EASTER SUNDAY

From Seeing To Believing

(John 20:1-23)

 

INTRODUCTION

I want you to think about the very beginning of the COVID-19, Coronavirus. ​​ There were news reports coming out of Wuhan, China that people were getting sick with a terrible virus. ​​ The initial reports talked about how this virus was particularly serious for children and the elderly. ​​ Now, I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t too concerned about the novel Coronavirus, simply because it was halfway around the world and I wasn’t planning on traveling to that part of the world anytime soon.

 

We heard about how cruise ships were quarantining crew members and passengers for 14 days, when confirmed cases of the virus were discovered. ​​ Again, I wasn’t too concerned, because I wasn’t going on a cruise anytime soon.

 

When the first cases hit the state of Washington, I started to think more seriously about this new virus, but again wasn’t anxious or fearful. ​​ There was a progression of understanding, as cases of the virus began to pop up in New York and New Jersey (that’s closer to home).

 

When federal and state authorities closed schools for two weeks, we all started going through a progression of understanding about this virus and its seriousness. ​​ I’ve been keeping an eye on the Pennsylvania state map and the graph of new cases that Senator Doug Mastriano provides every day (show map).

 

We are continuing to move through a progression of understanding as it pertains to the Coronavirus – should we wear masks and gloves when we have to go out, how long can I wait before I have to go to the store, when will my children be returning to school, when can I return to work, is my work considered essential or not, as a first-responder, am I going to get infected, if I’m infected am I asymptomatic, if I’m infected will the hospital have the medical supplies available to help me?

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Learning Greek

        • When I would read technical commentaries that had the actual Greek letters without an explanation of which English word it was referring to, I would use the same filler word when reading the sentence

        • I could visibly see the Greek word, but I had no idea what the word was or even how to pronounce it

        • Then I took the Greek Language course at seminary

          • At first, I was still looking at Greek words and didn’t know how to pronounce them

          • I had to start with the Greek letters and learn each one of those

          • Then I was able to sound out some basic Greek words

          • I learned a lot of Greek vocabulary words at the beginning

          • As I continued to study, I learned that there were various case endings that helped in understanding how the word is used in a sentence

          • Eventually we began translating simple sentences and then multiple verses

        • Intermediate Greek – fall of 2015

          • This course required translation of larger portions of scripture each week, from the beginning

          • It was and still is exciting to see and understand the nuances of Biblical Greek and the understanding that it brings to what scripture really means

 

  • WE

    • School

        • The COVID-19, Coronavirus has taken almost every student and teacher on a learning curve ride

        • While cyber school is becoming a more popular alternative to traditional public and private schools, the vast majority of students and teachers still use the traditional schooling approach

        • Since federal and state authorities have implemented social distancing as a way to stop the spread of the Coronavirus, students and teachers, in traditional schools, have had to make some pretty major adjustments to how they are learning

        • Now every student and teacher are experiencing online learning

        • They have had to go through a progression of understanding in order to make online learning work

          • Teachers have had to learn Microsoft Teams and other software options to teach remotely

          • Students have also had to learn different software options

          • Parents aren’t exempt from learning different software options, but they are also learning how to be a teacher

    • Work

        • When you start a new job, there is always a learning curve

        • You have to learn the ins and outs of how the company does certain things

        • After a couple of weeks, you begin to get the hang of it, but you may not have figured out all of the inside lingo, the chain of command, the authority structures, or the unspoken expectations

        • Eventually you understand all of that and you fit right in

    • Church

        • When attending a new church there is also a progression of understanding

        • When do we stand, when do we sit, what is the order of the service, do we raise our hands and/or clap when we’re worshiping, where is the bathroom, is there children’s church and Sunday school, where is the nursery, are food and drink allowed in the sanctuary, how do I find out more information about the ministries of the church

        • Eventually all of those questions are answered and we feel comfortable coming to church

        • Of course right now, you should have all of those questions answered, because you’re probably worshiping in your own home and you can stand, sit, raise your hands, clap, eat, drink, and use the bathroom whenever you’d like

    • There is a progression that takes place in school, work, church, and other areas of life

        • We’ll see in John 20:1-23 that the disciples went through a progression of understanding as they tried to comprehend Jesus’ resurrection

        • HI – Believing in Jesus’ resurrection requires a progression of understanding.

 

  • The Empty Tomb (John 20:1-9)

    • The women were up early

        • We know from the other three Gospel passages that there were more women with Mary Magdalene

          • She was the one whom Jesus freed from seven demons that possessed her

          • Mary loved Jesus deeply

          • She was one of the women that followed Joseph and Nicodemus to the tomb to see where Jesus would be buried

        • Mary’s statement to Peter and John in verse 2 also tell us there were a group of women that went together, because she uses the word “we”

        • They were on their way to the tomb while it was still dark

          • Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome had bought spices to anoint Jesus’ body (Mark 16:1-2)

          • They went to the tomb very early on the first day of week

          • They were talking about who would roll the stone away from the entrance to the tomb

        • They find that the stone has been rolled away

          • It is significant that the first witnesses of the resurrection of Christ were believing women. ​​ Among the Jews in that day, the testimony of women was not held in high regard. ​​ ‘It is better that the words of the Law be burned,’ said the rabbis, ‘than be delivered to a woman.’ ​​ But these Christian women had a greater message than that of the Law, for they knew that their Saviour was alive.” ​​ [Wiersbe]

        • Mary Magdalene immediately assumes Jesus body has been moved and starts running

    • Mary Magdalene comes to Peter and John

        • Since John is writing the Gospel account, he does not mention his own name, but rather calls himself “the other disciple, the one Jesus loved”

        • She would have probably come to the house of John

        • Peter was staying with him

        • She tells them that they have taken the Lord out of the tomb and that she and the other women don’t know where they have put him.

