Behold the Lamb

John 1:29-37

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!  This is He of whom I said, “After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.’  I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water.”  And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him.  I did not know Him, but He who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’  And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”  Again, the next day, John stood with two of his disciples.  And looking at Jesus as He walked, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God!”  The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.

There are nearly 70 references to the Lamb in the Old Testament, most refer to the lamb as a sacrifice for sin.

  • God will provide the lamb

Genesis 22:7 – But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, “My father!”  And he said, “Here I am, my son.”  Then he said, “Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”  And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.”

  • Lamb must be pure and holy – representing Christ

Exodus 12:5 — Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats.

  • Christ was pure and holy

1 Peter 1:19 – but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

  • In the Old Testament an offering had to be made as atonement for sin.  It all points to Christ as that offering.  Christ fulfilled once and for all that required sacrifice when He gave Himself willingly.

John 10:17-18 – Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.  No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.

  • Exodus 12 tells us of the first Passover when the Israelites applied the blood of the lamb to their homes and were saved when the death angel slayed the first born in every home where the blood was not applied.  Symbolically, the Passover pictured the coming of Jesus Christ as the Savior.  The lamb without blemish pictured His sinless life and the blood sprinkled on the door posts pictured His blood shed for the believer.  It was a sign that the life and blood of the innocent lamb had been substituted for the firstborn.  The eating of the lamb pictured the need for spiritual nourishment gained by feeding on Christ, the Bread of Life.  The unleavened bread pictured the need for putting evil out of one’s life and household.  It was the blood of the lamb that saved the people.  The lamb was sacrificed.  Its blood was shed as a substitute for the people.  The lamb symbolized Christ our Passover who was sacrificed for us.  If we believe and apply His blood to our hearts and homes, He saves us.  If we do not believe and do not apply the blood to our hearts and homes, we are destroyed.  It is the Lamb of God who was sacrificed for us; it is His blood which saves us.

John 1:29 – The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

1 Peter 1:18-19 – knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers,  but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

  • Historically, two lambs were sacrificed “day by day continually…the one in the morning and the other at even.

Exodus 29:38-39 – Now this is what you shall offer on the altar: two lambs of the first year, day by day continually.  One lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight.

  • The people knew their sins had separated them from God and that their sins had to be removed before they could be reconciled to God.  Thus, symbolically, the sins of the people were removed from the people and placed upon the two animals.  The animals, without blemish, had the sins of the people placed upon them; and, symbolically, they bore the judgment of sin, which was death.  They were sacrificed for sin, and by their death, they symbolically set the people free by redeeming them from their sins.  Note:  It was not the deed that caused God to remove the sins, but the faith of the person in God’s Word that He would remove the sins.

Isaiah 53:6-7 – All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.  He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.

1 Corinthians 5:7 – Therefore purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, since you truly are unleavened. For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.

1 Peter 2:22-24 – Who committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.

Revelation 5:6; 6:1; 7:9, 12:11; 13:8; 14:1; 15:3; 17:14; 19:9; 21:22

Jesus Christ is

  • The perfect Lamb of God, without sin
  • The One upon whom the sins of the people were placed
  • The One who bore the judgment for sin, which was death
  • The One who was sacrificed for sin
  • The One whose death sets people free by redeeming them
  • The One whose blood is counted precious both by God and believers

It should be noted the Christ willingly offered Himself as the sacrificial Lamb, as our substitute and God willingly accepted the offering and sacrifice of His Son for us.  God is satisfied with the settlement for sin that Christ made.  If any person really believes the blood of Christ to be precious, really believes that the blood of Christ covers his sins, God will take that person’s belief and count it as righteousness.  That person is counted righteousness by God.

John 10:17-18 – Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again.  No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.

Romans 5:1 – Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 John 2:1-2 – My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.  And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

The “Lamb of God” is not of men but of God.  The idea is that the Lamb belonged to God, that God gave, supplied and provided the Lamb for Abraham as a substitute for Isaac.  This speaks volumes about:

  • The unbelievable love of God for man

John 3:16 — For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

  • The great sacrifice and humiliation Christ underwent for man

Philippians 2:6-8 – who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

  • The forgiveness of sins and salvation which came from God’s grace and not from man’s resources and works

Ephesians 2:8-9 – For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.

