Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Leading a Rebellion: Jesus Rebelled Against Social Norms

Leading a Rebellion: Jesus
Rebelled Social Norms
-A rebel is a person who resists any authority, control, or tradition.
The Rebellion:
            Throughout Jesus’ ministry He went against what society felt was normal. He challenged what they believed in almost every aspect of life. Some of these things we have already discussed in detail previously, and others we will discuss in greater detail later.
-Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42)
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
-Jesus Welcomed the Children (Matt 19:13-15)
In today’s western culture, children play a much more public role. Children were always “to be seen but not heard.” They were under very strict rules, and held to a high standard. They were allowed to play up until the point where they could work and then they were expected to be working to help the family. Children were never allowed to run the family like Honey Boo Boo does today. Obviously, that’s an extreme example, but children today run more of the family than ever would have been normal in Biblical times with ball games, practices, p/t jobs to earn money for themselves and not the family. We can see how children were viewed by seeing how the disciples reprimanded the parents for letting the children be around Jesus.
 Then the people brought their little children to Jesus so he could put his hands on them and pray for them. His followers told them to stop, 14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me. Don’t stop them, because the kingdom of heaven belongs to people who are like these children.” 15 After Jesus put his hands on the children, he left there.
-Greatness Through Serving (Mark 10:35-45)
Do you remember when Jesus washed his disciples’ feet? Whenever someone entered a home for the night, the lowest person on the proverbial totem pole washed everyone else’s feet. At this particular time nobody felt like they were the lowest person so Jesus took it upon Himself to grab a towel, and a basin of water and started washing feet.
Saying that “Greatness comes through serving” back then would be like saying “winning comes by losing.” If that’s the case I’m the best Chess player there is. He also said in Matthew 20:16 “The first will be last and the last will be first.” In other words, “it may seem like your winning according to the world’s standards (Big house, nice car, hot wife, nice family picture for the annual Christmas card), but in reality you are really losing. And those who seem to be losing are really winning.”
And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.” 38 Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 And they said to him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized, 40 but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” 41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be indignant at James and John. 42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,[a] 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave[b] of all. 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.”
-Murder and Adultery (Matt 5:21-22; 27-28)
Jesus turned the tables on the people who thought they were keeping the laws. Jesus actually intensified the laws making everyone guilty.
You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
-Divorce (Matt 19:9)
The Old Testament says in Deut. 24:1 says that a man can give his wife a certificate of divorce if he finds a defect in her. When Jesus was questioned about divorce He said that Moses allowed that because of the hardness of the Jews’ hearts, but it was never God’s intention. At Jesus’ time according to the laws and traditions of the Jews, they could divorce their wife if:
-she had a bodily defect that was previously unknown before the wedding. (This would be like a warranty on a car. There was even a suggestion that a woman should be inspected by a female relative prior to the wedding.)
-she had any defects that would prevent a priest from serving at the temple. i.e. a hunchback, she became blind, deaf, lame, disfigured, deformed, had a crippled hand or foot, an eye defect, or damaged sexual organs.
-she had bad breath, a mole, or if she was an excessive sweater.
-a dog bit her, and if that dog bite left a scar, it would be a bodily defect and a cause for divorce.
-she had a harsh voice.
-she spoke too loudly. If while talking in her house the neighbors next door could hear her it was a cause for divorce.
-she feeds her husband the wrong food or commits another offense according to the Jewish dietary restriction. If she used too much or not enough salt, it was a cause for divorce.
-she went outside with her head uncovered.
-she cursed her in-laws with her husband present.
-she talked with other men.
-she made a vow and didn’t keep it.

But Jesus gave His grounds for divorce.
And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.

