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Saturday, 26 March 2016

Every cloud has a silver lining.

Luke 24:1-12

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; He has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: “The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.”’ Then they remembered his words.
When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.

We all know the saying “every cloud has a silver lining”? What does it mean? When the storm is coming all is dark, the sky becomes black and can even be quite frightening. During a storm my Grandmother was so frightened that she would usually be found hiding in the cupboard under the stairs. A storm can be quite frightening thing when the wind gets up, the rain lashes down and the lightening begins to flash. We can tell that the storm is getting closer by the shortening gap between flash of lightening and bang of thunder. At times we might even wonder whether we will survive but as the storm passes over with great relief we look to the sky and see a brilliant edge to the cloud. The sun is winning the battle the storm is disappearing and soon we have brightness and all is well. Hence the saying that every cloud has a silver lining. There are some benefits from a storm, one of them is really quite surprising; the lightening which is so dangerous also produces fertiliser for the ground, the electric charge breaks down the atmosphere and produces lovely nutrients that feed our plants.

The day that Jesus died was like the darkest ever storm cloud over the whole world but Good Friday had the greatest benefits for mankind.

Matthew 28:1-10: After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: “He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.” Now I have told you.’
So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. ‘Greetings,’ he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshipped him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.’

A dark cloud over the friends of Jesus:

Jesus had a number of friends that had remained faithful to Him through this extremely tense period of time. There were now only 11 disciples, Judas had killed himself. The disciples themselves had hung on by the skin of their teeth. Even the big man Peter had denied Jesus for a while but now they were together in their grief and confusion. With them were also a number of women. There was Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, Joanna and others.

The one thing that united them all was Jesus. They had greatly respected Him and loved Him. They all had faith in Him to varying degrees but now they were united in grief for their teacher and friend who had been so cruelly and wrongly killed.

We can imagine the thoughts going through their minds, grief is a strange thing in that it causes all sorts of emotions and reactions. This grief was all very new to them, they were having to pick up the pieces after having had three amazing years with the Lord Jesus Christ.

To add to their problems, Jesus could not have died at a more inconvenient time! It was feast time, the whole nation was rejoicing in the memory of salvation from Egypt. It was Passover, the most important feast day of the Jewish calendar! As the nation was rejoicing in the light of salvation from Egypt the friends of Jesus were under the cloud of grief. If only they had been able to understand Jesus’ teaching about His death then they would have been saved from a great deal of sorrow. They were first hand witnesses of the working out of the Great Passover.

Their problem was that they could not see the silver lining of this very black cloud.

Their black cloud had a silver lining!

Jesus had died late on Friday, the day before the Sabbath. Due to Sabbath laws they had buried Him quickly, leaving some of the ritual preparations incomplete. This meant that after the celebrations they had to return to the grave, open it up and embalm Jesus’ body properly. After all if anybody deserved a decent burial it was Jesus!
Can you imagine what sort of holiday weekend these friends of Jesus had? They were in deep grief and also they had this most distasteful of duties to perform. I can imagine them dreading Sunday morning; fancy having to get up early in the morning to that!

Their minds would have been racing with thoughts and memories. They would have gone through all of the usual repercussions and guilt trips that grief brings: the “if only’s” etc. They would have had sleepless nights where they would have considered all that Jesus had done and said. They would have considered all of His teaching. They would have had all of the “why” questions. So much had been left undone. They would have gone through their last moments with Him. Why did some of them sleep whilst He prayed? Why did some deny Him? Why did they stand afar when He was dying? All of these things are natural grief and are an important part of coming to terms with the death of somebody close to us. These would certainly have been the emotions going through the disciples minds on that day.

On top of these things there was an element of confusion about the person of Jesus. They had recently declared to Him that they had nowhere else to go and that He had words of eternal life but where did His dying leave them now? He had said that He would rise again but their minds would have been on the day of resurrection some time in the future.

If only they could have seen that their dark cloud had a silver lining!

The light shines through the darkness:

The ladies were prepared for the moment. Spices at the ready they went along to the tomb. They had a problem, there had been a sealing stone rolled into the entrance of the tomb, how would they move it?
But that did not deter them.

