Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Triumphal Entry

Matthew 21.1-11

Passover Week
Pilgrims from all over Israel and the world came to Jerusalem to celebrate it.
Jesus had been making His way to Jerusalem for months, now in the past few days a multitude had been gathering around Him as that journey grew to an end. Hopes were high that finally He would be the One Who would restore the kingdom to Israel, pushing the occupying Roman forces out of the land forever and reestablishing the monarchy of David once again.

Life under Roman occupation with its governors and rulers was hard. There were taxes on the people without any representation, edicts announcing censuses for that purpose could be called and everyone had to obey. Roman soldiers could compel Israelis to carry their burden for a mile. It was bitter for them because this was the land God gave them and now they were prisoners in it. Then there was the whole thing of crucifixions. The governors were the jury and judge. Men's lives were in his hands. crucifixion was used as a form of terrorism to frighten any rebels or trouble makers against Rome. Herod's father  had even used this horrible killing technique against good men, just to strike fear into the hearts of the Israelites.

Passover augmented all these things. It was a celebration and remembrance of God making Israel free from Egyptian slavery. Now they found themselves occupied by the Romans.

Messianic hopes had come and gone before, but Jesus of Nazareth fit all the criteria. He was a descendant of David. He had healed the lame, blind, deaf and mute. He announced His ministry in Nazareth by reading from Isaiah and proclaiming Himself to be the One of Whom the prophet spoke. (Luke 4.16-30)

Now 3 1/2 years later it is the time when Jewish hopes and memories of deliverance from a foreign power were at their highest.

Jesus rode into Jerusalem as a conquering king.

1.The City Of Jerusalem- v.1

Center of Worship for the Jews
The capital - Kings reigned there from from David until the end of the monarchy when Nebuchadnezzar came and conquered it.
The place where Jesus would die and rise again  and ascend into heaven 
and one day come back to.

Luke 19.41-44
As He approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace–but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”

Jerusalem's rejection of Christ was its greatest error, bringing about a tragic end. So it is with anyone who finally rejects him. It would be better for that man or woman if they had not been born.

Here we see how a group of people can be busy, so busy thinking they are worshiping the LORD and yet not recognize the time of God's coming to them.

A city left to its own will is headed down a slippery slope. The rejection of God means the ultimate destruction of that place. That is true of an individual, a city or a nation.

2. The Fulfillment of Prophecy. vs. 2-7/  Zechariah 9.9 
Chapter Nine of Zechariah God is speaking through the prophet concerning the judgment against Israel's enemies in Damascus, Tyre and Sidon and the Philistine cities of Ashkelon, Ashdod, Gaza and Ekron.  These people had oppressed Israel over the years. They had to concern themselves with them and protect themselves from them.

There is the promise of peace from these enemies. The sign would be the Messiah riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, an animal of peace.

Jesus is the Prince of Peace.  Isaiah 9.6
His Kingdom is not of this world. John 18.36
He brings peace to the hearts of people.  John 14.27
The kingdom is within you. Luke 17:20-21 Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” 

Jesus rode into Jerusalem, not to, at this time, restore the kingdom to Israel.
He came to offer them peace with God through Himself. He came to restore man's relationship with God.
Luke 19.41 As He approached Jerusalem and saw the city, He wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace–but now it is hidden from your eyes..."
What would have brought them peace would have been to accept the fact He is the Son of God and follow Him (it is what brings the only true peace)
Too much was at stake for them
1-Pride. They would have had to admit they were wrong. Remember the question of John's baptism Jesus posed? "John's baptism, was it from heaven or from men?" Of course John pointed the way to Jesus through repentance and water baptism.
2-The Cost. This would have meant an end to their means of trying to be accepted by God, through the keeping of the law... being good enough.
3-The Place.
"If we let Him go on like this, everyone will believe in Him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”
John 11:48
They loved the temple more than the LORD. That is how some "churches" can go against the Word of God and still have these beautiful buildings.
4-Their positions as "leaders" would be much less. They would have to become servants.
5-They would have leave all this.

Yet Jesus came. As He was proclaimed Messiah by the pilgrims, the leaders of Jerusalem, the leaders of the Jews secretly had been looking for some sly way to have Him arrested. Mark 11:18 The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching. 

3. The Messiah Proclaimed vs. 8-9
Psalm 118 overlooking verse 22 and 23

I Kings 1.32-40

Matthew 21:7-9 They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying:“Hosanna to the Son of David! 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! ’Hosanna in the highest!” 

Jesus knew this act would set off the Chief Priests and Teachers of the Law at Jerusalem. The beefing up of Roman forces to ensure peace during the feast were easily detected. All things were set. The Passover's fulfillment, the Roman Governor being there in Jerusalem able to order His death, the hour had come.