Christianity in America is at its all-time lowest point of popularity, and its only getting worse. If you’re going to be a Bible believing Christian in America you better be prepared to swim against the stream. All you have to do to prove my point is go online, or if you don’t have facebook, go to a public place and pass out fliers announcing that: 1) You believe Jesus is the ONLY way to go to Heaven; 2) You believe homosexuality is a sin; 3) you believe abortion is murder. Then wait to see how popular you are.
Right is right and wrong is wrong. God doesn’t work off of popular opinion, and if you’re going to be a Christian you better be willing to stand out. Jesus disagreed with popular opinion and if it isn’t Biblical so should you.
My challenge for the week: Find three popular opinions that differ from the Bible. And don’t pick the easy ones. It could be about sex, social media, child rearing, marriage, divorce, work, welfare, drugs….

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Leading a Rebellion: Jesus--Rebelled Against Expectations

Leading a Rebellion: Jesus
Rebelled Against Expectations
-A rebel is a person who resists any authority, control, or tradition.
Scripture: 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.

The Story So Far:
            The Jews had certain expectations for what the Messiah would look like. They even had scripture with which to back it up. It isn’t that the Jews were Biblically illiterate as to why they missed the promised Messiah, it’s because they expected a different type of Messiah, and were too stubborn and bullheaded to admit that they might have been wrong.
            The Jews had expected to be able to recognize the Messiah, but prophecies in Isa 53 say that, “he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.” Or in other words He looked like everybody else. We see pictures of Him and He is always wearing a white robe, with a blue sash, and His hair and beard are amazing. You can just look at Him and say, “Well, obviously, that’s the Messiah!” The other major expectation was that He would be an earthly, conquering king. Ever since Moses’ time God had provided major victories over Israel’s enemies which made their God look awesome. Every nation and every country had their own god or gods, and if one country beat another in war it meant that their god was better than the other nation’s god. It was a “my dad can beat up your dad” mentality. By the time Jesus had shown up Israel had been under someone else’s rule for several hundred years. They expected the Messiah, who was to be a descendant of David (a mighty warrior leader of Israel) to lead a rebellion against the Romans, gain sovereignty, and expand its boundaries to include the entire world until there were no other gods to be worshiped anywhere. Unfortunately, many of them weren’t true worshipers of God themselves. They were worshipers of a religious system and traditions. They loved the attention from men, loved being important, and loved wearing fancy costumes.
            There are a lot of passages that describe the Messiah as a conquering king, but the idea that their Messiah would come, die, and come back a second time as Christians understand it was unfathomable to them. Even JBAP came preaching about a conquering Messiah in Luke 3 saying the Messiah would chop down trees that didn’t bear fruit and burn the useless parts in an unquenchable fire. His understanding that the Messiah would come as a conquering hero may have led him to question if Jesus was actually the Messiah after all. He sent his messengers to ask Jesus if He was the Messiah or should they be expecting another. Jesus answered him by telling the messengers to report back what they saw, the blind see, the lame walk, and the poor have the gospel preached to them.

The Rebellion:
            So what did Jesus coming looking like that everyone missed Him? Just as there are passages that prophecy that the Messiah will come as a conquering hero, there are other passages that prophecy that He will come as a suffering servant, and as a shepherd, a very lowly position.

Isaiah 53
 Who has believed what he has heard from us?[a]
    And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For he grew up before him like a young plant,
    and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
    and no beauty that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected[b] by men;
    a man of sorrows,[
c] and acquainted with[d] grief;[e]
and as one from whom men hide their faces[
    he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Surely he has borne our griefs
    and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
    smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his wounds we are healed.
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.
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.
By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
    and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
    stricken for the transgression of my people?
And they made his grave with the wicked
    and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
    and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him;
    he has put him to grief;[g]
when his soul makes[
h] an offering for guilt,
    he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see[i] and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
    make many to be accounted righteous,
    and he shall bear their iniquities.
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.

