Tag Archives: Messiah

Resurrection! – John 20:1-9

Resurrection! – John 20:1-9
By Pastor Lee Hemen
April 16, 2017

We are at a spiritual crossroads in history. We live in a day and age whereby folks do not use critical thinking but rely on their instinct or passion. This is dangerous because we are then motivated to think that what we feel is more important than facts. Or worse, that we can distinguish what is right or wrong in life simply by how it feels to us. From personal relationships, what we believe in, or to whom we vote for is a matter of feelings and not what we truly know. We end up hurt and confused when our emotions have steered us in the wrong direction.

The resurrection is not a matter of emotion or personal feelings. It is a historical physical fact. This is why later when Mary is crying by the empty tomb and the angel rebukes her by reminding her of the facts, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.'” (Luke 24:5-7 NIV) And later here in John the angel bluntly reminds Mary to stop relying on her emotions by asking her, “Woman, why are you crying?” (v. 13) As believers or seekers we must come to the realization of the fact of the resurrection because if we do not we are still standing outside of an empty tomb that has no effect on our lives. Therefore this morning let’s look anew at the resurrection.

READ: John 20:1-9

When people die and you put them in their graves, contrary to any TV fiction, they do not get up and walk around! The dead stay dead! Except in the truth of the resurrection! In light of what occurred we must first ask…

I. Why is the tomb empty?! (Vv. 1-2)

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!”

1. Now there are some pretty nifty sleight of hand arguments concerning which Mary was where at what time. However, I believe we have to take each one as they were written realizing that the authors were remembering the event as it was told to them or as they saw it for themselves. John relates what he remembers that “Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance.” It was early Sunday morning, probably right before the sun rose and the sky was still dark but the dawn of the new day could be seen. We discover that Mary Magdalene went to the tomb first. We know from other accounts that she was with other women who wanted to finish the burial preparation of Jesus’ body. Her gratitude and devotion to Jesus came from her deliverance from bondage to Satan. She had been an observer at the cross and now was one of the first folks at the empty tomb. She saw Jesus die and evidently knew where he was buried; now the heavy stone had been removed from the entrance! Mary does the first thing she could think of, “So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!'” Mary knew the tomb was empty but did not realize why and could only think of the logical answer, someone had taken Jesus’ body! Why is the tomb empty?

EXAMPLE: Go into any grocery store and Fred Meyer, Wal-Mart, or WinCo and you would find aisles of Easter eggs, cards, candy, baskets, bunnies, chicks, Peeps, and chocolate this or that. Yet you would not find the one thing that is most important part to all of Easter: the empty tomb! Easter is not found in bunnies, eggs, baskets, or Peeps. It is discovered in the fact that several thousand years ago folks found the tomb where Jesus’ dead body was laid empty. It therefore begs the question for us every Easter, “Why is the tomb empty?” Paul knew full well that “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead”! (1 Corinthians 15:17-20 NIV) The tomb is empty!

Hindsight is always 20/20 but when you’re in the thick of it one’s vision can become very myopic indeed. As the facts of the empty tomb just keep coming and what is revealed makes one wonder…

II. Where is the body? (Vv. 3-7)

So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head. The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen.

1. Whether Peter is bewildered or he simply suspects what has happened is not at first clear, but he does the one thing most of us would do, “Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb.” Peter and John “Both were running.” Both understood the importance of the news Mary had brought them and as they head to the tomb where Jesus’ body was laid to rest, the younger John, “the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.” Being younger perhaps John was fearful of defilement of entering a tomb or perhaps he was afraid of what he may or may not find inside. John therefore, “bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in.” Whatever the reason, “Simon Peter, who was behind him,” and being older and more impulsive “arrived and went into the tomb” while the hesitant John waited outside in bewilderment. Peter also “saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head.” In fact we know this is an eyewitness account because of the detail described by John. Peter saw exactly how the burial cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head was lain aside and how neatly “The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen.” The burial cloths were there but the fact remained, where is the body?

EXAMPLE: Where is the body? It was a natural question to ask. The Radio Bible Class relates, “No element in the Easter story is more troubling to unbelievers than the report that the followers of Jesus found the tomb empty that Sunday morning. Some simply deny it, saying that the women and others went to the wrong tomb. Others think that Jesus was not quite dead when He was buried, and somehow He revived and got out of the tomb—even though the Roman soldiers had declared Him dead (John 19:33), an eyewitness saw blood and water flow from the pierced body (v.34), and His body had been wrapped tightly with strips of linen containing 100 pounds of spices (v.39). In the first century, even Christ’s enemies agreed that He had died and the tomb was empty. They bribed the guards to say that the disciples stole His body (Matthew 28:11-15). Jesus rose from the grave in a real body, and that means everything to us. When a Christian friend or loved one dies, we can be confident that we will meet again. The body may turn to dust, but God will not forget it. It will be transformed into a body perfectly designed for heaven (1 Corinthians 15:35-50). This is not wishful thinking. It is an expectation based on solid evidence.” Where is the body? Happily it was not there!

Courage is often found in the strangest of circumstances. Here we discover John found his and…

III. Believed! (Vv. 8-9)

Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb, first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)

1. John in succinct fashion relates how he had gotten to the tomb first but was either too fearful or awestruck to go inside. What he had seen from the outside of the tomb was curious and so he just had to go in as well. “Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb, first, also went inside.” What he saw inside of that tomb changed his life forever. John had run to the tomb out of curiosity, concern, or fear that someone had stolen Jesus’ body. John had run to the tomb merely as a disciple of an itinerant rabbi, but came away a true follower of Jesus. Believing there was a Jesus and believing in Jesus are two different things. John had loved Jesus’ teaching, he had loved and followed Jesus the man, but now he had to believe in Jesus the Messiah. And not just in a Messianic-type person but in the actual resurrection of Jesus the Messiah! The Living God! The first born! The King of kings and Lord of lords! Jesus was no longer just a good teacher; he was John’s Master and Savior. However, John’s personal notation tells us that both he and Peter “still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.” But now they did! They believed!

