Sunday, March 27, 2005

Resurrection Lessons

Intro: One of the most ancient rituals in the church was the familiar cuplet – “He is risen ... He has risen, indeed.”

  1. Each stands at the head of a long line of believers – one believer who told another who told another who told ...

  2. And finally someone told you.

  3. The gospel did not begin with me. It did not begin with men and women that first preached the gospel to you.

  4. It began with Jesus Christ.

  5. We have spent much of the last six month looking at the life Jesus Christ.

  6. Today we bring that study to an end.

Read Mark 16:1-8

     But what is the end of Mark's gospel is really the beginning of a much bigger story.
     In the resurrection we have the proof that Jesus was who he claimed to be.
     Let me suggest that there are five lessons that we can get from Marks gospel as read the resurrection story.

  1. Lesson #1: Love finds a way of expressing itself.

    1. Loving Jesus was not hard for these women. It should not suprise us that Mary, the mother of Jesus was there.

    2. Even Mary Magdalene would not surprise us – Luke tells us that Jesus case seven demons out of her.

    3. Salome had two sons who had been profoundly influenced by Jesus – She was the wife of Zebedee who was the father of James and John.

    4. Jesus had played an important role in their lives and now they wanted to demonstrate their love for their Lord.

    5. They did not go to the grave to see the risen Christ, but to bury their Lord.

(Ill.) Jewish culture did not practice embalming. Rather, bodies were placed into a grave or tomb with Spices to hide the stench that the decaying body would produce. However, in Jesus case there was a problem – he had been killed on Friday and was taken down from the cross shortly before the start of the sabbath. He was placed into Joseph of Arimathea's tomb. The sabbath officially ended at Sundown on Saturday, but the women waited until Sunday morning to purchase the spices they needed to prepare the body.

    1. And, because they loved Jesus, they were willing to put up with whatever scent that may have started to form.

(Appl.) When we love someone we will find a way to demonstrate that love. These women came to the grave to do exactly that.

  1. Lesson #2: We too often worry over problems that God has already solved.

    1. They came to the tomb to finish the task of finishing the task of preparing Bur before they could that, they needed to roll away the stone that guarded the entrance to Arimathea's tomb.

(Ill.) In 1998, the oldest person alive was a refrigeration engineer. Milton Garland was 102 in that year. Reflecting on his life he noted that, “Don’t worry about anything. Worrying never solved anything. All it does is distort your mind.”

    1. And that is what these women were doing – they were worrying about this stone that had been rolled in front of Jesus'grave.

(Ill.) It was a relative simple task to roll the stone into place in front of the tomb. One in place, however, it would slip down into a groove that was cut in the bedrock (“Plunk”). Moving it out of that groove was significantly more difficult than putting it in.

    1. Of course, like most of the things we worry about, God had already solved the women's problem.

(Appl.) Our lives would be so much easier if in the midst of our next worry, we took time to back away, even if just for a minute, and remember that God has it under control. But in the rush of life, too often, we forget that God has a role in all that we do.

  1. Lesson #3: We can look for Christ at the grave, but he is not there.

    1. The first few minutes at the grave must have been full of surprises.

    2. They did not find what they expected to see.

    3. The stone was gone. Jesus was gone. And, when they entered the tomb, there was somebody else there.

    4. I think I would be startled too.

    5. But there is a principle here – Jesus is no longer in the grave. He is alive – and we must look for him among the living.

    6. We do not want of focus on Jesus death – but on His resurrection.

(Ill.) Not the cover of today's bulletin - “Because of Good Friday you can look back and not be afraid. Because of Easter you can look ahead and not be afraid.”

    1. Jesus Christ is no longer dead.

  1. Lesson #4: Fear is a typical response when meeting God for the first time.

    1. The response of the women is not surprising – the angel they meet recognizes their confusion, “Do not be alarmed.” Later, Mark says that they were trembling and bewildered ... they were afraid.

    2. But there were others when they finally had to come to terms with God and all of his glory.

    3. There was Isaiah, who after meeting God, could only exclaim, “I am a man of unclean lips.” Moses also was faced with seeing the glory of God – but God only allowed him to see his back. Seeing God in all his glory is going to have a remarkable effect on us.

    4. These women are afraid as they realize that Jesus is not there.

    5. They do not understand; yet they have to process this horrible, this wonderful truth – Jesus is not in the grave, he is alive.

  1. Lesson #5: When we meet the resurrected savior, we cannot keep quiet.

    1. And that truth cannot be hid.

    2. It is a command from the angel “Go tell my disciples ..”

    3. But the news cannot be held back. It may be unbelievable, it may be so unexpected that we can hardly talk about it

    4. Yet we must, and we will.

    5. The women were first – but there would be more. They would tell the disciples. The disciples would see Jesus. They would see his wounds. They would hear his voice.

