He Is Risen
28 Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone from the door and sat on it. 3 His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. 4 And the guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. 5 But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 7 And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.”8 So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy and ran to bring His disciples word.
This afternoon, I want us to examine one of the Bible’s eyewitness accounts of what happened on that first Easter – resurrection morning. I want to share with you a very simple outline. Two Indisputable facts, two imperative commands and one inescapable conclusion.
First: The Two Indisputable Facts.
As one examines what the eyewitnesses discover-ed on the first Easter morning, there are two facts that cannot be disputed. The first indisputable fact is that the Tomb is Empty. The borrowed tomb in which that they had lay the body of Jesus on that Friday evening is now empty.
The King of kings, who had so little of this world’s goods, if it were not for the goodness of Joseph of Arimathea, he would not have even had a place to be buried. But Nicodemus and Joseph had gone to Pontius Pilate and requested the body of Jesus be released into their care for burial. Surprised that Jesus was already dead, Pilate granted their request. I want you to note that the fact that tomb was empty seemed to surprise everyone.
The tomb is empty contrary to the Precautions of His enemies…
62 On the next day, which followed the Day of Preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees gathered together to Pilate, 63 saying, “Sir, we remember, while He was still alive, how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise.’ 64 Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away, and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead.’ So, the last deception will be worse than the first.”
65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go your way, make it as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure, sealing the stone and setting the guard.
His enemies at least seemed to remember that Jesus had said that He would rise from the dead after the third day. So, the enemies of Jesus went to Pilate and said, “We are afraid that His disciples will come and steal the body of Jesus and then tell everyone that Jesus has risen from the grave. So we would like to post a guard to make sure that does not happen.” I love the response of Pilate to these men, “Go make the tomb as secure as you know how.” I’m sure that Pilate did not realize how prophetic his words would be. Nevertheless, guards were posted to make sure no one stole the body of Jesus.
The tomb is empty contrary to the Expectations of His Friends. There were a variety of reactions among the friends and followers of Jesus to the news of His death. Some such as Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, and some of the women made plans for and arrangements for his burial, apparently only concerned that His body be properly cared for.
Others fled out of fear for their safely. Some gave themselves over to being depressed and sad Some hid themselves and when they heard the news of His resurrection… they refused to believe.
9 Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons. 10 She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. 11 And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe. 12 After that, He appeared in another form to two of them as they walked and went into the country. 13 And they went and told it to the rest, but they did not believe them either.
The second indisputable fact is that- He Is Not Here, He is Risen! (v. 6a) “Come, see the place where the Lord lay.”
The tomb really is empty. Even the critics do not deny that the tomb is empty, only why it is empty! But His enemies surely did not steal the body of Jesus, for they would have produced the body when the claims were made that He was risen. His disciples surely did not steal the body, for they would not have been willing to die a martyr’s death for a lie. “They were willing to spend the rest of their lives proclaiming (that he was risen), without any payoff from a human point of view. They faced a life of hardship. They often went without food, … were ridiculed, beaten, imprisoned. And finally, most of them were executed in torturous ways. For what? For good intentions? No because they were convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that they had seen Jesus Christ alive from the dead.”
The facts are simple enough, the tomb is empty and He is not here for He has risen!
Secondly, Two Imperative Commands.
The women, who come to the tomb with the expectation of caring for the body of Jesus, are met by an angelic messenger with a very specific invitation! “Come and See”
The women are given the invitation to “Come, see the place where the Lord lay” (v. 6b). There were perhaps many reasons why they would have been hesitant to follow the invitation to “come and see.” After all… they are in a cemetery just as dawn is breaking. It was undoubtedly a kind of creepy place to be. They also had reason to fear the authorities, by the proclamation of Rome, the tomb had been sealed by Pontius Pilate and guarded by soldiers. They could have been in trouble for even being near the tomb of Jesus. And there is also the troubling thought that perhaps they were now treading on holy ground.