EXAMPLE: When the dark day of Jesus’ crucifixion drew to a close, it seemed that the most wonderful of all lives had come to an end. For a few brief years, Christ had astounded the crowds and His followers with the wisdom of His teaching and the wonder of His miracles. But Jesus chose not to save Himself from the cross, and now His life was over. It seemed that nothing more could be expected of Him. Hope returned, however, on that first resurrection morning. A painting by Eugene Burnand portrays Peter and John running to the tomb. Shortly after dawn, Mary Magdalene had told them that she and her friends had found the tomb empty. In Burnand’s painting, the faces of Peter and John show contending emotions of anguish and relief, of sorrow and surprise, of despair and wonder as they race toward the tomb. Their gaze is eagerly fixed forward, turning the viewer’s attention to the sepulcher. What did they find? An empty tomb—the Savior was alive! Christ still lives. But many of us go from day to day as if He were still in the grave. How much better to look beyond the empty tomb to the One who can fill our lives with the power of His resurrection!  (RBC, Living With Expectation, March 27, 2004) They believed!

Conclusion:

Why is the tomb empty? Where is the body? They believed!
—-
This article is copyrighted © 2017 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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The crucifixion foretold! — Psalm 22: 1-3, 6-8; 14-19; 27-31

The crucifixion foretold! — Psalm 22: 1-3, 6-8; 14-19; 27-31
By Pastor Lee Hemen
April 9, 2017

What was the most memorable event in your life? What historical event do you remember more than anything else in your life; the one moment in time that will always impact you that you will always remember? Several thousand years ago something occurred that so impacted the lives of those who witnessed it that they had to write down exactly what they had witnessed and how it impacted them. It was the crucifixion of an itinerant teacher known as Yeshua Ben Yoseph; Jesus son of Joseph.

Many churches around the world will celebrate Palm Sunday when Jesus rode into Jerusalem and was greeted by crowds of people proclaiming him the messiah. Jesus would die within a few short days on a cross, crucified by the Romans because of the lust for power by Jewish leadership. However did you know that this event was predicted nearly a thousand years earlier by King David? Jesus’ crucifixion was foretold, let’s discover what David wrote and how it impacts our lives today…

Psalm 22: 1-3, 6-8; 14-19; 27-31

In his life David was not perfect and in fact had sinned against the Lord with Bathsheba. I believe that perhaps this Psalm reflects how God was dealing with his sin. In our deepest trials God can often speak his clearest and in this moment I believe…

I. God used David’s predicament to predict the suffering of his Messiah! (Vv. 1-3, 6-8)

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent. Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel. But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: “He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.” Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother’s breast. From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

1. During King David’s time if one sinned they suffered the consequences of their sin and one of them was that God would remove his presence from them immediately. So we find David, a man after God’s heart, crying out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” because this is the way he felt! When we sin as believers God’s grace is sufficient and we never lose his presence! Yet we discover David did and not only felt “forsaken” but realized just how far removed God was because of his sin. He therefore asks in dismay, “Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.” He has been in distress evidently for days and nights but God had not answered. The salvation David desired was not eternal but rather from his present condition! Yet David understood that God was “enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel.” God was in control. Here in David’s words is eerily reflected what Jesus may have gone through as he was hanging on the cross. As David goes through his distress he begins to recognize, “But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people.” He understands just how far he has sunken in his sin. And in fact he sees that “All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: ‘He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.’” David, apparently feeling forsaken by God and ridiculed by his enemies, was confident that God would not fully abandon him. I believe that God used David’s predicament to predict the suffering of his Messiah!

EXAMPLE: David’s confidence came from his past experience and we learn that he knew God from his mother’s “womb”; that God had made him “trust in you even at my mother’s breast” (v. 9); and that “From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.” Interestingly we know that Jesus was God before, during, and after his birth. And Mark’s Gospel reminds us that “Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!’ In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. ‘He saved others,’ they said, ‘but he can’t save himself!’” (Mark 15:29-31 NIV) I believe God used David’s predicament to predict the suffering of his Messiah!

There is nothing worse than the feeling of helplessness when one is accused of something, you want to make it right, and yet those who falsely accuse you will not listen. David knew his sin was wrong and he desired to confess it and…

II. In David’s words we find the prophetic picture of the suffering Messiah! (Vv. 14-19)

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing. But you, O LORD, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me.

1. David’s despair brought him to the point where he felt as if he were “poured out like water” and he cries that “all my bones are out of joint.” Perhaps in his anguish God allow this forefather of Jesus to see his descendant’s death. David had been promised by God that “He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever… Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.” (2 Samuel 7:13, 16 NIV) But also within God’s promise to David there are words of punishment for mankind’s sins: “I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod of men, with floggings inflicted by men. But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you.” (2 Samuel 7:14-15 NIV) The Messiah, David’s descendant Jesus would suffer for mankind. And like David when he cries out “My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me” so would Jesus’. In fact as David continues in his anguish his words are used by the Lord to show the kind of death Jesus would die: “My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.” And just as the Pharisees, Romans, and the dregs of Jerusalem surrounded Jesus as he hung on the cross David remarkably prophesies, “Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.” Just as the Gospels share that Jesus’ legs were not broken by his captors and how the Roman squad assigned to crucify him gambled over his clothes David whimpers, “I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” And yet again in the poetic words of Jesus’ ancestor we hear the sweet melody of hope: “But you, O LORD, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me.” Luke reminds us that “Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ When he had said this, he breathed his last.” (Luke 23:46 NIV) How amazing to know that the words of David are remarkably fulfilled in the death of Jesus. In David’s words we find the prophetic picture of the suffering Messiah!

EXAMPLE: Isaiah longed for what David sang about; namely the Messiah who would come to rescue his people. Isaiah declared the Messiah would be “pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” And that “He was assigned a grave with the wicked and with the rich in his death” and “Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering”. However, “After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities… because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:5, 9-12 NIV) And like with Isaiah in David’s words we find the prophetic picture of the suffering Messiah!

