Support us on Paypal
Contact Us
Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Jesus' Experience - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Jesus' Experience - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Jesus' Experience - Part 2
TOPICS: Let's Do Difficult

I'm at NRB this week doing some podcast with some friends, but I still wanted to take a moment and introduce the message to you. The theme is "Let's Do Difficult". This particular session is on Jesus experience. We're gonna visit Jesus when he goes to see Lazarus, a friend of his, who got sick and Jesus hesitated the visit until Lazarus had died. And from that miracle, Lazarus resurrection, Jesus shook the whole city of Jerusalem. He'll take the broken places in our lives and bring His purposes to a whole new level in our world. Grab your Bible and a notepad, but most importantly, open your heart.

You see God in their midst is offensive. I think we find that tone very prevalent today in the midst of much of the discussion amongst religious people, in many expressions of the Christian faith. I know it's true in many institutions where we train leaders. The notion of the authority of scripture, or the uniqueness of Christ, to assert that is against the grain of the intellectual approach to Christianity that has captured so much of our world. We don't wanna confront our world. We don't wanna sit at our family table or our holiday table and talk about godliness or ungodliness. It's uncomfortable. Somebody might not be happy. It would have consequences. Oh, you mean like them wanting to kill Jesus?

How is it that we have found a faith that is so timid, so reticent, so reluctant, that we've taken the truth that has delivered us from darkness, and repositioned it so we could stand in the shadows and be embraced more broadly and diminish the light. I believe we're gonna have to be willing to do some things that have been more difficult than we've been willing to do in the past. We don't have to be angry or belligerent, we don't have to be condemning. We certainly don't need to be violent, but we're gonna have to have the courage to own the truth for ourselves, for those that we love. The crowd becomes so agitated that they attempt to murder Jesus. Jesus hid himself, he hid himself.

You have to think about it. You're gonna read it in the next couple of days, that Jesus, the water walking, storm stopping, dead raising, blind eye opening, wine making, Son of God, hides himself. I mean, there were other options. There were other alternatives, certainly. But Jesus boldly declares the truth to the crowd that's gathered to the point of fomenting a murderous rage. But then he withdraws, hides if you prefer, rather than demonstrate his authority. It's all there in the pages we're reading now with the minutes we've got left. I wanna add, the next section of John's gospel deals with a good friend of Jesus, Lazarus. You know the story. It's one of the stories we learned as kids. Most of us draw it in Sunday school. Lazarus and his sisters live in Bethany. It's a little town on the western slopes of the Mount of Olives. It's a ridge that runs north and south west of the city of Jerusalem. It's not a long walk from the city of Jerusalem.

What happens in Bethany is pretty easily known in the city of Jerusalem. And in John 11, it says, "A man named Lazarus was sick. And he was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. And Mary, whose brother Lazarus was sick, was the same one who'd poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. So the sisters sent word to Jesus". They're close to Jesus. They're good friends and Lazarus, their brother, is sick and they send a message. "'Lord, the one you love is sick.' And when Jesus heard, he said, 'The sickness will not end in death. It's for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it.' And he loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was for two more days.' The disciples said, 'Let's go back to Judea.' They said, 'But Rabbi, a short while ago the Jews tried to stone you and you're gonna go back there?'"

So the disciples understand the attitude of the street in Jerusalem. They understand what's happening. Now again, this is Jesus, the one that we've said, his only message was love and every place he went, he had a parade and a hug. If you go back to Jerusalem, they almost killed you the last time. Yeah, but my friend is sick. But Jesus waited two days. He's intentionally delayed. It seems a little odd but he gives us the clues and that look, this was illness will not end in death. He knows the hatred of his opposition. Same chapter verse 44, you know the intervening, or much of the intervening story I hope. It says, "The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. And Jesus said to them, 'Take off the grave clothes and let him go.' Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him".

Lazarus has been in the tomb four days. Remember the line? He says, open the tomb and they said, oh Lord, he stinks. I like the King James. He stinketh. Oh, don't do that. You know, I mean, we know who you are and we appreciate you. But really at this point, you'd rather not. Don't open the tomb. So there's a crowd gathered, they've mourned, they're there to comfort the family. It's part of culture and tradition. A large group of people have gathered and many of them when they saw Lazarus come out of the tomb, put their faith in Jesus. No kidding. I think that might stir your heart a little bit. I think most of us believe it isn't biblical. But most of us believe if we saw a miracle, we would believe immediately instantaneously.

We're gonna watch how that works. "Some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin". And said he really is the Messiah. We've got to give him a seat. Oh, I'm sorry. It's not really what it says. 'What are we accomplishing?' they asked, "Here this man is performing many miraculous signs. And if we let him come and go like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation again".

