Inter-Community Church of God
March 28, 2021 Service
      • Mark 11:6–10ESV

      • Philippians 2:5–11ESV

  • From Palm Sunday to the Tomb

    This is Palm Sunday, so we will begin with Mark’s record of Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem, followed by “Hosanna” by Paul Baloche:
    Mark 11:6–10 ESV
    6 And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. 7 And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. 8 And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. 9 And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”
    Song: Hosanna (Baloche, Brown)
    >>But of course, this could never be a song about God’s work for us, if it didn’t begin and end in Jesus’ life on earth. It is concisely wrapped up in one of my very favorite passages:
    Philippians 2:5–11 ESV
    5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
    >>>So Let’s celebrate our King Jesus before we go deeper into a few thing from the last week of Jesus’ life on earth:
    All Hail King Jesus/Lift Up Your Heads (Kent Henry)
    Invitation to Give
    Congregation’s Prayer
    >>>As we Encounter God’s Word today, I want you to remember the theme inherent in the Love of God through Jesus His Son: Because of the Father’s love, we find that Jesus focused on the cross, and beyond, . . .

    All for Us

    We find the Life of Jesus is written into the Old Testament scriptures at every turn; we can hardly note every place or every illusion even if I had filibuster rights as I share today.
    >>>Instead, I’ll begin by pointing you to a few verses in Isaiah 50, part of the Revised Common Lectionary lessons for today:
    Isaiah 50:4–5 ESV
    4 The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. 5 The Lord God has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I turned not backward.
    Just as prophesied in these verses by Isaiah, the teachings of Jesus were from a tongue that was taught by the Father in Heaven, coming from God’s eternal wisdom, and his words were designed to show the Father’s love, to show his mercy, but also to continue to fulfil the call of John the Baptist, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” Repentance happened with all those who would come honestly before Jesus. The very power of his personality, the purity of his spirit, the image of the Father, and the purpose of the Law fulfilled in our need for a Savior to be able to stand before the Lord God of the universe.
    In every setting, on every challenge to who he was, in every question to his authority, through every answer of honest questions, the wisdom, the plan, and the light of the Father shone through him, because he had spent most all his mornings talking with the Father in prayer. He had his own mind and heart continually awakened as he heard the Father speak to him, with the plan for the day and the purpose for days ahead.
    Because of this, Jesus was equipped for the mission of justice, to challenge the powerful and for the mission of mercy, to preach hope to the weary, the wounded, and the wayward.
    He had been accused of being friends of the same people that the nice, religious types would not even let in the door of the Temple. And Jesus made no excuse for his actions. Instead he challenged the self-righteous, saying, “The people who believe they are well have no need of a physician. I have come to those who know they are needy.”
    >>>The self-righteous and the powerful, the people with position and the leaders whose authority was only borrowed could not abide this Nazarene. After shaming them and gaining popularity with the people, there was . . . .

    The Plot Against Jesus

    There is so much that happens between the ride into Jerusalem on the eve of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the final focus of Jesus’ life on a Hill called Golgatha. I encourage you to read those passages for yourselves this week, in the Gospels of Matthew beginning at chapter 21, Mark chapter 11, Luke 19 and John 12.
    >>>We will set the scene that we read in the first verses of Mark 14 first, from Psalm 31, an ancient message that describe the plots against God’s chosen One:
    Psalm 31:13-14 Good News Translation
    I hear many enemies whispering; terror is all around me.
    They are making plans against me, plotting to kill me.
    But my trust is in you, O Lord; you are my God.
    Jesus knew what he was getting into when he went to Jerusalem for the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Passover, where he would become the sacrificial lamb for all mankind’s sin. After a first year of curiosity from the religious establishment of his day, Jesus began to show that he was at cross purposes with those who would put power before service, who would put survival above righteousness, and who would put their own desire to keep their seats among the leaders even over the life of Jesus, the one that many were calling the Son of Man, the Messiah.
    >>>So it is not surprise that we read in the first couple verses of Mark 14,
    Mark 14:1-2 ESV
    1It was now two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth and kill him, 2for they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar from the people.”
    We are told that the Temple authorities were looking for a way to arrest and kill Jesus “by stealth.” That’s where an agreement between the disciple Judas and the Chief Priests was made. Judas, being one of the insiders to Jesus’ movements and favorite places, would know where Jesus would be at a time and a place where there were no crowds.
    But there was still time; the plot against Jesus was held back for a few days. Not just by the fear of the crowds that the leaders felt. No, Jesus himself remained in full control of how these last days would play out for the Glory of God.
    >>>Sandwiched between the mention of the plot and the choices of Judas to betray, we read in Mark 14 a story of . . . .

