Category Archives: Sermons
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 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.
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.
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
We will be covering two encounters with Jesus and 4 people today. Last time we studied John and Andrew spending the day with Jesus. They had told Him they wanted to be his disciples, but He has not yet gathered them together to follow Him. So Andrew spends the day with Jesus and He tells Him you have to come meet my brother Peter. He is a great guy. He runs the family fishing business. He is the coolest big brother of all. So Andrew tells Jesus, “Stay here I’m going to go get him and bring him back.”
Andrew finds his brother Peter and he is like, “dude come on you got to meet this guy he is the Messiah, you know the Christ.”
So let’s talk about those two words now; Messiah and Christ. How many think that Jesus’ last name is Christ? It isn’t. People did not have last names at this time like we do. You would be referred to by your father’s name or where you lived[ref]Surnames as we know them did not come into being until much later in most countries.[/ref]. For example Dustin would be called Dustin son of Scott or Dustin of Jacks Creek. The bible often refers to son of as Bar which is Aramaic for son of, So it would say Dustin Barscott. Jesus would be referred to as the son of Joseph. An example of this would be in Matthew 16:17. Jesus calls Peter, Simon Bar-Jonah or Simon son of John.
Christ is the Greek word for the Hebrew word Messiah. It is a title. When we say Jesus Christ we are saying Jesus the Messiah. And Messiah means one who is anointed. The one God sent.
-  Unless your translation translates it “Son of” for you ↩
John 1:29–39 (ESV) — 29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” 32 And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” 35 The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, 36 and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” 37 The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. 38 Jesus turned and saw them following and said to them, “What are you seeking?” And they said to him, “Rabbi” (which means Teacher), “where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and you will see.” So they came and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day, for it was about the tenth hour.
Today we will be in John 1:29-39. We will refer back to the Old Testament books of the law several times to make sure we have the same imagery in our head that the original hearers would. The two things we will focus on the most today will be the phrases; “Lamb of God” and “What are you seeking?”
This section of scripture starts out with the author saying the next day. If you were here for the last lesson you already know that the day before this the Pharisees or Jewish religious leaders, which we compared to the ones who try to control the church, sent the priest to find out what John the Baptizer was doing. He informed them that the King or Messiah was coming and they should prepare as he was doing. If you weren’t here you can quickly read verses 19-28 and see the conversation.
We can assume John the author was there that day since he gives us so much information on what was said. So this is the next day, John and Andrew are listening to their teacher the baptizer when he looks up sees Jesus and says, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! He goes on to remind them that this is the man he was referring to the day before. The one that he said he was not even worthy to be a servant for.
-  See verse 40 to see where it tells us this is Andrew. The other is assumed to be the author since he knew the details and did not feel it was important to tell us who the other disciple was. ↩
And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”
He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”
(Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.) 25 They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”
John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.”
These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
We are now to the testimony of John the Baptizer. Before we get started I want to help you get an image of John in your head. We have to look into the other Gospel accounts to get that picture because John the author doesn’t give us details about John the Baptizer, because he expects the readers to already have encountered John in the other gospels and also he doesn’t want to overemphasize the Baptizer because he is just a messenger.
John comes from Godly parents. His father was a priest named Zechariah. His mother was a godly woman named Elizabeth. She also was from the priestly line being able to trace her family back to Aaron. (The brother of Moses.) Elizabeth also happens to be related to Mary the mother of Jesus. While the bible doesn’t tell us their age it does tell us that they were elderly and Elizabeth was barren. So for what ever medical reason Elizabeth was unable to bare children, plus she was at an age were it was impossible.
One day dad Zechariah went to the temple to burn incense. This was a special privilege that rotated around. This is where you would go into the Holy of Holies and burn incense. Only a priest properly purified could enter. If the priest did something wrong then he would die and have to be drug out of the temple by ropes, since no one else could enter to retrieve him. As Zechariah is doing his duties an angel appeared.
6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”)
16 And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
I started to group these verses with 19-34 since they are very similar and at first look I felt I would be giving the same message twice. Upon further thought I decided that there is too much that need to be broken down here to group it with the message on John the Baptizer. This is still part of the prologue and it deals more with Jesus than John. Try to keep with me since we will be talking about two John’s today. John the Baptizer and John the author of the gospel we are studying.