It's plain English. It's an easy story to follow. It's an unprecedented miracle. A man four days buried is raised to life again on the outskirts of Jerusalem. This one isn't in Galilee miles away amongst the illiterate people in the north. This is amongst the sophisticated, the power brokers and many, it says, put their faith in Jesus. Now that's awkward because on the street, they're trying to get enough support to kill him. And now it looks like public opinion is swinging the other way, the poll numbers are going in the wrong direction. So some others go to report this to the chief priest and the Pharisees. Your plan isn't working. You need a new strategy. We need a new marketing scheme, get the PR team in here. So the chief priests and the Pharisees call a meeting of the Sanhedrin. We gotta do something better. We need a bigger ad budget. They're very polarized responses.

Again, I wanna point out to you, that in the text repeatedly, consistently, through the breadth of this gospel, Jesus did not bring unity and harmony. His message brought division, anger and expressions of hatred. Now, you don't have to intentionally be annoying. What brought those responses to Jesus were presentations of the truth. So I think we have to recalibrate if we have the courage to choose God's truth for ourselves. And then we have the boldness or the willingness to share with people we care about. Some will be encouraged and find freedom but some will not. We understand that, I believe, far more than we've been willing to acknowledge. If not consciously, I believe we understand it intuitively, so we've been quiet. We watch people that have a pretense of Christianity, live in most ungodly lives.

Then we say little if anything. It's why so many of our Christian schools and universities have capitulated to secularism. No, I studied in several of them, because there's intense pressure if you have the audacity to say that from a biblical perspective, that really is inappropriate. But the responsive angst to those ideas is not new. It's what got Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in trouble. It's what turned the street in Jerusalem against Jesus. Same chapter in John's Gospel. We're still in the Lazarus narrative. It's verse 55, "They kept looking for Jesus, and as they stood in the temple area they asked one another, 'What do you think? Isn't he coming to the Feast at all?' But the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone found out where Jesus was, he should report it so that they might arrest him".

The word on the street is if you see him, you pass it along. We're done with him. "Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. There was a dinner given in Jesus's honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him". If you'll allow me, I would submit to you, that was a very provocative way to enter Jerusalem. He could have slipped in from the north through the mountains of Samaria. After all, he's come privately before, but not this trip. He goes to Bethany and they have a party because he's back and at the party is this awkward inconvenient person called Lazarus?

I mean, he was dead for four days and he walks through the markets in Jerusalem and people point and whisper and go. Isn't that the man that, that Je... yeah, that's him. His new nickname is Stinky, and Jesus is coming to the feast and he begins his journey towards Jerusalem, when he gets close in Bethany with a party with Lazarus. You see, the Lazarus resurrection closed the deal. They've got to shut him down. He can't be allowed anymore. We can't keep a lid on this if that keeps happening. Chapter 12, "Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and they came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus," I told you, "whom he'd raised from the dead. So the chief priest made plans to kill Lazarus as well. for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith," and we can't have him believing in him.

I mean, yeah, I know he checks all the boxes for the Messiah and these miracles and things. But I mean, after all, chapter 12, "Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him for the dead continued to spread the word". He's a problem, "Many people, because they'd heard that he'd given this miraculous sign, went out to meet him. So the Pharisees said to one another, 'This is getting us nowhere. The whole world is gone after him again!'"

I wanna bring you back to the message that we have been marinated in about Jesus. But the only message he had was a message of love, that he was the great reconciler. It's true. He said to his disciples in John's gospel, love one another. This is how they'll all, the world will know you love one another. But he did not coach them to encourage wickedness and ungodliness. That wasn't his message. Now he loved sinners. We've unpacked some of those places where he would stand on behalf of people that were caught in the middle of some very ungodly behaviors. And while he would show to them mercy and compassion, he would redirect them to change their lifestyles and their behaviors.

Folks, we need a church that is alive, and vibrant, and healthy, and awake, and has the courage to tell the truth. I'll close with another writing from John. Different season in his life, it's near the end of his life. And this is very near the end of the book, it's Revelation. This is the summary statement that he puts there after the victory that Jesus wins. He said, "He who overcomes will inherit all of this, then I will be his God and he'll be my son". Who's the inheritor of the promises? Well, for the Hebrew people that were delivered from Egyptian slavery, in order to occupy the promised land, they had to be willing to engage in the conquest. They had to face their adversaries that occupied the land. For those of us that have been the beneficiaries of Jesus redemptive work and have experienced a new birth and been welcomed into the kingdom of God, we're told that we have to overcome evil with good.

