IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME

Mark 14:12-31

BRIEF RECAP:

At the end of our last study, we left Jesus in Bethany, at the home of Simon the leper, where Mary anointed Him with some very costly perfume (14:3). Some of the disciples were upset with what she did, Judas Iscariot especially, since he was a thief and in charge of the money bag. We read how Jesus had a different view of her sacrifice and how she would be remembered for what she had done to Him “wherever the gospel is preached” (v. 9).

We also took notice of the sharp contrast between Mary and Judas. Mary was selfless, devoted, and giving. Judas, on the other hand, was selfishdeceitful, and greedy.

We ended that study as Judas Iscariot “went off to the chief priests in order to betray Him” (Jesus). As we continue our study of Mark, We will be meditating on the last Passover meal and how Jesus “transformed” the Passover into the Lord’s Supper, a memorial meal to remember what He had accomplished for us in our deliverance from sin!

12 “On the first day of [a]Unleavened Bread, when [b]the Passover lamb was being sacrificed, His disciples *said to Him, “Where do You want us to go and prepare for You to eat the Passover?” 13 And He *sent two of His disciples and *said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a pitcher of water will meet you; follow him; 14 and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is My guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”‘ 15 And he himself will show you a large upstairs room furnished and ready; prepare for us there.” 16 The disciples left and came to the city, and found everything just as He had told them; and they prepared the Passover.

17 When it was evening He *came with the twelve. 18 And as they were reclining at the table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you that one of you will [c]betray Me—[d]one who is eating with Me.” 19 They began to be grieved and to say to Him one by one, “Surely not I?” 20 But He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, the one who dips bread with Me in the bowl.”

FOCUS ONE: The last Passover

The feast of unleavened bread and the Passover are very closely related. The seven days observance of “unleavened bread” directly follows the Passover observance! The feast of unleavened bread lasted seven days, during which all yeast had to be removed from their dwellings. No one could eat anything that had yeast in it or “that person shall be cut off from Israel” (Exodus 12:15). On the first day of the feast as well as the seventh day, they were to hold “holy assemblies” or “holy days.” 

The celebration of Passover then began. The Passover lamb was slaughtered at twilight, and some of its blood was sprinkled on the altar. The lamb was taken home to be roasted and eaten in the evening with unleavened bread, bitter herbs, charoseth (a paste made of crushed pineapples, dates, pomegranates, and nuts, into which the bread was dipped), and wine (Exodus 12).

I share all that background with you because it is helpful to us in understanding the work that lay before Peter and John (the two disciples sent cr. Luke 22:8) as they go to “prepare” the Passover. 

I want to point out something exciting in Mark’s account. Places like this in scripture help us apply some of the big theological themes we hold in our Christianity. In this case, The Lord’s omniscience is on display! Take notice of their question: “Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover” (v. 12)? 

Now, observe His answer (read 13-16). I will condense it here. He tells them that they will meet a man carrying a pitcher of water in the city. Follow him wherever he goes and then tell him, “the Teacher says, ‘where is MY guest room in which I may eat the passover with my disciples?” After they telPassoverese things, the Lord says that the man, without any argument, will show them a “large upper room furnished and ready.” So what happened? Everything Jesus said was going to take place, did, and they “found it just as he said” (v. 16).

In the evening, Jesus came with the disciples to celebrate the Passover. What is highlighted here by Mark is the Lord pointing out Judas Iscariot as His betrayer (v.v 17-21). He says, in front of all present, the one who is eating with Him, more clearly the one “who dips with Me in the bowl” (v. 20), is the one who will betray Him!

According to John’s gospel, it is at this point when Judas Iscariot leaves to betray the Lord (John 13:23-30), just as was prophesied in the Old Testament (Psalm 22; Isaiah 53).

As bad as this is, we need to remember and be encouraged by the fact that Jesus was not a victim! Everything that happened was according to God’s “predetermined plan and foreknowledge” (Acts 2:23)!

22 While they were eating, He took some bread, and [a]after a blessing He broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is My body.” 23 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, and they all drank from it. 24 And He said to them, “This is My blood of the covenant, which is being poured out for many. 25 Truly I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine again, until that day when I drink it, new, in the kingdom of God.”

26 And after singing a [b]hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

27 And Jesus *said to them, “You will all [c]fall away, because it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ 28 But after I am raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.” 29 But Peter said to Him, “Even if they all [d]fall away, yet I will not!” 30 And Jesus *said to him, “Truly I say to you, that [e]this very night, before a rooster crows twice, you yourself will deny Me three times.” 31 But [f]Peter repeatedly said insistently, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And they all were saying the same thing as well.”

FOCUS TWO: The Lord’s supper instituted

We do not know at what part of the meal this took place. Some commentators say it’s most likely just before they eat the roasted lamb. 6

There are a few things here that we don’t want to miss. First, it is important to recognize that Jesus “*establishes the truth of the New Covenant while in the midst of eating the Passover.” When He said, “this is my body,” He gave a new meaning to eating the bread. When He said, “This is the blood of the covenant (new), which is poured out for many,” He gave a new meaning to the cup they drank from.

What the unleavened bread symbolized for generations has now been “transformed” by these words! “The unleavened bread symbolized the severing of the Israelites from their old life in Egypt” (slaves). From now on, the bread will represent Christ’s body that was given as a sacrifice for sin! The shedding of blood was always a requirement in establishing any covenant (Genesis 8:20; Exodus 24:5-8). This cup now represents the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed for “the remission of sins,” thereby establishing the New Covenant promised through the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

Another important point to make here regarding the institution of the Lord’s supper is that the elements represent something; they do not become something other than they are. This is contrary to Catholic teachings. The catechism quotes St. Thomas Aquinas in saying that “in this sacrament are the true body of Christ and His true blood  [and]is something that cannot be apprehended by the senses, but only by faith, which relies on divine authority” (CCC1381).

