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Jesus Last Night

82. Partake – The Christian Disciple and Jesus’ Last Night

He came to Nazareth where he had been reared. As he always did on the Sabbath, he went to the meeting place. When he stood up to read, he was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll, he found the place where it was written,

“God’s Spirit is on me; he’s chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor, sent me to announce pardon to prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to set the burdened and battered free, to announce, “This is God’s year to act!”

He rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the assistant, and sat down. Every eye in the place was on him, intent. Then he started in, “You’ve just heard Scripture make history. It came true just now in this place.” Luke 4v16-21 (The Message)

A lot of businesses and a lot of churches have mission statements. This is Jesus’ Mission statement and after 3 years of ministry from that point, Jesus has preached the good news of God’s salvation. He has healed the sick. He will release the oppressed by His death on the cross. His mission will be fulfilled at the cross.

Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles were the three most important feasts no the Jewish calendar (Leviticus 21). All Jewish men were expected to visit Jerusalem (Deuteronomy 16v16). The Feast of Passover was to commemorate the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, and it was a time for remembering and rejoicing (Exodus 11-12). In Luke 22, we come to Jesus’ last night before He goes to that cross.

1. Jesus Plans (Luke 22v1-6)

Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. and Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. 6He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.

  • · Jews were expected to remove all yeast from their houses (Ex.12v15) as a reminder that their ancestors left Egypt in a hurry and had to eat bread without yeast.
  • · Jesus had warned his disciples about the “yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy” (Luke 12v1). In other words, the religious leaders had cleansed their houses but not their hearts.
  • The last thing the religious leaders wanted was a messianic uprising during Passover (Luke 19v11)
  • Judas was motivated and energized by satan (John 13v2, 27)
  • Judas was never a true believer because his sins had never been cleansed by the Lord (John 13v10-11), therefore Judas had never believed or received eternal life (John 6v64-71)
  • Judas had been given authority and had been preaching the same message. This proves how close a person can come to the kingdom of God and still be lost (Matthew 7v21-29)

2. Jesus Prepares (Luke 22v7-13)

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.” “Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked. He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large upper room, all furnished. Make preparations there.” They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.

Disciples needed a room within Jerusalem itself, and also required food – a lamb, bread, bitter herbs and wine.

(Luke 22v14-23) –

When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfilment in the kingdom of God.” After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed, but woe to that man who betrays him.” They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.

The Passover meal contains historical and theological symbolism regarding the death of Jesus. This is why this meal is the model for the central act of Christian worship, which is Holy Communion.

  • Opening Prayer
  • First cup of wine and a dish of herbs and sauce.
  • Story of the Passover was recited.
  • Psalm 113 was sung
  • Second cup of wine
  • Prayer of Grace
  • Main course of roast lamb with unleavened bread and bitter herbs
  • A further prayer
  • Third cup of wine.
  • Psalm 114 to 118 were then sung.
  • Fourth cup of wine.

3. Jesus Serves

Jesus washes the disciples feet (John 13v1-17)

As part of the custom of the day, a servant or slave usually undertook foot washing of guests. Since none of the disciples had done this, Jesus Himself undertakes the task (John 13v4-5). Peter is recalcitrant and resistant as always, objects (John 13v6, 8). Peter learns that only those cleansed by Jesus and trusting in Him fully, can be a part of the kingdom (John 13v7, 9). As we look back at this episode, knowing what we do now of the Cross, we learn how this simple act of washing feet is symbolic of Jesus’ sacrificial death on the Cross.

Both events display great love and service.

Just as Peter opposed Jesus going to the cross (Matthew 16v21-23), so he objected to having his feet washed here

Jesus’ getting up to serve symbolizes His coming to serve.

As he took off his cloak, this symbolizes the taking off of His glory when He became man.

Girding Himself with a towel, symbolizes his taking on human flesh at the incarnation.

As the water cleansed the feet, so Jesus death and blood cleanse from sin.

As He returned to where he was sitting and sat down after finishing this act of service, Jesus returned to the right hand of God after his work on the Cross.

When we became Christian Disciples, our sins were forgiven through Jesus’ death on the Cross. That is when we had our “bath” as it were. That is the point when we were justified before God and we are declared His child. Having been justified already, we don’t need a bath anymore! But we do need the equivalent of a feet washing daily and or every time we take Holy Communion and a cleansing of our sin when we confess it before our God and repent.

2. Jesus Speaks (Luke 22v24-38)

Reading Luke 22v 25-30: Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. You are those who have stood by me in my trials. And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

In this teaching we see that

  • The disciples, the new leaders, will judge the tribes of Israel
  • His followers are to serve gladly
  • His followers will be tested
  • His followers will be persecuted and are to show love.

Compare the Plans!

Plans – The contrast between the plan of Jesus and those of his enemies.

Plans of Jesus

Plans of His enemies

  • · Jesus is in control
  • · Plans the Passover meal (Luke 22v7-12)
  • · The meal is part of His plan (Luke 22v16)
  • · He knows Judas’ plan (Luke 22v21-22)
  • · Replaces the old leaders of God with his men (Luke 22v 30)
  • · Plot to kill Jesus (Luke 22v2)
  • · Arranges for Judas to betray Jesus (Luke 22v3)
  • · Satan’s purpose is to destroy Jesus (Luke 22v3, Luke 22v31)

All the elements in the plot conspiring against Jesus had been allowed for. The death of Jesus was no accident (1 Peter 1v18-21) For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.

