On June 2, 2019 I preached at Palmetto Presbyterian Church in Florida. Here is the transcript of my sermon below.
It’s Better Than Winning the Lottery!
Acts 3:11 – 26
Have you ever wished you could win the lottery? Maybe you believe that if you could only win the lottery all your troubles would be gone. I’m sure some of you have thought this and maybe you even believe it. But is winning the lottery all it’s cracked up to be? Is money really capable of making you happy? Hear the stories of three individuals from an article on THEPENNYHOARDER.COM titled “From Rags to Riches to Rags Again: 21 Lottery Winners Who Lost Everything” and see for yourself…
David Lee Edwards split a $280 million Powerball jackpot with three others, a win that came while he was unemployed and living in his parents’ basement. After taxes, he received a lump sum of $27 million. He bought a $600,000 house, a $1 million fleet of cars, a $78,000 watch, a $1.9 million jet, 200 swords and other medieval weapons, and a $4.5 million fiber-optics installation company. He also married a woman 19 years younger than he was.
Within a year, he had spent $12 million. The house was soon lost to foreclosure, his wife was arrested for stabbing a boyfriend, and David died at age 58 in 2013.
Sharon Tirabassi, of Hamilton, Ontario, won $10.5 million in 2004. She treated friends to vacations in Cancun, Las Vegas, California, Florida and the Caribbean. She got married and bought a house for $515,000 — and got a $360,000 mortgage loan rather than paying all cash. She bought numerous cars, including one that cost more than $200,000, and gave millions of dollars to family and friends.
By 2007, half of her money was gone. By 2008, with her husband in jail for a DUI, Tiribassi lost their home. Now, to pay the rent and support her kids, she takes the bus to her part-time job.
Lara and Robert Griffith won £1.8 million ($2.1 million today) in the Lotto in 2005. They bought a home for £670,000 ($790,000), along with a Lexus 4×4 and a Porsche convertible. Robert paid for his band to have a record made, and Lara splurged on designer handbags. They set up a beauty salon business.
Then, six years later, Roger disappeared with the Porsche and Lara discovered suspicious emails on his computer. He denied having an affair, but the marriage ended, the money was gone and now Lara is an employee at the salon they used to own.
Money, it can be a blessing and it can be a curse. I am sure the crippled man in our passage today would have been one who would agree that money does not bring true happiness.
Read Acts 3:1 – 10
In Acts 3:1 – 10 we meet a crippled beggar (we do not know the name of this individual) who was handicapped from birth. We read that he would daily sit at the temple gate called “Beautiful” and beg for money. Pastor and author R. Kent Hughes wrote in his commentary on Acts, “His begging post was one of the best spots in the entire city because (of its location). It was the perfect place to solicit funds.” He continues, “Judaism considered almsgiving a meritorious art. So, the man’s position at Israel’s religious center would profit him well.”
Everything started off as a regular day for the crippled beggar until three o’clock in the afternoon where his life would be forever changed. As the Apostle’s Peter and John approached this man, Peter tells the beggar to look up at him. As the beggar looked at the Apostle in anticipation to receive a gift, Peter says, “I have no silver or gold”. Upon hearing this I am sure these were words that the beggar did not want to hear, but when the Apostle says, “…but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” He is forever changed at that very instance.
At this point the author and physician, Luke, describes in detail the miraculous event that takes place as the man is completely restored to health. Luke writes that he “jumped to his feet and he began to walk.” At this very moment he did something he has never done in his life. He began to stand and walk on his own. He then ran and jumped and praised God for this miracle. He was elated! When the onlookers saw what was happening, they were all amazed.
The crippled man got more than he bargained for on this day. What started out as a regular day where the man was hoping for some spare change, ends up being healed of a lifelong handicap.
What is Happiness?
