Archive for the ‘Death’ Category


My Daddy taught me not to waste. He would yell at us to close the door, turn out the lights, clean my plate. He so impressed that quality upon me that I echoed his words to my children. Something about waste bothers us. We would never volunteer to pay $100 for a McDonald’s Happy Meal. No, that would be a waste!

To understand the radical work of the Gospel, we must understand that the Gospel runs counter to everything that man is taught. The Gospel is opposed to every rational thing that we teach our children. The core concept that is most repulsive to us is seen in John 12. But before we dwell upon the Gospel and “waste”, I want us to see what other things can block the power of the Gospel from our lives. This will lead us into a deeper understanding of the power of the Gospel for our everyday lives. This will open the Gospel to us and it will drive our discipleship.

The Gospel is “Death with a view to increase”. Discipleship is “gaining by trading”. Fruitfulness is the result of living the Gospel. We are not talking of your own fruitfulness, like looking at your garden and admiring your green thumb. We are speaking of fruit that comes from gaining the life of Jesus Christ. Fruit comes from Him and our willingness to give everything to Him.

John 12:24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

A grain of wheat has life in it, but it abides alone. It has the power to impart life to others, but to do so it must be buried in death.

2 Corinthians 4:11-12 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

Is Life at work in You? Are you experiencing the Life that is in Jesus Christ? Do you ache when you spend a day without a word from Him? Do you miss not spending time in prayer and fellowship with Him? If His life is at work in you, you know it. If it is not, perhaps you have become hardened to the Gospel. Perhaps you will see yourself in John 12, and God will speak to you this morning, calling you to repent, calling you to waste your life for the sake of Jesus Christ.

John 12 is a chapter about Life and Death, Light and Darkness, Man’s Wisdom vs. God’s Wisdom. At the beginning we see Lazarus who came back to life from the dead. He is the testimony of what a Christian is to be. In the middle we see people who want to see Jesus, but they are blind, their hearts are darkened. At the end we see a lonely Jesus talking to a group of people who just don’t get Him:

John 12:44-50 And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”

There is light in the words of Christ. There is Life in the Words of Christ. But our hearts are easily hardened to the power of Christ and His Gospel. Our eyes are easily dulled to witness the power of the Gospel.

Let’s see how our hearts can become hard, and our eyes become dull:

There are three people seen in John 12. There are the Disciples, who supposedly follow Jesus. There are the Greeks who want to see Jesus. There are the Pharisees who despise Jesus. Finally, there is a solitary woman named Mary, and our attention will be drawn to her in a moment.

1. The Greeks

Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. (Joh 12:20-26)

The Greeks wanted to see Jesus. They made a big deal about seeing him. As if they were important and were worth an audience with Him. The fact that they used intermediaries to see Jesus indicates they were men of station and means. In the oriental world important people would always use intermediary agents. As important men they would never go directly to Jesus. They required an introduction.

  • Man’s Status is not an element of the Gospel.
  • Only Dying Slaves have Status with God

Jesus answered Philip and Andrew’s request by referring to His approaching Glory.

John 12:23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”

His glory is not based upon His status or rank, but simply upon His death. Jesus answered their request with a grain of wheat, and how it must die to bear fruit. If anyone wants to see Jesus, they must hate their life and their status, and follow Him as a slave, a person with no status.

God will honor all those who hate this life and follow Jesus as a slave.

2. The Pharisees & the Crowd

One more time Jesus speaks of glory.

“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” (Joh 12:27-28)

And the crowd heard the voice of God. Jesus said further, When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to myself.”

But the people didn’t understand. They said the Law teaches that Christ will abide forever. How could the Son of Man die? Their eyes were blind to Jesus. Their hearts were hardened to Jesus being the Messiah. The Pharisees and the crowd could not see Jesus as Lord because they were too focused on their standing, and what they thought should be the standing of the Messiah.

The word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said, “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.” Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. (Joh 12:38-50)

The Pharisees could not see the Glory of God because they loved the glory of man. They put their own concepts of standing and status before God’s. They could not see the glory of God hanging on the cross. It was a foreign concept to them. It kept their eyes blind and their hearts hard.

Do you seek man’s glory? Do you like the admiration of men? Does it bother you when men think bad of you, or look down on you?

Is standing important to you? Do position, influence and power matter to you? If you answered even a tiny ‘yes’ to any of those things, you might not understand the Gospel. Your eyes might be blind to the power of the Gospel. Your heart might be hardened to the power of the Gospel.

But the real test of whether the Gospel is impacting your life is in the third group, the Disciples.

3.  The Disciples

Money and things can harden our heart to the message of the Gospel.

Mark 14:4-9 There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

To show you how hard hearts can get over money, look what Mark records as happening next:

Mark 14:10-11 Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray him.

Jesus is being honored because He brought Life to a dead man. He raised a dead man to life. Not a sick man, not a comatose man, but a dead rotting in the ground, stinking to high heaven man. Jesus had brought life to a dead man, and all the disciples could worry about was how wasteful this woman was. A woman (Mary) took an alabaster flask of spikenard and used it to anoint the head and feet of Jesus. She even used her hair to wipe his feet. The disciples reacted indignantly, especially Judas. They said this is such a waste, it should have been sold for a year’s worth of wages and given to the poor.

The Gospel is Never “Rational”

What she did was so unusual, that most ‘normal, rational Christians’ would find it a waste. They shake their heads and turn the judgmental faucet on. Jesus reacted with some stern comments. His comments will shed some insight into the Gospel that you and I believe in. I want to unwrap His comments so we can learn the power of the Gospel in our everyday lives.

Why was the ointment wasted like that? Why this Waste?

Waste-apóleia; gen. apōleías, fem. noun from apóllumi , to destroy fully. Used trans. the losing or loss (Matt. 26:8), intrans. perdition, ruin. In the NT, apóleia refers to the state after death wherein exclusion from salvation is a realized fact, wherein  .[1]

In 1 Tim. 6:9 the words ólethros and apóleia occur together referring to those who determine to be rich. In this instance, ólethros refers to the actual physical death of those who desire to be rich by any means such as Judas, Ananias and Sapphira. Apóleia, on the other hand, refers to separation from God Himself in fulfillment of our Savior’s warnings that the rich enter the kingdom of heaven with difficulty (Matt. 19:23, 24; Mark 10:25). [2]

Jesus responds to His blind and hardened disciples:

1. Leave her alone

Jesus issued a stern rebuke to His disciples. Give it up guys! Stop it! You are so wrong Guys. You just don’t get it! Jesus wanted his men to see something amazing about the Gospel. It is a foundational principle of God’s character revealed in the Gospel. It is a principle which must be applied to our life if we are to experience the power of Jesus Christ.

Sometimes we are quick to judge someone, especially because of something they do that seems to be stupid or dumb. God often has a lesson for us to see and understand. God’s ways are not our ways, and we must learn to see God in those moments that seem such a waste.

