The essence of any trial is that a fair and honest verdict is arrived at. There is no debate that any of Jesus’ trials were fair, for his accusers spit on Him, mocked Him, and slapped Him. Today, Jesus simply wants each and every individual to give him an honest hearing. A hearing where the evidence is displayed and the witnesses heard. He wants the public things he has done made known, so that everyone can see them and make a judgment. Today, most do not give Jesus a fair hearing, and though they do not spit on Him, mock Him, or slap Him, they do simply turn their backs on him and walk away.
The question the trials were attempting to settle was, “Are you the Christ the Son of God.” (Matt. 26:63)? Because of the way the trials were conducted the question was never resolved, so today we each must answer the question: Who do you say Jesus is? If your answer is, “He is a mad man.” Then I say ignore him. If your verdict is, “He is guilty as charged.” Then I say forget him. However, if you have studied the evidence, looked at the signs, read His discourses, and determined that he is the Christ; then fall at his feet and proclaim him the Christ, the Son of the living God! And then live your life as though you believe that statement.
What is your verdict?
As you read the passion narratives in the Gospels we see Peter, and Judas flanking Jesus as he enters his final days on earth. Their actions are the actions of men who abandoned their divine calling as disciples. They abandoned their calling because they did not draw upon the realities Jesus had displayed to them in his three years of ministry.
Peter the denier, and Judas the betrayer are examples for us today. Judas was never truly a follower of Jesus. You realize this when you read the highest title he ever gave Jesus was “Rabbi,” (Matt 26:25), and never addressed Jesus as “Lord.” The Gospels do not whitewash Peter’s failures. Peter argued with Jesus, disobeyed Jesus, went to sleep when asked to pray with Jesus, ran ahead of Jesus when, in his zeal to help Him, cut off Malchus’ ear, and lastly he denied Jesus.
In Judas and Peter we see ourselves. Each of us must decide: will it be betrayal, the sword or the cup? Will we resist God, or submit to God’s will? At any time we can betray Jesus in any number of ways. At any time we can take up a sword and fight our battles using the wrong weapons. Or at any time a person can lift the cup of salvation to their lips and drink it in faith. The question becomes, which is it for you: Betrayal, the sword or the cup?
In reading about the final days of Jesus on earth, one cannot help but realize all the forces of the world were delivering Him up to the Cross. God’s determinate counsel, Satan’s malicious hate, Mary’s tender anointing, Judas’ treachery, and the priests’ plotting are all stories of conflicting co-operation. All of these forces were moving Jesus to the sacrifice of the ages. Perhaps the most important lesson we can learn from these conflicting co-operations is this: God is in control!
It is important to know that God is in control because, like the patriarch Job, we do not always know the reason for a particular event in our lives, and the direction it is moving us in. However, when the Christian rests in the fact that God is ultimately in control of all events around us then peace abounds, for we know human power structures, no matter how powerful they look, are not powerful enough to stop God’s intention to fulfill His ultimate desire in the Christian’s life.
There comes a time in all of our lives when events concerning our health, family, job, friends, and the world wash over us in an overwhelming flood of unsolvable problems. We have all walked through troubles, or are walking through them right now making us feel everything is out of control. The lesson from the passion narrative scenes is this: God is in control. Therefore, God is able to walk us unharmed through any trouble if we will only turn to Him.
In preparing for our sermon this week, I was led to this passage, “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning. Like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him,” (Luke 12:35-36). I wondered what the phrase in the verse means, “Men waiting for their master to return?”
One of the perils of our modern world is we are so occupied with the immediate that we fail to lift our eyes and look toward the ultimate; Jesus’ return. This pre-occupation with the immediate means we have lost the vision of God, and His final victory. A characteristic of a life based on the immediate means a life that is always being disturbed; a life that is always seeking more.
The Christian life is never disturbed, because the Christian is always watching and waiting, and therefore, ready for Christ to disturb us. The Christian understands that God is leading, guiding, preparing, honing, and purifying them, so that at any moment He can change the direction of our life with a new command.
Jesus never lost sight of His ultimate work; the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth, and that is because He never took His eyes of the Father. What then is the ultimate work for the Christian? It is to be dressed ready for service, with our lamps burning. We are waiting for Jesus return, and when He knocks we are not disturbed.
Watching and Waiting,
The Bible teaches that Jesus is going to return, and when He returns it will be sudden, and without warning. About Jesus return the Bible says, “Be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming,” (Matt. 24:42). The Bible also teaches us that when the world around us is saying “Peace and Safety! Then destruction will come upon them suddenly,” (1Thess 5:3).
These verses teach us that waiting for Jesus return is not laziness, going to sleep, or abandonment of effort. Waiting for Jesus means remaining active, for “God works for him that waits in Him,” (Isa. 61:4). The Hebrew word wait is closely related to another Hebrew word that means, “To entrench.” We do no damage to the Isaiah verse by saying, “God works for him that entrenches himself in Him.” The idea of waiting for God is that of digging ourselves in to God.
Waiting for God means that I put my life into right relationship with God through the one I am absolutely and everlastingly certain of who can do that; His Son Jesus Christ. Waiting for God means that I adjust my life to the teachings of Jesus Christ, rather than to the circumstances in my life, and set my hope on His promises rather than on the intelligence, and cleverness of men. Waiting for God means that my personal activity is occupied with adjusting to the facts and circumstances of my life to the unchangeable, consistent, constant fact of God.
Entrench in God,
I’ve heard some say, “I don’t get mad, I get even.” The saying is a little humorous, but some actually feel this way. It is unfortunate to live a life that wants to get even, for it is the seed of anger, and when that seed is in full bloom it consumes a lot of one’s energy to sustain it. In the end anger hurts us more than it hurts the person we are angry at, for it affects our relationships, actions, and outlook on life. Therefore, it’s quite cathartic to let go of one’s anger towards another.
Jesus was asked, “How many times should I forgive someone? Up to Seven times?” Jesus replied, “Seven times seventy.” How could anyone count that many forgive-nesses? I think Jesus’ point was forgiveness is not simply tolerating another person, but it’s having a desire for real, personal, and loving forgiveness between individuals. Jesus demands such an attitudes from his followers because unlimited forgiveness ultimately points others toward God’s forgiveness of them.
I know what you’re thinking, “What about this case, and that case, and what if the person does this or that to me?” I am quite aware of all the contingencies that we live under, but I also know that God takes care of his saints, and oftentimes we just have to trust God to work some-things out, and to protect us. Thus we learn to let God take care of the details while we forgive others.