Sunday, April 24, 2022. Welcome to St Joe Community Church. Today’s message is entitled Walk Worthy of Christ and was delivered on Sunday, April 24, 2022 by Jon Moody. For more information visit www.StJoeCommunityChurch.org, click on the Sermons tab, and find today’s broadcast.
Notes for Sermon April 24, 2022
Walk Worthy of Christ
The Challenge: Do the impossible – Walk worthy of Jesus
Read Colossians 1:1-14
Worthy = pertaining to having a relatively high degree of comparable merit or worth
*Context is critical:
(This challenge is given to believers)
How can I live a life worthy of Jesus? (v. 9-14)
9 For this reason also, since the day we heard this, we haven’t stopped praying for you. We are asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding,[a] 10 so that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, so that you may have great (all) endurance and patience…
What has God given us? (v.12-14)
An inheritance – a great future, rescue from sin’s power, forgiveness – redemption – NEW LIFE!!
You can’t live a worthy life… alone.
Sunday, April 17, 2022. Welcome to St Joe Community Church. Today’s message is entitled Jesus is Alive and was delivered on Sunday, April 17, 2022 by Greg Byman. For more information visit www.StJoeCommunityChurch.org, click on the Sermons tab, and find today’s broadcast.
Jesus Is Alive!
What are you looking for?
Relief from troubles, difficulties, pain?
A good life, family, career, happiness?
Purpose in life?
Where are you looking?
-The women were coming to the tomb on Sunday morning
-An angel descends from heaven causing an earthquake
-The angel rolled back the stone and sat on it
-other accounts…moved/picked up the stone
-1-2 ton stone
-Jesus was already gone
-The guards “became like dead men”
-men guarding a dead man became like dead men!
-The angel knew the women were looking for
-Jesus who was crucified- killed, executed
-He is not here. For he has risen, just as he said.
-was raised- God the Father raised him from the dead
-Jesus predicted his resurrection
-We don’t know HOW Jesus was raised
-The stone was rolled away to SHOW he was raised
-Come and see- Jesus was not where they put him Friday
-Then go quickly and tell his disciples
The Resurrection Story
Told by all four gospel writers
-no one ever stayed “raised from the dead”
-Matthew is writing much later, a body was never found
-Lazarus may have died by now, he did at some point!
-Jewish men would NEVER have fabricated a story with
Women as the primary witnesses
-all four gospels write unique details, no collusion, no lie
-everyone who saw Jesus alive staked their lives on it
-many were willing to be killed than recant
He is not here. He is risen!
Stop looking for answers in dead places
Trust that Jesus can take care of any problem you face
Trust everything Jesus says
They set everything up, they allowed us to come in early and set things up. And when you joined our church as a portable church, it was more like you'd say, "Great, you own a truck with a hitch because you can join, right now. Like, no membership fee if you come." No. And now, if you can walk to church from your house, that's great because we don't have a lot of parking. Anyway, all kidding aside, we were sitting there looking and waiting for cars and people to come. We'd sent the flyers out. We'd sent word of mouth. We'd had public events to tell people, people were praying all over the country for us. And we were just like, you know, 20 minutes till, and I knew - pick your denomination. They had to have been some denomination because everybody comes in late, you know, like whatever's going on here. And we're like, who's coming? Who's coming? Who's coming?
And if it's just us, we're still going to praise and worship God. But it'd be really nice if some people joined us. And they did. And suddenly it's like a traffic cop... I mean, literally it felt like policemen just stopped on Maple Creston and said, turn, turn, turn, turn, turn. And they all just started coming in. And a bunch of people that we had never met in our entire lives joined us for worship that day. Some are still members and worshipers with us today and others have moved on. A lot of our people that were with us at the beginning are still with us and we're still with most of the people that join. Anyway, but seriously, we had a blast of a time.
And so, Easter Sunday - so we always celebrate our anniversary on Easter, even though the 20th of this month is actually when we started, but we celebrate on Easter. And what a grand time it is to talk about the stories of lives that have changed, hundreds of people that have come to faith in Christ; many of those baptized in our church family. Over a hundred people that have been sent on missions somewhere, either here in the United States or somewhere around the world to send them out in Jesus name, to come back. God is doing His work and he's continuing to do work. And we're not looking at the rear view mirror to say, look what we were, but we're then the wide front window, the windshield of life to say, where is God taking us next? That's what it's all about, because we haven't arrived. We've arrived when we're in heaven. We've arrived when we're in heaven. And until then, we got something to do. We got something to do for the Lord Jesus Christ. And I prayed that you've come here ready to hear what God wants for your lives. I pray that I'll just share what God wants me to say that it might be an encouragement to you, it might be strengthening; it might illuminate what God's word has already said in this very familiar story.
Someone asked me that was John. He says, isn't it hard to sometimes - you have to share the same story everybody knows every year on Easter. And so, I'm going to talk about Jonah today. No, I'm not going to do that. You know, because you're like, what can you say? And you don't want to be creative, so creative that you like out create God, and that would be like blasphemy, so I'm not going to try to do that, so very simple story. I pray in very real ways that you will hear a fresh word from God this morning. That's my prayer. So the first thing I'm going to ask you is what are you looking for? What are you looking for? What are you looking for in life now?
Now, I am one of those... if you are married, one of you is a shopper and one of you is a buyer. Somebody brought that up. That was a good analogy. And I go back and forth, you know, put me at Menards, I'm a shopper. I'm just looking around. What are you looking for? And you know, they're helpful - some of them are, at Menards, and they're saying, can I help you? And you're like, not really, you know, my wife is tried, but you know, I joke with them. And then at the end of the day, you know, like, is there something you're looking for? And I'm like, "Well, no." You know, and if I am there quick, yeah, but some days I am looking for something, but you know, there's a kickball and you know, we might need a kickball, or cereal, Menards sell cereal. What's that? I'll buy some lumber, buy corn flakes; they both taste the same. I mean, we can do this. This is all good. I like cornflakes by the way, put lots of sugar on it. But I'm telling you what; it's a fun place to be for me. Now, I'm a guy, I like guy things, you know, put me at Joanne's Fabric Shop and you're like, "Well, when can we get out of here?" And as a kid, my mom was a sewer. She sewed my first leisure suit.
Anybody have the privilege of wearing a leisure suit in the seventies that your parents - your mom made you? Well, pray for me. I've got scars. But anyway, I've got awesome pictures of the leisure suit. I think it was burnt orange. I'm serious. This is true, but my mom would go and she would look and look for patterns and bolds of fabric. And I had the most wild, crazy imagination and I can make believe anywhere. I was an only kid for five years and I was the only boy in my house forever, and I had two sisters. I knew how to make things up; you cannot make up make believe in a fabric store. It was just so stink and boring in there. I mean, it was just like, there's another bold of fabric, and there's another bold of fabric and the chairs are too high to get to the fabric. Anyway, it is an awful place.
Some of you, you go shopping because you love your spouse and you go with them. And some of you, you love your spouse enough to not go with them and make them suffer while you're going, "Are we going home yet?" You know, but you're looking for things and you'll know it when you'll find it. And so, I'll know what I'm looking for when I find it. Anybody said that, thank you, pastor, I receive that word. You hear that? Okay. And for those of you, we pray for you, but pray for me because you never get home. And this is a rabbit trail. How many of you say, "Look, honey, I saved $50." How much you have to spend to save $50? That's in my brain. I'm like, there's a percentage here. It was 30% off, that's $50. Like, I wasn't good at math, but I can do the math. We're going to pay for this. Anyway, it's all fun. It's all fun. But, what are you looking for?
Some of you, if in all seriousness are looking for relief, you're looking for answers. You're looking for some kind of a situation, a career change. Maybe no more career. Maybe it's a new season of life. But it's, what do I do with these little children in my life? What do I do when I get children? What do I do, I'm brand new married? How many it's their first Easter married today? Ooh, you're newlyweds. Right here. Right here. Let's give them a round of applause. Awesome, awesome. Okay, have you decided where you're going to go to this afternoon because that's the family you love the most, right? Oh, that's awful. That's awful. That's awful. Okay, but pray about it because you know, we don't want you to offend anybody, no.
How many here - that's the real question is which family do we go to and not offend the other? Yeah, that happens. That's a real story on Easter. But anyway, we're praying for you. We're praying for you. Anyway, I had the privilege of walking up and being with both these couples this year.
Some of you're looking for forgiveness. You're looking for absolutely or some sort of redemption from something. And the question really is, where are you looking? Where are you looking for those answers? Where are you shopping for your life values? Where are you shopping for your self-worth? Where are you shopping for hope and healing? I talked to somebody - I use this phrase and most of you have heard me say it before; "doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result is just silly." It's insanity. And I used that at a car parts store. Yeah, I was shopping. I don't know - I went buying. I needed a part. But I went there and a guy was talking about something, and he says, I work seven days a week. I'm like, really? "Done it for five years." I said really? That is amazing. Seven days a week. I didn't have time to ask him what his family thought of that.