New Covenant

The new covenant is a new meal, in order to remind his followers in every age about the work of Jesus Christ on the Cross. The new covenant (Luke 22v20), Jesus claims that in His death, was spoken about by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31v33-34). It was a new covenant in which God’s people will be able to know Him intimately for their sins will be forgiven.

For more to think about please ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. How often are my feet washed or my sins confessed?

Q2. Read Philippians 2. How does this passage relate to John 13 and how should I react to it?

Q3. How often am I prepared to serve and do the little jobs that need doing, instead of waiting for somebody else to do them?

As ever, if you have any comments to make on this, please do contact me at partakes(at) googlemail.com. Thank you.

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12. 12 Days to Christmas – Messiah’s Kingdom

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12.Twelve Days to Christmas

Messiah’s Kingdom

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Please do read Zechariah 14:1 – 21

As we saw on Day 11 of this series, from Isaiah 61 to 63, God has commenced doing a good thing through the Servant Messiah. At His first coming as a baby, this Servant Messiah ushered in the Year of the Lord’s favour. We live in that period of time now, and it will continue until the Servant Messiah, Jesus Christ, comes again in glory and majesty. He will take those obedient followers to the City of God. For those who reject Him and the free offer of God’s grace, there is the Day of Vengeance. Now in Zechariah 14, we get a different perspective. We get a vision of the Kingdom of God at that tie in the future. So let us take a flight with Zechariah, into the future to see what this Messiah’s Kingdom is like, where Jerusalem where mentioned, is in fact the New Jerusalem, the City of God!.

God Will Be King!

God will be king and lead the battle (Zechariah 14:3)! The original hearers and readers of this letter would remember how in times past, God has done mighty things for them! Things such as the parting of the Red Sea in order to escape the rampaging Egyptians. Just as God caused the Red Sea to split in two, so says Zechariah, God will split a mountain in two, and leave a valley in the middle to escape their enemies! The Almighty and Living God is coming with His legions of angels and the saints! You can almost feel Zechariah getting caught up in the ecstatic vision!

That day, as described in Zechariah 14:6-7, will be unique and special. That day is only known to Yahweh! There will be a special and unusual light! Then in Zechariah 14:8, there will be living water permanently. The old Jerusalem had poor water supply, but the New Jerusalem will have a permanent supply of Living Water! This day sees the end of the “Year of the Lord’s Favour” and leads in the new heavens and new earth we discussed a couple of days ago.

Zechariah 14:9 “Yahweh will be King over all the earth. In that day Yahweh will be one, and his name one.” God will not just rule over Jerusalem, but will rule and reign over all the earth. There is a day approaching with all the world, whether they want to or not, will acknowledge the Messiah’s lordship, glory, beauty, majesty and authority to rule over them. There will be One Lord to rule over all. Remember the ancient Israelites used to quote the Shema “Hear O Israel; the Lord our God, the Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5).

Enemies Defeated!

What of those who stand against God and against God’s people? They will be defeated and as God’s opponents, they will not be able to stand, and won’t be able to see or speak. Decay has overtaken them as plaque and panic confuse and debilitate them. So it is with the enemies of God and His people, they wont be able to travel and flee as their transportation will also have decayed. .

The New Age Has Come

In the Kingdom of the Messiah, under His rule, reign and authority, all will be holy. As a result there will be no more sin, death, destruction or decay. Everything will be devoted to the Lord God and His Kingdom. All has been transformed, for the glory and sake of the Servant Messiah.
How is Jesus this Messiah?

Jesus describes this day in Mark 13:24-27 “But in those days, after that oppression, the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. Then he will send out his angels, and will gather together his chosen ones from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the sky.

Jesus is the light of the world and giver of Living water! Remember just a few days ago, we discussed this! In Zechariah 14:7, we see again that light of the world shining in the evening and the New Jerusalem flowing with Living Water!

Paul writing in Philippians 2:5-11 says “Have this in your mind, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, didn’t consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, yes, the death of the cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him, and gave to him the name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, those on earth, and those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

When Jesus ascended into the heavens in Acts 1:1-14, two angels appeared to the disciples saying “You men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who was received up from you into the sky will come back in the same way as you saw him going into the sky.

When in the final book of the Bible, Jesus says these words in Revelation 21:5-7 “Behold, I am making all things new.” …”Write, for these words of God are faithful and true.” …”It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give freely to him who is thirsty from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes, I will give him these things. I will be his God, and he will be my son.

May it be so, Lord Jesus, and help all of us who love you to overcome and be obedient to You! Through these twelve brief studies in Isaiah and Zechariah, we see the promises of God being fulfilled in the Messiah Servant, Messiah Shepherd, Messiah King, Messiah Prophet, Messiah Priest and Messiah Disciple. This is only fulfilled in and through that God-man, Jesus Christ whose birth we celebrate. But also remember that this Jesus, is no longer a baby in a manger, but will be coming back again one day to rule the world with justice and grace to the praise and glory of Almighty God.

