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Second in a series from Isaiah February 6, 2012

Posted by roberttalley in Isaiah, Parables of Jesus, Repentance.
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Isaiah 55

In the last chapter, God proclaims hope in the midst of disaster. In this chapter we have an invitation to grab hold of that hope.

A. God invites us to satisfaction (verses 1-5). It should be noted that the invitation goes far beyond physical satisfaction. Notice in verse 3 Isaiah says, “That your soul may live.” In other words, the hope God offers goes beyond physical satisfaction. It involves our whole being.

1. Satisfaction cannot be earned (verses 1-2). Remember that Isaiah is writing to people who have lost homeland and homes, family and friends, dignity and livelihood. God offers forgiveness but only to those who come.

2. Satisfaction does demand a response (verse 3a). “A mother, a son, and a daughter are clinging to the upper branches of a large tree surrounded by raging flood waters. The rescue team in a boat cannot get right up to the tree because of debris, but the distance between the boat and the tree can be jumped with effort. The team in the boat shout[s] with urgency, ‘Jump, jump,’ but the family members are afraid. Finally, summoning up courage, the son jumps and lands safely in the boat. Then the daughter jumps. She falls into the water, but the rescuers are ready and quickly pull her into the boat. Now the rescuers along with the son and daughter plead with the mother, ‘Jump, jump, you can do it! We’’ catch you if you fall short.’…but she is afraid, and as she [hesitates], there is a terrible crack, the tree falls, and she is swept away…” (Oswalt’s commentary on Isaiah 55).

3. Satisfaction is found in Jesus (verses 3b-5). God made a covenant with David. This fulfillment, this “witness to the people, [this] leader and commander for the people” is Jesus Christ who came to save His people from their sin, as the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world.

B. God invites us to take advantage of the opportunity we have now (verses 6-7). Jesus in Luke 14 was sitting at a meal when one of those there said, “Blessed is he who hall eat bread in the kingdom of God!” Jesus told how that different ones were invited to a great feast but did not come because they had other things to do. At least, that was their excuse. “Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind…Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say to you that none of those [who made excuses] shall taste my supper.’’

1. God does not promise future opportunity (verse 6). Certainly the door of opportunity to respond to God can be closed by death but sometimes life circumstances can close that door. Sometimes our hearts can be hardened by bitterness or pride or shame. Today is the day to respond to God. If you need to be saved, today is the day to call to God. If you need to become a better disciple, today is the day. If you need to become a better witness, today is the day. If you need to forgive someone, today is the day. Today, today is the day.

2. God demands repentance in exchange for mercy (verses 7-11). Repentance is not self-improvement. Self-improvement is spending money on that which is not bread. Self-improvement is laboring for that which does not satisfy. We need to turn from our sin, from our relationships, from religious institutions and practices, and to the man on the cross who alone has purchased our pardon.

C. God invites us to rejoice (verses 8-13). Specifically, if we come and are satisfied, we will rejoice. Those who have no joy have no satisfaction in Christ.

1. We can rejoice in His ways (verses 8-9). We may not understand them but we can rejoice in them because we know that they are higher. God understands how all this works out and how to work it all out for the best.

2. We can rejoice in His word (verses 10-11). These verses do not mean that if we witness to someone, that guarantees they will be saved, although that is how they are often used. These verses guarantee that if God promises satisfaction and forgiveness, we can count on that satisfaction and forgiveness. Why? So that He will be pleased.

3. We can rejoice in His new world (verse 13). Last week in the Junior Sunday School Class we learned that God created, cursed, and will cure this planet Earth. This world will become new when Jesus returns and all who have trusted Him are eternally united with Him to rule and reign on this earth.

“A banquet table is worse than useless to the person who is either too proud or too ashamed to come and eat from it” (John Oswalt, Isaiah: The NIV Application Commentary, page 602, 2003).

As we prepare to partake of the Lord’s Table, are you too proud? When we partake we are proclaiming to the world that we are needy. We need Jesus. We need the water of life to quench our thirst. We need the bread of life to satisfy our hunger. We need the Lamb of God to take away our sin. We need the Holy One of Israel to endow us with splendor. We need Jesus, the Resurrection and the Life to give us eternal life. There is no other name given among men whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12).

Are you too ashamed? You are a sinner. You are undeserving. You have failed this week, you may be conscious of having failed today. An old camp meeting song goes like this:

“Come ye sinners, poor and needy, weak and wounded, sick and sore. Jesus, ready, stands to save you full of pity, love, and power.
I will arise and go to Jesus. He will embrace me in His arms. In the arms of Christ my Savior, O, there are ten thousand charms.

Come, ye thirsty, come, and welcome, God’s free bounty glorify; True belief and true repentance, Every grace that brings you nigh.

Let not conscience, make you linger nor of fitness fondly dream. All the fitness He requireth is to feel your need of Him.

Come, ye weary, heavy laden, Lost and ruined by the fall; If you tarry till you’re better, You will never come at all.

The Last Week of Jesus’ Life (part 1) March 31, 2011

Posted by roberttalley in Christ, Crucifixion, Death of Christ, Luke, Parables of Jesus, Sermons, Temple.
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(Luke 20:1-19)

Jesus has just a few days to live. These are his last few days among the people. He must teach them the way of God. The people expect Him to proclaim Himself King of the Jews. Will it happen? Will Jesus overthrow Roman rule and free His people from foreign domination? Is He really the Messiah, the Son of the living God? Most are hopeful but not sure. A few disciples recognize His authority but the rulers of Israel do not.

Jesus has authority over us, whether we recognize His authority over us or not.

1. With what action had Jesus claimed authority from God (19:45-48)? He drove out those who bought and sold in the temple.

