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Thursday
Mar242016

Wicked Judgment

Luke 22:63-71.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on March 20, 2016.

Today is Palm Sunday, the Sunday only days before Jesus is crucified.  Palm Sunday is all about the question, “What will you do with Jesus?”  Will you receive him as your king and the Lord’s anointed, or will you reject him and put him to death?  Mankind as a whole is looking for some kind of superman who will have the wisdom and power to fix the problems of mankind.  This same desire morphs into the desire to build some kind of artificial intelligence that can take all the data of the world and somehow tells us how to fix all our problems.  In Jesus God has offered mankind the perfect king who has all wisdom and power.  He is the only one authorized by God to rule over all of mankind and creation.  All other attempts to put the whole world under one man or group of men are essentially rebellions against God’s man.  The judgment of Jesus was and will be righteous.  However, the passage that we are looking at today demonstrates the opposite of this.  The wicked judgments that lead to the crucifixion of Jesus are themselves proof of man’s inability to accomplish this pipe dream of building its own superman.  This is the all too common story of men abusing their power and the crowds of people who love to have it that way.

Jesus Is Mistreated

The treatment of those who are arrested has been historically one of “guilty until proven innocent.”  Many people have been beaten and abused long before any guilt had been established.  The presumption of innocence has been recognized as a noble principle that civilized societies will seek to uphold.  History has taught us that such noble aspirations are often tossed aside.  Thus we see the all too familiar story playing out with Jesus.  He has been questioned, but there has not been a trial.  Yet, we see those who held him beating him.  This rough treatment is allowed to happen because the leaders who are present believe Jesus deserves death.  They have a particular end in mind for him regardless of any legality.  When you put Matthew, Mark and Luke’s testimony side by side, you see that this has been a kind of “midnight trial” at the High Priest’s home.  The trial at dawn before the Sanhedrin becomes a kind of for form only trial.  They had rehearsed the points that had already been hammered out in the night.  Thus Jesus is arrested and put on the cross in a matter of hours.  Such rush to judgment and haste to execute is spoken against all throughout the Bible by God.

We also see that they enjoyed the mistreatment so much that they mocked him.  Most likely all manner of uncivil and course things were being said.  However, we are given an example.  Jesus was known as a healer and a teacher, but also as a prophet.  Thus they blindfold Jesus and take turns hitting him.  They then ask Jesus to figure out who hit him.  If he is a prophet surely he should be able to prophesy who hit him.  Such a wicked game is made only more so by the fact that Jesus was able to know exactly who hit him.  Yet, that was irrelevant to our Lord.  This is the attitude of our Lord.  While the whole world is ripping his flesh like ravenous wolves, he is silent doing the will of God and making their salvation possible.

It also says that they spoke blasphemously about him.  Thus they reproach him, rail against him, and say things about him that are blatantly untrue.  Basically they make him out to be a deceiver and a liar who has come to destroy the nation.   This is particularly sad because Jesus had come to save us from such a being, the devil.

Jesus Is Officially Condemned

Starting in verse 66 we see that the scene changes.  Having spent the night calling witnesses and seeking legal cause to execute Jesus, the leaders are ready to go public.  This public trial is where they will jump through the hoops so that they can say they did everything right.  The council here is the Great Sanhedrin, which was composed of 70 elders and presided over by the High Priest.  They were typically priests, scribes, and Pharisees.  As dawn breaks they move their grilling of Jesus to the official place for trials.  It is likely that there are some members of the Sanhedrin that were not at the High Priest’s home earlier (Nicodemus would be one such likely member).  However, a majority of the body are already in on the arrest and judgment of Jesus.  There is no question how this council will rule.