On their arrival they found that the tomb was open and on looking inside the body of Jesus was gone. We can imagine all of the immediate thoughts at that moment. Who has done this? Where have they taken Him? As all of these thoughts were going through their minds, enter two men in flashy clothes. These are clearly no ordinary men; in fact we would know them as angels because they have an important message from God to the ladies. The ladies are understandably surprised and frightened. They bow their faces before the men who immediately turn the ladies attention from angel worship to the reality of the situation. In effect they say to the ladies “what are you doing here in a tomb? This is a place of death! Jesus is risen just as He has been telling you that He would!”

Jesus had been teaching His disciples that He would be crucified and that on the third day He would rise again but it clearly had not sunk in. They could not understand it, who can blame them? It is still the same today; there is nothing new under the sun. The gospel of Jesus has been preached clearly for centuries, men, women, boys and girls have heard it but yet when confronted with the empty tomb they will not believe it is possible that God’s Son Jesus Christ has risen!

People will believe in all sorts of fantasies but a Saviour who comes from heaven and dies on a cross and rises back to life again on the third day all because God loves humanity is just too hard to believe.

I wonder if there are any here today who are just like these women. They had been with Jesus; they had heard His clear teaching but yet had forgotten the most important facts! Are you like them having heard the gospel but yet not believing? This account gives heart to the preacher and teacher, if the friends of Jesus who heard His very words could not take it in then we should not be surprised that with our inferior efforts people just do not get it!!!!


The dark cloud has a silver lining!

These ladies on that day were under a very dark cloud. They were in desperate grief, they had a gruesome task to undertake and they were confused as to why things had turned out the way that they had. If that were not a dark enough cloud they also had to cope with the apparent theft of the body and now to top it all 2 men have come besides them. But at that moment the dark cloud’s silver lining is about to be revealed.

The silver lining had been there all along but they simply could not see it. In fact this dark cloud had been planned by God from before the foundation of the world. God had a plan for mankind that would procure salvation by His own sacrifice for those whom He loves. The sacrifice was to be of the Lord Jesus Christ who alone was able to accomplish salvation. The silver lining to the cloud is the resurrection of Jesus and the salvation of His people but that could not be seen until the storm has passed over.

The storm has passed over!

The ladies had spent a period of time in ignorance but were now seeing, the disciples were still in their ignorance but the reality was that the storm had passed by. As soon as the ladies had been reminded of Jesus’ words they remembered all that Jesus had told them. The Holy Spirit of God opened their eyes and they understood:

Jesus is Alive!

John 20:1-10: Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!’
So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in. Then Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped round Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed. (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.) Then the disciples went back to where they were staying.

As soon as they understand they had to tell the others:

Good News! Jesus is Alive!

You might think that immediately the lights would come on with the disciples but you would be quite wrong, they simply would not believe. Peter and John went racing to the tomb they then saw the evidence and left totally confused. We know that it is not long before Jesus reveals Himself to all of the disciples and finally to Thomas who until that moment would not believe the testimony of His trusted friends.

Each one of the disciples had their own personal encounter with the truth about Jesus. Not one of them simply trusted by the “preached word” of the others. It was when God Himself by the power of His Spirit proved that Jesus truly is alive that they each came to believe in Him.

It is exactly the same today, we can tell all of the facts, we can preach with passion and power but until God by His Spirit reveals the truth our hearers will remain in ignorance in the same way as the friends of Jesus did.

The great news is that God delights in saving sinners and we can trust Him by His Spirit to reveal truth into the unbelieving heart just as He has done so for all of us who believe.

The silver lining: Jesus is alive can you see beyond the storm?

Thursday, 24 March 2016

"It is finished!"