Could David have understood the entire impact that his words would have? I do not believe so and yet this makes it even more remarkable. Yes he knew God’s promise and he knew God always fulfilled his promises, but David could not have completely understood how God’s promise would be fulfilled and how his own words of despair would bring such hope. And so finally we discover that…

III. David’s words end with a wonderful promise concerning the suffering Messiah! (Vv. 27-31)

All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations. All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him– those who cannot keep themselves alive. Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn– for he has done it.

1. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem and was greeted by palm branch waving crowds two thousand years ago no one but him actually understood what would occur. Jesus’ birth, life, and death were foretold by God because it was about him and how he would redeem mankind. David’s poetic prophecy reinforces what God had planned all along. And now we hear David as he declares, “All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations.” Some think that David was declaring that future generations would worship God because they remembered how David was rescued; I do not think so. I believe that when God’s people truly give themselves over to the Lord’s will and confess their sin as David did here and as God works in the lives of those he uses for his purposes as David was he gives them special insight into his predetermined will. God through his Holy Spirit is giving David these words and insight: “All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him– those who cannot keep themselves alive.” Only the Messiah Jesus can do that! And now they will know it to be true because “Posterity will serve him (the future Messiah); future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn– for he has done it.” I am reminded of the words God spoke to Moses concerning his promise, “I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the LORD, will do for you.” (Exodus 34:10 NIV) David began his poem with words of his own personal despair but now that has turned to worldwide rejoicing! As God spoke through the prophet Isaiah, “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.” (Isaiah 46:10 NIV) David’s words end with a wonderful promise concerning the suffering Messiah!

EXAMPLE: Again on that Palm Sunday so long ago the crowds had no full idea as to who Jesus was exactly, for if they did they would have done even more! The plan of God that began with the words of a messenger of God telling a young frightened virgin she would give birth to the Messiah was coming to fruition. Each plodding step that the donkey took brought the Messiah, the Lamb of God, God himself closer to his predetermined sacrifice. While the process would be horrifying, the outcome would be marvelous. David’s words end with a wonderful promise concerning the suffering Messiah!

Conclusion:

God used David’s predicament to predict the suffering of his Messiah! In David’s words we find the prophetic picture of the suffering Messiah! David’s words end with a wonderful promise concerning the suffering Messiah!
—-
This article is copyrighted © 2017 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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1st Sunday of Advent – Our expectation and hope! – Isaiah 9:2-7

1st Sunday of Advent – Our expectation and hope! – Isaiah 9:2-7
By Pastor Lee Hemen
November 27, 2016

Some families keep an advent calendar and countdown the days until Christmas. Christmas is the celebration of the first Advent, the coming of the Savior of the world! As believers, we celebrate the birth of Jesus. But we also wait eagerly for the Second Advent when Jesus returns!

A large part of our lives center around anticipation. How much we would lose if we were to wake up one day to the unexpected announcement: “Christmas in 10 minutes!” The enjoyment in many of life’s events is built on the fact that we have time to anticipate them. Whether it is Christmas, vacations, trips, or sporting events, all grow in value because of the hours we spend looking forward to them. Now imagine the anticipation of the salvation of mankind coming to earth. That is what the first Sunday of Advent is all about, our expectation and hope! Let’s discover why…

READ: Isaiah 9:2-7

Salvation would not break forth until it had become utterly dark along the horizon of Israel, according to Isaiah, “In that day… if one looks at the land, he will see darkness and distress; even the light will be darkened by the clouds.” (Isaiah 5:29-30 NIV) It is always darkest before the dawn and we discover that…

I. The Messiah would bring light to a darkened world! (Vv. 2-3)

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder.

1. We are often introduced to a myriad of end of the world scenarios, from fiery asteroids crashing into the earth to killer zombie viruses. Yet few in our day notice the spiritual darkness that has engulfed the world. It is the same spiritual darkness that was overwhelming Israel. Like the spread of darkness by the Dark Lord Sauron in The Lord of the Rings written by Tolkien. We find in the pages of Scripture that whenever mankind neglected their God, spiritual darkness spread. But now, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” The veil is torn in two! The darkness is pierced by the rising sun! Gandalf, in The Lord of the Rings tells the embattled at Helms Deep, “Look to my coming, at first light, on the fifth day. At dawn, look to the East!” Noticed again that Isaiah prophesied, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light”! John wrote, “The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world!” (John 1:9 NIV) Jesus related, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” (John 3:19-21 NIV) Isaiah saw that the light of God would return to spiritually dark Israel, and in fact, “You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder.” While those who loved God had been reduced to a remnant, they would be “enlarged” and their “joy” increased. They would rejoice again! The Messiah would bring light to a darkened world!

EXAMPLE: As a child, I began to fear the darkness. Part of the problem was my brother Ed who loved to whisper frightening scenarios to me after we had crawled into bed. But it was also because I could not see what laid in wait in the darkness. Now isn’t it interesting that Scripture tells us that the ungodly love darkness “instead of light because their deeds” are evil. And, in fact, “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” I loved to have a flashlight as a kid that I could turn on to make sure there was nothing out there that could harm me. Light does that. It exposes anything that tries to hide in either the darkness of sin or a darkened room! With great anticipation Isaiah longed for the first Advent when the Messiah would bring light into a darkened world!

David would cry, “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.” (Psalms 51:3 NIV) Mankind has always struggled with sin. Jesus reminded us, “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20 NIV) But, now Isaiah tells us…

II. The Messiah will ease the burden of sin! (Vv. 4-5)

For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.

