Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday

In our first lesson of this series we established that 1.) Jesus was indeed a man of history firmly established by ancient historical manuscripts written by eyewitnesses of his life.  We also learned in our second lesson that 2.) Jesus had a mission to save mankind according to His own words and actions.  On this Palm Sunday we will look at some of the astounding     prophecies that foretold HISTORY which leave no room at all for any other man in history to claim title to “Messiah” but Him alone.

 

Messiah  comes from the Hebrew word mashiach and means “anointed one” or “chosen one.” The Greek equivalent is the word Christos or, in English, Christ. The name “Jesus Christ” is the same as “Jesus the Messiah.”

 

Palm Sunday (Matthew 21:1–11) is the day we celebrate the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, five days before His crucifixion and one week before His resurrection It is “triumphant” because He was glorified by the cheering crowd for being the true King of the Jews and the promised Messiah foretold by prophets throughout the old testament. In this passage Matthew notes that Jesus fulfilled a 450-500 year old prophecy from the prophet Zechariah (Zechariah 9:9), but Jesus fulfilled far more prophecies in regards to being the promised Messiah. In fact the prophet Daniel, in his “Seventy Sevens” prophecy (Daniel 9:20-27), prophesied that the Messiah (the “anointed one”) would be anointed as king, then be “cut off” (killed) and then the “city” and its “sanctuary” (temple) would be        destroyed. In Jesus, all of these prophecies were fulfilled in perfect succession.  Jesus was anointed as king on Sunday, was cut off at the cross, and Rome built an embankment around Jerusalem and destroyed the city and the temple in A.D. 70.  Jesus Himself            prophesied this event both to the disciples (Matthew 24:1-2) and once again on that Palm Sunday when He stopped in the midst of His own parade and wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19:37-44).  Jesus knew that the crowds who cried out “Hosanna!” on Palm Sunday would cry out “Crucify” later that week (Matthew 27:22–23). Nonetheless, Jesus continued   steadfast on His mission to save the lost (Luke 19:10).

 

Messianic Prophecies Fulfilled in Jesus

The Old Testament contains numerous Messianic prophecies written over 2,500 years ago. Every one of these prophecies was fulfilled in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Below is a

 

sampling of some of the major ones (in addition to those I have already stated) that I put   together from a much greater list:

 

  1. The Messiah will be born in Bethlehem.

     Prophecy: Micah 5:2   Fulfillment: Matthew 2:1

  1. The Messiah will be a descendant of Judah .

     Prophecy: Genesis 49:10  Fulfillment: Luke 3:23-38, Matthew 1:1-17

  1. The Messiah will be a descendant of David.

     Prophecy: Psalm 132:11, Jeremiah 23:5-6 Fulfillment: Luke 1:32-33

  1. The Messiah will be born of a virgin.

     Prophecy: Isaiah 7:14  Fulfillment: Matthew 1:18-21

  1. The Messiah will be taken to Egypt.

   Prophecy: Hosea 11:1  Fulfillment: Matthew 2:14-15

  1. He will preach good news to the poor, comfort the broken hearted, and announce the year of the Lord’s favor.

     Prophecy: Isaiah 61:1-2  Fulfillment: Luke 4:16-21

  1. The Messiah will make the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame walk, and the mute speak.

     Prophecy: Isaiah 35:5-6    Fulfillment: Matthew 11:2-6

  1. The Messiah will be rejected.

     Prophecy: Isaiah 53:3  Fulfillment: John 19:14-15

  1. The Messiah will be silent in front of his accusers.

     Prophecy:  Isaiah 53:7    Fulfillment: Matthew 26:62-63

  1. The Messiah will be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver and they would be thrown in a       potters field.

     Prophecy: Zechariah 11:12-13   Fulfillment: Matthew 27:3-8

  1. Messiah would be tortured to death and his hands and feet would be pierced.

     Prophecy:  Psalm 22:131    Fulfillment: John 19:17-18

 

The probability that Jesus of Nazareth could have fulfilled only eight such prophecies would be only 1 in 1017. That’s 1 in 100, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000. (One in 100 Trillion.)   One of the most convincing evidences for the inspiration and validity of the Scriptures is the verified    historical fulfillment of hundreds of specific predictions. The historical figure, Jesus of Nazareth, fulfilled over 300 precise detailed predictions.                                          

 

 

Recognizing Truth Psalm 22, Luke 19:41-44, Isaiah 53:1-12

For one who has already made up his or her mind that Jesus is not the Messiah, no amount of evidence will be convincing. But for those who are honest in asking, the evidence speaks for itself. Today’s message all comes back to Jesus’ own prophecy on that hill overlooking     Jerusalem where he wept and concluded: “because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.” God has revealed Jesus to mankind in so many ways but we must choose to        recognize the truth.  The people of Jesus’ time, including those who were cheering Him on in that Palm Sunday parade did not truly grasp the scope of what Jesus was about to do for them. Will you?

