< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: March 2013

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Jesus' Trial: A Judicial Joke

Mark 14:53-65 53 They took Jesus to the high priest, and all the chief priests, the elders and the teachers of the law came together. 54 Peter followed him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest. There he sat with the guards and warmed himself at the fire.

55 The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. 56 Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree.

57 Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands.’” 59 Yet even then their testimony did not agree.

60 Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 61 But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer.

Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” 62 “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

63 The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. 64 “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” They all condemned him as worthy of death. 65 Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him.

There were six trials in six hours. Mark shortens things as is his style: the three religious trials into one. Just in these religious trials there were at least 24 illegalities:

1) No crime

2) Arrest without warrant

3) Arrest at night

4) No legal authorities

5) Biased authorities

6) Trials occurred not in a court

7) Judgment before any accusation

8) The judges cannot initiate the charges they could only investigate charges

9) No official accusation/ illegal indictment

10) Secret trial

11) No defense consideration

12) No defense team

13) Self-incrimination

14) Trial before sundown

15) During the Passover Feast

16) Bribes of the witnesses

17) False witnesses

18) Abuse of evidence/not verified

19) Illegal reading of the verdict

20) Violence in the courtroom

21) They switched the charges! They started with Blasphemy, but that’s not worthy of the death penalty with the Romans, so they switched it to “wanting to overthrow Caesar”!

22) Trial concluded in one day

23) If the verdict was unanimous the defendant must go free

24) Intervention of the high priest in the proceedings

This was a judicial joke! A scam! A mockery!

Look at vs. 55 again: The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any.

They were searching for something to make legal a verdict they had already decided on!

But they found none! If we have the arrogance and self-pride to judge Jesus we will end up with nothing too.

Vs. 56 said they got lots of testimony, but none agreed with each other. One of the testimonies actually misquoted something Jesus said in John 2:19. What they said He said was “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands’.”

What Jesus really said was, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”

Jesus was talking about Himself. “If you destroy Me, I will rise up in three days.” And here they were trying to destroy the temple - Jesus and He was prophesying that when they did He would rise again in three days!

Jesus never defended Himself. The only time He spoke was when the high priest asked Him if He was the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One. And Jesus said: “I am, and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Jesus was the only one present who told the truth that night. For the second time that night He said “I Am” announcing to all that He was God true God – Yahweh. His next sentence referenced Daniel 7:13-14 13 “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.

Only Jesus said He would be seated at the right hand of God. In Daniel, He was presented. But Christ went on as if saying He was presented and God approved and seated Him at His right hand. Jesus was judge – not them! That’s why He never defended Himself!

As priests and church leaders they recognized what He was quoting and it made them crazy! The high priest tore his mantle and called it blasphemy. And they hit Him!

The version I read (NIV) said the soldiers took Him and hit Him. Many versions say they received Him and hit Him. How do we receive Jesus? With pride and rebellion? Or by humbly bowing down in worship? All the people present that night accept Jesus were really the ones being judged – by how they received Jesus. May OUR hands not be slapping Him in rebellion, but be lifted to Him in praise!

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Little known tidbits to help you appreciate Easter more

I just read some really interesting little-known tidbits over at http://www.hacres.com that help connect the events surrounding Christ’s death and resurrection — information that enables us 21st century Americans to decipher what was going on in first century Israel:

We hope they will give you an even greater appreciation for Christ and his sacrifice.

•Passover lambs for sacrifice needed to be “without spot or blemish” (Exodus 12:5). To ensure an adequate supply of lambs for the thousands attending Passover in Jerusalem, priestly shepherds were hired to specifically bred spotless lambs. Because of sanitation regulations, they could not be raised in Jerusalem. Instead, the lambs were born a few miles away in a village… called Bethlehem. The same place where Jesus, the spotless lamb, was born.

•A Passover lamb was to be brought into the home and “tested” for 3 days prior to Passover to ensure it was without spot or blemish (Exodus 12:3-6). In the same manner, Christ (the Passover lamb) was ushered into Jerusalem on a donkey and then tested for 3 days (intensely questioned by the Pharisees) before He was declared faultless (ie. without spot or blemish) by Pilate (John 19:4) and sacrificed.

•Christ was crucified and died at the ninth hour, about 3:00 pm (Matthew 27:45). It is at this exact time that the Passover lambs were being sacrificed in the temple.

•The Passover lamb that the temple priests ate was prepared in a way that bears an uncanny resemblance to Christ on the cross. The lamb was sacrificed, then bound and roasted vertically on a metal stake that looks amazingly similar to a crucifix. Most bizarre of all, its entrails were removed and wrapped around its head, looking just like a crown of thorns.

•When Christ was about to die, He cried out “It is finished!” (John 19:30). The High Priest, when all Passover sacrifices are completed, would cry out to the crowd, “It is finished.”

