I. Caiaphas, the Judge
Caiaphas slammed his hands on the podium.“Quiet! Quiet in the courtroom!”
As he looked around the room, he could feel the stress pulsating throughout popular – A late night, illegal trial was the only way they could convict him without drawing the ire of the masses.
But it wasn’t working.
Witness after witness had approached the stand. Each had attempted to pin a crime on Jesus. And each – sounded as stupid and false — as the last one.
“I saw him spit on an old man’s eyes….although I’m pretty sure the blind man was able to see after he did this.”
“I heard he performed a heist and stole thousands of loaves of bread from a local bakery to feed some hungry people.”
“I heard he beat up that demon possessed guy – Legion?” “Really? Cause I heard that he helped him.”
Not even two of the witnesses agreed on what the charges against Jesus should be and their statements were quickly devaluing into arguments.
Caiaphas was losing control. If they didn’t speed things up, it would be daylight. Then, their secret attempt at rescuing the people of Israel from this lunatic would fall apart. They crowds were surround the building. They would demand Jesus to be released. Caiaphas will have missed his moment to save his people from this foolishness.
Then two scoundrels came forward with a story that might work. “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days. (v.61) ”
Caiaphas raised his eyebrows. This could work. A plot against the community of Israel. Nevermind that the temple was made with beautiful stone ornaments making it difficult to perform such a task before the age of ‘explosives.’ Nevermind that Jesus had spent most of his days peacefully preaching and teaching in the temple. Nevermind that a few days earlier Jesus emotionally cleaned out the temple in order to bring it back to its former glory.
Caiaphas had two colluding stories. He had to use this on Jesus. But so far, Jesus hadn’t said anything in response. So Caiaphas growled at him, “Aren’t you going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?”
63 But Jesus remained silent.
Caiaphas glared at him. He stared at this sad looking carpenter. He thought of how Jesus had been single handedly ripped away following from their religious leaders for weeks, how he had called him – the high priest – out for hypocrisy, how Jesus had claimed a special connection with God. Caiaphas stopped. He smirked. That was it.
Caiaphas said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: tell us if you are the Anointed One, the Son of God.”
The crowd was silent. They knew what this meant. If Jesus admitted to being the Savior, they had him. He will have committed blasphemy. He will have claimed to be God – when they could plainly see he was not! Better yet -- this was a terrible offense in the Jewish world. An offense punishable by death.
Jesus looked up from his focus on the floor. He breathed deeply. He stared Caiaphas directly in the eyes.
“You have said so,” Jesus replied. “Yes.”
But before Caiaphas could high five the lawyers at the clever way that he had just tricked Jesus into exposing himself, Jesus continued his speech. “But I say to all of you: You will see the Son of Man, me, sitting at the right hand of the Mighty one, God and coming on the clouds of heaven, to judge you."
Caiaphas chuckled. Time for the show. He tore his clothes. He wailed out loud. “He has spoken blasphemy. Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” The jury’s response was music to Caiaphas’ ears; “He is worthy of death.”
At that pandemonium broke out. Dignified priest after dignified priest took turned slapping Jesus. They conjured up some spit in their throats and sprayed it all over Jesus’ face. They spewed forth every cruse they could think of and directed them at Jesus.
As blood fell from Jesus’ lip, Caiaphas smiled. It was only a matter of time. Soon – he would silence Jesus.
Stop for a moment and evaluate Caiaphas' decision.
Do you think it's wise to put the Son of God on trial?
Is it wise to argue with the One who controls storms?
Is it wise to condemn the one who condemns demons?
Is it wise to drive out the one who drives out disease?
But understand why Caiaphas did what he did. He did not believe that Jesus was the Son of God. Even though he had heard of the miracles -- and maybe even saw them -- he refused to believe that Jesus was the Son of God. His jealousy for Old Testament law took over. His desire to impress God with that jealousy motivated him.
He put the Son of God on trial, because he did not believe the Son of God to be the Son of God.
...what does that say about us? What does that say about us when we put the Son of God on trial knowing full well that He is the Son of God?
Now you might be thinking, “Pastor, I don’t own a gavel. I don't have a long judge robe. I don't have my own court and I don't even know where I would find the physical apparition of Jesus to put on trial. How could I put Him on trial?"
That last one was easy to write. It's a thought I have all too often. Maybe you have had a similar thought or one similar to another one. GET THIS: When we do, we are doing exactly what Caiaphas did. Only worse! We had the knowledge that He is the Son of God!
II. Jesus, the Judge
Here’s why judging Jesus is a terrible idea: Remember what Jesus said at the end to Caiaphas? Caiaphas probably laughed it off. You probably just thought it sounded strange. But – look at it one more time: “You will see me sitting at the right hand of the Mighty one and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
This is truth. When Jesus returns with the ethereal clouds of heaven with a gavel of lightning and his courtroom officials that are none other than angels who fly from the front of the courtroom to back, not holding nightsticks, but swords of fire -- What do you think his reaction will be to all those who judged him and condemned him?
What do you think his reaction will be to you if you judge and condemn him?
It’s not good.
So what do you do if you have judged God? What do you do if you’ve put the son of God on trial?
1) Appeal to His Mercy.
If you ever get bored during the day, you can always check out daytime judge shows. The CW has about 8 in a row. Judge Mills Lane. Judge Judy. Judge Joe Brown. The People’s Court. Each judge has specific qualities that make them fun to watch. Some are hard-nosed. Some are intelligent. Some are funny.
What makes Jesus special as a judge? Ephesians 2:4 tells us, “God is rich in mercy.” There’s the key characteristic of Jesus. He is merciful. Even though He has all the evidence in the world to condemn you – every last sin you’ve ever done, every last sinful word you’ve ever said, and every last sinful time you’ve put him on trial – Jesus is a merciful judge.
Scripture says as much. It says, “We have been justified – that means “declared innocent” through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1)
That means that when you stand before Jesus, your judge, your defense will be really simple.
Don’t say, “But this is really your fault.”
Don’t say, “But I didn’t really mean it.”
Don’t even say, “But this other guy is much worse.”
Simply say, “Because you're merciful.” I did wrong, but you Jesus, are merciful. Pardon me.
Jesus will lift his gavel. He will smile. He will slam it onto his eternal gavel stand. He will look you straight in the eye – and say, “Innocent.”
2) Think Twice about Judging Jesus.
Maybe you’ve got a friend who’s kind of a know-it-all. The thing about know-it-all friends is that after a while, you stop challenging them. Otherwise, you have to sit there patiently and wait as Google searches for and confirms that Alan Alda is indeed the name of the actor who played Hawkeye on M.A.S.H and that Saturn has officially 8 moons, if you count the curved one that falls near the bottom.
It’s not wise to question your know-it-all friend, it’s infinitely less wise to question Jesus. So when you have a dispute with Jesus – “Why don’t I have more money? Is that really a sin? Does God really love me?” Pause for a moment before you put him on trial. Because maybe – just maybe – it’s sinful you who is wrong. Not non-sinful, perfect, all knowing, loves you more than you know -- Jesus.
3) Give Thanks (a lot).
Considering what Jesus has done for us – forgiven us for our attacks on him AND freed us from an inevitable condemnation in the fiery jail cell of hell – saying thanks seems more than appropriate.
Instead of figuring out ways to complain against him, think of ways to say thanks to him.
· Start a journal and keep track of all the blessings he gives you each day.
· Send an email invite to your friends inviting them to church
· Grab one of the Preserve our Missions jars and put a few extra coins aside to say thanks.
· Resolve to love your spouse all the time
It’s in our text too! What did Jesus say when Caiaphas questioned him about being the Son of God? Jesus knew the law. He knew it better than Caiaphas. He knew that blasphemy – saying you are God when you aren’t – was punishable by death. He knew that when he admitted to being God’s Son the jury before him would not believe Him and would convict him of death.
But Jesus still said YES. He let them convict him. Even though he had stopped storms, walked on water, driven out demons, and conquered death – he let some measly, angry human beings crucify him.
Because He is merciful. Amen.
I. The Denial of the Denial
This night was not shaping up the way Peter had hoped it would.
It was supposed to be a nice evening. A chance for the group of disciples to spend time together. A time to reflect on the blessings of God on the Israelite people. A nice holiday for their little family.
But moments ago, Judas had left in a huff. Jesus had spoken again about his death. The other disciples all looked downcast.
It must have been getting to Jesus. Because now he was talking about how all of them, would leave him. In just a few hours he would be alone. Abandoned.
Peter had to do something. He reached over. He put his hands on Jesus’ shoulder. He shushed Jesus.
“Not I Lord! I won’t ever leave you. Not now. Not ever.”
“Simon, Simon. Satan, has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
Peter shook his head. Why was he calling him his given name? His new name was “Peter.” It was Peter because he was a rock. He didn’t get blown about by the air like a little piece of wheat. He was stronger than that.
“Never Lord!” Judas – sure. He’s a cheater. He’s always been greedy. And Philip? I could see it. He’s the one who didn’t believe you could feed the 5,000 people with a few loaves of bread. Even John – he’s supposed to be a son of thunder, but he’s more like a tiny thud. But not me. I walked on water with you. I was the first to call you the Christ. I saw your face shine like lightning up on the mountain (Which I’m not supposed to be telling anyone yet) but…still…the point is: I am ready to go with you! Even if it means prison…even if it means death.
Jesus repeated...eyes directly on Peter…more specifically, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today. You will deny three times that you know who I am.”
If you know this story and what happens next, you’re already shaking your head. Peter is setting himself up to fall even more so than before. It’s happening because Peter is forgetting an important Biblical principle. “If you think you are standing firm, be careful so that you don’t fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12)
Peter forgot that.
But this is why God’s Word is so awesome, because look at how all encompassing that passage is: If you are hearing this message right now and you think it doesn’t apply to you, then, (guess what) it applies to you! If you think it applies to you, it applies to you. If you think that it does apply to you and therefore it doesn’t apply to you because it applies to you, it still applies to you.
Be careful. If you think this message isn’t for you, the devil’s got you right where he wants you. He's got you right next to the cliff -- and when you aren't looking -- push.
And you will fall.
Just like Peter.
II. Reality Sets In
Peter ducked behind a bush. “Did they see him?” His heart was beating so quickly.
Moments ago, Judas had appeared with a mob of soldiers. They had surrounded Jesus. They had arrested him. They other disciples had run away. And in the confusion, Peter had too!
But…he took a deep breath…he was better than this. He had promised not to abandon Jesus and he wouldn’t.
Peter walked the remaining few minutes to the courtyard of the high priest. This was where they would put Jesus on trial to determine whether he was guilty or not.
Peter stayed in the shadows. He should be in there with Jesus, but…first he needed to regain his composure.
He inched forward to the fire that was roaring in the middle of the room. It was night. He was cold. As soon as he warmed up, then…he’d go join Jesus.
As the light of the flames hit the sides of Peter’s face, a young servant girl – a teenager – noticed him. She did a double take. Then, she approached him. 56 “This man was with Jesus.”
Peter reacted quickly. “Woman, I don’t know him.” He said with a nervous giggle. Then turned his back to her and tried to focus in on warming his hands – as if the question had never been asked.
Someone else had heard her idea and after taking a long hard look at Peter, agreed, “You are also one of them.”
“I am not!” Peter replied – just a smidgen more sharply. This time he moved away from the fire. He moved back into the shadows. He needed a break from this stress. He needed to calm his spirit.
Finally a group confronted him. “You were with him. You are a Galilean. Your accent gives you away.”
Peter’s got vicious. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I swear to God I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t know him. I don’t want to know him. I will never know him. Leave me alone!”
As Peter completed his tirade, the silence of the midnight air was cut through by a host of noises.
A rooster crowed.
A door opened.
The march of the officer’s boots hit the cobblestone.
The clanking of changes as the prisoner was moved.
Peter looked up. His eyes locked with Jesus. He saw his Savior’s disappointment.
And Peter remembered. “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept. Reality had set in. He was not the strong, courageous, immovable Christian that he had fancied himself to be.
He was weak just….like Jesus said.
It’s hard to look at the reality of our situation. But right now I need you to do just that. When we look at Peter’s story, do you see yourself?
1) The Runaway Christian
Do you see yourself in the garden? Like Peter, running away from your Christian friends when things get scary?
Whoa! Pastor just said that’s a sin…online. In a public forum. I’m totally abandoning him. He’s on his own.
Wait. We’re gonna say a prayer in public? Excuse me while I use the restroom.
Oh no! My Christian friend is starting to turn this conversation back to God. I’m really uncomfortable. I know, “Speaking of heavenly things, did anyone hear the heavenly voices on American Idol last night!?!”.
If you abandon your Christian friends, you’re abandoning Jesus. You aren’t as strong as you think.
2) The Follow at a Distance Christian
Maybe you’re more like Peter on the way to the courtyard. A “Follow at a distance” Christian.
Valentine’s Day was last weekend. Did you go for an afternoon walk with your honey? If so, did you have them walk about four blocks in front of you? “Honey, I’m having a blast?” Or did you go see a movie, tell her to sit in the front, while you went and sat in the back. “Wouldn’t want people to know we’re together.”
Following Jesus at a distance gives people that exact impression. If they look at you and they look at Jesus and they can’t tell that the two of you are walking hand in hand, you aren’t as strong as you think.
3) The "Panic-at-the-last-moment-and-flat-out-deny-Jesus-to-non-Jesus-followers" Chrsitian
Or maybe you’re tougher than that. Maybe you don’t run away. Maybe you don’t follow at a distance. Maybe you get straight up confronted about your Christianity.
I was on a plane trip not that long ago. I’ve always read that a plane ride is an excellent time for a Christian Pastor to share their faith. You’ve got an audience. They can’t leave. It’s a wonderful opportunity. I’ve read a few different stories from a few top notch pastors about how they’ve been able to share their faith and how God used that to bring people to faith.
So…I was prepared to do just that. Except. The first flight wasn’t that long. There wasn’t enough time for a conversation about religion. The second flight – that guy looked a little angry, so I didn’t want to offend him.
But the third flight. The person was very talkative. She told me about how she was from Germany. She told me about how she was lonely. She told me about how she missed her family and friends. This would have been the perfect time to tell her about her Savior who never leaves her.
Instead, I said, “Did you want some peanuts?”
When that plane ride was over…now not only did I struggle with fear, but I struggled with guilt. I thought, "Some pastor. Can’t even share the message of Jesus. Not good. Pathetic." It took a couple days for me to get over it.
That's hard. Because now the voices have changed.
That's what happened to Peter. He had heard voices pointing at him and saying, "You are one of his disciples, admit it!" Now he lay in a heap outside the building listening to the voice of the devil, "You are NOT one of his disciples. Admit it! You abandoned him. You denied him. You are not a believer."
III. Where to Find Strength
But here’s where I found strength and it’s where Peter found strength. It’s also where you can find strength.
Scripture says, "When we are faithless, he is faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”
That’s exactly what Jesus was. Look at the story of Peter’s Denial again. Did you notice it all came true? Judas’ left to betray Jesus like Jesus had said. The disciples left Jesus like he had said. Peter abandoned Jesus like he had said.
But also Jesus. He did did exactly like he had said. Thank the LORD! He was arrested like he said. He was sentenced to die like he said. He was willing to give up his life to save you -- like he said and promised!
It’s amazing, too. Because if anyone should deny anyone, it should really be Jesus denying us! We are the ones with the sin problem. We are the ones whose hearts are filled with guilt. We are the ones who, if our moms knew all that we’ve done, even they would consider saying, “I don’t know the man.”
But Jesus knew the worst of you and he did not abandon you. He did not keep a distance from you. He didn’t deny knowing you.
Instead – he stood up for you. “See my friend, I don’t deny knowing her. She’s done wrong, but I’d like to suffer for her. I don’t want to abandon her. I want to take her place. I don’t want to keep my distance from her – I want to be with always to the very end of the age.”
Because of Jesus, you are forgiven. Forgiven for your lack of courage. Forgiven for letting fear win. Forgiven for your weaknesses.
And you know what – having weakness and having fears – they aren’t so bad. In fact, check out what 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “My grace is sufficient for you; for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Any of you ever lift weights before? If you are lifting weights, it’s smart to have a spotter. But sometimes – you get the impression that the musclehead who asked you to spot is just calling you over to show off. “Oh man that 400 pounds that on my chest feels just like a feather. Could you help me get it off…oops never mind. I did it on my own.”
But if you are spotting someone and they need help, then your power is on full display! It’s up to you to save them from injury.
When we admit our weaknesses, God’s power is on full display. His power to destroy sin. His power to defeat death. His power to overcome adversity.
His power – to help us be bold.
Fast forward with me. Peter is surrounded by angry, violent men. The exact men who had crucified Jesus just months earlier. Now Peter stood before them. Now they were threatening Peter with death.
This was a lot scary than that young teenage girl.
But listen to Peter now, “You crucified the Lord of glory. For Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name, given to men, by which we must be saved.”
Peter doesn’t stutter. Peter doesn’t blink. Peter is bold.
The difference? Well – there’s this little thing called Easter that happens in between there. A little thing where Jesu boldly defeats sin and boldly defeats death.
Jesus made Peter bold.
Jesus makes believers bold.
When you're with Jesus, he’ll make you bold too. Amen.
I. The Betrayal
Judas nervously chewed his lip.
As he waited in the candlelit hallway, a chill slipped down his spine. “Was he doing the right thing?”
For so long, he had thought Jesus to be his leader. He was kind. He was convincing. He had claimed to be the Messiah. He had promised to start a new kingdom. He had promised the treasures of God himself!
To Judas, that was appealing. He knew he would look great in an expensive, purple robe. He loved the idea of showing off his fine collection of art to the merchants of the area as they sat down listening to his hired harpists and sampled the finest wines from the outskirts of the Middle East. He longed for the moment that he would have more wealth on his fingers than his entire neighborhood had in their local bank.
But the wealth never came. Judas kicked at the dirt. The wealth never came.
To be fair -- It could have! Oh how it could have! People loved Jesus. They were excited about Jesus. They respected Jesus. After he had fed thousands of them with another one of his unexplainable miracles, the people were ready to make him king and they wouldn’t have been that hard to ask them to finance his political campaign.
But Jesus wasn’t interested in money. He was interested in “spiritual wealth.” He talked about giving to the poor and taking care of widows. He went from place to place – not knowing where he would sleep each night. Oh how he hated that feeling. As the group treasurer, he knew all too well that they didn’t have a lot. In fact, if Judas had not taken advantage of his position and snuck a coin here and a coin there, for his own pension…all of that time, years of his life, would have been a total waste!
Judas clenched his fist. That would have been ok. Except. Except…Jesus had contradicted himself. When a woman spent thousands of dollars to take a bottle of vintage, top shelf perfume as a gift to Jesus – a gift which she promptly wasted by pouring out onto his feet, Jesus – defended her! There she was dumping liquid gold – Judas’ ticket to easy street – on to the floor where it seeped into the dust and slowly evaporated into nothing. And Jesus didn’t scold here. He didn’t tell her to give to the poor.
He scolded Judas!
“APPROACH!” One of the guards motioned with his scabbard. “The chief priests will see you now.”
Judas nodded. Nodded as if the speed of his neck’s movements would increase the likelihood that he was in the right.
4 And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. 5 They were delighted and agreed to give him money. He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.
It’s crazy isn’t it? Gathered together as Christians one thing we can agree on is Jesus was awesome. He was a nice guy. He did miraculous things. Can you imagine one of his own disciples throwing his relationship away for a couple months’ wages?
See the story of Judas isn’t not about how crazy it is that Judas would betray his Savior. But how crazy, easy it is, for us to do the same.
Here’s the truth. If you look for fulfillment in things other than Jesus, you will inevitably betray him. It’s not a matter of if, but when. Your sinful heart will become too much and you will turn your back on your Savior.
Just like Judas. He found fulfillment in money, and wealth and the idea that the Messiah would bring him money and wealth. When it became clear that Jesus wouldn’t do that, Judas threw him away...
II. The Warning
It was as Judas was pondering that very thing when suddenly a gruff voice caused him to jerk in his seat.
"Do you want to get him?”
A few drops of sweat formed beneath Judas’ beard.
“I said, “Do you want a biscuit?”
Judas nodded vigorously in order to hide his nervousness from Bartholomew. “Sure.”
But that kind of thing had been happening all night. Did they know? Did they know it was him? Did they know he was planning on betraying Jesus?
Batholomew handed him a piece of warm flatbread. “Here you go.” He smiled and patted Judas on the back.
They didn’t know. He had been so secret about it. They didn’t know and they wouldn’t find out. He was safe. He was in the clear. He could remain a part of these close friends and still get his reward for betraying Jesus. No one would ever know!
Then – Jesus caught his attention.
Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you going to betray me.”
Judas gulped. How did Jesus know? Did he send spies? He couldn’t possible have done so? He had been so careful. He had been covering his tracks. This secret was his secret and his alone. Jesus didn’t know. “Breath deeply. I’m in the clear.”
Thankfully – his demeanor fit in with the mood of the room. The other disciples were nervous too. “Lord, who is it?” “It isn’t I, Lord.” “ I would never Lord.”
“It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.”
As the thick gravy seeped into the pores of the bread, It gave Judas a chance to think. Was this really the right thing? He could still stop it. Was betraying his friend and colleague really the right thing to do? He still had time to stop it. He still had time to tell the Pharisees no. He still had time to throw the silver back into their faces. He still had time to ask for forgiveness. He still had time to seek God’s mercy.
Then, Jesus gave the bread to Judas.
Back in college – I took Hebrew. Hebrew is not an easy subject. Because of that, I think to properly learn Hebrew you need a hard-nosed Hebrew Professor. One who requires hard work and demands that you pay attention. Professor Nass was definitely that. He assigned pages of memorization. It took hours to prepare for his class. AND...he had the OVERHEAD.
Do ya’ll remember overheads? You could put up pictures and outlines and word problems. Overheads were supposed to be used to guide learning They were the old school versions of Powerpoint.
My Professor used it for public shaming. He would turn on the overhead and slowly write down the number of A+’s, the number of A’s, the number of B’s, and so on and so forth.
I’ll never forget the time that my 70% was the only 70% in class. UGH. I felt like a fool.
When Jesus gives the bread to Judas, his goal is not Judas’ public humiliation. He isn’t getting some kind of joy in pointing out Judas’ heart.
This is Jesus is calling out to Judas. It is Jesus panged that He is losing one of his own. It is Jesus pleading with Judas to stop before it’s too late. To be saved from this sinful, path he was on!
If you’ve been betraying Jesus, understand this – God has been reaching out to you too!
A commandment that you suddenly remember. A Bible passage that scrolls across your screen on Twitter. A friend who mentions that they are concerned for you. That nervousness you get when talking to a pastor – “I hope he doesn’t mention. Please don’t mention it. Please let me get away with it.”
This sermon. Right now.
That’s God. He’s calling on you to do what’s right. He’s calling on you to repent.
Listen to Him! Stop betraying your Savior. Instead…betray your sinful heart. Betray your sinful desires. Betray the things that lead to death and hold onto your Savior who leads to life.
The Apostle Paul wrote this, “I strike blows to my body and make it my slave so that…I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” Meaning he didn’t let his sexual urges control him. He didn’t let his greed control him. He didn’t let his laziness or anger or jealousy or need to be liked control him.
He betrayed those desires in order to follow Jesus.
That’s what Paul did.
That’s what God wants you to do.
But that’s not what Judas did.
III. The Betrayal
With a small army behind him, Judas and his mob marched through the garden. This time there was no nervousness. They were armed with clubs, torches, and small swords. There would be no fight. They converged on Jesus’ favorite quiet place. They overtook Jesus and his small group. They surrounded the disciples. Tension built.
Judas approached out of the crowd – with façade of arrogance masking the fear in his heart. “Greetings Rabbi!” he said. He looked right into the eyes of Jesus. He smirked. Then, he kissed him – emphatically on the cheek.
But as wild-eyed with surprise the other disciples were, Jesus was at ease. He had been expecting them. “Friend, do you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” Then, seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest.
Here’s the part that’s most incredible. After the interaction with Judas and the mob is surrounding him, Jesus asks them who they came for. When they say his name – Jesus simply says, “I am he.” He doesn’t run. He doesn’t hide. He doesn’t fight.
In fact, as He says that some kind of divine, supernatural force that knocks all of the soldiers to the ground. It’s a glimpse into the power and the strength that he could unleash at any time.
But Jesus didn’t unleash it. Instead? Instead he extended his arms, let the chains fasten around them, and he let them lead him away.
Isn’t it amazing? In spite the betrayal he endured from Judas and from you and from me, Jesus would not betray his mission. Jesus would not betray us. Jesus would not betray you. Scripture says, “When we were dead in our sins, God made us alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins.”
That means If you have betrayed Jesus’, bow your head in shame, sure. But please lift it once more to see Jesus’ love. Watch as he holds out his hands. Listen as he quietly says, “Go ahead. Arrest me.” Cringe as he endures insults. Follow as he walks step after step after step through that dark night – knowing full well that a cross awaited him.
Rest assured. Rest assured knowing that Jesus went through this, because he knew that on the other side of this suffering was you. A perfect existence with you. A peaceful, perfect existence for you by faith in him. In Him. IN HIM.
Brothers and sisters, by faith in Jesus, your betrayals have been forgiven. You are at peace with God.
Don’t betray that truth. Trust in it. Trust in Jesus.
Judas didn’t do that. Instead, Judas had a terrible ending. His guilt was so great that he figured Jesus could never forgive him. He ran back to the Pharisees and threw his silver on the ground. Then, he threw his life away as he hung from a tree.
Don’t you do the same. It isn’t too late. Not for you. Not matter what you’ve done. It isn’t too late because Jesus did not betray you. Repent. Turn from sin. Turn to your Savior.
He will never betray you. Amen.
A whole sermon series on Baptism? That sounds so Christian, doesn’t it?
What I mean is – you won’t find a lot about baptism in other places. It’s a word that kind of has a religious only meaning. You don’t talk about baptism and grocery shopping. You don’t have to be baptized to become a member of your gym. Baptism isn’t an exercise in your local hot yoga studio.
Baptism is strange. To this world, it doesn't' make a lot of sense. It's precisely that truth that might cause Christians to downplay Baptism's value.
If you entered my apartment, you'd run into the dining room table. If you turned your neck sharply to the left, you'd see a book shelf. On the shelf are a few photographs -- pictures of our wedding, a day at the beach and family. The shelf also holds some videos, a few books, and a light.
But in the middle of the photo frame jungle are two small ceramic figures. A grey elephant and a tan hippo.
I don't have some kind of obsession over large pachyderms.
They don't hold salt and pepper.
They aren't big enough to hold any papers down.
We have them because they are old. They are heirlooms from my great grandmother. Nothing else. They don't have any practical value. They are just antiques.
Do you ever think of baptism like that? As if it were some old, antiquated item that really doesn't seem to fit into the modern church? We keep it around because it's old..?
In the next six weeks, we’re going to examine baptism from all different kinds of angles. We'll see that Baptism is much more than just old. Baptism is still and remains a part of the Christian life and faith.
Tonight we are starting by taking a look at the moment Jesus first instituted Baptism.
I. Jesus Said What
Take a look at Jesus’ words in Matthew 28:19. He says, “Go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
Quick English lesson. An imperative is a command. There’s not a lot of wiggle room. Imperatives are exactly what Jesus uses when talking to his disciples here. Jesus didn’t say, “If you might could, possible think about this as an idea worth considering, in your spare time, when you get a chance, if you want, no worries, no hurries, if you get around to ok, ok then, I’d appreciate…thanks for thinking about it.”
Nope. Just “Go” and “Make.” Simple commands.
But it wasn’t like Jesus told them what to do without telling them how to do it. He said, “Go and make disciples…baptizing them,” meaning, “Here is the way to do it.” A crucial part of this disciple making process is baptizing.
More English. The word “Baptize” comes from the Greek word baptizo. It is used a lot in secular Greek writing of the time. People would baptizo their hands. They would baptizo their dishes. They would even baptizo their dining couches. Using context clues the meaning is clear.
Simply put baptizo means to wash.
Granted. There’s another big school of thought out there that says “baptizo means to submerge.” As a result, some churches teach that if you don’t submerge anyone under water, then it isn’t baptism. If you weren’t submerged under water, then you aren’t baptized.
How’s that for a conscience burden? Especially if you have longer hair:
Did all my hair make it under?
What if the upper half floated on top and was never truly submerged?
Do I still have unwashed sin located in my split ends?
But here’s where it’s important to look at what Jesus says. Check out the text again. “Go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Do you see any clue that this baptizo means submerge underwater? Me neither.
Let’s not add to what Jesus says then. Can we do that? There’s no need for us to improve on Jesus’ command. Let’s take him at his word and move on.
But don’t think that baptism is nothing more than just washing your hands. This isn’t just Jesus’ version of “make sure and wash up before dinner.” Look at else is involved besides the water “…baptizing in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
At Precious Lambs we are getting ready for ECERS. That stands for “Early Childhood…Something, Something, Something.” They are the ones who gives us five stars. Part of getting that five star rating is hand washing. The kids need to wash their hands using the state approved 8 step method. Step 1 – Turn water on. Step 2 – Get hands wet. Step 3 – USE SOAP!
Do you know how many times I have to remind kids of that!?! Use soap. If you don’t use soap, you aren’t really washing your hands clean of germs.
But when it comes to cleaning our souls. When it comes to cleansing our beings of all our unrighteous acts. It takes more than water. It takes more than water and Dial 100% antibacterial soap.
It takes washing in the name of the Father. The God who wiped out the whole earth with his floodwater.
It takes washing in the name of the Son. The one whose blood flowed from his side.
It takes washing in the name of the Holy Spirit. The one who floods our hearts with the message of God’s love.
Why do we baptize then? Because Jesus said so. We baptize how Jesus said, because Jesus said. Fair enough?
II. Jesus Said Who
Jesus doesn’t leave us in the dark as to WHO to baptize either. Take a look at what he says about who to baptize. He says, “Go and make disciples of all nations by baptizing them…”
That pronoun “THEM” is key. It refers back to all nations. That’s who we are to baptize.
But Jesus isn’t racist. He doesn’t say “Baptize only white people.” Or "baptize only Latino people.” He says, “Baptize all nations,” as in all people of all nations.
And Jesus isn’t sexist. He doesn’t say “Baptize only the men.” Nor does he say, “Baptize only the women.” He says, “Baptize all nations,” as in males and females.
And Jesus isn’t ageist.
This is probably the one Christians have a hardest time with. Some churches teach that we should only baptize those who are old enough to have the rational capacity to verbally confess faith in Jesus. The thinking is that they don’t know what’s going on. They can’t really believe.
Ever been to a children’s lesson? Ever heard those kids answer my questions? They know that Jesus was on the cross. They know that Jesus took away their sins. They know they had rose from the dead. They know way more bodly and way more confidently than almost any adult I’ve ever talked to.
Jesus might be my Savior. If it’s all true, but I have my doubts.
I know he’s supposed to be my Savior but…I really do have a lot of really bad sins, soooo…..
Me, forgiven? I don’t really feel it. I don’t know if I’ll have heaven.
And the kids? Jesus is my Savior. He died to take away my sins and I’m going to heaven. Can I go back to eating my yogurt now?
It’s ok. Kids put me to shame, too.
UNDERSTAND THEN: Jesus isn’t ageist. He doesn’t say, “Baptize only those people over 18.” He doesn’t say, “Baptize only those who you think might be old enough.” He doesn’t say, “Baptize everyone who has graduated sixth grade.”
Nope. Just baptize all nations. Baptize adults. Baptize kids. Baptize babies. We baptize who Jesus said, because Jesus said. Fair enough?
III. Jesus Has the Authority
So what, Pastor!?! I don’t do things just because someone tells me to. CNN tells me to vote this way. I might not. FoxNews tells me to vote this way. I might not. Pepsi tells me to drink Pepsi and I drink Coke! I don’t do something just because someone tells me to!
But what if they have the authority?
Back up with me a moment. Right before his command to baptize Jesus said this, “All authority in heaven and earth had been given to me.”
Was anyone here ever a room monitor back in elementary school? Room monitors get to have some power. They make sure no one else is talking. They make sure everyone stays in their seats. They get to look around at all their friends and write their name on the board if they do wrong. (And they have the ability to abuse their power. “I won’t write your name on the board, if you pick me first for kickball at recess.”)
But a room monitor…is not the end all. They have some power. Not all.
Note Jesus’ words. Not “some.” “All.”
Understood. It is one thing to say you have authority and another thing to actually “Have authority.”
But Jesus had just proven that to be true. He had shown his authority over death by rising from the dead a few weeks earlier. In fact, he had been in the business of proving his authority throughout his ministry.
He proved his authority over the body…and made blind see, deaf hear and the lame walk.
He proved his authority over pathogens and bacteria…and made sick people healthy.
He showed his authority over evil spirits…and drove them out.
He proved his authority over the elements…and reduplicated matter…bread and more bread out of little bread.
He proved his authority over nature…and calmed the storm.
He even proved his authority over the earthly element in baptism – water. He made it into wine. He made it into a walking surface. When he tells us he is going to use it as a means of making disciples – why would we doubt it?
If Jesus has the authority in your life? Be baptized.
Be baptized because he said so. Be baptized and receive the incredible blessings of baptism. (More on those in the coming weeks).
And parents, have your kids baptized and let them receive the incredible blessings of baptism. (Again…more on those in the coming weeks.)
And if you have been baptized – continue to dwell under Christ’s authority. He made you His. Do as he says so.
And…yes. I really have answered that question “Why” in a very rudimentary and Sunday School way: Because Jesus said So.
Do you really need anything else?
It came down to a coin flip.
Did you hear? People were so confused about who to vote in the Iowa caucus that certain districts decided their vote via coin flip. The same completely random device that decides whether I should have ham or turkey was used to decide who the next leader of the free world would be.
I can understand why they did this. The political landscape is confusing right now. It's confusing enough that people on the Democratic side voted within .1% of the lead candidates. On the Republican side, there is still a crowd of people left to vote for. The inundation of information has certainly fogged my brain. Vote for this guy because this. Don’t for this guy because this. Vote for this guy and you're this. Vote for that guy and you're that.
As confusing as the political landscape is, religion can seem just as confusing. The same inundation of information is readily available on the internet. Information that says Jesus is the Savior; next to websites that say Buddha spoke the truth; besides articles that say Allah is God; scoffed at in the comment section by a scientist who links to an article “proving” that the world evolved billions of years ago without any god at all.
They all seem like nice people.
They all make interesting points.
There plenty of people believing all of them.
How then do you cut through the confusion and get to a moment of clarity? How do you figure out what's right?
Listen to whichever answer makes you feel good?
Ask that know-it-all at work?
Close your eyes and point?
Or maybe now is where we flip the coin?
Today Jesus will help you out as we take a look at the final sermon in our series: Jesus’ First and only Transfiguration. His goal is to clear away the clutter and make it very clear to us who your Savior is.
I. The First Century Confusion
Check out Mark 9:28-36. That’s about halfway through the book of Mark (and about halfway through Jesus’ ministry). At the time, there was a hubbub surrounding Jesus. People came from far and wide to see him. They had heard of his miracles. They had heard of his wise teachings. They had even heard rumors that he might be the Messiah. Amazing if it were true, but blasphemy if it wasn’t.
People were confused --- Who was this Jesus?
Simon felt the same way. To be fair – he had a moment of clarity a few days ago. Jesus had asked all of them, “Who you think that I am?” Peter had tensed up. He had looked around to see who was listening. He had taken a deep breath.
“You are the Christ; the Son of the Living God!”
Jesus’ reply made him smile. “Blessed are you…This has been revealed to you by God!”
Peter was pretty proud. He had gotten it. Lots of other people didn’t get it, but he did. He was impressed with himself. The other disciples were impressed with him. Jesus was even so impressed with him – he had changed his name to Peter – which means “rock,” as in “That was a solid rock of a confession of truth.”
But then Jesus started talking about something strange. He mentioned that he would go to Jerusalem, be betrayed, arrested, falsely tried, sentenced to death, and crucified.
Peter was quick to speak up. “Never Lord! That’s a terrible idea. It won’t happen because I won’t let it.”
Peter stood there. Arms at his side. Anticipating the adulation of the Lord that was undoubtedly on his way. “Well done Peter. You’re so smart Peter. I’m going to change your name to Super Peter – Defender of All Things God."
But he didn’t get that nickname:
Get behind me Satan! You don’t have in mind the things of God, but the things of humans.
Peter sat down faster than he stood up. He stared at his sandals.
That was embarrassing. But it didn’t make any sense? If Jesus was the Messiah, why didn’t he want to ride into Jerusalem and conquer? Why wasn’t he building up an army of soldiers? Why did he did he want to go to Jerusalem and die? That was an awful plan for a Messiah to have.
Maybe…he wasn’t the Messiah.
II. The Transfiguration Cuts through Confusion
These kinds of thoughts had been swirling in his head for days. As he stood at the top of a mountain, he yawned – one of those three seconds yawns. Here’s something that wasn’t confusing. It had been a long journey to top. He was mentally exhausted and physically drained. Jesus was over saying a prayer.
Shutting his eyes for a few moments wasn’t a bad idea.
Then…a light. A bright light.
At first, it seemed like a part of some strange dream, but then his eyelids felt the unmistakable coolness of the evening air. He looked over at his disciples friends. Their eyes met his and they nodded in astonishment.
He was definitely awake.
The light wasn’t coming from a dream. It was coming from Jesus’ own face. It was bright – like the sun – like staring up to the sun on a morning day. He had to glance down and blink a few times.
When he looked up again, he noticed that Jesus' clothing was different too. It was a brilliant white. Not just any white. Peter had a white robe that was stained brown from the sand and had that fish guts stain on the back which his wife had scrubbed repeatedly to try and get it out. That was white–ish.
But the clothing on Jesus – it was whiter than white. It was whiter than the bleachiest, bleach white. It was whiter than humanly possible. It shined too. Like lightning.
Is that what had happened? Had Jesus been struck by lightning?
No. No, he was still standing. He was fine. In fact, he was talking to two others men. Peter listened carefully. Jesus called one “Moses” and the other “Elijah.” Peter looked at John and mouthed the words, “Are you serious?” These two were legends in the Jewish world.
Moses had been responsible for the first five books of the Bible. He had led the Israelites out of Egypt. God had split the Red Sea through Him and given the Ten Commandments to him.
Elijah had been a prophet of God during the time of rampant apostasy in Israel. He had opposed the false prophets of Baal in a fiery showdown. He had been fed by ravens. He raised the dead. He had heard the whisper of God with his own ears.
Elijah & Moses. Before his very eyes. It was amazing. It was incredible. It was…impossible.
Moses and Elijah had both been dead for thousands of years.
But as he watched their conversation unfold before his very eyes and as his two friends witnessed the same things besides him (and as he confirmed that electricity with the power to pull off such a swoon wouldn’t be invented for another 1800 years), Peter realized something.
This was real. It was real… real. It was real and it was one of the most incredible things He had ever seen in his life. His faith was surging. “Lord!” he shouted, “It is good for us to be here. Let me set up three shelters. One for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
As his words hung in the air, they were enveloped by a cloud. A thick cloud. A cloud that covered up Jesus. A cloud that covered up Moses and Elijah. A cloud that covered up Peter himself.
Then…he heard a voice. A booming voice. “This is my Son; whom I love. Listen to Him.”
With that, the cloud subsided. Moses was gone. Elijah was gone. The blinding light was gone. Only Jesus remained.
But something was different. While Jesus had changed back, something had changed within Peter. He could see clearly – not just because there was no longer any cloud or blinding light. Peter could see clearly that Jesus was the Messiah.
Do you remember your first Transfiguration?
Does your mom tell you, “Honey, you’re face was so cute. It was shining just like the sun.” Does your Grandpa hike up his shorts and say, “I remember the booming voice of God just like it was yesterday.” Do you have a few photographs that are nothing more than a brilliant white light with the faintest trace of your facial outline? (At least, you think).
Probably not. I don’t remember my first Transfiguration because I didn’t have a Transfiguration. You don’t remember your Transfiguration because you didn’t have a Transfiguration.
Neither did Buddha. Neither did Joseph Smith. Neither did Mohammed. Neither did Charles Darwin.
Jesus’ Transfiguration is one of a kind. It proves that He is one of a kind. It makes it clear that He is the Savior.
Jesus said this, “Believe me when I say that I in the Father and the Father is in me; at least believe me based on the evidence of the miracles themselves.” Transfiguration fits right up there at the top! A brilliant shining face? Whiter than white clothes? Talking to two guys who have been in heaven for thousands of years?
Do you remember the Spin Doctors? They sang the song, "One, two, princes kneel before you. That's what I said, now, Princes, Princes who adore you." Do you remember them? No? I once met their bass guitarist and their roadie. That’s the extent of famous people I’ve met.
Jesus is rubbing shoulders with Moses and Elijah! Years after they were dead. This is incredible! Then, the voice. The booming voice of God Almighty. A voice that had been heard before --- in the Garden of Eden – “I will send someone to crush the devil’s head;” – on Mt. Sinai – “Here are commands, if you break them you will need a Savior.” – at Jesus’ Baptism – “Here is that Savior. It’s my Son. Jesus.”
Listen to God.
Your Savior is Jesus!
Forgiveness comes from Jesus.
Heaven comes from Jesus.
There is no one else. Only him. PERIOD.
III. A Clear Directive
Listen to God and listen to his clear directive at the end. “Listen to Him.”
There is a lot of application here. There are a lot of questions in the world that have a lot of different answers depending on who it is you talk to:
Is homosexuality a sin?
Should I live with my boyfriend before marriage?
Should I really be giving money to the church?
Should I even be going to church?
Is salvation really by grace or should I get to work on doing good things?
What are good things?
Is every religion really just the same religion which all end up leading to heaven anyways!?!
When you’re looking for the answer, it doesn’t have to be confusing! Don’t listen to Facebook. Don’t listen to Twitter. Don’t listen to Instagram, Wikipedia, or your College professor with his fancy, hipster goatee.
Listen to Jesus.
It doesn’t have to be confusing! It can become confusing when we make it confusing. We do that when, like Peter, we don’t like the answer.
Think about it. He had already identified Jesus as the Messiah prior to the Transfiguration. But it was after He called Jesus the Messiah that he turned around and told his confessed Messiah that his plan – to die on the cross – was foolish! He didn’t like it so he wasn’t going to listen to him.
But on the mountain – it was abundantly clear that Jesus was the Messiah – he, Peter, was not. He needed to listen to Jesus, not the other way around.
Can I tell you something? Jesus is smarter than you. Please don’t be hurt by that. (He’s smarter than me too.) I’m not just talking about Math facts and science facts. I’m not just talking about Jeopardy trivia either. (Although I’m sure Jesus would be buzzing in answers before Alex Trebek even asked the questions.)
Jesus is smarter than you when it comes to what’s bad for you. He’s smarter when it comes to what’s good for you. He says sin is bad for you. He, your Savior, is good for you.
Listen to Him.
AND THANK GOD that Jesus didn't listen to Peter. If he would have, we would still be in our sins. (Even as believers.) We would be destined for eternal damnation in hell. Our lives would be one fatalistic train ticket to destruction.
But Jesus didn't listen. He went to Jerusalem. He held out his hands to be arrested. He listened to his death sentence. He waited as nails were driven into his hands. He died.
He died and completed God's perfect Messiah plan for salvation. He saved you from sin. He saved you from from death. He saved you from the devil.
LISTEN TO HIM!
But that wasn’t it. Jesus didn’t stop there. He went to the next phase in the plan. The phase that Peter had totally ignored when he rebuked Jesus. Take a look at it:
On the third Day, I will rise again from the dead.
Yeah, I’m listening to that guy.
BOTTOM LINE: Don’t let your eternity come down to a coin flip. God has made a clear to you. Jesus is the Way. Jesus is the Truth. Jesus is the Life.
Listen to Him. Listen to your Messiah. Amen.
According to Luke 4:22-30
22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked. 23 Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ And you will tell me, ‘Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’” 24 “Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown. 25 I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. 26 Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. 27 And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. 30 But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.
Over the past couple of weeks, we have been looking at some of Jesus’ FIRSTS. His first Outreach Program; his first miracle and just last week his first sermon – which was a pretty awesome sermon. Jesus revealed that He would open the eyes of the blind, that he would free the oppressed from the guilt of their sins, that he would release people from Satan’s power and that he would bring to the poor the riches of eternal life.
It’s sounds great, right? You’d expect people to start giving each other high fives. You’d expect a few “Hallelujahs!” from the back of the room. You’d expect some people to get up and start dancing and teens to start texting, #NazarethRules #TheMessiahIsHere! #ImSaved
Nope. None of that. (And not just cause SmartPhones weren’t invented back then.)
The reaction of the Nazarites was far less receptive and yet eerily familiar.
I. Familiarity Breeds Rejection
Take a look at Luke 4:22. It says, “All were spoke well about him and all were amazed at his words of grace. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they said.
