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Preaching from the Pulpit of Ephraim Church of the Bible

Resurrection Sunday – Colossians – Raised With Him

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20110424_resurrection-sunday.mp3 

04/24 Resurrection Sunday

Today is Resurrection Sunday. We celebrate the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Anticipating his death, Jesus said:

John 12:23 … “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

Fruit of the Resurrection

Jesus’ death bears much fruit. Jesus died alone, forsaken by his Father, with the weight of the sins of the world on his shoulders. But Jesus did not stay dead. He sprang back to life, and like his illustration of the seed, his life that bursts up out of the grave is not alone. He bears much fruit. Jesus death and resurrection has massive implications for us.

Today I want to look at some of the fruit of Jesus’ death and resurrection for us today. We will spend most of our time in the New Testament letter to the Colossians. In it, Paul says:

Colossians 1:18 [Jesus is]…the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.

Colossians 2:12 …you were also raised with [Christ] through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead …God made alive together with him,

Colossians 3:1 If then you have been raised with Christ

And he draws practical implications of Christ’s death and resurrection and ours. I want to spend some time this resurrection morning examining the implications of the resurrection for us today

Jesus the Firstborn from the dead

In this passage in Colossians, Paul gives Jesus the title ‘The Firstborn from the Dead.” He receives this title also in Revelation 1:5. What does this mean? Jesus was not the first person ever resurrected; Elijah raised the son of the widow of Zarepha (1Ki.17:22); Elisha raised a Shunammite woman’s son (2Ki.4:35); Jesus interrupted several funerals; he raised the widow of Nain’s only son (Lk7:14); Jairus’ daughter (Mk.5:41; Lk.8:54); and his dear friend Lazarus (Jn.11:43). At Jesus’ crucifixion, Matthew tells us:

Matthew 27:52 The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

Jesus was not the first in time to rise from the dead. So what does it mean to say that Jesus is the firstborn from the dead? It will help to understand what is meant by the word ‘firstborn’. The position of the firstborn was that of priority and privilege. Several times in the Old Testament, we see the rights and privileges of the firstborn going to a son who was not physically born first, or even to an adopted son who was not physically born into those rights. ‘Firstborn’ implies priority and sovereignty (Wuest, p.183). Jesus has first place among those who rise from the dead. Jesus has authority over all who rise from the dead.

The Preeminence of Jesus

This whole passage is pointing to Jesus as the one who holds first place in everything. Back in verse 15, this same word ‘firstborn’ is used, where it describes Jesus, who is the very image of the invisible God, who possesses sovereign authority and priority over all creation. Verse 16 gives the ground of his sovereign rights in that he is the creator – everything was created by him and for him – everything that exists in heaven and on earth; everything visible and everything invisible, including every authority that exists – they exist because he caused them to exist, and they exist to serve him. Jesus is the firstborn in sovereignty. Verse 17 continues by showing that he is the firstborn in priority – he is before all things. Jesus is eternal. He holds everything together. Hebrews describes Jesus as the one who ‘is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power’ (1:3). Verse 18 points to Jesus as the head or authority over the church. Jesus is the beginning, the active cause, the architect, he has first place. He has sovereign priority over all who come out of death. He holds first place in everything. His rule and authority is comprehensive. He reigns supreme over everything created and over everything re-created. He is the creator and the regenerator. He is the cause of creation, and he is the cause of the new creation. He gave life to all things, and he gives new life to the dead. In everything Jesus is preeminent. Everything really is all about Jesus!

Verse 19 continues the thought in describing how he gave new life to his body the church. In Jesus, God’s fullness was pleased to dwell, and the blood of his cross made peace and reconciled all things to his Father. Jesus, fully God and fully man, offered an infinite and perfect sacrifice, fully satisfying justice and making peace between God and sinful man.

Diagnosing our Condition

Verse 21 goes on to describe us, for whom the blood of Christ was necessary to purchase peace. It says we were alienated or estranged, we had severed our fellowship with God. It says we were hostile, hateful, or opposed to God in our mind. We were not on God’s side, and we didn’t want to be. Our wills were bent against God. Broken fellowship and determined opposition to God find expression in works that are evil. Down in chapter 2 verse 13, he expands on our condition that made the death of Christ necessary. He says we were dead. We were dead in trespasses – deviations from the right path. Our flesh was uncircumcised, which means that the things that displease God had not yet been cut away and destroyed. Verse 14 tells us that there was a record of debt that stood against us, and attached to that debt were legal demands. We had violated God’s honor and were under the hopeless legal obligation to repay the debt.

Now isn’t this a bit over the top, the way he describes our condition? Isn’t he exaggerating, or maybe describing a worst case scenario? Surely it would not be a fair description of most of us to say that we were hostile to God in our minds and bent on doing evil. But in raising the question we demonstrate the truth of it. I am saying that my estimation of my condition is more accurate than God’s. I am saying that my failure to honor God and give him thanks as he deserves is really not that big a deal. In saying that, I undermine the worth of God and exalt my own opinion. My failure to love God with all my heart and soul and mind and strength is an understandable failure to meet an unrealistic demand that is too high and too hard and surely I shouldn’t be held to it. After all, nobody does that perfectly, and I probably do it better than a lot of people. So I compare myself with others and am self-righteous in my own eyes and disagree with God’s assessment of my condition. God says I am dead.

