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The Disciples Fall

THE DISCIPLES FALL

 Mark 14:26-31

One of the things that a disciple of Christ is supposed to do is he is supposed to live a life that manifests himself as a disciple of Christ.

But what about those times when we as disciples stumble?

Well, this morning, Christ and His disciples are going to give us some insights to these questions.

In the verses just prior to this Jesus has just initiated what we call the “Lord’s Supper” with His disciples.

And Jesus speaks and He tells His disciples a little more about what is going to take place in the next several hours.

So He tells them that they will “all fall away”, and that He would be “struck down”…and then afterward He would be raised….and after He has been raised, He will go before them to Galilee.”

But Peter takes exception to what Jesus has said.

And Jesus tells him, “Peter, before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.”

 But Peter continues to disagree, and he insists that “he would die with Jesus, before he would deny Him.”

Now, let me make a couple of quick points and the lesson is yours.

First of all, PETER DIDN’T FOLLOW THROUGH WITH WHAT HE SAID HE WOULD DO. THEREFORE, PETER STUMBLED.

You see, while Peter was with Christ…he was strong and confident.

Even when they came out to arrest Jesus down in verse 47, John 18:10 tells us that Peter pulls out a sword…and cuts off the “ear of the  high priest’s slave” in an effort to defend Christ.

So up to that point, Peter still seems strong and confident.

But look at verse 53….Jesus is removed from Peter.

And look who He is with in verse 54.

And look at verse 66…Peter is in the courtyard and one of the high priest’s servant’s girls sees Peter warming himself at a fire…and she puts him on the spot!

And in verse 69 she does it again:  “This is one of them!”

And then in vs. 70  the bystanders say it again, “Surely you are one of them.”

What in the world happened to Peter?

Peter loses his confidence and his resolve because he is separated from Christ and the other disciples…and he is among those who give him no strength…and no encouragement.

And that is just exactly what Satan wants to do to each of you…and unfortunately has done to some of us.

There is nothing that Satan wants more than to get you off by yourself away from Christ and your brethren…because if he can do that…he can destroy your confidence and resolve too.

Satan works in different ways.

If you aren’t spending time in prayer…if you aren’t spending time in His word…if you are only hit and miss in assembling with the saints….if you are doing those things…Satan is getting you to do just exactly what he wants you too.

Now, let’s look at some good news. Look at verse 27 again. Jesus tells His disciples…these men who walked with Him, learned from Him…and ate with Him…”that they would all stumble.”

Jesus knew that they could not be perfect enough and neither can we.

Well look at verse 28 again. This is interesting.

 Jesus doesn’t say, “You guys denied me so after I am raised I’m not going to have anything to do with you!”

Instead He says, “I will go before you to Galilee.”

Just because we stumble…and we will…doesn’t mean that you are without hope.

But notice something else here.

That is the key!

But if we stumble…and stay down there…and refuse to come back to Christ and follow Him…then we have no fellowship with Him…and we, just like Judas, are doomed to destruction.

Turn with me to 1 John 1: 7.  John says, “If we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another.”

But now notice the next part of the verse. He says: “…and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses (that is continuous action) us from all sin.

But notice, “the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin!”

Now go back to Mark 14: 28. Jesus says, “But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.”

Do you have the same kind of character?

These men fall, and then they follow Jesus again.

Why would they do that? What made them so determined the second time?

Hopefully, the fact that Jesus takes us back too will cause us to be even more determined than ever….to follow Jesus…even to the point of death.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lord Institutes His Supper

THE LORD INSTITUTES HIS SUPPER

Mark 14: 12-26

Just a little bit ago we participated in the taking of what we call the “Lord’s Supper.”

Notice in verse 12 that it is the time of the Passover and the Feast of the Unleavened Bread.

And so in verse 13 He sends two of His disciples into the city and He tells them that they would meet “a man carrying a pitcher of water”.

Now the reason the man carrying a “pitcher of water” was an effective sign is because in those days men didn’t carry jars of water.

And as far as the “owner of the house” is concerned, he very well could have been a follower of Christ because Jesus does not even have to give him His name.

The disciples do…they go into the city and they find the room just as Jesus told them they would.

Now look at verse 17.

Now these disciples have walked with him for 3 years now and not one single time has Jesus said something, and no matter how absurd it seemed, did it not come true.

And I think their response is interesting in that it seems to show that they are not confident in their own moral strength.