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11. 12 Days to Christmas – Messiah’s Proclamations

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Day 11. Twelve Days to Christmas

Messiah’s Proclamations

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Please do read Isaiah 61:1 – 11; Isaiah 63:1-6

In this passage from Isaiah 61 through to Isaiah 63, we have two contrasting certainties. They can be found in Isaiah 61:2. The two certainties are “the year of Yahweh’s favour, and the day of vengeance of our God”. There will be the year of favour and the day of vengeance. The year of honour, as we shall see has already started. We don’t know when it will end, but we know that it will. The day of vengeance will be in the future sometime. Again we don’t know when that will be either. But we know it will all happen quickly, suddenly and without warning (Isaiah 60:22). Therefore people need to be ready and alert! The time of when it will occur is not known, but it is known who will end it – Almighty God.

Messiah’s Good News

The Servant Messiah speaks without being introduced this time, and is the preacher in the year of the Lord’s favour. This preaching is probably a referral to the rams horn that ushers in the Year of Jubilee as established in the Mosaic Covenant (Leviticus 25:8-55). The Servant Messiah’s preaching will usher in a time of grace, justice and freedom – just as the ram’s horn introduced the Year of Jubilee. The phrase to “proclaim liberty” is used in both the year of Jubilee and in this the year of the Lord’s favour. This proclaimed year of the Lord’s favour starts when the Messiah comes the first time and will cease when He returns again. The word year, is not a fixed period of time as we know it, but is rather symbolic of an extended period of time. This Servant Messiah is anointed with the Holy Spirit of God. This Good News was to be preached to the humble, the poor and poor in spirit – the Good News is news of freedom, liberty, grace and justice! The comfort they will receive should the offer be taken up, is one of being released from condemnation for sin through the Messiah’s offer of forgiveness – that is grace! Because of this grace, three things will be occur for these people who have accept the offer, here referred to in Isaiah 61:3 as “trees of righteousness” : they will display or reflect the Lord God’s glory and splendour; they will be priests of the Lord God service; and will inherit all things!

Messiah’s Grace & Justice

What is the outcome and result of grace? We see it in Isaiah 61:7-9. Almighty God’s grace, available only through the Messiah, will bring bountiful blessing, ecstatic joy and a rich inheritance instead of shame, dishonour and exile. Grace may well be free but it is not cheap. What was the price? The relationship bridge to God that is the Messiah, is only through the Messiah’s suffering atonement as described in Isaiah 53. Isaiah moves to justice quite naturally therefore, for grace and justice are like twins – they go together naturally. Justice is grace in action just as much as it is the judging of those in sin (Isaiah 61:8). Liberating people from sin freely (grace) is as much a part of justice as punishing those who reject the gracious offer of pardon and continue to live sinful lives. Grace and justice are also available, because God is always full of grace and justice and this is seen in the new covenant He makes with those who have heard this Good News proclaimed by the Messiah and responded by taking up His free offer.

This Good News of the twins Grace and Justice brings an offering of thanksgiving and praise (Isaiah 61:10-11)! Clothed with salvation from and through God’s Messiah, robed with the righteousness of God’s Messiah! And because God has done it for this one man, He will ensure that all those who respond from all nations will also be like that in a responsive praise and Godly righteousness.

Messiah’s Vengeance

We have been warned in Isaiah 61:2 that not only will the Messiah usher in the year of the Lord’s favour, but He will also bring vengeance with him. People today don’t like the word vengeance because it conjures up images of maliciousness and vindictiveness. This vengeance is wrought by Almighty God as punishment for people’s personal sin against Him. His anger is a righteous anger and a wrath borne of holiness. His judgment will be final and also universal – every people of every nation of all time. In particular, however, those who would persecute, mock, abhor and reject those who have taken up God’s free offer of grace through the coming Messiah.

How is Jesus this Messiah?

In Luke 4:16-20 at the beginning of His public ministry at a synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus quotes this passage from Isaiah 61. This tells us that the year of the Lord’s favour has commenced. But note from the passage in Luke, that he doesn’t quote the full scripture. He stops in the middle of reading a sentence, just as soon as He says “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour”, rolls the scroll back up. Why does he do that? It can only be because while now until He returns, is the year of the Lord’s favour, the day of judgement and vengeance will wait until that day in the future – when those who are His followers will enter the City of God and those who rejected Him will have vengeance wrought against them.

Jesus went around, as we know, proclaiming the same Good News Isaiah writes about (Matthew 9:35, Luke 8:1). Jesus proclaimed in his words and his life about God’s love, grace and justice. When he healed the sick, forgave sins, gave compassion on the poor, spoke and ate with the outcasts, Jesus Christ embodied this message of grace, justice and freedom. When, as we saw on a previous day, death on the cross was the act of atonement required by God in order to punish the sins of the world, Jesus Christ did not shirk back from doing that.

As for the day of vengeance, nobody talked about hell and God’s judgement more than Jesus. But God is always reaching out, coaxing people to accept His free offer of grace, if people will only humble themselves and ask for it. God’s offer of freedom is still available in this the year of the Lord’s favour. But one day, the day of judgement will come and then it will be too late. That is why Jesus commanded with some urgency that His followers would tell all nations of this Good News, Isaiah wrote about. A Good News of salvation, grace, justice and freedom.

