Wednesday, March 26, 2003

The 3rd Word

March 26, 2003
John 19:25-27
3rd word - "The Word of dying concern"

INTRODUCTION:  In the midst of His suffering Jesus reaches out to two of His closest associates a dear friend and His own mother. Jesus says: "Woman behold your son…son, your mother"

1.                  Mary is suffering as she watches from a distance.

A.     Simeon of old had predicted that a sword would pierce her own heart when Jesus was but eight-days-old. I have been privileged to share in some tremendous joys among the families of Friedheim. Some of the most painful are the hurts of parents and children.  It is painful to be a parent at hospital when the surgeon gives the news that the procedure did not go well. To coax and prod and encourage a child who finds school a challenge is often so painful for the parent. Consider your own experiences of being a child - of being a parent.

B.     There is a special bond between mother and son; here at the cross Simeon's prophecy is being fulfilled. Now she is sharing in Jesus' suffering. On strictly human terms Mary is loosing her beloved son and there is nothing she can do to stop it!  She must watch from a distance, as her own son is tortured!

2.                  In calling His mother Jesus singles Mary out for attention.

A.       Notice that Jesus calls His mother "woman".  Why the term?  Why not "mother" or "Mom"?

1.    Jesus shows a desire to spare her the hurt of hearing from His dying lips "mother".  Jesus realizes that His fate is in the Father's hands - There is nothing that Mary can do not.

2.    Jesus also imparts for us a proper perspective - She is as any other woman. True, she bore Jesus in her womb but she would have to be saved like anyone else.

B.       In singling Mary out Jesus turns her over to John. John has received a stepmother. Mary a stepson. John will now have the responsibility to care form Mary as his own mother. This is the 4th commandment - the honor and care of parents.  Jesus would not be able to physically care for His mother so He chooses John. Whom do we choose when parents' cant care for themselves?

3.         By these words Jesus demonstrates:

A.         Proper families regard.

1. Parents own children spiritual and physical care, love and support.

2. Children owe parents love, honor, service, obedience. When they are older physical care and support.

B.          Jesus by these words demonstrated deep concern for others. Half of Jesus' last words on the cross are concerned with the needs of others.

CONCLUSION:  We are connected to each other by blood and by faith. May we show proper human regard especially with those from our own family.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

The 2nd Word

March 19, 2003
Luke 23:39-43
2nd word - "the word of Compassion"

INTRODUCTION:  Each of us is terminal - all of us here in this room share two common realities - We're all sinners. Not a single person here can claim to be perfect. Every man, every woman, every boy and every girl - we're al sinners.

The second reality common to us all is that death is a reality for each must die. "The wages of sin is death" the Bible tells us. Each of us will face our end. When we close our eyes to death then we will meet our maker.

Then what?  That's the issue we will address tonight. The second word of Jesus from the cross is the word of compassion - "Today you will be with me in paradise!"

1.                  Notice first the penitent thief.

A.                His rebuke of the other thief and his request of Christ reveal a change in heart. First he coursed the Savior - he was exactly like the other thief; cursing Jesus, cursing the Romans, cursing life. But then he comes to his senses and realizes this reality known to man. He is going to die. He will meet his Maker - then what?

B.                 This thief in calling out to Jesus reveals the recognition of his own guilt. He comes to the realization that he is a sinner. He comes to his senses and realizes his own mortality. In calling out to Jesus he realizes that his sins have condemned him!

C.                In calling upon Jesus he expresses he knows in a cry of faith. He knows he is a sinner and he knows in death he will depart this world and meet him Maker. All he can request is that Jesus remember him. "Lord, remember me when you enter into Your kingdom!"

2.                  Notice Christ's reaction.

A.                First, Jesus expressed help. He will remember this repentant thief - but the Savior's help is beyond the thief's request. Jesus offer is beyond our comprehension. Jesus offer is beyond what we could ever ask or think. He gives us not what we want. He gives us what we really need.

B.                 Jesus' reaction reveals the nature of His work. He came to seek and to save that which is lost. He went to the bloody cross to offer us Himself as a sacrifice for sin. In Jesus Christ all sin is forgiven - period!  In speaking to this thief he shows him the reward of all who call upon the name of the Lord - they shall be saved!

