This is the sermon I will be preaching at Hopewell today
Luke 7:36–50 (ESV)
There are several examples in the bible that just give the most beautiful picture of Jesus’ love for us. The woman at the well from John 4 is probably one of my favorites. It was actually the one I intended to preach on this morning. But as I was reading, I read this passage and the beauty of it just struck me, so that I wanted to preach on it. The visual image that this scripture, the woman at the well, and the paralytic being lowered through the roof of Simon Peter’s house, it is the image of us coming to Jesus humbled and needing Him. And through nothing but our faith, He saves us. He forgives our sin.
When you read a passage like this and stop and see the symbolism and how your very own life could be represented here; how Luke could tell this same kind of salvation story about you and your life. It just makes you stop and say, “ Wow!” God really does love me that much! It’s just amazing how God can love the unlovable.
The Woman at the Well
I’m going to go back to the woman at the well for a minute to kind of give us an opportunity to compare these two women and to look and see if we can see us in either of them. The scene in John 4 is of Jesus going to Samaria specifically to meet this woman in need. He went were no self respecting Jew would go because a woman there needed Him. Now she didn’t know she needed Him. She didn’t even realize she was looking for Him, but she was.
Anyway this woman is going to the well in the heat of the day. That tells us a few things. It was common for women to go and gather water from the well, but they did it in the morning and the evening; when it was cool.
They would also use this as a time to socialize. But this woman wouldn’t come when the other women were there, because she was looked down on. She was living with a man that was not her husband. Not only that, but she had had 5 husbands. This is the woman that allowed gossip columns to thrive. She has made mistake after mistake in life and allowed it to lead her down a road that has left her alone, looked down upon, and without hope.
But Jesus had other plans for her. He shows up in a place that has distorted who God was. A place that has mixed who God really is with whom they wanted Him to be. Keep in mind Samaria is the place that the Assyrian king had placed several different peoples and religions in, in an effort to change their culture and keep them from rebelling against him. These people then intermarried and their religions mixed. On top of that, the Jews racism built up a hatred in them for the very people of God and their ancestors. But Jesus goes to this place to meet this woman and tell her about the gift of salvation.
Before we move on I just want to make sure you are seeing the themes here.
- This person was the exact opposite of the type of person religion teaches us that God loves. (Keep in mind I’m see religion as something very separate from Christianity)
- This person was so far in sin the idea of forgiveness would seem impossible.
- This person was lonely, depressed and hopeless.
- This person is the person that Jesus specifically went to meet and save.
- This is the person He died for.
- This person is me
- This person is you
Now let’s get back to Luke. Chapter 7 verse 36.
One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table.
As Jesus went around preaching crowds would follow Him. Now the Pharisees were skeptical of Him, but they realized that many people were following Him and listening to Him. So they would go and listen to Him often asking questions in an effort to trap or trick Him.
The Pharisees were really religious. They put forth the effort to make it appear they really loved God, but they loved the attention and power that their piousness got them. These were the rich and powerful rulers of what we would refer to as the church at that time. Men whose decisions were based on what benefited them, but they would twist the scriptures to make it appear they were humble servants of God. Remember these are the men who felt they should turn God’s temple of worship into a place to rip off his worshippers.
So this Pharisee has invited Jesus into his home for a feast. At a feast in this time period there would be a table and the people would lean with their left elbow on the table and their body stretched out.
The Woman, The Sinner
So Jesus is sitting there and in verse 37-38
a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.
A woman who was a sinner heard Jesus was there and she went in with a flask of ointment stood behind him and weeping she wiped His feet with her hair. Kissing and anointing His feet.
I want us to take a minute, close our eyes and picture this. This woman who knew when she walked into this Pharisee’s house was going to be judged. She goes in and as a servant put oil on Jesus feet. Overwhelmed for her love of her saviour and burdened by her sin she weeps. The tears fall at Jesus’ feet. She takes her hair and wipes the tears. She doesn’t care what anyone else thinks.
- She knows this is the saviour.
- She knows He brings salvation.
- She knows He is here to deliver her.
And she weeps.
Is this not a beautiful image?
Have you come and wept at Jesus feet? Have you come and overcome by your love of Jesus wept? Have you cried over your sin?
If not are you putting yourself in the place of this Pharisee?
Are you staring at sinners and saying, “If Jesus was really that great he would know who this unworthy sinner that is begging for mercy is?” Because you are one or the other. You are the judge or the judged. And no matter what you may think you are; to God; you are the judged.
