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Weekly Word

Entries in King (6)

Tuesday
Apr162019

Jesus Offers Himself as King

Mark 11:1-11.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on April 14, 2019.

Today we are celebrating Palm Sunday and so I will skip ahead in the Gospel of Mark to the passage that deals with the Sunday before the crucifixion of Jesus.  On this day, Jesus came into Jerusalem riding on a donkey’s colt.  What is he doing?  Jesus is offering himself to them as the Son of David for whom they had waited, and of whom the prophet Zechariah had prophesied in chapter 9:9.  It is not just because he is on a donkey’s colt, but also because of the powerful things Jesus had done before this.  Their constant question to him of whether or not he was the Messiah seems to receive a clear answer in his action here.  Yes, Jesus is offering himself to them as their king and it appears as if they are receiving him.

As we walk through this story today, I want us to take two images from this.  Here we have the lowly Jesus riding on a donkey’s colt.  On the other hand, Scripture gives the picture in the book of Revelation of the Mother of Prostitutes riding on a seven-headed beast.  Who will you choose to be king?  Jesus did not come to build a beastly system in order to crush the world under his authority.  Rather, he came as a humble man, a little lamb, offering citizenship in a coming kingdom to whosoever will.  He came to offer adoption into the family of God to whosoever will.  He came to offer his hand in marriage to whosoever will.  So, what will you choose?  Will you choose citizenship in a beastly kingdom ruled by harlots, adoption into a family of wickedness, marriage to the man of sin who will one day rule the world?  As for me and my house, we will choose the Lord Jesus!

The king asks us to help

This is an important picture of the character of God.  Though He has all power and doesn’t need us, He does want us to have a part in what He is doing.  Thus, Jesus gives his disciples some instructions to go get a certain donkey at a certain place.  Now, before we get into these specific instructions from the master, it would be good to recognize another aspect of his instructions or commands.

We have general instructions from Jesus that are to all who want to follow Him at all times.  We find them in the Word of God in commands like, “Love your enemies and do good to those that hate you.”  Matthew 5:44. It is interesting that in our modern society we are beginning to redefine love and hate to the point that something that is actually loving is declared as hatred.  For example, if these things about Jesus are true then no other religion on earth, or lack thereof, can save someone.  If I truly cared about a person, I would lovingly tell that they are following a false religion that cannot save them.  No, I wouldn’t ridicule them and abuse them in anyway, but I just might end up hurting their feelings by telling them the truth regardless of the fact that it was not my intent.  Yet, such is increasingly labeled as “hate-speech.”  Regardless of all that, if you are a believer in Jesus then you have received general instructions from Christ with which you are expected to wrestle with your context in order to obey.  We constantly ask ourselves and the Lord what it means in this specific situation.  Instead of listing all possible situations and legislating what the loving thing to do is, Christ expects us to grapple with these issues ourselves and with the help of the Holy Spirit.  This often leads to times of prayer and seeking God for specific direction.

Yet, there are times when we receive specific instructions from the Lord by the Holy Spirit.  Christ is not physically on the earth to give a specific word.  The disciples that day did not ask themselves, “Is this really the will of the master?”  They knew for sure because Jesus was right in front of them.  However, we take the general command into our prayer life and seek the specific instruction of the Lord for each context.  Sometimes he speaks to us by his Spirit and sometimes he lets us struggle to work it out.  Always, he is watching over us and helping us.

Now, our flesh can interfere in this process of receiving specific instruction from the Lord.  It can try to talk us out of doing what God is asking because it doesn’t make sense to us, or will make us look silly.  On the other hand, it can also dream up things in order to stroke the ego.  We must humbly and prayerfully consider what we believe God is telling us.  We should have godly Christians around us that we are comfortable sharing the things with which we are wrestling.  In the end, we should step out in faith and trust the directions of the Lord.  We are choosing in those moments to help him in the endeavor that he is doing.

So, Jesus was planning to enter Jerusalem in a spectacular way and he gave his disciples specific instructions.  However, those instructions did not explain everything.  Have you ever noticed this about God?  He tells us enough so that we can do what He wants, but He doesn’t tell us everything.  This is a hard thing for our flesh to take.  What if they think we are stealing the colt?  What if they call for the police and take us to jail?

The answer is that Jesus always has others who belong to him that we do not know.  This is worth remembering in life.  Though Jesus had 12 disciples, everything was not on their shoulders.  Jesus had other disciples that were wrestling with following his instructions too.  They didn’t travel around with him like the 12, but they were real disciples nonetheless.  We need to trust the small part that God has given us to do and know that it will be magnified by all the many small tasks of the other disciples around us.  Some will be people that we know, but most will be people we don’t.  The key point is that the Spirit of God is able to orchestrate these things as we simply learn to trust him.  May God help us to learn always to be ready to do the work that will show the world the truth of who God is.

So, the disciples go and find the colt that Jesus told them about and, sure enough, someone asks them what they think they are doing.  When they give the response that Jesus told them to give, the guys let them go.  Imagine that!  No problems.  Now why did Jesus want a donkey anyways?

The king doesn’t always do what we expect him to do

Jesus is often an enigma to us because we are so used to analyzing things with our fleshly minds and don’t fully comprehend the ways of God.  So, following him can often throw us some curve balls.  If you want to follow Jesus then you are going to be tested.  In fact, walking with Jesus tests everyone, even those that look like this Christianity is easy stuff.  The curve balls of life will test our ability to keep listening to Jesus.  On this day, Israel was being tested as a whole, but each individual person was being tested as well.  The crowds seem to be ready to accept Jesus as king.  Clearly the disciples have already accepted Jesus and are on board.  It is interesting that Mark doesn’t mention the Chief Priests, Scribes, and the Pharisees, as in the other gospels.  Most of them have made up their minds to reject Jesus and in fact have been plotting a way to execute him.

It might be helpful to analyze our response to Jesus with a logic grid.  On one axis we will mark their initial response to Jesus as Yes or No.  On the other axis we will mark their faith in Jesus at the end of their life as a Yes or No. 

Thus, we end up with 4 possible outcomes, YY, YN, NY, NN.  Those who quickly said yes to Jesus and stayed with him to the end would be those first disciples like James, John, Peter and Andrew, etc.  Judas would represent the one who said yes up front, but fell away from Jesus in the end.  The apostle Paul would represent the one who rejected Jesus at first, but then later had a change of heart and stuck with Jesus to the end.  Lastly, we have those who went to their grave, never having put their faith in Jesus at all.  What is the real difference between a YY person and a NY?  How about a YN and a NN?  We should quickly realize that it doesn’t really matter how quickly I responded to Jesus.  What really matters is where I am in the end.  In fact, there is a world of trials that happen between our initial acquaintance with Jesus and the end of our life.  Every day tests whether or not we will stay with Jesus.  The apostle Peter himself publicly denied the Lord for a time, but he was granted repentance and was restored.  Forget about what your score is along the way, and choose to follow Jesus today.

Faith is not about how perfect we look, but where we end up.  Today, if you hear his voice, don’t harden your heart, but rather say, “Speak, Lord.  Your servant is listening.”  Keep your eye upon the heavenly prize.  Keep your allegiance with Christ and trust that he will pull you through in the end, regardless of how many times you fail.  Go to war against those things within you that seek to pull you away from Jesus, and to give up in the end.

The crowds began to shout as they see what Jesus is doing.  They are ready for Jesus to raise up the fallen kingdom of David, which the prophets had promised.  They wanted the Kingdom of David, but it was too late for that.  When he gets to Jerusalem and goes to the temple it says this.  “So, when he had looked around at all things, as the hour was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.”  Jesus knew that he was going to get their late.  Why not wait until the next morning?  It is as if the “too late” here is a metaphor for the desires of the people.  He had done it on purpose.  Why?  He knew that he would ultimately be rejected by the people because he wasn’t going to do what they expected.  He really hadn’t come to late, but their hearts had given up on God and would not believe unless he jumped through all the hoops that they wanted him to jump through.  Sin was choking their hearts and blinding their eyes.  This is the same heart that is throughout the whole world today.  If there is room for God at all, we will allow him to come in and sweep our sin under the rug and bless us as if we had been righteous all along.  However, for an increasing number of people, there is no room for God in our world.  The attitude is this.  Just leave us alone and we will find Utopia ourselves.  To this attitude, believers who remain faithful to Christ represent a problem.  You may be following Christ today, but will you follow him to the end?  When people are losing their minds and thinking that sacrificing you will save humanity or mother earth, will you stick with him then?  I pray that, regardless of how many times you fall and scrape your knees spiritually, you will cling to Jesus and trust Him to pull you through.