C.                Christ's reaction shows us the place of the dead believer. We shall be with Christ eternally!  Mark the Savior's words. Today you will be with Me in paradise. Dead defined by the Christian is the separation of the soul from the body. Death to the Christian is our entrance into glory

3.                  Notice also a word of caution.

A.                Many have used this verse from the Lord's passion to excuse procrastination. I have plenty of time they reason - after all, the thief was given a final chance on his deathbed. This is true, yet who among us can predict their own death? What about sudden death? We dare not use the Lord's compassion as an excuse.

B.                 Notice also that two men come to their deathbeds. One repented - yet one did not repent. There can be for some a point of no return when they turn their back forever on the Lord.

C.                The third word of caution must remind us that while the Lord's grace is shown in Christ receiving this repentant thief - think how much was missed - consider the wasted opportunities - the misspent years that could not be reclaimed.

CONCLUSION:  Everyday is a gift. Every day is an opportunity to do good, to make a difference, to dream big and to act.  In Jesus Christ our destiny is secure - make good use of the present as you anticipate eternity.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

The 1st Word

Luke 23:34
March 12, 2003
1st Word - "The word of Intercession"

INTRODUCTION:  As He began His passion knowing all that was going to take place; knowing all that would be required of Him Jesus took the time to pray. It is a simple prayer yet a profound petition. It gives us an overall picture of what this Jesus is all about.  Jesus - on the cross suspended between earth and heaven prays: "Father forgive them for they know not what they do"

1.        The reason for this prayer is obvious.

A.                It tells why He was dying. He is dying for man is blind to his sin. In ignorance man falls to the wayside and follows a different road.

B.                 This prayer reveals Jesus' character. The ruthless world says: " Don't get mad - get even!"  The attitude of this present age says, "divide and conquer" "to the victor comes the spoils" "An eye for an eye a tooth for a tooth."  Jesus responds by saying: "Father forgive them"

C.                This prayer becomes a perfect example for Jesus' followers - His disciples.  As the Savior has forgiven so we too forgive. A student is under his master and taught by Him. As the Savior has so taught us to forgive what else can we do but forgive?

D.                Jesus prays this pray to fulfill prophecy. As He prays for and asks for His accusers' pardon the events once predicted of old are beginning to take shape. God is acting - God is moving. 

2.        Who are the objects of this first prayer from the cross?

A.                First there are the soldiers who nailed Him there. Do they recognize Jesus to be the Savior, the world's redeemer? Or do they see Him as one of many upstarts among the Jews?  Do they simply see Him as one who is worthless? It does not matter what they thing of Him. He prays for them - regardless - regardless of whom they were, regardless of where they had been, regardless of what they had done.

B.                 Then there are the Jews who condemned Him to be nailed there. "It is necessary that one man die for the sake of the country".  That's how the High Priest and the leadership sized things up. Little did they know they were speaking prophetically. His death is sufficient for all.

C.                 The Savior prays for all who have in any way contributed to the sin load, which brought Him to the cross. The Savior, as He prays offers up this request to the Father for you and for me.  All who are in need of the Savior's mercy are included in this petition. How good it was of the Savior to pray for you and me.

Transition: Thus the Savior offered up a prayer as the first word from the cross. How was that prayer answered?

3.        Jesus prayer was answered in three specific ways.

A.                First, the soldiers and the Jews were spared then and there. The Lord's visitation was curtailed and halted. Jesus had told Peter in the garden  "are not 10,000 legion of angels at My disposal?  Yet all this must be done that the Scriptures may be fulfilled".

B.                 The Jewish nation was give 40 years of grace to receive the great message of the cross and empty tomb. When Jesus rose from the dead appeared to His disciples and ascended the early disciples didn't run off to Athens or Rome. They went right back to the very city where Jesus was crucified. Until Jerusalem was destroyed in the year 70 AD the inhabitants of that city had the very eyewitnesses of the resurrection living in their neighborhoods.

C.                This prayer was answered as all people have been forgiven - God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son - Now, people must simply receive the forgiveness, which has already been provided. Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.  "Whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life."

CONCLUSION: On the cross, suspended between earth and heaven the Savior prayed for you - Father forgive them for they know not what they do.

Wednesday, March 5, 2003

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday
March 5, 2003
Psalm 51
"With a Contrite Heart"

INTRODUCTION:  David, having been confronted by His sin confessed His guilt to the Lord. Moved by contrition and repentance He has given to us a model prayer by which we too should pray.

