Posts Tagged ‘Pharisees’


Noah what are you building to save your worldOne area that Lydia & I struggled with as parents of six kids, was how do live so that our children will share our faith in God? This was a real concern as our kids got older, started having friends that were not so good. We are still not out of the woods, because now we have grandchildren. It seems that the kids growing up today are even more removed from the reality of God.

Then I get concerned for this country. Our education system is devoid of God. Our politicians seem opposed to God. What can I do to let my children and grandchildren, neighbors know that God is real and wants to be part of their everyday lives?

Do you share my concerns? Do you wonder what you can do? Are you content with the way our country is going? Do you want to know what God says you should do?

I think that God said so much in just one verse that we won’t be able to glean it all. In Hebrews 11:7, we will find so much practical advice on what we must do to reach out to those around us.

As we ask ourselves some questions about this very familiar man, I want you to consider what you can do to reach your family, your friends and your neighbors with the reality of God.

Hebrews 11:7-By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

Noah and His World

His Name means “Rest”

Noah reverenced the invisible GodLamech was 182 years old when he fathered a son. And he named him Noah, saying, “This one will bring us relief from the agonizing labor of our hands, caused by the ground the LORD has cursed.” Genesis 5:28-29 [rest= noo’-akh; Noah = no’-akh]

His World

Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. Genesis 6:5-8

How Did Noah react to Gods Word1.  How did Noah react to God’s Word?

Reverent fear is actually “fearing.” Literally, it means “having well received,” indicating that the Roman centurion rightly perceived the situation that if Paul were left to the Pharisees and the scribes they would kill him. The meaning, therefore, is to perceive or receive a situation rightly. Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: ” εὐλαβέομαι”.

  • Where did Noah get his Belief and Respect for God?
    • Where did you get your belief & respect for God?
  • What did Noah’s Faith cause him to do?
    • How was Noah different?
    • What resulted from his difference?
  • What did Noah’s Faith cost him?
    • Have there been any times in your life where you heard the instruction of God and obeyed?
  • What was the risk of Noah choosing to disobey or ignore?
How doe your reaction to Gods Word impact your worldDoes the way you react to God’s Word send a positive or negative message about God to your world?
  • Do you have any family members who are risking their life by ignoring God?
  • Does something you have done in faith have an impact on them?

And He spared not the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven other persons, when He brought a flood upon the world of ungodly [people]. 2 Peter 2:5

Noahs response confirmed the truth of Hebrews 11_62.  How did Noah’s response confirm the truth of Hebrews 11:6?

  • When the world around him ignored God, He heard and believed
  • Then he was diligent to finish the job precisely as God instructed, even though it was unpopular and took decades to finish.
  • What was Noah’s reward?
  • Have you experienced any “reward” by seeking God?
  • Have you communicated that reward to anyone. Would you be able to?

3. What was Noahs motivation for building the Ark What was the motivation behind his response?

  • Was it fear? Faith, or saving His family?
  • What is the motivation behind your seeking/obeying God?
  • Is it for selfish reasons, or do you have your heart on your family and friends?

4.  What was the result of his response?

What was the result of Noahs response

  • His family was saved
  • The world was condemned
  • Heir of righteousness by faith
  • Was God just in acting so?
  • How long did it take to see his family get saved?
  • How has your family responded to your faith obedience?

5.  Did Noah’s faith condemn the world?

Did Noah condemn the world

NO – Faith Obedience REVEALS condemnation.

And the word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, when a land sins against me by acting faithlessly, and I stretch out my hand against it and break its supply of bread and send famine upon it, and cut off from it man and beast, even if these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they would deliver but their own lives by their righteousness, declares the Lord GOD. Ezekiel 14:12-14

Though—Noah, Daniel, and Job—The intercession even of the holiest of men shall not avert my judgments. Noah, though a righteous man, could not by his intercession preserve the old world from being drowned. Job, though a righteous man, could not preserve his children from being killed by the fall of their house. Daniel, though a righteous man, could not prevent the captivity of his country[1].

How do most people respond to a call for faith6.  How do most men and women respond to a call for faith?

  • Eventually they ignore it until a tragedy strikes their life.
  • How should we react to tragedy?
  • How should we react to difficult circumstances?

Man’s normal response to God is to ignore Him.

