Saturday, October 10, 2009
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”
Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,
was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”
But he said to them,
“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands
and put my finger into the nail marks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”
Now a week later his disciples were again inside
and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked,
and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands,
and bring your hand and put it into my side,
and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples
that are not written in this book.
But these are written that you may come to believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that through this belief you may have life in his name.
John records the appearance of Jesus after the resurrection. The first appearance is on Easter evening and the second appearance being after eight days or "a week later". Jesus speaks to the disciples three times after His resurrection. The Gospel of John tells us that the disciples are gathered but does not tell us which disciples are gathered. In Luke, this testimony speaks of "the Eleven and their companions" but we know that Thomas is absent, so in Luke's gospel, it is really the "Ten and their companions".
What strikes me about this weeks reading is the loss of faith and then the strengthening of faith within Thomas. Thomas is referred to as "the doubter" because he would not believe the testimony of the disciples when they indeed just spoke with the Lord and Thomas would not believe until he actually placed his own hands into the wounds of Jesus. This reading also tells us a little about how we become believers in Christ; the beloved disciple believes that Jesus has resurrected upon seeing the empty tomb (v8), Mary believes when the Lord calls her name (v16), some disciples must see the risen Jesus (v20), and then there are those like Thomas, who must touch Jesus...they must feel for themselves. This reading tells us that the Believers in Christ find faith through various channels according to what they need in order to believe. Different routes to faith through different needs. Thomas is the most unique and informative; here is an individual who believed, lost faith, and then returned to greater faith.
Let's break the verses down and discuss them:
"When it was evening on that day" (v 19a)
This is the same day that the disciples saw the empty tomb. This is Easter evening.
"the first day of the week"
Notice that this happens on the first day of the week and this is for a reason. The first day of the week is Day 8. The resurrection of Jesus, the fulfillment and beginning of the New Covenant, actually begins on the EIGHTH day. Not the seventh day, and not the sixth day. The verse that I relate this to is:
4. For a thousand in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past,
and like a watch in the night.
In the sight of the Lord God, 1,000 years is equivalent to:
A) A DAY
B) A WATCH
6 days of work = 6,000 years with Satan’s rule
1 day of rest = 1,000 years without Satan and Jesus returns
The history of this world will be 7 days- or 1 week...
and the 8Th day will bring a New Beginning (a New Heaven and a New earth)
or a new week.
Adam to Abraham = 2,000 years (Approximate)
Abraham to Jesus = 2,000 years (Approximate)
Jesus to Today = 2,000 years (Approximate)
2,000 + 2,000 + 2,000 = 6,000
Behold, Jesus’ Return is close!
"and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews"
It may seem surprising to us that the disciples are frightened. Here are men who have seen the Messiah in the flesh, witnessed countless miracles, knew Him personally, and yet are acting like their leader died. They are probably traumatized from witnessing the crucifixion but have already seen the empty tomb. Yet they are in a state of fear. How can we blame them? If this event frightened the Apostles themselves, will not some of us also be frightened or afraid as we walk with the Lord 2,000 years later? Yes. There may be times when we encounter evil or events in our lives that frighten us. Hearing the words from the very mouth of Jesus Himself didn't stop the Apostles from being afraid. Christian's endure hardship in order to gain faith. That is the cross you bear, but is the only way. The Apostles endured it, countless faith"ers" in Christ have endured it and so will you.
"Jesus came and stood among them"
Notice that the tomb with a 20 ton rock if front of it could not hold Jesus and neither will a locked door. He goes where He wishes through anything and to anyone.
"and said, Peace be with you."
He promised the disciples peace and grants them this peace with His appearance. Yes, the prophecy has come true and the impossible has been accomplished. Death and the grave cannot hold the Son of God, for Jesus was not a "human" in a human body, Jesus was the Son of God inhabiting a human body. No man or woman can ever conquer the grave. Jesus did. The disciples will have peace in spite of the persecution they will endure by a world that will hate them as it hated Jesus. Peace will be granted to you also. Take up your cross and walk the life of faith. No material objects nor anything this world can try to give you will even come close to what the believers in Christ are granted!
"After He said this, He showed them His hands and His side"
Jesus enters through the closed door through whatever means He did so. The fact is that the resurrected Jesus is standing before them PHYSICALLY. There is no question, for this is the reason why He shows them the wounds inflicted on the cross which all of them saw done at the crucifxion. The wounds on His hands were from the nails driven through in order to nail Him on the cross, and the MORTAL wound on His side was inflicted by a Roman soldier to guarantee that the crucified was indeed dead. You might have miraculously survived the crucifixion for a while, but you would not survive being stabbed in the liver or the heart by a sword or dagger! The disciples were shown these wounds in order to remove any and all doubt about the events that have transpired for their sake and for the sake of the future generations of the faith"ers" in Christ.
It is an interesting historical note to make here that Satan can attack the Truth through the logic of man. At the time that this Gospel was COMPILED, a mere 70 years after the crucifixion, the early Christan's were combating men and their ideas. The Docetist's and Gnostic's had this twisted belief that all physical matter was evil and thus Jesus could not have appeared physically and in human form. The difference between fact and Truth is that one comes from the finite minds of men and the other from the Creator. Steer clear of the deceptions. There is a reason why Jesus had to die and resurrect. The TESTIMONY serves to combat the wailing of the Devil and the philosophies of men that spring forth from man's "imagination" and logic. Think it through...matter is evil? Makes no sense and has no basis in any part of Scripture. Matter is not evil, the Devil is evil and some follow the Devil's deceptions. Satan has a reason for this too! Who is to blame? Men, for they actually DO the evil act! The Creator and the creation is not to blame, the created are to blame for they act (faith is the opposite of this type of wrong "action") and do the very acts that are wrong! Who goes to jail for a crime? Those who think of the crime or those that do the crime? Is the object the thief steals in fact the source of this wrong? Like I said, the Docetist's and Gnostic's believe in many twisted philosophies that are just rambling nonsense.
"The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord"
Jesus told the disciples that they would weep and experience pain at the time of crucifixion BUT that their pain would turn to joy. (John 16:20-21). It is similar to the process that a woman goes through after childbirth. The birth is extremely painful, but immense joy comes shortly after the birth and this joy overcomes the pain experienced earlier. The disciples weep and mourned for the King of kings but now they have joy, just as Jesus said they would. Never again will the disciples be fearful or weak in faith, they will put their lives on the line for the testimony of Jesus, and will pay the price of death for this testimony. The world hates Jesus, the world hates what is good...for men desire darkness and not the light. There is nothing you can say to convince someone who is a faith"er" in Christ that they are believing in a "fantasy" by being a Christian. Those who are the believers have enough fact, evidence, and experience, to gladly face persecution for the sake of spreading the Gospel message. The Apostles did it and the persecution for the sake of the Gospel message still continues 2000 years later.
"Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you"
Again, peace is granted to those who are with Christ, peace may come upon you through different practices and traditions, but everlasting peace is granted for faith"ers" in Christ. Try it. Momentary periods of peace may come, but actual peace that lasts comes from walking with Christ, and that is my personal experience and testimony. The Father sent the Son who sits on the Throne at the Right hand of the Father into the world as our Redeemer. The movie, Passion of the Christ did not fully detail the horrible suffering our Lord made for us. The Father sent the Son as a final once and for all sacrifice. "IT IS FINISHED!" as Jesus exclaimed on the cross. All of the sins of this world was paid for by the only Begotten Son of God being murdered for no reason. This world owes Jesus His life back, and the created cannot give life to the Creator, only the Creator can give life. It is a catch-22 on sin fulfilled by the crucifixion. The Law was fulfilled, sin was overcome, and death conquered. Now the King has instructed those who follow Him to carry the Gospel message to serve as testifiers to the Truth, which is Jesus, who IS the Christ. Jesus is the King of kings, and we are His emissaries. We are instructed to carry the message as His emissaries. The Apostles started this Good Work, and we continue it today 2000 years later. If you work for the King, you speak on behalf of the King per His instructions. The Father is present in the work of Jesus and Jesus is present in the work of His disciples.
"When He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit"
Notice that two things has happened with the Apostles BEFORE they received the Holy Spirit.
They went from mourning to joy, from wavering faith to strong faith. Second, they were sent by the King to do His Works. Only then does Jesus "Breathe" on them and they receive the Holy Spirit. Another important point...Who breathes on them? Answer: Jesus. Remember that John the Baptist said that he would baptize with water but One who was greater than John the Baptist would come and baptize with fire. It is interesting to note that when we hear someone speak who seems to possess unusual amounts of charisma and stage presence we say that they are "on fire". These speakers can draw the attention of a large audience for some "unseen" reason. Someone who has been "breathed" on by the Holy Spirit, are "on fire". The disciples must have the power and protection of the Holy Spirit in order to carry the Good Work of the King by spreading their testimony and the Gospel message. Just like the Creator, the "I AM" breathed life into man (Genesis 2:7) and just like the bones of the dead were "breathed" on and given new life in Ezekiel 37:9, the Apostles and those who carry the message 2000 years later are "breathed" on and given a new life in the Spirit. The sinful man dies in the water of the baptism and the new spiritual man rises. Not everyone receives the baptism of fire (the Holy Spirit) for no man, nor no prayer can attain it. It must be given by Jesus and it starts by asking Him for it. As the verse says; "Many are invited but few are chosen" (Matthew 22:14). Being a faith"er" in Christ grants eternal life, but receiving the baptism of fire makes one a disciple who spreads the Good News and is protected by the Holy Spirit. Through this we find strength to stand up, unlock the door, go outside, and begin the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ.
"If you forgive sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained"
As the disciples spread the Good News of the Gospels, there will be those who accept it and those who will not. Those that accept it are to repent and be baptized by water. Then through faith we may be baptized by the fire of the Holy Spirit. It is the first act of repentance that begins the process of salvation. It is the new creature born of Spirit that rises from the symbolic waters of baptism. Then we are beginning the journey of faith"ing". Those that believe are forgiven at the time of repentance per the Kings authority through the disciples and the sins of the new believer from the past, present, and future are forgiven. The disciples serve as witnesses for the King about those names who believe, repent, and become part of His flock. The baptism of fire follows when the King (Jesus) grants it. You will know when this happens and is the true mark of a Born Again believer. Those who do not believe are sinners and will die in their sin...for their soul stays with the sins of the body. No one forces any one to repent, you either understand why and do it or turn your back to it. Your choice. The disciples that walk within this world are there to speak the Truth of the Gospel message. The Gospel message is that a solution to sin has been found and a Redeemer is available. The Redeemer who is Jesus, grants eternal life for the sinner (which is the Good News) and the disciples witness this choice or the disciple witnesses the retention of sin within the person who will never come to the Truth. Rabbis have the authority to "bind" or "loose" in the sense that they interpret the Law to determine what is and is not allowed, but they do not forgive sins. Jesus breaks open new territory and gives the disciples the authority to declare the guilt or innocence of those who are brought before them and they either "bind" or "loose" the charges of sin (damnation) made against them. Repent and become "loosened" and rise from the baptismal waters as a new Spiritual being. Those who refuse to acknowledge, think, or listen are to be "bound" to the sins which they alone have committed and that carry a penalty. Keep in mind that as a believer, you were granted a pardon by the Son of God and are now part of His flock. How then can you not forgive the sins that others may do to you? If the Son of God has given you this gift of Grace and Salvation then how are you able to sit there and hold a person responsible for the wrong they have committed to you? The Son of God has the power alone to forgive sins, but think about how angry and wrapped in emotion we can get when someone trespasses against us!
This is a good time to discuss what this verse isn't implying. No where does this verse state that the disciples will be acting as priests for repetitive confession. Let's look at this. When one comes to Christ, there is an act of repentance. The sinner acknowledges their sins and asks for forgiveness. They proclaim the need for a Redeemer. This redeemer is Jesus Christ. Then the person is baptized by water. They go into the water as a symbolic act of dying and rise a new person, a person of Spirit. Only when a person is born into the Spirit can they begin to worship in Spirit. Jesus sends the Holy Spirit through the second baptism, the baptism of fire, and only then does that person become truly Born Again. One can touch water, but one cannot touch fire. John the Baptist tells of this in:
"I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
Isn't it ironic that when we listen to someone who strikes us as "zealous" but we are suddenly and mysteriously able to hear the truth in the words they are speaking, we say that the person is "on fire"?!
No one can give you the baptism of fire, it only comes from Jesus. The Truth is that Jesus paid for all of the sins of the world and that includes all of your past, present, and future sins. Repentance is done before the act of water baptism. To continually repent means that one does not understand that Jesus has paid for all of their sins and has not received the baptism of fire. Seriously, if repetitive confession is a continual discipline of cleansing sin, then one should be baptized again by water after each confession and then they should wait for the Holy Spirit! Let the person do this process every time until they understand the Truth! Either Jesus died for your sins and is your Redeemer or not. The body will continue to sin and the body dies in sin just as it should. The Spirit does not sin. Test this. If you go to confession, confess, and do whatever the priest told you, ask yourself if you will you break one of the Commandments again. The answer is undoubtedly yes. When you do break one of the Commandments, ask yourself if your soul committed the sin or your body committed the sin. Does the Spirit desire another man's wife? No, but the body does. One may become 96% perfect, but God will see the 4% you are short. Jesus is the one who makes up for the 4%, so that the person may come to God 100% perfect. If Salvation can be revoked, taken away, or somehow weakened, then why did the Son of God have to come here in a tent of flesh, suffer, and die? Wouldn't the way of the Law be sufficient? Why would the Creator go through all of this trouble? It is because He loves us and paid the ultimate price for us. This world killed the Only Begotten Son of God and the world owes the Creator who is the Son of God His life back. The created cannot give the Creator life! Only the Creator can give life! Again, either you accept Jesus as your Redeemer and become Born Again in Spirit or you don't. When one becomes truly baptized by the fire, the person has changed from a life of sin with the soul bound to that sin to a life of Spirit loosened from the sins but still lives with a sinning body. The person is guided and instructed by Jesus through the Holy Spirit. This can take time as we learn and grow in faith, but it happens. Just like the process in the creation of a pearl, it takes the Holy Spirit time to coat the sand until it becomes a treasured pearl. Jesus is the One who brings the baptism of fire. Repetitive confession is an acknowledgment that the baptism of fire has not occurred and that person is still "trying" to live a perfect life in the body. It is the first sin that has brought the death of the body AND the soul and only Jesus can grant the forgiveness of sins, past, present, and future and bless us with eternal life.