Three years earlier Jesus had driven the moneychangers and salesmen out. At that time He had asked why they had turned His house into a house of merchandise. This time His condemnation is even harsher. Why have you turned my house of prayer into a den of thieves? Now the multitude had expected Jesus to be a man of action but this was not exactly what they had expected. I can imagine Judas, the treasurer of the disciples looking at Jesus’ actions and seeing his glorious financial future go up in smoke. No word about revolution against the Romans. No call for the nation to follow Him in battle but rather a condemnation of the dishonest practices of hardworking Jewish merchants who would change Roman coins for Temple coins and charge exorbitant prices for sacrificial animals for those Jews who had traveled from afar to celebrate the Passover. I can hear them say, “Jesus, you are going to need some financial resources if you are going to fight the Romans. You are going to need the backing of the political elite, the priests and the rulers of the people. Jesus, you are cutting your own throat.” Jesus, is challenging the status quo by obeying His Father’s will. The sternness that the Pharisees wanted Jesus to show to His disciples, He is showing to those who have made the worship and service of God into a money making proposition.

2. What three groups were angry with Jesus?
a. The chief priests: they were in charge of the Temple. Jesus was a threat to their position politically, religiously, and financially.
b. The scribes: these were experts in the Old Testament, they not only copied the Old Testament into scrolls by hand but taught the people the truth of the word. Verses 45-47 tell us why they hated Jesus. He exposed their pride and their greed. The scribes were very much among the people unlike the chief priests. Some of them were Pharisees but all of them were experts in the Law of God.
c. The elders: these were the other leaders in Jerusalem. With the only known exceptions being Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, the leaders of the people, regardless of political or religious party, rejected the authority of Jesus as Messiah.

Jesus has good news for us whether we recognize that good news or not.

3. What was the gospel that Jesus preached (compare 20:1 with 9:2, 6)? It was the gospel of the kingdom of God. Jesus is proclaiming Himself as king. Verse 37 tells us that as Jesus approaches the descent from the mountain, the multitude of His disciples started rejoicing and praising God with a loud voice, saying, “‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the LORD!’ {#Ps 118:26} Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

4. Why did the religious leaders question Jesus’ authority (compare vs. 2 with 23:66-71)? They wanted to trick Him into openly admitting that He was the Messiah, for then they could deliver Him into the hands of the Romans as a traitor.

5. How did Jesus get out of the trap of the leaders (vs. 3-8)?
He asked them if they believed the gospel of John the Baptist (which was the exact same gospel that Jesus preached. The leaders refused to believe either).

“I once heard of a man who went to preach in a theatre, and when he came upon the stage he didn’t have anyone in the hall…So he got his hat and Bible and went down upon the beach, and the people were walking up and down upon the sand, and he tried to get them to hear the Word of God, but they all passed him. But soon he saw a man with a basket, that could not sell his herrings and he went up to him and he bought all the herrings; and he said to the man, ‘Now go and give them away freely to the people.’ ‘Do you want me to give them away?’ Why, the man was astonished. He had never heard of such a thing before. ‘Yes, I want you to give them away.’ And the man started and he cried out ‘Herrings for nothing! Herrings for nothing!’ But he could not get a man or woman to take any. And he came back and he said, ‘I never saw so many fools; there isn’t one of them that will take a herring.’ ‘Well,’ said the minister, ‘I will go down with you.’ And so he went crying, ‘Herrings for nothing! Herrings for nothing!’ But they would not take any they didn’t believe it was true” (D. L. Moody’s sermon, “The Blessed Gospel”).

6. To whom is the parable spoken (vs. 9)? The people gathered at the Temple in preparation for Passover.

7. Who is this parable about (vs. 19)? The leadership of the nation which was rejecting Jesus as the Messiah.

Jesus will be our judge, whether we recognize Him as such or not.

8. What is the point of the parable (vs. 16-18)? The “in” crowd who was rejecting the Messiah would be destroyed and others would receive their place in the kingdom. Psalm 118:22 is quoted here by Jesus. It is also quoted in 1 Peter 2:7 in a passage where Peter points out that we as believers will be rejected by men just as Jesus was but that we are now the people of God and need to live so that even when we are rejected by men, those who reject us will see our manner of life and recognize Christ in us.

9. Who are the “others” in verse 16? It is all who believe in Jesus as the Messiah but this word had real meaning for the “out” crowd, the Gentiles.

“There was a time when England wanted to conquer Wales, but they wouldn’t be conquered. They couldn’t subdue these Welsh people. They didn’t want to be ruled by England. They wanted a king of their own. They wanted a king born on Welsh soil. So the queen went down to Wales, to the Castle Caernarnvon, and when the child was born the king took the little child in his arms and carried it out to the gates, and the people in the town gathered around that castle, and he says: ‘Behold your prince! He can’t speak a word of English. He was born among you-born on Welsh soil.’ And they called him the Prince of Wales, and so the Crown Prince has ever since been called the Prince of Wales; but the moment he takes the throne he drops that name and become the King of England” (D. L. Moody’s sermon “Christ of the New Testament).

There was a time when God wanted to save this world, but we would not be saved. We would not submit our ways to He who seems so far away. So God came and became a man. He became one of us so that He could become our King. The insiders, those who should have honored Him as King and Messiah rejected and crucified Him. We as sinful outsiders have now the opportunity to believe on Him and submit ourselves to the King of Kings and to be forgiven and to live a life in the service of the King.

Carolyn Houghton’s “Terrible Parable of Dressing Right” May 29, 2007

Posted by roberttalley in Matthew, Parables of Jesus, Terrible Parables.
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