Only the dead get resurrected

Friends, we need to embrace God’s diagnosis of our condition. We need to see that as part of the good news. Here’s why God saying I am dead in my sins is good news. Only the dead get resurrected! You don’t start CPR on someone who has a pulse and is still breathing. They don’t bring out the paddles to shock your heart until you’ve flatlined. This is a passage about resurrection and the cure for our condition. If we disagree with the Great Physician over his diagnosis, we won’t want to undergo his prescribed cure. Listen to the passage:

Colossians 2:13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Yes, we stand condemned under God’s righteous law with the record of debt that stands against us. And that record of our debt Jesus carried to the cross and he paid our debt in full. Our debt was nailed to his cross! God forgave all our trespasses. Yes, we were dead, and God made us alive together with Christ! Yes, we were hostile toward God and he made peace by the blood of his cross. Yes, our actions were evil because our wills were bent against God, and he has now reconciled us to God in his body of flesh by his death. The good news is only good to those who own God’s diagnosis of their problem. Only the dead get resurrected.

Two Kinds of Dead

Here we need to note that there are two different kinds of dead that this passage talks about. Verse 13 talks about being spiritually dead, dead in sins, being under condemnation, being guilty, and being forgiven and made alive as a result of the finished work of Christ on the cross, where God’s legal demands were satisfied, our debt was canceled, and we were given spiritual life. This is fits the biblical teaching of justification – being exonerated of guilt, and regeneration or new birth.

If we move back to verses 11-12, we see a different kind of dead and a different kind of resurrection.

11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.

In these verses, the death is a putting off, a circumcision of the body of the flesh, a burial with him in baptism, and a resurrection in the powerful working of God. Here, death is a process. This is mortification, putting to death the flesh, or sanctification, the process of being made holy. Paul goes into more detail on this subject in Romans. This is how Paul argues in Romans 6 against those who have been justified by faith continuing to embrace sin as a legitimate lifestyle.

Romans 6:2 By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.

Jesus died as a substitute, bearing our penalty and purchasing our forgiveness. We were spiritually dead and have been given life. That is justification and regeneration. We are now addressing what that new life should look like, and that is based on the other kind of death – not only did Jesus die for us, but we died with him. Our old self, our old way of life was crucified with Christ. That is the basis for our practical day to day battle with and victory over sin. He continues:

Romans 6:7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal bodies, to make you obey their passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. 14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.

Hear the continuing action words: you must consider yourselves dead to sin; let not sin reign in your mortal bodies; do not present your members to sin. Those are fighting words. The basis for this fight is my death and resurrection with Christ. The power to live the Christian life is resurrection power. ‘Just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life (Rom.6:4)

When Paul prays for the saints in Ephesus, he asks:

Ephesians 1:18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.

Part of our blood bought inheritance is the ‘immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead.’ The power to ‘walk in newness of life’ comes because:

Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 5:24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

The resurrected life is the crucified life. In Colossians chapter 3, we are given details of what the resurrected life should look like, and practical instruction on how to live it.

3:1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them.

8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

The assumption is that those who claim to be believers have not only been justified and regenerated or born again, that the death and resurrection of Jesus have been applied to us, but also that we have been crucified with Christ and have been raised to a new kind of life.

That new life is described by what it should and shouldn’t look like. It shouldn’t look like sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. It shouldn’t look like anger, wrath, malice, slander, obscene talk, lying.

It should look like compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving each other as we have been forgiven. It should look like love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. It should look like the peace of Christ ruling in your hearts. It should be characterized by thankfulness, by joyful gratitude, all for the glory of our Lord Jesus.

What are the practical instructions on how to live the resurrection life? Seek the things that are above; set your mind on things that are above. Put to death what is earthly in you. Put them all away. Put off the old self with its practices. Put on the new self which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Put on the fruits of the Spirit. Put on love. With a conscious choice, by an act of the will, based on the crucifixion and empowered with resurrection power, put off and put on. Do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus with overwhelming thankfulness to him who loved you and died for you.

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

April 24, 2011 Posted by | occasional, podcast | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Palm Sunday – John 12:12-33 – We Would See Jesus!