Those English words are kind of deceptive. The Greek text there simply means that they began “talking about him.” More neutral than positive or negative. You can understand why – He had just claimed to be the Messiah -- something that no one else had done before…ever!
The phrase “all were amazed” has a positive English connotation. Like “I was amazed at the singer on American Idol.” But the Greek word doesn’t have that positivity. Again – it’s neutral amazement – almost shock. As in, “Donald Trump just what?”
Look at their reason for being shocked. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” Isn’t this the kid who used to go to Ms. Mertz’s Saturday school? Didn’t he have the lead in the annual Passover pageant a few years back? Wasn’t he a part of the teen choir? Didn’t I pay him a few dollars to come and help rebuild my wooden parlor table?
He’s familiar. He’s too familiar.
To help grasp what the Nazarites were going through. Imagine this. Imagine that you were scrolling through Facebook and you came across an friend from high school that you haven’t seen for years. You click on his profile and immediately you get an eery feeling. His last post says, “Trust in me and you will be saved from eternal hell.” His profile picture has some fuzzy cloud effect and the phrase “Trust in me” in front of it. Then, under his profile it says that he’s from HEAVEN, that his age is infinite and that his dad – is God himself.
Sound a bit crazy?
Jesus sensed that tension. Look at his response: Surely you will quote me this proverb: Physician heal yourself! Which is an interesting proverb. Imagine walking into a doctor’s office. You’re sitting on the cold, metallic stool. The doctor enters his face engrossed, not in your patient notes, but a handkerchief. He looks pale. He’s sweating. He’s sneezing. When he listens to your heartbeat you can’t tell if the icy cold is coming from the metallic end of the stethoscope or his sickly fingers.
Don’t worry about me, doc. Heal yourself!
Jesus was revealing what these people’s hearts were saying. “Jesus, heal yourself!” Bub, stop talking to us about sin and our need for a Savior. Don’t tell us you’re the Messiah. Don’t tell us you will lead us to heaven. In fact, don’t tell us anything else. Just do some of your magic tricks so we can all go home.
Then, Jesus drops some truth on them: 24 No prophet is accepted in his hometown. His hometown is too familiar with him. They refuse to see the prophet as the prophet. They can only see him as the familiar little boy, as a going-through-puberty teenager, as a not-the-Messiah-just-an-ordinary man.
Familiarity breeds Rejection.
Can we take this as a warning? Especially if you’ve been a part of this church/a Christian for a long time. (Myself included). Familiarity breeds rejection.
Careful: Familiarity Breeds rejection.
II. Rejection isn’t good
You might be thinking, so what? I might have done that. I might not always listen to Jesus. I haven’t really acted like he’s all that important. I guess I kinda rejected him…but so what? It’s no big deal.
NO BIG DEAL!?! I’ll let Jesus handle this one:
25 I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Did you catch that? It was a drought. No rain in all of Israel and the surrounding areas for three and a half years. 1277 days. No irrigation. No bottled water. Crops dying. Food scarce. There were all kinds of people who needed help. All kinds of Israelites. All kinds of long time, familiar with God, people!
26 Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. God told Elijah to tell her to go back to her flour jar…to make some bread…to use all she needed…ONLY to come back the next day and find it filled with flour all over again. A miracle for the foreigner.
To those who were too familiar with God to care? NOTHING.
27a And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet. Leprosy was a horrible disease. It was highly contagious. It flaked off your skin. It rotted your cartilage. It caused your finger tips and ear cartilage to fall off. It was fatal. There were all kinds of people who had this disease. All kind of long time, familiar with God, people!
27b Yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian. God told Elisha to tell him to go to a river…to wash once…to wash twice…to wash seven times…to look down at his skin in astonishment: HE WAS HEALED. A miracle of God. A miracle for the foreigner.
To those who were too familiar with God to care? NOTHING.
REJECTION IS A BIG DEAL! If you rejected Jesus, you are rejecting your salvation.
Imagine if someone invented a cure for cancer. If the doctor offered it to you and you said, "No," then,(get this) you won't be cured from cancer! With Jesus it is the same thing. Jesus is the cure for sin. Jesus is the cure for death. Jesus is the cure for hell.
If you reject him...
...it's a big deal.
Repent. If you’ve been away from God for a long time, if you haven’t cared, if you’ve let God become too familiar for you to care, repent! Turn around. Turn back to the LORD!
Because you can’t stop him. They couldn’t stop back then. Look at verse 28. 28 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this and they got up and drove him out of the town. They took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff.
They didn’t want to listen to his warnings. They didn’t want to hear him talk about sin. They were tired of this carpenter’s son – who was a Nazarene just like them – telling them that they needed saving! The best way to shut him up was murder. Plain and simple! And they had the numbers; a synagogue full of people. Hundreds. He only had a few, measly disciples. They could bull rush him. They could take up to the cliff. All it would take was one push and they’d never have to hear from him ever again.
Except….except….30 he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.
You can’t stop Jesus.
And can we point out this is one of those hidden miracles in Scripture. One of those times you might not see it the first time. He’s surrounded by people who are blood thirsty and ready to kill him. He walks “RIGHT THROUGH THEM.” It doesn’t say he went around them. He didn’t throw a smoke bomb and ninja out of there. He walked right through them.
Because you can’t stop Jesus.
Even though they tried again. Much later many people would try to stop Jesus again. They had him arrested; they had him imprisoned; then they sentenced him to die and instead of risking the chance that he might walk off again, they made sure he would stay.
They nailed him to two large pieces of wood and watched as he died.
But three days later, death couldn’t stop him.
The giant rock in front of his standing tomb couldn’t stop him.
The locked door that his disciples were hiding behind couldn’t stop him.
Jesus defeated sin, death, and hell. He did everything the sermon claimed he would. He made the poor rich by bringing eternal life. He made the blind to see as he showed himself the truth Savior. He released the prisoners from the guilt of their minds and the oppressed from the pangs of their sins. He proclaimed the year of the Lord’s favor!
Nothing could stop Jesus.
That’s still true. When you come to Jesus in faith, your past sins will not stop him from saying, “I forgive you.” Your past rejections will not hold him back from saying, “You are forgiven for your rejection.”
No matter what you have in your past, it will not stop Jesus from saying, “You are mine.”
And with Jesus on your side? Nothing can stop you!
The struggles you are having with finances? They won’t stop you, because you've got him.
The troubles in relationships? They can’t stop you, because you've got Jesus.
The terrors of this world? The scares of declining health? The torments of the devil? They won’t stop you because you are connected to Jesus – and nothing stops him!
It's simple. Don’t reject Jesus.
Connect with Him.
He won’t reject you. Amen.