The “Lamb of God” takes away the sin of the world

The phrase “takes away” (airon) means “to lift away, to carry off, to bear in behalf of one, as one’s substitute.  Jesus Christ was the Lamb of God who bore our sins.  He lifted our sins off of us and carried them away.

1 Peter 2:24 – who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.

John the Baptist was simply pointing out the “Lamb of God” to the people – Here is the Lamb of God we have been waiting for

We must point the Lamb of God to others – fulfill the Great Commission

  • It is not the great exception
  • We cannot leave it to somebody else to do
  • When people are lonely – “Behold the Lamb”
  • When people are in turmoil – “Behold the Lamb”
  • When people are sick, in pain – “Behold the Lamb”

Behold

  • To perceive through sign or understanding
  • To see
  • To gaze upon
  • To observe
  • To call attention to
  • We need to do more than just behold
  • More than see
  • More than observe
  • More than call attention

We need to

  • Receive the Lamb of God for our self
  • Receive the Lamb of God as our Lord and Master
  • Serve and glorify the Lamb of God in our own life
  • Point out the Lamb of God to others

A Voice in the Wilderness

John 1:19-23

Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”  He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.”  And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?”  He said, “I am not.”  “Are you the Prophet?”  And he answered, “No.” 

Then they said to him, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?”  He said: “I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness:  “Make straight the way of the Lord,”’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”

A voice in the wilderness

  • What kind of voice? – Loud, clear and commanding
  • To whom is the voice speaking? –  He that has an ear
  • What was the message?  –  Repent, turn to Jesus
  • What was the character of the voice? –  Recognized his purpose was to draw attention to Jesus, not himself.  “I must decrease, He must increase.”

Isaiah 40:3-5 – The voice of one crying in the wilderness:  “Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.  Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth; the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

We are also called to be a voice in the wilderness

Matthew 28:19-20 – Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

John 20:21 – So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.

  • What is our voice?  Are we speaking without fear of man, are we clear in our message?
  • To whom are we speaking?  Are we really to speak to all we meet, to all who show an open heart?
  • What is our message?  Are we promoting our church, our doctrine, or Jesus Christ?
  • What is our character?  Are we trying to be noticed, to have our self-admired or looked up to?  Are we lifting up Jesus, not our self?

Sharing the “True” Light

John 1:1-14

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.  There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.  This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe.  He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.  That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. 

He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.  He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.  But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:  who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

One of the great themes of the Gospel of John is “light.” 

John 1:4 – In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.

John 8:12 – Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

Matthew 4:14-16 – You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

John 3:19 – And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

Jesus is the true light.  While others talk about enlightment, we know and believe that Jesus IS the Light of the World.  Even though the true light has come, yet much of our world remains in darkness.

1 John 1:5-7 – This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.  If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.  But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.

The darkness is great

  • Darkness by birth
  • The sins of our “first parents – Adam and Eve” passed down to all of us.

The Psalmist David states Psalm 51:5 – “Behold I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me.”

  • None of us chose our parents, and one of us chose to be born in sin, but we do have a choice as to whether or not we will continue to live in that state of sinfulness.

Romans 3:23 tells us, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Romans 6:23 tells us, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord.”

  • Darkness by choice

John 3:19 tells us, “…men love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil.”

  • Much of the evil done in the world today is done as a matter of choice.
  • The Burnhams, missionaries in the Philippines, were held captive by a terrorist group for ransom money to fight a war of their own choosing.
  • The terrorists who flew into the World Trade Center buildings on 9/11 did so as a matter of choice.
  • The man/woman who kills their spouse or abuses their own children have made a choice.
  • The man who rejects Jesus is also making a choice to live in darkness.
  • Darkness by neglect
  • Even after Jesus told His disciples to “Go into all the world,” they wanted to stay in Jerusalem
  • It took the persecution found in Acts 8:1 to get the church moving out of Jerusalem with the Gospel.
  • The Church has had the Gospel for 2000 years and yet the majority of our world is still not evangelized.