Easter 2016: Good Friday

It is finished: Tetelestai! Let me explain. In Israel when a deal had been completed or an act of kindness done it would be sealed with the parties saying Tetelestai. That is it is finished it is completed with nothing more to be done. The word is in the “indicative perfect passive” which indicates that something is completed with continuing endurance or in other words it was a once and for all event. It can never be repeated and as such there was only ever one Good Friday each other is simply a remembrance of the former. Therefore today we celebrate the once for all sacrifice made on the cross.
In order that we do that we will consider:
  1. Why was the cross necessary?
  2. What exactly happened on the cross?
  3. What does the cross mean to me?
We will be reading a number of bible passages with songs and words in between.
Why was the cross necessary?
In order to answer this we need to go back to the beginning of time and into the Garden of Eden.
Genesis 2: 4-9
This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.
Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground. Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground – trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Genesis 2: 15-17
The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.’
Adam was created by God with a purpose, he was to enjoy the benefits of all that God had given and all that God affords but continued relationship and security with Him was conditional. The condition was simple obedience. God in effect told Adam to obey by not eating the fruit of a particular tree in the garden. Given the vast array available you would think that this would be an easy task but it is a bit like the “wet paint” notice, how hard it is to not test the truth of the notice. Adam with the help of Eve did test the truth of God's word and so sin was born and death came into the world. I would love to elaborate much more but we have only an hour so I leave you to spend some time considering this later.
You may well be asking why is this important today; the answer is that sin is hereditary. It is passed on from one generation to the next. Parent to child throughout all ages. Paul addresses this issue in Romans 3 where he says that all people of whatever gender, age or nationality “have sinned and have fallen short of God's perfect standard.”
For Adam and Eve the effect was immediate, they were immediately out of fellowship with God. They hid from Him in the garden instead of joyously coming to Him in sweet fellowship. Their relationship with God was dead. But you might ask why it is that sin is passed on. The reason is that when sin entered the world the world was immediately affected and has been on a downward spiral ever since. When God finished His work of creation He said everything was good, ideal or perfect. Now that man has made an impact everything is affected to the detriment. For instance gardening is no longer the pleasure that it should have been because of weeds etc.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:21 “since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”
From the day when sin entered the world there was already a plan for salvation in place. In fact the bible teaches that sin was no surprise to God, He had already from before creation planned that Jesus come as the Saviour. The plan was always that an innocent victim die in the place of the guilty party, in the garden it came it the form of the death of an animal whose skin was used to clothe the new born sinners. From that time on the sacrifice of pure innocent male animals was the accepted way for sinful people to be able to come into the presence of Jesus. None of these sacrifices hit the mark fully they were merely a temporary measure that spoke of the Perfect and Only sacrifice that fully atones for the sins of mankind. They all spoke of Good Friday.

156 How deep the Father's love for us.
How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss -
The Father turns His face away,
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory.

Behold the man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders;
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished;
His dying breath has brought me life -
I know that it is finished.
I will not boast in anything,
No gifts, no power, no wisdom;
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,
His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer;
But this I know with all my heart -
His wounds have paid my ransom.

What exactly happened on the cross?
Psalm 22 begins with “my God, my God why have you forsaken me?” Jesus in saying this on the cross was taking the Psalm to Himself:
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.
Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the one Israel praises. In you our ancestors put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them. To you they cried out and were saved; in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads. ‘He trusts in the Lord,’ they say, ‘let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.’
Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast. From birth I was cast on you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God. Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help. Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me. Roaring lions that tear their prey open their mouths wide against me.
I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted within me. My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.
Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet. All my bones are on display; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.
But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me. Deliver me from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs. Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen.
I will declare your name to my people; in the assembly I will praise you. You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you descendants of Jacob, honour him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel! For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help. From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you I will fulfil my vows.
The poor will eat and be satisfied; those who seek the Lord will praise him – may your hearts live for ever!
All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations. All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him – those who cannot keep themselves alive. Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn:
He has done it!

In the Psalm King David spoke of a day to come when a descendant of His would achieve salvation for God's people. He prophesied that it would be a work of God alone through his own ancestor. Jesus died on the cross taking to Himself sin.
Isaiah spoke of what was to happen:
Isaiah 53
Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground.
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 mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgement he was taken away.
Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

What happened on the cross? God's plan of salvation was carried out. Sin was dealt with, it was not wiped out but it was dealt with justly. It is only a corrupt judge that chooses to turn a blind eye to wrong and so God who is perfectly righteous and just cannot simply by-pass sin, sin had to be dealt with. The penalty had to be paid, blood had to be shed in order that it propitiate or appease God's anger at sin. It was God Himself that paid the price in that His Son Jesus became a man but without sin. On the cross He became sin in place of all that repent and trust in Him. What happened on the cross is that Jesus was judged by God to be the arch sinner, the worst that has ever lived and yet He was perfect. Jesus had the full force of God's wrath poured out on Him, the sufferings that were seen are nothing in comparison to what was really taking place. The author of life died as a treacherous sinner for you and me.