These elements represent something else, something grander, and they do not become it! There are two ways Mark and the other gospel writers could have stated what is going on with the elements. One way would be with the words “Touto estin” representing or standing for. Or, by using the words “Touto gignetai” which means something has become something else. IN ALL CASES, the gospel writers used the first meaning.

Lastly, we notice the promise of Jesus that “I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” What does He mean by this? One commentator explains it this way: “He vowed that He would not drink it in this festive way again until He can drink it anew. He will enjoy renewed table fellowship with His followers in a qualitatively new existence in the kingdom of God.” 

We are witnessing the transformation of the Passover meal into the Lord’s supper, yet everything was not “transformed” regarding the meal. The hymns, or most likely “Hallel,” were always sung in connection with the Passover. “The first two (Psalm 113-114) before the meal and the last four (Psalm 114-115) after it to conclude the evening observance. It’s probably the very one that is being referenced here.

19 “And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body, which is being given for you; do this in remembrance of Me” (LUKE 22:19).

23 “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus, on the night when He was betrayed, took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same way He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.

27 Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy way, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. 28 But a person must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For the one who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not properly recognize the [a]body. 30 For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number [b]are asleep. 31 But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.”

FOCUS THREE: This do in remembrance of me

Since the last Passover meal that Jesus had with the disciples and its transformation into “the Lord’s supper,” the church has understood its meaning and significance in daily life. Because New Testament believers understand that the new covenant promised in the book of Jeremiah has been ratified once and for all by the death of Christ (Hebrews 9:28), they celebrate this “memorial Meal” regularly in their corporate worship.

In the Corinthian passage, Paul uses the same terminology as our Lord did when He instituted the meal: “do this in remembrance of me.” There are important reasons why we observe the Lord’s Supper. The first reason would be focused on the congregation as a whole. “To show the Lord’s death till He comes (v. 26). Christ wants us to remember His sacrifice for us. To remember His being “wounded for our transgressions” (Isaiah 53:5). “There is a vivid portrayal of the redeeming sacrifice of the Christ of Calvary. His matchless life, His victorious sufferings, and His faithfulness even unto death are brought to mind,” and should lead us to bow humbly before Him in praise and thanksgiving.

But this, too, is a powerful presentation of the gospel for those in our sanctuaries who do not know Jesus as their savior. As each of the elements is explained during the meal, they point unbelievers to His physical incarnation, sacrificial death, resurrection, and His coming again for those who are His!

Another reason the church observes this communion meal on a regular basis is directed at the individual. Communion reminds the individual that Christ’s death was for them. More than simply being a “corporate” remembrance, it is an individual assessment. Christ died for us, yes. But Christ died for ME because of my guilt, unworthiness, and for my pardon!

So, we celebrate, meditate, and reflect on our lives in light of this glorious truth. As much as we glory in the cross work of our redeemer, we are also made aware of the wrongness of our sins, base desires, ungodly motives, vain ambitions, and hurtful attitudes, and then we are able to acknowledge our unworthiness and walk the “painful but necessary path of repentance again.”

Paul speaks of self-examination as we enter this meal (vv. 27,28). He cautions believers not to partake in “an unworthy way,” and exhorts his readers to examine themselves honestly in light of the cross. We ought to examine our hearts as we remember Christ. Are we about to “partake” in an unworthy manner? Am I doing this with the mindset of “just going through the motions? MacArthur gives some examples of self-reflection: “Ritualistically, indifferently, with an unrepentant heart, a spirit of bitterness, or any other ungodly attitude.” To do so not only dishonors the ceremony, but it also dishonors His body and blood, treating lightly the gracious sacrifice of Christ for us.”

So, we partake of this memorial meal, not because we are worthy, not because of any righteousness of our own, or because any magical thing takes place as a result. We come, we partake because Christ bids us to come! It is His table, and He has extended an invitation to us, to those He redeemed!

*John MacArthur 

The Bible Knowledge Commentary, pg, 178

Clyne W. Buxton

THE SECRET OF CONTENTMENT (CHRIST!)

PHILIPPIANS 4:10-23

BRIEF INTRO: At the beginning of this letter to the Philippians, the apostle had written about their “participation in the gospel from the first day until now” (1:5). He acknowledged that they consistently cared for, prayed for, and participated with him as much as they could over the years regarding the gospel ministry. In the verses that we will be looking at in this study, the apostle again picks up on that theme, if you will, and expresses his great joy at their “revived concern” for him.

I have broken down this section of our text into three parts: The value of giving, The importance of learning, and then conclude our study with the benediction. I will be looking at this section like a sandwich: The bread is about Christian giving from the top and bottom of verses 10-19. The filler will then be what we learn in verses 11-13. Let’s begin! Are you ready?

10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now, at last, you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked an opportunity to act.

14 Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my difficulty.

15 You yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the [a]first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving except you alone; 16 for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs. 17 Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek the [b]profit which increases to your account. 18 But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am [c]amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus [d]what you have sent, [e]a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.

