Sunday Service Sermons

22-March-2020

If I be lifted up!
Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.  John 3:14-15
Scripture for today: John 3:1-21
It answers the question, who is this Jesus and what is he offering.
If you get this online and will not be at worship please take the time to read this passage of scripture before continuing.
We are looking at the centrality of the cross in the life and mission of Jesus The Christ.
The redemption of the people of Israel in the desert was accomplished through Moses obeying God’s instruction to lift up the snake before the people.
Today we are comparing this redemption and salvation to Jesus being lifted up on the cross before the people as the sacrifice for sin for the entire world.
I am convinced that the majority of people never realize what God did in Jesus.
That is to say the full impact and what all God has provided for his people through Jesus and the holy Spirit.
When an individual “gets it” everything changes for them and those around them.
My plea is and will always be, allow God to do his wonderful work in and through you and see what he has for each person who truly becomes His Person.
I live my life in obedience as best I can but I always have the feeling that I have just scratched the service of the possibilities of what God can do for those who love him and live  a life in obedience to him.
Each year I pray that you might “get it” and come into the fullness of what God has prepared for you.
It came to me the other day that it is “simple” yet so very  “difficult”.
Simple that it only requires us to become 100% God’s person.
Difficult for we have a sin nature and an enemy who does all that he can to prevent us from becoming God’s person 100%.
We are engaged in a war against an enemy we cannot see in this new virus.
We have another enemy that we do not see who is Satan and is 100% dedicated to defeating us or at least holding us back from all the good things Father  God has prepared for us.
My heart breaks for those who do not believe and also for those who do believe but can’t seem to break thorough to living the life of blessing God has for each person in his open hand.
Yield, surrender, give it all to God though his Son Jesus the Christ, Please!
The Godhead, Father,  Son and Spirit, longed to fellowship person to person like they did in the beginning.
They tried the law, then the prophets, then the Son.
And in the Son it was accomplished but only if it is accepted.
Grandson Wyatt is blown away when I look up and address God like he is right there with me.
He is, I know that He is.
But I died and have seen the Son.

2
It is easier for me since that moment when it was all settled.
And that was my request before  God.
I wanted to know that I knew that he was real, that Jesus was alive and I was his now and forevermore.
And I have had no doubt since.
I guess I want that kind of assurance for each of you.
It changes the way you approach everything.
The good news is found in the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus.
Jesus’ words were so explicit that everyone who has read them in the generations since Nicodemus have found them to be clear signs marking the way to eternal life.
Nowhere else in  Scripture is there a more concise, easily understood presentation of the new birth.
And, as with practically everything Jesus did, across the beauty and symbolism of the words spoken to Nicodemus, there was a shadow of the cross.
It is the cross that makes it all happen.
The cross and resurrection is the key to new life in Christ.
Nicodemus was not just another person.
He was part of the aristocracy of Jerusalem.
So he came by night, so as to not be seen.
This visit came while Jesus was in Jerusalem and just after he had cleansed the Temple.
Jesus was teaching and healing people who came to him.
The Sanhedrin, the ruling body of the Jews, wanted Jesus stopped.
But because of his popularity with the people, their hands were tied, at least for the moment.
In the midst of this Nicodemus came to see for himself.
Nicodemus was a wealthy Pharisee.
The Pharisees were considered the best people in the land.
There were never more than six thousand of them, and they had become Pharisees by taking a pledge before three witnesses that they would spend all of their lives observing every detail of the scribal law.
So for Nicodemus to be a member of such an august brotherhood, and to wish to talk to Jesus at all, was bewildering.
Nicodemus was also a member of the Sanhedrin.
It is like Nicodemus was a member of the Supreme Court of his day.
It had seventy members.
It’s power had been limited under Roman rule but it still played an important role in the government and lives of the people.
It had religious jurisdiction over every Jew in the world, not just in Palestine.
One of its duties was to examine and deal with any one suspected of being a blasphemer, a false prophet, or a heretic.

3
Nicodemus had to be touched by the man Jesus to risk so much to come see him in person.
Nicodemus came to see for himself if this man could be the one they were looking for as the Messiah.
He came by night to have Jesus to himself.
Something about the power and authority of Jesus attracted him to Jesus.
Nicodemus gave credit to Jesus in his opening statement: Rabbi, we know that are a teacher who has come from God.  For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with them.  John 3:2
It is assumed that Nicodemus had witnessed Jesus at work to make this statement.
Jesus responded with the same requirements that he would have for the most openly recognizable sinner.
Of course Jesus knew why he had come and what he was looking for.
Jesus plainly said, If you are not born again, Nicodemus, you will never see the kingdom of God!
Nicodemus could have been offended and stormed out.
Instead he pressed on, How can a man be born when he is old?
Answer, one must be born of the Spirit and have a new kind of life existing simultaneously with the physical life.
Like the wind that you cannot see but see the effect; the Spirit goes where it will, and you see the evidence.
Then Jesus reminds Nicodemus of the disobedient Israelites.
Fiery, poisonous serpents invaded the camp and bit the people.
God told Moses to make a serpent of brass and put it one a pole in the middle of the camp.
He was instructed to tell those who had been bitten to look at it, and they would be healed.
The Jews hated the serpent because of the story in the garden.
He was a reminder of Satan.
Then Jesus explained how he himself would be the one lifted up to redeem and heal the people.
He would be lifted up on an instrument of shame, and he would be considered an accursed thing because of the cross.
But because he was willing to submit to that shame, millions of people would be able to come to God!
The key to God and eternal life could not be achieved by good works or by keeping rules and abiding by regulations; it would be achieved by a hated and shameful cross on which Jesus would become a sacrifice for sin for the whole human race.
In effect Jesus said, Nicodemus, if you will believe in me and believe that I have taken your sins on myself, you will not perish.
You will be saved and have eternal life.

4
You will be assured of living forever with God.
Nicodemus basically answered, I would like to become a Christian, but I do not understand it!
Jesus said, You can’t understand the miraculous workings of the Holy Spirit.
When you can see and understand the wind, where it come from and where it is going, they you can understand the Spirit of God.
But just as you can feel the wind, so you can experience the transforming presence of God in your life.
This has not changed.
One must believe and step out in faith.
Do the simple, believe, and the difficult, surrender all to Jesus, now and forever more.
Amen, so let it be!
Now and forever more.
On earth as it is in heaven!

 

@ 2019 Empire Church of the Brethren


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