Have you ever said something or thought something about what someone has done and you say, I know I should say this, or I don’t mean any disrespect… Jesus is telling you to “Leave Her Alone”

2. Why do you trouble her. (Cause her pain)

The disciples probably thought they were something else. They had already argued about who was going to sit at the right hand of Christ. So they thought they were entitled to look down their noses at this poor unfortunate woman.

Jesus said stop causing her pain. Spiritual pride gets in the way of the work of the Spirit. It can cause pain in the body. The idea of this Greek word for cause  is ‘minister’.

  • The disciples were ministering pain to the body.

The Gospel is about Honoring Jesus Christ through your life. You can touch and encourage people and other disciples. You can strengthen others with your words and your actions. But when you allow things to darken your eyes, you can say and do things that bring pain to the body, to other believers. You cause pain to Jesus Christ. He says, why do you trouble her.

3. She has done a beautiful thing to me

Mark 14:6 καλὸν kalon ἔργον ergon  ἠργάσατο ērgasato ἐν en ἐμοί. emoi –A GOOD WORK SHE HAS PERFORMED ON ME

expresses beauty as a harmonious completeness, balance, proportion. Good as to effect or influence, useful, profitable, equivalent to hálas, salt[3]

We are to be salt to this world and to each other. And if we do it to honor Christ, the world will say that is so wasteful.

Here was a woman who wasted her beauty on the beauty of Jesus Christ. Her future as a wife and mother was bound up in that alabaster jar. It was her dowry given for marriage. She considered honoring Jesus so important that she poured out her beauty, her future, her everything upon his dirty feet, his dirty hair.

To give your life to Jesus Christ as a living sacrifice. To give Him your future, your reputation, your desires, and your dreams is a beautiful thing to God. It is considered your obligation as a follower of Jesus Christ. But if you want to do something really beautiful to Jesus, you must waste something. You must do something so ‘irrational’ that even disciples will say, “what a waste.”

4. She did what she could.

This single woman, who a few days before had been scolding Jesus for not coming sooner to heal sick Lazarus. She even blamed Jesus for his death. Now she was so touched by His compassion and love, that she was willing to give Him her future. Here was her dowry, reserved for the day of her betrothal, and now she was willingly pouring it upon her Savior.

She did it willingly, sacrificially, but most importantly, she did it! There was no delay, no hesitation, no doubt. If she had waited but a week, Jesus would have been dead.

Parents, Grandparents, are you doing anything wasteful for your family. Are you doing anything wasteful for God? What you can do should always be a waste. We do not limit our discipleship by what is rational or even prudent. We do what we can. We waste our lives, our possessions for the sake of the gospel.

5. She demonstrated the Gospel.

How did a foolish, wasteful act by an obviously desperate single woman display the Gospel? Why was this seemingly foolish act so important that Jesus said it would be told alongside the Gospel for the rest of time? The Gospel will be proclaimed throughout eternity.

  • She died to her future.
  • She broke the bottle of her substance
  • She poured out her life to be united with Jesus
  • A sweet fragrance covered the Savior and filled the room.

What is waste?

Waste means giving more than necessary. If something costs a dollar and you pay $5, it is a waste. If a pint will be enough to paint, a gallon would be a waste. Waste means you give something too much for something too little. If someone is receiving more than he is worth, that is a waste.

But the action of Mary would go wherever the Gospel is preached. Why? Christ wants all those who respond to the Gospel to waste themselves on Him.

Adoniram Judson

Adoniram Judson labored in Burma in the early 1800’s. He was bright, ambitious, and could have been very successful in his life. Instead, he chose to be a missionary for Jesus Christ.

Life in Burma was beyond hard. This was a ‘hard’ mission field. It was six years before his first convert. The hardships he and his family experienced were deadly.

Adoniram buried two young wives and six young children, victims of the diseases and rigors of Burma. He was imprisoned to the point of starvation and death. He was tortured mercilessly. He labored long hours suffering from fever, headaches, poor eyesight, all due to the conditions he lived in. He had only one furlough in 38 years. After being imprisoned for 17 months, and upon being released experiencing the death of his wife and infant, and hearing of the death of his father, he even suffered a crisis of despair and lost faith.

“God is to me the Great Unknown. I believe in him, but I find him not.[4]

He even dug a grave in the tiger infested jungle and for 30 days would retreat there and contemplate his wasted life. He despaired to the point of desiring death. As God and some Burmese worked to pull him out of his despair, his faith slowly returned. The next year (1831) saw a miraculous outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit as hundred turned to Christ.

  • It took Judson 12 years to make 18 converts.

When Judson began his mission in Burma, he set a goal of translating the Bible and founding a church of 100 members before his death. When he died, he left the Bible, 100 churches, and over 8,000 believers.

Adoniram Judson “hated his life in this world” and was a “seed that fell into the ground and died.” In his sufferings “he filled up what was lacking in Christ’s afflictions” in unreached Burma. Therefore his life bore much fruit and he lives to enjoy it today and forever. He would, no doubt, say: It was worth it.

In the world’s view, giving yourself to Christ and serving as a Pastor or a Missionary is a waste of ability. If someone of great natural ability surrenders that to serve the Lord, his friends will say “such a waste”.

Are you experiencing the power of the Gospel? Are you more in love with Jesus today than last year, or even 20 years ago? Would He say you have done a beautiful thing for Him? Would He say you have done what you could?

What are you willing to waste for the sake of Jesus Christ?

Don’t let your love of money harden you. Don’t let your love of status or reputation blind you. Don’t let men influence you as to what is proper. Do you want to see the glory of Jesus Christ? Do you want to hear Him say, “You did what you could”? Then ask Him what you can waste for Him.

John 12:36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” 


[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 246.
[2] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 246.
[3] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 814.
[4] Anderson, To the Golden Shore, 398-399.
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Isaiah VisionIn the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. Isaiah 6:1-8

Isaiah did not have a vision until Uzziah died. Uzziah was a man of flesh, of fleshly means, of fleshly confidence. And until the flesh is dead, we cannot see a vision from God! When Isaiah saw his vision, he cried out three simple short words:

  • WOE – a word of confession

  • LO – a word of cleansing

  • GO – a word of commission

woe is meIsaiah’s Vision was Three-Fold

  • It was an upward vision-he saw the Lord
  • It was an inward vision – he saw himself
  • It was an outward vision – he saw the world
  • It was a vision of height – he saw the Lord high and lifted up
  • It was a vision of depth – he saw the recesses of his own heart.
  • It was a vision of breadth – he saw the whole world.
  • A vision of Holiness – Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts:
  • A vision of Hellishness – I am undone
  • A vision of Hopelessness – who will go for us?

Isaiah before throneWhere there is no VISION the people perish, but you can say where there is no PASSION the church perishes, even though it is full of people.

  • A Vision without Passion soon becomes a distant memory..
  • A Passion without a Vision becomes an emotion that fades away.
  • A Vision united with a Passion will produce a Light that fadeth not away.

