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Lenten Series from Matthew

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                                 Not Our PlansBHIS Plan
     A Lenten Sermon Series From Matthew=s Passion Narrative (Matt 26:1B28:10)
                    Dr. Jeffrey A. Gibbs, Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO
                                        January 24, 2011

Service Notes:
         I suggest Evening Prayer LSB 243-52) for Ash Wednesday, the Midweek Lenten
Services, and Good Friday. For the Office Hymn before the reading of the (Matthean passion)
texts, I suggest the repeated use of LSB 429, "We Sing the Praise of Him Who Died." While
setting a general tone of Lenten meditation, the use of the same hymn (this one or another) each
week would emphasize the series= thematic/textual continuity. For Maundy Thursday and Easter
Morning, I would simply suggest one of the settings for Divine Service. Obviously, the pastor
determines how best to reflect the liturgical practices of the congregation during these holy days.
         As a small break from / addition to Evening Prayer, with each number below I have
suggested an additional hymn for each of the Wednesday services. The hymn in each case relates
to the sermon theme, and will be sung immediately before the sermon, after the reading.

1. Ash Wednesday, March 9, 2011--LSB 425-6, AWhen I Survey the Wondrous Cross@
       THEME: ANot Our PlansBHIS Plan@ (Matt 26:1-16)

2. Midweek Lenten Service, March 16, 2011--LSB 419, ASavior, When In Dust To You@
      THEME: ALet=s Talk About Performance@ (Matt 26:30-46)

3. Midweek Lenten Service, March 23, 2011--LSB 436, AGo To Dark Gethsemane@
      THEME: AGod=s Powerful Weakness@ (Matt 26:47-56)

4. Midweek Lenten Service, March 30, 2011--LSB 685, ALet Us Ever Walk With Jesus@
      THEME: AThe Problem is with Jesus Himself@ (Matt 26:57-68)

5. Midweek Lenten Service, April 6, 2011--LSB 557, ASeek Where You May@
      THEME: AThe Tale of Two Disciples@ (Matt 26:69B27:10)

6. Midweek Lenten Service, April 13, 2011--LSB 430, AMy Song Is Love Unknown@
      THEME: ASee How Low He Stoops@ (Matt 27:11-32)

7. Maundy Thursday, April 21, 2011--LSB 618, AI Come, O Savior, To Thy Table@
      THEME: ASomething New...Until All Things are New (Matt 26:17-29)

8. Good Friday, April 22, 2011--LSB 435, ACome To Calvary=s Holy Mountain@
       THEME: AThe Truth is All Here@ (Matt 27:33-61)

9. Easter Morning, April 24, 2011--LSB 728, AHow Firm A Foundation@
                                                 2

       THEME: AA Man of His Word@ (Matt 27:62B28:10)

Introduction: Although this isn=t true for some churches, it=s a little odd for Lutherans to be out,
at church, on a Wednesday evening. And, if we are honest, for most of us at least it took some
planning and some purpose to get here. Because life is busy, and we and our families are busy
with worthwhile things, with carrying out our plans for the day and for the week. To be here, we
probably had to set aside our plans, in favor of worship and meditation on the Passion of our
Lord Jesus.
        And that=s just the point of Lent. It=s not about our plansBit=s about HIS plan. We will
focus on the Passion Narrative found in Matthew=s Gospel. And the overall theme is,

                Ash Wednesday: ANot Our PlansBHIS Plan@ (Matt 26:1-16)

I. There are TWO realities, TWO plans happening at the same time in the events of Holy Week
        A. Plans at the level of human sin and ignorance
                1. The enemies of Jesus have their plans; they want to seize and kill Jesus, and the
                        timing is all important. They most certainly do not want to carry out their
                        plan during the feast in order to avoid a riot among the people (26:4-5).
                        And Judas, the betrayer, makes his plan. He receives money from the
                        priests, and he begins to look for the opportune time to hand Jesus over
                        (26:16).
                2. The disciples of Jesus have their plans as well, and it has nothing to do with
                        what is about to happen to their Master. Even after four predictions
                        (16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19; 26:1-2), they do not know the plan that is
                        about to unfold.
        B. But the Lord Jesus is set to hold fast to the Father=s design and plan
                1. He has finished his teaching now (26:1); now he comes to the goal of it all
                        a.All of his ministry comes down to this. Now the reign of God will show
                                 itself, in Jesus. Now the Father=s will will be done.
                        b. This is why he has comeBto save his people from their sins (1:21)
                2. At Passover time, the Son of Man will be handed over, in order to be crucified
                        a. Because salvation, with human beings, is impossible!
                        b. But with God, all things are possible, and the Son of Man came to give
                                 his life as a ransom for the many (20:28)!
                3. All things are working together toward this plan!!!!
                        a. The beautiful deed (e;rgon kalo,n, 26:10) of a woman who loves
                                 the master
                                 i. But she gives no sign of knowing what is really happening
                                 ii. Her beautiful deed becomes part of a good news that will be told
                                          everywhere in the world!
                        b. The very evil plotting of Jesus= enemies will work under the direction
                                 of God=s plan, and not their own
                                 i. They repeatedly insist: not at the FEASTBbut it happens at the
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                                      FEAST (27:15)!

