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Jesus Lord at Thy Birth; The Most Ego-Centric Person in the History of the World

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20101226_jesus_lord_at_thy_birth.mp3

12/26 Jesus Lord at thy Birth – The Most Ego-centric Person in the History of the World

Today I want to look at Jesus, the most ego-centric person in the history of the world. There are a couple things that stimulated my thinking in this direction. A couple Saturdays ago, I was in my new study working on the Sunday message and I could hear our worship team practicing ‘Silent Night’. The phrase ‘Jesus, Lord at Thy Birth’ captured my attention. What an amazing statement! To claim that a newborn infant held authority over his parents, authority over the Roman king who issued the decree that drove his parents to find lodging in Bethlehem, authority over the angels that announced his birth; over the animals that shared his birthplace; authority over the stars that drew the attention of the magi from the east. This helpless infant wielded stars and kings and angels to do his bidding? ‘Jesus, Lord at thy birth’. This captured my attention. And I have been listening to an audiobook by John Stott called ‘Why I am a Christian’. Much of the outline for this message was stimulated by a section from his book that deals with the the staggering claims of Jesus.

So I’ve entitled this message ‘Jesus, Lord at they birth; the most ego-centric person in the history of the world’. The song declares that Jesus was Lord at his birth, but what does Jesus say about himself? I want to hear, not what the songs say about Jesus, but at what Jesus claimed for himself.

Inconspicuously conspicuous

As we look at the gospels, we find that Jesus was extraordinarily self-centered. If we pay attention to the words in red, we see ‘I, I, I, me, me, me, my, my, my. Have you ever noticed that before? That has never caught my attention. Most people who talk this way are nauseatingly annoying. How is it that Jesus talks this way, but he does it in such a way that I never even noticed it before? He is constantly talking about himself. Jesus believed he was truly one-of-a-kind and that everything is all about him, and that came through in all his teaching.

Listen to some of the things Jesus says. Listen as if you’ve never heard these words before. Hear it as if it were the snotty-nosed kid from down the street who was saying these things:

Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

John 6:35 I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

John 8:12 … “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 8:23 He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.”

John 8:42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.

John 8:58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.”

John 9:5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

John 10:7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.

John 10:11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

John 10:36 … I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?

John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,

John 12:26 If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.

John 12:32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

John 13:13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am.

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

John 17:24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

John 18:37 Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world––to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”

Do you hear how incredibly arrogant and self-centered these statements are? I, I, I, me, me, me, my, my, my. He wants us to yoke up as if we were his oxen. He clams to be the solution to all hunger and to be able to quench all thirst. He says that everyone is in the dark unless they are following him. He claims to originate outside this world – to be God’s gift to mankind, God’s own son, and everyone will die in their sins if they don’t believe he is all that. He claims to be the entrance, the good shepherd, the living one who gives life. He expects us to serve him and follow him. He seems to think that everyone will be attracted to him. He expects to be considered rabbi and king. He thinks he is the definition of truth and life, and he thinks he has the right to exclude or allow access to the Father. He claims that we are totally incompetent apart from him. He claims to be specially loved by the Father, and he wants us to be with him so we can see how awesome he is. Jesus is directing all the attention to himself – it’s all about me.

This is even more startling when we hear how much emphasis Jesus placed on humility and how harsh he was toward the self-righteous and proud. Jesus claimed for himself a unique relationship to the scriptures, a unique relationship with God, and an unique relationship with the rest of the world.

Fulfillment:

The very first word recorded in the gospel of Mark as spoken by Jesus is “pepleromai”

Mark 1:15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Fulfilled. The time is fulfilled. The kingdom of God is here because I am the king and I am here. Jesus made the astounding claim that he was the fulfillment of all prophetic scripture. In the synagogue in his hometown of Nazareth, Jesus read from the Isaiah scroll:

Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me… he has anointed me… He sent me…” Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing. I am the one. I am the one all scriptures point to.

Jesus healed an invalid on the sabbath – Saturday, and told him to pick up his mat and walk.

John 5:16 And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” 18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

Jesus said to the Jews who were accusing him:

John 5:39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

Jesus was claiming that all their scriptures were pointing to him.

Luke 24:25 And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

His favorite term for himself was ‘son of man’. He got this title from the prophecy in Daniel 7:13-14

Daniel 7:13 I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him.14 And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed

This was a great title of honor and authority and power, and Jesus referred to himself over and over again as the ‘son of man’.. But Jesus also took himself to be the fulfillment of the prophecies in Isaiah of the suffering servant:

Isaiah 53:3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. …12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.

These two prophetic pictures – the son of man who rules forever, and the suffering servant who bears the sin of many – Jesus saw himself as the fulfillment of both.

Mark 8:31 And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.

Jesus saw himself as the ruling son of man and the sin bearing suffering servant. Jesus claimed to be the fulfillment of the prophetic scriptures.

Luke 10:23 Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” (Matthew 13:16-17)

He told his disciples that they were witnessing the fulfillment of the prophecies.

Intimacy with the Father

Jesus claimed to have a totally unique relationship with his Father. When he taught his disciples to pray, he taught them to address God as ‘our Father’, but when he addressed God himself, he claimed a special unique relationship that was exclusively his.

Matthew 10:32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 11:27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.

Jesus did not claim to be a son of the Father – he claimed to be the son of the Father.

John 3:35 The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand.

The Jews recognized the staggering claim Jesus was making about his relationship with the Father.

John 5:18 This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.

He claimed to have been entrusted with all judgment, and to be entitled to the same honor to which the Father was entitled.

John 5:22 The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, 23 that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.

In fact he went so far as to say:

John 10:30 I and the Father are one.”

When he prayed, he had the audacity to say:

John 17:5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

Jesus claimed for himself an absolutely unique one-of-a-kind unprecedented relationship with the Father, and he claimed distinctive rights and privileges associated with that role.

