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Jesus before Caiaphas

57Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, in whose house the scribes and the elders had gathered. 58But Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest; and going inside, he sat with the guards in order to see how this would end.59Now the chief priests and the whole council were looking for false testimony against Jesus so that they might put him to death, 60but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward 61and said, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.’” 62The high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?” 63But Jesus was silent. Then the high priest said to him, “I put you under oath before the living God, tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”64Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, From now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 65Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has blasphemed! Why do we still need witnesses? You have now heard his blasphemy. 66What is your verdict?” They answered, “He deserves death.” 67Then they spat in his face and struck him; and some slapped him, 68saying, “Prophesy to us, you Messiah! Who is it that struck you?” (Matthew 26:57-68, NRSV)

The chief priest needed something so they could go to the Romans and have Jesus executed. But they had nothing and could get nothing.

And when Jesus told them the truth they saw it as the way to have him executed.

Jesus told them the truth and they heard what they wanted. Not love but hate. Hate fueled through the changes that were coming. Hate fueled by a need to keep things the way they are.

How do we avoid change because it is scary and is something we are not ready for?

If we always stay the same are we allowing God to work in and through our lives?

 

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Your cross…

And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:21-27, ESV)

Jesus was heading into Jerusalem to be handed over to the authorities and and killed for crimes against the religious order of the day.  He was telling the disciples this to set up the next part.

How many of you have a cross? A cross on your wall? A cross you wear around your neck?

I have at least 20 crosses on my wall and probably just as many necklaces I wear for different occasions. I also have one on my body at all times. We look upon the cross as a symbol of our Lord and savior, as the sacrifice He made. We see it as a beautiful thing. But it is not a beautiful thing. The cross was the cruelest mode of death anyone could face in Jesus’ day. The person hung on the cross actually suffocated because of the lungs collapsing and air not entering due to the collapsed space.

So why then does Jesus tell us to take up our cross? Why is it we have to go to the death again? Did we not suffer with Him in His death? Yes we did suffer with Him and He paid the price for all of us so we could stand before God. But you see Jesus has a way for us to do things that is not our way. God’s ways are not our ways. His path is not the path we would openly and willingly choose. So we must take up our cross and deny ourselves. Jesus’ way is the way we need to go and if we leave it up to us, we will not go the right path.

You see if you take up your cross and follow Him, you will gain life, the life He has planned for you. We can struggle through life knowing that He has our back, and He will not let us down.

So the next time you look upon a cross remember the reason we have it, because Jesus died upon it so that you might have life, and then take it up and follow Him, leaving your wants and desires at the door.

 

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Defense…

So Agrippa said to Paul, “You have permission to speak for yourself.” Then Paul stretched out his hand and made his defense: “I consider myself fortunate that it is before you, King Agrippa, I am going to make my defense today against all the accusations of the Jews, especially because you are familiar with all the customs and controversies of the Jews. Therefore I beg you to listen to me patiently. “My manner of life from my youth, spent from the beginning among my own nation and in Jerusalem, is known by all the Jews. They have known for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that according to the strictest party of our religion I have lived as a Pharisee. And now I stand here on trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our fathers, to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship night and day. And for this hope I am accused by Jews, O king! Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead? “I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And I did so in Jerusalem. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities. “In this connection I journeyed to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. At midday, O king, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, that shone around me and those who journeyed with me. And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ And I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’ (Acts 26:1-18, ESV)

What would you say if you had to defend your faith?

What would you say if a friend or neighbor asked you about your community you worship in?

We say (and it is biblical) “The Holy Spirit will give me words to speak…” That is true, but that does not mean we should not be prepared to give a defense of our faith.

Do you know what you would say to someone who questioned your beliefs, or asked you why you did the things you did? Paul had a clear understanding of who he was as Saul, and that understanding of self got even more clearly defined when he became Paul. You see Jesus has a way of helping us know who we are, because as He created us is the most perfected version of us, and the only way to achieve that person is through Him.

So pray and ask Him what your defense would be, and ponder how you might answer questions of your faith. But know that He will be with you as He was with Paul, to give you strength in times of need.

 

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Can you see Jesus’ head?

And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they told him, “John the Baptist; and others say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.” And he asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Christ.” And he strictly charged them to tell no one about him.
And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:27-38 ESV)

This is a great text, actually one of my favorites. And this morning I heard a wonderful sermon preached on this about standing up in the face of injustice, and how we are guaranteed 2 things, death and taxes…  No no no that is what the world gives us, but God gives us death and Resurrection. We want only the latter, but we have to do the first in order to get the second… But I digress…

I love this text for many reasons.

First it shows us the disciples are just like us. You see in the beginning Peter gets it! Jesus if the Christ, the Messiah the chosen one of God who has come to lead us into God’s kingdom! But then Jesus turns around and Peter gets stupid! Has that ever happened to you. You got it one minute you are there with God and everything is going along great and then you look around like what is going on here… The disciples were slow in the up take sometimes, so that should give all of us courage and hope to go on!

Second it has some stuff we can not see in the English. In verse 33 Jesus says to Peter, “ὀπίσω μου”. Now you are probably looking at the screen funny and scrolling up to see, no that is not what Jesus said, he said “Get behind me.” And you are correct, that is one translation for ὀπίσω μου.  But not the only way to translate that phrase. First of all lets look at the last word μου – this is a form of me. So the phrase would be _______ me. Hence the get behind. But just what is ὀπίσω?

It does mean “1) back, behind, after, afterwards  1a) of place: things that are behind  1b) of time: after” yet it also means to follow. It is one of the words used in the New Testament to say follow. The other times we see follow in our text today is ἀκολουθέω which means “1) to follow one who precedes, join him as his attendant,  accompany him  2) to join one as a disciple, become or be his disciple  2a) side with his party”. This word means more of an accompanying than follow behind. ὀπίσω μου is saying get behind me and know your place. I am the one sent from above, and you do not get to make the decision based upon what you think you know.

How many times do we do things because we think that is what God wants us to do? Because that is what we learned in Sunday School or at church? We learned that this is the way we need to do things for church. This is how we have to dress when we come to church and if someone comes in not dressed that we we need to inform them they are not welcomed. Or if they act in a way that is unbecoming, because we all know that Jesus surrounded himself with perfect disciples who got it right the first time and always… And we know only perfect people are accepted by God. (if this is the case we are all in big trouble!)

It is not up to us or our ways. Our ways are not God’s ways, and sometimes the stuff we learned is not the right way! Jesus came to show us the way and to help us see that it is not as clear as we thought.

So again if you have the bumper sticker “God is my Co-pilot” I think you better switch seats, and if you can’t see the back of Jesus’ head, you might want to slow down, and get in the right place….

Follow Jesus and the trip will be magnificent, but make sure you can always see your guide!

 

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What is the temple for…

Mark 11:15 Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and  began to drive out those who were selling and those who  were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables  of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; 11:16 and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through  the temple. 11:17 He was teaching and saying, “Is it not written, ‘My house  shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’?  But you have made it a den of robbers.” 11:18 And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they  kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid  of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching. 11:19 And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out  of the city.

This is a passage if you are like me we don’t like to think about…

I mean really who wants to talk about a Jesus who forms a whip from cords and then drives animals and people out of the temple, and overturns the tables of the money changers, and here in Mark he won’t let any one carry anything through the temple.

Were not these animals needed for sacrificial worship? These things that were happening here had been happening for a long time. The selling of animals for worship was not a new thing. People traveled long distances and did not want to bring or could not bring animals with them for worship. Maybe even Jesus’ mother and father when he was presented with their 2 turtle dove sacrifice bought them in the temple.

And the money changers were necessary because they were not allowed to have graven images and the coins most people had would have had the image of the leader of the country they were from on them, so it had to be exchanged for money that could be used in the temple.  This was all nothing new…

So why does Jesus do this?

Because Jesus sees deeper than the surface, and the reasons people say they do the things they do. Jesus sees the heart and the intent. Jesus sees our motivations…

It is not that the system is not needed, but it has been corrupted by human greed and desires. It is no longer being handled in the right way or done for worship. It is now done for profit.

What is the motivation in our lives and what makes us do the things we do? Do we do it to make a dollar, or to show forth the love of God?

 

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