What will it take for us to truly get serious about carrying the Gospel to the whole world?

The light is needed in our world

Matthew 5:14-16 – You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Light, life and freedom are found in Jesus

John 14:46 – I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.

Acts 4:12 – Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

Romans 10:13-17 – For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.  How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?  And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written:  “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, who bring glad tidings of good things!”  But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?”  So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

2 Corinthians 4:6 – For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

The Price God Paid for Christmas

John 1:14

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

A mountaineer got lost while climbing in the Alps – or so the story goes.  After days of stumbling around in a blizzard, he found a mountain pass that led to a valley that no one from the outside world had visited in centuries.  In this valley he discovered a community of people who had survived for generations with no eyesight.

When he tried to describe to these people the beauty of the night sky, the color of a sunset, and the joy of seeing someone smile, the valley people were first confused, then convinced that he was insane.  Because no one they knew could see, the experience was beyond their understanding.  They did not even have the vocabulary to understand what he described.

Then the mountaineer met a young woman of the valley, and they fell in love.  When they told the villagers that they wanted to be married, the leaders foresaw that the mountaineer’s descriptions of the joys of seeing and of the outside world would disrupt their community.  They told him that he could stay and be married only if he agreed to have his eyes blinded so he would be like everyone else.  Torn between his appreciation of his sight and his love for the young woman, the mountaineer finally agreed to meet their condition.

The night before the wedding and the ceremony that would blind him, the mountaineer took a walk to enjoy the night sky one last time.  He climbed higher and higher on the mountain that rose above the community.  Eventually he noticed that he had come to the mountain pass through which he had entered the valley.  Keeping his sight would be a simple matter of climbing through the pass and returning to the outside world.

The conflict between his love for his fiancée and his love of sight raged fierce within him.  But finally his love for the woman won out.  He returned to the valley and to the community where he would be married – and where he would be blinded for the rest of his life.

What a conflict!  What a decision!  What love the mountaineer had!

Of course, it is only a story – and an unlikely one at that.  But I know a similar story that is true, a story in which the hero accepts a handicap that will restrict him through eternity – all for love!

Divine and human

Supposed that 2,000 years ago God the Son looked at the sacrifice He would have to make to be born in a manger and die on a cross and had decided that the price was too high.  Imagine the consequences to you and me if, at the mountain pass of His decision, Christ had turned His back on us and returned to the glories of heaven that He was so familiar with.

Fortunately, He did not consider the price too high.  So Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, who was 100 percent God and became 100 percent human.  Do we really understand what that means – what it meant for God, and what it means to us?

God’s problem

Consider God’s problem.  During the thousands of years people had been exposed to sin, their view of him had become distorted.  Every deviate interpretation of His character had been made the object of worship.  Some of those who believed Him to be an overbearing tyrant had come to believe they must appease Him by sacrificing their own children in their worship rites.  Others, who viewed Him as a weak, permissive being interested only in a good time, worshipped Him with acts of prostitution, bestiality, or gluttony.

In the names of their gods, the strong overwhelmed the weak, and the rich dominated the poor.  Apathy and greed flourished, and love and generosity withered away.

God realized that to salvage the situation, He could not simply speak to people in overpowering tones, as He did from Mount Sinai.  No, to teach human beings what He was really like in a way they would not soon forget, He would have to give a living example of His character in terms people would understand.  In a world where God was an unfocused reflection of humanity’s own selfish desires.  He would have to be focused into a being who was the essence of both humanity and divinity.  He would be as man without all the sin, selfish desires.  How could He be man, yet at the same time be God?

The community of blind people in that legendary Alpine valley could never understand what the mountaineer’s loss of his sight meant to him or how that loss demonstrated the profound love he held.  Similarly, our limited experience keeps us from fully comprehending the price Jesus paid to become human.  Because of that, we tend to trivialize the love His sacrifice reveals.

