Rejection and Acceptance

Easter 2018  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  29:11
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Is your life like a game of jenga? Put your faith and trust in Christ who will never let you down.

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Good Morning! Happy Easter...
Several years ago, I was a full-time Seminary student and Pam was working to support the family. One April morning Pam told me that she had been feeling nauseous for a week or so and had gone ahead and taken a pregnancy test.
• Now normally, I would be like… there is no way… it’s just the pizza you ate the night before… but this time it was different
• Firstly, Pam was beaming from ear to ear with the largest smile ever…. Secondly, she handed me a pregnancy test and there it was..... two lines… There was no doubt in my mind that she was pregnant...
Now…Don’t get me wrong.... Children are a huge blessing… and you should get excited at the news of having a baby…
but when you think that part of your life is now complete...— a different emotion comes up …Your hands get clammy and you go into a cold sweet…so all this is going on in inside
• But at the same time I knew better --- I knew that this was one of those marriage moments- where I’d have to respond in the appropriate manner.
• So, I looked up from that pregnancy test and put on the happiest face that I could muster… and said ....“I am so happy… I am so excited for us … it’s the most awesome thing that could have happened to us”.
• Pam held out for just a few seconds longer and then announced.... “April fools” ….
• Talk about an adrenalin rush.... as the blood slowly returned into my body. Now get this in order to pull off this prank successfully --- Pam had to enlist the help of a pregnant coworker (coconspirator)who happily agreed to produce the positive pregnancy test... Now that is what you call a great prank.
• This year Easter happens to fall on Aprils fools ..... This doesn’t happen often - the last time EASTER fell on April 1st was 1956… then next will be in 2029 then 2040…
• When you think about it the Resurrection is either the single most important event to happen on the planet or it is Biggest Hoax of all time…
Philip Schaff said that
“The resurrection of Christ is either the greatest miracle or the greatest delusion which history records."
• Today over 2.2 Billion Christians around the world are Celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus… These are Christians from all walks of life who have embraced the “Truth claims” of Jesus and the Bible.
A truth claim is a statement that a particular person or belief systems holds to be true.
• The Bible is full of these kinds of Statements…. If you go through the Gospels you will find the “I am” statements of Jesus… For example, Jesus said.... I am the bread of life. I am the good shepherd; I am the light of the world.
• Jesus said to Thomas…I am the way the truth and the life and no one can approach the Father accept through me.. When Philip asked Jesus to show Him the Father - Jesus responded “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”
Jesus claimed to be the Son of God and to share Equality with the Father. He claimed to have the power to forgive sins.....
• One of the most Significant Truth Claims has to do with the Resurrection… After Jesus’ friend Lazarus, had died he told Martha … that He had the power over death itself.
John 11:25 ESV
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,
It is not just the Gospels but the Bible itself claims to be the inspired word of God…the word inspired originates from the root word to exhale. God has breathed out scripture to us.
The Christian philosopher... C.S. Lewis said that there is no middle ground when it comes to the claims of Christ.
A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice.
Either Jesus was and is who he claimed to be… the Son of God or he wasn’t…. the Bible doesn’t give us other options.
Within the message of Easter are the themes…Acceptance and Rejection…
a. One is that of Acceptance.
A few months ago, Dean Johnson a former pastor of did a funeral here at the church and during his sermon he pointed to the Cross behind me and said.
Do you know what that is? --- It’s a plus sign! When you have Jesus Christ in your life the cross adds value to your life… it gives you hope…gives you purpose… meaning…
Christ is always a plus sign … it doesn’t matter what you go through in life or even death --- The cross is going always give more value and more hope…To some as they look at the cross… While that is true…
At the same time the Cross is also a symbol of rejection.
In the First Century in the Roman world, the Cross was not something you would put on a building or a piece of jewelry you ware around your neck. The cross was a device of torture… like the electric chair today …
· Crucifixion was the Romans’ method of Capital punishment and it was reserved for only the worst of criminals.
· You would never crucify someone who was of high social status or was considered a noble person, no matter what the crime.
· The cross was a place of shame and humiliation…
· Crucifixion were normally conducted along the major high ways…in view of everyone. One of the main reasons was that it served as a deterrent for anyone who thought they could usurp Roman authority…
· To put someone on a cross was ultimate sign of rejection
T/S There are three groups of people that rejected Christ in the Easter Narrative… the religious leaders, the Romans and the crowd... What I would like to do this morning is for us to consider together What was at the root of their Rejection?
T/s In the Matthew 26 we find the beginnings of Christs humiliation and rejection…
Matthew 26:1–5 ESV
When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.” Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.”
T/S One of the reasons that Jesus was Rejected by the Jewish leaders was that…