            They were expecting a Messiah to come in on a war horse—Jesus rode the foal of a donkey into Jerusalem for His triumphal entry. They expected Him to wipe out every pagan, and those that were not true believers—Jesus offered peace and acceptance to Gentiles and sinners alike. They expected Him to raise up a powerful rebellion against the Romans—Jesus often retreated when the crowds grew really large, and intentionally drove many of them away. They expected Him to deal with their physical captors—Jesus dealt with their spiritual captors of sin.
            Jesus fulfilled, and is fulfilling every prophecy concerning the Messiah. He just did it, and is doing it, in a way that the Jews did not expect. Here’s an interesting bit of information
            The following probabilities are taken from Peter Stoner in Science Speaks (Moody Press, 1963) to show that coincidence is ruled out by the science of probability. Stoner says that by using the modern science of probability in reference to eight prophecies, 'we find that the chance that any man might have lived down to the present time and fulfilled all eight prophecies is 1 in 10 to the the 17th power." That would be 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000. In order to help us comprehend this staggering probability, Stoner illustrates it by supposing that "we take 10 to the 17th power silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They will cover all of the state two feet deep.
            "Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man."
            Stoner considers 48 prophecies and says, "we find the chance that any one man fulfilled all 48 prophecies to be 1 in 10 to the the 157th power, or 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,00 0,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,00 0,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,00 0.
            The estimated number of electrons in the universe is around 1079. It should be quite evident that Jesus did not fulfill the prophecies by accident."
            This information was taken from the book Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell
            Maybe God has dealt with you in a way that you expected. Maybe your parents got divorced. Maybe your parents don’t even like you or want you around. Maybe you have lost loved ones. Or someone we love may have a terrible disease. God may not deal with us in the way we expect Him too. He is not a vending machine where we tell Him what we want and He gets it for us. He knows what’s best for us, and will give us what we need. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
            My challenge for this week is to look back at your life and think about three things that you thought were just the worst thing that could have happened to you, but can see now that God had a special plan.
            I remember sending a note to a girl I liked in the fourth grade asking her if she would “go out” with me. Where we were to go, I have no idea. I taped a tootsie pop to it and stuck it in her desk. She wrote that she didn’t want to on my original note, couldn’t even write a new note, and kept the tootsie pop. I thought that was the worst. It was embarrassing and she kept my tootsie pop. But looking back, clearly I wasn’t supposed to be with her anyways.  
            I tried out for the basketball two times in school and didn’t make the cut either time. Basketball was a huge deal at our school, and I couldn’t understand why it happened. I then progressed in other sports until I eventually became an All-American and also got 2nd place in the 1500 at the Division III National Championship.
            What about you? What has God done in your life?
            What does Jesus being the Messiah mean to you? He came to conquer. He conquered sin and death, setting everyone who trusts in Him free. Have you accepted Him as your Lord and Saviour?