A Vision of Hell will produce a Passion for the Lost.

Richman in HellJust think of the rich man. He was in Hades, he saw hell, and he wanted someone, anyone to run and tell his brothers about hell. No man lives beyond his vision. Your life will only have as much significance as whatever your focus is on. If you are only focused on yourself, you will be significant only to your self. If because of a VISION from God you focus on the needs of others, you will be significant in ministering to others.

We don’t need to pray for sinners to have a vision of Hell, they simply need a vision of the reality of Calvary as seen by the way we live our lives.

We need to see a Holy God! We need to tremble before Him. We need to let that Vision burn in our souls and ignite a Passion for Righteousness, a Passion for Jesus, a Passion to reach out to those trudging on the road to Hell. Each one of us has an appointment with God. He awaits us in eternity. We had better be at peace with Him here and be in the center of His will NOW!

In chapters 1 through 5 Isaiah has a lot of woes for a lot of people. But in chapter 6 he sees God and sees himself as God sees him and cries WOE is ME! Satan loves to get us looking at other people and all their problems. But God’s Holy Spirit wants us to look at God and realize we are so far from Him!

Its me, its me O Lord, in need of prayer!

Chagall_Bible_Vision_IsaiahIn your soul there are many”rooms“. Are there secret rooms in your life that are shut off from God’s Holy Spirit? Are there rooms where the Holy Spirit is not welcome? Is there a room cluttered with unclean pictures? Are there any skeletons hanging in your closets? Can you invite the Holy Ghost to walk down the corridors of your thought life? Can you invite him in to see the hatred in your heart toward others. Can you invite Him to listen in as you speak evil of others?

isaiah lipsThere are three people living in each of us:

  • the one we think we are,
  • the one other people think we are,
  • and the one God knows we are.

Unless we are desperate to pursue after the Righteousness of Christ, we can be so easy on ourselves and so hard on others. Self loves self. Too often we hide ourselves from ourselves lest the sight of ourselves should sicken ourselves. Let us invite the searching eye of God to locate this corrupted, stinking self in us. Let it be torn from us and be “crucified with Him, that henceforth we should no longer serve sin (Rom 6:6).

It does no good to call sin by another name. You can criticize someone for having a devilish temper, but say that yours is only righteous indignation. You can criticize someone for blatant gossip, but excuse your own negative words about someone as “prayer concerns.” You can excuse your not speaking to a brother or sister or father or mother because of their “ungodly influence and lifestyle” yet God sees your Judging heart and says your are guilty of ungodly pride and un-forgiveness.

The Holy Spirit will neither spare us nor cheat us if we will expose ourselves to His infallible scrutiny.Jesus touches eyes

In Mark 10:51 Jesus asked the blind man “What wilt thou that I should do unto thee?” He replies “Lord, that I might receive sight!”

Let us pray for sight-upward, inward and outward. Then like Isaiah, as we look upward, we will see the Lord in all His Holiness. As we look inward, we will see ourselves and our need for cleansing and power. As we look outward, we will see a world perishing and in need of a Savior.Hell Fire burns for eternity


2-Cor-4_11-Delivered-unto-death As followers of Christ we are to seek to see Jesus manifested in our flesh. This is what Paul says in 2 Cor 4:11: “For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus‘ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. After all, it is our visible displays that the world can see. They see peace in the midst of storms, joy in the face of disease or death, calm and peace in the face of frustrating circumstances. What controls the inner man always reveals itself in the outer man. This is why Jesus placed such emphasis on love for one another, especially the unlovely-the poor, the hungry, the naked. The Christian to be effective in this world or cynicism needs to make the invisible Christ known in our visible bodies. Paul says how we are to do this, by being constantly delivered unto death and then by the implied relying on Jesus alone for life.

Adam depended upon God for LifeA man delivered unto death has no power over his own life. He has no power to act on his own. Adam in the garden was to be dependent upon God and all that God gave him to have power over. Adam was to have no power over the fruit of two trees in the midst of the garden-the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the tree of Life. Adam was to depend totally upon God for life, and totally upon God for the knowledge and power to live this life. Adam was not to live independently of God. Adam was not to know about evil and good, and thereby have the power to act independently of God. jesus-tattoo-God and the knowledge of Him was to be Adam’s life.

When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, they became possessed with an inherent power to act independently from God, a power that played into Satan’s hands. You lose that power when you come to new life in Jesus Christ. He is your new Lord. You are to live life now by the life of Jesus Christ, and draw everything for living from Him. (Gal 2:20).jesus-on-backpack2

jesus in my backpackWe say we desire to give glory to God with our lives, yet by acting under our own power, we give glory to ourselves. We fool ourselves into thinking we are living in Christ when there is very little we do that does not require His power to act. We live, eat, work and play with Jesus carefully tucked in our backpack, or tattooed on our body.answer-me-jesus-prophet-ball Occasionally we even consult our magic Jesus Prophet doll and ask Him “what would you do”? We do so little trembling in our lives. If we were being delivered unto death, we would be trembling. If we were facing our Creator God, we would be trembling. We do not know what it is to be “always delivered unto death”. And so the life of Jesus is not manifested to the dying world around us. They see a different Jesus, a powerless Jesus, a Homeboy Jesus.

My Homeboy Jesus ShirtBecause we are acting under our own power, we live a self-assured, yet self-possessed Christian life. In such a life, Jesus Christ cannot be revealed. Too often we have decided, acted, and had power apart from Him. The Christ we manifest is too small because in ourselves we have grown too big.

Prayer: Lord, deliver me unto death. Deliver me into the life which depends totally upon Jesus Christ. I give you my heart, my soul, my body and my strength. My life is under your control. My life will be in your hands from this day forward.


Joshu Lets Go Across the JordanIt is time to cross the Jordan River.

Reminds me of a couple of gals at their 40th High School Reunion. This was the first time they had seen each other in 40 years. The one gal asked the other, “You were always so organized in school, Did you manage to live a well planned life?” “Yes,” said her friend. “My first marriage was to a millionaire; my second marriage was to an actor; my third marriage was to a preacher; and now I’m married to an undertaker.” Her friend asked, “What do those marriages have to do with a well planned life?”

“One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, and four to go.”

Well, it’s time to go. Let’s look at Joshua one this morning and we will find three important things from God’s Word:Challenge Confidence Conduct

  1. T he Challenge God Presents
  2. The Confidence God Provides
  3. The Conduct God Presumes

The Challenge God Presents

1:1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, it came to pass that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: 2 “Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them–the children of Israel.

Crossing the River JordanIt is time to go through the Jordan River. The Israelites could not build a bridge. They could not go around. They had to go through the Jordan. The reason is because the Jordan River represents death. As we learned last week the entire purpose of the wilderness wanderings was to teach them that they had to put off the old man, the old flesh, and live by the power of God. Joshua in particular had to align himself with the Captain of the Hosts, He had to die to what he thought was best, and follow what God wanted to do. In that respect Joshua represents a man who has joined himself with the power of the Holy Spirit.