Look at what happens in verse 39
Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.”
This scene makes me think of Luke 18. Are you praying, “God, thank you I am not like other men,” or are you praying, “God be merciful on me a sinner.” 
If you have been a Christian for long it gets easy to become a Pharisee. You start sinning less and you don’t notice your little sins, but you definitely see those enormous sins that everyone else is committing.
When we allow ourselves to become a Pharisee, God has to humble us. We forget we need Him and He has to remind us. Sometimes that isn’t pleasant. But God disciplines those that are His. But when we are the humble sinner; God exalts us. He uses us to show his glory.
As a son one of the greatest things was for my dad to recognize a strength of mine and call me to come and help him. It was an honor for him to use me. To know he was proud that I was his.
As a father I realize how often I fail at letting my children know how proud I am of them. But God is a much better father than any of us can be and He loves to use His children’s strengths. He loves to exalt them and show them off. When we are the humble servant; God will exalt us. God will let us know how proud He is to call us His.
Onto verse 40.
And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.” “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
Jesus tells Simon a story. There are two men one owes a moneylender about two years wages. The other owes about two months wages. They fall behind and can’t pay. It’s time for the bill collector to come and start taking possessions and placing the debtor in Jail, but instead he comes and forgives the debt of both.
I heard a story from a woman; she said about fifty years ago her husband got injured at work. I think she said he broke a leg. Back then you didn’t have disability and FMLA. When you got hurt and couldn’t work your employer had no need for you. This person was fired for being unable to perform their job. It didn’t take long that they fell behind and now they were in default on their house payment. The woman told the story of seeing the bank president pull up and come to the door.
They knew he was there to evict them and there was nothing they could do. The bank president knocked on the door and asked if he could come in. He told the man he had heard what happened and was very sorry for him. But as he knew they were behind on their payment and it was to a point that action needed to be taken. The bank president told him that he knew they had been good customers and always paid their debt on time. He knew that the man hated that it had come to this. Then the bank president pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket and handed it to the man. He told him this is the deed to your house. As of this day the debt is settled.
Can you imagine the relief the man felt. He had let his family down. This is back in the time when men had honor and if you couldn’t care for your family, you lost that honor and it bothered you. (Isn’t it amazing how quickly values can fade?) This man was about to lose everything and suddenly his debt is forgiven. Can you imagine how grateful he was?
This is the same story Jesus is telling. One man owes two years worth of salary and it is due today. The other owes two months and it is due today. They are freed from that debt. They both would be grateful but think about it in your shoes. Take your monthly salary; double it and imagine if I told you that you owed me that much and yesterday was your last day to pay. I’m here to collect. Now imagine I say; don’t worry about it I have personally taken care of it.
Now picture the same thing with your yearly salary doubled. You will be grateful either way, but I know I would be even more amazed being forgiven two years salary. What is even more amazing though is this debt is sin. It is the things we have done against God. The things we have done to hurt God. Jesus is not only saying your debt is forgiven but I have personally taken care of it for you.
Simon appears to agree with me in verse 43.
Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” 
No matter who you are. No matter what you have done. You can be forgiven. Jesus loves those who are grateful and love Him. I said early it’s easy if you have been a Christian for a while to become a Pharisee, but it’s also easy to forget that Jesus meets you were you are. You don’t get over your addictions and then come to Jesus. You come to Jesus and He removes your addictions. He gives you something else to live for.
Look at this woman. She has come to Jesus and she is so grateful that she has been saved that she is wiping His feet with her hair. The woman at the well completely forgot that everyone in town thought she was a disgrace. She went to those people that looked down upon her and said I have found the savior. Come and meet Him to. Understanding what the gospel means truly changes you. You are no longer living for yourself. You are living for Jesus. Not because you have to, but because you understand who you are compared to who He is and realized that it doesn’t matter. That He saved you and wants you to be His. You are living for Him because He is wonderful.
There is nothing in this world I could ever do to make up for the sacrifice Jesus made for me. Luckily I’m not called to do anything. Look at verse 50 “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
That’s it your faith has saved you. You either look at these two women and say, “Lord have mercy on me”; or you look at them and say, “Thank you Lord I’m not like them.” If you say thank you I am not like them the question becomes, Has you faith saved you.