Authority

Jesus claimed to have a role that was utterly distinct, that put him in a class by himself. Friends and enemies alike recognized that he spoke with authority. When he demanded that his disciples leave everything and follow him, he expected that they would obey. And they did! He claimed to be the good shepherd. He said he came to seek and to save that which was lost. The implication was that he was in a moral category by himself. He alone was not lost and did not need seeking and saving. He was not lost but everyone else was. And he had the ability to find and save lost sheep. He claimed to be the light of the world and everyone else was in darkness. He asserted that everyone was hungry and thirsty and he was the bread of life and living water. He said that he was the great physician and everyone else was sick. He said people were in bondage and he came to set them free. He even claimed to have authority to forgive sins.

Luke 7:48 And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” 49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?”

Mark 2:5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Jesus claimed to forgive sins. The people who heard him recognized his claim. All sin is primarily against God, so the only one with the authority to forgive sins was God. Jesus, in claiming to forgive was claiming to be the one who was sinned against. In fact, Jesus even claims that he will be the one who is the Judge on the last day.

John 5:22 The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, …25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

Jesus claims to be the one who will settle your eternal destiny. That is a tall claim – to be the judge of all mankind. He claims to be the unique son of the Father, the fulfillment of the prophetic scriptures.

How is it then that we don’t hear his claims as obnoxious, boastful, arrogant?

Conclusion:

Jesus is both unapologetically self-centered and deeply and genuinely humble and selfless –he drove moneychangers out of his Father’s house, and he stooped down to wash the feet of his disciples. How could he point everyone to himself and yet say that he came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many? How can he make the audacious claim that he is God in the flesh and that he is gentle and lowly in heart? How can he claim to be love, which does not seek its own and continually draw all the attention to himself? How can this be? How can selfless love and total egocentric self-centeredness go together in one person?

The answer is simply this: that in love, which seeks the highest good of the person loved, he pointed all people to himself because he is absolutely the only way to the Father. He is loving in his self-centeredness because he is our highest good. Pride is rightly condemned as pride because it thinks more highly of self than what it ought to think. We are annoyed with arrogant people because they are puffed up and think the are bigger and better than they really are. Jesus does not strike us that way, because his claims are not exaggerated. They are true. And he does not use his position to lord it over anyone. He is benevolent. He uses his position and power to bless and to do good, to lift up the oppressed and bind up the broken hearted. He is all that he claims to be, and he is kind and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in loving kindness. He is full of grace and truth.

As he read about himself in the Isaiah scroll:

Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Jesus is God in the flesh, come to earth to bear in his body the penalty for our sins. Jesus is the fulfillment of the scriptures. Jesus has authority to judge and to forgive. If we want to be forgiven, we must come to Jesus. “Come to me” Jesus cries, and it is a proclamation of his self sacrificing love for us.

Jesus demands to know what you think of him. This is a personal invitation. Are you offended by him? Annoyed? Do you wish to admire him from a distance? Will you bow the knee to him as king?

John 3:18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

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No Room for Christ in the Inn – C.H. Spurgeon

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20101219_no_room_for_christ_in_the_inn.mp3

20101219 No Room for Christ in the Inn (abridged by Rodney Zedicher)

A Sermon

(No. 485)

Delivered on Sunday Morning, December 21st, 1862, by

Rev. C. H. SPURGEON,

At the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington

 

“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.”—Luke 2:7.

When all persons of the house of David were thus driven to Bethlehem, the scanty accommodation of the little town would soon be exhausted. … for coming from a distance, and compelled to travel slowly, the humble couple had arrived late in the day. … there remained no better lodging, even for a woman in travail, than one of the meaner spaces appropriated to beasts of burden. The stall of the ass was the only place where the child could be born. … here, in the stable, was the King of Glory born and in the manner was he laid.

My business this morning is to lead your meditations to the stable at Bethlehem, that you may see this great sight—the Savior in the manger, and think over the reason for this lowly couch—”because there was no room for them in the inn.”

I. I shall commence by remarking that THERE WERE OTHER REASONS WHY CHRIST SHOULD BE LAID IN THE MANGER.

1. I think it was intended thus to show forth his humiliation. He came, according to prophecy, to be “despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;” he was to be “without form or comeliness,” “a root out of a dry ground.” Would it have been fitting that the man who was to die naked on the cross should be robed in purple at his birth? Would it not have been inappropriate that the Redeemer who was to be buried in a borrowed tomb should be born anywhere but in the humblest shed, and housed anywhere but in the most ignoble manner? The manger and the cross standing at the two extremities of the Savior’s earthly life seem most fit and congruous the one to the other. He is to wear through life a peasant’s garb; he is to associate with fishermen; the lowly are to be his disciples; the cold mountains are often to be his only bed; he is to say, “Foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head;” nothing, therefore, could be more fitting than that in his season of humiliation, when he laid aside all his glory, and took upon himself the form of a servant, and condescended even to the meanest estate, he should be laid in a manger.

2. By being in a manger he was declared to be the king of the poor. They, doubtless, were at once able to recognize his relationship to them, from the position in which they found him. I believe it excited feelings of the tenderest brotherly kindness in the minds of the shepherds, when the angel said—”This shall be a sign unto you; you shall find the child wrapped in swaddling-clothes and lying in a manger.” In the eyes of the poor, imperial robes excite no affection, a man in their own garb attracts their confidence. With what pertinacity will workingmen cleave to a leader of their own order, believing in him because he knows their toils, sympathizes in their sorrows, and feels an interest in all their concerns. Great commanders have readily won the hearts of their soldiers by sharing their hardships and roughing it as if they belonged to the ranks. The King of Men who was born in Bethlehem, was not exempted in his infancy from the common calamities of the poor, nay, his lot was even worse than theirs. …

3. Further, in thus being laid in a manger, he did, as it were, give an invitation to the most humble to come to him. We might tremble to approach a throne, but we cannot fear to approach a manger. … Never could there be a being more approachable than Christ. No rough guards pushed poor petitioners away; no array of officious friends were allowed to keep off the importunate widow or the man who clamored that his son might be made whole; the hem of his garment was always trailing where sick folk could reach it, and he himself had a hand always ready to touch the disease, an ear to catch the faintest accents of misery, a soul going forth everywhere in rays of mercy, even as the light of the sun streams on every side beyond that orb itself. By being laid in a manger he proved himself a priest taken from among men, one who has suffered like his brethren, and therefore can be touched with a feeling of our infirmities. Of him it was said “He doth eat and drink with publicans and sinners;” “this man receiveth sinners and eateth with them.” Even as an infant, by being laid in a manger, he was set forth as the sinner’s friend. Come to him, ye that are weary and heavy-laden! Come to him, ye that are broken in spirit, ye who are bowed down in soul! Come to him, ye that despise yourselves and are despised of others! Come to him, publican and harlot! Come to him, thief and drunkard! In the manger there he lies, unguarded from your touch and unshielded from your gaze. Bow the knee, and kiss the Son of God; accept him as your Savior, for he puts himself into that manger that you may approach him. The throne of Solomon might awe you, but the manger of the Son of David must invite you.