Challenge God Presents

Now it was time for the entire nation of Israel to claim the inheritance God was giving them. In order to do so they must die to the flesh, and their fleshly desires, and live according to God and His Word.

The Jordan River always represents Death in the Bible.

  • It feeds into the dead sea.
  • Lot spied the Jordan Valley and thought it was a Valley of Life. But actually it was the way of death.
  • (There is a way which seems right to man, but the ways thereof are the ways of death)
  • Elisha had to cross over the Jordan to get Elijah’s power
  • Elisha told Naaman to go to the Jordan and dip himself seven times in order to be cleansed of the Leprosy.
  • The axe head fell into the Jordan River and Elisha made it float with the tree.
  • John the Baptist baptized those who brought forth works meet for repentance in the Jordan.
  • Jesus was baptized in the Jordan.
  • Baptism is a picture of death to self and rising to new life.

In order to live in the promised land, in order to enter into God’s rest, in order to be born again and put on the new man, we all must cross over the Jordan River. We must die to self and sin and what we want and then rise to walk in newness of life, in the Power of the Holy Spirit.

Victory over the FleshThe challenge that God presents is that this inheritance, this rest can only be claimed by dying to the flesh, dying to what you want, and by living in the power of the Holy Spirit! The Jordan is a picture of the Cross. You always have to die by passing through Jordan to get to Canaan. The only way to be born again is to experience the Cross. When you are willing to die, then you are in the place where God raise you up and use you.

Joshua Is The Man United With The Holy Spirit

Joshua a man united with the Holy SpiritYou Must Be Willing to Die to the Flesh in order for God to Raise You Up and Use You to Claim the Inheritance.

  • Romans 8:8-9 “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you.
  • Romans 13:14 “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.”
  • 1 Corinthians 15:50 “Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.”

The Mark of a Christian: No Confidence in the FleshNo Confidence in the Flesh

  • Philippians 3:3 “For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh”
  • James 4:10 “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up.”
  • “When all the nation were clean passed over Jordan” God Spoke (Joshua 4:1)

The Confidence God Provides

Confidence God ProvidesWhen God presents a challenge to us, a challenge to die to what we want, and to live in His power, He always gives us the confidence of a promised victory! God provides us three-fold ammunition to assure us of victory:Promises, Presence, Past Performance

God’s Promises

  • Verse 2 I am going to give this land to you.
  • Verse 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot.
  • Verse 5 No one will be able to stand up against you.
  • Verse 6 You will lead these people to inherit the land.

The outcome was promised. They would be victorious over the enemy. They would claim the land that God had given them for an inheritance. No matter how long it took and no matter how many casualties were sustained the outcome was guaranteed – God promised. The full extent  of the inheritance was not realized until David and Solomon. But in God’s mind it had already been secured. God had promised this to Abraham (Gen 12) God had promised this to Moses (Deut 34:4) There was going to be no repetition of what happened at Kadesh Barnea (Num 13) Joshua 14:9 (ESV) And Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden shall be an inheritance for you and your children forever, because you have wholly followed the Lord my God.’ 1 Kings 8:56 (NKJV) “Blessed be the Lord, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised. There has not failed one word of all His good promise, which He promised through His servant Moses.

In God, Joshua Can’t Fail, Because GOD CAN’T FAIL..

God Can't FailGod has given us a mission that can’t fail because he won’t. God had already given them the land; it was their responsibility now to step out by faith and claim it. Revelation 11:15 “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever.” You Have An Inheritance That Is SURE. All that we need is in Christ. We are seated with Him and Blessed in Him in the heavenlies. We have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ. He has made us to be more than conquerors. He is the author and perfector of our faith. What more do you need to know that you can live a victorious, joyful life, regardless of the circumstances.

You Have No Enemies That Can Defeat You.

No one can stand against you if you are claiming Christ’s Inheritance. We normally think of Satan when we think of enemies. Or maybe terrorists with masks and bombs. But for most of us the enemies that can defeat us are friends, family, gossip, money problems, discouragement, sickness, disease, circumstances. These are the enemies we encounter everyday. The saddest thing in God’s mind is a Christian who has let their heart be overcome by hatred for a fellow Christian or family member, or overcome with discouragement because of a financial setback, or become depressed because of a sickness or even the loss of a loved one. I guarantee you that even though most everyone in this church claims that Christ lives in your heart by faith, that there are some here who are living in defeat because of some situation that has defeated you either emotionally, physically, or psychologically. If Jesus Christ is in your heart, there is no such thing as living a defeated life. He reigns over every situation.

The only way to claim this confidence that God wants us to live in is by seeing Him who is invisible. There are rooms in our lives that we tend to block Jesus out of. We don’t let the Holy Spirit in. He stands at the door of that room and knocks. He says let me come in and show you the victory I have for your life. In 2 Corinthians 1:19-20 (NIV) we are told: For the Son of God, Jesus Christ…in him it has always been “Yes.” For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.” The promises of God are completed in Jesus Christ. He is the YES to all God has promised. When we live our lives in Jesus Christ, we are the AMEN to God’s promises. Our testimony shouts to the folks around us “AMEN to Jesus Christ!”

“O God, you promised, and I believe in your promise.  Please do what you have promised.”  That is praying according to the will of God.

God’s Presence

God's PresenceJoshua 1:5 “I will not leave you nor forsake you.” What a promise God gave to Joshua! “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you or forsake you” (Josh 1:5, NIV). God had given a similar promise to Jacob (Gen. 28:15), and Moses had repeated God’s promise to Joshua (Deut. 31:1-8). God has given this promise to His people today! The Gospel of Matthew opens with “Emmanuel…God with us” (1:23) and closes with Jesus saying, “Lo, I am with you always” (28:20 NKJV).

The writer of Hebrews 13:5 quotes Joshua 1:5 and applies it further. Hebrews 13:5-6 (NKJV) Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” to Christians today: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (NKJV).

Covetousness and Confidence in God’s Presence

Jesus cant come where there is covetousnessHe relates confidence in God’s presence to lack of covetousness or fondness for money. Christians have come a long way since that moment when Joshua led the people across the Jordan. Our confidence is too often in our money our possessions. If you want God’s presence in your life, you confidence must be in Him alone. Many Christians have a real fondness for their possessions, their money. They watch it all the time. Here God was bringing Israel into a place where money was not going to do the job. It was an impossible task. God offered Joshua the promise of His presence, and in so doing, there can be no confidence in anything else!