And now look at what He says in verse 20.  He says, “It is one of the twelve, one who dips with me in the bowl. For the Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.”

 The first thing that Jesus does here is He narrows it down.

I think He is giving Judas a chance to repent.

But the reality is some people do not want to repent…and I hope you are not one of them because each one of us knows what happened to Judas.

And here is another thing.

And here is something else: When Jesus proclaims this betrayal “by one of the 12”, He implements within each of them a self-examination.

Self examination is something that we all should do regularly.

Now, there is a paradox here that is a little troubling.

If God planned for Jesus to be betrayed, why does He blame and condemn the betrayer?

That is a hard question and there is no easy answer.

I am absolutely persuaded that Judas’ choice to betray Jesus was Judas’ choice.

Now in the next few verses Jesus is going to share His supper with the other disciples, but I want you to see something that I think is significant in understanding His supper. Turn to John 13: 21.

Now verse 26, read with me:  Jesus therefore answered, “That is the one for whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to him.” So when He had dipped the morsel, He took and gave it to Judas, {the son} of Simon Iscariot.             And after the morsel, Satan then entered into him. Jesus therefore said to him, “What you do, do quickly.”  Now no one of those reclining {at the table} knew for what purpose He had said this to him. For some were supposing, because Judas had the money box, that Jesus was saying to him, “Buy the things we have need of for the feast”; or else, that he should give something to the poor. 30 And so after receiving the morsel he went out immediately; and it was night.

 Jesus knew what Judas had in mind.

 Well, I will tell you why He does that.

Now, go back to Mark 14 and verse 22.

What Jesus does here when He does this is He equates Himself and His impending death to that of the Passover Lamb.

When He takes that bread and breaks it and gives it to each one and says, “This is My body” He is in a sense equating Himself to that Passover Lamb that they were eating of…and all that Lamb stood for.

 But there is more.

 Well, when it came to the Passover the door posts and the lintels served as the altar where the blood was sprinkled…and that signified atonement.

 And when Jesus hosted this Passover meal…and then took the bread and presented it to these disciples…He was symbolically saying, “We are in fellowship with one another.”

So you see, when we take of the bread…we are recognizing Christ as a sacrifice superior to the Passover lamb.

Notice something else.

Jesus takes the bread and He says, “This is my body.”

But now look at verse 23.

Back in chapter 10 and verse 45 Jesus said that “the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

That is what the Lord’s Supper is.

Observing the Lord’s Supper does not take away sin.

Now, look at verse 25. Jesus says:  “Truly I say to you, I shall never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

When Jesus institutes this memorial supper He knows that by the next evening He will be dead.

That makes this memorial feast unique above all other memorials.

He is still alive…and He is coming back…and the Lord’s Supper reminds us of that.

Are you ready?

Judas wouldn’t repent and be saved. Surely you aren’t that way?

 

 

An Extravagant Love

AN EXTRAVAGANT LOVE

Mark 14:1-11.

In this passage we find the story of what we call, “the Alabaster Jar.”

Now what you are going to find in this story is that some people couldn’t appreciate the gift for counting the cost.

As you look at verses 1 and 2 you find that it was a dangerous time for Jesus.

But it wasn’t up to them.

Now in verse 3, as Jesus’ day of crucifixion approaches, Jesus is in the little town of Bethany, which is just outside of Jerusalem.

John’s account, found in John chapter 12, says that Lazarus was also there.

But any way, while they are reclining at the table, Mark says, “a woman with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume of pure nard” came in.

Now why would she do that?

So what she does is she takes this “jar of perfume.”

She takes the most expensive…most precious thing she owned.

And look at the reaction of some who saw her do this. Look at verse 4.

But some were indignantly {remarking} to one another, “Why has this perfume been wasted?

 For some, what she did was too much! It was too extravagant!

Well, they may have been able to do that…but not Mary.

Mary had no limits on how much she loved Jesus.

But not this woman.

And so, some of those who were present began to rebuke her indignantly.

“Why has this perfume been wasted? For this perfume might have been sold for over three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.”

Isn’t that amazing?

Today we see this manifested in a little bit different way.

Or a man quits his high paying job with all these wonderful benefits…in order to be able to attend church…or do more work for Christ…or to better fulfill his God given responsibilities to his wife and kids…and people say, “What a waste.”

John says that Judas is the one who actually spoke these words recorded here in Mark. .

But let’s not be too hard on Judas.

And you know what this tells me?