Class exclusions are unknown here, and the prerogatives of caste are not acknowledged. No forms of etiquette are required in entering a stable; it cannot be an offense to enter the stable…. So, if you desire to come to Christ you may come to him just as you are; you may come now. Whosoever among you hath the desire in his heart to trust Christ is free to do it. Jesus is free to you; he will receive you; he will welcome you with gladness, and to show this, I think, the young child was cradled in a manger. We know that sinners often imagine that they are shut out. Oftentimes the convicted conscience will write bitter things against itself and deny its part and lot in mercy’s stores. Brother, if God hath not shut thee out, do not shut thyself out. Until thou canst find it written in the Book that thou mayest not trust Christ; till thou canst quote a positive passage in which it is written that he is not able to save thee, I pray thee take that other word wherein it is written—”He is able to save unto the uttermost them that come unto God by him.” Venture on that promise; come to Christ in the strength and faith of it, and thou shalt find him free to all comers.

5. We have not yet exhausted the reasons why the Son of Man was laid in a manger. It was at the manger that the beasts were fed; and does the Savior lie where weary beasts receive their provender, and shall there not be a mystery here? Alas, there are some men who have become so brutal through sin, so utterly depraved by their lusts, that to their own consciences every thing manlike has departed, but even to such the remedies of Jesus, the Great Physician, will apply. … I believe our Lord was laid in the manger where the beasts were fed, to show that even beast-like men may come to him and live. No creature can be so degraded that Christ cannot lift it up. Fall it may, and seem to fall most certainly to hell, but the long and strong arm of Christ can reach it even in its most desperate degradation; he can bring it up from apparently hopeless ruin. If there be one who has strolled in here this morning whom society abhors, and who abhors himself, my Master in the stable with the beasts presents himself as able to save the vilest of the vile, and to accept the worst of the worst even now. Believe on him and he will make thee a new creature.

…For these reasons which I have mentioned, methinks, Christ was laid in a manger.

II. But still the text says that he was laid in a manger because there was no room for him in the inn, and this leads us to the second remark, THAT THERE WERE OTHER PLACES BESIDES THE INN WHICH HAD NO ROOM FOR CHRIST.

The palaces of emperors and the halls of kings afforded the royal stranger no refuge? Alas! my brethren, seldom is there room for Christ in palaces! How could the kings of earth receive the Lord? He is the Prince of Peace, and they delight in war! He breaks their bows and cuts their spears in sunder; he burneth their war-chariots in the fire. How could kings accept the humble Savior? They love grandeur and pomp, and he is all simplicity and meekness. He is a carpenter’s son, and the fisherman’s companion. How can princes find room for the new-born monarch? Why he teaches us to do to others as we would that they should do to us, and this is a thing which kings would find very hard to reconcile with the knavish tricks of politics and the grasping designs of ambition. O great ones of the earth, I am but little astonished that amid your glories, and pleasures, and wars, and councils, ye forget the Anointed, and cast out the Lord of All. There is no room for Christ with the kings. … “Not many great men after the flesh, not many mighty are chosen.” State-chambers, cabinets, throne-rooms, and royal palaces, are about as little frequented by Christ as the jungles and swamps of India by the cautious traveler. He frequents cottages far more often than regal residences, for there is no room for Jesus Christ in regal halls.

But there were senators, there were forums of political discussion, there were the places where the representatives of the people make the laws, was there no room for Christ there? Alas! my brethren, none, and to this day there is very little room for Christ in parliaments. How seldom is religion recognised by politicians! Of course a State-religion, if it will consent to be a poor, tame, powerless thing, a lion with its teeth all drawn, its mane all shaven off, and its claws all trimmed—yes, that may be recognised; but the true Christ and they that follow him and dare to obey his laws in an evil generation, what room is there for such? … Who pleads for Jesus in the senate? … Who quotes his golden rule as a direction for prime ministers, or preaches Christ-like forgiveness as a rule for national policy? One or two will give him a good word, but if it be put to the vote whether the Lord Jesus should be obeyed or no, it will be many a day before the ayes have it. Parties, policies, place-hunters, and pleasure-seekers exclude the Representative of Heaven from a place among representatives of Earth.

Might there not be found some room for Christ in what is called good society? Were there not in Bethlehem some people that were very respectable, who kept themselves aloof from the common multitude; persons of reputation and standing—could not they find room for Christ? Ah! dear friends, it is too much the case that there is no room for Him in what is called good society. There is room for all the silly little forms by which men choose to trammel themselves; room for the vain niceties of etiquette; room for frivolous conversation; room for the adoration of the body, there is room for the setting up of this and that as the idol of the hour, but there is too little room for Christ, and it is far from fashionable to follow the Lord fully. The advent of Christ would be the last thing which … society would desire; the very mention of his name by the lips of love would cause a strange sensation. Should you begin to talk about the things of Christ in many a circle, you would be tabooed at once. “I will never ask that man to my house again,” so-and-so would say—”if he must bring his religion with him.” Folly and finery, rank and honor, jewels and glitter, frivolity and fashion, all report that there is no room for Jesus in their abodes.

