Emory Baptist Church
The End of the Age, Part 1

The End of the Age, Part 1

May 31, 2020

Generally speaking, people are very interested in the future.  We want to know to know the future personally.  We want to know the future related to EBC.  We want to know the future of our community and school and economy and favorite teams.    

 

We want to know the future as it relates to the Bible, and that often means details.  For the next two Sundays, we are going to be looking at Mark 13 and the end of the age.  However, if you are looking for a detailed timeline, you will probably be disappointed because our text is full of apocalyptic language that is highly symbolic and by nature can have multiple meanings.

 

Mark 13 along with Matthew 24-25 and Luke 21 is often called the “Olivet Discourse” because Jesus spoke to His disciples from the Mount of Olives.  We have probably now moved to Wednesday of Passion Week, and today, we will cover verses 1-23 and 24-37 for next week in looking at the end of the age.

 

 

Mark 13:1-4, The Temple will be Destroyed!

1 Then as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!”  2 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”  3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked Him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?” 

 

As Jesus and His disciples were leaving the temple, one of the disciples pointed out the beauty of the temple.  It was built with large white stones and decorated with gold.  The stones could have been 30 plus feet long and 12 feet high and 18 feet deep.  This would be akin to a railroad boxcar. 

 

The temple was not finished at this time.  Its construction began in 20 BC by Herod the Great.  It wasn’t finished until about 64 AD.  This conversation between Jesus and His disciples took place around 30 AD.  Therefore, even though it wasn’t finished, construction had been going on for 50 years.

 

Jesus responded to his disciple’s statement with a prophetic statement.  He predicted that the temple where they were currently standing would be destroyed. 

 

Did this happen? Certainly, it happened approximately 40 years later as the Romans burned the temple and destroyed Jerusalem in AD 70.  However, this first prophecy would simply be a foreshadowing of another prophecy that would be further away and actually hasn’t been realized yet.

 

In verses 3-4, Jesus and His disciples left the temple and went up to the Mount of Olives to talk.  Those disciples that had been with Him the longest wanted to know when the temple would be destroyed.  They also wanted to know what signs would indicate its beginning of its destruction so we will answer their two questions today and next week as Jesus answered them.

 

He answered their second question first and their first question second.  Also, Jesus spoke prophetically about an event that would come sooner, the destruction of the temple, to teach them about an event that would come later.  Therefore, Jesus prophesied about two major future events here in Mark 13.  The rest of today’s text relates to that second major future event. 

 

 

Mark 13:5-13, Signs will be Distorted.

5 And Jesus, answering them, began to say: “Take heed that no one deceives you. 6 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and will deceive many. 7 But when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet. 8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles. These are the beginnings of sorrows.  9 “But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony to them. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations. 11 But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12 Now brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. 13 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.

 

 

In verse 5, Jesus warned His disciples regarding this second major future event about being deceived or tricked with false signs or signs that will be distorted.  They include:

 

  1. False Messiahs (13:6) – Many will come in Jesus’ name claiming to be the Savior, and they will convince many to follow them instead of Jesus.
  2. National Warfare (13:7-8a) – There will be wars and rumors of war. Jesus said these things must happen but are not definite signs of the end.  As a matter of fact, these five distorted signs have been happening for 2000 years.
  3. Natural Disasters (13:8b) – There will be natural disasters including earthquakes and famines and troubles such as tornadoes and tsunamis and flooding and COVID.
  4. Christian Persecution (13:9-11) – There will be physical persecution for being a known follower of Christ, and your persecution will be a witness to those who are persecuting you. Be encouraged that when you stand for Christ, the HS will never leave you or forsake you and give you the words to say in that very moment.  Also, please note that before the end comes, the gospel must be shared with the entire world.  This truth should fuel our missionary sending, missionary praying, and missionary funding, and this truth reminds us of God’s loving patience with a lost and dying world.
  5. Family Division (13:12-13) – There will be divisions and strife within families over following Christ. However, persevering through the end will demonstrate your faithfulness, and 1 John 2:19 tells us that those who turn away were never saved in the first place. 

 

All of these signs are not signs of the end of the age.  They are signs of a sinful world and have been happening for 2000 years. 

 

 

Mark 13:14-23, Signs will be Definite.

14 “So when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not” (let the reader understand), “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15 Let him who is on the housetop not go down into the house, nor enter to take anything out of his house. 16 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. 17 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 18 And pray that your flight may not be in winter. 19 For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be. 20 And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake, whom He chose, He shortened the days.  21 “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘Look, He is there!’ do not believe it. 22 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 23 But take heed; see, I have told you all things beforehand.

 

Beginning verse 14, Jesus fast forwarded to some definite signs of the end of the age.  The first is the abomination of desolation, and Jesus was using language from Daniel.  Originally, it referred to an event that was such an abomination and so horrible that is caused the Jewish people to scatter and leave the temple desolate or empty. 

 

Events like this has happened multiple times, but what is interesting about Jesus’ language here is that, in the language of the NT, it seems to refer to a person and not just an event.  It seems that Jesus was pointing to the Anti-Christ who will turn his back on the nation of Israel and raise an image of himself in the temple and declare that he is God.  That will send the nation of Israel and followers of Christ scrambling. 

 

Consequently, the abomination of desolation will begin the persecution of followers of Christ during this great tribulation period that will be worse than it has ever been in all of history.  Jesus warned them to run and hide, and warned them not to give in to following false teachers doing signs and wonders.  This time will end only because of God’s grace and mercy, and He will not allow His chosen to fall away.

 

 

Conclusion

What shall we take away from our text today?  Remember, Jesus prophesied about two major future events.  The first was the destruction of the temple.  We will see the second next week that will begin the end of the age.

 

Until then: watch, watch, and watch.  See 13:5, 9, 23.  Watch and make sure you are ready to me your maker, and you can only be at peace with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ.

 

However, after you make sure you are ready, make sure you are committed to sharing the gospel with others so they will be ready as well.

 

What Does God Want From You?

What Does God Want From You?

May 26, 2020

Take your Bibles and find Mark 12:41. I want to share a message with you this morning entitled, “What Does Jesus Want from You?” 

 

We are still in Passion Week.  It is Tuesday, and Thursday’s Passover is coming.  Therefore, remember that Jerusalem is full of first-century Jews, and this story can also be found in Luke 21:1-4.

 

 

  1. The Observation of the Proud and their Quantity, Mark 12:41

41 Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much.

 

In verse 41, we see that Jesus was still in the temple.  The treasury was located in the court of women.  It was the furthest point in the temple that women could go. 

 

It was here that there were 13 trumpet-shaped collection receptacles for individuals to give their offerings.  Almost half of them were labeled “free-will offerings,” which is where this money was most like being deposited. 

 

This verse says that Jesus sat opposite the place of giving, and He began observing the people.  He became a people watcher.  The language of the NT tells us that He watched and kept watching.  He watched and watched and watched probably thousands of individuals drop their money into these collection pieces during this Passover season. 

 

Notice also that verse 41 says that He was observing “how” the people gave.  He wasn’t necessarily seeing what they gave.

 

Actually, you probably could have heard this giving in verse 41.  The rich were known to have cashed all of their offerings into smaller coins to deposit.  The sound of so many small coins being dropped into these brass receptacles made everyone turn their head in wonder and amazement of the amounts of money that were being contributed by the rich.  The wealthy were very interested in the praises of men.