1. No one could have believed for even one second that the weak, ineffective, and subservient Israelites would pose any kind of threat to the more powerful Midianites. Yet, God did just that and in fact did it through someone totally unexpected! The future deliverance, which the prophet here celebrates, would be the counterpart of the Egyptian enslavement. Then, the whole of the great nation of Israel was redeemed, whereas now only a small remnant would participate in the final redemption! Isaiah compares it to the day when Gideon broke seven years domination of Midian over Israel. And, it would occur not with a great army, but with a handful of resolute warriors, strong in the Lord (Judges 7)! It was God “as in the day of Midian’s defeat” who “shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, (and) the rod of their oppressor.” He did it through the One whom he will send. This would be a supernatural work of God! So complete will be the act of God sending his Messiah to ease our burden of sin that, “Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.” We see that all the trappings of the oppressor are heaped into a pile and set on fire; and, as they blaze up, the freed slaves exult in their liberty. Even the blood-drenched cloaks have been stripped from the corpses; they are tossed on the heap, and, saturated as they are, they burn! So complete is the victory that even the weapons of the conquered are destroyed. Our conquering King has been manifested, that he might annihilate the powers by which evil holds us bound. His victory is utterly complete; by his power and might the Messiah will ease the burden of sin!

EXAMPLE: Today the Federal debt has become an enormous financial burden that many simply ignore. Each citizen’s share of this debt is horrendous. And it increases every day by $3 billion! It is a huge burden on us and future generations because it is an added tax to everything we buy and will affect how we live. Fewer college graduates will get jobs because there are fewer people retiring in order to survive, fewer companies hire because they have to pay off their share of taxes, and therefore goods and services increase for the same reasons. Incomes and retirement are reduced as taxes increase. It is a debt we can never pay that we had no say in what we owed! The sin debt of Israel and the entire world was enormous and could never be paid by all the sacrifices that could ever be made! Rejoice! By His power and might the Messiah will ease the burden of sin!

The promise of God would take an unexpected turn as his promises often do. This is why I often chuckle over those who think they have the return of Jesus all figured out, especially when Jesus remarked, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matthew 24:36 NIV) This is why it was so amazing when Isaiah prophesied thousands of years beforehand that…

III. The Messiah will be born both God and man! (Vv. 6-7)

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

1. Here is a wonderful amazing truth: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.” The Savior of the world, the Messiah, would be born a babe and all of God’s government would be placed squarely on his tiny shoulders! Do you understand the significance of these words? Can you grasp their meaning for all mankind? God’s messengers would share with scruffy shepherds, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12 NIV) There it is, amazing isn’t it? But more than that, “he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, (and) Prince of Peace.” Four beautiful names describe him for us; He will be an exceptional teacher, the embodiment of our powerful God, reflecting His eternal nature, which brings the peace that surpasses all understanding! Now, Isaiah did not fully realize that Jesus would be the One who would fulfill all of this during his first advent, but it will come about that “Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.” God’s promise to David would come true! God would rule and reign through his Messiah! How and why would God do this wonderful thing? Isaiah says, “The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.” It would be done because God joyously chose to do it! How totally marvelous that the fulfillment of God’s promises is found in a tiny babe, wrapped in swaddling, lying in a manger! Isaiah’s promise that the Messiah will be born both God and man is complete in Jesus Christ!

EXAMPLE: Jesus related, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9 NIV) “I am the bread of life.” (John 6:48 NIV) “I am the light of the world.” (John 8:12 NIV) “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I am!” (John 8:58 NIV) “I am the good shepherd.” (John 10:11 NIV) “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies.” (John 11:25 NIV) “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 NIV) “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30 NIV) “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9 NIV) The first Advent is the celebration of the fulfillment of Isaiah’s promise that the Messiah will be born both God and man, Jesus Christ!

Conclusion:

The Messiah would bring light to a darkened world!
The Messiah will ease the burden of sin!
The Messiah will be born both God and man!
—-
This article is copyrighted © 2016 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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The Good shepherd! – John 10:1-16

The Good shepherd! – John 10:1-16
By Pastor Lee Hemen
June 14, 2015

In our day and age we do not think about shepherds, in fact most folks would not know what they are or what they do unless one lived in the Southwest or some other place that raises sheep. Shepherding is a lost art that has been replaced by other means such as GPS, dogs and gas-powered vehicles. However, in Jesus’ day shepherding was a way of life that everyone was intimately aware of. Comparing people to a shepherd and his sheep was common. The priests and the rulers often called themselves shepherds and their people as sheep. This is why the Bible makes frequent use of this analogy. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and David were shepherds.

Jesus takes the idea of shepherding and relates it to the fact that the spiritual leadership of his day had lost their ability to be insightful shepherds who took care of those entrusted to their care. Instead of being good shepherds they had become…

I. Thieves and robbers! (Vv. 1-10)

“I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them. Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

1. There are those who think that Jesus was some kind of emotional and emasculated wimp. Nothing could be further from the truth. He was no “Mama’s Boy.” He not only spoke what was on his mind, he spoke the truth. Again, he begins his teaching by telling his listeners, “I tell you the truth.” When we find Jesus saying this, it means that his hearers had not only better listen they should also understand what he is about to tell them. If they do not, they will suffer the consequences of not doing so. Jesus bluntly tells them that “the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber.” Those who want to steal what you have always try to enter by some other means. However, “The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.” Sheep in Jesus’ day would listen for their master’s voice and follow him to safety, to feed, or to drink. “But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” Smart sheep, too bad more people are not like these sheep Jesus describes. And isn’t interesting that those who disdain Jesus and his followers often call them “a bunch of sheep”? I for one am glad to be named one of his! Contrary to what some ignoramuses often think, sheep are smarter than a lot of folks! Sadly just as those today often do not understand the teachings of Jesus, “they did not understand what he was telling them” either. So, Jesus reiterates what he had just told them but adds new meaning, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.” All who teach anything other than what Jesus teaches are “thieves and robbers” who try to spiritually sneak in and rob the innocent of the gospel. Jesus in another “I am” statement emphatically relates, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Jesus the good shepherd, the gate of God, gives us life completely, anything else only kills and destroys those who listen to it. Anything or anyone else who teaches anything contrary to what Jesus taught is simply thieves and robbers!

