søndag 28. mai 2017

Mark 15:16-41 The Cross of the Christ

Mark 15:16-41

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1. Welcome to Rock International Church! Church is a family: we are the family of God gathered to hear our Father’s word. Tonight we will be walking in the footsteps of the disciples, as they experienced what it cost for us to be God’s family. They saw how much our salvation cost as they saw Jesus being beaten and then crucified, as they heard Jesus’ cry, as they saw him die.

2. We will open together in prayer. Prayer is simply talking to our Heavenly Father. Let us pray, saying together…
ALL: Almighty God to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and no secrets are hidden from you. Please forgive us for ignoring you, for being selfish, for thinking that we are greater than you.
Thank you that, in your mercy, you accept us just as we are.
Prepare our hearts and minds by your Holy Spirit, that we may listen to and understand what you have to say to us today; through Christ our Lord. Amen

The reason Jesus died was so that he could accept us as we are. We are all sinners. As Jesus said in Mark 7:15,20-23 15 It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart.” “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. 21 For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. 23 All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.”

And that is why Jesus came. He came in order to die in our place. The perfect, righteous one, for us the unrighteous. So let’s confess our sin together.

3. Confession:. Sin is rebellion against God, saying “no” to Him, letting something or someone else take His place. Let’s pray together

ALL: (5) Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, we have sinned against you in what we have done, said, thought, and left undone.
We repent of our sin. Have mercy on us, most merciful Father. Amen.

Mk 14:12–17 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go to prepare the Passover meal for you?” 13 So Jesus sent two of them into Jerusalem with these instructions: “As you go into the city, a man carrying a pitcher of water will meet you. Follow him. 14 At the house he enters, say to the owner, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room where I can eat the Passover meal with my disciples?’ 15 He will take you upstairs to a large room that is already set up. That is where you should prepare our meal.” 16 So the two disciples went into the city and found everything just as Jesus had said, and they prepared the Passover meal there. 17 In the evening Jesus arrived with the Twelve.

4. Communion is a visual reminder of the grace at the heart of Christianity.
Jesus died for us: his body, symbolised by the bread, broken; his blood, symbolised by the juice (wine), poured out, for his glory and our salvation.
And as we eat and drink together we are united in the communion of Christ, his body, his church, together, equal in Christ.

Mk 14:22–25 As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take it, for this is my body.” 23 And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice for many. 25 I tell you the truth, I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new in the Kingdom of God.”

Communion is for those who trust Christ for the salvation of their sins, and obey him as Lord. If you are not a Christian, or if you do not want to take communion for any other reason, just let it pass by.

We dip the bread, symbolising Jesus’ body, into the juice (wine) symbolising Jesus’ blood.
Minister: The body of our Lord Jesus Christ, broken for you. Feed on him in your heart by faith with thanksgiving.
Minister: The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, shed for you. Drink this in remembrance that Christ's blood was shed for you, and be thankful.

14:26 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

So let’s sing a hymn of thanksgiving to our wonderful saviour! Beautiful Saviour
The Wonderful Cross

After singing a hymn, Jesus went up to pray for strength to face the coming day. Filled with the Holy Spirit’s strength, Jesus did not falter, did not stumble: he went out to meet those who came to arrest him. He did not run, did not hide, but went to meet them. At his trials he was seen to be innocent – the religious leaders wanted him killed because he said who he is: the Son of the Living God, the Messiah, the Son of Man given all authority in heaven and earth. Blasphemy! They said, because they did not want to believe it, did not want to bow the knee to this, this prophet from the North, a ragged preacher. God’s way of humility and service did not match up to their religion of power and prestige and performance. So they missed it!
Then the Roman governor Pilate sentences Jesus to death even though Pilate knew he was innocent! But this is what Jesus said would happen – remember he told his disciples three times that he would be arrested by the religious leaders, he would be put to death, and he would rise again. Because after sharing the communion meal that night he had been praying for strength to go to the cross. To drink the cup that makes men stagger – the cup of God’s judgment. He drank that in our place!
That is why he came. He came to show us what God is like. He came to tell us that we are sinners and need a Saviour. And he came to be that Saviour. He dies for his enemies, like you and me, to make us into his friends. Whatever the cost, he will pay it – and the cost for rescuing us is high, very high indeed. It started with a false arrest, then fake trials, and continues with beating, mockery, and ultimately, death by crucifixion

1. Mocking the suffering servant King

15:16–20 The soldiers took Jesus into the courtyard of the governor’s headquarters (called the Praetorium) and called out the entire regiment. 17 They dressed him in a purple robe, and they wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head. 18 Then they saluted him and taunted, “Hail! King of the Jews!” 19 And they struck him on the head with a reed stick, spit on him, and dropped to their knees in mock worship. 20 When they were finally tired of mocking him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him away to be crucified.

Why would the soldiers mock him so? Were they just cruel, bloodthirsty men? Is this how they treated all their prisoners? Well, maybe. We do know that Israel was not the best place to be sent. There were continual uprisings and rebellions, soldiers faced danger all the time. It wasn’t a posting people wanted. So maybe these soldiers were a bit rougher than the others.

But the mock worship goes deeper. Jesus’ claim to be the king made a mockery of their Emperor, Caesar. And their treatment of him is to put him back in his place. Notice in verse 16 how the entire regiment is called out (that’s around 600 men!). “Insult our Emperor would you? Raise yourself up would you? How dare you? King! Ha! Hail O King.” they shout as they push thorns into his head, and beat him and spit on him as they bow and laugh at him in mock worship.

Isn’t that ironic? Jesus is the true King, and deserves all worship. It is the Emperor, Caesar, who is the false king, trying to claim worship and authority that is not his. It is he who should be mocked, should be brought low.

But instead Jesus goes to the cross in our place.

21 A passerby named Simon, who was from Cyrene, was coming in from the countryside just then, and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. (Simon was the father of Alexander and Rufus.)

Look again at v21. Because Simon, who carried Jesus’ cross, is well known to the church. Mark points out this is Alexander and Rufus’ father. Simon carried Jesus cross – but Jesus carried Simon’s sins!

22 And they brought Jesus to a place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”). 23 They offered him wine drugged with myrrh, but he refused it.

Remember he said 14:25 I tell you the truth, I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new in the Kingdom of God.” He is still fully in control. Beaten, battered, he goes willingly to the cross. The Passover Lamb. Our Passover Lamb,

24 Then the soldiers nailed him to the cross.

Pick up the nails there in the centre of the table. Feel them. Imagine those going through your hands or wrists. Imagine the pain as your ankles are crossed together and the nail driven through. Incredible pain. No wonder Jesus prayed for strength. He went willingly. At any moment he could have said “enough”. It was love, love for us, love for his father, his own glory, that kept him there. It is the character of our God that kept him there.

But as we will see in a few moments, the physical pain was not the worst of it.

24 They divided his clothes and threw dice to decide who would get each piece. 25 It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. 26 A sign announced the charge against him. It read, “The King of the Jews.” 27 Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.

He died for who he is: the King of the Jews. The promised Messiah.
And we hated him for it. It’s not just the Roman soldiers who mock Jesus. v29 The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. “Ha! Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. 30 Well then, save yourself and come down from the cross!” 31 The leading priests and teachers of religious law also mocked Jesus. “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! 32 Let this Messiah, this King of Israel, come down from the cross so we can see it and believe him!” Even the men who were crucified with Jesus ridiculed him.

Everyone, laughing and hollering and pointing as Jesus is hammered naked onto the cross, beaten, bloodied, humiliated, exposed. The soldiers laughing as they beat him and pretend to worship him. 600 men spitting and hitting and making fun. Passersby mocking and jeering. Religious leaders, priests who represent the Almighty, gleefully slapping each others backs at their own cleverness, and laughing at this Jesus who hangs naked before them. “We showed him”, they would have been thinking.

Now it’s easy for us to see how wrong these people for mocking and abusing Jesus, especially because we know who he is- the God who created all people everywhere. But then point the finger back to ourselves, because we treat God the same way! How?

Maybe we ignore his words when we want to sin sexually – perhaps pornography in front of the computer, perhaps an adulterous affair, perhaps sexual intercourse with our girlfriend – but it’s ok because we “love” each other. Really? We mock the living God and his claim over our lives, and raise ourselves up as king in that situation. I will decide what is right for me. I want to sin sexually. I will do it.

Or maybe it’s not sex, but gossip, saying horrible things about other people, allowing bitterness to rise. Or perhaps its jealousy – thanklessness lies at the heart of jealousy. It’s when I’m not grateful to God for what he HAS given me, and all I can see is what he hasn’t! And we mock him and spit on him with our attitude, saying “I can be a better God than you. I can make better decisions than you about my life and my needs.”

How often are our thoughts about me, me, me. Who’s the King there? Instead of being filled with the glory of God, wanting to worship him and see his name exalted, we want to exalt ourselves. Ugh.

But he died, for us! He has done the unthinkable, and swapped places with us. He has taken the punishment and shame that our sins deserve, and taken it upon himself. We mock the King, but he is responds by being the suffering servant King

2. Jesus takes our place as a sinner

33 At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. 34 Then at three o’clock Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

Darkness. In the Bible darkness means judgement. Divine judgement. Remember the Exodus: when Moses led the great rescue of people of Israel out of Egypt? The people of Israel, cowering in slavery to the evil Pharaoh, king of Egypt. God raises up a rescuer: Moses. Moses the miracle-worker, Moses who brought the word of God! See any similarities? Moses pointed to Jesus, the greater miracle worker, the true Word of God. But Moses brought judgement 10 plagues, each worse than the last, fell upon Pharaoh and all those who refused to obey the Living God. And the final two were the worst: darkness covered the whole land of Egypt; and the death of the first-born son of each Egyptian family.

But this time the darkness is not for the wicked. This time the judgement is not falling on those who deserve it, but on Jesus. Because Jesus is carrying our sins – all of our sins. He is taking our place to be beaten by the Roman soldiers like the Israelites were once beaten by the Egyptians. He is taking our place as a slave to experience the full extent of sin. Only sinners can treat other people the way we do. Only sinners can order babies to be taken from their mothers’ arms and slaughtered. Only sinners can beat another human being and feel pleased about it. Only sinners can enjoy another person’s suffering and humiliation.

Because to be a sinner means to have a broken relationship with our Creator. And when that relationship is broken, all our relationships break.

And so we have divorce and abuse and slavery and abortion and murder and theft and genocide and fraud and corruption and greed and deceit and so on. Watch the news: it’s a massive message saying we have abandoned God and we can’t fix our broken relationship.

But Jesus steps into this gap. His relationship is perfect. Ours is broken. So he becomes our representative – born as a human being, fully human, fully God; starts his ministry by being baptised as a sinner; experiences hurt and pain and frustration and joy and gladness and friendship as we do; and all the time with his goal in mind: the cross, where he would pay the ultimate sacrifice of death, a sinners death, and a sinners experience of the wrath of God, of the broken relationship, of being abandoned by God.
34 Then at three o’clock Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

He who knew no sin became sin for us. Jesus took on our sin. He goes into the darkness for us. He takes the judgement we deserve, and gives up his life, the Son of God, in order to rescue all of us in slavery to sin. He’s leading the great Exodus from slavery to sin, to freedom in Heaven. He is carrying our sins – all of our sins. He has taken our place.