All of that on the cross; no wonder Tetelestai was shouted as His final breath.

What does that mean to me?
These two songs say it all:
143 Here is love vast as the ocean.
1. Here is love, vast as the ocean,
Loving kindness as the flood,
When the Prince of Life, our Ransom,
Shed for us His precious blood.
Who His love will not remember?
Who can cease to sing His praise?
He can never be forgotten,
Throughout Heaven’s eternal days.
2. On the mount of crucifixion,
Fountains opened deep and wide;
Through the floodgates of God’s mercy
Flowed a vast and gracious tide.
Grace and love, like mighty rivers,
Poured incessant from above,
And Heaven’s peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love.
3. Let me all Thy love accepting,
Love Thee, ever all my days;
Let me seek Thy kingdom only
And my life be to Thy praise;
Thou alone shalt be my glory,
Nothing in the world I see.
Thou hast cleansed and sanctified me,
Thou Thyself hast set me free.
4. In Thy truth Thou dost direct me
By Thy Spirit through Thy Word;
And Thy grace my need is meeting,
As I trust in Thee, my Lord.
Of Thy fullness Thou art pouring
Thy great love and power on me,
Without measure, full and boundless,
Drawing out my heart to Thee.

465 When I survey.
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
    Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
    Save in the death of Christ my God!
    All the vain things that charm me most,
    I sacrifice them to His blood.
    See from His head, His hands, His feet,
    Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
    Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
    Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
    Were the whole realm of nature mine,
    That were a present far too small;
    Love so amazing, so divine,
    Demands my soul, my life, my all.

We have sung the purpose, by His love we have experienced grace,which is perfectly seen in His sufferings on the cross. How wonderful that Good Friday was that heard from God the Son:


In Christ alone.
In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
Here in the love of Christ I stand.
In Christ alone! - who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe.
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied -
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.
There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious day
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine -
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.
No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand:
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Jesus is King

Easter 2016: Palm Sunday

Matthew 21:1-17

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.’
This took place to fulfil what was spoken through the prophet:
Say to Daughter Zion, “See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”’
The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
Hosanna to the Son of David!’
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’
Hosanna in the highest heaven!’
When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, ‘Who is this?’
The crowds answered, ‘This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.’
Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the benches of those selling doves. ‘It is written,’ he said to them,‘“My house will be called a house of prayer,” but you are making it “a den of robbers.”’
The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them. But when the chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things he did and the children shouting in the temple courts, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David,’ they were indignant.
Do you hear what these children are saying?’ they asked him.
Yes,’ replied Jesus, ‘have you never read, ‘“From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise”?’
And he left them and went out of the city to Bethany, where he spent the night.

New International Version - UK (NIVUK)
Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem and when He reached Bethphage He requested that two of His disciples go ahead and collect a donkey and her colt that was ready for Him. They brought them back for Jesus and put their cloaks on the back and Jesus rode the colt I fulfilment of Zechariah 9:9 “See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”’
There was a very large crowd there at the time and they began to praise God in recognition that Jesus was fulfilling the words of the prophet. They momentarily had hope in Jesus that He was the promised Messiah but their hopes would soon be dashed a few days later when they would be crying for His crucifixion.
We will be looking at who the crowd were and why they were there tonight in our bible study but suffice it to say for now this was the beginning of the season of Passover and Jerusalem was filling up with visitors on their way for celebrations.
We live in Looe and at the moment there are more and more visitors coming because the annual pilgrimage to the seaside is about to begin. Next week we will have far more holiday makers than there are residents. That is what Jerusalem was like at Passover when probably there were more than a million pilgrims descend upon the city. Passover was of course a time of celebration of the deliverance of God's people and so when the crowd saw the most famous preacher in the land riding the colt of a donkey (with it's mother as evidence) it made them wonder whether this could possibly be Messiah.

