google-site-verification: google3e8cc4742c5fd8a2.html

Archive for the 'Easter 2012' Category

00:0000:00

sermon.jpg

Durrington 8 April 2012

Service - Part 5

How are we to respond to this Jesus, His cross and his resurrection?

Dave G Roberts

Click the little triangle in the player above to view this video.

1. We have a God who is not immune to suffering

The Christian God - the awesome and Almighty God, who was outside of time and space, entered time and space, to intimately know what suffering and death was, because of the suffering and death endured by Jesus on the Cross. Jesus, the innocent King who suffered and died, is the reason why we who call ourselves Christian, have a hope. Because the God we serve, personally knows suffering and has endured suffering just as we do.

2. We are to reflect this love

As Christians, we are to show a love, which is sacrificial. We all know John 3:16 " For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.", probably off by heart most of! Our active response to that love of God can be found in 1 John 3:16, which states: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.

Right mouse click here to download as a MP3 file

If you would like to donate to Partakers, please click the PayPal image below. Thank you!

Click on the appropriate link to subscribe to this website

Subscribe via iTunes

Add to Google Reader or Homepage

Read Full Post »

00:0000:00

sermon.jpg

Durrington 8 April 2012

Service - Part 4

Jesus – Risen as the firstborn from dead!

Dave G Roberts

Click the little triangle in the player above to view this video.

We start not in the Gospels, but from the writings of the Apostle Paul in

1. The Facts about the Resurrection

1 Corinthians 15:1-8: Now I declare to you, brothers, the Good News which I preached to you, which also you received, in which you also stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold firmly the word which I preached to you-unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to over five hundred brothers at once, most of whom remain until now, but some have also fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all, as to the child born at the wrong time, he appeared to me also.

That was the Apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthian church about the Jesus having been raised from the dead - physically!  All four Gospels, Matthew, Mark Luke and John, tell us that Jesus was crucified, died and was buried in a tomb. What do these four Gospels say about the Jesus' resurrection or rising from the dead? Let us first look at the sequence of events over the period of time after Jesus death till He ascended.  Now remember, the Gospels are documents which have recorded historical events.

a. The tomb is empty:

  • Two Marys watch the burial: (Matthew27:61, Mark 15:47, Luke23:54-55)
  • Roman soldiers guard the tomb and place an official Roman seal upon it: (Matthew 27:62-66)
  • Women prepare burial spices then rest: (Luke 23:56)
  • An angel rolls the stone away: (Matthew 28:2-4)
  • Women arrive at dawn with spices: (Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1-4, Luke 24:1-3, John 20:1)
  • Angels appear to women: (Matthew 28:5-7, Mark 16:5-7, Luke 24:4-8)
  • Women dart back to tell disciples: (Matthew 28:8, Mark 16:8, Luke 24:9-11, John 20:2)
  • Peter and John investigate the empty tomb: (Luke 24:12, John 20:3-9)
  • Peter and John go home: (Luke 24:12, John 20:10)
  • Mary Magdalene weeps by the tomb: (John 20:11)
  • Mary sees two angels: (John 20:12-13)

b. Jesus' appearances

  • Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene: (Mark 16:9, John 20:14-17)
  • Jesus appears to the other women: (Matthew 28:9-10)
  • Women report to the disciples: (Mark 16:10-11, John 20:18)
  • Guards testify to the priests: (Matthew 28:11-15)
  • Jesus meets two people on the Emmaus Road: (Mark 16:12-13, Luke 24:13-32)
  • Jesus appears to Simon Peter: (1 Corinthians 15:5, Luke 24:34)
  • 2 report to disciples in Jerusalem: (Luke 24:33-35)
  • Jesus appears to the Disciples less Thomas: (Luke 24:36-43, John 20:19-24)
  • Disciples report to Thomas: (John 20:25)
  • Jesus appears to the Disciples and Thomas: (Mark 16:14, John 20:26-29)
  • Jesus appears to seven people: (John 21:1-14)
  • Jesus questions Peter 3 times: (John 21:15-23)
  • Jesus appears to 500 people: (1 Corinthians 15:6)
  • Jesus appears to James: (1 Corinthians 15:7)

2. The Significance of the Resurrection

Part 5 tomorrow

Right mouse click here to download as a MP3 file

If you would like to donate to Partakers, please click the PayPal image below. Thank you!

Click on the appropriate link to subscribe to this website

Subscribe via iTunes

Add to Google Reader or Homepage

Read Full Post »

00:0000:00

sermon.jpg

Durrington 8 April 2012

Service - Part 3

Why is Jesus on the cross?

Dave G Roberts

Click the little triangle in the player above to view this video.

1 Corinthians 1:18-31 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.For it is written:

"I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."

Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.

Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles,but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength. 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. He 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.

It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God- that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.

a. The Problem!

b. The Solution!

c. The Cross is God's Glory!

d. The Cross and humanity

Part 4 tomorrow

Right mouse click here to download as a MP3 file

If you would like to donate to Partakers, please click the PayPal image below. Thank you!

Click on the appropriate link to subscribe to this website

Subscribe via iTunes

Add to Google Reader or Homepage

Read Full Post »

00:0000:00

sermon.jpg

Durrington 8 April 2012

Service - Part 2

Jesus on the Cross

Dave G Roberts

Click the little triangle in the player above to view this video.

Mark 15

33 At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour.

34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?- which means, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

35 When some of those standing near heard this, they said, Listen, he's calling Elijah.

36 One man ran, filled a sponge with wine vinegar, put it on a stick, and offered it to Jesus to drink. Now leave him alone. Let's see if Elijah comes to take him down, he said.

37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.

38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.

39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, Surely this man was the Son of God!

40 Some women were watching from a distance. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome.

41 In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs. Many other women who had come up with him to Jerusalem were also there.

Part 3 tomorrow

Right mouse click here to download as a MP3 file

If you would like to donate to Partakers, please click the PayPal image below. Thank you!

Click on the appropriate link to subscribe to this website

Subscribe via iTunes

Add to Google Reader or Homepage

Read Full Post »

00:0000:00

sermon.jpg

Durrington 8 April 2012

Service - Part 1

Dave G Roberts

Click the little triangle in the player above to view this video.

Revelation 21:1-7

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.

He who was seated on the throne said, I am making everything new! Then he said, Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.

He said to me: It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.

He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.

Part 2 tomorrow

Right mouse click here to download as a MP3 file

If you would like to donate to Partakers, please click the PayPal image below. Thank you!

Click on the appropriate link to subscribe to this website

Subscribe via iTunes

Add to Google Reader or Homepage

Read Full Post »

Watch Now:

EW2012.jpg

Chris Cook talking about his relationship with Jesus Christ and the effect Jesus has had on his life. This was given at Durrington Free Church on Easter Sunday 8th April 2012... Please do leave an encouraging comment for him below... Thank you!

Right mouse click here to download as a MP4 file

If you would like to donate to Partakers,

please click the PayPal image below. Thank you!

Click on the appropriate link to subscribe to this website

Subscribe via iTunes

Add to Google Reader or Homepage

Read Full Post »

Easter 2012 - Sunday

00:0000:00

EW2012.jpg

Easter 2012 Sunday

Jesus Risen and Firstborn from the Dead

Right mouse click here to download as an audio mp3

1 Corinthians 15:1-8: Now I declare to you, brothers, the Good News which I preached to you, which also you received, in which you also stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold firmly the word which I preached to you-unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to over five hundred brothers at once, most of whom remain until now, but some have also fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all, as to the child born at the wrong time, he appeared to me also.