    • Peter and John go to the tomb

        • John outruns Peter

        • But, John is contemplative, so he doesn’t enter right away

        • When Peter arrives, he goes right in

        • The linen that was around Jesus’ head was folded nicely

          • Most commentaries state the linens around Jesus’ body still had the shape of his body, like an empty cocoon

            • Now, the Greek construction indicates that the linen clothes that were wrapped around Jesus were still lying in a circular form as though a body were in them.” ​​ [Smith]

            • That would have been an amazing sight

          • No grave robbers had stolen his body, because they would not have left the linens so nicely

          • They would have stolen the linen burial clothes instead of the body, because they would have been brand new and made of fine linen

          • The fact that the cloth that had been around Jesus’ head was folded up by itself, separate from the linen is significant

            • This would have allowed Peter and John to see that even though the other linens had the shape of a body that there was no body there

            • Jesus was not there

        • John sees the empty tomb and believes

          • The empty cross and the empty tomb are God’s ‘receipts’ telling us that the debt has been paid.” ​​ [Wiersbe]

          • Significant of “saw,” “saw” and “saw” in the Greek

            • Verse 5 (NASB) – “and stooping and looking in, he [John] saw the linen wrappings lying there. . .” – the word “saw” in the Greek is ble’-pō (bleh-poe), meaning “to look at, to see visibly

            • Verse 6 – the Greek word is the-ō-re’-ō (thay-o-ray-o) which means, “to study more carefully” We get our English word “theory” from this Greek word

            • Verse 8 – The Greek word is ā’-dō (eye-doe) and means, “to perceive with intelligent comprehension” We get our English word “idea” from this, so it can also mean “I get it”

          • First you’re exposed to some piece of information. ​​ You hear what the teacher is saying. ​​ Then you give it some more thought down the road. ​​ And finally comes that moment when you really get it. ​​ It’s not just a concept theologically – but it becomes part of your life personally.” ​​ [Courson]

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is pleased when His people see the empty tomb and believe in Jesus.

        • Why were they slow to believe what they were seeing?

          • Verse 9 tells us

          • . . . They did not consider, and apply, and duly improve, what they knew of the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.” ​​ [Henry]

            • 1 Corinthians 15:3-4a, For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: ​​ that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that ​​ he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,

            • Isaiah 53:5, 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 know they eventually understood

            • Luke 24:6-8, He is not here; he has risen! ​​ Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ​​ “The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.” ​​ Then they remembered his words.

            • Luke 24:45-48, Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. ​​ He told them, “This is what is written: ​​ The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem. ​​ You are witnesses of these things.

          • They definitely took the Gospel to all nations!

          • We are commanded to do the same thing

          • Do you understand from the Bible that Jesus had to rise from the dead?

            • This is an important truth of the Gospel

            • Many self-proclaimed prophets have died, but none have come back to life

            • Jesus wasn’t a prophet – He was the Son of God

            • God allowed Him to come alive again proving that Jesus’ perfect sacrifice was full payment for our sins

          • There was a progression of understanding for Peter and John as they examined the empty tomb

            • Where are you at in that progression?

            • Are you just seeing it for the first time, but not understanding?

            • Are you examining it more closely?

            • Are you at the “got it” stage, where you understand why Jesus had to come alive again?

          • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Move to the next phase of understanding concerning why Jesus had to rise from the dead.

            • Maybe you need to see it for the first time

            • You may be ready to study it more carefully for yourself (we’re here to help you with that)

            • Perhaps you’re ready to move to full comprehension (we’re here to help with that move also)

 

  • The First Witness (John 20:10-18)

    • Mary Magdalene remained at the tomb

        • Peter and John had returned home

        • She looked into the tomb again while she is crying

        • She sees two angels in white

          • They are seated where Jesus’ body had been

          • One at the head

          • One at the foot

          • It is a picture of the ark of the covenant

    • The angels ask her a question

        • Why are you crying?

        • Mary gives her answer

          • They have taken MY Lord away

          • She uses the word “my” here, because she is fully committed to Him – she has given her life to serve Him

          • Are you fully committed to the Lord?

          • Can you call Jesus your Lord?

          • PRINCIPLE #2 – God’s desire is that His people are fully committed to Him.

          • Believing in Jesus and being fully committed to Him are two different things

            • James 2:19, You believe that there is one God. ​​ Good! ​​ Even the demons believe that – and shudder.

            • Mark 8:34-38, Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. ​​ For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. ​​ What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? ​​ Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? ​​ If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

            • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Jesus, being fully committed to Him as my Lord!

    • Mary sees Jesus

        • She does not recognize Him

        • Jesus asks her the same question (why are your crying?), but goes further by asking who she is looking for

        • Mary thinks he is the gardener

          • She asks if he has carried Jesus body away

          • She is willing to go wherever the body is and carry it away

          • Her words reveal her devotion. ​​ She never paused to consider how she would carry the corpse of a full-grown man or how she would explain her possession of it.” ​​ [Tenney quoted in Guzik’s commentary]

    • Jesus reveals Himself

        • He only says her name, Mary

          • However, Jesus said her name, whether it was with the same tone or flexion that He had said it before, she recognizes that it is Jesus speaking

          • John 10:3-4, The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. ​​ He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. ​​ When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.

            • More than one shepherd would keep his sheep in a fold over night

            • When morning came, each shepherd would go to the fold and call to his sheep

            • They recognized his voice and they would come out of the fold and follow him

          • Mary recognizes Jesus’ voice when He says her name

        • She calls Him teacher

        • Jesus gives her a warning

          • Don’t cling to me

            • Actually, the ancient Greek construction of this phrase ‘means to stop an action already begun rather than to avoid starting it.’ ​​ (Tenney)” [Guzik]

            • She was worshiping Jesus at this point

            • PRINCIPLE #3 – God is overjoyed when His people worship Jesus.

          • Why did He say, “Do not cling to Me?”

            • She would see Him again

            • He had to ascend to the Father so that the Holy Spirit could come

            • She had a job to do

        • Jesus gives her instructions

          • Go to my brothers

            • He doesn’t call them servants or friends anymore, but brothers

            • John 15:15, I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. ​​ Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

          • Tell them I am returning to heaven

    • Mary goes to the disciples

        • She tells them that she has seen the Lord and what is message was to them

        • There was doubt about the fact that Jesus had risen and that Mary had seen Him (Mark 16:9-11)

        • That was about to change

 

  • The Disciples Saved (John 20:19-23)

    • Jesus appears to the disciples

        • It happened on the same day they found the empty tomb

        • The disciples are all together

        • They are behind locked doors, because they are fearful of the Jews

    • Jesus encourages them

        • Shalom! – Peace be with you!

          • He does not condemn them for running away in the garden or for being absent at the crucifixion (although John was there)

          • He offers this same peace to you

          • Romans 5:1-2a, Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.

        • He proves that He is alive

          • He shows them His hands and side

          • Hebrews 9:22b, . . . without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

          • He encourages them to touch Him and asks for something to eat (Luke 24:38-43)

        • The disciples are overjoyed

    • Jesus saves them

        • Jesus again pronounces peace to them

        • He is sending them just as the Father had sent Him

        • He breathes on them and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

          • At this point, the disciples are born again. ​​ Although they were already following Jesus, they were not yet regenerated because He had not yet died for their sins.” ​​ [Courson]

          • God had created Adam, but he did not have life until God breathed into him

          • The Gospel

            • Every person who believes in Jesus receives the Holy Spirit as their guide and comforter

            • John 3:16, For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

            • Why do I have to believe in Jesus?

            • Every human being is born with a “want to” to sin (Romans 3:23)

            • Because God is holy and just He has to punish sin (separated Adam and Eve from the Garden, work the ground, increased pain in child bearing) otherwise he wouldn’t be holy and just (Romans 6:23)

            • Another attribute of God is that He is loving (Jeremiah 31:3, I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.)

            • Out of His great love He sent Jesus from heaven to earth, to grow up to be a man, and then to give His life to take away our sin and provide eternal life to those who believe

            • Believing is not a once-and-done act, but rather a continual, active turning away from sin – that’s called repentance

            • The Holy Spirit helps us to know what to do and what not to do – He is that still small voice

          • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Receive God’s love and believe in Jesus so I can have eternal life.

        • He states about forgiving and not forgiving sins

          • We know that only God has the right to forgive sins, so what does this verse mean?

          • Jesus gives His disciples authority to announce forgiveness and to warn of guilt, as authorized by the Holy Spirit.” ​​ [Guzik]

 

  • YOU

    • People who hear about the resurrection for the first time may need time before they can comprehend this amazing story. ​​ Like Mary and the disciples, they may pass through four stages of belief.

        • At first, they may think the story is a fabrication, impossible to believe (20:2)

        • Like Peter, they may check out the facts and still be puzzled about what happened (20:6)

        • Only when they encounter Jesus personally are they able to accept the fact of the resurrection (20:16)

        • Then, as they commit themselves to the risen Lord and devote their lives to serving him, they begin to understand fully the reality of his presence with them (20:28)” [NIV Life Application Bible]

 

CONCLUSION/ACTION

Just as believing in Jesus and accepting His resurrection took a progression of understanding for the disciples, it sometimes takes a progression of understanding for us to accept others who may be different than us.

 

“Once upon a time I had a young friend named Philip. Philip was born with Downs Syndrome. He was a pleasant child—happy, it seemed—but increasingly aware of the difference between himself and other children. Philip went to Sunday school at the Methodist church. His teacher, also a friend of mine, taught the third-grade class with Philip and nine other eight-year-old boys and girls.

 

You know eight-year-olds. And Philip, with his differences, was not readily accepted. But my teacher friend was creative, and he helped the group of eight-year-olds. They learned, they laughed, they played together. And they really cared about one another, even though eight-year-olds don't say they care about one another out loud. My friend could see it. He knew it. He also knew that Philip was not really a part of that group. Philip did not choose nor did he want to be different. He just was. And that was just the way things were.

 

My friend had a marvelous idea for his class the Sunday after Easter. You know those things that pantyhose come in—the containers that look like great big eggs—my friend had collected ten of them. The children loved it when he brought them into the room. Each child was to get one. It was a beautiful spring day, and the assignment was for each child to go outside, find a symbol for new life, put it into the egg, and bring it back to the classroom. They would then open and share their new life symbols and surprises one by one.

 

It was glorious. It was confusing. It was wild. They ran all around the church grounds, gathered their symbols, and returned to the classroom. They put all the eggs on a table, and then the teacher began to open them. All the children stood around the table.

 

He opened one, and there was a flower, and they ooh-ed and aah-ed. He opened another, and there was a little butterfly. ‘Beautiful,’ the girls all said, since it is hard for eight-year-old boys to say ‘beautiful.’ He opened another, and there was a rock. And as third-graders will, some laughed, and some said, ‘That's crazy! How's a rock supposed to be like new life?’ But the smart little boy who'd found it spoke up: ‘That's mine. And I knew all of you would get flowers and buds and leaves and butterflies and stuff like that. So I got a rock because I wanted to be different. And for me, that's new life.’ They all laughed.

 

My friend said something to himself about the profundity of eight-year-olds and opened the next one. There was nothing there. The other children, as eight-year-olds will, said, ‘That's not fair — that's stupid! — somebody didn't do right.’

 

Then my friend felt a tug on his shirt, and he looked down. Philip was standing beside him. ‘It's mine,’ Philip said. ‘It's mine.’

 

And the children said, ‘You don't ever do things right, Philip. There's nothing there!’

 

‘I did so do it,’ Philip said. ‘I did do it. It's empty. The tomb is empty!’

There was silence, a very full silence. And for you people who don't believe in miracles, I want to tell you that one happened that day last spring. From that time on, it was different. Philip suddenly became a part of that group of eight-year-old children. They took him in. He was set free from the tomb of his differentness.

 

Philip died last summer. His family had known since the time he was born that he wouldn't live out a full life span. Many other things had been wrong with his tiny body. And so, late last July, with an infection that most normal children could have quickly shrugged off, Philip died. The mystery simply enveloped him.

 

At the funeral, nine eight-year-old children marched up to the altar, not with flowers to cover over the stark reality of death. Nine eight-year-olds, with their Sunday school teacher, marched right up to that altar, and laid on it an empty egg—an empty, old, discarded pantyhose egg.”

 

Harry Pritchett, Jr., condensed by permission of The St. Luke's Journal of Theology, School of Theology, The University of the

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/1997/september/4749.html]

12

 

Easter 2019

Same Power

(Matthew 28:1-10)

 

INTRODUCTION

“Nelson Mandela, who opposed the South African apartheid regime and was imprisoned for almost 3 decades, knew the power of words. He is often quoted today, but while in prison his words could not be quoted for fear of repercussion. A decade after his release he said: ‘It is never my custom to use words lightly. If 27 years in prison have done anything to us, it was to use the silence of solitude to make us understand how precious words are, and how real speech is in its impact on the way people live and die.’

 

King Solomon, author of most of the Old Testament book of Proverbs, wrote often about the power of words. He said, ‘Death and life are in the power of the tongue’ (Prov. 18:21). Words have the potential to produce positive or negative consequences (v. 20). They have the power to give life through encouragement and honesty or to crush and kill through lies and gossip.”