Jesus, reinforcing what Isaiah ahs said, tells us that the day of vengeance is for those who reject the Good News he preaches and lives (Matthew 10v14-15). God’s Day of Judgment is coming said Jesus (Matthew 12:36). What’s more, Jesus said in John 5:22-23 “For the Father judges no one, but he has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He who doesn’t honour the Son doesn’t honour the Father who sent him.” Jesus claims here to openly be the Messiah, the long awaited for chosen One! An even more overt statement by Jesus on judgment can be found in John 9:39, “I came into this world for judgment, that those who don’t see may see; and that those who see may become blind.” Jesus tells us that the punishment will be both physical (Matthew 5v29-30), and in the soul (Matthew 10v28). This vengeance will consist of everlasting fire and punishment (Matthew 25v41-46) and will be Constant and outer darkness (Matthew 8v12). In other words, those rejecting the Messiah Jesus Christ, will face a lonely, impersonal God-less void. All this will happen when Jesus comes again, not as a baby like last time, but in glorious splendour.

But for all those who accept Jesus Christ as their Messiah and have grasped hold of the Good News message of grace, justice and liberty, there will be another place. According to Jesus, this heavenly city of God is only for those who are righteous (Matthew 5v20). In doing so, he concurs with Isaiah. This righteousness is not their own, but the robe righteousness declared upon them through the Messiah.

This heavenly city of God, Jesus proclaims to us is a place of ecstatic Joy (Luke 15v7-10), total peace (Luke 16v19-25) and a reward (Matthew 5v11-12) – all themes we have heard in these books of Isaiah and Zechariah.

There is one more study to come. As this is released on Christmas day, you may wonder why. My reason for doing so, was that yes we celebrate Jesus Christ coming to earth as a baby. Yes, His incarnation whereby God took on human flesh in the human form of Jesus Christ is important. That iw when the year of the Lord’s favour commenced. But that is only half the story, because this Jesus Christ is coming back again in splendorous glory, in order to gather all those who have responded obediently to the Good News of God’s grace, justice and freedom. For those, the heavenly city of God awaits. But for those who reject Him now, He will reject them and the day of vengeance proclaimed in Isaiah will be a terrible day. That is why even as it is now the year of the Lord’s favour; it is not too late to respond obediently to God’s free grace. It is also not too late for you, if you are already counted as one of the Lord’s followers to tell others of this free offer and the rewards of acceptance and consequences of rejection.

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10. 12 Days to Christmas – Messiah’s Rejection

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10. Twelve Days to Christmas

Messiah’s Rejection

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Please do read Zechariah 11:1-17

So far in our journey we have seen that the future is glory for the Servant Messiah and all those who choose to follow Him! It is a future of hope, joy, excitement, awe, wonderment and glory. But that is only one side of the future. In Zechariah 11, we come to another part of the future; the part of the future which is for all those who would reject God’s Servant Messiah. While Zechariah talks in picture language and symbols, the overall message is startlingly clear: those who reject the Messiah, will in the future be rejected by Him! But we are not given the full details here, but rather are told the why it will happen.

Judgment is coming

Here in Zechariah 11:1-3 we see this judgement coming. The strong barriers of the door are removed! There are no barriers strong enough to escape the judgment of God Almighty. Fire will destroy the mighty cedar trees (Zechariah 11:1), tall pines will fall wantonly (Zechariah 11:2) and fertile land will be decimated as will the places where lions inhabit (Zechariah 11:3). Why are the shepherds crying out in dismay and angst? Not for the land, the trees and animals! No! They were crying out in anguish because of their loss of income! They were too busy ripping off those the people they were meant to lead, rather than leading the people rightly and righteously. They were leaders only for what they could get out of the position they held. They were corrupt, deceitful and arrogant. How were the mighty cedars destroyed and barriers broken down? History tells us that the Roman Empire swept through Lebanon, subduing the entire Lebanese leadership & independent authority under its mighty power.

The Good Shepherd

Now in Zechariah 11:4-14 we see God offering one last opportunity for the leaders of Israel to obey Almighty God. The leaders of Israel were not looking after the people. Instead they were abandoning them and looking only after themselves. These leaders, or shepherds, as they are referred to here were selling their own people into slavery of other nations and getting very rich because of it (Zechariah 11:5)! It was the height of hypocrisy because they were even praising God for their wealth achieved by disobedience, deceit and lust for money.

Zechariah is asked now to play a role – representing the Shepherd Messiah feeding the sheep (Zechariah 11:4). God issues judgment against the people of Israel, particularly the leaders, and will hand them over to their neighbours. Since the leaders showed neither pity nor mercy, neither shall God show mercy or pity on them (Zechariah 11:6).

Zechariah continues his role as the Good Shepherd, performing much the same way the Shepherd Messiah will do, when He comes. He tends to caring for the lost, oppressed, poor and afflicted. Just as we have seen earlier that the Shepherd Messiah will do. Now Zechariah takes too staffs, naming one ‘Favour’ and the other ‘Union’ (Zechariah 11:7). As part of his work, three of the false leaders or shepherds are disposed off within one month. These leaders could have been kings, priests or prophets. Disposed off, because when the Shepherd Messiah comes, He will be as we have seen a Messiah King, Messiah Priest and Messiah Prophet, all simultaneously.

But now, in Zechariah 11:8, Zechariah as the Good Shepherd is rejected! The same way that the Shepherd Messiah will be rejected as we saw in Isaiah 53.

Good Shepherd Judges

Eventually Zechariah the Good Shepherd tires of the people’s disobedience and recalcitrant attitudes and behaviour. In Zechariah 11:9-11, he says “I will not feed you. That which dies, let it die; and that which is to be cut off, let it be cut off; and let those who are left eat each other’s flesh.” I took my staff Favor, and cut it apart, that I might break my covenant that I had made with all the peoples. It was broken in that day; and thus the poor of the flock that listened to me knew that it was the word of Yahweh.” So because of the leadership’s disobedience and self-righteousness, God is stopping the covenant between them and this is symbolized by breaking the staff called ‘Favour’. God has always kept His word and was always faithful in keeping His covenants with people and Israel. But because of the Israel’s disobedience the covenant was now void and invalid. The Good Shepherd is rejected.

The Foolish Shepherd.

Now Zechariah is to play a foolish Shepherd. This foolish Shepherd has no time for people who are lost, oppressed, poor and afflicted. He is only interested in himself and his own gain. He will not look out for the sick in order to heal them or feed those who are hungry. This foolish Shepherd is the contrast of Zechariah as the Good Shepherd and of the Shepherd Messiah to come. What is the judgement upon this Foolish Shepherd? His power will be taken away and his intelligence dimmed. The staff, called ‘Union’, is broken in order to symbolize the break up of the nation of Israel into north and south.

Where is Jesus the Messiah in here?

Jesus was offended and dismayed by the behaviour of, and the active disobedience by, the leaders of Israel. He frequently told the Pharisees, Priests and other leaders that they were oppressing the poor, didn’t care for the lost, neglected orphans and widows. For example, Matthew 12:34 You offspring of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Or Matthew 15:3, where Jesus speaks to the Pharisees and teachers of the Law, saying “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?” Yes, Jesus spent time judging and condemning the leaders of Israel for their selfishness, deceit and dishonesty.

In contrast to the Pharisees and other religious leaders, Jesus as the Good Shepherd, did seek the lost, the orphans, widows and oppressed. He desired to spend time with them, having compassion upon them. He healed the sick, fed the masses, gave wise counsel and proclaimed love to those who were the unloved of society. Jesus when he looked over the crowds, commented that they were like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9v36).

Jesus said in John 10v10, that He gives His life that all those who follow Him, will have it more abundantly. Jesus as the Great Shepherd came to earth in order to bring sheep back into the fold; that is to bring people back into a full relationship with God. Jesus here in John 10, is looking ahead to His death on the cross as a means of facilitating the way for people to come back into a living relationship with God. Jesus fed people, but not only physically, but spiritually! Jesus is the Good Shepherd, the Shepherd Messiah as enacted by Zechariah.

Jesus the Shepherd Messiah was rejected! Rejected by the leaders of Israel, who accused him of being demon-possessed. Rejected as He hung on a cross for the sins of the world. Rejected because of who He was – the Shepherd Messiah, the Good Shepherd, who laid down his life for his sheep, the people of the world. Jesus, the Shepherd Messiah who is also priest, prophet and prince. Priest because He mediates between humanity and God the Father. Prophet because He spoke forth God’s word. Prince, because He is a King Messiah and is the Prince of Peace.

This Jesus, who through the Holy Spirit, beckons people to come back into relationship with God. Just as a shepherd cares for sheep and seeks any that are lost, so too does Jesus seek out those who are lost and still reject Him. One day it will be too late, and if Jesus is rejected in this life, then in the judgement to come, He will reject all those who reject Him now.

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Day 9. 12 Days to Christmas – Messiah’s Invitation

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9. Twelve Days to Christmas

Messiah’s Invitation

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Please do read for yourself Isaiah 55:1 – 56:8

Remember from Day 8, that we talked about the City of God to come, where all those who believe will llive and worship the Lord God Almighty for ever! Who is this invitation for? This invitation to join is to all people of all races and nationalities! But they have to respond to the call!

Come, see and taste

“Come”, cries Almighty God through the prophet Isaiah. Come! The gates to my City are open to all who believe! There is no entry charge, its free! This food is free for all! What is this food? It is mercy and pardon. Mercy from God and pardon for sin for all those who respond to the call God has put out.

Everlasting Covenant Disclosed

This is the everlasting Covenant (Isaiah 55:5-6) or the new Covenant we have talked about and was proclaimed by other prophets such as Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Just as each of the previous covenants had a symbol to authenticate the agreement, so does this! Noah’s covenant had the rainbow, Abraham had circumcision and Moses had the sprinkling of blood. This new and everlasting Covenant will also have a sign! The sign is disclosed in 55:13 as a everlastingly transformed universe! Amazing! This is the climax of Isaiah so far! This is why the Messiah Servant must suffer in Isaiah 53! This new everlasting covenant does not cancel the other covenants, but rather fulfills them. The final result of the Messiah Servant’s work will be everything that Almighty God has promised and all promises of God will find their Amen in the Servant.

Everlasting Covenant Result

Because of this New Covenant, even though Israel will go into exile, they will return from it stronger. As in Isaiah 55:4-5, David was made a witness to the covenant and leader of people, so too will Israel. Once restored to the land, this Messiah Servant will come from Israel, and Israel will be used to conquer people spiritually for the Lord.

And this is no dream, hallucination or fantasy as some of the people of Israel would be thinking. But the thoughts and mind of God is so much higher than mere mortal humanity. For as Isaiah 55:8-9 states “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” says Yahweh. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Just as plants grow when rained upon, so too will Almighty God’s plans. His word has gone out and it will not return with nothing (Isaiah 55:11). His word has power to speak the universe into existence. His word will bring a restoration from exile, a redeemed creation and a renewed world (Isaiah 55:12-13). It will be a place of joy and excitement!

Come Quickly Everybody!

It is with a sense of urgency that Isaiah speaks these words of God. Decisions must be made but guest must come! The spiritual food of mercy and pardon is available to all, but the offer must be taken up! If the offer is rejected, then the consequences are disastrous for the person who does not believe. That is why the command to seek while God can be found, for there will come a time when the gates will be closed and no more admittance allowed.

Everlasting Covenant Features

What are the hallmarks of this Covenant? Two of the characteristics are justice and openness

Justice: Isaiah 5:7 tells us that God had looked for justice but found only injustice and suffering. Those who respond to this Everlasting Covenant will need to administer justice and live obedient lives. They are to do this, because God’s righteousness is about be disclosed (Isaiah 56:1). They are to live an obedient life to God, not to earn salvation, but rather as a hallmark of having agreed the New Covenant with God, to symbolize that they are God’s people.

Openness: This offer is open to all! Just as the nation of Israel was always meant to be a light of God to the nations, so too are the people of the New Covenant. They are to be a light to every nation of God’s goodness and glory, extending an invitation to all to join in this life of the New Covenant. They were to accept all those who chose to accept the offer of being bound to God Almighty through this New Covenant (Isaiah 56:3, 6). An obvious example is that of the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8:26-40. This man was a eunuch from a foreign land, and according to Isaiah 56:4-7, he was to be welcomed by other acceptors of this New Covenant. All of this resulting from the Messiah Servant’s work.

Jesus as this Messiah

Lets see again from his own life and words how Jesus is this Messiah Servant.

This Jesus welcomes the burdened: Matthew 11:28-30″Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart; and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Are you burdened down with cares, stresses and strains? Come to Jesus today and let him take them..

Are you hungering and thirsting after righteousness? Then come to Jesus who offers Living Water and is the Bread of Life. John 7:37-38 Now on the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink! He who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, from within him will flow rivers of living water.” Or John 6:35 “Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.

Are you seeking God! Then seek! Ask! You will find! Matthew 7:8 “For everyone who asks receives. He who seeks finds. To him who knocks it will be opened.

This is Jesus who said in John 12:46 “I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in the darkness“! What’s more, He said that all those who follow Him are lights to the world as well Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world.” That’s why Jesus gave the command in Matthew 28:18-20 for His followers to go into all the world to tell about Him.

Fulfilling the Covenants

Frequently, this Jesus said that He was to fulfill what was written. One example of this is Luke 18:31-33 He took the twelve aside, and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all the things that are written through the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be completed. For he will be delivered up to the Gentiles, will be mocked, treated shamefully, and spit on. They will scourge and kill him. On the third day, he will rise again.

Primarily though is Jesus’ Words in Luke 22 whereby Jesus instituted the sacrament of Holy Communion. Luke 22:19-20 He took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and gave to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in memory of me.” Likewise, he took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.
Christians do this regularly as a remembrance of Jesus until He comes again! The bread symbolizes His body broken on the cross and the wine symbolizes His blood shed on the cross. Further more it has other symbolic meanings, all of which symbolize the New Everlasting Covenant – a Covenant guaranteeing salvation! Amongst these meanings are that it

  • Symbolizes fellowship with other believers in the worldwide church in openness and integrity
  • Symbolizes our dependence on Christ for spiritual life and spiritual food.
  • We receive the benefits of His sacrifice as the Suffering Servant.

It signifies in the New Covenant for Christians to tell all others of this offer to come and join. It is also for Christians to live an obedient life to God Almighty, to love justice and be welcoming to all!

Thank you.

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Day 8. 12 Days to Christmas – Messiah’s Promise

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8. Twelve Days to Christmas

 Messiah’s Promise

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Please do read Isaiah 54:1-17

God fulfills every promise He has made!

You may recall back on Day 4 in Isaiah 52, Isaiah started talking about a great homecoming for all those who believed. Then on our Day 5, Isaiah gave a picture regarding the sacrificial suffering of the Messiah Servant. Now in Isaiah 54, we see the reason for the suffering. We see that because of this coming Messah’s suffering and subsequent exultation and vindication, that God will make a New Covenant with all the peoples of the world!

God has always kept the promises He made with people! Promises to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and David were also kept by God! God is ever faithful and always true to His word! And here God reminds them through Isaiah of three promises or covenants He has made: Abraham, Moses and Noah.

Past – Covenant with Abraham!

Here in Isaiah 54:1-3 God reminds the people through Isaiah, that God has always kept His promises to His people! If they looked back at the covenant promises made to Abraham, they would see this (Genesis 12:1-3)! When they go into exile, keep hold of the promises of God and be obedient to Him! God is always faithful and wants their total obedience to Him!

How are these verses of Isaiah 54:1-3, are meant to be a reminder of the covenant with Abraham? The mention of the barren woman (1), tent (2) and descendants (3) would all bring to mind God’s promises to Abraham… The barren woman, would be a reminder that Abraham and Sarah were aged and childless. The tent would act as a reminder that Abraham was a tent-dweller in an alien land. The descendants would remember that they themselves are descendants from Abraham! And God has promised in 54:3 that they will return to the land of Abraham and populate there once more.

The Abrahamic covenant is a link to all of God’s activities and programs until the end of time, when Jesus returns to gather His people to Himself. That is how important it was, particularly to Israel! The covenant had aspects for Abraham personally, as well as aspects that applied to all nations.