  • Good times-we may thank him, but He is just a good guy in the sky.
  • Bad times-we may cry to Him, but we usually try to muscle through or call on friends.

Man’s normal response to God is to go our own way and throw God occasional kudos,  a prayer at mealtime or bedtime, and maybe even a $10 tip when we go to church.

For the most part men go their own way. That was happening in Noah’s day. Their thoughts were evil continually. We tend to think the world was full of murderers and rapists. But no, God has a simpler definition of what he considers evil.

Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the LORD, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. Jeremiah 2:12-13

My people have committed two evils - Jeremiah 2_13What evil did God’s people (the Jews) do that caused him to destroy their land and give them over to captivity? Two things: they forgot God and went their own way. They paid no attention to God when it came to running their lives and making decisions.

For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Matthew 24:37-39

The people in Noah’s day were going about their normal lives as if they would always have tomorrow. They lived as if they were in complete control of their lives. They ignored God, they ignored His messenger Noah, and were totally unaware that judgment was upon them.

Would you be a Noah to someone in your worldWe risk our lives by choosing our own way. We live oblivious to the God who created us and has ownership demands upon us

How can you become a Noah to your world?

  • Reach the Conclusion that Noah did. You must do something that will cause the world to take notice that there is a God who reigns!
  • What are doing today that requires total faith in the invisible?
  • What has God asked you to do and yet you have ignored Him?
  • Did Jesus say anything about how our lives and what we do should be impacted by God?

Did Jesus Call you to be a Noah?

YES HE DID!

LUKE: On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. Luke 17:31-33

MARK: For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:35-38

Do Everything you can Whenever you can Wherever you can to Help others to Remember God!

For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, Matthew 24:37-38

  • How do you know that a nation, a civilization is forgetting God?
  • How can you tell God is about to judge a nation?
  • There is always an increase in violence in the land!

 “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. (Genesis 6:13)

“Forge a chain! For the land is full of bloody crimes and the city is full of violence. (Ezekiel 7:23)

Understand that hypocrites and pretenders abound. Someone needs to present real worship of the real God to your world. Even the Jews had hypocritical leaders and priests.

And he brought me into the inner court of the house of the LORD. And behold, at the entrance of the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men, with their backs to the temple of the LORD, and their faces toward the east, worshiping the sun toward the east[2]. Then he said to me, “Have you seen this, O son of man? Is it too light a thing for the house of Judah to commit the abominations that they commit here, that they should fill the land with violence and provoke me still further to anger? Behold, they put the branch to their nose. Ezekiel 8:16-17

What are You Building?

Noah what are you building to save your worldListening to God, Following God and obeying God is a daily commitment. It was a way of life for Noah. He could not escape it. He knew judgment was coming, but he didn’t know when. He kept at because he was committed to God.

You must involve God in your daily activities just like you are building a huge boat. Involve you children, your friends in a faith activity, something that will stretch your faith.

It can be about money, about helping someone when you are not in a position to help. It can be building something to honor God in your home.

What would our Country look like?

If every born again Christian was busy building an Ark to save their immediate world! We would see families coming together to love Jesus Christ. We would see friends following their friends into salvation!


[1]Adam Clarke, A Commentary and Critical Notes, (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1826), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Ezekiel 14”.

[2] In “the inner court,” immediately before the door of the temple of Jehovah, between the porch and the altar, where the priests advanced only on extraordinary occasions (Joe 2:17), twenty-five men (the leaders of the twenty-four courses or orders of the priests, 1Ch 24:18, 19, with the high priest, “the princes of the sanctuary,” Isa 43:28), representing the whole priesthood, as the seventy elders represented the people, stood with their backs turned on the temple, and their faces towards the east, making obeisance to the rising sun. Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset, David Brown, A Commentary: Critical, Experimental, and Practical on the Old and New Testaments, (Toledo, OH: Jerome B. Names & Co., 1884), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “EZEKIEL”.

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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.

In one of the All in the Family episodes that aired some years ago, Edith and Archie are attending Edith’s high school class reunion. Edith encounters an old classmate by the name of Buck who, unlike his earlier days, had now become excessively obese. Edith and Buck have a delightful conversation about old times and the things that they did together, but remarkably, Edith does not seem to notice how extremely heavy Buck has become. Later, when Edith and Archie are talking, she says in her whiny voice, “Archie, ain’t Buck a beautiful person.” Archie looks at her with a disgusted expression and says: “You’re a pip, Edith. You know that. You and I look at the same guy, you see a beautiful person, and I see a blimp. Edith gets a puzzled expression on her face and says something unknowingly profound, “Yeah, ain’t it too bad.” Do you see Jesus Christ as the True Light? 