FOCUS ONE: The value in Christian giving (4:10, 14-18)

Paul now reveals to these believers the great joy he experienced when their messenger, their “missionary” to him, arrived with all their varied gifts and supplies that Epaphroditus brought. This incredible act of benevolence towards him and subsequently to Christ (v.18) was a cause of joy to his soul.

He says that this was a “revived concern” for him. He means that those circumstances, perhaps many and varied, kept them from sharing with him what they wanted to for some time. Take notice that this lapse of support was not intentional on their part, rather than they “lacked opportunity.” Whatever hindered them from showing their concern for him has now apparently been removed, and with great joy in their hearts and renewed vigor, they send one of their own, one whom they love dearly, Epaphroditus, to minister to Paul. This is not a rebuke but a recognition of their faithful care and concern for him.

Paul reminds them of several things regarding their ministry to him: First, they were the only church that shared with him at the beginning of his preaching the gospel (v.15). Perhaps some were unable, maybe he was duly supplied and not in any immediate need, maybe some were able but didn’t meet his needs at times as 2 Corinthians 11:9 seems to suggest (The Macedonians referred to are the Philippians Acts 16:12)!

But these folks faithfully sent gifts towards the apostles’ needs (v.16). Their giving was abundant and well-pleasing to Paul and God, whom they ultimately serve (v.18). Please don’t be thinking that Paul was only in it for what he could get from these churches, not at all. He was a humble, faithful, selfless servant who thought MORE about the benefit their giving would be to them than he did of any help it would be to himself. 

Paul was not looking for any more from them. He felt that he had received everything from them possible and was “made full,” or amply supplied (v.18). their generosity was above and beyond what he could have asked for, and he was delighted with their sacrificial giving as a church on his behalf as an Apostle of Jesus Christ.

“Paul looked beyond the most recent gift (vv. 10,14,18). He indicates that such gifts are spiritual investments that pay eternal dividends” (v.17). With much joy in his heart and thanksgiving on his lips, Paul encourages this church by telling them, “what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well- pleasing to God” (v.18).

Paul uses this type of OT phraseology elsewhere in His writings. In Ephesians 5:2, he used it in speaking of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We see this as well in Leviticus about an offering that pleased God. It seems that he wanted to express to them his great praise and acceptance of their gifts and sacrifices on his behalf. Our great God is ultimately the One who meets the needs of His children. He uses other people at times to be His hands and feet, but ultimately, He is “the giver of every good and perfect gift” (James 1:17). He is the One who provides for our needs “according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (James 1:19)! God indeed used this church to meet someone else’s needs, and He will do the same for them (v.19).

There is a wellspring of application here:

  1. Our hearts challenge us as it applies to our giving. 
  2. Are we giving to “the cause of the gospel” as we should?
  3. Are we consistent at it?
  4. Are we sacrificially investing ourselves in those who sacrificially give of themselves in gospel work (missionaries)?
  5. Are we trusting God to supply all our needs as we give to other’s needs?

I admit that these questions challenge me; how about you? Perhaps we need to be in prayer over these things. Maybe it is time for “a revived concern” on our part. I will be praying with you.

We will continue with this study next week.

FINALLY, BRETHREN

PHILIPPIANS 4:8-10

BRIEF INTRO: Now that Paul has addressed the issue of disunity within this local church and especially the two women at its heart, He signals that he is coming to an end of his writing. Yes, he appeared to signal this before (3:1), but with approximately (according to one commentator) 40% of his letter yet to come, it seems logical to deduce that he does not mean to signal “finality,” but rather is using the term in the sense of “furthermore,” or “adding to that.” In our text, he is using the exact Greek phrase to signal the true final words of his epistle to them.

In our previous study, we observed the apostle exhorting this church (Rejoice, be anxious for nothing, and make known, are all in the imperative – commands) to practice specific positive biblical virtues. Today, in our study, he continues with this appeal by directing them to the things their minds should be dwelling on. Paul desires that these Christians “keep on thinking and doing what is morally and spiritually excellent.” This involves meditating on such higher and nobler things and then putting them into practice. And, as we will observe again, they are encouraged to follow his example.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is [a]lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, think about these things.As for the things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

FOCUS ONE: In these verses, we find six adjectives that are to lead Christians into a higher, more reflective sense of thinking, introduced by the word whatever. Some view these things as “old-fashioned ideas,” while others view them as a “Charter for Christian Thought.” Either way, Paul is reminding them AND us “that careful, logical, and noble thinking produces noble living; high thinking produces high living; and holy thinking produces holy living,” as a man thinks in his heart, so is he (Proverbs 23:7). Such things were exemplified in Jesus Christ (2:5-11) and are produced within us by the working of the Holy Spirit, who indwells each believer.

So, let’s put them in order, and I will give a brief definition of each that I hope will help us grasp the greater sense of each and help us engage the obvious battle for the mind that such thinking elicits (Hebrews 5:16-26).

We are to dwell on:

  1. Whatever is true
  2. Whatever is honorable
  3. Whatever is right
  4. Whatever is pure
  5. Whatever is lovely or lovable
  6. Whatever is good repute or attractive

We should notice that Paul changes the sentence structure to conditional clauses at the end of the verse (if there), so those things are not included in this list but will be discussed later.

Truth is reality, in it is a sense of validity, reliability and is the opposite of what is not. It exemplifies God’s character and should characterize the Christian as well. Honorable is dignified, worthy of reverence, and seems to combine a sense of gravity with dignity. Paul used this word in his pastoral epistles, referring to the qualifications of a church leader.

Right refers to what is upright, conforming to God’s standards, and worthy of His approval.

