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Archive for the 'Partakers' Category

Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus Part 39

Why did Jesus go to the cross?

  
A question often asked is what has Jesus’ death done for humanity?

  • Our natural state – We are all sinners, separate from God (Romans 3:23).
  • Forgiveness – God forgives our sins – (Ephesians 1:7).
  • Reconciled us to God – We are no longer enemies of God (2 Corinthians 5:19).
  • Peace – We have peace with God – (Romans 5:1).
  • Justified us – Makes us just before God - (Romans 3:24-26).
  • Cleanses from sin – (1 John 1:7).
  • Makes us right before God (2 Corinthians 5:21).
  • Freedom from the power of slavery to sin (Galatians 5:1).
  • Gives us direct access to God (Ephesians 2:18).
  • Freedom from the power of the devil – (Hebrews 2: 14).
  • Gives us Christ’s intercession (Hebrews 2:17-18).

 
None of the above things apply to those who do not follow Jesus and are therefore not in an active, dynamic, personal and intimate relationship with Him. Are you following this Jesus yet and interacting with Him?

“Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.
But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.
For your hands are stained with blood, your fingers with guilt. Your lips have spoken falsely, and your tongue mutters wicked things.” (Isaiah 59:1-3).

The Problem

Sin is what separates humans from God and consequently leads to both a spiritual and physical death (Isaiah 59:2; Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23,). 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

The Solution

If that is the problem, what therefore is the solution and who can provide it? We see this solution clearly here:

It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: ‘Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. Then I said, “Here I am – it is written about me in the scroll - I have come to do your will, my God.”’ (Hebrews 10:4-7)

The solution was not to be through the continual animal sacrifices, because as we see in Hebrews 10:7, the blood of animals simply cannot take away sin. This blood could only ever only be a veneer or mere covering. That was why it was necessary to repeat time and time again. However, there is a permanent solution. That permanent solution was achieved only through the death of Jesus. His death sees that sin can be completely taken away (Hebrews 9:11-15, 26-28.

Our Response

We are to respond to God with love. A love of which we need to willingly go to God to accept. It is a love which is always giving, always sacrificial and always present.

“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.” (1 John 3:16).

How have you responded to this love of Jesus Christ for you, if indeed you have? If you are a Christian Disciple, when was the last time you told somebody this good news of Jesus Christ and what sacrifices are you prepared to do for the sake of God’s Kingdom here on earth?
 

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus Part 38

Jesus the Dying King

13 See, my servant will act wisely;
he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.
14 Just as there were many who were appalled at him—
his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being
and his form marred beyond human likeness—
15 so he will sprinkle many nations,
and kings will shut their mouths because of him.
For what they were not told, they will see,
and what they have not heard, they will understand.
Isaiah 52:13-15

10 Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered,
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.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,
and he will divide the spoils with the strong,
because he poured out his life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For he bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.
Isaiah 53:10-12

The prophet Isaiah, centuries before Jesus’ birth, was speaking about the Messiah who was to come. As we have seen together, Jesus is this Messiah. As we look together briefly at John 19, correlate the two passages and see how they interlink.

Jesus condemned

Pilate gave in and permitted the flogging and mockery in the hope of shaming Jesus’ accusers (John 19:1-3) despite affirming Jesus’ innocence after the scourging (John 19:4). 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.

Therefore, Jesus’ refusal to answer Pilate, stung Pilate into reminding Jesus of his Roman authority (John 19:10) – an authority that could grant pardon or death. 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). Pilate was more concerned with his own position than he was for justice...

Jesus crucified

  • Jesus, bearing his own cross, was killed as a common criminal (John 19:17).
  • Pilate was responsible for fixing the sign “The King of the Jews” (John 19:21-22).
  • Jesus showed concern for his mother, even when he Himself was in agony, committing her to the Apostle John (John 19:26-27).
  • The crucifixion site was outside the city walls on purpose. This was because the Law forbade execution within the walls of the city. It was also for sanitary reasons as often the rotting crucified corpse would hang on the cross for day. This also served as a vivid image to warn others of the disgrace and to act as a deterrent
  • Jesus’ uttered some final words moments before his death – “I am thirsty.” (John 19:28) and “It is finished.” (John 19:30).
  • The breaking of legs speeded up the process of death (John 19:32-33).
  • The desire of the Jews (John 19:32) to fulfil their rituals was important because the Sabbath fell within the Passover festival.
  • The piercing of Jesus’ side and the flow of blood and water proved Jesus was truly dead (John 19:34).

Jesus buried

Joseph of Arimathea 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 encountered the decay of a dead body.

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus Part 37

Jesus’ Last Night:
Jesus Speaks (Luke 22)

Jesus said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. You are those who have stood by me in my trials. And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Luke 22:25-30).
In this teaching, we can clearly see that:

  • The disciples, the new leaders, will judge the tribes of Israel.#
  • His followers are to serve gladly,
  • His followers will be tested
  • His followers will face persecution and are to show love.

 

Plans Compared

Let us now go on to see the contrast between the plan of Jesus and those of his enemies. We see that all the elements in the plot conspiring against Jesus had been allowed for. The death of Jesus was no accident and we see clearly that the plans concerning Jesus involved:

  • Jesus is in total control of the events
  • Jesus 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).

The plans of his enemies involved:

  • Plotting 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).

New Covenant

The new covenant is a new meal, to remind his followers in every age about the work of Jesus Christ on the Cross. Today we call it, amongst other names, the Lord’s Supper or Holy Communion. In this new covenant (Luke 22:20) Jesus claims that his death was spoken about by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:33-34).

It was a new covenant in which God’s people will be able to know Him intimately, for their sins will be forgiven.

When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfilment in the kingdom of God." After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, "Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed, but woe to that man who betrays him." They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this. (Luke 22:14-23)

 

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus Part 36

Jesus’ Last Night:
Jesus serves (John 13)

In an extraordinary move, Jesus washes the disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17).  Why does He do this? 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, 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 of Jesus Christ, we learn how this simple act of washing the feet of His disciples, is symbolic of Jesus’ sacrificial death on the Cross.

  • Jesus’ getting up to serve symbolizes his coming to serve.
  • Just as Peter opposed Jesus going to the cross (Matthew 16:21-23), so he objected to having his feet washed here
  • As he took off his cloak, this symbolizes his glory being taken off when he became man.
  • Girding Himself with a towel, symbolizes his taking on human flesh at the incarnation.
  • 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.
  • Both events display great love and service.

When we became Christian Disciples, our sins were forgiven through Jesus’ death on the Cross. That is when we had our “bath” as it were. That is the point when we 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.

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus Part 35

Jesus’ Last Night:
Jesus prepares (Luke 22)

The disciples needed a room within Jerusalem itself, and required food - a lamb, bread, bitter herbs and wine. Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover." "Where do you want us to prepare for it?" they asked. He replied, "As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, and say to the owner of the house, 'The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?' he will show you a large upper room, all furnished. Make preparations there." They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover. (Luke 22:7-13).

The Passover meal contains historical and theological symbolism regarding the death of Jesus. Therefore, this meal is the model for the central act of Christian worship, which is known as many things including Eucharist, Lord's Supper or Holy Communion.

  • Opening Prayer
  • First cup of wine and a dish of herbs and sauce.
  • Story of the Passover was 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.

Then Jesus goes on to serve, and that is what we look at in the next Podcast.

 

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus Part 34

Jesus’ Last Night:
Jesus plans (Luke 22)

A lot of businesses and a lot of churches have mission statements. Here we have what is clearly Jesus’ Mission statement and after 3 years of ministry from that point, Jesus has preached the good news of God’s salvation. He has healed the sick. He will release the oppressed by his death on the cross. His mission will be fulfilled at the cross.

Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles were the three most important feasts in the Jewish calendar (Leviticus 21). All Jewish men were expected to visit Jerusalem (Deuteronomy 16:16). The Feast of Passover was to commemorate the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, and it was a time for remembering and rejoicing (Exodus 11-12). In Luke 22, we come to Jesus’ last night before he goes to that cross.

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. He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present. (Luke 22:1-6)

It was time for Passover, a supremely important event for the Jewish people. Jews were expected to remove all yeast from their houses (Exodus 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).

What about Judas though? As for him, we see that he was never a true believer. How do we know this? Because his sins had never been cleansed by the Lord (John 13:10-11). Therefore, Judas had never believed or received eternal life from Jesus Christ (John 6:64-71). It should be noted however, Judas had been given authority and had been preaching the same message. This goes to show just how close a person can come to the kingdom of God and still be lost and not a part of it (Matthew 7:21-29). In contrast to the other disciples, we see that Judas was motivated and energized by satan (John 13:2, 27).

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus Part 33

Jesus’ Last Prayer:
Jesus prays for all disciples (John 17:20-26)

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 is on various levels.

Firstly, it is unity on the invisible, supernatural level (John 17:21-22). The life of all Christian disciples is inextricably linked to each other, through the love and obedience of God the Son and God the Father. Christian disciples are united because Jesus imparts upon them, the glory given to Him by God the Father (John 17:22). Secondly, 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).

Remember Jesus’ words earlier in John’s Gospel?

“My command is this: love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:12-15).

As Christian Disciples, we are to love others. All others. No exception. There are to be no barriers to love. We are to love others extraordinarily. In doing this, we reflect the love which God has lavished upon us. We can love others this way if we see them through the eyes of Jesus and in the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit who lives within all Christian Disciples and unites us.

 

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Investigating Jesus

Investigating Jesus Part 32

Jesus’ Last Prayer:
Jesus prays for his disciples (John 17:6-19)

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, God Himself will ensure that they are watched over and protected. This security is also born 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? 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 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.

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