Passover/The Lord’s Supper

Matthew 26:17-29

Now on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?”  And He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.”’”  So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover.  When evening had come, He sat down with the twelve. Now as they were eating, He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.”  And they were exceedingly sorrowful, and each of them began to say to Him, “Lord, is it I?”  He answered and said, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray Me. The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.”  Then Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, “Rabbi, is it I?”  He said to him, “You have said it.”  And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”  Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.

Passover to Lord’s Supper

Feast of Unleavened Bread – Exodus 12; Leviticus 23:4-8

Passover was originally a feast for the Israelites as they were about to be delivered from slavery in Egypt.  It was to be celebrated each year as a memorial for those who had been delivered and for future generations to remember what God had done.  It is celebrated in the month of Nisan (March-April) and marks the New Year for Israel because it was the beginning of the Israelites life as a nation.  Jewish tradition said that the Messiah would redeem Israel during the Passover – the very day that God delivered Israel from Egypt.  By obeying this religious celebration, Jesus was doing:

  • Clearly proclaiming He was the Messiah Israel was looking for.
  • Tying the Passover directly to the Lord’s Supper.
  • Stressing the importance of religious obedience.

Lord’s Death – “My time is at hand”

  • Jesus clearly gave Himself up.  He was not taken by surprise in the Garden when the Jewish rulers came to take Him captive.
  • Christ kept the Passover – “I will keep the Passover”
  • Jesus obeyed to the end the Laws of God.
  • Judas was Appealed To
  • Jesus revealed the betrayal.  – Chance for Judas to repent.
  • Jesus warned of the judgment to for the betrayer. – Chance for Judas to repent.
  • Jesus identified the betrayer – Last chance for Judas to repent.

Lord’s Supper Established

  • By taking the bread in His own hands, Jesus signified that His death was voluntary.

John 10:15-18 – As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father, and I lay down My life for the sheep…No one takes my life from Me, but I lay it down of Myself....

  • By breaking the bread, Jesus signified that His body was to be broken as a sacrifice.

Isaiah 53:5 – He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him and with His stripes we are healed.

Cup

  • By taking the cup in His own hands, again He indicated His death was voluntary.
  • By saying “drink all of it,” He indicated man must receive what Jesus has done for him – must allow His death to become the very nourishment, the very strength of his life.

New Covenant

  • Blood of Jesus vs. blood of animals

Hebrews 9:11-28 – ….Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all….how much more shall the blood of Christ….cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?….

  • New Covenant vs. Old Covenant

Marriage Supper of the Lamb Promised

Colossians 3:4 – When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.

2 Peter 1:10-11 – Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure….for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Ended Supper with a Hymn

In the midst of a sorrowful moment, Jesus sang praises to God

Philippians 4:4 – Rejoice in the Lord always.  Again I will say, rejoice.

Colossians 3:16 – Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

What is Our Mission?

Matthew 25:31-36

When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’  “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’  “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’  “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

Showing love to others with what God has blessed us with:

  • Our ability
  • Our time
  • Our substance

To those who are hungry:

  • Feed spiritual food (Bread of Life)
  • Feed physical food
  • Give to those in need
  • Give to local food pantries
  • Those who are naked
  • Those are strangers
  • Show love and kindness
  • Welcome them into your home, your church, your community
  • Those in prison
  • Nursing home ministry
  • Support worthy causes – your own church first, then missions and others

Our example

1 John 4:11 – Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

1 Corinthians 13:3    – 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.

Sacrificial love

John 15:13 – Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.

Proof of discipleship

John 15:35 – By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

Obedience to our Lord

1 John 4:7-8 – Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.  He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

1 John 4:21 – And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.

John 21:15 – So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?”  He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”  He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”

The sheep did not really recognize that they had been serving Christ when they ministered to the sick, the lonely, those in jail and in the hospital.  They had not done their good deeds to others for a reward.  They had simply served others out of their love for Christ – not because it was the right thing to do – but because it was the natural thing – the thing that sheep do.  It flowed from their very nature – the nature of Christ within them.

The goats did not really recognize that they had not been serving Christ when they ignored the needs of the sick, the lonely, the hurting.  They had simply been too busy with their own needs and desires, oblivious to the needs around them.  They did this because it was the natural thing for goats to do.  It flowed from their very nature – the nature of sinful man within them.

Anointing at Bethany

Matthew 26:6-13

And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper,a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table. But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor.”  But when Jesus was aware of it, He said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always. For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.

  • In the House of Simon the Leper, a Woman Anointed Jesus. (v. 6)

Little is known about Simon.  He was probably a leper who had been healed by Jesus.  Tradition says he was the husband of Martha, the sister of Mary and Lazarus but we have no actual proof. According to Jewish law, Simon would be an outcast if he were still a leper.  In Mark 14:3-9, this same story we see Simon in the house and at the table. He was obviously cured. 