He is the Master of Love. He came to die. He had spoken plainly about it. 
Yet for this brief moment the crowds were able to do what was in their heart.

Jesus rode into Jerusalem as the Messiah. He is the Lamb of God, Who by His death on the cross takes away the sin of the world.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Lament of the LORD Over His Rejection At Jerusalem

Luke 13.34-35
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see Me again until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD.'”

Things were leading up to this, many things.

There is no city like Jerusalem on earth. It is unique.
Its location: the navel of the earth. Ancient maps, Land Bridge
Its position: in the middle of a nation, surrounded by mountains, no river or ocean. No port.
The old city to this day is best navigated on foot with its narrow streets stone walls and time warp.
It is the center of religion for the world. Previously it had been the center of worship but Jesus changed all that. He announced it to a Samaritan Woman one afternoon at Jacob's well:

John 4:19-24 The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” 

Today the most coveted Rabbinical schools are located inside the old city. Orthodox Jewish young people from all over the world go there to study even if just for a year and then return to pursue studies in towards a profession.

1. The History of Jerusalem
Melchizadek, King of Salem -Genesis 14.18-20
Abraham, the region of Moriah Genesis 22

Unable to conquer it until
David from Jebusites  II Samuel 5

Fell in 587, BC to Nebuchadnezzar
Various Empires

1967 Six Day War. Jerusalem back in the hands of Israel.

Capital of Israel under David
1982 Modern State of Israel Knesset proclaimed it Eternal capital of Israel

2. The Love of God for That City
He chose it
1 Kings 11:36 And to his son I will give one tribe, that My servant David may always have a lamp before Me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen for Myself, to put My name there. 

2 Kings 21:4 the Lord had said, “In Jerusalem I will put My name.” 

It is where worship of the LORD took place under the Old Covenant.

The tabernacle was set up there.
The temple was built there.
The temple was destroyed and rebuilt.
Jesus rode into that temple on Palm Sunday, died on Good Friday and rose again on the first Day of the week.

God blessed Jerusalem. 
He answered prayer uttered in the Psalms.
Psalm 122.6-7
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May those who love you be secure. May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels.”

God granted success in battle. But these were warning signs, wake up calls, Divine Disturbances that something was not right.

As Jesus said they killed the prophets and those sent to them they stoned.

3. The Judgement That Had To Come Because of Their Rejection of Him.

Love rejected has huge consequences. Ex/ A child who rejects parent's
Even more so when it comes to God.
Chaos and confusion and decline are consequences of rejecting God.
Proverbs 14:34 Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people. 

Both times when judgment came upon Jerusalem and they were being warned by Jeremiah and then by Jesus they rejected the message, the Truth. They took false comfort in their past. They distorted God and His Word to fit their rebellion. They refused to listen to the overtures of the LORD Who loved them. They even compared themselves to other nations forgetting that they had received the blessing of being entrusted with God's Word.

They left God no choice but to judge them.

God's heart breaks during judgement.
Ezekiel 33:11 Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’ 

Jerusalem's final rejection took place on Palm Sunday. They did not recognize the time of God's coming to them.
It was what finalized a decision that had been centuries in the making. The rejection in the wilderness that wiped out the whole generation of those who left Egypt, the failure to heed the warnings when they came into the land about forgetting God, the failure of the people to follow the LORD and asking for a king, the idolatry, the rejection of the prophets, the exile under Nebuchadnezzar and now the rejection of God's Son, the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

God works. He is the God of the second chance and sometimes the third and fourth. But after continual rejection at some point judgement must come.

Galatians 6:7-8 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. 

Jerusalem was also the head of the Jewish faith. Religious leaders were there. The chief priest lived there. As today so in the first century young people like Saul of Tarsus came to Jerusalem to study the law.

This put it in a  special category. To whom much is given much is required.
Luke 12:48b For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more. 

The spiritual privileges, the entrustment of God's Word and blessings bring responsibility. Rejected decline and disaster follows.

Jesus we are told by Isaiah :
Isaiah 53:3 He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
Part of the grief came from John 1:11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 
This culminated during Holy Week. In fact after Palm Sunday, there is no longer hope offered for the city. On Palm Sunday Jesus prophesied concerning its destruction within the current generation.

As we journey with Jesus to the cross, as we remember His death for us, remember that Jerusalem's rejection was deeply painful to Him.
Also remember that there is an empty tomb there today and that He reigns from the right hand of God the Father. His rejection at Jerusalem was used to by His Father so He could die for the sins of the world so that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Revealed To Little Children

Luke 10.21
At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, LORD of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure."

I love being around kids. This past Monday, after we had prayed with the nursery school staff, Kevin and I went into the 4 year old classroom and drew pictures with crayons. When we were almost done Kevin said, "Let's turn them into Get Well cards."  So we did and brought them up to Alice.
I love hanging out with kids, being with them, doing things with them, worshipping with them, praying with them, learning from them. They can teach us some things!

I love praying with my grandkids. Their hearts are free before the LORD.

Our Father in Heaven looks at us as little children!
How different from how many see themselves:
Highly Educated Aristocratic
Beautiful when an elder with great learning remains like a little child in their faith.

We are tracing the steps of Jesus to Jerusalem in those days of the gathering storm before Holy Week.

This verse of scripture explodes with spiritual truth!

The Trinity is revealed.
One of a number of instances where the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are in the same sentence.

1. Praising God
*It is a good thing.
*We need to do more of it!
*We are very blessed.

Jesus sets the example.
First of He was praying.
His prayer was not long.
His prayer was one of praise.
Look at what He was praising God for.
We need to praise Him more for the eternal things.
Ephesians 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Look through verse 14!

When we are full of joy through the Holy Spirit we will praise the LORD. To do that we have to become more attached to heaven and less attached to this world and everything in it which is passing away!

We need to find our joy in God. There is no other place to find joy.
Joy is not dependent on circumstances.

Jesus was on His way to the cross yet He was filled with joy. Why?
2. Our God Reigns Over Heaven and Earth
Jesus has all authority over them given to Him by the Father

I need to remember that when Satan buffets.
I need to remember that when I read the news.
I need to remember that when struggles come.
He is in control.

I believe in some small measure our suffering can be understood in the words of Jesus to Peter after He wielded the sword in the Garden the night Jesus was arrested.
Matthew 26:53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 
Suffering in a believer's life can be the will of God for that time.  We dare not tamper with it like Peter had been and was continuing to do.

Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer, and though the LORD makes His  life a guilt offering,  He will see His offspring and prolong His days,and the will of the LORD will prosper in His hand. Isaiah 53.10
We need to reminded we are following Jesus and where He was heading and what He said about following Him.

And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”Then He said to them all: “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. 
Luke 9.22-23

How could Jesus be filled with joy on His way to die?
Hebrews 12:2-3 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. 

Go in God's Will.
Don't think something is permanent when it is not. 
See Into The Future

3. The Riches of the Kingdom Have Been Given To Us.

Unlikely recipients

1 Corinthians 1:26-29 Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. 

The hidden things have been revealed to little children. 
Revealed= Uncovered, disclosing something up to this point which was unknown to anyone.
Childlike faith

When I see the learned and the talented and those much more capable than me I am in awe that God chose me. When I see how simple and childlike my faith is and I read this passage I am told why.

We have this treasure in an earthen vessel. We are in filled with the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. God has chosen to use us in these Last Days. We have a small role in His kingdom, one that has come from Him.

Luke 12:32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 

Philippians 4:19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus. 

Remain childlike in you faith. God will reveal wonderful things to you.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Great Confession

Luke 9.18-22

Look at verse 51. This was not Holy Week but it was a transitional time in Jesus ministry. His focus had been around Galilee, now His face is set for Jerusalem. The cross becomes His focus. Jerusalem His new destination. Whereas He spent His time in the fishing villages around the Sea of Galilee for the most part. He is preparing for His Death (and Resurrection and Ascension) at Jerusalem.

Matthew tells us that this took place in Caesarea Philippi. Luke tells that it was a place of prayer. 

The place is significant, particularly to the Jews to whom Matthew was writing.

Banias originally called Paneas, in honor of the Greek god, Pan whose shrine is located here. Rebuilt by Herod's son Phillip and called Caesera Philippi after Caesar Tiberias and himself, this is where Peter made the great confession about Jesus, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God."

William Barclay writes, "The area was scattered with temples of ancient Syrian Baal worship. Here was an area where the breath of ancient religion was in the very atmosphere. Here was the place beneath the shadow of the ancient gods.

Not only the Syrian gods had their worship here... by Caesera Phillipi there rose a great hill, in which was a deep cavern; and that cavern was said to be the birthplace of the god, Pan, the god of nature. So much was Caesera Philippi identified with that god that its original name was Panias, and to this day the place is known as Banias. The legends of the Greek gods gathered around Caesera Philippi.

Further, that cave was said to be the place where the sources of the Jordan River sprang to life. Josephus writes, 'This is a very fine cave in a mountain, under which there is a great cavity in the earth; and the cavern is abrupt, and prodigiously deep and still full of water. Over it hangs a vast mountain, and the under the cavern arises the springs of the River Jordan.' The very idea that this was the place which the Jordan River took its rise would make it redolent of all the memories of Jewish history. The ancient faith of Judaism would be in the air for anyone who was a devout and pious Jew.

But there was something more. In Caeserea Philippi there was a great temple of white Marble built to the godhead of Caesar. It had been built by Herod the Great. Later (as mentioned earlier) it was Philip, Herod's son, who further beautified and enriched the temple, changed the name of Panias to Caeserea- Caesar's town- added his own name to distinguish it from the Caeserea on the coasts of the Mediterranean. No one could look at Caeserea Philippi, even from a distance, without seeing that pile of glistening marble, and thinking of the might and of the divinity of Rome.

Here is a dramatic picture. Here a homeless, penniless Galilean carpenter, with twelve very ordinary men around Him, at the moment the orthodox are plotting to kill Him, stands and asks the question, 'Who do men say that I am?' He stands there in an area littered with the temples of the Syrian gods; in a place where the ancient Greek gods looked down; in a place where the history of Israel crowded in upon the minds of men; where the white marble splendor of the home of Caesar-worship dominated the landscape and compelled the eye. And there- of all paces this amazing carpenter stands and asks men Who they believe Him to be and expects an answer, 'the Son of God.' It is as if Jesus deliberately set Himself against the background of the world's religions in all their history and splendor, and demanded to be compared with them and to have the verdict given in His favor. There are few scenes where Jesus' consciousness of His Own Divinity shines out with a more dazzling light."

The remote place of prayer.
Caesarea Philippi today is in ruins. It is part of a large National Park where one can walk for miles on paths. It is beautiful. Away from the hustle and bustle of Galilee, it was to this area Jesus brought His disciples for some rest, prayer and to get away with them.

God is calling us regularly to get away with Him, to spend time with Him alone or with other followers. He bids us come. He has things to reveal to us in the quietness. It was in the secluded place of prayer that the great confession was made. Jesus said to Peter, "Blessed are you Simon son of Jonah Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you , but my Father in Heaven." This revelation came in the place of private prayer. The Revelation of Jesus Christ came to John, the apostle on the Isle of Patmos where he was exiled. John Bunyan wrote Pilgrim's Progress in a jail. Paul wrote a whole group of letters termed "The Prison Epistles". Dietrich Bonhoffer wrote letter s from prison and they have been placed in a book by that name.

Make time for prayer. We can be busy in the kingdom to the point where our prayer life suffers.  Jesus shows us how to avoid that. Luke 5:15-16 Yet the news about Him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Pray continually. 

Take time to talk to God and to listen to Him. Sit quietly before Him and wait.
Lamentations 3:25-26 The LORD is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeksHim; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. 

It was while they were on this prayer retreat that Jesus asked these two questions. Matthew tells us a little bit more.
Matthew 16:13-16 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 

1. The Great Confession was Personal.

Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, is seeking to get people to confess Him as LORD.
He asks.
He does not force, manipulate, coerce, threaten. He asks.
He asks simply, directly, awaiting for an answer.
Peter, the first to do so.

Romans 10.9-10 
Acts 2:21 And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.

There are the opinions of men. We will speak about the current ones in a moment.
During Jesus' ministry: Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

Jesus and Peter had more personal  recorded conversations than any of the other disciples. Peter was the spokesman, John was the writer.

Confessing Christ as LORD, the Son of God is what life is all about. You are not living until yo do that. You may be seeking or getting close but you are not living until you confess with your mouth and believe in your heart that Jesus is LORD. When you do you are saved. Christ comes into your heart and you are made alive in Him.

People you know may be a thousand miles away from Christ today but they are really are only one step. If they turn, look and live!

2.  The Great Confession was in the backdrop of comparison. 
Greek gods, Roman Government

Who do men say I am?

What do they say today?
Great Teacher

C.S. Lewis's quote 
In his famous book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis makes this statement, "A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic--on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg--or he would be the devil of hell. You must take your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool or you can fall at His feet and call him LORD and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us"

We need to ask  people the question today, "Who do you say Jesus is?"
No one has had more influence on the human race than Jesus Christ.
No one even comes close.
The Fulfillment of the Ages. I Corinthians 10.11 

3. The Great Confession Led to More Revelation vs. 21-22

Where He was going. They were His followers.
What was going to happen there.

The confession of Jesus as the Son of God, His Messiah leads us to discipleship and suffering. It means following Jesus to the cross.

The Calvary Road- I am crucified with Christ.

It is a daily walk.
It is a denial of self walk.
It is a walk with destiny but not always one of awareness of all God is doing.
It involves a cross, your cross- suffering in your life makes you like Jesus.

Matthew 16:13-19 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 

Romans 10:8-10 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 

Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.