 

They were proud, and they were glad that the quantity of their giving was on full display for all to see. 

 

 

  1. The Demonstration of the Poor and her Quality, Mark 12:42

42 Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans.

 

In verse 42, we see what is commonly referred to as the widow’s mites. 
This poor widow also came to give at the treasury without any flare and any pomp and any circumstances.  I believe she may have had her with her head down as she dropped in her two small copper coins.

 

A mite was a small copper coin, the smallest denomination in use.  She gave literally 2 lepta, actually less than 1 cent.  She was interested not in the praises of men, but the praises of her Maker. 

 

 

  • The Explanation of a Principle of Currency or Money, Mark 12:43-44

43 So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; 44 for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.”

 

Notice how Jesus described what the widow gave in verse 43.  He said she put in “more than” anyone else. 

 

In verse 44, He went further with His explanation.  Commenting on the wealthy or the rich, they put in out of their abundance or surplus.  However, this poor widow put in all she owned.  Let that sink in.  She put in the last penny to her name.  In other words, she wouldn’t eat again until she earned some more money.

 

Jesus’ explanation is this: when it comes to money or financial giving, the quality of the giving or your attitude in giving is worth more than the quantity in giving or your action of giving.  The Lord sees your heart and your hand, and don’t forget that He can do a lot with your little. 

 

 

Applications

So here is the first takeaway from today’s text.  Jesus doesn’t want your leftovers.  He wants your livelihood.  This is true with your financial giving, your ministry serving, and your church attending. 

 

I gather annually with some friends from college, and we have a saying that is applicable here.  When we were younger and our metabolism was faster, we used to eat a lot and a lot of unhealthy.  We would say, “You don’t save room.  You make room.”

 

When it comes to your giving and serving and attending, you don’t save room if you have leftovers.  You make room for these priorities that are Jesus’ priorities for your life.

 

The second application is for those who have never answer the call to salvation.  This story foreshadows Jesus giving His all for you in the same way this widow gave her all. 

 

Jesus died on the cross in your place and for your sins.  Today, will you answer His call to put your faith and trust in Him as Lord and Savior? 

Inferior and Superior…At the Same Time

Inferior and Superior…At the Same Time

May 17, 2020

It is still Tuesday.  It is still Passion Week, and Jesus is still dialoging with those who want to trap Him in the temple courts. 

 

He has taken several tests given by the religious leaders of the day, all of which He has aced! He aced the political test from the Pharisees concerning paying taxes.  He aced the theological test from the Sadducees concerning the resurrection.  He aced the religious test from the Scribes concerning the greatest commandment.

 

After attempting to trap Him on several occasions with several different tests, Mark 12:34 says, “But after that no one dared question Him.”  However, it was now time for Jesus to ask some questions of His own, and He would ask them of the Scribes who previously questioned Him.

 

Today’s Message from Mark 12:35-40 is entitled, “Inferior and Superior…At the Same Time.”

 

 

  1. A Clarification about the Son’s Being, Mark 12:35-37

35 Then Jesus answered and said, while He taught in the temple, “How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the Son of David? 36 For David himself said by the Holy Spirit: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”’  37 Therefore David himself calls Him ‘Lord’; how is He then his Son?”  And the common people heard Him gladly. 

 

In these first three verses, Jesus asked two questions.  Jesus’ first question is in verse 35, “How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the Son of David?”

 

Remember, the scribes were more than likely Pharisees, and they were experts in the Law.  They knew the Scriptures well, and it was standard Jewish belief and conviction that the Christ or Messiah would come from the physical line of David.  The scribes were right in their understanding as see in the OT and NT.

 

Isaiah 9:6-7, 6 For unto us a Child is born,

Unto us a Son is given;

And the government will be upon His shoulder.

And His name will be called

Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,

Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

7 Of the increase of His government and peace

There will be no end,

Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,

To order it and establish it with judgment and justice

From that time forward, even forever.

The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

 

Jeremiah 23:5-6, 5 “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord,

“That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness;

A King shall reign and prosper,

And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.

6 In His days Judah will be saved,

And Israel will dwell safely;

Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

 

Matthew 1:6, 16, 6 and Jesse begot David the king.  David the king begot Solomon by her who had been the wife of Uriah.  16 And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ.

 

Luke 3:23, 31, 23 Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, the son of Heli, 31 the son of Melea, the son of Menan, the son of Mattathah, the son of Nathan, the son of David,

 

Jesus’ second question is in verse 37, “How is He then his Son?”  Before Jesus asked this second question, He reminded the scribes of that which David said in the most quoted Psalm in the NT.  Peter quoted this Psalm in Acts 2.  Paul used it in 1 Corinthians 15, and the author of Hebrews in Hebrews 1.

 

In Psalm 110:1, God the Father (Jehovah or Yahweh) is talking to the Messiah (Adonai).  In Mark 12:37, Jesus sprung His punch line. 

 

David called the One who would come from his line “Lord” or “Messiah.”  How can this be?  A father would never be in subjection or inferior to his son.  He would never call his son a name of authority or superiority.  In what sense was and is Jesus David’s son?

 

He certainly is the physical son of David, and at the same time, He is David’s Lord.  He is the Son of God.  The Jesus they were talking to was the Christ, the Messiah.  He was the physical son of David, and He was the Son of God making Him divine! 

 

Jesus was and is both man and God.  He is inferior in that He is David’s Son.  However, is superior at the same time as David’s Lord.

 

 

  1. The Condemnation of the Scribes’ Behavior, Mark 12:38-40

38 Then He said to them in His teaching, “Beware of the scribes, who desire to go around in long robes, love greetings in the marketplaces, 39 the best seats in the synagogues, and the best places at feasts, 40 who devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.”

 

In verses 38-40, Jesus warned and condemned the scribes’ hypocritical behavior.  They liked to walk around in long robes.  These were white robes designating devout and noted scholar as opposed to the colorful robes of the common people.

 

They liked respectful greetings in the market places.  These included Rabbi, Teacher, Master, and Father.

 

They liked the best seats in the synagogues.  These were situated in front of the chest containing the sacred scrolls of Scripture and facing the congregation.

They liked places of honor at banquets.  These spots next to the host so as to receive preferential treatment.

                                                             

Verse 40 perhaps speaks to their most atrocious behavior.  The scribes received no monetary pay for their temple services.  However, they were often estate planners for the widows and would convince them of their own piety through long prayers that encouraged them to serve God by supporting the temple or the scribe’s holy work.  The longer they prayed, the more they would get paid!  Jesus pronounced severe punishment for their actions!

 

 

Conclusions/Applications

First, we must be settled on the fact that the Bible is true.  In verse 36, Jesus reminded us that Psalm 110 was not just David’s words but the Holy Spirit’s.  That is also true of Moses and Solomon and Matthew and Mark and John and Paul and Peter. 

 

2 Timothy 3:16, 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,

 

If God cannot lie, His word must be true in whatever it addresses.  That includes science, history, geography, whatever.

 

Second, we must be settled on the fact that Jesus is God.  He is man, but He is also God.  He is inferior and superior at that same time. 

 

Students, and Moms and Dads, your student will hear in college philosophy 101 that He was possibly a liar.  He was not.

 

Others will say He was just a great moral teacher with the likes of Moses and Confucius and Socrates and Gandhi.  He was not. 

 

There will even be those that say He was a crazy man.  He was not. 