Pure emphasizes moral purity, that which, in KJV language, is “unsullied.”

Lovely is used in the sense of what is pleasing, agreeable, or amiable. Not to be confused with what is pleasing to the flesh, but the Spirit!

Good repute directs us to what is praiseworthy and rings true to the highest standards—God’s standards, not ours or our cultures.

Some people become discouraged when they read things as we have in this epistle. “have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ” (2:5).” “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (2:12). And, “let your mind dwell on these things” (4:8). But we shouldn’t because, in all these exhortations to Christ-like-ness, God is actively working within us to conform us into the image of His Son (1:6; 2:13; 4:7,9)!

FOCUS TWO: Paul has changed his sentence structure at the end of verse eight to conditional clauses (if there), “A rhetorical device that forces the reader to exercise his own discernment and choose what is excellent and praiseworthy.” It appears that the apostle would have these believers, and us secondarily, focus our minds on these things because when we do, we will be living in obedience to Gods Word, we will be walking in unity, and we will “appear as lights in the world” (2:15)!

Dear reader, these are things that should occupy our minds. These are things that occupy our Lord’s mind. How can we grow in holiness, serve one another, be effective witnesses for Christ, or have intimate, powerful prayer lives if we allow our minds to be engrossed with things that are opposed to the things the inspired Word of God teaches us? 

We often struggle with applying the knowledge we acquire, so our loving Heavenly Father provides us godly examples to imitate (3:17; 4:9). No, we are not to imitate men who walk in the flesh, but we are graciously encouraged to emulate those whose lives are imitations of Christ! Such people exhibit the application of such truths in their daily walk, which, in turn, helps us visualize what conformity to God’s word looks like when it is fleshed out.

As for the things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

FOCUS THREE: Paul had become their teacher shortly after his arrival in Philippi (Acts 16). What they had learned, what they had observed in his life, took place in the short period he was with them (Acts 16:40), and he wanted them to continue practicing these things. 

He uses four verbs that are formed into two pairs (Exegetical Commentary). The first pair, “learned” and “received,” describes the Philippian’s instruction by Paul. He is the person who taught them Christian doctrine and Christian living. The next pair, “heard” and “saw,” depicts their personal observation of the apostle – both his speech and his conduct.

In my meditation on these things, it became clear to me just how much we need both. As Christians, we can’t lead balanced lives if we only have one avenue of personal growth absent of the other. Preaching and teaching are essential, but if it is lacking any application to my daily life, to my walk of faith, it will serve to wound me more than aid me. Let me explain my thinking: I can fill my head with all kinds of bible facts, doctrine, and theology, but if that “knowledge” sits in my head, if I don’t know what it is supposed to look like in applying it in my life, or I’m not encouraged by observing it in others, what use is it to me? 

Real-life illustration: Many years ago, I was a member of a small local church in my hometown. I was a member there for many years and also preached and taught there often. I often overheard a few gentlemen express their disgust at the topic the pastor would be preaching or teaching on that Sunday. Many times I would hear one or the other say: “Why doesn’t he teach on Romans 7 and 8 or Hebrews 5,” I already know all about 1 Corinthians 13.”

Do you see the problem? What good was the “knowledge” about Christian love to them? I observed their rudeness, pride, and self-focus all too often while I was there. They didn’t need more knowledge; they needed to apply what they knew in their own lives and relationships with others.

Paul lived what he preached. His life spoke more eloquently than his lips, I read somewhere. Life examples like that are models that we can follow, confidently trusting that “the God of peace will be with you!”

MIND OF CHRIST (Part two)

We left our study last time with this statement: “Jesus, figuratively and literally, “bled” himself out for others as He took upon himself the role of a slave. He voluntarily set aside His rights for the salvation of His people for their eternal well-being. And the Apostle Paul is saying to the Philippian church and to us dear Christian, that that is how you ought to live, in a selfless, humble, others serving, God honoring way within this congregation.”

FOCUS ONE:

Moving forward, we will learn that there is more to all this than just the examples of humility (8). We are also brought to remember the incarnation of Jesus. By that, I mean, When God the Son became a man—The God-man, fully God and yet fully man!

The word: “fashion” or “appearance” or “being,” depending on your translation, is significant. John MacArthur writes: “The word “being” denotes that which a person is in his very essence – that which a person is in his nature. In other words, that which is true of a person that cannot be altered, it cannot be changed. That which someone possesses inalienably and unchangeably that cannot be removed. It refers to the innate, changeless, unalterable character and nature of a person. For example, men may look different, but they’re all men – that’s their nature. They all have the basic same elements of humanness, the functioning of breathing, and the heart, organs, mind, will, thought, emotion. These are the elements of humanness. You can change his clothes. You can do things to the physical form. But you never change the humanness. That is the being of man.”

 And that is the meaning of this term. And it says of Christ that He is in the being of God. He is, then, unalterably and unchangeably, God in His essence, in His essential being. That is the basis of our faith. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word” – what? – “was God.” But along with that, He was at the same time fully man. But don’t think of Jesus as less than fully human. Quoting MacArthur again: “He was fully human. Did people come into this world through the natural process of birth, through the womb of a mother? So, did He. Had others been wrapped in swaddling clothes? So was He. Had others grown up? So did He. Did others have brothers and sisters? He did. Did others learn a trade and work? So did He. Were other men at times hungry, and thirsty, and weary, and asleep? So was He. Were others grieved and angry? So was He. Did others weep? So did He. Did others rejoice? So did He. Were others destined to die? So did He. Did others suffer pain? So did He. Were others loved and hated? So was He. He was a man, in the form and the fashion.”

