When Jesus decided to go up to Jerusalem, he knew the people would begin to discuss his ministry. There would be a lot of talk and speculation about who he was; whether he was simply a good teacher or perhaps the long awaited Messiah. We discover that they began to wonder if Jesus was the Messiah. Let's see what begins to happen and what occurs…

READ: John 7:25-32

As Jesus began to appear publicly he naturally began to confront the Jewish leadership and the populace who wondered exactly who he was. We discover that…

I. People were asking who Jesus was! (Vv. 25-27)

At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, "Isn't this the man they are trying to kill? Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Christ? But we know where this man is from; when the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from."

  1. As we read the gospel of John we know that the confrontation of Jesus with the ruling authorities would come. So, "At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, 'Isn't this the man they are trying to kill?'" While Jerusalem was a larger city for the area and the time, it was still a small city by today's standards whereby the quickest way to get the latest gossip, ah news, was from word of mouth. Kind of like many small towns in our day and age. And, like many towns of that era, news traveled fast, especially when you do not have TV, computers and other electronics to muck things up. And, what baffled them was "Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him." The general public knew the Jewish authorities. They knew how they responded in the past to any threat to their way of life or what they believed. They had the Romans or others do their dirty work and get rid of the nuisance. So this made the street crowd wonder, "Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Christ?" What they wondered about now became a voiced concern. A voiced concern would become a threat because when people begin to wonder, they begin to formulate opinions, and opinions become dangerous when they are contrary to those in charge. Could it be true and if it is true, what should we do about it? Jesus baffled the crowd, because they thought they knew him. They remark, "But we know where this man is from; when the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from." Jesus was a man like themselves. They knew he had to have a mother and a regular father. Some even knew he was from Galilee. But what they thought they knew and the truth were two different things. They only knew what they thought they knew and not the truth itself. It was a popular belief that no one would know where the Messiah would come from. Yet, here was Jesus and people were asking who Jesus was!

  EXAMPLE: There is an old saying, "Curiosity killed the cat." Some would respond, "But satisfaction brought him back." Then there is the little ditty that goes, "Little Billy played with dynamite, little Billy did not understand it quite. Curiosity never pays, it rained Billy 40 days." Curiosity can be good or bad depending upon the outcome. Curiosity about Christ in Jesus' day could bring the wrath of the Jewish leadership down on you. And now the crowds had seen for themselves the miracles and heard the teachings of Jesus and they began to wonder who this man really was. God's plan was coming to fruition. People were asking who Jesus was!

In all of the hubbub of the marketplace and all the undercurrents of the time and even with all the spiritual confusion of our day, isn't it wonderful to know that…

II. Jesus knew who he was! (Vv. 28-29)

Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, "Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, but I know him because I am from him and he sent me."

  1. Evidently Jesus heard the whisperings and the rumor machine as well. "Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, 'Yes, you know me, and you know where I come from.'" The crowds assumed that Jesus was only a Galilean carpenter from the city of Nazareth. In fact, they were wrong, but this is what they assumed. They also believed that the Messiah would be unknown until his public appearing. This was a popular view, but not connected to Scripture. A reader of the Gospels recognizes the irony. Jesus is more than a Galilean; he is the Logos who was virgin-born in Bethlehem. The crowds thought they knew Jesus. Yet Jesus was exactly who they did not think or assumed he was! Jesus was from God, Jesus is God. This is why he tells them, "I am not here on my own, but he who sent me is true." God is way more reliable than mankind. He is true in everything he does. this is why Jesus would say, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Jesus is the embodiment of truth because he is truth. This why earlier Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. (John 5:19 NIV)" Jesus is God became flesh to dwell among us. While God is true and reliable, his enemies are not. His enemies did not know God, or they thought they did but it was an erroneous view. There are those in our day who think they know God as well, but they only see him as perhaps a good man or at least as someone or something to manipulate and use for their own convenience. Jesus bluntly tells them, "You do not know him, but I know him because I am from him and he sent me." God sent him because he is God! What a wonderful thing to know that Jesus knew who he was!

  EXAMPLE: I betcha Jesus got frustrated with folks sometimes. I believe this why he cries out here in John's gospel. He had heard all the whisperings and rumors and such. Assumptions can get frustrating. I call it the what ifs. The Apostle Paul had his detractors as well. In fact, he often suffered because of the false lies they spread about him and his faith in Jesus. He responded by telling those around him, "That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day. What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you--guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
(2 Timothy 1:12-14 NIV)" Paul's faith was unshaken because he knew whom he believed in. God is always faithful. I am so glad that Jesus knew who he was!