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20110417_palm-sunday.mp3

04/17 Palm Sunday – John 12:12-33

Intro:

Today we celebrate Palm Sunday. I want to look at the text from John’s account of the gospel that is the history behind this day. We find this in John chapter 12. (The events are also recorded in Matthew 21, Mark 11 and Luke 19). Jesus is in his final week, the passion week, leading up to his crucifixion. He had raised his friend Lazarus, who had been in the tomb four days, from the dead. Jesus was now back at Lazarus’ house in Bethany, the home of his dear friends Martha and Mary. Mary, in an act of devotion and love, broke open a vial of ointment worth about one year’s salary, and anointed Jesus. Jesus defended her action, saying that she was anointing him for his burial. Crowds were gathering in Jerusalem for the upcoming Passover celebration, and many were taking the short trip to Bethany to see Jesus and the man he had raised from the dead. So many Jews were believing in Jesus because of this, that the chief priests were plotting to have Lazarus put to death. This is where we’ll pick up the story:

John 12:12 The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”

Hero’s Welcome

This is where we get the name ‘Palm Sunday’. This was a hero’s welcome; a royal welcome. This was a king’s welcome. The newly crowned king would be welcomed in this way by his subjects as he came to take his throne and rule. The people are welcoming Jesus as king. But not just any king. The people are quoting Psalm 118, a Psalm of victory over the enemy, a song of triumphant return from battle. This is the valiant king, commanding that the gates be opened to welcome him. In Psalm 118:22-29, it says:

Psalm 118:22 The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. 23 This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. 24 This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. 25 Save us, we pray, O LORD! O LORD, we pray, give us success! 26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD! We bless you from the house of the LORD. 27 The LORD is God, and he has made his light to shine upon us. Bind the festal sacrifice with cords, up to the horns of the altar! 28 You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you. 29 Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

Hosanna!

Verses 25 and 26 say ‘Save us we pray, O LORD!… Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD!…’ This is what the people are quoting as their King rides to Jerusalem. The Hebrew word “Hosanna” means ‘save us we pray’. Israel is under Roman occupation. The Jews are looking for their Messiah, the anointed king that would rescue them, that would deliver them from the power of the Romans and give them back their freedom. The people are looking to Jesus to be this victorious king. In John 6, after Jesus had fed the multitudes, the people declared that he was the promised Prophet who was to come, and they wanted to take Jesus by force and make him their king, but Jesus withdrew by himself to the wilderness. This time, when the people are crying out ‘Save us, King of Israel who comes in the name of the LORD’ and giving him a royal welcome, he does not avoid them; in fact, he encourages them.

14 And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written, 15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” 16 His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him.

The Donkey

Here we see Jesus intentionally fulfilling prophecy. The quote is from Zechariah 9:9

Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

In the other three gospel accounts, we are told that Jesus sent disciples ahead to get this donkey so that it would be ready. Typically, the king would come triumphantly riding his war horse. But Jesus is a different kind of king. He comes in humility, riding on a donkey.

17 The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. 18 The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”

The World has Gone After Him!

The Pharisees entirely miss the point. They think they are in a popularity contest and they are losing. Jesus by his actions is teaching the people that he is a different kind of king than what they expect, and his salvation will be different from what they expect. He is indeed coming as King to save them, but in humility, not pride. And he will save the people, not from the Romans, but from themselves. The Pharisees, though, unknowingly make a profound analysis. Look, the world has gone after him. John uses this statement as a connection to some Greeks who were seeking Jesus.

20 Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. 21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.

The Greeks Seek Jesus

Greeks were coming to see Jesus. Among the crowds of Jews who came to worship at the Passover feast, were some Greeks, probably God-fearing Greeks, those who were intrigued by the Jewish scriptures and believed that the God of the Jews was the one true God. Possibly proselytes – those who had no Jewish genealogy, but who believed in God and became Jews through circumcision. They would be allowed into the temple’s court of the Gentiles to worship. They don’t feel they have any access directly to Jesus, so they go through the disciples. Their request is simple yet profound. ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus’. Simple faith! Would that we had this kind of desire, this kind of boldness. The world has gone after Jesus. Now there are Greeks that want to know Jesus. They come to Philip, Philip goes to Andrew, Andrew and Philip tell Jesus. Look how Jesus answers:

23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 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.

The Glory of a Seed

At first read, this seems like a strange answer, if it is even answering the question at all. Greeks want to see you Jesus, and you start talking about being glorified and planting wheat and hating life. How does this answer their question? We need to understand what Jesus means when he says ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified’. Throughout the gospels, Jesus had been saying ‘my hour has not yet come’. Now he says ‘The hour has come’. The time is now. His whole life was leading up to some focal point, some climax. He uses his favorite title for himself ‘the Son of Man’, a title that comes from Daniel 7, a title showing his perfect humanity, but a title of the one who is the everlasting King. ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified’. What does he mean ‘glorified’? To glorify is to honor, to cause the dignity and worth of someone to be made known. The climactic time has come for Jesus, the perfect human representative, to be put on display and seen for the all the excellencies of who he is. What climactic event is he referring to that would put his glory on display? This royal welcome into Jerusalem where he was hailed as king, with everyone laying down cloaks and palm branches for him to walk on was pretty impressive, but that is already past. What is going to bring him the greatest glory? He tells us clearly in the context. He chooses the metaphor of a seed. A seed is very unimpressive if it is kept on the shelf. To unlock the potential of the seed, it needs to go into the dirt. A seed on a shelf is not seen for what it really is. It might be safe, but its real potential is lost. It remains alone. Jesus talks about the necessity for wheat to fall into the ground and die so it can bear fruit.