Christmas, the time when we celebrate Jesus’ birth, offers us the opportunity to take another look at His incredible history-changing life, a chance to recapture the sense of awe that many of us have lost.  It reminds us of His death and the hope of life that sacrifice provided for us.

The difference it makes

We recognize that Christ’s death on the cross made heaven possible for us.  But what of Christ’s life?  What differences did it make? 

By living on earth as a human being, Jesus challenged the conventional judgment and even the moral values of the time. 

Greed, selfishness, and lust for power influence our judgment more than we realize.  The concern for others that Jesus’ life reflect was just as disturbing to the status quo at His time as it would be for you and me to reveal to a community of blind people what it is like to see.  Jesus’ example turned conventional judgment on its ear.

Jesus taught us that motive rather than performance is what counts. 

Remember the story about the emperor’s new clothes?  They were “sewn” by a clever tailor who, aware of the King’s vanity, claimed that fools would not be able to see them.  Afraid of being recognized for the fools they were, everyone, including the king, went along with the charade.  It took a young boy to state the obvious and draw attention to the king’s lack of both britches and good sense.  Living in sin is like that.  We are all inadequate; we all have selfish motives.  Yet we go through our lives desperately seeking to ignore the obvious.  Let a little honesty creep in, and we are suddenly presented to the rest of the world as the emperor without his clothes, no longer regal but in desperate need of something to cover us up.  Jesus exposes our dishonesty, our spiritual nakedness. 

Jesus showed us that a positive approach is most effective at bringing out the best in people. 

Jesus did not need to condemn men and women as miserable sinners.  His mere presence revealed to them their moral shortcomings.  When we stand openly and honestly in the presence of Almighty God, He does not condemn; our sin condemns us.  Then He called them to look at the world from a different perspective, to center their lives on God instead of on things or on themselves.  This message led some people to seek spiritual wholeness.  Others, in turning from it, headed down a path of anger and resentment that eventually led them out of His presence and even into conspiring to get rid of Him. 

Imagine a cluster of flowers struggling to grow in a deep, junk-strewn ravine in which trees hide the sun.  Then a landscaping crew cleans out the ravine and thins the trees, allowing brilliant sunshine to pour down on the plants.

Overwhelmed by the powerful sun, some plants wither and die – perhaps wishing that everything had gone on as it was before.  Others, still shaded by the trees that remain, continue on much as they had in the past.  But a few of the plants withstand the initial shock of their exposure to the full light of the sun.  Soon they are basking in its light and flourish and multiplying beyond all previous guesses as to what their potential was.

Such is our relationship with Christ.  As we spend time with Him, we realize that His power is overwhelming.  If we welcome it and let it change us, we will grow to a degree we never before thought possible.

Jesus teaches us a proper appreciation of the power of love

Jesus revealed that most of us love selfishly and limit our love to a chosen few.  He showed that the most important thing any of us can do in life is to reflect the love God has shown us, to reflect it by loving our fellow humans.

Modern society talks a great deal about love and how it can change the world – or one’s personal life.  But society’s attempts at loving have merely resulted in increases in divorce rates, child pornography, incest and homosexuality – making it obvious society does not have any idea what love is.

We can never truly understand love until we learn where it comes from.  It comes from God.  He did not create it; He is love.  When you read 1 Corinthians 13 – the Love Chapter – you are reading about God. 

1 Corinthians 13:1-10 – Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.  And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.  Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part.  But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

When we learn to show this kind of love to those around us, we will reflect the character of God.  

What it would be like

Imagine being not being limited in time or space, able to know everything, to be everywhere at once, with limitless power available to you at any time.  Imagine then giving all that up to be restricted to one place at a time in the body of a man.  Then you can see how being born in Bethlehem as Jesus Christ, the son of Mary, changed God the Son forever.  At His birth, Jesus took human nature upon Himself.  He willingly shared in our world – knowing what it was to be hungry, tired, to suffer pain and humiliation.

Before the Son became human, we could only hear about God.  When He became a man, we could actually see who God is.

