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Today, we need our eyes opened to Jesus just as much as those early Christians. In one church, a sign that only the pastor could see was taped up in the pulpit. It quoted the words of John 12:21, (spoken by the Greeks who were in Jerusalem for the Passover to Philip) Ė ďSir, we would like to see Jesus!Ē The miracle of God is that Jesus is still revealed to the eyes of faith wherever and whenever the Gospel is proclaimed. Jesus is no longer a stranger. He is a friend. He is our friend.
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!
Imagine you are on your way to church one Sunday morning. You have had a more difficult week than normal. You are physically, emotionally and spiritually drained. You realize that you are running on fumes and are looking forward to getting your tank filled up so you can face the world again Monday morning. You are particularly excited about the worship service because you know we will be observing the Lordís Supper, which is always a special service. But when you pull into the parking lot you quickly notice that it is already full, and you have a difficult time finding a place to park. But even though you have to park over in the field you are still excited about being here and are looking forward to what God has in store for you today. You notice that there are a lot of people standing outside on the steps and you wonder what is going on. When you get a little closer you realize that a couple of tables have been set up outside and that people are waiting in line for some reason. You also notice that people are writing checks and converting them and the paper money they have into silver coins. You wonder what is going on and ask the person in front of you what up. They inform you that the members of the Finance Committee recently made the decision to have everyone start using a new type of Church currency for the tithes and offerings. You wait patiently in line and sure enough when you finally make it to the table you are told that you need the new church currency in order to make an offering. So you take out a $20 bill and lay it down on the table and the person at the table takes your money and gives you a $10 church coin in return. When you finally get through the front door you immediately notice more tables and more lines. At one table you notice some people are buying hymnbooks, while others are simply renting them. At another table you discover that they are selling communion bread for $5.00 and a cup of grape juice for $7.50. The longer you stand there the madder you get. You make a vow right then and there to never miss another business meeting again and to do your best to see that heads would roll over this. If you can imagine an experience like this and how frustrating it would be, then you can relate to how Jesus must have felt when he entered the temple courts during Passover to worship the Heavenly Father. Letís read this passage of Scripture together.
In Genesis He is the Seed of the Woman.
In Exodus He is the Passover Lamb.
In Leviticus He is our High Priest.
In Numbers He is the Pillar of Cloud by day and the Pillar of Fire by night.
In Deuteronomy He is the Prophet like unto Moses.
In Joshua He is the Captain of our Salvation.
In Judges He is our Judge and Lawgiver.
In Ruth He is our Kinsman Redeemer.
In I and II Samuel He is our Trusted Prophet.
In Kings and Chronicles He is our Reigning King.
In Ezra He is our Faithful Scribe.
In Nehemiah He is the Rebuilder of the broken down walls of our human lives.
In Esther He is our Mordecai.
In Job He is our Dayspring from on high and our Ever-Living Redeemer.
In Psalms He is the Lord our Shepherd.
In Proverbs and Ecclesiastes He is our Wisdom.
In the Song of Solomon He is our Lover & the Bridegroom.
In Isaiah He is the Prince of Peace.
In Jeremiah He is the Righteous Branch.
In Lamentations He is the Weeping Prophet.
In Ezekiel He is the one who assures that dry, dead bones will come alive again.
In Daniel He is the Fourth Man in the burning fiery furnace.
In Hosea He is the Faithful Husband, forever married to the backslider.
In Joel He is the Baptizer with the Holy Spirit and Fire.
In Amos He is our Burden-Bearer.
In Obadiah He is the Mighty to Save.
In Jonah He is our Great Foreign Missionary.
In Micah He is the Messenger of Beautiful Feet, of carrying the Gospel.
In Nahum He is the Avenger of Godís Elect.
In Habakkuk He is Godís Evangelist...
Come with me for a moment. Come with me as we leave here and drive down Elizabeth Street. At the end of Elizabeth Street, you take a left on Debary Ave. Drive on Debary Ave. until to reach Providence and take a left. Drive down Providence until you reach Saxon. Take a right on Saxon and drive Ĺ mile and you will see something there on the left side of the road. Iím sure many of you have seen it before. It is a memorial, set up and maintained by the family of an accident victim.
Let me ask you, ďWhy is that memorial there?Ē It is there to remind us, to help us remember the person who lost his life there.
In Washington D.C., in Arlington National Cemetery, you will find many graves, headstones, and tombs, but several stand out above all of the rest. They are the tombs of the unknown soldiers. Let me ask you, ďWhy are those tombs there?Ē They are there to honor those who have given their lives in the defense of this country, but they are also there as reminders. They remind us of the value of the freedoms we enjoy in this country, and the high price paid for those freedoms.
How many of you are wearing wedding rings this morning? Why do wear a wedding ring? I know, you wife made you, but other than that, why do you wear that ring? Wedding rings are a sign to others that you are married. They are also reminders to us, of the commitments we have made. They are memorial reminders.