But is there not room for him on the exchange? Cannot he be taken to the marts of commerce? Here are the shop-keepers of a shop-keeping nation—is there not room for Christ here? Ah! dear friends, how little of the spirit, and life, and doctrine of Christ can be found here! The trader finds it inconvenient to be too scrupulous; the merchant often discovers that if he is to make a fortune he must break his conscience. How many there are—well, I will not say they tell lies directly, but still, still, still—I had better say it plainly—they do lie indirectly with a vengeance. … What sharp practice some indulge in! What puffery and falsehood! What cunning and sleight of hand! What woes would my Master pronounce on some of you if he looked into your shop windows, or stood behind your counters. Bankruptcies, swindlings, frauds are so abundant that in hosts of cases there is no room for Jesus in the mart or the shop.

Then there are the schools of the philosophers, surely they will entertain him. The wise men will find in him incarnate wisdom; he, who as a youth is to become the teacher of doctors, who will sit down and ask them questions and receive their answers, surely he will find room at once among the Grecian sages, and men of sense and wit will honor him…. No, dear friends, but it is not so; there is very little room for Christ in colleges and universities, very little room for him in the seats of learning. How often learning helps men to raise objections to Christ! Too often learning is the forge where the nails are made for Christ’s crucifixion; too often human wit has become the artificer who has pointed the spear and made the shaft with which his heart should be pierced. We must say it, that philosophy, falsely so called. (for true philosophy, if it were handled aright, must ever be Christ’s friend) philosophy, falsely so called, hath done mischief to Christ, but seldom hath it served his cause. A few with splendid talents, a few of the erudite and profound have bowed like children at the feet of the Babe of Bethlehem, and have been honored in bowing there, but too many, conscious of their knowledge, stiff and stern in their conceit of wisdom, have said,—”Who is Christ, that we should acknowledge him?” They found no room for him in the schools.

But there was surely one place where he could go—it was the Sanhedrim, where the elders sit. Or could he not be housed in the priestly chamber where the priests assemble with the Levites. Was there not room for him in the temple or the synagogue? No, he found no shelter there; it was there, his whole life long, that he found his most ferocious enemies. Not the common multitude, but the priests were the instigators of his death, the priests moved the people to say “Not this man, but Barabbas.” The priests paid out their shekels to bribe the popular voice, and then Christ was hounded to his death. Surely there ought to have been room for him in the Church of his own people; but there was not. … it is strange that when the Lord comes to his own his own receives him not. The most accursed enemies of true religion have been the men who pretended to be its advocates. … The false hirelings that are not Christ’s shepherds, and love not his sheep, have ever been the most ferocious enemies of our God and of his Christ…. Go where ye will, and there is no space for the Prince of peace but with the humble and contrite spirits which by grace he prepares to yield him shelter.

III. But now for our third remark, THE INN ITSELF HAD NO ROOM FOR HIM; and this was the main reason why he must be laid in a manger. What can we find in modern times which stands in the place of the inn? Well, there is public sentiment free to all. In this free land, men speak of what they like, and there is a public opinion upon every subject; and you know there is free toleration in this country to everything—permit me to say, toleration to everything but Christ. … If God’s Word be true, every atom of it, then we should act upon it; and whatsoever the Lord commandeth, we should diligently keep and obey, remembering that our Master tells us if we break one of the least of his commandments, and teach men so, we shall be least in his kingdom. We ought to be very jealous, very precise, very anxious, that even in the minutiae of our Savior’s laws, we may obey, having our eyes up to him as the eyes of servants are to their mistresses. But if you do this, you will find you are not tolerated, and you will get the cold shoulder in society. A zealous Christian will find as truly a cross to carry now-a-days, as in the days of Simon the Cyrenian. If you will hold your tongue, if you will leave sinners to perish, if you will never endeavor to propagate your faith, if you will silence all witnessing for truth, if, in fact, you will renounce all the attributes of a Christian, if you will cease to be what a Christian must be, then the world will say, “Ah! that is right; this is the religion we like.” But if you will believe, believe firmly, and if you let your belief actuate your life, and if your belief is so precious that you feel compelled to spread it, then at once you will find that there is no room for Christ even in the inn of public sentiment, where everything else is received. Be an infidel, and none will therefore treat you contemptuously; but be a Christian, and many will despise you. “There was no room for him in the inn.”

How little room is there for Christ, too, in general conversation, which is also like an inn. We talk about many things; a man may now-a-days talk of any subject he pleases; no one can stop him and say, “There is a spy catching your words; he will report you to some central authority.” Speech is very free in this land; but, ah! how little room is there for Christ in general talk! Even on Sunday afternoon how little room there is for Christ in some professed Christian’s houses. They will talk about ministers,… they will talk about the Sunday school, or the various agencies in connection with the Church, but how little they say about Christ! And if some one should in conversation make this remark, “Could we not speak upon the Godhead and manhood, the finished work and righteousness, the ascension, or the second advent of our Lord Jesus Christ,” why we should see many, who even profess to be followers of Christ, who would hold up their heads and say, “Why, dear, that man is quite a fanatic, or else he would not think of introducing such a subject as that into general conversation.” No, there is no room for him in the inn; to this day he can find but little access there.

I address many who are working-men. You are employed among a great many artisans day after day; do you not find, brethren—I know you do—that there is very little room for Christ in the workshop? There is room there for everything else; there is room for swearing; there is room for drunkenness; there is room for lewd conversation; there is room for politics, slanders, or infidelities, but there is no room for Christ. Too many of our working men think religion would be an incumbrance, a chain, a miserable prison to them. They can frequent the theater, or listen in a lecture-hall, but the house of God is too dreary for them. I wish I were not compelled to say so, but truly in our factories, workshops, and foundries, there is no room for Christ. The world is elbowing and pushing for more room, till there is scarce a corner left where the Babe of Bethlehem can be laid.

IV. This brings me to my fourth head, which is the most pertinent, and the most necessary to dwell upon for a moment. HAVE YOU ROOM FOR CHRIST? HAVE YOU ROOM FOR CHRIST?