EXAMPLE: Far too many in our day and age incorrectly think that there are many ways to God or that all they have to do is think good thoughts about themselves and others. We would never use the same kind of convoluted logic when handling toxic chemicals, explosives, prescription drugs, or the vehicles we drive. Although there are those who foolishly do, thank goodness they are in the minority! Could you imagine trying to justify transporting gasoline in open buckets in the back of your pickup truck? Jesus the good shepherd, the gate of God, gives us life completely, anything else only kills and destroys those who listen to it. Anything or anyone else who teaches anything contrary to what Jesus taught is simply thieves and robbers!

All who came before Jesus were thieves and robbers and all who try to teach anything other than what Jesus teaches is as well. They are evil shepherds while Jesus is…

II. The Good Shepherd! (Vv. 11-16)

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me– just as the Father knows me and I know the Father–and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.

1. When they begin to doubt what Jesus is trying to teach them, Jesus bluntly retorts, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” That’s what a good shepherd does, he protects his flock. Yet more than this Jesus the ultimate shepherd would deliberately lay his life down for the sins of the whole flock! Again, Jesus uses the “I am” God-statement for himself. Good sheep or bad, Jesus would die for his sheep! The priests of Jesus’ day would never have done such a thing and in fact were more than willing to throw anyone under the nearest Roman chariot who dared teach anything other than their convoluted view of God. In fact, they were like “hired hands” that had no vested interest in the sheep they were supposed to take care of, “So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.” False shepherds are only interested in the sheep when they get something in return, money, recognition, fame, or fortune are what they are in the shepherding business for. They care nothing for the sheep! In contrast, Jesus is the “good shepherd.” He intimately knows his sheep and his sheep intimately know and trust him. It is just like the father and son relationship Jesus has with God the Father! When those who come to Jesus by faith are willing to trust him with their lives, he willingly gives them everything he has! Including his life! “I lay down my life for the sheep” Jesus tells them. He would die a horrendous death on the cross for our sins! I know this to be true because he also tells his listeners that it was not just for the Hebrew nation he came to die for, “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” That’s us! Those of us who are willing today to give our lives and trust the Good Shepherd to lead us in and out of his pasture! Jesus is the Good Shepherd!

EXAMPLE: There are those who give Jesus a bad name because they claim Christ, but then they teach something quite different from what the Good Shepherd taught. Churches who rant about the judgment of homosexuality but refuse to teach on the compassion of Christ; churches who claim fellowship with Jesus simply because they think they are saints when in fact they are wolves in sheep’s clothing; or churches that refuse to teach on sin and leave their listeners in the world’s fold where they are eaten alive by the perverted predators of this world. In contrast, Jesus is the Good Shepherd who laid his life down for his sheep and gives us eternal life when we trust ourselves to his tender care. Do you hear his voice? He is calling your name today. Come home to the fold of the Good Shepherd.

Conclusion:

Anything or anyone else who teaches anything contrary to what Jesus taught is simply thieves and robbers! In contrast, Jesus is the Good Shepherd who laid his life down for his sheep and gives us eternal life when we trust ourselves to his tender care. Do you hear his voice? He is calling your name today. Come home to the fold of the Good Shepherd.

This article is copyrighted © 2015 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Jesus, the Messiah? – John 7: 25-32

Jesus, the Messiah? – John 7: 25-32
By Pastor Lee Hemen
March 15, 2015

We misunderstand sometimes what the term Christ means but it is a Greek form of Messiah, both meaning anointed one. The Messiah would be anointed by God to perform and do his will in the world. He would direct people back to God, rescue them from their oppressors. The term came to refer to a future Jewish king from the Davidic line, who will be “anointed” with holy anointing oil, to be king of God’s earthly kingdom, and rule the Jewish people during the Messianic Age. In Judaism, the Messiah was and is not considered to be God or a pre-existent divine Son of God as Jesus is. He is considered to be a great political leader that has descended from King David. The Bible plainly teaches us that Messianic prophecies were fulfilled in the mission, death, and resurrection of Jesus and that he will return to fulfill the rest of Messianic prophecy. Still, there are those who ask, “Is Jesus the Messiah?”

When Jesus decided to go up to Jerusalem, he knew the people would begin to discuss his ministry. There would be a lot of talk and speculation about who he was; whether he was simply a good teacher or perhaps the long awaited Messiah. We discover that they began to wonder if Jesus was the Messiah. Let’s see what begins to happen and what occurs…

READ: John 7:25-32

As Jesus began to appear publicly he naturally began to confront the Jewish leadership and the populace who wondered exactly who he was. We discover that…

I. People were asking who Jesus was! (Vv. 25-27)

At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Christ? But we know where this man is from; when the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from.”

1. As we read the gospel of John we know that the confrontation of Jesus with the ruling authorities would come. So, “At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, ‘Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill?'” While Jerusalem was a larger city for the area and the time, it was still a small city by today’s standards whereby the quickest way to get the latest gossip, ah news, was from word of mouth. Kind of like many small towns in our day and age. And, like many towns of that era, news traveled fast, especially when you do not have TV, computers and other electronics to muck things up. And, what baffled them was “Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him.” The general public knew the Jewish authorities. They knew how they responded in the past to any threat to their way of life or what they believed. They had the Romans or others do their dirty work and get rid of the nuisance. So this made the street crowd wonder, “Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Christ?” What they wondered about now became a voiced concern. A voiced concern would become a threat because when people begin to wonder, they begin to formulate opinions, and opinions become dangerous when they are contrary to those in charge. Could it be true and if it is true, what should we do about it? Jesus baffled the crowd, because they thought they knew him. They remark, “But we know where this man is from; when the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from.” Jesus was a man like themselves. They knew he had to have a mother and a regular father. Some even knew he was from Galilee. But what they thought they knew and the truth were two different things. They only knew what they thought they knew and not the truth itself. It was a popular belief that no one would know where the Messiah would come from. Yet, here was Jesus and people were asking who Jesus was!