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
"But Thomas (who was called the Twin [didymous], one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came"
Remember that Thomas earlier in this Gospel thought that going to Bethany would mean certain death for the disciples and for Jesus. (John 11:16) We are not told specifically in this chapter why Thomas was not there, but it is probably due to the fact that he does not want to die and is fearful. With all of the events leading up to the crucifixion, I can understand why. However, this also serves as evidence of Thomas' lack of faith...in times of trial we may feel that we are losing faith, but we know that later Thomas comes to greater faith and we shall also.
A quick aside:
Why is Thomas called the "Twin"? This is a difficult answer. In my library of books and searches on the Internet, I could not find a definite answer on why Thomas is called the "Twin" with a captial "T". His name in Aramaic is (Te'oma) and Greek (Didymos) which both means “twin”; and John 11:16 identifies him as “Thomas, called the Twin.” He is called Judas Thomas (i.e., Judas the Twin) by the Syrians. Again, the Gnostics have created through the wild imagination of the mind that this word "twin" implied that Thomas was the twin brother of Jesus physically and spiritually. There is no evidence of such a claim and this claim is quite absurd. If you believe in the heretical nonsense of Gnosticism which is not supported by Scripture that Jesus was just a man and ignore all of the miracles of Jesus and the testimony of the disciples and were murdered for this testimony, then I can see where the logic of the human mind can lead to such fantasy.
I believe that Thomas either had a twin brother who was not an Apostle, or this was a nickname or title given to him by the Apostles. Thomas is Aramaic for twin, so it is a title just like the name John means teacher. I am surprised that this is often overlooked by other writers of Bible verse and it almost seems that this question is ignored. I will have to do more research to find a solid answer.
"So the other disciples told him, "We have seen the Lord."
The first person to see the Risen Christ was Mary Magdalene and possibly Mary the mother of James (Matthew 28:1-10, John 20:10-16). When they ran to tell the disciples, the disciples did not believe. Then the disciples saw the risen Christ with their own eyes. Now they have come to tell Thomas who was not there that they have indeed seen the risen Jesus and Thomas does not believe.
"But he said to them, "Unless I see the mark of the nails in His hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in His side, I will not believe"
Thomas' demand is absurd, but I can personally relate to it. How many times do we put demands on God? How many of us have said, "Lord, why can't you appear to me and talk to me face to face?" "Lord, I want you to..." "Lord, I need you to..." "Lord, why can't you just...."
We have to keep in mind that Thomas and the disciples have just been traumatized by the torture and crucifixion of Jesus. They are afraid and doubt what Jesus prophesied until Jesus appears to them. Thomas has not seen the crucifixion nor the risen Christ but is shaken to the core over the events that have just transpired during the crucifixion. Thomas is not the only one who doubted, but he will not remain a doubter either. It is a lesson for us as we learn and grow in faith. We may feel defeated and disillusioned at times, but remember that the disciples were too and Jesus brought them to greater faith! Thomas must think that the disciples are crazy. How could Jesus (putting aside the claim that Jesus was the Messiah) rise from the grave after being crucified and stabbed in the heart? It seems like lunacy, and Thomas states his demands and criteria for his faith. This serves as a reality check for future generations. Here was a disciple who followed Jesus and lost faith because of the crucifixion and demands physical proof. Thomas receives the physical proof.
"A week later his disciples were again in the house and Thomas was with them"
Again this second appearance happens on the eighth day. Not the sixth or the seventh. The first day of the week is the eighth day. Whenever Jesus appears in this world, it is on the eighth day. This is a repetition from the week before when Jesus first appears to the disciples in the house. This time Thomas is with them.
"Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them"
The gates of hell cannot stop Jesus nor can a locked door or a closed door. He comes through as He wills. Notice that this verse is different from the first appearance. This time the door is not locked and there is no mention that the disciples are fearful. The disciples will never be afraid again and as they spread the Gospel message, they will die for their testimony.
"and said, "Peace be with you"
What is the first act of Christ when He appears? He grants peace....real peace. It is not fleeting nor weak. We come from a period of fear, to faith, and that faith brings lasting peace.
"Then He said to Thomas, "put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side"
Yes, Jesus heard the demands of Thomas. Jesus knows what you say before you say it. He hears everything. Thomas said it, and now Jesus has come to fulfill the request. Thomas needed to experience this in order to come to greater faith. Notice that Jesus does not condemn Thomas for his lack of faith but provides Thomas with what he needs in order to believe. There is no mention that Thomas actually touch the wounds of Jesus, seeing Him before his very eyes was probably enough.
"Do not doubt but believe"
We have all experienced thoughts of doubt in our lives. We are to discover for ourselves with the direction of Jesus anything and everything we need in order to believe. What is it that you need in order to believe? For the unbeliever, I wonder how many requests sound similar to Thomas' demands. I am sure a majority of them are demanding in nature.
"Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!"
The disciple who has a serious lack of faith has now come to uttering the most important proclamation after the resurrection. Yes, Jesus is our Lord and He is God! All paths of faith come to the point of this climax. Just like Thomas, if we sincerely want the Truth and seek Him, there will come a time when we have no problem shouting from the mountaintops this great pronouncement!
"Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me?"
Due to the nature of the torment, torture, and crucifixion of Jesus, this statement seems to be a silent reminder of where Thomas' new faith has come from. Yes, Jesus heard his demands and provided the means for him to touch His wounds. Thomas has become one of great faith only by the act of Jesus' appearance. Those of future generations will not have this opportunity.
"Blessed are those who have not seen and yet come to believe"
Notice that Jesus does not say that those who have not seen His resurrected body will have greater faith. This is a blessing for those faith"ers" of the future generations who might feel cheated that they were not born in the times of Jesus to see Him in the flesh. We are provided all the necessary facts, guidance, and protection needed to have the same faith as the disciples. Now this is a great opportunity to just repeat the last part of this weeks reading:
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples
that are not written in this book.
But these are written that you may come to believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that through this belief you may have life in his name.
Technorati:sermons,sermon,Christianity,preaching,bible,bible reading,bible-reading,john 2
Saturday, April 07, 2007
Rose from the grave!! Easter Sunday Message
On the first day of the week,
Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark,
and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter
and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb,
and we don’t know where they put him.”
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter
and arrived at the tomb first;
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him,
he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,
and the cloth that had covered his head,
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in,
the one who had arrived at the tomb first,
and he saw and believed.
For they did not yet understand the Scripture
that he had to rise from the dead.
Good and wise teacher? Not the Messiah? Then...How could He rise?
His Life poured out for us...the ransom was paid. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
On the third day He said He would rise from the grave...AND HE DID RISE FROM THE GRAVE! (Mark 9:31, Mark 16:16)
Some say that Jesus is just a good and wise teacher or just a prophet!
Good & WISE?
Wise in the context that He said He would rise from the grave?
No, you should say that Jesus is Good & CRAZY...instead of calling Him good & wise!
No, a Lunatic!
What prophet said that they could rise from the dead?
No mortal man can say that they can conquer the grave...