As the palace, and the forum, and the inn, have no room for Christ, and as the places of public resort have none, have you room for Christ? “Well,” says one, “I have room for him, but I am not worthy that he should come to me.” Ah! I did not ask about worthiness; have you room for him? “Oh,” says one, “I have an empty void the world can never fill!” Ah! I see you have room for him. “Oh! but the room I have in my heart is so base!” So was the manger. “But it is so despicable!” So was the manger a thing to be despised. “Ah! but my heart is so foul!” So, perhaps, the manger may have been. “Oh! but I feel it is a place not at all fit for Christ!” Nor was the manger a place fit for him, and yet there was he laid.” Oh! but I have been such a sinner; I feel as if my heart had been a den of beasts and devils!” Well, the manger had been a place where beasts had fed. Have you room for him? Never mind what the past has been; he can forget and forgive. It mattereth not what even the present state may be if thou mournest it. If thou hast but room for Christ he will come and be thy guest. Do not say, I pray you, “I hope I shall have room for him;” the time is come that he shall be born; Mary cannot wait months and years. Oh! sinner, if thou hast room for him let him be born in thy soul to-day. “To day if ye will hear his voice harden not your hearts as in the provocation.” “To-day is the accepted time; today is the day of salvation.” Room for Jesus! Room for Jesus now! “Oh!” saith one, “I have room for him, but will he come?” Will he come indeed! Do you but set the door of your heart open, do but say, “Jesus, Master, all unworthy and unclean I look to thee; come, lodge within my heart,” and he will come to thee, and he will cleanse the manger of thy heart, nay, will transform it into a golden throne, and there he will sit and reign for ever and for ever. Oh! I have such a free Christ to preach this morning! I would I could preach him better. I have such a precious loving, Jesus to preach, he is willing to find a home in humble hearts. What! are there no hearts here this morning that will take him in? Must my eye glance round these galleries and look at many of you who are still without him, and are there none who will say, “Come in, come in?” Oh! it shall be a happy day for you if you shall be enabled to take him in your arms and receive him as the consolation of Israel! You may then look forward even to death with joy, and say with Simeon—”Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word, for mine eyes have seen thy salvation.” My Master wants room! Room for him! Room for him! I, his herald, cry aloud, Room for the Savior! Room! Here is my royal Master—have you room for him? Here is the Son of God made flesh—have you room for him? Here is he who can forgive all sin—have you room for him? Here is he who can take you up out of the horrible pit and out of the miry clay—have you room for him? Here is he who when he cometh in will never go out again, but abide with you for ever to make your heart a heaven of joy and bliss for you-have you room for him? ‘Tis all I ask. Your emptiness, your nothingness, your want of feeling, your want of goodness, your want of grace—all these will be but room for him. Have you room for him? Oh! Spirit of God, lead many to say, “Yes, my heart is ready.” Ah! then he will come and dwell with you.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

December 19, 2010 Posted by | occasional, podcast | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exodus 12; The Passover – Behold The Lamb!

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20101212_exodus_12.mp3

12/12 Exodus 12 Behold The Lamb!

Introduction

Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” These are the words John used to introduce the Messiah when he made himself known to the world. As we celebrate the birth of the Christ-child, it is appropriate that we reflect on why it was that he was born. The prime reason for the incarnation – infinite God became mortal man – was to be our sin-bearing substitute.

Last time we looked at the institution of the Passover celebration – that it was a forward-looking feast, to be celebrated throughout all generations as a means of passing on the memory of God’s might acts of deliverance and judgment. All future generations were to personally participate in the feast and experience God’s presence for themselves; I am to remember the great things the LORD did for me; how he brought me out of slavery and into his service.

Today I want to look at the fullness and fulfillment of the passover celebration. As a forward-looking feast, what does it look forward to? Last time we hinted at the answer, when we saw that the final celebration of passover recorded in detail in the bible was the passover that Jesus earnestly desired to eat with his disciples. We saw that Jesus transformed this feast by revealing that it was all about him. “Take, eat; this is my body. …Drink of it all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26:26-28).

Paul said:

1 Corinthians 5:7 … For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

Every detail, every part of the passover lamb points to Jesus. The sharing of the lamb, the specifications of the lamb, the inspection of the lamb, the slaughter and the application of the blood, the consumption of the lamb, the protection provided all point to Jesus, ‘the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world’, to ‘Christ our Passover lamb’ who has been sacrificed. Today I want to look at these seven aspects of the Passover celebration as pointers to Jesus.

 

The Sharing of the Lamb

First of all, the lamb was to be shared.

Exodus 12:3 …every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. 4 And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb.

Josephus tells us that a lamb would typically feed about 14 people. Preparation was to be made to share this feast with the family first, and then neighbors were to be invited. Now when we are preparing for a Thanksgiving day meal, we usually look at how many mouths we will be feeding, and then we buy the right size turkey to feed everyone. The size of the gathering determines the size of the bird. Here, the lamb is the defining factor. The lamb was to define the number of people invited to the feast.

Jesus said:

Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

John 6:35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. …37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. …54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

The lamb was to be shared – shared among family and neighbors. There was to be fellowship around the lamb. And there were to be no left-overs. We will talk more about this when we come to the consumption of the lamb.

 

The Specifications of the Lamb

The lamb selected to be the sacrifice was to be a male in the prime of life and without blemish.

Exodus 12:5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats,

Jesus met all the requirements perfectly. He was in the prime of life, a male, and without blemish. People were coming to his cousin John confessing their sins and being baptized by him.

Matthew 3:13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

John recognized that Jesus had no sin to confess. John confessed that he was not even worthy to take the sandals off Jesus’ feet.

The author of Hebrews says:

Hebrews 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 9:14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who … offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

Paul says:

2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Peter says;

1 Peter 1:18 knowing that you were ransomed … not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.

1 Peter 2:22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.

The Apostle John says:

1 John 3:5 You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin.

Jesus was the perfect spotless Lamb of God.

The Inspection of the Lamb

To ensure that the lamb was without blemish, it was to be kept in the house for four days to be monitored and inspected.

Exodus 12:6 and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, …

Jesus was observed, examined, scrutinized throughout his life. At the beginning of his public ministry, he was tempted by Satan:

Matthew 4:1 Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 And the tempter came… 10 Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.”’ 11 Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

The last four days of Jesus’ life he was intensely scrutinized by the Scribes and Chief Priests and Elders, the Sadducees, Pharisees and Herodians. They purposely attempted to set him up, trip him up and catch him in a fault.