Simon’s house was large enough to entertain Jesus and all His disciples at the same time.  It can be assumed that Simon was a man of means and perhaps because of his healing he wanted to show his gratitude to Jesus and therefore gave a dinner in His honor.  

John 12, tells us the woman was Mary, and Lazarus was at the dinner.   Judas is singled out as making a comment about the use of the oil.   Matthew states “the disciples were indignant” while Mark’s account says “there were those present who were indignant.” 

  • The Anointing was an Act of Love and Faith in the Lord Jesus. (v.7)

Mary’s anointing of Jesus was an act of faith and love, demonstrating her love by giving a very precious thing to Him.   She anointed Jesus to show how much she appreciated, loved, and believed Him to be her Savior, her Lord, her King, the true Messiah.  Should we not also give of ourselves unto the Lord to show our love?

Mt. 6:20 – but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Luke 12:33 – Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys.

Philippians 3:8 – Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.  

  • The Anointing was a Sacrificial Gift, a Commitment Beyond Common Sense. (v. 8-9)

The anointing was sacrificial.  It was worth 300 denarii.  A denarius was a small silver coin worth a laborer’s daily wage, (Matthew 20:2) so the value of the perfume was costly, valued at approximately a year’s wage.  Perfume was a precious item to women of the day and Mary was taking a most precious possession and giving it to her Lord.

Imagine the scene.  A bottle of perfume worth a whole year’s wages being broken and poured upon the head of Christ.  Common sense would say “sell it” and give the money to the poor.  There were those that questioned what she did.  Is it any different today when we feel deep within us that we need or want to do something for the Lord?  Others question our motives, our sanity, our ability to deter- mine real values.  Like Mary, it did not matter the comments, she did what she desired to do for the Lord.  He was the most significant person in her life and she desired to honor Him in this way

Matthew. 7:3 – And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?

Romans14:4 – Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.

Romans 14:13 – Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in our brother’s way.

True love sacrifices self, gives of itself – all that one is and has.  Love is not really shown when we give only what we can afford.  It is when we sacrifice, dig deep into our lives and finances and give of ourselves, all that we are and have, that we really show love.  The more we sacrifice the more we show love.          

There is a strong message in Mary’s act – a strong message on giving much and giving sacrificially.  But note well that the gift and sacrifice were made out of a heart of genuine love and faith in Christ.  This is the most important thing to keep in mind about Mary’s gift:  her heart and life were wholly focused upon Christ.  That is how our giving must be.

Sacrifice is sometimes more important than common sense.  Sometimes sacrifice should take precedence over common sense.  Sometimes common sense must be stretched into sacrifice.  Sacrifice is what brings about enlarged horizons, growth, development, advancement, more and more of whatever we are doing.   In fact the more we sacrifice under God’s care, the more growth, development, and advancement we see.  Name the field, the area, the work – the principle holds truth.  The more we sacrifice under God’s care, the more advancement we witness.  There is a place for common sense, but there is a greater place for sacrifice.

There is one area that we often shrink from and ignore, and do not allow the principle to take effect: the area of giving money or of tithing.  We do not want our easy living and wealth to be touched.  Because of evil hearts, men have allowed money and the power to purchase to become the object and judge of life.  Too often a man’s image, esteem, power, influence, and rights are determined by how much he has.

  • The Anointing was a Grasping of Opportunity.  (v. 10-11)

The disciples in word and thought censored Mary and condemned her act, but Christ defended her.  Mary’s anointing was a good work.  Jesus gave two reasons why her act was justified.

The anointing was a “good work” a work poured out upon Him personally; that is, it was a personal gift.  It was not a gift to an idea or program of His.  This fact, that it was done to Him personally, made the difference.

The opportunity for her to show her love would not always be there.  Christ would soon be gone and ascend to heaven.  He would not be there for her to show her love to Him directly.  The poor would always be there and Mary could minister to them but he would be gone

John 4:34 – Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.

John 9:4 – I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.

Ephesians 5:16 – redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Opportunities do pass.  In fact, they pass rapidly.  If we do not act and act immediately, we miss the chance forever.  The privilege of witnessing, of helping, of growing, of advancing, of improving, and discovering – on and on the opportunities arise and if we fail to act, the opportunities pass on never to return, and we lose the chance to ever reach out and help and  improve and change and grow.  The great tragedy to many lives are summed up in two simple words:  missed opportunity.   

What others think, even their condemnation and censorship, should never keep us from showing our love and faith in the Lord Jesus.  Our witness should always be strong for Christ, just as strong as Mary’s was: strong in grace and kindness, in courage and unashamedness.  Our works and gifts should first of all be given to Christ personally.  Our thoughts should be upon Him, concentrating and not wandering as we serve and give.  They should be performed and given as though   they were being laid at His feet.    

  • The Anointing Pointed Toward the Burial of Jesus, His Death.  (v. 12)

Christ stated here “She did it for my burial.”  He said that her love and faith and the anointing of His body pointed toward His death.  In simple terms, Mary’s love and faith, gift and anointing was a witness of anticipation.  She was witnessing to the Lord’s death by looking ahead to it.   Today we witness His death by looking back to His death, the fact that He did die for the sins of the world.

Romans 5:8 – But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

I Corinthians15:3-4 – For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.

I 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.

I 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 Anointing was an Eternal Memorial.  (v. 13)

Her devotion by the anointing was an eternal memorial.  Christ honored Mary because she had honored Him.  He will memorialize the faith and love of any believer who so sacrifices for Him – throughout all eternity. 

Ps. 112:6 – Surely he will never be shaken; the righteous will be in everlasting remembrance.

Prov. 10:7 – The memory of the righteous is blessed, but the name of the wicked will rot.

The Empty Tomb

Matthew 28:1-10, 16

Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.” So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word. And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, “Rejoice!” So they came and held Him by the feet and worshiped Him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.”

There are many great mountaintop experiences recorded in the Word of God: 

  • On Mount Horeb, God spoke to Moses from the burning bush.
  • On Mount Sinai, God wrote the Ten Commandments on tablets of stone.
  • On Mount Hor, Aaron transferred his priestly robes to his son Eleazar.
  • From Mount Nebo, Moses looked over into the Promised Land.
  • On Mount Carmel, Elijah called down fire from heaven and the prophets of Baal were consumed.
  • On Mount Moriah, Solomon built the Temple.
  • On the Mount of Transfiguration, Peter, James and John saw Jesus in His radiant glory.
  • From the Mount of Olives, Jesus would ascend into heaven.

But the greatest of all of these is Mount Calvary, where Christ was lifted up and died for our sins.

  • On Mount Calvary, Jesus of Nazareth was lifted up and bled for me and gave His life for me.  
  • On Mount Calvary, Jesus, who walked the dusty roads of Judea, who could have called 10,000 angels chose rather to suffer and die. 
  • On Mount Calvary, God let this sinless, spotless lamb of glory, the Messiah thirst to quench the spiritual thirst of all mankind.  
  • On Mount Calvary, God, who clothes the lilies of the fields, let His son hang naked and in shame for all to see and mock in derision and shame. 
  • On Mount Calvary, this precious little child who lay so innocently in a cradle in an animal’s stall in Bethlehem, now hung helpless and dying on a criminal’s cross in view of friend and foe alike. 
  • On Mount Calvary, earth has no darker sin, history no blacker page, humanity no fouler spot than the crucifixion of Jesus.

The old Hymn states, “He did it all for me, He did it all for me.  When the Savior cried, bowed His head and died.  Oh praise the Lord, He did it all for me.”

The cross is the central revelation of Scripture and the central point of history.  The heart of Christianity is the Bible, and the heart of the Bible is the Cross, and the heart of the Cross is the heart of God.  There we see man at his worst but God at His best. 

The Gospel of Matthew as well as other Gospel writers presents the reality of Jesus’ death as an absolute certainty.  Those standing around the cross watched as Jesus “breathed his last.”   

John 19:30 – He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.

They heard Him cry with a loud voice

Mark 15:37 – And Jesus cried out with a loud voice, and breathed His last.

Roman authorities, acting on instructions from Pilate, broke the legs of the two men crucified with Jesus to hasten their death; but coming to Jesus, they discovered He had already died. 

John 19:33 – But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs.

Having received confirmation of death from the Roman centurion, Pilate released the body of Jesus to Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus for burial.

The callous Roman soldiers said, “He is dead.”  They didn’t care—they had gambled for His clothes while He hung suffering.

The curious crowds, stupidly unconscious of the eternal significance, said “He is dead.”  They had seen the blood they had wanted to see.

Pilate got the word, “Jesus is dead.”

The head-wagging mob said, “He is dead.”  They were probably sorry that He could not hear their taunts and jeers anymore.

Mary, feeling the pain like a dagger in her heart, said, “My son is dead.”

His disciples, numb and stunned with the events of the past few hours said, “The Master is dead.”

Everybody had written Jesus off as gone forever.  Dead.  Dead.  Dead.

Get on with the same old routine.  We have had our excitement for the day.  He’s dead.  No one expected to see Him or hear His voice again. 

It’s Friday….but Sunday’s coming.

In the early years of the first century, the practice of burying multiple bodies in a common tomb or grave gave way to placing a body in a hewn-out crypt or shelf chiseled into a wall.  Jewish tradition required bodies to be buried on the day of death to avoid defiling the land God had given to them.  In light of the swiftly approaching Passover Sabbath, Joseph and Nicodemus quickly removed the body of Jesus from the cross and wrapped it in a linen burial shroud lined with aromatic spices.  A napkin was placed over His face, the body was placed in Joseph’s new tomb, and a large circular stone was placed at the mouth of the tomb, secured with a Roman seal.  Nothing could get in and nothing could get out.  Or so they thought.  Umm, could they have been mistaken? 

Echoing in the ears of the chief priests and Pharisees, however, was Jesus’ outlandish claim:  “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up”.  This and other sayings of Jesus prompted the religion leaders to request sentinels to be stationed at the tomb to deter His followers from stealing the body of Jesus and asserting that His prophesy had come true.  The guards were placed at the tomb, and the grave was believed secure.

On the first day of the week, the early morning darkness was shattered by an earthquake.  An angel of the Lord descended, rolled away the stone, and sat upon it.  His dazzling brilliance struck fear in the hearts of the guards, so much so that they “became like dead men” and later fled.  Bribed by the chief priests, they later claimed the body of Jesus was stolen. 

In those predawn hours, women came to the tomb with the intention of applying additional spices to the body of Jesus.  Oblivious to the fallen guards, they discovered the stone had been rolled away from the tomb.  As they stood astonished and frightened, they received a vision of angels and heard the glad news:

Matthew 28:6 – He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said.  Come, see the place where He was lying. 

Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene, to Peter, to two disciples on the road to Emmaus, to the Eleven, to Thomas, to James, and according to the apostle Paul in I Corinthians 15:6, to “more than five hundred at one time”.  He showed Himself to be alive over a period of 40 days and spoke of things concerning the kingdom of God.  So convinced were they of His resurrection that the disciples were willing to suffer shame for His name and even give their lives in martyrdom for that truth. Only a living Christ could account for such personal transformation. 

Alternative theories have been suggested to account for the empty tomb.  Some have suggested that Jesus only fainted on the cross and the cool tomb revived Him.  But could a wounded victim be able to push a heavy stone away and elude the guards?

Others have said that Christ’s enemies stole His body, but would not they have produced the body to refute the disciples’ preaching on the Resurrection?  Still others claim that the disciples stole His body.  How would these men who on Friday were cowards and ran and hid suddenly get the courage to face a squad of Roman soldiers?  How would these fisherman have the training or the weapons to take on the best qualified military unit in the world?  If they would not defend Him when He was alive and there might be hope of saving him, why would they now be willing to die for a dead body?  Had He not risen, why and how would they have been so bold and forceful in proclaiming His resurrection?  How do you explain the power they suddenly had in face of such opposition when they had been so cowardly before?  Would these men have given their lives for a story they knew was a lie?

In the words of Erwin Lutzer, Moody Bible Institute, “Kingdoms come and kingdoms go, but Christ lives; centuries come and centuries go, but Christ lives; Kings are crowned and kings are uncrowned, but Christ lives.  Emperors decree Christ’s extinction, but Christ lives; skeptics mock and skeptics die, but Christ lives.” 

Edward Gibbon, in the “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”, stated that during the decline of the Roman Empire, all religions were regarded by the people as equally true, by the philosophers as equally false, and by the politicians as equally useful.  Sound familiar?

Ours is an age of religious pluralism, easy believe-ism, and idolatry.  Secular humanism has taught us to believe that morality is relative and ethics are situational.  The god we are looking for lies within.  Truth has been relegated to technology and beauty has been subjected to the eye of the beholder.  Feelings have come to be synonymous with being.  We have been schooled through academia and pop culture to believe there are no absolutes. “After all” we hear, “all roads lead to god. We are going to the same place, just taking different routes to get us there.”

At the heart of every major religion is a major belief system.  Buddhists are committed to the eight-fold plan of right living and hopeful for Nirvana, which is the elimination of all desire.  Hindus seek freedom from Karma through good works and selfless actions.  Shintos strive for salvation that basically is defined as a healthy, robust life in here and now. Followers of Islam seek acceptance by doing the will of Allah as practiced in “the five pillars” of their belief.

But when you study others religions there comes a distinction between the founder and the teaching.  Mohammed to the Koran.  Buddha to the Noble Path.  Krishna to his philosophizing.  Zoroaster, to his ethics.

Whatever we may make of their claims, one reality is inescapable.  They are teachers who point to their teaching or show some particular way.  In all of these, there emerges an instruction, a way of living.  It is not Zoroaster to whom you turn.  It is Zoroaster to whom you listen.  It is not Buddha who delivers you; it is his Noble Truths that instruct you.  It is not Mohammed who transforms you; it is the beauty of the Koran that woos you.

By contrast, Jesus did not teach or expound His message.  He was identical with His message.  “In Him,” say the Scriptures, dwelt the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”  He did not just proclaim the truth.  He said, “I am the truth.”  He did not just show a way.  He said, “I am the Way.”  He did not just open up doors for us.  He said, “I am the door.”  “I am the Good Shepherd.”  “I am the resurrection and the life.”  I am the I AM!”

In Him is not just an offer of life’s bread.  He is the bread.  Christianity is not a way of feeling or a set of moral practices.  It is a relationship with a risen Christ!

What separates Christianity from all other religions of the world is an empty tomb and the words of a living Christ who says, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades”.  Rev 1:17-18

On the third day, Jesus rose from the dead.  He lives!  Triumphant, He reigns.  He reigns within my heart.  Because He lives I live also.  Triumphant am I.  But He lives to be lifted up still.  This is the task of all we who are saved through the cross.  We must, we must continue to lift Him up.  He said, “If I be lifted up I would draw all men unto Me.”

An article about the conversion of a Buddhist in Africa who became a Christian reads like this.  When asked why he had changed religions.  “It’s like this: if you were walking along and came to a fork in the road and two men were there, one was dead and the other was alive, which man’s direction would you follow?”

Christ is risen!  Christ is risen!  Christ is risen!  Christ is risen! Christ is risen!

The Faithful and the Unfaithful Servant

Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.  Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Watch

Watch – “gregoreo” – to keep awake; to stay alert; to be watchful and sleepless; to be vigilant.  It also includes the idea of being motivated, of keeping one’s mind and attention upon something.  It has the idea of being alert at the right time.  It is at night that a person really needs to stay awake and watch for the thief.

Jesus said He would come again

John 14:1-3 – “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.

The Apostle Paul also wrote about the return of the Lord.

1 Thess. 4:13-18 – But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.  For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

1 Cor. 15:51-52 – Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

The Apostle Peter wrote about the return of the Lord

2 Peter 3:10 – But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night.

Ever since the church began, people have tried to make predictions about when the Lord will return. Jesus was very clear that “no one” will know the exact hour.

Mark 13:32 – But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

What Should We Do?

First, stop speculating. Instead of trying to figure out when He will return, let us make sure we are doing all we can to share the good news of the gospel and working to further his kingdom here on earth.

Luke 12:39 – But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.

1 Thessalonians 5:2, 4 – For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.  But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief…

Jesus Gave a Parable to Tell Us What We Should Do

A Professing Believer

  • He has a house
  • He has possessions enough to attract a thief
  • He was not watchful – awake, alert, his mind on the things of God
  • He apparently knew the thief were come – just not when
  • He failed to stay awake – to keep his mind alert, to stay focused on the signs around him – to keep up his guard – long enough.
  • He suffered disaster.

2 Peter 2:10-14- “….Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved (our homes, our businesses, our cars, our collections), what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness….be diligent (“spoudazo” – exert oneself, make every effort, be zealous, strain every nerve.  Spoudazo combines thinking and acting.  It cover seeing a need and following through to do something about it.) to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless.”

A Faithful and Wise Believer

  • He has responsibility

Matthew 28:18-20 – 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, 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 15:8 – By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

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

  • He has accountability

1 Corinthians 4:2 – Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.

1 Peter 4:10 – As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

Romans 12:1-8 – I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.  For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

  • He has a great reward

Matthew 25:21 – His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’

1 Corinthians 15:58 – Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

Revelation 3:21 – To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.

An Unfaithful and Foolish Unbeliever

  • He has a wrong attitude in his heart
  • He does not believe the Lord will return

2 Peter 3:1-9 – Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water,by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the Day of Judgment and perdition of ungodly men.  But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

  • He thinks the Lord will not return soon – he has plenty of time

2 Corinthians 6:1-2 – We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For He says:  “In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.”  Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

Heb. 3:7-13 – Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says:  “Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, and saw My works forty years.  Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart,
and they have not known My ways.’ So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’ ”  Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

Hebrews 3:16-19 – For who, having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

  • He simply ignores the Lord’s return.
  • He has a wrong behavior pattern.
  • He acts unjustly – mistreating others.
  • He lives for himself – eating and drinking – enjoying the pleasures of this life to the exclusion of his Master’s work.
  • He has a certain judgment coming.

Hebrews 9:27 – and as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.

Revelation 20:11-15 – Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the

Note:  the evil servant was still called a servant of the Master.  Worse of all is the one who professes and yet remains in a life of habitual, willful sin.  This person does several things:

  • Deceives himself and others. 
  • Minimizes the truth of eternity, of heaven, of hell and the judgment awaiting all of us.
  • Hinders others from coming to the truth.

Which servant are you? Are you watching, staying alert? Are you busy doing what God has called you to do?

Signs of the End of the Age

Matthew 24:3-14

Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”  And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.  “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.

Signs of the End of the Age

Sign #1 – False Messiahs (v.5) – Men seek utopia, inward peace and outward security.  Unfortunately, too many churches and believers do not demonstrate enough trust in Christ to show that peace and security are found in Him alone.  Therefore, they turn to other messiahs.

Sign #2 – World Violence (v.6) – The believer’s hope is not in this world; neither is his real citizenship.  His hope and his life are in God and in heaven.   Therefore, we are not to fear men and world events.  Men and world events can only take our lives, not our souls.  Our lives are in God’s hands, even to the end of the world.

Phil 3:20-21 – But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.- who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.

Sign #3 – Natural Disasters (v.7) –

Indicates there is to be unbearable pain and terrible famine and the accompanying evil that comes with famine and hunger. This is graphically described in Scripture.

Sign #4 – Severe Religious Persecution (v.9) – Affliction and Killing will take place.  A few examples of some of the ordeals the early Christians went through are as follows:

Acts 4:1-3 – Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening.

Acts 7:57-60 – Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Acts 12:2-4 – Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread. So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover.

Acts 13:50 – But the Jews stirred up the devout and prominent women and the chief men of the city, raised up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their region.

Acts 14:19 – Then Jews from Antioch and Iconium came there; and having persuaded the multitudes, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead.

2 Corinthians 11:23-25 – Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep;

End-time suffering will be multiplied many times over. 

Matthew 24:21-22 – For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.

Sign #5 – Terrible Apostasy – Betrayal & Division (v.10) –

2 Timothy 3:1-5 – But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:  For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.  And from such people turn away! 

Sign #6 – The Rising of Many False Leaders – Offering False Hope (v.11)

1 John 4:1 – Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Sign #7 – A Great Falling Away – Sin Increasing, & Love of God Growing Cold  (v.12)

Revelation 3:15-16 – I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot.  I could wish you were cold or hot.  So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth.

Sign #8 – Some Enduring and Being Saved (v.13)

Romans 8:31 – What then shall we say to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us? 

Romans 8:35, 37-39 – Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulations, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.  For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the  love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

Sign #9 – World Evangelism (v.14) – Christ says five very distinct things at this point. 

  1. His gospel is of the Kingdom of God…a spiritual and eternal kingdom that will never pass away.
  2. His gospel is unstoppable.  “This gospel shall be preached.”
  3. His gospel shall be triumphant. 
  4. His gospel is a witness:  “this gospel…shall be     preached…for a witness unto all nations.”  It will proclaim the truth and bear record either for or against man.
  5. The end will finally come when, and only come when the gospel has been preached throughout the whole world.
  • Some very Important Information that is Often Overlooked              
  1. “Take heed that no one deceives you.”  (vs. 4)
  2. The beginning signs (#1, #2, #3)
  3. “All these are the beginning of sorrows.” (v.8)
  4. The succeeding signs (#4, #5, #6, and #7) are personal threats and sorrows.   Note the word “then” in verse 9.  After the beginning of sorrows (#1, #2, #3) then the threats & sorrows of the end of the age will begin.  Meaning simply that the noticeable increase in persecution of the followers of Jesus Christ will be the first of many additional sorrows that will take place on the earth.
  5. The promising signs (#8 and #9) are the result of faithfulness of those who serve God.  The word “but” in verse thirteen points toward two signs that offer all the promise and hope a believer could ever desire.  In fact, his salvation and witness are what he lives for.  And the fulfillment of both is promised in the last days.

Luke 21:12 – “But before all these they shall…persecute you…”   

Note the words of Jesus: “I say to you” in verse two.  What Christ said happens.  Therefore all these signs are bound to take place.  But note one critical point.  The signs happen not because God has determines that they will take place but they happen because of the continual unrepentant sin of mankind.

  • Warnings to All
  1. Emphasis upon being deceived:
  2. “Take heed that no man deceive you” (v.5)
  3. “Many shall deceive you” (v.5)
  4. “False prophets…shall deceive many” (v.11)

 Christ gives these signs for a very specific purpose.  He is trying to encourage his followers to “endure to the end” and to “keep hope for His return alive”. 

Ten Rules on How to be a Good Pharisee (Or, Not the Way to Live Your Life)

Matthew 23:

  • Require of others more than you require of yourself or more than God requires

1-4 – Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.

  • Desire to be the center of attraction

5-12 – But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’ But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren.  Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

  • Limit God

13 – But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.

  • Good pretender/Put on a good show

14 – Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation.

  • Want to be the leader/People to follow/You teach them so well they are bigger fanatics than you are

15 – Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.

  • Good debater – even the smallest detail/always learning more and more about everything until you know less and less about nothing.

16-22 – Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it.’ Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold? And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gift that is on it, he is obliged to perform it.’ Fools and blind! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift? Therefore he who swears by the altar, swears by it and by all things on it. He who swears by the temple, swears by it and by Him who dwells in it. And he who swears by heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits on it.

  • Major in the minors (strain at a gnat and swallow a camel)

23-24 – Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!

  • Look religious but corrupt on the inside

25-26 – Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.

  • People pleaser

27-28 – Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

  • Blind to what you really are

29-33 – Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’  “Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell?

  • Four things will follow if you practice the above ideology:
  1. Put down those in authority – always critical
  2. Stubborn – refuse to yield
  3. Never see the reality of Jesus
  4. Jesus will not dwell in your life
  • The Solution:

John 15:4-8 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.  “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples

The Greatest Commandments

Matthew 22:34-40

But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”  Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

What is a Commandment?

Webster’s Dictionary gives the following meaning:  A rule or an order that is directed, declared, ordered into effect by one in authority who has the power to enforce said rule or order. 

The greatest commandments in our understanding as a follower of Biblical Judeo-Christian ethics, beliefs and/or doctrine are, of course, the Ten Commandments.

The Ten Commandments, also referred to in theological terms as the Decalogue.  Decalogue is two Greek words “deka” + “logos” meaning, simply “ten words”.

The Ten Commandments are laws given by God to Moses on Mt. Sinai during the time that Israel was journeying from Egypt to the Promised Land.  They can be found in Deuteronomy 5 and 11.    The first four commandments deal with our relationship to God and the fifth through tenth deal with our relationship with man.

The Ten Commandments are not:

  • The Ten Suggestions
  • To be ignored
  • To be taken lightly.

The Commandments.

Over several hundred years from the time that the Ten Commandments had been given, the Jewish teachers had added over six hundred commandments to the original ten.  No person could keep them all, so the question was often asked and discussed:  Which commandment or commandments must be absolutely obeyed?  Which ones are important and which ones are not?  Can the failure to obey some be condoned or not?  If a person keeps the greatest of the precepts, can he be excused for his failure to keep others?   Matthew 19:16-22, the story of the rich young ruler is a perfect example of the confusion over what does one do to attain eternal life. 

The Commandments cannot be kept as a set of rules.  The emphasis is not on the keeping of the rules but in loving and serving Christ.  Jesus narrowed the Ten Commandments down to only two.  The first (verse 37) dealt with and summed up in one statement the first four of the Ten, our relationship to God.  The second (verse 39) dealt with and summed up in one statement Commandments five through ten, and dealt with our relationship with our fellow man. If we keep the two that Jesus gave here, we will keep all the commandments.

Our Relationship to God

Matthew 6:33 – Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you.

Matthew 13:44-46 – The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought

Colossians 3:17 – And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him

Matthew 6:19-21 – Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

2 Corinthians 10:5 – casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,

Our focus in life will be on something:  self, possessions, the world, the flesh, power, fame or on a person.  God demands our attention be focused on Him. 

Our Relationship with Others

If our love with God is firm, we will love others who God loves.

John 13:34-35 – A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

I John 4:19-21 – We love Him because He first loved us. If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.

Romans 13:10 – Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Our greatest guideline for loving our neighbor is found in I Corinthians 13. 

If we keep our heart and mind in love with God and in love with others (which follows as we love God) we do not have to worry about what commandment, what list of rules we must follow. Love will guide us in all we say and do.

Liar, Lunatic, Lord – Which is It?

Matthew 21:1-11

Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples,saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.”  All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying:  “Tell the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your King is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”  So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying:  “Hosanna to the Son of David! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’  Hosanna in the highest!”  And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?”  So the multitudes said, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.”

Jesus Deliberately Fulfilled Prophecy

  • Special Mission – secure a donkey and her colt
  • Special Point – deliberate fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9
  • A warning to Jerusalem – The King comes – He comes meekly – He comes upon a colt

Jesus Deliberately Received Worship from His Disciples

  • They obeyed his instructions without question
  • They used their own clothes for a saddle

Jesus Deliberately Received Worship from the People

  • They received Him as King
  • They received Him as Messiah
  • Son of David
  • Lord
  • The Highest

Jesus Deliberately Aroused Questions About Himself

  • Question:  Who is this?
  • Answer:  Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee

Jesus Deliberately Demands Our Acceptance or Rejection

  • Liar
  • Lunatic
  • Lord

Lord, Liar or Lunatic

Jesus claimed to be the Messiah.  He called men to forsake all they had and followed Him.  He claimed that if they would do so, He would grant them eternal life.  We have two alternatives here:

  • His claims are false – or
  • His claims are true

If His claims are false –

  • He knew these claims were false = LIAR
  • He did not know these claims were false = LUNATIC

If His claims are true = LORD

“I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.”  That is the one thing we must not say.  A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher.  He would either be a lunatic–on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg–or else he would be the Devil of Hell.  You must make your choice.  Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse.  You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God.  But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher.  He has not left that open to us.  He did not intend to.

C. S. Lewis from his book, Mere Christianity

Greatness in Serving

Matthew 20:20-28

Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Him with her sons, kneeling down and asking something from Him.  And He said to her, “What do you wish?”  She said to Him, “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.”  But Jesus answered and said, “You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”  They said to Him, “We are able.”  So He said to them, “You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared by My Father.”  And when the ten heard it, they were greatly displeased with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Greatness Defined

  • Greatness is not being someone in a high position such as Chairman of the Board, President, Ambassador, the boss, etc.
  • Greatness is not one who has money, property, jewelry, education, position, or possessions of any kind.
  • Greatness is not being born to the position of greatness.  You do not inherit greatness. 
  • Greatness is not bestowed upon you by anyone or any act of your own doing except obedience to God’s Word, a Godly heart, and a humble and contrite spirit, and a yielded God-given peaceful attitude and disposition. 

Luke 9:23-25 – Then 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?”

Luke 14:26-27 – If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. 27 And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.

Galatians 5:24 – And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Philippians 3:8 – Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ.

  • Greatness is of God.  There is no greatness other than that of God.

John 12:26 – If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.

I Corinthians 6:20 – For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.

I Corinthians 7:22 – For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ’s slave.

  • Greatness conceived by men is superficial; it fades away.  Remember the old proverb or poem that someone wrote:  “Only one life, it will soon be past.  Only what’s done for Christ will last.”  This little poem on a wooden plaque had been my mother’s. I passed it along to Will, my son and her grandson.  It was the only thing that survived in the kitchen of his home when it burned.  Is that a coincidence or accident, or was God trying to say something?
  • Greatness is not dominion over people.  Note:  the disciples in this passage still thought the Messiah’s kingdom would be restored and it would be as an earthly nation and power.  The ten other disciples were indignant because they desired the highest positions themselves. They would have been worried, not angered, by such evil and selfish behavior if they had not had the same feelings.  Sound like anybody you know?  Maybe you at some point in your life…you were the one who deserved the promotion, etc.
  • The external view of the way we look at things:  our measuring stick is usually about power, fame, recognition, influence, authority, dominion, and/or position.
  • The internal view of the way we look at things is measured by wealth, buildings, vehicles, machines, and the ability to work and achieve goals.  The world seeks after these things.

I John 2: 15 – Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.

Matthew 6:33 – Seek ye first the kingdom of God.

Colossians 3:1 – Seek those things which are above. 

  • Greatness is serving others.  The great are those who minister to others. 

Matthew 10:42 – And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.

Matthew 20:27 – And whoever desires to be great among you, let him be your servant. 

Hebrews 12:28 – Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.

Prov. 22:4 – By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life.

Ephesians 6:7 – with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men,

What price – greatness?

Jesus pulls no punches.  If we desire greatness, there is a price to pay.  A tremendous price.  If we wish to have the crown He gives, there is a bitter cup to be drunk and a baptism in which to be immersed. 

The cup of suffering refers more to what a person takes into himself and bears within himself.  It is more internal suffering and agony.  The cup means drinking the bitterness and agony of trials, pain, hurt, sorrow, heartbreak, suffering, disappointment, and tears.  Christ did this in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Matthew 26:36-46 -Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.”  He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”  Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”  Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy.  So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. Then He came to His disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.”

The baptism refers more to what is put upon a person from the outside.  It is more external sufferings.  The baptism of suffering means being immersed in the rapids of affliction, rejection, abuse, ridicule, opposition, persecution, and martyrdom.  Jesus did this in the judgement hall, at the whipping post, in the denial of his disciples and the angry mob, and especially on the cross.

That is the reason Christ and the apostles met with so much opposition so often.  They gave all they were and had and lived so differently.  They lived for God instead of living for self and the world.  The world could not understand them.  Some ignored them.  Others ridiculed them, abused them, persecuted them, and even killed them. 

Micah 6:8 – He has showed you O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.