1. Jesus didn’t fit into their World View

He didn’t fit the mold of the Messiah.
Jesus was preparing his disciples for what lay ahead. He explains to his disciples that the teaching part of his ministry is now concluded… The next event in his coming was to face the cross and to lay down his life as an offering…
At the same time The Jewish leaders have gathered in the court yard of Caiaphas the High priest to plot a plan to kill Jesus. This is not the first time… the religious leaders had talked about getting rid of Jesus … but now they were desperate… They needed a concrete plan to convict and condemn Jesus to death.
There was one huge obstacle on the way of their plan. that was the feast of Passover. Jerusalem would be jammed packed with thousands of pilgrims, who would have their minds filled with nationalist fervor and longings. And their plot to kill Jesus could backfire and Jesus could be accepted as the Messiah.
They had to move carefully as stealthy and as fast as Possible...
• They needed to arrest Jesus secretly and have him tried and convicted… with no time for people to object...or cause a riot. timing meant everything.
As it turns out the Judas betrayal of Jesus was fortuitous
Judas had deserted Christ and for 30 pieces of silver ($600) and was willing to give them Jesus exact location.
From this point forward things move quickly… In the Early hours of Friday morning Judas takes religious and soldiers into the garden of Gethsemane and exposes Jesus with a Kiss… Jesus is arrested and taken before the Annas the former priest and then taken to the current priest Caiaphas... This all took place in the dark between the hours 1am-3am… in the morning…
It reminds me of one of those Navy seal team’s covert operations … where it’s all under dark and you only find out a week later what happened.
So, early Friday morning Jesus is arrested and by 5 am Jesus is on Trial before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin… Matthew gives us more details..
Matthew 26:57–61 ESV
57 Then those who had seized Jesus led him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had gathered. 58 And Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end. 59 Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, 60 but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward 61 and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’ ”
This is one of the Most suspect trials in History of law practice.…Every rule in the book is broken. According to Jewish law…
1. No trials to be held at night or during feasts.
2. No Decision for Capital punishment could be made in one day..
3. The accused should have been permitted a proper defense…
None of the proper protocols were followed and today’s world this would be a miss trial.… What is ironic is that these same leaders that were so care for keeping every inch of the law were so willing to break all the rules… Now, things don’t get better they get worse… It’s almost too painful to watch.
Caiaphas struggles to get a viable case against Jesus....
· They couldn’t find any credible witnesses…
· Look at that… Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death,
So in order to convict Jesus …they started to looking for false testimonies anything that could incriminate Jesus…no one came forward.
• Finally… two witnesses come forward with something they said Jesus claimed “He would destroy the temple and rebuild it in 3 days.”
Now this is a true statement --- Jesus did say this… but His accuses were twisting his words to mean that jesus threatened to destroy the literal temple… Jesus had used the temple as analogy to speak about his own death and the resurrection… that his temple the body would be raised on the third day..
Caiaphas the high priest knew that this none of this would hold in a Roman court… they would simply laugh at the notation and put it to Jewish superstition.
• As Caiaphas sees the trial collapsing …and the disaster they would have if Jesus was released after the trial…he resorts to one last resort... one final Hail Mary… He asked Jesus
Jesus has to incriminate himself by answering this question…
Jesus answer… It as you have said.
Caiaphas now has the Evidence that he needed… The case is watertight... Jesus had implicated himself to such an extent that the Sanhedrin would deem him worthy of death for blasphemy.
Why did the Religious world REJECT CHRIST?
The reason they rejected Jesus because He didn’t fit into their worldview! I think it is important to understand our world view… when we when to Seattle I spoke to surfer guy about what he believed.. and he believed that we are all part of some Alien experiment… I thought that was interesting perspective… I asked him… How did you come to believe that… what led you believe… I not judging… I love to have that discussion with people.. if you are an atheist agnostic… indifferent… How did that happen?
The point is that each of us has a worldview and it is impacted by several factors… our upbringing, our Education, our experiences… all these things impact the way that we see life. And the way we respond… The Bible tells us in proverbs that as man thinks so is He…
The problem with the Religious leaders is they got stuck on their presuppositions – meaning they made up their minds before having the evidence. .... It’s like having your mind up about a movie before going to watch it..
Jesus once referred to the Religious leaders as blind guides… the blind leading the blind… They often discriminated by what they wanted to see…
T/S The message of the Cross has two perspectives… One is the message of Acceptance… hope.... On the other side, there is the side of Rejection.
Even though the Jews found Jesus guilty and deserving of Death… they did not have the power or right to execute offenders under Roman law… They needed a guilty verdict from Rome as soon as possible… Soon as the courts open Early Friday Morning… Jesus is taken to the Pontius Pilate...
Luke 23:1–5 ESV
1 Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate. 2 And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.” 3 And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” 4 Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.” 5 But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.”
T/S Jesus is brought before Pilate the Roman governor… The reason why Jesus was rejected by the Roman world is because..