Past – Covenant with Moses

Now in Isiaah 54:4-8, God moves to the covenant He made with Moses (Exodus 19v5-8). When as a young nation, Israel was in exile and slavery in Egypt – it was an embarrassment to her. Now as a nation she was like an aged widow, she was due to be in exile again, but in Babylon this time. But just as God made the covenant with Israel on Mount Sinai after escaping from Egypt, so too would God restore her to Himself once again and be her husband and Redeemer.

The covenant with Moses begins with a stipulation “Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me.” (Exodus 19v5). This covenant was to Israel in order that those who believed God’s promise to Abraham would know how to live righteously and obediently.

Past – Covenant with Noah!

Next God talks about his promise to Noah (Genesis 9v1-19)! Now instead of just a covenant with Israel, this is a covenant with the whole world! After the flood, Noah and his descendants spread throughout the world, bringing new life and God’s blessing to all parts. The flood is symbolic of the coming period that Israel will spend in exile, and all of the people of Israel are likened to the family of Noah and their descendants. God will protect them in exile, just as He did Noah and his family through the flood.

God has always kept his promises to Israel! But Israel has not always been faithful!

Future – Promised New City

Now the Lord talks about the future – the now but not yet. A great city is built to house all those who are God’s people as a reward for their obedient faithfulness despite trials, sufferings and persecution! Here Isaiah links also to the coming Messiah! Remember the Messiah was also a Disciple taught by God (Isaiah 50:4), then so were they (54:13)! Just has He had suffered (Isaiah 53:4), so have they (Isaiah 54:11)! Just as He was justified (Isaiah 50:8), so would they be (Isaiah 54:17). Those who serve God Almighty with faithful obedience will share in the sufferings of the Messiah King but also participate in His glory, because they are His children. Because of the Messiah Servant’s sacrificial suffering they will be able to live in the city of God forever! God is going to make a new Covenant with people – and He can be trusted to keep His promises!

How is Jesus this Messiah?

Both the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel talk about the promise of this New Covenant that God will have with all of humanity. What is this New Covenant that God is making?

Four features of this covenant are:

• Regeneration -God will write His law on the hearts of people. (Jeremiah 31v33) • Restoration – God will be their God, and they will be God’s people. (Jeremiah 31v33) • Promised Holy Spirit – God will indwell people and they will be led by Him (Jeremiah 31v 34) • Justification – Sins will be forgiven and removed eternally (Jeremiah 31v34)

What does all this have to do with Jesus? This New Covenant is sealed only through the perfect sacrifice of the God-Man Jesus on the cross as spoken of in Isaiah 53:1-12. His blood ensures the truth of this New Covenant. His death pays the penalty for the sins of all people who say yes to God and His New Covenant. This New Covenant is contrasted with the Old Covenant or the Mosaic covenant (Jeremiah 31v32; Hebrews 8v6-13) because this New Covenant finalizes what the Mosaic Covenant could only point to: the follower of God living in a righteous life conforming to God’s holy character. In this way, Jesus is also the redeemer of the Church and the redeemer mentioned in Isaiah 54:5 & Isaiah 54:7! He is the redeemer spoken about by Job (Job 19:25)!

Relationship!

Jesus Christ is the head of the church! The church is married to Jesus Christ and is frequently described as a bride! Just as the people of Israel were in Isaiah 54! How are the church linked to Jesus Christ?

The Church is the Body of Christ – it is a living organism and not merely an organization (Ephesians 1v22, 23; 4v15-16). We are all baptized into one body (1 Corinthians 12v13) and this body is made up of many parts or believers. Each believer has a vitally necessary and important function (Ephesians 4v15; 1 Corinthians 12v13).

The Church is the Bride of Christ – which suggests the purity, holiness and faithfulness of God’s people. Furthermore it suggests the great love that Jesus Christ has for His Church, the Bride (Ephesians 5v25-32; 2 Corinthians 11v2; Rev 19v7.22v17)

The Church is the Temple of Christ – Christ is building a spiritual temple with Himself as the Cornerstone or foundation. As Christian Disciples we are living stones and God dwells within the temple, filling it with all His fullness (Ephesians 2v22; 1 Peter 2v5)

God keeps His promises – Jesus is proof of that!

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Day 7. 12 Days to Christmas – Messiah’s Leadership

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Day 7. Twelve Days to Christmas

Messiah’s Leadership

Zechariah 10:1 – 5

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Zechariah 10:1 Ask of Yahweh rain in the spring time, Yahweh who makes storm clouds, and he gives rain showers to everyone for the plants in the field.
10:2 For the teraphim have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie; and they have told false dreams. They comfort in vain. Therefore they go their way like sheep. They are oppressed, because there is no shepherd.
10:3 My anger is kindled against the shepherds, and I will punish the male goats; For Yahweh of Armies has visited his flock, the house of Judah, and will make them as his majestic horse in the battle.
10:4 From him will come forth the cornerstone, from him the nail, from him the battle bow, from him every ruler together.
10:5 They shall be as mighty men, treading down muddy streets in the battle; and they shall fight, because Yahweh is with them; and the riders on horses will be confounded.

During the time of Zechariah, the Temple was being rebuilt. The Temple was central to Jewish worship. But who would help give advice and solve the multitude of problems they were facing? Who cared about them? Well, Zechariah speaks into their situation with wise words. He has already likened the nation of Israel as being like sheep, and that God is their shepherd (Zechariah 9:16) “Yahweh their God will save them in that day as the flock of his people; for they are like the jewels of a crown, lifted on high over his land. “. Throughout Chapter 10, it is repeated again and again, that God will care for and bless them. But in order to receive the blessing and care, the nation of Israelites must seek, turn and follow.