This healing account recalls the topic of happiness. What constitutes happiness? Where does one find true happiness? Is it found in money, power, sex, love or circumstances? No! True happiness is found in Jesus Christ. If you were able to go back two thousand years and interview the crippled beggar, do you think he would say, “Well on the day I met Peter and John all I wanted was some money, but instead I was healed of my lifelong handicap. I wish those guys would have just given me money.” I would have been much happier! I he would say that. At this point in this man’s life, I believe he could have cared less about money, what he found this day was far greater than a few coins of silver and gold.
Is this true for you? Is your happiness rooted in things like money, power or status? Or is there a void in all of us that can only truly be satisfied by Jesus Christ alone? Nothing can bring true peace and joy than a life devoted to Jesus Christ. So today I want to make sure that everyone who hears this message understands to have true happiness in Jesus Christ and what it means to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ
Read Acts 3:11 - 26
In Peter’s second sermon since Pentecost he responds to the people’s amazement by taking the focus off himself and directs it to Jesus Christ. He stresses the importance of knowing that Jesus was the one responsible for the miracle. Peter clearly presents the Gospel message by proclaiming this Jesus is also the same man who died on the cross for the sins of the world and He was raised again by the power of God. Peter spoke about repentance and about Jesus who was both the Son of God and fully man, He is the Messiah spoken of in prophecy.
Peter tells the onlookers about the Gospel of Jesus, it is important for us to understand that this truth still applies to us today. Jesus Christ is both man and God and He gave His life for you, so you would not have to face the penalties of death. He died and He rose from the dead to show that He had indeed conquered death for our benefit. We need to repent of our sins and believe in faith that Jesus Christ is Lord, Savior and God. Without Jesus we don’t have Christianity and to be a Christian you need to have a personal relationship with Him.
Peter also addresses the issue of sin. We are all sinners, according to Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” This is something that we cannot change. Sin is a disease we are all born with. However, in verse 24 of this same chapter it says, “…and are justified freely by his grace, through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” We are sinners by birth, but we are declared righteous by Jesus to those who believe and put their trust in Him. Sin and repentance are big issues. We must all deal with our sin issues; this is all a part of being a Christian. James Montgomery Boice writes, “We need to realize that we are all to blame for the death of Christ in one way or another. Even though we were not there at the time Jesus was arrested, tried, and crucified, it was our sin that took him there.”
But we are not forever condemned as Peter talks of repentance. We may be guilty of sin, but we also know that God will always forgive us if we repent and flee to Jesus who is our refuge from sin. Repentance is more than feeling sorry for what you did. Sorrow is not repentance. Repentance is feeling sorry enough to quit doing what you are doing wrong and turning your back on it and turning to Jesus. Peter makes it clear that we all need to “repent and turn to God.” Repenting and turning to God go hand in hand, you can’t do one without the other.
Lastly, Peter’s sermon speaks about forgiveness. Because of our past sins most of us live our lives carrying a heavy load of guilt. We may get stuck in the past and start thinking that what we did could never be forgiven by anyone, especially a Holy God. The truth is just the opposite. People may never forgive but God will always forgive if we truly repent. Only God is capable of forgiving sin and He will forgive willingly if we confess, repent and seek forgiveness. We may live our lives in guilt, but God wants us to be free from the guilt of past sins. Psalm 103:12 says, “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” God has forgiven you of your sins.
Peter’s sermon is the Gospel message. Trusting Jesus Christ, confessing, repenting and seeking forgiveness in Jesus Christ is the only way to finding true happiness. So often we go looking for ways to make ourselves happy. So often we tell God what would make us happy (a little more money, a new car, understanding parents, a new job, a bigger house etc.) but God knows that these will not bring true happiness. We may think that silver and gold will make us happy, but when we see that God has far greater plans and purpose for us, and it is exceedingly more valuable than anything we could ever imagine.
Today, if you have never sought a personal relationship with Jesus Christ would you consider it today? Do you feel a little tugging at your heart that is telling you that it’s time to stop clinging to the sin in your life and turn it all over to Jesus Christ? If you say yes, then know this is the Holy Spirit calling you to Jesus this very moment. Jesus wants you to repent and He is eager to forgive our sins. It doesn’t matter how old you are, how long you have been a member of a church, or how many church or denominational committees or fellowship groups you belong to. Jesus wants you to enter into a relationship with Him and to forever submit your life to Him.