Remember, this is all in response to the Greeks who want an audience with him. How is this answering their request? ‘We want to see Jesus.’ It is time for the Son of Man to die so that he can produce much fruit and be seen for who he really is. Jesus is the Jewish King, coming to save, but he will save not just the Jews, but also the Greeks, and he will save, not by military might from political oppression, for that would be no help to the Greeks; but he will save us from our sins by dying for us. King Jesus marches in to Jerusalem to take his throne, but his throne is in the shape of a cross. He will be nailed to this throne and lifted up for all to see. The hour has now come for the Son of Man, the representative of all men not just Jews, to be exalted by dying in order to bear the fruit of salvation for anyone that will follow him, including these Greeks. The whole world has gone after him! ‘Whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me he must follow me, he will be with me, and my Father will honor him’. Jesus is pointing the Greeks to his death as the event that will open up to all men the way of salvation. Are we on the right track in understanding what Jesus is saying? Let’s keep reading:

27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.”

The Troubled Soul of Jesus

Jesus’ soul is troubled? What would trouble the soul of the Prince of Peace? What would cause anxiety in the heart of the one who taught us not to be anxious? What would incline him to desire to be rescued by his Father out of this hour? What would the Savior want to be saved from? If we ask why he came, we get some indication of what is troubling his soul. In John 10, Jesus said ‘I lay down my life for the sheep’ (v.15, 17). ‘I give [my sheep] eternal life and they will never perish’ (v.28). In John 6, Jesus said ‘the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh’ (v.51). In Mark 10, Jesus said:

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.”

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.

1 Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

Isaiah 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. 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.

What troubled the soul of Jesus to the point that he would desire escape is the prospect of bearing my sins. For the holy God who abhors sin to bear my sin, to take my sin upon himself, for the spotless lamb of God to become sin, for the innocent guiltless one to have my iniquity laid to his account would be unthinkable. For the first time in eternity the Father would look on his beloved Son not with love, affection and approval but disgust, anger, and judgment. Yet Jesus says ‘But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father glorify your name’. Jesus, the eternal Son of God, took on flesh, entered history and became human, with the sole purpose of being executed as a sin-bearing substitute for guilty mankind. Jesus looked at the prospect of being forsaken by his Father and it sent his soul into turmoil. ‘Nevertheless,’ he prayed, ‘not my will, but yours, be done’ (Lk.22:42)

28 …Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.

So here we are explicitly told that he is talking about his crucifixion – the death of being lifted up. The deepest expression of love and obedience – ‘Father save me’? No, but ‘Father, glorify your name’. His Father answered him from heaven. The glory of the Father and the glory of the Son is seen in the crucifixion. God’s character and nature is displayed for all to see. Absolute in holiness, perfect in righteousness and exacting justice, impossible to let sin slide, yet abounding in mercy and grace, eager to forgive offending sinners, slow to anger and abounding in loving kindness. Satisfying the demands of justice and righteousness while extending undeserved mercy to wicked sinners by absorbing in his own person the weight of the injury. ‘Now is the judgment of this world’. God’s holy wrath against all our sin is poured out now – absorbed in the perfect Lamb that God himself provided. ‘Now the ruler of this world is cast out’ -because the rightful ruler has taken his throne. Jesus the King, lifted up on a cross, enthroned in glory dying for the sins of the world, now draws people from every tribe and tongue and people and nation to himself.

Jesus wants to draw you today. Jesus is a different kind of King and offers a different kind of salvation. He comes to conquer, but to conquer by dying. He comes to conquer, not our enemies, but us. He comes to conquer our hard hearts by loving us, by entering our pain and bearing our guilt before his Father. Do you see him as glorious? Do you recognize the glory of the Father and the glory of the Son revealed on the cross? Do you see the point at which absolute holy justice and free and undeserved mercy meet? We would see Jesus! We would see Jesus! We would see Jesus!

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

April 17, 2011 Posted by | occasional, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exodus 16:19-36; Our Daily Bread – Not By Bread Alone

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20110410_exodus16_19-36.mp3

04/10 Exodus 16:19-36 Not By Bread Alone; Our Daily Bread

Intro:

God is testing his people. His stated purpose throughout the book is that they would know that he is the LORD. They are to know that he is God over all gods, with authority over the whole earth, authority over water and wind and over all creatures on the earth, authority over the hearts of men, authority over weather, even over light and darkness. They are to know that he holds power over life and death, that he is a just judge and a protector of all who find refuge in him. That he is a God who hears and answers prayer. That he is the passover Lamb substituted for us, our ever-present guide, the one who stands in our defense, the one who fights our battles and conquers our enemies, the one who can heal bitter hearts and satisfy our deepest hunger.

God has displayed his power over the Egyptians and he is leading his people through the wilderness, teaching them about himself, showing them what it means to have a relationship with him. He took them to a place where the waters were bitter and showed them that he is their healer, then he brought them to a desert oasis, with plentiful water and shade. Now they are running out of food, and they are grumbling. God graciously responds to their grumbling, not with condemnation, but with abundant provision and further revelation of who he is.

16:10 …they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud. 11 And the LORD said to Moses, 12 “I have heard the grumbling of the people of Israel. Say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God.”’

