Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Jesus – Humble God

Christ Born of Mary

Matthew 1   (Humble mom)
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.

[His mother humbled by the embarrassment of being an unwed mother.]

21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins."
22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23
the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,"[d] which is translated, "God with us."

[Isaiah 7:14 is quoted here. I read something where a man claimed Jesus was not the messiah because his name was Jesus not Immanuel. Well I looked at the Hebrew text to understand what it was saying "Call his name" spoke of making something known or calling attention to it. "Immanuel" actually had two words Immanuel and El, meaning "God, God with us". So the virgin Mary giving birth was to be a sign to make known to us that Jesus was "God with us". Clearly God was humbled to take on the form of a man. John said it like this:

John 1 (Humble form)

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

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.

So John clearly proclaims Jesus is the eternal God of creation, becoming a man, for the purpose of dwelling with us. So Jesus was Immanuel "God with us". But there is more to His name as we have discussed before. The English name Jesus, or the Greek word Iesous is the same as the Hebrew name Yeshua or Yehoshua. Yeshua Contracts the tetra gram for God's name YHWH with the word for salvation, to make a name meaning the Lord's Salvation. YHWH is the transliteration of the 4 Hebrew letters, some pronounce it Yaweh. The English transliteration is JHVH which some pronounce Jehovah. But the Rabbis' considered God's name to be so Holy that they would not even say it, they would substitute the word Addoni meaning Lord. So YHWH is in the Hebrew text about 6,800 times but The King James Bible only translates that as Jehovah 7 times, most of the time it just says Lord

So Jesus, took on the humble form of a man to become, the Lord's salvation.]

Luke 2 (Humble guests in a humble location)

8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And behold,[b] an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger."
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
       14 " Glory to God in the highest,
      And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!"[c]
[Shepherds were not very well regarded in social settings, because they lived out in the fields with the flock. Sheep are not the smartest animals so they have to be protected from predators. They also graze differently than cattle in that they will stay in the same spot eating everything down to the bare earth if you let them so the shepherds have to move the sheep every day otherwise they destroy the vegetation by overgrazing. When Joseph invited his family to live in Egypt he warned them not to tell Pharaoh that they were shepherds, because Egyptians did not like shepherds. When Samuel came to the house of Jesse to anoint the next Kind of Israel, Jesse brought in all his sons except David in because he was the shepherd. So shepherds were the humblest of workers, not much to look at or smell, but they were invited by the angels of heaven to come see the Christ child.]

15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, "Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us." 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely[d] known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

[The shepherds didn't seem to mind that the savior was to be found in an animal crib. It also seems humble guests make great witnesses. They didn't care if people thought they were crazy, they told everyone they met what happened that night.]

Skip down to Luke 2 verse 22.

Jesus Presented in the Temple (Humble offering)

22 Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the LORD"),[f]
24 and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, "A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons."[g]

[In the Law a woman bearing a son was unclean to worship for 40 days. Then she was to bring a sacrifice to the temple according Leviticus 12.

Leviticus 12

6 'When the days of her purification are fulfilled, whether for a son or a daughter, she shall bring to the priest a lamb of the first year as a burnt offering, and a young pigeon or a turtledove as a sin offering, to the door of the tabernacle of meeting. 7 Then he shall offer it before the LORD, and make atonement for her. And she shall be clean from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who has borne a male or a female.
8 'And if she is not able to bring a lamb, then she may bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons—one as a burnt offering and the other as a sin offering.

[When Mary and Joseph went to the temple after 40 days they did not bring a lamb as a burnt offering and a dove or pigeon as a sin offering. They brought two birds. This was the humble offering of a poor family. Verse 8 says "if she is not able to bring a lamb", then her offering could be two birds, one for a burnt offering and one for a sin offering. This is also evidence that the Magi were never in the nativity scene, as the gifts of gold, incense, and myrrh, could easily have provided enough money for a lamb. So the wise men found them back at home, as Matthew 2 records, and it was after this that Joseph was warned by an angel in a dream to flee to Egypt, because Herod was going to kill all the young male children born in Bethlehem, two years old and under, to prevent any new King from growing up. Some believe the gifts of the Magi provided the money they needed to live in Egypt for a year or two, until Herod the Great was dead, and they could return home.]

I know it's hard to see such a familiar story in a new way, but I just wanted to illustrate the humility of our Lord, in the Christmas story. Jesus was:

  • Born to a humble mother
  • Taking on the humble form of a man
  • Born is the most humble location (an animal crib)
  • Visited by humble shepherds
  • Presented with a humble offering

So much of religion tries to make man look majestic with clothing, alters, shrines and temples, that would be good enough for God. But in Jesus, the Lord's salvation, we see God becoming humble enough to redeem sinful man.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Bible Translation Principles

Let's talk about Bible translations. At the end of last week I had a question about the Bible version I had quoted For Revelation 22:13

13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last. –NKJV

13I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. – KJV

Usually unless I specifically tell you I'm quoting from another version, I am using the New King James. But sometimes the Bible Gateway web site I use to cut and paste the verses into my lesson, defaults to the NIV or New International Version which I usually notice right away and change. But last week I didn't notice, so what I quoted in the lesson read like this:

13I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. – NIV

So the two phrases "beginning and the end", "first and the last" were flipped. So I thought it would be a good idea to look at a few of the most common English language translations of the Bible, and understand how they are different, and why.


Old Testament

To translate the Bible you start with a manuscript or complete text, written in another language. For the Old Testament text or Hebrew Bible this is usually not too controversial. The Jewish scribes took great pride in preserving the Law and the Prophets. By the 6th century AD the scribes were succeeded by the Masoretes of which there were several groups. The group led by the family of ben Asher became the noted authorities on the Hebrew Bible and by the 12th century they published the only accepted version of the Hebrew Bible sometimes called the Masoretic text. There was another version used from the early 16th to the early 19th century called the ben Chayyium text, but most scholars have reverted to a ben Asher manuscript dated to around 1000 AD. What you have to remember is prior to 1450 AD all published texts were hand copied, so it's common in ancient writings to find single words, phrases or verses omitted and some spelling differences. In addition to the Hebrew Bible scholars also look at The Septuagint or Greek translation of the Old Testament, and the Vulgate or Latin translation of the Old Testament since these were used by the early Christian Churches.

