Saturday, June 24, 2017

Father's Day Sermon- Father God

Father God
Matt. 18:1-20
Lynchburg, Virginia
June 18, 2017 
EXHORDIUM
         God our Father is Creator, Provider, Teacher, Protector, and Present. There are other characteristics of a Father that we can imagine and that we can find in Scripture. But these five characteristics are repeatedly found in Scripture and characteristics that we should seek to image in the world.
         Of course, a sermon like this one, seeking to understand God, as Father, is sure to get the attention of the fathers gathered here and well it should. But God has revealed Himself to us, fundamentally, as Father. Thus, our response is not simply, How do I seek to be like God as a father but also many other responses.

Comfort at The Table

The Father’s love is lavished upon us through His Son, Jesus Christ. In our call to worship today or even in the sermon, you father’s may have been called up short. No doubt, many of you may have realized how far short you fall compared to the Heavenly Father’s kind of love that He revealed in His own Son, Jesus. If this has distressed you, and it should have, then now is the time to be comforted.

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         At the Lord’s Table, we remember the Lord’s Death, until He comes. His death is the only means whereby you can safely stand before the Father. Your works as a father, a mother, or a child are never enough. They always fall short. If you belong to Him, you should know this already. But the fact of falling short is only another means to drive you to your knees at the cross. And the Father Himself meets you there. He extends His hand. He puts a signet ring on your finger stamped with the image of Jesus. He selects the finest white robe for you to clothe you for a sumptuous meal. He has killed the fatted calf and prepared it with aromatic spices. Now is the time to sit down and eat, in welcome, in comfort, in assurance of grace, in the Father’s love, face to face. Come and welcome.

Father's Day Humble Pie

There is nothing like Father’s Day for men to eat humble pie. We are lauded by our children and wives for being great dads. Some are, no doubt. Some of you are, no doubt. I think so, too.
But for all the accolades, we know how far short we fall. This is not said to rub dirt in your eye but as a cold hard fact. This is especially true in light of today’s sermon about our Father God. When we compare ourselves to others, we sometimes come out pretty well but when we compare ourselves to the perfection of our Father in Heaven, our elder brother Jesus, or the all-knowing, ever present Holy Spirit, the scary reality sets in. This is not only true for fathers but also true for mother’s, sisters and brothers.

But do not despair. There is ever-present help in our time of need. The Father provides a way for us in His Son through His Spirit. Confess your failings and sins and receive the abundant mercy and grace of Jesus Christ. We are privileged to do so every week as we embark on our corporate worship. Make good use of this time.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Matthew 26:31-75 Sermon- Judas and Peter

Matthew 26:31-75
Sermon Notes
Judas and Peter
May 28, 2017
Lynchburg, Virginia

EXHORDIUM
         Our last sermon looked at the contrast between Mary and Judas. Mary was extravagant, pouring out her most precious ointment upon Jesus. Judas was personally miserly because he loved other people’s money.
         Today, we look at the contrast of Peter and Judas. Both are moral failures. If you ever needed to be encouraged about coming back to Jesus after major failure, then it is important to relate to Peter. Peter is an amazing man. He loves Jesus. He is on Jesus’s side. He even shows himself wiling to fight with and for Jesus and presumably to die with his Lord. But then he suffers a colossal failure. But the story does end with Peter’s failure. But Peter repents of his failure with violent weeping and the Lord Jesus forgives him.
         Judas has second thoughts about his betrayal of Jesus. He knows that Jesus is righteous and that he is a greedy and treacherous thief. He attempts to give the money back to the chief priests but he is still in the flesh. He attempts to right the wrong he committed but to do so without true repentance.
         Peter becomes a spiritual man is forgiven. Judas clings to the flesh and hangs himself.
        
EXEGESIS
Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. 32 But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.
Jesus quotes Scripture that foretells the disciples failure. The fact that their actions fulfilled Scripture did not take responsibility away from them. This is true of the disciples who repent of their actions, as well as for Judas, who does not. They are all responsible for their actions, even though their sinful actions are part of God’s divine decree.
Jesus again speaks of His Resurrection but the disciples do not understand.