And they didn’t pay attention when the widow with the two coins put all she had in the treasury.

But you see, just like so many, those teachings of Jesus were just a couple of more sermons that went in one ear and out the other.

And so, they turn on the one person in the room who had understood what Jesus was saying.

And  it happens today.

 And let me tell you, we do this in reference to other congregations.

And do you know what I think Jesus would say to us when we do that?

Let me tell you what I have seen.

Realize this…in scripture Jesus speaks more against insincere, going through the motions, uncommitted, lukewarm, love and devotion than He ever does against what we might consider an extravagant expression of love.

Let me ask you this.

Let me tell you something…there are enough darts being shot at us from the enemy that you shouldn’t have to worry about getting shot at from the back.

Jesus says, “Leave her alone.” Why are you bothering her.?” She has done a good deed to Me.”

Verse 7: He says, “For the poor you always have with you, and whenever you wish, you can do them good; but you do not always have Me. She has done what she could; she has anointed My body beforehand for the burial.”

In this verse you find another reason why Mary poured this costly perfume on Jesus’ head.

But not Mary.

Maybe we ought to do more of that today. Express our love before they die.

Now look at what Jesus says in verse 9.

“And truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, that also which this woman has done shall be spoken of in memory of her.”

 Notice this. He says the “gospel” is going to be preached.

So the “gospel”…the “good news of Jesus” would be preached to the whole world…

Why? Why would what Mary did here be spoken of too?

Because when you preach the gospel you call people to love Christ.

Now look at verses 10-11.

In these verses Judas goes to the chief priests and betrays Christ.

And I think the point is clear.

Mary loved Jesus because He raised her brother from the dead.

You know He has done more than that for us…He has saved us from our sins.

And, when Jesus died on that cross…wouldn’t you say that was an extravagant act of love?

Let’s be careful about criticizing others.

 

 

 

 

The End

THE END

Matthew 24:35-41

This morning we are going to talk about a truth that the devil does not want you to see…and that is the coming again of Christ.

Let’s go through this, this morning and let’s learn some things about the second coming of Christ.

If you remember from last Sunday, here in Matthew 24, the disciples came to Jesus and began to “point out the temple buildings to Him.”

So in verses 4-34 you have Jesus’ answer to the disciples’ questions.

Now, as Jesus answers their questions…His comments lead into a discussion of the end of the world. Look at verse 35:

35 “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.

 Here Jesus says, “All that I have said pertaining to the destruction of the temple…you can count on. It is going to happen.”

 But notice that He speaks of “Heaven and earth passing away”?

First of all, I want you to look at the statement, “Heaven and earth will pass away.”

Well, when He comes again in the final judgment there will be no place to run.

So WHEN will this happen? Look at verse 36. He says:

36  “But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father {alone.}

Look at what Peter says. Peter says in 2 Peter 3:10, that “the day of the Lord will come like a thief.”

And notice, this verse in Matthew 24 says that “not even Jesus knows when that day will come.”

How could that be?

 Jesus emptied himself of some of what it means to be God so he could be man.

Does He know now? I don’t know. Maybe?

And the interesting thing is, He was content not to know.

Jesus’ purpose when He was here was not to satisfy anyone’s curiosity about when He was coming again.

Now, look at vs. 37: For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah.

Vs. 38   For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so shall the coming of the Son of Man be.

40  Then there shall be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41 “Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left. 

No one knows when the Lord will come again…but He will come…and it will be sudden and unexpected…in fact look at His instructions in vs. 42:

Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.

And then look at verse 44. He says: “You be ready.”

Because we are going to be tempted to fall asleep and not be ready…not physically…but spiritually.   Turn with me to I Thess. 5. Look what Paul says…and this pertains to what Matthew is talking about.

 1          Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. 2 For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. 3          While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4     But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief; 5 for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; 6       so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.

 You know, we speak of people who “are out of duty.”

Turn to Romans 13 and look at verse 11-12.

 11       And this {do,} knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand. Let us therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.

 The reason Jesus tells us to “stay awake” is because it is so easy to go asleep.

And what Jesus is saying here is, don’t do that.

When it comes to this idea of the “end of the world” there are two extremes.

But there is another extreme when it comes to the end of the world that is a trait of many Christians.

We live in the shadow of eternity.

The problem is not getting prepared for when Jesus comes back.

Turn to Hebrews 10:24-25 and let me show you what God wants us to do in order to stay awake…or stay prepared.