But the angel invites them to come and see - that they might compare what they have heard, “He is not here; for He is risen, as He said,” (v. 6) - with what they now saw with their own eyes. The angel told them to “come see the place where the Lord lay” (past tense) – He is not there any longer. “Go and Tell” (v. 7a) “And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead…”
Third, One Inescapable Conclusion:
In the case of Jesus, the issue is not just the absence of a body. An empty tomb does not in and of its self, make a resurrection. It was not just that He was nowhere to be found. It is that He was seen, repeatedly by many people in many different places. The point I want to make is the disciples did not merely “believe” in the resurrection, they “knew” it as a historical fact because they had seen Him themselves.
Writing of the event many years later the Apostle Paul wrote in…
1 Corinthians 15:3-7
3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles.
Paul either personally knew some of the people who had seen the resurrected Jesus or had spoken to some people who knew them and that they were still living and could verify that the resurrection was true. Paul’s statement virtually invites those who do not believe to check it out for themselves. But because He is Risen - the resurrection does prove all that needs to be proven about the message of Christianity.
• Jesus Is Who He Said He Was.
He predicted that He would die, but that the grave would not be able to hold Him, this miraculous act proved Jesus was the indeed the Son of God. Jesus’ resurrection confirmed His identity. We can believe in Jesus. Jesus is the unique Son of God and He is fully divine.
• Jesus’ Resurrection Bought Us Life.
The Bible says sin earns us death. On the cross, Jesus took the penalty of our sins on Himself. His death paid the debt our sins earned. But His Resurrection overcame the power of death. If we believe that Jesus’ sacrifice was on our behalf, Scripture says our debt is canceled, and we gain eternal life. Because Jesus rose from the grave, we too shall rise victorious over the grave.
• Such News Can’t Be Contained.
Mary immediately went and told the disciples. And in verse twenty-one, right after Jesus appeared to the disciples, He Said to them, “As The Father Has sent me, I Am sending you.” The life-giving message of Jesus’ identity and resurrection are a gift we are called to share with others. We can’t keep it to ourselves.
We have faced two Indisputable Facts; The Tomb is Empty and He was Not Here, Because He is Risen! Along with the disciples we have also received two imperative commands: “Come and See” And “Go and tell.” Which leaves one inescapable conclusion. The resurrection proves all that needs to be proven about the message of Christianity.
As soon as we reach that verdict we must wrestle with the implications. Jesus overcame the grave, He is alive, and it possible for me to have a personal encounter with Him today. He did go to the cross and personally pay the penalty for my sin! He did conquer death, and so He can open the door for eternity for me.
12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name. 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
You see…to the world, the resurrection of Jesus is very hard to believe. There were those that witnessed Jesus bring the dead back to life and yet…when Jesus Himself rose from the dead, they doubted. Sadly…even today many chose not to believe. Where do stand on “The Empty Tomb?” If God has already called you to be His own, then your life is already in Christ. If not???
Let me just remind you, that its not too late. Ask any Christian in here and they will tell you… “Jesus lives!” You just have too believe. Pray to God to remove doubts. Pray for forgiveness…pray to Jesus to your Lord and Savior.
The Empty Tomb
20 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. 2 So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put Him!” 3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. 4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. 6 Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen.
In Bible days, when someone died, it was the duty of a family member to close the eyes and kiss the cheek of the dead. When Christ died, this became the duty of two men: Joseph of Arimathea, and Nicodemus. They went to Pontius Pilate and begged the body of the Lord Jesus.
Then they had to take Him down from the cross…which was not an easy chore. First, they had to rig a ladder, and climb up the side of the cross, and then they had to pull Jesus’ hands off, over the nails. There was no way they could get those spikes out of the wood, not from that angle, not with His hands in between the wood and the nail head. Once the hands were loosed, they allowed the body of Jesus to sag into a sheet and would then remove His feet from the nail in the same manner.
They took the body of Jesus to a new tomb, that Joseph had prepared for himself. They washed His body, and wrapped it in white linen, folding His arms over His chest. They closed His eyes, kissed His cheek, and placed a cloth over His face. They walked away from that tomb, and no doubt they walked in silence…so that all you could hear was the sounds of their sadness, muffled crying, and sniffing.