 

Of all prophecies Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53:1-12 scream the name “Jesus” the loudest!  These prophesises could be about no one else and together they demonstrate just what Jesus went through and what He accomplished to save the lost. On this Palm Sunday, as Jesus stops to look at you—does He weep at the future consequences of your rejection or do you recognize the truth and follow?

 

The Mission of Jesus

JesusWalks

HISTORY: (Lesson 2 of 4) Pastor Barry

 The Futility of Doing Good

For me, this has been “one of those months” culminating into “one of those days” and   exploding into “one of those terrible nights” where the aftermath leaves you asking yourself “Why?” “Why do I try to do anything good at all?” Have you ever asked yourself or another person that question?  Not just as a passing thought or a rhetorical or philosophical question, but as a deep grown from the depths of your heart and your aching brain. 

Terryl and I were asked that very question last Thursday night by someone we hold close to our hearts as a very dear friend. As we verbally struggled to convince him of the importance of fighting to do good he responded to our cries of faith in God with: “Well, Jesus lived to do good and look what they did to Him!” That simple phrase stopped us both for a moment as he continued on with how all the good acts in the world are eventually eaten up evil people.  We victoriously ended our conversation that night with quotes of scripture and a prayer together, but the very next evening our attempts at doing good were indeed eaten up by evil people and their venomous lies and deceit continue to attack our character and every good thing we have ever accomplished. So…”Why try to do anything good at all? Oddly enough, this is the perfect lesson for me to explore this question with you, and as it would happen, this lesson was previously scheduled to be about the mission of Jesus.

What was Jesus’ mission? Mark 10:17-18 Throughout HISTORY recorded in scripture we see that Jesus was a man on a mission. He had a purpose, which He intentionally fulfilled in the face of every obstacle. Written in the gospel of Mark (10:17-18) we read of a man who addressed Jesus as “good teacher”.  Jesus responded to him by saying “why do you call me good?  No one is good but God alone.”  We can see that Jesus was God come to earth by the pure goodness He lived out in the face of all kinds of human and demonic evil.  His mission was to do good among the bad and yes, He was ultimately crucified at the hands of sinners for it. In a final act of ultimate goodness some of His last words were “Father forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34)

 The fundamental mission of Christ’s time on earth was to fulfill God’s plan of saving the lost. Jesus put it this way in Luke 19:10: “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”     All of mankind is lost in sin. Since God’s law is to be “good” (sinless) and no one is “good” (Romans 3:10-11,23). There must be punishment. 

 The punishment for sin is death.

A judge who pardons law-breakers isn’t a righteous judge. Likewise, overlooking sin would make the holy God unjust. Death is God’s just consequence for sin. “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Even good works cannot make up for wrongs against the holy God. Compared to His goodness, “All our righteousness are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6b).

Why did Jesus have to die? A holy God cannot let sin go unpunished. To bear our own sins would be to suffer God’s judgment in hell; however, God being so “good” kept His promise to send a sacrifice to bear the sins of those who would trust in Him. Jesus became that   sacrifice on our behalf.  He is the only one who can pay the penalty for our sins because He is the only one who has ever lived a perfectly good (sinless) life. His mission was to demonstrate His goodness and then pay the ultimate price for our badness.

 All through the Gospels, we see Jesus call to repentance and forgive the worst of sinners. No one is too sinful to come to Him. In fact, He goes after those who are lost, as the parables of the lost sheep and lost coin show (Luke 15:1–10). In the story of the prodigal son, Jesus teaches that God will always welcome with open arms those who come to Him with a repentant heart (Luke 15:21–22, Isaiah 57:15). Even today, Jesus continues to seek and save those who humbly place their faith in Him (Matthew 11:29; 18:3–4; Revelation 3:20)

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”   John 3:16-17

What Becomes Our Mission? 2 Corinthians 5:17-18

The glory of HISTORY is that Jesus did not stay dead in our sins. He resurrected and ascended into heaven.  Just as Jesus raised Himself up from the dead so we also rise up from our old dead (bad) lives and are to now live in new life with a “good” mission! Yes…we are to do good even unto death. We are to follow in His steps and carry out His commission in life.

 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

The Reality of Doing Good John 15:18-20, Galatians 6:9-10, 1 Corinthians 15:58,              Matthew 10:22

Doing good, especially in the midst of persecution, identifies us with Jesus and convicts the world of sin. Doing good is not futile even if it results in death because it reminds the evil dooer of Jesus and their need to repent and turn to Him.  This is the Christian mission.  HISTORY becomes OURSTORY as we live out His life through our actions. In this we carry out His Great Commission and bring hope to a lost world.  When life is finished here we are not delivered into judgment but are rewarded with eternal life with Him.

