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Come with me in your imagination to the battlefield of Saratoga in New York where in 1777 two battles of the Revolutionary War took place. You will notice on that battlefield an obelisk or pillar standing as a monument to what happened there. At the base are four deep niches for the bronze figures of the generals who fought there so heroically. The first contains the figure of Horatio Gates while the second contains that of Philip Schuyler. In the third niche we see the figure of Daniel Morgan, but when we come to the fourth we see something unusual.
The fourth niche is empty. This one was for a general whose performance during battle merited honor. However, he later committed an act of treason and his name became became associated with being a traitor rather than a hero. Yet at the base of that empty niche, we can see the name of this general engraved in the stone. His name is Benedict Arnold, and that niche will stand forever as a monument of one who went from heroism to treason.
In heaven a great monument is there also consisting of twelve foundations on each of which is the name of an apostle. However, on that celestial monument there is a name that is missing, the name of Judas Iscariot. Oh, the tragedy of abandoning noble purposes!
Jeruselem 33 AD
Jesus Christ, 33, of Nazareth died Friday on Mount Calvary, also known as Golgotha, the place of the skull. Betrayed by Judas, Jesus was crucified by the Romans, by order of the Ruler Pontius Pilate. The causes of death were extreme exhaustion, severe torture, and loss of blood.
Jesus Christ, a descendant of Abraham was a member of the house of David. He was the Son of the late Joseph, a carpenter of Nazareth, and Mary, His devoted Mother. Jesus was born in a stable in the city of Bethlehem, Judea. He is survived by His mother Mary, His faithful Apostles, numerous disciples, and many other followers.
Jesus was self educated and spent most of his adult life working as a Teacher. Jesus also occasionally worked as a Medical Doctor and it is reported that he healed many patients. Up until the time of His death, Jesus was teaching and sharing the Good News, healing the sick, touching the lonely, feeding the hungry and helping the poor.
Jesus was most noted for telling parables about His fatherís Kingdom and performing miracles, such as feeding over 5,000 people with only five loaves of bread and two fish, and healing a man who was born blind. On the day before His death, He held a Last Supper celebrating the Passover Feast, at which He foretold His death.
The Body was quickly buried in a stone grave, which was donated by Joseph of Arimathea, a loyal friend of the family. By order of Pontius Pilate, a boulder was rolled in front of the tomb. Roman soldiers were put on guard.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that everyone try to live as Jesus did. Donations may be sent to anyone in need.
I had this illustration sent to me this week by several well-meaning church members. As I previewed the item, it hit me the number of inaccuracies listed in the illustration that most people over-looked. Letís consider several of them.
First of all, "The causes of death were extreme exhaustion, severe torture, and loss of blood," is wrong. It was my sin and your sin which caused His death. He willing gave His life for us that we might have a relationship with Him.
Then, "He was the Son of the late Joseph, a carpenter of Nazareth," is also incorrect! He was not the son of Joseph but is the Son of God. He is Immanuel, God with us!
Third, "He is survived...by His faithful Apostles," is just wrong! They all abandoned Him. They were anything BUT faithful! So much for Peterís never forsaking Him!
Fourth, "On the day before His death, He held a Last Supper celebrating the Passover Feast, at which He foretold His death," is incorrect. He had been telling His disciples for a year that He would die by the hands of the religious Jews and secular Romans. He was telling them this long before the final Passover meal.
Fifth, "The Body was quickly buried in a stone grave, which was donated by Joseph of Arimathea, a loyal friend of the family. By order of Pontius Pilate, a boulder was rolled in front of the tomb. Roman soldiers were put on guard," gives the impression His life was over! That was it! Life was finished. So, where is the resurrection? This implies He was simply a man who left us a wonderful legacy!
Then we discover the phrase, "In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that everyone try to live as Jesus did," makes it appear that it is our good works which get us into heaven. Friends, it canít be done! It is impossible because Jesus was holy, righteous and without sin. Canít say the same about us!
But the one which is so obvious is, "OBITUARIES." There can never be an obituary for one who is still alive! Jesus died and rose again to give us real life in Him! He now sits at the right hand of the Father! Even if the obit had been written on the crucifixion day, the paper would have had to run a retraction on Monday!
DISCIPLES IN CLAY
Peter Marshall, in a sermon entitled, "Disciples in Clay," pictured the apostles before an examining board which was appointed to choose Jesus' close associates. Peter stood there smelling of fish -- uncouth, uncultured, impetuous, uncultured, and impulsive. Andrew, James, and John also reeked of fish and lacked refinement. Philip appeared to be indecisive. Thomas seemed cynical. Matthew was considered a traitor. Simon the Zealot was a dangerous patriot. Judas was a thief. The NT tells it like it was. This was a group not likely to succeed. It is most likely they would not have been chosen by a board for Jesus, but they were chosen by Jesus.