33 Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. 34 Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.
35 Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.
Peter has at least understood part of what Jesus said. At the Last Supper, Jesus spoke of one who would betray Him. The disciples were concerned about this and did not want to be that one. Now Jesus says that His own disciples will be offended at Him and will flee from Him. Peter does not think it could be so. He proclaims His loyalty to Jesus, asserting that he will never be offended at Jesus, deny Him or dessert Him. Alas, our best intentions in the flesh cannot even last a few hours.
Peter’s assertions embolden the other disciples. Peter will not leave you and neither will we! We are in this for the long haul, starting tonight! Not so. Oh, how willing is the spirit and how weak is the flesh!

36  Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. 37 And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. 38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.
Jesus takes the three disciples closest to Him at this, His hour of need. It is a great reward to have one close friend. A man may not have many close friends, not twelve and barely even three. Perhaps John was closest to Jesus?
Jesus knew sorrow of soul. His heart was breaking for many reasons. Man was very sinful. Here is Jesus willing to forgive and heal but His own covenant people are going to reject Him.
Jesus asks them to tarry with Him. Be with me. Watch with me. Help bare my burden. But they could not do so. They were overcome by the weakness of the flesh. They needed sleep!

39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. 40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
In the flesh, in the human form, Jesus did not want to die. He did not want to become sin and receive the Father’s wrath at sin and sinners. He was a sinless man and thus He should not have died. But He chose to die for the sins of His people. He did not want to die but doing His Father’s will was more important to Him than  what He wanted. In fact, His Father’s will changed His own will.
Not only were the disciples weak, they were weak to absurdity. We only know this with hindsight. That is, they did not know that Jesus would be taken this night and killed the next day. We think that if they had known, then surely they would have stayed away and watched and waited. But we are only kidding ourselves.
Have you ever been in a very important moment, where watchfulness and diligence were much needed, only to fail miserably? A few hours and you are starving. A few hours and you are dying of thirst. A late night and you must immediately lie down


42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. 43 And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.
Jesus goes to pray three times. This is the second. He must drink this cup of woe if it be the Father’s will. It is. He came from this torment to find His disciples and friends sleeping.
Luke says He that as He prayed, He sweated out great drops of blood. Hematidrosis is a condition that sometimes accompanies great stress. The blood vessels near the sweat glands burst and people are known to sweat drops of blood.

44 And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. 45 Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me.
Let our Lord’s example teach us. If we are facing a crisis, we might pray three times for the Lord to take it from us. But if He does not, we may accept it as His will.
Paul was sent a thorn in his flesh and prayed three times for the Lord to remove it.

47  And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people. 48 Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast. 49 And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him.
Judas is the worst sort of enemy. Not only does he betray the Lord, he betrays Him with a mark of friendship. It is a wicked spiteful kiss. It may seem odd to us that our Lord received such a kiss of death.

50 And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him.
Luke 22:48 48 But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?
Betray me with a kiss? Philema, from phileo, which is brotherly love. Philema is a kiss, a mark of brotherly affection. See what Judas does here? This is the kiss of Cain.

51 And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear. 52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
John tells us that it was Simon Peter who drew the sword and began to fight. He really was ready to die. He cut of Malchus’s ear. Peter was not a very good aim but he missed killing the man by only an inch.
Peter later takes up the sword of the Word and that sword provoked others and in an ironic sense, killed him, too.

53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?
Jesus could have defended Himself. He had access to twelve legions of angels. But Jesus submitted Himself to the Scriptures. He would never do something outside of God’s divine revelation.

55 In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me. 56 But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.
John tells us that the crowd fell back on the ground when Jesus declared Himself to be Ego Aimee. I am. When He does so, they went backward and fell to the ground.
Jesus reveals their hearts. They are not truly seeking a malefactor, a wicked man. Had that been the case, they could have arrested Him openly in the Temple. Instead, they drum up a mob of thugs to apprehend Him in the night away from the crowds.

57 And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. 58 But Peter followed him afar off unto the high priest’s palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end.
59 Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death;
All the leaders of Israel are implicated in this wicked event, chief priests, elders, and the council, all seek to kill Jesus.
60 But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses, 61 And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days. 62 And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee?
These false leaders seek false witnesses to testify against Jesus. They hypocritically proclaim their fastidiousness to the law. They need two or three witnesses to put a man to death. They have a hard time even coming up with two witnesses whose stories corroborate. However, the need for witnesses and evidence do not stop a kangaroo court.

63 But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. 64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
The High Priest does not want to know if Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. He wants Jesus to say that He is, so that the High Priest can condemn Him to death. Furthermore, the leaders seem to know that Jesus really is who He says He is. This does prevent their miscarriage of justice.
Jesus says to the High Priest, Thou hast said. The High Priest might protest, “I said no such thing. I did NOT say that you were the Christ or the Son of God. I meant do you think you are the Christ, the Son of God?” Nonetheless, Jesus’s words to him cut deep.
Jesus then follows up with a very clear answer. The Son of God sits at the right hand of the Father. The Son is in the place of the heir of all things. The Son rides on the clouds into the throne room. At this word, the leaders knew what Jesus was saying. It was enough to have Him killed.
This is a point of clarity for all men. Jesus lays claim to all power. He is no longer the leader of a movement, a good teacher, a guru of help for the hopeless. He is either the Son of God or an imposter, a self-deceived and a deranged lunatic. You must choose. If He is who He said He was, then you much fall down and worship. If not, then He must be sent to the gallows.

65 Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. 66 What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death. 67 Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands, 68 Saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?
As mentioned above, if what Jesus said was not true, then it would be blasphemy. The high priest got what he wanted from Jesus. They still needed witnesses to put Jesus to death but since they cannot find them, the high priest condemns Him anyway.
This is trial by mob. Get them riled up and going in the desired direction, then let the momentum roll.
The condemned man is now treated with disdain. They spit in His face, and began to punch and slap Him. They mock Him. Now that they have Him in the palms of their hands, they are convinced that He cannot be the Messiah.

69 Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. 70 But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest.
Peter denies Him. A damsel says, “You were with Him.” Peter says, “I don’t understand what you are saying.”

71 And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth. 72 And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man.
Now a woman states plainly, “You were with Jesus.” Peter now ramps up His denial. He says, “I promise that I do not know Jesus.”






73 And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee. 74 Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew.
Finally, in a third and brutal denial, Peter is recognized by His accent. “Surely, you are one of them!”
Peter begins to curse and swear. “Damn you, stop saying that! I swear to God, I don’t know Him!”
And a cock crows.

EXHORTATION
75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.
Have you failed the Lord miserably? No doubt you have. Mary did. Judas did. Peter did.
         Of course, in our flesh, we all fail the Lord. Sometimes we treat our faith like we treat New Year’s Resolutions. This time, I am going to do better. But then our best intentions fall to the ground. Sometimes, these intentions are just trying to do better. But sometimes, we intend to do good only to dramatically and sinfully fall on our faces. What then?
         Judas tries to make amends. He gives the money back. But he doesn’t repent. Peter is crushed. He goes out and weeps bitterly. He comes to the truth that without the grace of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit, he cannot even own up to knowing Jesus, much less be truly willing to die for Jesus.
         Another gospel tells us that Jesus looked over at Peter. How did Jesus look at Peter? With anger? Or, with sadness and compassion? I think the latter. Peter responded. He gathered with the saints and though they did not know they were waiting for the Resurrection, they were. And Peter and John are anxious to see Jesus. Probably fearful of their failings but they know Jesus and they know He will receive them.
         We can come to Him, even if we have failed, even if our good intentions turned into a disaster.
         Watch and Pray

         We can do this now by the power of the Holy Spirit. Our flesh is weak but we are made new in God’s Holy Spirit. There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. We are forgiven and nothing can separate us from the love of God showered upon us in Christ.