Young man, and I said seven days a week, wow! Are you getting ahead? That's a lot of time to be getting. He says, "Not at all. I'm getting behind." Huh? I said, you know, if you don't take off a regular time, like take of; God will give you a bunch in a row. And I said are you getting ahead? "No, I'm not getting ahead. I'm farther behind than when I started all this. I said, you know, doing the same thing over and over again as what - and the counter clerk, her name is Angel she said. Insanity! And why is it that we think we're looking for all the answers in all the wrong places, looking for that country song. I'm looking for love in all the wrong places. You're looking in the wrong places and you keep thinking you're going to find it. How many times you go to the closet looking for the one thing that you thought you put in that closet? And how many times are you going to look there and realize it's not there?
The resurrection of Jesus Christ is a game changer for anything you're looking for. It changes everything. If this is just one more club, then we need a great marketing program to get a bunch of people here and entice them. And maybe we'll do a like half off price to join or something. Really, we don't charge people to join. But I mean, you know, what are we going to - you know, we're just a business. We're just the lions club. We do a little bit better philanthropy than others. We give a little bit more to this. We do this niche of helping people in Jesus name, but you know, Jesus is dead, so it's not... but He's a good figure of follow because He was a really nice guy when He lived on the earth.
I mean, if that's all it's about, then we've really kind of missed the mark here. The resurrection of Jesus Christ isn't just something we think is important on Easter Sunday. It's something that so changed the spiritual world that people began to worship, not the Sabbath, but on Sunday. Like Jewish people, that it was ingrained in their brain, you worship on Saturday. And they switched to Sunday because on the first day of the week. In the early breaking dawn, some girls went to a tomb and found it empty. And it so changed the world that we even whoever does or does not believe in Jesus proclaims that Jesus at least made a mark in history because they write a date down that's tied to BC and AD.
If you're looking for real answers, you're going to find it in the empty tomb. You're going to find it in a relationship with Jesus Christ. Now, let me tell the story here - kind of unpack it. You've already read it. John read it for us in Matthew 28. If you have your Bible turn there, and I'm just going to walk through the story a little bit here. After the Sabbath, the week was dawning, the first day of the week, then Mary Magdalene, the other Mary, they came to the tomb. Was it a tradition of them to go to the tomb and mourn in the death and the loss of a friend, of someone they cared for deeply? Were they coming to prepare the body a little bit more? Who was going to roll the stone away? In one passage it says in another gospel story, that they were going to go, and in haste had prepared the body because it was about to be Passover, and they had to get his body off the cross and into that borrowed tomb.
And they thought, well, but we need to fix them right. But they were going to the tomb. And it says here, Matthew kind of inserts while he's telling the story of them coming. But by the way, there's a big earthquake that took place. And it took place because an angel descended from heaven and it was so powerful when he came that an earthquake occurred. And now, Matthew's explaining these things to us about 90 years of AD 90 - 40, 50 years later he's telling the story. And I'm going to tell you that this would not have lasted or the test of time if he had been telling a lie. What he's telling and when it was received by the Christians, it was a commonly understood story. If it wasn't, we wouldn't have it in our Bible today because there's a lot of stories that were made up about this whole event that were not real, that did not have truth in them, and we don't have them today.
And anybody that you watch those history stations, they really love on Easter to take, oh, the lost gospel of Judas, the lost gospel of James, the lost gospel of Thomas, and most of those that they have the label of a person's name were written hundreds of years later, or at least over the time, beyond the time in which the actual disciples name, the disciple existed, he was dead by then and somebody was faking it. And it's very easy to see as a historian, if you really wanted to look at it credibly; anybody can say that's not a lost gospel of Mark; that's, somebody's attempt to pervert the real gospel that we have. You know why it's lost? You know why the church voted it down? Because it was false, and they would've quickly voted out the resurrection story that Matthew told if it was false. They didn't. We have it today in antiquity. We have it today in current times.
The angel descends down, caused an earthquake, and it says here that he rule rolled back the stone and was sitting on it. And I was listening to David Jeremiah on the radio, and he made mentioned that in one of the versions of one of the gospel stories, the word is that he picked it up and moved it. The stone would normally be in a groove and it would roll across the opening of the grave of the tomb that Jesus would be in. And it was so big, it would be as big enough to be like a four foot by this wide, really kind of a doorway. And the stone would have to be so big; it would be about one to two tons in weight. And they would leverage it with several people to get it out of the way. They'd put the body in there; put it back so that they wouldn't be desecrated by wild animals. And in this case, the guards were guarding it because they didn't want the disciples to come and steal the body and pretend like Jesus had come back to life.
And it says the angels picked it up, moved it aside and He was sitting on it, waiting for the ladies to show up. There He was, bright, white, glowing, and incredible. You know how big of a story it was? Read in there. The soldiers, the grown men that were supposed to cover the grave, fell back in fear and were like dead men. They passed out. They fainted. Tell that to your commanding officer. How bad was it? I fainted. You don't get to go back out again. They bought them off, by the way, you can read that later, to tell a lie about what had happened there. It's interesting that guards who were there to guard a dead man; when that dead man came back to lie, they became as dead man. Kind of ironic. Little twist in the story that, you know, wow, that's interesting.
The angel I think knew that He was coming. In fact, they said, "You're looking for Jesus, aren't you? The one who is crucified! You know what? He's not here. He's alive. Come look and see where He lay, where He used to be." He was raised the Bible says. God, the father raised the son. Jesus himself had predicted three times. I talked about this already, last handful of Sundays ago that He predicted that he would rise. In fact, He says it's the same one. He said that He told you that He would do this. That's the one.
Now, the Bible doesn't say how He was raised. It doesn't say that anybody witnessed his resurrection. All we have is the evidence. They rolled the stone away, not to let Jesus out, but to let us in to see that He was no longer there. And He says, you can see he for yourself, ladies. He's not here. Come and see. It's not where we put Jesus. Jesus isn't where you put Him on Friday. He's gone. And then says, go quickly and tell his disciples. They got to be the first ones to declare that Jesus was alive. I remember some of the early times, I can't remember the first time I ever did it, where I was able to actually share my story with somebody and help them find their story by trusting their lives in Jesus Christ. Wow. What a blessing to tell somebody the story, my story, but really tell His story and let them and invite them to have their story enveloped in His story, where they put their faith in Jesus Christ.
And at the end of my sermon this morning, I have three words. And if you write those three words down, you could with your story, talking about His story, use those three words to help someone else find Jesus this week, or whenever. Just have it handy, have it ready. And when people ask you, "Why do you have hope? This is kind not such a cool thing - situation going life. Why are you not so jarred by the horrible things that are going on in this world?" Oh, I'm sad. I'm very sad. It really breaks my heart. I get emotional when I see the images on TV right now, what's going on in another continent. I'm struggled to see the bad things that are going and I struggle to see the hopelessness. I struggle as I watch the news of what's going on in our city, as I watch people in their lives with hopelessness in their hearts and minds, because they don't feel like it's worth moving forward.
It breaks my heart. I can't stand to see the abuse that takes place to our children, when Allen County is one of the highest infant and toddler mortality rates in the State. I know that's a give and take, ebb and flow, and it is not something that anybody... we want it to disappear. Being a metropolis, being so many people by percentages, we're going to have more things happen, probably that are not good, but I want to have that percentage reduced to zero, by the way. It breaks my heart. I'm not here to say I'm not affected by it, but I know who I'm serving. And who's in my heart and where my real hope lies. And I know that the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the fact that He conquered death, the fact that He overcame evil, the fact that I am forgiven of my sins and I can offer that to anybody in this place, anybody around the world and they too can find forgiveness in Christ, and their lives too can be changed by the power of Jesus; that's the only hope I know for this world. That's the only hope I have.
And some days if I come up to a scene and I have to be a chaplain and I have to be there; I'm just the presence of Christ. They don't know that I'm the presence of Christ, because I don't have an opportunity to talk to them about that. But boy, as soon as the door is open, I'm ready, and it's exciting to share Jesus. These women we're the first one. And you imagine how excited they were. He's not here. He's risen. We went there. And the guy said I don't believe you, in another story, another gospel story. They ran in to find out for themselves, because what do women know?
No, I mean, I have to see it to believe it. I'm going to bring it... I say that for a reason. You are like, "Man, you're really hitting the numbers today." No, I got a reason for telling you that. You see the resurrection, I'm telling you this morning was told by all four Gospel writers and you say, but there are differences. One gospel writer said it this way, Matthew said it this way, Mark said it that way, Luke said it this way, John said it this way, and yet it doesn't look like they match in their story. Now, how many of you are teachers or you've worked with preschoolers, actually teachers with older kids? Anybody? You ever had to - how about your own kids? You have more than two or three kids in your lifetime. Okay. And what if something bad happened? You know, somebody carved their initials - well, that you would know who it was.
They used a permanent marker on a dry erase board or they did something that shouldn't have done or somebody stole something or something bad happened. And you pull them in one at a time to tell story, right? You tell little Johnny, little Julie and you go what happened here? And they both have the exact same story verbatim. What do you know? They're called a liar. They're telling a story, because they somehow got together and says let's get this right. We got to figure this out, because they're going to ask us what happened. Okay, you're going to say this and I'm going to say this, and they collude with one another. And police officers know this when they're investigating a crime that when two guys are saying the very same story, it ain't the same story that actually happened. Odds are, it's a story, but not the story.