Seek God

If the people need advice and help in times of trouble and need, the first place they should look, is to the Lord their God. They must seek and ask of Him! (10:1)! God can provide all things! He can control the weather, but these people need to stop being so independent, self-sufficient and start to rely on God and His infinite wisdom and resources.

Turn to God

In 10:2, Zechariah reminds the people of Israel, that following idols and false gods is foolishness. These idols are self-seeking, liars and deceivers. Israel needed to turn back to the One True Almighty God! Instead of following the glory of the Almighty God, they were turning to idols for worship, advice and listening to superstitious nonsense. And of course idols and false gods are mute! They cannot speak or give advice because they are not Gods at all!! The sin of idolatry particularly broke the second commandment! The people were to turn away from false gods and return to worship the One True Almighty God.

They were also to listen to the true prophets of God instead of the false prophets who deceived by speaking words they wanted to hear.

Follow Me

These sheep, the nation of Israel were to follow God. Instead of wandering around aimlessly, they were to follow and obey God Almighty. The Jewish leaders and teachers were supposed to be leading the nation in worship of Almighty God, but were not doing so. Hence God in 10:3 being enraged at those who were in positions of trust who were deceivers, liars and only looking out for their own interests. Ezekiel 34 expounds this out in much further detail! So who were the people of Israel to follow? They were to follow the coming Messiah. Not only was the Messiah a King, Prophet Servant and Disciple but He would also be a Shepherd: the Good Shepherd! From the lowliest tribe of Judah, will come this Good Shepherd “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, being small among the clans of Judah, out of you one will come forth to me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” (Micah 5:2)

Messiah Cares

This Good Shepherd will be utterly reliable, responsible, faithful and being the sure foundation that the people of Israel need, particularly in a time of crisis. In 10:4 God will send this Good Shepherd to also be a cornerstone, nail or tent peg, battle bow and a source of all ruling authority.

Cornerstone: all ancient buildings needed a chief cornerstone to ensure a sure foundation so that the building could not fall down easily. It held two walls together. The imagery fits in well with the building of the Temple. If you want to continue worshipping God, then you must get the foundations right. The chief cornerstone of the building holds the building together. Not only that, it gives the building shape, strength and all other stones are adjusted by it.

Nail: Another translation is that of tent-peg. Just as the chief cornerstone holds the building together, so does a tent-peg ensure that the tent stays fastened down during storms! This Good Shepherd would ensure that everything is held together if they stick to Him.

Battle-bow: Probably referring back to 9:13, Zechariah now likens this Messiah Shepherd to a battle-bow! This Good Shepherd will fight to keep the wolves from harming His sheep. He will battle for them. This Good Shepherd will be brave, courageous and strong as he leads his people to victory!

How is Jesus this Messiah?

Jesus said in Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask, and it will be given you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives. He who seeks finds. To him who knocks it will be opened.” In other words, ask of God your heavenly Father and your needs will be supplied! That was how Jesus lived and obeyed, by being in constant communication with God the Father. That is how he could live a life of utter obedience to God, because He always asked, sought and knocked.

And Jesus is the Good Shepherd, hence Him saying in John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Again in John 10:14-17 “I am the good shepherd. I know my own, and I’m known by my own; even as the Father knows me, and I know the Father. I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will hear my voice. They will become one flock with one shepherd. Therefore the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd only through the sacrifice he must make for His sheep. Here Jesus is looking ahead to the sacrifice He makes on the Cross. His love for all of humanity compels Him to make the ultimate sacrifice. Just as all shepherds will endanger themselves for the safety of their sheep, so too will Jesus endure the pain and suffering of the Cross, so that people can be led into safety of God’s kingdom. It is in this role of the Good Shepherd, that Jesus exhibits true leadership, which is self-less and sacrificial. Ezekiel 34:11 tells of God searching out for his sheep among all nations, and this is fulfilled through Jesus. Through His perfect, obedient and voluntary sacrifice on the Cross, not only will salvation be available to the Jews but also to those of other nations.

And Jesus is willing to fight for His people! He gives spiritual armour for all those who follow Him to wear. Christians are in a spiritual battle reminds Paul in Ephesians 6, and as the Good Shepherd, Jesus will fight and battle for us through His indwelling Holy Spirit! For as the Bible says in 1 John 4:4 “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world.

Jesus Christ is, as Peter reminds us in 1 Peter 2:8, the Cornerstone of faith – referring back to Isaiah 8:14. Jesus Christ is the dependable, sure foundation that all faith is to be ground upon. All Christians are living stones, but should be living on the dependability of Jesus Christ the chief cornerstone alone! It is only Him, who can give direction, assurance and be relied upon. It is Him that calls all people everywhere to seek for, turn to and follow obediently.

Jesus Christ, Servant King, Servant Prophet, Servant Disciple, Servant Shepherd. Follow Him as the great leader He is and victory is assured! Whatever you are struggling with today, turn it over to God and ask for His help! He has promised to help! Remember that the battle belongs to the Lord! Amen! Just as Jesus said to Peter in John 21:19 “Follow Me!“, so Jesus calls all those willing to follow Him, to follow Him for life. Follow and be led by Him and Him alone, regardless of what and where that might be.

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