•When John the disciple went into the empty tomb and saw the head cloth that had been wrapped on Christ’s head “folded up by itself” (John 20:5-7), John believed that Christ had risen. Why? In Christ’s day, when carpenters had finished their job, they folded their finishing rag and left it behind to let the homeowner know that the job was done when they arrived home. Each carpenter had a signature way of folding the cloth. Some say John knew the way Jesus’ folded His carpenter cloths and recognized the fold as Jesus’ signature that the “job was done.”

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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Palm Sunday People? Or Easter People?

Today is Palm Sunday and our church didn’t mention it. My first thought was that that seemed a little odd. Every other church I’ve ever belonged to my entire life handed out palm leafs to the congregation.
My next thought was that I didn’t really want to celebrate it anyway because all those people in Jerusalem were hypocrites. Look what they did to Jesus at the END of the week!
But my last thought was: how true this is of all of us! We praise and worship Jesus all the time for what He might do. He might give us exactly what we are praying for. But then we turn against Him when He doesn’t do what we want.
They wanted an earthly king to get them out from under Roman control. What do we want? Health? A job? A fix to a relationship problem? More money?
We must focus on ONE thing that He did! He rose from the dead to conquer death and give us eternal life!
We must not be Palm Sunday people and certainly not Munday Thursday or Good Friday people. We must be Easter people! Now that’s something to celebrate!

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Monday, March 18, 2013

Lessons about Trials from Job

Job teaches us how to help a friend going through trials:
Job’s wife and friends did a lot of things wrong during Job’s trials, but here they did something very right:
Job 2:11-13 11 When Job’s three friends, Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite, heard about all the troubles that had come upon him, they set out from their homes and met together by agreement to go and sympathize with him and comfort him. 12 When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. 13 Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.
We don’t always have to say anything. Just be there with them!
Job teaches us how to get through a trial ourselves;
Job 1:22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.
Job did not blame God, he did not sin and he did not lose his faith!
Satan is alive and well on the planet Earth:
Job 1:6-7 6 One day the angels came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them. 7 The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”

Satan answered the Lord, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”

God knew where Satan was. He said this so WE would know that Satan roams the earth! To keep us on our guard!
Trials set us free from pride and cause us to turn to and depend on God.
Here are 3 helps for handling trials:
1. Prayer brings peace: Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
2. The Word brings wisdom; Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path.
3. When enduring a trial truth must govern your life – not your feelings.
4. Trials train us. Job learned about God’s sovereignty through His.

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Jesus was NOT a victim!

Mark 14: 43-52 43 Just as he was speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, appeared. With him was a crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders.

44 Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him and lead him away under guard.” 45 Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Rabbi!” and kissed him. 46 The men seized Jesus and arrested him. 47 Then one of those standing near drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

48 “Am I leading a rebellion,” said Jesus, “that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? 49 Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts, and you did not arrest me. But the Scriptures must be fulfilled.” 50 Then everyone deserted him and fled. 51 A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, 52 he fled naked, leaving his garment behind.

We shouldn’t feel sorry for Jesus! He was NEVER a victim and we’ll look at five things from this passage that show that in just a minute. We can mourn that He had to go through what He did. But He was always in control of the situation.

The Jewish leaders would have gone to the Romans about arresting Jesus. The Jews and Romans were NOT friends and this may have been the only time they ever agreed on anything! Jesus either draws people together: believers. Or He’s a divider: those who hate the truth.

Jerusalem would have been very quiet this late at night. So Jesus and His disciples would have heard this huge crowd coming. John 18:3 says it was a Roman cohort, which is 600 Roman soldiers. Plus the Jews leaders and temple guards. There could have been 1000 people in the crowd!

At this point Judas was a pawn of Satan’s. But he had set himself up for that through his life style and thoughts and attitudes. Here he greets Jesus with “Rabbi”, but in the Matthew account he says “Hail, Rabbi!” a term of honor and respect. And he kissed Him! At this time in history it would have been normal for a slave to kiss his master’s feet, or a subject to kiss a ruler’s hand or a friend to kiss his friend’s cheek.

But the hypocrisy would have been blatant! Everyone in the crowd knew why they were there and that Judas was betraying his friend. Yet Judas was still acting like he cared about and honored Christ.

And actually he wasn’t the only one who betrayed Jesus that night – the other disciples fled.

But here’s where Jesus’ authority strongly showed through:  In verse 42 He had told the disciples ahead of time who was coming and what was going to happen. And He went toward the Jews and the Romans. In verse 49 He said “this has to happen to fulfill scripture.”

Psalm 55:12-14 If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were rising against me, I could hide. 13 But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, 14 with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship at the house of God, as we walked about among the worshipers.

Believers and non-believers are ultimately under the control of God. There is a plan authored by Christ and God that has been playing out and will continue to play out. The believers will enjoy His gracious control and the non-believers will fight it.

Another place this passage shows His complete authority is spelled out better in the John version. John 18:6 When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.

The Greek used for “I am” is the eternal name of God. It was the name God gave Moses when Moses asked God for His name to give the people. And when Jesus said this all 1000 people in the crowd fell to the ground!

He also showed His authority when Peter cut off the slave’s ear and Jesus healed it. All this chaos going on all over the place and Jesus just automatically does what He does – He healed. Luke 22:51 But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.

In the Matthew version He says in verse 26:53 Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?

12 legions were 72,000 angels! Back when the Assyrian soldiers had surrounded Jerusalem ONE angel killed 180,000 men in a night. Can you imagine what 72,000 angels could do?

Jesus was NOT a victim!

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Thursday, March 07, 2013

Can we keep God’s judgment from America?

I just finished reading The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn http://www.theharbinger-jonathancahn.com/
It is a fascinating read and truly a wake up call for America. The book ties 9/11 into God’s judgment on the nation of Israel back when the Assyrians destroyed it. The author shows that 9/11 was a warning that America, a nation dedicated to God in its beginning, is now under judgment if we don’t turn back to Him. There is hope however – at least to delay judgment:
2 Chronicles 7:14 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
The author says that God desires redemption much more then judgment. Judgment is out of necessity. So WAKE UP, America!
Read the book. Hopefully it will change your life!

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Sunday, March 03, 2013

The Glory of His Submission

Pastor Kurt was back to preaching on The Gospel of Mark this morning!

Mark 14:32-42 32 They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34 “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”

35 Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36 “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”

37 Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? 38 Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

39 Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. 40 When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him.

41 Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 42 Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

The upper room was in the western part of Jerusalem. The disciples had been enjoying a holiday dinner with Jesus; a time of great fellowship. But they were also confused and concerned. Jesus had told them He was the sacrificial lamb and He was leaving them.

Passover always takes place during a full moon, so they would have been able to see pretty well. But it was late and they were cold and tired. They probably assumed they were headed back to Bethany south of the city where they were staying. As they were walking east across Jerusalem Jesus stopped at one point and prayed. That prayer is in John 17. It’s a prayer for His glorification, for His disciples and for all believers. After that they passed the Temple and went into the Kidron Valley, but instead of going south to Bethany Jesus turned north to the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus had prayed here many times before, but he usually went alone.

This wasn’t a landscaped pretty garden. It was really a walled off olive grove, maybe a few acres in size. Jesus left eight of the disciples at the wall and took Peter, James and John with Him farther in. He told the three to stay and keep watch.

Jesus was going to pray to His Father. Really He was going to wrestle with Him and then yield His life to save us. This passage gives us three things to think about: the greatness of Christ, the glory of submission and the failure of humanity.

Jesus told them His soul was very sorrowful, even to death. He had prepared from before the beginning of the world for this moment, but here He was and he was overwhelmed at the pain He was feeling. Not just what He would be physically going through the next day, He knew all of that, but that He would have to take on all of our sins and feel the complete wrath of God. And for awhile He would be separate for the first time from His Father. I heard a minister say that it wasn’t the nails or the flogging or the spear that killed Jesus; it was a broken heart after God turned away from Him.

Jesus knows everything we suffer through. He knows every worry in our head. There is not a hurt or sorrow He doesn’t understand.

Hebrews 2: 17-18 17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

And Hebrews 2:16 16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants.

He gives help! He knows what we are going through and He is willing and able to help us. But we have to trust in Him and lean on Him. Rely on His way of helping! It might be in a different way then we would expect.

When you are sorrowful and filled with dread; crying out to God, remember the Garden of Gethsemane. He gets it! Even though He prayed asking if it could be taken away He said, “but not my will but Thine.” He said yes because He knew it would save people and it would glorify His Father. This is the glory of His submission.

Our sin is an eternal offense toward God. A death payment must be made to atone for this. God is willing to forgive us if we put our trust in Christ’s work. Here’s a warning:

If you don’t trust in Christ’s payment you will pay it yourself forever!

Jesus showed us how to submit and we need to follow His example.

John 5:30 By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.

John 6:38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.

John 8:29 The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.

The first way we glorify God is by trusting Him! Anything we do we should ask ourselves, “Is this God’s will?” If it is we are called to submit. And then enjoy the ride!

The disciples were told to stay awake and pray, but they couldn’t. The Gospel of Luke says they fell asleep because they were very sorrowful. They kind of gave up instead of turning to God. Jesus had told them to pray, not so much for Him, but for themselves – He knew it would focus them on what would get them through the experience. We try by ourselves, but we need God!

Another thing we should remember about this story.  God’s answer to Jesus was “no.” God the Father said no to His precious, perfect Son so He could say yes to us! Our response should be thanksgiving and praise!

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