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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
April 1, 2018
The Lord is Risen! This morning we celebrate the most glorious event that has happened in all of human history. The Lord Jesus Christ conquered sin and death by rising from the grave on the third day after He was crucified. The price for man’s sin had been paid. Redemption was complete, and the promise of forgiveness of sin and eternal life secured when Jesus Christ set aside His grave clothes and walked out of the tomb alive in His glorified, resurrected body. The Lord is Risen! We have the greatest and most important message of all time to proclaim to humanity that continues to suffer in the darkness of ignorance and blindness of sin. There is a hope for the future secure in the hands of God assured that heaven is the final home for all that place their faith in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. However, the vast majority of humanity gropes as they step forward into the daily unknown of what will happen. There is a quest to know what the future holds both in the near and far.
Man’s Quest to Know the Future
Man is always curious about what the future will be. There are a thousand questions about what will happen the rest of today and what tomorrow may bring. How often do you check the weather forecast? Not just for today, but for tomorrow and ten days forward. Sports enthusiasts like to talk about the prospects of their favorite teams. Investors watch carefully trying to predict trends in the stock market and people in business want to know what the economic conditions will be next week, next month and next year. Political pundits constantly talk about what the latest polls indicate about who will win the next election even if it is seven months away. On the more personal levels, young children dream about what they will be when they grow up. Young adults wants to know what job they will have and will they get married and to whom? Married adults wonder about having children and moving to their dream house. Or if older, who will their children marry and what about grandchildren? What about retirement? And after this year’s flu season, will I stay healthy? Will I recover from being sick? And perhaps even thought about when will I die? People want to know the future.
There are legitimate means by which knowledge is gained and wisdom used to order to make predictions of high probability about the future for planning purposes. Marketing research helps business people make decisions about new products. It is wise to test things on a small scale before making an extensive investment. The purpose of single people dating is to get to know each other well enough to be able to determine if that other person would be a good life-time partner. There are tests you can take that will help you figure out what types of careers might be of most interest to you so that you can plan and prepare accordingly. It is good to apply wisdom in planning for the future. The excellent wife of Proverbs 31 planned for the winter and had her family prepared for when the snows came. A wise general carefully makes plans before entering battle (Proverbs 24:6). The farmer plans for the winter by harvesting in the summer (Proverbs 10:5). A builder plans carefully before he begins his work lest he should not be able to finish and be found a fool (Luke 14:28-30). It is legitimate to gather knowledge in order to predict and plan for the future by wisdom.
There are also illegitimate ways to try to try to determine what the future will bring. In every culture except Biblical Christianity there is some ritual by which people seek to predict the future. Zoroastrianism came up with several things including the Horoscope (409 B.C.). Locally you can find people that operate businesses as fortune tellers using such things as crystal balls, Tarot cards, Palm reading and games like Ouija to promote the illusion they can reveal the future. Other practices of divination also abound including numerology, bibliomancy (opening a book at random to see what it says, some people even treat the Holy Scriptures this way), sortilage (casting dice or lots), rhabdomancy (divining rods, etc.), and oneiromancy (interpretation of dreams). Additional means of divination are practiced in other cultures. The Chinese would read tea leaves. Some involve sacrificing an animal, and then examining its entrails as a sign of the future. The ancient Romans had a practice of using chickens. It was a good sign if a chicken was put in its cage and it ate its food greedily. It was a bad sign if it didn’t eat. The practice soon developed that if you wanted a good sign, you starved the chicken first. That practice did risk starving the chicken too much so that they would get sick and not eat. Apparently one counsel in the Punic Wars became frustrated and threw his hens overboard into the sea declaring, “Let them drink if they won’t eat.”
It has been estimated that 95% of all fortune telling is sheer nonsense or trickery with the remaining 5% being the manifestation of occultic power. I would think that the percentage of occultic power is much higher, but such practices often lead to foolishness such as with the chickens mentioned above. There are also cases like the Tomb of Eve near Jedda, Arabia which was visited annually by thousands of Muslims who, after dropping a coin in a slot, asked and received advice from “Eve” through a speaking tube. When this alleged mausoleum was ordered destroyed in 1927, the woman that had run the racket from an underground room retired with a fortune.