As I stated last time, in this opening prologue John is trying to counter heresies that are creeping into the church and some of John the Baptizers followers are more concerned with him than Jesus. John is trying to point out that the Baptizers role was just to introduce Christ and people should not get hung up on who he is or was.
It’s kind of interesting how this still happens today. Some mega preachers have become like rock stars and people get so excited to hear them.
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. 9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’ ”) 16 And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
This is the beginning of John’s Gospel. It is usually referred to as the prologue. If this was a paper being written for a college class this would be called the thesis statement. John is telling us in a simple summed up way exactly what he is going to write in the rest of his gospel. To me this introduction is some of the most beautiful verses in the bible. It tells us that God came and dwelt with us so that we could have life. These verses tell us who Jesus was and what exactly He did for us.
Many believe that this was a hymn that was written by John and added here. Songs were often used to teach, since the catchy rhythms will get stuck in your head. Either way this is the beginning of John’s gospel and contains in a few verses the truth of Jesus.
As I prepared this it is kind of hard to figure out exactly how much I want to discuss here. So much information is given that it could be broken down in so many ways. James Montgomery Boice spends 15 chapters in his commentary on John breaking these verses down. When John Piper preached a series on John in 2008 it took 5 sermons to get through the prologue. John Macarthur spent 3 Sundays trying to get through the beginning of John. So there is a lot that is covered in a few verses here. If you try to outline these verses you come up with 7 points. So I want to try and move swiftly through this but I want you to realize there is a lot here for you to prayerfully study.
So let’s dive in. In the beginning was the Word. We are going to start with the word Word. In Greek it is Logos. John writes in a very deep and theological way, where the more you study and understand the words used the more meaning you will find. We need to also notice that in verse 14 John helps us see that “the Word” is referring to Jesus. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, 
To the Greek reader the word was an impersonal creative force and source of wisdom and reasoning. Heraclitus came up with this philosophy. He was A Greek philosopher whom lived between 535 B.C. and 475 B.C. He established this term Logos and also made the famous statement you cannot step into the same river twice. Plato, another Greek philosopher that you probably have heard of often quoted Heraclitus and also expounded on this idea behind Logos being the source of reasoning and creator of the universe. Plato went on to say that maybe someday God would send forth a word, Logos that would explain everything clearly., When a Greek reads these opening verses talking about the word, to them this is screaming out, “Yes, God sent Jesus to make everything clear!”
To the Jewish reader The Word was very significant. To them the word would be the very voice of God. It could be spoken through a prophet or it could be in scripture. To understand how significant John’s use of the word to describe Jesus was we have to look at the Aramic Targums and Jewish tradition. In the Hebrew scriptures the proper name of God is the tetragrammaton YHVH. We pronounce it Yahweh, sometimes it is said Jehovah as in the English translation of the American Standard Version. If you ever notice as you read through your English translation sometimes LORD is in all capitals. If you were reading your bible in Hebrew the word there would be Yahweh, where if it was Just the L capitalized it would be Adonai. Adonai would also be the word used in Hebrew scripture readings. Rabbonic law allowed only the high priest to use the word Yahweh during certain services.
We are going to go through the book of John. Each week we will go through the verses that seem to stay with the same subject. But before we get started looking at the scripture I think it’s very important that we understand who exactly wrote the book, when it was written, what was going on at the time, and why did the author feel he needed to write the book. Without understanding some of this it is hard to accurately interpret the text.
All that being said we are going to cover the specifics of who, what, when, where and why but more importantly we are going to look into the heart of the man that the bible calls the beloved disciple. We are going to look at a zealous young man following God and an elderly preacher pleading with his congregation not to abandon the faith to false teachers.
The bible contains 4 books referred to as gospels. They are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are referred to as the synoptic gospels because they are very similar. They look at Jesus’ life in a similar way. John leaves out many of the things that the others record for example: John does not tell us about Jesus’ birth or baptism, he does not give us any of the parables, there is no ascension mentioned. Plus there are many things such as Peter walking on water that John does not go into as much detail about. While he tells us about Jesus coming to the boat he doesn’t tell us about Jesus telling Peter to come out on the water.