We will consider this a lot more tonight so please join us but for now we will consider three qualities of the King. We know that the hopes of the crowd were fulfilled in Jesus and that he is a King of very different qualities to any other king that has ever lived and that He did bring deliverance for His people during that Passover celebration but as we shall see next weekend in a very different way to what anybody would ever have thought.

We will consider first the King of promise, and then the King of praise and finally the King of love.

The King of promise:

This is one of the most famous and important events during the ministry of Jesus. The people in Jerusalem at the time were witnessing the fulfilment of the prophesy of Zechariah. God through His prophet in chapter 9:9-17 promises judgement upon the enemies of Israel and the kingdom of God. This will begin with a triumphal entry of the King into the capital city of Jerusalem. His coming will cause the children of Israel to rejoice greatly and to shout for joy because He has come BUT it is not as to be expected.

Instead of Jesus riding the white horse signifying victory He comes in humility riding a beast of burden but worse still, it is not even a mature donkey it is a foal.

Zechariah promises that the King to come will look more like a humble failure but yet He is King.

The prophesy continues to tell of the work of the King. He will proclaim peace to the nations.

His weapon is His message.

This is a very different King but He is the King promised by God.

Zechariah prophesies that His work is amazing in that He will speak to and reign over all of the earth. He will bring freedom to His people and He will also appear in glory, He will conquer the enemy and save His people. Finally He will beautify His people just like jewels in a crown. They will be a truly prosperous people.

When Jesus entered into Jerusalem on that day He preached a very powerful sermon simply by His mode of entry. This went over the heads of those who should have seen the spectacle and immediately thought of God's promises made through Zechariah but they did not. Instead they were enraged and wanted Jesus to stop the people from shouting out to Him.
Jesus is King of all Kings, He is exactly what God has promised. He came into Jerusalem that day as the arriving Passover lamb that would be slain for the sins of His people.

He was then the King of promise and He is still the King of promise. He has fulfilled all that Zechariah proclaimed of Him and He continues to bring peace and prosperity to His people. But you might say “I do not see much prosperity here!” That is true but read the whole of the promise made through Zechariah and you will see that it is prosperity that could not be fulfilled in this world. Jesus promised that we would become inheritors of heaven itself and would be seated with Him in glory where we will be rich beyond all measure.

Jesus is the promised King, are you one of His loyal subjects?
Have you made Him King of your life?

The King to be praised:

Why did the people spread out their coats and palm branches on the ground?

Coats, am not sure that there is some biblical precedence for that but Palm branches are mentioned. At the feast of Tabernacles the people were to cut palm branches to make shelters to live in for 7 days as part of their thanksgiving for the harvest. Due to the feast of Tabernacles following the Passover.

Jesus however was to die at Passover and so this event is logically not related to the feast of Tabernacles but we do find in Revelation 7 that in heaven the great multitude who were singing praises to the reigning Lamb of God were holding palm branches in their hands. At that time throughout the surrounding nations a conquering king would return home to the accolade of his people. Today we might have little paper flags but they would cut down a branch and wave it furiously in recognition of the great victory. This is something of what we find in Revelation, the Lamb has been sacrificed, He has conquered sin, Satan and death and He is reigning supremely.

The crowd on that day in Jerusalem caught a glimpse of the conquering King coming in victory but in humility with a job yet to do!

It is not until we are in heaven that we will see the enormity of that victory but in great hope the people of Jerusalem on that day applauded the King in the great hope of deliverance. They looked to Jesus in the hope of salvation to come.

But we look to Him as the victor over sin and who has accomplished salvation how much more appropriate is it for us to praise Him for what He has achieved on the cross!

Look at what the crowd shouted! Hosanna or save. I am sure that they were expecting their king to eventually rid the land of the occupying forces of Rome but Jesus' mission was far greater. Zechariah said that it would be effective across the whole world. We must always remember that Israel is the Old Covenant Nation of God and is therefore the incomplete fore-runner to the church.