“In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…the true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world”. John 1:4,5,9

Jesus confirmed this truth: John 8:12 “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” In His confrontation with the Pharisees over the woman taken in adultery, Jesus revealed how His light reveals the truth that He can free from sin, from satan, from the law and from judgment. In effect, through His light, God was able to write upon the dust of our sin-damaged lives, that there is now “No Condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:1)

True Light of Hope

Matthew reveals another side of the True Light.

Matthew 12:18-21 “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”

In the True Light of Jesus Christ, we find Hope!

John the Baptist

In Matthew 11, we find John the Baptist imprisoned by King Herod. The man who shook the nation of Israel is now quiet, and despairing that he will die as a failure. After all, Jesus of Nazareth did not come to free him. Therefore, he sends some of his disciples to ask Jesus:

Matthew 11:2-6 Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

Jesus didn’t say yes, he merely told them to remind John of what he was doing. Blind, Lame, Lepers, deaf, dead, the poor. Then he added, “blessed are the ones who are not offended by me”. Jesus was saying: “John, do not despair, do not give up hope, look what I am doing in fulfillment of Scripture. Just because things do not happen the way you think they should, do not be offended. Never give up hope! I am He! But do not get offended if things do not go the way you think they should! I am Lord and you are not! Vaclav Havel before he became the democratically elected President of the Czech Republic was imprisoned by the communist regime. During one of those imprisonments, he wrote:

Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well. However, the certainty that something makes sense. Regardless of how it turns out.

You may react to his definition of hope, because as Christians, we are taught that all things will work for good to those who love God. However, what we usually think is that it will work out for my good. It certainly did not work out for John the Baptist’s good to have his head cut off. It certainly did not work out for Stephen’s good when he was stoned to death. But we do know that everything that happens, regardless of how it works out, will make sense! Why? Because Jesus is Lord and He is in Control!! The only ones who lose hope are those who believe God is not in control!

Job

Job 17:11 My days are over. My hopes have disappeared. My heart’s desires are broken.

Job thought that God was treating him unjustly. He could not understand God doing this to him. He imagined that God was making a mistake, that He was not in control. He had all kinds of questions and arguments he would lay before God if he could only get the chance. Finally, God spoke to Job, and Job was silent. Job encountered the great I AM, and knew that He had been in control the whole time, and it all made sense.

I had only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes. I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance.” Job 42:5-6

Does your life make sense? Have there been times when you were like John the Baptist, wondering what was going on, wondering where God was, wondering if He was in control? Or were like Job, thinking God was unfair, wanting to argue with him. Did you get offended at what was going on? Did you get angry, hurt, upset? Did you lose hope and give in to despair or depression? Did you moan with Job “My hopes have disappeared; my heart’s desires are broken?” Let us look into the Light of Jesus and discover why we should never lose hope, no matter how dark things get.

Matthew 12

Jesus finds himself at odds with the Scribes & Pharisees, because his disciples have picked & eaten corn on the Sabbath. He replies to them:

Matthew 12:3-8 He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.”

1.Jesus is Lord, even of the Sabbath!

  • If we rest, we rest in Jesus, for He is Lord!

Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

  • Do not get offended at Jesus. What He does is right, it is just, and He is Lord!

2. He desires a heart that is yielded to Him rather than ‘outward conformance’ or even performance.

  • Only yielded hearts will survive the trials and tribulations of this life!
  • Fake people always wilt under pressure.

Just because you put on a good show of being a Christian does not mean that inwardly you are struggling with doubt, with fears, with despair and with depression, with sins. You can put on a good show, but Jesus knows your heart, He knows whether you are real or fake. Peter presents the heart of a true Christian in six simple verses. This Christian has a new heart, with a new hope, a hope that endures through the fire of trials!