13 In the evening quail came up and covered the camp, and in the morning dew lay around the camp. 14 And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake–like thing, fine as frost on the ground. 15 When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat. 16 This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Gather of it, each one of you, as much as he can eat. You shall each take an omer, according to the number of the persons that each of you has in his tent.”’ 17 And the people of Israel did so. They gathered, some more, some less. 18 But when they measured it with an omer, whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack. Each of them gathered as much as he could eat.

God satisfied the hunger of his people. He supernaturally provided for their needs. God creates something entirely new for them that will be their daily provision throughout their time in the wilderness. God, the Creator, brings something out of nothing to provide for their needs. He gives them clear instruction and he expects his people to listen to his voice.

Obedience

God was teaching his people to trust him, to listen to him, to obey. When they get to Sinai, he will give them detailed instructions for how a sinful people are to relate to a holy God. For now, his abundant provision with simple instructions. He had said in verse 4:

4 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not.

Pick up what you need for the day, and eat all of it that day. A day’s portion every day. Daily bread. This is my instruction. This is a test.

19 And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over till the morning.”

Isn’t that clear enough?

20 But they did not listen to Moses. Some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them. 21 Morning by morning they gathered it, each as much as he could eat; but when the sun grew hot, it melted.

Manna was God’s gift to his people. God said he would rain bread from heaven for you. Moses describes it as the bread that the LORD has given you to eat. In Psalm 78 it is described as ‘the grain of heaven’ and ‘the bread of angels’. It was an undeserved grace in response to grumbling. The people said ‘what is it?’ which in Hebrew sounds like ‘manna’, and the name stuck. It was also a simple test. Don’t leave it over till the morning, but they did not listen, and some left part of it till the morning. God gives instruction and we say ‘Why? What will happen if I do what you tell me not to do? We almost ran out of food in the desert. Natural reasoning tells me that I should be wise and prepare for tomorrow. God says ‘eat what I give you today and trust me for tomorrow’. It is interesting that it doesn’t say that some people gathered much more than other people and kept the excess overnight. It says ‘whoever gathered much had nothing left over’. So the ones who kept some over must have rationed their daily portion. They chose to go hungry today so that they could have security for tomorrow. In effect, they were saying ‘we don’t know where our next meal is coming from, so we’d better be cautious and store up’. But instead of providing security, manna disobediently stored up became a dangerous source of sickness and disease. What seemed to be wise from man’s perspective, was disobedient to God’s direct command and proved to be destructive. How slow we are to learn that God’s ways are always best! We may not understand why, but obedience to God is the way of wisdom. Disobedience has consequences. Trusting God can be scary. Walking by faith in God’s word is not always comfortable. But God’s way is always best.

Daily Bread

Jesus alluded to God’s daily provision of basic needs when he taught his disciples to pray.

Matthew 6:9 Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread, 12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Give us this day our daily bread. Often we view prayer simply as a shopping list of unrelated needs that we are to ask God for. I think there is more to this prayer than that. We are invited to approach our Father in the heavens, requesting that your name, your kingdom, and your will be honored and come to pass, as in heaven so on earth. Then we ask that the bread of our daily need be given to us this very day. Our daily sustenance is further defined, not as physical food, but as release from our legal obligations and rescue from temptation. What we desperately need every day is rescue from temptation and release from debt. Jesus frames this request for God’s forgiveness and rescue in the language of God’s daily provision for the needs of his people in the wilderness. Our deepest need is for God’s daily deliverance and God’s daily forgiveness. The bread of our daily need, give us this very day; that is, release us from our legal debts… that is, do not lead us into temptation but deliver us from the evil. This is our daily bread.

When talking with the Jews about the manna in the wilderness, Jesus said:

John 6:33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” … 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. … 48 I am the bread of life. … 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.”

Jesus claims to be God’s provision for man’s deepest hunger. Give us this day our daily bread. Today, give us Jesus! Release from the debt we owe to God and rescue from temptation come only in Jesus. Jesus, the bread of our daily need. Jesus, the broken bread that gives life to hungry sinners. Let Jesus sustain us today! This day, give us Jesus!

Treasure in Heaven

Jesus continues in Matthew 6:

Matthew 6:19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The Israelites were laying up treasure on earth and it bred worms and stank. They were not looking to God in heaven to provide for their daily need. They were not laying up the treasure of an increasing trust in God and a deepening relationship with him. Even in the face of God’s supernatural provision for them, they were trying to find a natural way to bank security for themselves against tomorrow. It didn’t work. It never does. Jesus continues by challenging their worry over daily necessities:

Matthew 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

Life is more than subsisting. Jesus came to offer life abundantly. Your body and your soul are meant for so much more than an obsession with food and clothes. Jesus tells us that we are of greater worth than birds and grass, and God feeds and clothes them. He challenges our lack of faith.

Matthew 6:31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Seek God. Spend your energy going after God. If you’re going to be anxious about anything, be anxious to know God better. Learn to depend on God. Learn to trust. Pursue Jesus, the bread that gives eternal life. Pursue Jesus, who clothes you with his perfect righteousness.