Will you trust this king?  No, he doesn’t always make sense to us, but of all beings who have walked this planet, He is the only one who even comes close to looking like God.  Accept Him today and join the Kingdom of God.

Jesus as King audio

Monday
Apr102017

When God Calls Our Bluff

Luke 19:37-40.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on April 9, 2017.

Today is Palm Sunday.  In and of itself it looks like a good day in the life of Jesus, at least on the surface.  But as we did deeper into what is really going on here, we see that ultimately it is a very sad day that reveals exactly why the crucifixion and the resurrection are necessary components to the salvation of a human being.

The calling of someone’s bluff comes from gambling at poker.  Instead of only waiting until you have a good hand to bet large, a person will learn to play a more difficult game of pretense.  I may pretend I have a bad hand or pretend I have a good hand.  It makes it more difficult for others to tell if I am really bluffing.  Now, between humans, this simply comes down to who is best at bluffing.  However, you can always be wrong when you call someone’s bluff.  If you call you must be ready to pay the price if you are wrong.  At this point let’s switch to the topic at hand.

If God calls our bluff, there is no question.  He knows our thoughts and our heart better than we do.  Thus, for God the risk is not calling our bluff.  The risk is to let us continue pretending that we have a good hand when in reality we are living in a land of our own imagination.  People who try to live in reality based upon imaginary things and pretense ultimately will find their dream world turn into a nightmare as everything they think is good proves not to be so.  The point today is that God loves us too much to let us keep bluffing.  In reality this is exactly what Jesus is doing that day all those years ago.  Let’s look at the passage.

Jesus Presents Himself as Messiah and King

The larger context tells us that there is a Passover festival at hand in Jerusalem.  Many people are coming to Jerusalem to celebrate.  So, we find Jesus making his way to Jerusalem.  However, there are some unique things that he does.  He purposefully comes in such a way that the religious people of Israel will know that he is presenting himself as the Messiah.

The two terms, Messiah and Christ, have come to us from the first century.  Messiah is a Hebrew term that means “anointed one.”  Throughout Israel’s history God had progressively revealed to them that He would eventually send His Anointed One who would be King of Israel and would restore Israel and the even the world to righteousness.  He himself would be perfectly righteous.  Some passages to back this up are: Psalm 2, 1 Samuel 2:10, and Daniel 9:25.   During the time of David it was revealed that the Messiah would be of the line of David.  So they had a promise of a coming savior who would fix all that was wrong with Israel and take over the whole world.  So, if Jesus is presenting himself as Messiah, we might ask the question, “Why didn’t he do it?”  It has been said that Jesus came the first time to fix only our spiritual problem and that his Second Coming will be about fixing our natural and geo-political problems.  Though there is some truth to this, it is a gross simplification.  To fix a person’s unbelief and sin, is to transform their life in the natural.  Thus those who believed in Jesus and followed His ways discovered a transformed natural life, as well as a supernatural one.  Let’s look at the Second Coming.  Though Jesus will clearly remove the wicked kings and armies of this world and take over politically, it is also clear that he deals with our spiritual enemy, the devil.   By the time of Jesus, the Greek language was as prevalent in the near east as English is throughout the world today.  Thus the word Christ was used as a synonym for the Hebrew term Messiah.  It too meant an anointed one.

Throughout his ministry Jesus had asked people to keep the fact that he was the messiah under wraps.  He wasn’t ready to announce himself yet.  But on this day he is ready.  Before we look at how they would know that is what he is doing, let’s look at the timing issue first.  Throughout their history Israel had waited for the messiah.  Definitely since the prophet Isaiah who spoke of him throughout his book, but especially Isaiah 53.  That would be over 700 years.  But they had also been waiting since David and his many prophecies 950 years earlier.  In some ways we can even go back to Abraham and God’s promises to him, or Eve and God’s promise that one of her seed would crush the serpent’s head.  It is hard to keep positive about a promise that takes so long to keep.  God’s timing is clearly not our timing.  How many generations had been born, heard the promise, hoped in it, and then died without seeing it?  Of course no one person had to wait over a 1,000 or even 2,000 years.  Yet, intellectually they would recognize that it has been a long time.  This would raise the question, is it really going to happen?  Doubts, and even cynicism, easily creep in.  This is typically handled one of two ways.  We either outwardly reject it and live openly without that hope, or, we keep the doubt internal.  We keep up the bluff that we believe in order to get the best out of the system that such belief has built up.  So when Jesus presents himself that day, there are people in different categories.  There are some who have held out hope against all odds that the Messiah would still come someday even though it had been so long.  There were others who only pretended that they believed the Messiah would come.  They actually lived their lives based on other hopes.  Then there are those who had outwardly given up in believing.  The life of Jesus had stirred all of these different groups.  His miracles and powerful words shook them to the core.

