By Stephen Wong
11 Sep 2011 Sunday
Worship song: Jesus Jesus Holy and Anointed One
|Verse 1||Jesus, Jesus
Holy and Anointed One!
|Verse 2||Jesus, Jesus
Risen and Exalted One!
|Chorus||Your name is like honey on my lips,
Your Spirit’s like water to my soul,
Your word is a lamp unto my feet,
Jesus I love You, I love You!
Scripture Reading: John 18:1-14
1 When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was an olive grove, and he and his disciples went into it.
2 Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples.
3 So Judas came to the grove, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.
4 Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, "Who is it you want?"
5 "Jesus of Nazareth," they replied. "I am he," Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.)
6 When Jesus said, "I am he," they drew back and fell to the ground.
7 Again he asked them, "Who is it you want?" And they said, "Jesus of Nazareth."
8 "I told you that I am he," Jesus answered. "If you are looking for me, then let these men go."
9 This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: "I have not lost one of those you gave me."
10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest's servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant's name was Malchus.)
11 Jesus commanded Peter, "Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?"
12 Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him
13 and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year.
14 Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it would be good if one man died for the people.
SERMON by Stephen Wong:
Let’s open with prayer:
Father, you are the Holy Lord, God Almighty, and there is no other name given to us under Heaven but the sweet, precious , marvelous and matchless name of your Son Jesus, by whom we can be saved. Father, come today through your Holy Spirit to purify our hearts, our minds and our lives so that we can receive the fullness of your treasures that you have prepared for us in your Word. Speak to us, O Holy God. You are sovereign, you are God, there is no other besides you and so we stand in awe of our risen Savior, Jesus Christ. We pray in His name and for His fame. Amen.
Good morning everyone, I wish you a happy Mid-Autumn Festival and a happy resurrection day. That is why we come every Sunday to celebrate the resurrected, powerful, glorious, all-majestic and beautiful Lord Jesus.
Today is also a special day. In America, it marks the tenth anniversary of 9/11 attacks. According to the headlines in the newspaper, it was a black day, a black hour; it was the day the world changed.
We go through hours as dark as those of 9/11 in our own lives. For some of you, it might involve a family issue, a friendship issue, or a financial issue. Some even feels that there is no end to such dark hours-they seem to extend into a dark year or many dark years, where all is hopeless.
In Chapter 18, we experience the darkest hours of Jesus Christ. In fact we are in the darkest hours of history- the time when God the Son would die, when God the Son would be separated for the first time ever from His Father. We would hear the cry: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” It is indeed a dark hour.
In Chapter 17 we had the revelation of glory, the redemption of grace and the relationship of gladness. It was the Lord’s Prayer. But Chapter 18 can be divided into the following four parts:
1-11 Judas’s Betrayal
12-24 Jews’ Trials
25-27 Peter’s Denials
28-40 Pilate’s Trials
It is a journey from Gethsemane where Jesus agonized in prayer and drops of sweat like blood fell. And it’s a journey to Golgotha where Pilate sat on the judgment seat to judge the Judge of the world.
How dare he sit to judge the Judge of the world!
Today we will focus on the first fourteen verses, which can be divided into three sections:
1-3 The Cohort
4-9 The Christ
10-14 The Cup
So let’s dive into the first section and see what God has prepared for us in the cohort. Maybe you are wondering what a cohort is. You will find out.
1.1 John 18:1
Verse 1 begins after Jesus finished praying. When Jesus prayed, He prayed for Himself, for His disciples and for the church, which are us, the future believers. This prayer ends with Chapter 17. Jesus says: “Father, I have made you known to them. I wanted you to know them and they too know you, so that your love, your love for me, will be in them and that we will be one.” He was praying so that we will experience the fullness of God’s love and the communion with Jesus-the communion for which we were created.
After such a precious prayer, Jesus said to His disciples: “Let us go.” They crossed the Kidron Valley, which is a little brook. It was possible that as they crossed the brook they saw blood. Why was that? According to the historian Josephus, a Jewish historian, over 2,000,000 Jews came to the Passover with their lambs and over 250,000 lambs were slain at that Passover when Jesus died. The blood of those lambs would have flowed from the temple mount into the Kidron Brook. It is most likely that as Jesus crossed the brook, He looked down and saw the water and the blood, which seemed a foreshadow of what was to happen: His blood would be shed and His side would be pierced, where water and blood would pour out. As He crossed the brook He had a destination in mind: the olive grove. We learn from the other Gospels that the olive grove was called the Garden of Gethsemane, which means “olive press”, the press upon which the olives would be placed upon and crushed to produce the olive oil. This is the same garden where the Son of Man, the man of sorrows, would too be crushed. He too would agonize; He too would bleed; He too would, willingly and voluntarily, be crushed for you, for me and for us.