 24        and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging {one another} and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.

Why are you here today?

You hear us say, “You need to be in church…don’t miss.”

The reason we stress your being here in services is because those people who miss run a much greater risk of “falling asleep.”

So what do we do while we wait for the Lord to come?

How do we wait for the return of Jesus?

In closing, let me share with you a couple of things that Christ wants us to do while we wait.

Turn to 2 Corinthians 5:10-11.

10        For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Therefore knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men…

 In the face of the coming judgment Paul said they were busy trying to “persuade” men.

And now turn to 1 Peter 3:13:

13        Therefore, gird your minds for action, keep sober {in spirit,} fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

14        As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts {which were yours} in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all {your} behavior;

 While we wait Jesus wants us to grow in holiness.

 Persuading men…and growing in holiness.

Don’t be fooled by the lie that Satan has sold the world.

 

 

The Importance of Knowing Christ

THE IMPORTANCE OF KNOWING CHRIST

Mark 13: 1-31

Mark 13 is one of the most discussed, interpreted, and misunderstood chapters in the Bible.

But I believe that this passage is talking about something else.

This morning we are going to deal with the first 32 verses…we will cover vs. 33-37 next week.

Now, as we approach what Jesus has to say in this discourse there are some things I want you to keep in mind.

Also, keep in mind that Jesus has already touched on the idea that the Jewish nation and religious system was heading for impending doom.

 Vs. 1:  And as He was going out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!

Now we don’t know for sure what prompted one of Jesus’ disciples to make this statement about the temple.

But at any rate, one of His disciples says, “Jesus, isn’t this an impressive place. Look at how huge and grandiose these stones and buildings are.”

 Now, look at Jesus’ answer; vs. 2.      And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another which will not be torn down.”3           And as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew were questioning Him privately, 4        “Tell us, when will these things be, and what {will be} the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?”

Jesus’ answer had to have shaken them to their very roots.

Now that is amazing and probably a better term would be “shocking!”

And so Peter, James, John and Andrew come to Him and question Him and they ask Him, “When will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?”

So, look at what Jesus says. And as we go through this, I want you to notice that what Jesus says here is more exhortation than it is future telling.

Vs 5:   And Jesus began to say to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. 6 “Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am {He!’} and will mislead many.  “And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be frightened; {those things} must take place; but {that is} not yet the end. 8          “For nation will arise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will {also} be famines. These things are {merely} the beginning of birth pangs. 9 “But be on your guard; for they will deliver you to {the} courts, and you will be flogged in {the} synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them. 10 “And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations. 11″And when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not be anxious beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but {it is} the Holy Spirit. 12 “And brother will deliver brother to death, and a father {his} child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. 13 “And you will be hated by all on account of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved.

Now in this text there are three calls for these disciples. Number one is a call for Perception.

Second, there is a call of Persecution.

And that brings us to the third call to the disciples and that is a call for Perseverance.

 So here in these verses Jesus tells these disciples that prior to the time that the temple is destroyed they are going to see all these false prophets…there is going to be a time of persecution…

Now we come to a warning that I think was specially intended for the saints in Jerusalem. Look at verse 14-23.

14 “But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15   “And let him who is on the housetop not go down, or enter in, to get anything out of his house; 16      and let him who is in the field not turn back to get his cloak. 17         “But woe to those who are with child and to those who nurse babes in those days! 18 “But pray that it may not happen in the winter. 19 “For those days will be a {time of} tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation which God created, until now, and never shall. 20   “And unless the Lord had shortened {those} days, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect whom He chose, He shortened the days. 21 “And then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ’; or, ‘Behold, {He is} there’; do not believe {him;} 22        for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order, if possible, to lead the elect astray. 23 “But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance.

Now it is amazing what people can find in these verses.

But before we start answering that question, will you look at the first three words. Look in verse 14, the first three words.

Now what does He mean by the “abomination of desolation”?

20  “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is at hand.

And look at what they are supposed to do: 21 “Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are in the midst of the city depart, and let not those who are in the country enter the city; 22 because these are days of vengeance, in order that all things which are written may be fulfilled.

When they saw Jerusalem surrounded by “armies” then they would know that the temple was soon to be destroyed.

Now go back to Mark 13 and look at verse 14 again.

And in verse 19 Jesus says that the “trouble” that is about to fall on the city of Jerusalem…nothing before or since has ever been like it in terms of suffering.