If you are a Christian this is the moment when all your sins were dealt with. God is not bound by time, he stands over it, he commands it, and he looked down at your life and all the wrong things you have done, all your regrets, all your dark secrets, those things nobody knows about, your darkest private thoughts which fill you with shame – all that is poured out on Jesus in this moment. And all the sins you will do! All our sin is upon his shoulders – not just half of it until now then, good luck on your own! No, Jesus’ sacrifice was not half-way there – he carries us through to the gates of Heaven. It’s the true Exodus, the Big Rescue, from the gates of Hell to the gates of Heaven and inside. It’s guaranteed, underwritten by the blood of Jesus. If you trust in Jesus as your Saviour, and follow him as your King, you can be sure of your salvation.

Hallelujah! A shout of Thank you Jesus! Hooray for Jesus!

Jesus takes our place as a sinner.

I just want to make one more comment on verse 34 because some people have spread misunderstandings about this verse. God abandoned Jesus because Jesus is not God, he’s just an angel or a good man, and now he’s failed, so God has left him.

Well, we already know it’s exactly in line with what Jesus has been saying – he was going to take our place. But Jesus also isn’t just crying out something random: it’s a direct quote from Psalm 22, the Psalm of the suffering King. In Psalm 22 King David, the King of Israel, God’s King, is under an attack so fierce he describes it like crucifixion – hundreds of years before crucifixion even existed! And Jesus, the true King, God’s King who is enduring the ultimate suffering, quotes that Psalm with his last breaths, declaring to the world “I am the King”.

35–36 Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought he was calling for the prophet Elijah. 36 One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to him on a reed stick so he could drink. “Wait!” he said. “Let’s see whether Elijah comes to take him down!”

Of course Elijah would not come. This is Jesus’ whole mission. Through the darkness, through hell, through abandonment, our King opens the way to God!

3. Jesus opens the way to God

37 Then Jesus uttered another loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39 When the Roman officer who stood facing him saw how he had died, he exclaimed, “This man truly was the Son of God!”

Crucifixion normally took days – but Jesus dies within a few hours. He gave up his own life, breathing his last. He was totally in control. This was a deliberate act of love, planned from before the creation of the world. And what his death achieves is immediately clear: 38 And the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.

The curtain in the Temple was a massive, thick piece of cloth 20m high, 20m wide, and 10cm thick. It was more like a wall than a curtain. Behind the curtain was the Most Holy Place, and that was where God “lived” as a symbol of living with his people. If anyone went behind the curtain without going through a lot of rituals to cleanse them of their sin, they died instantly! God is holy, we are not – and unholy meets holy is like darkness meets light: it is destroyed. The curtain in the Temple separated God and man.

Until now. Now Jesus gives up his life to open the way to God, to make the unholy holy, and the Temple curtain is torn from TOP to bottom. God Himself has torn down the barrier between us! He has done the impossible, and made a way for unholy people to live with a holy God. And it’s not through a Temple, some special building, some special rituals – but through a person, his Son, the Lord Jesus. Christians don’t have Temple, we don’t have holy places. There is one holy place, and that is Jesus himself.

Jesus has opened the way to God, torn down the barrier. It’s his work, his action, his power which holds the door open. So do not be afraid. You are secure in Christ.

Jesus has opened the way to God. Immediately, IMMEDIATELY, we see the effects of Jesus’ opening the way.

39 When the Roman officer who stood facing him saw how he had died, he exclaimed, “This man truly was the Son of God!”

The statement in verse 39 is utterly incredible: “This man truly was the Son of God!” What is it that turned this man around – from abusing Jesus to worshipping Jesus? V39 says when he “saw how [Jesus] died”. I wonder what he saw? Perhaps he saw in Jesus’ eyes, through the spiritual and physical pain, the love that drove him to the cross? Perhaps Jesus looked at him with eyes so filled with forgiveness it pierced even this rough Roman soldier’s heart? Perhaps it was something else. We don’t know – but it was the death of Jesus that brought him new life, as it has been for every Christian since.

I love how God does things. He chooses this man to be the first one to declare the truth about Jesus! Isn’t that amazing? Here’s the man who nailed Jesus to the cross! He is a Gentile, he is an enemy of the Jews, a soldier of the oppressors – and he’s the first one who declares the truth about Jesus. Not Peter, not John, not the priests, none of the crowd – but an enemy Roman soldier. There is no-one beyond the reach of Jesus, not even you. Not even me. If he can save a man like that, a man who moments before was spitting at him and hitting him and mocking him and nailing his hands to the cross – well, he can save anybody.

The Roman soldier. Simon from Cyrene, father of Alexander and Rufus, most probably a black man, a North African (Cyrene is now Libya). And in v40-41 we read Some women were there, watching from a distance, including Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James the younger and of Joseph), and Salome. 41 They had been followers of Jesus and had cared for him while he was in Galilee. Many other women who had come with him to Jerusalem were also there.

In those days women were second-class citizens, unimportant, not to be taken seriously – a woman could not be a witness in a court case as her testimony was considered unreliable! But Jesus accepts even women(!), takes them seriously, loves them even to death on a cross.

Even there at the cross: the church. The Roman soldier, the oppressor at the top of society; the black tourist or trader, a foreigner; the women, unimportant, nothings in society; and, finally, even a religious leader of Israel! 42–43 This all happened on Friday, the day of preparation, the day before the Sabbath. As evening approached, 43 Joseph of Arimathea took a risk and went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. (Joseph was an honoured member of the high council, and he was waiting for the Kingdom of God to come.) Here is the church! Even at this dark moment, like little glimmers of light, we see a group of people around Jesus from different nationalities, different social status, different political backgrounds, different genders, different religions, just like here – all welcome at the cross, all being given new life as Jesus gives up his life.

This is the hope for the non-Christian: that Jesus has opened the way to God for them. So pray for your friends and family and colleagues and tell them about Jesus. And if you’re not a Christian here today, today turn to him and give up your life to receive his.

This is the hope for the Christian. The cross is just as much for the Christian as the non-Christian, if not more so. Remember you are secure. This is where your sins are carried, taken, dealt with. No guilt in life, no fear in death – this is the power of Christ in me! You are safe. Remember the cross! Let’s live like it! Amen.

Let’s pray our prayer of absolution together:

Absolution: ALL: Our Lord Jesus, thank you that through your death on the cross you swapped places with us. Thank you that you took the punishment of death that our sins deserved.
Thank you that you absorbed the righteous anger of God. You offered yourself once for all, a full, perfect, and sufficient sacrifice.
Thank you that you have forgiven us, set us free, made us your sons and daughters, and given us a place in your eternal Kingdom. Amen

Åpenbaring 3:7-22 Filadelfia og Laodikea. Trofasthet og Likegyldighet!

Åpenbaring 3:7-22

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Hva er en Jesu disippel? Hva betyr det å følge Jesus?

Et godt spørsmål, og livets viktigste. Fordi hvis vi svarer feil på det, hvis vi ikke vet hva det betyr å følge Jesus, å være hans disippel, da kan vi oppleve at når han kommer – han kjenne oss ikke igjen.

I disse kapitler, 2 og 3, hvor Jesus prater til hans kirke, til oss, til de sju menigheter som representerer hele kirkesamfunnet, det er tydelig at de som seirer til slutt er de som holder fast til ham, de som ikke svikter, de som er trofast til evangeliet uansett trussel, om det er fangenskap eller døden, om vi blir fattig eller latterliggjort, uansett hva det skulle koster… vi fornekter ikke Jesus, vi lever for ham i alt vi gjør – det er de som seirer til slutt, de som stå fast på evangeliet.

Det er tydelig at å være kristen er ikke en ting du gjør, en ekstra liten (eller stor) del av livet ditt. Det ER livet ditt.
Hvis du er en kristen, tilhører du Jesus. Du er hans barn, hans bror, hans ambassadør, hans representant. Han er i deg og du er i ham. Vi lever etter hans ord som finnes bare i Bibelen. Han snakker, vi er lydig.

Ikke at vi nå prøve å fylle livene våre med mer aktivitet, som om vi kan imponere Gud med vår innsats – men har vi overgitt vårt liv til Jesus Kristus? Lever vi for ham, eller for oss selv? Er vi Filadelfia, eller Laodikea?

1. Filadelfia: Styrke i svakhet

2. Laodikea: Likegyldig «kristne»

1. Filadelfia: Styrke i svakhet

8 Jeg vet om dine gjerninger. Se, jeg har satt foran deg en åpnet dør, som ingen kan stenge. For du har liten kraft, og du har holdt fast ved mitt ord og ikke fornektet mitt navn.

Filadelfia er en liten, svak menighet. De har «lite kraft» sier Jesus. Det er ikke som de løper rundt med masse aktivitet som kan imponere Gud. Det er Sardes – en av forrige ukes menigheter – mye aktivitet, men død.
Aktivitet er ikke et kjennetegn, men trofasthet. Sardes har mye aktivitet, men det koste ingenting. Litt som statskirken, kanskje – mye som skjer, men ingenting som provoserer, ingenting som ligne evangeliet? Og vi merke det samme presset. Hvor lett er det å bare tie stille? Hvor lett er det å bare skli inn i «privat tro», aldri dele troen, aldri sier noe om Jesus.

Men Filadelfia derimot. De er kristne superhelter. De er folk vi skal se opp til. Fordi de blir slått og slått og slått – men står fortsatt. De vil ikke flyttes fra evangeliets grunnvoll, uansett hvor mye press de blir satt under.

De er soldater som holder linje. Det gir ikke grunn til fienden. De står.

Kristne helter er ikke de med smart dress på som stå på scenen og forteller oss om alt det store de har gjort og hvor velsignet de er. Det imponerer ikke Jesus. De som Jesus hyller er de med liten kraft som likevel holder fast til hans ord og ikke fornekter hans navn.

Føler du deg svak? Føler du deg redd når du tenke på det å dele evangeliet med kollegaer dine? Eller familien din, eller venner? Føler du deg for svak til å overtale din kone til å lese Bibelen og ber sammen? Eller uverdig til å en gang være en kristen?
Hvis du føler deg slik, så er budskapet til Filadelfia budskapet til deg. Fordi selv om de er svak, og har liten kraft, så har de holdt ut, og ikke gitt opp. Og hvis de klarer det, det kan du og!
Vi som kristner trenger ikke å angripe fienden, og prøve å overvinne Satan – Jesus har allerede gjort det! Vår oppgave er bare å holde fast til Jesus.

Se hvordan han introdusere seg selv til Filadelfia: 7 Skriv til engelen for menigheten i Filadelfia: Dette sier Den hellige og sannferdige, han som har Davids nøkkel, han som åpner så ingen kan stenge, og stenger så ingen kan åpne:

Jesus Kristus, vår Herre: han som hellig. Som er sannferdig – det betyr alt han sier er sant. Hans ord er sannhet. Og hellig og sannferdig er Guds navn – i 6:10 ser vi at de kaller Gud Faderen «hellig og sannferdig» (eller troverdig – samme ord i Gresk alenthinos). Det er ikke noe tvil over at Jesus er Gud. Alle hans titler er Guds titler!
Og han har Davids nøkkel. David var Israels største Konge, og et bilde av Jesus som Messias, som Konge over alle Konger. Nøkkelen han har er autoritet til å reise folk opp, og dra dem ned igjen. Han har allmakt. Vår oppgave er ikke å kjempe – vi må bare holde fast til Jesus.