EXAMPLE: There is an old saying, “Curiosity killed the cat.” Some would respond, “But satisfaction brought him back.” Then there is the little ditty that goes, “Little Billy played with dynamite, little Billy did not understand it quite. Curiosity never pays, it rained Billy 40 days.” Curiosity can be good or bad depending upon the outcome. Curiosity about Christ in Jesus’ day could bring the wrath of the Jewish leadership down on you. And now the crowds had seen for themselves the miracles and heard the teachings of Jesus and they began to wonder who this man really was. God’s plan was coming to fruition. People were asking who Jesus was!

In all of the hubbub of the marketplace and all the undercurrents of the time and even with all the spiritual confusion of our day, isn’t it wonderful to know that…

II. Jesus knew who he was! (Vv. 28-29)

Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.”

1. Evidently Jesus heard the whisperings and the rumor machine as well. “Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, ‘Yes, you know me, and you know where I come from.'” The crowds assumed that Jesus was only a Galilean carpenter from the city of Nazareth. In fact, they were wrong, but this is what they assumed. They also believed that the Messiah would be unknown until his public appearing. This was a popular view, but not connected to Scripture. A reader of the Gospels recognizes the irony. Jesus is more than a Galilean; he is the Logos who was virgin-born in Bethlehem. The crowds thought they knew Jesus. Yet Jesus was exactly who they did not think or assumed he was! Jesus was from God, Jesus is God. This is why he tells them, “I am not here on my own, but he who sent me is true.” God is way more reliable than mankind. He is true in everything he does. this is why Jesus would say, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus is the embodiment of truth because he is truth. This why earlier Jesus gave them this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. (John 5:19 NIV)” Jesus is God became flesh to dwell among us. While God is true and reliable, his enemies are not. His enemies did not know God, or they thought they did but it was an erroneous view. There are those in our day who think they know God as well, but they only see him as perhaps a good man or at least as someone or something to manipulate and use for their own convenience. Jesus bluntly tells them, “You do not know him, but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.” God sent him because he is God! What a wonderful thing to know that Jesus knew who he was!

EXAMPLE: I betcha Jesus got frustrated with folks sometimes. I believe this why he cries out here in John’s gospel. He had heard all the whisperings and rumors and such. Assumptions can get frustrating. I call it the what ifs. The Apostle Paul had his detractors as well. In fact, he often suffered because of the false lies they spread about him and his faith in Jesus. He responded by telling those around him, “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. What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you–guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.
(2 Timothy 1:12-14 NIV)” Paul’s faith was unshaken because he knew whom he believed in. God is always faithful. I am so glad that Jesus knew who he was!

Why is it folks would often rather believe myth or rumors than the truth? Books, films, and TV special concerning the supposed marriage of Jesus, what Jesus may have taught, or if he really died on the cross have garnered people’s speculation. Sadly, the wrong conclusion can lead to severe consequences. God’s enemies have always wanted to mislead folks and here we discover that…

III. Jesus’ enemies knew what they would do! (Vv. 30-32)

At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come. Still, many in the crowd put their faith in him. They said, “When the Christ comes, will he do more miraculous signs than this man?” The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him.

1. Of course folks do not like their own little worlds upset especially when they have a preconceived notion of what they think the truth is. Fanatical Islam is a good example and so is what occurred recently in Ferguson, Missouri. We think we know the truth, but what the truth actually is far from reality and can be upsetting if not downright aggravating to our own notions. This is what occurred here in John’s gospel with Jesus and his detractors. “At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come.” No one could fight God’s plan and we still can’t. This why no one could lay a hand on Jesus, his time had not yet come. Jesus’ brothers nor his enemies could thwart the will of God. And in fact, because of this, “many in the crowd put their faith in him.” God knew the time and the place and the circumstances of Jesus death, the crowd had no control of the situation.  Their faith was merely tentative because Jesus had not yet died for them. It reflects some of the crowd’s willingness to see Jesus’ miracles and teaching as something special. Far too many in our day do the exact same thing when they say they believe in Jesus, they only believe in the moment. It is not a lasting faith because they have not trusted him completely. Trust in who Jesus is, is foundational to being renewed and changed. In fact, we see that their faith was based on their own faulty understanding, “When the Christ comes, will he do more miraculous signs than this man?” It is like someone thinking, “I’ll believe in Jesus if he will do… for me.” However, “The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him.” Jesus’ enemies had no such notions, they wanted Jesus dead. Jesus’ enemies knew what they would do!

EXAMPLE: Lucifer, another name for Satan, means “light bearer.” Interestingly we read that Jesus is the Light of the world as well. Satan has always used partial truth to try to confuse or blur people’s conception of who Jesus is. Recently, several ladies came to our door with a pamphlet inviting us to the Heathman Lodge and a seminar about the End Times. They were Jehovah’s Witnesses. They tried to sound “Christian” with the words they used, but nothing could be further from the truth. JWs do not even believe in the deity of Jesus or his atoning death and resurrection. They have fine sounding arguments, but are just messengers of a lie. A distorted truth of who Jesus truly is. They are enemies of the cross. And like the Jewish leadership of Jesus’ day, Jesus’ enemies knew what they would do!

Conclusion:
We learned today how people were asking who Jesus was, how Jesus knew who he was, and how Jesus’ enemies knew what they would do!

This article is copyrighted © 2015 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Live or Let Die! — John 7:19-24

Live or Let Die! — John 7:19-24
By Pastor Lee Hemen
March 8, 2015

In the song “Live and Let Die”  written by Paul McCartney he sings, ” When you were young and your heart was an open book, you used to say live and let live (you know you did, you know you did you know you did). But if this ever changing world in which we’re living, makes you give in and cry, say, “Live and let die!” In other words, go ahead and do what you want to do or believe whatever you want to in the first place and let everything that disagrees with your current philosophy die. Ignore it and them.