If your response is Lord have mercy on me then the good news is mercy is freely given. Jesus is here and He is going to meet you wherever you are at. This woman knew he was there to forgive her and she loved Him for that. He is here to forgive you are you ready to love Jesus like that.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, Lk 7:36–50. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001.
 Luke 18:10-13
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, Lk 7:43. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001.
I want to start and say what an honor it is to be here preaching to you on Good Friday. A very special day to be worshipping and what a great honor to get to be a part of worship with you. This day is a day of remembrance of what our God did for us. A day of remembrance of the punishment that set us free from sin and death.
As I prayed and prepared for this lesson I thought of the common verses used to talk about the cross, but did not feel led to them. I was leaning toward Deuteronomy 21: 23 “his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance.” And the theme I have tonight comes from there but I’m going to start in the beginning, because to truly appreciate the cross we have to see its purpose.
(Holding up a cross on a necklace) Everybody knows what this is. Some of you may have one around your neck right now. A cross is one of the most popular and cultural divisive symbols there are. You see it around peoples necks, tattooed on their bodies, hanging on the walls of their house. People see the cross and regardless of whether they are a Christian or not they immediately think that it is the symbol of where Jesus died. They may even know that the cross represents forgiveness of our sin. I remember a popular song on the radio when I was a teenager and a line in it said, “She wears a cross around her neck…” A line later it finishes,”…And the cross is from someone she had not met.”
A lot of people cling to the cross for salvation but they do not understand the cross. They do not know the Man, the God that hung upon it for the salvation of His people. The cross should break us down every time we think about it.
An example; my father passed away a couple of years ago. My mom keeps pictures of him everywhere, but the one that I want to use as an example of the cross is the one she has on the dash of her van. Every time she checks her speed or gas level or anything that makes the vehicle go she sees the picture of my dad. She is then reminded of the man that gave 42 years of his life to her. This can lead to a smile as she remembers him, or tears as she misses him.
The cross should be that picture for us. We should smile as we think of how much God loves us. We should smile when we think of the things He has done for us, and tears should come when we think of the sacrifice and pain our sin placed upon Him. The cross should represent something that tears us apart.
Two of my favorite verses in the bible are Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness… And John 1:1-4 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
These two verses bring me to my knees when I think of what they mean. Colossians 1:16 kind of finishes up this thought. …all things were created through him and for him. You see Jesus was there in the beginning where it says God created the Heaven and Earth. And when God said Let us make man in our image. It was Jesus He was talking to. Okay that is simple and not so overwhelming, but Jesus is the Alpha and Omega he knows the end from the beginning. So when God said let us make man in our image Jesus knew about Genesis 3. It wasn’t a surprise when Eve ate the fruit. And He knew the consequence and He knew what He would have to do to fix it.
So Genesis 3 God places Adam and Eve in a garden tells them this is all for you but in the middle of the garden are two trees. One is majestic it brings life it allows you to forever walk in my presence but the other tree is horrible. It brings with it death and evil stay away from it.
So what is the first thing they do, of course eat the forbidden fruit. So this brings sin into the world, a curse and death. Just like Adam we will sin given the first chance.
Now we jump forward several thousand years. Jesus comes to the Earth as a man with a mission. From the day he was born He was heading straight for the cross. All of Jesus life was spent heading to the cross.
As Jesus preached and was persecuted He knew the cross awaited him so that he could bring about forgiveness for the ones that were persecuting Him. Jesus stepped down from heaven to take His place on the cross to pay our debt.
So when we see a cross what should we see. Over a100 years ago preacher named J.C. Ryle did a sermon entitled Freedom. In it he mentions 8 things Christ accomplished on the cross. I’m going to use his list as the basis of what I’m going to say.
On the cross Christ stood in our place. Christ did not sin against God. You and I did. We were the ones in rebellion against God. Only one sin on our part is necessary to send us to hell. We have committed more than one sin against God. So we stand condemned to die
But Christ died on the cross in our place. I don’t think we fully grasp that we have a fear of dying; we mourn those we lose to death. We don’t fully understand what it means that Christ died in our place. If you are a Christian you will not die. Christ has already done that for you. Death here is just the beginning. A caterpillar was not born to be a caterpillar but to be a butterfly. He just has to wrap himself in a cocoon to get to what he was truly meant to be. If you are a Christian this is not what you were meant to be this is just preparation for something much more beautiful that Christ made possible for you.