At best, seeking to know your future by fortune telling is foolishness, but it can also be dangerous since you are involving yourself with the occult which is the domain of Satan. You risk not only bad advice which will get you in all sorts of trouble, but also demonic oppression which leads to evil and can destroy your sanity.
Should we be concerned about the future? Of course, for as C.G. Kettering said, “you will spend the rest of your life there.” But as you seek wisdom in planning for the future, be sure and understand that your destiny depends on the choices you make and is ultimately determined by God’s sovereignty. It is trust in God that enables you to have confidence as you face the future regardless of what it will bring. In our texts this morning, Matthew 20:17-19; Mark 10:32-34 & Luke 18:31-34, we find that Jesus has that confidence and so is able to boldly go forward even though He knows it includes much suffering. Jesus knew His destiny and was able to fulfill it because of His complete trust and submission to God the Father.
Jesus has just spoken with the rich young ruler resulting in that man going away because he was not willing to exchange his worldly wealth for heavenly treasure in following Jesus. Jesus’ concluding statement and illustration that it was impossible for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven had shocked the disciples causing them to wonder who then could be saved. Jesus responded that “with people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (See: How To Obtain Eternal Life)
Peter then asked Jesus about what they would receive having left everything to follow Jesus to which Jesus responded that the twelve disciples would each sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel when He sat on His glorious throne in the regeneration – the coming Millennium (Matthew 19:28). He continued on to say that all those that had left family, homes and farms would receive many times as much and inherit eternal life (Matthew 19:29). Jesus then added a statement and illustration about equality in the coming kingdom as a warning to them of being envious of what God graciously gives. (See: Rewards and Equality in the Kingdom)
That is the background for what happens next. Mark 10:32 states, “They were on the road going up to Jerusalem. . .” Matthew 20:17 simply summarizes “As Jesus was about to go up to Jerusalem.” Since the next indication of location in Mark 10:46 and Luke 18:35 is that Jesus is approaching Jericho, we can conclude that Jesus is leaving Perea and is on the road that leads from the Jordan river up to Jericho and then goes south and then up into the mountains to Jerusalem some 20 miles away.
Mark 10:32 then adds, “and Jesus was walking on ahead of them; and they were amazed, and those who followed were fearful. And again He took the twelve aside and began to tell them what was going to happen to Him.” Matthew and Luke just comment that Jesus takes the twelve asked by themselves and begins to speak to them. I think you can get the picture. Jesus is up front with the disciples trailing and then another group following. There were often crowds, sometime large, that followed Jesus and the disciples. From Mark’s comment this separation as they traveled is due to being both amazed and being fearful. It is Jesus that turns around and takes the twelves aside to again explain what will happen in the days to come. What He says will amaze them more and be a cause of both fear and peace.
Luke 18:31 records He begins, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished.” Jesus has talked about this subject before, and here He reminds them that nothing that is going to occur will be happenstance. All of it will be according what the prophets have already said will take place. This will be a cause of greater amazement later as they look back at this prediction and wonder at God’s sovereign hand in human affairs.
Mark 10:33-34 then continues, “and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death, and will hand Him over to the Gentiles. They will mock Him and spit on Him, and scourge and kill Him, (Matthew 20:19 specifically states He will be crucified), and three days later He will rise again.”
Jesus has been telling His disciples about what would happen when they got to Jerusalem ever since Peter’s confession that Jesus was the Christ when they were in Caesarea Philippi (Matthew 16). He told them again after the transfiguration and the healing of the demon possessed boy (Matthew 17). Now Jesus takes them aside one more time and seeks to stress to them what will occur with the next couple of weeks. It would happen just as the prophets had said for God was in control. There would erupt a great time of suffering for Jesus, but there is victory in the end.
Jesus had said earlier that He would suffer many things from the elders, chief priests and scribes. That suffering had already started to some degree with the constant challenges Jesus has received from the scribes and Pharisees. They often sought to trick Him into saying something wrong that would cause Him to lose favor with the people. That would get a lot worse in Jerusalem where He would be arrested and tried by the chief priests and scribes who would deliver Him up to the Gentiles to be mocked and scourged. They would then demand He be crucified and the Gentiles would comply.