2. Jesus wasn’t Relevant to the Real world…

Luke tells us that the Jewish leaders come before Pilate with three accusations.
They accuse Him of three things…
“We have found this man subverting our nation.”
“He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar.”
“He claims to be Christ, a king”
Out of the three things mention only one thing Concerned Pilate on the list… Was Jesus an insurrectionist a political threat to the Roman rule of Judea.
Pilate gets straight to the issue…
Are you the King of the Jews... Jesus’ answer, “you have said (so),”
The way that Pilate phrased the question is interesting… are you King of the Jews? Jesus simply answer that it was true…
Pilate finds no reason to be worried about a Jewish “king” of this kind and perceives the issue to be nothing more than Jewish quibbling.
Pilate knows that Jesus is not a threat to the political and social stability of Roman… and He is certain of his innocence… but the Jewish leaders insist on Jesus guilt…
Pilate is still faced with what to do with Jesus… What do you do with an innocent man who is condemned by his own people? After sending Him to Herod for a second opinion the trial continues…
Matthew 27:12–14 ESV
12 But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate said to him, “Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?” 14 But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge, so that the governor was greatly amazed.
There are all kinds of accusations are being made… there is lots of mudslinging going on…desperate people say desperate things… The Whole-time Jesus is silent,
It’s hard to keep silent when you have been wrongly accused… I find it hard even when I know I am wrong.
There are a few times when I have gotten a parking ticket in Chico and every time have these thoughts.... how could they do that to me an innocent person.... If only the meter lady had known that I was late…I feel betrayed by that yellow ticket on my windshield.
The reason Jesus was silent is because he was on a mission… He come to do the will of the Father. Nothing, no one, can turn Jesus away from that goal of laying down his life..
Isaiah the Prophet spoke of Christ sufferings in terms of submitting to the process.
Isaiah 53:7 ESV
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.
After Pilate Hears from Jesus accuses - He concludes that Jesus is innocent. Jesus was not the dangerous revolutionary the Jewish leaders made him out to be. Pilate announces that “He finds no fault in Jesus.”
And He then gives the People a choice…
It was customary at the Jewish feasts for the Romans to release one of their Jewish prisoners… He gives them a choice to release Barabbas a harden criminal or Jesus…. To Pilates surprise they chose Barabbas.… the crowd begin to cry our out crucify him… At this point Pilate washes his hands of the guilt…and Jesus is taken to be crucified.
The reason the Roman world rejected Christ…is simply Jesus wasn't’ relevant to their world… We living in an age where people don’t see the need for God… Simply God is not relevant to my life… what they are saying is that my life is full with other things that are meaningful.
If you have played the game Jenga… When you start, the blocks are straight and everything is aligned… Then you start removing one piece at a time… The structure begins to weaken and finally that last piece that you pull and the whole structure collapses… The problem with worldviews and our sense of being in control… Is when it standing there it looks fine… The religious leaders could say Jesus you don’t fit into our world view… The Roman had power and resources… long as those things stay in place… we can be confident. but the when things begin to pull at the structure… we realize those things are simply not enough… but maybe some of the assumptions are wrong… maybe what you depending on is not enough… Tradition tells us Caiaphas the High Priest shortly after Jesus death… lost his position – The Romans appointed the priest – for a year at a time… he managed to get through 18 years… lost control…and ended up taking his own life…
T/S The cross becomes the ultimate sign of Acceptance... because Jesus dealt with the issue of our own Rejection.
John 19:28–30 ESV
28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” 29 A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. 30 When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
T/S Jesus came to finish the work on the cross… Jesus completed his teaching mission… when Jesus died on the cross… He said it is finished..