That was the Apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthian church about the Jesus having been raised from the dead - physically!  All four Gospels, Matthew, Mark Luke and John, tell us that Jesus was crucified, died and was buried in a tomb. What do these four Gospels say about the Jesus' resurrection or rising from the dead?

Let us first look at the sequence of events over the period of time after Jesus death till He ascended.  Now remember, the Gospels are documents which have recorded historical events.

The tomb is empty

  • Two Marys watch the burial: (Matthew27:61, Mark 15:47, Luke23:54-55)
  • Roman soldiers guard the tomb and place an official Roman seal upon it: (Matthew 27:62-66)
  • Women prepare burial spices then rest: (Luke 23:56)
  • An angel rolls the stone away: (Matthew 28:2-4)
  • Women arrive at dawn with spices: (Matthew 28:1, Mark 16:1-4, Luke 24:1-3, John 20:1)
  • Angels appear to women: (Matthew 28:5-7, Mark 16:5-7, Luke 24:4-8)
  • Women dart back to tell disciples: (Matthew 28:8, Mark 16:8, Luke 24:9-11, John 20:2)
  • Peter and John investigate the empty tomb: (Luke 24:12, John 20:3-9)
  • Peter and John go home: (Luke 24:12, John 20:10)
  • Mary Magdalene weeps by the tomb: (John 20:11)
  • Mary sees two angels: (John 20:12-13)

Jesus' appearances

  • Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene: (Mark 16:9, John 20:14-17)
  • Jesus appears to the other women: (Matthew 28:9-10)
  • Women report to the disciples: (Mark 16:10-11, John 20:18)
  • Guards testify to the priests: (Matthew 28:11-15)
  • Jesus meets two people on the Emmaus Road: (Mark 16:12-13, Luke 24:13-32)
  • Jesus appears to Simon Peter: (1 Corinthians 15:5, Luke 24:34)
  • 2 report to disciples in Jerusalem: (Luke 24:33-35)
  • Jesus appears to the Disciples less Thomas: (Luke 24:36-43, John 20:19-24)
  • Disciples report to Thomas: (John 20:25)
  • Jesus appears to the Disciples and Thomas: (Mark 16:14, John 20:26-29)
  • Jesus appears to seven people: (John 21:1-14)
  • Jesus questions Peter 3 times: (John 21:15-23)
  • Jesus appears to 500 people: (1 Corinthians 15:6)
  • Jesus appears to James: (1 Corinthians 15:7)

Evidences for the resurrection

These facts remain for the resurrection.  Look at them and study them.

Notice the changed attitude of the disciples after seeing the risen Jesus. They changed from defeated, cowardly people to victorious, brave people.  Nobody who could have produced the dead body of Jesus, did so. Their silence is as significant as the preaching of the Apostles.  Or take the multiple appearances of Jesus to various numbers of individuals and groups of people at,  various times of the day and in differing circumstances.  This shows that Jesus' resurrection was physical in nature! Some people say Jesus' resurrection was spiritual in nature but not physical. But the amount of people that saw Him physically afterwards dispels that particular myth. What about the current tangible evidence - the survival and inordinate growth and impact of the early church and that the church is still growing 2000 years later. If there was no bodily resurrection of Jesus' would people really have risked persecution and death for knowing a lie?  One or two people maybe, but not hundreds and thousands!

Dealing with Doubters

Yet people still doubt.  Let us say Jesus didn't rise from the dead. Surely the authorities, both Jewish and Roman, would have produced his dead body in order to quench this new movement! But they didn't, and the reason they didn't is because there was no body to produce!  Would the disciples have really risked death for telling and maintaining a lie about the risen Jesus? They were beaten, confused, defeated and dispersed men until they saw Jesus truly did rise from the dead. After seeing Him, they were transformed and victorious people.

I have had people say to me that somebody (even the disciples) stole the body. Hardly likely, and if that had occurred, for what reason? How would they have got past the Roman Guard and moved the stone a great distance from the tomb?  This very reason is what the Jewish authorities tried to perpetuate by way of a bribe, in Matthew 28:11-15 "Now while the disciples of Jesus were going, behold, some of the guards came into the city, and told the chief priests all the things that had happened. When they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave a large amount of silver to the soldiers, saying, "Say that his disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. If this comes to the governor's ears, we will persuade him and make you free of worry." So they took the money and did as they were told. This saying was spread abroad among the Jews, and continues until this day."

Then we have the swoon theory. Jesus didn't die but merely fainted and recovered consciousness in the tomb. Even the sceptics disagree with this theory, one of whom said "It is impossible that a being who had stolen half-dead out of the sepulchre, who crept about weak and ill, wanting medical treatment, who required bandaging, strengthening and indulgence, and who still at last yielded to His sufferings, could have given to the disciples the impression that He was a Conqueror over death and the grave, the Prince of Life".

Or perhaps, they all went to the wrong tomb. That's it - they went to the wrong tomb. Whilst one person may have gone to a wrong tomb, not everyone would have done.  Besides, the gospel accounts tell us that people were waiting outside the tomb where Jesus was buried!  Surely Joseph would know which tomb Jesus was buried in, seeing as Joseph owned it!

Lastly, Jesus didn't die on the cross but somebody was substituted for him. This is certainly untenable, given the rigidity and strict record keeping of Roman rule and with the eyes of the Jewish hierarchy watching.  This conjecture is a lie of satan, because he knows the significance of Jesus having risen physically from the dead.

Significance of the Resurrection

The resurrection of Jesus Christ provided the central theme for the sermons and teaching in the early church (Acts 1:22; Acts 4:33, Acts 17:18) and certainly within Paul-ine theology. But what significance is there in Jesus' resurrection?

The resurrection proved and vindicated all Jesus' teaching and claims as the suffering Servant and attested to His being fully God and the last Judge of all mankind (Isaiah 53:10-12; Acts 2:36; Acts 3:13-15; Romans 1:4).  The resurrection, declared God's approval of Jesus obedient service and the fulfilment of all the Old Testament promises, resulting in forgiveness of sins and salvation being only found in and through Jesus Christ, which was the prime motive for evangelism in the early church (Acts 2:32, Romans 4:24-25).  Jesus' resurrection is a sign of the bodily resurrection for all believers in Him, giving a new attitude to death and transforming hopes (1 Corinthians 15:12-58, Romans 8:10, 2 Corinthians 4:14; 1 Peter 1:3 & 21).  As the resurrected King, Jesus now intercedes for us and has perfected the redemption of all those who choose to follow Him (Romans 5:10; Hebrews 6:20; 1 Peter 1:21).

