Sermon, Sunday February 21, 2021, Hope Fulfilled

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Mark 1:1-13

We have all experienced seasons when we longingly hope for something to happen, but it seems that the fulfilment of the hope is so far away. Proverbs 13:12 says that hope deferred makes our hearts sick.

The people of Israel knew about hope deferred. In 2091 B.C., God told Abraham and Sarah that He is going to make them a great nation. They had to wait twenty-five years for Isaac to be born.

Between the Old and the New Testament, there is a period of 400 years where God does not speak at all to the nation of Israel and they are waiting for a promised messiah. At some point the people must have made the shift from “hope deferred” to “hope lost.”

After 400 years of silence from God, there is a stirring, stories of a miraculous birth and a man who performs amazing signs and wonders, could this be the hope?

Mark, the author of the Gospel account begins by saying that the book is the, “Good News of Jesus Christ”. Christ means the anointed one, the messiah. Mark was making it clear in the first sentence that this is the hope fulfilled, the one the prophet Isaiah wrote about.

As we read in verse 4 and 5, John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As we read in verse 6, he was not the type of herald that the people were expecting to introduce the messiah. But then again, the messiah wasn’t what they were expecting either. They were expecting a military ruler, but Jesus was so much more, and they didn’t recognize him.

As John was preaching one day, Jesus walked up and asked to be baptized. John Baptizes Jesus and suddenly, there is an unexpected display of the glory and power of God.

As Jesus comes out of the water, God the Father declares his love for His son. God the Father is declaring that this man is the one that the world has been waiting for and the hope of all mankind.

Then the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, descends on Jesus like a dove.

John’s retelling of this event informs us that the Spirit came down and remained

with him (John 1:33). It is the Holy Spirit who remained with Jesus, leading him into the wilderness, and throughout his life on the earth.

The Holy Spirit sends Jesus into the wilderness where we are told that he fasted and was tempted by Satan for forty days. Mark’s Gospel does not detail the temptations as the other Gospels, but I think this helps us understand that Jesus was not simply tempted with three questions as we sometimes like to understand the temptation in the wilderness. Jesus was constantly tempted until Satan leaves him.

This is a good reminder that we too are tempted daily. James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. We need to be on guard, daily being aware of the attempts of the enemy to take us off the path that God has for us.

Jesus was God, he was also fully human, and the Holy Spirit was what empowered Jesus to perform miracles (Matthew 12:28). In Romans 8, we read that it was the Holy Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead. Jesus openly declared his dependance on the third person of the trinity.

With that in mind, how can we live as a follower of Jesus without acknowledging and relying on that same Holy Spirit in our lives (John 14:16-18)

So, getting back to verse 12. Jesus has just been recognized as the Messiah, the trinity was all present, the Father declared His love and pleasure in the son. This seems like a perfect time to go into the city and begin establishing his kingdom. But instead, Jesus is led to be broken and tempted. God is orchestrating all of History for His purposes. God the Father orchestrated and allowed Jesus to be tempted for forty days for a clear purpose.

1 Corinthians 15:45 refers to Jesus as the “Last Adam.” In Genesis 3, we read that the “First Adam”, was tempted by the serpent in the Garden and gave into that temptation. As a result of Adam’s sin, we are all born with a sin nature, separated from God. This is the primary need of all mankind, to be made right with our creator.

Jesus is the “Second Adam,” which means he is only the second man to walk the earth without sin. Jesus isn’t born of the seed of Adam but the seed of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20). Unlike Adam, who gave in to temptation, Jesus successfully resisted the temptation of Satan and won a decisive victory in the wilderness and lived the rest of his life without sinning.

Because of his sinless life, when Jesus was crucified, he was the perfect spotless lamb of God, the perfect sacrifice that God required for our sins to be forgiven.

Can you imagine being there for the official introduction of Jesus to the world?

It had been hope deferred for over 2000 years since Abraham. The hope of Jesus was planned before the creation of the world (1 Peter 1:18-21).

The complete Proverb 13:12 reads, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life” (Proverbs 13:12).

Mankind’s longing has been fulfilled. As a follower of Jesus, the longing to have a relationship with your creator and live a life full of meaning and purpose has been fulfilled in Jesus.

Jesus is the tree of life for us today, providing the hope fulfilled. Without Jesus we have no hope.

What are you hoping for today?

Maybe it’s a job, a family member to be saved, financial breakthrough, freedom from addiction, the baby you have been praying for? Whatever you are hoping for, bring that to Jesus today, the one who can fulfill our hopes.

The Great Commission Sunday July 30, 2017

We as believers have two ordinances in the church. We have Baptism and the Lords supper or communion.

We believe that you are not saved by taking communion or by being baptized. However, you must be saved in order to take communion or to be baptized.

So why do we have these ordinances? Matthew 28:16-20, known as the Great Commission is where Jesus gave his disciples the marching orders for the church.

The disciples obeyed Jesus’ instructions from Matthew 28:10, and go up this mountain in Galilee. Suddenly Jesus presents himself to them and in verse 17 we have a very interesting phrase, “When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.”

Some doubted! The term for doubt here is not complete unbelief but rather it is a hesitation to accept something that seemed so impossible, it was hard to grasp. Some of the disciples struggled to believe that Jesus was alive and that he was exactly who he said he was. These same disciples who witnessed the feeding of the 5000, the feeding of the 4000, Jesus walking on the water, Jesus calming the storm, they witnessed the powerful natural disasters that took place when Jesus was crucified and many other miracles, these same men, who walked with God for 3 years, now doubted.

Now before we are too critical of these disciples, we too are prone to doubt and Jesus knew that. Jesus knew that the enormity of what took place when he was crucified and raised from the dead, is too much for us to fully comprehend and that is why we have these reminders, the reminder of Baptism and the Lords supper.

These ordinances are more than simply things we do. They remind us of who we are, they remind us that without the body and the blood of Jesus, we have no hope. Baptism is such a beautiful picture, when the person being baptized, goes under the water, they are showing that they have died to their old life, and have been buried with Christ. And then the beautiful picture of coming up out of the water, being raised to new life in Christ.

Jesus begins the Great Commission by saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

The authority Jesus has supersedes all earthly authority and all heavenly authority, he truly is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Jesus didn’t assume this authority, it was given to Him by God the Father, the creator and sustainer of all things, Jesus had this universal authority given to him. The authority that Jesus had is secure because it has been given to him by the all-powerful, unchanging, uncreated God of the universe.

When Jesus says that all universal authority has been given to him, he sets the stage for what he is about to say next. Verse 19 begins with the word, “Therefore”, therefore, because he has the supreme authority, Jesus uses that authority to commission the disciples, and all who would follow him. With all the authority in the universe, Jesus says Go!

Notice that Jesus doesn’t, try to go, or if you have time go, or if it is convenient go, no he simply says; “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”

This commission still applies to the church today, it still applies to all followers of Jesus today.

The phrase, “make disciples”, means win converts, win them for Christ by sharing the good news. Go out by the power of the Holy Spirit and win people for Christ.

The natural follow on from salvation is baptism, Jesus follows the winning of souls immediately with baptism.

If you have given your life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, but you have not been baptized, I strongly encourage you to be baptized. It doesn’t make you a Christian, but in obedience to Christ, you are making a public testimony of your new life in Christ, and I believe that God places a special blessing and seal on your life as you obey Him in baptism.

Verse 20 continues, “and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…”

This is the discipleship piece, we are not called to simply win souls for Christ, we are commissioned by Jesus to do that hard work of teaching, correcting, training and encouraging. This is sometimes where we struggle, we seem to think that once a person is baptized they automatically are transformed in every way. But that is simply not the case, they need grace to make mistakes just like we do. None of us are perfect, but we are all on the journey of growing more and more in the grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ our Lord.

So, we have the Great Commission, to go, win souls, baptize them and disciples them. After Jesus gave the commission, did he just wave a goodbye, and disappear?

Have you ever been given an impossible task? A task that you know you could not do yourself, but you were told by your parent or your boss to go out and do it! Imagine these eleven disciples, Jesus just told them to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations. Can you imagine how overwhelming that must have been?

But then Jesus gives them the promise that makes the Great commission doable, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Jesus promised to be with us, he also gave the Holy Spirit to live inside of us as believers, we are not alone. This is not a task that we have to try and figure out on our own.

In fact, the Great Commission is only possible because of the promise and the gift of the third person of the trinity, the Holy Spirit.

What a comfort that is, God not only commissioned us to go, he also provided the power to complete that Great Commission. Let us be a church that always answers the call to go.

Why Jesus was not a martyr – March 20 2016

 

Palm Sunday

Jesus was not a martyr

Luke 19:28-44

Not a Martyr newsletter

This past Sunday we celebrated what is known as Palm Sunday, the Sunday before resurrection Sunday. The day when Jesus completed his final journey to Jerusalem. And through all this journey we have seen one thing in common, Jesus had his eyes fixed on eternity. Jerusalem was not his destination, it was a stop on the journey, the journey that led to him being seated at the right hand of the Father.

In Luke 19:28 we see Jesus walking on ahead once again, he was walking on ahead and focused on the prize, he was not being distracted. As the crowd around him sees what is happening, their excitement begins to boil over, some of them probably have memorized the prophet Zechariah, and they would immediately see what is going on as Jesus begins to ride on the colt into Jerusalem. 500 years before these were the words of the Lord given to the prophet Zechariah 9:9:

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
    Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
    righteous and victorious,
lowly and riding on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Can you imagine the excitement, here they were seeing prophecy fulfilled, Jesus was coming to establish his kingdom in Jerusalem, the promised messiah was here and he was going to throw off the oppressive Roman rulers. They spread their cloaks on the roadway as a sign of homage and respect. We must remember the context here, this was the beginning of Passover week, the time when the ancient Israelites were liberated from the slavery of the Egyptians. The beginning of the Exodus. For them the enemy was Rome, but Jesus was focused on defeating Satan, sin and death. Their vision was too small, Jesus had a much bigger mission in mind.

As Jesus was riding into Jerusalem he knew what lay ahead, he knew that within a few short days, these same people would be part of a crowd that would be screaming for him to be crucified. But how could they possible understand that the messiah of Zachariah 9:9 was the same person as the suffering servant that the Lord spoke to the prophet Isaiah about in Isaiah 53.

Many unbelievers look at the death of Jesus as an awful tragedy, as a terrible mistake that a great man made. Those who don’t know Jesus as the messiah, will see the death of Jesus as a result of the betrayal of one of his close followers, or maybe the envy of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish religious leaders. Maybe Jesus’ death was a result of the weak leadership of Pilate. It all seems such a terrible mistake, a tragedy.

But look back at Luke 9:51; Jesus was not caught up as a victim of a web of deceit. This was not some kind of an afterthought by God. God planned this out from before time began, because of his love for sinners like me and you. Jesus knew what was about to take place, he kept silent as they cheered him and worshipped him.

Jesus willingly entered Jerusalem, and endured the cross without resistance, he willingly allowed himself to be nailed to the cross, not because of some cause he was trying to defend. (read John 10:18)

The definition of a martyr is someone who is killed for their religious beliefs, they become victims

But Jesus died as the sacrificial lamb. He died on purpose in order to atone for our sins as an offering to God the Father, so that we can be made right with God (see 1 John 1:9).

This past Sunday we witnessed four people being baptized, it is always a wonderful celebration as we see people giving a public witness and a testimony of what God has done in their lives. Each of these four candidates for Baptism have shared their testimony of how God the Holy Spirit worked in their lives to firstly convict them of sin, and then to lead them to repentance and finally to give their lives to Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and savior.

The reality is that Jesus is not an add-on to our lives. He is not simply a check box on a list that we need to get done in order to get into heaven. The Bible makes it clear that when you become a Christian, it is all or nothing. Unfortunately in our western culture of ease and convenience, we have removed the deep significance of what it means to become a follower of Jesus.

Baptism is a beautiful symbol of what happens when we become a Christian. When the person goes under the water, they are saying; “I am identifying with Christ, I am dying and being buried to my old life” It is a symbol of dying and giving up the past. Then as the person comes up out of the water, it is symbolizing that they are being raised to a new life in Christ.

Just as Jesus went to Jerusalem, to die on purpose, not as a victim or a martyr, he calls us to die as well.

Dying to our old way of life, dying to our selfish desires and beginning to live a new life, a life that is committed to living for Jesus Christ.

Only by Dying can you truly live.

Only by dying can you begin to bring life to those around you.

See what Jesus said in Matthew 16:24-26. That raises the bar a bit doesn’t it? Jesus is saying that this is the norm. This is the only way to become his disciple.

Today as you look at your life, do you qualify as a disciple of Jesus? You may have been baptized many years ago, you may have prayed the prayer of salvation many years ago, but are you truly living a new life in Christ.

Does your life reflect the life of Jesus, not the life of a martyr, but the life of a person who is dying on purpose?