Israel was a nation chosen by God through whom He would display His glory. God's glory is always found in the person of Jesus. He came not merely to rescue a single nation but to save a people from every tribe, nation and language. The enemy of the world is Satan and sin from which Jesus came to save His people from the effect that it has on them. That is why at that point in Revelation 7 the multitude are praising the Lamb. It is by blood sacrifice that sin is atoned for and our atonement is made secure by the Lamb of God who now reigns in glory!

Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” is what the crowd sang quoting Psalm 118:26 but they added to it in true Jewish style. They said in parallel to “blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord” “Blessed is the King of Israel.”

The truth of Israel was that they only really recognised God as their King. Herod was the puppet who ruled but only God is the true King. Therefore they are praising Jesus here as King. He is the promised one that would come seated on the colt of a donkey. It is this king who will bring salvation to all of His people and so they praise Him. So much so that when the opposition want Jesus to quieten them Jesus tells them that if they should stop then even the stones would cry out. It is often said at this point that the road would burst into song but that is not likely to be what Jesus is referring to. The Temple was now in view, the temple made of stones cut by human hands. The temple was the place where God made His presence known amongst His people. His presence had long gone from within her four walls but Jesus was saying that even the temple would declare His praises.

It is no wonder that Jesus taught that He was building His church (the place where He now makes His presence known) the building blocks of which are His people. His people will sing His praises in life and in death and even more so in eternity!

Unbelievers hate it when the church praises God. The enemy would love to silence us but it is our duty to sing praise to the King of kings and Lord of lords.

We will sing praise to our God while we have breathe.

The King of love:

Luke 19:41-42 records Jesus approaching Jerusalem and seeing the city!! Jesus saw the city. It is important at this moment to stop and consider what he saw. He saw a numerous people going about their daily business but He also saw the hearts of the people. He knew that every intention of all was evil and that evil would be directed to Him in just 1 week's time. Their praises would change to demands of execution. They would want Him dead but yet He wept for them! If only they knew what the cost of their hoped for peace would be!But it was hidden form their eyes.

It is still hidden from the eyes of unbelievers, they still do not understand the cost of forgiveness of sin and the importance it has for their eternal security. Jesus' love is demonstrated so clearly here. If only Jerusalem might know the cost. He would have loved to be able to show them the love He had for them but yet He knew their hearts. His love is unconditional, it is parental just as a mother hen loves her chicks then so the King of glory loves His people and wants to protect them and keep them secure.

He did not come in order that they be condemned but that through Him they might be saved. But they would not listen! They would demand that He died at their command rather than as a self sacrifice for them.

As we consider this passage His love pours out of the page. The quote in our notices is from William Dyer a 17th century pastor who rather graphically catches the enormity of the love that Christ had for His people and how powerful His passover sacrifice really is

Christ bled love at every vein! His drops of blood were drops of love. The more bloody He was; the more lovely. He was most lovely upon the cross because there He showed most love to us.”

William Dyer: Christ's famous titles.

The King of love our Jesus is, have you experienced His love personally?

Apply the gospel.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Thanksgiving service for the life of Joy Harrison.

Over the years a number of people have requested that I take their funeral. Joy Harrison was one of those people and so she died at the end of February this year it was natural that I would be involved. Therefore the journey to South Wales was made and I had the privilege of leading a thanksgiving service in the church in Ogmore-by-Sea evangelical church. Below is the transcript of the service held in memory of Joy.


Ogmore-by-Sea Evangelical Church

15th March 2016


It is with great sadness that we gather here today. Our purpose is to celebrate the life of Evelyn Joy Harrison known affectionately as Joy to most of us here. Joy was a much loved mother, grandmother, relative, friend or neighbour. She sadly passed away in the early hours of Saturday 27th February 2016. Joy's death did not really come as a great shock due to her having been unwell for quite some time but that makes this none the less a sad occasion.

To have known Joy was to respect her, the two came hand in hand. Our purpose in this service is to celebrate Joy's life and to praise the Lord Jesus Christ for all that He has done for her and through her. Therefore we will be singing some of Joy's favourite songs of praise, we will read a portion of the bible which over recent years had become a vital part of her life. We will speak of her life and the Saviour that she loved.

We begin by praying:



The Lord's my Shepherd.

Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord watches over you – the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm – he will watch over your life;
the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and for evermore.