How would you react if it was revealed to you that you would suffer in that manner? Next week you will be arrested, tortured and then murdered. Would anyone here look forward to such a plan for your future? Would you want to know in advance that would be your destiny? Jesus knows that this is His destiny and yet He does not shy away from it. We know from Luke 22 His emotional reaction to this when He prays earnestly in the Garden the night before His crucifixion that if there were any other way that the Father would grant it. The anticipation of what was to come brought such emotional agony that He sweat great drops of blood. But Jesus knew that what would happen in Jerusalem was central to the Father’s plan, and so “for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame . . .” (Hebrews 12:2), He sought to do the Father’s will above all else.
Many people do not understand the centrality or the purpose of Jesus’ suffering. Some have thought it to be just another one of the tragedies of Roman imperialism taken out on an innocent but somewhat deluded Jewish teacher. Others do slightly better and see Jesus’ suffering as the great moral example, but without a purpose for the suffering, the example is just an emotional warm fuzzy without substance. Others understand that the suffering had something to do with sin and the redemption of the world, but that is seen more in terms of the price paid by Jesus to become a great religious leader than it being of personal effect.
The truth is that Jesus’ suffering is central in God’s plan to redeem man from His sin. All of the Old Testament symbols and types demonstrated that the Messiah would have to die for the sins of a world that could never pay for those sins itself. Though it was predicted that none of the Messiah’s bones would be broken (Psalm 34:20; John 10:36), yet it was also predicted that He would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12-13; Matthew 27:9), be deserted by His friends (Psalm 22:6-8), His hands and feet would be pierced (Psalm 22:16), He would be given gall to drink (Psalm 69:21), He would cry out(Psalm 22:1), and lots would be cast for His garments (Psalm 22:18). Isaiah 53:3-12 predicted all these points and more. He is the “suffering servant.”
3 He was despised and forsake of men, A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. 4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. 6 All of like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way, But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to Fall on Him. 7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth: Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth. 8 But 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, For the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due? 9 His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth. 10 But the Lord was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand. 11 As a result of the anguish of His soul He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured our Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.
Isaiah’s message is that the Messiah would suffer and pay the penalty of our sin in order to bring salvation, and that suffering must and would include His death. Our salvation has been called the “Scarlet Thread of Redemption” around whose cord all the rest of the Scriptures are woven. The penalty of sin is death, and death is required to pay for it. The sin of Adam and Eve brought about the death of an animal to make a covering for their nakedness. All the Old Testament sacrifices, both those of the Patriarchs and those required under the Mosaic Law, were constant reminders of sin and its result of death. Blood sacrifices were required because as Leviticus 17:11 states, “the life of the flesh is in the blood,” and it is the giving of the life that makes atonement. The central figure of redemption is the Messiah and His act of redemption was His suffering and death on the Cross. It is His sacrificial death that makes atonement for sin and brings redemption.
All that Jesus said would come true in just a few days time. All the Old Testament prophecies would be fulfilled. He would be delivered to the chief priest and scribes, and His betrayal would be by one that feigned love for Him – Judas Iscariot. The disciples would scatter out of fear, and Jesus would be condemned to death. The Jews could not legally carry out that a death sentence, but they could pronounce Him worthy of it and try to convince the Roman government to carry out the verdict. That is exactly what happened. The Jewish religious leaders condemned Jesus and then turned Him over to the Roman government, and Pilate yielded to them in order for the death sentence to be carried out. They in turn mocked Him by placing an old purple robe on Him, and then after bowing down to Him in false homage, they would hit Him or spit upon Him. They then scourged Him and finally led Him up to Calvary to be nailed to the cross upon which He died.