On top of this John adds a lot of stuff, such as the changing of water to wine, meeting with Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman, the raising of Lazarus, and several discourses not included elsewhere. So why is this gospel so different?
More Than Conquerors
What a beautiful set of verses. I believe we all know Romans 8:28 well. I believe it is our pastor’s favorite verse. But this whole chapter is full of hope. It starts out screaming there is no condemnation in Christ. Then it moves on to talking about sonship and future glory then the promise that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.
So let’s look at how that promise plays out. I imagine everyone can think of a time when they had to wonder how in the world this could work out for good. Let’s start with Jacob. He lost his favorite son, the wife he loved died in childbirth and as he is trying to find away to get his family through a famine, the ruler in Egypt takes away another son and demands he sends his youngest son back. As Jacob is feeling hopeless he cries out, “You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!” 
John 1:1–3 (NIV)
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.
3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
- Jesus has always been there.
- Jesus and God are the same but separate.
- God gave everything to men except the fruit from one tree.
- Man ate the fruit of the forbidden tree.
- Man suffered the consequences.
- God suffered the consequences.
- God knows everything before it happens.
- Review and look at life in the shadow of the cross.
Jesus has always been
I’m going to start with John chapter 1 vs.1-3. In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2)He was with God in the beginning.
(3)Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that had been made.
When we read John’s prologue there is no way to deny that the bible teaches that Jesus has always been there. The Word is referring to Jesus. If you look down at vs. 14 John shows us that. The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. The word is Jesus and it says he was there in the beginning. He was there at creation.
Look at Genesis 1:1, In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
Jesus was there.
Look at Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness.
Jesus was there.
Look at Daniel 3:25 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are being thrown into the fiery furnace . Nebuchadnezzar looks and says Daniel 3:25 (NIV) — 25 He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.”
Jesus was there! The next thing I want us to see.
2 Timothy 1:8-12
So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. 12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.
The letter to Timothy is written by Paul to Timothy. Paul calls Timothy his spiritual son. Paul had known Timothy’s mother and grandmother and thought a lot of them. The men at the churches in Lystra and Iconium thought a lot of Timothy. So Paul took Timothy along on his 2nd missionary journey. This letter is much later and Paul is in a Roman prison awaiting death. This is a goodbye letter to Timothy.
So with this background let’s get started. The first seven verses are just an introduction and hello, but in verse 8 Paul gets to why he is writing So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. Do not be ashamed to testify about Jesus. Paul realizes that it is going to be hard for a young Timothy who is seeing his mentor about to be executed.
Timothy has to be asking himself is this my same fate. Paul has given him this warning, so when it gets hard he will remember not to be afraid to testify about our savior. In verse 12 Paul says defiantly from his prison cell I am not ashamed because I know in whom I have believed.
So with this first exhortation of Paul are you willing to say I am not ashamed to testify about Jesus. Last year at this very campground one of the saints of our church was going around and inviting people to come worship with us and he had a man become irate with him. It’s getting where people will get offended if we tell them about Jesus. They feel that religious freedom means they have a right to not hear about religion and we do not have a right to testify. So are you ashamed to testify about Jesus?
The gospel we proclaim is offensive. If you are a Christian it’s a glorious thing. God loved you so much that He chose to save you even though you have done nothing but rebel against Him. But if you are not its offensive. I’m supposed to tell someone that no matter how good they think they are, they are not good enough to please God. And I don’t care how much someone claims to not believe in God. They do. If atheist didn’t believe in God they wouldn’t get so fighting mad when we mention it. So I’m telling them God is real! He is watching you! You are not good enough and you are going to Hell which is also real! That’s offensive to someone who feels that they are a good person and they do not need to rely on anyone for anything.
Then I’m going to tell them that they have to rely on Jesus dying on a cross for their sin and then rising from the tomb as was prophesied in advance.