Luke tells us how this happened. Turn to Luke chapter 1:26 (read). In verse 34, Mary Asks, “how can this happen or be?” The angel tells her that the Holy Spirit will come upon her, and with His power, with no sinful human male involved, He will grant this conception within her, and her child will be called the Son of God (vs.36).

Matthew tells us that this miracle, this salvation, was prophesied long ago. Matthew repeats what Isaiah wrote in 7:14:

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign, behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (God with us). Paul is speaking from a position “after” the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus.

1 Peter 2:21,22 – We are told He lived without sin. In Hebrews 4:15,16 – We are told Jesus was tempted in all points like we are, but He did not sin.

Jesus was the only man ever to live without committing even one sin, so He is the only one who truly deserves to be counted righteous before God. Later we will see that this sinless life was necessary for Him to be a perfect sacrifice for our sins.

He taught with authority, healed many, delivered many from demons, served the multitudes, refuted pseudo-religiosity, pointed many to the Father in Heaven, and because of that:

Matthew 26:1-4,14-16 – Jewish leaders determined to kill Jesus because He had revealed their sins to the multitudes. Judas, one of Jesus’ disciples, agreed to betray Jesus to His enemies for thirty pieces of silver.

Matthew 26:36-41 – After teaching His disciples how to partake of the Lord’s Supper in memory of His death, Jesus went to Gethsemane. There He prayed that He might avoid the suffering of the cross, but even so, He was willing to obey the Father’s will.

Matthew 26:47-56 – Judas came bringing soldiers to capture Jesus and showed the soldiers who to arrest by kissing Him. When Jesus refused to allow His disciples to defend Him, they all forsook Him and fled.

Matthew 26:57-67 – In the Jewish trials, Jewish leaders sought grounds to kill Jesus but could not find valid proof even with the help of many false witnesses. They ignored all the evidence that he was the Christ and convicted Him of making a blasphemous claim! Finally, they convicted Him of blasphemy because He claimed to be the Christ.

Luke 23:8-11 – Pilate sent Jesus to Herod, who mocked Him and sent Him back to Pilate. Pilate (vv 13-16) then told the people that neither he nor Herod found any fault in Jesus worthy of death.

Matthew 27:15-26 – Pilate repeatedly stated that Jesus was innocent and tried to release Him, but the Jews refused. Pilate’s wife sent him a message saying she knew Jesus was innocent. But the Jews said they and their children would bear responsibility for His death, so Pilate called for Jesus to be crucified.

So what? Everyone dies eventually. To many people, Jesus’ death may not seem extraordinary. But His was the most important death ever to occur. It is essential to our salvation.

Hebrews 2:9 – Jesus tasted death for every man. He did not die for His sins – He didn’t have any sins. Nor was His death simply a miscarriage of justice. Jesus died for our sins.

1 Peter 2:24 – He bore our sins on the cross so that we could live to righteousness. He was a sacrifice. He was the sinless Son of God dying as a penalty for those of us who were guilty, so we could go free.

That is why Jesus needed to live a sinless life. If He had sinned, He would have to be punished for His sins. But because He lived a sinless life and did not deserve to die, He was able to suffer for others, people like us who did deserve to die.

FOCUS TWO:

Impressive as all this is, it is even more amazing to realize that He came to earth knowing all along that He would have to die for the sins of others. The Creator took the form of that which He had created to suffer as a sacrifice to save His own creatures. If Jesus had not died, none of us could be forgiven of sins. We would all have to die for our sins (Rom. 6:23). We can be saved (only) because Jesus died for us!

And what was God the Father’s response to this?

3. Glory in Christ (9-11)

a. God the Father exalted Him

Why? Because Jesus has taken upon himself a humble servitude that leads Him to death, even death on a cross, in which He willingly embraces degradation and misery, in which He willingly embraces humiliation of the most profound and most unique sort. And because of this (therefore), God highly exalts Him. And perhaps Paul is drawing our attention to the fact that there is a different kind of exaltation in God’s

One writer comments: “We see human beings, appropriately or inappropriately, exalted all the time around us, and usually it is because they possess certain qualities that set them apart from other people. They may be really smart, and so we praise them because they’re smarter than other people. Or maybe they’re better students, they work hard. It’s not that their brain cells are more blessed than somebody else’s brain cells, but they study really hard. And we set them apart, we give them titles and we give them degrees, and we give them honors for their academic prowess. And so, through their efforts and their native abilities, they are set apart.”

Paul wants these folks to notice how Jesus, who in all of those categories, was more worthy than anyone who ever lived, did not promote himself on that basis. And God did not exalt Him on that basis. He exalted Him because He embraced humility, and He embraced servitude of the most profound sort.

He was given a name above every other!

There is sooo much to this, but we don’t have the time to mine it all this morning. Let me make a few things clear. Dear reader, Jesus has always been the Son of God. Jesus did not become the Son of God for the first time in the resurrection or the ascension. Jesus has always been Lord. He has always been the second person of the Trinity. There was never a time when He wasn’t Lord, and then He became Lord. That’s not what the Apostle Paul is saying here. It’s just that now in the flesh, He has appeared, and in His flesh, He rendered such a service that God publicly owned and acknowledged Him and pronounced Him to be Lord. And Paul is telling the Philippians and us here that God does this precisely because of what Jesus has done in His humble service.

And then we notice: Everybody will confess He is Lord. 