It is important to note that the Scriptures refer to Jesus’ sufferings before and during the crucifixion as plural, for the suffering He underwent was multifaceted. The physical pain itself was excruciating and felt on several levels, that sort of torture was one of the reasons the Romans chose crucifixion as the preferred method of execution of criminals and non-Roman citizens. Crucifixion causes its victim to suffocate. The body is hung in such a way that it collapses the chest cavity and you have to lift yourself up in order to take a breath. A person’s own body weight hinders breathing. As the muscles tire and give out, the shooting pain of the fatigued muscles makes it even more difficult to breathe and increases the agony. Add to this the fact that Jesus was nailed to the cross instead of tied. There is the piercing pain of the nails being driven through His hands and feet, then the tearing pain as the cross was lifted up and dropped into its hole and the flesh is torn against the nails and continues with every effort to breathe. Add to this suffering that scourging done beforehand. The flesh is first lacerated as the leather strips with bits of stone tied to the ends lash against the bare back. The scourging would tear pieces of flesh the body, and often internal organs would be exposed. Such was the physical pain Jesus suffered.
But physical pain was only part of the agony. Worse for him was the emotional, mental and spiritual agony. There was the pain of humiliation, of rejection, of unjust guilt, and betrayal, and then bearing the sins of the world, of being innocent, yet condemned. That horrible moment when even the Father turned His back on the Son as He bore all of man’s sin in Himself. This pain far exceeded the physical pain, and there is good evidence in the blood and water that flowed out of His side after His death, that Jesus died from a heart ruptured over the emotional grief He had to endure, and not the physical stresses of the crucifixion.
Jesus foretold that He was going to Jerusalem to suffer and be crucified, but He concluded that prediction with victory. On the third day He would be raised up. Jesus would be crucified, but He would not stay dead for He would be glorified. It was for the joy of that glorification that Jesus endured the cross while despising the shame (Hebrews 12:2). He became the “first born from the dead” (Colossians 1:18) among many brethren. He is the resurrection and the life for all will believe in Him (John 11:25). He is now ascended to the right hand of the Father where He makes intercession on our behalf (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 10:12). He is the one before whom every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord (Philippians 2:10), and the one who is found worthy to open the seals in Revelation 5 because He is the one of whom it is proclaimed, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing” (Revelation 5:12). He is the lamp of heaven (Revelation 21:23)
Jesus future included the suffering, but His destiny was glorification, and He achieved His destiny because He was completely submissive to the will of the Father (John 5:30). Jesus knew His destiny and He achieved it. What about you?
Your destiny can also be known. The apostle John wrote, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, in order that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). Your destiny does not have to be a mystery. In fact it is not. 1 John 5:12 puts it very plainly, “He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.” Your destiny is determined by your relationship to the Son of God.
Jesus said in John 3:14-21, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”
What is your destiny? There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8;1), but those who have not placed their faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation remain in God’s condemnation. Your destiny will either be heaven or hell. If your name is in the book of life, it is heaven, if your name is not in the book of life, it is hell (Revelation 20:15). There is no in-between, and after you die there is no second chance, and you have no idea when you might die, it could be this afternoon!
The gospel boils down to believing the truth about Jesus Christ. Here are the essentials. 1) Man is sinful and separated from God with no hope of forgiveness or eternal life in any effort of his own. 2) Jesus is God in human flesh who was sinless, yet paid the price of man’s sin by His voluntary sacrificial substitutionary death on the cross. 3) He offers forgiveness of sin and eternal life to all those believe His claims and trust Him to keep His promises. 4) Jesus resurrection proves He will keep all His promises including returning from heaven where He is currently preparing a place for those that belong to Him and at the right hand of the Father interceding for them. He will then take us to be with Him forever.
Saving faith in Jesus Christ will have consequences in your purpose in life and how you live because of what you now believe. It is no mere intellectual assent. Those who make it so have a deficient faith in the wrong Jesus. Those who do not believe will remain under God’s wrath and will eventually be judged at the Great White Throne and cast into eternal Hell (Revelation 20).
While your immediate future remains uncertain, your eternal destiny can be certain. What do you believe?
If you are not certain you will spend eternity in heaven, then talk with any of our church leaders. We would be glad to answer your questions and show you to the path of life. If you know without doubt that if you died today you would be in the presence of Jesus Christ for eternity, then rejoice and tell others – He is Risen!
