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Entries in Messiah (17)

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
Apr262016

Mocking the Messiah

Luke 23:35-43.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on April 24, 2016.

At the lowest point in his life, Jesus is hanging on the cross while people gather around him and mock him.  I am reminded of Psalm 1:1 where it says, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of mockers.”  The Psalm goes on to state that the wicked, sinners, and mockers would be blown away like the chaff.  But the righteous man will endure like a tree planted by a river.  In every age we are tempted to join this group that mocks the way of the Lord.  We do not need to look at places in the Middle East to find it because we have it here in our own country.  All around the world, Jesus and his followers are ridiculed and mocked by one group or another.  It is important for believers to restrain themselves and not respond in kind.  Rather, we must learn to live out the love of Christ in the face of those who do not understand because this is their only hope.

Most People Mocked Jesus

The crucifixion of Jesus was the darkest day in the history of Israel.  We can think about Joseph and how he was treated by his brothers; that was a dark day.  We can think about the making of the golden calf at the foot of Mt. Sinai; that was a dark day.  How about their refusal to enter into the promise land?  That was a dark day.  Their rebellious kings and eventual destruction by Assyria and Babylon were also dark days.  But all through those times was the hope that Messiah would come some day and fix everything.  Thus the murder of Messiah becomes the darkest day of all. 

In the midst of this, the Gospels portray the people, leaders, soldiers, and one of the criminals as mockers.  Now it is bad enough to be unjustly executed, but to have people mocking you makes it even worse.  The Bible warns believers against the act of mocking others (as noted in Psalm 1).  To mock someone is to scorn and ridicule them.  Typically it employs things like taunts, mimicry, and making jokes of someone’s situation.  Even when a person is suffering justly, it is generally bad form to mock them and sets us up for a fall of our own.  Mocking seeks to pull a person down, and then when they are down it seeks to pile on top of them.  When we participate in mocking, we do not realize the manner of spirit that we are aligning ourselves with.  Mocking does not lead anyone to repentance.  It does not stir up life.  Rather it leads to destruction and takes delight in it.

Luke reveals first that the leaders mocked Jesus for his ability to deliver.  He was known as a great deliverer because of his healings and exorcisms.  He had saved people physically, mentally, and spiritually through his actions and teachings.  Thus thousands touted the amazing deliverer known as Jesus.  Yet, the leaders throw this back into his face.  If you are such a deliverer, let’s see you deliver yourself from this!  Mockers often demonstrate logic and reason.  However, it is always used for a wicked purpose.  Instead of asking Jesus why he doesn’t save himself, they use the fact that he doesn’t against him.  We now know that if Jesus saved himself he would be simultaneously condemning us.  Perhaps we should recognize that the ultimate truth that lies behind all of our questions to God, is that somehow it would bring more harm to us than good.  When we say, “God, why don’t you do (whatever it is you want),” somehow it is because he is bringing something better to us.  This is where faith in our loving Father in Heaven becomes critical.  Why doesn’t God deal with all the evil in the world?  It is because he is giving room for them to repent.

The soldiers also mocked the Kingship of Jesus.  They made great fun of the fact that they were crucifying the King of Israel.  What kind of king let’s himself be killed?  The kings of this world will sacrifice their whole army before they let themselves be taken, but not Jesus.  To soldiers, this was a foolish king.  Even the giving of the sour wine to quench his thirst seems to be done in a mocking way.  Perhaps they did so as if they were servants serving the king his wine.  Either way, they make it clear with their mocking tone that they do not respect such a king.

Lastly, with one of the criminals the mocker is really only concerned about himself.  “If you are the Christ, save yourself and us.”  The emphasis should be placed on the “us.”  This criminal could care less about Jesus.  He mocks only because it makes him feel better about himself.  Jesus represents one of those goody-two-shoes that he despises.  This taunt betrays the fact that he only cares about himself.  Even if Jesus did deliver himself, why would he save this criminal?  He clearly is not a follower of Jesus.  Mocking is tempting because it gives the person a quick fix for feeling better about themselves.  Yet, at the same time it increases their judgment before God.

But Some Believed On Jesus

One of the criminals did not mock Jesus.  In fact the mocking of the other criminal sparks a rebuke from him.  Perhaps this was a mercy of the Father to his Son.  Jesus is doing this to save people and yet he is surrounded by mocking.  Yet, in the midst of this, a man declares his faith in Jesus.  Yes, the disciples would also believe in Jesus.  But only this criminal publically declared faith in Jesus that day.  Of course, he had nothing to lose and everything to gain.  Perhaps that is our problem; we often have too much to lose.