Good and wise...How could He rise? Either Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, the I AM, the Creator...OR NOT
BUT NO MAN HAS EVER, COULD EVER, OR WILL EVER RISE FROM THE GRAVE ON HIS OWN!
and saying, "It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon."
IF JESUS DID NOT RISE...THEN OUR FAITH IS IN VAIN!!!
Thankfully, Christianity IS BASED ON FACT!
Some of these facts are:
1) BROKEN ROMAN SEAL (Matt 27:66)
The consequences of breaking the seal were extremely severe. If they were apprehended, it meant automatic execution by crucifixion upside down. People feared the breaking of the seal.
2) EMPTY TOMB (John 20:1)
The disciples of Christ did not go off to Athens or Rome to preach that Christ was raised from the dead. Rather, they went right back to the city of Jerusalem, where, if what they were teaching was false, the falsity would be evident. The empty tomb was "too notorious to be denied." Both Jewish and Roman sources admit an empty tomb.
3) LARGE STONE MOVED (Matt 28:2)
On that Sunday morning the first thing that impressed the people who approached the tomb was the unusual position of the one and a half to two ton stone that had been lodged in front of the doorway. All the Gospel writers mention it.
4)ROMAN GUARD GOES AWOL (Matt 28:12-15)
The Roman guards fled. They left their place of responsibility. How can their attrition he explained, when Roman military discipline was so exceptional?
5)GRAVE CLOTHES TELL A TALE (John 20:4-8)
In a literal sense, against all statements to the contrary, the tomb was not totally empty--because of an amazing phenomenon. John, a disciple of Jesus, looked over to the place where the body of Jesus had lain, and there were the grave clothes, in the form of the body, slightly caved in and empty--like the empty chrysalis of a caterpillar's cocoon. That's enough to make a believer out of anybody. John never did get over it.
6)JESUS' APPEARANCES CONFIRMED (John 20:1-31)
Christ appeared alive on several occasions after the cataclysmic events of that first Easter and there where MORE THAN enough witnesses who saw him after HE ROSE TO CONFIRM IT AS A FACT!
7) In Paul's day, there were 500 or so people who personally saw Jesus after He rose on the third day!
These eyewitnesses TESTIFIED to this FACT. 500 people in Paul's day alone! (Acts 2:32)
There are more facts...but a question to the doubter...What more proof do you want?
What more does Jesus have to do in order for you to have faith?
If He did do what you ask, Would it really change your mind or would you doubt what you saw also?
THERE IS ONLY ONE JESUS!
Either He is a FRAUD, a NUT, OR Jesus is the Messiah!
EVERYONE LIVING TODAY MUST TAKE A HONEST LOOK AT THE FACTS FOR THEMSELVES...THE FACTS OF HIS RESURRECTION
DID JESUS RISE FROM THE GRAVE ...OR NOT??
JUST DON'T CALL HIM A GOOD AND WISE TEACHER OR A PROPHET!
This Easter, let us realize the truth found in John 1:10-14:
10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him.
11He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him.
12 Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed (faith"eth") in His name, He gave the right to become children of God—
13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.
14 The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only,who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth (faith"eth") in Me, though he were dead,yet shall he live:
If you seek a human teacher who will come up with a human philosophy on how to live a moral life and "be good enough" then for heavens sake find some one other than Jesus!
Why believe in a "man" who exorcised demons from people, ran around calling Himself the "I AM" and told people He would rise from the grave?
If you know there is a spiritual side of this universe and know that you are a sinner, understand why we are all sinners and can understand that this is not a guilt trip but a way of humility and seek to be forgiven and hear the call to Christ... then rejoice!!! For the problem has been solved and your faith lead to salvation in Christ who is the only path to eternal life.
Rejoice for the price of your sins past, present, and future has been paid for.
No one comes to the Father unless they come through Jesus...that is the message and that is the Truth.
God Bless you this Easter Sunday.
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Friday, April 06, 2007
Good Friday Message--Why Jesus died for us
Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron valleyto where there was a garden, into which he and his disciples entered.
Judas his betrayer also knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples.
So Judas got a band of soldiers and guards from the chief priests and the Pharisees and went there with lanterns, torches, and weapons. Jesus, knowing everything that was going to happen to him, went out and said to them, “Whom are you looking for?”
They answered him, “Jesus the Nazorean.”
He said to them, “I AM.”
Judas his betrayer was also with them.
When he said to them, “I AM, “
they turned away and fell to the ground.
So he again asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” They said, “Jesus the Nazorean.”
Jesus answered, “I told you that I AM.
So if you are looking for me, let these men go.” This was to fulfill what he had said, “I have not lost any of those you gave me.” Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it, struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear. The slave’s name was Malchus. Jesus said to Peter,
“Put your sword into its scabbard. Shall I not drink the cup that the Father gave me?”
So the band of soldiers, the tribune, and the Jewish guards seized Jesus, bound him, and brought him to Annas first. He was the father-in-law of Caiaphas,who was high priest that year.
It was Caiaphas who had counseled the Jews that it was better that one man should die rather than the people.
Simon Peter and another disciple followed Jesus. Now the other disciple was known to the high priest,and he entered the courtyard of the high priest with Jesus.
But Peter stood at the gate outside.
So the other disciple, the acquaintance of the high priest, went out and spoke to the gatekeeper and brought Peter in. Then the maid who was the gatekeeper said to Peter, “You are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.”
Now the slaves and the guards were standing around a charcoal fire that they had made, because it was cold, and were warming themselves. Peter was also standing there keeping warm.
The high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his doctrine. Jesus answered him, “I have spoken publicly to the world. I have always taught in a synagogue or in the temple area where all the Jews gather, and in secret I have said nothing. Why ask me?
Ask those who heard me what I said to them. They know what I said.” When he had said this,
one of the temple guards standing there struck Jesus and said, “Is this the way you answer the high priest?”
Jesus answered him, “If I have spoken wrongly, testify to the wrong; but if I have spoken rightly, why do you strike me?” Then Annas sent him bound to Caiaphas the high priest.
Now Simon Peter was standing there keeping warm. And they said to him, “You are not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.”
One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the one whose ear Peter had cut off, said,
“Didn’t I see you in the garden with him?” Again Peter denied it. And immediately the cock crowed.
Then they brought Jesus from Caiaphas to the praetorium. It was morning. And they themselves did not enter the praetorium, in order not to be defiled so that they could eat the Passover. So Pilate came out to them and said, “What charge do you bring against this man?”
They answered and said to him, “If he were not a criminal, we would not have handed him over to you.” At this, Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves, and judge him according to your law.” The Jews answered him, “We do not have the right to execute anyone, “
in order that the word of Jesus might be fulfilled that he said indicating the kind of death he would die. So Pilate went back into the praetorium and summoned Jesus and said to him,
“Are you the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?” Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?”
Jesus answered, “My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews.
But as it is, my kingdom is not here.”
So Pilate said to him,“Then you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?”
When he had said this, he again went out to the Jews and said to them, “I find no guilt in him.
But you have a custom that I release one prisoner to you at Passover. Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews? They cried out again, “Not this one but Barabbas!”
Now Barabbas was a revolutionary.