Why is it folks would often rather believe myth or rumors than the truth? Books, films, and TV special concerning the supposed marriage of Jesus, what Jesus may have taught, or if he really died on the cross have garnered people's speculation. Sadly, the wrong conclusion can lead to severe consequences. God's enemies have always wanted to mislead folks and here we discover that…

III. Jesus' enemies knew what they would do! (Vv. 30-32)

At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come. Still, many in the crowd put their faith in him. They said, "When the Christ comes, will he do more miraculous signs than this man?" The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him.

  1. Of course folks do not like their own little worlds upset especially when they have a preconceived notion of what they think the truth is. Fanatical Islam is a good example and so is what occurred recently in Ferguson, Missouri. We think we know the truth, but what the truth actually is far from reality and can be upsetting if not downright aggravating to our own notions. This is what occurred here in John's gospel with Jesus and his detractors. "At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come." No one could fight God's plan and we still can't. This why no one could lay a hand on Jesus, his time had not yet come. Jesus' brothers nor his enemies could thwart the will of God. And in fact, because of this, "many in the crowd put their faith in him." God knew the time and the place and the circumstances of Jesus death, the crowd had no control of the situation.  Their faith was merely tentative because Jesus had not yet died for them. It reflects some of the crowd's willingness to see Jesus' miracles and teaching as something special. Far too many in our day do the exact same thing when they say they believe in Jesus, they only believe in the moment. It is not a lasting faith because they have not trusted him completely. Trust in who Jesus is, is foundational to being renewed and changed. In fact, we see that their faith was based on their own faulty understanding, "When the Christ comes, will he do more miraculous signs than this man?" It is like someone thinking, "I'll believe in Jesus if he will do… for me." However, "The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him." Jesus' enemies had no such notions, they wanted Jesus dead. Jesus' enemies knew what they would do!

  EXAMPLE: Lucifer, another name for Satan, means "light bearer." Interestingly we read that Jesus is the Light of the world as well. Satan has always used partial truth to try to confuse or blur people's conception of who Jesus is. Recently, several ladies came to our door with a pamphlet inviting us to the Heathman Lodge and a seminar about the End Times. They were Jehovah's Witnesses. They tried to sound "Christian" with the words they used, but nothing could be further from the truth. JWs do not even believe in the deity of Jesus or his atoning death and resurrection. They have fine sounding arguments, but are just messengers of a lie. A distorted truth of who Jesus truly is. They are enemies of the cross. And like the Jewish leadership of Jesus' day, Jesus' enemies knew what they would do!

Conclusion:
We learned today how people were asking who Jesus was, how Jesus knew who he was, and how Jesus' enemies knew what they would do!

This article is copyrighted © 2015 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Live or Let Die! -- John 7:19-24

Live or Let Die! -- John 7:19-24
By Pastor Lee Hemen
March 8, 2015

In the song "Live and Let Die"  written by Paul McCartney he sings, " When you were young and your heart was an open book, you used to say live and let live (you know you did, you know you did you know you did). But if this ever changing world in which we're living, makes you give in and cry, say, "Live and let die!" In other words, go ahead and do what you want to do or believe whatever you want to in the first place and let everything that disagrees with your current philosophy die. Ignore it and them.

Jesus confronts his accusers with kind of the same argument in that he tells them they needed to let their own corrupted view of God's commands die. He then gives them a specific example. While his detractors wanted to kill him for his truthful teaching concerning the gospel, he rebuts them by telling them to let their own false notions of God's commands die the death they needed. They needed to make the right judgments and live or let die! Let's discover what Jesus tells them…

READ: John 7:19-24

Jesus tells them…

I. Don't kill the messenger! (Vv. 19-20)


Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?" "You are demon-possessed," the crowd answered. "Who is trying to kill you?"