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Leading a Rebellion: Peter

Leading a Rebellion: Peter
Acts 10:9-16
-A rebel is a person who resists any authority, control, or tradition.
The Background:
-Remember in our discussion about the first Pentecost after Jesus death, burial, and resurrection, where the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples, like flaming tongues and they began speaking in different languages?
-One of the last things Jesus said to the disciples is known as the Great Commission, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit….” It has now been 8-10 years after that day of Pentecost and for the most part the disciples of Christ still have not attempted to reach out to anyone other than other Jews. They have not attempted to make disciples of all nations as they were told.
-One of the reasons is because of the huge cultural difference between Jews and the rest of the world. In the Bible there are three main types of people: 1) The Jews; 2) Gentiles, which were anyone who is not a Jew; 3) and the Samaritans, which were a cross between the Jews and the Gentiles. For the most part Gentiles didn’t like Jews, Jews didn’t like Gentiles, and both Jew and Gentile didn’t like the Samaritans.
-From the very beginning when God established a covenant relationship with Abraham, He separated him from his family and set him apart. Abraham and his descendants were told time and time again not to be like other nations, and not to worship the way they worship. He even told them to wipe out every man, woman, and child from all of the nations that were occupying the Promise Land before Israel got there so they would not be a snare to them. He forbade them from intermarrying with other nations so as to keep Israel separate and holy for God’s work through them.
-But one of the main distinctions between Jews and Gentiles is the dietary restrictions the Jews adhered to. Daniel, Shadrack, Meshack, and Abed-Nego refused to eat the king’s food because of Jewish dietary restrictions. Even Jews to this day will adhere to certain foods. A professor of mine in seminary had a friend who was Jewish. My professor invited his friend and their family over for dinner. The Jewish family gladly agreed and showed up with a large cooler with their meal in it, paper plates, plastic cups, and plastic cutlery in Ziploc bags. If you did not know their culture you would have been deeply offended. They ate different foods, cooked in the proper Jewish fashion, and brought their own dishes because the gentile dishes were unclean.
-The book of Leviticus introduces the Jewish dietary restrictions that every Jew was to follow. Almost everything in life from food and drinks, to dishes and people were separated into two categories: clean, and unclean. If a person was clean they could fellowship with others, and participate in the worship of God. If you consumed clean food and drinks from clean containers with clean people you would stay clean yourself. If any of those items were unclean, you would be unclean. For instance, eating with a Gentile, would have made you unclean. Unclean people were separated from the group for a period of time, unless they had an ongoing illness or sickness, and were not allowed to participate in worshiping with God.
-List of unclean animals: bat, camel, chameleon, cormorant, eagle, ferret, owl, rabbit, hawk, heron, lizard, mole, mouse, pelicans, pig, ravens, snail, stork, tortoise, vulture, and weasel.
-Lots of things could make a person ceremonially unclean besides what they eat: Being in a gentile’s home, touching a dead body, having a skin disorder, having a discharge of any sort, and a woman’s monthly menstruation cycle.

The Story So Far:
-Peter had just raised a dead woman back to life and everybody was amazed at what he did, and wanted to hear his message, so he stuck around for a few days in the town of Joppa. While he was in Joppa he stayed at a man named Simon’s house whose occupation was a tanner. This is someone who took dead animals, skinned them, and made them into leather to sell. Remember what we just said about what touching a dead animal would do to a Jewish person—it would make them unclean. Being a tanner would not have been a very popular profession in the Jewish world, and the smell of his workshop would have been atrocious. There was no electric fans to push the smell around.

The Rebellion:
Scripture: Acts 10:9-16
The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour[a] to pray. 10 And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance 11 and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” 15 And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” 16 This happened three times, and the thing was taken up at once to heaven.
-BTW Vs 14 says, “By no means, Lord” You can’t say “no” and call Him “Lord.” You either do what He tells you to do, or you can’t call Him Lord. Some of you all have trusted Jesus as your savior but not as your Lord. 
-Now Peter was free to eat whatever he wanted with no care as to whether it was clean or unclean.  He could eat pork, something that was previously unclean. He could reach into his bag and pull out a jar of Pig’s Feet, or Pickled Pig’s Lips and start munching on them if he wanted to.
-It was not an easy break for Peter. There were times when he would eat with the Gentiles, eat their food, and not care about clean or unclean, but there were other times when the Jews were in town, that he would only eat with the Jews. This confused the Gentiles, and Paul had to correct him on this behavior. Galatian 2:11-13
But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party.[a] 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But for the most part, from that point on Jewish Christians, or Messianic Jews, tore down the cultural wall that separated the Jews from the Gentiles. 
-Now that there was no wall separating the Jewish culture from the rest of the world, they had no excuse not to follow the Great Commission and making disciples of all the nations.
-As if there were not enough problems between the Jews and the early Christians, but now all of the Jews that are now professing Christ could be seen eating foods that were ceremonially unclean to them for thousands of years. These were people who prized their laws and traditions over their relationship with God. By breaking with the dietary restrictions, they were rebelling against all of the laws and traditions of their culture.   

-Is there anything separating you from a different culture that may hinder your from relating with them and ultimately sharing the gospel with them?
-We all exist in these micro-cultures inside the bigger culture of America. You might exist in the jock culture, music culture, artsy culture, academic culture, or whatever else there may be. My challenge for you this week is to step out of your comfort zone and attempt to have a real honest-to-goodness conversation with someone in a different micro-culture.