Solemn Rest; a Holy Sabbath to the LORD

We’ve been looking at the manna as a pointer to Jesus as the one who satisfies our real needs. Jesus invites us to see it this way. But Manna was a real substance, God’s miraculous means of feeding his people in the desert. But even in the way God provided then, he was pointing to these greater realities. God said in verse 5:

5 On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.”

Then we see how this happened in verse 22:

22 On the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers each. And when all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, 23 he said to them, “This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay aside to be kept till the morning.”’ 24 So they laid it aside till the morning, as Moses commanded them, and it did not stink, and there were no worms in it. 25 Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a Sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find it in the field. 26 Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, which is a Sabbath, there will be none.”

God did not provide manna seven days a week. He provided double the amount Friday morning, and none Saturday morning. This too came with clear instructions. This is what the LORD has commanded: Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. This too would teach his people trust. God will provide for your needs. Follow his instructions. The purpose of the double portion on Friday was to provide for rest on Saturday. But it was not just rest from labor, rest from collecting food, rest from the pressure of gathering the needs of the day. It was rest to the LORD. It was more than rest from something. It was to be rest for someone.

We can look all the way back to Genesis when God created the heavens and the earth for the meaning of this rest.

Genesis 1:31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. 2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

God finished his work of creation and he rested. Not because he was exhausted from all the hard work – it says ‘God said… and it was so’. God did not need a day off to recuperate from all the talking. God completed his creative work and stepped back as it were to enjoy what he had made. He said ‘look, it is very good’. God made the seventh day happy – he blessed it. He sanctified it. He set it apart as holy or sacred. Here in Exodus, the first mention of the word ‘sabbath’ in the bible, we see that the Sabbath rest is to the LORD. God is good. He is our provider. God established that we take one day out of seven to break the routine and enjoy him. Focus on him. Give him the attention he deserves. Seek him. Honor him. Worship. A day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. The verb form of this word Sabbath that appears in Genesis also appears earlier in Exodus:

Exodus 5:5 And Pharaoh said, “Behold, the people of the land are now many, and you make them rest from their burdens!”

Rest from slavery to Pharaoh. God’s demand of Pharaoh was ‘let my people go that they may hold a feast to me (5:1); that they may serve me, or worship me in the wilderness’ (7:16; 8:1, 20; 9:1, 13; 10:3). Here we see this happening. The people were released from hard service to Pharaoh to glad service to the true King of kings. They were transferred to their rightful master. They were to hold a feast to the LORD, to celebrate, to honor their God, spend time with him, to enjoy him. Here God supernaturally provides for this to happen. Double portion on Friday so that Saturday can be all about God.

27 On the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, but they found none. 28 And the LORD said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws? 29 See! The LORD has given you the Sabbath; therefore on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Remain each of you in his place; let no one go out of his place on the seventh day.” 30 So the people rested on the seventh day. 31 Now the house of Israel called its name manna. It was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.

Again, disobedience to God’s clear commands. We can identify with this on a human level. ‘Last time we kept any manna overnight it was all nasty in the morning. We’re not doing that again! Manna doesn’t keep well. Better eat it all today.’ Again, it seems that this was not a case that the people were lazy and didn’t gather double. It seems the double quantity was a curious thing. The leaders had to ask Moses about it. Apparently, they gathered, and when they measured it and prepared it, it was a double portion. So the ones who went out to gather on the Sabbath had probably gorged themselves on two days worth of food all at once, assuming it would spoil overnight and go to waste. They did not listen to God’s word. Have you ever eaten way too much one day? Your stomach stretches, and the next morning you feel ravenously hungry. So they go out to find more food and there is none, just as God had said. What was meant to be a day of rest and feasting and enjoying became for these disobedient Israelites, a day of fasting.

Not By Bread Alone

God was teaching his people to be dependent on him, to trust him. Jesus picks up on this in his temptation.

Matthew 4:4 But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”’

Jesus is quoting Moses in Deuteronomy 8:3, where Moses is recounting God’s provision of Manna in the wilderness.

Deuteronomy 8:3 And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.

The manna was training in dependence on God. Don’t trust your human wisdom. Don’t trust your instincts. Trust God. Believe what he says. Do things his way and he will bless you. Walk in obedience. Draw your sustenance from every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Manna was sweet. It tasted like wafers made with honey, which was a great luxury in that culture. In the Psalms, God’s word is compared with honey.

Psalm 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; 8 the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; 9 the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. 11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.

Psalm 119:103 How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!

A Testimony to Future Generations

God’s provision for his people was to be remembered.

16:32 Moses said, “This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Let an omer of it be kept throughout your generations, so that they may see the bread with which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.”’ 33 And Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar, and put an omer of manna in it, and place it before the LORD to be kept throughout your generations.” 34 As the LORD commanded Moses, so Aaron placed it before the testimony to be kept. 35 The people of Israel ate the manna forty years, till they came to a habitable land. They ate the manna till they came to the border of the land of Canaan. 36 (An omer is the tenth part of an ephah.)