1 Peter 1:3-9 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

A heart that is yielded totally to Christ is a heart in Love with Jesus, it is a born again heart with a living hope! A fake Christian is putting on a display because of what he thinks he will get-favor from God. A yielded heart is confident that Jesus is Lord of whatever situation you go through! Next, we see a man who is lame in his right hand.

The Man with a withered hand

Matthew 12:9-14 He went on from there and entered their synagogue. In addition, a man was there with a withered hand. And they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”— so that they might accuse him. He said to them, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.” Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand”. And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other. But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.

The Lesson here is the Lord of the Sabbath will always be mindful of your needs. His mercy is to be trusted.

DAVID

Psalms 13:1-6 How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? Forever? How long wilt thou hide thy face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? How long shall mine enemy be exalted over me? Consider and hear me, O Lord my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved. But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.

David endured hardship after hardship, near death experiences one after another, yet rather than lose hope and get offended at what was happening to him, he strengthened his heart in the Lord. He trusted in the Sovereignty of God, therefore he could rejoice in His salvation.

Apostle Paul

Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:8, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed.”

He wrote this three chapters after stating 1:8-9: “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself…” Paul had those moments when things were so dark, so desperate that he despaired for his very life. How did Paul go from one who despairing of life itself to one who is hard pressed but not crushed, perplexed but not in despair, struck down, but not destroyed, never feeling that God had abandoned him.

  • 2 Corinthians 1:9-10 Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us,
  • 2 Corinthians 4:11 … so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

Paul’s Hope was in God, Paul’s Purpose was that the life of Jesus would be manifested through his life-regardless of what he went through.

The Nation of Israel

God brought horrible judgment upon his own people because of their continual sins against Him. First the Northern and then the Southern kingdoms fell to foreign Kings. Jeremiah was there to witness the fall of Jerusalem and Judea. Here are his own words about his experience:

Lamentations 3:19-24 The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!”

His heart was in God’s hands, and therefore He trusted in Him! He trusted in God’s tender mercies!

Ezekiel and the Valley of Bones

I love the vision of the dried bones God gave Ezekiel out in the valley:

Ezekiel 37:11-14 Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are indeed cut off.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will bring you into the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people. And I will put my Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it, declares the Lord.”

Matthew quotes the Old Testament when he declared: “and in his name the Gentiles will hope”. We share in the Hope of Israel!

Before Jesus we were without hope

Ephesians 2:12 In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope.

  • Jesus is the True Light that brings the Light of Hope to the Gentiles!

“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, in the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).

THE HOPE OF THE BRUISED AND SUFFERING CHRISTIAN.

Matthew 12:20 A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.

Bruised Reed: People used reeds to make into pens in ancient times. The reed is hollow and would hold the ink. If the reed was bruised or bent, the ink would leak and become useless. The writer would break the bruised reed and throw it away. Like a pen, the reed was an instrument of expression. Therefore, I like to think of the reed as representing our voice and ability of expression. Only a dead person does not voice his opinions or share his feelings. The first thing Satan wants to do is to stop us from sharing and expressing our ideas, especially when we speak for the kingdom of God. He will make every effort to cut off our network of friends and isolate us so that we will be discouraged. SMOKING FLAX: A smoking flax or a smoldering wick symbolizes our usefulness and the ability to shine for the Lord. It is no doubt that we have been created to shine for Jesus but when we fall into sins, our wick would become smoldered. We would not shine that brightly anymore. That is when the enemy of our souls seeks to terminate that light. He does that by encouraging people around us to say disparaging words or spread malicious rumors about us. When we allow all these words and rumors to enter our hearts, we would become bitter and angry. Please take note that it is not those gossips or criticisms that smolder our wicks but how we react to them that would terminate our light.

Jesus Christ is the True Light of Hope for Mankind.

By his death for us, he has ‘faithfully brought forth justice’ (Isaiah 42:3) by suffering the justice of God in our place once and for all. Look now to Jesus and find mercy for your bruised and weakened soul. Receive his tender comfort, cleansing, healing and all-sufficient grace. God’s great mercy in Christ is for us ‘bruised reeds’ and ‘smoldering wicks’.