So when you have all four gospel writers looking at, let's just say an accident occurs in the middle of the intersection and they're sitting on all four corners. They all have a different perspective. My perspective is this is the angle how I saw the cars hit. This is how I saw the cars hit. This is how I saw the cars hit. And all four are a collection of the story that actually happened because none of them had the same viewpoint of the accident. And all of the gospel writers come from their own personal viewpoint; not viewpoint like opinion, but their own facts that they know about out on their corner of the street as they looked at the story of Jesus. And so it's the additive principle. You add them together to find the real story. You don't subtract from one another, because one didn't say this and the other said and say that.
This resurrection story is, if you looked at it from human perspectives - incredible. It's incredible. No one ever stayed raised from the dead. No one ever stayed raised from the dead. If Lazarus had died again, because remember he got raised by Jesus. They'd still be talking about it. If that little girl who was raised from the dead; that Jesus raised from the dead was still alive, there'd probably be a gospel in her name. Some kind of a name like, wow, who's this person? But all evidence suggests that Lazarus and that little girl eventually did enter the grave on this side of heaven. Their faith was in Christ, my hope and prayer is I'm assuming Lazarus did, but they died. The one that didn't was Jesus, and that's the one we're still talking about. That's the one we're singing about. That's the one that people gave their lives for. It's incredible.
Matthew is writing much later, like I told you already, and so if they had found his body in a Creek somewhere, tossed aside somewhere, buried in a different grave - Oh, they just got the wrong tomb. That's a theory out there. Don't you know they would've done everything they could to unearth the truth about this. Who was in charge, the Christians? No, there were very few Christians at that moment. Who was in charge were all the people that had everything to lose if they didn't find the body of Jesus, and nobody did. It's incredible. But you know what? It's also a very credible story. And here's the part that I referred to just a moment ago.
You see, truth be told, and thank God, women have a say legally. And they have as much right and they're just as equal in their opinions in their weight of what they say in our world today, than they ever were hundreds of thousands of years ago. And it's been in recent history that women have had equal rights. And so, I say that not to say, yay, I say that's not good. But the thing is, if this story had been fabricated by the men who wrote it down, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, they would have never made up the story that a woman found Jesus alive before men. They just wouldn't have. And say well, that's not right. I'm just saying that's how it is; that it's even more credible to believe that it's a true story because you can't make it up.
I mean, I've come home and said, "Honey, you won't believe what I witnessed today." And she'll do the same with her job. And we'll say, and you know, we won't share names but share stories and we try to decompress a little bit and we go - you can't make this up. It just, you can't make it up. You have an incredible story. You can't make up the fact that these women found the tomb empty, because in that day and time, it would've been knocked aside as poo-poo. No, there's no way. That gives women some kind of status that they don't even have in this world, and so, it's very credible. It's very credible that all four Gospels would write unique details that these women were the ones that found the tomb empty.
And it's very credible. When you think that the people who believed and saw that Jesus was alive, staked their very lives and died many of them for that truth. What would you die for? What lie would you die for? What lie would you die for? At one point you'd finally say, "Okay, that crossed. No, He's dead. I just lied." They didn't do that. They willingly suffered for the name of Jesus Christ because their lives had been so changed. What did it say in 1 Corinthians 15, "For I passed on to you as most important what I also received." Paul says this, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day, according to the scriptures and that He appeared to Cephas, that would be Peter, then to the 12, and then he appeared to over 500 brothers and sisters at one time. Most of them are still alive, but some have fallen asleep. And then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles. And last of all, as to one born at the wrong time, He also appeared to me.
And then Paul goes on later and he says, verse 17, "And if Christ has not been raised, you’re worthless. You are still in your sins. Those who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished. If we have put our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be petty more than anyone." This resurrection story is not just a good story to tell on Easter and we get a nice little outfit or in my case, in the seventies, a leisure suit. This isn't one of those things where we just say, "Oh, He has risen." Oh, you got the story; you know how to do this, yeah. It's sort of like Christians. We know how to do this. God is good - All the time. Oh, you got it. You're in the club.
This isn't ritual. It's ritual with a purpose. I ritually come to church on Sundays because I believe Jesus came back to life. I ritually pray to God because I believe God is alive. I ritually thank God for my sins being forgiven because He really forgave me of my sins. He paid the price. And so, you might call it a ritual, you might call it a religious practice, but the meaning behind it is not ritual or religion. The meaning behind it is relationship - knowing Him personally. And so, He's not here, He's risen. I want to end on that note before we leave today. He's not here, He's risen. Look, what are you looking for? He's here. What are you looking for? Store clerk comes up, "What are you looking for?" "I don't know. I'm looking for this." "We don't have that here." You've ever been somewhere like that? Boy, try to find a fan belt on the first big day of snow, or try to find a snowblower belt on the first big day of snow. We don't have one of those; they were all out all over this city.
There's no dead body here, He's gone. What are you looking for? Why are you looking somewhere else for your answers? Stop looking in dead places for answers to live life. Stop looking in dead end places. Stop looking where you already know the answer does not exist. Stop looking where you know you should not be looking. Don't go into that rebound relationship. Don't go into that new debt program. Don't go into that buy one more new thing; I'll maybe be happier at this place than that place. Quit trying to buy your love into what's going on trying to find someone else. I'll tell you what; some of you, you're still living in a past that someone created for you in an evil way. They're chirping in your ear; "You're not good enough. You're not pretty enough. You'll never amount to anything."
Heaven forbid it, it's your parents, it might be a teacher; it's somebody in your life, and you can't overcome being last picked at the playground at kickball because of how awkward you are when you went and played, you can't get over a shadow story that is not in charge of you, but you're letting it be in charge of you. You keep going to the graveyard for answers and he's not there. Stop it! Stop it! He's risen, and His power and His life, and by His authority you can get over. You can go over. You can be healed from. You can grow. You can become, and you have purpose and meaning in the name of Jesus Christ.
There's living proof in this room that that's true. Trust Jesus to take care of any problem that you're facing. Trust Jesus and everything that he says. He said, "I'm going to come back to life. Oh, by the way, guys, I'm coming back to life. Oh, by the way, I'm going to be raised from the dead." And he did. And if God, the father and God, the son could walk together in a situation and bring the holy spirit and all that; if all of that can happen and they can bring together a story that so shook the world that we talk about it today. And if Jesus is true to His word and He fulfilled everything that the father had for him to do, and scripture was fulfilled from the Old Testament and it was written about in the New Testament; if Jesus kept His word all of that way, He will keep His word with you. If He said you're forgiven, you are. Quit bringing up something you've already asked His forgiveness for.
I know there's a thing called regret. It's horrible. I know there's a thing called I have a past and I remember it. I know a thing called that - you know, we just don't like what happened. But we don't have to live in the chains of the way it was. As I mentioned our earlier, we have a windshield full of opportunity; don't look in the tiny mirror, mu mirror of what used to be. Look forward, not behind. Put on the full armor of God, the Bible says. You know that full armor; it's that frontal stuff, nothing on the back. It means that we keep moving forward, but we don't go with some kind of a death wish; we go in the name and the power of Jesus Christ. He promised to come back to life. He did. He promised security, peace, and hope. He gives it. He promised forgiveness. Will you trust Him this morning?
Stop trusting in your past story. Stop trusting your broken family. Stop trusting the things that you know are lies from the pit of hell, and trust in the risen savior, Jesus Christ. Three words and we're out of here. You know how you start believing in Jesus and trusting Him complete with your life; you start admitting that you've missed the mark. You admit to Him that you are a sinner for all of sin and fallen short of the glory of God. The wages of sin is death. I deserve punishment forever. Apart from a holy God, I deserve to be separated from God forever. And you do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ if you've not first, come to him for forgiveness of your sins.
He's not just some good story that He put across on your chain and now I'm a Christian. No, you need to admit to Him. Repent therefore, and be baptized. Let people know. I'm no longer going to live that way. I know that's wrong. I know what you call wrong is wrong, and I admit that. I fall short of being perfect like you, Father. I ask you to forgive me. And then I believe - I believe, Jesus, that you've died and rose again. If you believe in your heart, that God raised Him from the dead and you confessed with your mouth Jesus is Lord, you'll be saved. You got to believe this story is real. This isn't just something you talk about that's a fun little story. This actually happened. Real man really died, really came back to life, and I believe that. You believe. I believe, Jesus. You're the hope. Jesus said I'm the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me. I believe Jesus, you're the only way to heaven. There's no other door I can get in. It's through you.
And finally, I commit. I'm all yours, Jesus. With all my breath I give you my life. Paraphrasing what we sang a little bit ago. I commit as best I know how, I give you my life to do with as you please. Whatever you want from me, I'm yours. Even unto death, Jesus, I want to live for you. I'm tired of living a lie. I'm tired of living my shadow past that isn't good. I'm tired of living in answers that don't give true hope. I admit I'm a sinner. I believe Jesus you died on the cross and rose again, and then now commit my life to you as my savior and Lord.