Eusebius, a church historian, says that the Christians did exactly what Jesus said here.

But that is not what most of the people did.

Now let’s read on.

23 “But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance. 24 “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken. 26 “And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 “And then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth, to the farthest end of heaven. 28 “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 “Even so, you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, {right} at the door. 30 “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 31            “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. 32 “But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father {alone.}

People try to make these verses say all kinds of things.

Look at verse 30. He says, ““Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”

You say, what about this cosmic imagery in verse 23 and 24 and 25, “the sun and the moon and the stars and all of that?”

It is the same with verses 26 and 27, where He says, “The Son of man comes in the clouds”.

In this passage Jesus is describing the destruction of Jerusalem.

For centuries God’s presence was in the temple.

These are hard things to understand. Even so, there are many lessons found in this chapter. Let me quickly share two with you.

  1. First of all, this passage stresses once again how important it is to know Christ and trust in His word and the advantage that comes with knowing His word.

And it is the same for us.

You see, this passage once again reminds us of the importance and benefits of knowing Christ and His word…and believing what His word tells us.

  1. The second lesson is: “Don’t delay.”

Well, today the slightest delay could cost you your soul.

Jesus Teaches In The Temple

JESUS TEACHES IN THE TEMPLE

Mark 12:35-44

In this passage we find Jesus doing what Jesus did most often and that is teaching.

And the reason He continues to teach is because the “truth” is that important and error must be exposed.

 So in this passage we find Jesus teaching…teaching in the temple.

Jesus is teaching in the temple…and from what verse 37 tells us, a “great crowd” had gathered to hear Him.

Now basically, that is His question.

Do you know why you don’t see His answer?

I think Jesus is trying to get these people, and that is who He is talking to here, the people.

When it came to the scriptures, for hundreds of years, these people have had others do their studying and thinking for them.

Turn to Matthew 23 and look at verse 13. Jesus says:

“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from men; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.

 Look at verse 15:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel about on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.

 These people went to the temple…and they went to their synagogues…and the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees and the Sadducees would teach them…and because their teachers were wrong… the people were becoming just like them.

And what about some of us?

You would like to think that every preacher and teacher and pastor and priest were sincere…and honest…and taught the truth.

John tells us in I John 4 that “many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

There are no telling how many different teachings today on what it takes to be saved.

Have you ever sat down with your Bible and studied to find out if, what you have been taught pertaining to what it takes to be saved is true?

Jesus is trying to get these people to think and study for themselves.

Today, there are some major denominations who would prefer that their people do not study the Bible.

You study your Bibles…and if necessary you keep this preacher on track.

Let’s go on. Look at verses 38-40.

Jesus continues to teach and in these verses He warns the people and in doing so, He warns us.  Look what he says:

  “Beware of the scribes who like to walk around in long robes, and {like} respectful greetings in the market places,         and chief seats in the synagogues, and places of honor at banquets, who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers; these will receive greater condemnation.”

Now, what ever these scribes were doing I don’t want to do.

Well, let me explain some of these phrases to you.

However, if you wore a long robe that indicated that you belonged to the minority leisure class.

He says: “They like the respectful greeting in the market place.”

He says that they “like the chief seats in the synagogue.”

Jesus says that they “like the places of honor at banquets.”

He says, “they devour widows houses.”

He says: “They offer long prayers for appearance sake.”

 These men were exalting and glorying in themselves.

It was a show! An act!

Hear me once again.

Not only that, to use your standing as a “follower of Christ” or as a “child of God” to “take advantage of or fleece your brothers and sisters in Christ…especially the widows” is a shameful act.

And don’t fool yourself. When it comes to your devotion to God…to your worship to God…He knows if you are sincere or if it is all for show.

 And now, verses 41-44. In these verses Jesus sits down opposite of the treasury and he watches the people as they put their money in the treasury.

 When you look at what most commentators say about this passage they always talk about how pompous the rich people were in giving….and how they put on this big show…and blew trumpets when they gave…so that the people would notice.

But that is not found here in this passage.

What is said here is, this poor widow who put in “what would be considered as a very small amount…especially in comparison to what others gave…put in more than all the others…because she had less to give from.”

Jesus teaches here because He wants us to be right with God.

He not only wants us to take responsibility for our own beliefs…but He also doesn’t want us to exalt ourselves over others.

He wants us to do that which is right…and to be sincere in our worship and devotion to God.

And Jesus wants us to realize that the one who gives completely of themselves is one who is most pleasing to God.