A jar of Manna was to be placed before the LORD. This became one of the contents of the box that held the contract between God and his people. (This manna shows up again in Hebrews 9:4 and Revelation 2:17). It was to be a constant reminder of the gracious faithfulness of our loving God who provides for our physical and spiritual needs. God who of himself provides for our deepest needs, needs for deliverance, needs for release from our debts. God so loved undeserving sinners that he gave us his only Son Jesus.

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


April 10, 2011 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , | Leave a comment

Exodus 16:1-18; Hunger Satisfied

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20110403_exodus16_1-18.mp3

04/03 Exodus 16:1-18 Hunger Satisfied

Intro

We’ve been walking with Israel as God led his reluctant people out of Egypt. He told his people to stop fearing anyone but God, to be still and to watch as God saved them, because salvation belongs to the Lord. God humbled Egypt and crushed their pride at the bottom of the Red Sea. His people saw his great power, they feared the Lord, they believed in him, and they sang his praises. And then they grumbled. They were three days into the wilderness and when they found water it was bitter. But God revealed himself as their healer, their physician, and he made the bitter become sweet. Then he led them to Elim, an oasis in the desert, with twelve springs of water and seventy palms. God is abundantly able to provide for his people. Now, we catch up with them one month after the first passover and their exodus from Egypt.

Grumbling

16:1 They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. 2 And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, 3 and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

When the Egyptian army pursued and trapped them by the Red Sea, the people complained that Moses led them out to die in the wilderness because of a grave shortage in Egypt. They complained that it would have been better to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness. Then, on the other side of the sea, they complained because they had no water. The people grumbled against Moses and said ‘what shall we drink’.

This time it is lack of food. Now they are hungry. As Paul said ‘their god is their belly …with minds set on earthly things’ (Phil.3:19). And grumbling stomachs distort history. They wish that the LORD had killed them in Egypt rather than bringing them out in the desert to starve. In this complaint, they acknowledge the hand of the LORD against their enemies. God revealed his power against the Egyptians, ultimately killing their firstborn and drowning their army in the sea. Now they are saying ‘We wish God would have killed us along with them’. They reminisce about the good old days back in Egypt ‘when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full’ Forgotten are their bitter lives of hard service, ruthlessly made to labor as slaves. Forgotten are their groanings and cries for rescue from slavery. Now that they are hungry and don’t know where their next meal is coming from, they only remember the wonderful meals they had as slaves. They would prefer to die as slaves with full bellies than to serve God and live in dependence on him.

We who look on as readers of the narrative want to shout out ‘you fools! Don’t you remember God’s ten mighty acts of judgment against the cruel Egyptians and the hard hearted Pharaoh? Don’t you remember how God saved you from the Egyptians at the sea? God has taken you this far; he surely will not leave you to die for lack of food. Remember how God made bitter water sweet? Remember God’s past provision and trust him! Stop grumbling and believe in him. Stop complaining and humbly make your requests to him.’ From our perspective it is so clear.

But then we could think about the trials and inconveniences we face and wonder if the great cloud of witnesses surrounding us (Heb.12:1) want to shout out some of the same things to us.

God’s Gracious Response

How do you think God would respond to this kind of gross unbelief in his people, this lack of faith in his promises, this wish for death and longing for a return to slavery and the pleasures of Egypt? I’m thinking hundred pound hailstones would be in order, but that’s not what God does.

4 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not. 5 On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.”

Not a word of rebuke! No anger. No judgment. No condemnation. God meets their grumbling with his already planned provision. This is unmerited grace! The Israelites are not getting what they deserve. In response to thankless grumbling God showers them with his good provision. He literally pours out bread from heaven. He promises a daily portion of bread in the desert. This will be a test of the hearts of his people. Will they walk in his Torah, in his law, in his instruction or not? Will they listen to his voice? God is providing abundantly for physical and spiritual needs. Seven days worth of provision given in six days, double the amount given on the sixth day so that they can rest and worship and be refreshed on the seventh day, so that they can feed not only their physical needs but their souls in communion with God. The purpose is relationship with the living God.

6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the people of Israel, “At evening you shall know that it was the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, 7 and in the morning you shall see the glory of the LORD, because he has heard your grumbling against the LORD. For what are we, that you grumble against us?” 8 And Moses said, “When the LORD gives you in the evening meat to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because the LORD has heard your grumbling that you grumble against him––what are we? Your grumbling is not against us but against the LORD.” 9 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, ‘Come near before the LORD, for he has heard your grumbling.”’ 10 And as soon as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud. 11 And the LORD said to Moses, 12 “I have heard the grumbling of the people of Israel. Say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God.”’

The Knowledge of the LORD

Knowledge of the LORD is the goal. God acts for the good of unbelieving thankless rebellious sinners so that they will know who he is. God will reveal to them his hand of salvation. ‘You shall know that it was the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt’. He will reveal his fearful awesomeness, ‘you shall see the glory of the LORD’. God reveals himself as provider ‘when he gives you meat to eat and bread to the full’. You will recognize that your grumbling is against the LORD. In a God-centered universe, when we grumble, we grumble against God. Moses and Aaron are quick to point this out. What are we? This is not about us! Your grumbling is against the LORD. This is all about the LORD. ‘You shall know that I am the LORD your God.’ God gives abundant gifts to undeserving sinners to show off his nature and character. He is ‘the God of all grace’ (1Pet.5:10). He is patient, he is faithful, he is compassionate, he is slow to anger and abounding in loving-kindness.