    A Woman’s Gift We Still Remember

    A woman who breaks into a banquet, breaks a jar of an expensive perfume, and breaks with cultural traditions to fulfill her heart’s urging. We also read some complaints about her behavior, before Jesus sets them all straight.
    That story appears with a little difference in the setting in John 12, featuring Lazarus’ home and sister Mary, if the same incident was being recounted. Historical evidence of the Gospels clearly show that the story was first written in Mark’s gospel, which we believe was the earliest of the 4 Gospels. And Mark’s version also appears in Matthew 26, not mentioning Mary or Lazarus, but instead involving an unnamed woman in the house of Simon the leper.
    We can’t cross-reference the event in Luke, because he didn’t include it. The context of the story is very limited. It fits into the record in Mark and Matthew as the disciples and Jesus were staying at Bethany during the Feast of Unleavened Bread before the Passover. It fits in John’s flow because Jesus had just raised Lazarus from his tomb, and now he was having dinner around the table with Lazarus and the male Jewish guests. In Mark and Matthew, this story of the woman brings us around to an understanding of Jesus’ knowledge of the price he was about to pay for the salvation of mankind.
    >>>Here is the beginning of the story from Mark:
    Mark 14:3 ESV
    3And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head.
    We are supposing this is the same event as in John’s gospel, in spite of the differences in the act of the anointing, which means that Simon the Leper very probably is the father of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary. By the time John wrote his gospel, a few decades after, no one would have known Simon the Leper.
    But Simon is not the focus of our story. Nor is Lazarus. Our lens is focused on Jesus, and those who were acting upon him because of who he is.
    We have a dinner in Bethany, and a woman who came in bearing the most precious thing that she owned, a jar of perfume that may have represented her entire wealth. As precious as that was, it was nothing compared to how precious her love for Jesus was.
    There is a beautiful song about this event written by Gloria and Bill Gaither in 1984 and heard most often sung by Gospel music artist Steve Green. Listen or sing along with this song, and pay attention to the words in Broken and Spilled Out:
    SONG:

    Broken and Spilled Out

    We Still Talk About What She Did

    Her behavior just from a cultural standpoint was a scandal and shame, but this was her most precious gift, bestowed on her most precious Lord. It was an act of purpose even though it seems spontaneous. Without purpose, she would never have brought the jar with her. Without purpose she would not have entered the banquet hall. Without purpose, she never would have given us this beautiful picture of a pure devotion to the only one with the power to forgive sins and offer her hope.
    >>>But there were complaints right away about what she had done. It seems the disciples were all blown away by the extravagance of it.
    Mark 14:4–5 ESV
    4 There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? 5 For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her.
    It was pretty clear that these disciples really weren’t on the same page as Jesus, or this woman. She had made her choice to honor her Master with this expensive oil poured, not dabbed, on Jesus’ head. For her, it was an act of love and devotion. She needed a time and a place to carry out the act, and this dinner at Simon the leper’s home was just the right opportunity.
    I wonder sometimes if she would have had to pose as a family member or friend or servant girl to get into the house. Now if this was Mary, the brother of Lazarus, of course there was no sneaking around, except this final act of love while her sister Martha was doing the practical thing: Serving the meal.
    To the disciples this seemed a complete and unneeded waste. What was up with this woman? How could this be justified? Why did Jesus permit it—certainly he knew what was going on.
    As the strong, pungent odor of the finest Nard that was poured on Jesus head filled the room, it was more than one could get away from. And the more this almost overwhelming perfume penetrated their nostrils, the more they were running over and over in their heads how much money was involved, and how it could have been used in this holy week to pay alms to the poor.
    Perhaps the traditional practice of charity had been ignored by the boys when they had come into town. But maybe, if the unbroken alabaster flask had been given to Jesus as a gift, each of them could have gotten a share of 20 or 30 denarii from selling the nard. Then it could be used to vindicate the conscience of these followers of Jesus, that came to the Temple on this pilgrimage as disciples but without any alms to give. After all, once Peter had to catch a fish to get a couple coins for the Temple Tax for he and Jesus.
    All of this might have been part of the story swirling in their heads and disrupting their comfort, and so they did what any self-respecting disciple of Jesus would have done. They scolded her for the waste.
    >>I mean, what was she thinking? Why would you do that? Why would Jesus let it happen? Well, Jesus did have something to say about it, and it messed up their minds a little more.
    Mark 14:6–7 ESV
    6 But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me.
    OK, Jesus, we’ll back off a bit from our indignation. Leave her alone? Ignore the social morés she had broken? What’s up with that?
    It seemed like their leader was indulging himself in the moment. “Don’t bother her. I am basking in the warmth of her intentions.” It still seemed absurd. Yeah, Yeah, we know the poor will always be around. We know that we can decide to do something good for them whenever we feel like it.
    >>>Wait a minute. Jesus just said he’s not always going to be around. This is not sounding like the conquering messiah we had in mind. He’s talking about dying again!. . .
    Mark 14:8–9 ESV
    8 She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. 9 And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”
    She has anointed His body ahead of his death? Anointed him for burial? Doesn’t this mean that Jesus is a little too focused on planning to die young? Planning to die soon? These disciples were not very good at soaking in what Jesus kept telling them about what would happen, as far as death and resurrection, in just a few days.
    And here’s a simple prophecy of Jesus that had come true year after year after year after year for these last two thousand years. As we proclaim the good news about the gift of salvation purchased for us by the death of Jesus, we still talk about what she had done to him with this personal, loving, extravagant action for Jesus. In memory of her, we continue the story.
    That’s because her story is part of the story we should have in our own story. We should have enough gratitude to God and love for our Lord that we would give up the most precious possessions we have if they will honor Jesus sacrifice for us. That’s why we remember what she has done. Not because she was an important person to the rest of society, but because she was important to Jesus. She gave all she had for Jesus, because He was giving all he had for us.
    All for Us.
    These beautiful words written by Gloria Gaither that we heard in the song should soak into us and be part of our own story:
    I throw myself at Your feet Lord // Broken by Your love for me
    May the fragrance of total commitment // Be the only defense that I need
    Lord, You were God's precious treasure // His loved and His own perfect Son
    Sent here to show me // The love of the Father // Yes just for love it was done
    And though You were perfect and holy // You gave up Yourself willingly
    And You spared no expense for my pardon // You were spilled out and wasted FOR ME!
    You were broken and spilled out // Just for love of me Jesus
    God's most precious treasure // Lavished on me
    You were broken and spilled out // And poured at my feet
    In sweet abandon, Lord // You were spilled out and used up for me
    CCLI Song # 10910. Bill George | Gloria Gaither © 1984 Yellow House Music (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.) Hanna Street Music (Admin. by Gaither Copyright Management) For use solely with the SongSelect® Terms of Use. All rights reserved. www.ccli.com CCLI License # 1508000

    A Last Meal with His Disciples

    The record moves on in the Gospel to the last supper that Jesus shares with his disciples. It is a time to say goodbye and to move them step by step closer to understanding what God was about to do through Jesus’ own sacrifice. He loved his dozen disciples, and he had worked hard to prepare them during this time for the future to come.
    >>>But there was a mole in the midst of them.
    Mark 14:18–19 ESV
    18 And as they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” 19 They began to be sorrowful and to say to him one after another, “Is it I?”
    As they were around the table, each one of them could have been a traitor; they knew it in their hearts, and it scared them and worried them when Jesus said one of them would betray him. This was all part of the eternal plan. It was what had to happen to fulfil the purpose of God in Jesus Christ. Still showing love for his wayward disciple,
    >>>Jesus exposed Judas’ plot without exposing Judas, then posits a curse to his betrayer in the room:
    Mark 14:20–21 ESV
    20 He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the dish with me. 21 For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”
    >>>Then Jesus takes some of the common things that were on the table to re-purpose them for a memorial for all of us. He shares...

    The Bread and the Wine

    And turns the meaning of these things into something we still celebrate today.
    Mark 14:22–25 ESV
    22 And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. 25 Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
    Now, I don’t have time to go into these pieces of the story today; but every time we share the broken bread and the cup of thanksgiving, we remember the most important things about Jesus’ sacrifice.
    His body is represented by the broken bread. He was broken so we would not be broken and dashed upon the stones of sin at the last days. And giving his own body to us, he was making of us a new body to represent him in the world.
    Then there was the cup. Suddenly, the wine was more. Still for us, the wine is more It is the symbol of our salvation, the message of his sacrifice we can hold in our hands and take into our mouths. The blood of the covenant, a covenant of forgiveness, a covenant of grace, a covenant of life; forever written on our hearts in this last supper shared in anticipation of our future heavenly reunion.
    So much more than we can talk about this morning was going on at the supper and what happended next.
    >>>There is the Prediction of Peter’s denial; the prayers and tears

    In The Garden of Gethsemane

    >>>This was part of a prophecy of the last days of Jesus from
    Psalm 31:9–10 ESV
    9 Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also. 10 For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away.
    Jesus’ prayer was much more specific:
    Mark 14:36 ESV
    36 And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
    Knowing the challenges ahead, Jesus was still in the fathers hands. No matter what, he would follow the Father’s will. As he prayed for courage, as he asked if there was any other way, he still gave himself to the Father.
    >>>You will need to read for yourselves this week the Gospel records of the . . .

    Arrest, Trials and Sentencing

    For there is more than I can possibly share now.
    It was all predicted, as he was arrested at the kiss of Judas in the Garden, as he went first to the hastily gathered assembly of the Jewish leaders at the house of the High Priest, as he faced the Sanhedron in the morning and as he was sent off to Pilate, the governor of Judah at the appointment of Caesar. The story tells of Pilate trying to offer a substitute to in order to free Jesus, and the final condemnation to death on a cross to please the crowds.
    >>>Jesus submitted himself to it all, as it was prophesied...
    Isaiah 50:6 ESV
    6 I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting.
    Mark records it in these words:
    Mark 15:16–20 ESV
    16 And the soldiers led him away inside the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters), and they called together the whole battalion. 17 And they clothed him in a purple cloak, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on him. 18 And they began to salute him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 19 And they were striking his head with a reed and spitting on him and kneeling down in homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. And they led him out to crucify him.

    The Crucifixion

    As the story continues to its awful conclusion, we read of Simon of Cyrene carrying the cross when Jesus could not, the stark and simple words that they crucified Jesus and divided his clothes, the mocking, the darkness, and finally the end of Jesus’ earthly days as he gave up his spirit to his Father in Heaven.
    Mark 15:34–39 ESV
    34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 35 And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.” 36 And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” 37 And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. 38 And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

    The Burial

    Mark 15:42 ESV
    42 And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath,
    Mark 15:45–46 ESV
    45 And when he learned from the centurion that he was dead, he granted the corpse to Joseph. 46 And Joseph bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been cut out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the entrance of the tomb.
    SONG: >>

    Hallelujah, What A Savior

      • Isaiah 50:4–5ESV

      • Mark 14:4–5ESV

      • Mark 14:6–7ESV

      • Mark 14:8–9ESV

      • Mark 14:18–19ESV

      • Mark 14:20–21ESV

      • Mark 14:22–25ESV

      • Psalm 31:9–10ESV

      • Mark 14:36ESV

      • Isaiah 50:6ESV

      • Mark 15:16–20ESV

      • Mark 15:34–39ESV

      • Mark 15:42ESV

      • Mark 15:45–46ESV

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