Let's stand one last time this morning, if you would. It was mentioned earlier that we had these connection cards. They're on the back table. As you go out this door, maybe you need to grab one, put something on there. Lord, I've got something. You're talking to God and you say, "Lord, what do you want me to do?" And this card might help you. It says here, accepting Christ as savior. Maybe the first time you've never put your life in Jesus' hands. Today would be the day that you admit, believe and commit your life to Jesus Christ. Maybe it's a re-surrendering of your life. Maybe it's requesting baptism. Maybe your next step is I'll come back next week. Look, if you've never gone anywhere for a long time, your best next step might be just; I'm committed to coming back, but don't not do what God's told you to do.
And by the way, you're ready to make a decision right now. You might not be ready tomorrow, so I encourage you to do it now. And let someone know that you've done it now so that we can be praying for you and encouraging you and helping you to make good on what you know God has asked you to do this morning. And so, don't be silent. Speak up, let us know. I'll be down here in the front. Jerry will be in the back. Some others will be in the back, Becky as well, to help encourage you and to pray with you if you feel led to do so. And so, please, let's just respond as the Lord has called us to do. Father God help us all to be obedient to whatever you've told us to do. Nothing I want them to do, God, this isn't about me. It's about you, Jesus. So Lord, speak to every heart in this room, including mine, and help us to move forward the way you want us to spiritually in Jesus' name, amen.
Palm Sunday and Lord’s Supper
April 10, 2022
Palm Sunday: Jesus in the crowd
Jesus was a Crowd Favorite!
-Read Matthew 11:7-11
-they were welcoming a king, their savior
-He rode in on a donkey- came peacefully
-Their expectations did not match what Jesus came to do
-They wanted Jesus to overthrow their earthly oppressors
-Jesus came to set them free from their own oppressive sin
-Result over the next week: Their Loyalty Was Short Lived
Thursday Night: Jesus and His Disciples
The Lord’s Supper: Affirmation Of Loyalty
-Jesus established an enduring practice of remembering His death
Mark 14:22-26 As they were eating, He took bread, blessed and broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is My body.” Then He took a cup, and after giving thanks, He gave it to them, and so they all drank from it. He said to them, “This is My blood that establishes the covenant; it is shed for many. I assure you: I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it in a new way in the kingdom of God.”
The Lord’s Supper is…
A Symbolic Reminder
-Jesus used elements from the Passover Supper
-Bread symbolized his broken body
-The Cup symbolizes his blood shed for our sins
For Christ’s Followers
-We invite fully committed followers of Christ
-Are you a Palm Sunday or Thursday night follower?
-We declare Jesus died for our sins
-We declare He is coming again
Come carefully to the Lord’s Supper
1 Corinthians 11:28 “A man ought to examine himself before he eats the bread or drinks the cup.”
-Confess your sins and Receive Forgiveness
-Submit again to Christ’s Authority in specific areas of your life
-Restore broken relationships “as much as it depends on you”
The Lord’s Supper
Take your time- pray about your heart attitude first
Come forward to receive the elements
Pray before eating and drinking
Keep Worship Area Quiet- let others partake in peace
Use Connection Card- to declare your spiritual commitments
Come for Prayer- Prayer Team members are ready to help you
My Next Steps
Connection Card in Offering Box
-everyone can do this
-be sure to mark your spiritual commitments, pledges, prayer
Good Friday Worship at Noon
Easter Sunday Worship
-This is the best time to invite friends and family to worship
After singing psalms, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
-We can’t stay in the “upper room”
-Jesus is leading us to a life of sacrifice and victory!
To the cheers and adulation of the crowd, they were putting Palm branches, leafy branches, Palm branches down; they were putting their coats down. They were signifying that this Royal King deserved a coronation. That He was coming in, in such a way that they were like, "Yes, this is him, Hosanna!" They were just singing the praise. He was the rockstar of the morning. I just want to clarify for those of you, and this came up this week in our elders meeting, that some of you might have been offended when I called Jesus a goat. And I just want to remind you that culturally speaking, when you call somebody the goat, it is an acronym for "greatest of all time". So, I was not defaming Jesus by calling him a goat. That would be bad, don't do that. Don't do that. He was the goat. He was the greatest of all times.
So just in case, if you're listening, maybe that was you. I don't know who it was, but there was a comment back that maybe that wasn't appropriate, and I didn't mean in any way to offend, especially Jesus Christ. Let's give Him honor to whom honor is due. But guess what? This crowd, as excited as they looked, had an agenda for Jesus Christ. Jesus is in the crowd and here He was being welcomed in as the King, their savior.
Now, Jesus was not meeting their expectations. In fact, the way He was entering was not like He should have in order to match what they wanted Him to be. He was riding in on a colt, so you know which team He roots for. Anyway, that was... See the second service, I get a little excited, you know, I get a little... my wife says, "Tamp it down, Pastor Greg. Tamp it down husband." Anyway, He wrote in on a colt; He was coming in peacefully. He was making sure that the Roman authorities and anybody who thought they were in charge, that He was making it very clear that He was not trying to [unclear02:31] any earthly authority. If He was going to be put to death, it was not because He was a rebel who is trying to incite an insurrection. His death would be the result of His own people, condemning Him for no other reason than that He claimed to be equal to God; that he claimed to be God.
He's in this crowd, and He's not meeting their expectations. He's not going to meet their expectations. They wanted Jesus to overthrow their earthly oppressors. Jesus came to set us free from our own oppressive sin. And the result over the next week would be a very short lived popularity where this same crowd would be converted into a mob that would cry out, "Crucify Him! Crucify Him. Put Him to death in the worst way possible. He's not our king."
You think, how can a crowd be so fickle? I'll give you an illustration. You have someone who is starting a new company; maybe they're a politician and they are starting a new term as a newly elected official. Or in my case, I work with a lot of church planners. And of course, I was part of the beginnings of planting St. Joe Community Church. And this next Sunday, we traditionally celebrated, it's the 20th or the 21st of April, but we celebrated on Easter Sunday will be our 19th anniversary. And I think back on how we said, "This is how we're going to do it. This is what we're going to do. This is the way in which this is the mission and purpose, the vision of our church." And many church planners will do that, and they'll gather a crowd of people and they'll move that crowd to move forward. And God will be working in the middle of all that, and there'll just be this swell of people that will come.
And then about year two or three, as they begin to implement the vision that God had given them that they clearly said, this is where we're going, this is what we're doing; a few of the people in the crowd will go, "Well, that's not what I signed up for." They didn't read the bulletin. They didn't read the fine print. They didn't really hear what they wanted. They heard what they wanted to hear. And they joined the crowd of people doing a new thing in town with their own agenda and their own version of what they wanted to happen in that new company or that business or that church or that politician. And when that person was true to what they said they would do, they weren't so happy about it and they faded.
And bar none, every new church, every new organization, every political leader, or any kind of leader who says, I'm now the new leader, who everybody champions at the beginning; there will always be a few people that didn't really hear what they wanted to do. And when they actually did it, they get mad and leave. It just happens. And so Jesus, I mean, case in point, this crowd said, "This is what you are to us. We hate the Romans. We want him out of our lives. Oh, king, get this over with." And He didn't come to overthrow an earthly kingdom. He came to overthrow in the spiritual kingdom that's behind every pagan, earthly kingdom. He came here not to overthrow Putin, but to overthrow the one who's the mastermind behind all the evil that exists in this world.
Now, he has a pure choice to do good or evil, and he is owning evil like nobody's business. And it's horrible. But the ruler of this world is Satan himself, and he wants to cause everybody to be in bondage to send until eternity when they spend eternity away and banished from God forever to pay for their sins. And he wants to drag as many people with him as possible. And Jesus came not to overthrow a temporal kingdom that was underneath a spiritual kingdom that was against the ways of God; he came to overthrow the very kingdom that had us in slavery to our own sins. He came to overcome your personal kingdom that is in charge of you that's causing you to sin and to do things that are destructive to yourself and to people around you. Jesus came to set us free. He came to die.
He was a crowd favorite in this moment, but then we see later Thursday night, we see Jesus and his disciples. We see Him in the crowd. Yay! But when he really gets down to brass tacks of what he's going to do, he's left with just a few. And even when he had the few, one ran off to continue to press Him into the vision that he had for Jesus' life. Some think that when Judas betrayed Jesus, that Judas, we think, no one knows, but there's a possibility that Judas may have thought if I can just push Jesus's buttons, if I can press against him the authorities, then He'll step forward and be the king that I want him to be. Or maybe by this time, he was so angry that Jesus wasn't the man that he wanted Him to be, that he was in spite betraying Him so that he would say, "Well, if that's what you want, you get what you deserve, and I'll just help it along by betraying you into the hands of the authorities." We don't know.
But even in the 12, there was one that stepped away and said, I'm not really into this. So, we have a much smaller group of people who are following Jesus Christ at this moment in time. And we pick up in Mark 14, where Jesus institutes the first Lord Supper and on the screen is the version that I'm going to read from out of the Christian Standard Bible, where it says, and you are welcome to read out loud along with me this morning, if you would, starting at verse 22 on the screen. "As they were eating, He took bread, blessed and broke it, gave it to them and said, 'Take it, this is my body.' Then He took a cup and after giving thanks, He gave it to them and they all drank from it. He said to them, 'This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly I tell you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.' After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives."