Just as we have set up many things in our lives to serve as reminders, God has also established a number of memorials over the years to help us remember as well.
Back in Genesis chapter 9, we find one of the earliest memorials ever established. You may remember, back in the early part of Genesis, God caused a flood to cover the earth and kill every living thing on earth except for Noah, his family, and two of every animal that had been on the ark. After the flood was over, God said, this is a sign of the covenant I am making between Me and every living thing, that I will not destroy the earth again with a flood. I have placed My bow in the clouds. God created rainbows as memorials, to remind us of the covenant He made with us.
You may remember the memorial God set up for the Israelites in the book of Exodus. If you remember, the Israelites had been slaves in Egypt for 400 years. God sent 9 plagues on Egypt to convince Pharaoh to let the Israelites go. Again and again Pharaoh refused. Finally, God said, ďI will send a 10th. I will send an angel of death to kill the firstborn of every family and animal in Egypt. But, if you will place the blood of a lamb on your doorpost and over your door, the angel will pass over your home. From this day forward I want you to observe the Passover as a reminder of the time I delivered you out of Egypt and passed over you. It was a memorial, a reminder.
In Numbers, God set up another memorial. In chapter 15 He told the Israelites to place tassels with a blue thread, on the four corners of all of their garments, as a memorial, a sign to remind them to obey all of Godís commands.
Memorials are important and God uses them all through the Bible, but there is no memorial more important, no memorial more significant to Christians than the one Jesus established in the 22nd chapter of Luke. Ö
THREE PIECES OF BREAD: PASSOVER
In a Jewish home (at Passover) the Father places three pieces of matzot bread inside a cloth. The middle of the three pieces is broken. Part is wrapped in cloth with the remaining two, and the other broken part is hidden.
Jewish people have many views as to what the symbolism might be, but for Christians, and also for Messianic Jews who worship Jesus as Messiah, there is no confusion as to what it symbolises. Three pieces of bread Ė Father, Son and Holy Spirit Ė one of them is broken Ė Jesus, and it is hidden in a cloth Ė reminding us of the grave clothes used to wrap the body of Jesus.
There are sayings about every thing these days. Here are some that may cause you to smile and some may even make you laugh. When all else fails, lower your standards. I donít know, I donít care, and it doesnít make any difference. I donít have any solution but I certainly admire the problem. My opinions may have changed, but not the fact that I am right. If at first you donít succeed, redefine success. When things just canít get any worse, they will. Anytime things appear to be going better, you have overlooked something. Laugh at your problems, everyone else does. Itís bad luck to be superstitious. Everybody is somebody elseís weirdo. According to my best recollection, I donít remember. Plagiarism is copying from one source; research is copying from two or more. When a person is dying the words they udder are captured and can whole a lot of meaning. Roman Emperor Augustus: "Did I play my role well? If so, then applauseÖ " Stonewall Jackson "Let us pass over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees." Isaac Newton, great Christian Scientist, "I donít know what I may seem to the world. But as to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore and diverting myself now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than the ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me. Leonardo da Vinci: Italian inventor and artist, died in 1519 "I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have" Churchill: English Statesman - He said this at his death bed: "What a fool I have been" Ludwig von Beethoven: "Friends applaud, the comedy is over." John Newton b. 1725. d. 1807. Originally a slaver, he had a dramatic mid-ocean change of heart that led him to turn his slave ship around and take the people back to their homeland. He became a Methodist then he pastored Presbyterian & Baptist Churches and preached against the slave-trade. He is most famous for having authored the words to the hymn "Amazing Grace". As he neared his end, exclaimed, "I am still in the land of the dying; I shall be in the land of the living soon."
A small country church in Wisconsin has a special tradition that they have used at the close of their communion services for a number of years. It is adapted from an ancient Jewish closing of the Passover meal. Since it is the hope of every devout Jew to celebrate the Passover at least once in Davidís city, the Jewish custom is to end the meal with a toast. Passover participants raise the cup and say, ďNext year, in Jerusalem!Ē
The cup in the Lordís Supper serves as two reminders: we are to look back to the shed blood of Christ and forward to the Lordís second coming. In other words, for all Christians, there will be a last sharing of the bread and the cup on this side of eternity...
Imagine this; youíre on your way to Jerusalem to offer a Passover sacrifice. As you are walking down the road, an area peddler calls to get your attention. He has in his possession a lamb that is being made available to you for this one time low price. As you look over this possible purchase opportunity, you notice one eye is swollen & encrusted shut. As you examine its front legs, you fine her knees face opposite directions. Flies congregate around her mucus oozing nose, as she drools down her neck.
So do you give him your five magic beans for this fine piece of livestock, thinking this is a worthy sacrifice?
Simply cleansing the Temple was not Jesus' goal. This was just days before the Passover, and every house had to be cleaned from all leaven. The Temple was Jesus' house, and these money-changers were the leaven.