Because of our sin we were meant to suffer. Because of Christ taking our place on the cross, we do not have to suffer. Our happiness should not depend on anything in this world our hope and happiness should be placed solely on the work Christ did upon the cross.
There was a curse upon us. It was placed there when Adam sinned in Genesis 3. But Christ removed that curse. Deuteronomy 21:23 said that a man hung upon a tree became a curse. Christ hanging on the cross became our curse. He took it from us and removed it.
He paid the debt we owed God and made restitution for our sin. There is no way we could have accomplished that but because of the cross and Christ we do not have to. Our sin is removed when we truly trust in Christ.
The cross became our guarantee. Because of it we have hope in a promise. A promise of eternal life; of life in the presence of God. When you look at a cross that should bring a smile. That is your deed of entitlement. Everything you owed God was paid right there. Your freedom from sin was paid. Your fear of dying was removed, because now you have the guarantee of eternal life.
The last thing is Christ on the cross became the representative of his people. Christ humbled himself to die for your sin. Christ humbled Himself to make eternal life with the Father possible for you. The cross should remind us to humble ourselves for others. It should remind us to make sacrifices to bring others to see the cross for what it is.
The cross should remind us that that everything we do should be part of our mission of heading towards eternity. That we have a promise and hope that nothing can take away from us. The cross should be a reminder of how much God loves us.
This is what we are so familiar with when we hear of the Christmas Story. Caesar Augustus issued a decree that everyone was to be registered. The decree called for you to be registered in the town of your fathers, which led to Joseph and Mary going to Bethlehem at this time when she was due for the birth of her son.
When we read there was no room at the inn and that Jesus was placed in a manger. We get an image of a very pregnant Mary being turned away from a nice hotel and sent to spend the night in a barn on a cold snowy night. The Sheppard tending their flocks make it more likely it is fall and while the nights would be cool, they probably weren’t cold and snowy.
Second our image of the manger and stable are probably a little skewed by what we picture for a place to keep animals. Albert Barnes in
his notes on the New Testament gives us a better picture of where Mary and Joseph more than likely settled down for the night. He quotes a description of an inn given by Dr. Kitto. I’m going to paraphrase that description; an inn at that time would have had a grand archway that led to a large open area with a well in the middle. In the walls around this open space would be doorways leading to oblong shaped rooms. The rooms would be unfurnished and the only light would come from the doorway which opened to the center opening. In most inns the animals would be kept in the open area. If the inn was one of the fancier establishments it would have an empty hallway that led to the back wall. The hallway would serve as the stables. There would be a bench built into the wall. So a traveler would have a place to set or place food for their animals.It was more than likely on one of these benches that Jesus was laid. So while this would not be the best accommodations for a king, it wasn’t exactly what we picture when we thing of a stable.
The thing that is significant isn’t how bad it was. We don’t have to try and make the birth of Jesus sound horrible, as if he was in a feeding trough freezing to death while animals ate food from under him. The point is that Jesus is the eternal king. He is God with us. The birth of Jesus was God’s plan of restoring fallen sinners to Himself and it was part of his plan for Jesus to coma as a humble servant that was willing to die for us. If Jesus the King can humble himself to be born in this way then shouldn’t we definitely humble ourselves in His service.
-  Albert Barnes, Notes on the New Testament: Luke & John, ed. Robert Frew (London: Blackie & Son, 1884-1885), 18. ↩
To me Joseph is one of the most amazing characters in the Christmas story. He also seems to be one of the most overlooked. We have heard sermons about what a good guy Joseph was. How he was going to divorce her quietly until an angel showed up and told him not to. There is so much more going on here.
Joseph had some hard decisions to make. First keep in mind he truly loved Mary or he wouldn’t have been willing to divorce her quietly. The Jewish law said he could accuse her of misconduct, which carried the sentence of her being stoned to death. (Deuteronomy 22:21) Jewish law was so strict on this that a betrothed virgin that was raped in the city could be stoned for not crying out.(Deuteronomy 22:24)
So Joseph is waiting to marry the woman he loves when he finds out she is pregnant and he knows beyond a doubt he is not the daddy. This isn’t as simple as trying to decide if you want to raise a child that is not yours. If Joseph decides he is going to go on and marry Mary and raise this child that isn’t his, then he has to pay the bride price and cannot ever divorce her. (Deuteronomy 22:28) He is basically admitting to everyone that he sinned and seduced her, which brings shame upon both of their families. Plus in this shame he has the shame of knowing he did not actually commit this sin. Joseph is in a no win situation. The bible said he considered these things I imagine Joseph agonized over these things.