I want to try and illustrate this if you were out by the lake and you see a man start to drown. It’s obvious he has swam too far and is too tired to make it back. You are inches a away from him in a boat and you are trying to hand him a life preserver. But this man is proud and does not want to admit he can’t make it, so he will not take your life preserver. You continue trying to tell him he is not going to make it to shore but he continues to swim until he goes under once. He comes up and you miss him with the preserver. He goes under and comes up again and you manage to get the life preserver around him and you drag him to the shore where he proceeds to cuss you out because he would have made it. Some of you may have been in a situation like this. You had to help someone that did not want to be helped. You may have suffered for it, but you did it anyways.
We are talking about someone’s eternal life. Whether they spend it in heaven with Jesus or hell in torment. Is it not worth being uncomfortable? Is it not worth a little persecution? I am not ashamed of the gospel.
Verse 9 says God has saved us and called us to a holy life. A holy life means one dedicated to God. Some legalist will try to say that a dedicated life means a perfect life with no drinking, or smoking, or sinning in any way, but we are at war with our flesh and can’t succeed in a perfect life. Now that is not to say we should not try to avoid sin, but we should not feel that we blew it and God doesn’t care anymore. A life dedicated to God means putting God’s will before your wants or comfort. What is God’s will? That all would be saved and come to knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4)! And that is done by sharing the gospel. Romans 10:14 tells us that belief comes through proclamation.
A holy life, a life dedicated to serving God is one that goes out and tells others about Jesus Christ. Let’s look back at Paul’s suffering. What is Paul suffering for? The Gospel. How is he doing that? Paul ends the letter to the Philippian church saying that the believer’s in Caesar’s house greet you. He also references that he has preached Christ to the palace guard. Paul also preached Christ to King Agrippa, Festus and Bernice. All this while in prison.
You say Paul was called to be a herald, apostle and teacher, but no we all were called to be a nation of priests. We are all called to be the feet that carry the gospel to a lost and dying world.
I am not ashamed of the gospel the power of God to save. Why would you be ashamed of such good news. Another illustration and I’ll be done. How many have had cancer or know someone who has? What did they do when they finished their treatments? They celebrated ad told everyone they had defeated the disease. When they see someone else fighting that dreadful disease what do they do? They encourage them! They tell them about their fight with the disease and how they overcame.
We have defeated the disease of death through the power of God and our savior Jesus Christ, let’s tell everyone about our struggle with the disease of sin and death and how we are made well in Christ. If you are still fighting that disease this morning, there are many here that will be happy to help you find the cure. Just come up and talk to us as we finish this last hymn this morning.
Matthew 5:13-16 (NIV)
Salt and Light
You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
Matthew 6:19–24 (NIV)
Treasures in Heaven
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
24 “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.
I woke up really early one morning a couple of weeks ago and the verse from Matthew 6 about storing up treasure in heaven was in my mind. I sat there for a while thinking about those verses and why did God wake me up this early to think about them. When I was asked to preach this morning, those verses were the first to come to mind. So I read and reread this section thinking about what it meant and then I backed up and looked through Matthew up to this point to get the context.
On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; and both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” Now there were six stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing twenty or thirty gallons each. Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” So they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it to him. When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom, and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.
We are going to be in John chapter 2 today. As you are turning there I’m going to set up the context of this section. John was the last gospel written and it was written John the son of Zebedee and he refers to himself as the disciple that Jesus loved.
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.
Update: here is the link for the audio
Mat 16:13-20 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
14They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15″But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
17Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20Then he warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ.
Jesus has been with the disciples for a while now. They have seen Him perform many miracles. They have watched Him walk on water, calm the sea, heal people and cast out demons. They have listened to Him argue with the Pharisees and Sadducees. They have heard Him preach many lessons. They have been offered a chance to leave and they said “where would we go?” So now in chapter 16 of Matthew vs. 13 they are entering Caesarea Philippi.
Good morning! I’m going to start this morning in Hebrews chapter 3 then we will visit Numbers 20, Genesis 3 and stop in Romans 7.So if everyone is in Hebrews 3 we will start at verse 7 and go to 19
Hebrews 3:7-19 (New International Version)
I want to focus on three things that are said in this section of scripture.