I point all this out because we are in the same boat today.  We have been waiting for the Second Coming of Christ coming on 2,000 years.  In 2 Peter 3:3-4, the apostle warns us, “Knowing this first, that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming?  For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning.’”  These same categories exist in our churches and across this world.  In our humanity and in our sinfulness we want, and even demand, God to do it now!  We want Him to operate on our timetable.  Since God has not cooperated, we cast Him aside and seek to make ourselves God: observing all things (omnipresent), knowing everything (omniscient), doing anything (omnipotent), and living as long as we want (immortal).  So the question today is this, do you trust God’s timing even though it has been so long?  Are you willing to wait, or are you only pretending to be waiting for Him.  One day He will call our bluff and Jesus will present himself to our surprise.  On that day the hidden hand that we really have will be laid on the table for all to see.  Don’t cast away the promise of God and forge your own way.  The siren call of the modern world and its technology is that we no longer need a God.  We can become the gods that we have always wanted.  The problem is that there really is a God and He really has asked us to wait for Him.  Future us will slam into that reality at light speed, just as Israel and Rome did all those years ago.

But it is not just God’s timing that bothers us.  It is also the way in which He does it.  There are parts of the plan that Israel liked (getting rid of the bad guys and ruling over the whole earth).  But clearly there were other parts that they didn’t like.  Jesus comes down the Mt. of Olives to the city of Jerusalem riding on the colt of a donkey as prophesied in Zechariah 9.  But, this gives a far different picture of God’s Anointed King than our flesh would like to dream up.  He does not come as the proud, flamboyant hero that our flesh desires.  Instead, he comes as the humble, peaceful, unpretentious leader who is not drunk on their own authority.  He did not have a sword, nor an army behind him, at least in the natural.  He came not to pat the people on the back and say good job.  But, instead he comes to save them from their sins, and those powers that used their sins to hold them in bondage.  He was not after geo-political boundaries that day, but rather to break down the boundaries and walls that they had built around their hearts (that we build around ours even today).  The heart of the matter is this, we want a leader who will not demand our hearts change, but rather will change the world around us.  We want things to change without us having to change.  Of course this is impossible.  Even progressives who say similar things, but in order to increase our faith in the intellectual elite that will lead us into the New Age of Mankind, do not recognize that the only change that matters is the one that must happen in our sinful and rebellious heart.  No.  Mankind cannot fix itself because to do so is to refuse to change in the one area that it must (in hearts and minds).  Thus our own hearts set us up for the betrayal of leaders who promise heaven and yet deliver hell, who look like Jesus but in the end they are a devil.  Jesus did not fit the profile that the religious leaders had in their mind.  All their lives they had said that they loved God and wanted His Messiah.  And yet, Jesus was the fulfillment of all of this.  God called their bluff and many of them were found wanting.

The History of the Church

There are two aspects to the history of the Church.  On one hand it may seem that it is no different from Israel and that God’s plan didn’t work.  Definitely, the Church as an institution of people is like Israel because it is made of people.  Yet, on the other hand, in the midst of it all, we do see people who believed God and refused to only honor Him with their lips.  They were not bluffing.  Just as Israel had her prophets and believers within the midst of many unbelievers, so too is the Church.  When the hard call came to them in their day and age, they rejected what the world was offering and followed Jesus.  Thus the early apostles did not create little kingdoms over which they all reigned as popes.  Instead, they each sacrificed their lives to give the Truth of Jesus the Christ to the world.  The reformers in Europe refused to shut up and obey man, but instead lost everything in order to follow Jesus.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer said of Martin Luther that he thought he had left everything behind to enter the monastery.  But what he found in the monastery was that there was one more thing he needed to let go of, his pious, proud self-will.  Thus Luther had to leave this in the monastery and go back into the world, all the while being called a heretic and blasphemer by those who held the reins of power.  None of these people were perfect, only Jesus is perfect.  But they understood that to follow Jesus is to let go of everything that comes between us and him.  It is ours to simply say yes to his timing and to his way.  Yes, it will often be inconvenient and difficult.  But it always leads us away from destruction and towards life.