  1. The Jews of Jesus' day lived and died by their faith in Moses and the commandments of God, they ruled every aspect of their lives and while God had intended them to be a guide for righteous living, he never intended them to be a rule book that they interpreted and decided what was righteous or not. So, Jesus bluntly reminds them, "Has not Moses given you the law?" And, of course the answer was "Yes, Moses had given them the law they lived by." Yet the startling truth was the fact that they were hypocrites. Jesus pokes them in their pious posteriors by stating, "Yet not one of you keeps the law." Of course he meant those who were trying to murder him for his actions and teachings, because if they truly kept the law of Moses they would have seen instantly who he truly was and praised God! This is why Jesus sarcastically asks, "Why are you trying to kill me?" If they indeed kept the law they claimed, then why would they want to murder the Messiah God sent? In fact we discover in Mark's gospel Jesus remarks, "Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: 'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.' You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men. (Mark 7:6-8 NIV)" What a boot in the buns! They knew it too and try to get the edge by rebutting, "You are demon-possessed! Who is trying to kill you?" They knew who was trying to kill Jesus, they were! However, if you can't win an argument with logic or the truth, then you resort to innuendo and or name calling. And tacitly, they do both. You see anyone, including John the Baptist or Jesus, who did not agree with their convoluted keeping of the law of Moses, they instantly claimed was demon-possessed! In fact, they were more than willing to kill the messenger of God in order to keep things the way they liked. In the very next chapter of John, Jesus ratcheted it up a notch and rebukes them by telling them, "You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44 NIV)" Wow! Here he is telling them don't kill the messenger!

  EXAMPLE: It has been said that we often want to kill that which we do not understand, however, we want to be careful in making such a broad statement. Liberals would have you believe that one has to acquiesce one's morals and accept perversion as reasonable and normal. Jesus wasn't asking his listeners to accept that which was immoral nor was he wanting them to give up their faith in God. What he desired is that they open their hearts to the truth of God's plan being finished in him as the Messiah of the world. Yet, they could not wrap them spiritually narrow minds around such a concept even after seeing and experiencing Jesus' teaching and his miracles. No one else had done the things Jesus did and none had taught as he had, yet they were willing to kill him. Jesus is trying to save them. He is trying to tell them and us today, "Don’t kill the messenger."

Jesus then tells them…

II. Make the right judgment! (Vv. 21-24)

Jesus said to them, "I did one miracle, and you are all astonished. Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a child on the Sabbath. Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath? Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment."

  1. The Jewish leadership's spiritual corruption could be seen for what it was and Jesus confronts it head on, he tells them, "I did one miracle, and you are all astonished." Of course we discover he is not speaking about the loaves and fishes, but the healing of the man at the pool. Remember, he was in Jerusalem. The authorities were all dismayed because he healed the man at the pool and told him to take up his mat and walk on the Sabbath, a day of rest according to the law of Moses. So, Jesus exposes their hypocrisy by reminding them, "Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a child on the Sabbath." And isn't a person a person no matter how old or young they are? And doesn't a loving God care about all his children no matter what their age is? And doesn’t the law cover all people of every age or condition? And of course the answer is "yes." You see, this is the corner Jesus is painting them into. This is why he counters, "Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath?" What a bunch of hypocrites, they were more concerned for a foreskin than a whole person! Yet, we too can just as guilty when we piously stick our spiritual noses in the air, get offended when our feelings get hurt and ignore the grace of God. We all want God to be gracious to us, and we often demand that other believers treat us with respect and grace as well, yet far too often we hypocritically turn a blind eye to our own judgmental attitudes just as the Jewish leadership did with Jesus. What would Jesus say to us? Perhaps exactly what he told his listeners, "Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment." In other words, stop making pontifications thinking you're fooling God and holding him in high regard when in actuality you are making the wrong judgment in the wrong way. They thought that by appearing to uphold the law of Moses they would be seen as righteous, kind of like some of our heavenly-minded, but no earthly good brethren. Jesus is telling them and us, "make the right judgment."

  EXAMPLE: When we have faulty logic, we will make faulty assumptions that lead to error. Kind of like those GPS devices that do not have all the information they need to lead us in the right direction! The Jewish leadership clung to their ill-conceived and faulty notions of who they thought God was and how they thought God should act. They forgot that God's ways are not their ways and his thoughts not their thoughts. God is not like a mere man, and yet he humbled himself and became obedient and came in the form of a man and willingly died for our sins. How amazing is it that here is the one who was willing to die for their sins and they were just interested in preserving their status quo. In their ignorant-induced fog they could never make the correct decision and here is Jesus passionately trying to convince them to make the right judgment.

Conclusion:
He is trying to tell them and us today, "Don’t kill the messenger." And, Jesus is telling them and us, "make the right judgment."

This article is copyrighted © 2015 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.