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged. And the soldiers wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on his head, and clothed him in a purple cloak, and they came to him and said,
“Hail, King of the Jews!”And they struck him repeatedly. Once more Pilate went out and said to them, “Look, I am bringing him out to you, so that you may know that I find no guilt in him.”
So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple cloak. And he said to them, “Behold, the man!” When the chief priests and the guards saw him they cried out,
“Crucify him, crucify him!”
Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and crucify him. I find no guilt in him.”
The Jews answered, “We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.” Now when Pilate heard this statement, he became even more afraid,
and went back into the praetorium and said to Jesus,
“Where are you from?”
Jesus did not answer him. So Pilate said to him, “Do you not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you and I have power to crucify you?”
Jesus answered him,
“You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above. For this reason the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin.”
Consequently, Pilate tried to release him; but the Jews cried out,
“If you release him, you are not a Friend of Caesar.
Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.”
When Pilate heard these words he brought Jesus out and seated him on the judge’s bench
in the place called Stone Pavement, in Hebrew, Gabbatha. It was preparation day for Passover, and it was about noon. And he said to the Jews,
“Behold, your king!” They cried out, “Take him away, take him away! Crucify him!”
Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your king?”
The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.
So they took Jesus, and, carrying the cross himself, he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, with Jesus in the middle. Pilate also had an inscription written and put on the cross.
It read, “Jesus the Nazorean, the King of the Jews.”
Now many of the Jews read this inscription, because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate,
“Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that he said, ‘I am the King of the Jews’.”
“What I have written, I have written.”
When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and divided them into four shares,
a share for each soldier. They also took his tunic, but the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from the top down.
So they said to one another,
“Let’s not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it will be, “
in order that the passage of Scripture might be fulfilled that says:
They divided my garments among them, and for my vesture they cast lots. This is what the soldiers did.
Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,
and Mary of Magdala.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved
he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.”
Then he said to the disciple,
“Behold, your mother.”
And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.
After this, aware that everything was now finished, in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled,
Jesus said, “I thirst.” There was a vessel filled with common wine. So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop and put it up to his mouth.
When Jesus had taken the wine, he said,
“It is finished.”
And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.
Now since it was preparation day, in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath, for the sabbath day of that week was a solemn one, the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken and that they be taken down. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first
and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs, but one soldier thrust his lance into his side, and immediately blood and water flowed out.
An eyewitness has testified, and his testimony is true; he knows that he is speaking the truth,
so that you also may come to believe. For this happened so that the Scripture passage might be fulfilled: Not a bone of it will be broken.
And again another passage says:
They will look upon him whom they have pierced.
After this, Joseph of Arimathea, secretly a disciple of Jesus for fear of the Jews,
asked Pilate if he could remove the body of Jesus.And Pilate permitted it.
So he came and took his body. Nicodemus, the one who had first come to him at night,
also came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes weighing about one hundred pounds.
They took the body of Jesus and bound it with burial cloths along with the spices,
according to the Jewish burial custom. Now in the place where he had been crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had yet been buried. So they laid Jesus there because of the Jewish preparation day; for the tomb was close by.
Our Lord God is all forgiving and all powerful.
Our Lord God is also JUST and RIGHTEOUS.
Our Lord God's righteousness and justice demand that sin be punished (Romans 3:23; 6:23).
Since all sin is ultimately committed against God (Psalm 51:4), the only just punishment for sin is death (Roman 6:23).
We know this fact well...BECAUSE WE ALL DIE.
How will you ever be righteous in the eyes of God?
Do you think that your works, forgiveness of sins by a man, long and repetitive prayers, or even the saints will help you become righteous in God's eyes?
Really? If you do not know who Jesus is and why He died for your sin, then these acts do nothing! Faith is your actions based on the belief of Jesus as the Messiah and sustained in your life every 24 hour period. It is not a blindness to the Truth or a slight understanding of who Jesus is or who you think He is. The Truth is found in the Holy Bible and only by studying it will you learn the Truth. Your works, confessions, prayers, and holy saints do not take your sin away. There is only one way that can be done. Its time for some action...YOUR ACTION.
Thank the Lord that He has provided salvation beyond the ways of man!!
1. Jesus Christ was God in the flesh (John 1:1, 14)
2. When Jesus died on the cross, He died WITHOUT SIN...and the world (with Satan), OWES THE LORD GOD HIS LIFE BACK. (Hebrews 9:15-17 15).
3. The world (with Satan) CANNOT give the Lord God His life back...for no one but the Lord God is the Creator of Life. (John 1:1-5, 14, 17 and 18)
4. Because Jesus was PERFECT and He was CRUCIFIED for being SINLESS... the world owes Him HIS Life...HE GIVES YOU LIFE BY YOUR FAITH"ing" IN HIM...
ASK HIM...KNOW HIM...READ HIS WORD...LIVE BY HIM! TOTAL FAITH"ing"!!!
Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life:
he that believeth (faith"eth") in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:
Jesus’ death was sufficient to pay for all the sins that have ever been committed (2 Corinthians 5:21).
John 3: 16-21
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
"For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
"He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
"And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
"For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.
"But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God."
A GIFT OF GIFTS...FROM THE LORD OF LORDS AND KING OF KINGS!
This gift is available only by your action of accepting it and living through it.
That's the beginning of faith! Walk with Him and know Him.
For another uplifting lesson on this Good Friday...
Read the sermon: GO AND SIN NO MORE!
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Luke 9:28b-36 (Sermon for the week of March 5th)
Jesus took Peter, John, and James
and went up the mountain to pray.
While he was praying his face changed in appearance
and his clothing became dazzling white.
And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah,
who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus
that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem.
Peter and his companions had been overcome by sleep,
but becoming fully awake,
they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.
As they were about to part from him, Peter said to Jesus,
“Master, it is good that we are here;
let us make three tents,
one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.”
But he did not know what he was saying.
While he was still speaking,
a cloud came and cast a shadow over them,
and they became frightened when they entered the cloud.
Then from the cloud came a voice that said,
“This is my chosen Son; listen to him.”
After the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone.
They fell silent and did not at that time
tell anyone what they had seen.
This week we read about the Transfiguration of Jesus. It is an event that mankind has not seen since Moses. We will talk about that in a bit. One must come to answer the question if this event happened or not. If it didn't happen then the Gospels and/or Jesus is a fraud. If it did happen, then indeed Jesus is the Son of God just as the "Voice" said. This event was supernatural. Notice that there are two other people present. Moses and Elijah. Why are these two individuals present? Moses was told that he would enter the Promised Land. However, he never did enter the Promised Land...he was allowed only to see it.
4 Then the LORD said to him, "This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, 'I will give it to your descendants.' I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it." 5 And Moses the servant of the LORD died there in Moab, as the LORD had said.
But earlier God PROMISES Moses:
7 I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. 8 And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD.' "
So, what's the deal here? God promises something and then doesn't follow through. Well, the answer is no. God is not a liar and He does what He says! His ways are not always clear to us, but God still does what He promises. Where is the Mt. of Transfiguration? IT IS in the Promised Land! God has indeed led Moses into the Promised Land to stand besides the One who talked to Moses. Jesus is the One who promised Moses, and Jesus follows through!
Now why is Elijah present here? Remember the prophecy:
4 "Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel.5 "See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes.