Luke 20:20 So they watched him and sent spies, who pretended to be sincere, that they might catch him in something he said, so as to deliver him up to the authority and jurisdiction of the governor. 21 So they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality, but truly teach the way of God. …26 And they were not able in the presence of the people to catch him in what he said, but marveling at his answer they became silent. … 39 Then some of the scribes answered, “Teacher, you have spoken well.” 40 For they no longer dared to ask him any question.

Those that most wanted to destroy his credibility were amazed and silenced by his spotless integrity. When they arrested him, they could not even bring one accusation that would stand up in court.

Mark 14:56 For many bore false witness against him, but their testimony did not agree. 57 And some stood up and bore false witness against him,… 59 Yet even about this their testimony did not agree.

When he was brought to trial, Pilate three times publicly attested to his innocence.

Luke 23:4 Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.” …14 and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. 15 Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him. 16 I will therefore punish and release him.” …22 A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no guilt deserving death. I will therefore punish and release him.”

Even the thief who was crucified along side Jesus declared his blamelessness:

Luke 23:40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.”

The Centurion who oversaw the crucifixion declared his innocence.

Luke 23:47 Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!”

God himself on two separate occasions attested to the blameless character of his Son.

Matthew 3:17 and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Matthew 17:5 He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”

Jesus, the spotless Lamb of God, was inspected thoroughly by God, by Satan, by his friends and by his fiercest enemies, and he perfectly passed the test.

The Slaughter of the Lamb

So the perfect lamb was to be killed. The whole point of the careful inspection was to ensure that the lamb was adequately qualified to serve as a substitutionary sacrifice.

Exodus 12:6…when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight.

Death of the victim was required. It was not enough that the lamb was perfect; it had to be killed.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death,…

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.

Romans 2:5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God‘s righteous judgment will be revealed.

God is just. He is holy and righteous. Sin must be punished. The wages of sin is death. But God is merciful. He has provided a substitute.

Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.

1 Corinthians 5:7 … For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.

2 Corinthians 5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, …

1 Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree,…

The Application of the Blood of the Lamb

The wages of sin is death. The lamb was killed and righteous blood was shed, but that was not enough. The blood must be applied.

Exodus 12:7 “Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.

Exodus 12:22 Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin…

Why? Why put blood on your door frame? That sounds messy and it would be hard to clean up. Your door is your interface with the outside world. We decorate our doors with thing like ‘welcome’ or ‘bless this house’ or ‘no soliciting’; ‘insured by Smith & Wesson’ or ‘beware of cat’. We may hang our family name over the door to display our identity. What we put on our door says something about the person who lives there. Splattering blood on the door frame was not something Moses or Aaron or the Israelites came up with. ‘Honey, I was just coming home from the grocery store and noticed that Mr. Schwartskopf killed a lamb and smeared blood all over their door. It just looks so… cozy and inviting. Do you think we could afford to do that to our door too?’ No, God instructed the Israelites to do this. God had threatened every firstborn son with death, and promised protection if they would put the blood of a perfect lamb on their door. This was an act of obedience, an outward expression of trust in the word of God. This was an act of faith – believing they were in danger; believing that God has the right to execute judgment on sinners; believing there was a way to be protected from the coming danger. This is taking God at his word.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. …18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

John 3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

Acts 13:38 Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything 39 from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses.

John 1:12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,

Friend, have you obeyed Jesus? Have you received him? Have you believed God’s word about salvation? Is the precious blood of Jesus splashed over your life? Are your sins covered by the blood of the Lamb? All you need do is acknowledge ‘yes, I am a sinner deserving of God’s just judgment. I need Christ’s blood applied to my account’.

The Consumption of the Lamb

But this is not the end of the story. Once the blood is applied outside, there can be peace inside. The blood is applied for protection, but the lamb is brought inside for fellowship.

Exodus 12:8 They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9 Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. 10 And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn.

Exodus 12:46 It shall be eaten in one house; you shall not take any of the flesh outside the house, and you shall not break any of its bones.

The lamb is to be properly prepared. Even the method of cooking is proscribed. The lamb is to be roasted with fire. The lamb is not to be watered down by boiling. It is not to be uncooked, but it is to go through the fire. Fire is a picture of God’s wrath against sin. Jesus, the Lamb of God, endured the fire of the wrath of his Father toward our sin. Many people want to water Jesus down and add their own ingredients and make him into a stew, but this is not God’s way. ‘Jesus is the main ingredient, but I’ve added my good works to the pot to make it taste better.’ You have diluted the Lamb and watered down the gospel. Many others will take part of Christ but not all of him. Many feel he is a good example to follow and a role model to aspire after, but when he claims to be the unique divine Son of God, equal with the Father, co-eternal with the Father, that is too much to swallow. Many feel that he was a great moral teacher but they become offended when he claims to be the only way to God. Many applaud when he takes the children on his knee, but cringe when he drives the moneychangers from the temple with a whip. Many appreciate his life and teachings, but would turn away in horror at his bloody crucifixion. Some would like him as a political leader but are not willing to admit that they are sinners in need of a substitute. Some would take him as a Savior who forgives but not as a King who commands. Some would honor him on one day but not allow him into their homes as Friend. We must have the whole Christ! Not a bone of him is to be broken. He is not to be dismembered and torn apart in a way that suits us! We are not at liberty to pick and choose which parts of Jesus are most palatable to us. Jesus must be kept intact. We must have all of him or none at all.

John 6:47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” 52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not as the fathers ate and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” … 60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? … 66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

We do not get to define Jesus as we like. We come to him as he is or not at all. Peter understood that, although many things Jesus said were hard to swallow, there was no other place to turn for eternal life. We must feed on him, and all of him. There are to be no left-overs.

The Manner of Eating the Lamb

The manner of eating the lamb is specified:

Exodus 12:11 In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD’s Passover.

God had promised deliverance from slavery. We are to eat expectantly. Eat in faith. Believe that God will do what he said he would do. Be ready to go. Be ready to be set free from sin. There is a sense of urgency here.

The Protection Provided by the Blood of the Lamb

The purpose of the passover is protection:

Exodus 12:12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. 13 The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.

Exodus 12:22 …none of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. 23 For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you.