Og han, og bare han, kan åpne dør til paradis. Jesus er den som bestemmer hvem skal inn i Guds rike, og hvem skal ikke. Han har nøkkelen – han er nøkkelen. Og ingen andre.

Derfor når han sier 8 Jeg vet om dine gjerninger. Se, jeg har satt foran deg en åpnet dør, som ingen kan stenge. Ingen kan stenge det han har åpnet. Ja vi har liten kraft, men hvis vi holder fast ved Jesu ord og ikke fornekter Jesu navn da kan ingen makt i himmelen eller på jorden stå imot oss. Her står du i verdens kraftigste sted – for her forkynner vi evangeliet, her taler Jesus til oss – og ingen kan stå imot ham.

Ikke Jødene en gang. For det ser ut som de var en maktkamp mellom de jødene i byen om den nye menigheten. Hvem faktisk vise veien til himmelen? Akkurat som vi har i dag – mange som sier at de vet veien inn til paradis, til evig liv, eller bare til det gode livet nå (*koff* humanister)… men hva sier Jesus.

9 Se, jeg skal la noen komme fra Satans synagoge, slike som lyver og sier de er jøder, men ikke er det. De skal komme og kaste seg ned for føttene dine, og de skal forstå at jeg har elsket deg.
De vil oppleve at til og med jødene skal komme og ta imot Jesus. Og det har vi sett her. Vi kommer alle fra forskjellige bakgrunn, til og med forskjellige religioner – og vi har tatt imot Jesus. Det er alltid håp for alle, også de som kjempe så kraftig mot evangeliet. Ikke miste håpet – Jesus har allmakt.

10 Fordi du har tatt vare på mitt ord om å holde ut, vil jeg bevare deg gjennom den tiden av prøvelser som skal komme over hele verden for å prøve dem som bor på jorden. 11 Jeg kommer snart. Hold fast på det du har, så ingen tar seierskransen fra deg!


Det som er litt interessant er at Filadelfia var en by som ble kontinuerlig ristet av jordskjelv. Det var alltid sprekker i veggene. Livet var veldig ustabil. Og Jesus tilbe stabilitet. Døren er åpen og ingen kan stenge det. Og videre den som holde fast, 12 Den som seirer, vil jeg gjøre til en søyle i min Guds tempel, og aldri mer skal han forlate det. Stabilitet. Jesus gir dem det ingen andre kan.

Jeg vil skrive min Guds navn på ham sammen med navnet på min Guds by, det nye Jerusalem som kommer ned fra himmelen, fra min Gud og også mitt nye navn. 13 Den som har ører, hør hva Ånden sier til menighetene!

Det vi gjør er å holde fast på evangeliet. Stå fast på det vi har. Og Jesus er trofast. Han har gitt oss et nytt navn, en ny identitet – hans navn. Hvis du har tatt imot Jesus, er du nå Guds barn. Du er ikke lenger bare deg, men deg, Guds barn. Ikke Daniel, men Daniel, Guds sønn. For en fantastisk gave!

Føler du at du har begynt å miste fotfeste? At du ikke står? Rett blikket mot Jesus igjen. Blåse støv av Bibelen, og les den hver dag, og hver gang du begynner å skli - husk på det du leste, og rette blikket igjen mot Jesus. Hør på Kristus, og være lydig. Hold fast. Og Jesus, Messias, i Kong Davids ætt, har åpnet veien til Himmelen, og den veien kan ingen stenge. Amen

Filadelfia, takk for at vi kan følge din eksempel. Himmelske Far, la oss følge i deres fotspor. La oss holde fast, og ble etablert. La denne menigheten bli en søyle i ditt rike. La folk høre og se evangeliet her. Og la oss ble alltid full av beundring over din nåde, din herlighet! Vi er syndere, som nå kalles for Guds barn! Halleluja! La oss aldri tar det for gitt. Vokt oss fra å være… Laodikea.

2. Laodikea: Likegyldig «kristne»

15 Jeg vet om dine gjerninger du er verken kald eller varm. Om du bare var kald eller varm! 16 Men du er lunken, ikke varm og ikke kald. Derfor skal jeg spytte deg ut av min munn.

Æsj, for en skuffelse Laodikea er. Og for en skuffelse sånne kristne er. Kristne hvor kristendom er «meh». Hvor du snakker ivrig om Jesus Kristus og hans nåde og responsen er… helt blank. Der er ikke noe liv! De er ikke som Sardes en gang! De gjør minimalt. Går i gudstjeneste kanskje, hvis de gidder, hvis ikke noe bedre dukker opp. For dem er kristendom likegyldig. Æsj! Du får lyst til å bare riste dem og si våkn opp! Hallo!

17 Du sier: «Jeg er rik, jeg har overflod og mangler ingenting.» Men du vet ikke at nettopp du er elendig og ynkelig, fattig, blind og naken.

Laodikea var en veldig rik by. De produserte en type ull som ingen andre hadde. Og de tjente godt på det! De var rike! De trengte ingenting! Og kanskje fordi de hadde mye å tape var de lunken når det gjaldt Jesus. De hadde det alt for godt, alt for behagelig, de var komfortable. Oi. Er det oss i Norge? Er det ikke oppsiktsvekkende at norsk kristendom har vært i fritt fall siden vi fant olje og ble styrtrike?
For kjærligheten til penger er roten til allslags ondt sier 1 Ti 6:10. Vi ser det i Laodikea, og vi ser det i Norge.

Fordi det er så lett, når du er rik, å tro at du er velsignet, å tro at ingenting kan røre deg, at du er trygge. «Jeg er rik, jeg må være en åndelig kjempe!»
Latterlig, ikke sant. Men vi faller i samme felle i dag. Alle de i dyre dress med en uåpnet bibel i hånden sin som sier «nøkkelen til rikdom er Jesus, han er den store pengemaskin i himmelen. Alt du må gjør er å gi MEG som hans tjener et lite frø» mens hans perfekte hvite tenner skinner i lyset. Ping!

Men Jesus har en annen beskrivelse, fordi ekte rikdom er bare å finne hos ham.

17 Du sier: «Jeg er rik, jeg har overflod og mangler ingenting.» Men du vet ikke at nettopp du er elendig og ynkelig, fattig, blind og naken. 18 Derfor gir jeg deg det råd at du kjøper gull av meg, renset i ild, så du kan bli rik, og hvite klær som du kan kle deg med og skjule din nakne skam, og salve til å smøre på øynene dine, så du kan se.

Det er en utvei. Det er håp for Laodikea og håp for Norge.

19 Jeg refser og irettesetter alle dem jeg har kjær. La det bli alvor og vend om!

Det er alltid håp. Så lenger de puster, og Jesus er på tronen, så er det håp. Han elsker fortsatt. Vi må vende om, og ta imot. Vi må åpne døren før det er for sent.

20 Se, jeg står for døren og banker. Om noen hører min røst og åpner døren, vil jeg gå inn til ham og holde måltid, jeg med ham og han med meg.

Han banke på døren. Hva slags bank er det? Her har det vært mye debatt. Er det en beskjeden bank, som en besøkende som ikke helt vet om noen er hjemme, eller om de er ønsket. En liten, høflig bank? Eller er det en politi-bank, BANK BANK «åpen opp, det er Lovens lange arm»? For husk hvem det er som banke! Ikke en hvem som helst. Det er den levende Gud, Jesus som holder stjerner i hånden, øynene av flammende ild, og tungen som er et tveegget sverd – det er han som banke på.

Spiller ingen rolle egentlig! Hvis du merke nå at Jesus banke på – åpen opp! Hvis du merke at du begynne å forstå at du mangler noe, noe stort. At det begynner å gå opp for deg at livet ditt er ikke helt perfekt, at du er kanskje, muligens, en synder! At du har gitt blaffen i Gud, og av og til blaffen i andre mennesker og. Hvis Gud finnes- og du begynner å tro at kanskje han virkelig gjør det – hvis han finnes, kanskje han er ikke så begeistret over deg.
Hvis det er deg – hvis du begynner å få sånne tanker – det er den Hellige Ånd som virker i deg. Hør på hva han sier! Og åpen opp. Du trenger ikke å være likegyldig mot Gud lenger, slik at han spytte deg ut av munnen hans – men du kan åpne døren vid og si ”kom inn! Kom inn, jeg vil kjenne deg bedre. Jeg vil at du skal være min Herre og min Gud.”

Og når du gjør det, det utrolige er at han takker ja, og han kommer inn. 20 Om noen hører min røst og åpner døren, vil jeg gå inn til ham og holde måltid, jeg med ham og han med meg.

Han kan kommer inn, den hellige Gud til den uhellig deg, fordi han har gjort opp for dine synder (og mine) på korset. Det er derfor vi prater alltid om korset i denne menigheten. Fordi der ble vi frelst.

Vi som var langt borte fra Gud på grunn av vår likegyldighet, vår synd – vi ga blaffen i Gud, og uansett hva vi prøvde, hvilken religion vi prøvde, til og med kristendom uten Jesus, det nådde ikke over til Jesus. Men så kom Jesus, Kristus, Messias, redningsmann. Han strakk armene ut over gapet mellom oss og Gud. Han ga sitt liv slik at vi kan få evig liv. Han bår våre synder til døden slik at vi kunne få hans rettferdighet, så han kan gå inn og spise med oss og vi blir ikke tilintetgjort av hans herlighet og hellighet. I ham kan vi har felleskap med Gud!

20 Om noen hører min røst og åpner døren, vil jeg gå inn til ham og holde måltid, jeg med ham og han med meg.


Men det blir bare bedre og bedre: 21 Den som seirer, vil jeg la sitte sammen med meg på min trone, slik jeg selv har seiret og satt meg med min Far på hans trone. 22 Den som har ører, hør hva Ånden sier til menighetene!

Vil du åpne døren? Gjør det nå i bønn. Det er kanskje litt vanskelig å vite hva man skal be - her på skjermen er det en bønn du kan bruke.

Og med oss som er kristne? La oss aldri, aldri vær lunken, likegyldig, når det gjelde Jesus! La han være vår første. Vår beste. Vi er Guds barn! Han kommer igjen snart. La oss lever for ham. La oss gi alt! Hva er det som jeg ikke vil gi over til Jesus til å styre: jobb, rykte, venner, familie, penger, hobby? La meg gjør det, la meg brenne for Jesus!


søndag 21. mai 2017

Mark 14:53- 15:15 Rejected!

Mark 14:53- 15:15

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It’s night-time in an olive grove in early spring. The scent of budding flowers is in the air. There’s a full moon, its face shining brightly on the earth, creating strong contrasts of silver beams of lights and dark shadows under the branches of the trees.
And in the shadows we see twelve men huddling in fear. They are fugitives, on the run from the authorities – and they have just been betrayed.
They trusted Judas – he was their treasurer for goodness sake! And now he betrayed them.
They looked at their leader, Jesus, his face drawn with anxiety. They had never seen him like this. He brooded in silence.

Suddenly there was a shout – the soldiers had found them!

“RUN!” shouted Jesus. “Run for your lives”. The twelve men set off in different directions, fear etched on their faces. Jesus threw himself in a ditch, and began to crawl towards the safety of a nearby river.

But it was too late. There were too many soldiers. All too soon the men were rounded up, and their leader, Jesus, his face covered in dirt and leaves and debris, was hauled before the Captain of the Guard. He laughed as Jesus cowered before him, disbelief and fear etched on his face. A shameful end, for a failed prophet.

Or perhaps you’d prefer a the more Hollywood version!

As Jesus crawled away he heard the screams and cries of his friends, his followers, as they were tracked down by the soldiers, bound together, and taken away to judgement and punishment. A few tears escaped before his face grew hard with resolve. Next time, he would teach his men to fight. Next time, he would strike down the authorities. Next time, he will not be skulking away, but be victorious.

As the camera zooms on to Jesus face in close up, his dark eyes glittering with steely resolve. “I’ll be back!” he says, as “to be continued” flashes up on the screen.

If we had to guess or even write about what was going to happen, knowing 200 soldiers were coming to arrest 12 men, wouldn’t that be how we would picture it? If we were Jesus, isn’t that how we would react? Isn’t that what people think about Jesus – just another failed prophet, who accidentally got himself arrested and killed? Or some Che Guvara type leader, sticking up for the poor, rebelling against the authorities?

As we saw over the last two weeks, surprisingly, what actually happened is very, very different. This was no failed prophet, running from death. This is not the weak end to what could have been a lifetime of famous ministry. This is not a tragedy, but a victory!

This is the pinnacle of Jesus’ ministry. This is his crown jewel, the moment he has been working towards his whole life. This is when he will be revealed as the King above all Kings – as he destroys death and Satan, rescues humanity, and glorifies himself!

This is the high point of human history: the reason Jesus came was in order to die.
He came to be the Passover Lamb: sacrificed so that his blood would shield those who trust in Him from the Judgement to come.
He is the King, the one who is strong, the one who prays in deep anguish to avoid the cup of judgement - but faces it anyway. He drinks the cup, the cup which makes men stagger, down to the last poisonous drop.
We are weak, like the disciples, unable to pray, but instead to sleep, unable to stand with Jesus, but instead to be scattered: we are weak, and could not face the judgement to come. So Jesus, in his great love, faces it for us. That is propitiation. He absorbs the judgement, the wrath of God, and shields us from it, by his blood, by his broken body.

That is love.

Last week we saw that Jesus knows that we are weak. And still loves us. Our weakness, our failure is not something we have to try to hide from him. Christianity is not about pretending you’re better than you are!

Jesus is strong where we are weak.

If there’s one thing that stands out about Jesus in these moments leading up to the cross it is his strength. He stands firm while all about him fall. His resolve does not waver, his course is true. He is abandoned, rejected by all – but he stands strong. He does not abandon his Father. He does not reject God. And that gives hope to all of us who have rejected him, failed him, like Peter, like the religious leaders, and like the people.
No-one stood by Jesus. He stood utterly alone. He is rejected by the Jews (represented by the leading priests and high council), rejected by his own dearest friends (represented by Peter), and rejected by the Gentiles (non-Jews, that’s us, represented by Pilate).

1. Rejected by the Jews v55-65

They took Jesus to the high priest’s home where the leading priests, the elders, and the teachers of religious law had gathered...55 the leading priests and the entire high council were trying to find evidence against Jesus, so they could put him to death. But they couldn’t find any.

The trial is a sham (fake). It is highly irregular: they are meeting in the middle of the night instead of the day, and not in the Temple court but in the high priests house. It was a secret trial with hand-picked witnesses, and no-one around to dispute the lies the witnesses would tell.

But even then no evidence could be found! Even though they’d already decided the verdict - back in chapter 11:18 they had decided that Jesus must die and were plotting to kill him. This was no fair hearing, but a loaded gun pointed at Jesus’ head. But even then his innocence shone through

56 Many false witnesses spoke against him, but they contradicted each other. 57 Finally, some men stood up and gave this false testimony: 58 “We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this Temple made with human hands, and in three days I will build another, made without human hands.’ ” 59 But even then they didn’t get their stories straight!

If this wasn’t so serious it would be like a comedy sketch! The bungling baddies, oafishly getting their stories wrong. The paid witnesses saying the opposite of each other! You can almost see little fight breaking out between them: “why’d you say that, you idiot, you were supposed to say….” You can almost imagine them getting cream pies out and hitting each other in the face with them. It is so utterly foolish.

So, even the high priest can now see that they’re getting nowhere. Even as a sham trial this is pretty thin. He’s probably beating his head against the wall in frustration – while Jesus stands there calm, resolute, quiet. Eventually in frustration he turns to Jesus v60 “Well, aren’t you going to answer these charges? What do you have to say for yourself?” 61 But Jesus was silent and made no reply. Then the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”

This is the real question, isn’t it. Are you really the one you claim to be? You can imagine everything going still. Everyone holding their breath. What would he answer? Would he finally give in? I mean, who would risk their life for a lie?

And then Jesus says 62 “I AM.” This was explosive. This was the name of God that he told Moses: I AM the I AM. And Jesus uses God’s name. You can imagine the high priests eyes widening first in horror, then in glee as they thought “we’ve got him”. And because the time is right, because it is now time for Jesus to make plain who he is, he continues: And you will see the Son of Man seated in the place of power at God’s right hand and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Blasphemy! BLASPHEMY!! You dishonour God! How dare you claim to be God! BLASPHEMY! Death!

But not once did they stop to consider maybe this is true. They did not listen to his words: I AM, the personal name of the God of Israel (Yahweh or Jehovah means I AM.
Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One? Yahweh, says Jesus. I am.
And just to make sure they understand, he then claims to be the human figure in Daniel 7 who is given all authority in heaven and earth by the Father (the “Ancient of Days” in the prophecy).

Da 7:9–14 I watched as thrones were put in place and the Ancient One sat down to judge. His clothing was as white as snow, his hair like purest wool. He sat on a fiery throne with wheels of blazing fire, 10 and a river of fire was pouring out, flowing from his presence. Millions of angels ministered to him; many millions stood to attend him. Then the court began its session, and the books were opened. … 13 As my vision continued that night, I saw someone like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient One and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, honour, and sovereignty over all the nations of the world, so that people of every race and nation and language would obey him. His rule is eternal—it will never end. His kingdom will never be destroyed.

Jesus says “I am that person. I am the King of the eternal Kingdom”. He is the Messiah. He is God Almighty. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

But they miss it. Their sin blinds them to the truth, and drives them to murder their own king, their God.

We, too, are blinded by our sin. Without his grace we too would be shouting Crucify him! Blasphemer! Playing our religious games while murdering the Son of God.
Religion does not lead you to God, but away from God. Unless you know Jesus, religion is dangerous. Paul the Apostle was a very religious man, and loved God (or so he thought) – but that love expressed itself in murdering Christians until the day that Jesus met him and turned his life around.
Unless you know Jesus, religion is dangerous, poisonous, futile, and hellish.

65 Then some of them began to spit at him, and they blindfolded him and beat him with their fists. “Prophesy to us,” they jeered. And the guards slapped him as they took him away.

Why did Jesus suddenly openly proclaim his divinity (that he is God, the Son of God), the Son of Man in power, and that he is the Messiah? Up to now he has always refused to proclaim this publically, always told demons to be quiet, and those whom he has healed not to tell anyone. Why now?

Because now, chained, arrested, beaten, abandoned, there is no misunderstanding what type of Messiah he is. He is the suffering servant of Isaiah. He is the conquering King as well, but it is a spiritual conquest, not a political. Jesus can openly claim to be the Messiah because now no-one will want to force him to be the political king. He is arrested, weak, with no followers. Who’d want this fellow to be king?
Now there is no risk to his mission being compromised – he came to die, and he will achieve it. Now it is unstoppable, and so he can reveal himself because no-one will believe it. In fact, revealing who he is will achieve his goals!

64 You have all heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?” “Guilty!” they all cried. “He deserves to die!”

So the Jews, the very people of God, with the religion of God, the word of God, the rituals of God, the Law of God – reject God.

And even Jesus’ closest friends reject him.

2. Rejected by his own

66 Meanwhile, Peter was in the courtyard below. One of the servant girls who worked for the high priest came by 67 and noticed Peter warming himself at the fire. She looked at him closely and said, “You were one of those with Jesus of Nazareth.” 68 But Peter denied it. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said, and he went out into the entryway.

Earlier on that same evening Peter had boldly claimed that he was ready to “die for Jesus”. And maybe he had convinced himself that he could still do it. Although he ran away when Jesus was arrested, he then went back and v55 says that he followed Jesus right in to the courtyard. “I’ll do it this time”

Really, Peter? You’ll stand for Jesus this time – despite the fact that, unlike Jesus, he had not prayed for strength, but fallen asleep. And despite the fact that Jesus had already told him that he would fall.

He did not believe Jesus. He thought he was fine by himself. How often is that us? Or our friends, or family members, or work colleagues?

We don’t want to hear the uncomfortable truths. We don’t want to hear that we are sinners who sin. That there is a God, and we are not him! That God is angry with us and will judge us and condemn us to hell if continue to rebel against him. That shame covers us. We have dishonoured our King. Lalalala we say with our hands over our ears, trying to block it out. The problem is, is that it is true. And reliable, true, truth. There is no escape.

Jesus said a few hours before: v30 “I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.”

A servant girl questions him v67 “You were one of those with Jesus of Nazareth.” 68 But Peter denied it. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” One.

V69 She began telling the others, “This man is definitely one of them!” 70 But Peter denied it again. Two.

“You must be one of them, because you are a Galilean.” 71 Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know this man you’re talking about!” Three.

And he broke down and wept.

There is no escape. We are weak. We reject Jesus in our own strength and condemn ourselves to hell.

This morning I showed this piece of junk - sorry, I mean “modern art”. This is a mess, a bunch of meaningless scribbles, worthless trash. Yet someone paid $52 000 000 for it! Kr440 000 000. And that is what it is now worth.

You see, although it has no intrinsic value – it’s crap – it has been given value by the purchaser. Someone has said that mess of scribbles is valuable to me.

And that is what Jesus does with us. Maybe our life looks like that. That’s probably how Peter was feeling when that rooster crowed. Like he’d just scribbled over his life. Wrecked it. But later we find Peter boldly preaching “Believe in Jesus, he is the Messiah, the Lord”. What happened? Jesus met him, after he rose from the dead. He found Peter and gave him a new value. No longer worthless, but of infinite value.

And you and I are the same. If we are in Christ, our value is his body and his blood. You may look like scribbles on a page, but in Christ you are a world-class work of art!