And there's nowhere in the story that suggests to us that that's always easy, or comfortable, or convenient. And at the end of the Book of Revelation, it's a book written to overcomers. There's seven churches addressed in the opening chapters, and every one of those churches gets a little self diagnostic and is a part of that they're told what they have to overcome. And in the concluding verses, it says he who overcomes will inherit all of this. I'll be his God and he'll be my son. We don't have a choice, we have to overcome. But then we're given the contrast. There's a negative conjunction, "But the cowardly, the unbelieving," if you're not an overcomer, these are our descriptors, "the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars, their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. It's the second death".

I don't want to be in that list. So just some, I got two minutes, some observations from John. We worship a God of miracles. He can raise the dead, he can open blind eyes, he can do anything. And those miracles are intended to lead to belief and submission to the authority of God. When God opens your heart to recognize that something remarkable has happened, something supernatural, something God directed, God inspired, God involved. Recognize it as an invitation to say, Lord, I wanna submit to you more completely. We don't just gobble up the miracles to make our lives easier or more simple, because for all the supernatural things that are a part of Jesus ministry, it did not remove opposition. We've imagined the miraculous and the supernatural as this kind of, the heavy equipment, the heavy spiritual equipment, to eliminate all the boulders and the obstacles and the difficulties, so we can have a smooth road which we could travel with our lives.

We've imagined that, it just isn't a biblical imagination. The miracles and the expressions of the power of God that come through his people, and they do in every generation, or intended to lead us further into belief in God and further submission to him, because he's more powerful than we are. John very clearly helps us see that the audience is divided, and it's not a passive divide. It's a divide marked by anger, and hatred, and murderous rage. John also makes it clear that there's an assignment given to go into all the world. Jesus came with an assignment, he recruits followers for a very similar assignment. And he says to them, the world's hated me, they're gonna hate you because of me.

The gospel will challenge secular culture in every generation. And what John seems to to shout at us is even when that culture is wrapped in religious activity, in fact, the greatest resistance to the truth will come with, from those with an attitude of religious superiority. Courage, perseverance, and humility are needed to fulfill our assignment. We've been talking about this now for a bit, and on some levels, I know it feels a bit heavy, but to me, it really is liberating. You know, it's like going to the gym deciding you wanna get a little healthier and the doctor tells you that probably be a good idea. And so you sign up for the gym and you get a trainer, and you go and at the end of the first week, it's awful. You're sore. It's that stupid gym's fault.

I've been going to the doughnut shop for months and I don't ever get sore at the doughnut shop. And we have had an approach to faith that I think has been largely self destructive. You don't need to be prophetic to arrive at that conclusion. Look at our culture. The biblical worldview isn't increasing in influence, it's being diminished. And we have the assignment of being salt and light. So our previous behaviors don't seem to be sufficient or adequate. We're the ones that have to change, not the ungodly. Which is wonderfully empowering. We're not victims. We're not without resources.

If we will humble ourselves and seek the Lord, God will move. God doesn't need a majority. The truth has an authority all in itself. Jesus is triumphant even though his opposition seems to have far more power, and authority, and influence, and Jesus is ultimately triumphant. Church, let's do difficult. Let's begin quietly, say God, in the context of my home and my family, in my sphere of influence, in the places where you've placed me and given me a voice, I wanna honor you. I want people to know that Jesus of Nazareth is important to me, and all of my brokenness and all of my inconsistencies, I wanna honor the Lord. I wanna yield to him. I wanna submit to him. I won't do it perfectly, but I'm gonna do it with determination. And begin to encourage those, find like minded people and spend time with them.

Folks, you have to choose the Lord consistently. You have to choose him daily, and weekly, and monthly. You have to choose him at the beginning of every calendar year. I have served long enough to see people poached. It grieves me. Choose the Lord. Tell him, you choose him. Tell him, you wanna give him your best. I appreciate all the memories, you know, and the pictures, and the photographs, and social media, that reminds you of your memories. I mean, they have a place. They help you kind of plot a course, but the most important day is who we're gonna be tomorrow. Let's do difficult. Let's just see what the Lord will do. Yeah there's giants in the land but God's not worried about them. Yeah, they look at us and they think we're insignificant. God's not panicked. Yeah, maybe there's just a few of us, but we are children of the king.

I brought you a prayer. It's not mine, I took it from Acts chapter 4. Jesus is gone. The disciples are after it, and now they're being threatened just like they threaten Jesus. It's like rinse and repeat. And the Sanhedrins let them go and they've gone back to the group, and they have a prayer and we're gonna adapt their prayer to our circumstances. Why don't you stand with me? It's taken from Acts 4. You can check me later. I haven't left the verse numbers in there, so you could see. But let's read, this is our proclamation, this is our declaration. You ready?

Sovereign Lord, you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: 'Why do the nation's rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.' Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus. amen.

Are you Human?:*