This trial seems to go pretty quick.  Thus they quickly put the question to him.  “If you are the Christ then tell us.”  Jesus points out that they are not interested in the truth of whether or not he is the messiah.  Jesus had dealt with these leaders over the last 3 years and had been grilled by them over and over again, especially over the last 5-6 hours.  They will not believe regardless of any proofs Jesus has given and could give at that moment.  Jesus also points out that if he were to question them they would simply not answer and refuse to let him go.  We see an example of this several days before in Luke 20:5-7.  They challenged Jesus on where he got the authority to teach in the temple compound.  Jesus told them that he would answer their question if they would answer one of his.  After they agreed, he asked them, “John’s baptism, was it from heaven or men.”  The leaders had reasoned out that if they answered heaven then Jesus would challenge why they didn’t believe him and be baptized by him.  Yet, if they answered from men, the people would stone them because the people believed John was a prophet.  Thus they answered, “We don’t know where it is from.”  Jesus had often shut down the attacks of these leaders and shown how flimsy their line of reason was in public.  He could clearly do so again.  He could remind them how unable they were to judge whether John was a true prophet and yet now they presume to know for sure that Jesus could not be the Messiah.  But none of this would help.

Thus Jesus repeats the two offending statements in front of the official governing body.  The first offending statement is a reference he makes to Daniel 7:13-14.  Now Luke records a brief statement made during the day trial.  However, Matthew and Mark record a longer statement made during the middle of the night trial at the home of the High Priest.  Jesus says, “You will see the son of man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”  Compare this to the Daniel passage in which Daniel is shown the successive world empires.  They want to have the kingdom of the world, but it will be taken from them and given to a particular person.  Daniel 7:13-14, “I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, coming with the clouds of heaven!  He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him.  Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.  His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.  Here we see two beings, the Ancient of Days and the Son of Man who would come on the clouds of heaven and receive an eternal kingdom.  The understanding of this passage is that the Ancient of Days is God the Father.  The mystery “Son of Man” is described with terms that give him divinity.  First he rides the clouds, which in the Old Testament is only spoken of by God.  Also, he receives an everlasting kingdom.  It is understood that the Jews did not have a concept of the trinity.  However, it is not often recognized that they had an understanding of Two Powers in heaven.  They believed that there was an invisible Yahweh and then a visible Yahweh.  This is often seen in the passages that refer to the Angel of the Lord.  When Jesus references this passage, he knows that they see the being as a divine character that is the visible representation of the invisible Yahweh.  Later this view would be declared heretical because it was too helpful to the teaching of Christians.  This was not something they would accept.  Jesus could not be this divine character from Daniel 7.  Thus they question him further, “Are you the Son of God.”  This phrase simply means divine just as Son of Man means human.

The second offending statement that Jesus makes is in response to their question.  Jesus admits that he is divine.  “You rightly say that I am.”  Our world is in great turmoil today.  The sea of mankind is being tossed to and fro by many winds.  Satan is preparing himself for his final assault upon mankind and the claim of kingship by Jesus.  There is no room for being on the fence or hiding in the shadows.  War is being unleashed in the heavens.  Which side are you on?  Do not take the side of violent men who abuse power in such a way as to execute an innocent man.  Do not participate in the violence of leaders, nor in the violence of fellow citizens who love to participate in social violence of any kind.  Jesus demonstrates to us the heart of God.  Though He has all power and authority, still He does not abuse that authority.  Yes, there is a judgment day coming to the earth, but it will be the righteous judgment of one who laid his life down for us all and not the wicked judgment of those who will kill anyone in order to keep their power and authority.  Choose this day whom you will serve.

 

Wicked Judgment audio

Tuesday
Jul222014

The Identity of Jesus II

On the heels of Peter’s confession that Jesus was the Messiah and the Son of the Living God, we have this event where three of the disciples actually see the divine glory of the Son of God shining through the humanity of Jesus.  It is one thing to believe that Jesus is divine, it is quite another to see what these men saw that day.  The apostle John refers to this when he says in John 1:14, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”  The glory of Christ’s wisdom, healings, exorcisms, and control over nature come to its apex in this visual demonstration of the power of Christ called the Transfiguration.  Let’s look at the passage in Luke 9:28-36.

The True Glory of Jesus

It is somewhat difficult to comprehend exactly what it is to say that Jesus is both human and divine.  Of course the disciples came to the fuller understanding of just who Jesus was over time.  But they clearly proclaimed him as fully man and yet fully God.

What did this exactly look like?  Well in some ways Jesus looked and acted like a normal human.  He walked to places he wanted to get to.  He got hungry and tired.  He grew up like any other kid from an infant to an adult.  The utter humanity of Jesus made it hard for those who knew him from Nazareth to accept him as Messiah and Son of God.  His humanity was real and it clothed or cloaked the divine being that resided within.  Yet, he did amazing things that could not be explained as human whether then or now.  Jesus healed people on command and not just the trickery of lengthening someone’s leg.  He traveled the country side healing everyone who was brought to him.  He also commanded demons to leave possessed individuals and they came to their right mind.  He showed amazing command over nature, whether in multiplying the bread and the fish to feed the multitudes or commanding the storm to stop and it obeyed.  All of these things begged the question, “What sort of man is this?” 

Yet, this event becomes the apex of events, up to this point, that helped the disciples to see Jesus as more than a man.  Here the glory of Christ as the Son of God is allowed to shine through his humanity.  Our passage today describes several things regarding this glorious event.  First, the face of Jesus is “altered.”  In Matthew and Mark the greek word used is literally “metamorphosed” and means to change form.  Between these two words we see that the face of Jesus changed and yet it remained a face.  It was just different.  Another point is that his robe became brilliant white and actually cast light from Jesus.  If you picture how the mantle of a gas lamp glows you probably have the right picture.

I think it is important to recognize that in this instance Christ does not get rid of his humanity in order for his glory to be seen.  Rather, he allows his true glory to shine through his humanity.  Even today, Christ retains a glorified body that allows his divine glory to shine through.  The only difference is that this glorified body cannot die and does not grow old.  Luke mentions this in relation to the second coming of Christ in chapter 21:27, “They will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”  John glimpsed this again when Jesus appeared to him on Patmos in Revelation 1.  Sometimes we are tempted to think that we will not be glorious until we die and get rid of this body.  The truth is that the human body was designed to allow the glory of Christ to shine through it.  God is saving us both in body and in spirit.  Yes, greater glory lies ahead for us.  But God wants to “shine” through us gloriously today.

Now another component of this episode is that Moses and Elijah appear and speak with Jesus.  Of course the disciples would not know their identity at first and thus they are called men and then identified.  Why?  Some have pointed out that Moses and Elijah represent the Law and the Prophets.  Both of which pointed to the coming work of Jesus, the messiah.  Another thought is that Moses represents those who have died and are carried to glory (see Jude).  Whereas, Elijah represents those who are caught up and carried into glory.  Notice that Elijah and Moses are glorious as well.  They are probably shining as well because of their faith in Christ.  He has shared his glory with them.  Now this is a promise that is held out to believers throughout the Bible.  Daniel 12:3 says that, “those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and ever.”  Yet, their main reason for being there is to speak with Jesus regarding the work of dying on the cross that Christ still had ahead of him.  Most likely this is an even that is revelatory for the disciples, but encouraging for the humanity of Jesus.  Now at verse 32 we sort of transition to the disciples.  So let’s look at their side of this.

The Disciples Witnessed His Glory

Clearly Jesus intended for these 3 (Peter, James, and John) to witness this spectacular event.  Later John would emphasize this in 1 John 1:2, “the Life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal Life which was with the Father and was manifested to us.”  Of course he is talking about Jesus.

It is interesting that this happens during a time of prayer.  Like the Garden of Gethsemane on the night he was betrayed, Jesus asks these three to spend time with him in prayer.  It is clear that they are not used to spending time in prayer as they have trouble staying awake.  Yet, they are awakened by the sudden appearance of the glory of Christ accompanied by two saints.  Now sleep is used in the bible as a metaphor for spiritual sluggishness and lack of alertness.  Thus prayer is continually connected to those who are awake and alert.  Perhaps this is a prophetic picture of Christ’s 2nd Coming.  Christ himself asked the question of whether or not he would find faith when he returned.  If the time was not shortened even the very elect would not be saved.  This idea that even faithful Christians would struggle with sleepiness in the last days leading up to Christ’s 2nd coming, is seen in the parable of the 10 virgins.  Yes, 5 were ready and 5 were not, but all of them were asleep.  It was the sudden announcement of the bridegroom’s presence that awakened them.  I believe that God helps us in the weaknesses of our flesh.  Just as Jesus put up with the disciples weakness in the flesh, so he knows our weakness as well.  Yet, the Spirit of the Lord will always be faithful to wake us up so that we do not miss out on the glory of Christ.