New International Version

I know not why God's wondrous grace.


Word's of comfort in difficult days:

I am grateful to Gary for his comprehensive notes on the life of Joy. Gary has produced what he calls the “Seven ages of Mum” in which he plots Joy's life from the beginning.

The first age: A grand entrance.

It all began on 17th March 1930 when Evelyn Joy Lee was born to Percy and Annie Lee.
Percy was a veteran of the Great War having fought with the Royal Engineers in the trenches of the Western Front where he was shot in the stomach at Armentieres, just south of Ypres by a German sniper in 1916. He was subsequently discharged after a lengthy period of convalescence.

When Joy was a baby the family moved to Highland Place, Coity, Bridgend where she spent all of her childhood, and teenage years along with sister Ina who was born a couple of years later.

The second age: Growing up.

Joy attended Pen-y-Bont school where she had a happy childhood and as you can imagine she made many friends. There was one particular friend Barbara who would be a lifelong friend to Joy. It was Barbara who introduced Joy to her cousin Keith. Love soon blossomed and Joy and Keith were married in the Spring of 1951 at Hope Church, Bridgend. They began married life in Quarrella Road, Bridgend. Joy at the time worked for one of the post-war Government Departments. Soon after this they bought their first house in Garfield Avenue, Litchard where they lived happily until 1962 when they bought a garage and house in Exeter
Keith steadily built up a good business with Joy helping him as accountant. Their first child, Gary, came along in 1964.

The third age: Emigrating.

They lived happily in Exeter until after a short holiday to Canada to see Barbara in 1966 when they decided to emigrate to London Ontario in 1967. Keith soon found work as a motor mechanic and Joy settled down to life in Canada.

Family life with Joy was always a lot of fun with many happenings on the way. In their early days in Canada they took a trip by car across the prairies and through the Rockies. Whilst in the Rockies Keith and Joy had an amazing experience whilst standing outside of the car to admire the view. They came face-to-face with a Grizzly Bear and just made it back to the car with the bear in hot pursuit. You can just imagine the conversation in the car for the next few miles.

On another occasion whilst on the same trip Gary fell into a stream and was almost swept away but was plucked out at the last moment by Joy wading into the water. These are examples of what life was like in the Harrison household. Joy loved to recount the stories of the past all of which helps us to understand something of her character.
Whilst in Canada Keith became very unwell, his sickness was attributed to the extreme heat of the Canadian Summer but it later turned out to be to be thyroid problems. For this reason Keith and Joy decided to return to the UK. They moved to Dawlish for a short time in order for Keith to recuperate. Upon Keith's recovery they bought the garage in Ogmore-by-Sea in 1969. Gary started school and Robbie came along shortly afterwards in 1970.

The fourth age: Building the business.

Initially the garage was a hut selling petrol but Keith slowly turned it into a car sales business. Joy settled down to making home in the aptly named The Nest where she looked after the garage accounts and raised her family.
Gradually the business built-up and in the late 1970’s Keith and Joy built the garage complex at the bottom of Church Close with Kilworth built as their living quarters. The business later became a Mazda franchise in the 1980.

The fifth age: Further developments.

Time passed happily in Kilworth with Joy loyally discharging her role as Mother, house-wife and accountant. Gary moved away in 1983 and the car sales was changed to an antiques business in the late 1980’s.
Later they sold Kilworth and converted part of the showroom into a home for their semi-retirement.

The sixth age: Community service and mixed emotions.

In 1990 Joy joined the Ogmore and St Brides Community Council on which she served for 13 or more years. She was an effective and much loved member of the local council where she served as the Conservative party representative.

Joy's greatest sadness came when Keith passed away in January 1992. The antiques business was closed down and Joy began to learn how to live without her soul partner. After a while she moved into77 Main Road which she made into her home until she finally passed away.