                            ii. They repeatedly insist: we must avoid a RIOT among the
                                    peopleBbut the only way they can get Pilate to agree to their
                                    demands is to cause a RIOT among the people (27:24)!
                            iii. Judas will be looking for the Aproper time@Bbut not until
                                    Jesus= has announced that his time has drawn near, and
                                    said to Judas, AFriend, do what you are here to do.@
                      c. God gathers up and uses all of these human plans to bring His Son to
                            the cross! Over them all, and for us all, His plan is at work!

Transition:
        On which level will we meditate? On both! For what purpose? To turn from the one,
and cling to the other! To turn from our plans, from our weaknesses, our sins, and focus in faith
and hope upon God=s plan in Jesus Christ!

II. ComeBLet us turn away from our plans, and meditate upon HIS plan!
       A. In human plans we find at best a foolish arrogance, and at worst, utter despair
              1.The tenor of our entire culture...and of every culture, sooner or later. WE are in
                        charge, our technology and our skill means we are the masters of our own
                        destinies. After allBIt=s MY life!!!
              2. But sooner or later, our ultimate helplessness and frailty and futility emerge.
                        For the one who dies with the most toys still dies!!
       B. In God=s plan, we find truth and life!!
              1. There is nothing in there of our doingBit=s not about us and our plans
                        a. Let it all go!
                        b. Repent of the pride, shed the despair!
              2. It is all about Jesus, and God=s plan
                        a. This Lenten journey in Matthew
                        b. Our whole life in ChristBall the important questions have as their
                                 answer, AJesus, crucified for us@
              3. Here is comfort for every day, and peace and strength for all our days
                        a. Such is GodBhe is determined to save us!
                        b. Such is GodBhe cannot be turned aside by any human power!
                        c. Such is GodBfor you, because Jesus carried out His plan.

Conclusion:
        And Jesus was quite right. It is happening again. That beautiful work that the woman
didn=t even understand was told again tonight. The folly of the disciples will be left behind.
The evil designs of his enemies will be put to use in God=s plan. And we are given this Lenten
giftBto mediate, and to ponder, and to believe. Not in our plans. But in HIS plan.
                                                  4


Introduction: It=s easy to look goodBjust stand next to the right person! I saw a recent photo of
a famous actor and actress who are married. I had never realized that she is quite a bit taller than
he is. A whole lot in life depends on the one next to whom you are standing.
         A basic human problem, and one that is creating ruin in our country. We lower the
standards, God=s standards to the point that if someone keeps a promise or does something that
is right but difficult, it=s practically front-page headlines.
         The contrast in the textBhow the disciples do, and how Jesus does.

       Midweek Service #2B Let=s Talk Frankly About Performance (Matt 26:30-46)

I. Jesus sets the standard of staying loyal to himBand he declares that NONE will perform it!
        A. Tonight, you will all be caused to stumble because of me (26:31)!
                 1. Every last one of them claims, AI am willing to die rather than have that
                          happen!@ (26:35)
                 2. They haven=t been tested yet.
        B. So confident and so proud
                 1. Peter sets himself apart from the othersBAI=m different, I=m stronger, I=m
                          better than these others!@ (26:33)
                 2. He can=t have made any friends for himself with those words; they=re like
                          James and John=s desire to have the top two seats (20:20-24)
                 3. Is there any of that living in us? Even if others would sin, I won=t! And when
                          others do fall, that wouldn=t have happened to me!
II. How well do Jesus= disciples perform?
        A. In the gardenBweakness; nothing but pathetic weakness
                 1. All Jesus asks of them is that they stay with him, that they watch and pray
                          (26:38)
                 2. They are too weakBunable to watch one hour (26:40)
                 3. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak; the road to hell is literally paved
                          with good intentions (26:41)
                 4. They fell asleep....because their eyes were weighed down (26:43)!!. Pathetic
                          weakness.
        B. Now
                 1. Our goal tonight, quite frankly, is to destroy any sinful pride that might be
                          lurking in me, or in you. So let=s talk frankly about performance...
                 2. Our devotion to His Word
                 3. Our commitments to love one another
                 4. Our zeal in prayer, and in watching for his return
                 5. Our zeal to support the preaching of the Gospel here and abroad
                 6. Our turning away from sins of deed, of word, of thought

Transition:
        We don=t set the standard. God does. And it does depend on what standard is beside
                                               5

me. Here we see the disciples= utter failure. Here we see our weakness. And we can do nothing
but bow our heads and be silent.
       Next to them is the standard. Next to them is Jesus. Let=s talk about his performance.