What is it that Jesus is calling us to do today?  Yes, in general, we are to be faithful to His Word and promote Jesus as savior and Lord.  But what is he specifically saying to you about your life.  Every time we read God’s Word, His Holy Spirit works in our hearts to call our bluff, or at least to get us to resist turning towards it.  He calls us to be real.  So what were the responses on that day?  There really are only two that are possible.

The Response to Jesus

Let us not kid ourselves.  Jesus was clearly presenting himself as God’s Messiah (The Anointed One) who was the rightful King of Israel.  As this gauntlet is thrown down those who believed that he was Messiah began to rejoice.  His ways had confused them because he wouldn’t do anything that looked like he was going to take over.  So on this day his followers are ecstatic because they think they know what will happen next.  Finally, he is ready to do what we have asked him to do.  Though they are in for a rude awakening as to what is next, it is still important to recognize their response to Jesus.  They quote from Psalm 118, which was a psalm predicting a coming Anointed King who would save Israel.  They believed in Jesus, and thus believed God who had sent Him.

All that said, even when we initially respond correctly, our faith is always going to be challenged.  Today when he rides down the hill on a donkey their faith is strong.  But what about later when he hangs on a cross and is buried, will they still believe?  When he is resurrected and yet ascends into heaven without fixing everything, will they still believe?  If we really trust God and His Anointed One, Jesus, then it is our duty to follow and accept that His way is perfect and mine is not.  You see even then their hearts were still their greatest enemies.  Would they be led astray by their wicked hearts?  Thus the reality is this, those who believe will do the actions of faith.  Their heart and their mind will protest a thousand times and yet, at the end of the day, they will choose to trust God over their own heart and mind.  We will be tested on this time and time again throughout our life, not because God is trying to disqualify us, but because He is perfecting us.  He is making us to be like Jesus, if we will let Him.

The Second response is simply to not believe.  Those who did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah resisted and did the actions of unbelief.  Thus the religious leaders rebuke Jesus and tell him to rebuke his disciples.  Resisting can be open and heavy or hidden and slight.  Regardless it is of the same ilk, unbelief.  We are no different today.  We must all come to Jesus as both savior and Lord.  Yes, we want saved but we can’t dictate the terms of our salvation.  We must follow him, not because he is headed in the direction that we desire or does what we desire.  We must follow him because he is the Truth, and the Way, and the Life.  We must follow him because he is the only Righteous One.  Become a follower of Jesus today by walking away from the life that your flesh wants to create, whether religious or not, and letting him who alone has the words of life lead you forward no matter what that may look like.

When God calls your bluff audio

Tuesday
Aug112015

Undermining God's Purpose

Luke 19:45-48.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on August 9, 2015.

The term “undermine” has no shocking origin.  It refers to the fact that valuables are often underneath large amounts of overburden (earth that has no value to the miner).  Even though mining has been honed to quite a science we still have cave-ins today.  In 2010 a mine in the Atacama Desert of Chile had a single block of stone break free from the mountain and fall through each layer of the mine in a collapsing chain reaction.  When the dust settled it was recognized that this “stone” was at least 45 stories tall and had trapped 33 miners half a mile under the surface.  It took 17 days to drill a hole to the location of the miners and find out that they were still alive.  After 69 days, the world was able to see these miners return to the light of day.  The greater the thing you undermine the greater the consequences if you don’t do enough to mitigate your actions.

Today, Jesus reminds us that God has purposes that he is accomplishing.  It is easy for his people to lose sight of those purposes and, in fact, undermine them.  The eternal purposes of God are far “heavier” than that 45 story block of stone.  If we do not let God correct us, we will eternally endanger ourselves and the lives of our loved ones, and eventually suffer a spiritual collapse.

Jesus Removes That Which Offends God

On the heels of being declared King-Messiah by the large crowds of people, we see Jesus resolutely head to the temple and begin to clean house.  Over time the leaders of the temple had instigated and allowed practices that were undermining the purpose God had in having a temple in the first place.  Let’s take a closer look at the problem.