God is providing a way for all who would hear his voice and obey him to be spared. All are sinners and all deserve to die. But God himself provides a substitute. The blood is a sign that those inside have believed what he said and acted in faith. The blood of the lamb shielded those who were under the blood from the hand of judgment. God looks on the blood and his justice is satisfied. A substitute has been slaughtered. There can be safety and peace and sweet fellowship within.

Psalm 119:114 You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word.

Psalm 57:1 Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by.

Colossians 3:3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Conclusion:

Jesus Christ is our Passover sacrificed for us! Jesus is to be shared with those around us. Jesus meets all the requirements to be a sufficient substitute. Jesus was thoroughly inspected and passed the test perfectly. Jesus bore our sins in his body on the tree. He took our place. Is the blood applied to you personally? Have you taken all of Christ? Are you enjoying the whole Jesus as he is in his glory? Are you enjoying the protection he provides? Are you enjoying sweet fellowship in him?

Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (Jn.1:29). Christ our passover lamb has been sacrificed (1Cor.5:7). You were ransomed… with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot (1Pet.1:18-19).

Revelation 5: 6 And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, … 9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, 10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” …12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” 13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

December 12, 2010 Posted by | Exodus, occasional, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exodus 12; Passover, a Forward-Looking Focus

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20101205_exodus12.mp3

12/05 Exodus 12-13 A Forward Looking Focus

Forward-Looking Focus

I want to look at just one aspect of the passover celebration today. There is so much to learn here and we will come back and look at some of the other great things God has for us but today I want to focus on the forward looking focus of the passover. A main purpose of the passover and the feast of unleavened bread was to be a memorial to future generations. If Moses wrote the Torah to the generation of Israelites who were about to enter the land after their parents died off in the wilderness because of disobedience, then a major part of his intention would be to leave them with the instructions they would need to remain faithful to God, to remember the mighty acts of God on their behalf, and to enter in to the reality of their own relationship to God as his redeemed people.

We’ve already seen the forward looking purpose inherent in the mighty acts that God performed. He said at the outset in Exodus 3:15 when he revealed his character to Moses:

Exodus 3:15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.

In the eighth mighty act, God explicitly said:

Exodus10:1 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may show these signs of mine among them, 2 and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the LORD.”

Now let’s look read the passage with this in mind and take note of how prominent this forward looking focus is.

12:1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2 “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. 3 Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. 4 And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, 6 and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight. 7 “Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8 They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. 9 Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. 10 And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. 11 In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD’s Passover. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. 13 The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt. 14 “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast. 15 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven out of your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day you shall hold a holy assembly, and on the seventh day a holy assembly. No work shall be done on those days. But what everyone needs to eat, that alone may be prepared by you. 17 And you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day, throughout your generations, as a statute forever. 18 In the first month, from the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread until the twenty–first day of the month at evening. 19 For seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses. If anyone eats what is leavened, that person will be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a sojourner or a native of the land. 20 You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwelling places you shall eat unleavened bread.”

21 Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and select lambs for yourselves according to your clans, and kill the Passover lamb. 22 Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. 23 For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you. 24 You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever. 25 And when you come to the land that the LORD will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service. 26 And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ 27 you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the LORD’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.”’ And the people bowed their heads and worshiped. 28 Then the people of Israel went and did so; as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.

29 At midnight the LORD struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock. 30 And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians. And there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where someone was not dead. 31 Then he summoned Moses and Aaron by night and said, “Up, go out from among my people, both you and the people of Israel; and go, serve the LORD, as you have said. 32 Take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone, and bless me also!” 33 The Egyptians were urgent with the people to send them out of the land in haste. For they said, “We shall all be dead.” 34 So the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading bowls being bound up in their cloaks on their shoulders. 35 The people of Israel had also done as Moses told them, for they had asked the Egyptians for silver and gold jewelry and for clothing. 36 And the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.

37 And the people of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. 38 A mixed multitude also went up with them, and very much livestock, both flocks and herds. 39 And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough that they had brought out of Egypt, for it was not leavened, because they were thrust out of Egypt and could not wait, nor had they prepared any provisions for themselves. 40 The time that the people of Israel lived in Egypt was 430 years. 41 At the end of 430 years, on that very day, all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt. 42 It was a night of watching by the LORD, to bring them out of the land of Egypt; so this same night is a night of watching kept to the LORD by all the people of Israel throughout their generations.

43 And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the statute of the Passover: no foreigner shall eat of it, 44 but every slave that is bought for money may eat of it after you have circumcised him. 45 No foreigner or hired servant may eat of it. 46 It shall be eaten in one house; you shall not take any of the flesh outside the house, and you shall not break any of its bones. 47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. 48 If a stranger shall sojourn with you and would keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised. Then he may come near and keep it; he shall be as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it. 49 There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you.” 50 All the people of Israel did just as the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron. 51 And on that very day the LORD brought the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their hosts.

13:1 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Consecrate to me all the firstborn. Whatever is the first to open the womb among the people of Israel, both of man and of beast, is mine.” 3 Then Moses said to the people, “Remember this day in which you came out from Egypt, out of the house of slavery, for by a strong hand the LORD brought you out from this place. No leavened bread shall be eaten. 4 Today, in the month of Abib, you are going out. 5 And when the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which he swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, you shall keep this service in this month. 6 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the LORD. 7 Unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days; no leavened bread shall be seen with you, and no leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory. 8 You shall tell your son on that day, ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ 9 And it shall be to you as a sign on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth. For with a strong hand the LORD has brought you out of Egypt. 10 You shall therefore keep this statute at its appointed time from year to year.

11 “When the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanites, as he swore to you and your fathers, and shall give it to you, 12 you shall set apart to the LORD all that first opens the womb. All the firstborn of your animals that are males shall be the LORD’s. 13 Every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, or if you will not redeem it you shall break its neck. Every firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem. 14 And when in time to come your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ you shall say to him, ‘By a strong hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery. 15 For when Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the LORD killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of animals. Therefore I sacrifice to the LORD all the males that first open the womb, but all the firstborn of my sons I redeem.’ 16 It shall be as a mark on your hand or frontlets between your eyes, for by a strong hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt.”