John 14:9 – Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’

Wake Up! The Answer is Right in Front of You

Luke 24:13-27

Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem.  And they talked together of all these things which had happened.  So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them.  But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.  And He said to them, “What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?”  Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, “Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?”  And He said to them, “What things?”  So they said to Him, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,  and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him.  But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened.  Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us.  When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive.  And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.”  Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!  Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?”  And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

Wake up!

The command “Wake Up!” indicates that perhaps someone is not awake yet, is troubled and/or perplexed, or perhaps their mind is not really on what is before them.

Cleopas and a traveling companion, another disciple perhaps his wife, were traveling and a stranger suddenly began to walk with them and talk to them.  Of course, we know the story.  The stranger to them was none other than Jesus who had risen from the grave.

In the context of this story and similar stores in other Scriptures we can readily see that these two traveling the road were not the only ones that did not recognize Jesus after His resurrection.

John 20:14 – Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.

John 21:4 – But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.

The answer is right in front of you

Was Jesus’ appearance or countenance different as He appeared to the disciples, to Mary or to Cleopas and his traveling companion?  Why did they not recognize Him?  What was their problem?  How could it be that those who had been around him, some almost daily for three years, knowing His movements, His speech, His mannerisms not comprehend who He was?

Luke 24:36-38 – Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, “Peace to you.”  But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit.  And He said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts?

Luke 24:25 – Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!

When Thomas actually saw Jesus with his own eyes, then he believed

John 20:24-29 – Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.  The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”  So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”  And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!”  Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”  And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”  Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

When Mary heard Jesus call her name, she believed

John 20:14-16 – Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.  Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”  She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”  Jesus said to her, “Mary!”  She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).

Wake up!  The answer is right in front of you!

How is it in times of extreme frustration, sorrow, pain, sickness, loneliness, joy, trouble…Jesus is there, working His way and will in our lives, yet we do not see or recognize who He is?

  • Is our faith weak?
  • Are we failing to trust Him?
  • Are we simply ignoring the tug on our heart, the knock on our door?
  • Are we so preoccupied with the cares of this life and the situation at hand that we cannot see Him in our situation?
  • Is our life so hopeless or full of despair that we cannot see Jesus at all?
  • In the sadness and despair of lives, hopes for family, our profession, school, acceptance, meaning and purpose of life, we must remember that Jesus does care. 

Even though we have feelings of hopelessness and despair, Jesus is there.  He said He would not leave us nor forsake us.  He said to not be troubled or afraid.  Wake up!  He is there!

What Are You Seeking?

Luke 24:1-12

Now on the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they, and certain other women with them, came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared.  But they found the stone rolled away from the tomb.  Then they went in and did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.  And it happened, as they were greatly perplexed about this, that behold, two men stood by them in shining garments.  Then, as they were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth, they said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?  He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee, saying, ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.’”  And they remembered His words.  Then they returned from the tomb and told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.  It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them, who told these things to the apostles.  And their words seemed to them like idle tales, and they did not believe them.  But Peter arose and ran to the tomb; and stooping down, he saw the linen cloths lying by themselves; and he departed, marveling to himself at what had happened.

  • He is risen – Hallelujah!
  • He is risen – Hallelujah
  • He is risen – Hallelujah    

The text asks the question, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?  But that question can be changed as we take a closer look.  Why?

Why did redemption for mankind have to come about in such a drastic, horrific scene as the betrayal, the trial, the crucifixion?

Why did the Son of God have to go through such torture, misery and pain?

We find the answer to this question in the words of Jesus as He hung on the cross. 

John 19:30 – So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

“It is finished” – In those words He said, “the work that You have sent me to do has been completed.  The battle for men’s souls is now won.  They do not have to die in their sins any more Father.”

  • “It is finished” – “I have taken upon Myself the sin of the whole world.
  • “It is finished” – The price is paid!
  • “It is finished” – All men and women can have forgiveness.
  • “It is finished” – Even the worst of sinners can know pardon.  They do not have to go on day after day in their sorrow, sin and shame.
  • “It is finished” – Jesus said, “I have done the work You sent me to do. 
  • “It is finished” – There is nothing left undone.

The second question we find in this text is “Why do you seek?”  In other words

  • What are you looking for? 
  • What is it you seek in life? 
  • What brings fulfillment?
  •  What brings true contentment and joy?

The answer to this question is found also in the words of Christ Jesus our Lord.  He answers this question in this way

Matthew 6:33 – But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Isaiah 55:6-7 – Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.  Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.

God is what we need to be looking for. 

Jeremiah 29:13 – And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

  • Are we looking in the right place?
  • What do you seek after?
  • What are you looking for?

Christ is the answer!!!!

“Only one life – will soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Nothing else ultimately matters.  The risen Christ is the one who can satisfy every need, every longing, and every desire you have ever had, or will ever have.  He and He alone is the answer to what man seeks for.

The question in this test asks, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?”  The only thing that will give life, joy and vitality that lasts for more than a fleeting moment is Jesus and the things of God. Since Adam and Eve, mankind has been seeking for life in things that cannot satisfy.

  • Drugs
  • Alcohol
  • Pornography
  • Illicit sex
  • Money
  • Fame

Only one thing can bring true and lasting satisfaction 

  • The risen Christ
  • The one who died on the cross
  • The one who suffered pain
  • The one who gave His life

Why seek the living among the dead?  Make a total commitment to Christ who gave His life that you might live. 

Father Forgive Them – Forgive Who?

Luke 23:34

Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

The King of Glory spoke these words from the cross.  These were among some of the last brief statements that He made.  Who exactly was He speaking to?

  • Of course He spoke to the Roman Soldiers.  They were standing there jeering and cursing having just nailed Him to the cross.  Of course it was their job.  They had been commanded to do so.  It was probably not the first crucifixion detail they had been assigned.  But this One was different.  This One claimed to be the Son of God.  He had stated that He would build the temple back in three days if it were destroyed.  The man was mad.  It had taken forty years to build.  They gambled for His clothes at the foot of the cross as they watched Him die.  Was it really the Roman soldiers He spoke of in His prayer to the Father?
  • Maybe, it was the Jewish crowd that He spoke to that was gathered there that day.  They had swarmed around Him as He had healed their sick, their blind and lame, cast out demonic spirits, fed them on occasion, and told them all types of parables and stories of God and His kingdom.  Now they had turned on Him because He did not fulfill their desires of who the Messiah should really be.  They had just recently shouted, “Hosanna, Hail King of the Jews.”  Then they shouted, “Crucify Him.”  Was it really the Jewish crowd He asked His Father to forgive?
  • Or, maybe it was His disciples, especially the ones who had fled and were afraid and in hiding.  Only John was present there with His mother and some other women who had been part of those who had followed Him from town to town and around the countryside.  Peter, especially, was always boasting and speaking all kind of big statements.  He obviously did not really know what he was saying.  Was it His cowardly disciples He asked His Father to forgive?
  • Or, maybe He saw ahead in time and saw that crowd as they were stoning Stephen to death, and especially that Saul of Tarsus character who was standing by as the stones killed this first martyr to His cause.  That crowd that was so full of hatred against Stephen.  Surely that is who He meant that forgiveness for.
  • Perhaps it was further on down in time when the early Christians were martyred in the coliseum of Rome by wild animals and killed by hanging, and torture of all kinds.   Surely their persecutors were included in His statement from the cross.   And on down thru the Inquisition and throughout all the persecution of the Middle Ages.  What about John Hus who was burned alive and all the others who where killed in nearly every country of the world.  Surely His statement was meant for them. 
  • What about all the wars fought in the name of religion, the Crusades, the Protestants against the Catholics and the Catholics against the Protestants?  Surely He had these in mind when He prayed His Father to forgive them.
  • What about the barbarians throughout the world who committed wholesale slaughter of whole groups and nationalities of peoples simply because they were different.  Men like Stalin, Hitler, Idi Amin, and the butchers in Rwanda.  Certainly He was speaking of them.
  • Or maybe He was speaking of all those native tribes and people in other lands, who because of their ignorance, killed missionaries and many other innocent people who were there just to preach to them the good news of salvation.  Surely that is who He meant.
  • Or maybe He looked out to our time and saw you and I when He was there on the Cross.  “Was it for crimes that I have done, He groaned upon the tree.  Amazing pity, grace unknown and love beyond degree.”  I ask myself, “Was it me He was speaking of as He hung there with His life’s blood ebbing out drop by drop”.  When He was there hanging on that Cross, could I have been on His mind?  Was my sin that I commit day by day, year by year without regard to my own eternity what He had in mind as He spoke that day.  Am I so calloused by my constant denial of wrong that I fail to grasp the total sacrifice that was made for me that day?   Surely He was speaking of me from the cross that day. 

Each of us alone can respond to that statement and cry out to Him in forgiveness. 

“Yes Lord, I need your forgiveness.  Yes Lord, I am guilty.  Yes Lord, I repeatedly do the same thing over and over again and I do it because I want to do what I do.  I know better.  I know right from wrong.  I am guilty.  I should have hung on the cross…not you Lord.  Father forgive me for I do know what I do.”

Denial of Jesus Christ

Luke 24:54-62

Having arrested Him, they led Him and brought Him into the high priest’s house. But Peter followed at a distance.  Now when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them.  And a certain servant girl, seeing him as he sat by the fire, looked intently at him and said, “This man was also with Him.”  But he denied Him, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.”  And after a little while another saw him and said, “You also are of them.”  But Peter said, “Man, I am not!”  Then after about an hour had passed, another confidently affirmed, saying, “Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean.”  But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying!”  Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.  And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”  So Peter went out and wept bitterly.

We often speak negatively about Peter’s denying Jesus in His hour of need.  Yet, believers often deny Jesus in their daily lives.

What causes denial?

  • Following “afar off.”  Not focusing on Jesus, not identifying with Him, not having our mind fixed on Him.
  • Sitting “down among them.”  Following Jesus from a distance will lead us to become involved with sin.

2 Corinthians 6:17-18; 7:1 – Therefore “Come out from among them and be separate,” says the Lord.  “Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you.  I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters,” says the Lord Almighty.

Holiness – “hagiosune” – “the process, quality and condition of a holy disposition and the quality of holiness in personal conduct.  It is the principle that separates the believer from the world.  Hagiosune consecrates us to God’s service both in moral dedication and life committed to purity.  It causes every component of our character to stand God’s inspection and meet His approval.”

Denial of pretense – Pretending not to know Jesus

The servant girl “looked intently” at Peter.  There appeared to be no imminent threat to Peter.  The servants were just standing around talking about the events of the evening.  Perhaps they were curious to know more about Jesus.  If he had acknowledged that he was a disciple of Jesus to this crowd, probably all he would have experienced was some mockery.  Of course, there always was some danger of being persecuted also, but probably in this crowd it would have only led to ridicule.  This may have been an excellence chance for Peter to tell them about Jesus.  Perhaps someone in the crowd would have believed in Him.

Matthew 10:33 – But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.

1 Pete 3:15 – But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.

Denial of discipleship – Denying that one is a committed follower of Jesus

When Peter was confronted with the words, “You are one of them,” he quickly stated, “I am not one of them.”  At this point, he is not just denying Jesus, he is denying that he is one of those who “followed” Him.

Mark 8:38 – For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.

2 Timothy 1:8 – Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God,

Denial of ignorance – Claiming to know nothing of what is being said, to know nothing about the Bible or its truths

Peter’s final claim was “I do not know what you are saying.” 

Answer to denial

  • Remember the Lord’s Word
  • Spend time alone with the Lord
  • Truly repent

Personal inventory

  • I have (or have never) denied Jesus by my words or actions.
  • I have (or have never) denied that I was a Christian or went to church.
  • I have (or have never) pretended that I did not know what people were talking about when the Bible or its truths were discussed.
  • I have (or have never) denied Jesus by remaining silent when I should have spoken up.
  • I have truly and sorrowfully repented of those times that I denied Jesus.
  • I have determined to never again deny Him.