This Hope is the Anchor of Christianity

Hebrews 6:17-20 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

Gods Promise to Us

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

The Despair of Mary

After answering the angels, Mary turned around. Suddenly she saw Jesus standing there, but she failed to recognize him. Like the angels, Jesus asked Mary, “Why are you crying?” He then asked her, “Whom are you seeking?” Assuming he might be the gardener, who cared for the tomb, she again poured out her heart’s despair. “Sir, if you indeed have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will take him away” (literally carry him). Her desire to find Jesus’ body and her loving concern to give him a proper burial in a good resting place so consumed her that she never considered that she herself could not possibly carry Jesus’ body to a final resting place. Then Jesus turned her night of gloom into the light of joy. He spoke her name, “Mary”; in such a way, that she knew instantly who he was. From despair, her heart rose to soar in the clouds. “Rabboni!” she exclaimed, which is an Aramaic term of special respect that means, “My Master”. The experience of seeing Jesus alive, risen from the dead, lifted her spirits to a profound joy. Grieving and despairing, she had searched for her dead Jesus, but with joy, she discovered instead her living Savior. He had risen! He was alive! Nothing else mattered to her. Nothing would take away her newfound joy. She threw her arms around him to cling to him, she was so happy to see him and to have him back. Jesus rose! He lives! Our faith clings to, not a dead man who was crucified and buried, but a living Lord and Savior who rose from the dead. We rejoice that he who died to save us lives. Our hearts hold the joyful hope that with our very own eyes we will rise from the dead to see him and hold him who loves us and gives us eternal life. We can rejoice with Job:

Job 19:25-27 I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes–I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!

Fanny Crosby

Fanny Crosby probably wrote more hymns than anyone else in history. She wrote over 8000 hymns, and many are in our hymnal today. Fanny gave the Christian world such songs as:

  • A Shelter In The Time Of Storm,
  • All The Way My Saviour Leads Me,
  • Blessed Assurance,
  • Close To Thee,
  • He Hideth My Soul,
  • I Am Thine 0 Lord,
  • Jesus Is Calling,
  • My Saviour First Of All,
  • Near The Cross,
  • Pass Me Not,
  • Praise Him Praise Him,
  • Redeemed,
  • Rescue The Perishing,
  • Safe In The Arms Of Jesus,
  • Saved By Grace,
  • Saviour More Than Life To Me,
  • Take The World But Give Me Jesus,
  • Tell Me The Story Of Jesus,
  • The Lights Of Home,
  • Thou Mighty To Save,
  • To God Be The Glory,

When Fanny was six weeks old, she caught a slight cold in her eyes. The family physician was away. Another country doctor was called in to treat her. He prescribed hot mustard poultices to be applied to her eyes, which destroyed her sight! It was later learned that the man was not qualified to practice medicine, but he had left town and was never heard of again. Fanny never felt any resentment against him, but believed it was permitted by the Lord to fulfill His plan for her life. Though blind, she wrote over 8,000 hymns. About her blindness, she said:

It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank him for the dispensation. If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow, I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me.

After a visit to the most renowned eye doctor in the world determined her blindness was incurable, she said:

“Mother, if I had a choice, I would still choose to remain blind … for when I die; the first face I will ever see will be the face of my blessed Saviour.”

“And I shall see Him face to face, and tell the story – Saved by grace.”

Whose face do you see in times of darkness and despair? Whose hand do you see reaching for you when things look hopeless? When you see a difficult situation do you see the Beauty of Christ, or do you just see an Ugly Blimp on your back? Let me assure you that Jesus is still Lord! He is the one who can be trusted completely! He is the anchor of our HOPE that this life does make sense to the source of life!

My hope is built on nothing less Than Jesus blood and righteousness; I dare not trust the sweetest frame, But wholly lean on Jesus name. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand, All other ground is sinking sand.
When the last trumpet’s voice shall sound, Oh, may I then in Him be found; Robed in His righteousness alone, Faultless to stand before the throne. On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand, All other ground is sinking sand.

Jesus Christ TRUE LIGHT of HOPE!


Prodigal GodThen drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. And he spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. Luke 15:1-10

Luke 15 begins with the religious leaders noticing something—that Jesus seems to attract and befriend “tax collectors and sinners,” moral outcasts of respectable society.