IS JESUS FOR REAL?

ShroudOfTurinFace
Face of Jesus constructed from the Shroud of Turin

HISTORY : (Lesson 1 of 4) Pastor Barry Bruce

 Is Jesus A Real Man of History? Matthew 24:1-3, Luke 19:41-44

As we approach Holy week (the celebration of the last week of Jesus’ earthly life and His resurrection) it is important to ask the very basic question: is Jesus a real man of history.

 How do we prove a historical person existed beyond any doubt? Can we prove that Alexander the Great or Plato or Socrates all existed? All we have are ancient manuscripts that mention them and claim to be copies of copies of their writings. Yet, most people don’t have any   problem believing they existed. However, when it comes to Jesus, suddenly things are       different. Have you ever encountered an atheist who argued that Alexander the Great, Plato, and Socrates never existed? Of course not!  It is only Jesus that they attack as a historical figure, because it is Jesus who challenges our living. With very few exceptions, serious       historians do support the historicity of Jesus, and reject the theory that Jesus never existed, known as the Christ myth theory .

 Evidence lies primarily in the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) and the various epistles written by the Apostle Paul and those who claim to have been with Christ. (i.e. Peter, James, John, Jude, etc.) Many atheists and liberal theologians say these documents are fabrications or are not reliable because they are written too long after Jesus’ death, but there are many theologians and historicists who logically hold to a much earlier dating of the New Testament books. These support the view that the whole New Testament, including Revelation, was written prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. The obvious reason being that none of the new testament books record that historic event. That seems particularly odd since Jesus Himself prophesies that event in the verses above.  If the earlier dates truly reflect the actual writings of the original books then with Jesus being crucified in A.D. 33 there would only be about a 12-17 year gap between that event and the writing of the gospel of Mark (A.D. 45-50).  Traditionally, Mark is viewed as the first written gospel followed by Matthew, Luke, and John.  In John’s gospel he writes ”there is a pool near the sheep gate” (John 5:2) offering more proof that his gospel was written before A.D. 70  for that pool was part of the temple which was destroyed.

The Copies of His Story…

The Gospel accounts were very accurately transmitted from then to now. When a Gospel or letter was written, it was copied very carefully by scribes. Their living depended on their accuracy and competency in making copies. These copies would be circulated throughout the Mediterranean area. For example, one copy of the Gospel of Matthew was sent to one area, and another copy was sent somewhere else hundreds and hundreds of miles away. Then   copies of those copies would be made with the same meticulous precision. Archaeologists have uncovered thousands of such copies, and they have compared them. The New Testament documents are better than 99.5% textually pure. That means less than one-half of 1% of the copies (5,000 of them) have any textual variation in their copying. This is far more accurate than any other transcript of antiquity in existence today.

 “If we apply to the New Testament, as we should, the same sort of criteria as we should apply to other ancient writings containing historical material, we can no more reject Jesus’ existence than we can reject the existence of a mass of pagan personages whose reality as historical figures is never questioned.” Michael Grant, Classical Historian/ Author 1914 – 2004

The Bottom Line 2 Timothy 3:16, 2 Peter 1:21

The Bottom line for Christians is this—whether the Gospels were written soon after the death of Christ, or not until 30 years after his death, does not really matter, because their accuracy and authority does not rest on when they were written but on what they are: the divinely inspired Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16). We should also remember that one of the promises Jesus gave His disciples was that He would send them “another helper,” the Holy Spirit, who would teach them all things and “bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (John 14:26). So, whether it was few years or many after Jesus’ death that the Gospels were written, we can have total confidence and faith in their completeness and accuracy, knowing that they were written by “men moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21), who accurately recorded the very words of God.

Archeological Evidences?

The Shroud of Turin is a centuries old linen cloth that bears the image of a crucified man. Millions believe this man to be Jesus of Nazareth. Modern science has completed hundreds of thousands of hours of detailed study and intense research on the Shroud. It is, in fact, the single most studied artifact in human history. The image on the shroud has been determined to have been caused by a sudden radioactive burst which burned seeping blood into a laser like image imprinted on linen.  New experiments (2013) date the Shroud of Turin to the 1st century AD. The latest studies determined that the shroud is not a medieval hoax as once thought. For more info. see shroud.com

The James Ossuary is a 1st-century box that which contained the bones of the dead. An Aramaic inscription (English: “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus“) is cut into one side of the box. The authenticity of the inscription was challenged in December 2004. Oded Golan was charged with 44 counts of forgery, fraud and deception. The trial lasted seven years before Judge Aharon Farkash came to a verdict. Golan was acquitted of the forgery charges but convicted of illegal trading in antiquities. The ossuary was returned to Golan, who put it on public display. The authenticity of the box remains in question.