 

By Marvin Williams, Our Daily Bread, August 26, 2015

 

[https://odb.org/2015/08/26/the-power-of-words-2/]

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Hurting Judy with my words

        • We let our guard down when we’re at home, especially when it comes to our words

        • I know in my own life that I have said things in the past that have hurt Judy

        • It may have been the content of the what I said, but also the tone with which I’ve said it

        • I don’t intend to hurt her with my words, but it happens

    • Hurting my boys with my words

        • I’ve done the same with my boys

        • One thing I’ve learned recently is that I need to communicate with my boys in the same way they’re communicating with me

          • If they’re expressing feelings or emotions, I need to respond with feelings or emotions

          • If they’re sharing facts, I need to respond with facts

          • What normally happens is that I respond with facts, when they’ve communicating with feelings or emotions

          • I’m still learning how to do this, because it’s new to me

        • An example

          • Levi was expressing frustration with his cell phone, because it wasn’t working properly

          • He was telling me that he needed a new(er) phone

          • He was expressing his feelings of frustration about not having a phone that was working correctly

          • What I heard was, “I need a new phone!” and my response was factual, “We can’t afford to get you a new phone.”

          • My response should have addressed the feelings of frustration he was having instead of telling him, “just the facts”

          • I should have said, “I understand how frustrating it can be when something doesn’t work properly.”

 

  • WE

    • Letting our guard down at home

        • Every one of us has probably said things to our family members that we regret

        • We let our guard down at home and we don’t watch what we say

        • We may say things in the heat of the moment that show our true feelings, that we would not normally say out loud

    • Guarding our tongue

        • It happens to all of us, we sometimes don’t guard our tongue, but allow it to say things that are hurtful

        • Gossip is something that is so easy to do, because we “feel better” after we share something about someone else

        • Unfortunately, our words have the power to crush and ruin those around us

    • The great thing is that, as followers of Jesus Christ, we have the power within us to guard our tongue and use it to encourage and build others up, because of the Holy Spirit

 

I want us to look at how God and Jesus Christ used the power of their words to do some pretty incredible things throughout history. ​​ The greatest display of God’s power is what we’re celebrating today. ​​ We will see today that the same power, God used to raise Jesus from the dead, lives in us. ​​ Our big idea today is that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – God’s power lives within us.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Matthew 28:1-10)

    • Background

        • I want us to walk through Scripture for just a moment and remember how powerful God and Jesus’ Words were

        • Creation

          • And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light (Genesis 1:3)

          • And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.” (Genesis 1:6)

          • And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” ​​ And it was so . . . Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: ​​ seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” ​​ And it was so. (Genesis 1:9, 11)

          • And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” ​​ And it was so. ​​ (Genesis 1:14-15)

          • And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” ​​ (Genesis 1:20)

          • And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: ​​ livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind.” ​​ And it was so . . . Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” ​​ (Genesis 1:24, 26)

        • Exodus

          • Then say “The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to say to you: ​​ Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the desert. ​​ But until now you have not listened. ​​ This is what the Lord says: ​​ By this you will know that I am the Lord: ​​ With the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water of the Nile, and it will be changed into blood. ​​ The fish in the Nile will die, and the river will stink; the Egyptians will not be able to drink its water.” ​​ (Exodus 7:16-18)

          • Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: ​​ Let my people go, so that they may worship me. ​​ If you refuse to let them god, I will plague your whole country with frogs. ​​ The Nile will teem with frogs. ​​ They will come up into your palace and your bedroom and onto your bed, into the houses of your officials and on hour people, and into your ovens and kneading troughs. ​​ The frogs will go up on you and your people and all your officials.’” ​​ (Exodus 8:1-4)

          • Then the Lord said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning and confront Pharaoh as he goes to the water and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: ​​ Let my people go, so that they may worship me. ​​ If you do not let my people go, I will send swarms of flies on you and your officials, on your people and into your houses. ​​ The houses of the Egyptians will be full of flies, and even the ground where they are. ​​ But on that day I will deal differently with the land of Goshen, where my people live; no swarms of flies will be there, so that you will know that I, the Lord, am in this land. ​​ I will make a distinction between my people and our people. ​​ This miraculous sign will occur tomorrow.’” ​​ (Exodus 8:20-23)

          • Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: ​​ ‘Let my people go, so that they may worship me.’ ​​ If you refuse to let them go and continue to hold them back, the hand of the Lord will bring a terrible plague on your livestock in the field – on your horses and donkeys and camels and on your cattle and sheep and goats. ​​ But the Lord will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and that of Egypt, so that no animal belonging to the Israelites will die.’” ​​ (Exodus 9:1-4)

          • Then the Lord said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning, confront Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: ​​ Let my people go, so that they may worship me, or this time I will send the full force of my plagues against you and against your officials and your people, so you may know that there is no one like me in all the earth . . . Therefore, at this time tomorrow I will send the worst hailstorm that has ever fallen on Egypt, from the day it was founded till now.’” ​​ (Exodus 9:13-14, 18)

          • So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, “This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: ​​ ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? ​​ Let my people go, so that they may worship me. ​​ If you refuse to let them go, I will bring locusts into your country tomorrow. ​​ They will cover the face of the ground so that it cannot be seen. ​​ They will devour what little you have left after the hail, including every tree that is growing in your fields. ​​ They will fill your houses and those of all your officials and all the Egyptians – something neither your fathers nor your forefathers have ever seen from the day they settled in this land till now.’” ​​ (Exodus 10:3-6)

          • So Moses said, “This is what the Lord says: ​​ ‘About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. ​​ Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn of the cattle as well. ​​ There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt – worse than there has ever been or ever will be again. ​​ But among the Israelites not a dog will bark at any man or animal.’ ​​ Then you will know that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. ​​ All these officials of yours will come to me, bowing down before me and saying, ‘Go, you and all the people who follow you!’ ​​ After that I will leave.” ​​ Then Moses, hot with anger left Pharaoh. ​​ (Exodus 11:4-8)

        • Jesus

          • Jesus’ first miracle

            • The Gospel of John is the only Gospel that records Jesus’ first miracle

            • We know that Jesus and His disciples are at a wedding at Cana in Galilee

            • His mother is also in attendance and tells Jesus that they have run out of wine

            • “Dear woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. ​​ “My time has not yet come.” ​​ His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” ​​ Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. ​​ Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” . . . He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him. ​​ (John 2:4-8, 11b)

            • We know that when they took the sample of the water to the master that it had been turned into the best wine

            • Jesus simply spoke the words and told the servants what to do – there was power in His words

          • Jesus casting out demons with a word

            • When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. ​​ This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: ​​ “He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.” ​​ (Matthew 8:16-17)