What's going on here? Well, this night of gathering was in keeping with what God had instituted in the Old Testament called the Passover Supper. We're not getting get into the intricacies of that. That in itself is a very unique story; a word picture of all the elements that you can tie to our savior Jesus Christ. But the two that He pulled from the Passover supper were the bread and the cup. And He took this, what they knew to be the Passover Supper, and he instituted a new supper that we now call the Lord's Supper. And He used it as a symbolic reminder. He used elements that are symbolic of His broken body and His spilled blood. And that's what we'll do today in a few moments; we'll take the bread and we'll take the cup. And as we eat and we drink, we remember His death until he comes again.
Again, this is upper room conversation, not crowd conversation. These are people who are all in following Jesus, that's who we invite to be part of what we're doing. This upper room, this room where we have to choose to belong into the family of Jesus Christ, that we choose to put our faith in Jesus as our Lord and our savior; that we're willing to even die. Take up your cross and follow me. We've talked about this in the last handful of Sundays, about the cost of following Jesus Christ.
We're symbolically remembering that this forgiveness of our sins came at a price and the price was the life of Jesus Christ. The human being, the God man, God in the flesh, divinely God who came to take our place. A symbolic reminder -when I'm working with young children, I talk to them about substitution of punishment by saying, let's just say little Johnny did something wrong. And since we're already going with little Johnny, Jack says we have a John and a Jack in his room. And says, "I know Johnny did it, but I'll take his punishment for him. I'll take time out instead all the time." All the time.
God bless you. We have a moment of forgiveness and a few moments of confession. And Jack says, "I know John deserves to be in punishment for two hours in his room by himself, not doing anything and not playing in the yard, but I'm going to, instead of John taking the punishment he deserves, I'll take his place and I'll go sit in his room and sit in timeout. And Johnny can go and hang outside with the friends and do all the fun stuff that he doesn't deserve to do, but he'll get to do because I'm replacing him in his punishment." That's exactly what Jesus did for us. He replaced us in our time out zone. He replaced us by not letting us not making us have to die and be forever separated in hell from a holy God because of what we did to offend Him. When you offend an infinitely, holy God, it takes an infinitely long time to pay that off. In other words, you'll never pay it off. And God knew that, and that's why for God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whosoever would believe in him would not perish, but have everlasting life.
Jesus came to die. He came to perish physically, with his blood pay for, and the perfect sacrifice, because He knew no sin, became sin that we might become the righteousness of God. He took our place. He could. No one else in humanity could. They couldn't find anything wrong with the guy when they put Him to death, except for that he blasphemed God by claiming to be God. They couldn't find any witnesses. They had liars come up and say what He was, and they couldn't agree on enough witnesses. And even in their own human pagan court, they couldn't find a way to rig it so that He could be put to death for something He did wrong on this earth. He died for us and these are symbols of his death, reminding us that he paid our price.
And as I already said, this is for Christ's followers; not for people who are thinking about following Christ, not for people who might want to follow Christ but they're not sure yet, or for people that are just trying to figure things out. The crowd is not invited to us. Followers are invited to this. And so, if you are a follower in the middle of the crowd, we welcome you to join us at the Lord's Supper table. In other words, are you a Palm Sunday or a Thursday night follower? If you're just a Palm Sunday follower, that's not what we're talking about. Someone that wants Jesus to kind of come through for them, and then when He doesn't, I'm not so happy about Jesus. I want my way of doing things, so could you change the Bible to match what I want?
God says, "No, you got to match what I want. And when you can't, you just say, 'I'm sorry, please forgive me. I was wrong. And I ask your forgiveness so that I can do it the right way, the way you want me to do it.'" There isn't a single person here that can say I deserve to come to the Lord's Supper table. We've all blown it; every one of us in our own way, shape or form. And we've either been slapped on the hand by somebody in authority or we've had the Holy Spirit slap us upside the spiritual head to tell us we did something wrong. You know you did it wrong. And all God's asking us to do is not to say, "Oh, I'm good enough." No, say I'm not good enough, and I know it, and I agree, and I ask and I confess and I'm willing to say I want to do it your way instead of my way." I want to go to the upper room. I want to live in the upper room. I want to live to follow Jesus whatever it takes.
This table is for that kind of a person this morning. And if you're like me, you've blown it this week, somewhere shape or form; either it's a thought or an action or an attitude. And all we're saying is just ask forgiveness, say, "God, I'm not worthy to come to the table, but I know I'm a follower, and so I ask your forgiveness and will you clean me up? Will you give me strength? Will you help me to do better this week? I want to be more like you this afternoon than I was last night." I don't know where you're at or where you've been, but come as you are - leave changed.
And then finally it's a symbolic reminder, it's for Christ followers, but it's also a declaration. We're declaring that Jesus died for our sins and we declare that He's coming again. On Friday at noon, I have the privilege of bringing a brief message and that message will be, "It is finished". Jesus said that when He died on the cross. He said several things when He was on the cross. But the one thing that I thought that we ought to talk about on Friday morning that I felt impressed to talk about is that one phrase, "It is finished". Stop working for your sins to be paid off, stop trying to pay off God with works. You know, some people they give God just enough and then they think, "Well, I didn't give Him a whole lot here, so I'm going to do a lot of work around the church or I'm going to be a good person, or I'm going to donate a bunch to the salvation army, or I'm going to do all this," because you don't really want Jesus to be in fully in charge so you sort of like bargain with God. Well, if I'm a good enough person over here, that kind of balances out my not so good over here. And Jesus said on the cross, "It is balanced." No, He said it is finished. I did everything possible and necessary for you to be forgiven of your sins; stop trying to pay me off.
And so, it's a declaration that I'm trusting, not in myself, I'm not trusting in anything I did. Our righteousness is like filthy rags, the Bible says. I'm not trusting in what I'm doing. I'm trusting in what Jesus already did, so that's what this is about this morning. And so we come to the table, reminding ourselves of the symbol of His broken body and His spilled blood; as a follower of Jesus Christ, an upper room Christian, not a crowd Christian, and we come declaring that Jesus paid it all. There's a hymn, isn't there? Jesus paid it. Jesus paid it some... no, Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe, sin had left a Crimson stain, He made it white as snow. We're declaring that we have victory over the things that we cannot in this lifetime fully experience victory over. We're still struggling in that. But even in the struggle, we know we've already won when we're trusting in Jesus.
We invite you to participate with us as we come to the Lord's Supper in that attitude and spiritual commitment. One more thing before we actually open the table for you to come, and that is I suggest that you come carefully to the Lord's Supper table. We've already made it clear that only believers should come today and partake with us. And we're not going to sit here and be the judge of hearts. If you're a follower of Jesus Christ, I'm not going to say, 'Well, no, you're not. You're not." We're not going to do that. Nor are we going to say, "Are you fest up and are you ready to receive the Lord Supper in a worthy manner?" And so even that, I think we need to look at this morning to say, even as a believer, the Bible in 1 Corinthians 11:28 say, "A man ought to examine himself, in this way, let him eat the bread and drink from the cup." We exam am in ourselves. We don't want to come and as later the verses say, in an unworthy manner. We don't want to disrespect the table.
You see, Paul who wrote this under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to the Corinthian church, 1 Corinthians is the letter. They were part partying, they were having food and they weren't sharing it with poor people who didn't have enough food. There was this class prejudice moment going on. There was this total disrespect. They were getting drunk. There was just this party attitude instead of this worship respect for Jesus attitude. And Paul says, this is really how it's supposed to be. When you come to the Lord's Supper table, you need to examine yourself. See, some of you, you've gotten sick and some of you died. I've never had that happen in a worship service, but I don't want it to. I want you to come in a worthy manner. He said, in other words, there's consequences for being disrespectful of Jesus Christ when you come to the table. And a man or a woman, we ought to examine themselves. In other words, where am I at, Jesus? What have I done to offend you? How have I not asked your forgiveness in ways that I offended you?
And before you come to the table this morning, stay at your seat long enough to do business with God, and to just confess. You might need to write a name down of somebody that you need to ask forgiveness for when you leave this place. Nobody will be offended if you pull your phone out and you send a text while you're here to say, "Hey, we need to meet as soon as possible. God got a hold of me," or whatever you feel comfortable saying at that moment. But, God gets a hold of you about a relationship that's off kilter. And some people, I've even known them to not come to the Lord's Supper table until they get it right with the person that they have personally offended. That's up to you, and that person has to do their part of the reconciliation. But if you've been rebellious in reconciling and forgiving somebody, it's important for you to get that right. And as God as your witness, say that you will move forward in that way, from this day forward living for Jesus in that area of your life the way he wants you to.
And so, examine yourself before you come and just ask forgiveness. You might need to take a slip back and get a connection card if you didn't pick one up on your way in. Or on your phone, go to our website and go to our contact page and send us a note, a prayer request - "This area of my life, I got to get better. I need help. I need prayer. I need support. I need some resources, some people to come into my life, maybe a Bible study or some way I need to be connected so that I can get better."
I've heard it said before, we're only as sick as our secrets. And if you're being secretive about something, and if you're withholding something in your life that you're struggling with, and you're not getting partnership with; you're going to probably continue to struggle with it until you get someone in your life. We confess our sins, one to another that we might be healed, the Bible says. And you're in not really feeling the healing, because you're not inviting others in your journey. You're not humbling yourself in a way that, not to go get beat up, but for someone to support you and lift you up as you're teetering on the brink of disaster in that particular area of your life. So, we invite you in confidence. We have our prayer team during the ending of our Lord's Supper time; Jerry and Becky are going to be probably towards the back, right? And they're going to be receiving people if you want prayer. I'll be up front if you want to come forward for prayer. Put your connection card in the box, the offering box as you leave, if that's something you feel, somehow some way, move forward spiritually and let us know how you did it.
So, I'm going to pray, and I'm going to invite you to come forward. We'll come to the middle aisle, if you would, just kind of as you respectfully come over with each other, grab the elements; they'll be given to you or you'll pick the cup up, and I think we're going to give you the bread. And then you'll move to the side either this way or that way to the outer aisles and get back to your seat or to somewhere in this room or even out there if you feel more comfortable. Maybe come with people, if you're with a group of people or come by yourself, but we're all participating kind of at our own pace. Take the elements. If you're with a group, invite someone in that group to just breathe a prayer, say thank you, Jesus, for dying for us. Take the bread, take the cup.
If nobody's got the courage to pray out loud, say, okay, we're just going to sit here quietly and pray, and then somebody say, amen. At least have the courage to stop the prayer. And just somehow respectfully pray, and then partake, and then sit down and kind of quietly allow everybody to participate until we're all finished this morning. That's how we're going to do that today. And so let me pray, and then as we have this pause of you coming and reflecting on what God wants you to do and the way He wants you to come, you come as the Lord leads.
Father God help us to honor you with our lives as we publicly declare to the world and to the people in this room that we have trusted you completely for the forgiveness, us of our sins, that you've removed our guilt. You've set us free. You've given us a new name. You've placed us in your family forever. I thank you for that promise. And it doesn't matter how far we've gone as a believer, we can always come back. It doesn't matter what we've done, none of us, not one of us, even one sin keeps us from deserving to come before you this morning. But we trust in the blood that was shed on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins, and we want to tell the world that we are or followers; not our agenda, but your agenda; not our vision, we want your vision; not our plan for what kind of a king you ought to be, but God, we trust you as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords to do with our lives and to work in this world however you choose to do so. We trust you, Jesus. And I pray this in your strong name, amen.
Jesus Defines Greatness
G.O.A.T. is a normal human measurement
Greatest Of All Time
Behavioral research reveals we naturally shift to competitive mode when doing projects with other people
How many ways do you tend to keep score in life?
How often do we apply God’s standards when measuring GOAT?
Jesus defines greatness in God’s kingdom! Read passage
1. Jesus just predicted his crucifixion and resurrection
“Promise that these two sons of mine may sit, one on your right and the other on your left, in your kingdom.”
-Mother of James and John (the sons of Zebedee) asks this
-Mark 10:35-37 says only the sons asked about this
-They are asking for the greatest positions in God’s kingdom
“You don’t know what you’re asking”
-Jesus challenged their understanding, he just said he was going
to suffer greatly
-How often do we pray with similar ignorance???
-Do we really know the consequences of what we ask for?
-Can you drink this cup?? Can you take what I’m about to take?
-Matthew 26:39, 42 the cup in Jesus’s prayer- cup of suffering
-James and John (obviously with their mom in this request) tell
Jesus they are able
-Jesus explains they WILL suffer (drink this cup)
-James was the first person killed/martyred Acts 12:2
-Jesus affirms He is under his Father’s authority- he didn’t have
the right to determine greatness/status in His kingdom.
-Jesus neither grants nor denies their request
Jesus Defines Greatness
“It must not be like that among you”
-Spiritual greatness is not defined by how many people you rule
over (lord it over = political, positional power)
-Spiritual leadership is not about disregarding who you rule over
(act as tyrants = manipulate, exploit, all for personal gain)
-The world defines greatness according to how much authority a
person has to rule and control people
-Note: Jesus doesn’t actually condemn authority or leadership
-Jesus re-defines for us what a great leader actually does
-Jesus has all authority, submitted to his Father’s authority
“Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant”
-servant- Greek word diakonos, deacon, minister
-ironically, the church struggles NOT to give people with these
titles a special status in the church!
“Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave”
-slave- literally doulos
-lowliest person with no worldly rights, puts everyone else first
-how have your decisions benefited others?
“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve”
-Jesus had every right as our king to be served
-Jesus set the example of spiritual greatness
-do you serve others or expect others to serve you?
“And to give his life as a ransom for many”
-Jesus identifies himself again as the Isaiah 53 suffering servant
-Philippians 2:5-11 Christ became great through selfless suffering
Do you want to be great?
Reject the world’s definition of greatness
“Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus” Phil 5:5
There's a lot of good music out there. My daughters were at a concert in Illinois; my youngest is visiting her sister, my other daughter in Purdue this weekend. And they took a picture of the name of the... I have never heard of these people before. And they're worshiping God - I didn't know if it was a secular concert or Christian concert and I looked it up and now it's on my Spotify. All the way into church this morning I'm listening to music that my daughters went to hear in a concert, paid good money, I think my money. Anyway, to go see - and at least some of it, and all comes from one source anyway. But there's so many ways and styles, and the way in which we worship evolves, but it all goes back to what we're singing, not the style. Are the words honoring to God? Are they honoring God? Are they talking to God? Are they talking about God to God's people together? So, I really appreciate the diversity and the variety that Bra and the team bring to us each week that we worship together.
Worship is not only singing and praying and hearing and reading God's word, but hearing about God's word. And so, here we are in the worship time where we hear about the word of God in Matthew 20 this morning, where Jesus defines greatness. And we are heading towards the cross, which then three days later is the resurrection. And next Sunday will be remembering the Lord's Supper together. And for those of you that are watching us online, just prepare ahead of time, get some juice and some flat bread or cracker or something. Or if you need some help with that, we can help you this week and bring it to you. But we will be worshiping the Lord together and observing the Lord's supper this coming Sunday which is Palm Sunday/ it's the Sunday that we also remember in history that Jesus came into Jerusalem and they laid down palm branches and they were singing Hosanna, Hosanna, and praising His name. And that same crowd would be turned, and so many behind the scenes would turn that entire scene into a scenery of execution where in by God's divine providence, Jesus died for our sins.
And that gets right to the heart of this story because greatness is not determined by the way, in which we think greatness is determined. I have a question to ask, Goat! Who in your mind is the goat in sports? Now, right now, some of you don't even care about sports, and God bless you, you have a lot more time on your hands to do other things. But so for those of you, that love sports right now and if you're watching, I want you to shout out loud who you think the goat is. I don't care what sport it is. I don't care if you pick swimming, I don't care if you pick bowling or NFL or ooh, who wants that, you know, NCAA; I don't care what you think, but who is the goat? 1, 2, 3. I don't agree with any of you. I don't agree with any of you. Is there an asterisk by any of your goats? Oh, home run hitters. They had some asterisks now in baseball history.
Anyway, but we all have this idea of what the goat is because behavioral research reveals that we naturally shift to competitive mode when doing projects with other people. I don't care what the project is. I remember as a kid, we would swing, and may have swings - I don't know if they still have those anymore, if they're dangerous or not, but we had swings. And I think every kid has to sign a liability sheet that says, if I get her on the swing, I will not sue you, and so my parents neither will blackburn somebody else.
Anyway, but there's all these rules and regulations, but we had swing sets and we would swing and we would jump... this is the worst part. We'd jump off the swing. How many jumped off a swing, lived to tell, here you are today? We did. And then you would mark in the grass, a rock usually, because what else do you have to mark where you landed to see who landed the furthest. It wasn't just fun. Let's all jump off the swing together and have fun and tumble and not break our legs. No, let's see how far we can jump without breaking our legs and see who wins. And you know, how many made it to... we always had these competitions - jump off the monkey bars. We do everything. It's human nature.
I participated in this team, building powerful ministry teams. I'm certified to teach it and all that and all fun stuff. And we had this thing where we had to get in a group, two or three different groups and we had to solve a project together, solve a problem. And invariably, not only did we see what the other team was doing... are we getting done faster than they are? The only rule was, solve the problem. They didn't give us a time limit and they didn't tell us that we got chocolate if we won first. I mean, they didn't do anything. They just said solve the problem. And invariably, we went into competition mode. Ours is better than yours. We have a better answer than you have. We got done first. And researchers have shown that that just tends to be the case every single time we do something.
One time I remember being a part of a team that went together and they actually, there was this path that you had to walk on and it was like a grid. And then electronically, it had the landmines - oh, you had to start over again. You had to start over and you had to get to the end. And there were two pads and you had to walk without getting on the wrong spot. I remember one team actually helped the other team finish because they couldn't get it done. And he said, "Yay, you win," because it wasn't about competition. It was just about completing the project. But by human nature, it tends to come out that we just want to be better/good. We want to be the goat. We want to be the goat or at least kind of like it, kind of close. How many ways do you keep score in life?
My kids dressed not as funny as your kids dressed. I don't know. I heard from my kids this week. Well, I didn't hear from my kids. We get this competitive mode of everything is got to be better than somebody else. So many times we have a better back shadow, a backstory of being beat down in life somehow; maybe physically, heaven forbid, but that's probably true statistically in this room; spiritually, mentally, verbally abused. You were in a relationship that you are in abuse, and that backstory always comes roaring ahead, and you always keep score about how well you're doing based on how well you might look in the eyes of someone in the past that shouldn't even have the dignity of having any kind of say about how good or bad your life is. And we just do this, and it roars ahead of us, and it gets in our current story even though the past story is over and we're not living it anymore, it still affects our present story in our lives.
The question I want to ask here is how often do we apply God's standards when measuring goat? How are we measuring it according to what God thinks? And that's what this is all about this morning. Jesus is going to define for us what true greatness is. Jesus defines greatness in God's kingdom here in this passage.
Matthew 20:20, "Then the mother of Zebedee sons approach him with her sons..."
And by the way, the mother of Zebedee sons, the sons are James and John, the disciples of Jesus, and here's mom and her boys.
"...And she knelt down to ask him for something. 'What do you want?' he asked her. 'Promise,' she said to him, 'that these two sons of mine may sit on your right and the other on your left in your kingdom.' Jesus answered, 'You don't know what you're asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I'm about to drink?' 'We are able,' they said to Him. He told them, 'You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and left is not mine to give. Instead it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my father.' And when the 10 disciples heard this, they became indignant with the two brothers. Jesus called them over and said, 'You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lorded over them and those in high positions act as tyrants over them. It must not be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant. And whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. Just as a son of man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.'"
So, what's going on in this passage? While we see here that this comes right after Jesus has predicted His crucifixion and resurrection. We went over the three different times He said that last Sunday in worship. He had just said I'm going to suffer a crucifixion. He described what they would immediately know as the most horrid, feared way of being killed in that time period and probably of all time periods, and that's to be nailed to a Roman cross. This is what's going to happen to me, and then I'm going to rise again. And they didn't catch what was going on because right after that, mom zooms up, the first century helicopter mom. And she said, "My boys, you look how special they are." I had a grandma who's in heaven today, and if she's looking down she'll chuckle, I think. I don't know if you can see us down here, but I tell you what, she'd say, "You know, I know you're the only grandson I have. And I know a lot of people in the world say they have wonderful grandchildren, but I really do think you're the best grandson anybody could ever have." And I'm taking it to the bank. I was my grandma's goat. I'm just saying.
I mean, she wasn't biased, right? I mean, no, not at all. Of course not. But here's this mom coming up, telling Jesus that she wanted her boys to sit on the right and the other on the left; the most prominent positions in the kingdom of God. Will you please let my boys have top dog spots in your kingdom? I hear there's a kingdom coming. And when it all said and done, can you put them in the most prominent position possible in your kingdom, Jesus? Now we know that it's James and John, we know Mark 10 actually mentions James and John; he doesn't mention that their mom is advocate for that position.
So, here's this story and here they are asking questions, and you know, this is Jesus, the son of God. He calls himself the son of man to identify himself that He is human and He is with us, but He's also the son of God. He's divine and He is human. And He's always being asked for something. And isn't this the case? I mean, wouldn't this wear on you if you're being asked something all the time? If you ever, you have a leader that you know, or somebody you see, and you see somebody - in fact, there are people I know that they're in leadership position, and even at most meetings, even if we're in a public gather, I just don't go over to them right away because I know that oftentimes they're getting bombarded by people. And most of the time people are asking for favors.
When you meet somebody who's very prominent and you asking why in the world are they just kind of not so excited? Because most of the people that come to someone like that is usually coming to get something. And the best thing you can do by the way, just a side note has nothing to do with this. The best thing you can do with someone who's an authority or someone who is a person of prominence, person of wealth, is when you come to them, say, how can I pray for you? That's all you need to ask. I need to ask a favor. Oh, what is it? I just want to pray for you. We don't have to right now; that person might not be a person of faith. They might be weirded out by your faith. I don't know. I'm glad they're being weirded out if that's the case, by the way. They need to know that you support them as they support and influence people in their lives.
Just pray for them, just encourage them' just a side note, just a thought, and then ask for the selfie. I'm kidding. Don't do that. No, no, no. Don't ask. I'm kidding. You don't know what you're asking for, Jesus said. You don't know what are asking for. How many of you have prayed a prayer and you really didn't know what you're asking God for? We've all done this. We pray out of this ignorance of, I think I know how the universe runs. And if you give me this, the universe will run a whole lot better. Ain't that what we pray? I know better than you, God, because you haven't given me what I want, and what I want's more important than what I already got, so give it to me now.
I'll get here in a second here. I'm not saying not to pray big prayers. I'm just saying that sometimes when we pray, maybe oftentimes, we really don't know what we're asking for. He challenged their understanding because He had just said, "I'm going to suffer greatly. If you follow me, take up your cross and follow me.: He had said that earlier. Did you forget that guys? Guys, do you realize that the greatest person in the world, Jesus, I'm going to die? Are you following me to my death, to your death? Do you really know what you're asking for? Do you know the consequences of your request if it's granted? Can you drink this cup? What do you mean drink this cup - the challenge, the Holy Grail, the one that Indiana Jones was going after, is that what we talking about? What kind of cup are we talking about?
No, it's euphemism for the idea. Can you drink... can you come after and deal with what I'm going to have to deal with? What did he say in the garden of Gethsemane? "Father, if it be that will, could you take this cup from me? This cup of wrath, this moment of suffering that's about to take place in my life, but nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done." The same word imagery, this word picture of I'm going to have to drink the worst thing I've ever had. I'm going to have to drink into my life the worst thing that's ever happened to me. Are you willing - are you able to drink the cup? And of course they said, "Yeah, we can do that. We can do that."
And Jesus says, "Well, yeah, you're going to suffer. You're going to drink from my cup. You're going to be ostracized. You're going to be cast out. James, He didn't tell him this, but James would be the first murder of the Christian Church, he'd be put to death before anybody else. And then later on, John would suffer greatly in his ministry for Jesus Christ. He'd be banished to the Island of Patmos. And he would receive as a blessing, a tremendous revelation, which we have today recorded as the Revelation of Jesus Christ about the end times. And it is historically tradition has says that basically he did die of an old age. He didn't die and suffer a martyr's death of crucifixion like Peter did, or by being filet to death by some other means by horrible means as some others did. You know, even doubting Thomas died a martyr's death. And so, this one that was doubting Jesus, and this one that we go, how weak his faith was, how strong his faith was in the end according to a tradition. Yeah, you're going to drink the cup of mine.
But by the way, guys; boys, I just want you to know it is not mine to give whether or not you're on my right or my left. That's up to the father. Because as a person in authority, I am under authority and my authority is trumped by God's authority, by my father's authority. I'm God the son, He's God the father, and He's the one that's prepared those decisions, not mine. He neither denied nor granted their request. He just said, let's leave it in the hands of the father. I think there's been at least three times I've been asked, do you think this is it, Pastor Greg, do you think this is it? Do you really think I've been around different scenarios and different circumstances, some horrific, some exciting, and all these different places you keep hearing, you know, Russia is getting, and this is happening and that's going, and our nation's getting... and I think maybe my lifetime maybe and all these different things are happening. And even when I talk about that, I say, "Well, it could be; we're closer than we've ever been." And then you're in the car and you say how close are we? Closer than we were five minutes ago when you asked. I mean, we are getting closer and it does seem like there's some things going on. But I want to tell you, Jesus even said, when they said when you're coming back? When's this going to happen? And in Acts 1, He said, "It is not for you to know it's the father's business. I don't even know. But you will be my witnesses here and everywhere."
In other words, keep after it. Look at the signs. Look what's going on. But trust the father's divine plan. Don't quit. Don't sell your house yet. Although it's a good time to sell houses. Don't do it. Don't give up the shop yet. Keep working, keep living, keep doing, look forward, but trust the Father's divine authority over the times and the ends and trust the Father for who's going to be first and second and third in the pecking order of the kingdom of God. That's up to Him, not Jesus.
And he's like, yeah, you're going to suffer, but that's one part. But guess what? The other part where you're going to be, that's really up to my father. You don't know what you're asking. You don't realize the authority question that you're asking. And so then, Jesus now defines greatness. After this, the disciples come up, it's like, "What are you boys asking for? Come on!" Now, were they mad because they were asking first? Didn't say! We wanted to ask that question. You know, Peter's like, "Why not me? You said I'd be the rock." By the way, he never took steroid. I should stay on script. Sorry guys. Yeah. Yeah. Amen, oh me.
It must not be like that among you, that's what Jesus said. What did He say? You know that the rulers are the Gentiles lorded over them. And those in high positions act as tyrants over them, but it must not be like that among you. In other words, He said, there's a world system, there's people who lorded over others and there are tyrants. And by the way, don't get your democratic, the people are in charge and don't deal with this hierarchy. They were used to hierarchy. They had no idea what voting was - human rights. You had zero rights under most authorities.
Paul even said obey those in leadership, they don't wield the sword for nothing. God had put them in charge to maintain order. Whether they were godly or not, you need to honor authority in the world. And there's a whole ethic of conversation about doing the right thing, and I'm not getting into that today. But Jesus is saying, this is what you're used to seeing; political powers, they lorded over people, they're lords. And then there's people that have authority by their wealth or influence, and they hold it over people; they're like tyrants. And you know that's kind of how the world acts, and a great person is seen by how many people they are in charge of. Spiritual greatness is not defined by how many people you rule over or how many people you can manipulate. It's not about disregarding, who you rule over; acting as a tyrant, manipulating, exploiting all for personal gain. This is not how greatness is defined.
