From Rev Dr Tom Nibbe
Next Sunday, March 28, 2021, is Palm Sunday
Thought for the Day
"...let us live up to what we have already attained..." Philippians 3:16
"...I will put my law in their minds...and write it on their hearts...I will be their God...and they will be my people..." Jeremiah 31:33b
"...I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection of the dead..." Philippians 3:10-11
"...now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast... They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request... 'Sir', they said, '...we would like to see Jesus'..." John 12:20-21
Gracious, faithful God!
This morning we desire---with all of our being---to give you hearty praise. The Scriptures clearly teach that as we do so, you inhabit that praise. We are "made whole" in praise. We are are restored in praise. We are refreshed in praise. It's been a past week of lots of challenges. We haven't always done the right thing the way we could have...
Lord, forgive us all our sins...those things we have thought, said, and done, that go against your provision for our lives. We are, yes, sorry for sinning against you...and you, only. Grant that old familiar sense and feeling of assurance and inner peace.
When we confess our sins and ask for forgiveness, we can count on your promise that we will be restored unto you. And then, in praise, we will be brought rightly into your powerful presence, and meanwhile, truly, we will come into ourselves. Thank you, God!
Grant us the courage, strength, patience, and confidence we need to be your friendly and fit representative of the Gospel in our world. Help us to remember to pray, at all times and all situations. Save us from discouragement during our day. Help us to be helpful to others. Help us to pass on the Divine reason we have for being an outgoing and peaceable human being. Let us be blessed. Let us be a blessing. Be with our troops overseas. Be with all those who serve at home...police personal, firefighters, politicians, pastors, and also, manual workers, garbage collectors, and farmers, who provide our food.
We pray all these things in the name of our personal Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Amen.
As we consider the Scriptures for today and as well, think about the Bible verses from last week, I've been concentrating on those folks in the text who seem to be truly interested in meeting Jesus. There is the great Pharisee, Nicodemus, of course, and now today, the "Greeks", a group of Gentiles who have come to witness the Passover in 29 AD.
He probably could transport His hearers from their present circumstances and put themselves right into the middle of His parables. Or, perhaps they would fit themselves in His stories, identifying themselves with one character or another. The only conflict might be that a worker would be shirking his duty by listening. Think about it! There was no television, no movies, no cellular phones, and no street poster advertisements.
Praise the Lord! Let's go back to those times...
A person would have a sufficient amount of time to digest the various levels to be understood in the parables, and without constant interruption and distraction, pass on the wisdom of the teaching to others, and in the process, grow spiritually., and as well, make it a social thing. These days we hear these remarkable texts from the Bible, marvel at them, and move on to the next venue, hardly retaining anything permanently.It's a matter of having too much of a good thing.
Are we retaining what we are learning about Jesus and our relationship with Him in order that it can become part of us, Jesus becoming more--and you and I---becoming less?
The thought came up during our "periscope studies" last Tuesday in regard to the crowd on the original Palm Sunday --- Were the people on hand really interested in Jesus of Nazareth as "King of the Jews"? Or, did they gather for a remarkable teller of parables?
The conclusion was that Jesus was tagged by the crowd as a "miracle worker". Widespread talk all over Israel was that Jesus performed miracles. Nobody seemed to dispute that. The news had spread like wildfire, whether changing water into wine or healing someone. This was just the thing Jesus wanted to discourage. There had been a Divine "design purpose" in Jesus' coming...in fact...even before the foundation of the earth. Jesus was supposed
to come to save His people from their sins. The cost of this would be extraordinary, as we all know. Jesus would suffer horribly and die. However, one of the characteristics regarding Jesus was His compassion for others. One of the most important "telling" verses in the Bible is the shortest, "Jesus wept", John 11:35. And, yet, in spite of His desire to heal folks along the way, the main reason for His coming was the suffer, and die, and be raised again for your salvation and mine. The documentation seems to me so clear, as revealed through the Prophet Isaiah Isaiah 53 and hundreds of other references in the Old Testament.
What is the purpose of the Lord Jesus Christ? Who is He?
"...Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age?... Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world in its wisdom did not know Him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe...we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block..." 1 Corinthians 1:20-23
Recently, I had opportunity to meet an old friend. He's always been such a wonderful, loving Christian gentleman, and yet, when we talked about Jesus a couple of weeks ago, he said, and I quote, "Jesus was a wonderful person...but, the suffering and death on the cross can be removed from the story. It's so sad, he was such a great man. The important thing is that he did the good things he did...that's what mattered then and that's what matters now...
This is not Christian faith. This is something else.
You and I were bought and freed from sin at great cost to God through Christ Jesus...
PERSONAL FORGIVENESS IS ESSENTIAL THROUGH THE CROSS
ETERNAL LIFE IS ESSENTIAL THROUGH CHRIST'S RESURRECTION
"...now, brothers and sisters...I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand...by this gospel you are saved if you hold firmly to the Word I preached to you...otherwise you have believed in vain...for what I have received I passed on to you as of first importance, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised up on the third day..." 1 Corinthians 15:1-4
I was shocked. This man had provided leadership for his church for decades, not some kind of "far-out snake-worshipping fellowship in a swamp some place", but from one of our standard Christian denominations. Someone might say I am over-reacting, but I'm convinced not...
I suppose there was a time I would've let that comment pass, and not ruffle any feathers. But, I've become a "crusty old fellow" lacking in manners, but also, exceedingly more aware to my very soul, the reason for the Lord Jesus Christ in my life. I sometimes think if I was the only human being who ever existed Jesus still would have come to save me from myself.
The Scripture which now comes to mind:
"...your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus...who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a slave, being made in human likeness...and being found in the appearance of a man, He humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross! Therefore, God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father..." Philippians 2:5-11
Our journey to Holy Week, or Passion Week, is almost ended in the decisive year for many, 2021, during the Season of Lent. We've been walked with Jesus on the arduous, but beautiful pathway that'll lead us in Holy Week to our Jerusalem. For some, it wasn't a walk at all, but a "run" to win the prize of relating ourselves, and with many, updating our relationship with the Savior. Friends, we are saved by God's grace. I want to emphasize that this morning.
Nonetheless, it is encouraging to be reminded of how important it is for us to do just as Jesus did...to go out of our way...to put ourselves on the line...to share the story to those perishing...
Saint Paul writes:
"...don't you know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize...Run in such a way as to get the prize...everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training...they do it to get a crown that will not last...but we do it to get a crown that will last forever... therefore I don't run like a person running aimlessly...I don't fight like a boxer beating the air... No...I beat my body and make it my servant, so that after I have preached to others...I myself will not be disqualified for the prize..." 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
My friends in Christ, the Season of Lent is meant for this kind of preparation for Holy Week. To be able to experience the full measure of Easter's meaning for us as followers of Jesus it's important to focus. It's important to look within and note opportunities from without. It's essential to get back in touch with "the reason for the season", that is, Jesus Christ!