III. How well does Jesus= perform?
       A. With eyes wide open to what lies ahead (26:31)BHe knows! God will strike him, the
               shepherd, and all the divine wrath against sin will pour out on Jesus. He knows!
       B. In the face of a grief and an agony that no human being has ever known
               1. AMy soul is grieved unto deathBthe words of Psa 42 and 43. But here is the
                       difference. In the psalm, the psalmist prays, AHope in God, and he will
                       deliver you.@ But Jesus knows there will be no deliverance.
               2. He is grieved and distressed as no human has ever been before (26:37).
       C. And WHY? Why such strength, such performance? Out of love for his sheep, for
               sinners, for you and me. Out of devotion to the plan of the FatherBthe Father who
               loves you and sent the Son to bring you back!
               1. Not once, or twice, but three times he prays the prayer that brought our
                       salvation, that was His whole ministryBALet thy will be done.@
               2. Now it has begun...and he comes to meet it! ABehold, the hour has come, my
                       betrayer has come...let us rise and go!
               3. All praise to Him! Our eyes are focused on him!!

Conclusion: Results of this frank talk about performance? Destroy any pride that might be
living in us. Replace it with humble thankfulness that we are being kept. And wonder and awe
at the Savior whose performance was perfect...in our place.
                                                 6


Introduction: Matthew give us a carefully crafted portrait of power in this text. A plan that is
working itself out flawlessly, prearranged and carried out to the last detail.
        But which plan is it? And whose power it is? There are two at work in this text, two sets
of priorities, two ways of doing this.

              Midweek Service #3B God=s Powerful Weakness (Matt 26:47-56)

I. It all went so smoothly and according to. . . .Judas= plan!
          A. He arrives in the garden, with lots of muscle and lots of firepower (a large crowd with
                  swords and clubs, from the chief priests and elders of the people, 26:47).
          B. St. Matthew highlights just how smoothly it was all going for Judas
                  1. The garden was a dark place; the crowd wouldn=t necessarily be able to
                         recognize Jesus
                  2. Judas gave them a sign, prearrangedBa greeting and a kiss!
          C. Then it happens, smooth as silk! Judas and his supporters are running the show.

Transition: And Jesus stands by, helpless. At least one of Jesus= disciples apparently thought
that Judas= way was the right way. He pulls out his sword and starts hacking away and mutilates
one of high priest=s slaves. There=s power and force and plans, and it=s all working.
        Or is it? The only person who is not doing anything is Jesus. And throughout the text, he
doesn=t do anything. But he does....speak. He speaks, and in his words the helpless, passive
Jesus reveals that it is God=s plan that is being accomplished....through Jesus= own helplessness.

II. Jesus= words reveal that God=s powerful weakness is really at work!
        A. Notice how nothing happens unless Jesus says so
               1. Hail, Rabbi!. . . .Friend, do what you are here to do (26:50)
               2. Hacking away with a sword. . . .Put your sword away (26:52-53).
               3. God=s powerful weakness doesn=t work that way! And besides, do you think
                        that I need your pitiful sword? There are twelve disciples here, and one is
                        a traitor and all are about to forsake me. But I could call TWELVE
                        THOUSAND ANGELS, and my Father would send them. But that=s not
                        the way God is working out His plan! Not with power....but with
                        weakness!
        B. And why are they really here, this crowd of people come to arrest Jesus?
               1. They thought that they had merely come to arrest him, as if they were arresting
                        a thief or a troublemaker (26:55a)
               2. If that were the case, why didn=t they arrest him while he was teaching in the
                        temple? He was there every dayBthey could have snatched him at any
                        time! (26:55b)
               3. They are here because through Jesus= helplessness, the Scriptures, plan,
                        foretold by all the prophets, is taking place (26:56).
                                                7

Transition: It wasn=t because Judas planned so well. It wasn=t because they had sufficient force
to overwhelm Jesus and his followers in the garden. It wasn=t for any reason other than thisBin
Jesus= helplessness, God=s powerful weakness was at work, God=s plan foretold in Scripture
was at work.

III. The plan
        A. Then
               1. That the glorious, holy, divine Son of God should show his glory, his power,
                       his deity, his greatness...by suffering and dying for sinners like those who
                       were present that night....sinners like those who are present this night.
               2. That our salvation would not come about through any great effort of plan of
                       men or women, or that we would accomplish it at all. It would come
                       about through Jesus, and his willing death....His helplessness, His
                       weakness as he goes to the cross in our place.
        B. Even now
               1. That the church is not all about human plans, or human efforts, or powerful
                       men and women. We are not the ones who get things done, not anything
                       that can truly last or anything that is truly from God. It's not about what
                       we can plan and what we can accomplish.
               2. God is still the one who works through weakness. Through a message about a
                       cross. Through water, and bread and wine. And faithBhelpless people
                       need faith and they have it!Bfaith receives these gifts as the very power of
                       God!
               3. And when it is time for us to do something, to move and live and work? We do
                       not carry out the will of God through power, through influence. We do it
                       through service...through sacrifice...through love. And when that happens,
                       it is God who is at work, both to will and to do according to His good
                       pleasure (Phil 2:13)

Conclusion: This is not a sermon against Aplanning@ and Astategies@ and Agoals.@ They have
their place in the church. But it's the second place, or third, or fourth, or fifth, or fiftieth.
        The real work is done mysteriously, through weakness, through Christ and God=s
powerful weakness. Thus it was in the garden, where the most powerful love of all did nothing,
as Jesus allowed himself to be takenBso that he could take away our sins. Thus it is now, tody,
were the most powerful work of all happens through words that are heard and believed, through
bread and wine that are eaten and drunk. It's all about His plan, not our plans. It's all about
God's powerful weakness.
                                                 8


Introduction: There was still a lot of confusion, even now that the religious leaders of the nation
had him in their grasp. They can=t agree on the charges against him. They can=t find witnesses
who will agree in their accusations against Jesus. Even when they find two who agree on
something that Jesus did say, Jesus is silent. He refuses to answer.
        Because that=s not the point. It=s not what Jesus said or didn=t say, what Jesus taught or
didn=t teach, not what Jesus did or didn=t do. It is not until the high priest himself speaks that
the real issue finally comes up. AYOUBhelpless, arrested, doomed, on the way to deathBare
YOU the Christ, the Anointed One chosen by God and God=s own very Son?@ Two ways of
thinking about saviors, two ways of thinking about God.

            Midweek Service #4B The Problem is Jesus Himself! (Matt 26:57-68)

I. No one, by nature, wants this kind of a Savior
       A. Jesus= replyBYOU said it! Even though you don=t believe that it is true, YOU said it.
                He=ll say the same thing to Pilate when asked whether he is the king of the Jews.
                YOU are saying itBit=s the truth, even though you don=t believe it yourself
               (26:64)
       B. If the Savior is a helpless prisoner on his way to death, what does that say?
               1. A powerful Savior, a Judge and a Conqueror, would not have taken care of the
                       problemBbecause the enemies are not primarily OUT THERE somewhere.
               2. The problem must be a lot worseBthe problem of human sin. If the Savior is
                       suffering and dying and he=s really the Savior...he not doing this for his
                       own sins...then he must be suffering for mine. That must mean that Jesus
                       has not come to save me from someone else; He's come to save me from
                       myself!
               3. Then I must be helpless and guilty before God, and unable to help myself
               4. And God=s love must be totally unmerited, totally unearned and un-earnable!
               5. There is nothing for me to do but be silent, and repent, and marvel!
       C. Their reaction shows how strong sin and unbelief really areBNO! We will not have
               this kind of Savior (26:65-68)!
               1. In themBanguish, hatred, condemnation, spitting, slapping, beating, mocking!
               2. In people todayBthe message about sin they will reject, and hate us for it. And
                       the message about this Savior, and this one only? They will despise us as
                       closed-minded and bigoted for saying that other Asaviors@ are no saviors
                       at all.
               3. It would be the same with us! By nature, we would be no different!
                       a. This is why so much "religious talk" never gets around to the issue of
                               sin. Because if you don't have much sin, then you don't need a real
                               Savior.
                       b. What we are willing to admit, by nature, is that we need to be helped.
                               What we don't like to admit is that we must be saved.
                                                  9



II. This is the only Savior that God has sent
        A. From now on, you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and
                 coming on the clouds of heaven (26:64)
                 1. When the heavens literally were shaken and the rocks were split when Jesus
                         died
                 2. When he rose from the dead, all authority in heaven and earth given to him
                 3. When the Gospel message about him went out and turned the hearts of men and
                         women to faith in this Jesus.
                 4. This helpless, bound, suffering SaviorBHe is the Savior, the only one! If there
                         is a problem that offends our human nature, Jesus himself is the problem.
        B. For the eyes of faith, THIS ONE is our Savior!
                 1. That shows what a miracle "faith" really is! "Faith" is believing what God says
                         about us, and wanting what God offers to us!
                 2. Faith say, "My sin is that great." And faith rejoices as it says, "This Jesus is my
                         Savior!"
        B. On the last dayBbehold, every eye will see him! Eyes of faith, and yes, eyes of
                 unbelief.
        C. Now, for us and for all people in our day as well
                 1. Many, when they understand the message, will reject it and hate us
                 2. But just as it has for us, for others the message will become God=s power for
                         salvation, and they will believe.

Conclusion: The issue is not Amorality@ or Avalues@ or Aright and wrong.@ The issue is Jesus
himself. God grant us to humble ourselves and always know our need for a suffering, helpless,
dying Christ who has come to save us from ourselves, and in confident faith to cling to him
always.
                                                 10



Introduction: Our text is a tale of two disciples. I want to pay especial and careful attention to
them both, and especially to Peter. Without trying to answer questions that cannot be answered,
the goal is to compare and contrast the two, and to draw a truth for our lives.

              Midweek Service #5B A Tale of Two Disciples (Matt 26:69B27:10)

I. PeterBthe traitor
        A. He is already outside, in the courtyard with the servants, instead of with his Master (cf.
                26:58, AHe followed him....from a distance@)
        B. Then the betrayals begin, and they get worse and worse and worse!
                1. YOU were with Jesus (26:69)
                        a. He DENIES it before allBthe very thing about which Peter proclaimed
                                that he would DIE first! (26:35)
                        b. I don=t know what you are talking about....and he goes a little farther
                                away, into the gate area of the courtyard.
                2. This man was with Jesus (26:71)
                        a. He DENIES it again, this time with an OATH!
                        b. Now, it isBI do not know the man
                3. Now it is only that you are one of them, because you have a Galilean accent
                        (26:73)
                        a. But still he began to SWEAR and to CURSE
                        b. Maybe it is the truthBI do not know the man!
        C. Then the rooster crows...Peter=s fall is complete....and he knows it! He goes all the
                way outside, and weeps bitterly. He=s a traitor. He denied the Master who said,
                AWhoever denies me before men, I will deny him before my Father in heaven@
                (10:33). Jesus’ words came true: “You will be caused to stumble because of me
                this night” (Matt 26:31). Peter the traitor.

Transition: There is nothing good to say about St. Peter. He is a traitor. We will move on now to
        the other disciple, Judas. We know already what he has doneBhe is the betrayer who
        handed his Master over to his enemies with a kiss. But what do we learn of him now?

II. Judas—the man of tragic despair
        A. When he saw that Jesus had been condemned, he repented and returned the 30 pieces
              of silver to the religious leaders of Israel
              1. He Arepented@Brecall the parable of the Two Children (21:28-32). First the
                      child said, AI will not go work in your vineyard.@ But later, he repented
                      and went. This is the same term. There is no reason to think other than
                      this: Judas genuinely realized that he had done a terrible thing.
              2. He confessed his wrong: AI sinned, by betraying innocent blood.@ This first
                      step was right and necessary.
                                                11

                 3. He knows it. He=s right. At this moment, there is no difference between
                        Peter and Judas. No difference at all as far as we can tell. Neither of
                        them really has grasped what Jesus is doing. But both of them know that
                        they have fallen, utterly and completely. In our way of thinking, we want
                        to make a distinction. But in God=s way, there is no difference at all, at
                        this moment in time....
         B. Now the tragedy strikes!
                 1. Judas ends up hanging himself? Why?
                 2. He sought forgiveness where no forgiveness could be found!!!
                        a. He went to the leaders of the nation and confessed his sin
                        b. Their unbelief offered him no hope
                                i. Your problem is not our problem. We have nothing to give you.
                                ii. No sacrifice for your sin will be offered in this temple!
                                iii. They were blind to their own hypocrisy as they took Adefiling
                                         money@ away to purchase a burial ground for strangers.
Transition:
         A tale of two disciples, given us only by Matthew. There is no difference in their
sinBnone at all. No difference in their need. And it=s not that APeter was strong enough to hang
on and to wait for Easter.@ NoBit=s not about Peter, and it=s not about Judas. For in the middle
of this tale of two disciples is..Jesus, bound and being led before Pilate, the Roman prefect and
governor (27:1-2). This tale is about this: Where do you go to find forgiveness and hope?

III. Find forgiveness and hope in one place only!
        A. Christ JesusBbound, condemned, innocent, suffering, dying, rising. He has removed
                the separation between you and God. He has wiped away the filth of our betrayals
                and our cowardice and our denials. In him, there is complete forgiveness, and
                hope for now and forever!
        B. If there is forgiveness for Peter (and it was there also for Judas, though he didn=t find
                it), there can be forgiveness and hope for you and for me and for all our sins. No
                better; no worse. It is for all, and for you.
        C. In our times of despair and guilty and brokennessBgo where Jesus can be found today
                1. His WordBnot a Aduty,@ but Apower and hope and life.@ Find a special place
                         of comfort and hope in the Scripture this week!
                2. His SacramentsBAwhere sinners go to get forgiveness and hope@
                3. Holy AbsolutionBbecause that=s what Jesus has asked the pastor to do in his
                         place and by his command.

Conclusion: The tragedy of JudasBhe sought forgiveness where it could not be found. The good
news of Jesus? That even traitors like Peter, and sinners like you and I, can find hope in Christ.
                                                 12



Introduction: Our theme has been, ANot our plansBHIS plan.@ Contrast, irony, paradox.
Nowhere more strongly than in the trial before Pilate and in the result of that trial.
       The contrast is between what Jesus is, and what Jesus endures.

              Midweek Service #6B ASee How Low He Stoops!@(Matt 27:11-32)

I. We know who this Man truly is!
       A. The irony is so thick you can cut it with a knife!
              1. All around him are those who do not believe, who do not accept, who do not
                      worship him. No one knows...not even Pilate=s wife. The disciples have
                      all fled.
              2. But as we read and listen, we do believe...and we marvel, because
       B. This Man is the King
              1. Chapter TwoBa star announced his birth, and the wise men came from the East,
                      asking, AWhere is the One born King of the Jews?@ The very universe
                      itself had to respond when Jesus was bornBHe is the King of the Jews
              2. Chapter 25BOn the last day, this Jesus will return as the King, and he will sit on
                      his throne and all the nations will be gathered before him. He is not only
                      King of the JewsBHe is King and Lord of all!!

Transition: We know...all true and faithful readers of this text know that he is, in fact, the KING!
        Therefore....

II. Marvel, therefore, at what the King endures!
       A. At the hands of APathetic Pilate@
                1. The Aruler@Bsix times he is called Athe ruler/governor@
                2. He sits on the throne, giving judgmentBhe has the power of imperium, of
                        deciding formal death penalty cases. No one has such power.
                3. But he knows that Jesus is not a threatBhe is a righteous man
                4. Yet he is powerless to release Jesus. Even his ploy to use Barabbas fails. The
                        crowds choose Barabbas, and to avoid a riot, he orders Jesus beaten, and
                        led away to be crucified.
                5. "Pathetic Pilate" is a Apolitician@ in the worst sense of the term! Jesus endures
                treatment from the hands of one such as Pilate. And there=s more....

       B. At the hands of his "Eager Enemies"
               1. Accusing him, accusing him. Their charges were falseBJesus posed no threat to
                      the Roman authority.
               2. Swaying the peopleBhow, we do not know. The leaders of Israel, the crowd in
                      JerusalemBgive us Barabbas, and crucify Jesus! These are AJerusalem=s
                      chicks,@ whom Jesus longed to gather under his wings (23:37!)
                                                13

               3. Incredible! See what he endures! See how low he stoops! And there=s more....

       C. At the hands of the "Sneering Soldiers"
               1. The entire Acohort@Bhundreds of soldiers! A maximum of 600 to 1,000,
                      though perhaps only those who were on duty in Pilate=s palace. But
                      hundreds at the least, jeering, beating, mocking.
               2. They array him, and acclaim him, and kneel down before him as the King. He
                      is the king. But he stoops low, so low as to allow such treatment at the
                      hands of those who make sport of him and who will soon crucify him.

It really is quite incredibleBnothing like this has ever happened before or since. The question
that calls out for an answer is....Why?

III. Why?
        A. He has come to be silent before his accusers...like a sheep before its shearers is dumb,
               so he did not open his mouth. Unjustly accused and innocent, he stoops low
               because he has come to die...so that others need not perish. So that sinners like
               you and I need not perish.
        B. He has come to pour out his blood for the people and for their children. The saddest
               irony of all is in the words of the people (27:25). They don=t know what they are
               saying. They don=t know that this is precisely why Jesus stoops so low...to shed
               his blood for the many, for the forgiveness of sins. For the forgiveness of your
               sins, and mine.
        C. He has come as the King, to rule in mercy and in humility...to rule from a cross and
               from that cross to bring God=s kingdom, God=s royal rule of mercy for all these
               who tragically reject him and for all people, and for you and me!
Conclusion:
        Our response? To grasp, as God enables us, just how low this King has stooped, out of
love for us. You need never doubt a love such as this!
                                                14



Introduction: Human beings like rituals. Rituals are about sameness, about tradition, and
something on which you can count. Children like ritualsBAdo it again,@ and traditions at
ChristmasBtry to add something new and you=re likely to have full-scale rebellion.
        The Passover was a ritual, one that God had given. The disciples knew it, and in all
likelihood they had celebrated it with their Master before. Now it is the first day of unleavened
bread, and it=s time to prepare for the old, unchanging tradition.
        But there will be something new about this Passover meal. Something new that Jesus
will reveal to the disciples, something new that Jesus will give to his disciples, and to us. The
gift will be new for a time...until all things are made new.

     Maundy ThursdayBASomething New, Until All Things Are New@ (Matt 26:17-29)

I. This was not just another Passover!
        A. Something else, something new is happening this TIME
                1. It=s not just the same ritual, one more timeBthe disciples were thinking only in
                        terms of the same old thing, one more Passover rite.
                2. Jesus says, AMY time is near.@ (26:18) His timeBtime for his new gift.
        B. During the meal, a new and disturbing reminder
                1. Passover was all about deliverance from our enemiesBout there. From Pharaoh,
                        from the enemies of God=s people.
                2. But Jesus reveals that the enemy is right here, during the meal.
                        a. Woe to that man!
                        b. But it could have been any of them!
                        c. The enemy is among us, and within us.
                        d. A NEW covenant and a new relationship is neededBGod will have to do
                                 it. Jesus will create a new Israel, a new people for God.
        C. During the meal, an astonishing giftBsomething absolutely new!
                1. Do not ask how this can be. Do not ask how. I can=t answer the questions any
                        more than you can.
                2. This bread, this wine, are Jesus= body and his blood
                        a. No longer just the remembrance of what God had done so long ago
                        b. Jesus= body and blood are being poured out, it is happening, that very
                                 night!
                        c. It continues to happenBuntil he drinks from the cup with us anew in the
                                 reign of His Father
II. Something new also for us
        A. In a remarkable way, the story is coming true again, right now, this evening. This is
                not just a remembering. What Jesus gave to his disciples that night he is also
                giving to us tonight. Don=t ask howBtrust His word.
        B. It was not I, was it Lord?
                1. No, it was JudasBevil, tragic Judas
                                                 15

                2. But it could have been. Oh yes, it surely could have been I, because of my
                         weakness and my misunderstanding and my cowardice.
                3. No more deserving to be here are we than they were.
        C. But the gift is given anew this night, and every time Christian gather to believe and to
                receive it.
                1. Christ=s own body and blood
                2. Poured out...bringing forgiveness, bringing the opening door, the repaired
                         relationship, the strength to believe and to hope and to serve. Let the
                         wonder be new again this night!
III. We receive this new gift, until all things are made new!
        A. That=s why we come often, and why we come tonightBall things are not yet new!
                1. Still he must sustain us and protect usBfrom Satan the enemy, and from
                         ourselves.
                2. Still we await the final fulness of His Father=s royal reign and rule
        B. So even as we are satisfied, still we hunger
                1. That all our sinBthat even the desire to sinBwould be taken away
                2. That all things would be just and right and good and whole
                3. That Jesus would come and invite us to the great banquet, the great feast that
                         will be ever new and forever new.
Conclusion:
        The enemy is not only out thereBthe enemy is within, in me, and in you. But fear not!
Christ Jesus has given his body, poured out his blood to conquer the enemy and to forgive our
sins. This old gift is ever newBreceive it! Receive him, again, and again and again, until he
comes to make all things new. Amen.
                                                 16



Introduction: I don=t understand the ABig Bang@ very well, so I don=t have an opinion about it.
 But as I grasp the basic idea, it=s that everything in the whole universe is right there in one place
at the beginning. It=s all right thereBeverything that will be needed.
        I can understand a seed more fully, and the idea is somewhat the same. All you need is
right there, ready to be planted into the ground.
        Jesus spoke about seeds, and about planting, about the Reign of God like a seed. Very
small at the beginning, but it=s all there.
        That=s what this night is about. Good FridayBMatthew 27:33-61.

                   Good FridayBAAll of the Truth Is Here@ (Matt 27:33-61)

I. The scene is all set perfectly
        A. Watchers at the beginning and the endBthe soldiers guarding Jesus, the women who
                 see where he is buried.
        B. Witnesses are all around him
                 1. Three sets of hostile onesBthe passersby, the religious leaders, the two thieves
                 2. Three sets of waiting onesBthe soldiers, the women, and Joseph of Arimathea.
II. The truth MUST be spoken
        A. They do not know what they are sayingBbut they say it over and over and over again!
                 (Three imperfect tensesBevblasfh,moun 27:39, e;legon 27:41, and
                 wvnei,dizon 27:44)!
        B. But the truth must be told
                 1. If you=re the king of Israel, save yourself and come down! He is the king, but
                          one like no other. He hasn=t come to save himself, nor to come down. He
                          will rule from that wooden, cross-shaped throne, and he will save others.
                 2. If you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down! Ah, he is the Son of
                          God, born of a virgin, with power over the wind and waves and over
                          demons and disease. But he has not come to save himself, but to save his
                          people from their sins. He is the Son of God, and he will show it because
                          he will not come down.
                 3. If you are the Son of God and the Father delights in you, come down! Does the
                          Father delight in His Son? Twice he spoke, at the Baptism and at the
                          Transfiguration, AThis is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.@
                          Pleased with the Son? From eternity! But the true Son of God will not
                          come down. It will please the Father to bruise him, and the Son chooses to
                          be abandoned by His Father, to take the punishment that our sins deserved.
III. And then, the truth happensBthe seed, the center, the heart of it all.
        A. Jesus cries out, abandoned by God, and he dies
        B. It is as if the creation can=t HELP itself--The earth rocks, the sky responds, the dead
                 are brought back to life and after HE is resurrected, they give testimony in
                 Jerusalem to what has happened.
                                               17

       C. God has dealt with sinBhuman sin, their sin, my sin
             1. The mockeryBwhen they should be lowering their eyes in grief
             2. The unbeliefBbefore their very eyes, and they cannot see it
             3. The cowardiceBthe disciples are all gone
             4. And all of our sins as wellBthe truth is all there. The darkness and the disaster
                     of human sin is all right there. It hangs on the body of Jesus, and in our
                     place, he is abandoned by God his own Father to the wrath and the
                     punishment that we deserved. It happenedBright there.
       D. Someone Else has taken care of human sin, our sinBall of it
             1. There is nothing left for anyone to do. The Scriptures foretell the death of no
                     one else. God=s plan calls for no one else. Jesus has run his course,
                     finished the work, and his body is buried in the tomb.
             2. Payment has been madeBthe ransom has been given. The truth is all there. All
                     that we need. All that anyone needs.