            • Jesus had just crossed the Sea of Galilee and entered the region of the Gerasenes, when He was approached by a demon-possessed man. ​​ The demon, whose name was Legion, begged Jesus not to torture them or drive them out of the area. ​​ The Gospel of Mark tells us, For Jesus had said to him, “Come out of this man, you evil spirit!” ​​ (Mark 5:8). ​​ The demons were granted their request to be sent among a herd of about two thousand pigs, which then ran into the sea and drowned

            • A Greek woman from Syrian Phoenicia heard that Jesus had arrived in the vicinity of Tyre and she went to Him to beg Him to drive the demon out of her daughter. ​​ After Jesus uses the situation to teach this woman what was right, He said, “For such a reply, you may go; the demon has left your daughter.” ​​ She went home and found her child lying on the bed, and the demon gone. ​​ (Mark 7:29-30)

          • Jesus healing with a word

            • Roman Centurion (Matthew 8:5-13)

              • When Jesus entered Capernaum, a Centurion asked for His help concerning his servant was paralyzed and in terrible suffering

              • Jesus told him that He would come and heal his servant, but the Centurion tells Him to just say the word

              • Jesus explained to the crowd the incredible faith that the Centurion demonstrated

              • Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! ​​ It will be done just as you believed it would.” ​​ And his servant was healed at that very hour. ​​ (Matt. 8:13)

            • Government officials son (John 4:46-54)

              • Jesus had returned to Cana of Galilee and when a royal official heard about it, he came to Jesus to ask Him to heal his son

              • The royal official wanted Jesus to come with him to Capernaum to heal his son, but Jesus had a different plan

              • Jesus replied, “You may go. ​​ Your son will live.” ​​ The man took Jesus at his word and departed. ​​ (John 4:50)

              • When the official talked with his servants on the road, they all realized that his son was healed at the exact time that Jesus said the word

            • Paralyzed man (Luke 5:17-26)

              • A paralyzed man had some very great friends

              • They brought him on a mat to Jesus, but had to lower him through the roof, because it was so crowded

              • When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” ​​ (Luke 5:20)

              • This didn’t sit well with the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who were present

              • Which is easier: ​​ to say, “Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? ​​ But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . .” He said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up take your mat and go home.” ​​ Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. ​​ (Luke 5:23-26a)

          • Jesus during His passion

            • Garden of Gethsemane and Mount of Olives

              • After the last supper, Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray with His disciples

              • During that time, Judas brings a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees

              • Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?” ​​ “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. ​​ “I am he,” Jesus said. . . . When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. ​​ Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?” ​​ And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” ​​ “I told you that I am he,” Jesus answered. ​​ (John 18:4-8a)

              • We see the power of Jesus’ words at His arrest

            • Jesus on the cross

              • As Jesus is hanging on the cross, He cries out to God saying, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” ​​ (Matt. 27:46b)

              • He is offered a drink of wine vinegar

              • He then says in a loud voice, “It is finished.” ​​ (John 19:30)

              • At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. ​​ The earth shook and the rocks split. ​​ The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. ​​ They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people. ​​ (Matt. 27:51-53)

              • There was power in Jesus’ final words on the cross

        • All of this leads us to the culmination, the climax, of God’s power

    • Jesus is alive! (Matthew 28:1-10)

        • “One sleepy Sunday afternoon when my son was five-years-old, we drove past a cemetery together. Noticing a large pile of dirt beside a newly excavated grave, he pointed and said: "Look, Dad, one got out!" I laughed, but now, every time I pass a graveyard, I'm reminded of the One who got out.”

          Phil Callaway, from the April 16 entry of Men of Integrity (March/April 2006)

          [
          https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2009/april/1040609.html]

        • The empty tomb (vv. 1-7)

          • “Jesus’ resurrection had already occurred, notwithstanding the massive stone barrier (v. 6). ​​ The resurrection itself is never described anywhere in Scripture, presumably because no one ever saw Jesus leave the tomb.” ​​ [Blomberg, New American Commentary, Matthew, 427]

            • It’s likely that Jesus left the tomb prior to the stone being rolled away, as we’ll see in a moment, but we don’t know how far in advance it happened

            • We can be sure that it was not the night before, because He said, prior to His death, that He would raise up the temple again in 3 days – referring to His resurrection

            • Since Jesus’ resurrection is not described in Scripture, we can only speculate about how it took place

              • I would like to think that God simply said, “Jesus, it’s time to rise!”

              • That idea meshes well with what we’ve seen throughout Scripture about God’s power through the spoken word

            • So, by the time the women go to the tomb, it’s already empty

          • Women went to the tomb

            • The Sabbath was sacred for the Jews, which meant that nothing could be done during the Sabbath

            • While they may have finished purchasing the necessary spices after sunset on Saturday, they waited until just before sunrise on Sunday to go to the tomb

            • Most of us wouldn’t blame them for waiting until sunrise, because most people have a fear of cemeteries, especially after dark

            • At the earliest opportunity we see two women, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, headed to the tomb

            • Some of the other Gospel writers include other women in the group

            • There is a discussion between the women about who is going to roll the stone away, so they can complete the embalming process (Mark 16:3), but we see that they don’t have to worry about that

          • Angel rolls the stone away

            • A violent earthquake

              • Matthew’s account tells us that a violent earthquake happens when the angel of the Lord comes down from heaven and rolls the stone away

                • It could have been an aftershock from the earthquake that happened when Jesus died

                • “While not uncommon in this region, this second earthquake surrounds the supreme supernatural event, the resurrection of Jesus. ​​ A. T. Robertson quotes Cornelius à Lapide as saying, ‘The earth, which trembled with sorrow at the Death of Christ as it were leaped for joy at His Resurrection.’” ​​ [Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary, Matthew, 937]

                • It seems clear that the earthquake was a result of the angel coming down from heaven and rolling the stone back from the entrance to the tomb

                • We see that, with the word “for,” used after the mention of there being a violent earthquake

                • The “for” means that this is the reason why the violent earthquake happened

              • Rolling this enormous stone away from the entrance of the tomb was nothing for the angel of the Lord, so he just sits on top of it and waits for the women to arrive

            • Appearance of the angel

              • The appearance of the angel should not come as a surprise to us, especially after our study in Revelation and how the New Jerusalem will not need a light source, because the glory of God is all the light that is needed

              • This angel has been in the presence of God’s glory, so his appearance is like lightning and his clothes are as white as snow, representing purity

              • The glory of God reflecting from this angel is obviously too much for the guards who were standing watch at the tomb

                • The purity of God reflected in His angel strikes fear into the guards

                • Their fear was so real that they shook and became like dead men

                • “The ones assigned to guard the dead themselves appear dead while the dead one has been made alive.” ​​ [Donald Hagner cited by Wilkins, 938]

                • We know that eventually the guards regain their composure and report what they saw to the Pharisees and religious leaders, who coach them concerning what to say

            • It appears as though the angel does not speak to the guards, but he does speak to the women when they arrive

          • The women encounter the angel

            • He tells them not be afraid, which is probably why they did not end up like the guards – shaking in fear and becoming paralyzed

            • They’re at the right tomb

              • Have you ever driven somewhere that you’ve only been to once or twice and when you arrive, you begin to second guess whether or not you’re at the right place?