You don't come here and try to get in the kingdom and say, "Well, I want a position." It's not about position. At our church we often have said, and we'll say it again. I'm saying it right now. We're not here to give out titles. We're here to give out towels. The world defines greatness according to how much authority a person has to rule or control people. Now, Jesus doesn't actually condemn authority or leadership; He's just redefining what a great leader is. He's defining greatness. He's not denigrating leadership or position. He's just saying that if you want to be a great person, it's not based on position; it's based on how you live out in whatever position of life God has given you.
Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant. The word Diakonos, the Greek word, where we also get later on in the New Testament, the word for deacon, the word for minister, but that's not what Jesus is establishing here. He's saying you need to be a servant. You need to serve. He's not putting a title here. He's saying we're looking for a way of living, serving other people. Up in the upper room, He said, "This is what you're supposed to do." And He gets down on His knees and He washes their dirty feet. And He says, "And as I've done for you, you do for others." You need to serve and need to be willing to take... nothing should be beneath you. We were talking about some kind of activity or something or washing or mopping or something. And wasn't a point of arrogance; it was just, well, that's not beneath me. It should never be beneath you. Serving people, serving generally. You know when you know that you're not a good servant is when someone calls you one and you don't like it.
Ouch! You must be a servant. Ironically, the church struggles not to give people with these titles special status: the deacon board, the minister. These titles are I think, honorable and good and biblical. And yet, why is it that they become the elevated person that now is lording it over in access tyrants over the church, and an unhealthy church system lets it happen? Because we are taking the world's definition and we're imposing it on the church's life, instead of letting the definition of Jesus interpret for us what greatness is.
And then He says, "Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave." Another word he uses, "doulos" slave, the lowliest person with no worldly rights who puts everyone else first. I have a question. How have your decisions this week about you lived your life benefited other people? I'm not saying we deny our basic needs; take care of us... I'm not saying that we like, I'm a worthless worm, I'm nothing. We need to eat, sleep, drink. We need to do our things, we need to have... But I'm talking about as you make decisions, how has it affected positively the people around you? When I talk about men being the spiritual leaders of their home, and I talk about a husband leading his wife spiritually; I always ask the question, will you be willing to put your wife and your children first whenever you make a decision and your last? That's what a servant leader is in the home.
As elders, as ministry team leaders in our church, as people who have spiritual leadership in our church, every decision we make is based on what is best for what everybody else needs, not what our needs are. I have personal preferences. I like it this way. I like blue. Other people like red. I like this. I like fufu coffee. Other people don't care. I mean, we have these ways of living that we think, well, this is how it ought to be done, but it's usually how I want it to be done, not how is it best done for the benefit of not only today's church, but the future church and the generations of church until Jesus comes again church.
I said a long time ago when we started the church; we started at a certain benchmark of style and way in which we did things. Method never changes. The message never changes - methods do. And I said, I'm sure that in the end of my ministry, we'll be doing methods that I probably won't really like so much just because I'm an old fogie, but I pray and I will fight tooth and nail that the message never changes.
Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant. If you want to be first, you need to be last. You need to be the slave, because the son of man did not come to be served but to serve. You're following me; be a servant. You're making out me to be the greatest of all time; well, the greatest of all time just bent down and served you. And by the way, this is how he served you and to give His life as a ransom for many. Jesus had every right as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords to be served. And He said, "I didn't come here to be served. I came here to serve you. I didn't come here to be the greatest of all time on this earth in this earthly system that you guys are living in. I came here to be the greatest of all time for the kingdom of God forever and ever to the glory of God, the Father, amen and amen. And I came here to do that by serving you, because God wants a people for a kingdom of himself. He wants a priest to the believers. He wants a group of people that honor and love Him, and there's no way we can earn our way into heaven. I'm going to die for you so that you can get there without your own ways of getting there. I'm going to do it for you. I'm going to die so that I will pay off what you owe God. You owe him eternal death for what you've done to rebel against a holy God. And I'm going to take that punishment for you so that you don't have to take it so that you can receive by faith, the grace, the unmerited favor of God." The forgiveness of your sins, eternal life; not by any kind of work so that no one can boast and say, I got in this way, how'd you get in?
We all got in because of Jesus. You know the one question they'll ask you in heaven; I don't know, preacher said this all the time and I don't know how that's going to go down in heaven. But the one question to be asked is what did you do with Jesus when you enter into eternity, did you trust Him or reject Him? And if you trusted Him, He says, "If you will confess me before others, I confess you before the Father. But if you refuse to confess me before others, then I'll have to refuse to confess you before the Father." "No one gets to the father, except through me." Jesus said. "I came to die for you, to serve you." And if you want to be great, if you want to be the goat in your lifetime, you need to be like Jesus.
So based on this passage, we look at Philippians 2 where Paul later on identifies a little bit more in chapter 2 where he says, "If you're going to honor people in your life, you need to honor them the way Jesus did. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others." Adopt the same attitude as that of Jesus Christ. Emphasizing what Jesus says here in Matthew 20, "Jesus who existed in the form of God did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. Instead, he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant taking on the likeness of humanity. And when he had come as a man, He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even to death on the cross." He died to pay the ransom for many, his punishment for our inequities - Isaiah 53.
So, who is the goat? You want to modify your answer? Who's the goat? Who's the goat? Jesus is the goat. He's the greatest of all time. And if you want to be like Jesus, and if you're a Christian, if you say I'm a follower of Christ, you're Christian; that means you are trying to be like Christ. And you want to be the greatest of all time under Christ; you're not trying to compete against Him, right? But if you are having a mindset to want to do the way Jesus did, to be as Jesus was and to live as Jesus lived; then you too will live out a life of service and slavery to the best of what God has intended and wanted for the people in your life and around you and the people you influence.
If you happen to make your way into a person of authority and status, he's not telling you to sell everything and become a slave of the world. He's saying that in your position of authority, in your slavery to what God wants - you do the right with whatever you have to do with. If you're a leader, you lead in such a way that is not about your leadership; it's about the best of the people that you lead. It's about taking care of the people that you need to take care of. It's about America saying that we have been given so many privileges and responsibilities that, yes, we do owe a debt to the world of taking care of and doing things to encourage and help in ways that other nations never could, because by the grace of God, we have what so many others never have had.
We have an opportunity to be a shining light of encouragement as Christians, as believers in Jesus Christ to make a difference in other people's lives, by serving, not by telling and by lording it over and acting as a tyrant and acting not like Jesus when we don't get our way. We say, Jesus, you're in charge of my life, and because you were a servant and bow yourself to the point of death, I want to live my life pleasing to you.
A passage that I didn't have in the notes, but I think is appropriate to read, 2 Corinthians 5:15, where it says, "And He died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for the one who died for them and was raised."
I pray this morning that we will reject the world's definition of greatness, that we'll stop living in competition for those things that don't even matter. Yeah, kids, keep jumping off the swing and seeing who gets first. That's fun, but our status and our worth is not determined by how fast or how far we go compared to everyone else in the world. Our status and our worth is already been settled in heaven. We're valuable enough for a King of King to die for us, and so the least we can do is just say I'm willing to die to myself to live for Him as I serve and encourage others around me. Let's reject the world's definition of greatness, and let's adopt the same attitude as that of Jesus Christ. Let's adopt the attitude of Jesus.
I don't know if it means for the first time you put your faith in him and you tell the world I'm a Christian. Maybe before Easter or right on Easter Sunday, we'd be more than happy to help you follow through in believers’ baptism. Or maybe it's to say, "I re-surrender again, because I'm done in all this competitiveness that Io keep living in; it's my back story that's getting in the way of my present story. I got to get into the God story of my life." And maybe that connection card, maybe you just say, "I'm not even sure what I'm asking for, but I'd just like to meet with somebody and pray with them, or just pray for me this week so that I define greatness the way God wants me to and get rid of my stinking thinking." Let's adopt the same attitude of Jesus Christ.
Let's pray right now. Father, God, I don't know what you want to do in this room and how you want to move and who you're working on. You've been working on me all week on this. What is leadership? And this just puts a wrinkle in, in all the ways in which we've been taught in this lifetime, in this world of what leadership is and what leaders do. And I thank you that you get in our way and you help us to not think in temporal finite terms, but think in eternal terms. And I know that these two men that were asking questions went on to greatness because of their sacrifice of their lives for you, Jesus. And so, I thank you for the examples of James and John. Yeah, a little arrogant at the front end, and God, I just pray that we won't be afraid to ask big prayers because we might be asking wrong. But Lord, be willing to submit to your final answer when we ask them. I just pray that you'll help us to be successful spiritually in front of you. This week, as we think about the people we influence and encourage, that we might influence and encourage them in a way that benefits them and honors and glorifies you. Show us how to do that, Jesus, we're still learners. We're still growing. And help us to be obedient to publicly proclaim today whatever it is you want us to. And I pray this in Jesus name. Amen.
B: Bible book