On May 26th, 2019 I preached at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Florida. Here is the transcript of my sermon below.
Timothy Keller writes in his book Center Church, “Christians typically identify two ways to respond to God: follow him and do his will or reject him and do your own thing. You can reject God by rejecting his law and living the way you see fit. And you can also reject God by embracing God’s law so as to earn your salvation. The problem is that people in this last group look as if they are doing God’s will. There are not just two ways to respond to God but three: irreligion, religion, and the gospel.
Irreligion is avoiding God as Lord and Savior by ignoring him altogether. “Religion”, or moralism is avoiding God as Lord and Savior by developing a moral righteousness and then presenting it to God in an effort to show that he ‘owes’ you. The gospel, however, has nothing to do with our developing a righteousness we give God, so he owes us; it is God’s developing and giving us righteousness through Jesus Christ.”[i]
Today I would like to spend some time in the Gospel of John. The account in the passage that was just read is one that many of you are probably familiar with. In the text we read about an encounter between Jesus and a Pharisee named Nicodemus. The goal of this message is two-fold.
Our text for today is John 3:1 – 7
Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?”5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.[c] 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’
Verse 1: Nicodemus – Very little is known about Nicodemus because there is little written about him in the Gospels. However, we do know that Nicodemus was a Pharisee who was a member of the Sanhedrin and he comes to Jesus in the night hour to have a conversation with him.
(Background info) The Pharisees were men who prided themselves on keeping the laws of God to the “T”. They may not have been overly moral in character, but they were fastidious in knowing and enforcing the law. The law was their “righteousness”. They believed they were “more holy” than others because they understood and enforced the laws of Moses.
Verse 2: We are unsure exactly as to what Nicodemus’ motives were in talking to Jesus that evening. Some have suggested that since he was a respected Jewish leader (an older man) he didn’t want others to know he was going to Jesus to learn from him or even associate with him. Others have said he met with him at night because he was afraid. Some believe he went in the evening because this was the time Rabbi’s and teachers studied. Some even think that the night meeting was symbolic of his spiritual state and He may have come at nighttime because he was living in spiritual darkness and wanted to inquire of the light (Jesus). All of these are plausible possibilities, but truth be told we do not know why he met with Jesus, but we do know it was a divine and sovereign meeting.
As their conversation starts Nicodemus says, “We know you are a teacher who has come from God…” This meant that the consensus among the some of the Jewish leaders was that he was a teacher who had the hand of God on his life and in his ministry. Nicodemus acknowledges that Jesus was a man with God’s hand on his ministry because of the miracles and wonders he saw Jesus perform. The rulers knew there was something special about Jesus but they (Nicodemus) certainly were not proclaiming that Jesus was a prophet, THE Prophet or even the Messiah. Regardless he knew there was something unique about Jesus and this may have been the reason he wanted to talk to Him.
Verse 3: Before Nicodemus can even ask a question Jesus cuts to the heart of the matter (quite possibly because he knew Nicodemus’ motive, inquiry or he just needed to tell him the truth right up front). Jesus says, “Truly, truly unless a person is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” By saying, “Truly, truly” Jesus is emphasizing that what he is about to say is absolutely true.
There are two items we need to look at in order to understand the absolute truth Jesus spoke to Nicodemus… They are “The Kingdom of God” and “Born again”
Kingdom of God
This term only exists in the NT, however much of the OT points to the concept, reality and anticipation of the Kingdom of God. In the OT the implication of the Kingdom of God was a future day when God is the sovereign ruler of all nations and over all of creation. The prophets longed for the day when God would physically bring peace to the nations of Israel and Judah (They would be one again) and justice, peace and mercy would spill over to all nations and over all of creation or in it’s finality the Kingdom of God is Heaven… The abiding place of God the Father and Son Jesus Christ.