Romans 8:31 says if God be for us, who can be against us? But if we be not for God, why should He battle for us. In fact, if our confidence is in our money, God says He will vomit us from His presence

Revelations 3:17 mentions this Laodicean church. The people were saying: ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. When our confidence is in our money, our things, when that is what we delight in, God withdraws from us, or at very best lies grieving in a basement closet of our life. We think we are blessed, but God says Here, Look in My Mirror-you are wretched, inwardly miserable, poor, blind and naked. Here, God was promising His presence to a scared insecure band of runaway slaves. They had nothing in which to be confident. All the Gold the Egyptians gave them was useless in the fight against the Giants of Canaan.

JESUS is with us NOW! But We Can Shut Him out of our Lives

That is the promise of Jesus to us that many of us ignore – And ignoring it is not so much a sin as it is sad. At the end of the letters to the churches in Revelation 3:20 (NLT) “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Even though we are Christians, and the Holy Spirit indwells us, IT IS POSSIBLE TO SHUT JESUS OUT OF YOUR LIFE, AND NOT FEAST WITH HIM ON HIS WORD. We must repent of our fleshly confidence in our wealth and things and talents. These things make us indifferent to the Cause of Jesus Christ. Repent and open the door!

God’s Past Performance

Joshua 1:5 – Just  as I was with Moses, so  I will be with you.

Gods past performanceJoshua knew the history of God’s faithfulness to his people. He had heard how God had steadfastly worked in Abraham’s, Isaac’s, Jacob’s and Joseph’s lives.  He had heard the stories over and over again of God’s protection, God’s provision and God’s power on behalf of his people. As a very young man he had witnessed the miracles of the plagues in Egypt, the saving of the first-born Israelites from the angel of death, the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea, and the manna from the skies. God had proven himself faithful.

“Living victoriously is not your responsibility – it’s your response to God’s  ability!”

Those stories and countless others like them are our stories too. Yes you can be cynical and say that the good things of life are just coincidental. But if you believe in God and believe that he sent his Son Jesus for us, then it is illogical not to accept that “every good and perfect gift is from above” as James said it, and not to take courage that the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joshua is the same God who is faithful to me today.

Confidence in God comes from trust in His promises, His Presence and His Past performance.

God Gives Us The Challenge To Claim Something He Has Secured, God Gives Us The Confidence Of Victory Based Upon Unbeatable Ammunition, God Assumes We Will Abide By His Rules.

The Conduct that God Presumes

Joshua 1:6-9 (KJV) Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

Before God could fulfill His promises, however, Joshua had to exercise faith and “be strong and of good courage” (1:6).

Promises of God no pillowTHE PROMISES ARE NOT A PILLOW BUT A PROD

Divine sovereignty is not a substitute for human responsibility. God’s sovereign Word is an encouragement to God’s servants to believe God and obey His commands.

As Charles Spurgeon put it, Joshua “was not to use the promise as a couch upon which his indolence might luxuriate, but as a girdle wherewith to gird up his loins for future activity” (Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, vol. 14, p. 97).

Real trust involves action – God says if you trust me you will obey me.

  • Be Strong & Of Good Courage
  • Focus On Your Responsibility (You Affect The Others Inheritance)
  • Be Strong & Very Courageous.
  • Build Your Life Around The Word And Instructions Of God
  • Be Purposeful Obedience Will Bring GOOD Success.
  • He Mentioned It Twice – Emphasizing Keeping It In Your Mouth.
  • Be Strong And Of A Good Courage; Be Not Afraid, Neither Be Thou Dismayed
  • I Am With You Always.

God says if you are going to live a worthwhile life, if you are going to accomplish the mission I have given you then this is what you must do – know and obey my Word, make it YOUR LIFE!

Covenant RelationshipOUR COVENANT RELATIONSHIP

God was reminding Joshua of the foundational strategy of living a worthwhile life – live an intimate relationship with God in his Word. God doesn’t give Joshua military instructions at this point. Wouldn’t that have been what you would have wanted? God give me the military intelligence I need on the armies we must fight, give me the battle plan, give me the names of the men I should put in charge. But God says if you want success in your mission, here is what I am telling you to do – meditate on my Word so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.

Meditate on God’s Word.

  • When are we going to learn that there is LIFE in this Word. There is Healing Power in this word. You want strong bones – meditate on the Word. You want a Strong Heart – meditate on the Word. You want to know how to Battle enemies – meditate on the Word.
  • It’s one thing to say to a leader, “Be strong! Be very courageous!” and quite something else to enable him to do it. Joshua’s strength and courage would come from meditating on the Word of God, believing its promises, and obeying its precepts.
  • It isn’t enough to have the Bible on your coffee table or in your car or next to you at church. Take time to read it daily and make it a part of his inner person by meditating on it (Ps. 1:2);. The Hebrew word translated “meditate” means “to mutter.” It was the practice of the Jews to read Scripture aloud (Acts 8:26-40) and talk about it to themselves and to one another (Deut. 6:6-9). This explains why God warned Joshua that the Book of the Law was not to depart out of his mouth (Josh. 1:8).

“If you don’t talk to your Bible, your Bible isn’t likely to talk to you!”

The Word is Like the Covenant Feast

Word is our covenant feastThe modern ideal is individualism, self-interest, and self-centeredness. We glory in the philosophy that says, “I will do what I want to do, when and how I want to do it, and I don’t care what anyone else thinks.” But the moment we are converted, such life must come to an end, for as Christians we are called to live in covenant relationship with God and with each other. A covenant is an agreement between two or more persons; therefore, covenant life is community life, and a covenant person will seek, not his own interest, but that of the entire community. So a husband will look after the interests of his wife; parents will look after the interests of their children; and a believer in Christ will look after the interest of the whole community of believers of which he is a part.

Many who enter into a covenant-based life fail to live up to their promises and commitments to others. They become self-seekers instead. But the Bible detests such people. Instead, it praises those who keep their oaths even when it hurts (Psalm 15:4). Take, for example, Joshua’s agreement with the Gibeonites (Joshua 9). As inhabitants of Canaan, the Gibeonites were slated to be destroyed by the Israelites. But they deceived Joshua and the leaders into making a covenant of peace with them, and Joshua kept that covenant, even though it hurt him. Jesus Christ calls us all to live a covenant life, putting the interests of God and our fellow believers before our own.

WHERE ARE YOU IN YOUR JOURNEY?

Where Are You ChristianEach of us is on our own spiritual journey that will ultimately end in either Rest and Reward, or Punishment and Pain. I wish it were that easy. Good and Bad, Life or Death, Heaven or Hell, Black or White. But life is far from easy. In this life on earth we are usually in one of four places:

  • In Egypt, still in slavery to sin, and you need to be saved.
  • In the wilderness, redeemed, but going nowhere other than in circles.  Time of testing, dealing with the flesh, a time where the Holy Spirit is dealing with fleshly habits that keep you wandering. Been saved for years but you still aren’t really digging into your Bible, still not really praying, still not tithing consistently, still not making commitments to be faithful and to serve.  Been saved for years but never led a soul to Christ!  You’re not much closer to God than you were the day you got saved.
    • After leaving Egypt, the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for forty years due to their own unbelief and rebellion. An entire generation murmured against the covenant God had made with them and, as a result, they died in the desert. They did not enter into their inheritance of rest because of their disobedience.
  • In Canaan, excited, growing, having the joy of the Lord.  They’re not a wilderness wanderer, but a giant conqueror! You struggle with enemies, with the flesh, but you are in the Word, living your life and home in Jesus Christ. You are feasting on the Covenant Feast – the Word.
    • Enjoying Covenant Relationship
    • Marriage Relationship as the Bride of Christ
  • An “EASTSIDER” living on the dead side of Jordan. You are saved, but in the world, living for the flesh, for what you think is right. Occasionally you eat some of the milk and honey from the Lord. You cattle are well fed. You probably have money. But your family is falling apart, there is sin at the door. Satan is having a heyday stealing your inheritance.

Heb 4:1 Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. 2 For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. 3 For we who have believed do enter that rest.

Now the second generation were east of the Jordan River, ready to enter the land. They had already defeated Sihon king of Heshbon and Og king of Bashan (Deuteronomy 1:4), thus gaining possession of the territories of these two Amorite kings on the east side of the Jordan River, stretching from the Arnon River in the south to Mount Hermon in the north, beyond the Sea of Galilee. They controlled hundreds of cities of the Amorites, including such fertile lands as Bashan and Gilead. The Bible speaks about “the cows of Bashan,” meaning cows that are healthy and well-fed because of the fertile land. Numbers 32:1 and Deuteronomy 3:19 tell us that the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh possessed large numbers of livestock. So they approached Moses and the other leaders with this request: “Please do not make us cross the Jordan, but let us possess these fertile lands on the east side of Jordan” (Numbers 32:5). In this request, we can see their sinful rejection of the covenant obligations of community life. They were rejecting God’s plan and not living by faith. They were placing their own interests and that of their cattle over the interests of all the other tribes.

lot chooses Jordan ValleyJUST LIKE LOT: many centuries before. Genesis 13:10-11 tells us that “Lot looked up and saw that the whole plain of the Jordan was well watered, like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt . . . So Lot chose for himself the whole plain of the Jordan.” Lot made his choice based on one reason – he owned many cattle. Lot based his decision on sight, not on faith.

Like Lot, these two and a half tribes were making their decision based, not on faith, but on selfish, material interests. They were refusing to cross over the Jordan, to die to their self and selfish wants. Jesus once warned his followers, “The pagans run after all these things” (Matthew 6:32). “These things” there means money, or material possessions. Pagans live for money, making decisions based on the possibility of making more money.

Moses was mad at their request. In anger he called them a “brood of sinners” (Numbers 32:14) and asked, “Shall your brothers go to war while you sit here?” (v. 6).

You see, they were not thinking about being brothers and part of the twelve-tribe community. They were only thinking about themselves. They did not want to cross the mighty Jordan to endanger themselves by fighting wars against the Canaanites. They wanted to enjoy the good life while the others fought on their behalf. In effect, they were saying, “Let the others cross the Jordan and fight the wars of the Lord. We just want to rest and take care of our livestock. We are sick and tired of wandering. We have no more stomach for battles.”

Just as these tribes rejected covenant community life in favor of a self-centered life, so there are believers who confess Jesus as Lord and take upon themselves covenant responsibilities, only to reject them. They refuse to cross over the Jordan, to die to self, to the flesh.

They Repented and Agreed to Fight

Numbers 32:16-19 tells us that these two and a half tribes repented of their sins and renewed their covenant. They entered into an agreement with Moses, Joshua, Eleazar, and other leaders which included these three promises:

  1. Their armed men would cross over the Jordan with their brothers;
  2. They would go ahead of everybody else as the vanguard to face the greatest danger of fighting; and
  3. They would not return to their homes until every Israelite had received his inheritance.

IN OUR COVENANT RELATIONSHIP, GOD KEEPS HIS PROMISES!

Yes, when God makes a promise, we can rely on it, for God is not a man that he should lie, nor does he ever change. “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ’Yes’ in Christ’” (2 Corinthians 1:20). He promised rest to all the tribes and he would keep that promise. But would the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh fulfill what they had promised?

Consequences to not crossing the Jordan

Although these tribes ultimately repented, there were some consequences to their decision to obtain land on the east of the Jordan. The wives and children they left behind were deprived of the privilege of witnessing divine miracles – the parting of the Jordan River, the destruction of the walls of Jericho, and the many battles fought and won. And in later years, due to their great distance from the temple, these tribes came more and more under pagan influence, and were the first to go into captivity.

We Must Agree to Obey & Join the Battle

  • This is exactly what we mean when we say, “Jesus is Lord.” We are telling the greater Joshua: “Whatever you command, we will do, and wherever you send, we will go. If we do not do it, put us to death.” That is covenant language. Joshua was so pleased with these people that he gave them this certification in Joshua 22:2: “You have done all that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded, and you have obeyed me in everything I commanded.”

Some people live under the mistaken notion that Jesus said, “A new commandment I give you: Love yourself.” But is that what he said? No, he said, “Love one another” (John 13:34). That is covenant life. In fact, Jesus said we must love one another “as I have loved you.” We do not even have the right to love the way we want to love. How did Jesus love us? By dying on the cross for our sins! Therefore, we too must lay down our lives for our brothers. This is serious community life. I hope we will not say, “Who is that person? I don’t have anything to do with him!” No, you have everything to do with that person because he has been saved by Christ and brought into the family of God. Jesus then said, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (v. 35).

East-siders’ settle for less than God’s best.  They may have marched the football all the way down the field, but they allow the devil’s goal line stand to keep them out.  With the promised land in sight, they give up and are shut down, just inches away from victory!

It’s easy for Christians to get into a ‘comfort zone’, and never reach the ‘end zone.’  They’re better off than they were in Egypt or the wilderness, and that’s good enough for them.  God’s best for their life is just a step away, but they don’t take that step, and cross the Jordan River.

“I may not be on fire for God but I’m not exactly living in sin, either!”

Ready to Join the Battle

The peril is that having begun in the Spirit, you might turn aside to make some compromise with Amalek, because of the hardness of the way, the greatness of the cost, by reason of the conflict and forgetting God’s word – “utterly destroy Amalek” (1 Samuel 15:3). “Walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit” (Rom. 8:4).

We settle for a peaceful coexistence with the flesh. God says to destroy Amalek.

People, it’s time to Roll. It’s time to Go.

Hebrews 6:1 (NLT) So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God.


we-would-see-jesusA little boy was sick on Palm Sunday and stayed home from church with his mother. His father returned from church holding a palm branch. The little boy was curious and asked, “Why do you have that palm branch, dad?” “You see, when Jesus came into town, everyone waved Palm Branches to honor him, so we got Palm Branches today.” The little boy replied, “ Aw Shucks! The one Sunday I miss is the Sunday that Jesus shows up!”