In the Lord of the Rings we find a weird creature named Gollum. He is always offering riddles for the Hobbit Bilbo Baggins to solve. One of them I will offer for you:

Voiceless it Cries
Wingless it flutters
Toothless it bites
Mouthless it muttters

(Answer – the Wind)

We read in verse 2 that they “murmur” to one another about this. “to mutter, murmur, grumble, say anything in a low tone” The air was stirring with their murmurings! We can almost hear them saying: “He welcomes sinners! This kind of person never comes to our meetings. This must be because he is telling them what they want to hear. He is not calling them to repent or change.”

This murmuring prompts Jesus to tell the three parables of Luke 15.

  • Parables of the Lost Sheep
  • Lost Coin
  • the Lost Sons.

Jesus Seeks the LostBy listening carefully to all three parables, and especially to the last one, traditionally called The Parable of the Prodigal Son, Jesus challenges his listeners’ fundamental assumptions about God, sin, and salvation. He gives them an entirely new way of thinking about God, themselves, and the whole world.

Most people think of religion as “humanity’s search for God.” We like to think of ourselves as spiritual seekers, as honest inquirers. We look at the religions of the world and, while giving somewhat different directions about how to do so, they all seem to agree that if we sincerely search for God we will find him. Millions of people the world over believe that by believing and obeying God’s law in the Bible, they can find God.

The problem is that anyone who feels they have searched for and found God will naturally disdain those who seem to be making no effort at all. They will look at “sinners” and say, “I found God! If you try, you can. I did.”

And here is the first great blow to the “religious” people of the world. Religion and religious behavior is NOT the way to God! Jesus is telling us that God had to come down into the world to seek and save us. Salvation must be by His grace, not our achievement.

The end of each parable challenges not just the categories of the Pharisees but their heart and attitude. A theme through all three parables is the joy of finding the lost. God does not look at spiritually lost people the way the Pharisees do. Because the Pharisees do not see themselves as lost sinners saved by grace, they disdain “sinners”. They feel superior to them. But heaven rejoices when “sinners” are reached and found.

Jesus New CommunityJesus is declaring to the religious establishment that He is creating a New Community of People. A Community of People bonded together by the experience of Death & Life. To Understand this New Community, we will look closely at the first two parables. In the next four weeks following we will examine the Parable of the Lost Sons.

This week we look at the first two of these parables. Let’s notice three sets of characters:

  1. the listeners
  2. the lost things
  3. the joyful seekers.

1. The listeners—verses 1-3.

Jesus and the ListenersThere are two groups of people around Jesus—“tax collectors and ‘sinners’”, and “Pharisees and the teachers of the law.” The ‘religious’ group is especially offended that Jesus eats with sinners. In the Middle East an offer of a meal is an offer of Friendship. It is an offer of Community. Table fellowship was considered a sign of acceptance and friendship. How, they thought, can he be so open to them? Doesn’t he realize that they are the “bad people”— who are the real trouble with the world? (And, therefore, that we are the “good guys”?)

jesus with sinnersJesus does not give a direct, compact answer. Instead, he responds with three stories or parables.It is important to realize that these parables were not spoken in a vacuum. The purpose of all three parables was to challenge the “Religious Peoples Point of View” of what Jesus was wanting to do.

When we get to the final parable, we will realize that BOTH groups of people—“sinners” and “religious people”—are actually in the parable. That is why the last story, the story of the prodigal son, is Jesus’ final answer. But that is to come later. For now, let’s notice how he begins to challenge our attitudes and categories of thought in the first two parables.

2. The lost things—verses 4-5, 8.

The Lost SheepJesus uses these “Lost” things to teach us religious types what He is all about. Why He came to this planet, and what He is accomplishing. The impact of these parables is lost on us because we do not look at them from a Middle Eastern viewpoint. These teach us about the community that Jesus want to build within His body – the church.

In order to understand and grasp the meaning of parables, I find it helpful to meditate on the visual images Jesus uses. People of the middle east are very visual in their thinking. It comes from a long line of oral history. That is why God painted very visual images of His miracles in the hearts of His people. That is why all the Jewish feasts and Holy Days are very visual.

The Sheep, the Search, & the Shepherd.

First, Jesus confronts their View of themselves and their Righteousness. The Pharisees thought they had it made. They were children of Abraham. They were children of the Covenant. They were chosen. They followed the Law. But Jesus says none of that is important to him. If we are to be important to Jesus, we must realize we are sheep.