New Testament

There is more manuscript support for the New Testament than for another other ancient literature. Over 5,000 Greek manuscripts, and 8,000 Latin manuscripts, have been found, all attest to the integrity of the New Testament. To think of all those hand copied scrolls and books and yet to find the relatively few differences between them all is amazing. There are basically 3 major published Greek texts used by Bible translators, they are in perfect agreement 85% of the time and the other 15% are usually single word or phrase omissions and spelling differences that are very easy to resolve. It is how you resolve these small differences where most of the intrigue can be found.

Received Text – or Textus Receptus this is the traditional text used by Greek-speaking churches and was first published in 1516. The received text was based on relatively few manuscripts, but the they were very representative manuscripts. So you can also think of the received text as the common text, very close to what most of the early churches might have used. The Received Text is the primary source for the King James and New King James Bibles. Some claim divine providence in preserving this text version.

Critical Text – Most modern English translations published since 1880 have relied on a small number of manuscripts discovered in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The primary manuscripts are known as Codex Vaticanus and Codex Siniaticus. Some prefer these because of the great age of the oldest known copies, but they sometimes differ from the common text, and from each other, usuallt by omission, so there are questions about the quality of these manuscripts. You will sometimes see this version called the Alexandrian Text or the NU-Text abbreviated from the name of it's two publishers.

Majority Text – The third and most contemporary school of thought on Greek manuscripts is that the best manuscript is found in a consensus of the majority existing Greek manuscripts. Since all the version agree 85% of the time this group lets the majority rule, in resolving the few differences. This is generally pretty easy since most of the differences are omissions, you can fill in the blanks using what you find in the most manuscripts. This is also referred to as the M-text.


After you know which text was used, you will want to know the translation methodology used by the version you use. Greek and Hebrew differ from English in grammar and word order, so word-for-word translation would not result in anything meaningful. All translators try to achieve equivalence in well formed English, using either Dynamic or Complete equivalence.

Complete Equivalence - attempts to preserve all the information in the bible text, while presenting it in good literary form. The King James and New King James translators sought complete equivalence.

Dynamic Equivalence – a more recent procedure in bible translation, tries to magnify the primary meaning of the scripture in the most readable form. This method will result in more paraphrasing and less literal translation, to achieve a translation with a clear meaning and an easy reading flow. Modern translations vary in the degree to which they paraphrase from the literal. The NIV uses a mild amount of paraphrasing, where The Message or The Living Bible are completely paraphrased Bible translations.

Other Agendas

Sometimes specific Bible translators have stated goals to change something that they didn't like about a prior translation. Usually if you read the introductory note in the front of your Bible these will be disclosed, but it's just something it would be good for you to be aware of.


Let's look at some of the common English Bible versions and see how they apply all these principles.

KJV – King James Version – auth. 1611 – revised 3 or 4 times

  • Received Text
  • Complete Equivalence
  • Archaic English corrected some catholic alterations in the Bishops Bible 1568

NKJV – New King James Version 1979-82 (2 revisions)

  • Received Text – differences in NU-text and M-Text footnoted for each verse
  • Complete Equivalence
  • Removes some of the most archaic English words from the KJV

NASB – New American Standard 1960-77 (8 revisions)

  • Critical Text – Alexandrian or NU-Text
  • Complete Equivalence except where readability was hindered (footnoted)
  • An update of ASV 1901, ERV 1881 both considered updates of KJV

NIV – New International Version 1973-84 (2 revisions)

  • Critical Text – Alexandrian or NU-Text (some early attempts at majority text)
  • Dynamic Equivalence – mild form usually only one or two words added for clarity
  • Not a revision of other versions though they maintained some of the traditions of earlier translations like translating the Hebrew YHWH as Lord

ESV – English Standard Version

  • Majority Text – NU and Received text considered
  • Complete Equivalence – with occasional modifications for clarity
  • An update of the RSV correcting some of the gender neutral pronouns


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Jesus – Coming Again

Revelation 22

Jesus Is Coming


 7"Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book."

[In our study last week we saw that the ascension of Christ was so that the Holy Spirit could be sent in his place, while Jesus continues his role as intercessor, and prepares a place for us. The passage in Acts 1 concludes with the apostles witnessing Jesus ascending then the two Angels appearing to give the promise of Christ' return.

10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven."

Here in the last chapter of Revelation Jesus reminds us to be ready for his return. Now some people have read "Behold I am coming soon" and wondered why we have not yet seen the return of Jesus. The Greek word translated soon is "tachu" which can mean soon, but also means suddenly. So if you have trouble with "soon" taking 2,000 years you can either maintain the perspective that man waited 4,000 years for Jesus to come the first time, or just remember that when he does come it will be suddenly.

1 Thessalonians 5

1 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.

So this waiting for Jesus' return is not to be a time of idleness for his followers. For we know his return will be sudden, unexpected, and without warning. So we should live anticipating the day of his return.]

Revelation 22

 8I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. 9But he said to me, "Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!"

[John had a pretty natural response to the supernatural appearance of God's messenger, he bowed down to worship. But the angel reminds him, not to worship the messenger, worship God.]

 10Then he told me, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near. 11Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy."

[Here we see clearly that when the Lord returns he will find people the way they live. There is no time to get your life in order, at the last moment, before God sees you. He knows the way you live, right now. To those who were thinking they might have a little time to get ready, this prophecy serves as a warning. "the time is near" means that opportunity change is sooner rather than later.]

 12"Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. 13I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

[Here again we see again that the return can be any time, and that when he returns the outcome is set. The reward or punishment is already determined. Jesus also identifies himself as the eternal-God, the I am, self existent creator of all that there is.

2 Corinthians 5

9 Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

Colossians 3

23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for[a] you serve the Lord Christ. 25 But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.

These two passages are just a small sample, of the teaching regarding judgment and reward. Jesus and the apostles visited this subject often in their teaching. The idea for us is that what we do here on earth matters to God. Like an eternal job evaluation, your performance will be reviewed by the God who knows everything.]

Revelation 22

 14"Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.

[Last week we looked at Revelation 7 and the redeemed of all nations seem in heaven. These are also identified by being clothed in white robes.

Revelation 7

13 Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, "Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?"
14 And I said to him, "Sir, you know." So he said to me, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Also notice here they have the right to the tree of life. Where have we seen the tree of life before? Back in the garden of Eden, in the midst of the garden, with the tree-of-the-knowledge-of-good-and-evil, also stood the tree-of-life.

Genesis 3

22 Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever"— 23 therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken.

So mankind who lost access to the tree-of-life before they chose to sin, regains that access when they die to sin, and live to Christ Jesus. This fulfills the promise of eternal life for those who trust in Jesus.]

Revelation 22
15Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

[Here he identifies those outside the eternal city, who will not inherit eternal life. These are all lifestyle sins that consume people and keep them from God. Those who worship demonic spirits through witchcraft and occultism are outside. Those who worship sensual pleasure are outside. Violent killers are outside. Idol worshipers are outside. Habitual liars, those who live by falsehood and untruth are outside. He calls them dogs, not like your pets, but the wild dogs outside the city gates that consumed anything that died. God does not ignore a lifestyle of sin.]

 16"I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you[a] this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star."

 17The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.

[The Holy Spirit convicts of sin, and calls men to repent. The Church is the witness to the world, inviting them to trust in Jesus. If the second coming makes anyone uneasy, here is the same invitation Jesus gave to the Samaritan woman at the well, you can receive the living water, from the risen Lord. Come to Jesus, who is coming again.]

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Ascension

Acts 1

 1 The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen,

[The "former account" referred to here is the gospel of Luke. Like the Gospel of Luke, Acts is written for Theophilus, who is generally believed to be a gentile of some rank within Roman society, also a believer. These two books together present a comprehensive study of the redemption of mankind. First through the incarnation to the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ, then through the Holy Spirit, working in the apostles, to establish the church.]


3 to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.

[Jesus appeared to his disciples over a 40 day span after his resurrection, and continued to teach them about the kingdom of God. It took all these appearances to convince his disciples that his resurrection was not just a dream. This assurance that the resurrection was real was essential to their ability to lead the church.]

The Holy Spirit Promised

4 And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, "which," He said, "you have heard from Me; 5 for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now."

[Remember Acts is just book 2 of Luke. So Jesus is reminding them of what he told them before.

Luke 24:
44 Then He said to them, "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me." 45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.

46 Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And you are witnesses of these things. 49 Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high."


So Jesus tells them, somebody needs to preach to all nations, and because you have witnessed all these things, you are elected. To empower them for this mission they were to wait for the baptism or washing of the Holy Spirit. Then they would be equipped to preach about Jesus and the Kingdom of God.]


6 Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?"

[So right in the middle of Jesus showing them how they would preach about the kingdom of God, they ask "What about Israel, aren't you going restore the kingdom here". So instead of them teaching all nations about God's kingdom, they were more interested in Jesus being King of Israel. Their focus was inward not outward. They were worried about the political future of Israel. Again this was the common misconception that Messiah would appear as a military ruler.


This represents one of the two bad attitudes that churches sometimes fall into, where believers try to hurry things along and establish God's kingdom here on earth, right now. We get wrapped up in politics, and who is in charge here. And forget that Jesus cared more about who was going to make it to God's kingdom, not how soon it would get here.


The other end of the spectrum, are those who completely ignore the earth. As long as they personally lead pious holy lives, and surround themselves with people who do the same, then the rest of the world can take care of themselves.


Both attitudes are wrong. We are to lead lives filled with worshiping God, while teaching the world to do the same. This is the way that God has chosen, to redeem mankind. Through the atonement of Christ, and the Spirit led preaching of his witnesses.]


7 And He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. 8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."

[Jesus has to tell them, not yet. There will be a reign of Christ on earth, but first there is work to be done. Jesus told them not to worry about when, God knows and will make it happen. He said, "you shall receive power" when the Holy Spirit comes, then you "shall be witnesses". Starting from Jerusalem, then spreading throughout Judea, to Samaria, all the way to the end of the earth.

Revelation 7:
9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, saying, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!"


People from all nations will be in God's kingdom. If you read the rest of the book of Acts you find the gospel spreads out from Jerusalem throughout the Roman Empire just like Jesus said it would.]

Jesus Ascends to Heaven (Acts 1)

9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven."

[Back in September we studied John 14-16 where Jesus was teaching on the Holy Spirit, and he foretold all that was going to happen to him.

John 16:
7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.

Here we have one of those theological mysteries. Why did Jesus have to leave, in order for his disciples to receive the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit? I have thought about this and I have a few ideas, but I haven't found the Biblical answer, so I really don't want to speculate a lot on the subject. But I do know what Jesus has been doing since the ascension.

John 14:2 says "I go to prepare a place for you". So we know at least part of the time since Jesus ascension has been dedicated to preparing a place in the heavenly kingdom for those who trust in Christ.

Romans 8:27 and Hebrews 7:25 both say Jesus lives to make intercession for us. The meaning of that word refers to making a plea or a deal on your behalf, like an attorney or an agent. Speaking for you, working for you.

We talked about Jesus role as our advocate, as part of the resurrection lesson:

Acts 17:
31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead."

Since our advocate and intercessor is also the judge, I think we have the best deal possible.

Finally as Christ ascended two angels appears and gave them this promise: "This same Jesus who was taken up from you into heaven", will come again the same way you saw in leave. Jesus coming in the clouds is the hope of every believer.]

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Great Commission

Matthew 28 (also Mark 16 and Luke 24)

16 Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.
[How do you doubt after seeing the Lord resurrected? I think for many of the disciples the death and resurrection of Christ followed by brief his appearances, must have seemed like a dream. For 3 years they knew who Jesus was to them. He was a teacher, and a miracle worker, and their constant companion and mentor. But now his constant presence was seemingly taken away from them, and the resurrection and re-appearance of Jesus was difficult to understand. So some of the disciples doubted their own understanding of Jesus. Who was he really, and what did all of this mean? ]


Luke 24
44 Then He said to them, "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me." 45
And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.
46 Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

[Just like with John the Baptist, Jesus deals with doubt by revealing to them how he was fulfilling scripture (Matthew 11). As John the Baptist' disciples saw and heard, the things they witnessed Jesus doing, was foretold in the Law of Moses, the Old Testament Prophets, and the Psalms. Jesus gave them an important context of scripture, by which they could understand what they had experienced. So he "opened their understanding". The light bulb came on, and they began to see Jesus as the fulfillment of all that God had promised to the nation of Israel.


Along with their new understanding he restates their purpose. They were to preach "repentance and remission of sins", in Jesus name. And this preaching was to be to "all nations, beginning at Jerusalem".


All the way back in Genesis 18 God promised Abraham that all the nations of the earth were going to be blessed in him, and this promise was repeated 6 other times throughout the Old and New Testaments. If the grace of God was only available to the Jews, then God's promise would not be fulfilled in Jesus. So the preaching was to begin in Jerusalem and spread to all nations. This also matches the words of the Angel proclaiming the birth of Jesus in Luke 2 "I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people". It wasn't yet good tidings to "all people", until the preaching of Jesus began to reach "all people".]

Matthew 28

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 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, 20 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.

[Verse 19 I think is one of the more misunderstood passages in the Bible. How many of you have been in a missions conference where this verse is featured with an emphasis on the word "Go"? The odd thing is that in the original language, the word translated "Go" is not even a verb, It is a participle that means "going". The verb is "make" as in "make disciples", so some translate this "as you are going, make disciples", or the way I like to see it "Everywhere you go, make disciples of all nations". I like to read it this way because some see "Go" and immediately turn off their brains with the thought that "I'm not a missionary, I've never left home, so this is not for me." But when we read this as "everywhere you go", then we understand the command is to make disciples, at home, at work, at school, at the store, wherever you are. Once you understand this, you will see that the Great Commission is not just for missionaries, but for all those who trust in, and follow Christ.

Now removing Go as a verb does not diminish the idea of world missions. Logic tells you that if you want to preach to "all people", you need to go where "all people" are. And this is what Jesus told his disciples in Acts 1 when he promised them the Holy Spirit "you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth". Just like in Luke 24:37 they start with Jerusalem and extend out to "all nations". But look at the "alls" in the Great Commission:

  • All Authority – given to Jesus
  • All nations – make disciples
  • All things – teach and observe
  • Always – Jesus is with us]

How appropriate that Jesus promise to be "with us always" mirrors the promise of his birth. Matthew 1: 23
the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us."

Mark 16

15 And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16
He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

[This is Mark's account of the same instructions. This should remind us of our motivation. All who do not believe will be condemned. Some translations will say damned, both are correct and should make the meaning here very clear. The only way to save someone, is to make them a disciple of Jesus. Making a disciple includes, preaching the Gospel, Baptizing those who trust Christ, and teaching what Jesus taught. This process of mentoring new believers like Jesus mentored his disciples is often overlooked, but very important. The process should look something like this:

  • I do; you watch.
  • I do, you help.
  • You do; I help.
  • You do; I watch.

Using this formula we can teach believers to repent and confess our sins, pray for all our needs, study God's word, love those around us, worship and praise God together, live lives that honor God, give to the church, and witness where God gives us the opportunity. Disciples learn all these things from people who do them religiously. So we fulfill the Great Commission.]

Monday, November 9, 2009

Jesus Restores Peter

John 21

[After Jesus' resurrection he began to appear at different times revealing himself as the risen Lord to his followers. First he appeared to Mary Magdalene (John 20:11), then again with the other women (Matt. 28:9). Mark 16 and Luke 24 record his appearance to two 'disciples' who were not among the 12 Apostles but were close enough to tell the others (Luke 24:33). There is also an unrecorded appearance to Peter that is mentioned indirectly in Luke 24:34, and 1 Cor. 15:5. After that, Jesus began to appear to his 11 remaining disciples, first to everyone but Thomas in John 20:19

21 So Jesus said to them again, "Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you." 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.

This passage is generally called the commissioning of the Apostles.

Then he appeared to all eleven in John 20:26. In John 20:29 Jesus speaking to Thomas says "Because you have seen me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed." 30 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

John 21 opens with what is called the "Breakfast by the sea". Peter and some of the disciples were fishing and Jesus appears and asks "Children, have you any food?" The say they have caught nothing so Jesus tells them to cast the net again, and it comes up full. When Peter realizes it is the Lord he put on his outer garment and jumps into the water, to get to shore ahead of the boat that was just 100 yards away. They arrive to find Jesus has a fire going with fish and bread cooked. Jesus then feeds them the food he has prepared. The story ends with:

14 This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead.

By this time Jesus had appeared at least 6 times, so it seems John was referring to Jesus appearing to the main group of his original 12 disciples. Remember Jesus usually had other followers or disciples with him but he had specifically chosen the 12.

Luke 6:
13 And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles: 14 Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; 15 Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot; 16 Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor.

Since Jesus had already appeared to, and commissioned his remaining disciples, why had Peter lead them back to their prior work as fishermen? It would seem Peter had some doubts about his future as a preacher.

story that we did not really cover in detail. It is generally called "the denial of Peter".

Matthew 26:
31 Then Jesus said to them, "All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written:

      ' I will strike the Shepherd,
      And the sheep of the flock will be scattered.'
Zechariah 13:7)

 32 But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee."
33 Peter answered and said to Him, "Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble."
34 Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times."
35 Peter said to Him, "Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!"

Later in the chapter, as Jesus is being questioned by the Sanhedrin Council we see Jesus' prediction come true.

69 Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, "You also were with Jesus of Galilee."
70 But he denied it before them all, saying, "I do not know what you are saying."
71 And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, "This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth."
72 But again he denied with an oath, "I do not know the Man!"
73 And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, "Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you."
74 Then he began to curse and swear, saying, "I do not know the Man!"
Immediately a rooster crowed. 75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, "Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times." So he went out and wept bitterly.

Peter's failure in the council courtyard, has perhaps left him to question his calling, or at least his ability to serve the Lord. And this is how we find Peter In John 21 after Jesus serves them breakfast.

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."


[When Jesus asked "do you love me" the Greek word for love is Agapao referring to the unconditional love or devotion, with which God loves us. He also said "more than these", meaning these things. What things, the things there around him, his boat, his nets, his friends, his life as a fisherman. Peter answered "you know I love you" but his word for love in Greek was Phileo, which is brotherly love or affection. Jesus replies "Feed my lambs" the greek word for feed is bosko which means to feed and care for the young sheep.]

16 He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?"
He said to Him, "Yes, Lord; You know that I love You."
He said to him, "Tend My sheep."

[Again Jesus asks for devotion and Peter offers affection. Jesus tells him to poimainĂ³ tend or shepherd the flock.]

17 He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?" Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, "Do you love Me?"
And he said to Him, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You."
Jesus said to him, "Feed My sheep.

[The 3rd time Jesus uses Peter's word for love phileo. As if to say "Peter I'll take you as you are, but I'll make you what you need to be". Peter acted annoyed that Jesus asked him three times, but remember how many times Peter had denied him. And Jesus told him to feed, bosko or tend and feed the flock.]


18 Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish." 19 This He spoke, signifying by what death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, "Follow Me."

[Before Peter denied Jesus, he had promised to die for him. Here Jesus seems to indicate that Peter would glorify God when he would be martyred for preaching Jesus. Early Church tradition holds that Peter was crucified upside down, for the faith. Just as Jesus did when he first called Peter, he ends with the words "follow me".]


20 Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, "Lord, who is the one who betrays You?" 21 Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, "But Lord, what about this man?"
22 Jesus said to him, "If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me."

[Finally Peter looks at John and says "Hey Jesus what about him", If I will die for you, what will John do. But Jesus had a different plan for John. Church tradition holds that John was the last surviving Apostle. The story goes that the Romans tried to kill John by boiling him alive in oil, but he survived. And the Romans were so freaked out by this, that they stranded him on the Island of Patmos, where he would receive the vision and write the final Revelation of Jesus Christ, the last book of the Bible. Jesus says to Peter "what is that to you? You follow me". Don't worry about John, just follow me. Most of you know that Peter did become a preacher, and he was the Pastor or shepherd of the Church at Jerusalem. What a great lesson for us how Jesus took a servant, who had failed, fed him, renewed his calling and restored him to service.]

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Resurrection

After last week's lesson we had a good discussion about the thief who was saved on the cross, among other things. I have one correction I said the sign that said Jesus – King of the Jews, written in three languages. I mistaken called the 3rd language Aramaic, when it was Latin, that is recorded in John 19:20, that was a part of the first lesson on the Crucifixion, and I got it wrong when I tried to recall it from memory, during the second lesson.

Also Russ asked for the reference for the dead saints resurrected with Jesus and that is from Matthew 27:53 and that lesson was from the end of August.

John 20 (Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24)

[If you read the resurrection story in all 4 gospels, you can get a little confused. Mary Magdalene comes to the tomb multiple times, Jesus appears multiple times, and some see two angels while other saw only 1. What I will try to do is make a timeline of events using all 4 gospels and not which details are from each gospel

The tomb visited:

 1 Now the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark

[John starts with Marry Magdalene, the other gospels will Add Mary the mother of James, Salome, Joanna, Luke adds "and other women". So it seems the women who saw Joseph do a rush job on the burial of Jesus planned to meet at the tomb early Sunday morning. Mary "went….while it was still dark", Matthew says she "as it began to dawn…..she came", and Mark says they "came….when the sun had risen". So the leave the houses where they are staying when it's still dark, and the begin arriving at the tomb shortly after dawn.]


The stone rolled away:

Matthew 28: 2 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. 3 His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. 4 And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men.

[Only Matthew had this part of the story. Just as the earth quakes at his death, so it did again at his resurrection. Remember the guards here, as we will read more about them later.]


The tomb found empty by the women: (back in John 20:1)

….and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.


Mark 16

4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away—for it was very large. 5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed.
6 But he said to them, "Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. 7 But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you."

[John says nothing about the angels in the empty tomb, Matthew is similar to what we read in Mark, Luke 24:4 says they saw two "men", so at least one of the women saw a second angels and told it to Luke]


The women tell the disciples that the tomb is empty: (John 20)


2 Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him."

[Luke 24:11 says that the disciples did not believe the women saying "their words seemed to them like idle tales". So they go to see the tomb for themselves.]


The tomb found empty by Peter and John:
3 Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple [John], and were going to the tomb. 4 So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. 5 And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there,
7 and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. 9 For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.

[So Peter and John see the empty tomb and the burial cloth laying there. Verse 8 says John "saw and believed" but verse 9 says they didn't understand that he was resurrected. So what did John believe? He believed that the tomb was empty and the body of Jesus was gone. You will find most did not believe that Jesus was alive until they saw him alive. So the disciples go back home, but Mary Magdalene stays behind at the tomb.]

Mary Magdalene Sees the Risen Lord:

11 But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. 13 Then they said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?"
She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him."

[After Peter and John were gone, having seen the empty tomb but not the angels, Mary looks in again, and sees and talks with two angels.]

14 Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. 15 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."
16 Jesus said to her, "Mary!"
She turned and said to Him, "Rabboni!" (which is to say, Teacher).

[So Mary is crying and distressed at the disappearance of Jesus' body. But when Jesus speaks her name then she recognizes him turns to grab him.]

17 Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.'"


Jesus appears to the other women

Matthew 28

9 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. 10 Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me."

[So Mary tells the other women and as they are going with her to tell the disciples, Jesus appears again and is seen by the other women with Mary Magdalene]


The women tell his disciples they have seen Jesus (back in John 20)
18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.

[So Mary Magdalene is the first to see the resurrected Jesus. Like before she goes to tell the disciples. Mark 16:11 says again that "when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe". So again when Mary tells them what she saw, again His disciples do not believe, until they see him for themselves.]


The report of the guards to the Sanhedrim Council

Matthew 28

11 Now while they were going, behold, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all the things that had happened. 12 When they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, 13 saying, "Tell them, 'His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we slept.' 14 And if this comes to the governor's ears, we will appease him and make you secure." 15 So they took the money and did as they were instructed; and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.


[So the guards report to the priest, who assemble the council. Just as the bribed Judas, so they also bribe the guards. This is very risky for the soldiers, for they could be scourged or even killed for being asleep when they are on duty. But they take the money and tell the lie. This is really crazy to think they could sleep through an earth quake, and not hear the stone being rolled away and at least two men dragging his body out of the rock tomb. But what the council feared the most was wide acceptance among the Jews, of a resurrected Jesus. Because once you believe the resurrection, it is impossible to deny Jesus is the Lord, the true Son of God.


In Acts 17 Paul said this: 29 Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man's devising. 30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead." 32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while others said, "We will hear you again on this matter." 33 So Paul departed from among them. 34 However, some men joined him and believed……]

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Crucifixion – Part 2

John 19 – continued from last week

31 Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32 Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him.

[The Jews were ok with condemning the innocent, but they didn't want anyone to be killed or buried on the Sabbath. Remember what Jesus said to the Pharisees in Matthew 23, "You tithe of your tiniest herbs, but you ignore the weightier matters of the law like justice and mercy. But when they came to quicken their deaths by breaking their legs, Jesus was already dead.]


33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. 35 And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe. 36 For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, "Not
of His bones shall be broken."
37 And again another Scripture says, "They shall look on Him whom they pierced."

[Multiple prophecies of Jesus as the Lamb of God where fulfilled in this passage. One from Psalm 34:20 about his bones not being broken, and another from Zechariah 12:10 about his being pierced.

1 Peter 2:24 - "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness]

Luke 23

39 Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, "If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us."
40 But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, "Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong." 42 Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom."
43 And Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."


[Isaiah 53 8-9 … For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
       9 And they made His grave with the wicked…

So here we see Jesus and the criminals crucified with him. One mocks him saying "if you are the Christ, save yourself and us". I don't know how much these thieves knew about Jesus. Had they heard the accusations of the Council "he made himself the Son of God", or was he just responding to the sign Jesus-the-King. But all he sees is someone admired by the people, receiving the same punishment as a common criminal, so he mocks.

The second thief has a different response. In Jesus he sees hope. Jesus a just man wrongly condemned. So he says to Jesus "Lord, remember me". In that moment he saw the conclusion of his own life had no virtue, but he trusted one with a very different life, could change his outcome. So he confessed his faith in Jesus, and received a precious promise. This man had no time for penitent works, no pilgrimage, no almsgiving, nothing to recommend him for heaven, but he trusted in Jesus. And Jesus response was clear "today you will be with me in paradise". What further evidence do you need to see that salvation is by faith alone in the merciful grace of God.]

Jesus Dies on the Cross

44 Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. 45 Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two.

[The sixth hour was 6 hours after sunrise, which is mid-day or noon. So from mid-day to mid-afternoon, it became like night. Not just locally, but over all the earth. As the Light of the World died, the world was covered in darkness. Then the veil that separated the inner most part of the temple, from the rest of the world, was torn in two. Matthew 27 says it was torn from the top to the bottom. The symbolism of that is clear, a man could not reach the top of the veil but God could. Prior to this, only the high priest could enter the holy of holies, just once a year, and not without the blood of the sacrifice. But Jesus the eternal high priest, offered his own blood once and for all, so the veil of separation, was not longer necessary. From that point on any one could come into the presence of God to obtain mercy, through faith in the atoning blood of Jesus Christ.]

46 And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, "Father, 'into Your hands I commit My spirit.'" Having said this, He breathed His last.
47 So when the centurion saw what had happened, he glorified God, saying, "Certainly this was a righteous Man!"
48 And the whole crowd who came together to that sight, seeing what had been done, beat their breasts and returned.

[Jesus was actually quoting Psalm 31:5 which many Jews would say at night as a prayer. We said last week that the sign on Jesus' cross written in Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic announced Jesus as King to the gentile world. Here we see a Roman Centurion testify of the righteousness of Christ. Matthew 27 records more supernatural events including earthquake, rocks splitting open, along with the darkness we saw earlier. It was as though creation herself was mourning the suffering of her creator. All this groaning of nature was startling to those who saw it. The beating of the chest was a sign of mourning of and repentance.]

49 But all His acquaintances, and the women who followed Him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.   
50 Now behold, there was a man named Joseph, a council member, a good and just man. 51 He had not consented to their decision and deed. He was from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who himself was also waiting for the kingdom of God. 52 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. 53 Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a tomb that was hewn out of the rock, where no one had ever lain before. 54 That day was the Preparation, and the Sabbath drew near.

[Near the time of Jesus death more of his followers drew close enough to see him die. But the one who went to Pilate was not his disciples or the women who cared for him. It was Joseph, a member of the Council who had not consented to the charges against Jesus, a man of great reputation and also apparently a secret follower of Christ. He boldly goes to Pilate and asks permission o bury Jesus. Due to the late hour and the ending Sabbath, there is not enough time to properly prepare the body. So Joseph hastily wraps his body in linen, and lays it in his own tomb before nightfall.]
55 And the women who had come with Him from Galilee followed after, and they observed the tomb and how His body was laid. 56 Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment.

[So the women that followed Jesus, observed what Joseph had done. Though certainly appreciative of Joseph's compassion for the Lord, they knew Jesus body was not properly prepared, so they went home and began to gather the balms and spices necessary for burial. And they intended to return on Sunday and redo the reparation of the body, the way that felt it should be done.]

The Crucifixion – Part 1

John 19

[Substitutionary atonement is unique to the Christian faith. Most religion is centered on the idea of doing things to make man acceptable to God. Their belief is that it is possible for a man to do enough good, and avoid enough bad, to gain favor with God. But in Christ was have a unique approach. Jesus the God-man offered himself as the substitute, to die, in our place. Whereas the law requires the shedding of blood to atone for sin, the blood of Christ allows him to exchange our sinfulness for his righteousness.

1 Peter 3:18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit,

For the next two weeks we will look at the Crucifixion of Jesus, as a demonstration of God's love for us.

After Jesus was taken by the mob in the garden, They first took him to Annas. Now Ciaaphas was the high-priest that year, but Annas his father-in-law ran the priesthood like an organized crime family. No matter which priest had the title, it was Annas who held the power. So after he was accused by the Sanhedrin council they sent him to Pilate, because they needed Roman authority to crucify him.]

The Soldiers Mock Jesus

 1 So then Pilate took Jesus and scourged Him.
2 And the soldiers twisted a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and they put on Him a purple robe. 3 Then they said, "Hail, King of the Jews!" And they struck Him with their hands.

[Pilate who seems most concerned with avoiding an uprising, tried to do just enough to satisfy the Jewish leaders. He was aware of Christ's innocence, and did not want him crucified. So he had the soldiers scourge or beat him. As Jesus was passed around that night from the council, to Pilate, to Herod, and back to Pilate, each group that held him also mocked and beat him.]

4 Pilate then went out again, and said to them, "Behold, I am bringing Him out to you, that you may know that I find no fault in Him."

5 Then Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. And Pilate said to them, "Behold the Man!"
6 Therefore, when the chief priests and officers saw Him, they cried out, saying, "Crucify Him, crucify Him!"
Pilate said to them, "You take Him and crucify Him, for I find no fault in Him."

[Unsatisfied by the beatings, the Jewish leaders still called for Jesus crucifixion. Pilate announced Jesus innocence because he found no evidence of a crime against Rome. He also seemed to be mocking the Jews when he said "you crucify him" because Rome had taken that authority away from them.]


7 The Jews answered him, "We have a law, and according to our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God."
8 Therefore, when Pilate heard that saying, he was the more afraid, 9 and went again into the Praetorium, and said to Jesus, "Where are You from?" But Jesus gave him no answer.

10 Then Pilate said to Him, "Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?"
11 Jesus answered, "You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin."

[If you remember when we read Isaiah 53 last week it said in verse 7 that "he opened not his mouth". You see here and other times that night Jesus did not answer his accusers. He did not intend to defend himself, but to be condemned for us. Matthew 27 says that Pilate had been warned by his wife who had a dream, not to condemn this innocent man. So now hearing that Jesus is the Son-of-God, really makes Pilate fearful. Though Jesus would not defend himself to Pilate he forcefully testifies of the power and sovereignty of the Father, reminding Pilate that he only had power because God allowed it. He also makes it clear that God would one day judge his accusers.]

12 From then on Pilate sought to release Him, but the Jews cried out, saying, "If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar's friend. Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar."
13 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus out and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha. 14 Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, "Behold your King!"

[Again Pilate tries to release him, and again the Jewish leaders resist. Do you see the hypocrisy in their words? They hated Roman occupation, yet they corner Pilate, by feigning loyalty to Caesar, saying anyone claiming to be a King, was an enemy of Caesar.]

15 But they cried out, "Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!"
Pilate said to them, "Shall I crucify your King?"
The chief priests answered, "We have no king but Caesar!"
16 Then he delivered Him to them to be crucified. Then they took Jesus and led Him away.

[Here you see the danger of a mob mentality. Neither Herod not Pilate found him guilty of any crime, but fearing an uprising, Pilate finally relents, and send Jesus away to be crucified.]

17 And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, 18 where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center. 19 Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was:



[After enduring several beatings, a weakened Jesus struggled to carry his cross up the hill through the crowds. Matthew Mark and Luke all record that Simon of Cyrene was compelled to finish the journey, carrying the cross for Jesus. Some secular histories of the age say the Romans would hang a sign around the neck of the condemned, with their name and their crime written on it. The crowds could read the sign and mock the prisoners as they walked up the hill. What a unique sign the people saw that day, "Jesus the King". I wonder if the people used to seeing signs that read, thief, or murderer, questioned "what was the crime of this man they called the King".]

 20 Then many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.
21 Therefore the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, "Do not write, 'The King of the Jews,' but, 'He said, "I am the King of the Jews."'"
22 Pilate answered, "What I have written, I have written."

