Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Lent mid-week 5

Lent Mid-week 5
March 29, 2006
John 19:23-27 
Jesus I will Ponder Now

INTRODUCTION: Hanging on a cross suspended between earth and heaven Jesus bore our sins in His body. In the midst of His cruel agony He provided for His mother’s care. John records for us the Savior’s word of dying concern. “When Jesus saw His mother, there and the disciple whom He loved, standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on this disciple took her into his home.” How beautifully Bach relates these events.

I.        The death of Jesus was complete. “He of everything took heed In His hour of dying.”

A.     All sin was paid for by Jesus’ vicious death.

1.      There is not one sin left unaccounted.

2.      The payment is marked: “paid in full!”

B.     The proclamation of the cross is what frees us.

1.      It is good news.

2.      It is the power of God.

II.     On the cross Jesus singles Mary out for attention. “Caring for His mother’s needs on His friend relying.

A.     He calls her “woman”.

1.      A desire to spare her the hurt of “mother.”

2.      He imparts a proper perspective – Mary will have to be saved like anyone else. She receives no dispensation!

B.     He turns her over to John.

1.      From that time on he became her son.

2.      He provides for her taking her into his own house.

a.       By way of history John will be the only disciple not to be martyred.

b.      He will be exiled to the island of Patmos. – Revelation 1:9

III.   By this act of love Jesus demonstrates the proper regard for family. “O man, do all things aright love God and thy neighbor.

A.     Jesus summed up the life of the Christian when He taught us:

1.      “Love the Lord Thy God with all your heart, soul and all your might This is the first and greatest commandment.”   - Matthew 22:37

2.      “And the second is like it. Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and Prophets hang on these two commandments.” -Matthew 22:38-39 There is no commandment greater than these.

B.     “To love Him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”  - Mark 12:33

IV.  Through Jesus’ example expressed to His mother He demonstrates a deep concern for others. Thus Bach concludes tonight’s hymn verse with these words; “Die then without pain and fright rest from care and labor.

A.     We can leave this world in death without pain or fright.

1.      Christ bore our sins in His own body on the cross so that we will not have to suffer the terrors of a guilty conscience.

2.      We receive Christ’s peace as He has secured for us peace with God.

B.     Thus we rest from care and labor.

1.      Luther possibly put is best when, in the conclusion to his morning and evening prayers he wrote: “Into Thy hands I commend myself [placing] my body and soul and all thing [into Thy care]. May Your Holy Angel [Spirit] be with me that the wicked foe may have no power over me.”

2.      This moved Luther to conclude in the morning the Christian should: “then go joyfully to your work” and in the evening we rest confidently: “then go to sleep at once and in good cheer.”

3.      Here is evidence of a clear conscience; not based on what we do but rather on what Christ has finished. Our salvation is complete. We can rest in peace because our Father is at peace with Jesus’ work. At the cross and empty tomb Christ’s mission was accomplished!

CONCLUSION: Jesus showing compassion and care for His mother and His dear disciple has shown us how we too must act. Of the seven words Jesus spoke from the cross half of His last words are concerned with others. May His words and actions so move us to will and to do His good pleasure.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Lent Mid-week 4

Lent Mid-week 4
March 22, 2006
John 19:5
Jesus I will Ponder Now

When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, Behold the man!

INTRODUCTION: “Behold the man!” That’s what Pilate said. Who is this Jesus? How will you perceive Him? How will you react to Him? What has He done to deserve all this? Our chorale for this evening penned by Johan Sebastian Bach gives us much to contemplate.

I.        Behold, the Savior of the world. Jesu, who for me didst die, Livest now forever.

A.     Christ died –

1.      He died for every sinner.

2.      He died for me!

B.     But now He lives –

1.      Death could not hold Him.

2.      He now lives and reigns through all eternity.

II.     Behold Him who will hold us in death. When my hour of death draws nigh, Let me waver never.

A.     Each must face death.

1.      It is appointed for man once to die and after that face judgment. -Hebrews 9:72

2.      Death is a curse which sinful humans have brought upon themselves. “The soul that sins it shall die.” - Ezekiel 18;4,20