              • There is no question that the women have arrived at the right tomb, because the angel tells them that he knows they are looking for Jesus who was crucified

            • Jesus has risen

              • He is not in the tomb, because He did exactly what He told them He would do – He kept His promise

              • He had shared, on multiple occasions, with the Twelve and the other disciples, who followed Him, that He would be crucified, buried, and come alive again in 3 days

              • “‘Come and see the place’ verifies that this is the correct tomb and correct location within the tomb, thus stressing that he really is alive.” ​​ [Blomberg, 427]

              • It also helps the women, and us, understand that Jesus’ resurrection was not only spiritual, but also physical – His physical body was not there

            • The angel gives them instructions

              • The women are the first witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection – they have a responsibility as witnesses

              • The same is true when you and I witness an accident or some other crime – we have a responsibility as witnesses to tell what we saw and heard

              • The women were given the responsibility of sharing the incredible news of Jesus’ resurrection with His disciples

              • They were told what to tell the disciples – “He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. ​​ There you will see him.”

              • Because of the amount of time the disciples had spent with Jesus in Galilee, they probably knew right where to go – it would have been a spot where they had spent a lot of time with Jesus

            • The angel had completed his task

          • The women immediately began their task

        • Jesus appears to the women (vv. 8-10)

          • The women had two emotions running through their bodies

            • They were afraid, probably because they had never encountered an angel before

            • They were filled with joy, because Jesus was alive

            • While they were trying to deal with these opposing emotions, Jesus meets them on the path

          • Their response to seeing Jesus

            • Jesus basically says, “Hello!”

            • They obviously recognized Him immediately, because they bowed down to worship at His feet

            • This is the correct posture to have when confronted by the King of kings and Lord of lords

          • Jesus comforts them and reiterates the angels instructions

            • Knowing that the women were afraid after encountering the angel, Jesus tells them not to be afraid

            • He gives them the same instructions that the angel had given the – “Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

            • He calls the disciples His brothers, which could simply mean that they are now part of the family of God through Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection – God’s redemptive plan for humanity had been completed

 

  • YOU

    • Followers of Jesus Christ

        • We’ve seen today that God is all-powerful (omnipotent)

        • He has the power to simply use words to do the miraculous

        • As followers of Jesus Christ, we have the same power living in us, through the Holy Spirit of God

        • It’s the same power that allowed Jesus to come alive again

        • Life’s difficulties

          • Financial, emotional, physical, mental, spiritual

          • God is able to help you through every one of those

          • Read Ephesians 3:14-21

        • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Recognize that as a follower of Jesus Christ, I have the power of the Holy Spirit living in me to overcome any difficulties in life.

    • Those seeking a relationship with Christ

        • If you’ve never pursued a relationship with Jesus Christ, then you don’t have the power of the Holy Spirit living in you, but you can change that today

        • Jesus died on the cross to take your punishment for sin

          • We’re all born with the same condition – sin (Rom. 3:23)

          • God is holy (perfect), so He has to punish sin (Rom. 6:23a)

          • God is also loving, so He made a plan to deal with our sin (Rom. 5:8)

          • Romans 10:9-10, 13, That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. ​​ For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. . . . for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

        • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe that God used His incredible power to raise Him from the dead to take my punishment for sin so I can be saved.

 

  • WE

 

CONCLUSION

We’re going to close this morning with the song “Arise My Love” written by NewSong and performed by The Akins.

 

[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHzpzy9orZk]

10

 

EASTER SUNDAY 2018

Selfless Sacrifice

(Philippians 2:5-11)

 

INTRODUCTION

“Millionaires are booming in the U.S.

 

Since 2008, the country has added 1.1 million millionaires to its roster – a growth rate of 28.6 percent.

 

What do they know that the 99% don’t?

 

There’s one key investing concept millionaires have mastered, according to Brent Fykes, a senior investment partner at GenSpring:

 

They know when to stop being greedy.

 

‘[Most average investors] tend to want to dabble in the stock market and buy the latest hot stock like Facebook or Apple,’ he told Bankrate.com.

 

On the other hand, wealthy investors ‘by nature are less risky because they’ve created a nest egg and don’t need it to grow at incredible rates . . . They just want to stay rich. ​​ On the whole, the 99 percent is in the get rich mode.’

 

This passage from Investopedia drives the point home:

Perhaps the No. 1 killer of investment return is your emotions. ​​ The axiom that fear and greed rule the market is true. ​​ Do not let fear or greed overtake you. ​​ Focus on the bigger picture. ​​ Stock market returns may deviate wildly over a shorter time frame, but over the long term, historical returns for large cap stocks can average 10 to 11%. ​​ Realize that, over a long time horizon, your portfolio’s returns should not deviate much from those averages. ​​ In fact, you may benefit from the irrational decisions of other investors.”

 

Mandi Woodruff, “Consider Greed The First Deadly Sin Of Investing,” http://www.businessinsider.com/greed-is-the-deadly-sin-of-investing-2013-3

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Envy

        • Envy is easy to fall into, especially in this age of technology

        • It’s not hard to do in the pastorate, because I see what other churches are doing and wish that we were able to do those same things here

        • If I allowed envy to have full reign in my life, it wouldn’t be long and I would become discontent here and begin looking for another church where I could serve

        • Envy can drive us to do things we wouldn’t normally do

          • Judy and I were on vacation one year and because of that we let our guard down

          • The sales representative played on our desire to have a nice place to stay when we went on vacation – something better than a hotel or motel room – something with multiple bedrooms, a dining room, kitchen, and living room

          • We were cautious, but still invested in something that we probably shouldn’t have

          • These deals are not easy to get out of – they’ve designed it that way on purpose

          • We were really envying how other people take vacations instead of being content with what we normally do

        • Those desires of envy boil down to the fact that I want to feed my own pride

    • Pride

        • Envy and pride go hand-in-hand

        • I want people to look up to me and consider me to be a success and a great leader

