Bible Study Notes (9-21-08)

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Were You There? / The Meaning of the Cross

Matthew 26:47-27:66

 

We’ve been to the manger, down by the river, and in the wilderness. We walked and listened and learned from Him for three literary years. We’ve sat at the table, walked through the garden, now it is time for the path of the cross.

Everything we will read and discuss tonight will sound absolute silliness apart from the work Holy Spirit upon one’s heart.

 

 

A great preacher by the name of CJ Mahaney said, “Before we can begin to see the cross as something done FOR us, leading us to faith and worship, we have to see it as something done BY us, leading us to repentance.” With that in mind, lets go to the holy narrative as told by Matthew. As we read, ask yourself, “Where am I?”

 

I’d like to point out a few people in particular. These people that could very well be “you” and I can say for certain that some are (or were) “me.”

 

CAST:

Malchus

Malchus was a servant, a slave really, of the High Priest. He followed orders. Arrest Jesus the Nazarene. He is told that man is a troublemaker at least, an insurrectionist at worst. This man is a blasphemer. You have no choice to believe lest you displease your master. In a flash a fight breaks out and your ear is laying beside you. STOP! You hear from your good ear. Suddenly this man comes up to you. Rebukes the man who cut off your ear, picks up the fallen bit of flesh, dusts it off, and puts it back on. What does Malchus do? Proceeds with the arrest as ordered. What grace have you been given, that you would still turn your back on the one who would give you daily miracles. All good gifts come from Him. Yet would you scorn him?

 

Caiaphas

High Priest AD 18-36, son in law of Annas (6-15)

Caiaphas is a politician and a slave to his tradition. His primary concerns are power, popularity, and empty theology. He loves his knowledge of God more than he does God Himself. This arrogance blinds him to any notion that he could ever be mistaken or even be flexible enough to think that his god would act in a way he didn’t like. God hardened Caiaphas’ heart in the same way as pharaoh. While I am in no way downplaying the importance of right theology, I must ask, do you hold so fast to learning about God that you forget that there is a Person there who wants more than head nods and amens to truths?

 

False Witnesses

These are the people who claimed they knew Jesus, but lied about him in attempts to discredit him. Now, the biggest false witness against Jesus is this, “Jesus was good man, a good moral teacher, but he was not a savior or son of God.” Ever utter that phrase?

 

Pilate

Here we see a man who wants nothing to do with this. This whole Jesus thing means nothing but trouble. Your attitude? Whatever, this Jesus person does not concern me. Just don’t cause any trouble, do what you want. But leave me out of this Jesus junk.  Do you hear about Jesus and wash your hands of anything to do with him?

 

 

The Women

More men then the men who are called Apostles, they followed, but at a distance. They were curious, but would not speak out. They watched him die on the cross. They made no move of being united with him. They just… watched. Is that who Jesus is. a spectacle to behold? A concert to attend? A pastor to hear? a church to go to? And nothing more…?

 

Joseph of Arimathea

Here is man, like Nicodemus, a friend of his in fact, who was a secret supporter. An anonymous Christian. Is there such a thing? No. Romans 10:9-10 and Matthew 10:32-33 reject that idea outright. Do you keep Christ a secret and thereby deny him? Or will you wait until no one views Christ as a threat and then make a gesture of acknowledgement?

 

Disciples

Ran. The savior is threatened and they run. Peter, who we will talk about later, put up a bit of a fight, but…. Jesus said not to fight back, so they run and hide. Do they stand and say, “If you despise him, you must despise you with him! Take and crucify us too!” No… they run. When the person of Jesus is under attack, will you accept the persecution or will you take the route of safety?

 

Judas/Peter

I put these two next to each other for a very important reason. They are two sides of same coin.  Both, in a very real way, denied Christ. Both, showed “repentance.” Both, ended up very differently. We get a great lesson in what true repentance is and a quick Greek lesson. We see what metamelomai  (me-tä-me’-lo-mī) means in Judas. We see what metanoia  (me-tä’-noi-ä ) means in Peter.  First, Judas, the man who loved money more than God he saw his Rabbi beaten, abused, and he repented not of what he did, but of what the consequences of it.  He had repentance, metamelomai kind of repentance. His tears wept over a beaten and bloodied Rabbi, but not of his betrayal. This repentance lead to what?  Tears and suicide.  This repentance is not real repentance.  This is the repentance of the drunk with a hangover. Then we come to Peter.  He makes a show of bravado by swiping at Malchus but is rebuked. So he follows like a coward a distance from Jesus. At last he is confronted as a follower of Jesus. His reply is No, NO!, (expletive deleted) NO!!!. Then, at his rejection of Jesus, the rooster crows… Luke 22:61 says, “And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. “ Then, the words spoken just outside of Gethsemane came back. ((“”Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.”))  Peter’s pride is finally crushed, his arrogance ground to powder, so he wept bitterly.  He did not weep over the consequences of his actions, he wept over the actions themselves. He showed repentance. Metanoia.  So then. Do you weep because someone knows you were looking at pornography on your computer or do you weep BECAUSE youlloked at pornography? Do you weep because your conversation of lies or gossip cost a friendship?  Or do you weep because of the lies or gossip itself? Do you lament the headache and vomiting the day after? Or do you lament ever getting drunk in the first place? Metamelomai (Judas repentance) will lead to death. Metanoia (Peter repentance) will lead to life.