 

The Biblical fact is that was and is Son of the God and Savior of the world and only way to be at peace with the Father. 

 

Finally, sin is bad.  We often say that all sin is equal.  Is that true?  It is not equal in earthly consequences.  It doesn’t appear to be true here.  These scribes will receive greater condemnation.

 

However, the greatest sin is rejecting Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord.  You cannot save yourself, but Jesus can and will when you answer that call to put your faith and trust in Him. 

How Far are You from the Kingdom of God?

How Far are You from the Kingdom of God?

May 11, 2020

I want to ask you, “How far are you from the kingdom of God?”

 

 

  1. The Examination of a Scribe, Mark 12:28

28 Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?” 

 

In verse 28, we see a scribe and Jesus examining Jesus’ ethics.  Jesus remained in constant dialogue with the Jewish religious leaders of the day.  The Pharisees came to Him in 12:14. The Sadducees came to Him in 12:18, and here in 12:28, a scribe came to Him. 

 

A scribe was an expert in the Old Testament law.  Some commentators even describe them as the equivalent of today’s lawyers.  A few weeks ago, I compared them to the legislative branch in our governments of today.

 

This particular scribe didn’t appear to come maliciously or with evil intent.  He simply came to Jesus and asked or examined His understanding of the law.  He asked, “Which is the first commandment of all?” 

 

Remember, in this day and time, we are told that the OT included 613 laws.  Of that 613, 365 were prohibitive or negative (don’t), and 248 were prescriptive or positive (do).  This scribe asking an honest question wanted to know which one was the foremost of all or the most important. 

 

 

  1. The Explanation from the Savior, Mark 12:29-33

29 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”  32 So the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. 33 And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 

 

In verses 29 and following, Jesus answered the question in two parts.  First, He said the foremost was to love God, and He quoted from the OT Law in Deuteronomy 6:4-5. 

 

This is the Shema or literally Hear O Israel.  The Shema declares that Jehovah is one, and His followers are to love Him with all of their heart, soul, mind and strength. 

 

Even though we could discuss for hours what each of the parts means, I believe what Jesus was saying is the foremost command from the OT is to love God with your totality.  We are to love Him with all that we are and all that we have. 

 

We are prone to compartmentalize our life.  Some of you here today love God with your marriage, but you don’t love Him with your job.  Some of you love God with you parenting, but you don’t love Him with your finances.  Some of you love God with your service, but you don’t love Him with your health.  Some of you love God with your Sundays, but you don’t love God with your rest of the week.

 

The foremost and greatest commandment in all of the law is to love God with everything you have.  Love God with your totality.

 

Jesus then added a second to the first.  In verse 31, He said the second is to love your neighbor as yourself.  He then quoted from Leviticus 19:18. We are to love God with our totality and love people with our humility.  Loving others means thinking of them before you think and consider yourself. 

 

According to Jesus, all of the OT law could be summarized in loving God and loving people.  By the way, the mission statement that I have been using since I’ve been at EBC is that we exist to love God, love people, and make disciples. 

 

In verse 32, we see that this scribe understood exactly what Jesus had said.  He even repeated back to Jesus what Jesus had answered to him. 

 

He then added his own correct commentary.  He said that loving God and loving others was much more than burnt offerings and sacrifice.  In other words, it is better to obey than sacrifice.  This man got it.  He understood.  The light bulb was shining brightly, but what do you make of Jesus’ response in verse 34?

 

 

  • The Extrapolation about Salvation, Mark 12:34

34 Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” 

 

To extrapolate is to infer or conclude.  Jesus concluded about this scribe’s salvation in verse 34. He had answered intelligently and correctly.  Jesus then said, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”  He said you are not far, but not far doesn’t mean in.

 

There was a difference between being close to the kingdom of God and being in the kingdom of God.  That difference is still true today.  Are you close to the kingdom of God or are you in the kingdom of God?  How far are you from the kingdom of God?

 

 

Conclusion

Here is the point or points that Jesus is trying to make.  First, we demonstrate our love for God by loving others.  The two are inseparable.  You can’t do one without the other. 

Jesus taught this explicitly in Matthew 25:31-46.

 

31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. 33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’  37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’  41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’  44 “Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ 45 Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

 

Second, it is good to know the truth.  It is better and best to do the truth.  See James 2:19-26.

 

19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.  25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?  26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

 

This scribe had enough knowledge to get him close to the kingdom of God, but had not practiced his faith into the kingdom of God.

 

Some of you are here today, and you are excellent hearers.  You come and hear good preaching every Sunday…well at least you come and hear preaching, but you aren’t doing anything about it.  You know how to honor God in your marriage, but you aren’t honoring God in your marriage.  You know that you should read your Bible, but you aren’t reading your Bible. You know you should tithe, but you aren’t tithing.  You know should tell that coworker about your relationship with Christ, but you haven’t told that coworker about your relationship with Christ.  WE must be doers of the word and not merely hearers only. 

 

There are others of you here this morning, and you know the gospel.  You know that Jesus died on the cross in your place and for your sins. You know that He was resurrected from the grave.  You know that He is the only way to heaven, and you’re not far from the kingdom of God. 

 

However, this morning, will you believe?  Will you trust Jesus as Lord and Savior and cross that invisible line into the kingdom of God?  You know you should be baptized, but will you decide to be baptized today?  You know God is calling you to join this church, but will you decide to join this church today?

 

Will I Be Married in Heaven?

Will I Be Married in Heaven?

May 3, 2020

That is a question that I have been asked often by those who are close to dying or thinking about heaven or have just experienced the death of a spouse.  We will answer that question in just a few minutes.

 

We are back in Mark’s gospel this morning and looking at the last week of Jesus’ life on earth.  On Sunday, He rode into Jerusalem on the donkey at the praise of the people.  On Monday, He come back into Jerusalem and cursed the fig tree and cleansed temple.  On Tuesday, He came back into Jerusalem and taught the significance of cursing the fig tree to His disciples. 

 

In the recent Sunday’s, we have seen Jesus speak about His ministry and the relationship between Him and John the Baptist.  Last week, He answered the question of the Pharisees and Herodians about paying taxes.

 

Today, we are probably still on Tuesday, and we will see Jesus answering more questions from those trying to discredit His ministry in a sermon called, “Will There Be Marriage in Heaven?”

 

 

  1. The Liberal Aristocrats, Mark 12:18

18 Then Jesus was approached by some Sadducees—religious leaders who say there is no resurrection from the dead.

 

Who were the Sadducees?  One commentary called them the urban, wealthy, and sophisticated class of Jerusalem.  They wielded great political and religious influence as part of the Jewish religious leaders of the day, but they had their own unique attributes. 

 

They were conservative in that they didn’t believe in the oral law or traditions of the Pharisees.  However, they were liberal in that they didn’t believe in a resurrection or angels or spirits.  We know this from Dr. Luke in Acts 23:8.

 

Acts 23:8, 8 For Sadducees say that there is no resurrection—and no angel or spirit; but the Pharisees confess both.

 

Because of their beliefs and because they were pro-Roman, they were at odds with the Pharisees again and again.  However, remember that the enemy of my enemy is my friend.  Therefore, like the Pharisees in this instance, they attempted to trap Jesus with His words and discredit His ministry, and their question or scenario unfolded in verses 19-23.

 

 

  1. A Ludicrous Argument, Mark 12:19-23

19 “Teacher, Moses gave us a law that if a man dies, leaving a wife without children, his brother should marry the widow and have a child who will carry on the brother’s name. 20 Well, suppose there were seven brothers. The oldest one married and then died without children. 21 So the second brother married the widow, but he also died without children. Then the third brother married her. 22 This continued with all seven of them, and still there were no children. Last of all, the woman also died. 23 So tell us, whose wife will she be in the resurrection? For all seven were married to her.”

 

Beginning in verse 19, the Sadducees posed the proverbial straw man scenario to Jesus in an effort to prove their belief or argument of no resurrection.  There example is based loosely on Deuteronomy 25, which is why they attributed it Moses.

 

The story included a married couple who didn’t have children for whatever reason.  Then, tragedy strikes, and the husband dies leaving the wife alone and without anyone to care for her.

 

The custom of the day and part of the Old Testament Law was what was known as levirate marriage.  This term comes from the Latin word “levirate” which means husband’s brother, and the Sadducees correctly referenced Moses commendation of it from Deuteronomy 25:5-6.

 

Deuteronomy 25:5-6, 5 “If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the widow of the dead man shall not be married to a stranger outside the family; her husband’s brother shall go in to her, take her as his wife, and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her. 6 And it shall be that the firstborn son which she bears will succeed to the name of his dead brother, that his name may not be blotted out of Israel.

 

We see this practice in the book of Ruth, and its purpose was to protect and provide for the family, and the Sadducees could have asked their question of Jesus using just two husbands in an example.  However, in attempt to show their disdain for the resurrection and its absurdity, they used seven husbands.  This was a ludicrous argument. 

 

In their minds, Jesus only had two options in answering.  If He answered that the wife belonged to all of them, He would be condoning adultery.  If He answered otherwise, in their minds, He would be teaching that there was no such thing as the resurrection. 

 

 

  1. Life After Death, Mark 12:24-27

24 Jesus replied, “Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God. 25 For when the dead rise, they will neither marry nor be given in marriage. In this respect they will be like the angels in heaven.  26 “But now, as to whether the dead will be raised—haven’t you ever read about this in the writings of Moses, in the story of the burning bush? Long after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had died, God said to Moses, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ 27 So he is the God of the living, not the dead. You have made a serious error.”

 

As He did with others, He challenged the Sadducees’ understanding of Scripture.  They should have known better, but they didn’t.

 

Beginning in verse 25, Jesus pointed out two of their errors in thinking.  First, Jesus said there would be no marriage(s) in heaven.  Why?  One of the main purposes of marriage is reproduction.  However, in heaven, there is no need for reproduction because life in heaven is eternal life.  Therefore, you will know you spouse and children and others in heaven, but the only marriage will be between Christ and His Bride, the Church.

 

In that same verse, Jesus said that in heaven, we will be LIKE angels.  Notice He didn’t say we will be angels.  He said we will be LIKE angels.  How so? 

 

Like angels, we will have glorified bodies.  Like angels, we will not reproduce.  Like angels, we will live eternally, and like angels, we will be fully and completely dedicated to our relationship with God. 

 

In verse 26, Jesus specifically addressed the resurrection of the dead.  Again, Jesus challenged their knowledge of Scripture with a verse from Exodus 3:6.  The Sadducees should have known this since they only believed and were supposed to be experts in the Pentateuch or first five books of the OT.

 

Exodus 3:6, 6 I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”

 

In verse 27, Jesus added that God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.

 

What was so special about what He said?  Exodus 3 is about 500 years after Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob died.  Yet, God said, “I AM the God of…”  He used present tense and not past tense to say that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were still alive in heaven because of the resurrection of the dead. 

 

Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:8 that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.  Therefore, once these OT Patriarchs died or any believer dies, he or she is immediately resurrected to heaven.

 

 

Conclusions/Applications (5)

So what does all this mean? 

 

First, like the Sadducees, we will make mistakes and errors in judgement when we don’t know the Scriptures.  If you don’t know what the Bible says about marriage, you will make unnecessary mistakes in yours. If you don’t know what the Bible says about parenting, you will make unnecessary mistakes with your children.  If you don’t know what the Bible says about money.  You will make unnecessary mistakes managing yours.  Read your Bible.  Be in Sunday School and Church.  Don’t neglect the opportunities the Lord gives you so readily. 

 

Second, because of God’s power, there will be a resurrection of the dead that means life in heaven for eternity.  By the way, it’s this same power that can save your marriage and redeem your lost child and provide for you financially when your situation seems hopeless. 

 

Third, there will be relationships in heaven but not marriage.  Because Believers will be immortal and have no need to reproduce, there will be no marriage but the family of faith that includes brothers and sisters in Christ.  See Matthew 12:50.

 

50 For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.

 

Fourth, there will be angels in heaven.  Remember, we will be LIKE them but not the same as them.

 

Fifth, one way we will be like angels is having a glorified body.  What does that mean?  The only thing I’m sure about is that it won’t be susceptible to sickness and disease and death.  It will be immortal.

 

 

Invitation

There is only way to know for certain that you will be resurrected to heaven and not hell never to die again.

 

John 11:25, 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.”

 

 

When Worlds Collide…

When Worlds Collide…

April 26, 2020

Some commentators believe that we have now moved to Wednesday of Passion Week.  However, we are still in Jerusalem, and Jesus is still dialoging with His enemies.

 

His enemies feel as if they have Him cornered.  We will see this morning that the question regarding one’s allegiance to government and one’s allegiance to God is an ancient dilemma.

 

I want to share a message with you entitled, “When Worlds Collide…”  Please take your Bibles and turn to Mark 12:13-17.

 

 

  1. A Demonstration of Treachery, Mark 12:13-15a

13 Then they sent to Him some of the Pharisees and the Herodians, to catch Him in His words. 14 When they had come, they said to Him, “Teacher, we know that You are true, and care about no one; for You do not regard the person of men, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar, or not? 15 Shall we pay, or shall we not pay?” 

 

In this first scene, let’s talk about the players if you will.  The Pharisees represented narrow, conservative Judaism.  They were right-wingers.  They were resentful to Rome and for their domination over the nation of Israel.

 

On the other hand, the Herodians represented liberalism.  They were left-wingers.  They were loyal to Herod and Rome. 

 

These two groups were normally enemies and opponents of one another.  However, now they were on the same team trying to destroy Jesus.  Evidently, the old adage is true: the enemy of my enemy is my friend. 

 

Let’s not only think about the players, let’s also consider their plot.  They were trying to trap Jesus like an animal or catch Him like a fish on a hook.  Their treachery was obvious. 

 

They wanted to know if the Jews should pay taxes to Caesar.  This was a head-tax on any one and every one living under the Roman Empire.  If Jesus said yes, the crowd would be in an uproar.  There would be chaos.  A yes answer would affirm Roman domination of the Jews.

 

However, if Jesus said no, He and His followers would be accused of being insurrectionists.  He would then be quickly arrested by the Romans for defying their authority.

 

 

  1. An Illustration of Hypocrisy, Mark 12:15b-16

But He, knowing their hypocrisy, said to them, “Why do you test Me? Bring Me a denarius that I may see it.” 16 So they brought it.  And He said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” They said to Him, “Caesar’s.”

 

Jesus smelled a rat.  Verse 15 says He knew their hypocrisy.  He knew about their words and their works. 

 

In verse 14, they called Him Teacher, but they didn’t follow His teaching.  They were flattering Him. 

 

Also, in verse 15, He asked to see a denarius which was a single coin that represented a day’s wages.  Keep in mind this was a Roman Coin.

 

Evidently they had one on them revealing their hypocritical works.  They were asking Jesus if they should pay even though they were ready to pay. 

 

After receiving one, Jesus asked whose image was on the coin.  It was that of Tiberius Caesar.  One side was inscribed with “Son of the Divine Augustus.”  The other side said “Chief Priest.”

 

Their hypocrisy abounded. 

 

 

  • The Application of Authority, Mark 12:17

17 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”  And they marveled at Him.

 

Jesus told them to give to Caesar what was due Caesar.  That would include the head-tax that was previously mentioned.

 

However, don’t miss this.  He also said to give to God that which was due God.

 

 

Conclusions

So let me give you one conclusion with two parts.

 

First, give and pray to and for our government.  Give what is due them.  That means submission.  We should submit from traffic laws to paying taxes to following guidelines.

 

Please hear me this morning.  We are meeting like we are today because we should…not because we have to.

 

Of course, the exception would be anytime our government requires us to violate Scripture or conscience that was determined by Scripture.

 

Romans 13:1-2, 5-7, Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.

 

5 Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.

 

Christians are also to pray for their government.

 

1 Timothy 2:1-4, Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

 

Second, give and pray to our God in heaven.  As the coin had Caesar’s image, and Jesus told the Pharisees and Herodians to pay that which was due Caesar, our soul has God’s image on it.  We are made in the image of God.  See Genesis 1:27.

 

Genesis 1:27, 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

 

Therefore, we are to give our lives to God.  It is due Him.  It is owed Him. 

 

Romans 12:1, I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

 

 

Invitation

  • Lost-to receive Jesus as your Lord and Savior.
  • Saved-be subject to government and God.
Lousy Tenants but a Good Landlord

Lousy Tenants but a Good Landlord

April 19, 2020

We are at the end of Tuesday of Passion Week, and Jesus has just refused to answer the questions and accusations of the Jewish Religious Leaders because of their refusal to answer His return question about John the Baptist.

 

Jesus then began to speak to them in a parable.  This is the first parable in Mark’s gospel since 4:30 and the parable of the Mustard Seed.  Today’s parable is called the parable of the wicked vinedressers or the parable of the wicked tenant farmers or the parable of vine-growers or the parable of the householder and the heir.

 

Remember, a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.  Generally speaking, Jesus used parables to reveal mysteries, to conceal realities (render judgement), and to fulfill prophecies.

Parable

1 Then He began to speak to them in parables: “A man planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a place for the wine vat and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country.

 

It was not uncommon for wealthy landlords to own large land estates which they leased to tenant farmers or vinedressers.  The tenants would agree to cultivate the land and care for the crops while the landlords were away. 

 

In return for their care, the landlords would give a portion of the crop to the tenants while keeping a portion for themselves.  When harvest time came, the landlords would send agents on their behalf to collect their portions. 

 

In telling this parable, Jesus was quoting from Isaiah 5.

 

1 Now let me sing to my Well-beloved

A song of my Beloved regarding His vineyard:

My Well-beloved has a vineyard

On a very fruitful hill.

2 He dug it up and cleared out its stones,

And planted it with the choicest vine.

He built a tower in its midst,

And also made a winepress in it;

So He expected it to bring forth good grapes,

But it brought forth wild grapes.

 

In verse 1, them was the Jewish Religious Leaders.  The man was God, and His vineyard was the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people, and the vinedressers were the Jewish Religious Leaders or the chief priests, scribes, and elders.

 

The hedge was most likely a rock wall that served to keep out animals.  The wine vat was underneath the winepress and caught all of the juice that was squeezed from the grapes.  The tower was used for protection to see intruders and animals from afar.  It also served as storage and a place for the vinedressers and their workers to stay.

 

 

2 Now at vintage-time he sent a servant to the vinedressers, that he might receive some of the fruit of the vineyard from the vinedressers. 3 And they took him and beat him and sent him away empty-handed. 4 Again he sent them another servant, and at him they threw stones, wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully treated. 5 And again he sent another, and him they killed; and many others, beating some and killing some.

 

In verse 2, it was harvest time and so the owner sent one of his servants as his agent to get his portion of the vineyard’s produce.  Remember, their produce was supposed to be their rent payment. 

 

However, the lousy tenants or vinedressers took the slave and beat him and sent him home with nothing.  He sent another slave, and the turnout was the same.  He sent another, and they killed him.  He sent more and more, and all of them were either beaten or killed, but none returned with any crop.

 

These servants represent the prophets and messengers of God that God sent throughout history as His ambassadors to the nation of Israel.  In the Old Testament, even before Israel, I think of Noah whose message fell on deaf ears.  I think of Elijah who was driven into the wilderness by Ahab and Jezebel and ready to commit suicide.

 

1 Kings 19:4, 4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he prayed that he might die, and said, “It is enough! Now, Lord, take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!”

 

I think of Zechariah was stoned to death near the temple.

 

2 Chronicles 24:21, 21 So they conspired against him, and at the command of the king they stoned him with stones in the court of the house of the Lord.

 

In the New Testament, I think of John the Baptist who was beheaded.

 

Matthew 14:10, 10 So he sent and had John beheaded in prison.

 

Stephan who was stoned to death.

 

Acts 7:58, 58 and they cast him out of the city and stoned him.

 

God has sent countless messengers to His people, and they have rejected them. 

 

 

6 Therefore still having one son, his beloved, he also sent him to them last, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 7 But those vinedressers said among themselves, ‘This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ 8 So they took him and killed him and cast him out of the vineyard.

 

The wonderful landlord had one last idea.  He decided not to send any more slaves or servants.  He decided to send his son, his beloved son.  He thought surely the lousy tenants would respect his son and send back his portion of the vineyard crops. 

 

However, the lousy tenants saw the son coming and took their opportunity to remove the heir of the property.  They took him and killed him and threw him out of the vineyard.

 

We see in these verses that God did not send another prophet.  He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, and what was true of true of the prophets turned out to be true with Jesus.  They God’s Son and crucified Him. 

 

 

9 “Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the vinedressers, and give the vineyard to others. 10 Have you not even read this Scripture: ‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone.  11 This was the Lord’s doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes’?”  12 And they sought to lay hands on Him, but feared the multitude, for they knew He had spoken the parable against them. So they left Him and went away.

 

Jesus then asked a rhetorical question in verse 9, “What will the owner of the vineyard do?”  He went on to answer it for them.  He will come and destroy the vine-dressers and give the vineyard to others.

 

Again, the owner is God.  The vineyard is the nation of Israel but could also be seen as the Kingdom of God.  The vinedressers were the chief priests, scribes, and elders. 

 

Who are the others?  The others are the Gentiles.  Because Israel rejected Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah, God temporarily set them aside and has turned His attention to the Gentile world. 

 

That doesn’t mean that He is done with Israel.  It does mean that He will wait to resume that relationship with Israel until all the Gentiles who are going to be saved are saved.

Jesus further indicted the leaders of Israel in quoting Psalm 118:22-23.  The stone is Christ.  The builders are Israel and her leaders.  They rejected Christ, but Christ became the chief corner stone or the foundation stone of the Gentile Christian Church. 

 

As verse 12 says, obviously the Jewish Religious Leaders understood fully what the spiritual meaning was for this earthly story.  The parable spoke against them and further fueled their fire against Jesus.

 

 

Conclusions

From this parable, we learn at least three truths about God and His character.

 

First, He is patient.  In this parable, the landowner didn’t just send one servant to collect the harvest.  Look at verses 2-5.  He sent one and another and another, and verse 5 says many others. 

 

God didn’t just send one prophet to Israel.  He sent one and two and three and many others.  God hasn’t tried just once to get your attention.  He has tried once and twice and three times and many others because God is patient. 

 

2 Peter 3:9, 9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering (or patient) toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

 

Second, not only is God patient, God is also love.  The landowner didn’t just send his servants and multiple ones at that.  In verse 6, he sent his one and only beloved son. 

 

God didn’t just send His prophets to Israel and multiple ones at that.  God sent His one and only beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to Israel and the world because of His love. 

 

John 3:16, 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

 

Finally, not only is God patient, and not only is God love, but God is also just.  Eventually in the parable, Jesus said of the vinedressers in verse 9 that the landowner would come and destroy the vinedressers.

 

Yes, he was patient, and yes, he was love, but in the end, he was just, and he held the vinedressers responsible for their actions.

 

Here me this morning.  Yes, God is patient, and yes, God is love, but you need to also know that God will hold you responsible and accountable for your actions, specifically how you respond to His Son, Jesus Christ. 

 

Is Jesus your Savior this morning?  Remember, God is patient, and He is love.  However, don’t presume too long on His patience and disregard His Son because if you don’t receive Jesus as Savior, you will be held responsible for your sin, and your sin will send you to an eternity in hell without Christ.

 

Luke 13:3, but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.

 

Is Jesus your Lord this morning?  Remember, God is patient with you sin, and He is love and will give you another chance today to repent, but don’t presume too long on His patience and disregard His Son.

 

God will never bless a life that is habitually characterized by disobedience instead of obedience. 

An Easter Like No Other…Easter 2020

An Easter Like No Other…Easter 2020

April 13, 2020

To say that this Easter is like no other is the understatement of the year.  Never in a million years could I have ever dreamed that a microscopic virus would affect the entire world without exception and require that the body of Christ gather online rather than in person on Easter Sunday.  However, here we are, and I want you to hear me say that I love you and miss you and wish that our circumstances were different.

 

However, I also want you to hear me say that the tomb is empty, and Jesus is alive.  Happy Easter to you and your family!

 

With Easter being more different than it has ever been this ear, I want to share with you a different Easter sermon.  I want to share with you why I’m thankful or what I’m thankful for about Easter. 

 

 

  1. This Easter, I’m thankful for the message, John 20:1-10.

Now the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. 2 Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”  3 Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. 4 So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. 5 And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, 7 and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. 8 Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. 9 For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. 10 Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.

 

Chapter 20 begins with Sunday morning, and Mary Magdalene was on her way to the tomb with spices to help cover the odor that she anticipated in finding Jesus’ body.  We know from the other gospels that Mary was not alone.  There were at least two other women with her if not more. 

 

When she arrived, she was surprised to see the stone had been rolled away.  We know from Matthew’s gospel that it was rolled away by an angel after an earthquake, and it was rolled away not to let Jesus out but to let the disciples come in. 

 

Evidently, Mary didn’t take time to listen to what the angel had to say.  She was simply able to see or concluded that Jesus’ body was gone, and she immediately left to find the leaders of the disciples, Peter and John.  Once they were found, she reported what she had seen and or what she thought. 

 

Mary’s report to Peter and John sent them to the tomb to see for themselves.  Verses 3 and 4 are somewhat comical as we see John describing himself as a faster runner than Peter.  I can’t say why he did this, but nonetheless, John beat Peter to the tomb but decided not to go in after initially seeing the linen grave clothes from a distance. 

 

However, once Peter arrived in verse 6, he went in and examined the wrappings.  In verse 8, John entered the tomb and saw that it was empty and the graves clothes were left. 

 

Much has been made about the wrappings, but the simple point is that Jesus was no longer wearing them.  Perhaps He passed right through them.

 

Notice what John did after seeing the empty tomb and the wrappings.  Again, in verse 8, He saw and believed.

 

It is interesting to see the different uses of “saw” in these verses.  It is found in at least verses 5, 6, and 8.  However, in the language of the NT, these three verses contain three different words that we translate all as “saw.” 

 

In verse 5, John saw in a glance.  In verse 6, Peter saw and observed.  In verse 8, John saw and understood and believed.  He believed the message of the resurrection was true.  Jesus was alive!

 

We also know that the message of Easter is true today.  How do we know?  We know the message of Easter is true because of Sunday worship.  Because of the resurrection and for 2000 years, Christians all over the world, including today, have worshipped on Sunday rather than Saturday.

 

Second, we know the message of Easter is true because of the empty tomb.  That sounds obvious, but it is the proverbial smoking gun.  It was empty then and still is today. 

 

Third, we know the message of Easter is true because of the testimony of a woman.  If you were going to make up a believable story in first century Jewish culture, you would not have it rise and fall on the testimony of a female.  Needless to say, our sisters were not highly regarded in this day and age.

 

Fourth, we know the message of Easter is true because of eyewitness accounts.  The Bible tells us that over 500 witness saw Jesus alive after His crucifixion.  Think about that. 

 

Fifth, we know the message of Easter is true because of changed lives. The men who were found scared for their lives later in this chapter are preaching the gospel in the face of death in the book of Acts.  This Easter, I’m thankful for the message.

 

 

  1. This Easter, I’m thankful for relationships, John 20:11-16.

11 But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. 12 And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. 13 Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”  She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”  14 Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”  She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”  16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!”  She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).

 

In verses 11-13, we see that Mary thought that Jesus’ body had been stolen.  She was the cross so she saw Him die.  The only option was that He had been stolen. 

 

However, Jesus was alive and in the garden.  He called Mary by name, and Mary knew the voice of her Shepherd.

 

I’m thankful for the relationship that Mary had Jesus, and I’m thankful for relationship she had with Peter and John to the degree that they had to be told first when she found the empty tomb.

Brothers and sisters, I’m thankful for my relationship with you and our relationships with one another.  In many ways, our personal relationships have been hindered this Easter, but I’m thankful they still exist and long for the day they can be renewed personally.

 

 

  1. This Easter, I’m thankful for family, John 20:17-18.

17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’”  18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.

 

Apparently, when Mary recognized Jesus and that He was alive, she probably fell at His feet.  He asked her to refrain because He hadn’t ascended to His Father.

 

Jesus had a Heavenly Father.  They were family, and COVID-19 has allowed many of us to spend more time with family.  For some that has not been good, but for me, it has been good. 

 

This Easter, I’m thankful for Jesus and His family, His heavenly Father.  I’m also thankful to be a father and a husband.

 

 

  1. This Easter, I’m thankful for salvation, John 20:19-20.

19 Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.  21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”

 

In verses 19-21, the early disciples were gathered on Sunday night out of fear.  When those that had Jesus crucified heard that the tomb was empty, they would first suspect His followers of stealing the body in an effort to validate His claims of resurrection.

 

Jesus went to them and showed them in the flesh His hands that had been nailed and His side that had been pierced. 

 

On two occasions, Jesus assured their peace and then sent them out as messengers. 

 

If you are saved this morning through a personal relationship with Jesus, you have peace with God, and Jesus is sending you out as a messenger of the gospel.  Go and tell what Jesus has done in your life.

 

This Easter, I’m thankful Jesus has graciously and mercifully saved me.

 

 

  1. This Easter, I’m thankful for security, John 20:22.

22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

 

In verse 22, Jesus gave a foreshadowing of Pentecost when He told them to receive the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit would be there strength as He sent them, and He is our strength today.

 

However, not only is He our strength, He is also the seal on our hearts if you’ve been saved.  Therefore, we are secure in Christ.  It is not that we secure ourselves in what we do or don’t do, but the Holy Spirit is our security as He secures those who have received God’s Son, Jesus, as Savior and Lord of their lives.

 

This Easter, I’m thankful for security.

 

 

  1. This Easter, I’m thankful for forgiveness, John 20:23.

23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

 

In verse 23, Jesus gave His disciples the authority to announce forgiveness not to create forgiveness.  Only God can do that, but the body of Christ is to announce the glorious message that all who are saved by receiving the Son of God as Savior and Lord will receive forgiveness of sins: past, present, and future. 

 

Praise the Lord!  This Easter, I’m so thankful the forgiveness that I have because of Jesus.

 

 

  1. This Easter, I’m thankful for Thomas, John 20:24-28.

24 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”  So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”  26 And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” 27 Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”  28 And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”

 

In verses 24-28, we see the man often called, “Doubting Thomas” and rightfully so.  Thomas doubted the report of Jesus’ resurrection because he had not seen Jesus personally.  I can understand that. 

 

In verse 25, Thomas said what many of us would have said if we were in the same situation.  He wanted to see the proof.  Eight days later, he did.

 

The disciples were again together, and the Lord came too.  Thomas saw and believed. 

 

This Easter, I’m thankful for Thomas and his honesty. 

 

 

  1. This Easter, I’m thankful for faith, John 20:29.

29 Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

 

In verse 29, Jesus praised Thomas’ faith, and what was true of Thomas, is true of me and of you if you are saved this morning.  Blessed are those who haven’t seen and yet believed.

 

However, understand that faith is a gift from God.  Ephesians 2:8-9 reminds us that it is not of ourselves.  Again, it is from God.

 

This Easter, I’m thankful for faith.

 

 

  1. This Easter, I’m thankful for the Bible, John 20:30.

30 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book.

 

John tells us in verse 30 that the Bible is not an exhaustive work, but it is only because of the Bible that we know anything about Jesus today. It is only because of the Bible that we know that the tomb is empty and Jesus is alive.

 

This Easter, I’m thankful for the Bible and my own copy and in my own language.

 

 

  1. This Easter, I’m thankful for Life, John 20:31.

31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

 

When we believe that Jesus is the Christ and received Him as Savior and Lord of our lives, we receive and anyone can receive eternal life in heaven. 

 

It is not life that I have earned or deserve.  It is life that I am given.

 

This Easter, I’m thankful for eternal life though Christ.

 

 

Invitation

Today, on Easter, I want to invite you to receive forgiveness of sins, heaven, and eternal life if you haven’t been saved already. 

 

If you have, I want to remind you that just as Jesus sent these first-century disciples out in to the world with the message of forgiveness of sins through Jesus’ name, He is sending you out into the world with the message of forgiveness of sins through Jesus’ name.

By Whose Authority?

By Whose Authority?

April 5, 2020

I want to return to Mark’s gospel, chapter 11, this morning and Passion Week, the final eight (8) days of Jesus’ life.

 

On Sunday, Jesus entered Jerusalem riding a donkey’s colt.  A small crowd was in front of Him and a small crowd was behind Him hailing Him as the Messiah.  He went back to Bethany to spend Sunday night.

 

On Monday morning, He and His disciples went back into Jerusalem.  On their way, we saw the cursing of the fig tree which was a foreshadowing of God’s judgment on Israel and a warning to us that our faith must bear fruit to be saving faith.

 

Also on Monday, Jesus cleansed the temple.  He drove out the money changers and refused to allow the temple to be used as a shortcut for travelers.  This particular event drew the ire of the chief priests and scribes because they felt that Jesus was subverting their authority.  Monday came to an end and back to Bethany they went for the night.

 

On Tuesday, Jesus and His disciples headed back into Jerusalem.  They passed the withered fig tree on the way, and Jesus took the opportunity to teach on prayer.  He talked about the effectiveness of prayer being connected to fruit and faith and forgiveness. 

 

In today’s text, we are still on Tuesday and still in Jerusalem, and Jesus is going to be confronted with what happened the previous day particularly regarding the temple.  I invite you to turn to Mark 11:27 as I share a message with you entitled “By Whose Authority?”

 

 

  1. Some Inquiring Minds, Mark 11:27-28

27 Then they came again to Jerusalem. And as He was walking in the temple, the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders came to Him. 28 And they said to Him, “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority to do these things?” 

 

Jesus and His disciples had gone back to the temple on Tuesday, perhaps to see if what had taken place on Monday was still intact.  They were met by the chief priests and scribes and elders. Notice this group “came to Him,” which ought to give us a clue about their intentions. 

 

Collectively, this group was known as the Sanhedrin, and they were in charge of Jewish Religious Life, and that included the temple.  Furthermore, the chief priests would be similar to our executive branch.  The scribes would be similar to our legislative branch, experts in the Law, and the elders would be similar to our judicial branch. 

 

They then asked Jesus two questions.  The first was “By what authority are You doing these things?”  “These things” surely referred to cleansing the temple on Monday and Jesus’ teaching about prayer.  After all, the Sanhedrin saw themselves as the highest authority in matters regarding the temple. 

 

The second question was similar to the first.  It was “Who gave You this authority to do these things?”  Jesus had done something different from anyone else. He acted without asking the Sanhedrin for their permission.  He didn’t consult them.  He didn’t clear it with them.  They wanted to know by whose authority was He acting or in other words, they wanted to know Jesus’ credentials.

 

 

 

 

  1. An Implied Message, Mark 11:29-30

29 But Jesus answered and said to them, “I also will ask you one question; then answer Me, and I will tell you by what authority I do these things: 30 The baptism of John—was it from heaven or from men? Answer Me.”

 

Instead of answering their questions with a statement, Jesus asked a question of His own.  He answered their two questions with one question.  Jesus was good at this and did it often.  His answer to them was dependent on their answer to Him.

 

Verse 30 contains His one question.  He asked about John’s baptism, and this also included his ministry and authority.  Was it from heaven, meaning divine origin or God, or from men, meaning of human origin.  Notice how direct He was as verse 30 ends with “Answer Me.”

 

Now, what was the implied message?  The implied message was that wherever John’s baptism was from was the same place that He received His authority, and that was from God.  John the Baptist was God’s Messenger, and Jesus was and is God’s Son.  Another way to put it is that Jesus was saying that He and John were on the same team.  They were working for the same boss and working for the same goal.

 

 

  • Some Ignorant Men, Mark 11:31-33

31 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 32 But if we say, ‘From men’”—they feared the people, for all counted John to have been a prophet indeed. 33 So they answered and said to Jesus, “We do not know.”  And Jesus answered and said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

 

Now, the ball was in the Sanhedrin’s court.  They had to answer Jesus’ question, and the answer to Jesus’ question would be the answer to their questions so they began to talk through their options.

 

Their first option was to say that John’s baptism was from heaven and God.  However, if they said that, then Jesus would ask them why they didn’t believe him and follow him because in effect, they were not following God. 

 

If they said heaven, they would stand condemned for rejecting God’s messenger. They would also be saying that Jesus’ authority came from heaven and God and therefore acknowledging Him as the Messiah. 

Their other option was to say that John was simply human, and therefore had no divine authority what so ever.  However, if they said that, they were afraid of how the people would respond because John was considered to be a true prophet, a prophet of God. 

 

As with the first option, to say that John was from human origin was to say that Jesus was from human origin.  Needless to say, they were in a quandary.

 

By the way, here is a great illustration of the truth that peer pressure is a real issue for adults as well teenagers.  Don’t be fooled into thinking it just happens in junior high or high school.  These adults feared their reputation over telling the truth, and it is always right to do the right thing even if it costs your reputation.

 

There answer recorded in verse 33 simply says, “We do not know.”  They pled ignorant.  As a result, Jesus then refused to answer the questions.

 

 

Conclusions

First, ignorance isn’t always bliss.  That is a cliché that simply means that sometimes it is better not to know.  That may be true in some instances, but not in the case of your relationship with Jesus. 

 

You can’t just not accept Him and be ok.  If you don’t accept Him, you are rejecting Him.  It was true for the Sanhedrin, and it is true today.  If you don’t accept Jesus, you reject Jesus.  There is no third option or middle ground.

 

Second, if you received Jesus as Savior, you are also receiving Him as Lord.  If you are saved, He is the ultimate authority in your life. 

 

Tradition may carry some authority.  Experience may carry some authority.  Family may carry some authority, but at the end of the day, Jesus must sit on the throne of your heart.

 

Luke 6:46, 46 “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?

 

Continuing in Crazy Times: COVID-19, Part 2

Continuing in Crazy Times: COVID-19, Part 2

March 29, 2020

 

As we enter our second full week on not meeting together in person because of the COVID-19 crisis, I felt like we needed to finish out this 4th chapter of Philippians as Paul continued some good words for us in our particular situation.

 

Please remember from last week that the Philippian Church had their own crisis.  It certainly doesn’t seem to be of the same magnitude as ours, but it was a crisis nonetheless.  Two ladies were at odds with one another and dividing the church.  Paul called on them to be of the same mind and for others to bring them together.

 

For us, we were encouraged in our own crisis to resolve to endure, rejoice in the Lord, respect others, rest in Jesus coming, and request of God in prayer. 

 

This morning, beginning in Philippians 4:8, Paul finished his letter, and I want you to see how this text applies to us.  Next Sunday, I plan to be back in Mark 11 to finish that chapter. 

 

 

  1. Dwell on the good, and the result will be God’s presence, Philippians 4:8-9

8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.

 

Beginning in verse 8, Paul gave a list of 6 descriptions in identifying what is good.  True is that which is honest.  Noble is that which worthy or respect.  Just is that which is right compared to wrong.  Pure is that which is free from sin.  Lovely is that which promotes peace rather than conflict.  Good report is that which is positive rather than negative. 

 

When we can identify such, Paul said to meditate or think or dwell on these things. 

 

Perhaps there are other things in our world that meet all of these criteria, but the one that immediately comes to mind is God’s Word. I read this week that Billy Graham said toward the end of his life that if he could live life all over again, he would spend more time studying God’s Word.

 

For many because of COVID-19, we have more time than we had previously, and it is certainly important to be informed on all that is going on, but don’t miss this opportunity. 

 

Not much new is on TV right now.  There are no sports, and we need to take a break regularly from all of the dark and grim statistics of COVID-19.  Therefore, instead of more time on Facebook or Pinterest or Social Media or NetFlix, let’s spend more time in our Bibles.

 

Meditate, think on, dwell on God or in God’s Word as it is true and noble and just and pure and lovely and of good report and praiseworthy.  Then notice the result of such action in verse 9: God’s presence. 

 

When we dwell on the good and live out what we have learned, Paul said the God of peace will be with us. 

 

Brothers and sisters, perhaps more so than anyone alive today can remember, we need God and we need Him to intervene.  Dwell on the good, His Word.

 

 

  1. Discipline yourself to be content, and the result will be God’s Provision, Philippians 4:10-20.

10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  14 Nevertheless you have done well that you shared in my distress. 15 Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. 16 For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. 17 Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account. 18 Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. 19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. 20 Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

 

Beginning in verse 10, we see another personal experience of Paul’s that involved a love offering for him from the Philippian Church. 

 

Paul’s was on house arrest in Rome.  More than likely, he was even shackled to a Roman Guard as he penned this letter.

 

Before he was arrested, he was in need of financial assistance, and the Philippian Church was the only church that helped him. 

 

However, notice what happened before Paul got their offering.  He disciplined himself to be content or satisfied.

 

In verse 11, Paul said he learned or disciplined himself to be content.  Again, in verse 12, he said he had learned this position.  It is not our natural disposition. We want and want and want.

 

However, Paul said in verse 12 that he had been abased or without, and he learned to be satisfied in that state, but he also learned to be content and satisfied when he abounded or was full.

 

Verse 13 is the key to learning or disciplining yourself to be content.  You can do anything and all things when Christ is your strength. 

 

So there are several applications here before we move on.  First, we learn that our contentment is independent of our circumstances.  We think that we will learn contentment when we have a lot.  No, Paul said he learned contentment when he had a little and had a lot.  Therefore, discipline yourself today independent of your current state.

 

Can this apply to our situation with COVID-19?  Absolutely.  There is no reason to hoard or stock pile hand sanitizer and toilet paper.  Learn to be content. 

 

Second, we so often quote Philippians 4:13 out of context, and therefore render it null and void.  When you’re doing what God’s want you to do, yes, you can succeed and will succeed because of Christ strengthening you. 

 

However, when you’re doing what you want to in contrast to what God wants you to do, Philippians 4:13 does not and will apply to you. 

 

When Paul disciplined himself or learned to be content, it was then that God provided for Him through the Philippian Church. 

 

Verse 15 says the Philippian Church was the only church to help Paul, and a man named Epaphroditus delivered the assistance.  Notice that Philippian Church was a pleasing aroma, a sacrifice to God, as they assisted Paul. 

 

Again, brothers and sisters, I have shared this with you in recent days how essential it was during these times if you can to continue to give, please do.  Your ministers here depend on it, and our missionaries around the world depend on it, and it is a sweet-smelling aroma unto the Lord. 

 

When we learn to be content, God promises to meet all of our needs through Christ Jesus, and we praise the Lord for that wonderful promise as Paul did in verse 20.

 

To God and our Father be glory forever and ever.  Amen. 

 

 

  1. Deliver a greeting to your brothers and sisters, and the result will be God’s Partners.

21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you.  22 All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar’s household.  23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

 

Don’t miss these last three verses. Paul encouraged his Philippians brothers and sisters to greet everyone on his behalf. 

 

Brothers and sisters, it is imperative in times like this that we stay connected as a body of Christ.  It may be harder right now because of meeting restrictions, but you know what, we have this great tool called a phone.

 

Yes, it can send emails and text messages and Facebook messages, but you know that else it can do?  It can call others. 

 

You know that benefit that brings to you?  It reminds you that you are not alone.  We are all in this together.  COVID-19 has affected everyone.  No one is immune.