Notice that the criminal mentions the fear of the Lord.  Up to this point neither criminal had feared God enough to follow his plans.  It wasn’t until he was nailed to a cross and dying next to the righteous Jesus that this criminal began to fear God.  He had avoided it all his life, but now he couldn’t.  Within hours he would leave this life and stand before the Creator.  This scared him.  We are told that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.  Until a person recognizes that they are going to be judged by God for how they lived this life, they do not operate out of true wisdom.  Have we become far too quick to mock and ridicule one another?  Even in the church we can play the mocker when we think we can get away with it.  Is this because we don’t think God will do anything about it, in this life or the next?  We should beware.  Such actions and thoughts are foolish.  We will have to give account for them before the Lord.  If you want to be blessed then avoid the decision chair of the mockers.

In Jesus both religious and secular mankind demonstrate their judgment of God.  They sit in the mockers chair and judge God as if they are the measure of justice.  Just as the world was unjustly punishing Jesus, so the world makes judgments against God and his followers.  These judgments are unjust and untrue.  The second criminal petitions Jesus for grace in the face of death.  He cries for help from the only one who appears to be able to do anything for him.  He has a great judgment hanging over his head and he deserves it.  The way he words his appeal asks for grace and makes a statement of faith.  “When you come into your kingdom, remember me.”  Death bed salvations may not sit well with our sense of justice.  However, when you weigh it against the fact that we all deserve death for our sins, it doesn’t matter.  What truly matters is that a person gets out of the seat of the mockers and prostrates themselves before God.  Have you done this?

The gracious words of Jesus to the sinner are “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”  Paradise is the word that is connected to the Garden of Eden in Genesis.  Of course that Paradise is gone.  However the book of Revelation points us to another Paradise in Revelation 2:7.  “To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the Tree of Life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”  Jesus is essentially saying that the Garden of Eden is not missing, it is with the Father, and it will come back to earth some day.  Those who overcome the temptation to join the mockers of this world will enjoy it with Jesus and the Father.  What we see the criminal doing here is called repentance.  Instead of continuing down the same old path, he turns his back on his mocking lifestyle and turns to Jesus in faith.  Repentance turns from the way of sin and towards the path of righteousness that Jesus shows us.  Such a person will always receive the mercy and love of God as its reward.  Let’s be a people who shun the chair of mockers and humble ourselves before one another and our Lord.

Mocking Messiah audio

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
Jan262016

The Betrayal of Jesus

Luke 22:1-13.  This sermon was preached by Pastor Marty Bonner on January 24, 2016.

Today we are going to return to our study through Luke of the True Jesus.  We left off at the beginning of Luke 22 and the last week of Jesus before his crucifixion.  Here we have a passage that begins to set up the betrayal of Jesus.

The Leaders Betrayed the Messiah

Although it is important to recognize the involvement of the Romans in the death of Jesus, it is the religious and political leaders of Israel that betrayed him.  Thus Jesus was betrayed by his own people.  This is not a statement against the Israeli people, but recognition of a horrible act.  Both Israelis and Gentiles are pronounced as sinners in need of salvation by the Law of Moses.  Just as the nations of the world had betrayed God by casting off the truth and embracing deceptions, so we see the nation of Israel officially betraying the messiah for whom they were waiting.  It should be no surprise to us today that these things are still true.  All nations insist that God bless their plans, but none have leadership that are totally submitted to God.

In verse 2 we are shown part of the source to their betrayal.  The leaders “feared the people.”  These leaders were playing politics.  They wanted to kill Jesus and yet his popularity made such a proposition particularly sensitive.  They wanted to figure out how they could get what they want and still have the people on their side.  This is at the heart of all wicked politics.  It is a manipulation that diminishes the people to being only a means to an end.  This is why ethics and morality are so important in our leaders.  If those who seek to be our leaders have betrayed people in their lives that they were supposed to love or were close to, then how much more will they betray the rest of the nation?  John 12:42 tells us that “even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue.”  This fear of people exists not just towards the populace, but also within the group of leaders itself.  When we treat our decisions as a type of scientific endeavor to get what I want without upsetting the applecart, we set ourselves and our nation up for disaster.  It was fear of one another that kept many good men from speaking up.  Instead they went along with a horrible travesty of justice as the Lord Jesus was crucified.

They also feared losing the power and authority that they held over the people.  We see this in John 11:48, “If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.”  You should take notice which comes first, “our place,” and then “nation.”  When we operate out of a fear of people we allow ourselves to become a tool of Satan.  However, the answer is not simply to refrain from fearing people.  If we only quit fearing people then we can become a tyrant who does not care for them.  Rather, we are to fear God in our dealings with those under our leadership.  We operate for their good, but not at their whim.  It is the fear of God’s judgment of our leadership that is a guardrail to a leader.  Even better than that is to love God’s ways.  When a leader loves the ways of God, they will lay themselves and their designs down in order to better serve the people.

