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Theology

Passion Week – Maundy Thursday Meditation

Part 4 in a 7 part series. View series intro and index.

John 18:28-32

Then they led Jesus from the house of Caiaphas to the governor’s headquarters. It was early morning. They themselves did not enter the governor’s headquarters, so that they would not be defiled, but could eat the Passover. So Pilate went outside to them and said, “What accusation do you bring against this man?” They answered him, “If this man were not doing evil, we would not have delivered him over to you.” Pilate said to them, “Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.” The Jews said to him, “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.” This was to fulfill the word that Jesus had spoken to show by what kind of death he was going to die.

Just hours after Jesus had celebrated Passover with his disciples, washed their feet, and instituted the ordinance of communion, he was on trial before angry Pharisees and an oblivious Roman governor.  What strikes me about our passage from John 18 is one line about the Pharisees.  It’s in verse 28: “They themselves did not enter the governor’s headquarters, so that they would not be defiled, but could eat the Passover. So Pilate went outside to them.”

Though Passover was observed the night before (Thursday), it existed as part of a week long celebration that the Pharisees wanted to continue through the Sabbath (Saturday).  Jesus’ accusers, in the midst of murdering an innocent man, were never more rigid in their observance of the law.  All that mattered to them was their moral checklist.

In Matthew 23, Jesus condemned the legalism of these same Pharisees, saying, “You have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!” (vv. 23-24).  The Pharisees were not just or merciful toward Jesus, and they were drastically unfaithful to God’s message and kingdom.

On the brink of murdering the Son of God, the Pharisees refused to enter a Gentile’s courthouse to discuss the case for fear of being “unclean.”  How often do I find myself in this position? I care more about maintaining a pristine image than I do about a holy heart.  We are like the Pharisees.  In their neglect of mercy and love in favor of sacrifice and external religion, they were already as unclean as they could be. So are we apart from Jesus. They did not see that the Passover they celebrated was being fulfilled before them. Jesus, the ultimate Passover Lamb, was being sacrificed for them, and for us, so his blood might cover our sins and make us  right with God.

Father, forgive me for me plastic, external religion. Help me see the big picture and know what is precious in your sight instead of simply trying to be ‘good’ and ‘moral.’  Wash me continually with your blood, Lord Jesus. Thank you for being my Passover Lamb.

Categories
Theology

Sermon 5: How should I be thinking about hell?

How Should I Be Thinking About Hell?
Series: Debated: Answering Hard Questions About Christianity
Pastor Jeff Dart

  • What does the Bible say about hell?
    • Matthew 5:22 is a key text.  Jesus talks about Gehenna.  Gehenna (Gk.) was a valley (“Valley of Hinnom” in English) that was used by pagan kings and Hebrew kings to make sacrifices.  The most popular sacrifices were child sacrifices to Molech.  King Josiah eventually tore down the pagan altars and turned this valley into a large, burning garbage dump (see 2 Kings 23:10; Jer. 7:31-32; 19:2-6; 11-14; 32:35).
    • Heaven and hell are about relationship.  People go to hell because they do not know Jesus (Matt. 7:22; cf. John 17:3).
    • Hell is ultimately the separation of people from the presence of God (see 2 Thes. 1:8-10).
  • There are two choices people people: heaven or hell.  Matthew 25:31-46 tells us that the righteous will enter into eternal life and the wicked into eternal punishment.
    • Hell is for people who chose it.  C.S. Lewis wrote, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell.”
  • God’s final word on hell is the cross (see Rom. 5:8-11).  God has offered to us his Son because his desire is not for anyone to go to hell (2 Peter 3:9).  John 3:16 tells us, “For God so loved the world.”  This shows us God’s great love for us, how much he loved us.

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Update: Make sure to see my follow-up post on some of my thoughts about hell and this sermon.

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Life

If the Bible Says it Once, It’s True

Some Christians believe in annihilationism, that is, that those who do not receive Jesus will not suffer in  hell, but will actually cease to exist.

But Matthew 25:46, plain as day, says that people will be punished forever if they are not saved.  It would be hard to reconcile annihilationism with these words of Jesus.  In his Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem wrote, “The Bible only needs to say something once for it to be true.”

Eternal punishment in hell is a terrible doctrine, indeed.  But if the Bible teaches it, then we must believe it, and hard as this seems, learn to love it in a God-honoring, Christ-exalting, non-vengeful way.

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Theology

Why Did Jesus Tell Those He Healed to Stay Quiet?

He did it so that the people in the local town wouldn’t think he was a magical, healing genie to grant them three medical wishes.  Jesus’ first coming wasn’t mainly about physical healing.  There were thousands of people in Palestine he never healed.  It was about coming to ransom people for God so that they might be healed of a much greater disease.

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Life

The Problems with Simon the Pharisee

Simon, in Luke 7:36-50, has a two-fold problem. He isn’t merciful (as opposed to Jesus’ command to be so in 6:27-36), and he’s proud (as opposed to the centurion in 7:6-8).

He probably invited Jesus over for dinner because he thought he was a religious big shot in the community.  Yet in a matter of moments he condemns himself as an arrogant and judgmental man who hasn’t been forgiven of much, barely loves his Lord, and is unkind to house guests (vv. 44-46).

Simon didn’t live by faith, but by religious traditions, rules, and accomplishments.  There is only restlessness in religion.  But in Christ, there is great peace.  “Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (v. 50).