 

 

The Crowd

If you have not found yourself in any of the above people, find yourself here. They shout, “Crucify him!” They shout, “His blood be on us and on our children!”  Jesus! Go away! You mean nothing to me! I’ve heard you preach, I’ve seen your miracles… CRUCIFY!  Why? Because what he taught would mean that you aren’t who you think you are. Because what he did isn’t what you wanted him to do. Therefore, you want him out of the way. Why don’t you scream that again?

 

(Break)

 

The Meaning of the Cross

1 Cor 1:23-24

 

I say, with all certainty, as foolish as I looked last week, what we will look at now, is (to the un-converted heart) pure foolishness. I say that with scripture’s approval.

 

Indulge me with letting me start off personally. I have been at the same time drawn to this part of scripture and wanting to run from it. Bluntly, the drawing too is vastly stronger than my wanting to run. I want to run because I do not like to face what is found here, my sins. I cannot part because I love what I find here, full atonement, and total forgiveness.  Before I go on let me say this: If you ever tire of the cross in this life, I can promise you, you will have an eternity of hot to regret growing that cold.

 

 

Look, look to the cross! What is it you see? The Lamb looking directly into your eyes! Can you say,

“And never till my dying breath

Will I forget that look

It seemed to charge me with his death

Though not a word he spoke.”

Yes, there upon the cross is the Lamb, slain! Look! Do you see your sin there upon him? Do you see those nights alone in front of the computer? Do you see those nights in bed? With or without someone else? Do you see those drunken acts? Do you see that hatred against another? Do you see your thefts? So you see your disobedience to your parents? Do you see that gossip you whispered and the blasphemy you shouted!? Do you see that false God you created instead of the One who died for you though you hated Him?

(I did not hate him! You protest. If you did not hate him why did you not obey him?)

Do you see the wrath of the cross as something that you should rightly face? Or do you see the cross as a horrid scene from a gross-out Mel Gibson flick? If you see it as a movie scene leave now, there is no more benefit for you at this scene than the vilest scene in any of the SAW movies. If you see your sins there, if you see the cross as your responsibility, your doing, and for your sake. If you see him beaten and battered as you yelled “CRUCIFY HIM!” as him loving you when you hated him. Then you see! You see! O! The blind does see!

 

The cross is not about what man can do to achieve peace with God, but what God did to achieve peace with man. While hanging on the cross Jesus did not cry out with his last breath, “Ask me into your heart that I might save you!” He cried out “IT IS FINISHED!” “TETELESTAI!” Completed! The sins committed by all those the Father willed call his own are atoned for! What sinful human arrogance to say that we must invite God! No! God needs no invitation as if he were some crippled beggar outside waiting to be let in and have whatever leftovers we were willing to give him. No! God is and sole owner and proprietor and WE are the poor, pitiful, powerless worms who need the invitation! Ask God into your heart all you want. But he could no more dwell in a sinful heart than you could in a house of dung. Beg, plead, and cry out to God that your heart would be forever changed and that cry he shall answer. Because then, you are not prideful in demanding God’s action, but humbled and broken, admitting that without God’s gracious action, you are fit for nothing but kindling for the fires of Hell.

 

So what then is salvation!? What must I do to be saved? You cry as the Holy Spirit draws you. Repent! The first words of Christ in his ministry. Repent! Turn from your sins as you would turn from a plate of dung and vomit. Loathe your sins, your lusts, your anger. Turn to the Holy and Living God as a man in the desert turns to a cold glass of water. Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength!

 

This is the cross: God’s wrath against sin, God’s hatred for sin. God’s punishment for sin. This is the cross: Man’s total depravity. Man’s inherent wickedness. Man’s just judgment. But wait. That last sentence does not fit! Man’s just judgment. If that were so, then it would have to be myself on that cross! But! This is the cross! GOD’S AMAZING GRACE! Yes! Grace! Unmerited favor! Nothing of you, but all of Him, all of grace. George Whitefield, while preaching this last sermon cried out “Works! Works! A man get to heaven by works! I would as soon as think of climbing to the moon on a rope of sand!” This is the unfathomable love of God. This is the unfathomable gift of God.

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3 Responses to “Bible Study Notes (9-21-08)”

  1. The Desert Pastor Says:

    I enjoyed reading your Bible study notes on the meaning of the cross. There are far too many people who have sought to demean the cross and still think they can avail themselves of its privileges and joys.

    Be encouraged and stay true to the Word of God in all things. He will guide you into all truth.

    The Desert Pastor

  2. HECTOR HUGO Says:

    god bless you Berry. Saludos desde Guatemala http://es.youtube.com/watch?v=twpyWA8OO0c.
    hectorhugo_pastor@hotmail.com

  3. HECTOR HUGO Says:

    saludos desde Guatemala. http://es.youtube.com/watch?v=twpyWA8OO0c

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