Sunday, 28 March 2010

Sermon Notes on the Passion of Our Lord According to Luke with Reference to Phil 2.5-11: For Passion Sunday

Luke 23:1 Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate. 2 And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.” 
Jesus disturbed people…made them mad, mad enough to tell lies about him…anything to make him go away. 
3 And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” 
Jesus is not only King of the Jews. He is also our King. 
4 Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.” 
Jesus was guiltless. 
5 But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.”
6 When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. 7 And when he learned that he belonged to Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. 8 When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. 
Jesus performed signs and wonders. There is a dangerous temptation to seek those rather than the one from whom they come…to be focused on the gift rather than the giver. 
9 So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. 
Jesus didn’t have to justify or defend himself. 
10 The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. 11 And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. 
Jesus was treated badly. His followers will sometimes experience the same. 
Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. 12 And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other.
Jesus can cause the most unlikely people to be reconciled. An encounter with Jesus caused two godless men to be reconciled. If even they can be reconciled by that encounter, how can you or I refuse to forgive and at least offer to be reconciled with those we consider to be our enemies. 

13 Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, 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.” 
18 But they all cried out together, “Away with this man, and release to us Barabbas”— 19 a man who had been thrown into prison for an insurrection started in the city and for murder. 20 Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus, 21 but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify 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.” 23 But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. 
It’s not just urgent, loud cries that call for Jesus to be crucified. The author of Hebrews writes about Christians who had become “dull of hearing,” who had not reached the maturity they ought to have reached, who still needed “milk” or immaturity in the faith rather than “solid food” of maturity. And not only that, but some fell away. In doing that they were crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. (Heb 6.6)  Rather than with loud, urgent cries, they were calling for Jesus to be crucified by their dullness, immaturity, indifference and apathy. Are you and I allowing that voice to prevail in our lives, in our church and in our city? 
24 So Pilate decided that their demand should be granted. 25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, for whom they asked, but he delivered Jesus over to their will.
26 And as they led him away, they seized one Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, and laid on him the cross, to carry it behind Jesus. 27 And there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. 28 But turning to them Jesus said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’ 31 For if they do these things when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”
32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” 
Jesus forgives. If he forgave his own accusers and crucifiers, he will certainly forgive us. 
And they cast lots to divide his garments. 35 And the people stood by, watching, but the rulers scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 
If he is the Christ of God. If you are the King of the Jews. Have we set up some “ifs” which allow us to discount the claims of Jesus? If he is the Christ of God, he would give me what I want, he wouldn’t have let me or someone I love suffer. If he really loved me, he would allow me to get away with my sin, he would allow me to have what I want but which I know I ought not to have. 
38 There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.”
39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 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.” 
42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Jesus was innocent. One of the criminals, here, and the Centurion in v47 recognized it. 
We, too, will receive the due reward for our deeds unless we turn to Jesus, believe in him, give him our lives and ask him to remember us when he comes into his kingdom. 
44 It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 while the sun's light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. 
Jesus died. 
47 Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, “Certainly this man was innocent!” 48 And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. 49 And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things.
Are we also choosing to standing at a distance from Jesus and the cross? Keeping our distance because we don’t want to be associated with the suffering it represents. We don’t want to deny ourselves and get close enough to take up our crosses and follow Jesus. 
How to get closer to Jesus: 
Phil 2.5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 
Jesus did not live out of his divine, royal superiority. Jesus made himself nothing. To whom are you and I being called to make ourselves nothing in his name? With whom are you and I being called to take the form of a servant in his name? 
8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 
Jesus became obedient to the point of death. Is there DISobedience in our lives which is leading us to death unless we confess it, repent of it and stop it? 
9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 
Jesus is now highly exalted. His very name is powerful and above every other.
10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 
Every knee will one day bow to Jesus; willingly or unwillingly. Is there any area of our lives, or behaviour, which we’re keeping in reserve, in which we’re not prepared to bow before Jesus?
11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Jesus is LORD. Do our tongues confess that in the way we speak? How’s our language? How do we speak to one another? 

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