    6. And they also could not keep quiet. And they would tell others. And others would tell Paul and Paul would tell the known world.

    7. And the message would continue to be told from place to place, from time to time. Down through the centuries.

    8. And you heard the message – and you believed it.

Conclusion: Now it is our job to tell others, “Jesus is alive.”

  1. It is no longer a shock, it is no longer a surprise.

  2. We need to join the church throughout the centuries ...

  3. “He has risen.” ... “He has risen indeed”

Sunday, March 20, 2005

One Last Celebration

Intro: I really enjoyed our luau.

  1. But then I enjoy parties.

  2. I am not much of a party animal, but I enjoy being with people, I enjoy having fun with people.

  3. Jesus liked parties too. His first miracle was at a party – actually a wedding.

  4. Then there were the togethers at at Lazarus' place.

  5. But this time the celebration was for Jesus.

Read Mark 11:1-11


Tran. The Triumphal Entry stands in contrast to much of the rest of the ending of Jesus' life.

  1. Conflict is the theme that dominates much of the remainder of Mark.

  2. Jesus is at odds with the religious leaders

  3. Jesus is at odds with his Judas

  4. His disciples dessert him.

  5. But that is later in the week. Today will be different. Today will be a celebration.

T.S. During the next few minutes I want to look at the Occasion, the Place, and the Participants of that day.

  1. The Occasion

    1. It would not be just any ordinary trip to Jerusalem. It was Passover time in Palestine. It was the time of the year when the Jews remembered their escape from Egypt.

    2. It had been almost 1500 years earlier. Pharaoh had been challenged by Moses to let the Israelites return to their home in Palestine. After refusing to do so, God sent a series of 10 plagues. The celebration of the Passover allowed the Jews to remember God's provision during those days. The Jews had painted their door posts with the blood of the lamb – in doing so they had God's promise that their children would survive.

    3. And the people came. Not just Jesus, not just the disciples – but the Jews came from all over Israel, and in many cases from around the world.

    4. God had saved his people – their lives, like ours, did not deserve it, but God chose to show his grace to these descendants of the first century Jews.

(Appl.) Those events that had occurred 1500 years were just a snapshot of the salvation that God offers to us. Salvation did not just happen – but it had it roots in all that God planned for his people. And now, his salvation is not just for the Jews, but for everyone.

  1. The Place

(Ill.) Downstairs there is map of Jerusalem during Jesus time. After the service – take a minute to look at it.

    1. To the east of the city is the Kidron Valley.

    2. Just along there is the Eastern Wall of the city and the temple lies just to the other side.

    3. Just to the east of the Kidron Valley lies the Mount of Olives, where Jesus was going to be betrayed at the end of the week.

    4. There just over the ridge is the village of Bethany. And to the east of Bethany lying between Bethany and Jericho is Bethphage.

    5. Jesus comes from Jericho, through Bethphage and Bethany, and then he stops on the Mount of Olives.

    6. The instructions are simple – go into town, find a young colt, and bring him to Jesus – he even tells what his disciples what to say.

    7. I suppose that they could have had any number of common responses -

      1. Let somebody else do it

      2. I don't like colts – there too hard to handle

      3. I need some rest

      4. I expect there could have been others. What God asks of us is not terribly difficult – yet we do find excuses. Let's skip the excuses and say “Yes” to God. Whether it is in the church, in our communities, or in our families, God can have a role – if we will say “Yes” to him.

  1. The Participants

    1. I don't know if Jesus knew about the crowd ahead of time. I don't know if he expected anybody to be there other than his own 12 disciples.

    2. But as Jesus entered Jerusalem that day, the crowd was there. There is the suggestion that those who read Marks account would be reminded of the honor that would normally be given to Caesar.

    3. The people spread their coats down.

(Ill.) I remember cartoons in the paper as I grew up when the woman was about to leave the curb and some cartoonish gentleman tore off his coat or sweater and covered the puddle. I suppose as a child I thought this was how gentleman behaved. Maybe 50 years ago they did – but in my memory I never remember seeing this take place. Yet here, scripture clearly tells us it happened 2000 years ago as Jesus entered Jerusalem.

    1. “Hosanna!’” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!” “Hosanna in the highest!” Hosanna is the Hebrew word for “PRAISE”. They are praising the coming King. They are not looking for a sacrifice. Jesus had to be the sacrifice before he could be the King.

    2. I am reminded of Paul's words in Philippians 2 - “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,to the glory of God the Father.

Conclusion: We too are called to bow before the King.

  1. Jesus still deserves our respect.

  2. Jesus still needs our praise.

  3. Jesus still needs our Hosannas.

  4. This week, as you prepare for Easter, take time to praise Jesus. Turn off the TV.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Jesus - The Leader!