Not only does Paul reveal in these words that every being in the universe will submit to Christ, but He also shows that there will someday be a universal confession that HE IS LORD, to the glory of God the Father!!

This fact was prophesied by Isaiah Back in Isaiah 45:23, and Paul is thinking about that prophecy and directing his readers to reflect on it.

To not willingly submit to Him put’s you, dear sinner, in an awful position. We are all equally rebels against him, whether we oppose him as Lord or whether we refuse to submit to his righteousness or his government. What will you answer to him when he calls you to account for usurping his office and making void all that he has done and suffered for you? — He has sworn, that unto him every knee shall bow; and, if you don’t do it willingly, you will most certainly do it against your will, to your everlasting sorrow.

But how different an outcome for those who submit to His rightful rule.

You are committed to his care, and he will not lose one of you; “not one shall ever be plucked out of his hands,” is the promise of scripture. Whatever you need, “his grace is sufficient for you.” “if you suffer with him. you shall also reign with him,” and “be glorified together with him [Note: 2 Timothy 2:12. Romans 8:17.]” in his kingdom forevermore!

Conclusion:

Dear reader, because of the effectual working of the gospel in our own lives, as undeserved as it is, and all that we enjoy because of it, shouldn’t that lead us to walk in unity, fellowship, and like-mindedness around this gospel within our local church family? 

Christian, Christ is our supreme example; his selfless love is an example to us. His humility and obedience are our encouragement, given by Paul, to strive for unity within their /our local church.

Friends, like all those who have gone before, you are undeserving of His love, His forgiveness, and His fellowship. You, like the rest, are a vile sinner in His eyes and should be cast off into outer darkness.

But, you have hope in this same Jesus! He came to this earth, endured the cross, despised the shame, died the death you should have died, bore your sins on that cruel tree, so that you, through Him, could be declared righteous and forgiven!

THE MIND OF CHRIST

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Philippians 2: 5 “Have this attitude [a]in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be [b]grasped,but [c]emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death [d]on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Introduction:

In my last post, we were studying the first four verses of this chapter, chapter two. And I walked us through the letter and showed you how Paul felt about these people and why, so I won’t revisit that in this post. But as a reminder, we saw that all of Paul’s thoughts about this church were positive; his feelings toward them were warm. In 1:5, he is noting for us that they were genuine believers. Verse 7 speaks of their great courage because even in Paul’s imprisonment and “defense and confirmation of the gospel,” they stood with him as “partakers of grace.” But with all the positive things Paul said about them, we also noticed that. “There was a very obvious lack of doctrinal exhortation in this epistle because there was apparently no doctrinal deviation. These folks had not gone astray in terms of theology. They didn’t need to be corrected. There is no immorality in the congregation which is confronted in the epistle.” So, what we saw, generally speaking, was that this is a quality group of people. They were a devoted, consistent, doctrinally true church.

But, despite all of that, there was hanging over that church a troubling cloud, thickened with poisonous gases. And that problematic cloud is dripping drops of disunity, discord, and conflict within their fellowship, the likes of which have poisoned so many churches.

I remind you of all that because I think we are prone to assume that disunity and conflict wouldn’t be a problem in a strong church. That is not necessarily the case. One commentator made this point. I shared this with you last time:

“There is a sense in which this is the danger of every healthy church. You see, it is when people are really in earnest, when their beliefs really matter to them, when they are eager to carry out their own plans and their own schemes that they are most apt to get up against each other. The greater their enthusiasm, the greater the danger that they may collide” (William Barclay).

Paul is writing these words in chapter two, continuing the appeal he began in verses 27-30 of the previous chapter. He is building upon the theme of unity. Remember, he used the terms “standing firm in one spirit,” “with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”

In 2:2, he uses the same language. He says: “be of the same mind, maintain the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.” Paul wants these believers he loves dearly to express (live-out) the power, influence, and fellowship of the Spirit (benefits of the gospel) they received at salvation within their local fellowship. Paul is very aware of the situation between Euodia and Syntyche, and he addresses it later (4:2).

Paul expressed his joy over their salvation and participation with him in the gospel (1:4). He rejoiced at being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of their faith (2:17). BUT what would bring his joy to it fullness? What would thoroughly complete Paul in his ministry to this church — unity among their fellowship!

And so we saw in verses 2-4, two themes emerge:

1. Fellowship

2. Self-denial

Both are vitally important to have if there is ever to be true unity within a body.

Last time I was only able to give an overview of verses 5-11, and I promised we would return to these scriptures, so here we are. May God grant us through His Spirit, humility, wisdom, and obedience to His Word.

FOCUS ONE:

Read verses 5-11

Think like Christ 

Paul isn’t about to leave these people he loves dearly, thinking that unity and love, God-honoring fellowship, self-less-ness are things they can do on their own in the flesh. He is not about to move on in his letter continuing this appeal, leaving these beloved people contemplating his exhortation without giving them an example to follow.

So, to enforce the earnest exhortations he had just given as to lowliness of mind and unselfish consideration of the things of others, Paul sets forth the Lord Jesus Christ as the supreme example of this. His voluntary self-abasement, His incarnation, His obedience even unto the death of the cross. The immediate connection is between the principle in Phil 2:4, of having regard to the condition and needs of others, and this sublime example of Christ.”

Paul begins to present before these believers the Lord Jesus Christ! He wants them to understand the mind and heart of Christ as it pertains to His coming to earth to redeem fallen humanity from their sin.