Have you ever though how wonderful it would have been to be there when the throngs of people lined the streets leading to Jerusalem. How marvelous to see Jesus riding through the Eastern Gate and shouting Hosanna to the Highest!

The whole city was a buzz of talk of the Messiah. The hubbub was so great that everyone was wanting to see Jesus.

The Pharisees were so jealous. In John 12:19 they exclaimed, “Look, the whole world has gone after him!”rock-star-jesus2

Jesus had become a Rock Star to use language you might understand. It was as if He had won American Idol. And with fame comes those who are curious. Look with me at John 12:20-36.

Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn Andrew and Philip told Jesus. But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor. “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.” Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to Him.” Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” This He said, signifying by what death He would die. The people answered Him, “We have heard from the law that the Christ remains forever; and how can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?” Then Jesus said to them, “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them. John 12:21-36 (NKJV)

A simple request, Sir, we want to see Jesus! Yet John doesn’t record that they were able to see Jesus. In fact he says Jesus went and hid himself. Could it be that Jesus hides Himself from people today? We need to go back to the beginning of Christ’s ministry and see why Jesus reacted this way. Why He said and God said what He did. From the very beginning of His ministry people wanted to see Jesus.

1. People Wanted To See Jesus For What He Could Do…

jesus-casts-out-unclean-spirits1

  • Luke 4:35 Jesus casts out unclean spirits. The report of what He had done went out throughout the region.
  • Luke 5:12 Jesus cleanses a Leper. More reports, Great multitudes. (vs 15)
  • Luke 5:19, A Paralyzed man is lowered through the roof.
  • Luke 6, A man with a withered hand.
  • Jesus heals a whole multitude (Luke 6:19)
  • Luke 7:2 A Centurion seeks Jesus
  • Luke 7:13 Jesus raises the son of a widow woman from the deadjesus-raises-widows-son1
  • Luke 8:4 Great multitudes assembled and Jesus taught
  • Luke 8:41 Jairus wants to see Jesus to get him to heal his daughter. Jairus is a ruler of a local synagogue.
  • hem-of-his-garment2Luke 8:44 A woman with an issue of blood (12 years) touches the hem of the robe of Jesus
  • Luke 8:50, Jesus raises the daughter to life!
  • Luke 9:21 Jesus predicts His death.
  • Luke 9:37 Great multitudes continue to seek Jesus.
  • Luke 9:44 Jesus pleads with them to let His words sink down into their ears. He is about to die!
  • Luke 16:31 Story of a Rich man and a beggar they all knew as Lazarus. “If they do not Hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead.”
  • Luke 18:31 Jesus for the THIRD time predicts his Death but also His resurrection.multitude-praises-jesus1
  • Luke 18:41 WHAT DO YOU WANT ME TO DO FOR YOU?
  • Luke 18:42 He gives the blind man his sight
  • Luke 19:3 Zacchaeus wants to see Jesus.
  • Luke 19:28 The crowds reach the tumult, for His triumphant entry.
  • see-jesus-for-selfish-wants

    2. People Wanted To See Jesus For Their Own Selfish Wants

    • Luke 23:8 Herod was glad to see Jesus, for he thought he was a court jester, able to do miracles for entertainment.
      • He was a good luck charm, there for the Kings pleasure.
    • John 11:32 Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”
      • They wanted Jesus to do their bidding, to bail them out of a jam, heal their brother. They thought they had a monopoly on Jesus.

    People just didn’t understand Jesus. They valued Jesus only as someone who could do something for them. They did not value Jesus for who He is.

    Mary and Martha saw Jesus as the Christ of God, able to do mighty miracles because God would respond to His prayers. But Jesus wanted them to see that HE is LIFE. He is the Resurrection. He is God.

    Then Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” John 11:21-27 (NKJV)

    BUT THEY DID NOT SEE THAT GOD HIMSELF WAS STANDING BEFORE THEM, THAT JESUS CHRIST WAS THE RESURRECTION AND LIFE. HE IS LIFE.

    If you do not see Jesus as He is, you might as well be like the countless multitude who every Christmas gaze upon the manger scene and think how wonderful baby Jesus is. Look how neat he is to be born at Christmas time so we can get all kinds of gifts. You might as well get you a charm or a cross and wear it and tell all your friends how good Jesus is to you and how you love Him so. In the meantime you go around sinning just like the world. Jesus is just a lucky charm that you pull out when you get sick or things aren’t going right at work or home. You only want to see Jesus because He can do something for you. Jesus loves me after all. He forgives me, he loves me just the way I am.

    3. Do You Really Want to See Jesus?

    do-you-really-want-to-see-jesusDo you want to see the real Jesus Christ? Do you want to know the Son of God? Do you desire as Paul Prayed in Ephesians…

    “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height– to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” EPH 3:17-19   Christ came that we might be FILLED WITH THE FULLNESS OF GOD!

    JESUS REVEALED THREE CONDITIONS THAT MUST BE MET BEFORE YOU CAN REALLY SEE JESUS.

    A. HEAR & OBEY THE WORD OF CHRIST

    hear-and-obey-word-of-christ2 IN OUR TEXT: “This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake. Now is the judgment of this world”

    • Three times Jesus told them that He would die and rise again.
    • He told Martha that He was the resurrection and the Life.
    • He told the Rich man that if they did not listen to Moses and the prophets they would not believe even if they witnessed a person raise form the dead.

    There is only one thing that can open your eyes to see Jesus. A willingness to OBEY the Word of God.

    But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10:8-10 (NKJV)

    Obedience to the Words of Christ will result in a change of heart. That change of heart will result in a heart that desires to obey Him!

    “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ Matthew 7:21-23 (NKJV)

    But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say? Luke 6:46 (NKJV)

    You can say you LOVE Jesus. He can even be like a Rock Star to you. You can get you all teary eyed because He loves you so. But if you do not Listen to His Word, Believe His Word and OBEY it, take it into Your Heart and Life, you do not know the Real Jesus, and worst yet, He does not know you. Why should He reveal Himself to you if you don’t intend to fully obey Him. YOU ARE JUST LIKE ALL THE OTHERS WHO ARE TAKERS AND NOT OBEYERS.

    The Greeks wanted to see Jesus, and in answer, a Voice came from Heaven. It was the Voice of Jehovah, El Shaddai, Creator God. It was the Voice to be listened to and obeyed. “This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake. Now is the judgment of this world. Listen to the Voice of God, the Word of God. Obey, for Judgment has come.

    B. FOLLOW JESUS by SERVING HIM

    follow-jesus-by-serving-himIn our text: He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also.

    Jesus said: He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor. MATT 10:37-39

    Seeing the real Jesus requires a total surrender of your life, all that you want, all that you have. Anything less and you just want a good luck charm, You want to live your life for your benefit, and not Jesus. Why should He show His true self to someone who doesn’t want to follow Him, who doesn’t want to know Him as THEIR LORD, AS THEIR LIFE? If you love your life, your possessions, your place in this world, you can’t see Jesus. If you want to see the Author of Eternal Life, you must see Him without holding on to anything. Jesus will never show himself to you if you merely want someone to tag along as you live your life.