We are weak. We deny our King. Jesus was rejected by his own.
But He is strong.
Praise Him that he knows our weakness, and is able to cover over our failure with his blood. Peter, after meeting with Jesus after his resurrection, became the head of the church, its first evangelist and missionary. Jesus knows our weakness, yet still loves us.

Rejected by the Jews, rejected by his own disciples, and

3. Rejected by the Gentiles

Because the Jews were under Roman occupation, they had no authority to put someone to death. So they needed Pilate to find Jesus guilty in order to sentence him to death. Unfortunately “blasphemy” was not punishable under Roman law – so they accuse Jesus of being the King, and therefore rebelling against the true ruler: the Emperor of Rome! Ironic, isn’t it. 2 Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” Jesus replied, “You have said it.”

Jesus then makes no further defence, says no further words – to Pilate’s amazement. He just says “yes, I am the King” 3 Then the leading priests kept accusing him of many crimes, 4 and Pilate asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer them? What about all these charges they are bringing against you?” 5 But Jesus said nothing, much to Pilate’s surprise.

The Jewish leaders should have understood. This is exactly what the prophet Isaiah said. Again Jesus fulfils Scripture: Isaiah 53:7 says “He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth”.

Even though he makes no defence, even Pilate is not fooled. Just as in the first trial, Jesus’ innocence shines through: 10 (For he [Pilate] realized by now that the leading priests had arrested Jesus out of envy.)

But Pilate is a crowd-pleaser, amoral, with no fear of God. He was not a good man, forced into a bad situation. He was a bad judge who condemned a man he knew was innocent to a brutal and disgusting death. He rejected the King, he rejected God, he even rejected his own conscience. 15 So to pacify the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified.

Jesus was rejected by the chief priests and the Jewish nation, rejected by his closest friends, rejected by the whole world. He stood alone, bearing the weight of our cruelty, our injustice, our sin upon his shoulders. And that’s why he came. This is the cup he came to drink. This is why he died for us. To take our cruelty and injustice and sin – and to conquer it, so that he can say to us, like Peter, come with me, you are restored.

What about you? What will you do with Jesus?

søndag 14. mai 2017

Mark 14:26-52 No guilt, no shame – Jesus has taken it!

Mark 14:26-52

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Look at yourself in the mirror. And say to yourself these words: “I am strong. I am confident. I am powerful. I will overcome.”

This is the kind of pastoral advice that people like Joel Osteen are giving. It sounds good. It sounds like advice I want to hear. But is this advice that Jesus would give?

Well, based on tonight’s passage, the answer is a resounding “no!”

In fact what Jesus says is “don’t fool yourself. You are weak.”

And then he says “but do not fear, for I am strong, and my will will be done”

“I am weak. I am a sinner. But Jesus is strong. Jesus is my saviour. Jesus has overcome!”

“In Christ, I am strong. In Christ, I am confident. Christ is powerful. Christ will overcome.” Amen!

1. We are weak (27-32)

2. Jesus is strong (33-42)

3. God’s will will be done (41-52)

1. We are weak (27-32)

27 On the way, Jesus told them, All of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say, God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered. 28 But after I am raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there. 29 Peter said to him, Even if everyone else deserts you, I never will. 30 Jesus replied, I tell you the truth, Peterthis very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me. 31 No! Peter declared emphatically. Even if I have to die with you, I will never deny you! And all the others vowed the same.

How often do we see ourselves as better than we are? Especially us guys – we always want to do it alone, in our own strength. That’s the disciples, confidently asserting that they would rather die than deny Jesus. But a few hours later 50 Then all his disciples deserted him and ran away.

It’s brutal isn’t it, to have your weakness so cruelly exposed. We (people) want to be strong, wish we were strong – but we are weak. Often we know the right thing to do, we want to do the right thing, but we don’t do it. It’s too hard, too costly, and so we chicken out, take the easy road.

We are weak.

And Jesus knows this. And he still loves us!

Our weakness, our failure is not something we have to try to hide from him. Christianity is not about pretending you’re better than you are!

Because Jesus is strong. Although he was “deeply troubled and distressed” he still went through with his suffering and death on the cross, bearing the sins of the world – in order that he, the strong, can lift us, the weak, up.

It’s fantastic news!

And that’s why we see the disciples “warts and all” – with all their failures. I can imagine Peter sitting with Mark as he writes this book says “no Mark, you must put my failure in. I don’t care about my reputation! People must understand the gospel. Jesus came for sinners.”

I thank God for the disciples. Because they are real people like you and me. They make mistakes, they get things so wrong, they don’t understand, they are foolish, they are cowards – these are no super-spiritual giants, ticking all the right religious boxes! I mean Peter even tells Jesus off at one point, telling him he’s wrong. Oops.

And Jesus still loves them, still accepts them, still allows them to follow him – and uses them, makes them part of his great glorious work of salvation! And builds the church upon their weak and frail backs!

I heard someone tell a story about Jesus returning to Heaven after his resurrection. The angels are standing there singing praise, congratulating Jesus about his great work of salvation, his great achievement. All glory to the King!

But then one angel comes up to him and says

“uh, Jesus, I’ve got a question....”


“Um, how are you, you know, going to get the message out? About what you’ve done? How are people going to hear about it”

Jesus points to the little band of weak and small disciples.

“Ah, hahaha, hmmm, yes, yes, them, yes. Do you, um, have any other plan?”

“No, no other plan.”

Don’t you love our God, who chooses the weak to shame the strong, who reveals truth to children and conceals it from the “wise”, who loves the unlovable and forgives the unforgiveable – even at the cost of his own life. Who builds his unstoppable church through people like you and me!

The God who is strong in our weakness.

“No guilt in life, no fear in death, this is the power of Christ in me. From life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny.”

Did you notice v27 27 On the way, Jesus told them, All of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say, God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.

Jesus knew hundreds of years before that the disciples would fail him. It’s from Zechariah 13:7. The big themes in Zechariah are the LORD returning to his Temple, and blessing the whole world through “Jerusalem” – the new people of God. The last time we heard a quote from Zechariah was during the triumphal entry: Jesus, the King, riding in on a donkey. Rejoice O Zion! But now the King, the Shepherd, will be struck and the sheep scattered. This is all part of God’s to bring about his purposes: here is the King, ready to be struck, the sheep, bleating their cries of “we will not be scattered” – but He will be struck and they scattered.
He knows. He knows they will fail him. And he has already forgiven them! 28 But after I am raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.

They will fall, but have no fear, for Jesus will bring them together again in Galilee, where he began his ministry, this time the risen, victorious Christ, giving them power to enable them to do the works he has given them to do: to spread the word about Jesus, his victory over sin and death, and forgiveness for all who come to him. No guilt, no shame, but forgiveness, acceptance, and a new way of living, a new purpose, a new goal: the glory of God Almighty.

What a God we serve. He knows their coming failure, yet has already forgiven them as he goes to the Cross to pay the price that forgiveness costs. Remarkable.

What is it that you feel guilty about? Have you let Jesus down? Have you some secret sin which you could never reveal to anyone, certainly not Him? Do you sit awake sometimes in the dark watches of the night, your room closing in about you, as your thoughts accuse you “guilty! Guilty! Weak! You are no Christian! How dare you call yourself a Christian! Failure!”. Are you ashamed of boldly claiming to stand for Jesus “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” – only to shrink away in denial when the time came?

Well, welcome to the human race! This is us. We are not righteous. We do not seek God.

But, thankfully he seeks us. He knows our weakness. He knows our shame. He knows our guilt. And he has covered it with his blood.

It is gone.

No guilt in life, no fear in death! This is the power of Christ in me.

I am weak – but he is strong. And in Christ, I am strong.

Confess your sins with joy, not fear, for he knows and has forgiven you!

We may not be the best Christian in the world – but we have the best Christ! Where we are weak, he is strong. So trust him. He will hang on to you. His grip will not fail. You are secure in him.

I am weak, but

2. Jesus is strong (33-42)

33 He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed. 34 He told them, My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me. 35 He went on a little farther and fell to the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting him might pass him by. 36 Abba, Father, he cried out, everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.

That night in the garden was the worst of Jesus’ life. Here before him lay the final choice: to go through with torture and death, and worse, face the anger, the wrath, of the Father as he carries our sins to the cross; or to turn aside, to call down myriads of angels to fight for him, to be carried up in glory to his rightful place in the throne room of heaven. What would you have chosen?

Like Jesus, deeply troubled and distressed – what would you have done?

Like Jesus, saying “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death.” – so deeply full of sorrow you feel like you’re going to die, simply because of sorrow, of dread of what is to come – what would you have done?

Like Jesus, throwing yourself before God Almighty in prayer, begging him to get you out of this, open another way “Abba (Daddy), Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me.” – what would you have done?

Well, we know what Jesus DID. He did not fall away. He did not yield to temptation. He did not fall asleep but prayed for strength. He did not turn back. Instead he prays the most remarkable prayer in the Bible, and the prayer that should be echoed in the heart of everyone who follows Jesus, everyone who calls themselves a Christian, in every area of our lives because we belong to him: 36 “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.

Not my will, but yours be done. That is the cry of a heart yielded up to God.
Jesus here is the perfect human being, willing to do whatever the Father asks in order to glorify him.
We were created to bring God glory – that is our purpose and our destiny. We were made to reflect back to God his beauty, his splendour, his majesty, crying out with every action, every thought, every prayer, every word spoken, at work, at home, in the garden, up on the mountain: you are glorious, you are holy, you are amazing. Your will be done.

We pray that in the Lord’s Prayer, don’t we? “Your will be done on earth as in heaven.” That doesn’t mean out there somewhere, distant from us – no we’re praying that his will is done in our lives, we’re praying that we would yield to his will, praying that we would not fall into temptation and follow Satan along the path of comfort and death, but Jesus along the hard path – but glorious and fulfilling and the path of life eternal.

And so often we fail. So often we do what WE will. We are weak. We are like the disciples – when they were supposed to be praying what were they doing? Sleeping!
37 Then he returned and found the disciples asleep. He said to Peter, Simon, are you asleep? Couldnt you watch with me even one hour? 38 Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak. 39 Then Jesus left them again and prayed the same prayer as before. 40 When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldnt keep their eyes open. And they didnt know what to say.

While we are sleeping. While we are giving in to our desires, our “needs” – Jesus is praying. Jesus is doing exactly what he should be doing – even though he was totally alone. Even though he knew what was coming. His “sheep” were about to be scattered. His friends would abandon him. He was about to be arrested. “The time has come” he says.
And he was about to drink the Cup. In the Old Testament the Cup was often used as a symbol of God’s judgement on sin. For example Jer 25:15-16 This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take from my hand this cup filled to the brim with my anger, and make all the nations to whom I send you drink from it. 16 When they drink from it, they will stagger, crazed by the warfare I will send against them.” Similarly Jer 49, Isaiah 51, and Psalm 75:8.

Set before Jesus was that cup. A foaming cup of poisonous punishment. Anger upon anger, wrath upon wrath, poured out for the sins of the world from all of time and space all gathered into one concentrated poisonous dose. Like a witches’ brew – but a thousand, a million, a trillion times worse. We will never know what Jesus knew he was facing.

But he faced it.