Would you please notice that Paul again uses the imperative voice in the original language in verse five? He used the imperative or “command” language earlier in verse two when he said, “make my joy complete, or fulfill my joy,” depending on your translation. Then, it was a general exhortation to begin something at that very moment. Begin, right now, living in harmony or unity with one another.

But here, Paul is using the imperative voice differently! Here it is in the “present active” voice, which means, my paraphrase here, “Beloved, take this example of Christ I am laying out before you, understand why he did what He did, and be like Him, think like Him, from this day forward.” Paul does something like this in Chapter 4, verse 8.

Paul wants his readers to understand that the mindset, or attitude he wants them to retain in themselves, it was also in Christ Jesus! These are the very things Christ Himself thought upon. These are the very things that led Him to humble Himself and take upon Himself the role of a servant, become a human being, honor the father, and redeem wretched sinners like all of us.

Dear Christian, what’s your mind thinking these days? Are your thoughts cased in humility or pride? Are you thinking in ways that will help you be obedient to Jesus or disobedient? Are you thinking along the lines of “how can God be glorified in this,” or “how can I be glorified in”. . . whatever it is you’re involved in?

Perhaps you are not a Christian and are reading this post. I am thankful that you are here. Are you beginning to understand the amazing love of Jesus toward you? A love that, as we will see in our following verses, led Him to voluntarily humble Himself and take upon Himself humanity so that He could rescue us, rescue you, from your worst nightmare. Facing Him as a holy, righteous judge, guilty of heinous crimes against Him.

His mindset was one of a humble disposition that led Him to Submit Himself to the father in obedience, even obedience that led to His death. The innocent, spotless lamb of God, put to death for guilty, blemished, vile, sinners – of which we all are.

FOCUS TWO:

 Live like Christ (6-8) 

Here Paul opens before us the mind of Christ. Here Paul explains what led to Jesus laying aside, temporarily, His divine privileges. “Jesus Christ, God the Son, decided not to continue enjoying or to “cling to” His heavenly existence. Jesus enjoyed the same divine lifestyle, if you will, in heaven that God enjoyed (because He is God). Even though the Son could have lawfully maintained this heavenly existence, HE DID NOT! Rather, He assumed or took upon Himself a servant’s role and appeared in the likeness of men.

That’s why Paul takes us to the deity (heavenly side) of Jesus first before he shows us His humility (human side). So that we might see His humility in the grandeur of who He is and realize that no matter how far we stoop in this life to serve, we will never even begin to approach the depth to which He has condescended to serve us!

And that ( Ligon Duncan writes)— “as humbling a thought as it is, is also a very encouraging thought, because it reminds us again of that grand truth that we have encountered so many times in the Bible: that God never asks us to do what He himself is not prepared to do, and in fact what He has not already done in greater degree and dimension in time than He asks us to do.”

Paul is NOT talking about Jesus dismantling, unloading, or disinheriting himself of deity in these verses: He couldn’t do it if he wanted to. So, the Apostle Paul underscores the fact that Christ has always been and He continues to be God by His very nature. But despite that fact, and even because of that fact, for our salvation, He does not insist upon the manifestation of that majesty of His deity.

There’s something else that Paul is saying in these verses as well (7-8). He’s saying that when Christ came into this world, He did not claim His privileges and prerogatives. How Jesus accomplished our salvation was not to stand on those things but to give them away, to forego them, to veil His majesty, and to deny himself the rightful privileges and prerogatives that were His.

Jesus, figuratively and literally, “bled” himself out for others as He took upon himself the role of a slave. He voluntarily set aside His rights for the salvation of His people for their eternal well-being. And the Apostle Paul is saying to the Philippian church and us Christian, that is how you ought to live, in a selfless, humble, others serving, God-honoring way within the body of Christ (His church).

Are you following the example of Christ in the way you live out your faith within your local church body? Is Christ’s selfless, humble, others serving, God-honoring mindset, example, yours? If not, what is it that keeps you from following in His footsteps?

GRATITUDE AFFECTS ATTITUDE (PT 2)

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Philippians 2:1-4

BRIEF RECAP:

In our last study we noticed Paul’s approach with the Philippians. He’s not only warm and pastoral, but he’s also quick to first mention the blessings of the gospel before giving certain exhortations to help them understand the importance of striving for unity within their church. In this post we will continue our study of these first couple verses and look at his exhortations to these believers.

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

FOCUS ONE:

Fellowship unites us (2-4) 

That is an interesting statement for Paul to make, “make my joy complete.” He expressed his joy over their salvation and participation with him in the gospel (1:4). He rejoiced at being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of their faith (2:17). BUT what would bring his joy to it fullness? “unity in the bonds of peace.” What would thoroughly complete Paul in his ministry to this church is unity among their fellowship! 

In these verses, 2-4, I see two themes emerge: 

1. Fellowship 

2. Self-denial

In order for there to be biblical fellowship, within a church, there has to be like-mindedness, there has to be expressions of love, there has to be an understanding and grasping hold of “one purpose.” ALL of these things begin with what Paul was talking about in verse one: The saving, changing work of the Holy Spirit! We cannot have true God honoring fellowship with one another, if we do not have fellowship with the Spirit ourselves! Gratitude affects attitude!  

It is very clear in these verses that selfishness and empty conceit are polar opposites to self-less-ness and humility.  

Perhaps Paul’s mind is on Euodia and Syntyche. Later he writes urging them to be of the same mind. They were not maintaining their love for one another. They did not have the same purpose at heart. Selfishness or empty conceit may have been playing apart in their discord, and it was wreaking havoc within this church. It was so bad that Paul, many, many miles away, in prison, hears about it from Epaphroditus, most likely, when he was sent to serve Paul on their behalf.  