        • It’s the desire to be known that feeds pride in me

        • It’s a reflection of the sin of selfishness in my own life

        • This sin of selfishness can take many forms – envy/pride, greed, ambition/peer pressure

 

  • WE

    • Envy

        • Perhaps you struggle with envy in the position that you hold at work

          • It doesn’t make any sense how or why that other person got the promotion when you should have gotten it

          • You’re better at what you do than anyone else

          • When you allow envy to control you, you struggle with contentment at work

          • It affects your relationships with others

          • You can become paranoid of why people are doing and saying certain things

          • You can incorrectly read something into a statement or action that is said or done

        • As a young person your envy is primarily directed toward those at school

          • You wish your hair, eyes, body, teeth, etc. were like someone else’s

          • You wish that learning came as easy to you as it does to that really smart guy or girl in your class who always gets an “A” on the tests and throws off the grading curve

          • If you’re on a sports team, perhaps you envy the person who seems to be able to excel at the sport without trying very hard

    • Greed

        • Greed is defined as, “Excessive desire, especially for wealth or possessions.” ​​ [dictionary.com]

        • Maybe this form of selfishness is the one you’re struggling with

        • Everything you do is centered around making money so you can purchase things

        • The show Clean House highlighted those who had an excessive desire for possessions

          • The show helped families get their house in order

          • It also helped the family overcome some emotional issues that had led to the “mayhem and foolishness” as the host of the show always says

        • Envy can lead to greed

          • Perhaps you’ve done some things that you would not normally do in order to achieve greater wealth

          • You work out a business deal that will make you a bigger profit, but jeopardize the safety of your product – you just hope that most of them will be fine

          • Many times you will compromise your value system in order to achieve greater wealth or possessions

          • Maybe you work out a deal with your friends at school to help you fund a project or event that will benefit you the most – you use your influence and persuasive abilities to convince them that it will benefit them more than it actually will

          • You know that trading a certain toy with another boy or girl at school is not an equal trade, but will benefit you more than them, because you’ll receive the more valuable toy

        • This is a reflection of the sin of selfishness in your life

    • Ambition/Peer Pressure

        • Perhaps the driving force in your life is status or prestige

        • Greed many times accompanies ambition or prestige

        • Your desire to maintain the status you have may drive you to not do what’s right

        • You may begin to listen to the voices of those around you who’ve made you what you are today instead of listening to the truth of God’s Word or being confident in what you know is right

        • Your beliefs become skewed and tainted by what others think

        • You are no longer your own

    • Biblical examples

        • There were two individuals and one group who struggled with these sins of selfishness as it pertained to the life of Jesus and the final days before His death, burial, and resurrection

 

  • GOD

    • Selfishness

        • Judas Iscariot – Greed (John 12:4-6; Matthew 26:14-16)

          • Judas struggled with the sin of greed

            • John 12:4-6, But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? ​​ It was worth a year’s wages.” ​​ He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

            • When Mary anointed Jesus feet with perfume (pure nard), we see in John 12:4-6 that he was indignant and scolded Mary for being wasteful

            • He tried to sound spiritual by saying that the perfume could be sold and the proceeds used to help the poor

            • He knew the value of the perfume and how much money could be added to the disciples coffer

            • He was the one who took care of the money bag for the disciples and routinely helped himself to what was in there

            • His intentions were not pure, but rather greedy

          • Jesus scolds Judas for bothering Mary

            • No one really enjoys being corrected, but this is what happened to Judas in public

            • We then see in Matthew 26:14-16 that Judas meets with the chief priests and asks them what they are willing to give him in exchange for handing over Jesus

            • The chief priests count out 30 silver coins and gave them to him

            • From that point on he watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over

          • It was selfishness expressed through greed and perhaps pride that caused Judas to reject Jesus and follow Satan

        • Chief Priests – Envy/Pride (Matthew 26:59-68; 27:18)

          • Imagine being a chief priest in the Jewish tradition during this time

            • You were highly respected and rarely questioned if at all

            • Achieving this level of prestige was something that perhaps many Jewish priests aspired to

            • Everyone looked up to you and would listen to every word you had to say

            • You would teach, and people would take it as law

            • You had the power to influence people in any direction you desired

          • Jesus arrives on the scene

            • He begins to draw large crowds and people begin to follow Him and listen to every word He says

            • They are no longer listening to you

            • In fact, Jesus scolds you on multiple occasions in public, making you look foolish instead of intelligent

            • Even when you finally are able to arrest Jesus because of a traitor in his inner circle of 12, you can’t make any of the false accusations stick

            • You finally have to claim blasphemy as your reason for condemning Him to death, but your Jewish law doesn’t allow you to put anyone to death

            • You take Jesus before the Roman governor because the Roman law allows for death

            • The Roman governor tries to protect Jesus because he knows why the chief priests have handed Him over

            • Matthew 27:18, For he knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him.

            • The chief priests were jealous and envious of the power that Jesus exhibited not only in His teaching, but in His ability to heal people

            • They were envious of the fact that Jesus was doing things on the Sabbath that they, had been falsely taught for years, was wrong

          • It was selfish envy that caused the chief priests to reject Jesus as the Messiah and turn Him over to Pontius Pilate to be crucified

        • Pontius Pilate – Ambition/Peer Pressure (Matthew 27:15-26)

          • Questioning of Jesus

            • After talking with Jesus, Pilate knew that the trumped up charges of causing riots, claiming to be a king, and encouraging people not to pay taxes, were false

            • He wasn’t dull and was able to see through the smoke screen to the real reason the Jews brought Jewish to him – it was envy

            • That’s why Pilate stated multiple times that he found no basis to charge Jesus with any crime

          • Pilate’s wife

            • Pilate’s wife had a dream about Jesus that caused her great suffering

            • She encouraged Pilate not to have anything to do with an innocent man

          • Other avenues

            • Pilate tried desperately not to be a part of salvation history

            • He sent Jesus to Herod, so he wouldn’t have to make a decision

            • He tried offering to release Jesus or a real criminal and the Jews chose the real criminal, Barabbas, over Jesus

            • He tried washing his hands of the situation, so he would not be held accountable

          • The decision

            • Pilate’s final decision was made because of his selfish desire to remain as the governor instead of doing what he knew was right

            • Matthew 27:24-26, When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. ​​ “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. ​​ “It is your responsibility!” ​​ All the people answered, “Let his blood be on us and on our children!” ​​ Then he released Barabbas to them. ​​ But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

            • John 19:12, From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jews kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. ​​ Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.”