One of the important things about this event is that Jesus had previously told his disciples that some of them would see Him coming in his Kingdom before they died.  Here these 3 disciples are given a glimpse of what it will be like when the Son of Man returns with his holy ones, both angels and saints.  This glimpse is so powerful that Peter thinks it is happening for good.  But it wasn’t time yet for the Kingdom of God to be fully instituted here on earth.  I say not fully, because Jesus did start the Kingdom of God here on earth.  However, it is a spiritual kingdom in which Christ rules by his Spirit in the hearts of believers.  It is not a kingdom that is run by men and rules over the peoples of the earth.  Yet, the day is coming that Christ will return and complete the Kingdom of God on earth.  Peter’s desire to build three shelters for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah, demonstrates what he thinks is happening.  They are here to stay and Jesus is ready to reveal his true glory to all the world.  Yet, the physical kingdom is to be delayed.  A time of spiritual harvest must happen first; a time where people are called by the Spirit of God to embrace the spiritual leadership of Jesus Christ in their lives.   As Peter is in the middle of announcing his plan for Jesus and the others, an ominous cloud not only comes over them, but is low enough that they “enter it.”  I believe that this is intended to be connected to the pillar of cloud that led Israel in the desert.  It only settled on the tabernacle and represented the presence of God.  A change is being seen here as Christ allows his disciples to enter into the cloud of God’s presence with him.  The voice of the Father once again announces to those who have ears to hear that Jesus is His beloved son and that they are to listen to him!  I am sure that Peter meant well, but these words are too cutting to miss.  Our flesh is always quick to try and jump in and do for God what we think He needs.  However, God instructs us to knock it off and just listen to Jesus.  He is the commander and the One with the plan.  We are to follow him and not what we envision for him.   Today, there are too many great leaders that are jumping in and telling the group what they need to do for Jesus without first asking the question, “What is Jesus telling us to do?”  It is easy to point to the general instructions of the Lord and then say that the details are up to us.  There is some truth in this.  However, like Joshua sending troops against Ai, we ought to stop from time to time and ask God if there is something that we are missing before we rush ahead.  Peter had a good intention, but rotten timing.  Satan is looking for such people who have good intentions but are not submitted to the leadership of Jesus.  They are easily received by others and easily manipulated by him.

Let me close by encouraging us to quit looking at our failures and weakness in the flesh and using that as an excuse for hanging back.  You were designed to shine forth the glory of Christ.  In this flesh we are not going to glow physically (unless it serves God’s purposes to do so).  But the glory of who Christ is and his wisdom can be seen in us if we will daily lay our flesh at his feet and ask for his help.  God is not surprised that we are weak and fleshly.  Christ came precisely because of this.  Thus let us throw off the excuses and fears and choose to follow him in every area of our life.  Instead of second guessing Jesus and his apostles, let us throw off those things that are hindering us and make the choice to surrender to his leadership.  It is he who is the cornerstone and it is he who set the apostles about him as a foundation for us today.  Quit these false distinctions that try to distinguish between things Paul said and what Jesus said.  These apostles were speaking at the direction of Christ and the Spirit of Christ.  When we reject them we are ultimately rejecting the Christ who commissioned and sent them.  Don’t be deceived.  God is not mocked.  He will not receive those who through clever sophistry develop arguments to redefine their sin as righteousness.  That is not the path of glory, but rather the path of destruction.  Let the glory of Christ shine through you today!

Identity Jesus II audio