The Garden of Gethsemane reminds us of another garden, a very famous garden-the Garden of Eden, where it all began in Genesis, where the first man Adam rebelled. But in Gethsemane the last Adam surrendered. In Eden the first Adam disobeyed while in Gethsemane the last Adam obeyed. Through the first Adam sin came; and through the last Adam, our Lord Jesus Christ, sin was dealt with. In Eden man fell while in Gethsemane Jesus Christ knelt down and prayed for you and me. Gethsemane is a beautiful garden, and it is a theme that will reappear in Revelation where we will have another garden, a radiant garden. I have talked about that on a previous occasion. It will be a magnificent garden with a river and a tree. I cannot wait for you and me to be in that garden. God is good.
1.2 John 18:2
Gethsemane was a place for prayer, fellowship and friendship. It was a place where Jesus and His disciples spent time together long and often. We have places that are special to us too, be it a prayer site or a quiet retreat. Jesus was in Gethsemane, but so was Judas the traitor. Judas had walked, talked and spent three years sharing bread with Jesus. Judas also shouldered an important role as he was in charge of the money. What is more, Judas was a man whom Jesus loved. Now Judas as a traitor set his foot into the special place of intimate friendship and love, bringing on his tail a murderous mob. It is in this place that Judas kissed Jesus whom he had betrayed. Jesus observed: “Is this how you would betray the Son of Man, by a kiss?” This is a warning for us: without your heart, it could be dangerous when you are in the proximity to rituals, to church or to Jesus; but I know that it is not the case with any of you, because as I have watched you worship here today, I know that you have come to worship and express you love to the Holy and Anointed One, Jesus Christ- and He knows you.
1.3 John 18:3
Judas came with a cohort, which is a group of approximately 600 or 1,000 Roman soldiers. This small army joined forces with the temple priests, carrying an array of weapons along with all those lanterns and torches on such a full-moon night as a Passover night, with the sole purpose of arresting an unarmed man and his friends who were praying in a garden. They brought with them lanterns and torches to arrest the Light of the world; their darkness was so thick that they needed extra light.
Principle: A life of genuinely following Jesus will lead others to Christ as well.
Q: “How do I lead someone to Christ? How can I share the Gospel effectively?”
A: “Follow Jesus closely and genuinely.
Follow Jesus up and follow Him down.
Follow Jesus wherever He goes.
Eventually you will be so attractive that people will want to come to Jesus.”
Q: “In what aspects can I be a faithful follower to lead others to Christ?”
A: “Your faithfulness glows when you serve in church, at school”
You can serve and be a faithful follower in church by joining the worship chorus, the host team, the small groups…; eventually you can lead a Bible study group.
You can serve and be a faithful follower at school by not cursing, by respecting God’s name, by praying before your meals, by reverence to Jesus with your heart and by sharing Jesus with others when they see the brilliance of God shining through you.
You can share Jesus whenever it is, wherever you are, with whomever that God has called you to. Share Jesus and see the life of that person transformed from shades to light and from despair to hope.
We are now going to see a lot of attributes of God, but I would like to focus only on a few of them.
2.1 John 18:4-8
I think here we have something fun. Now the heavily armed people had come close. Jesus, who knew all things, who knew what was going to happen in a few hours, who knew that He had come to His own but His own acknowledged Him not, and who knew that the very people whom He had come to save would put Him on the cross, did not attempt to escape. He stayed right where He was and revealed Himself before the army started inquiring. He was the one who asked the questions instead:
“Who are you looking for? Who is it you want?”
“Jesus of Nazareth.” They replied.
Jesus told them: “I am.”
I AM is the divine name of God. As soon as Jesus said I AM, the army, surprisingly, fell back to the ground-they were in the presence of God.
Jesus asked them again:
“Who is it you want? I told you, I am.”
They probably fell back again at this point.
It would have been very easy for Jesus and His disciples to escape: all Jesus would have to say was “I am” and the soldiers would have kept on falling down. The arrestors had to bow before the King of kings and the Lord of lords; they had to bow down before they could even arrest Him. Brothers and sisters, Jesus is Lord; Jesus is sovereign; Jesus is God, the great I AM. And He is there for you. I know that you love the great I AM-that is why you are here, to worship the One who was, is and is to come; the First and the Last; the Beginning and the End. We stand in awe of the great I AM.
It is immensely beautiful how Jesus stands between us and our enemies. Jesus said: “You are looking for me, so let my disciples go.”That is what Jesus does: He stands between us and the enemy of our souls. When the enemy shouts: “That is a sinner!” Jesus defends us: “I have paid the price and have bought him from you. He is now mine.” We belong to Jesus, FOREVER, because He said in the Scripture that He had lost none and would never lose any of us.
You cannot be lost! If you feel deserted, abandoned or lonely, you should read the Scripture, and it will remind you that you cannot be lost: Jesus has found you; He has carved you on the palms of His hand; He prays for you in heaven and He does not forget you. No matter how dark your situation may seem or how sick and heavy you feel, Jesus will not forget you or forsake you. He knows, just as He replied to the enemies, that He is “I AM”, which made the enemies fell down in the presence of God. Your enemies and obstacles will fall with face down in the same way to the King of kings and Lord of lords, for “every knee will bow and every tongue will confess.” That is our God standing before us.
2.2 John 18:9
Jesus is the good shepherd in verse 9, as He stands for us to fulfill the prophesy of Salvation.
Principle: Nothing counts more in life than our belief in Jesus.
I have done a lot of things that, I thought, could fulfill my life: I thought the business world, advancements and educations were going to satisfy me… I thought a lot of things; but I thought wrong. The Bible tells us that nothing can be compared to knowing Jesus and believing in Jesus. When you are confronted with a life-or-death situation, nothing matters except your belief in Jesus, which will carry you through to the end. That is the promise of our great I AM.
3.1 John 18:10
Verse 10 deals with the last division-the Cup. When Peter saw Judas kissing our Lord Jesus so as to betray Him, Peter had enough. He drew his sword, waved it fiercely and cut off Malchus’ right ear. (Malchus was a servant of the high priest who came to arrest Jesus.) Maybe Peter thought that even if he could not defeat the whole army, he could at least get at somebody’s ear. Poor Peter.
Peter loved Jesus, he really did. When he cut off Malchus’ ear, Peter actually involved himself in great trouble, because he had started the fight, and (for that) he should have gone to the cross. But Jesus, in His kindness, told Peter once again: “I love you and I know that you love me, but it is not the time. Put that sword away!” What did Jesus do then? I marvel at the majesty of His deed-He healed the man’s ear. In doing so Jesus also removed the evidence against Peter, so Peter was now free from being accused as a rebel.
Peter reminds us of ourselves when we try to settle something with our own efforts in our own ways and according to our own timing. Jesus reminds us: “What you have done is sinful and will lead you to death, but I will remove the evidence with my blood. You are free and there is now no condemnation for all who is in Jesus.” Christ Jesus removes our transgressions as far away from us as the east is from the west.
3.2 John 18:11
Jesus told Peter: “I must drink the cup My Father gives to me.” It was the cup of salvation. It was the cup of God’s wrath. Jesus must drink it so that you and I do not have to drink it.
3.3 John 18:12
After that the soldiers arrested and bound Jesus. In fact it was not a rope that kept Jesus bound, but His Father’s will, His pleasure in obeying that will, and His love for us. Jesus was bound to His love for the Father and for us.
3.4 John 18:13-14
Then the Scripture goes on to explain the cup. Caiaphas, the high priest, once prophesied: “One man must die for the people.” Who could that man be? Only someone perfect and sinless could fulfill that role, and His name is Jesus, the great I AM.
We cannot shy away from this question: How will you give God His rightful place of authority in life?
We call Him our Lord. In the Book of Acts “Jesus is Lord” is uttered 110 times. How will you give God His rightful place as your Lord?
Principle: Obeying is better than offering sacrifices.
What does obedience mean? To obey means to acknowledge that God is the potter and we are the clay; to humble ourselves and put away our pride; to submit to God’s authority; to respond to His love and to follow His commands. Obey, without questioning God’s wisdom. Obey immediately, completely and whole-heartedly.
In conclusion, “cohort” in John18: 1-3 describes Jesus as a suffering servant; “Christ” in John 18:4-9 depicts Him as our sovereign Shepherd; “cup” in John 18:10-14 shows us His submissive sacrifice-Jesus is the Lamb who was slain to take away our sins.
We thought 9/11 would change the world; in a way it did. But actually Jesus is the One who changed the world; it is the day He died that made all the differences in human history.
A lot of us, when threatened by dark times, burst out asking:
Q: “Where and how can I find the strength to cope with them?”
A: “It comes from trusting and obeying Jesus”.
Q: “Where is God when hard time comes?”
A: “He is on the throne; He is there forever.”
Please keep in mind that no matter how grave your sufferings may seem at the moment, Jesus is forever on the throne. Say it aloud:
“Jesus is forever on the throne.”
Not a single one of your difficulties or tears escapes His attention. He is willing to spend full-time His energy, effort, love and resources to make sure that you-His son or daughter-experiences the fullness of life that He desires for you. So do not run away from problems or panic when challenges looms. Instead shout out:
“Jesus is Lord! And He is on the throne forever and ever and ever! Amen.”
Principle1: A life of genuinely following Jesus will lead others to Christ as well.
Principle2: Nothing counts more in life than our belief in Jesus.
Principle3: Obeying is better than offering sacrifices.
With love and strength from Jesus Christ, summarized by Shirley, Esther and Chong, proofread by Y.A.Liu.
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