For 3 days, all the demons of hell rejoiced, and Satan and the forces of darkness thought they had won a great victory. For 3 days, the Jewish leaders, as well as the Roman government, congratulated themselves on their brilliant scheme. But on the 3rd day, something wonderful and miraculous happened. The stone rolled away, and up from the grave He arose…He lives!
In our text, Mary arrives first to the empty tomb. She sees the stone rolled away and it frightens her. And so, she runs to get Peter and John, and they run together to the tomb as fast as they could. John outran Peter, and when he got there, he looked inside, and saw those grave clothes lying there in disarray.
Then Peter arrived and, just as we’d expect of him, went right in. He also saw the linen clothes lying there, but there was something unusual in that scene. Something caught their eye that was very interesting.
The Gospel of John tells us that the piece of cloth, which was placed over the face of Jesus, was not just thrown aside like the grave clothes. The Bible takes an entire verse to tell us that the piece of cloth was neatly folded and was placed at the head of that stony coffin. Is that important? You’d better believe it! Is that significant? Absolutely! Is it really significant? Yes!
In order to understand the significance of the piece of cloth, you have to understand a little bit about Hebrew tradition of that day. The folded cloth had to do with the Master and Servant, and every Jewish boy knew this tradition. When the servant set the dinner table for the master, he made sure that it was exactly the way the master wanted it. The table was furnished perfectly, and then the servant would wait, just out of sight, until the master had finished eating, and the servant would not dare touch that table, until the master was finished.
Now if the master were done eating, he would rise from the table, wipe his fingers, his mouth, and clean his beard, and would wad up the piece of cloth (as napkin) and toss it onto the table. The servant would then know to clear the table. For in those days, the wadded cloth meant, “I’m done”. But if the master got up from the table, and folded his piece of cloth, and laid it aside his plate, the servant would not dare touch the table, because the servant knew that the folded cloth meant, “I’m not finished yet.” The folded cloth meant, “I’m coming back!”
Peter and John had walked with Christ for 3 years. They had watched as He opened blind eyes and deaf ears. They watched as He literally raised people from the dead. Then they watched Him die…and as they watched, all of their hopes, all of their dreams were shattered! All they could think was, “it’s over, it’s all over!” And for 3 long days they were in the depths of despair…the lights of their soul had gone dim. Peter even said, I’m going’ fishing’. I’m going’ back to what I used to do.
He’s not finished yet! The tomb is empty, our Savior is alive!!!
17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.
12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
A few days before Christ died, He took His disciples aside and told them what was about to happen. He said, I’m going to be betrayed, arrested, beaten, and crucified. Then he looked at the disciples and said, all of you are going to desert me when the heat is on.
The Apostle Peter rose up in typical style and said, Not me, Lord. “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.” Peter goes on to say… “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny You.” Can you just imagine the reaction of Jesus, knowing that Peter would deny Him three times.
They arrested Jesus and subjected Him to shear torture. And while this was happening, Peter’s courage turned to butter. A young lady approached and said, “I know you, you were with Him”. And this same man who had just stood up to the entire Roman army, now backed down and said, “I don’t know the man!” Another came up and said the same, and again he denied Christ. Yet another said, your accent betrays you, you’re a Galilean, you’re one of His disciples, and he not only denied Christ that 3rd time, And the rooster immediately crowed, and Peter remembered the words of Jesus. And he looked off into the distance, and there stood Christ, and their eyes caught. And when he saw the sadness and sorrow in the eyes of Jesus, it broke His heart.
Listen now, let me drop a blessing in your heart. Look at Mark’s acct of The Empty Tomb.
16 Now when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, that they might come and anoint Him. 2 Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. 3 And they said among themselves, “Who will roll away the stone from the door of the tomb for us?” 4 But when they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away—for it was very large. 5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a long white robe sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. 6 But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him. 7 But go, tell His disciples—and Peter—that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.”
Can’t you see it in your mind’s eye…these ladies run to the disciples to tell them the good news. He’s alive! He’s alive! He’s risen from the dead!!
Can’t you see Peter, in the corner of the room, shocked, saying, what? What did you say? It’s true!
“Yes, He said to meet Him Galilee!”
And Peter, who has been in the depths of depression for 3 days, stunned at the reality of the Resurrection, and almost encouraged, is once again plagued in his mind at his pitiful denial of Christ, and is dragged right back down into his pit of despair, and thought, “surely He doesn’t mean for me to come…I denied Him 3 times.
And the ladies said, oh, Peter, by the way…He mentioned you by name!!! (V7)
He said, go tell the disciples…and Peter.
Why did Jesus want to see Peter…to rebuke him? No, he wanted to restore him! And one of the sweetest scenes you’ll ever see in scripture is Peter and Jesus, coming together, and Jesus hugging him and saying, Peter, do you love me? (3times)
That’s the real issue. If you’re here today and at some-point in your walk, you stumbled like Peter, let me remind you that Jesus is alive and loves you. how do I know this for sure? Didn’t Jesus…because of His love for you, died for you. and on the third day, rose for you. And is alive and well to this day. Wasn’t that the reason Jesus faced the cross…sacrificed His life, so that we can be saved! Salvation is an eternal gift by Gods grace. Just because we can slip off track from time to time does not mean that God will take away His gift. The life of His Son was a gift to you, and you need to believe that!
Please listen. Peter denied Jesus three times, and yet Jesus called him by name. Peter was asked with one of the greatest question Jesus could ever ask anyone. “do you love Me”. Jesus is asking you today, “do you love Me”. If you’re a Christian, your answer should be a definite YES!!!
I heard about a little boy who had done something very naughty. His mother punished him. He was afraid his mother was still angry at him…in the kitchen there was a chalkboard on the wall where they wrote down phone messages. When no one was around, he wrote on that chalkboard, dear mom, if you forgive me, please wipe this out. He went to his room, and about an hour later returned, and to his surprise and joy that chalkboard had been completely erased!
Are you away from God right now? Bring your sins to the cross…Jesus will not rub them in, He’ll rub them out! That is the beauty of “The Empty Tomb” Jesus is alive and loves you the same as when He first called you by name. His love will never change once you are His.
If you’re here today and you need to be saved, or you need to come BACK to God, I need to remind you there’s coming a day when another supper will take place…it’s called the marriage supper of the Lamb. I beg of you, don’t wait ‘til it’s too late. Right now, the napkin is still folded!
Remember the prodigal son…when he came home, his father welcomed him home w/ open arms! Today, Jesus is calling you!!!
1 Corinthians 11:23-34
23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. 27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. 33 Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in order when I come.
Paul had warned the Corinthians about divisions in the beginning of the letter but moved on to discuss some of the questions and issues in the church from an individual standpoint. Beginning in ch.11, Paul begins a section on the church and its operation continuing through ch.14. After dealing with some gender issues in the first part of the chapter, he moves to dealing with some major problems with the Lord’s Supper. There were divisions, gluttony, selfishness, drunkenness, and other things that made a mockery of this sacred ordinance.
The Lord’s supper is a time when we remember the Lord’s sacrifice on our behalf, and we come humbly to the table acknowledging our sin and His perfection, proclaiming His death till He comes in a bond of unity with the rest of the body of Christ.
There is a time of remembering the sacrifice…
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.
The first thing Jesus did was give thanks. The common loaf that was shared indicated a unity and common bond shared among the body of Christ. A visible sermon showing Christ’s death for sin, until He comes again. Note also the presence of Christ. The word here is testament, in ancient Greek, it carried much meaning—it was the act of someone of His own free will distributing gifts upon others after His death, and it was usually conditional. This text also shows the temporary nature of this feast.
A heart transplant recipient was asked one time if he ever thinks of the person who gave him the heart, that he died and all. And the response was that it was too hard to think of someone dying for you. Several years ago in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, George and Vera Bajenksi’s lives were changed forever. February 16, 1989. A very normal Thursday morning. The phone rang at 9:15 a.m. "There’s been an accident..." It involved their son Ben. As they approached the intersection of Adelaide and Simcoe Streets near the high school, they could see the flashing lights of the police cars and ambulance units. Vera noticed a photographer and followed the direction of his camera lens to the largest pool of blood she had ever seen. All she could say was, "George, Ben went home…home to be with his Heavenly Father!" Her first reaction was to jump out of the car, somehow collect the blood and put it back into her son. "That blood, for me, at that moment, became the most precious thing in the world because it was life. It was life-giving blood and it belonged in my son, my only son, the one I loved so much." The road was dirty and the blood just didn’t belong there. George noticed that cars were driving right through the intersection--right through the blood. His heart was smitten. He wanted to cover the blood with his coat and cry, "You will not drive over the blood of my son!" Then Vera understood for the first time in her life, one of God’s greatest and most beautiful truths...why blood?
Because it was the strongest language God could have used. It was the most precious thing He could give-- the highest price He could pay. Through God’s amazing love we were redeemed with the precious blood of Christ…
1 Peter 1:18-19
18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
May we never treat lightly nor trample underfoot the blood of God’s Son.
29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?
So…a great warning is given to those who take the Lords supper lightly. Let us not take the Lords Supper as some kind of a routine/ritual that we have to do. Let us not partake in such a way that we do it because of some religious practice. It is to be taken seriously.
This should be a time of thanksgiving for the sacrifice that was made. We are also to do this in remembrance of Him. We should remember how He died and why He died, and what happened because He died. We should rejoice in the new covenant. My debt and yours was paid by an innocent man. Poured out upon Christ on the Cross.
There is a time of reexamining the saints, you and I!
1 Corinthians 11:27-32
27 Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. 30 For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and many sleep. 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.
The word used here means for someone to be put on trial, or to examine for genuineness, to find out if one is approved. However, this trial is not for a judgment from a jury of your peers, but an intense personal self-search of one’s own heart, looking for things that displease God.
This is a time for confession, church discipline, repentance, and removal of things that disrupt the unity of the body and one’s relationship to Christ. This prevents the judgment that Paul says comes with not taking the supper worthily. The judgment talked about here, and sickness and death, is the chastisement of the Lord.
This is an individual and corporate time of examination. During our examination time, ask God to search you, and show you the unapproved areas. Your personal walk with the Lord. A relationship with someone that is damaged. Your commitment to the church. Confess, repent, discern the body, and drink reverently. Remember that failure to do so properly could cause us to receive discipline from God, even death.
Tonight, we will use the church covenant as a helpful reminder of our commitment to one another and most importantly to Christ our Lord.
It is also a time of renouncing our selfishness…
1 Corinthians 11:33-34
33 Therefore, my brethren, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 34 But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in order when I come.
Having remembered the death of the Lord, and examined themselves, Paul told the Corinthians to begin behaving like Christians should. Caring for one another. Focusing not on what you get out of it, but about the body and its health.
We must realize that it is not all about us! It’s about Him. We should use this time to look for ways that we can contribute to the overall health of the body of Christ. We should consider the mission statement and our purpose. Remind ourselves that we are in a war for our own souls and those of our families, neighbors, friends, and coworkers.
Looking for ways to serve. Looking for ways to use your spiritual gifts. Looking for ways to build up one another. Looking for ways to show support to the body. Looking for ways to change our behavioral patterns to reflect Christ, and what He wants for the church, and not ourselves, and what we want for the church. This should be a time for strengthening unity in the body, around the Word, and around Christ.
So tonight… as we partake together as the covenant body called First Fil-Am Baptist Mission Church, let us judge ourselves that we not be judged.
Decisions We Make
12 Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray and continued all night in prayer to God. 13 And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles: 14 Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; 15 Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot; 16 Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor.
What do you do when you are facing a large decision? It may be a decision about your career. Do I pursue a promotion or not? Should I look for another Job? Should I get a job?
What about big decisions in relationships? Should I ask that person out - what if they say no? If you are asked out, the question is ... Should I go out with that person - Am I attracted to them? Then it’s, do I want to marry them or not? Then when the first argument comes along - Do I want to stay married to them? How do you make good decisions about relationships?
It may be that you have to face big decisions about money or finances ... What should I do with my savings - all $15 of it? Should I buy a new car or an old car? What sort of car should I get - a sports car or a family van? Should I buy a house or rent? How do you make good decisions about money?
At some point in your life everyone has some big decisions to make, You might be in the middle of a big decision right now. And you are wondering “How should I handle this? What’s the right answer? Where do I turn for help?” Tonight, I want to look at what Jesus did before he made a big decision because he made some good decisions.
In this passage, Jesus was faced with a decision that would shape the rest of history. Have you ever been faced with such a decision - probably not. Jesus at this time was selecting 12 men who would be trained and carry on his ministry when He died. But what if He made the wrong decision? This is just a “what if” scenario. We all know that Jesus makes all the right decisions. Again… “what if?”
Selecting the wrong men and everything He worked for while here on earth might just fizzle. Think about it for a while. Where would Christianity be today if the apostles had failed - just given it all up as a failed experiment and gone back to their old professions of fishing and tax collecting and the life after Jesus had died. We definitely wouldn’t have the NT as it is today.
We probably wouldn’t even know much about Jesus Christ at all. There would have been no Christian church. God’s plan of salvation would have been lost to all generations. Given that Christ was going to entrust the truth of His ministry and the health and well-being of the Christian church into the hands of these 12 men, this selection was critical - talk about pressure. I hope I never have a decision like that to make.
This was a big decision Jesus had to make and to make it worse, He was under immense pressure in other areas of His life. His enemies were breathing down His neck and plotting against Him. As we’ve looked through the book of Luke, we’ve seen again and again that Jesus seemed to step on toes everywhere He went. What He taught, His attitudes, behaviour and all that He stood for seemed to be offending the everyone.
He was a bit of a revolutionary and the Pharisees and the leaders of the Jewish Temple were upset. Actually they were so upset, that the verse before this passage says that they “began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus”. And don’t be fooled, they weren’t planning a surprise party - they were wanting to get rid of Jesus once and for all.
Do you ever feel the weight of decisions on you? Feel that the whole world - or maybe your whole future rests on this one decision? I think that Jesus felt that pressure ... So what did He do?
12 Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray and continued all night in prayer to God.
How often do you pray about the decisions of Life?
What did Jesus do when He was faced with a big decision? He Prayed. Simply that. He Prayed. I want to ask you tonight, How often do you pray about the decisions of Life?
God is the best Father you could ever imagine. He is not like some human dads who don’t care for their kids or even abuse them. He is the best Dad ever - He is interested in you and the things that are going on in your life. He wants to hear from you what you are thinking - what you are struggling with. He wants to help you - to be a comfort when you need a shoulder to lean on, to be an encourager when everything seems like it is going wrong.
To be a friend when you feel like everyone else has deserted you. God wants us to include Him in our decision making - and just like a perfect FATHER, God has all the time in the world to sit and listen to us and direct us in our decision making - whether it be a big or small issue. He wants to help.
Now, I don’t think that God will give a clear answer to us for every decision we need to make. I don’t think He will necessarily write in the clouds - wear the blue shirt today. I don’t think He will make you read a passage about burnt offerings to tell you to put roast lamb on your sandwiches for lunch. I don’t think that He will even show you necessarily what car to buy or where to put your money. But I do know that God will provide us with the resources to make those decisions in a godly and wise manner. What resources you ask? – WISDOM
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
For the Lord gives wisdom; From His mouth come knowledge and understanding.
Do you want to make good decisions? Seek wisdom. Where from - from God. Go to God in prayer and ask for wisdom. He won’t necessarily tell you which choice to make, but He’ll give you all the wisdom you need to make the best choice.
But to get this wisdom we need to include Him in our decision making. Have you got a decision to make? Well…have you prayed about it yet? You need to pray to get wisdom to make your decision making skills sharp.
How long do you spend praying about the decisions of life?
The second thing we see about Jesus’ method of decision making is that His prayer was not just a “Please help me Lord” prayer thrown up to God on the run ... No, He was serious about praying and waiting for God for the answer - for wisdom to make the decision. He actually spent all NIGHT praying.
How long do you spend praying about the decisions of your life? This is a challenge to me as much as it is probably to you. Have you ever stayed up all night praying about something? But this is the example Jesus sets for us. His was an important decision and He devoted time to praying it through with His heavenly father.
How much time do we spend in prayer? 5 mins per day? 10? 20? 30? Are you facing a big decision? How much time are you willing to spend talking to God about it? The amount of time you spend in prayer probably reflects how close you actually are walking with God.
Some of the famous Christians through-out history were great prayers. That is why I think they were so influential - because they learnt the power of prayer. You see, prayer is the deadliest weapon we have at our disposal but also the greatest source of sustenance for our daily lives.
Martin Luther said, "I am so busy now that if I did not spend three hours each day in prayer, I could not get through the day." Luther knew the effectiveness of prayer.
Billy Sunday, a famous preacher once said "If some people looked at their watches when they started praying and when they ceased praying, they would think their watches had stopped."
Does your watch seem to stop every time you pray? Maybe you develop your prayer life longer because without it, your life will not have any stability.
Have you ever wondered why a bird sleeping on its perch never falls off? Usually birds manage to sleep perfectly well without falling off. How do they manage to do this? The secret is the tendons of the bird’s legs. They are so constructed that when the leg is bent at the knee, the claws contract and grip like a steel trap. The claws refuse to let go until the knees are unbent again. The bended knee gives the bird the ability to hold on to his perch it gives it stability in its life.
Just like a bent knee in a bird helps that bird stay balanced and safe through the long hours of darkness, a knee bent in prayer enables us to get a firmer grip on life and the wisdom needed for decision making. It helps us when we make the big decisions and the small decisions. I want to challenge you as I have been challenged this week that maybe we need to spend more time in prayer.
How do we pray about the decisions of life?
The third thing I notice about Jesus’ prayer life is that He prayed in solitude. He went up to a hillside to a QUIET place away from the noise and the people who were desperate to benefit from His healing power. He went away from those who would seek to pressure Him more. He got away from the daily grind and the commitments and went to where He could focus on one thing - GOD. Praying through the busiest parts of the day is good - don’t get me wrong, but we need to set aside specific times for quiet meditation on God.
A man working in an ice factory lost a valuable watch. His fellow workmen searched with him for more than two hours through the sawdust on which the ice was stored…but were unable to find it. They left the plant for lunch and returned to find a little boy with the watch in his hand. "How ever did you find it?" They inquired. He replied, "I just lay down in the sawdust and heard it ticking."
Sometimes we try to find God in our business, our activity and our noise. But we can’t find God that way - we must "be still and quiet - then we can know that He is God."
How do you pray about the decisions of life. Do you take time out and find a place of solitude to spend time one on one with God or do you try to squeeze him into your schedule amidst the noise of the TV.
Jesus knew the importance of including His heavenly Father in the decisions He was making. It was the only way He could make good decisions. Keep in mind that by choosing the right 12 men, would have a big impact on the rest of the world. The future of all Christians rests on the choosing of the 12 Apostles. (MINUS 1)
Jesus prayed often to God. How OFTEN do you pray about the decisions of Life? Do we need to pray more often about the big things and the little things? Let’s keep our prayer life sharp and ask for the wisdom that God promises to give us. Wisdom to help us make good decisions.
Jesus prayed at length to His Father. How LONG do we spend praying about the decisions of life? If we don’t have power in our lives or clarity of thought, it is probably because we need to be praying more. Let’s be on our knees and develop our grip on life. It has been said that "Preaching affects men; prayer affects God.”
The pastor who is not a praying pastor is a playing pastor. The congregation which is not a praying congregation is a straying congregation. To be much for God we must be much with God. Do we pray enough?
Here is a short poem that I read from one of my devotions, that went well with this message.
I got up early one morning and rushed right into the day; I had so much to accomplish that
I didn’t have time to pray. Problems just tumbled about me, and heavier came each task.
"Why doesn’t God help me?" I wondered.
He answered, "You didn’t ask." I wanted to see joy and beauty, but the day toiled on, gray and bleak;
I wondered why God didn’t show me. He said, "But you didn’t seek."
This maybe just a short message, but it was straight to the point. You see…the Christian life is a life of prayer. Simply because that is the only connection, we have to get the help that we need from God. I have never heard of a Christian, who never prayed. Let this be challenge for all of us, to always keep the Lord in every decision that we make. No matter how big or how small, Jesus needs to be involved!
Let Us pray:
Pastor Richard Santos
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