            • Pilate had already been in trouble with Tiberius Caesar on at least two other occasions and he could not afford to be in trouble with him again

            • Caesar only allowed men to remain in positions of power who were able to maintain control of the people

            • So Pilate gave in to the will of the people

          • It was Pilate’s selfish desire to preserve himself and his status that caused him to reject Jesus and hand Him over to be crucified

    • Selflessness (Philippians 2:5-11)

        • Greed (2:5-6)

          • Philippians 2:5-6, Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus; Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, . . .

          • Jesus is the Son of God

          • He was there when the world was created

          • He knows about the riches of Heaven

          • He owns everything

          • He has unlimited power

          • Jesus sacrificed all of that for you

            • He set aside the right to his glory and power

            • Even as He suffered a horrible beating at the hands of Roman soldiers, He did not use His power to avoid it

            • As He suffered the brutal death of crucifixion on a cross, He could have called down angels from heaven to minister to Him but He chose not to

            • He showed no signs of an excessive desire for wealth or possessions

          • He was selfless

        • Ambition/Status (2:7)

          • Philippians 2:7, . . . but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

          • Jesus made Himself nothing

          • He took on the very nature of a servant

          • Jesus was selfless when it came to ambition or status

          • He did not allow what others thought about Him to affect what He came to do

            • Mark 8:31-33, He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. ​​ He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. ​​ But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. ​​ “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. ​​ “You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

            • John 11:7-8, Then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.” ​​ “But Rabbi,” they said, “a short while ago the Jews tried to stone you, and yet you are going back there?”

          • He knew what was right and He followed through with it even though the Roman soldiers mocked Him and beat Him

        • Envy/Pride (2:8)

          • Philippians 2:8, And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!

          • Jesus showed humility as He went to the cross

          • He didn’t let His deity stop Him from accomplishing His mission and goal

          • He wasn’t prideful about His position as the Son of God, but was willing to take on the essence of man in order to save you and me

          • Perhaps the chief priests wouldn’t have envied Jesus if they had understood who He was and why He had come to earth

          • Jesus selflessly became obedient to death on the cross

        • Jesus’ Exaltation (2:9-11)

          • Jesus death brought you victory, because His death destroyed the devil who holds the power of death (Heb. 2:14) ​​ [Stott, The Cross of Christ, 233]

          • Jesus’ resurrection vindicated Him and declared with power that He is the Son of God and that His death was effective for the forgiveness of sins [Stott, The Cross of Christ, 233]

          • Philippians 2:9-11, Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 

  • YOU

    • Jesus died for your sin

        • If you’re struggling with the selfish sin of envy/pride, Jesus died to take your punishment

        • If you’re struggling with the selfish sin of greed, this excessive desire for wealth or possessions, Jesus paid your fine

        • If you’re struggling with the selfish sin of ambition/compromise, Jesus shed His blood so you could be set free

        • My greatest desire for you is that you’ll recognize all that God has done for you through His Son Jesus Christ

          • Romans 3:10-12, As it is written: ​​ “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. ​​ All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”

          • Romans 6:23, For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

          • Romans 5:8, But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: ​​ While were still sinners, Christ died for us.

          • Romans 10:8-10, 13, But what does it say? ​​ “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: ​​ That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. ​​ For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved . . . for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

          • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Call on the name of the Lord and be saved.

        • You may be here today and can say that you know about God and you know what Jesus Christ did for you when He died on the cross, but there is something that is holding you back from giving your life completely to Him as your Savior

    • Rejecting Jesus

        • Judas, the Chief Priests, and Pontius Pilate all knew about God and saw Jesus face-to-face and yet they rejected Him

        • Perhaps it makes perfect sense to you why Judas Iscariot rejected Jesus

          • Maybe you are seeking true happiness by accumulating wealth or possessions

          • You may have the misconception that if you dedicate your life to Jesus Christ, that He will require you to sell all of your possessions or empty your bank accounts and give to the poor

          • You’re concerned that you’ll have to live like a pauper and never be happy

          • When Jesus comes into your life, He will change your desires to coincide with God’s purposes

          • The Holy Spirit will teach you how to deny yourself and take up your cross daily and follow Jesus (Luke 9:23-24)

        • Maybe you continue to reject Jesus because of pride

          • You want to be in charge of your life

          • You don’t want anyone telling you what you can and cannot do

          • You view the Bible as God’s rule book and rules are meant to be broken

          • You don’t want to admit that you could use someone else’s help with the situation(s) you are currently going through

          • Perhaps you’ve seen answered prayer in someone else’s life, but you’re too prideful to experience it for yourself

        • You may be dealing with peer pressure, which has caused you to reject Jesus

          • You know what’s right to do, but you’re afraid of what your friends might think if you turn your life over to Jesus Christ

          • You’ve allowed them to influence how you think and act, but you’ve felt the leading of God’s Spirit in your life

          • He’s calling out to you to follow Him

        • My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Commit to read the Gospel of John in the Bible for the next month and ask God to reveal Himself to me.

 

  • WE

    • We have a responsibility as Christ followers to share this transformational Gospel with those in our sphere of influence

    • After Jesus’ resurrection, he stayed on the earth for 40 days, teaching His disciples

        • They were the ones who were going to carry the Gospel to the known world

        • Matthew 28:18-20, Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. ​​ Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. ​​ And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

        • These are our marching orders – Jesus is alive! ​​ The world needs to know

 

CONCLUSION

“In his best-selling book, The Jesus I Never Knew, Philip Yancey contrasts the humility that characterized Jesus’ royal visit to planet earth with the prestigious image associated with world rulers today:

 

In London, looking toward the auditorium’s royal box where the queen and her family sat, I caught glimpses of the…way rulers stride through the world: with bodyguards, and a trumpet fanfare and a flourish of bright clothes and flashing jewelry.

 

Queen Elizabeth II had recently visited the United States, and reporters delighted in spelling out the logistics involved: her four thousand pounds of luggage included two outfits for every occasion, a mourning outfit in case someone died, forty pints of plasma, and white kid-leather toilet seat covers. She brought along her own hairdresser, two valets, and a host of other attendants. A brief visit of royalty to a foreign country can easily cost twenty million dollars.

 

In meek contrast, God’s visit to earth took place in an animal shelter with no attendants present and nowhere to lay the newborn king but a feed trough. Indeed, the event that divided history, and even our calendars, into two parts may have had more animal than human witnesses. A mule could have stepped on him.”

 

Philip Yancey, The Jesus I Never Knew (Zondervan, 1995)

 

[http://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/1999/november/12115.html].

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