In the parable of the lost sheep, the shepherd leaves the 99 sheep to go looking for the one lost sheep. We think that being a sheep is a warm fuzzy huggy type of description. We think of Mary and her little lamb, or Little Bo Peep. Being called a Sheep is an INSULT!

Sheep are StupidA Sheep is a stupid animal. It loses its direction constantly, in a way a cat or dog never does. Even when you find a lost sheep, the sheep will rush to and fro, but will not follow you home like a dog or cat might. So when you find it, you must seize it, throw it to the ground, tie its feet together and carry it over your shoulders.A sheep is a stupid animal that is completely helpless when lost. We need to view sheep like these people did.

  • Sheep will go after grass no matter how impossible the place is.
  • They will go onto the most dangerous place to eat grass.
  • They will need to be rescued, or they will fall to their death.
  • In the second parable the lost object is a coin, even more incapable of finding its way home.

The three lost “objects”—the sheep, the coin, and (in vv. 11-32) the son—all represent people who are spiritually lost, far from God. This is Jesus characterizing the people the Pharisees view as “sinners.” They are lost, yet they are lost in quite different ways. The sheep is lost through foolishness, the coin through thoughtlessness, and the son through willfulness.

But no matter the ‘Lostness’, they are each valued by Jesus, because of their condition.To have value to Jesus, we must realize to the depths of our soul that we are LOST, with NO HOPE of ever being saved.

The Sheep Teaches us We Need to be rescued

Communion2In liturgical churches sometimes the Pastor will administer the Lord’s Supper by saying this:

May the body of our Lord Jesus Christ, which was given for you, preserve your body and soul to eternal life. Take and eat this in remembrance that Christ died for you and feed on him in your heart by faith with thanksgiving.

It implies that your soul is feeding on something. And of course, this is true, no matter your spiritual condition. We all cling to something.The deepest hopes of your heart for security and love are resting on something. It can be image, status, wealth, career, position, family, Mr X or Miss Y.

If you are feeding on anything but Jesus for your peace, well being, satisfaction; You are like a sheep feeding on the ledge of a mountain. Say you are dating Mr. X, and decide he is the “one”. You rest your hearts deepest hopes on that person or that relationship. You believe you are valuable because this person loves me.

The truth is that if you are relying on anything or any person other than Jesus, you are in danger of an emotional and spiritual plunge off the mountain side.

You are like a stupid sheep, searching for sustenance in dangerous places, without any sense of your impending doom. You are headed for a spiritual and emotional plunge.

You will have no self worth, no hope left, for you have fed your soul on the wrong person, the wrong things.

We are all like sheep, we have all gone astray

Sheep need rescuingWe all need to be rescued. We can contribute nothing to our salvation. The shepherd has to walk the sheep all the way home. We are utterly lost in sin. We must be saved totally by the grace of God.

Salvation is not a process of cooperation. Our shepherd is not telling us how to live, not giving us self-help pointers. Being a Christian is not trying to live like Jesus. Not wearing a wrist band “What Would Jesus Do?” We must be asking ourselves What is Jesus Doing for Me at this very moment? Jesus must be our life!

We try to be a dog or a cat, but we are sheep. A Teacher is not enough, we need a Savior. We need someone who is able to do everything that we have to do, but are unable to do. He lives the life we should have lived, He dies the death we should have died. Everyone is utterly lost in sin.

The Search Teaches Us:

The Search for the LostJesus is friends with those who need rescuing. The community of Jesus is with the broken, the lost, the sinners, the failures of society. Jesus is building a faith community with these people in it. Normally these people are excluded-they can’t be included.

The Pharisees shake their fingers at them and say “These are the type of people we are NOT supposed to be like! But Jesus says these are the very people I want in my community. Jesus is creating a new faith community that includes publicans and tax collectors.

No Matter the Source of your sin, You Must realize your Lostness.

Here’s an example. Mr. Smith has a problem with abusive anger—he often flies off the handle and is verbally abusive and sometimes physically so. Why? Is his problem genetic? Is it a matter of brain chemistry? Is it just part of his inborn nature, as in the example of the sheep? Or is his problem the result of a bad environment? Perhaps the result of poor parenting and family life? Was he, like the coin, mismanaged by his “supervisors”? Or does his problem stem from selfishness and pride, as with the prodigal son?

We Have ALL Gone AstrayThe answer is that usually, in varying degrees, it is all of the above.