I.                    David's confession
A.     Lord, Be Merciful in My Need -1-4a

1.      I am very sinful - Vv. 1-2
1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.

2.      I am very sorry - Vv. 3-4a
I cannot escape:

a.      The ghost that haunts me - v. 3
3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.

b.      The guilt that horrifies me - v. 4a
4a Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight

B.     Lord, Be Mindful of My Nature - 4b-6

1.      I was born in sin - Vv. 4b-5
4b  so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. 5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

2.      I am blinded by sin - v.6
6 Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.

II.                 David's Cleansing
He wanted the Lord to deal with –

A.     Sin's defilement - v.7
7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

B.     Sin's deafness - v.8
8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

C.     Sin's disgrace - v.9
9 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity.

D.     Sin's damage - v.10
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

E.      Sin's doom - v.11
11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.

F.      Sin's depression - v.12a
12a Restore to me the joy of your salvation

G.     Sin's defeat - v.12b
12b and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

III.               David's consecration

A.     The life he would not forsake -13-15

1.      He would continue to preach - v. 13
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you.

2.      He would continue to pray - Vv. 14-15
14 Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. 15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.

B.     The lessons He would never forget - Vv. 16-19

1.      The personal truth he had learned - Vv. 16-17
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. 17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

2.      The prophetic truth he had learned - Vv. 18-19
18 In your good pleasure make Zion prosper; build up the walls of Jerusalem. 19 Then there will be righteous sacrifices, whole burnt offerings to delight you; then bulls will be offered on your altar.

CONCLUSION:  As we begin the discipline of Lent during this 40 days pilgrimage may we come to the Savior with contrite hearts to receive His Holy Absolution won for us at the cross and affirmed at the empty tomb.

Sunday, March 2, 2003


Transfiguration Sunday
March 2, 2003
Mark 9:2-9
Jesus Revealed

INTRODUCTION: the season of Epiphany draws to a close with the Transfiguration of Jesus. In three days we will gather together again as we begin the discipline of Lent. For what reason was Jesus’ glorious Transfiguration? Jesus was transfigured for comfort of His followers.

Jesus was revealed in glory for the comfort of His followers

1.                  The transfiguration was for the disciples’ benefit.

A.                 Notice that the focus is upon Jesus’ disciples Mark 9:2 “And six days later, Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John, and brought them up to a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them;”

Mark 9:4 “And Elijah appeared to them along with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus.”

Mark 9:7 “Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, "This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!"

B.                 The disciples usually missed the point, not catching the implications of what Jesus said and did. This is a special lesson for them. Now they know without a shadow of a doubt that Jesus has come for the salvation of the world. Now they see His glory. Now they know that this Jesus is in fact the Son of God, the Savior of the world.

2.                  The Transfiguration benefits us today.

A.                 It prepares us for the season of Lent. “Jesus is God and Man” is nothing new, but is the presupposition behind all that He did. As God He forgives the sins of men. As man He bears those sins in His own body.           

B.                 It prepares us for Easter. Mark 9:9 “And as they were coming down from the mountain, He gave them orders not to relate to anyone what they had seen, until the Son of Man should rise from the dead.” The Man who is also God cannot stay dead. In the Transfiguration, we also get an idea of what a glorified body is like.

C.                 It prepares us for Judgment Day. It shows us the glory with which Jesus will return.  As we anticipate Christ’s return we need not fear. We are reminded in Vs.6 that the disciples were terrified: “For he did not know what to answer; for they became terrified.” Having seen what Christ will do at the cross and empty tomb we need not fear Christ’s return in glory.

D.                 It prepares us for living until then, focusing our attention on God as He has revealed Himself in His Son, Christ our Savior.  Again, listen to verse 7 “Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, "This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!" The rooster, the nails, the crown of thorns now takes on renewed meaning. Now we see Christ in all of His glory; glory now revealed, glory to be revealed on Good Friday and on Easter Sunday.

CONCLUSION:  Jesus told His disciples to keep this whole matter quiet until His resurrection. Vs.9 “And as they were coming down from the mountain, He gave them orders not to relate to anyone what they had seen, until the Son of Man should rise from the dead.”

He has risen! Now is the time for us to tell others about Him, knowing we are telling the Good News concerning Jesus Christ.