B.     Yet we can face death confidently in Jesus.

1.      Because Christ defeated death by His own death we can now see death as a gate which leads to eternal life.

2.      When facing our own demise terrors of conscience may seize us. Only Christ can keep us faithful. “Be Thou faithful until death and I will give Thee the crown of life.” - Revelation 2:10

III.   Behold Him who will keep us. May I e’er to Thee be turned, O my faithful Savior.

A.     By our own reason or strength we can not come to Him.

1.      We are blind, dead and enemies of God.

2.      Our sin prevents us.

B.     Thus He sends us His Holy Spirit who…

1.      Calls us  - by the Gospel

2.      Gathers us – into His body the Church

3.      Enlightens us – with His gifts

4.      Sanctifies us – keeps us holy

5.      Keeps us – in the one true faith

IV.  Behold him who will receive us into His glory. Give me but what Thou has earned, More I do not pray for.

A.     What has Christ earned?

1.      We now have peace with God.

2.      We are given access to the Father’s throne - room of grace.

3.      We have received forgiveness from all sin.

4.      We’ve been given the hope of heaven with mansions glorious.

B.     With all these gifts what more do we need?

1.      The Christian can now be content.

2.      There is nothing lacking for Christ has the sufficiency to supply us with all that we may ever need.


I am content my Jesus liveth still
In whom my heart is pleased.
He hath fulfilled the Law of God for me,
God’s Wrath He hath appeased.
Since He in death could perish never
I also shall not die forever.
I am content! I am content!

I Am Content from The Lutheran Hymnal Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO © 1940

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Lent Mid-week 3

Lent Mid-week 3
March 15, 2006
John 18:15-27
Jesus I will Ponder Now

INTRODUCTION:  The story of Peter is your story. It is also my story. Peter is so strong; so sure of himself, so bold – yet so often he stumbles, fumbles, flops and falls. Johan Sebastian Bach in a beautiful chorale tells a powerful account concerning Peter’s failure. Let’s see how the story unfolds.

I.        “Peter gave it scarce a thought when he God rejected.”

A.     Peter was so sure of himself. He felt secure in his faith.

1.      After all, he was one of the twelve and of the twelve, one of the three whom Jesus gathered together to be part of His inner circle.

2.      He was fixed firmly in his own ability to stand confidently with the Savior. Just hours before Jesus’ arrest in the garden Peter had pledged his loyalty to the Savior.  “And [Simon Peter] said to Him, Lord, I am ready to go with You both to prison and to death. But Jesus said, I tell you, Peter, before a [single] cock shall crow this day, you will three times [utterly] deny that you know Me.” - Luke 22:33-34

B.     When he would eventually deny the Savior he thought he was only finding a limb on which to climb. It was for him a way of “saving face.” “I wasn’t really denying my Lord,” he could argue, “It was merely a case of “mistaken identity.” Peter said to the crowd, “You’re talking to the wrong man!”

1.      What happens in our life? – Do we give a “false witness” when we, for example, compromise clear Biblical principles in order to fit in at work, or at school?  What price will we pay to acquire acceptance, approval, acquiescence?

2.      Every time we sin willfully we are doing nothing short of what Peter did on that fateful night.

3.      Like Peter we often “give it scarce a thought” when we compromise principle for convenience or for what is expedient at the time.

C.     We too are tempted.

1.      In the beginning we are tempted [by the Devil] - to think - “it’s nothing.”

2.      In the end we are told [again, by the Devil] - “it can’t be forgiven.”

Transition: It was bad enough for Peter to deny his Lord. But upon looking into the eyes of the Savior Peter was seized with guilt. Luke reminds us: “And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord how He had said unto him, ‘Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny Me thrice.” (Luke 22:61) With one look Peter’s world crumbled!

II.     “At Christ’s look he fled distraught, weeping and dejected.”

A.     Confronted by his denial Peter was crushed.

1.      This is what the Law does to us.

2.      It is a necessary ingredient in preaching!

B.     We too are crushed when confronted with the Law.

1.      Nathan said to David “Thou art the man”   - 2 Samuel 12:7

2.      Contrition and repentance are necessary   for restoration and forgiveness.

Transition: As Jesus fixed His gaze on Peter thus He must look on us.

III.   We ask Jesus to “look on me” – “Cast me not away from Thy presence and take not Thy Holy Spirit from me” – Psalm 51:11

A.     “Jesus fix Thy gaze on me”

1.      Press me, pursue me.

2.      Never let me go! “I will never leave Thee nor forsake Thee” -Hebrews 13:5

B.     “True repentance teach me” Remember the 5 “R’s” of repentance…

1.      Responsibility – we own up to our sin.

2.      Remorse – we are heart sorry.

3.      Repair – we attempt to fix what we’ve broken - inasmuch as we are able.

4.      Repeat not! – We don’t return to visit!

Note: These four steps; leading to repentance, come from Dr. Laura Schlesinger, she’s a nationally syndicated radio talk-show host. She suggests; quite convincingly, that this is all we need to right a wrong. Yet, one component is missing. A 5th step is necessary; the final step, which separates Christians from the rest of the world; a step, which turns from following rules to establishing a relationship with God Himself. The 5th step necessary: 

5.      Reconciliation - through Christ alone!

Transition: Repentance is not merely a one time act – it must be a daily process. Thus we pray…

IV.  “When Thou evil there doest see through my conscience reach me.”

A.     Jiminy Cricket from Disney’s ‘Pinocchio’ would suggest to us; “let your conscience be your guide”

B.     Our text would suggest even stronger let your conscience and the bloody cross be your guide!

CONCLUSION: After the resurrection Peter and Jesus had another heart to heart meeting. Three times Jesus would ask Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” John would remind us in his gospel account, “Peter was grieved because Jesus said to him for a third time do you love Me?” – John 21:17

Roman Catholics maintain that Peter was the first Pope.  To this day Protestant parishes in Europe will place a rooster instead of a cross on the top of their spires as a not so friendly reminder of Peter’s seedy past. Not much has changed over the years. Have there been instances in our lives when we have not acted as becomes a child of God?  

Each of us can recall those moments in our lives in which we are not proud! Peter’s’ denial crushed him – but what he found was restoration by the Savior!  Peter’s freedom came at a price – the price of Jesus’ life. To be crushed by conscience and the Law is never a pleasant thing. But Christ’s redemption leads to recovery – to be reconciled to the Father and also to each other – all has been made possible by the Savior’s amazing grace!

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Lent Mid-week 2

Lent Mid-week 2
March 8, 2006
John 18:15
Jesus I will Ponder Now

Simon Peter also followed in Jesus’ path and another disciple

INTRODUCTION: Following Jesus’ arrest in the garden Peter and John follow behind the soldiers as Jesus is lead to Annas. Annas just so happened to be the father-in-law of Caiaphas – who had been appointed to serve as high priest.

It wasn’t left to chance that Jesus was sent to have an audience with Annas. Annas was the principle player within the Jewish Council. He made sure to keep a power hold within the court, keeping tight control within his family power base.

History tells us that four of Annas's sons were among those who succeeded him. His son-in-law, Caiaphas, held office from A.D. 18 until 36, during the time of Jesus' active ministry. 

Although others held the priestly office, Annas seems to have been the elder statesman and the power behind the throne.

Together these two men; Annas and Caiaphas, brokered much influence within the temple and the court - It was Caiaphas who had given counsel and warning to the Sanhedrin that it was expedient that one man should die for the sake of the people.            -John 18:14

Peter and John follow behind – they desire to see what will occur next.

I.        With Peter and John we view Christ’s Passion.

A.     “Yet, O Lord, not thus alone make me see Thy Passion.”

1.      During this holy season we meditate on what Christ did and endured to earn our salvation.

2.      We mark His arrest, trial, suffering and crucifixion.

B.     “But its cause to me make known and its termination.

1.      The cause for which Christ was arrested, tried, scourged and crucified was to win for me salvation.

2.      When Christ died – all of our sin died. Our sins, with all evil lusts were all drowned and killed.

Transition: But we do more then merely observe Christ’s action. We recall, affirm and believe what Christ has done. He suffered and died that I may receive salvation and life.

II.     We also recall the impact of Christ’s suffering.

A.     “Ah! I also and my sin wrought Thy deep affliction.”

1.      It was my sin and mine alone which caused Jesus to suffer and die.

2.      It is my sin which caused me to be separated from the Father, from Christ, and my neighbor.

B.     “This indeed the cause has been of Thy crucifixion.”

1.      Christ suffered for me because I can do nothing to earn my salvation. My sin robs me of fellowship with God or with my neighbor. “Lord if You should mark iniquity who shall stand…”  -Psalm 130:3 

2.      Because Christ has suffered for me and on my behalf I now enjoy the blessings that come from Christ’s bloody cross; salvation, forgiveness, life eternal.

CONCLUSION: Peter and John remain in the wings to see what will transpire next. What happens is that Jesus is abandoned by God and by men to take on our sin to Himself and thus win for us salvation. “Lord, may Thy body and Thy blood be for my soul the highest good.”*

- I Come, O Savior, to Thy Table” from The Lutheran Hymnal © 1940 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday
March 1, 2006
Luke 18:31-34
Jesus I Will Ponder Now

INTRODUCTION: Today we begin a six week process of observing our Savior’s Passion, suffering and death during the discipline of Lent. Under the theme: “Jesus I will Ponder Now” we will focus on six aspects of the Savior’s Passion as rendered and presented in six beautiful Chorales – four of which were penned by Johan Sebastian Bach. It is my prayer that as we focus on Jesus’ suffering through Scripture and song we will grow in a deeper appreciation of what Jesus has won for us on the bloody cross of Calvary.

In the Gospel of Luke, chapter 18, Jesus explains to His disciples, “Then He took unto Him the twelve, and said unto them, ‘Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man shall be accomplished.” {V.31} As we consider Jesus’ Passion we observe His work in terms of sin and grace.

I.        If my sins give me alarm and My conscience grieve me.

A.     It is sin which causes us to be alarmed

1.      Sin of commission –committed and  done by:

a.       Thoughts

b.      Words

c.       Actions

2.      Sins of omission

a.       When we had opportunity to do good but failed.

b.      When we could have prevented sin but failed to act or didn’t want to get involved, or the time was not convenient.

B.     Our conscience is troubled when we consider past wrongs, failures, and the nagging question, “What will God do to me at the end of my days?”

Transition: How do we receive a clean conscience and peace of mind? Our hymn verse gives us a clear answer.

II.     Let Thy cross, my fear disarm peace of conscience give me.

A.     The cross of Christ disarms our fears.

1.      At The cross the wrath of an offended God was poured out on Jesus Christ God’s own Son.

2.      Paul puts it this way; “God was in Christ reconciling us to the Father not counting our sins against us…”               2 Corinthians 5:19

3.      As Christ has taken our sin there is nothing for us to fear.

B.     Peace of conscience is what Christ alone can give.

1.      He gives us His peace – “Peace I leave thee, My peace I give thee…”      -John 14:27

2.      This is the only peace which will sustain us – all other forms or attempts at peace - pale in comparison.

Transition: Christ suffered for us once for all. Yet the Devil will attempt to trip us up reminding us again and again of past failings. That’s why we need a continued reminder of Christ’s work.

III.   Grant that I may trust in Thee and Thy holy Passion.

A.     All Jesus asks of us is to trust Him.

1.      Trust is nothing more then another word for faith.

2.      Faith is nothing more then taking God at His word.

B.     We trust that what Christ accomplished at the cross is all that is needed to win for us salvation.

1.      Jesus’ words: “It is finished!” says it all!

a.       There is nothing left to be done. Jesus did it all at the cross.

b.      Trusting in Jesus’ work and merit is what our faith must focus.

Transition: As we focus on what Jesus has done we learn an eternal truth – the love and compassion of Christ.  

IV.  If His Son so loveth me God must have compassion.

A.     Smile - God loves you! Best summed up by Christ Himself in John 3:16-18

B.     He has had compassion. The Passion of the Christ is motivated by the Father’s compassion for a fallen world. When He gave up His own Son He did the very best. The Father shows that;

1.      He cares for us

2.      He loves us

3.      He sent us His own Son who redeemed this world to save us.

CONCLUSION: As we begin the discipline of Lent we focus on Jesus’ Passion. He has redeemed us lost and condemned creatures and has purchased and won us from sin, from death and from the power of the devil. A great and mighty wonder is to unfold during this Lenten season we watch in awe and wonderment.