Jesus’ resurrection secures _________, but most of humanity gropes unknowingly toward the future
Man’s Quest to Know the Future
Man is always curious about will happen today and what ______________ will bring
It is legitimate to gain knowledge and use wisdom to make _____________ of future probability
It is evil to use ____________ methods of predicting the future
It is estimated that 95% of fortune telling is ____________with 5% being manifestations of occultic power
At best, fortune telling is foolishness, but it can also be ______________ and very dangerous
You make choices which affect your future, but it is trust in ___________that brings confidence and peace
What is impossible for man is _____________ with God – even the salvation of the rich
The disciples would be rewarded for their sacrifices, but God’s grace brings ____________ in the kingdom
Jesus and the disciples are heading to Jericho on their way to _______________- Matt. 20:17; Mark 10:32
Jesus is in the lead with the disciples following when He turns aside to talk with them about the __________
Jesus reiterates what He has said before about His future in Jerusalem as already __________by the prophets
Jesus stresses His suffering in Jerusalem including His crucifixion before rising from the dead___ days later
Jesus has already been consistently harassed by the religious leaders, but it will be a lot ______in Jerusalem
There was emotional revulsion at the suffering to come, but Jesus foremost wanted ________will(Luke 22)
Most people do not understand the purpose of Jesus’ suffering due to ___________________ blindness
Jesus’ suffering was central in God’s plan of redemption as detailed in ______________ prophecies
Jesus suffered in paying the penalty of man’s sin with His own death – the __________ was necessary
All that Jesus predicted came ____in just a few days time – betrayed, arrested, tried, beaten, crucified, buried
Jesus’ suffered in multiple ways – the ______________ pain was only part of the agony
Worse for Him was the emotional, mental and _____________ agony of bearing the sin of mankind
The blood and water and flowed from the spear piercing His side are evidence of a ______________ heart
Jesus prediction of His suffering in Jerusalem concluded with His ___________ over it all – resurrection!
It was for the joy of the __________________ that followed that Jesus endured the cross – Hebrews 12:2
Every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is _____________ (Phil 2:10)
Jesus knew His future included suffering, but He endured in submission to the Father’s will & was _______
Your future destiny can be known – 1 John 5:12-13 – do you have the __________ or not?
There is _____ condemnation for those in Christ (Rom. 8:1), but those who are not remain condemned
The gospel, the good news of God’s offer of salvation, rests on Jesus Christ and __________ in Him
1) Man is _________, separated from God and without hope in his own efforts to attain righteousness
2) Jesus is God in human flesh who paid the price of man’s sin by His sacrificial _________ on the cross
3) Forgiveness of sin & eternal life is granted to those who __________ Jesus’ claims and promises
4) Jesus’ ___________ proves all His claims are true and that He will keep all His promises
Saving faith in Jesus Christ necessarily _________your purpose & manner of life because of your new belief
Your immediate future remains uncertain, but your eternal __________can be certain – what do you believe?
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help. Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Count how many times a reference is made to Jesus. 2) Discuss with your parents what it means to believe in Jesus and how that can save you from your sin.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. Why do humans want to know the future? What do would you like to know about the future? What do you do to make predictions about what will happen in the future? What are legitimate ways to predict the future? What are illegitimate ways to try to know the future? Why are those methods foolish? Why are they dangerous? What is the relationship of your choices to what will happen in the future? What is the relationship between trusting God and being able to face the future with confidence and peace? Why can you trust God for your future? How did Jesus demonstrate His trust of the Father for His future? Where is Jesus when He takes His disciples aside and reminds them about what will happen when they get to Jerusalem? Why does He remind them that what will happen has already been foretold by the prophets? What will Jesus suffer when He gets to Jerusalem? Detail the predictions (such as in Isaiah 53) and events that fulfilled them? Why did Jesus have to suffer? Why did He have to die? Why did He have to die on a cross? Jesus endured immense physical suffering, but what was worse and why? Did crucifixion kill Jesus? Why or why not? Why did Jesus endure the cross? How was Jesus glorified after His resurrection? How will He be further glorified in the future? Jesus knew His future included suffering, but still completely submitted to the Father and was glorified. Do you know your destiny? Explain. What promises in the Scriptures can enable you to know your future? If you do not know you are going to heaven, what will need to change according to the Scriptures in order to be assured that will be your destiny? What is the gospel? What are the essential elements in it? What do you personally believe about Jesus Christ?
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