Jesus confronts his accusers with kind of the same argument in that he tells them they needed to let their own corrupted view of God’s commands die. He then gives them a specific example. While his detractors wanted to kill him for his truthful teaching concerning the gospel, he rebuts them by telling them to let their own false notions of God’s commands die the death they needed. They needed to make the right judgments and live or let die! Let’s discover what Jesus tells them…

READ: John 7:19-24

Jesus tells them…

I. Don’t kill the messenger! (Vv. 19-20)

Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?” “You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?”

1. The Jews of Jesus’ day lived and died by their faith in Moses and the commandments of God, they ruled every aspect of their lives and while God had intended them to be a guide for righteous living, he never intended them to be a rule book that they interpreted and decided what was righteous or not. So, Jesus bluntly reminds them, “Has not Moses given you the law?” And, of course the answer was “Yes, Moses had given them the law they lived by.” Yet the startling truth was the fact that they were hypocrites. Jesus pokes them in their pious posteriors by stating, “Yet not one of you keeps the law.” Of course he meant those who were trying to murder him for his actions and teachings, because if they truly kept the law of Moses they would have seen instantly who he truly was and praised God! This is why Jesus sarcastically asks, “Why are you trying to kill me?” If they indeed kept the law they claimed, then why would they want to murder the Messiah God sent? In fact we discover in Mark’s gospel Jesus remarks, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’ You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men. (Mark 7:6-8 NIV)” What a boot in the buns! They knew it too and try to get the edge by rebutting, “You are demon-possessed! Who is trying to kill you?” They knew who was trying to kill Jesus, they were! However, if you can’t win an argument with logic or the truth, then you resort to innuendo and or name calling. And tacitly, they do both. You see anyone, including John the Baptist or Jesus, who did not agree with their convoluted keeping of the law of Moses, they instantly claimed was demon-possessed! In fact, they were more than willing to kill the messenger of God in order to keep things the way they liked. In the very next chapter of John, Jesus ratcheted it up a notch and rebukes them by telling them, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44 NIV)” Wow! Here he is telling them don’t kill the messenger!

EXAMPLE: It has been said that we often want to kill that which we do not understand, however, we want to be careful in making such a broad statement. Liberals would have you believe that one has to acquiesce one’s morals and accept perversion as reasonable and normal. Jesus wasn’t asking his listeners to accept that which was immoral nor was he wanting them to give up their faith in God. What he desired is that they open their hearts to the truth of God’s plan being finished in him as the Messiah of the world. Yet, they could not wrap them spiritually narrow minds around such a concept even after seeing and experiencing Jesus’ teaching and his miracles. No one else had done the things Jesus did and none had taught as he had, yet they were willing to kill him. Jesus is trying to save them. He is trying to tell them and us today, “Don’t kill the messenger.”

Jesus then tells them…

II. Make the right judgment! (Vv. 21-24)

Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all astonished. Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a child on the Sabbath. Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath? Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.”

1. The Jewish leadership’s spiritual corruption could be seen for what it was and Jesus confronts it head on, he tells them, “I did one miracle, and you are all astonished.” Of course we discover he is not speaking about the loaves and fishes, but the healing of the man at the pool. Remember, he was in Jerusalem. The authorities were all dismayed because he healed the man at the pool and told him to take up his mat and walk on the Sabbath, a day of rest according to the law of Moses. So, Jesus exposes their hypocrisy by reminding them, “Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a child on the Sabbath.” And isn’t a person a person no matter how old or young they are? And doesn’t a loving God care about all his children no matter what their age is? And doesn’t the law cover all people of every age or condition? And of course the answer is “yes.” You see, this is the corner Jesus is painting them into. This is why he counters, “Now if a child can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing the whole man on the Sabbath?” What a bunch of hypocrites, they were more concerned for a foreskin than a whole person! Yet, we too can just as guilty when we piously stick our spiritual noses in the air, get offended when our feelings get hurt and ignore the grace of God. We all want God to be gracious to us, and we often demand that other believers treat us with respect and grace as well, yet far too often we hypocritically turn a blind eye to our own judgmental attitudes just as the Jewish leadership did with Jesus. What would Jesus say to us? Perhaps exactly what he told his listeners, “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.” In other words, stop making pontifications thinking you’re fooling God and holding him in high regard when in actuality you are making the wrong judgment in the wrong way. They thought that by appearing to uphold the law of Moses they would be seen as righteous, kind of like some of our heavenly-minded, but no earthly good brethren. Jesus is telling them and us, “make the right judgment.”

EXAMPLE: When we have faulty logic, we will make faulty assumptions that lead to error. Kind of like those GPS devices that do not have all the information they need to lead us in the right direction! The Jewish leadership clung to their ill-conceived and faulty notions of who they thought God was and how they thought God should act. They forgot that God’s ways are not their ways and his thoughts not their thoughts. God is not like a mere man, and yet he humbled himself and became obedient and came in the form of a man and willingly died for our sins. How amazing is it that here is the one who was willing to die for their sins and they were just interested in preserving their status quo. In their ignorant-induced fog they could never make the correct decision and here is Jesus passionately trying to convince them to make the right judgment.

Conclusion:
He is trying to tell them and us today, “Don’t kill the messenger.” And, Jesus is telling them and us, “make the right judgment.”

This article is copyrighted © 2015 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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The bread of life! — John 6:34-59

The bread of life! — John 6:34-59
By Pastor Lee Hemen
February 8, 2015

They say that a person’s sense of smell is one of the most powerful memory trigger inducers. You can smell a certain scent and it will immediately remind you of a person, place, or time of your life. I know this is true because when I smell Aqua Velva, an aftershave lotion, it immediately reminds me of my father. the same is true for fresh baked bread. The smell instantly reminds me of my mother’s kitchen when I was growing up and the smell of her wonderful bread. She made the best bread in the world. We could hardly wait to get a thick warm slice with melted butter or peanut butter.