    C. GLORY IN THE POWER OF THE CROSS

    glory-in-the-power-of-the-crossIN OUR TEXT: And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.

    For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:17-18 (NKJV)

    Jesus never came to the world to be a Rock Star, the King of newly liberated Jews. Some teach that if only the Jews had accepted Him. No. Jesus came for the cross. He came to be cursed for you and me.

    The Cross is the most powerful message Christians have. Christians are nothing without the Cross.

    On the Cross Christ experienced the most severe physical pain, the most severe psychological pain, but worse than all that, He experienced Hell for all eternity. He became sin, He became the most disgusting thing in the entire universe. He became you and me. He took our place. “that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.” Hebrews 2:9

    He experienced an eternity of Hell for me. He experienced an eternity of Hell for you.

    It is curious that people who are filled with horrified indignation whenever a cat kills a sparrow can hear the story of the killing of God told Sunday after Sunday and not experience any shock at all.

    Jesus told his disciples, that if these men wanted to see Him, they must see Him on the Cross. “Judgment was now upon the world, and Satan was about to be dealt with. Jesus was about to be lifted up athe covenant sacrifice between God and man, Heaven and earth, Holy God and cursed man.

    Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” This He said, signifying by what death He would die. The people answered Him, “We have heard from the law that the Christ remains forever; and how can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this Son of Man?” Then Jesus said to them, “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.

    The cross is what brought light into the world. To see the Light of the world is not possible without seeing Christ crucified on the cross. But that is not enough. You don’t gaze upon the cross and think of poor Jesus. You don’t think upon the cross and wonder such a waste. What could he have done…

    We MUST EXPERIENCE the CROSS of CHRIST

    experience-the-cross-of-christThis is where most pretend followers fail. Like Judas, like Demas. Paul tells us we IDENTIFY with the Cross. Paul tells us that the Cross must be central in our life, It must be the core belief in our Walk with Jesus Christ. If we are to See Jesus on a Daily Basis, we must take up the cross DAILY, without complaint, without regret.

    But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:14 (NKJV)

    The cross is what seperates the Christian from being like the world. We die to self we die to what we want. To See Jesus we must serve Him, We must give our lives to the Cross. Paul cried his heart out over supposed Christians who became the enemy of the Cross.enemy-of-the-cross

    Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame–who set their mind on earthly things. Philippians 3:17-19 (NKJV)

    If you are a “professed” Christian, yet not embracing the cross, not dying to self, living in the world, loving the things of the world, doing shameful things, don’t pretend to be a follower of Christ. In reality you are an enemy of the cross, you are just like those soldiers beating and taunting Jesus. You haven’t seen Jesus on the Cross. The world has not been crucified to you.

    All those people wanted Jesus to do something for them. They followed and praised because He was a great prophet who could do such wonderful things for them. He healed, he spoke amazing words. But it is not about what Jesus can do for us.

    Jesus is no rock star. He is no American Idol. He does not want us to think about him that way. He will never reveal himself if you have that mind-set.

    What he told his disciples many times, what he told the crowds at least three times, if you want to see the Real Jesus, the Son of God Jesus, the Savior Jesus, the Redeemer Jesus, Jesus the Lamb of God, you must look long and hard at the Cross. You must look and see Him upon the Cross, dying for you. You must be willing to die to what you want, you must be willing to follow Him by taking up His Cross.

    He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. Matthew 10:37-39 (NKJV)

    In saving Private Ryan, we see a group of Army Rangers led by Tom Hanks trying to reach Private Ryan and bring him home. He wants to stay for one last fight, and in the battle, Tom Ryan is mortally wounded.

    Private Ryan leans over to him, and Tom Hanks whispers something to him. Private Ryan bent down and Tom Hanks said, “Earn this.”

    The truth is, no Army Ranger would ever say “Earn This”. Why? Because the Ranger motto for the past two hundred years has not been “Earn this.” The Ranger motto for the past two hundred years has been Sua sponte, “I chose this.” I volunteered for this.

    So, when Private Ryan bent down, if Tom Hanks was really a Ranger he would have said, “Sua sponte, I chose this. This is free. You don’t pay anything for this. I give up my life for you. That’s my job.”

    And so when you look at the cross and see Jesus hanging there, what you do not hear is “Earn this.” You never hear Jesus say, “Earn this.” He doesn’t say, “I’ve given everything for you. Now you need to gut it out for me.” What he says is “Sua sponte.” OF MY OWN ACCORD I volunteered for this. You don’t have to pay anything for it.

    take-up-your-cross-and-follow-jesusBut Jesus adds something else, that only the Son of God can say. He says, “Follow Me”.

    Because Jesus redeemed you with His life, Because He showed Sin and Satan and Death that His sacrifice was not in vain, for He rose from the dead as we will celebrate next week, He now says to you;

    Once you look upon the cross and turn away from your sin, this sinful world and being the boss of your life, then you must give your heart and life to me. I can give you Life. I can say to you FOLLOW ME.

    John Michael Montgomery sings “The Little Girl.”

    Her parents never took the young girl to church
    Never spoke of His name
    Never read her His word
    Two non-believers walking lost in this world
    Took their baby with them
    What a sad little girl

    Her daddy drank all day and mommy did drugs
    Never wanted to play
    Or give kisses and hugs
    She’d watch the TV and sit there on the couch
    While her mom fell asleep And her daddy went out

    And the drinking and the fighting
    just got worse every night
    Behind their couch she’d be hiding
    Oh what a sad little life

    And like it always does, the bad just got worse
    With every slap and every curse
    Until her daddy in a drunk rage one night
    Used a gun on her mom and then took his life

    And some people from the city took the girl far away
    To a new mom and a new dad
    kisses and hugs everyday

    the-little-girl-held-by-jesusHer first day of Sunday school the teacher walked in
    And a small little girl
    Stared at a picture of Him
    She said I know that man up there on that cross
    I don’t know His name
    But I know He got off

    Cause He was there in my old house
    and held me close to His side
    As I hid there behind our couch
    The night that my parents died

    This little girl saw Jesus. She didn’t know better. He came to her in her need. One time His light shown upon your life. He came to you in your need. What has happened since?

    Some of you have let your will, your life, your things, your world keep you from seeing Jesus. He is only a charm now. The cross is only something you wear around your neck. He is only a profession made years ago.

    For you to see Jesus, you must die to everything that is yours, you must embrace the cross, you must carry the cross, You must feel the cross. By the cross of Christ, disobedience, rebellion, hurts, bitterness, the flesh is crucified, and Jesus is allowed to LIVE in your life. Jesus becomes real.

    see-jesus-crucified-for-youDO YOU REALLY WANT TO SEE JESUS?