The dreadful day of the Lord is Jesus' crucifixion. (In the future Elijah will also reappear again at the Second Coming.) And the Transfiguration is BEFORE the crucifixion. Indeed the prophecy comes true...Elijah has reappeared! Prophecy has several layers of truth. Elijah has reappeared here, Elijah has not died here, so that means Elijah will appear again. This prophecy has two meanings...
One more statement about Moses and Elijah...Israel are the people of the Law and of the Prophets, and Moses was the great law giver and Elijah was the great prophet.
Why the Transfiguration? The Jews have their own personal and very human expectations of what the Messiah will do. They interpret prophecy in order to justify what they think the Messiah will do FOR THEM. Jesus did not come to save the Jews...they had their chance...many times. Jesus came to be the Messiah for the whole world and not a small population of Jews who frankly have trampled on the Laws of God. The Law did not work for them and it does not work for us. Jesus, the Creator, came here as a once and for all solution for the ongoing dilemma of mankind. This solution was the result of His sacrifice. The Universe cannot give the Creator His life back, and this world owes Jesus His life back. The Apostles realized that they were standing before the Creator and could not understand why Jesus had to die. The Transfiguration gave the "inner circle"; Peter, James, and John a very small glimpse of the glory of God. There were no doubts after this events as to the awesome power of God. Moses received a similar glimpse of God. Let's look at the parallel between The Creator speaking to Moses and Moses with Jesus on the Mt. of Transfiguration:
In verse 29 of this weeks reading it says: "And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white".
Moses encountered God on Mt. Sinai as a "devouring fire on the top of a mountain" (Exodus 24:17) and Moses' face shone brightly "because he had been talking with God". Moses' face shone so brightly that he had to wear a veil to shield people from the glare his face emitted (Exodus 34:25-29). Exodus 24 and Jesus at the Transfiguration have a few parallels: they both occur on a mountain, involve Moses, have God speaking from a cloud, speak of the glory of the Lord, and inspire fear. Also in Exodus 24:13 Joshua is singled out and taken up the mountain with Moses. The name Joshua in Greek is "Jesus"... and we see Jesus and Moses again together at the Transfiguration. Notice that the "glory of God" seen by Moses is different. Moses looked at the backside of God's face and glowed. Moses' face mirrored the glory and the Transfiguration has this glory coming from Jesus Himself. The word "glory" is used in the Bible to speak of various supernatural events--but it is used especially to speak of God's glory--an aura associated with God's appearance that reveals God's majesty to humans. When Moses asked to see God's glory, God replied, "You cannot see my face; for no one can see me and live" (Exodus 33:20). God continued and said "See there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock; and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft in the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by, then I will take away my hand and you shall see my back; but my face shall not be seen" (Exodus 33:21-23). The point is that God's glory is so overwhelming that we cannot deal with it. It would be like touching a high voltage power line...we die. Peter, James, and John were privileged to see Christ's glory on the Mount of Transfiguration...there will be hard events to watch the Lord go through shortly.
Notice that Peter asks if he should build three booths for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah. There is a prophetic meaning to this that I think Peter didn't even know. We cover this in another paper we wrote on our website. The booths are connected with Moses. As Moses led the Israelites in the wilderness, God told him to build booths in which people would dwell for seven days (Leviticus 23:33-43). They were to do this "so that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel live in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt; I AM the Lord your God" (Leviticus 23:43). This observance is known as the Feast of the Tabernacles and started as a harvest festival but became to be a remembrance of their wanderings in the wilderness and their escape from slavery in Egypt.
In the reading we also read "and they were terrified as they entered the cloud" (verse 34). The disciples are terrified because they understand the cloud as the presence of God. Only the High Priest is allowed to come into God's presence and he does so only on the Day of Atonement (Hebrews 9:7). To look at God is to die. These disciples do not know if they shall die...whatever the outcome they are unprepared to meet their Maker. They are vulnerable and have been suddenly presented without warning with the presence of God. Who wouldn't be terrified?
The last part of the reading is: "This is my Son, my Chosen: listen to Him" (v.35). Indeed! We must study and come to truly understand all of the Words of Jesus! They have been recorded for us through immense effort by God and are the actual lessons taught by the Creator, our Messiah. If there is any reason to read any work...it is the Bible. We need to reinvest our time into intently studying the Gospels and work hard even if it takes a lifetime to fully understand everything Jesus has presented us through the writings of His disciples. Jesus speaks on several levels and we may often not understand what it means. But faith comes by the word of God, and our faith in strengthened through understanding the Word of God. We do not want to "err for you do not know the Scriptures". Jesus came, Jesus said, and Jesus died...we must know why and what it means to us individually.
Monday, March 26, 2007
The Way of the Law vs. The Way of Christ
The Pharisees and scribes created additions of the Law based on the 10 Commandments. These MEN added to God's Commandments. These "additions" comprise the Mitzvah. Mitzvah (Hebrew: מצווה, IPA: [ˈmɪtsvə], "commandment"; plural, mitzvot; from צוה, tzavah, "command") is a word used in Judaism to refer to (a) the commandments, of which there are 613, given in the Torah (the first five books of the Hebrew Bible).
THAT'S RIGHT! The "LAW" contains 613 Commandments!
You can read these commandments HERE.
What is the single most important verse in the New Testament?
ANSWER: JOHN 3:16
16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Notice that the way of the Law has 613 commandments and the verse containing the Truth of the Way of Christ is 3:16---a reversal of the numbers!
What does Paul say about the Law?
No Return to the Law
11 Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; 12 for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. 13 And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews? 15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16 knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. 17 “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. 19 For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”
Friday, March 09, 2007
Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil.He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over he was hungry.
The devil said to him,“If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread.”Jesus answered him, “It is written, One does not live on bread alone.”Then he took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant.
The devil said to him,“I shall give to you all this power and glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I may give it to whomever I wish.All this will be yours, if you worship me.”
Jesus said to him in reply,“It is written:You shall worship the Lord, your God,and him alone shall you serve.”Then he led him to Jerusalem, made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him,“If you are the Son of God,throw yourself down from here, for it is written:He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,and:With their hands they will support you,lest you dash your foot against a stone.”
Jesus said to him in reply,“It also says,You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time.
I think this week's reading is a great opportunity to talk about a few pieces of knowledge which ties directly into the Bible verses this week. It will not be a sermon that will relate the temptation of Jesus to your life, but it will help us understand what really went on this week. I need to touch base on a few Truth's. What is the "Trinity" that Church Leaders speak of? What is the Holy Spirit? The "Trinity" idea had confused me for a time in my life and I want to talk about it before we delve deeper into the reading.
The "Trinity" is: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
The "Father" is called "God". Who is God? I like that the Jews call it YHVH, which means the unknowable and undefinable. Why? Because God the "Father" is everything. God the Father is infinite..."the nothing and the something". Since we are finite, it is impossible to define or name God. So, the Jews leave it UNDEFINED! If God is everything...then what was the first manifestation of the Father?
"If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; and from now on you know Him and have seen Him." 8 Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is sufficient for us." 9 Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, `Show us the Father'? 10 "Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works. 11 "Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the sake of the works themselves."