Finally the resurrection of Jesus' physical body is a sure victory over satan, sin and death.  All three are conquered and squashed.  Satan is a defeated creature and will do anything to drag people into defeat with him. The power of sin is conquered, and sin's grip is overcome if you are a believer in Jesus Christ.  Finally, as I said earlier, death has been beaten, because those who believe and trust in Jesus Christ will live forever with him - death is not the end but a beginning.  If Jesus Christ did not physically rise from the dead then as Paul states in 1 Corinthians 15:12-19 "Now if Christ is preached, that he has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, neither has Christ been raised. If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith also is in vain. Yes, we are found false witnesses of God, because we testified about God that he raised up Christ, whom he didn't raise up, if it is so that the dead are not raised. For if the dead aren't raised, neither has Christ been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins. Then they also who are fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have only hoped in Christ in this life, we are of all people most pitiable." Or let me put it in my own words - if Jesus Christ did not physically rise from the dead, we as Christians are the product of the greatest delusional lie and are the most foolish of all people.

Jesus still meets people today

But, as we have seen, the good news is that Jesus is still living.  The rest of the four Gospels and the beginning of the book of Acts tell us a little more of what Jesus did before He ascended into the heavens.  But Jesus still meets with people at the present time. How does He do this?

Jesus walks with us, whereever we go and in particular in the darkest periods of our life. Just as he did with the two people on the road to Emmaus, he walks with those who proclaim to follow Him (Mark 16:12-13, Luke 24:13-32). Jesus speaks whenever the Bible is faithfully preached and read from, just as He opened the eyes of those on the Emmaus road when He explained the Scriptures (Luke 24:27). Jesus meets us in the Communion or Lord's Supper, with the bread and wine, which symbolise His flesh and blood as an act of remembrance of what He did for humanity.

But that is not the end, because Jesus has promised that He is coming again.  Not as a baby next time, but as an all conquering Son of God in judgment to gather those who follow Him.  Are you ready?

Right mouse click here to download as an audio mp3

If you would like to donate to Partakers,

please click the PayPal image below. Thank you!

Click on the appropriate link to subscribe to this website

Subscribe via iTunes

Add to Google Reader or Homepage

Read Full Post »

00:0000:00

EW2012.jpg

Easter 2012 Saturday

Jesus' Cross

Right mouse click here to download as an audio mp3

Today we look again at the cross and ask some fundamental questions about it: what is the cross about, why is the cross important and also an imperative of historical and biblical Christianity.

But lets begin with reading from the Bible, and today I will be reading 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 from The Message version.

18-21The Message that points to Christ on the Cross seems like sheer silliness to those hell-bent on destruction, but for those on the way of salvation it makes perfect sense. This is the way God works, and most powerfully as it turns out. It's written,

I'll turn conventional wisdom on its head, I'll expose so-called experts as crackpots.

So where can you find someone truly wise, truly educated, truly intelligent in this day and age? Hasn't God exposed it all as pretentious nonsense? Since the world in all its fancy wisdom never had a clue when it came to knowing God, God in his wisdom took delight in using what the world considered dumb-preaching, of all things!-to bring those who trust him into the way of salvation.

22-25While Jews clamour for miraculous demonstrations and Greeks go in for philosophical wisdom, we go right on proclaiming Christ, the Crucified. Jews treat this like an anti-miracle-and Greeks pass it off as absurd. But to us who are personally called by God himself-both Jews and Greeks-Christ is God's ultimate miracle and wisdom all wrapped up in one. Human wisdom is so tinny, so impotent, next to the seeming absurdity of God. Human strength can't begin to compete with God's "weakness."

26-31Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don't see many of "the brightest and the best" among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. Isn't it obvious that God deliberately chose men and women that the culture overlooks and exploits and abuses, chose these "nobodies" to expose the hollow pretensions of the "somebodies"? That makes it quite clear that none of you can get by with blowing your own horn before God. Everything that we have-right thinking and right living, a clean slate and a fresh start-comes from God by way of Jesus Christ. That's why we have the saying, "If you're going to blow a horn, blow a trumpet for God."

1. The problem!

The problem is sin or disobedience (active or passive) of and towards God. Sin is what separates humans from God and as a consequence leads to both a spiritual and physical death (Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, Isaiah 59:2). In the Old Testament, sins were dealt with by blood sacrifices of atonement as coverings for sin (Leviticus 17:11), for without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sin (Hebrews 9:22). A blood sacrifice is God's way of dealing with sin. These blood sacrifices of the Old Testament signified several things:

  • They provided a covering for sin.
  • They showed the great cost of sin.
  • They were an exchange or substitution.
  • They were only always going to be a temporary measure as they pointed forward to Jesus' sacrificial death on the cross.

2.. The Solution!

The ultimate solution to sin lies not in continual animal sacrifice of the Old Testament because as Hebrews 10:4 reminds us the blood of animals cannot take away sin but was only a veneer or covering. That was why it was necessary to repeat time and time again! But they also pointed toward a time when animal sacrifices would no longer be necessary! That is the cross of Jesus Christ! It is only through the death of Jesus Christ on that cross, that sin is taken away (Hebrews 9::11-15, 26-28), because Jesus is the permanent and ultimate sacrificial substitute!

2a. Substitution

Jesus was our substitute. Jesus died for our sin, the just for the unjust (1 Peter 3:18). That is how God is both just and the Justifier of sinners. That is why Jesus needed to be both fully God and fully human! If he lacked either, it would not be the full substitutionary sacrifice that was necessary to bear the permanent consequences of sin! When Jesus died on the cross, in our place, he bore the consequences of all sin, of all the earth over all periods of time - past, present and future. He therefore became sin for humanity (2 Corinthians 5:21) and it was His precious blood as a lamb without spot or blemish (1Peter 1:18-19) that finally fulfils God's righteous requirements permanently as the substitute.

2b. Propitiation

And more than that, we know that towards sin and sinful behaviour, God has great fury, anger and wrath (Jeremiah 21:5). Yet as Micah 7:18 "He is slow to anger and quick to forgive". Propitiation basically means the turning aside of God's anger by the offering of the sacrifice of Christ. God's anger and judgment of sin falls on Christ, instead of us. We need to approach God to appease His anger, in order to accept it (Romans 3:25; Isaiah 53:5; John 2:2, 5:6).  If Jesus' death on the cross was not an atoning sacrifice, then the Old Testament Law would not be fulfilled, animal sacrifices still necessary to cover sins and God would be made out to be a liar.

1 John 2:2: He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

1 John 4:10: This is real love-not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice (or propitiation) to take away our sins.

Jesus, through His atoning sacrificial death on the cross, is our peace offering to God. Amazing.

2c. Redemption (Ransom) Mark 10:45

Even further! Not only was it propitiation, but also an act of redemption! In the time of the New Testament, this word was used to refer to the buying back of a slave - the price paid to buy the slave's freedom. God paid redemption so that humans can be freed from the slavery to sin (John 8:35 Romans 7:14). The price was paid (1 Peter 1:18-19) and so we are redeemed with the precious blood of Christ (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). But it is our responsibility to choose that way! God does not coerce forcefully - He leaves it as a choice for humans to make as individuals.

What is our response to this to be? Sacrifice, substitution, propitiation and redemption can be summed up in one word: love. For 1 John 3:16 states: "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers." Jesus told us to take up our cross if we are to follow Him as His Disciple (Luke 9:23). Are you as a Christian Disciple willing to take up your cross and do all you can do to love others?

There is a price to pay for those seeking to be followers of Jesus Christ

They must surrender completely to Him, be prepared to identify with Him in suffering and death and be willing to follow Him obediently, wherever He leads.

2d. Victory over Satan, death and sin.

And yet again, the cross is even more! As we look back through the Gospel accounts, we see Jesus being tempted and taunted by satan. We see the temptations in the wilderness, satan using the Apostle Peter to try and deflect Jesus away from the cross and satan using Judas to betray him. If Jesus had ever succumbed to temptation, and sinned in thought, word, action or inaction, then He Himself would have needed a Saviour. That is why Jesus is the perfect sacrifice - because he never sinned and always did what He saw God the Father wanting Him to do. Jesus' death on the cross is the centrepiece of all human history and the focal point of eternity.  On the cross and through the cross alone, satan, death and sin have all lost their sting. WOW!

3. The Cross is a choice

As we have seen, the cross is God's solution to the suffering and sin of the world. Only by Jesus Christ going to cross have sin, suffering and satan been dealt mortal blows.  The cross provides the solution as it provides a substitution, propitiation, redemption and a victory. The cross is not a symbol to be merely placed around the neck on a chain, to be worn as a lapel pin, or as a item statement of fashion. The cross is not meant to portray Jesus as some form of sadomasochistic 'tragi-hero' as some people try to make it out to be. The cross is God's solution to the problem of sin, suffering and pain, as much as the wise of this world would love to think that it is not.

The cross is a choice. You can choose to deny the cross and say it doesn't matter. You can say that it is an irrelevance and that is your right. God will not force you to accept the cross and love him. If He did, He would have created Adam so that Adam would automatically love him and not given him free will to rebel. That way the cross would not have been needed. But such is the enormity of the love of God, that each person, including you and I, have a choice to make - follow Jesus and take up your own cross and be an overcomer for Him.  God will not force you to accept it, but he will keep on calling you back to the cross. Calling sometimes in quiet ways and at other times, much more loudly.  You can deny the cross and its meaning and when Jesus Christ comes again in judgment, you will find that He denies you entrance into His glorious kingdom.  When Jesus comes again, everyone will know who He is and bow down to Him.  But only those whom He knows, will be granted access into everlasting life.

How you think of the cross, ultimately has relevance to you and affects your reality. You can accept the cross as your personal substitution, personal propitiation and personal redemption. That way you have peace with God. The cross of Jesus Christ thoroughly epitomises God's glory, and if there were any other way that God the Father could restore people into relationship with Himself, then surely He would have done it that way. But there was no other way - Jesus Christ, as the Son of God who was simultaneously fully God and fully human, died on a Roman cross. He took on the sins of the world, paying the greatest price, so that you can be restored into a peaceful relationship with God the Father. That is for all people, of all nations, ages, generations, statuses and gender.  The cross is amazing love in action and is ignored at great peril.  Let us go forward in hope and faith, choosing deliberately not to boast in anything else, save only of Jesus Christ and Him crucified.  The wisdom of God as exhibited on and in the Cross of Jesus Christ, is foolishness but only to those who don't accept it.  Thank you.

Right mouse click here to download as an audio mp3

If you would like to donate to Partakers,

please click the PayPal image below. Thank you!

Click on the appropriate link to subscribe to this website

Subscribe via iTunes

Add to Google Reader or Homepage

Read Full Post »

Easter 2012 - Friday

00:0000:00

EW2012.jpg

Easter 2012 Friday

Jesus' Last Breath

Right mouse click here to download as an audio mp3

Isaiah 52:13-14: See, my servant will act wisely he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were appalled at him his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness-

Isaiah 53:10-11: 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. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.

Those words were spoken of the coming Messiah, by the prophet Isaiah centuries before Jesus Christ. Together we have looked at during this Easter series, Jesus' mission and identity and have placed Him as the Messiah spoken about throughout the Old Testament, including Isaiah.  We have looked at Jesus' last teaching, last prayers and the events of his last night.  Following his betrayal he is now facing trial in a Roman court, being interrogated by Pontius Pilate. Now, as we look together briefly at John 19, let us see what happened to Jesus Christ - His condemnation, crucifixion, death and burial.

1. What of Jesus?

a. Jesus was Condemned

Pilate gave in and permitted the flogging and mockery in the hope of shaming Jesus' accusers (John 19:s. 1-3).  Pilate affirmed Jesus' innocence after the scourging (John 19:4). Jesus' refusal to answer stung Pilate into reminding Jesus of his Roman authority (John 19:10). Jesus, however, corrected Pilate's idea of authority and told him that although Pilate may have power on earth, his power did reach beyond earth (John 19:11). Jesus knew that his work of bring people back to God in a loving relationship did not rest on the actions of a mere Roman governor.

Pilate was more concerned with his own position than he was for justice. In all this, we see Jesus as the true Passover lamb.

b. Jesus was Crucified

Jesus bearing his own cross, was killed as a common criminal (John 19:17).  We read, that Pilate was responsible for fixing the sign "The King of the Jews" (John 19:21-22). The clothes of condemned prisoners were given to soldiers on duty (John 19:23). Even when he himself was in agony, Jesus showed concern for his mother, committing her to the Apostle John (John 19:s.26-27).

The crucifixion site "was purposely chosen to be outside the city walls because the Law forbade such within the city walls... for sanitary reasons... the crucified body was sometimes left to rot on the cross and serve as a disgrace, a convincing warning and deterrent to passers-by." Sometimes, the subject was eaten while alive and still on the cross by wild beasts. Jesus face was beaten beyond recognition and the scourging reduced his flesh to something like raw hamburger mince.  The whips used has pieces of glass and rocks stuck to the cord so as to inflict as much damage as possible.  He had a crown of thorns pushed into his scalp.

In Jesus' final moments he uttered "I am thirsty." (John 19:28) and "It is finished." (John 19:30).  The desire of the Jews (John 19:32) to fulfil their rituals was important because the Sabbath fell within the Passover festival.  The breaking of legs (John 19:s.32-33) sped up the process of death. The piercing of Jesus' side, and the flow of blood and water proved Jesus was really dead (John 19:34).

c. Jesus was Buried

Joseph of Arimithea and Nicodemus buried Jesus. The significance of "in which no-one had ever been laid" (John 19:41) is to demonstrate that the body of Jesus at no point came into contact with the decay of a dead body.  But his burial is not the end of the story.  Tomorrow we will look at some of the other character & events that happened around the cross, and then on Sunday we will look at the end of the story.  But before we leave today, lets investigate what Jesus' death on a Roman cross two thousand years ago means for humanity today and why He had to die on a cross in the first place.

2. What Has Jesus' Death Done For All humanity?

All human beings, in their natural state, are born sinners and have rebelled against God (Romans 3:23).  However, because of Jesus' death on the cross God offers forgiveness (Ephesians 1:7), Peace (Romans 5:1) and reconciliation with God, so that we are no longer His enemies (2 Corinthians 5:19).  Through the cross, and only through the cross, we are made just before God (Romans 3:24-26), it cleanses us from sin (1 John 1:7) and makes us right before Almighty God (2 Corinthians 5:21). Because of the Cross, we have direct access to God (Ephesians 2:18) and Jesus Christ  intercedes for us (Hebrews 2:17-18).  Because of Jesus Christ's death on a Roman cross, all those who follow Him have freedom from the power of slavery to sin (Galatians 5:1) and freedom from the power of the devil (Hebrews 2: 14).  None of the above things are true if we do not follow Jesus.