So an angel show s up and tells him not to worry, Mary did not cheat on him. The Angel reminds him of Isaiah’s prophecy that the virgin shall conceive and bear a son called Immanuel or God with us.
Clears everything up for Joseph right!
While with all the miraculous things going on, Mary and Joseph swearing that Mary was pregnant, and the baby belonged to the Holy Spirit, and this is really God’s fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy seemed logical; most people did not go for it. Joseph was quite the man. He did what God told him even though it meant tremendous shame on him for the rest of his life.
We all are probably familiar with Mary’s story. She was a teenage girl pledged to be married to Joseph. One day the Angel Gabriel shows up and greets her by calling her the favored one and telling her that the Lord is with her. Mary was afraid cause she couldn’t understand this strange greeting. Gabriel explains to her that she is going to have a baby that will be the Son of God. That He will take the throne of David.
Mary is now really confused since she is a virgin and therefore it would be impossible for her to have a child. The Angel explains that the child will be from the Holy Spirit and to give her a sign tells her that her aunt Elizabeth is pregnant in her old age.
We then see Mary quickly heading into Judah to see her aunt. So let’s try ro picture what Mary is going through. Mary is an unmarried young lady. For her to become pregnant is a big thing. It will bring shame on the family. I think it is interesting how Mary handled everything. She leaves Nazareth to go and see her aunt to confirm the sign the angel gave her. Imagine her surprise upon seeing her pregnant aunt and hearing her declare to Mary, who would not be showing yet, “Blessed are you and the fruit of your womb.” Elizabeth even calls the baby in Mary’s womb the Son of her Lord, and blesses her for believing the Lord. Mary at hearing this breaks out in praise of God.
So many prophecies are filled in Mary right here. Isaiah 7:14 Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son. That there would be a savior king come from the line of David to rule and judge an eternal kingdom.(2 Samuel 7:12, Psalm 132:11, Isaiah 9:6-7, 1Chronicles 22:10, Daniel 7:14, Daniel 7:27, Jeremiah 23:5-6)
The Jews missed all of this happening right in front of them when God prepared three signs for them to wake up and see. Zechariah’s muteness, Elizabeth’s miraculous pregnancy and Mary’s miraculous pregnancy
Elizabeth was the wife of the priest Zechariah and the Mary’s aunt. At this time children were considered a blessing of God. The more children you had the more God had blessed you(Psalm 127:3). To not have children was shameful and it was assumed that God was holding back his blessing from you.
Elizabeth and her husband Zechariah had both faithfully served God all their life, yet she had no children. She was at an age when it was impossible to have children. Then all of a sudden her husband comes home mute, and tells her he will be that way until she gives birth to their son; John. Can you imagine the disbelief that Elizabeth had! That would be the answers to the prayers she had prayed but it was an impossibility.
Elizabeth hid herself from everyone while she waited for God to accomplish what he had promised through the angel Gabriel. Everyone had heard what had happened to Zechariah. The test of a prophet is did the prophecy come true. Everyone would be watching to see if Zechariah was really going to have a child. I imagine that Elizabeth was also worried even when she started showing, because of her age she probably worried about complications. Until she knew that this child was going to be born she did not want to be out where everyone could see her.
Six months into her pregnancy her niece shows up with a miraculous story of her own. Can you imagine the conversations these two ladies had? Both are in the process of a miraculous pregnancy that was foretold by an angel.
Elizabeth does give birth to John, thereby giving Zechariah his voice back.
So why did God bring John into the world in this way? I remind you it has been 400 years since God has spoken to Israel. Almost 2000 years before this there was a woman named Sarah who gave birth at 90 years of age. A birth that was physical impossible and was prophesied by God. I believe Elizabeth was a reminder that God could do the impossible. Everyone should have been expectant of Christ arrival. The Old Testament is all in expectation of Christ. God had the miraculous circumstances of Elizabeth’s pregnancy as a reminder and preparation of what was to come.
In Isaiah 7:14 Isaiah had prophesied that a virgin would give birth to a son that would be God with us. A son called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. A son that would have the very government upon his shoulders. I think Elizabeth was God’s way of waking everyone up to what He was about to do.
-  This information came from John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible ↩
We seem to forget the other characters and the part they played in the Christmas story. We do need to focus on the birth of Christ since he is the reason we celebrate, but we also need to see how God used ordinary people to accomplish His will and to see the lessons that are in their lives.
So what im hoping to do over the next week is look at the individuals that played a part in the christmas story. I intend to start with Zechariah and Elizabeth, then move on to Mary, Joseph, the shepards and wise men.
Hope you have a Merry Christmas and spend this time in reflection of the saviour sent, Immanuel, God with us.
This is one of those sections that when I first look at it I have to ask myself, how am I going to teach that? It first seems like there isn’t much to say, but as I prayerfully read it themes start jumping out at me. As I study it I start to see that there is a lot more here than originally meets the eye. The bible tells us that Jesus talked in parables so that some would not understand. The bible does that also, when we look at a piece like this or a genealogy and forget that it is the inspired word of God, then we do not realize that God is talking to us through the scripture.
So the first thing happening here is Jesus’ disciples are baptizing followers and so is John. I know that it says Jesus was baptizing, but John makes sure we understand that it was not Jesus but His disciples in Chapter 4.
(although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples),John 4:2 (ESV)
So let’s picture what is going on. John is baptizing at Aenon near Salim. More than likely we are talking about some springs (Aenon means springs) near the city of Salim. While it is disputed exactly where this is if you look at a map you can see the the two areas Aenon and Salim listed next too each other a little east of the Jordan river a little past the halfway point between the Dead Sea and the Seas of Gaillee.
We see a disciple of John talking to some Jews who have recently been listening to Jesus preach. They brag about his preaching and talk about His baptism. They argue over the differences in John’s baptism and the Jewish purification rites. The Jews had regulations on what made a person unclean and therefore needing purification by washing.
Last time we studied a nighttime meeting of Jesus and Nicodemus, Today we will finish the dialogue that was started then. We discussed what it means to be born again and Nicky was having a hard time understanding it. Let’s move on and see what Jesus has to say.
“Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.
The first thing that jumps out is that Jesus is speaking in the plural. We speak, we know, we have seen, our testimony. This is because Jesus is showing the Trinity; The father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. All three persons of the Godhead are part of the New Birth. The last example Jesus gave was how the Holy Spirit works like the wind. You can’t see it, but you see its effects. Nick does not understand this earthly example so how can he understand the things of Heaven.
The Son of Man
Now Jesus is going to try and make it even simpler for Nicodemus. No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. That clears it right up. Right?In Chapter 7 of the book of Daniel, he is having vision at night and he sees the end of times. He sees Satan cast into the lake of fire and the books opened up.
Then behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14)
He sees God on his throne and suddenly on the clouds appears one that appears to be an ordinary man, yet God gives him all authority and glory. No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. With this verse Jesus just said I have been sent from heaven, because I am the one that God the Father is giving all glory to. I am the Son of Man Daniel prophesied about. Nicky would have caught and understood this reference.
I seem to be having a problem with quotes and apostrophes hopefully I will get that worked out soon.
1 Kings 19:11–21 (ESV) —11 And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. 13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 14 He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” 15 And the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria. 16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place. 17 And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death. 18 Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” 19 So he departed from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen in front of him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and cast his cloak upon him. 20 And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” And he said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you?” 21 And he returned from following him and took the yoke of oxen and sacrificed them and boiled their flesh with the yokes of the oxen and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and went after Elijah and assisted him.
Tonight I’m going to talk about two men, Elijah and Elisha. Throughout this sermon I will refer to men, but ladies when I say the word men, that doesn’t get you off the hook. This message applies to the women as much as the men. So if you are a man or still a boy you better listen up. If you are a woman or a girl, just replace the word man with woman and stay with me.
We are going to look at this section of scripture that talks about the calling of Elisha, but I think it’s important that we look at it in light of the message God sent Elijah first.
To help set up the context I’m going to refresh our minds on the story that has preceded this calling. Elijah has set up a contest with the prophets of Baal. He succeeded in proving that our God is the only true God by calling down fire from heaven to consume his sacrifice. Then Elijah proceeded to slaughter the prophets of Baal, all 450 of them. This has made Jezebel very unhappy and she has made a vow that he will die.
Elijah realizing that Ahab isn’t scared of his wife for no reason runs. He heads to Mt. Horeb and there he hears the voice of God.