Watchful Believers

Luke 23:34-38

But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly.  For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.  And in the daytime He was teaching in the temple, but at night He went out and stayed on the mountain called Olivet. Then early in the morning all the people came to Him in the temple to hear Him.

Also see:  1 Peter 5:1-11; Matthew 26:41; Matthew 24:42; Mark 13:33

Watch  WORDS  

  • James 1:26                              gossip
  • Psalms 15:1-3                         backbiting/speaking truth
  • 1 Samuel 2:3                           arrogant/pride
  • Proverbs 6:16-19                    discord/false witness/lying
  • Titus 1:10-11                           vain talking/deceiver
  • Psalms 13:6                            sing unto the Lord
  • Psalms 100:1-2                       praise & bless Lord/thankful
  • Philippians 4:4                         rejoice always
  • 1 Thess. 5:16-18                     rejoice evermore/pray without ceasing/give thanks
  • James 1:22                             be doers of the Word
  • 1 Peter 4:7-9                           prayerful attitude/hospitable

Watch    ACTIONS 

  • 1 Thess. 5:6-8                         always vigilant/sober/watchful
  • Eccles. 12:13-14                     every act will be judged
  • Romans 8:1-13                       live and walk in the Spirit

Watch THOUGHTS

  • Romans 12:2                           renew your mind
  • Ephesians 4:17-23                  renew your mind
  • Acts 17:28-31                          correct your wrongful thinking
  • James 2:4                               do not be divisive/judging
  • 1 Chron. 28:9                          God knows all your imaginations
  • Psalms 119:30-31                   establish yourself
  • Hebrews 4:12                          the Word is a discerner
  • Isaiah 55:6-11                         our thoughts are not God’s 
  • 1 Peter 5:6-8                           humility
  • 1 Peter 3:4                             inner grace
  • Matthew 26:41            watch & pray/persevere/steadfast
  • James 1:4                               patience
  • Psalms 37:3-5                         trust/commit/delight
  • Matthew 5:3-11                       the Beatitudes – “Be Attitudes”

Watch CHARACTER

  • Proverbs 6:16-18                    wickedness
  • Psalms 15:1-2                         speak the truth
  • Psalms 119:2                          seek the Lord
  • Ezekiel 11:21                          judgment
  • Matthew 15:18-19                   uncleanness
  • Mark 7:21                                uncleanness
  • Isaiah 51:7                              no fear or reproach/law of God
  • Psalms 9:1-2                           sing praise with obedience

Watch HEART

  • John 14:1                                do not be troubled
  • Matthew 6:19-21                     where your treasure is

The Narrow Way

  • Way to God is very specific.
  • Way to God is straight – not bending in purpose or morals.
  • Way to God is not a popular one.

John 14:6 – Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life; no man comes to the Father, but by Me.’

Acts 4:12 – Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

1 Timothy 2:5-6 – For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all.

  • Way to salvation requires effort.

Luke13:24 – Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. (NIV)

Luke 13:24 – Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. (NKJ)

  • Must “strive.”  Strive (agonizesthe) means “to agonize, to struggle, exert to the fullest, labor fervently.”  This does not mean that a person “works” to earn their salvation.  That is a free gift of God.  It does mean, however, that a person must give whole-hearted, complete commitment to seek God.  They cannot allow anyone or anything to take their attention from God and His purpose for their life. 

Luke 9:23-26 – He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.

  • Just being in church does not make one right with God.

Matthew 7:21 – Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.

Mark 7:6 – He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:  ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.’”

Luke 6:46 – But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?

  • Judgment will fall on those who do not find the narrow way.

Matthew 13:30, 49 – Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.””  So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come forth, separate the wicked from among the just.

Matthew 25:46 – And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

  • Those Who Find the Narrow Way Will Come From all Nations, Races, and Classes of People

Matthew 28:19-20 – And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 10:34-35 – Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.