Monday, July 28, 2008

Matthew 28:16-20


16 But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated. 17 When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. 18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ``All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 ``Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.''

MAKE DISCIPLES is the only command here from Jesus with 3 vital participles that describe the action of making disciples. It is MAKE DISCIPLES!

1. By going-This is the act of initiative or introducing another to Jesus on your part!

2. By baptizing-This is the act of identification of those who trust in Jesus, that they are willing to follow Him the rest of their lives.

3. By teaching-This is the act of instruction of all that Jesus taught!

One of the most troubling things about Jesus' command here is that we must begin with ourselves. In other words, are you a disciple?

There are 3 requirements Jesus gives for being one of His disciples: FIRST--Requirement of PRIORITY. He must be your highest priority over every other relationship. It's Jesus plus nothing!

SECOND--Requirement of PERSEVERANCE. You must be willing to go through anything-problems, circumstances, struggles, trials-and still follow Jesus!

THIRD--Requirement of POSSESSIONS. You must renounce personal ownership of everything, including your life. You are a manager of all you are and have!

So now, let's return to the core question. ARE YOU A DISCIPLE OF JESUS?

Matthew 28:1-15


1 Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. 2 And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. 3 And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. 4 The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. 5 The angel said to the women, ``Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. 6 ``He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying. 7 ``Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.'' 

8 And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples. 9 And behold, Jesus met them and greeted, them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, ``Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee and there they will see Me.'' 

11 Now while they were on their way, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened. 12 And when they had assembled with the elders and consulted, together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, 13 and said, ``You are to say, `His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.' 14 ``And if this should come to the governor's ears, we will win him over and keep you out of trouble.'' 15 And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this day.

As in each of the Gospels the resurrection is the pinnacle of it all! Then, in the book of Acts-the acts of Jesus-the theme continued to be the resurrection. Without this historical, space-time, event Jesus is not much greater than other leaders. The resurrection from the grave sets Him apart from all others. And, because of His victory over the power of death, we, too, have that same hope.

Jesus says, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, even though he dies, will live. Do you believe this?" Because He lives, we live!

But there's more! Brennan Manning discusses in his book, Abba's Child, the "present risenness", which means that Jesus not only rose from the dead, but is presently alive and active in our lives right now! Jesus is risen and alive in those who follow Him.

Matthew 27:57-66


57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. 58 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59 And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away. 61 And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the grave. 

62 Now on the next day, the day after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate, 63 and said, ``Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, `After three days I am to rise again.' 64 ``Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, otherwise His disciples may come and steal Him away and say to the people, `He has risen from the dead,' and the last deception will be worse than the first.'' 65 Pilate said to them, ``You have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how.'' 66 And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone.

According to Jewish law, even a criminal's body might not be left hanging all night, but had to be buried that day. "His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but you shall bury him the same day" (Deut 21:22-23). This was doubly binding when, as in the case of Jesus, the next day was the Sabbath. According to Roman law, the relatives of a criminal might claim his body for burial, but if it was not claimed it was simply left to rot until the scavenger dogs dealt with it.

A rich man who had become a follower of Jesus went to Pilate and requested the body for burial. This is a most revealing look into the nature of the followers. What is missed most often is that Jesus was Jewish and was actually another of many rabbis who presented their teachings, looking for followers. Through His teachings and accompanying miracles, Jesus' ministry had spread to a variety of levels of society. All of this becomes more clear as the letters to the churches are sent out. There you'll find slaves, noblemen, Roman soldiers, religious leadership, business men and women, and the formerly disabled, lame and blind.

This is the same today when Jesus is turned loose into society. Our responsibility is to get out of the way and trust Jesus to do His work among our friends and family-in our churches, synagogues and mosques, in the corporate marketplace and throughout our communities. Jesus is even more relevant and resonating to individuals of all cultures, religions and ethnicities than he was, even from the beginning.

This is why we must take upon ourselves to advance the conversation of Jesus into every crevice of society. And, Jesus will bring new life to any and all who seek to know Him personally.