No Greater Joy

JoyLove Letters: Lessons from 1, 2 and 3 John Lesson 8 of 8: 3 John

 Your Greatest Joy                                             3 John 1-4, 2 Corinthians 12:7-9

What is your greatest joy? Think about it long and hard. For that which gives you the greatest joy is what you will live for.  In some cases it may also be what you die for.  John’s greatest joy is found in 3 John 4.  He said:  “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in truth.” 3 John 4

John lived his life to that end. He found the truth in Christ, lived to show others that truth, was boiled alive in oil for not betraying that truth, was exiled to an island prison for continuing  to preach that truth, and he died delivering that truth to the churches he began.   Jesus said:

“I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.”  John 14:6

How important is the truth to you? Is it important enough to follow? Is it important enough to put it first above all things?  Above yourself? 

 Many proponents of a “health and wealth gospel” misinterpret verse 2 of John’s letter. They say that this passage proves that those who walk with God (“even as your soul is getting along well”) will always “enjoy good health and that all will go well.”  These people obviously forget that the writer of this passage was boiled in oil and that all of his fellow  Apostles were murdered for their unyielding faith.  They also ignore the fact that the Apostle Paul had a constant infection in his eyes which the Lord chose not to remove (although he prayed that it might be on three occasions: 2 Corinthians 12:7-9). God’s reply to Paul’s  unanswered prayer was simply: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”

Is the truth still worth following to you even if it should mean your own weakness? Are you willing to get along with less worldly wealth and relaxation for the sake of expanding God’s kingdom? How important is truth to you really?

 The First Shall Be Last 3 John 5-10, Mark 10:42-45, James 4:1-12 

 The purpose of John’s third letter is to comfort and encourage his “dear friend Gaius”(Gai’us) who has been treated badly by a self-important man in the church named Diotrephes (Diot’rephes) for showing hospitality  to a group of “brothers” (traveling missionaries) led by a Christian named Demetrius.  Nothing is known of Diotrephes except for what is said here by John.  “He loves to be first“, is a gossip, and has nothing to do with those who travel and preach the gospel of Christ.  Diotrephes was not hospitable to missionaries and ridiculed other believers who welcomed them.  His gossip and rudeness literally drove others away from the church (“put them out of the Church).   Gaius, on the other hand, is recorded as a faithful servant, joining the apostle Paul on his last missionary trip from Corinth to Jerusalem.

There is no doubt that Diotrephes considered himself a believer and yet did not resemble one at all. Perhaps he was a wealthy contributor to the church, or one of the first to attend it.  Perhaps he felt that “mission work” was not a “real job”. (see Romans 10:14-15, 1 Timothy 5:17-18)   At any rate, he must have felt important enough to throw his weight around and somehow was never rebuked by his peers.  The Apostle, John, refers to himself as “The Elder” (verse 1) in order to establish his position of spiritual authority in the Church to both encourage Gaius and to rebuke Diotrephes.  There is no doubt, according to his letter (verses 10, 14), that John publicly put this man in his place when he visited the church later.

Jesus said: That those who want to be great in God’s eyes must become a slave of all.  (Mark 10:42-45) We must remember, Jesus set this standard of truth by His own example of love and mercy of which every true believer is known by (1 John 2:7-11). How important was truth to Diotrephes? His fighting and quarreling came from his own self-centeredness which he evidently justified in some “spiritual” way.  The fact is he proved to be an enemy of God by driving people away from the church. (James 4:1-12) Do we drive people away from the Church by our selfish actions, gossip, lack of hospitality or slander? How important is the propagation and expression of truth to you?

 First Things First 3 John 11-14, Ephesians 4:1-6, 11-16

John concludes his short letter with an encouragement to his friend to continue to do what is good (according to God’s Word and the teachings of Christ). Doing good to Demetrius, who was known as a man who loved and practiced the truth, was a good deed no mater how it was viewed by Diotrephes.  In the same way we need to live a life worthy of the calling we have received.  That calling is to love and live for the truth as John did.  There is only one who is “over all, through all and in all”.  If we remember to put first things first then we will never forget who that is and what we are to be about while we live expectantly for His imminent   return!  Matthew 28:19, Revelation 22:20

Truth Serum 1 Corinthians 11:23-32, John 8:32

The prophet Jeremiah said, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick” (Jeremiah 17:9). The proof of this fact is man’s universal tendency to minimize the treachery of lying to others and to one’s self (living in denial). Throughout the ages man has devised many bizarre ways of deciphering the truth. From Chinese rice chewing to native American tongue splitting to modern day lie detection tests and truth serums; none have proved sure. Yet God is true though every man a liar (Romans 3:3-4). He who is truth will one day judge all (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). Communion is to act as a sort of truth serum for God’s people.  As we regularly partake of the elements we are to examine ourselves, be true to God, ourselves and to others.  Is it your great joy to walk in the truth? Jesus is truth and only He can set us free.