Abundant Provision

13 In the evening quail came up and covered the camp, and in the morning dew lay around the camp. 14 And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake–like thing, fine as frost on the ground. 15 When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat. 16 This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Gather of it, each one of you, as much as he can eat. You shall each take an omer, according to the number of the persons that each of you has in his tent.”’ 17 And the people of Israel did so. They gathered, some more, some less. 18 But when they measured it with an omer, whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack. Each of them gathered as much as he could eat.

God provided meat for them to eat that very night, so that they would not even have to go to bed hungry and wait for the morning. Amazing grace! That next morning the people saw a curious new thing in the wilderness. They had to ask ‘What is it?’ Moses points to it as ‘the bread that the LORD has given you to eat’. God supernaturally provided for his people. An omer was approximately half a gallon. Everyone was responsible to get out and do their share. If you don’t work, you don’t eat. All they had to do was gather each morning what they needed for the day. God made sure each had enough and there was equality. In spite of their grumbling, God provided for the needs of his people. We can wonder what this might have looked like had God’s people simply trusted God’s promises and humbly prayed for God’s provision. But we don’t have to wonder.

Jesus’ Perfect Obedience in the Wilderness

We can compare and contrast Israel’s grumbling unbelief when they faced hunger in the wilderness, and Jesus’ hunger in the wilderness, and his response to temptation with perfect obedience to his Father.

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 and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” 4 But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”’

Both Jesus and the Israelites were led by God into the wilderness. The Israelites were less than 30 days in the wilderness, and they had only recently run out of food. Jesus was forty days without food and he was hungry. The Israelites had the pillar of fire and cloud to guide them, they had Moses and Aaron to lead them, they had the whole community to encourage one another; Jesus was alone with the tempter. The Israelites had no power over their circumstances – they could only grumble. Jesus, the Son of God, had all power over his circumstances, and could easily have turned the very rocks into bread to satisfy his hunger. But he responded with the words of Moses from Deuteronomy 8:3, stating his total trust in and dependence on his Father. Bread is not what sustains anyone, God sustains life. Jesus, as the perfect man, demonstrated a God-centered perspective on hunger. This life is not all about me and my needs being met. Life is to be lived to the glory of God, in total surrender to God’s will, total trust in God to provide, dependently listening to God’s voice. God is the center. I exist to bring him praise. Jesus’ temptation concluded with a refusal to worship or serve anyone but God. Jesus showed us what simple trust and perfect obedience should look like.

Jesus the Bread from Heaven

Jesus takes us back to this manna in the desert as a pointer to himself. He had himself fed thousands in the wilderness, giving substantial evidence that he is the promised one; God come in the flesh. Many began to follow him simply to get a free lunch.

John 6:26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”

Jesus attempted to get their eyes off their own temporary hunger and put their trust in him for eternal life. But they continued to insist on a mere momentary appeasement of their appetites when he was offering so much more.

John 6:30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”’ 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.”

They are so consumed by their own felt needs that they can’t hear what Jesus is saying to them. So Jesus says something that would shock them.

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. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.

Jesus claims to have come down from heaven to be the true bread that gives life. We see the theme of grumbling in the face of God’s abundant provision surface once again.

…41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” … 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.”

This shocked and offended his hearers. They were troubled at the implication that this new rabbi might be teaching his followers some form of cannibalism.

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.”

Jesus points back to the manna that God rained down from heaven as provision for physical sustenance and claims that he is the greater fulfillment of that picture. Jesus is the one the Father sent from heaven to meet the spiritual need of humanity. With startling language Jesus turns our thoughts from our sensual appetites to the deepest need of our souls. We have dishonored and offended a holy God. We have failed to give him the honor that is his due. We have sinned and the wages of sin is death (Rom.6:23). Jesus, our sin-bearing substitute, bore our sins in his body on the tree (1Pet.2:24). He was made to be sin for our sake (2Cor.5:21). We must come to him, to see in him the satisfaction of our true need, to take him as our own, to embrace him as our sustenance, our only hope. ‘Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you’ (Mt.26:26; Lk.22:19). ‘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’ (Mt.26:27-28). Just as an Israelite could have refused to gather God’s provision of life giving food in the wilderness, and willfully chosen to starve, so we can refuse to take God’s only provision that will sustain our souls for eternity. The question we must each answer is ‘Will we come to Jesus for eternal life? Will we trust in him and feed on him? Will we abide in him and draw our spiritual sustenance from him alone?’ We, like the Israelites, don’t deserve God’s grace to meet our need, but

Romans 5:6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. …8 while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 10 …while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son,…

God gives abundant grace to undeserving sinners to put on display the greatness of his character.

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


April 3, 2011 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment