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Archive for March, 2013

Easter Sunday – Jesus Rises as Firstborn from the Dead

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Sunday – Jesus Rises as Firstborn from the Dead!

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We start not in the Gospels, but from the writings of the Apostle Paul in

1 Corinthians 15v1-8: Now I declare to you, brothers, the Good News which I preached to you, which also you received, in which you also stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold firmly the word which I preached to you-unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to over five hundred brothers at once, most of whom remain until now, but some have also fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all, as to the child born at the wrong time, he appeared to me also.

That was the Apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthian church about the Jesus having been raised from the dead – physically! All four Gospels, Matthew, Mark Luke and John, tell us that Jesus was crucified, died and was buried in a tomb. What do these four Gospels say about the Jesus’ resurrection or rising from the dead?

Let us first look at the sequence of events over the period of time after Jesus death till He ascended. Now remember, the Gospels are documents which have recorded historical events.

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WOW Word 15 – The Cross

Alfie brings you a WOW Word

Alfie brings you a WOW Word – The Cross

Alphy the WOWChurch Cat explains what the Cross of Jesus Christ is all about!

This was used at the Partakers WOWChurch Easter service on Thursday…

 

Easter – Jesus’ Last Breath

Way of the Cross

Way of the Cross – Taken when I visited Jerusalem during Holy Week in 1992… These Franciscan monks re-enact the walk of our Saviour Jesus Christ up the Via Dolorosa (Way of Grief/Suffering)…

Friday – Jesus’ Last Breath

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Isaiah 52v13-14: See, my servant will act wisely he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were appalled at him his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness-

Isaiah 53v10-11: Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.

Those words were spoken of the coming Messiah, by the prophet Isaiah centuries before Jesus Christ. Together we have looked at during this Easter series, Jesus’ mission and identity and have placed Him as the Messiah spoken about throughout the Old Testament, including Isaiah. We have looked at Jesus’ last teaching, last prayers and the events of his last night. Following his betrayal he is now facing trial in a Roman court, being interrogated by Pontius Pilate. Now, as we look together briefly at John 19, let us see what happened to Jesus Christ – His condemnation, crucifixion, death and burial.

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Easter – Jesus’ Last Night

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Thursday – Jesus’ Last Night

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He came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. He entered, as was his custom, into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. The book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. He opened the book, and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the broken hearted, to proclaim release to the captives, recovering of sight to the blind, to deliver those who are crushed, and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began to tell them, “Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” All testified about him, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth, and they said, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” Luke 4v16-22

From that time till his last night, during His 3 years of ministry, Jesus has preached the good news of God’s salvation to reconcile people back into relationship with Almighty God. Through the cross, His mission will be fulfilled.

Passover, Pentecost and Feast of Tabernacles were the three most important feasts on the Jewish calendar (Leviticus 21). All Jewish men were expected to visit Jerusalem (Deuteronomy 16v16). The Passover Feast was to commemorate the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, and it was a time for remembering and rejoicing (Exodus 11-12). Of all the events that took place that night, we have only time to look at three of them – Jesus plans, Jesus prepares and Jesus serves.

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Easter – Jesus’ Last Prayer

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Wednesday – Jesus’ Last Prayer

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John 17v1-5: Jesus said these things. Then, raising his eyes in prayer, he said: Father, it’s time. Display the bright splendour of your Son So the Son in turn may show your bright splendour. You put him in charge of everything human so he might give real and eternal life to all in his charge. And this is the real and eternal life: That they know you, the one and only true God, And Jesus Christ, whom you sent. I glorified you on earth by completing down to the last detail what you assigned me to do. And now, Father, glorify me with your very own splendour, the very splendour I had in your presence before there was a world.

On Monday night we learnt about Jesus’ mission and identity. Then on Tuesday, we learnt about Jesus’ final teaching – teaching his disciples about the Kingdom and his going back to the Fahter via the cross. Now, Jesus quite rightly now turns to prayer. Firstly praying for Himself, then for His twelve disciples and then finally for all disciples of all generations to follow, the church. This prayer is probably the pinnacle of revelation in John’s gospel. Here we see Jesus’ very words, revealing an unparalleled intimacy with His Father. Jean Calvin said in his commentary on this chapter the following After having preached to the disciples about bearing the cross, the Lord exhibited to them those consolations, by relying on which they would be enabled to persevere. Having promised the coming of the Spirit, he raised them to a better hope, and discoursed to them about the splendour and glory of his reign. Now he most properly betakes himself to prayer; for doctrine has no power, if efficacy be not imparted to it from above. He, therefore, holds out an example to teachers, not to employ themselves only in sowing the word, but, by mingling their prayers with it, to implore the assistance of God, that his blessing may render their labour fruitful. In short, this passage of the Lord Jesus Christ might be said to be the seal of the preceding doctrine, both that it might be ratified in itself, and that it might obtain full credit with the disciples.”

This scene, as portrayed by John, shows the importance of prayer and how when doing anything for the glory of God, it must be covered in prayer.

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Easter – Jesus’ Last Teaching

Tuesday – Jesus’ Last Teaching

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Heavenly Father, we thank you for Jesus Christ. We thank you that Jesus the Living Word is revealed in your Written Word, the Bible. Thank you that we have the very words of the Son of God for us to understand, enact and live. We thank you for His teaching ministry and as we come tonight to look at the final teaching before going to the Cross, we would listen with attentive ears and hearts to what you would teach us through the power of the Holy Spirit. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Amen.

We continue to look at different aspects of Jesus’ final week. According to the plan I revealed last night, we were going to hear about Jesus’ last prayers. However, that will now be tomorrow night. Instead, we are going to look at Jesus’ last teaching before He goes to the cross to die.

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Easter 2013 – Jesus’ Mission and Identity

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Monday – Jesus’ Mission and Identity

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At the time of recording, this is Easter 2013 and it is Monday. We start a week of looking at Jesus Christ. Together, every night this week, we are going to look at different aspects of Jesus’ final week.

  • Tuesday Last Prayers
  • Wednesday Last Teaching
  • Thursday Last Night
  • Friday Dead
  • Sunday Risen

Mission

Luke writes in Luke 4v42-44: “At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. But he said, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.”

This is the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry on earth! These verses at the end of Luke 4 tell us that His mission is to preach God’s Kingdom. A reluctant John the Baptist baptized him and the crowds heard God the Father speaking to Him. He underwent temptations by the arch-seducer, satan and emerged victorious from that ordeal. Now Jesus, led by the Holy Spirit, has returned home to Galilee (Luke 4v14).

  • Jesus at home (Luke 4v14-30)

Jesus is back in home territory and because of the power of His teaching, He is becoming known as a great teacher (Luke 4v15). Jesus spent some time in Galilee, become known and is arousing the interest, curiosity and excitement of people.

  • Worshipping (Luke 4v14-18) – It was Jesus’ habit to attend public worship wherever he was. He would have worshipped as any Jewish man would have.

A typical synagogue service

  • Opened with a prayer for God’s blessing
  • Traditional Hebrew confession of faith (Deuteronomy 6:4-9; 11:13-21)
  • Prayer and readings from the Law and the Prophets
  • Brief talk given by one of the men or a visiting rabbi (Acts 13:14-16)
  • Benediction or prayer

Because of His growing renown as a teacher, it is no surprise that he should be asked to read the Scripture and give a short teaching session regarding it. Here in Nazareth, Jesus declared that the day for demonstrating God’s salvation had arrived and the day the prophets looked forward to, was going to be fulfilled in Jesus Himself (Luke 4v20). He was the Servant Isaiah had talked about long ago (Isaiah 61v1-2). His ministry was divinely directed; it was a ministry of hope for all people and a ministry to free the spiritually oppressed (Luke 4v18).

Acceptable Year of the Lord (Luke 4:19)

When Jesus said in Luke 4v19 “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour”, Jesus was referring to the “Year of Jubilee” (Leviticus 25). Every fiftieth year, this special year was the balancing of the economic system.

  • Slaves were set free and returned to their families
  • Property that was sold back to the original owners
  • All debts were cancelled
  • Lands lay bare to rest and rejoice in the Lord

The local reaction was at first one of astonishment (Luke 4v22) and telling each other he was the son of Joseph! But Jesus was not the son of Joseph, but rather the Son of God, the new Adam and the founder of a new humanity as he goes on to explain.

  • Rejected (Luke 4:20-30)

They saw Him as the son of Joseph. Admiration turned to anger, because Jesus began to remind them of God’s goodness to the Gentiles.

  • The prophet Elijah bypassed all the Jewish widows and helped a Gentile widow in Sidon (1 Kings 17:8-16)
  • Elisha healed a Gentile leper from Syria (2 Kings 5:1-15)

Whilst those in Nazareth could only see Jesus in the local setting, He told them His mission was for all Israel! And if Israel rejected this message of Good News, then the Gentiles would be blessed by it (Luke 4v25-27). Upon hearing this, the astonished admiration turned to furious anger (Luke 4v28-30)! Salvation is no longer restricted to Israel but for every child of Adam – every human. Jesus’ mission was not to be Israel’s saviour but the world’s saviour.

When Jesus quoted the proverb “no prophet is accepted in his hometown”, he revealed his knowledge of Old Testament history. He knew that God’s messengers often were rejected, and even as God’s Son, he was rejected as well.

Jesus’ mission was to be the saviour of the world as God’s Son (John 3v16) and the Servant of the Lord. His mission was to give a message of hope for the spiritually poor and spiritually oppressed people. Not only people in his hometown, nor only in Israel, but rather for the whole world. People have two choices when faced with this fact: accept or reject. There is no other option.

Identity

And what of his identity? In Mark 8v27-33: Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do people say I am?”

This section of the Bible contains the verse, when Peter calls Jesus the Christ or Messiah or Saviour (Mark 8v29), this divulges Jesus’ true identity, In the preceding few verses Jesus and the disciples were in Bethsaida and there is the incident where Jesus healed the blind man. When the man is healed, Jesus instructs the man not to tell anybody! Why did Jesus stipulate taht? Because Jesus didn’t want to be seen as only a healer and miracle worker.

  • Confess who Jesus is

Now we come back to that climactic part of the Gospels when Jesus asked His disciples: “Who do people say that I am?

Some say John the Baptist

  • Jesus and John had been seen together in public and they were different in personality and ministry
  • John came ‘in the spirit and power of Elijah’ (Luke 1v17), in a ministry of judgement, whereas Jesus came in a spirit of meekness and service.
  • John performed no miracles (John 10v41), but Jesus was a miracle worker.
  • John even dressed like the Prophet Elijah (2 Kings 1v8; Mark 1v6)

Others say Jeremiah (Matthew 16v14)

  • Jeremiah was the ‘weeping prophet’, and Jesus was the ‘man of sorrows’
  • Jeremiah called the people to true repentance from the heart, and so did Jesus.
  • Both men were misunderstood and rejected by their own people.
  • Both men condemned the false religious leaders and the hypocritical worship in the temple.
  • Those in authority persecuted both men.

In both His works and words, Jesus gave evidence to the people that He was the Son of God, the Messiah, and yet they did not get the message. The disciples had much to learn about Him and what it meant to follow Him. The Jews were expecting a victorious Messiah (Isaiah 11v1-5). But they had forgotten that the Messiah must also suffer and die (Isaiah 53v1-12; Luke 24v26). The Jewish people thought that the Messiah would set up an earthly political kingdom, but Jesus came to set up a spiritual kingdom that would last forever (Isaiah 9v7; Daniel 7v13-14; Luke 1v33; Revelation 11v15)

What was the purpose of the Messiah? (Mk10v45)

Jesus’ mission was to be the Servant of the Lord, and therefore, the saviour of the world as God’s Son (John 3v16). His purpose as the Messiah was neither that He be served nor that He will lead a political overthrow of the Roman government as some had hoped. Rather, His purpose as the Messiah was to be God’s servant and give a message of hope for the spiritually poor and spiritually oppressed people.

Follow who Jesus is

When Jesus rebuked Peter, he was also telling off the other disciples (Mark 8v33). Remember that they did not yet understand the relationship between suffering and glory. By the time Peter had written his epistle 1 Peter, he did (1 Peter1v6-8, 1 Peter 4v13-5v10).

Some Jewish leaders taught of 2 Messiahs – one to suffer and one who would reign (1Peter 1v10-12)

There is a price to pay for true followers:

  • Surrender completely to Him.
  • Identify with Him in His suffering and death.
  • Follow Him obediently, wherever He leads.

What is the reward for the true disciple of Jesus?

  • Satan promises glory now, but in the end suffering comes.
  • God promises suffering now, but the suffering turns to glory.

Spiritually, at this time, the disciples were still blind to who Jesus was, just as the man who was physically blind. Our confession of Jesus is a matter of life and death (John 8v21;1 John 4v1-3). Confession of Jesus as Lord is necessary for salvation (1 Corinthians 12v1-3), when that confession is from the heart (Romans 10v9-10). Christians are called to follow Jesus, to take up their cross and this could mean nothing less than being ready to suffer and die for Jesus. If we are ashamed of Him on earth, He will be ashamed of us when the end of the world has come. He will reward those deserving the reward, and deny those who deny Him.

Finally, who do you say this Jesus is? What have you done with this Jesus – accepted or rejected Him?

Thank you

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