Now the leaders of Israel are a warning to us and a picture of what we are like.  This is not about an us versus them, Gentile versus Jew, issue.  All humans have the same sinful nature.  No matter how much knowledge of God we have or how little, we are still corruptible.  Yet, the good news is that we are also still redeemable.  Picture if Jesus were to come to America today as the savior of America and the world.  Would our leaders really lay down their positions at his feet and invite him to rule?  Hardly!  He would be attacked in the press and legal system until he was removed from the situation.  Christ is the supreme challenge from heaven to all men and all nations.  He is also the sublime offer of grace to them as well.

Judas Betrayed Jesus

Within the larger betrayal of the nation’s leaders, is the individual betrayal of one of the close disciples of Jesus.  Judas is one of the top 12 disciples and was clearly picked by Jesus.  Yet, we see in verse 3 that Satan was involved in what Judas did.  Judas was not the real enemy of Jesus.  It was Satan all along.  Satan was working through the mind and heart of Judas.  Judas had somehow become a puppet under the manipulation of a spiritual enemy.  How had this happened?

It says that Satan entered Judas.  This isn’t the normal language of demonic possession.  However, Judas had left the door open for Satan to enter his mind and heart.  It is questionable whether Judas ever had a moment of repentance and true desire to be a disciple of the way of Jesus.  Most likely he saw Jesus as a means of getting into a powerful position.  Much like investing in a new company brings the ability to strike it rich, so he most likely saw Jesus as an investment.  If I get in early then I will have a powerful position later.  We are also told that Judas was put in charge of the money bag and that he would often steal money from it.  Clearly this was told to them by Jesus later.  Giving in to such fleshly appetites as power and money will open the door for spiritual forces to manipulate us.  Ephesians 4:26-27 warns, “Be angry, and do not sin.  Do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.”  Notice that anger and our giving in to sin can “give place” or open the door to the devil.  Some versions translate it as giving a foothold to the devil.  When we reject the way of Jesus and instead think and act in ways to satisfy what our flesh wants, we will end up becoming a tool of Satan.  Don’t give him any space or a foothold in your life.

It was Matthew Henry, a Presbyterian minister of the late 1600’s who said that “it is hard to say whether more mischief is done by the power and policy of open enemies, or by the treachery and self-seeking of pretended friends.”  Here we see both, open enemies and a pretended friend, colluding together in order to take down Jesus the messiah, all along professing a desire for the messiah to come.  This is critical to see.  We often crucify the real Jesus while professing to want Jesus.  That is because the Jesus we want is false, a figment of our imagination.  These same dynamics continue today.  There are those who parade themselves as disciples of Christ, but they are enemies of the cross.  They only serve an idol of their own making and slap a “Jesus” label on it.  It is only those who stick with the true Jesus who will come out the other side of such betrayals.

The Betrayed Jesus Is Still in Control

In the midst of all this betrayal Jesus is still in control.  Verses 7-13 show us that Jesus has a plan that is not afraid of such betrayals.  He lays out exact details for his disciples to follow in order to prepare for his last supper with them.  Notice the phrase that they found it “just as he had said to them.”  Everything was just as Jesus had told them.  Jesus didn’t give them instructions on snuffing out Judas, or going public about the collusion of the leaders.  Rather, Jesus has an agenda for His disciples that has nothing to do with these betrayers.  This is a real challenge for us today.

We should not be surprised that things are just as our Lord told us they would be.  Chapter 21 of Luke involved the prophecies of our Lord regarding what the Church would experience in the first century, the centuries since, and at His Second Coming.  He told us that we would be hated by ALL nations for His sake.  He told us that all of mankind would betray the Lord.  The leaders of the world are following the script of Psalm 2 as they betray the one to whom all leadership belongs.  All the while, many professing Christians have betrayed the Lord.  This is not a question.  What is a question is what will you do?  Will you join the betrayal?  Or, will you be doing what Jesus has told you to do?  The world today is under the influence of Satan.  He has manipulated leaders by fear of people and fear of one another.  Christians are under great stresses that are intended to open doors for the devil in our hearts and mind.  We can only stand against such attacks and keep from giving entrance to Satan by trusting our Lord and keeping focused on what He has told us to do.  Let us proclaim the good news of the Kingdom.  And, let us grow in learning to love one another with the true love that is submitted to the ways of Jesus, as opposed to the false love that is submitted to the ways of the world.  Take heart.  The Lord Jesus is in control.  Those who betray Him will end up with nothing and those who remain faithful to Him will be brought through the fire that lies ahead.

Betrayal of Jesus Audio