3. Jesus response to REJECTION is Acceptance

Tim Keller tells this story where he is on an airplane traveling with a Japanese Friend Makoto Fujimura. When they got into a discussion about the homeless in Tokyo… He said that Asian culture… loosing your job is a very shameful thing.
He said that, “In Japan, if you lose your job, you don’t come home and tell people because you are ashamed. Not only that, your family doesn’t want to know. It would be too shameful. So what you do every day when you lose your job is you come home, you don’t tell anybody, and every day you put on your suit and you leave. You hang out with the other people who also don’t have a job.”
He says, “After a while, if you can’t get another job, you don’t come back. You don’t tell people. You just don’t come back.” I said, “Why?” He says, “It’s an Asian thing, you wouldn’t understand.”
The fact is rejection is found in every culture, in every century has this need for approval and for acceptance,
What is ironic in the Easter Story is that Religious leaders were trying to hold onto power… Their own fear of rejection led them to reject the savior…
Christ came to fulfill our need for Acceptance…through his own rejection…
Isaiah 53. “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men … But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
On the cross Jesus dealt with every kind of difficulty and every Rejection that we go through in life… There are seven saying on the cross that are recorded in various places in the gospels --- On the cross Jesus met every requirement for our approval…
1. He me our need of forgiveness...
Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34)
Jesus made forgiveness possible not only for those involved in His crucifixion, but also for all who would put their trust in Him
2. He met our need for eternal Salvation
Jesus said to the thief on the cross and to all who believe
“Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43
3. He met our Need for Community
Even though He Himself was in tremendous physical agony, He was mindful of the pain she was experiencing and made provision for her by entrusting her to the care of John, the beloved disciple
He said to Mary His mother..
Woman, behold your son.… Behold your mother” (John 19:26–27
4. Our need for our Need for Approval
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt 27:46; Mark
Jesus was rejected by the Father so we’d be accepted by the Father Not only was God rejected by man--- but as he took on sin --- He suffered rejection of the Father. He stood in our place and took the penalty and punishment for everything we have ever deserved and anything we’ve ever done, and he did it voluntarily. He did it out of love
5. Our Need Physical healing.
“I am thirsty” (John 19:28)
6. Our Need for Completion
“It is finished” (John 19:30)
Jesus has done what is necessary to make one acceptable to God
When Jesus died on the cross… We are told that there had been a Roman Centurion that had seen the whole thing go down. He was close enough Jesus and the cross to witness what transpired over those six hours.
Matthew 27:54 ESV
54 When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”
When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”
This was not necessarily saving faith But certainly it indicated hearts that were open to the truth…
Here is the thing.
If Jesus was insane, we should ignore him. It is the only rational thing to do. If he was attempting to deceive other people, expose him. Fight his lies for the sake of those who might be taken in and harmed by them.
On the other hand if Christ , Acceptance.
On the other hand, if Jesus is who he claimed to be—if he is the true Son of God—then the appropriate response is one like the Centurion...Surely this is the Son of God.
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