In March 2001 Joy became suddenly unwell with what she always referred to as her mystery illness. The doctors and specialists were completely confused as to what had caused her to so unwell. Within just 12 hours she went into a coma and was on life support machines. It was said of her condition that she had defeated science and logic. But it was during this time when a number of her vital organs had failed and death seemed to be imminent that spiritual life was born in Joy. She had an encounter with the Lord that was real to her and which dramatically changed her outlook on life. She had an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ who assured her that she would live through the illness and she in turn committed her life to Him. After this encounter Joy soon began to recover and was released from hospital on the 11th of September that year 7 months after first becoming unwell. During this time we at the church were praying much for Joy but not knowing what the Lord was doing in her life.

The whole experience had a profound effect upon Joy who as soon as it was possible came to church where she became a committed member of the fellowship here. I remember Joy stopping me one Sunday evening as I was walking to the evening service and asking if she could come along. That is a question that every pastor loves to be asked. Joy came along and it was obvious that something vital had happened to her. We will return to this in a few moments.

Another significant thing happened during this time. She was approached by her long lost cousin Bob in Australia who was compiling his family tree and wanted to visit to learn more about his family. This was the beginning of a deep friendship; Bob and Joy spent many hours visiting family and catching up on old times. Bob is greatly saddened that he cannot be here today and has sent the following tribute:
In Memory of Evelyn Joy Harrison

On this lady’s life the sun has set
A lady who suffered such pain
Her passing now brings much regret
Whilst fondest of memories remain

Her family and friends both near and far
Now grieve she has gone for ever
This lady…mother…beloved grandma
Will not be forgotten…never

Through God’s good grace …Joy has gone
To his garden for her to tend
Our fondness and love for her live on
For the joy she brought us has no end

Lovingly remembered…Bob

The seventh age: Moving on.

The final stage began for Joy one sunny summer's morning in June last year when as she went to see the plans for the Ogmore-by-Sea community hall she fell and ended up in hospital. This was the start of a long stay in hospital and eventually on to Picton Court for a short time. Her health was steadily deteriorating until finally she passed away peacefully at the age of 85 years just 3 weeks before her 86th birthday.

For Joy this was her final moving on! But for her there was a welcome in heaven. Heaven was her confident hope which was sealed when on that day in 2001 she met with the Lord Jesus. If you think back to the second hymn that we sang. The words of the chorus are: “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I committed unto Him against that day!” Those words are taken directly from the writing of the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy chapter 1:

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.

On that day whilst in a coma in her hospital bed Joy committed her life to Jesus Christ. The gospel tells us that her sin was forgiven and that she was then a new creation. That means that the old life of self will was no more and a life dedicated to the glory of God had begun. There is nobody who knew Joy that could deny the difference that this made to her. I had the great pleasure of being her pastor and her friend. She delighted myself and the church with her enthusiasm for the bible, for worship and fellowship with the church. She became a committed member of our little church and was one of the most regular and loyal attenders where she was loved and respected by all.

We all know that Joy was never a fading violet she was always ready to question something that had been said or to comment largely when appropriate. I loved it when she would stop me whilst in free flow of a sermon to ask me to clarify a point.

But there is just one more thing that we learn from the passage above, Paul says that faith in Jesus Christ has destroyed death for the believer but yet here we are at the funeral of Joy a follower of Jesus. What is that about, well it is all about moving on. Remember the old song “This world is not my home I'm just a passing through, my treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue!” There is a bit of poetic licence there, the treasure for the Christian is laid up beyond this life. The promise of scripture is that for the Christian we move on from this life and in a moment of time we are in heaven and present with the Lord.

On Saturday 27th February 2016 Joy moved on from this life to eternal life where she was met by her Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who welcomed her into heaven with these words: “Well done Joy you good and faithful servant.”

This same welcome is available to all who like Joy commit their life to Jesus.

I would like to bring comfort to all here who are mourning today by telling you that our God in heaven knows just what it is like for a loved one to die. It was God the Son who died on the cross and the heart of His Father in heaven was broken. Just as God knows what pain grief brings He will surely comfort any one of us that comes to Him humbly seeking help and comfort. He is only a prayer away.

We thank God for the life of Joy, she was a faithful wife of Keith, loving mum of Gary and Robbie. A doting grandmother 8 times over. She was a family member, friend or neighbour to all of us, we miss her desperately but we thank God for her having been part of our lives.

Earth has been impoverished by Joy's death but heaven is very much enriched!

I heard the voice of Jesus say.