Matthew 27:27-56


27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole Roman cohort around Him. 28 They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. 29 And after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they knelt down before Him and mocked Him, saying, ``Hail, King of the Jews!'' 30 They spat on Him, and took the reed and began to beat Him on the head. 31 After they had mocked Him, they took the scarlet robe off Him and put His own garments back on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him. 32 As they were coming out, they found a man of Cyrene named Simon, whom they pressed into service to bear His cross.

33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha, which means Place of a Skull, 34 they gave Him wine to drink mixed with gall; and after tasting it, He was unwilling, to drink. 35 And when they had crucified Him, they divided up His garments among themselves by casting lots . 36 And sitting down, they began to keep watch over Him there. 37 And above His head they put up the charge against Him which read, ``THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.'' 

38 At that time two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and one on the left. 39 And those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, ``You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.'' 41 In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking Him and saying, 42 ``He saved others; He cannot, save Himself. He is the King of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him. 43 ``HE TRUSTS IN GOD; LET GOD RESCUE Him now, IF HE DELIGHTS IN HIM; for He said, `I am the Son of God.' '' 44 The robbers who had been crucified with Him were also insulting Him with the same words. 

45 Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. 46 About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ``ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?'' that is, ``MY GOD, MY GOD, WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?'' 47 And some of those who were standing there, when they heard it, began saying, ``This man is calling for Elijah.'' 48 Immediately one of them ran, and taking a sponge, he filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink. 49 But the rest of them said, ``Let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him .'' 50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. 51 And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. 52 The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many. 54 Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, ``Truly this was the Son of God!'' 

55 Many women were there looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee while ministering to Him. 56 Among them was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

What a horrendous scene! Jesus is separated from His Father. Jesus was sent to die as THE LAMB OF GOD who takes away the sins of the world

NOTE two things that happened away from the cross experience: FIRST-The Temple veil was torn from top to bottom. Since the Lamb of God was sacrificed on the cross, the veil of the Temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The veil separated the people from the presence of God. Once it was torn, there no longer is a separation between God and man. AND NOW the very presence of God lives in those who believe. That was the veil beyond which no man could penetrate, except the High Priest on the Day of Atonement. It was the veil where the Spirit of God dwelt! NOW that same Spirit dwells in those who believe and trust in Jesus.

SECOND-The tombs were opened. The symbolism of this is that Jesus conquered death. In dying and in rising again he destroyed the power of the grave. Because of his life, his death and his resurrection, the tomb has lost its power, and the grave has lost its terror-death has lost its ultimate tragedy!

NOTE the witness of the centurion! When Christ is lifted up (Jesus says), I will draw all kinds of men to Me. Here is a most unlikely one-a Roman soldier! The religious were repulsed by Jesus and made to feel uncomfortable with His teachings. The non-religious Roman soldier is attracted to Jesus. This is the same thing we find today.

The religious don't want Jesus to mess with their traditions and doctrinal teachings. Oh, by the way, note all the disciples had split, but the women remained.

There is one more significant observation here. Jesus spoke in Aramaic. This is why Mel Gibson shot his movie, "The Passion", all in Aramaic. The Aramaic Jesus spoke on the cross, ``ELI, ELI, LAMA SABACHTHANI?'', has been mistranslated in the Greek New Testament and has caused lots of difficulty for those who are trying to get their brains around who this Jesus is. The question usually arises, "Why is it that God forsook Jesus, when God promises never to forsake?" The Aramaic says this phrase in a totally different way. Jesus is really saying, "My God, My God, this is my final destiny!" He is speaking consistently with His struggle in the garden, when He was praying, "Not my will, but yours be done." This changes the meaning dramatically. This is a good example of how we have passed things down year after year without ever questioning its veracity.

Now even though I have heard and taught this passage all my life in the traditional way, I am eager to learn more so that I can understand Jesus better. To me, this is a great insight by the use of the tool of the Aramaic language for us to get a little closer to what Jesus said and intended for us to understand. Don't be afraid to be a learner and not one whose mind is already made up. Remember, Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. He didn't say your translation or your understanding of your translation is the way, the truth and the life. This is how friends, colleagues and denominations end up in division. In Jesus all can be united. In our differing translations and understandings there is division. Stick with Jesus.