When Things Are Just Working Out! (10.26.05--Making It!--Judges 18:27)
IF life is going well and I am in all things successful, does that me that God is pleased with me? Thatís a good question! If I am successful in the things that I do, does that necessarily mean that God is behind that success? When things go well it is nice to believe that, isnít it? I must be doing something right if failure is a stranger and success is my daily companion. Why else would it be that life is moving along and things are just working out?
When things are going well it is tempting to place that success right on Godís doorstep. But, if you stop to think about it, there are quite a few unbelievers that seem to be basking in the warmth of money, fame and popularity these days. That being the case, how can we be sure that our successes are from God? And, what about my failures?
Among Jesusís apostles, the one absolutely stunning success was Judas, and the one thoroughly groveling failure was Peter. Judas was a success in the ways that most impress us: he was successful both financially and politically. He cleverly arranged to control the money of the apostolic band; he skillfully manipulated the political forces of the day to accomplish his goal. And Peter was a failure in ways that we most dread: he was impotent in a crisis and socially inept. At the arrest of Jesus he collapsed, a hapless, blustering coward; in the most critical situations of his life with Jesus, the confession on the road to Caesarea Philippi and the vision on the Mount of transfiguration, he said the most embarrassingly inappropriate things. He was not the companion we would want with us in time of danger, and he was not the kind of person we would feel comfortable with at a social occasion. Time, of course, has reversed our judgments on the two men. Judas is now a byword for betrayal, and Peter is one of the most honored names in the church and in the world. Judas is a villain; Peter is a saint. Yet the world continues to chase after the successes of Judas, financial wealth and political power, and to defend itself against the failures of Peter,...
Of whom less is known than of most of the other disciples, was elected to fill the vacant place of Judas. He was stoned at Jerusalem and then beheaded.
Foxe, John. "Book - Chapter ". "Foxeís Book of Martyrs".
THE DIVERSE DISCIPLES
I have always been a bit of a loner. I was not the sort of person you wanted in your team. I didn't fit. If Jesus hadn't come into my life, I am sure I would have ended up as a starving artist or at least a hermit - a recluse with a long beard, black jeans, T-shirt and sandals. It still sounds kind of good. I like my own company.
Strange that Jesus called me to be a Pastor and that I love it. I love people. Oh, there are times when relationships can get a bit strained, but I can be friends with the most diverse range of people. Sometimes the only thing they have had in common is me.
A couple of days ago I sat around a table as people from many backgrounds talked. One was from the outback and called herself a bushy. Another was from Adelaide and had a more cultured upbringing. They all accepted each other and me into their midst. What a great time we had as we talked and laughed together as we ate lunch - unity in diversity.
And speaking about A DIVERSE GROUP OF PEOPLE, what about the disciples of Jesus. In Matthew 10:2-4 we are given their names...
"Here are the names of the twelve apostles: first, Simon (also called Peter), then Andrew (Peter's brother), James (son of Zebedee), John (James's brother), Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, Matthew (the tax collector), James (son of Alphaeus), Thaddaeus, Simon (the zealot), Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him)."
It's interesting to me that there were 3 SETS OF BROTHERS among the disciples - Simon Peter and Andrew, James and John (the sons of Zebedee), and the other James and Thaddeus. Why choose brothers? What's with the FAMILY thing? Wouldn't there have been A CONFLICT OF INTEREST? Not when Jesus is leading. The only conflicts that arose were because of sin and selfishness. James and John seemed to quarrel at one stage. I wonder if Jesus separated them and paired them up with others when He sent them out? But the thing they all had in common was Jesus and HIS LEADERSHIP AND AUTHORITY over them. Without Him this disciple and apostle thing would not have worked.
Can you imagine the conflicts without Jesus? Simon the Zealot who had once belonged to a very Patriotic band of Jews would have hated Matthew if not for Jesus. I wonder if they were paired together when Jesus sent them out? That would have TESTED THE RELATIONSHIP!
When I give my past to Jesus I can begin to see others through His eyes. I can also give perspective to others concerning their relationships. When all of us realise that SIN DISTORTS OUR FRIENDSHIPS, it makes a great deal of difference to how we view others. WHAT DID JESUS SEE IN JUDAS? Surely He must have known what would happen? Come to think of it - What does He see in me? The most unlikely of disciples WAS STILL GIVEN AN OPPORTUNITY. Unfortunately for Judas,...