Jesus wants us to be right with God.

What about you this morning? Are you right with God?

 

 

 

The Most Important One

THE MOST IMPORTANT ONE

Mark 12: 28-34

In this passage, we once again find Jesus answering a question.

So two times Jesus has already been questioned in this chapter.

And in this passage we find him questioned again.

But this time seems to be different.

This question is asked by a scribe…a teacher of the Law… who has apparently heard the other questions by the Herodians,  Pharisees, and Saducees as they tried to trap Jesus by His own words.

And Jesus answers…perhaps not in the way that this scribe expects.

And when He did, each time the people were amazed.

This morning, Jesus is going to do the same thing.

He is going to get to the heart of the matter…and when  He does, hopefully we will not only be amazed…but we will also be convicted and repent if repentance is needed.

Lets look at the passage. Verse 28.

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And one of the scribes came and heard them arguing…”

But any way, it says, “And one of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?”

 Now, you need to understand that that question did not just come “out of the blue.”

You see, what had happened was these Jewish Rabbis had studied the Laws of Moses…and what they would do is they would add some of their own personal thoughts and opinions, and traditions, and regulations, and interpretations to them….most of the time to fit their own desires.

 You see, they would add their traditions to the laws…and the result was that this huge debate broke out over which laws were the most important…or heavy laws….and which were not as important…or light laws.

Turn to Matthew 15. Read. 1-6.

You see, that was the debate.

One Jewish Rabbi at the time was a Rabbi named Shemei…and he had gone through the Books of Moses and had determined that there were 613 laws.

So now the question came up…which ones were more important.

But then other Rabbi’s would come along and say,  “NO, wearing the prayer boxes is a heavy law too.”

So this is a debate that has been going on for some time…and this scribe is so impressed with Jesus’ answers to other questions…that he wants to know what Jesus has to say about this issue.

So he asks, “which commandment is foremost of all.”

Now, here this man is waiting to hear one of the commandments from the Law of Moses.

But, Jesus doesn’t deal with the symptom…He deals with the heart of the matter.

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Look at what He says  in verse 29.

This man says, “What commandment is foremost of all?”

And Jesus says,

“Hear, O Israel! The Lord, our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.”

 Do you understand what Jesus has said here?

 And what Jesus does here is HE gets to the heart of the matter and  He says,  “You can call one commandment more important than another.”

It is a waste!

Look at this.

The problem was, the one thing they needed most…was missing and that was a love for God.

And  it is the same for us…we can keep all the commandments we want.

Look at what Jesus says next in verses 31.

 “The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

You can almost hear them can’t you?

And again, Jesus says, “You can keep all the commandments you want.”

Several years later Paul would teach this same principle to some of our brethren in the church at Corinth.

But listen to these words from Paul found in I Corithians 13: 1-2 as he warns these brethren about the use of their gifts.

 1 Cor 13:1-2          If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  2          And if I have {the gift of} prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

Brethren, you can do it all….

Look at what the scribe says next in verse 32.

 Mark 12:32-33       And the scribe said to Him, “Right, Teacher, you have truly stated that He is One; and there is no one else besides Him;33        and to love Him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as himself, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

 Now look at verse 34.

 Just knowing it is not enough.

Did he come to “love God…and his neighbor?”

Will you make it to the Kingdom of God…or will you just miss it by a little bit?

 

Marriage And The Resurrection

Marriage and the Resurrection

Matthew 22:23-28

In this passage Jesus once again encounters a group of people who are trying to trap him by asking Him a question.

But he is not only going to teach us some things about the resurrection, he is also going to teach us some things about people and why we have so many different ideas about what the Bible does or doesn’t teach.

In verse 23, notice who comes to trap Jesus: Some Sadducees…”

The Sadducees were a group of Jewish religious leaders who were conservative when it came to Jewish Law.

They also prided themselves in their knowledge of scripture.

In many of their beliefs though, they stood opposite of the Pharisees.

They were rationalist…they did not believe in anything of a supernatural nature.

They were materialists.

Not only were they rationalists…and materialists…they were also collaborationists.

In fact, in John 11: 48 a fear of losing their power and money is the main reason why these people became bitter enemies of Christ.

In the book of Acts you will read about Pharisees who became Christians.

So, now, they come to Jesus…and keep in mind now, when it comes to scriptural knowledge they think they are a cut above everyone else.

So now they come to Jesus.