Intro:  The story is told of a dog who loved to go on walks with the family. He would always run out in front of the group, then proudly walk along with his head high and his tail wagging. Undoubtedly he believed himself to be the leader. However, he would constantly keep looking back to check the direction in which the family was walking. When a corner was reached he would stop and wait to see which direction the family took, then run out front to resume “leading” once again. Although the dog manifested the outward appearances of leadership, the fact was he was following out in front! In our homes, at work, among our friends, and in the church, we are called toward heaven. Through our daily commitment and example, we encourage others to follow along with us. Neither dominating others nor deferring to popular opinion, we lead the way. Someone once said, “A good leader not only knows the way, but shows the way!”—Al Maxey The Aloha Spirit  [AMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.]

Read Mark 10:32-34

There is absolutely no direct connection between my sermon this morning and the meeting that I had here yesterday.

  1. It was the nominating committee that met yesterday. We went over a set of names and considered where they might fit into various roles in our church.

  2. Those positions represent the leadership of our church.

  3. The sermon topic, leadership, was set long before the meeting was scheduled.

  4. Yet it seems appropriate that the day we begin to think about our church leadership for the coming year, we also look to the scriptures for and example of leadership.

  1. Leadership means going ahead of the crowd, even when it means being alone.

    1. It was going to be Jesus' last trip to Jerusalem. He had already told his disciples about his upcoming death and sacrifice – in fact he had told them twice before. He knew what was coming – and still he set his path toward Jerusalem.

(Ill.) Charles Swindoll has said, “No one deserves the right to lead without first persevering through pain and heartache and failure.”

    1. There were a lot of emotions that day. “They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way”

    2. Jesus knew what would happen. As he hung on that cross, there would be those who would see the last three years as wasted. Here was their friend, their leader, being hung like a common criminal among other common criminals. They would see their task as a failure.

    3. But knowing this, it was Jesus' direction that day. He was not following His disciples. He was not just tagging along with the crowd. No, Jesus was setting the direction and destination of their travel.

    4. But there were other emotions that day. It had been an amazing three years that the disciples had spent with Jesus. Why just the other day Jesus had told his disciples that “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” And as they walked along that road to Jerusalem, the disciples were amazed at all they had seen and heard during their time with Jesus.

    5. But there were other emotions that day. Along with Jesus and His disciples there was also a crowd. Mark records their emotions as being one of fear. We often fear what we do not understand and they did not understand Jesus.

(Appl.) Individuals come to Jesus with a great many emotions. Some with tears, some with joy. Some will come with a load that we cannot fathom. But however we come to Jesus, may we remember that day so many years ago, “They were on their way... and Jesus was leading the way.”

  1. Leadership requires the tone of courage in the midst of fear.

    1. In the midst of three sentences, Jesus tells his disciples

      1. the location of his suffering

      2. those who will carry out his execution

      3. the type of abuse he will suffer on the way to the cross

    2. Jesus did not want it – but it did not deter Him from traveling the path that God had laid out for Him.

    3. Adversity is part of the Christian life. It was part of the path that Jesus had to follow.

(Ill.) Martin Luther understood the role of opposition to the Christian life. He wrote, “‘If the Devil were wise enough and would stand by in silence and let the gospel be preached, he would suffer less harm. For when there is no battle for the gospel it rusts and it finds no cause and no occasion to show its vigor and power. Therefore, nothing better can befall the gospel than that the world should fight it with force and cunning.’

(Appl.) I expect that during this coming week there will be someone in this room today who will be faced with an adversity that they did not expect. It may be a problem that they did not anticipate, it might be a temptation that they have never faced, or one that they thought they had moved beyond years before. Let me suggest three thing to remember when you are facing adversity:

  1. You are not alone – You are not the first believer to face adversity. Jesus did, the disciples did, the early church did.

  2. You are not alone – You cannot get so much trouble that God is not there. When trouble comes, we can pray. We can take our loads, whatever they may be, to God. Let Him carry that load that you are trying to carry alone.

  3. You are not alone – As a believer, you are part of a family – the family of God. Look around you. This is part of your family. We can help carry part of that load that you have. We can do that through prayer. We can do that through listening. We can do that through by making ourselves available.

      I do not know what adversity you will face this week. Whatever it might be, remember, you are not alone.

  1. Leadership means taking responsibilty for living with the consequences of our decisions.

    1. There were consequences to being the Son of God.

    2. Jesus would go to Jerusalem.

    3. Jesus would be betrayed.

    4. Jesus would be handed over to the Gentiles.

    5. He was mocked, he was spit upon, he was flogged, and he died.

    6. I expect Jesus was appreciative of all he suffered as we might be.

    7. But his life did not end there – the final proof of all that he taught was not that he was able to predict the future. That could have been lucky guesses.