I was reading this section of Exodus a few mornings ago. It is a description of what the priestly robes should look like. The thing that jumped out at me was the description of the bells on the hem. Not so much their description as their purpose; and its sound shall be heard when he goes into the Holy Place before the Lord, and when he comes out, so that he does not die.
It’s as if the bells are there to tell God, “Hey I’m coming in, Please Don’t kill me!” And to some extent they are, but God already knows when the priest is coming in so their real purpose is to make sure the priest hears the bells striking and realizes that he is about to walk as a sinner in the presence of the holy God.
Picture this you are the priest, walking into the holy of holies. You have heard the stories of the other priest that did not approach God reverently(Leviticus 10:1). The bells ringing signifies to God I’m coming, I ask you to spare me as I come to worship you. With every ringing bell you realize how powerful and holy God is.
So why am I making such a big deal out of the bells. Maybe we should remember this verse as we walk into church, as we enter into prayer on our own, or just we we go out and tell the world we are a Christian. We are in the presence of the holy God and we should approach Him with the same caution as the priest did.
Through Jesus we have been allowed to enter the presence of God just as the priest did, we do not need to forget it is the same God as the priest met with.
Let’s start reading in Luke 5:1-11
What I’m going to do tonight is try and paint a picture. I want you to use your imagination and try to go back in time with me and picture what is going on. I want us to leave here tonight with a picture of Peter that is truer than what we may have imagined. I want us to leave here with a glimpse into Peter’s heart and mind so that we can better peer into our hearts and minds, but more importantly I want us to see who Jesus is.
Deadliest Catch Galilee Style
Everybody remember the felt board Peter you played with in Children’s Church and Sunday School? Alright, let’s wad it up and throw it out. Peter was a fisherman. How many have watched the show The Deadliest Catch? Okay, you know the little scrawny guys they have on the boats pulling in the nets. You know the ones that are clean shaven and
The morning service is from John 3:10-21 and titled The Love of God in it I talk about God showing His love for us through sending His son to be lifted up on the cross.
Tonight we are studying John 2:23-3:12. Last time we discussed Jesus clearing the animals and merchants out of the temple complex. Tonight we are going to move on to a middle of the night meeting by a man named Nicodemus and Jesus. As you noticed when I read the verses I’m including the last 3 verses of chapter 2 with this section in chapter 3. Let me start by saying that the original Greek did not have chapter and verse separations. The Chapters were added by Stephen Langton in the 13 century. The verse separations did not come into being until the Geneva Bible in 1560. Unfortunately there are a few places where I feel the chapters break up a subject and this is one of them.
I feel that these three verses are important to understand the dialogue being said between Jesus and Nicodemus. So back to verses 23-25. Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.
The thing I’m wanting us to see here is that Jesus knows our true motives. We saw this a few weeks ago when Jesus told Nathanael He saw him under the fig tree. In John 6:61 and John16:19 we see where Jesus knows the very thoughts and questions in a persons mind. We can deceive man but we can never deceive God.
It’s funny in a sad way how a person will go to great lengths to impress people but forget about God. If I told you that we were going to follow you around with hidden video cameras for the next week, you would not see them but you would know that you were being filmed at every moment of the day. Oh and we also need you to wear these special sensors so we can read your thoughts.
We are then going to put all this together and let your friends, spouse, boss, pastor and every one we can find watch it and hear your thoughts. You would be a nervous wreck. Think about it. How often would you try to curb your mind if you knew the person you were having an evil or lustful thought about could hear it. When you look down on the homeless man and think , “the slob should get a job”, or the black man and think to yourself; “criminal”. The addict that you call a “stupid fool”. Jesus calls these the least of these and when you think this way about them you are thinking that way about Him (Matthew 25:45).
But see, Jesus hears all of these things. Jesus sees our every deed and hears our every thought, yet we are not afraid to continue on as we were. We are more afraid of man than God.
Jesus knows our hearts!
2 Temple Clearings
Today we are in the second chapter of John verses 13-22 and we are going to cover the clearing of the temple by Jesus. Now here is where we come to the first controversy between the synoptics and John’s gospel. The problem is simple; John is recording this happening at the start of Jesus’ ministry. Matthew 21:12-17, Mark 11:15-19, and Luke 19:45-48 record it happening at the end. The simple solution and the one I believe, along with many others is that there are 2 temple clearings one at the beginning and one at the end of Jesus’ ministry. I will mention some of the reasons some scholars speak out so strongly against two temple clearings, but I am going to mainly focus on the fact that there are 2.
If you want some reading on this E. Randolph Richards has an article from the Trinity Journal of Theology  that goes into 25 pages of more depth than I’m going to cover. I will use some of his argument without going into too much depth.
-  Luther, Macarthur, Ironside, Morris, Carson, Lightfoot and others ↩
-  Gerald Borchert calls the idea of two temple clearings “a historiographic monstrosity”( Gerald L. Borchert, vol. 25A, John 1-11, electronic ed., Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001), 160) ↩
-  http://www.tiu.edu/files/divinity/connect/trinityjournal/TJ_pgs_19-43_Spring_2008.pdf ↩
John 2:1–12 (ESV) — 1 On the third day there was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2 Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” 6 Now there were six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7 Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. 8 And he said to them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the feast.” So they took it. 9 When the master of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom 10 and said to him, “Everyone serves the good wine first, and when people have drunk freely, then the poor wine. But you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory. And his disciples believed in him. 12 After this he went down to Capernaum, with his mother and his brothers and his disciples, and they stayed there for a few days.
We have finally made to the second chapter of John. We will be looking at the first 12 verses. This is the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.
John starts off Jesus’ ministry with a wedding. Theologically this is symbolizing the new covenant and how the church is the bride of Christ. We could spend hours just looking at the symbolization of the wine and blood of Christ and the wedding and the church. I will touch a little on the symbolization but I’m going to concentrate on the text and what is happening here.
In chapter 1 of John we learned that Jesus has been baptized and John the Baptist has prophesied that Jesus is the Messiah and will take away the sins of the world. Jesus has started gathering his disciples and according to John at the time of this wedding, he has John, Andrew, Peter, Phillip, and Nathanael. Chapter 1 ends with Jesus in Bethsaida on the banks of the Jordan River and he is heading to Galilee and specifically Cana which is about 22 miles away. So let us now go to John 2
Integrity Is Not the Same as Knowing the Rules
Our problem is not that we don’t know the rules, but that we don’t live by what we already know. A man is being tailgated by a woman who is in a hurry. He comes to an intersection, and when the light turns yellow. he hits the brakes. The woman behind Him goes ballistic. She honks her horn at him ; and yells her frustration in no uncertain terms; she rants and gestures.
While she is in mid-rant, someone taps on her window. She looks to see a policeman. He invites her to step out of her car and takes her to the station where she is searched, and fingerprinted, and put in a cell. After a couple of hours, she is released, and the arresting officer gives her her personal effects, saying, “I’m sorry for the mistake, ma’am. I pulled up behind your car while you were blowing your horn, and using bad gestures, and bad language. I noticed the ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ bumper sticker, the ‘Choose Life’ license plate holder, the ‘Follow Me To Sunday School’ window sign, the Christian Fish emblem on your trunk, and I naturally assumed you had stolen the car.”
The world gets pretty tired of of people who have Christian bumper stickers on their cars, Christian fish signs on their trunks, Christian books on their shelves, Christian stations on their radios, Christian jewelry around their necks, Christian videos for their kids, and Christian magazines for their coffee tables but don’t actually have the life of Jesus in their bones or the love of Jesus in their hearts.
Ortberg, John, When the Game Is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box, (Grand Rapids, MI:Zondervan, 2007) 115
For me as a boy, one of the most gripping illustrations my fiery father used was the story of a man converted in old age. The church had prayed for this man for decades. He was hard and resistant. But this time, for some reason, he showed up when my father was preaching. At the end of the service, during a hymn, to everyone’s amazement he came and took my father’s hand. They sat down together on the front pew of the church as the people were dismissed. God opened his heart to the Gospel of Christ, and he was saved from his sins and given eternal life. But that did not stop him from sobbing and saying, as the tears ran down his wrinkled face—and what an impact it made on me to hear my father say this through his own tears—“I’ve wasted it! I’ve wasted it!” This was the story that gripped me more than all the stories of young people who died in car wrecks before they were converted—the story of an old man weeping that he had wasted his life. In those early years God awakened in me a fear and a passion not to waste my life. The thought of coming to my old age and saying through tears, “I’ve wasted it! I’ve wasted it!” was a fearful and horrible thought to me.
“ONLY ONE LIFE, ’TWILL SOON BE PAST”
John Piper, Don’t Waste your Life,(Wheaton,IL:Crossway Publishing 2007)11-12