The temple presented a very practical, logistic problem.  People were required to bring animals for sacrifice, and those animals needed to be inspected and judged.  Also, once a year a temple tax had to be paid in the Hebrew coinage.  Some people were traveling great distances and thus would have trouble trying to bring animals to Jerusalem.  They would also have foreign money and would need to exchange it to pay the tax.  On top of this many people didn’t have their own flocks and would need to purchase animals once they got to Jerusalem.  Thus people would bring money with them in order to exchange currency and secure an acceptable sacrifice.

Now sometimes the solutions to problems can create other problems.  So, at first, people would get animals in the surrounding area and bring them to the temple.  At some point, the place of getting an acceptable animal kept moving closer to the temple until it was moved into the outer court of the temple (also known as the court of Gentiles).  On one hand this was more convenient for the people and allowed them to buy “pre-approved” animals.  This convenience led to what it always does, higher prices.  In fact Jesus called it a den of thieves.  They were price-gouging the people.  This solution had begun to undermine the purposes of God.  The people were commanded to come, give sacrifice and pay the tax.  Yet, the priests and vendors were taking advantage of that situation to “rob” the people.  When leadership takes advantage of those who are trying to obey God’s commands, it has crossed a line that God will not tolerate for long.  This happens in the Church today.  Many false leaders have taken advantage of the fact that people are commanded by God to believe on Jesus and become a part of his Church.  They undermine God’s purposes as they fleece the flock and abuse their authority. 

Another problem is that the vendors in the court of the Gentiles had become an added distraction to worship.  Now let me first say that even if everything was done perfect, there would still be plenty of distractions to worshipping God.  They still had to bring an animal that would be relieving itself wherever.  They would also have the slaughtering of the animals and other people.  We should never fool ourselves that worship of God in this flesh is meant to be a perfect event.  The flesh is always distracted.  Part of the challenge of a believer is to learn to see God in the midst of those distractions.  In fact, salvation and redemption is messy business.  But the lust for money and convenience was adding more distraction than was necessary.  Also, the rip-off prices would fill the heart of people with anger at men, and ultimately anger with God.  “Why should I come to Your temple and get robbed?  Is this just?”  It is hard to worship when you feel like you have been abused.  Commercialization within the Church diminishes and trivializes our participation within it.  Leaders may think they have created a wonderful thing, but they are undermining the ability of people to truly worship.

God Desires Prayer From All Nations

Jesus reminds the priests that God’s purpose was that the temple be a place of prayer for all nations.  He does this by quoting from Isaiah 56:6-7, which says, “Also the sons of the foreigner who join themselves to the Lord, to serve Him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants-everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, and holds fast My covenant- even them I will bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer.  Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”  Thus God wanted His temple to be a place of prayer, and not just for Israel.  That passage says that God wants to make the Gentiles joyful in his house.  Prayer is basically a person reaching out to God and interacting with Him.  This was done with sacrifices and words.  Whether to cover sins or to honor God, prayer is our approach to God.  The symbolism of the temple speaks to the importance of approaching God correctly.  But we should never lose sight of the main point.  There is a way to approach God, interact with Him, and be accepted.  This is a joyful thing.  Whether we are glorifying Him, petitioning Him, or confessing and repenting before Him, we can know that He accepts us.  This was being lost through the actions of the leaders of that day. 

God’s heart is to take those who are separated from Him and to bring them near.  The whole chapter of Isaiah 56 is worth reading because he is dealing with the reality that some people were separated from going all the way into the temple.  In fact, the closer you got to the temple the fewer people who could continue.  Thus those who were not Jews could only approach the first level.  Then the next level was the Court of Women.  Only the Jewish males could go in to it.  Then there was the temple building itself.  Only the priests could enter the Holy place.  And then only one priest, the High Priest, could go into the Holy of Holies, and it only on one day out of the year.  Some people see this cynically and say something to the affect that they couldn’t worship a God who appears so racist or misogynistic.  However, they are completely misreading the reason for these barriers.  Isaiah 56 is a prophecy to Eunuchs and Gentiles who could feel badly about being separated.  He encourages them not to be discouraged.  You see the whole point was to show that no matter how “qualified” a person was in the flesh, it still couldn’t guarantee their hearts were in the right place.  The High Priest in the days of Jesus wasn’t even a son of Aaron.  He had manipulated and bribed his way into the post.  It was those who were most removed from God in the flesh who were the most easily brought near in the Spirit.  In fact, Israel as a nation rejected Jesus and when the Gospel went to the Gentile nations it was initially received my many.  Thus instead of thinking God is racist, recognize His well illustrated point that no race, biology, sex, station in life, or physical ability can ensure a person’s heart will truly believe God and worship Him.  Yes many worshipped God with their lips, but their hearts were far from Him.