3. Why did Jesus go to the cross?

a. The problem!

Sin is what separates humans from God and as a consequence leads to both a spiritual and physical death (Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, Isaiah 59:2). In the Old Testament, sins were dealt with by blood sacrifices of atonement as coverings for sin (Leviticus 17:11), for without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sin (Hebrews 9:22). A blood sacrifice is God's way of dealing with sin. These blood sacrifices of the Old Testament signified several things:

  • It provided a covering for sin.
  • It showed the great cost of sin.
  • It was an exchange or substitution.
  • It was only always going to be a temporary measure as it pointed forward to Jesus' death

b. The Solution

The solution lies not in continual animal sacrifice of the Old Testament because Hebrews 10:4 reminds us that the blood of animals cannot take away sin but was only a veneer or covering. That was why it was necessary to repeat time and time again! It is only through the death of Jesus, that sin is taken away (Hebrews 9::11-15, 26-28), because Jesus is our permanent sacrificial substitute!

c. Substitution

Jesus died for our sin, the just for the unjust (1 Peter 3:18). That is how God is both just and the Justifier of sinners. That is why Jesus needed to be both fully God and fully human! If he lacked either, it would not be the full substitutionary sacrifice that was necessary to bear the permanent consequences of sin! When Jesus died on the cross, in our place, he bore the consequences of all sin - past, present and future. He therefore became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21) and it was His precious blood as a lamb without spot or blemish (1Peter 1:18-19) that fulfils God's requirements permanently.

d. Propitiation

Towards sin and sinful behaviour, God has great fury, anger and wrath (Jeremiah 21:5). Yet as Micah 7:18 "He is slow to anger and quick to forgive". Propitiation basically means the turning aside of God's anger by the offering of the sacrifice of Christ. God's anger and judgment of sin falls on Christ, instead of us. We need to approach God to appease His anger, in order to accept it (Romans 3:25; Isaiah 53:5; John 2:2, 5:6).

1 John 2:2: He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

1 John 4:10: This is real love-not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice (or propitiation) to take away our sins.

e. Redemption (Ransom) Mark 10:45

Not only was it propitiation, but also an act of redemption! In the time of the New Testament, this word was used to refer to the buying back of a slave - the price paid to buy the slave's freedom. God paid redemption so that humans can be freed from the slavery to sin (John 8:35 Romans 7:14). The price was paid (1 Peter 1:18-19) and so we are redeemed with the precious blood of Christ (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). But it is our responsibility to choose that way! God does not coerce forcefully - He leaves it as a choice for humans to make as individuals.

What is our response to this to be? Sacrifice, substitution, propitiation and redemption can be summed up in one word: love. For 1 John 3:16 states: "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers." Jesus told us to take up our cross if we are to follow Him as His Disciple (Luke 9:23). Are you as a Christian Disciple willing to take up your cross and do all you can do to love others?

Price to pay for true followers

  • We must surrender completely to Him
  • We must identify with Him in suffering and death
  • We must follow Him obediently, wherever He leads.

4. Victory over Satan, death and sin.

As we look back through the Gospel accounts, we see Jesus being tempted and taunted by satan.  We see the temptations in the wilderness, satan using the Apostle Peter to try and deflect Jesus away from the cross and satan using Judas to betray him.  If Jesus had ever succumbed to temptation, and sinned in thought, word, action or inaction, then He Himself would have needed a Saviour.  That is why Jesus is the perfect sacrifice - because he never sinned and always did what He saw God the Father wanting Him to do.  Jesus' death on the cross is the centrepiece of all human history and the focal point of eternity.  At the cross, Jesus' mission is accomplished.  At the cross, this God-man, Jesus Christ paid the penalty for all sin of all time, so that people can have the opportunity to be restored into relationship with God.

Some people say that Jesus didn't die on the cross, but rather somebody was made to be His substitute.  But this is a lie of the devil. Nobody could have been a substitute or the Jewish leaders would have said so when the rumours of Jesus resurrection began to circulate.  The Romans kept strict discipline and regimen and nobody would have been able to get in amongst the Roman soldiers and somehow substitute themselves for Jesus. Yes, somebody else carried the cross for Him, but nobody but Jesus was nailed to that cross.  Jesus died on that cross and not some substitute.

The cross is not a symbol to be merely placed around the neck as an item of jewellery or fashion.   The cross is not meant to portray Jesus as some form of sadomasochistic tragi-hero as some people would make it out to be.  The cross is God's solution to the problem of sin, suffering and pain.  The cross is a choice.  You can choose to deny the cross and say it doesn't matter, that it is an irrelevance, and that is your right.  God will not force people to love him. If He did, He would have created Adam so that Adam would automatically love him and not given him free will to rebel. That way the cross would not have been needed.  But such is the enormity of the love of God, that each person has a choice to make - follow Jesus and take up your own cross and be an overcomer for Him.  Or a person can deny the cross and its meaning and when Jesus Christ comes again in judgment, they will find that He denies them entrance into His glorious kingdom.  How a person thinks of the cross, ultimately has relevance to them and affects their reality.  The cross, epitomises God's glory, and if there was any other way that He could restore people into relationship with Himself, surely He would have done it that way.  But there was no other way - Jesus Christ, simultaneously fully God and fully man, died on a Roman cross.  He took on the sins of the world, paying the greatest price, so that people can be restored into relationship with God the Father.  That includes you and me.

Right mouse click here to download as an audio mp3

If you would like to donate to Partakers,

please click the PayPal image below. Thank you!

Click on the appropriate link to subscribe to this website

Subscribe via iTunes

Add to Google Reader or Homepage

Read Full Post »

00:0000:00

EW2012.jpg

Easter 2012 Thursday

Jesus' Last Night

Right mouse click here to download as an audio mp3

Heavenly Father, as we look into your written word the Bible, may we see your Living Word, Jesus Christ for who He was, is and always will be - our Saviour and Lord.  As we look at the events written in history of His last night before being taken to die on a Roman cross, open our minds and hearts to learn more about this momentous event in history, which is His story.  We pray this in the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit through the majestic name of your Son, Jesus Christ.  Amen.

He came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. He entered, as was his custom, into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. The book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. He opened the book, and found the place where it was written, "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim release to the captives, recovering of sight to the blind, to deliver those who are crushed, and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began to tell them, "Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." All testified about him, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth, and they said, "Isn't this Joseph's son?" Luke 4:16-22

From that time till his last night, during His 3 years of ministry, Jesus has preached the good news of God's salvation to reconcile people back into relationship with Almighty God. Through the cross, His mission will be fulfilled.

Passover, Pentecost and Feast of Tabernacles were the three most important feasts on the Jewish calendar (Leviticus 21). All Jewish men were expected to visit Jerusalem (Deuteronomy 16:16). The Passover Feast was to commemorate the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, and it was a time for remembering and rejoicing (Exodus 11-12). Of all the events that took place that night, we have only time to look at three of them - Jesus plans, Jesus prepares and Jesus serves.

1. Jesus Plans and is betrayed

Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. and Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. 6He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.

Jews were expected to remove all yeast from their houses (Ex.12:15) as a reminder that their ancestors left Egypt in a hurry and had to eat bread without yeast.  Jesus had warned his disciples about the "yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy" (Luke 12:1). In other words, the religious leaders had cleansed their houses but not their hearts. The last thing the religious leaders wanted was a messianic uprising during Passover (Luke 19:11).  Judas was motivated and energized by satan (John 13:2, 27) and was never a true believer because his sins had never been cleansed by the Lord (John 13:10-11), therefore Judas had never believed or received eternal life (John 6:64-71).  However, Judas had been given authority and had been preaching the same message. This proves how close a person can come to the kingdom of God and still be lost (Matthew 7:21-29)

2. Jesus Prepares

Disciples needed a room within Jerusalem itself, and also required food - a lamb, bread, bitter herbs and wine. The Passover meal contains historical and theological symbolism regarding the death of Jesus. This is why this meal is the model for the central act of Christian worship, which is Holy Communion.  Here is an outline of a Passover meal at the time of Jesus:

  • Opening Prayer
  • First cup of wine and a dish of herbs and sauce.
  • Story of the Passover recited.
  • Psalm 113 was sung
  • Second cup of wine
  • Prayer of Grace
  • Main course of roast lamb with unleavened bread and bitter herbs
  • A further prayer
  • Third cup of wine.
  • Psalm 114 to 118 were then sung.
  • Fourth cup of wine.

Depending on your church, it can be called amongst other things, the Eucharist or The Lord's Supper.  Christian Disciples are commanded to participate, as Jesus said: "Do this in remembrance of me" (Luke 22:19).  Some churches do it every service and others do it monthly.  Whenever we participate in it, we do it regularly as a remembrance of Jesus until He comes again (1 Corinthians 11:26).  The bread symbolizes His body broken on the cross and the wine symbolizes His blood which was shed on the cross.  Therefore before we partake of the bread and wine, we are to examine ourselves and confess any unforgiven sin (1 Corinthians 11:28-29). This is done because it would be hypocritical to eat it while harbouring known sin in our hearts and having fellowship with Jesus and others in the church!

This Last Supper, the Holy Communion - what is its significance for us?

  • It symbolizes fellowship with other believers in the universal church (1 Corinthians 10:17)
  • We receive the benefits of His once and for all sacrifice (1 Corinthians 10:16)
  • We spiritually feed upon Christ (1 Corinthians 11:24)
  • It symbolizes the death of Christ for our sin (Luke 22:19)
  • It symbolizes our acceptance of Christ's death for us.
  • It symbolizes our dependence on Christ for spiritual life.
  • Finally when a person remembers, that makes it their own personal story. If something is only recalled as an historical event, then that is somebody else's story being recalled. That is why Holy Communion is personal - it's our story! Is it yours also?

All these symbolize the New Covenant made between God and Jesus' Disciples - a Covenant guaranteeing salvation!  The new covenant is a new meal, in order to remind his followers in every age about the work of Jesus Christ on the Cross. The new covenant (Luke 22:20), Jesus claims that His death, was spoken about by the prophets Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:33-34) and Ezekiel. It was a new covenant in which God's people will be able to know Him intimately for their sins will be forgiven.  Whenever a covenant was made between God and man in the Old Testament, blood was always shed.  Jesus' blood will be the seal on this New Covenant, which is why we remember it.

Two other main views insist that it is more than just symbolic! Firstly, there is transubstantiation, which believes that the bread and wine actually become the blood and body of Jesus Christ. Secondly there is, consubstantiation, which believes that the body and blood of Christ are present in the Communion meal. However both of these views would indicate that Jesus Christ is being re-sacrificed and Hebrews 7 refutes these views, in particular Hebrews 7:27 which talks about Jesus' death on the cross "For he did this once for all, when he offered up himself.".  The bread we eat and wine we drink at Holy Communion are only symbolic of his sacrifice and can never be a re-enactment.

3. Jesus Serves

Jesus washes the disciples' feet

As part of the custom of the day, a servant or slave usually undertook foot washing of guests. Since none of the disciples had done this, Jesus Himself undertakes the task (John 13:4-5). Peter is recalcitrant and resistant as always, objects (John 13:6, 8) . Peter learns that only those cleansed by Jesus and trusting in Him fully, can be a part of the kingdom (John 13:7, 9). As we look back at this episode, knowing what we do now of the Cross, we learn how this simple act of washing feet is symbolic of Jesus' sacrificial death on the Cross.

The Cross and washing feet are both displays of great love and service.

Just as Peter opposed Jesus going to the cross (Matthew 16:21-23), so he objected to having his feet washed here. Jesus' getting up to serve symbolizes His coming to serve. As he took off his cloak, this symbolizes the taking off of His glory when He became man. Girding Himself with a towel, symbolizes his taking on human flesh in the incarnation at his birth. As the water cleansed the feet, so Jesus death and blood cleanse from sin. As He returned to where he was sitting and sat down after finishing this act of service, Jesus returned to the right hand of God after his work on the Cross.

When people become Christian, their sins are forgiven through Jesus' death on the Cross. That is when they had our "bath" as it were. That is the very point when we, if we are Christians, were justified before God and we are declared His child. Having been justified already, we don't need a bath anymore! But we do need the equivalent of a feet washing daily and or every time we take Holy Communion and a cleansing of our sin when we confess it before our God and repent.

Plans Compared!

Lets now compare and contrast the plan of Jesus and the plans of his enemies:

Plans of His enemies

  • Plot to kill Jesus (Luke 22:2)
  • Arranges for Judas to betray Jesus (Luke 22:3)
  • Satan's purpose is to destroy Jesus (Luke 22:3, Luke 22:31)

Plans of Jesus

  • Jesus is in control
  • Plans the Passover meal (Luke 22:7-12)
  • The meal is part of His plan (Luke 22:16)
  • He knows Judas' plan (Luke 22:21-22)
  • Replaces the old leaders of God with his men (Luke 22: 30)

All the elements in the plot conspiring against Jesus had been allowed for. The death of Jesus was no accident (1 Peter 1:18-21) "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God."

After his last prayers in Gethsemane, Judas fulfils his betrayal of Jesus with a kiss to identify him and Jesus is arrested.  Jesus is taken away to be rejected by those closest to him, to face trial, be whipped and crucified.

Right mouse click here to download as an audio mp3

If you would like to donate to Partakers,

please click the PayPal image below. Thank you!

Click on the appropriate link to subscribe to this website

Subscribe via iTunes

Add to Google Reader or Homepage

Read Full Post »

00:0000:00

EW2012.jpg

Easter 2012 Monday

Jesus' Last Prayers

Right mouse click here to download as an audio mp3

Father, thank you that in your inspired and written word, the Bible, we have these prayers spoken by your Son, Jesus Christ, who is the Living Word.  Thank you that these prayers of His, show us some 2,000 years later, the intimate relationship between you and Him.  May the prayer relationship between you and us be as developed, so that our relationship with you is continually strengthened.  We ask this through the majestic name of Jesus Christ and in the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.  Amen.

John 17:1-5: Jesus said these things. Then, raising his eyes in prayer, he said: Father, it's time. Display the bright splendour of your Son So the Son in turn may show your bright splendour. You put him in charge of everything human so he might give real and eternal life to all in his charge. And this is the real and eternal life: That they know you, the one and only true God, And Jesus Christ, whom you sent. I glorified you on earth by completing down to the last detail what you assigned me to do. And now, Father, glorify me with your very own splendour, the very splendour I had in your presence before there was a world.

On Monday we learnt about Jesus' mission and identity.  Then on Tuesday, we learnt about Jesus' final teaching - teaching his disciples about the Kingdom and his going back to the Father via the cross.   Now, Jesus quite rightly now turns to prayer. Firstly praying for Himself, then for His twelve disciples and then finally for all disciples of all generations to follow, the church. This prayer is probably the pinnacle of revelation in John's gospel. Here we see Jesus' very words, revealing an unparalleled intimacy with His Father.  Jean Calvin said in his commentary on this chapter the following "After having preached to the disciples about bearing the cross, the Lord exhibited to them those consolations, by relying on which they would be enabled to persevere. Having promised the coming of the Spirit, he raised them to a better hope, and discoursed to them about the splendour and glory of his reign. Now he most properly betakes himself to prayer; for doctrine has no power, if efficacy be not imparted to it from above. He, therefore, holds out an example to teachers, not to employ themselves only in sowing the word, but, by mingling their prayers with it, to implore the assistance of God, that his blessing may render their labour fruitful. In short, this passage of the Lord Jesus Christ might be said to be the seal of the preceding doctrine, both that it might be ratified in itself, and that it might obtain full credit with the disciples."

This scene, as portrayed by John, shows the importance of prayer and how when doing anything for the glory of God, it must be covered in prayer.

Jesus prays for Himself

Central to this part of His prayer is glorification. That is the glorification of Himself, in order that God the Father who sent Him will be glorified. Glorify is rarely used outside of church circles today. If ever it is, is usually in the context of somebody pretending to be better than they really are. Glorify means, in a biblical context, to have the person's true nature disclosed. So in effect, Jesus is saying in John 17:1: "May people see me for who I truly am, your Son. And may they also through Me, see Your true nature Father!" Praying as He does, just before He knowingly goes to His death on the cross, shows the importance of the cross. For it is through the cross alone. both God the Father and Jesus will be glorified. Jesus' death on the cross reveals a God of love, faithfulness and forgiveness. John 17:4 reveals that it was this purpose that He came, in order to complete the work given. Jesus' entire earthly life has been one to show divine love - to all people of every age and class. All His works and words were completed without even a hint of hypocrisy. His entire life was driven by the desire to see sinful people turn to God for reconciliation and forgiveness.

At the cross and through the cross, this is achieved. Jesus confidently prays that having laid aside His glory by taking on human form, He will return to God's right hand, having achieved the work of redemption through the cross. The theme of eternal life runs throughout John's Gospel (John 3:15-16; John 10:28). Eternal life is knowing God personally and intimately, and that is only achieved by faith through Jesus' death on the cross. It is a free offer and open to all. It is the responsibility of all people to take up the offer. Once the offered is taken up, the responsibility is then to tell others of this offer.

Jesus prays for His Disciples

John 14:6-8: I spelled out your character in detail to the men and women you gave me. They were yours in the first place; then you gave them to me, and they have now done what you said. They know now, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that everything you gave me is firsthand from you, for the message you gave me, I gave them; and they took it, and were convinced that I came from you. They believed that you sent me.

In this part of the prayer, Jesus prays for His disciples. Note how He describes them: they were chosen by God Himself, seen God in Jesus and have received God's words and obeyed them (John 17:6). John 17:6, 9-10 tells us that the disciples were in the safe possession of both the Father and the Son. John 17:7-8 shows what the disciples know. Despite misunderstanding frequently what Jesus was talking about, the disciples still grasped that Jesus had come from God. Having taught that they will endure persecution and suffering because they are His followers, Jesus prays for their safety. They will be safe, not because of their own cunning, character or conduct. They will be safe because of God's care and protection (John 17:11-12). As they are God's possession, He will ensure that they are watched over and protected. This security is also borne from glorifying God and being witnesses for Him (John 17:10). God is glorified whenever His salvation plan is explained and told.

Who are the disciples' enemies and why do they need protecting (John 17:11-12, 15)? The first enemy is the world who does not know God and is therefore in rebellion against God. The disciples were told of this prior to this prayer. Satan is also an enemy of the disciple and will do all he can to stop God being glorified in the life of the disciple. How will God keep them safe? Their safety comes only through His mighty name and nature. By remaining loyal to Jesus, obedient to His teachings and telling others about Him, God's name & nature will therefore protect them.

Jesus also prays that they may be filled with joy (John 17:13) and be dedicated wholly and solely to Him. The disciples now have a mission and purpose to fulfil - to tell others of Jesus. This mission though whilst their responsibility is not theirs alone, but is the continuation of Jesus' mission to bring people to reconciliation and relationship with God. Part of that mission is to live a holy life in the power of the Holy Spirit, for the Holy Spirit is the real and true pioneer evangelist! Living a holy life means living a life not for themselves but for the glory and obedience of Jesus Christ.

Jesus prays for all Christian Disciples

John 17:24-26: Father, I want those you gave me To be with me, right where I am, So they can see my glory, the splendour you gave me, Having loved me Long before there ever was a world. Righteous Father, the world has never known you, but I have known you, and these disciples know that you sent me on this mission. I have made your very being known to them - Who you are and what you do - And continue to make it known, So that your love for me Might be in them Exactly as I am in them.

Now Jesus prays for all those who, through the work of the disciples, will become His followers. As such, it brings all Christian disciples into intimacy with Jesus and a part of a dynamic relationship with Him.

What does Jesus pray for His church of followers? Jesus prays for unity. That is unity on various levels. Firstly it is unity on the invisible, supernatural level (John 17:21-22). The lives of all Christian disciples are inextricably linked to each other, through the love and obedience of God the Son and God the Father. Christian disciples are united together because Jesus imparts upon them, the glory given to Him by God the Father (John 17:22). This unity is also physical, in so much as through a visible unity, people will come to know Jesus personally and take up the offer of reconciliation with God (John 17:21, 23). This unity is also physically seen, through the telling of the message of reconciliation (John 17:20). That is why different churches must be seen to work together - a visible sign of unity reflecting the invisible unity.

Remember Jesus' words earlier in John's Gospel? John 15:12-14: "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command."

Much later in his life, John must surely have reflected upon this when he writes in 1 John 3:16-24 "By this we know love, because he laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But whoever has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and closes his heart of compassion against him, how does the love of God remain in him? My little children, let's not love in word only, neither with the tongue only, but in deed and truth. And by this we know that we are of the truth, and persuade our hearts before him, because if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our hearts don't condemn us, we have boldness toward God; and whatever we ask, we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do the things that are pleasing in his sight. This is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, even as he commanded. He who keeps his commandments remains in him, and he in him. By this we know that he remains in us, by the Spirit which he gave us."

If the world sees Christian Disciples loving others sacrificially, then unity is seen and it is an effective witness to the reality of reconciliation with God, and a vibrant living relationship with Him.  It is also imperative that prayer covers all the work of the church and the Christian - prayer is the foundation and the backbone, just as prayer was the strengthener for Jesus as He faced the cross.  Without praying so earnestly that he sweated drops of blood, do you think He could have maintained the cross and its supreme significance for humanity?

Right mouse click here to download as an audio mp3

If you would like to donate to Partakers,

please click the PayPal image below. Thank you!

Click on the appropriate link to subscribe to this website

Subscribe via iTunes

Add to Google Reader or Homepage

Read Full Post »

Easter 2012 - Tuesday

00:0000:00

EW2012.jpg

Easter 2012 Tuesday

Jesus' Last Teaching

Right mouse click here to download as an audio mp3

Heavenly Father, we thank you for Jesus Christ.  We thank you that Jesus the Living Word is revealed in your Written Word, the Bible.  Thank you that we have the very words of the Son of God for us to understand, enact and live.  We thank you for His teaching ministry and as we come tonight to look at the final teaching before going to the Cross, we would listen with attentive ears and hearts to what you would teach us through the power of the Holy Spirit.  We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour.  Amen.

Today, we are going to look at Jesus' last teaching before He goes to the cross to die.

"But now I am going back to the Father who sent me, and none of you asks me where I am going. You are very sad from hearing all of this. But I tell you that I am going to do what is best for you. That is why I am going away. The Holy Spirit cannot come to help you until I leave. But after I am gone, I will send the Spirit to you." (John 16:5-7)

In these last few chapters before He is crucified, Jesus is saying goodbye to His disciples and giving them some final teaching before He departs. Several times He has told them He is going away (John 13:33; John 14:3-4, 19, 28). Today we are going to go quickly through John 15-16 and reflect upon this section of his final teaching sessions before He is arrested, betrayed, condemned and crucified.  Of course, everything Jesus did in his earthly ministry was a lesson to be learnt and there are other events such as Peter's denials and subsequent repentance, where we can also learn lessons.  But this chapter is Jesus' final active session of teaching His disciples.  So what does he teach them?

1. Disciples must bear fruit for the kingdom! (John 15:1-16)

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." (John 15:1-2)

As usual Jesus uses Old Testament language, for in the Old Testament, the nation of Israel is often seen as a vine (Jeremiah 2:21; Psalm 80). However as a vine, Israel had not produced fruit that God had expected as explained in Isaiah 5:1-2 "I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit."

With Jesus describing Himself as the true Vine, the implication is clear that the nation of Israel was but an imperfect precursor to His perfect self. With Jesus as the vine, all believers are the branches, and all believers draw spiritual nourishment from Him. As part of this nourishment, sometimes pruning is required (John 15:2). Cleansing is also required in order that fruit be borne from the Christian Disciple. This cleansing is through regular confession of sin and partaking of Holy Communion as explained in the foot-washing scene of John 13. To prove to others they are His followers and His disciples, Jesus tells them they are to continue loving Him and also to sacrificially love others joyfully (John 15:12-14). By doing these things, which is now their mission statement, they will bear much good fruit for God's greater glory (John 15:8). The same is true of us today, if we are Christian Disciples.

2. Disciples will suffer for the kingdom (John 15:18-27)

John 15:18: "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first."

Having spoken of love and bearing fruit, Jesus now declares a warning and the context into which He is sending them. We learn from this passage that opposition to Jesus' message is unavoidable. The first opposition is that of the old nature attacking the new nature. Christian Disciples, Jesus said, were called out from the world (John 15:19). Christian Disciples upon conversion belong to a different place and are heading for a different place . Secondly, opposition is to be expected simply because of who Jesus is (John 15:21). Christian Disciples share in the life of Jesus and the way the world treats Jesus is the way the world treats all His disciples (John 15:20-21). Thirdly, opposition comes through revealing evil. Jesus, as the Light of the World, exposed evil and sin through His words (John 15:22) and works (John 15:24). At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus commanded all those who follow Him, to also be "lights of the world" (Matthew 5:14-16). This is done by consistently ensuring that our works and words match our lifestyle and that no hypocrisy will be found. Opposition brings persecution, and regularly throughout history, Christian believers have been persecuted for their faith in Jesus. In our own time, perhaps the most persecuted century of all. Being a Christian is not an easy decision, but it is worth it. It is also endurable because of three things: God still remains Lord God despite all; .we share in Jesus' own sufferings and therefore have fellowship with Him (Philippians 3:10) and by being persecuted, it shows we belong to Him (John 15:19).

The main reason all opposition can be endured is because the Christian Disciple is not alone. God the Holy Spirit witnesses with the Christian Disciple (John 15:26). Not as a supplementary person filling a perfunctory role, but rather as the pioneer going out to testify about Jesus ahead (John 15:26) of the Christian Disciple (John 15:27).

3. Disciples will have resources in the Kingdom (John 16)

a. The first resource that Christian Disciples have is, as we have already seen, the Holy Spirit. After all, He is the real evangelist. In conjunction with Him, the Christian Disciple has three resources to use: proclaiming, counselling and discipling.

Proclaiming (John 16:1-7): this is the proclaiming and elucidating work about Jesus that the Spirit performs. The Holy Spirit testifies about Jesus' death on the cross and subsequent resurrection (John 16:14). If Jesus did not go back to glory, and the Holy Spirit was not sent, then the pioneering work of the Holy Spirit would be missing from evangelism and mission. Not only does the Holy Spirit direct people to Jesus, but take them to Him.

Counselling (John 16:8-11): As well as proclaiming about Jesus, the Holy Spirit speaks to people's hearts personally - one to one.  This signifies the intimacy between the holy God and the believer.  The Holy Spirit, convinces people hearing of God's Word of three things: their own sin (John 16:8); their separation from a holy & righteous God (John 16:10) and also in regards to the judgement of Satan and all who follow him (John 16:11). In these three things, a person is led to the Cross of Christ, in order to confess their sin and their need of Jesus Christ and the salvation only He can and is able to provide.

Discipling (John 16:12-16): Once bought to faith, the Holy Spirit performs several tasks for the Twelve Disciples: He will guide them into all truth and develop what is coming in the future (John 16:13). The New Testament is the product of this work and that through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. For the Christian Disciple today, the Holy Spirit helps them to apply the Bible to their life in order that Jesus Christ be glorified (John 16:14).

b. The second resource available to the Christian Disciple is Jesus Himself!   Jesus presence, provision and position.

Presence (John 16:16-33):Yes, His very presence! The twelve disciples will experience sorrow and loss when Jesus is crucified and dead. But after the resurrection, their sorrow will turn to great joy - similar to the exceeding joy after the pains of childbirth! Christian Disciples today also have Jesus' presence with them, particularly when engaged in doing the work of an evangelist!

Provision: Not only His presence, but also His provision! Through answered prayer, joy abounds (John 16:24)! Prayer is going to be of prime importance for the twelve disciples as it is a way to ensure unabated joy - joy even amidst suffering and trouble!

Position: Finally, not only His presence, His provision but also look at His position! Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33) and nothing can prevail against Him!  If you are with Jesus, nothing will prevail against Him and He will protect you, provide for you and be with you in all you do, as you submit yourself to Him.  Whether in the bad times or the good times, Jesus will be with you - but you need to ask Him to be with you and rely on Him fully.  If you are going through bad times now, and don't know this Jesus yet, then ask Him to be with you - what have you got to lose?

Right mouse click here to download as an audio mp3

If you would like to donate to Partakers,

please click the PayPal image below. Thank you!

Click on the appropriate link to subscribe to this website

Subscribe via iTunes

Add to Google Reader or Homepage

Read Full Post »