Conclusion: The truthBabout our sin and our need. It=s all here. The truthBabout God=s
provision and Christ=s love and commitment to His Father and to us. It=s all here.
        And the woman are waitingBfor what, they do not know (27:61). But we know. Waiting
for the sign of victory, and assurance of victory, for reason to hope. We will wait, too. All our
plans mean nothing. All that matters is God=s plan, God=s plan that came true this night, in
Jesus.
                                                18




Introduction: Taxes, and death. The former are coming due in a few weeksBhope you got them
in on time, or have filed for an extension! And deathBwell, if Christ returns in glory soon, then
we won=t die. But if he doesn=t return soon, you can count on it. Not much else in life on
which you can ALWAYS depend.
        When I used to teach adult instruction class and we began to learn about the church, I
used to tell the new Christians or new members that they should count on the fact that I, their
pastor, was going to let them downBsooner or later, I would do it. Hopefully, it would be by
accident or by circumstances beyond my control. But you can=t always count on anything, and
sooner or later, everyone will let you down, even if you don=t realize it is happening.
Everyone...
        Except this man. Except Jesus. The reading for this joyful day is from Matthew 27 and
28, and it teaches us the Jesus is a man of his word. He said he would riseBeven his enemies
knew that, though they didn=t believe it. But he did rise from the dead, just as he promisedBon
him you can depend, and in Him this Easter we trust and rejoiceB

                           A Man of His Word! (Matt 27:62-28:10)

I. Though everyone knew that Jesus had said, no one believed him!
        A. The disciples surely did not believeBit was beyond their understanding that such a man
               could ever live!
               1. The eleven are not here, and Judas is dead.
               2. The brave and loyal women come...but their purpose is only to see the tomb
                       (28:1)
        B. Jesus= enemies knew exactly what he had saidBbut they had no idea what they were
               up against.
               1. Pretty pathetic effort, isn=t it? Once I was working on a car, thankfully
                       standing to the side, and somehow a short caused the engine to crank and
                       the car lurched forward. My instinct was to grab the car with my hands to
                       try to stop it! I was glad no one saw that pathetic move. And I was more
                       grateful that I hadn=t gotten run over by the car.
               2. The religious leaders of Israel in no way regard Jesus as a man of his word
                       a. They don=t actually worry about trying to stop him from rising from the
                                deadBthey can only speak about Jesus as Athat deceiver@ (27:63)
                       b. But they remember what Jesus said!
                       c. They think the disciples are the real threatByeah, right! Some real brave
                                macho guys they areBso they seal and guard the tomb lest the
                                disciples come and steal the corpse (27:64).
Transition: No one believed that Jesus was the Man of His Word. Easter dawn comes, the
guards are there, the women are arriving. And then it all changes!
                                                19

II. The Angel=s Mission
        A. His job was NOT to let Jesus out of the tomb! Jesus did not need any helpBHe is The
                Man of His Word!
        B. The Aangel@ was God=s messengerBto proclaim that the Word of Jesus had come
        true!
                1. Everything has reversed now! Joseph rolled the stone up to the tomb
                        (proskuli,w)...the angel rolled it away (avpokuli,w)! The
                        women sat (ka,qhmai) at a distance when Jesus was buried...the angel
                        sits (ka,qhmai) right on top of the stone! The soldiers were there,
                        guarding a dead man...and when the angel appeared they were so
                        frightened that they became like dead men themselves!
                2. The word to the womenBdon=t be afraid! Especially you blessed witnesses,
                        you blessed first to the tomb. If ever there were human beings who had
                        reason to leave their fears behind...it was these women! YouBdon=t be
                        afraid!
                3. Jesus, the crucified is not hereBhe rose, just as he said. There it isBThe Man of
                        His Word!
                4. NowBtake that word to the disciples, and tell them another wordBhe will meet
                        you in Galilee. Now go! Announce it! Jesus is The Man of His Word!
Transition: One would think that was enoughBa message from an angel? I suppose it might
have been. But not for Jesus, The Man of His Word.

III. Jesus appears to themBAnd they can SEE that His Word came true!
         A. Jesus took all the world=s sin on himselfBbut that sin did not crush him. Rather, HE
                would destroy that sin and that guilt and bring us back to God as God=s own dear
                children!
         B. Jesus was wrapped around in death, in the last enemy, in the most cruel and final sign
                that the world is cracked and twisted and no longer as God designed it to be.
                Jesus was wrapped round in deathBbut he shrugged off that death and he will
                never die again. That means that death can not separate us from God, and that one
                day death itself will be destroyed, completely and forever.
         C. They could see himCand they worshiped him! The Man of His Word! And he speaks
                to them himself
                1. Don=t be afraid! I kept my word. I took away your sin. I conquered death=s
                        sting, and one day I will conquer all of death and raise your bodies and
                        restore the whole creation!!
                2. Don=t be afraid! I kept my word, and now you tell it to my brothers, and I will
                        meet them in Galilee. I kept my word, and now you give my word to
                        them.
Conclusion: And you know how the Gospel ends. Once again, Jesus kept his word. The Risen
Jesus, who had forgiven their sins and who will destroy death on the last dayBhe appeared to
them, to his disciples. And they worshipped The Man of His Word. And he gave them another
wordBto take His Word to all the nations, so that others need not fear.
                                               20

        And this the Eleven did. And others after them. And the good news about Jesus, The
Man of His Word, has come even down to this time and to this place and to you and to me.
        Do not be afraid! He gave his life for you! In any trouble, do not be afraidBnothing can
separate you from his love, or take his forgiveness away! In the hour of deathBdo not be afraid!
He will keep you as his own, and on the last day he will overcome death and raise you just as he
rose from the dead. You can count on itBHe is The Man of His Word! Amen!

				
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