The New Covenant

So what does this say to us today?  Yes, it can apply to us under the New Covenant.  First of all, we should receive Jesus as our King.  Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords, and God requires all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30).  There also is no other name under heave given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).  Jesus is the master and we are His disciples.  Thus His Word is authoritative in our life by His position.  Yet, he has also saved our lives by dying on a cross for us.  Thus His Word is authoritative in our life by His value to us. 

We should also let the King cleanse our life.  Jesus knows exactly what it is that is getting in the way between us and God.  If we accept Him as king then we should also accept His judgments of the things in our lives.  He prunes us and enables us to be fruitful.  Thus the true believer in Jesus is in a relationship of learning to surrender to the wisdom of Christ.  It is easy to say that all our sins were covered 2,000 years ago and thus we don’t have to worry about sin at all.  However, this overlooks the fact that to embrace Jesus as our savior is to admit that we need saved, aka “I am a sinner.”  Jesus didn’t die so that we can keep on sinning.  Rather, He died so that we can be freed from our sins and enabled to truly change.

Lastly, we should draw near to God in Spirit and in Truth.  Regardless of what you are in the flesh, God has enabled you to come into the Holy of Holies through Jesus.  Regardless of race, gender, or lineage, you can come into the holiest place of all, the throne of God.  He accepts you not because of your flesh, but because you put your faith in His Son Jesus.  Let embrace and worship Him today!

Undermining audio

Tuesday
Aug112015

Our Choice Of King

Luke 19:28-44.  This message was given by Pastor Marty Bonner on August 2, 2015.

Today we are going to look at what is called the Triumphal Entry of Jesus.  The week before he was crucified, Jesus came to Jerusalem in such a way as to make it very clear that he was presenting himself to Israel as their Messiah.

This sets up an important theme of the New Testament.  God is the King of the whole world and yet we really do not want Him.  When given the choice the majority of mankind will reject God and choose to serve someone else.  Let’s look at this passage.

Jesus Present Himself As A King

Israel had been waiting for a particular king to come who would be God’s Anointed One (Hebrew= Messiah, Greek= Christ).  The prophets had promised the people that God would raise up a perfect king who would be anointed by His Spirit to give Justice and Peace to Israel and the world.  It was popular among the common people to believe that Jesus was this Messiah.  But up to now he had rebuffed any attempts to make him king.  However, in this event, Jesus openly declares himself as the Messiah of God and King of Israel.  This puts the ball into the court of the leaders of Israel: What will you do?

The passage starts out with Jesus giving some very specific instructions to his disciples.  He must have a donkey’s colt to ride on.  If you don’t know your Old Testament prophecies you would miss that Jesus is purposefully fulfilling a prophecy from Zechariah chapter 9.  Now some people say that the reason Jesus appears to fufill the Old Testament prophecies is because he conspired to make it look like he did.  However, though it is true with this one prophecy, most of the prophecies were out of his hands.  He couldn’t determine where he would be born and perform the amazing signs surrounding it such as: the star, the wise men, the angels, and the shepherds, etc…  Thus Jesus fulfills this prophecy on purpose so as to give the people of Israel a choice.  Will they agree with him and accept him, or will they reject him?