The Son is the first manifestation of the "Father". This first manifestation who is The Son, came before Angels and came before mankind. This first manifestation is the "Creator"of all other things. The Creator created the angels, Adam and Eve, and this physical Universe. The person talking to Moses IS the Creator. The Creator called Himself
" I AM " I AM is not defined...it just is! Now, the Creator was aware that mankind was in a horrible condition because of sin. This Creator, the Son of "God" or the Son of YHVH, came down here to live in a tent of flesh and allowed Himself to be crucified in order to conquer the catch 22 mankind found itself in due to sin. Jesus is the name of the Son of YHVH, the Son of God, who came here 2,000 some years ago in order to conquer sin for us. This was an act of Love...by the Creator. Jesus called Himself the I AM and the Jews didn't believe it. Thus, the Son of God is the first manifestation or first appearance of the "Father" and the Son is the Creator of ALL. The Son of God was Jesus!
He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.
Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was,
Jesus said to them, "I am He." And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. 6 Then -- when He said to them, "I am He," -- they drew back and fell to the ground.
Then Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth."
The Holy Spirit is the medium that the Creator "creates" through. If you want to experience the Holy Spirit...hold your finger out in front of you and blow on it. The air that you feel on your finger IS THE HOLY SPIRIT. The Father and the Son work through the medium of the Holy Spirit!
There is an order of priority, if you will, to all of this. The Son does NOT come before the Father. The order is: the FATHER, then SON, then Holy Spirit. The Will of the Father and the Son are in perfect harmony with each other. The Son IS the first form of the Father and the Father IS EVERYTHING.
Hey, I told you this would be a sermon on another level...
So here are two questions.
1)Did Satan ever know who The Creator was?
2)Does Satan know who Jesus is?
Answer: NO to both questions.
So who is Satan? Satan was the name given to an angel named Lucifer. Lucifer was a Cherub. Cherubs are those cute baby angels you reckon to Cupid. They look LIKE BABIES, who are a group of angels that also have the power to carry out whatever command is given. These Cherubs are extremely fierce if they have to be. Lucifer was one of the most adored Cherubs.
The Hierarchy of "Heaven" works like this:
First is the Creator...who is called the I AM...who is the Son of God.
Second are the Angels of the Four Directions, Michael, Gabriel, Ariel, and Raphael.These Four are under the "Throne" of the Creator and carry out the Will of the Son.
Next come the groups of angels called the Seraphim's and the Cherubim.
Next comes mankind.
So, Lucifer was a Cherubim and never met Jesus/the Creator. The "Highest" he ever met were the Angels of the Four Directions, namely Michael! Lucifer fell to this Earth before Adam and Eve and was called "SATAN" by the other angels. Satan/Lucifer was here FIRST. This is HIS WORLD...HIS CURSE. He is a Liar and a deceiver and will prove that mankind is NOT WORTHY for forgiveness! That is his mission...if Satan can't be forgiven then why are these men and women who were created after Satan forgiven??
Now with this info, we can look at the reading. Does Jesus know who Satan is? YES! Jesus is the One who cast Satan down here! Does Satan know who Jesus is? NO! But this "Son of God" and Messiah talk has Satan nervous enough to materialize and meet Jesus for a "talk of temptation". Jesus knows why He is here. He is here to conquer Satan and SIN for those who believe and love the Creator. Jesus answers Satan with Scripture PERFECTLY to throw Satan off. After all, JESUS is the "I AM" that has revealed ALL OF THE SCRIPTURES to mankind.
Jesus knows Scripture better than any manifested being. Why didn't Jesus just throw Satan off the cliff or destroy Satan? Satan fulfills a purpose. It might seem cruel to us...but our will and the Creators will are two different things. If we follow Temptation, we are NOT following the Creator,and thus DO NOT love God. Satan, separates the believers from the non-believers. To those who are on the path of faith, Satan comes to tempt you and allows your own decisions to throw you off the path of faith. He is there to prove that you ARE NOT worthy of Salvation!
Satan can't figure out who this "Jesus" is.
In the reading we read that first, Jesus fasts. Fasting is one way to rely on the Father/Son in faith. Imagine fasting for 40 days. (40 days of fasting has been accomplished many times by people even recently). But, imagine how "tempting" food may be after a 40 day fast. As the scripture says...for 40 days Satan tempted Jesus.
Satan asks Jesus that if He really is the Son of God, the Creator, surely Jesus can turn a stone into bread. Jesus answers Satan with Scripture which could mean to Satan that Jesus could still be the Son of God, or just a human.
Satan then tells Jesus a Truth which we must acknowledge. Satan tells Jesus that HE, SATAN, RULES ALL THE KINGDOMS ON EARTH! And Satan can give these kingdoms to Jesus if he wishes. Remember, this Earth...this piece of rock floating in the Galaxy... happens to be ruled by SATAN and we are temporary"uninvited guests" here. We are the nuisance of Satan who he focuses on in order to prove to the Son of God that Satan is more worthy as a fallen Cherub than these constantly sinning humans. If you want paradise on Earth, riches beyond belief, to become famous...then Satan must grant you this. If you follow the Creator, then the Creator will make sure you have EVERYTHING you need...not more and not less!
Now think about the verse Jesus says: "You are not of this world...""
If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
Now how does Jesus reply to this second temptation of Satan?
This means that Jesus still could be the Son of God or just a human.
Now the third temptation is to tempt The Creator's Power. If He really is the Creator....Satan said "If you are the Son of God throw yourself off the cliff!" Surely, the Son of God, the Creator, can do this!
How does Jesus answer?
Which still means that Jesus could be the Son of God or just a human.
How does Satan leave Jesus? CONFUSED! Surely Satan will come again and figure this "Jesus" out. Satan will watch for a while and then make his move (through the temptation of Judas).
I leave you with this thought. If Satan would have ever figured out that he was standing before the Son of God for sure...would he have influence the crucifixion? Satan still wins over man...but did Satan really expect this possible Messiah called "Jesus" to walk through the GATES OF HELL when He was crucified? Did Satan ever realize that through the death of Jesus the following verse would become true and for those who believe...Satan's game would be over?
The verse is:
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life"?
My answer is that Satan had no idea that this was the plan of the Creator, the Son, to save mankind. Satan had no idea what Jesus was doing...but Satan was worried and confused about it!
One warning: For those who try to go up against Satan head to head...you are defeated! Only the Son of God and His angels can defend you against Satan. Don't fall for this "Be like Christ" nonsense! YOU are NOT the Son of God! But as a believer, He shall help you if you ask Him. You are dealing with Lucifer, a fallen angel, but an angel, and through Scripture we can know how to act when faced with temptation but when it comes to power, you have none against Satan.
Only the Lord can protect you...call upon Him immediately.
May the Lord be with us all!
Friday, February 23, 2007
Luke 6:27-38 (Sermon for the week of February 18th)
Love Your Enemies27 “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. 29 To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. 30 Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. 31 And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise.
32 “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. 35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. 36 Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.
