Summary: The past, present, and future activity of Christ on behalf of mankind. Good for use at Easter or on a study of the ministry of Christ.
Illustration: Dr. E. Stanley Jones, the famous missionary, wrote in his autobiography a story about a friend, who was called upon to conduct a funeral service. This friend wanted to do the funeral exactly as it should be, so he turned to the New Testament to see how Jesus conducted a funeral. What he found was that Jesus didn’t conduct funerals at all ñ all He dealt with were resurrections!
No doubt as the proceedings of this Palm Sunday week took place, Satan was contemplating the funeral of Jesus. How he had deceived himself. Satan too, made the discovery that Jesus only does resurrections.
That week began as the air was filled with the excitement of Jesus entry into Jerusalem. Men, women and children cast their clothes and branches before Jesus and cried "Hosanna" ñ literally, save now. They too, had a limited understanding of all that the appearance of Jesus meant.
As we consider out text today we will find that the events of that week ñ his death, burial, and resurrection were the culmination of his appearance on earth, the initiation of his appearance before God on our behalf and the preparation for his appearance in the future to receive us into his presence (Read Heb. 9:24-28).
I. He Has Appeared (9:26) The cross was the focus of Jesusí appearance on earth.
From the time of his birth right up to the time of his death, most people failed to understand the purpose of Jesusí appearance upon this earth . . . and they still do today! At the very beginning Herod feared that Jesus had arrived for the purpose of replacing him as king. The result was a massacre of infant boys across the land. Because Herod refused to see the grace of God that was embodied in Jesus, suffering and agony resulted. Even in todayís world there are many who fear that Jesus will take over in their lives. They resent the idea that they must in humility submit themselves to Jesus. When Christians attempt to witness, when the Christian community attempts to impact society, these modern day Herods strike out against the appearance of Christ through his people.
Illustration: Many years ago, while on a visit to America, a wealthy Chinese businessman was fascinated by a powerful microscope. Looking through its lens to study crystals and the petals of flowers, he was amazed at their beauty and detail. So he decided to purchase one of these devices and take it back to China. He thoroughly enjoyed using it until one day he examined some rice he was planning to eat for dinner. Much to his dismay, he discovered that tiny living creatures were crawling in it. Since he was especially fond of this staple food in his daily diet, he wondered what to do. Finally he concluded that there was only one way out of his dilemma -- he would destroy the instrument that caused him to discover the distasteful fact! So he smashed the microscope to pieces.
As foolish as that action sounds, it is a graphic picture of the reaction of people today who view Jesus appearance as one who complicates the enjoyment of their fleshly comforts and desires.
Later, Jesus began his public ministry. He demonstrated true love and compassion by healing those with physical needs, befriending those who were lonely and oppressed, and instructing those whose minds were darkened. The religious leaders responded to the appearance of Jesus ñ an appearance designed to bring life to a faith grown formal and cold ñ they responded with rejection and fearfulness. Once again, man, failed to see the grace of God embodied in Jesus Christ. Instead of enjoying the forgiveness and empowerment of the Son of God they chose to be in bondage to the law and self-righteousness. Many religions today have made the same choice. The gospel preached from many a pulpit today is not a gospel at all but as Paul expressed it another gospel which is not another. The result is never-ending effort to please God with works that are a stench in his nostrils.
Illustration: Recently my sister and her husband traveled to San Luis Potosi, Mexico for their daughters special 15th birthday celebration. While there they thought it would be nice to renew their marriage vows in conjunction with the celebration. They only church official available was a Catholic priest. He declined to officiate because they are not Catholic. In the course of the conversation my brother in law asked the priest if he were to die that night would he be sure of heaven. The priestís answer was, "No one can be sure."
Unfortunately, for all who fail to understand that his appearance on this earth was to be the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world there is nothing left but the bondage and hopelessness of a works religion.