As I expressed before, bread was an important part of everyday life during Jesus’ day. It was how people survived and was the meal for even the poorest of folks. However, it was not like the bread we enjoy today. It was flat, ,chewy, small, round, thick, and kind of tasteless, but it sustained people for the day. It was often dipped in olive oil or wine. And here in John’s gospel we discover Jesus referring to himself as the bread of life. Its meaning carried with it several important connotations. Let’s find what Jesus meant and John wrote about the bread of life…

READ: John 6:34-59

First, we discover that…

I. Jesus is the bread of life! (Vv. 34-40)

“Sir,” they said, “from now on give us this bread.” Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”

1. The crowd still wants free food, but not just free, they want it for as long as they can get it. This is why they responded by telling Jesus, “from now on give us this bread.” From now on sustain us! When Jesus had earlier told them that the bread he gave gives “life to the world” they understood it to mean it would sustain everyone! And in fact it does but not in the way they thought. The sustenance Jesus gives is that of eternal significance. “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” It is a personal relationship Jesus calls us to and it satisfies forever! We must be willing to partake of the spiritual food, gospel, Jesus offers in order to gain any sustenance from it, then we will not spiritually thirst or go hungry. Yet, like some today, even though they hear Jesus’ words and see the truth for themselves, they still do not believe. Jesus told them that in fact, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” When we beg for this bread of life, God willingly gives it! And he has chosen to gi e it to us and will not play games with us by giving it and taking it away. For Jesus the reason was obvious, he tells his listeners, “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.” This is the promise of God that his Son will not lose anyone who comes to him for salvation. It is dependent up his promise and not our guilty conscious. When we come to Jesus by faith we can rest assured when he returns that none of us will be lost  and we will be raised up on the last day! The truth is, Jesus reminds us, “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” Jesus is the bread of life!

EXAMPLE: M.F.K. Fisher, in “The Art of Eating: 50th Anniversary Edition” wrote that “The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight…[and bread-making is] one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with one of the world’s sweetest smells… there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of meditation in a music-throbbing chapel that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread.” Mahatma Gandhi said that “There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.” In John’s gospel we learn that Jesus is the bread of life!

II. Jesus is the sacrificial bread! (Vv. 41-51)

At this the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, “I came down from heaven’?” “Stop grumbling among yourselves,” Jesus answered. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

1. You can give people free bread, but often they will want butter to go with it as well! Some people are never satisfied. The “Jews began to grumble about him because he said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.'” They gripped because they thought they knew Jesus, he was one of their own. Like many small towns, everyone knew everyone else’s business, or so they thought. Yet this tells me some important things concerning Jesus that are often missed. They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, “I came down from heaven’?” Jesus was like most boys growing up! No one noticed anything out of the ordinary about him as a lad. He was very Jewish in his countenance and upbringing. This fulfills what Isaiah wrote concerning the Messiah to come, “He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. (Isaiah 53:2 NIV)” They did not think Jesus could do what he said nor did they believe he was who he claimed to be because he was Jesus, Joseph’s son. Yet, Jesus rebuts them by relating, “Stop grumbling among yourselves, no one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.” He can and will do exactly what he said he could do! “It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father. I tell you the truth, he who believes has everlasting life.” If they listened to Jesus’ words and believed they would have known the truth of God, because it would be God drawing them to himself! Jesus had seen the Father because he was with him from the beginning and all things were created through him! He then bluntly lays out the spiritual truth for them so they will fully understand it, “I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” Jesus is the sacrificial bread!

EXAMPLE: Part of the setup of the Jewish temple was the table of showbread. It was an important focal point of worship for the Hebrew people. The showbread of the temple consisted of twelve loaves made of the finest flour. They were baked flat and thin, and were placed in two rows of six each on a table in the holy place before the Lord. They were renewed every Sabbath and the old ones were to be eaten by the priests only in the holy place. The number of the loaves represented the twelve tribes of Israel, and also the entire spiritual Israel, the true Israel; and the placing of them on the table symbolized the entire consecration of the Hebrew people to the Lord, and their acceptance of God as their God. Jesus is the sacrificial bread!

III. The bread of Jesus is better than the manna of Moses! (Vv. 52-59)

Then the Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.” He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.

1. Far too many can only see as far as their noses. They only want what the world offers and do not care for the eternal things God has given us. The crowd first focused on the free food Jesus provided, then they focused on him giving them more of it, and finally they are focusing their attention on the wrong truth! The ” Jews began to argue sharply among themselves, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?'” Jesus was not condoning cannibalism nor sacramentalism whereby the bread and wine would mystically turn into his flesh and blood! Rather, Jesus was teaching the eternal truth that unless you come to him, “eat of his flesh… and drink his blood”, in other words trust in his death and sacrifice, “you have no life in you”! The truth for Jesus is the fact that, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.” The Jews were appalled at such a prospect because they could not see past their own prejudices of him being a small town boy and their preconceived notion of who God was. Jesus was teaching metaphorically. The person who could get past their spiritual ignorance and accept the truth of Jesus’ atonement, his sacrificial death and resurrection for them, they will be saved! In fact Jesus responds, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread will live forever.” Moses’ providing manna in the wilderness did not save anyone, in fact they all eventually died, but now we all can live when we receive Jesus by faith. The bread of Jesus is better than the manna of Moses!

EXAMPLE: When the Hebrew people sinned against God by not trusting him, they had to wander in the wilderness for forty years. While there, God provided food for them in the form of manna and quail. The name manna is said to derive from the question man hu, seemingly meaning “What is it?” from the question the Israelites asked Moses. Only those who were deemed holy could eat the bread and it had to be eaten in a holy place, but now we hear Jesus saying that we are to partake of him to become holy. Jesus is the sacrificial bread! The bread of Jesus is better than the manna of Moses!

Conclusion:

Jesus is the bread of life! Jesus is the sacrificial bread! The bread of Jesus is better than the manna of Moses!

This article is copyrighted © 2015 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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