Three times he prayed for steely resolve to drink this cup to its last drop. And he did not falter, did not stop. “Up”, he says, “let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here”
He did not run, did not call down legions of angels to defend him, did not use his awesome power to simply swat away the soldiers who had come to arrest him. He had prayed. He was at peace. Not my will, but yours, Father.

We may be weak, but Jesus is strong.

3. God’s will will be done (41-52)

48 Jesus asked them, Am I some dangerous revolutionary, that you come with swords and clubs to arrest me? 49 Why didnt you arrest me in the Temple? I was there among you teaching every day. But these things are happening to fulfill what the Scriptures say about me. 50 Then all his disciples deserted him and ran away.

Jesus offers no resistance to his arrest - in fact he goes out to meet them. No playing hide and seek amongst the trees. No fighting. No running. One of the disciples gets it wrong – hacking off someone’s ear.
He should have prayed – he’s totally on the wrong page!
And then when Jesus simply gives himself up, terror grips them all and, just as Jesus prophesied in v27, quoting Zechariah’s prophecy from hundreds of years before, the sheep do indeed scatter: v50“they deserted him and ran away”. One disciple, a “young man” who is probably Mark, the writer of this gospel, was so frightened that when the soldiers grabbed him by his long shirt he 52 he slipped out of his shirt and ran away naked.

They all abandon Jesus. The spirit was willing “I will die for you Jesus!” – but the flesh was weak.
But Jesus, the perfect man, prayed, was strengthened, and did not fall away. Where we are weak, he is strong.

All this is happening according to God’s plan. 49 But these things are happening to fulfill what the Scriptures say about me

This was written down hundreds of years before so that we would KNOW that it is true. We would KNOW that Jesus is truly the Messiah, the Christ, the Rescuer – and our King. The Bible is not one book written by some old dude in a tower. It’s a library (so the name “Bible” from the Latin biblia meaning library): 66 books written by 40 authors, written over 1500 years. So hundreds of years before Jesus, men were writing, inspired by the Holy Spirit, about what he would be doing and what he would be saying. Isn’t that amazing?

Last week we saw how all the different promises of God come together in Christ. He is our King, our Priest, and our Prophet. He is the new and better Moses leading the new and better Exodus: the rescue of God’s people. Jesus is the Temple, the meeting palce between mand and God. And he is the Passover Lamb. The sacrifice that can protect us from the angel of death. His body is broken for us. His blood shed for us. He is the Suffering Servant the prophet Isaiah saw. He is the King the prophet Zecahriah saw. He is the LORD – Yahweh - coming to his Temple from Malachi.
Again and again we see that Jesus fulfils Scripture. Someone counted up all the prophecies that Jesus fulfilled – somewhere between 300 and 400, depending on how you count (some people count one verse saying two things as two prophecies, others one)! And Jesus fulfilled all of them. Every single one. Statistically impossible to do by random chance – the only way to fulfil these prophecies is if you are the one who was prophesied!

Have assurance. This is true. This is the gospel: Christ Jesus came to save sinners. Do you think he would bother with all this if that weren’t true. He could have blasted all these fools out of the garden with a word. But he didn’t, because this is why he came. He, the perfect man, came to take our place. He came to be found guilty, to die a sinners death, so that you and I can be found righteous, and live for him. And he rose to life again

He came because we are weak. So if you’re feeling like a failure. If you are agonising over sins that you just keep committing, over sins that you choose to do – remember the disciples, and remember that they ran away from Jesus! And he knew they would. And yet he carried on to the cross so that he could forgive them, and so that he could forgive you.

Yes, sin is serious. Yes it is painful and ugly and damaging. But it can be forgiven. Our confidence is not in ourselves. But our confidence is in Christ.

We may be weak, but Jesus is strong. He knows our weakness, knows our guilt – and has covered it.
Pray without fear. Pray without guilt. Come to him knowing your darkest secrets are covered. And walk in new life, to his praise and glory. Hooray for Jesus!

Åpenbaring 2:8-17 Martyrdom, trofasthet og avguder

Åpenbaring 2:8-17

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Tror du virkelig på Guds nåde?

Tror du at Gud aksepterer deg akkurat som du er?

Tror du at Gud som vet alt om deg, til og med dine mørkeste hemmeligheter, at han tilgir deg?

Tror du at Jesu død er nok for å dekke over dine synder? Også de synder som du gjør med vilje? De synder som du gjør om igjen og om igjen? Tror du at Jesu død dekker over de og?

Fordi det er sannheten. Nåde betyr nåde – og ingen av oss her er frelst fordi vi er god nok for Gud. Ingen i hele verdenshistorie er blitt frelst av noe annet enn Jesu verk på korset. Hans blod dekker over alt det vi har gjort galt, gjør galt nå, og skal gjør galt. Også de synder vi gjør med vilje. Også de som vi sliter med og gjentar om igjen og om igjen.

Dette er evangeliet – gode nyheter – Kristus Jesus kom for å frelse syndere.

For et budskap. For et håp! For et jubelrop! Det er ingenting som kan sammenlignes med Hans kjærlighet. Og det er derfor vi kan stå fast for Jesus selv om folk truer oss med døden. Og vi kan vende ryggen til avguder og tilbe Jesus, uansett hva det koster.

For han er ren glede og jubel og kjærlighet. Han er evig liv.

To punkter i dag: Smyrna og Pergamon.

1. Smyrna: Livets seierskrans venter på deg. Vær tro!

2. Pergamon: Hold ut, for jeg skjuler deg.

1. Smyrna: Livets seierskrans venter på deg. Vær tro!

10 Vær ikke redd for det du skal lide! Djevelen skal kaste noen av dere i fengsel for at dere skal bli satt på prøve, og i ti dager skal dere lide trengsler. Vær tro til døden, så skal jeg gi deg livets seierskrans.

Det er ikke akkurat de ordene man har lyst til å høre! Du skal lide. Du blir kastet i fengsel. Lide trengsler. Og, ja, vær tro til døden – for det er høyt sannsynlig at noen av dere blir martyrer (de som død for troen).

Hvordan ville du har reagert hvis disse var Jesu ord til oss, til denne menighet?
Ja, jeg skal holde ut. Eller «kanskje det er på tide å droppe det her»?

Smyrna var en stor og nydelig by, et vitenskapssenter og en kulturby. Det var «Paris» i gamledager. Det var en rik by, en av hovedbyene i den Romersk Imperium – og et senter for falsk religion. De hadde en «gyllen gate» med templer til avgudene Kybele, Zeus, Apollo , Asclepius og Aphrodite. Og i tillegg, i 23 e.Kr. fikk de «æren» av å bygge et tempel til keiseren Tiberius.
Når Johannes skrev disse ord var det obligatorisk å tilbe keiseren Domitian i Smyrna. Hver eneste borger måtte hvert år går inn i templet og tilbe keiseren ved å tenne røkelse på alteret. Etter de hadde gjort det fikk de et plakat som bevis.

Da kan vi kanskje forstå hvorfor de kristne som bodde i denne velstående byen var fattige. 9 Jeg vet om de trengsler du må lide, og hvor fattig du er

Hvis prisen av å være kristen var fattigdom – hvis det betydde at du mistet huset ditt, mistet jobben din – ville du har fulgt Jesus? Ville jeg? Hvor stor grep har det å være velstående over meg? For vi er det.

Tenk på presset de i Smyrna var under – og mange av våre brødre og søstre i dag: husene brent, arrestert, sparket fra jobben, land og penger og utstyr konfiskert (tatt med makt) av myndighetene. Alle ser ned på dem fordi de er ikke «en av oss».
«Kom igjen, dere stå utenfor, dere skader hele samfunnet. Vi er nødt til å gå i samme retning. Dere ødelegger for alle. Bare tilbe keiseren, det gjør ingenting.»

Har du hørt noe lignende? Merket presset å bare bli som «en av oss.» «La din tro være privat.»
Selv om vi opplever ikke det samme forfølgelse i dag, så er samme ånden der. Samme press. Vi må stå imot det.

Fordi Jesus er 8 den første og den siste, han som var død og er blitt levende.

Han er den første og den siste – Det er ikke keiseren som er den første – og det er heller ikke den norske regjering! Det er Jesus! han som har kontroll over alt, han som starte alt ved å skape universet. Og han som vil avslutte alt på Dommedagen. Allmektig Gud, og vi alle, keiseren, statsminister, og du og jeg, vil stå foran Dommeren Jesus på den Dagen. Vil det bli den annen død? Eller livets tre?

For det har med hvordan vi har behandlet Jesus. For v8 fortsetter han som var død og er blitt levende – Jesus døde i vår plass for våre synder slik at vi kan stå i dommen. Han er dommer og han er frelser. Hvis vi tror på Jesus og er lydig mot ham så har vi fått hans rettferdighet og han har tatt våre synder.

Og derfor er de som er så fattig så rike! 9 Jeg vet om de trengsler du må lide, og hvor fattig du er – men du er rik.

De har Jesus! Og folkens, vi har Jesus!

Han VET hvordan vi har det. Han er med oss. Og han kan gi oss livets seierskrans. Vi må bare vær trofast. Hold fast på ham. Eller kanskje mer riktig ber til ham og si hjelp meg å være trofast. Bind meg fast til deg ved din Ånd. For jeg er svak – men du er sterk.

Slutten av v10 Vær tro til døden, så skal jeg gi deg livets seierskrans. 11 Den som har ører, hør hva Ånden sier til menighetene! Den som seirer, skal ikke rammes av den annen død.

Den annen død er dommedagen, hvor de som ikke tilhører Jesus ble kastet ut av Paradis – en ny himmel og ny jord - og i ildsjøen. Fysisk død er en symbol på åndelig død. Det er en påminnelse at alt er ikke slik det skal være, at vi må vende om og ta imot Jesus. Det er derfor vi reagere så kraftig mot noe som er en naturlig del av livene våre: døden sier: åndelig død kommer. Vend om!

I Smyrna i 146 e.Kr. var den en gammel kristen som het Polycarp. Han var 86 år gammel. Og han ble dømt til døden fordi han tilba ikke Keiseren. Mens de tente bålet under ham sa Polycarp: «Åtti-seks år har jeg tjent Kristus, og han har aldri gjort meg feil. Hvordan kan jeg nå spotte min Konge som frelste meg?»
Polycarp har fått livets seierskrans. Amen! Å at vi skal stå som Polycarp. I din nåde, Far, hør vår bønn.

30 år tidligere, når Polycarp var 56år gammel, fikk han et brev fra Ignatius. Ignatius var på vei til Roma, hvor han skulle og bli henrettet.
Han skrev: «Disse tider stiller krav til deg. Stå fast som en ambolt under hammerens slag. Det er den store utøverens del å tåler å bli slått men å seiere. Du er Guds utøver. Vær enda mer utholdende og dyktig enn du er. Lær å kjenne tidene.»

Vi lever i samme tidene – endetidene – og vi har samme fienden. Satan. 9 Jeg vet om de trengsler du må lide, og hvor fattig du er – men du er rik. Jeg vet også at du blir spottet av dem som kaller seg jøder, men ikke er det. For de er Satans synagoge. 10 Vær ikke redd for det du skal lide! Djevelen skal kaste noen av dere i fengsel for at dere skal bli satt på prøve, og i ti dager skal dere lide trengsler.

«Satans synagoge» betyr ikke at jødene totalt sett er mer onde enn alle mennesker. Det betyr at disse jødene i Smyrna forfølgte kristne akkurat som alle andre gjør. Jødene som har nektet å ta imot Jesus har blitt som alle oss andre. De har snublet over snublesteinen og er ikke lenger Guds utvalgte folk – men i likhet med alle andre nå i mørkets rike. Alle som ikke er i Kristus tilhører Satan.

Ja, Satan har mye makt. Men det vi må huske er at Satan er ikke Guds fiende – når vi leser litt lengre i Åpenbaringen ser vi at Satan er ingen trussel i det hele tatt: Gud bare sier ”nok” og så blir han kastet i ildsjøen. I tillegg er hans verk begrenset. Så du det at står i «ti dager» skal de lider. Dvs et begrenset tid. Frykt ikke, fordi Jesus har satt en begrensning på trengselstiden.
Nei, Satan er ikke Guds fiende, men vår fiende. Og hvis vi ikke tilhører Gud, og det bare gjennom Jesus, så tilhører vi Satan. Det er intet nøytralt område, ingen gråsone. Enten Jesus, eller Satan.

11 Den som har ører, hør hva Ånden sier til menighetene! Den som seirer, skal ikke rammes av den annen død.

Smyrna: Livets seierskrans venter på deg. Vær tro!

Og selv om vi setter ikke livet vårt på spill når vi tar imot Jesus, Rock Church, vær tro! Livets seierkrans venter på deg. Frykt ikke å stå for Jesus på jobb, i din familie, i vennekretsen. Frykt ikke for å dele evangeliet. Jesus er med oss. Og livets seierskrans vente på oss. Amen!

2. Pergamon. Hold ut, for jeg skjuler deg.

13 Jeg vet hvor du bor, der hvor Satan har sin trone. Likevel holder du fast ved mitt navn.
17 Den som har ører, hør hva Ånden sier til menighetene! Den som seirer, vil jeg gi av den skjulte manna. Og jeg vil gi ham en hvit stein, og på steinen er det skrevet et nytt navn som ingen kjenner uten den som får det.

I Pergamon, som i Smyrna, som i Notodden, er Satan aktiv. Men Pergamon er hvor Satan har sin trone! Fordi som Smyrna var det flere avgudstempler – men i Pergamon var det faktisk hoved templer til avguder Dionysos (kongenes gud), Asclepius (helbredelsesgud) og templer til Athena og Demeter og hele TRE templer til keiserne! Ikke et trygt sted for en menighet vil man tro!
Men de stod fast! I likhet med Smyrna så var de trofast til døden.

13 Og du har ikke fornektet troen på meg, ikke engang i de dager da Antipas, mitt trofaste vitne, ble slått i hjel i byen deres, der Satan bor.

Antipas er beskrevet som et trofast vitne – den samme beskrivelsen som Jesus brukte om seg selv i 1:5. Antipas fornektet ikke Jesus, og er æret med Jesu navn. Det er stort! Tenk på det om Jesus sa det om deg: «ditt navn, min trofast viten». Å Gud, i din nåde! I din Hellige Ånds kraft la oss stå for deg!

Pergamon er en bra menighet. De stå fast under forfølgelse. De kjempe mot djevelen.
Men, så går alt galt. For da leser vi vers 14-16 Men noe har jeg imot deg: Du har hos deg noen som holder seg til Bileams lære, han som lærte Balak å sette en felle for Israelsfolket, så de spiste avgudsoffer og drev hor. 15 Så har du også noen hos deg av samme slag, de som holder seg til nikolaittenes lære. 16 Vend om! Ellers kommer jeg snart til deg og vil kjempe mot dem med sverdet som går ut av min munn.

De kjempet mot de ytre fiender, men voktet ikke hjertene sine.

Som kristne har vi tre fiender: verden, djevelen og våre egne syndige hjerter. «Lysten av hjertene våre» er en farlig fiende fordi vi er så flink til å lure oss selv. Den er farlige enn verden, farlige enn djevelen. Kirken faller som oftest ikke på grunn av ytre påvirkning, men indre strid, og ved å vandre bort fra Guds ord.
Den Norske Kirke er ikke forfølgt – og har vandret langt bort fra Bibelsk tro. Ikke et ord om synd og omvendelse, om dommedagen og om Jesus som Konge over alle konger fra biskopene og de fleste prester i dnk. Vi må være våken! Den største faren – vår farligste fienden - ligger inne i oss.

Pergamon holdt på å bli vraket av dette. De tilber avguder og de godtar de som tilber avguder. De (v14) spiste avgudsoffer og drev hor.

Men det er vel ikke oss? Vi ler jo av usofistikerte folk som bøyer seg ned foran avguder, idoler, av stein og tre. Hvem driver med avgudsoffer i Norge i det 21st århundre?
Du gjør det. Og jeg gjør det.

For selv om de er ikke fysisk, så bøyer vi oss ned foran idoler, avguder som penger, sex, makt, suksess, stoff, politikk, opplevelser, alt for det gode livet. Vi ofre mye fordi vi tror at der får vi glede, hvis jeg jager det så blir jeg fornøyd, komplett, lykkelig.

Her er noe spørsmål som kan avdekke avguder i våre liv, avdekke lystene våre, hjertene våre:

Hvilke dagdrømmer har du? Hva fyller drømmene dine? Jesus. Eller lotto?
Hva bruker du pengene dine på? Er det en glede å gi bort penger, å investere i evig belønning? Eller vil du helst holde tilbake?
Hva er ditt forhold til sex? Hvis du er gift, tror du på Guds ord at sex er viktig for forholdet ditt, og du ha sex ofte, mye? Eller, æh, Gud vet ikke helt hva han snakke om?
Og hvis du ikke er gift? Sier du «jeg vil høre på Jesu ord», eller sier du «kom igjen, det er 21. århundre, Gud kan ikke mene at sex er bare for ekteskap»? Kristen seksuell etikk er ganske lett. Gift? Mye sex. Ofte. Ikke gift? Ikke røre ved dem! Ikke se på dem med lyst!

Hva er det du er uenig med Gud om? Hvor er det du har "problemer med Gud"? Vi kan ikke bare si «spille ingen rolle». Vi må jobbe med saken inntil vi bøye kne.

For hva slags Gud tilbe jeg? Bibelens Gud! Eller liker vil jeg klippe og lime «min» Gud sammen?
Den farligste er å lage et idol av Gud. Ikke den sanne Gud, men Gud vi har skapt i vårt eget bilde.

Vi må tar Guds Ord på alvor! Kommer tilbake igjen og igjen og la våre synder blir avdekket, åpenbarte! Og da vend om… og få tilgivelse.

Når vi løper vekk fra Guds Ord og jager etter noe annet – det er avgudsdyrkelse. Når vi la noen annet ta hans plass: avgudsdyrkelse. Det felte Israelittene i Bileam og Balaks tider, og det holdt på å kvele menigheten i Pergamon – og det er en like stor trussel for oss.

En ting jeg har lagt merke til her i Norge, som jeg har ikke opplevd andre steder, er en oppfatning at hvis du har falt i synd, da er løpet kjørt. Da er du på nivå 2 av kristendom og av samfunnet.

Kanskje det har noe med vår sosialistisk samfunn å gjøre, som er ganske nådeløs mot de som ikke oppfører seg riktig. Men slik er ikke Gud! Og det må vi huske.

For eksempel hvis du har brukt stoff, eller du drikke deg full regelmessig – så blir du stemplet med det. Slik er du. Og slik skal du bli. Og det er farlig hvis du tror på det at du ikke ha noe annet valg. «Slik er jeg, jeg må bare ta meg en pils til, jeg har ikke noe valg.» Tull! I Jesus er det alltid håp.

Jeg har hørt folk sier at «jeg er ikke jomfru lenge, da er løpet kjørt for meg.» Liksom nå er de skitten gods og nå spiller det ingen rolle hva de gjør med kroppen sin.

Kanskje du føler noe lignende? «Jeg er for skitten, gjort for mye galt. Jeg få nøye meg ved å være litt på utsiden. Jeg er fornøyd med det å være en annen klasse kristen.»
Høres ydmyk ut, nesten bra – og det er løgn fra Satan! Det er ingen klasse to kristen! Vi er alle like, alle i Kristus. Og Kristus Jesus sier vend om! Du tilhører meg.

Hva sier han til menigheten i Pergamon: 16 Vend om! Ellers kommer jeg snart til deg og vil kjempe mot dem med sverdet som går ut av min munn. 17 Den som har ører, hør hva Ånden sier til menighetene! Den som seirer, vil jeg gi av den skjulte manna. Og jeg vil gi ham en hvit stein, og på steinen er det skrevet et nytt navn som ingen kjenner uten den som får det.

Det er en sjanse for oss! Hver gang en ny sjanse. Vend om til ham. Vi trenger ikke å kjempe mot vår synd alene. Vi kan ikke. Det er derfor Jesus kom! Hallo! Han døde for oss for å knuse vår synd – og ble levende, sto opp fra de døde, for å være med oss i vår kamp.
Ja det er umulig for deg å slutte å drikke, slutte å bruke stoff, slutte å se på porno, slutte å drive hor, slutte å vær grådig, slutte å være utro, slutte å <hva det er du sliter med> – umulig for deg, jeg – men ikke for deg pluss Jesus. Halleluja, vi er ikke alene. Ikke hør på Satans løgn. Vi trenger ikke lenger å tilbe avguder. La oss vend om, og stå fast som Antipas, og la livene våre vitner om Jesus og hans uendelig nåde.

Dette er kjempe viktig. Vi har allerede opplevd en i menigheten som er blitt knust av å prøve å kjempe mot hans egne lyster alene, uten Jesus. Han turte ikke å vende om, kunne ikke tro at Jesus ville fortsatt tilgi ham, og nå vandre lengre og lengre bort og blir mer og mer såret. Dette er viktig!

Vi er skapt til å tilbe Gud – og bare ham. Hvis du oppdager at du dyrker avguder: knus dem. Få dem opp, ut av hjertet ditt. Og viktigst av alt, erstatt dem med Jesus. Tilbe Jesus der du tilba sex, pornografi, makt, penger, familie, suksess. Tilbe Jesus. For han kan gi oss et nytt navn – ny identitet. Han kan gi oss åndelig mat – den skjulte manna. Han vil vokte over oss og beskytte oss fra alt ond.

Pergamon: Hold ut, for jeg skjuler deg.

Smyrna: Livets seierskrans venter på deg. Vær tro!


søndag 7. mai 2017

Mark 14:1-26 Jesus, our amazing rescuer!

Mark 14:1-26

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How many of you watched Usain Bolt win the 100m sprint in the Olympics. Imagine all the preparation that went into those a little less than 10 seconds. Hours and hours of practice, of discipline. Carefully planning your food, your training. Keeping yourself healthy. All for a sub-10 second burst.

That’s what we’re seeing here. Everything has lead up to these moments. And so just like in the Olympics when the race is broadcast again in slow motion so we can capture all the details, so Mark slows down his gospel. Chapters 1-13 cover about 3 years of Jesus life. These next 3 capture the last 3 days. Mark goes into (for him) slow motion so we can capture all the detail of these last couple of days of Jesus’ life here on earth. From his anointing for burial to his last meal with his disciples, to his sham (fake) trials, and to then the reason he came, his 100 metre sprint: his display of Kingly service on the cross as he dies for sinners like us. And then to the shock revelation when the tomb is found empty. This is what Mark wants us to hear, to understand, to believe, and in believing, have life. Remember how he began: This is the Good News (gospel) about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God.

Three points tonight:

1. Jesus is our Messiah

2. Jesus is our Passover Lamb

3. Jesus is our Sovereign Lord

1. Jesus is our Messiah (anointed one)

3 Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy. While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard. She broke open the jar and poured the perfume over his head.

Three days before his death Jesus has an alabaster jar of perfume poured on his head. This is called “anointing” – you see the word there in v8 She has done what she could and has anointed my body for burial ahead of time.

To anoint something means to pour oil on it to set it apart for special or holy use. It was an Old Testament symbol, a sign that this person or this thing was holy, given over to God. Three types of people were anointed in the Old Testament: Kings (2 Sam 2:4 “the men of Judah anointed David king over the people”), Priests were anointed (Ex 29:7 “Then anoint [Aaron as priest] by pouring the anointing oil over his head”), and Prophets were anointed (1 Kings 19:16 “anoint Elisha ...to replace you as my prophet”).
The anointing symbolised being equipped for service by the Holy Spirit. King, priests and prophets were anointed, set apart to serve God in the power of the Spirit.

Now there might be a little question ringing in your head – wasn’t Jesus already anointed? And yes he was.
Mk 1:9–11 One day Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee, and John baptized him in the Jordan River. 10 As Jesus came up out of the water, he saw the heavens splitting apart and the Holy Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice from heaven said, “You are my dearly loved Son, and you bring me great joy.”

At his baptism Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit as King, Prophet and Priest. Revealed to be the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One. King – remember Jesus says 1:15 “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”. The Kingdom is near because the King is here.
Prophet – the one who brings God’s word. 1:38 “We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came.”
And he is Priest – the one who represents the people to God. Remember that’s why he was baptised. Baptism was for sinners – so why did Jesus with no sin need to be baptised? In order to be one of us. To identify fully with us as sinners as he prepares to take our sin upon himself.

7 You will always have the poor among you, and you can help them whenever you want to. But you will not always have me. 8 She has done what she could and has anointed my body for burial ahead of time.

The role of the priest was to offer sacrifices to God, to mediate (make clear the way) between sinful man and holy God. Jesus is not just the priest, but also the sacrifice. He himself will pay the price for sinful people like you and me to come to God. Did you notice his words: she has anointed his body for burial. He is preparing to die. This is why he came.

And to tie in to last week, this is the reason why the Temple will fall. Because of Christ it is no longer necessary. The stone Temple will fall because Jesus is now the true meeting place between man and God. He is priest, sacrifice and temple!

9 I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.”

And so it is. Here we discuss what she did: reminding us and those with him that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ. He is King, prophet, and Priest. He is sacrifice and temple. It reminds us of his baptism: only sinners need to be baptised - for baptism is a washing away of sin, dying to sin under the water and rising again to new life out of the water – and just as Jesus identified with our sin in his baptism, so now he completes that work of baptism by taking the penalty of our sin upon himself. His body will be broken, his blood shed, to break the power of sin over us, to set us free, to achieve the real Exodus: bringing his people from slavery to sin under the power of Satan to a new freedom in (ultimately) a new earth under his good kingly rule.

Jesus is the Messiah, the anointed one, God’s promised rescuer, and our King, our Prophet, and our Priest. Amen!

And he is our sacrifice, indeed, our Passover Lamb.

2. Jesus is our Passover Lamb

12 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go to prepare the Passover meal for you?”

Mark reminds us of the PASSOVER and the threat of Jesus death immediately in v1 It was now two days before Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread. The leading priests and the teachers of religious law were still looking for an opportunity to capture Jesus secretly and kill him. Then he is anointed for his burial. Then v12 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed
v14 where shall I eat the Passover meal, v16 Passover meal

Ok, ok Mark, we get it! Remember that there was no bold or underline in the original manuscripts. So the way the authors could get our attention is to repeat things! So quite clearly the Lord God, through Mark, is saying we need to pay attention to the Passover.

It is just two days before the Passover, just two days before the Jews remembered God’s incredible rescue of them from slavery in Egypt, where the angel of death came over the whole country – but everyone who sacrificed a perfect lamb and put its blood on their doorposts were saved. When death saw the blood he passed over.

And Jesus deliberately echoes the Passover so that we can understand what is going on here.
22 As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take it, for this is my body.” 23 And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice for many.

He takes the bread and breaks it. The bread would have been unleavened bread, that is flat bread, bread without yeast. It is bread you can make in a hurry, if you have to leave quickly. The Israelites were to make flat bread in preparation of the sudden call to leave Egypt, that very night. Judgment would fall on the Egyptians, and the Israelites would be set free.

And Jesus takes this flat bread and says “this bread, this symbol of God’s great rescue from slavery – this is my body.”
It is an outrageous statement to make.

And he follows it up with an even bigger one: “this wine, this is my blood, poured out as a sacrifice”. I am the sacrifice. I will be poured out. For I am the one who will rescue you from death. I am the true Lamb, leading the true Exodus. Not rescue from slavery in Egypt, but slavery from sin. Not just salvation to the promised land of Israel, but salvation to heaven itself. And not just rescue from physical death, but rescue from spiritual death. This is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people.

Jesus is about to be sacrificed in order to fulfil the covenant (promise) God has made with mankind.
First with Adam: Jesus is the second Adam, the perfect son of God, righteous, sinless human. As Adam sinned and so condemned us – so Jesus will die in our place and save us.
Then Noah: Jesus is the Ark of rescue from the flood of judgement to come. On the last Day we will be safe from God’s judgement in Christ.
Then the promise to Abraham: Jesus is the descendant of Abraham come to bless all nations. Just look around! We’re from many nations.
And Moses: Jesus is the perfect Law-keeper, and the Prophet like Moses, bringing God’s life-giving wor.
And David: Jesus is the righteous, eternal, King. Just as was promised David: your descendant shall rule forever.

Jesus is the YES! to all God’s promises.

He is the Passover Lamb. He is our saviour.

In fact, he has always been the saviour. We’ll be reminded of Exodus again and again through the coming weeks as we look at these final chapters of Mark. The Exodus, the great miraculous rescue of a million people from slavery to a new home, was a mere shadow compared to what Jesus is achieving here. This is the real Exodus. Throughout time and history Jesus’ blood powers his mercy. Each time God relents from judgement: Jesus’ blood is there. Each time we see God meeting with sinful people: Jesus’ blood is there. Even the Exodus itself is only possible because of the blood of Jesus. The blood of lambs could not take away the guilt of the people! No, it was the blood of the true Passover Lamb, Jesus, shed 1500 years later, that washed away their guilt and spared them from the judgement on the Egyptians. God had told them what they needed to do to be rescued, and they placed their faith in his word, acting accordingly, sacrificing the lambs – and God saw their faith, and counted it to them as righteousness, covering their sins through the blood of the Son.

So the disciples meet to celebrate the passover, while the real Passover is taking place at that moment. Interestingly, the Passover meal consists of bread, wine…and a lamb. But there is no lamb mentioned here in this passage. Perhaps it is to make clear that the sacrificial lamb who will be slain is seated in front of them.

Jesus is our Passover Lamb.

3. Jesus is our Sovereign Lord

25 I tell you the truth, I will not drink wine again until the day I drink it new in the Kingdom of God.” 26 Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives. 27 On the way, Jesus told them, “All of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say, ‘God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ 28 But after I am raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.”

Jesus was not some poor victim of circumstances outside of his control! He himself had planned this, with his Father and Spirit, united in purpose and love to rescue sinful humanity, and bring glory to the Godhead. All praise be to God! Such love that drives Jesus willingly to the cross.
We’re reminded time and again that Jesus is doing this by choice. Did you notice verse 16? 16 So the two disciples went into the city and found everything just as Jesus had said

And 18 As they were at the table eating, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, one of you eating with me here will betray me.” 19 Greatly distressed, each one asked in turn, “Am I the one?” 20 He replied, “It is one of you twelve who is eating from this bowl with me. 21 For the Son of Man must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will be for the one who betrays him. It would be far better for that man if he had never been born!”

All is prepared beforehand. God is sovereign over all things, all events – even Judas. 21 For the Son of Man must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. Whatever motivated Judas to act: greed, frustration, hatred - we don’t know. But even he in his evil is serving God’s purposes. Jesus must be betrayed. Jesus must die. But does God’s sovereign purpose mean that Judas has no free will – that he is not respinsble for what he’s done. Can Judas say “without my betrayal, there would be no cross. You needed me, you made me do it, therefore you owe me”. No! 21 For the Son of Man must die, as the Scriptures declared long ago. But how terrible it will be for the one who betrays him. It would be far better for that man if he had never been born!”

Judas is responsible for his decision – as are we responsible for the decisions we make. God is fully sovereign, knowing our thoughts before we think them, preparing the way of the Son before the dawn of time – and our decisions are real decisions, with real consequences. So beware how you respond to Jesus. Don’t be like Judas, rejecting the King, for you too will hear “woe to you, it would be better if you were never born”.
Instead, fall at his feet like the woman 2000 years ago, worshipping him with costly worship. Because we have been rescued, set free, by him. Jesus bore our sin on the cross. It is gone.

Respond rightly. Because Jesus is the sovereign King.

And Be comforted, for Jesus is the SOVEREIGN King. Evil cannot thwart God’s plans. You cannot jump out of His hands. Nothing would stop Jesus from his great work on the Cross. He completed that work. Our Passover Lamb dying in our place, his blood covering all who place their faith in him. Hallelujah!

And now history moves deliberately toward his return. The Return of the King, the great day when the veil over our eyes will be torn away, and we will see reality as it truly is, the great King Jesus upon the eternal glorious throne.

Jesus is the Sovereign king.

There are two impossible applications, one for non-Christians, the other for Christians

One is to reject Jesus. To say that’s fine, Jesus did all that, but I’ll take my chances by myself. That’s the impossible application from this passage. This should drive you to repent, not to follow Judas. It ended badly for him – he hanged himself, and his insides burst open. Not a great end – but the spiritual end is even worse. Be warned.

The other impossible application – for Christians - is to live like I am the Passover Lamb. To live like I bear my sin. To live in guilt and fear. To believe that I can fall out of God’s hands at any moment, that his sacrifice was not sufficient to bring me to glory. That’s the impossible application.

Instead, let us rejoice and sing. Let us thank God. Let us shout aloud to the God of our salvation! Let us praise him in our hearts and minds every minute of every day. We are set free! He has rescued us! All praise to the Christ, King!

All praise to our Messiah, our rescuer, our Passover Lamb, and our Sovereign King. Praise Jesus, Lord of All! Amen.