Do Not Judge37 “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”
Reading Jesus' words this week and allowing these words to soak into your mind is more important than anything I will say. However, I will mention some of the thoughts and insights that I came to as a primer. There are life changing, mood altering, powerful, actions that this weeks reading encompasses. I must admit that I do not fully live the words of Jesus. I am striving to change and do my best. We all must look, learn and change. Why are Jesus' statements in this reading so hard? They are principles of God...the way things really work...and they go against everything we know and how we are told to act. It goes several steps further than anything taught to us by morals. Mankind is taught in ways different from God's. Let's look at an example. The Code of Hammurabi (18Th Century BC) specified, "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth". This principal existed before the Jews received the 10 Commandments. The Code of Hammurabi is simple justice, but it is not God's justice. Jesus ends this "reciprocity". It is not the way of God but the way of man. Reciprocity is a commonsense, logical way to live one's life. This principal does not seek to inflict injury except in cases where injury is deserved. It is FAIR. The bad person suffers and the good person prospers. Yet, Jesus tells us that reciprocity is not the behavior we should live by. God goes beyond justice and shows mercy and we must do the same. Yes, it is unnatural and goes against our "instincts". But to move beyond seeking justice and instead show mercy is an act of God's Grace and is an instruction to the followers of Jesus Christ. It is the way the Kingdom of God operates, which means it is totally opposite from the ways that the majority of mankind thinks and lives!
Lets look at the reading....
“But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. 29 To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. 30 Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. 31 And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise."
Jesus begins with the Truth..."love your enemies" and then gives concrete examples of what He means. In the first set of examples He says:
1) do good to those who hate you
2) bless those who curse you
3) pray for those who abuse you
These three examples are general in nature: hatred, cursing, and abuse. These can manifest themselves in a myriad of ways.
The next three examples, Jesus gets specific:
1) If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other
2) and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold your shirt
3) give to everyone who begs from you and if anyone takes your good, do not ask for them
These three examples are specific: striking a cheek, taking a coat, taking goods.
Jesus is providing us with an array of examples so that we can think about the thousands of ways these principals of God can be applied. The principal is simple in words, "LOVE YOUR ENEMIES". I do not think that this means that we will always feel great about turning our cheek to get hit again. We are called to action. Faith is an action. We turn our cheek. We turn in faith. We are not happy about it, but we do it out of faith. Why? We are Jesus' disciples and we are not to allow the other person to control us and the situation. We are to seize the principal of God and to use it effectively. This may seem weak, to turn our cheek in the face of hatred and violence...but we see how powerful it is when Jesus is crucified. We are to seize the opportunity by loving...on the cross Jesus did not curse His enemies but prayed for their forgiveness. Love conquers ALL! Look at St. Francis of Assisi and Dr. Martin Luther King...they ended the way of reciprocity and the practiced the way of love shown through the action of carrying on in persecution and oppression by turning the other cheek...it is seizing the opportunity to control the situation through love...and once again love conquers all.
"Do unto others as you would have them do to you"
We know this as the "Golden Rule". This rule is often misstated and is usually found in a negative form. For example, Philo said "What you hate to suffer, do not do to any other". Jesus changes this to a proactive statement. We are to expand and go further with this principal. Not only are we to practice behavior that we would want done to us, but to avoid the behavior we would not like to experience. This is a proactive statement. We act in faith BEFORE we act, not after.
But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. 35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. 36 Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.
Jesus gives us three examples:
1) If you love those
2) If you do good to those
3) If you lend to those
Jesus instructed us earlier on how to respond to people who treat us badly or take advantage of us. Jesus also instructs us on how to respond to those who treat us well. Jesus wants us to good do at all times. We receive no special rewards for doing good. Doing good works for the sake of good is reciprocity and is not the way of God. Keep in mind that people who are not Christians do good for the sake of good. As followers of Jesus we are to do good whether we receive good OR bad in return. We do not do good and keep track of who has done us wrong and who has treated us well. Jesus is calling for us to stop keeping score and do good---PERIOD! End reciprocity-- end the ways of thinking like mankind and follow the instructions of Our Lord.
"But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as Your Father is merciful"
Jesus gives us the reason for doing good at all times no matter what the circumstances. We are to do good, to love, and act in mercy because of a fact. The fact is that we are the Children of God. We are His representatives here on Earth. The Lord is our boss and employer. Our job is to follow our job description. Forget the insubordinate co-workers or rude customers. We have a job to do and we do it. We are the heirs to the kingdom of God. We are blessed with the opportunity to enter into the presence and to enjoy the protection, love, and care of the Lord. Our reward is great! We are the King's representatives and must act and do the works as representatives of royalty. If your ears and eyes have been opened to the Truth of Jesus Christ...you have received a gift and a privilege...act like it.
"Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put in your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back"
To judge is to form either a negative or positive opinion. To condemn is to pronounce guilt. We are sometimes quick to pronounce what we think God would pronounce. We are not God. We assume what to be true and pass judgement or condemnation, but God judges... not us. That is His job, not ours. Who becomes a goat or a sheep is the Lord's job and not ours. Our job is to be His sheep and act like sheep. We as Christians can go around and do good, pray intently, and seek Jesus...but then we pass judgement..."Oh, he is a Catholic and full of it...or he is a fundamentalist and thus must be off his rocker". White people can be quick to discount a person of another race as from a lower social class and not on the same "acceptable" social level, and Colored races are quick to call White people racists. These are the circular traps of this world and are not found in the Kingdom of God. We as royal employees of the King are not obeying the King by acting in these manners. It is the poison of mankind. Remember this, "for the measure you give will be the measure you get back". We are granted a good measure for not engaging in this behavior. As followers and representatives of Christ, we must acknowledge the reality of evil and be followers who will stand up for what is right. We must be able to identify what is good and what is evil and the Lord directs us by studying His Word and by faith"ing" in Him. We must make decisions and decisions based in Christ. Living faithfully includes making discerning decisions as representatives of the Kingdom of God.
We are not to allow people to set the agenda...we are not to wait to see what the other person will do before we decide what we will do. Nor are we to be trapped in a vicious cycle someone else starts. We are to seize the opportunity to love. How are we to do that when we act out of our own self will and judge others? To judge is not to love. If you have been harmed...showing mercy is an act of love. Will you do it? What do you lose by not doing it? Are we are not the heirs to the Kingdom of God? If so, what will you lose by showing mercy??
Another example: to judge a person who has or has not done us harm as an unbeliever worthy of hell is to judge and condemn...and a year down the road..the Lord may open their eyes and they will become your brother or sister in Christ.
What will you say then? What would you tell the Lord if He asked you why you acted the way you did?
The fear of God seems to have left Western civilization. Look around. Keep in mind that the fear of God is not one of control or negativity...but one of direction and hope. I have a healthy fear of God that I will somehow fall back into and repeat the unloving acts from my past which directly contributed to my horrible state of being and He will not be there to open my eyes and lead me to change! I fear that! I fear losing His presence in my life that is dear to me.
I fear that I do not have enough faith and I am unworthy. This fear is one big factor that keeps me focused on Him. There is a lot of learning that I still have to do and a lot of change to come.
Progress not perfection, however I seek His guidance as I progress. In a world that judges "Christians" when they themselves are not Christians, it is hard to love sometimes. But love is the Truth. We are sheep when we have reached this level. Loving your enemy will never happen unless you love God. Dr. King reached this level and we need to reach it. We will if we continue to walk the path of faith. We will have to rely on it when the Lord places His Good Works in front of us and we may be targeted by many unloving people and evil that can be staring you straight in the eyes. May we all call upon the Lord to help us be better stewards of His Kingdom and continue to walk at a steady pace on the narrow path. AMEN.
God bless and peace be upon you.