[How strange that Pilate allowed himself to be bullied into crucifying Jesus, but he would not back down when they challenged his sign. Though he didn't realize it at the time, this sign written in 3 languages announced Jesus to the gentiles. In John 12 Jesus said "when I am lifted up I will draw all men to me".]

23 Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece. 24 They said therefore among themselves, "Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be," that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says:

      " They divided My garments among them,
      And for My clothing they cast lots."

   Therefore the soldiers did these things.

[The soldiers would strip the executed men before nailing them to the cross. When they cast lots for his seamless tunic they fulfilled another prophecy from Psalm 22.]

25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, "Woman, behold your son!" 27 Then He said to the disciple, "Behold your mother!" And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.

[Apparently Joseph had died before Jesus, so he wanted to see that his mother Mary was cared for. He entrusted her care to the Apostle John.]


It Is Finished

28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, "I thirst!" 29 Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. 30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.

[If you read all the gospel accounts of Jesus death, you find the final statements that he made:

  • My God, My God why have you forsaken me
  • Father into your hands I commend my Spirit
  • It is finished

Here we see the anguish of his suffering. At the moment of death God the Father heaped upon him the sin guilt of all of humanity, and there Jesus felt the despair of sin. Finally he yielded up his spirit, and died on the cross.

2 Corinthians 5:
21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.]


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Judas Betrays Jesus

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.

To outline this verse I would do something like this:

  • God loved                    GRACE
  • God gave
  • We trust                    FAITH
  • We receive

I used the word trust instead of believe to emphasize the meaning of the original language. In common usage "believe" has come to mean "I think", and that is not the faith that saves. Trust includes conviction "I am a sinner", repentance "Lord free me from sin". Trusting Christ for salvation eliminates trusting in anything else, it is exclusive. We come to God empty handed. Ephesians 2:8 says by Grace are ye saved through faith. Titus 2: 11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men .

This is the part that is hard for us to understand, though God's grace had "appeared" to all men, not all will repent, and believe. Today we will study a man who stared into the very face of Grace and turned to Satan instead of God.

What do all these names have in common?

  • Marcus Brutus (Roman senator who plotted to kill Julius Caesar, his uncle)
  • Julius and Ethel Rosenberg (sold nuclear secrets to the USSR)
  • Benedict Arnold (American general who tried to give Fort West Point to England)
  • Aldrich Ames (CIA agent who sold agent lists to the USSR)
  • Judas Iscariot

Matthew 26 (Also Mark 14, Luke 22, John 18)

Betrayal and Arrest in Gethsemane

47 And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and elders of the people.

[For all his infamy relatively little is known of Judas Iscariot. Judas is the Greek form of Jude or Judah. Most believe Iscariot identifies Judas as being from a city in Judah called Kerioth. So unlike the other disciples Judas was not from Galilee. We learned from the anointing at Bethany that Judas was the treasurer for Jesus disciples, and that he stole from the bag that he was keeping for Jesus. Luke 22 tells us that after the anointing at Bethany that "Satan entered Judas" then he made his conspiracy to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. The price of a common slave was given to Judas, who then promised to betray Jesus, when he was away from the crowds, because the priests fear an uprising of the people. Then after the Lords supper, while Jesus went to pray in the garden, Judas went to his co-conspirators to tell them this was the time to take Jesus. In fact during his prayer in John 17:12 Jesus called Judas the "son of Perdition", which means destruction or damnation.]

48 Now His betrayer had given them a sign, saying, "Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him." 49 Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, "Greetings, Rabbi!" and kissed Him.

[Mark tells is Judas came with a great multitude carrying swords and clubs. Judas gives the signal, the kiss and greeting of respect, became a sign of betrayal. Isaiah 29:13 says these people draw near with their mouths And honor Me with their lips, But have removed their hearts far from Me]

50 But Jesus said to him, "Friend, why have you come?" Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him.

[Kind of strange that Jesus, knowing the betrayal of Judas, still called him friend. Maybe even at this late hour Jesus wanted to redeem him, perhaps get him to think about what he had done. But the signal had already been given, so they took Jesus.]

51 And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear.

[Luke tells us one of his disciples asked if they should fight back with swords, but John tells us Peter struck before Jesus answered. How often we forget the power of God and try to face problems in our own strength. But the heavily armed mob would easily overcome the few disciples with swords.]
52 But Jesus said to him, "Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? 54 How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?"

[As usual Peter did not understand. First Jesus had another purpose for Peters life, not to die with a sword in his hand, but to preach with love in his heart, to be a fisher of men, skillfully wielding the gospel of peace. Secondly Jesus had a much greater army available, the angels of heaven who were just a prayer away of Jesus had asked for them. But the third reason is most important; Jesus was fulfilling his purpose and fulfilling scripture:

Isaiah 53

3 He is despised and rejected by men,
      A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
      And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
      He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
       4 Surely He has borne our griefs
      And carried our sorrows;
      Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
      Smitten by God, and afflicted.
       5 But He was wounded for our transgressions,
      He was bruised for our iniquities;
      The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
      And by His stripes we are healed.
       6 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.
       7 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.
       8 He was taken from prison and from judgment,
      And who will declare His generation?
      For He was cut off from the land of the living;
      For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
       9 And they[a] made His grave with the wicked—
      But with the rich at His death,
      Because He had done no violence,
      Nor was any deceit in His mouth.
       10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him;
      He has put Him to grief.
      When You make His soul an offering for sin,
      He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
      And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. ]

55 In that hour Jesus said to the multitudes, "Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me? I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple, and you did not seize Me. 56 But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled."
Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.

[Even though Jesus was fulfilling prophecy, he still judged the actions and motives of those who conspired against him. He rebuked them for treating him like a robber, and for their cowardice of taking him at night, when he taught openly each day. Zechariah 13:7 says "strike the Shepherd and the sheep will be scattered", and we see that here. Once Jesus was taken, all his disciples ran away. Jesus would face alone, the judgment for our sin.]