So they come to Him and they say, “Jesus, we have a question for you.”

Now, here is the question Jesus.

 Now, this is no doubt a hypothetical question.

Now realize that Jesus is not going to get in trouble with the Romans…no one is going to crucify Him for not answering this question.

After asking their question, Jesus had a question of his own. Look at verse 29.

 But Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures, or the power of God.

Jesus says to them, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures, or the power of God.

 Here Jesus is, standing before the most learned, the most enlightened, the most educated people in the country.

Everyone must have dropped their teeth.

But, their very question told Jesus that when it came to the scriptures and the power of God…they were pretty ignorant.

All these mighty and powerful things that God did from the creation to delivering them out of Egyptian captivity…the flood…the crossing of the Sea…and they did not think that God had the power to raise the dead.

So after telling these Sadducees that they don’t understand the scriptures or the power of God…Jesus teaches them. Notice what He says beginning in verse 30.

“For in the resurrection…”

 For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

Heaven is not going to be the same as it is here on earth.

When it comes to marriage there are two needs that it was designed to fulfill.

The other purpose for marriage…is companionship…to keep us from being alone.

We may still have a need for companionship in heaven…but I believe that need is going to be satisfied by a total fellowship with God.

Now Jesus deals with the question of the resurrection. Look at verse 31.

Notice he says, “Have you not read…”

They missed the obvious fact that several hundred years after the deaths of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob…that God speaks out of a burning bush in the desert to Moses and says: “I am…

 If you do not believe in life after death how can that make sense?

Look at the end of verse 32.

“He is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”

With these words Jesus told these Sadducees…that there is life after death…and there will be a resurrection.

These guys read that story 5000 times and never saw it.

Let me give you a couple of thoughts as we close.

One: There is more to knowing the Bible than just knowing the facts.

Second: Just like these Sadducees, some are blinded by their own arrogance and conceit.

Third: Some make the scriptures say what they want them to say so they can live the way they want to live.

Therefore, they could not afford a resurrection…a belief in a life after death…a judgment.

Some today do the same thing. They make the scriptures say what they want them to say so they can live the way they want to.

What about you? What about me? What about us?

In this passage Jesus tells these Sadducees that there is life after death and there will be a resurrection.

That leaves us with only one question. Are you ready for it?

Will you get right today? Your sin has made you an enemy of God. But by the blood of Christ your sins can be washed away and you can be reconciled back to a peaceful relationship with God. The blood is what does it…in the baptistry is when it happens.

The Deceptive Fig Tree

THE DECEPTIVE FIG TREE

Mark 11:12-25

This passage that was read, the story of the fig tree, is one of the most troubling passages in reference to Jesus that you will find.

And another reason it is troubling is because, not only does He seem angry, but He seems unjust in His anger, because Mark himself says in verse 13, ” it wasn’t the season for figs.”

So this is a troubling miracle. What is Jesus doing? What is His point? Is He just having a temper tantrum?

Well, any time you find a difficult passage and an event like this in the Bible, the thing to do is read what came before the event and what came after.

But before we look at those events lets first consider the tree.

Now, notice that Mark says that it was not the “season for figs.”

At any rate, from a distance Jesus spots it, it has leaves early, it is early in the morning and it is going to be a long day.

And so in verse 14 He curses the tree.

Now, you have this story of this deceptive looking, fruitless fig tree sandwiched in between the story of Jesus coming into Jerusalem…and His driving the money changers out of the temple.

Now the day before, Jesus came into Jerusalem on this little colt of a donkey.

And when He does all these people shout “Hosanna…Hosanna in the highest.”

But look what those same people do beginning in verse 15.

An adult male had to pay a temple tax to enter the temple.

If you came to offer a sacrifice, the temple officials would take your animal that you brought to sacrifice and they would find something wrong with it.

So in this one place where people should have been able to come and worship God, people were being fleeced and they were leaving saying, “If they will cheat me like that I am not coming back.”

Not only that, in verse 16, they had turned the court of the Gentiles into a short cut.

But the irony is, on the outside it looked good.

When it came to devotion to God…to honoring God…to worshipping God.

So what you have here is the account of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem…which looked so good…and this account of the temple…which on the outside looked so good.

And what this story of the fig tree is, it is called an “enacted parable”.

When it came to the nation of Israel, God was the planter and they were His special tree.

So God sent His prophets, His servants to work His field, and to prune His tree and to groom it.