Now when we look at the prophecy in Zechariah 9, we see that Jesus is everything that it said.  It says very clearly that the messiah would present himself to Israel on the back of a small colt of a donkey.  Verses 9-10 say, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Jerusalem!  Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.  I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem; the battle bow shall be cut off.  He shall speak peace to the nations; His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from The River to the ends of the earth.”  Notice once you get past the setting of his arrival on a donkey’s colt, you get to the character and administration of this king.  He would be just, upright, and doing what is right with all men.  The ministry of Jesus demonstrates what true justice looks like, whether he is rebuking the Pharisees or having mercy on a woman caught in adultery.  The messiah would also have salvation.  The stories of the healings and grace of Jesus are the heart of salvation.  It is a word that simply means to be delivered, rescued, or avenged.  Even the name of Jesus means “God is salvation.”  It also says that the messiah would be lowly.  Now, the word for lowly is not just humility of attitude.  It means poor and afflicted.  Thus Jesus is born into a poor family.  He lives as a poor person.  He has felt the crush of a society that cares less for the poor.  Why a donkey’s colt?  He does not ride in on a battle horse, but on a small beast of burden that has never been used before.  It also says that the messiah would cut off the means of military ability and instead speak peace to the nations.  This is critical because most people in Israel missed this.  They wanted a king to rise up and destroy the Romans.  But Jesus allowed himself to be crucified and spoke a gospel of peace to Rome and the rest of the world.  The word cut off in this prophecy is the same word that is used in the prophecy of Daniel 9:26.  There it says that the messiah would be executed.  Thus the work of Jesus would “execute” or kill Israel’s ability to fight.  It should be noted that Jesus was not just speaking peace to the nations.  He was also speaking peace to Israel.  He was not the King they wanted in their hearts.  Do we really want world peace?  It is easy to give lip service to such concepts and yet go on to do everything that keeps it from happening.  This is where we are as a world today.  We say we want peace and yet we choose the wrong leaders and the wrong kings. 

The People Give Lip Service

As Jesus approaches Jerusalem, the crowds recognize what he is doing and loudly give full-throated declaration of his kingship.  Yet, I call this lip service because in one week the cries will change to “crucify him.”  What went wrong?  It wasn’t their understanding of who he was.  The people clearly understood that he was the messiah.  They throw down their cloaks and strip off palm branches to wave and throw on the path.  Thus they rolled out the red carpet.  They even use as their chant a declaration of his kingship by quoting Psalm 118, which is a prophecy about the messiah.  “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”  The leaders also clearly understood that Jesus was presenting himself as messiah and that the people were accepting it.  They become incensed because they have already made up their mind that Jesus could not be the messiah.  So they turn the situation to Jesus.  Rebuke your disciples!  Thus they challenge Jesus to reject his own calling as messiah.

The response that Jesus gives helps us to see that he knew who he was.  He was not making himself messiah.  God the Father had given this to him.  Thus it wasn’t up to Jesus.  Jesus will be honored because God the Father has determined it to be so.  The question is, Will you honor him or dishonor him?  Jesus has fulfilled the prophecies of the messiah, but which side of this fulfillment will you be on?  Will you be helping it and receiving it, or will you be standing against it?

They Miss Their Opportunity For Peace

It seems odd to us that he would not be overjoyed at this moment.  It appears as if everything is working and he has the crowds of people on his side.  But Jesus knows the truth of where it was all heading.  He knows that the praises will not last.  Within the week they will call for his death.  This one who knew what was in the heart of a man also knew that these praises were mostly people caught up in the mania of the crowd.  Their praises would disappear like the morning mist in the heat of trial and when things didn’t go their way.

This breaks the heart of Jesus.  He weeps as he approaches Jerusalem.  Yet, he does not weep over what is going to happen to him.  He is weeping because he knows what their rejection of him will bring upon themselves.  He knows what bloodshed lies ahead.  As they reject the one who speaks peace they receive the fruit of such choices: war and bloodshed.  Within 40 years Jerusalem would be surrounded by the armies of Rome and become a slaughter house.  The sad thing is that they didn’t have to make that choice.  Even then God was putting a path of peace before them.  There was a remnant of Israel that embraced this offer of peace and because they believed that Jesus was the messiah, they avoided the slaughterhouse that Jerusalem would become.  Why do we reject the very things that would make for our peace in order to embrace things that will destroy us?  This is the plight of God: that He is the only one who can give peace, but mankind resents Him for that.

Thus a day of visitation had arrived for Israel.  It is a day in which God comes into our life and puts a decision before us.  Our choice in that day determines what we will receive.  It is in essence a last offer of peace before judgment is poured out.  There always comes a day of visitation for individuals, nations, and ultimately one for this whole world.  Have you been waffling in regards to your own beliefs about Jesus?  Know this.  God has been working to help you see Jesus as the Anointed One that He has sent.  If we will put our faith in him we will come to know the peace of God.  But if we reject it we will be caught up, not only in our own judgment, but also in the judgment of our nation.  It is very clear that the USA is in the midst of a national rejection of Jesus.  May God help us to repent before it is too late.

Choice of King audio