Vs. 8 8do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion,
Vs. 11 11So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ”
And Vs. 13 so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
First I want to point out that this is addressed to Christians verse 1 of this chapter says therefore Holy brothers and sisters, so the author is talking to fellow Christians. Let’s go back to verse 8 where the writer tells us that the Holy Spirit says; “do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” Notice that; “do not harden your hearts.” It is an act of our will to harden our hearts. In Exodus we see the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart referred to in two ways.
The Lord said I will harden his heart. (Exodus 4:21) and
Pharoah hardened his heart (Exodus 8:15)
The hardening of our hearts is not something God does so we will be like little robots. God Hardening Pharaoh’s heart is just God allowing Pharaoh to do what is already in his heart. The hardening of our hearts is something we do. We choose to soften our hearts or harden them sometimes God arranges events to help ge our hearts where He wants them, but just as pharaoh’s pride forced him to harden his heart we let circumstances harden or soften our hearts.
So we are told not to harden our hearts as they did in the rebellion. I want to first address the broad way the author of Hebrews is approaching this scripture and then I’m going to tighten it up a little and look at the narrow way of looking at verse 8. The author is talking about how God did not allow the Israelites into the Promised Land because of their unbelief. God has saved and delivered them. That is important to see. The Israelites have already been saved. As I pointed out earlier the author of Hebrews was talking about Christians and here we have the saved Israelites, kinda of like the Old testament version of Christians.So they have been saved and delivered but the Promised Land that they were to be given is not going to be theirs during their lifetime because they doubt. They did not believe that God was truly going to take care of them. Numbers 13 tells of the spies being sent into the Promised Land and they come back talking about the military strength and the fortifications of the cities and then they compare their selves to Grasshoppers amongst these people who were giants. These spies say “we can’t do this. We can’t do this. “
And they are right. They are right, they can’t do it. But God can. These people have already seen the miracles of the plagues. God not only delivered them but made them rich when the Egyptians paid them to leave. They saw the Red Sea split open. Think about that miracle by itself. Any one ever drained a pond and immediately walked in it afterwards. You sink to your knees in the mud but the Israelites had the sea split and crossed on dry ground. Then God allowed the waters to overtake the Egyptians. Just imagine seeing this and then to doubt God. They have survived battles, by armies much stronger and more well trained .They have had bitter water turned sweet, seen manna fall from the sky. God has taken care of these people but when He says “Go and take your reward” they say “We can’t.” Caleb and Joshua were the only two that didn’t harden their hearts and they were the only ones that got to see their reward on this side of heaven.
All the others let unbelief harden their hearts. Think about that they were saved but because sin hardened their hearts they did not get an earthly reward. I’m not saying that Caleb and Joshua didn’t suffer they went through the exact same things as all the other Israelites but to them it wasn’t as bad because they knew that God was carrying them and they got to see the reward of their belief that God would conquer the promised land
Now to the narrow look into this scripture “Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.”[
This comes from Psalm 95 and in Psalm 95 it refers to the wilderness as Meribah and Massah. The events at Meribah and Massah are recorded in Exodus 17 and Numbers 20. they refer to Moses getting water from the Rock at Meribah. Now God instructs Moses to talk to the rock and strike it once. Let’s look at Numbers 20:10-13
He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” 11 Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.
12 But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”
Moses in his anger at the unbelief of the Israelites hardened his heart and did not honor God as Holy. Because of that Moses did not get to enter the Promised Land in his lifetime. Do you see a pattern? The hardening of our hearts to sin stops us from receiving the reward that God has in store for us. Now a reward might be the blessing in getting to see someone we know come to Christ. One of the hardest things I have had to endure was seeing someone I care about hate me for being honest about what the bible says. But I endured I stayed focused on Jesus and what he wanted and the greatest reward was seeing that person start going to church regularly. If we follow Jesus and do not let our hearts be hardened by sins deceitfulness we will get to see the reward of our efforts.
Lets go back to Hebrews 3. Verses 12 and 13 12See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
Moses heart was hardened by the disbelief of those around him and that lead to his sin.
Let’s look at two other people who allowed sins deceitfulness to harden their hearts.
Lets back up to Adam and Eve
Genesis 3 is the infamous chapter called the fall. Let’s look at what happened though.3:1-6 1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. Notice we are told here that the serpent was crafty or we could say deceitful. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Notice what he just did he misquoted what God had said in an effort to cause confusion and doubt.
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ”
4 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
The beauty of the sinful fruit hardened the heart of Eve. Think about that the allure of sin hardened Eve’s Heart . Satan changed sin from something that kills and destroys to something desirable.
And she gave some to her husband.
Adam loved Eve and in his love for a woman Adam disobeyed God
The love of a woman hardened Adam’s heart.
Disbelief of those around hardened moses’ heart
Beauty hardened Eve’s heart.
Love Hardened Adam’s heart.
, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
So what Hardens our hearts and how does sin deceive us.
Last summer I caught a Garter Snake in the yard. Dustin and I played with it for a while a Savannah took a picture of us holding it. I put the picture on my screensaver at work. A woman I work with walked up and looked at it with disgust asking what is that. I said my son!
She replied No, not the boy. I said oh, That would be me.
I have been married long enough that I have learned that when a woman is holding sharp objects and gets that insane look in her eyes its time for the jokes to stop so I told it was a Garter snake.
A Garter snake.
Well yes but it’s a Garter snake. I try to inform this woman that it lived under our house and eats mice therefore it was friend of mine.
A garter snake.
I then tried to inform her that Garter snakes are harmless and can’t hurt you.
She asked does it bite. I said well yes but I didn’t give it the opportunity and even if it did it’s not poisonous so it wouldn’t have been a big deal had it bitten me.
A garter snake.
She then walked off shaking her head and mumbling something about poor poor Amy.
So I was trying to give the snake a fancy name to make it less harmful sounding to her. To make her hardened to the fear the snake caused
And sometimes we treat sin like that and by making sin less harmful sounding we allow our hearts to be hardened by sins deceitfulness.
I’ve got some examples I’d like to share this morning.
We don’t call it murder in the news because that would give a negative tone to it and would lead a jury to be more likely to convict. It’s Homicide or manslaughter. If I say murder you get an image of brutality and violence in your mind. but if I say homocide it’s not as bad it’s less horrific sounding. Homicide that doesn’t paint as vivid a picture in your head does it.
What about the Murder of an unborn child.
How many people had the word abortion pop in their head as I said that. The murder of an unborn child and we put an innocent sounding name on it like abortion. That doesn’t sound so bad does it. Abortion to stop a process the problem is this is the process of Life that God started we are stopping.
What about Pro Choice. Choices that sounds really nice doesn’t it. By putting a positive word at the beginning we are creating a word that doesn’t create negativity in our minds or our hearts.
What about family planning. That sounds really nice. I can see little kids and a dog named boo. But no that is the murder of an unborn child. Family planning is not killing babies family planning is waiting until your married to have sex as God has Commanded us to do.
The unnatural lust for someone of the same sex. What do we call it homosexuality give it a nice scientific name and it isn’t so bad. Kind of sterilizes it doesn’t it?
Alternative lifestyle. Isn’t that what the Amish have. An alternative lifestyle is living without electricity and traveling by horse and buggy .Having sex in a way that the bible calls an abomination just because a woman named Ellen says it’s okay is not an alternative lifestyle. It is a sin.
Pornography what do we call it Adult entertainment. Adult entertainment That doesn’t sound so bad. Go to Memphis or Nashville and you find Gentleman’s Clubs. Gentleman’s clubs that sounds like a respectable place. A Gentleman is a good thing. Pornography is not entertainment. Matthew 5:28 tells us that to look at a woman lustfully is to commit adultery. Think about that every pornographic image you have looked at is the same in God’s eyes as you committing adultery against your spouse. Pornography is a sin, and it destroys families, marriages and self esteem. It is not entertainment.
Adultery what pleasant terms can we come up with for breaking a marriage covenant. Infidelity, affair, Cheating. Cheating is what you do in the seventh grade when you peek over the shoulder of the guy in front of you to see his answers on a test. Telling your spouse that the covenat that you and her made before God does not matter. That its something as innocent as cheating at aboard game. Think about that when you commit adultery you are telling your spouse and God that what you want is more important than they are.
, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
Okay but what does this have to do with me. A Christian living under grace and sanctified by the blood of Christ. Forgiven of all sins past, present and future by the atoning sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. Maybe you are thinking I haven’t done any of those things anyways, So this doesn’t apply to me.
Yeah, I use the political correct terms of the day so I want offend but that doesn’t cause me to sin.
What does it matter if I use more sensitive language when I talk about these subjects? If I don’t use sensitive language, sinners want listen to me when I try and tell them about Jesus. None of this is causing me to sin. My heart isn’t hardened.
The problem isn’t in using these words in conversing with people the problem is believing these words that harden our hearts.
How many have referred to a friend committing adultery as just having an affair?
You don’t believe you have allowed the deceitfulness of sin to harden your heart! How many while talking to someone who is having marriage difficulties have thought well maybe they shouldn’t be together! Maybe they shouldn’t be together. That is why the divorce rate among Christians is just as high as among none Christians. Because sin has hardened our heart.
Think about what you are truly saying, God I don’t think this couple should honor the contract they made before you They just don’t seem to be able to live up to their part. You know what though lucky for us God doesn’t decide to give up on the contract he gave lost sinners just because we can’t live up to our part of the contract. We all would be in a mess then.
When we become scared to call sin what it is because we may offend someone we have allowed sin to harden our hearts and that leads to us disobeying God.
Christians wrestle with sin that what makes God’s mercy so amazing is even though He knows we will still sin He forgives us.
Look at Romans 7 Paul is telling us that the law is there so we will know sin and notice how Paul wrestles with sin in v1515I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. Look at that What I hate I do. That is a man on his knees in conviction of his sin.
16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. Now he is saying God you are right this is a sin 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. Lord I can’t do this. That is a sinner begging for God’s grace and help19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. That is what a sinner on his knees sounds like!
Why is God allowing Paul to suffer and wrestle with sin. Why does God allow us to suffer and wrestle with sin.
Being saved requires repentance. Repentance is the changing of one’s way of thinking. So to repent of sin is to realize that I am committing sin and to realize that Jesus died for that sin so that I could have eternal life with the father. Jesus refers to the Holy spirit as the helper, and counselor. So how does the Holy Spirit help me or counsel me.
When I sin the Holy Spirit will convict me. Ephesians 4 gives us instructions for Christian living v 30 tells us not to grieve the Holy Spirit. This grieving is conviction it is the feeling in our heart of knowing that we have done wrong. So what do we do with this feeling we pray, Just as David cried out to God in Psalm 51 We should admit against you God have I sinned. Our forgiveness is there but we still have our old nature to show us we are dependant upon God.
But when we change the name of sin so that we are not convicted when we change the name of sin so that others are not convicted we are telling God that we do not need Him and His definition of sin. We are telling God what sin is and not listening to him so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness..
Earlier I said I told the woman that even if the Garter snake had bitten me it wouldn’t hurt me. I got to thinking about that I had a friend get bitten by a boa constrictor and a fang broke off in his hand. The bite got infected and hurt him for several days just as what seems like a small private sin can grow and hurt us if we don’t call it what it is.
We must recognize sin for what it is. It is disobeying God, and changing the name of it so that we won’t be convicted is not honoring God as Holy. Remember Moses he did not get to see the promised land because he did not honor God as holy. Jesus died on a cross for you and I. He bled so that I could be washed in that blood. It was Jesus that saved me. And I can turn back and live in sin and I can change the name of it so I won’t be convicted but I will never enter God’s rest in my lifetime. Or I can thank Jesus for what he did it can drink of his living water. I can call out to Him I am a sinner Lord help me. And I will get to know what it is like to have Jesus take my burden on Him. How many have had some kind of stress in their life this week. Jesus said hey I want to take that from you rely on me, live for me. You’ll still go through the wilderness like Caleb and Joshua did but the whole time you will know that you Jesus is carrying you. By not allowing our heart to be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, I will no what it’s like to live for Christ. I will get to see the rewards of living for Him. I’ll get to hear that child come to know him I get to see that friend fall to their knee’s in repentance I’ll get to hear that elderly gentleman call out to Jesus with his dying breathe. I will always have that presence around me letting me know that no Scott can’t do this But I can, God can, Jesus can. All you have to do is today “Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.” and do not let the deceitfulness of sin harden your heart.