So God sent His own Son to come and demand that His tree should bear fruit.

And that is what this story is saying.

  1. She is guilty of no production. She has not produced the fruit that God has asked of her.
  1. She is guilty of the crime of false profession.

John the Baptizer had predicted this day. Look at Matthew 3:7-10.

 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8  Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance; 9 and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you, that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 10 “And the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

When it came to pleasing God, they thought all they had to do was go to the temple 3 times a year.

But that isn’t what impresses God.

Because these people weren’t, God would destroy their nation.

Back to Mark 11.

Jesus’ actions in regard to this fig tree, shows what is going to befall the Jewish nation…and it also shows His utter disgust for people who practice religion without substance.

These Jews had forgotten who God was.

And that is the primary lesson for us today; If we do the same thing as a congregation of God’s people…or as individuals…He will do the same to us.

So look now at verse 20.

 And look at Jesus’ response.

Look at the character of this faith. Look at verses 22-23.

 Now, look what Jesus says next:  23 “Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it shall be granted him. Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they shall be granted you.

And notice now the condition of faith. Vs. 25-26.

And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your transgressions.  26[“But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.”]

Jesus taught His disciples a very important lesson with this fig tree.

Today, there are a lot of churches where there is a lot of foliage.

Are we that way? Are you that way? If so, let’s repent.

Render to God What Is Gods

RENDER TO GOD WHAT IS GOD’S

Matthew 22:15-22

In these verses you find another attempt to try and “trap” Jesus so that they might ruin His report with the people…

Anyway, those who oppose Jesus once again try to destroy His report with the people…and what they would really like to do is find justification to have Him put to death.

Now as we start this story it is interesting “who” was sent to “trap” Him.

And so what you have here is two opposing groups who despised each other, putting aside their hatred for one another in order to try and trap Jesus.

But they have a problem.

So they try to conceal their intentions behind flattery and the pretense of sincerely wanting to know an answer to a matter of conscience.

Now, I think it is interesting that if these guys are saying here what they sincerely believe…then in just a few days when they encourage and support Jesus’ death and crucifixion…they bring judgment upon themselves for killing one who they themselves said,  “taught the way of God. “

So these men who come to “trap” Jesus…with their false pretenses and insincere words actually “snare” themselves.

But in any case, they come with all of this flattery, trying to disarm the crowds.

 Now, this was a loaded question.

But on the other hand, if He says, “No, don’t pay the tax”, the Herodians will make sure that Rome finds out.

So this is a loaded question, and they think they have Him trapped.

But notice how He deals with their attempt to trap Him.

The look at what He says next: “Why are you testing Me, You hypocrites?”

It always amazes me how people think they can fool Christ.

Jesus knows. You do not fool Him.

And notice, Jesus isn’t impressed by their flattery.

And then He tells them to “Show Me the coin used for the poll tax.

And at this point, all eyes and ears are on Jesus.

The Pharisees are waiting to see if He endorses paying the tax…if so, then they too can accuse Him of being a traitor to the Jewish people.

All eyes are on Jesus…waiting to see what He says.

Look what He says in verse 21.

 Now most people think that Jesus’ primary point here is He is telling people to pay their taxes.

I believe that Jesus is saying more than that here.

Look at this.

And what does Jesus do.

 What did Caesar’s image and inscription on that coin mean?

And Jesus speaking of that coin says, “Render”…or give back or pay back  to Caesar that which is Caesar’s”

Now notice what Jesus says next.

What was there at the time that belonged to God?

They did!

But instead they had rebelled against God…and had rejected God…and denied God.

And I believe that what Jesus is telling these people here is, “just as this coin belongs to Caesar you belong to God…render to Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and to God that which is God’s. “

You see, I don’t think it is an accident that this passage follows the Parable of the Vineyard and the first 13 verses of this.

But they rejected God’s messengers…and killed them.

 And just before this these people are described as those whom God invited to a wedding feast for His Son…and they refused.

And now, once again, here in these verses Jesus is calling them to “Render to God what is God’s.”

 Let me show you something. Turn to Ephesians 1. Look at verse 13.

 13        In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation– having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14  who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of {God’s own} possession, to the praise of His glory.

 What this says is, as a Christian you were sealed…you were marked…as belonging to God.

But, it may be that some of us have done the same thing as the Jews did.

Well, just as He told these people, Jesus is telling you…”Render to God that which is God’s”

If you have never been baptized into Christ…I want you to do something…I want you to look at your hands.