Sin is deeply complex. It is inborn in you, it is magnified by sinful treatment, and it is deepened and shaped by your own choices. Jesus’ view of sin is more comprehensive and multi-dimensional than that of many psychologists, sociologists, and many religious leaders. It is certainly more comprehensive than the view held by the Pharisees listening to him.

Jesus’ view is that no matter your sin, you must realize it is sin, that you are lost and you need saving, or you will die out on a ledge somewhere.

The Shepherd Teaches us

He is the only one who can rescue the lost. The lost are worth rescuing. The coin was the woman’s dowry, livelihood. The shepherd is not complete til he finds all of his sheep.

3. The Joyful Seekers—verses 6-7, 9-10.

The Joyful ShepherdJesus confronts their categories about salvation. He reveals that He comes from a community in heaven that is this way. “I come from a community in heaven that celebrates sinners saved by grace” It does not celebrate righteous people who don’t realize their lostness. I am creating a community like this here.

Community – bonded into a body through an intense common experience.

The more intense the experience, the stronger the bond. The Karen People are being brought into the United States by our State Dept. They have suffered persecution and death at the hands of the Myanmar Military Junta. No matter where they are placed in the United States, they quickly form a close-knit community with fellow Karen. What is the bond-it is their shared death and life experience. The persecution and killing has created an intense bond amonst the Karen in the US.

We all have “identity” factors that create bonds with other people. Black, white, College, No, Good school, acheivements, all come to represent our identity in the world. This identy is our self worth, self image. It is hat makes us distinctive. It is the foundation of who we are.

Christians should have an intense bond that forms the basis of our identity and how we relate to one another. Ephesians 2 begins with Christians who are dead in trespasses and sin, but who share the bond of being made alive by Jesus. Ephesians 2 ends stating we are all like living stones that are fitted together to build a temple in which God’s spirit will dwell.

Other religions aspire to make you better so that you might be like God. In otherwords they treat you like a dog or a cat. Take you to the groomers, to obedience school. You’ll be fine.

The Gospel is for sheep-we must realize we can do nothing to be saved.It is a life and death experience. I am infinitely lost, but I am infinitely loved and infinitely treasured. I am infinitely valued. The Shepherd will do anything to bring me home. It blows your complete identity factor away.

WHO I THINK I AM DOESN’T MATTER

I can be from an IVY league college, be moral, come from a big family. I can derive joy from these things and even feel superior to others. Certain things automatically make us feel better than other people. That joy excludes people who are worse off than we are. It excludes publicans and tax collectors.

Jesus declares that these things don’t matter, that TRUE JOY comes when these Lost people are FOUND! His community doesn’t look down on people, but welcomes all with open arms!

This community has the common bond of death and lostness, but now we are found and saved!

THE QUARRY

quarry rocks for templeThis is the Community of “1 Kings 6”. When building the Temple, the Quarry masons worked so well preparing the monstrous stones for the Temple that on the Temple Mount the stones needed no further hammering, the stones fit together perfectly. So the temple went up in silence-no need for hammering, no need for mortar!

If you have been to the quarry, if you have been through life and death, nothing matters, not your pedigree, your accomplishments, your wealth, nothing matters. You have a bond – a Life and death bond.

Jesus knocks down all barriers to seek those that are lost.

Shepherds aren’t consultants, they aren’t trying to improve the sheep. Sheep are absolutely dependent upon the shepherd.Sheep should give themselves to the Shepherd COMPLETELY!

Jesus New Community1Jesus desires to do two things with His Church:

  1. Build a community that is filled with His beautiful, unified difference – acceptance for sinners!
  2. Provide a place where sinners are free to admit they are sinners.

Christians need to stop eating their wounded. We need to be able to confess our faults one to another without fear of condemnation. Religiousity permits no one to be a sinner, but Jesus welcomes all sinners. Masks will do no good before Jesus. He knows, so we all should know. We are all sinners.We are all lowly sheep who have been rescued by our loving shepherd.

Jesus our ShepherdJesus is the Great Shepherd, even more intent and joyful than the shepherd of the parable. For Jesus knew that he would have to die to bring the lost home, but “for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame” (Heb. 12:2). The joy he had in doing his Father’s will, and the joy he had in finding us, was so great that he was willing to endure the cross.