    8. The real proof that Jesus knew what he was speaking of was that on Easter Sunday he rose to live again.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

A Supper to Never Forget!

Intro: The church changes over the years.

  1. The design of our facilities, the role and type of preaching, the use of small groups or the lack there of, the use of technology – whethr it be the organ or the use of projected music, the role of the laity in the work of the church. The church changes.

  2. Yet the Lord's Supper continues to be a central part of the church's worship.

Read Mark 14:12-26

T.S. Six months ago we began our march through Mark.

  1. At that point we worked through Mark 1-8

  2. We are spending Lent completing our study of Mark

  3. It seems only appropriate that as we come to our normal Sunday to serve communion, that we take a few minutes to look at the meal Jesus used to establish the service which has been part of the church since its beginning.

  4. As we gather for communion this morning, we are participating in an event that has been part of the church's practice for nearly 2000 years.

  5. Not some new way of worshiping, but an act of worship that was instituted by Jesus himself on the night prior to his death.

  6. As we spend the next few minutes looking at the people in attendance at that first communion service, we might better understand our own presence there this morning.

  1. Judas Iscariot

    1. Jesus was perfect – a given for all of us that believe in Him

    2. And, somehow, we expect Him to keep holy, wonderful, nice people around Him

    3. Yet, here at the table, sits a man that is not so holy, that is not so nice

    4. And in fact in a few short hours he will kiss Jesus on the cheek to begin the events that will lead to Jesus' crucifixion.

    5. Jesus does not handle Judas the way I would – Here Jesus is at his very last dinner and still he invites the one man who will betray Him.

    6. Jesus, even as approaches his death, is capable of offering grace.

(Ill.) A story is told of a man who was released from prison and went looking for a job. He applied for the position of a guard of a jewelry store. He never told his new boss about his background. But he did his job well – at least until one of his old buddies found him. The buddy decided to push the issue asking such questions, “Does your boss know about your background?”, “What would happen if your boss found out about your background?” And then the final question, “How much are you willing to pay for me not to tell?”

The ex-prisoner spent much of his life hiding his past. It was a miserable life.

But what if the jeweler had gone to the prison and asked the prisoner to guard his store. There would be nothing that could be held over the head of the prisoner. That is exactly what Jesus does –

(Appl.) Jesus offers anyone, no matter how broken, his grace. Each of us must decide what we will do with that grace. Judas rejected it and went on to betray Jesus. Each of us must decide whether we will accept or reject the grace that is offered.

  1. The Disciples

    1. But Judas was not the only one that was out of place.

    2. There were twelve other me present that would not expect to find themselves to be in the presence of God.

    3. I mean, here were some rough men –

      1. Matthew was a tax collector who was allowed to set his own rates, I bet he was loved

      2. Six of these men were fisherman – There is no reason to think that there language was any less salty as any sailor today.

      3. Simon was a member of a political group whose main purpose was to stir up trouble – the Zealots.

(Ill.) John MacArthur had a number of words to describe these eleven men. As men whose homes lay around the Sea of Galilee, the 1st century population thought of these men as being low class, uneducated people, commoners, nobodies, peons, rabble.

    1. What right did these eleven men have to spend with the Son of God?

    2. And yet Jesus went looking for these men. He called them - “Follow me” was the common theme. God took eleven ordinary people and used them to transform the world.

(Appl.) God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things. Jesus did not choose the high and mighty, Jesus did not choose the princes or priests to begin the church. Rather he chose rather ordinary people-fisherman, tax collectors, working class people. And these eleven people began to transform their world. It was people like you and me that were called to spread the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

  1. Jesus

    1. We can probably argue that Judas shouldn't have been there. You can probably understand why I doubt that the apostles were there.

    2. But you many be surprised that I am also surprised that Jesus is there.

    3. After all, here is the one that was present at the creation of the universe. Here is the firstborn of creation. Here is God of God, the Lord of Lord. This is the one over which God proclaimed, “This is my beloved son, listen to Him.” Jesus was God.

    4. And the world had walked away from Him. The had gone their own way, making their own rules – with little regard to what God expected or wanted.

    5. I would not expect expect God to show up under the circumstances. Yet he does.

(Ill.) I think our President got a sense of what I am saying when he said in March of 2001, “To those with Power, [the gospel message] has caused dictators to fear and to fall. His is not the power of armies or technology or wealth. It is the unexpected power of a baby in a stable, of a man on a cross.”

    1. I would not expect Jesus to be there – but he was.

    2. He was very much aware of in a few hours he would allow his life be given as a sacrifice – not just for these eleven men, but for the whole world.

    3. Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it. “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them.

    4. The sacrifice was yet to come. But as the church for the last 2000 years continues to remember that sacrifice each time it participates in Communion.