“Seeing the kingdom’ is equivalent to the more familiar expression in (the Gospel of) John of eternal life.[ii] The kingdom or eternal life is the central message of Jesus Christ in NT. It is mentioned twice in John (3:3,5 & 18:36) and is defined as the rule, reign and sovereignty of God over all creation. So in short the Kingdom of God is equivalent to eternal life and the future reign of God as sovereign king.
At the time of this writing, Jews and Christians lived under Roman rule and the Apostle Paul, Peter and Jesus all say that the world is in the grasps of the evil one (often times Rome was considered all that is evil and other times the devil). This does not mean that God is not the true ruler of the world, it just means the world is in bondage to Satan and evil because of sin and the fall of humanity. We live in a sinful world where it seems as though evil is running rampant and Satan seems to be the god of the world. However, this is a false perception in part because God is sovereign (Supreme Rule) today and his Kingdom has already begun on earth through us (those who believe in Jesus and are obedient to His call). This Kingdom was inaugurated in the person, works and message of Jesus Christ. Eternal life starts the moment you trust Jesus as Lord and Savior thus God’s Kingdom is now.
This, however, does not negate the reality that there will also be a future day when Jesus physically returns to set up His Kingdom here on earth and rule and reign sovereignly over all nations and creation. So in order for one to receive, enter, or be part of the Kingdom of God, one must be born again.
So what is Jesus saying when he says one must be “born again”? This statement is just as confusing to some today as it was to Nicodemus back then. Some may even respond as Nicodemus does… “Can one be born a second time? One certainly cannot enter the womb (as a grown adult) and be reborn!”
There are two interpretations to Nicodemus’ response…
Jesus said, “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.” Entrance into the Kingdom, Heaven or more simply salvation is not attained by keeping, enforcing and living the law; it was about being re-born (or as the Greek states, “Born from above). Rebirth or regeneration means repenting of your sins, responding to Jesus and trusting in him for salvation, being cleansed from sin, and the result is a transformed heart and one becoming a new creation in Christ.
Regeneration is not individuals trying to be a better person by cleaning up his act and becoming a moral person. Regeneration is not about become a better version of yourself (Jeff 2.0) it means that you are a brand-new version of yourself that is transformed by Jesus Christ.
In short, Jesus tells us that unless one is cleansed from sin (through confession and repentance) and reborn in the Spirit of God (faith in Christ and becoming a new creation) one cannot enter or see the Kingdom of God.
Verses 7: “Do not marvel…” Jesus’ words are clear you (the you is actually plural which properly interpreted is ‘you all’ or in the south Y’all) MUST be born again. This is THE central message of Jesus in this passage and it is certainly a central message for us today.
The challenge for today is simple… Ask yourself… Am I born again? Have I trusted or put my faith in Jesus Christ? Is He my Lord and my Savior? Have I been washed and cleansed by the blood of Christ? Do I have a transformed heart and am I a new creation in Christ? Does God have complete (not just some) but complete rule and reign in my life? Have I experienced the new (second) birth in Christ? I don’t care how young or old you are. I don’t care how long you have been a member of this or any other church. I don’t care how many church or Christians functions you attend a week. Have you been born-again? If you say, “yes!” then, by all means. enjoy the life God has given you, continue to love and serve in your church, and be edified at all your Christian and church functions. But if you can honestly say that either you are not sure or you definitely are not born-again then I pray you would not hesitate and do so now. If you are still unsure how you would do this, please feel free to talk to me afterwards and I would be happy to pray with you.
Today is one encounter with Christ that you must respond to in your life. I have preached the central message of Jesus Christ today. Jesus came to give you life, and He came to give it in abundance, and it is available to all who believe. The Kingdom of heaven is at hand… Are you part of His Kingdom?
[i] Keller, Timothy J (2012). Center Church, p.63 Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
[ii] Carson, D. A. (1994). New Bible commentary : 21st century edition. Rev. ed. of: The new Bible commentary. 3rd ed. / edited by D. Guthrie, J.A. Motyer. 1970. (4th ed.) (Jn 3:1). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press.
On April 28th, 2019 I preached at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Florida. Here is the transcript of my sermon below.
Who Are You?
Genesis 1:26 – 31 & 2:4 – 7, Ephesians 2: 1- 10
“Who am I?” “Why am I here?” “Am I important?” “What is my purpose in life?” These are questions you may have asked, you may be contemplating or struggling with them today. These are good questions. These are important questions. These are questions I am hoping to answer today.
Do you believe there is a God who created everything? Do you believe there is a God in heaven who cares about you and about the world we live in? Do you know that you are a unique creation of God? We are not here by accident.
Today we will look at 3 observations about God’s relation to humanity in regards to our purpose in life. These observations are foundational to the understanding of your uniqueness and purpose.
In this we have seen that we are his reflection. We are created in His image we have dignity. We have worth. My friends we are truly God’s beloved creation and we have purpose.
So what is your purpose?
So to go back to the questions I asked at the beginning of this message…“Why am I here?” “How did I get here?” “Is there a point to my life?” “Do I have a higher calling in life that just existing?” “Am I important?” “What’s the purpose of life?” I would hope that you can see the answers to these questions are yes. You have purpose and your purpose is to worship God and to enjoy him forever. It is to do good works in the name of Jesus Christ, and it is to offer hope by promoting Jesus Christ and His Kingdom.
If you take anything with you today, please know you are a unique creation of God. You have purpose and that purpose is established in your understanding and relationship to God, who loves you and has a plan for you.
 New Bible commentary: 21st century edition. 1994 (D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer & G. J. Wenham, Ed.) (4th ed.) (Ge 2:4–7). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.
 Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (Ge 2:21). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.
Scripture Read: John 3 - 4
Title: The Living Water
(H) Highlight verse: "Jesus said to her, 'whoever drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that will give him will never thirsty forever. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.'" John 4:13, 14
(E) Explain: As Jesus was travelling at around the noon hour he was tired, hot and thirsty as he came to Jacob’s well. It is traditionally believed this well is located on the land Jacob (Israel) gave to Joseph in Genesis 48:22. Interestingly it is still a functioning well/spring to this day. Since it was noon the sun was at its peak and Jesus was weary from his travels. He encounters a woman at this well and asks her for a drink.
Water was drawn in the morning hours or the cool of the day by the women. Typically the women came in groups so they could assist one another in drawing water before it became too hot. In this passage we meet a woman who comes later in the day and alone. This tells us that she is probably a shunned woman because she comes at the point of day when she knows no one will be around and she comes by herself.
Jesus asks her for some water and the woman is certainly surprised because a Jewish male is asking her for a drink of water. He has no utensils so he would have to use her cup. According to Jews Samaritans were ceremonially unclean and a Jew who used a Samaritan’s cup would also be considered unclean as well. This is what the writer John meant when he wrote that Jews and Samaritans use nothing in common.
She apparently has no reason to even know that she is speaking to the Messiah. She was exasperated that this tired Jewish traveler was talking to her but as Jesus said had she known who she was talking to she would not only be getting him water but would be asking him for the living water. Living water – literally translated as flowing water or moving water. In the Bible water is symbolic for cleansing, refreshing and in the Holy Spirit. Jesus is speaking to this woman in spiritual terms as D.A. Carson writes, “(Living Water is) the satisfying eternal life mediated by the Spirit that only Jesus, the Messiah and Savior of the world can provide.” As Jesus talks about this water the woman thinks he is speaking of some unknown water source (or Jesus is speaking literally) so she asks Jesus how he plans on giving her this water since he has no utensils. She doesn’t understand Jesus is speaking in a spiritual sense.
He takes the opportunity to further explain what he is talking about. He says the physical water that we drink is temporary and never TRULY satisfies (much like worldly possessions). We can drink all the water we want (to the point of getting sick) but eventually we will get thirsty again. The living water, which is not a liquid but the everlasting life of God through the Holy Spirit satisfies our spiritual thirst. In our search for satisfaction and contentment in life we seek fulfillment in physical things (cars, homes, electronics, substances, food, drink etc.) and we can never truly be satisfied. Satisfaction is only attained when we have drunk of the living water of Jesus Christ. Not only will the water of life satisfy but it will spring up or gush up like an artesian well of eternal life and life here on earth through the Holy Spirit (an abundant life).
Hearing Jesus’ description of this water the woman now desires this water and asks how to get it. Jesus then makes a prophecy about her life and her immoral acts which cuts to her heart and convicts her of her immoral lifestyle. This shows that when we desire to drink the living water of Jesus we will also have to confront our sins. Sure, it is easy to come to Jesus and drink of the living water, the hard part is realizing our sins and handing them over to God.
(A) Application: This passage tells me a lot about Jesus and the life he has to offer. Here are four truths from this encounter Jesus had with the Samaritan woman at the well.
(R) Respond: Thank you that the water of life is available to all who believe. Thank you that you have offered this living water to me. Thank you that you promised that not only will the water of life satisfy, but that it will never stop satisfying.
 Carson, D.A. (1991) The Gospel According to John p. 219 Grand Rapids, MI: William B Eerdman’s Publishing Co.
Scripture Read: Luke 12
Title: Anxiety, Worry, and Trust
(H) Highlight verse: "Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?" Luke 12:25
(E) Explain: In chapter 12 Jesus is speaking to his disciples about hypocrisy, fear, heavenly treasures, worry, anxiety, trust, and being prepared for the end times. He speaks specifically in 12:22 - 34 about worry the uselessness of worry, anxiety, and doubt. He tells his disciples not to be anxious about their lives, and the food they will eat. He essentially tells them that anxiety accomplishes nothing. Worrying about things that they could not change was pointless because there was absolutely nothing they could do to change things just by worrying. He also alludes to the truth that worry and anxiety can lead to doubt and lack of faith. Jesus says that instead of worrying about the trivial things in life they should focus their energy and and efforts on seeking God and his kingdom, because when they do the trivial things they were worrying about will be taken care of by God the Father. For if their treasure is in following God and seeking his kingdom, this will reveal their true heart and love for God.
(A) Application: I am very good at worrying and I don't really know why I worry so much. I understand the as a human my natural inclination is to worry, doubt and fear and I believe this is why Jesus speaks about these things so often in scripture. I understand that being anxious, and worrying is a waste of time because I can't change a single thing when I worry... Worry is a time waster, it leads me down the roads of unbelief and lack of faith. Jesus reminds me often throughout scripture that God is trustworthy and He will take care of those who belong to him. This doesn't mean that I will have an easy life and everything will go my way, it simply means that God will take care of me in the good and the bad times and I can trust him no matter what.
(R) Respond: Lord, I pray that I won't worry so much. May I give me worry, and anxiety over to you so I don't waste my time worrying about things that I have no control over. May I use my time wisely by seeking first your kingdom and trusting you to care of my trivial needs, wants, and desires.
17 and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called Golgotha. 18 There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. 19 Pilate also wrote an inscription and put it on the cross. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.” 20 Many of the Jews read this inscription, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and it was written in Aramaic, in Latin, and in Greek. 21 So the chief priests of the Jews said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but rather, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’” 22 Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.” 23 When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they took his garments and divided them into four parts, one part for each soldier; also his tunic.[a]But the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom,24 so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the Scripture which says, “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots."So the soldiers did these things, 25 but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. John 19:17 - 27 (ESV)
Jesus was arrested and bound by the soldiers and taken before Annas, father-in-law of the High Priest Caiaphas. Annas is also called the High Priest in other passages so there is some debate over why he is also called the High Priest. Some suggest that Caiaphas and Annas shared the position and others suggest that since he was High Priest before Caiaphas that he was probably retired from the position but still held the title.
The death of Jesus is a graphic and gruesome thing. Many of us have either seen movies, read books or even imagined in your mind what this horrific event was like, but I do not think we can fathom what it was really like. The death Jesus suffered was a painful, humiliating and violent one, yet it was necessary to accomplish the will of the Father. Crucifixion was a method of capital punishment used by many nations including Greece and Persia. The Romans used it as a means to execute slaves and criminals.
In the Gospel of John, the final two statements made by Jesus were first a personal need, “I thirst”, and the second is a declaration of completion of the task, “It is finished!” What was finished? Jesus has accomplished what He came to do. The law has been fulfilled and redemption has been made. Through Jesus’ death, humanity can have peace with God. He has borne the penalty of sin for humanity so that those who believe and obey would not face this penalty.
It was nearing the Sabbath before Passover and the process of death was going to be sped up by breaking the legs of those being crucified. They wanted to get this over, so they could go ahead and celebrate the Passover. However, Jesus had already given up His spirit and was lifeless so there was no need to break His legs (thus fulfilling prophecy). To ensure He was in fact dead the Roman soldier pierced his side.
It is believed that both Joseph and Nicodemus were Sanhedrin and followers of Jesus. Joseph must have been a person of influence because typically a person who was crucified was just thrown in a common grave.
Today, this devotional ends the Season of Lent, but the story does not end here. This account is gruesome, brutal, and somewhat tragic but altogether necessary. The death of Jesus Christ establishes God’s new covenant of grace, atonement and redemption with humanity. Let us all remember, today may be a sad day in the Gospel account, but we must remember, Sunday is on the horizon.
Happy Easter! He is RISEN!
When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. 2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4 Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” 5 They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6 When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. 7 So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.” 9 This was to fulfill the word that he had spoken: “Of those whom you gave me I have lost not one.”10 Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant's name was Malchus.)11 So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”12 So the band of soldiers and their captain and the officers of the Jews arrested Jesus and bound him. John 18:1 - 12 (ESV)
Once Jesus finishes His prayer and concludes His farewell discourse, He went to a garden to pray. Judas knew Jesus would be there at this time, so he brings with him Roman soldiers (possibly up to 200 soldiers) and the temple police to have Jesus arrested. Judas kisses Jesus, but John does not record it; however, we know he did from other Gospel accounts. Jesus meets the group and asks who they are seeking? They respond, “Jesus of Nazareth.” He replies, “I am He.” The literal translation is “I am.” John tells us the soldiers drew back or as the NET Bible says, “they retreated” or moved back and fell to the ground. What happened at this moment? Why did the soldiers fall? More conservative biblical scholars believe the soldiers in the front may have jumped back when Jesus unexpectedly advanced forward causing those in the front to start a domino effect falling to the ground. Others believe they fell because a Theophany (an appearance of God to humans) appeared and caused His enemies to fall back and fall prostrate before Him. What we do know is Jesus is in control of the situation. One commentary reads, “We see they are struck down by a power such as that which smote Saul of Tarsus and his companions to the earth (Ac 26:14). It was the glorious effulgence (radiance) of the majesty of Christ which overpowered them. This, occurring before His surrender, would show His power over His enemies, and so the freedom with which He gave Himself up”.
I like what Pastor Tim Keller says in his sermon I AM HE; “Nobody can stand on their feet in the presence of God.” The power of God is awesome in all senses of the word. Not only is it awesome, but awe inspiring. I believe in Jesus we see the power of God manifested in His name (I AM, Yahweh). If the mere mention of the name of God can bring a squad of soldiers to their knees, then we ought to recognize and respect the power of God altogether.
Jesus asks them again whom they seek, and he informs them He is the one they seek. He tells them to let the men with Him go unharmed. Peter decides he wants to seize the opportunity and he attacks the High Priest’s servant and cuts off his ear. Peter’s knee jerk reaction spurs Jesus to let everyone know He is not seeking violence and that He will go peacefully. In fact, He rebukes Peter by asking him, “Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” This is His way of saying to Peter, “This all has to happen. This has been set since the beginning of time. I must do as the Father says in order to accomplish the plan from the start.” As we can see Jesus has accepted the mission the Father has given to Him. His death on the cross was not a hiccup in the plan of God. It was THE plan from the beginning.
 I would encourage you to read Exodus 3 so you can get a better understanding of the impact of this statement.
Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., Fausset, A. R., Brown, D., & Brown, D. (1997). A commentary, critical and explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments. On spine: Critical and explanatory commentary. (Jn 18:6). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34 - 35 (ESV)
Today is Maundy Thursday. The term Maundy Thursday is derived from the Latin phrase “Dies Mandatum” which means the mandate or “The Day of the new commandment.” Today’s reading highlights the commandment or mandate that Jesus gave to His disciples on the eve of His death. Traditionally, the Church observes this evening with a ceremonial foot washing service and concludes with a time of communion with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (John 13). Today, we will look at the three key observances of Maundy Thursday that are intended to prepare us for the remembrance of Christ’s death and celebration of His resurrection for our justification.
Three Key Observances for Maundy Thursday: (Matthew 26 & John 13 – 17)
Youngblood, R. F., Bruce, F. F., Harrison, R. K., & Thomas Nelson Publishers. (1995). Nelson's new illustrated Bible dictionary. Rev. ed. of: Nelson's illustrated Bible dictionary.; Includes index. Nashville: T. Nelson.
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, 4 rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. John 13:1 - 5 (ESV)
Today and tomorrow we are going to step back and look at the events of the last supper. It was during this evening meal that Judas had purposed in his heart to betray Jesus. John tells us that the Devil had put it in Judas’ heart. He had already made up his mind that he was going to betray Jesus and turn Him over to the authorities in exchange for money.
In this passage we see the heart of Judas, but on the contrary we see the sincere heart of Jesus as He prepares to wash the feet of his disciples. At this point He knew Judas’ heart and He does not turn away from washing his feet. He serves His enemy with genuine love. We read, “The devil put it in his heart” and this just goes to show the underhanded plot of the Jewish leaders was satanic. Since we know the end of the story we know that Jesus’ death had to happen as it was planned from the beginning of time; however, it is revealed to us that the means in which it would be done would be through satanic influence.
After the meal Jesus strips down to His loin cloth and wraps a towel around His waist and begins to wash the disciple’s feet. This is a wonderful act of service Jesus does for His closest friends. However, we fail to see how much of a servant Jesus becomes in doing it. A foot washing was a task that was usually reserved for the lowest of servants. Peers and especially teachers of students did not “stoop” to the level of foot washing. It is suggested that some Jews believed that even Jewish slaves should not wash feet; instead this should be a job for gentile servants.
With Jesus taking off His outer clothing He shows that He is becoming the lowest of servants and serving His friends. Jesus did not perform this service to fulfill prophecy, He didn’t do it to gain respect from his disciples, and He did not do this because He wanted something in return. This is a true display of love and service for both His friends and enemies and He wants to show them the significance of being a follower of Jesus.
We can learn much about our conduct as followers of Jesus through His act of service. The overarching theme for this passage is about serving one another in Christ’s love. As we have seen here no task is to be considered below us and we are called to serve one another in love. The body of Christ should seek out ways to serve one another and to serve the community. Service is an action and it requires movement. Serving involves getting up and doing, it’s not about sitting and watching. Maybe this is why so many are reluctant to serve? People enjoy the spectator aspect of Christianity, but we do not always appreciate or value the movement aspect. We are all called to serve faithfully and forever. This includes the youngest of our children to the oldest of adults as they are able. Serving in Jesus’ name should bring such joy and happiness to our lives that we never grow tired of doing it. Sure, there will be times you may not be appreciated or even criticized for your act of service and this is why it is important that we do it for the Lord and not for people. People can be harsh, critical, and downright mean, but if you serve others with the heart of Jesus you will be blessed.
Do you have the heart of a servant? What are some practical steps you can take today to serve someone? Is there anyone the Lord has laid on your heart to bless by serving?
6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. John 17:6 - 19 (ESV)
Today we will look at the two remaining purposes of Jesus’ prayer.
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