So, Paul, and it is an interesting observation, in the Greek, uses the imperative here. “Make my joy complete,” is a strong exhortation to begin doing something they were not presently doing.   

It could read: “Right now work at being of the same mind, right now begin maintaining your love for one another, right now start esteeming others better than yourselves. Right now stop being so selfish, stop being so prideful and share the benefits of your fellowship with Christ and His Spirit with your brothers and sisters in the Lord.”  

vss. 2-3 explains how Paul’s joy would be complete-Fellowship is fostered by people whole-heartedly agreeing with each other, loving one another, and working toward the same goal (Gospel unity, gospel witness). It necessitates self-less-ness, humility and a true regard for others that places their needs above our own.

Selfishness, empty conceit, double-minded-ness, always stifles gospel centered unity, always hurts others, always is disobedience to the Lord.  

This is what is burdening Paul; unity and the lack of it in this otherwise GOOD church. It seems that he frames the letter, with that issue.  For example, in the first chapter he speaks of it, verse 27, when he says, “I want you to stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”  In chapter 4, the last chapter, he speaks of it in verses 1 and 2 when he says, “stand firm in the Lord, my beloved. And I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord.”  

So, in chapter 1 we see an urging toward one mind and one heart.  In chapter 4 another urging toward one mind and one heart -And then in the middle is this second chapter, and the opening verses of chapter 2 also deal with the issue of unity in the church.  This is a plea for unity.   

FOCUS TWO:

3. Unity strengthens us (2-4)   

Can you imagine a church where the Christians in that fellowship are working and striving together to make the gospel known to the lost as well as living it out in community with one another?  

Can you imagine a church where the Christians are humble, serving one another allowing their Lord to encourage and comfort and show mercy to others through them?  

Can you imagine a church where the Christians in that fellowship are obedient to Christ even when their feelings get hurt, or their ideas for ministry are not acted upon or done to their satisfaction?  

Can you imagine a church where the Christians in that fellowship are “standing firm in one spirit, steadfast in their opposition to the enemy, unrelenting in their humility before God and others?

How strong would such a church be? It is true: “united we stand, divided we fall.”      

Christian, have you noticed any potential areas of disunity in your congregation? Have you sought to bring unity in that situation? 

Maybe there is someone in the congregation that you personally are in conflict with, how can the Elders help you through that?

Talk with another mature believer about it and work towards maintaining “unity within the bonds of peace.”  

Paul, in a way, is giving them, giving us, a blueprint for a strong, healthy, vibrant, fruitful fellowship within the local church, and it has everything to do with UNITY!  

BUT, this unity is all wrapped up in the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ! We see that in verses 5-11. That will be my focus in my next post!  

Paul isn’t about to leave these people he loves dearly thinking that unity and love, God honoring fellowship, self-less-ness is something that they can do on their own in the flesh. He is not about to move on in his letter leaving these beloved people contemplating his exhortation without giving them an example.   

So, in order to enforce the earnest exhortations he had just given as to lowliness of mind and unselfish consideration of the things of others, Paul sets forth the Lord Jesus Christ as the supreme example of this. His voluntary self-abasement, His incarnation, His obedience even unto the death of the cross. The passage combines Christian doctrine and Christian practice. The immediate connection is between the principle in Philippians 2:4, of having regard to the condition and needs of others, and this sublime example of Christ.” 

All that now follows declares how Jesus looked upon our dire needs as sinners. We are the “others” whose “needs” were the great object of His acting in grace. And it is His mind, as thus expressed, that is to be our mind.

His “attitude” was one of: self-denial (6-7) Humility (8) Obedience (8) 

And Paul lays before these loved ones the greatest example he could ever give. No one was more undeserving of love, forgiveness and fellowship than they were, then we are as vile sinners. Who were we that God should become man, lower Himself for a time, in order to redeem us and qualify us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light? (Colossians 1:12) 

And yet, He did. “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. Who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:2-3). 

Dear Christian, Christ is our supreme example, His selfless love is an example to us. His Humility and obedience even to the point of death are our encouragement, given by Paul, to strive for unity within their /our local church.

Friend, just like all those who have gone before, just like all of us sitting here today, you are undeserving of His love, His forgiveness, and His fellowship. You as the rest, are a vile sinner in His eyes and should be cast off into outer darkness. 

But, you have hope in this same Jesus! He came to this earth, endured the cross, despised the shame, died the death you should have died, bore your sins on that cruel tree, so that you, through Him, could be declared righteous! Forgiven!Reconciled! At peace with God, your creator! Please believe in Him and you “will” be saved!

A VOICE

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Tomorrow, he faithfully promised
tomorrow for revival I’ll pray,
tomorrow I’ll plead as I ought to,
I’m too busy today.

Tomorrow I’ll spend in my closet,
Tomorrow I’ll humbly bow,
Yet ever a voice was whispering,
“But the church is languishing now.”

Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow,
The delay e’er repeated went on,
Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow,
Till the years and the Voice were gone.

Till the church its God had forgotten,
Till the land was covered with sin,
till millions had hopelessly perished,
And eternity was ushered in.

Oh members of the body of Christ,
Oh ye church of the living God,
Oh editors, and leaders, and pastors,
Oh saints, where our fathers trod.

The Voice still insistently whispers,
Answer not, “tomorrow I’ll pray,”
The Voice is one of authority,
The church needs reviving today.

Author unknown