Do you see how central and how intentional this purpose to pass on to the coming generations the knowledge of the LORD is? God’s intention in the exodus is:

…that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the LORD.” (Exodus 10:2)

Intended for Future Generations

God intends to put his greatness on display once for all, to demonstrate his superiority over every other so-called god, and to be known personally by all his people throughout all generations.

From the fast pace of the narrative, it appears that much of these instructions were not intended for the original exodus event. The seven day feast of unleavened bread that continued after the passover event was simply by necessity as the people were on the run and had no time for the luxury of letting their bread rise. But the prohibition of having leaven in your houses for seven days was clearly intended for the Israelites after they had settled in the land and had houses. In fact three times we hear that the instructions are to be followed ‘when the LORD brings you into the land’. The holy assembly on the first day and on the seventh day seems to be instruction on how to memorialize and celebrate the history, not instructions for the exodus event itself. Five times we are told that this is to be ‘observed throughout your generations as a statute forever’ (or similar wording). Three times we are told what to say to our children to explain why we celebrate the way we do. We are not told whether the exodus generation had a four day advance notice to select and observe the lamb before the night of passover. Maybe they did, but the urgency of the narrative implies that this too is primarily intended for future generations. Twice we are told that these celebrations are intended to serve as a note written on the back of your hand or a post-it not stuck to your forehead to serve as a constant in-your-face reminder.

Gracious Object Lessons

God is gracious in his instruction to us. He doesn’t tell us ‘memorize this list of propositions and recite these syllogisms’. He gives us an engaging story and tangible object lessons that we can touch and taste and smell. God is not interested merely that we get our facts and our theology straight. God wants us to know him, to experience him, to be in relation with him. God is real, and each generation must experience his reality for themselves. A special day, a special meal, a special lamb, a unique time and an unique way. It is a feast day, a memorial day, a permanent ordinance. It is costly – a sacrifice, service or labor. It is a vigil or a night of watching. It is a time to remember. And it is a time for telling.

12:26 And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ 27 you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the LORD’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.”’

13:8 You shall tell your son on that day, ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ 9 And it shall be to you as a sign on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth. For with a strong hand the LORD has brought you out of Egypt. 10 You shall therefore keep this statute at its appointed time from year to year.

13:14 And when in time to come your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ you shall say to him, ‘By a strong hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery. 15 For when Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the LORD killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of animals. Therefore I sacrifice to the LORD all the males that first open the womb, but all the firstborn of my sons I redeem.’ 16 It shall be as a mark on your hand or frontlets between your eyes, for by a strong hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt.”

It’s Personal!

Notice how personal this is. Tell them that he spared our houses. It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt. Remember, the people who will be telling this to their children were themselves children during the days of wilderness wanderings after the exodus. Many were probably born in the desert. It was their parents who experienced the bondage of slavery in Egypt and experienced first hand the strong hand of the LORD in bringing them out of Egypt. But this next generation is to own the experiences of their fathers. It must be personal experience for each successive generation. They are not to say ‘my parents or my grandparents or my great-grandparents were slaves in Egypt and God brought them out’. Instead we are to say ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt’. Each individual must experience the strong hand of the LORD in deliverance personally. I was in bondage in the house of slavery. The LORD brought me out by his awesome deeds.

Only Seven?

Unfortunately there are only seven instances recorded in the hundreds of years of history of the Jewish nation that the passover was kept. Most likely the celebration was kept many times that were not recorded, but is appears that Israel missed out more often than not on this wonderful teaching opportunity. The first recorded keeping of the passover is obviously here in this chapter at its inception

12:27 …And the people bowed their heads and worshiped. 28 Then the people of Israel went and did so; as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.

One year later, at Mount Sinai, we are told in Numbers 9:1-14 that the people kept the passover.

The next recorded instance is 40 years later, in Joshua 5:10, after this next generation entered the land.

We don’t hear of it again until the time of Hezekiah (715-686 BC) 2 Chronicles 30:1-31:1. It says:

2 Chronicles 30:5 So they decreed to make a proclamation throughout all Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, that the people should come and keep the Passover to the LORD, the God of Israel, at Jerusalem, for they had not kept it as often as prescribed.

Again under Josiah (640-609 BC) in 2 Kings 23:21-23; 2 Chronicles 35:1-19. We are told

2 Kings 23:22 For no such Passover had been kept since the days of the judges who judged Israel, or during all the days of the kings of Israel or of the kings of Judah.

2 Chronicles 35:18 No Passover like it had been kept in Israel since the days of Samuel the prophet. None of the kings of Israel had kept such a Passover as was kept by Josiah, and the priests and the Levites, and all Judah and Israel who were present, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

The final record in the Old Testament of the Passover celebration is found in Ezra 6:19-22 -after the return from Babylonian exile and rebuilding of temple (516 BC). What was intended to be a constant reminder and an opportunity for instruction was for the most part carelessly neglected.

The final time we see this meal celebrated is in the synoptic Gospels (Matthew 26; Mark 14; Luke 22), where Jesus takes the Passover meal and changes it from lamb and bitter herbs to broken bread and poured out wine – to be done not in remembrance of the Exodus from Egypt, but in remembrance of him.

Luke 22:15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”

Luke 22:19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

Transformation of Time

Notice that this section in Exodus begins with God changing the calendar.

2:1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2 “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you.

God changed the way the people calculated time. Instead of life being scheduled around the agricultural calendar, God intended that his people transform the way they measure time around his redemptive acts. God is proclaiming a New Year celebration. God, who makes all things new (Revelation 21:5), declares the month of the exodus to be the month of the new year. I want you to measure time in relation to my mighty saving acts. This was not the last time the calendar changed because of what God had done. Our entire system of calculating years revolves around our Lord Jesus Christ! This is A.D. – Anno Domini – the year of our Lord. We gather together to worship on the first day of the week because we worship a resurrected Jesus who appeared alive on the first day of the week. Jesus transforms everything!

Does my life revolve around God’s mighty acts that he has done for me? Does my schedule revolve around my Lord Jesus Christ? Am I seizing every opportunity to teach my kids and anyone that will listen about what Jesus has done for me?

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

December 5, 2010 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment