The Friendly Fire Room Presents

Listen And See

Thank you Wanda Barlow for this great idea!


Palm Sunday Sermon 2015


Palm Sunday Sermon 2015


The place is somewhere near Qumran, at the Jordan River, where John the Baptizer had been baptizing with water, as an outward sign of repentance from sins. Jesus came to him, and John said out loud, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because He was before me.’” When John baptized Him, John bore witness that the Spirit descended from heaven in a dove-like manner, and the Spirit remained upon Him. John continued to bear witness that Jesus is the Son of God.

When John was standing with two of his own disciples the next day, John (generally understood) and Andrew, Jesus returned there. As Jesus walked by, John the Baptizer said aloud, “Behold the Lamb of God.” Hearing this, the two disciples began to follow Jesus instead of John.Then Andrew told his brother Simon, that they had found the Christ( the Messiah). Jesus gives Simon the Greek name Peter( a Stone).

The next day, Jesus found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.” Then Philip told Nathanael and told him,” We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”

John tells us that after the quiet miracle at the Cana wedding that attested to Jesus’ identity as Messiah, Jesus’ disciples believed in Him.

This and the miracles that followed showed the glory of Jesus as the sovereign Creator of the universe.

So who is this Jesus?

John bore witness to the fact that Jesus is someone who is actually from another place, and has come from there into the world for definite specific purposes and reasons.

He is variously described as:

...the Word( God) from heaven, through whom all things were created, having become flesh in order to dwell among mankind as the divine God- Man, two natures, one Person.

...the Light of true knowledge and moral purity, that shows the very presence of God in our midst.

...the uniquely begotten Son from the Father, the manifestation of God’s grace, truth, and glory of God.

...the Messiah to come, spoken of by Moses and the prophets of old, whose identity is well established by convincing proofs as to that identity.

...the sinless, pure, Sacrificial Lamb of God who came to take away the sin of the world, by His perfect atonement in our behalf, in our stead.

Although He came into “the things” of His own creation and into the people of His own, the Jews, the vast majority of them rejected Him as the Messiah, time after time, despite convincing proofs of His messianic identity.

But to all those who receive Him, accept the facts about Jesus, and welcome Him and submit to Him, believing in a personal trust-relationship way, the possibility of becoming a legally adopted child of God is extended to Gentiles, and not just Jews.

The first of Jesus’ signs at the wedding n Cana, Galilee was a low-key one, yet it no less did truly manifest His glory.

Next, Jesus went with His disciples, his mother and brothers to Capernaum to stay for a few days. Later, after the baptizer was imprisoned by Herod, Capernaum became Jesus’ headquarters.

Since the Jewish Passover was near, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. There He engaged in the first of two such “cleansings” of the temple, by driving the money-changers out and overturning their tables. He warned them not to make His Father’s house a house of trade. The main problem was that of creating a noisy obstruction which rendered it impossible for any Gentile God-fearer to worship in the temple, as their presence was restricted to that same area. This event at the Passover provoked Jesus’ first major confrontation with the Jewish leaders.

The response from the Jews was to ask Jesus to show them a sign to justify His actions. His answer was, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” While this only served to confuse the religious leaders, His disciples would recall these same words at a later date, and have their faith encouraged by them.

At Jesus’ encounter with the Pharisee Nicodemus, we see a milder form of the same objection, in his request also for a sign from which to verify Jesus’ words and actions. The plan is for us to explore that part of the encounter, but not until after Easter.

Jesus then went into the Judean countryside where He and His disciples remained while baptizing there. When Jesus heard that the Pharisees had learned that they were making and baptizing more disciples than Rabbi John, Jesus immediately decided to leave that place and head Back to Galilee. This action implies that Jesus chose to avoid another confrontation with the Pharisees, at least for a while.

In order to get to Galilee, Jesus surprisingly intended to pass through the midst of Samaria, atypical for any Jew to do. There at Jacob’s well He encounters a Samaritan woman in the heat of the midday. Jesus offered her living water capable of satisfying one’s thirst forever. This was an offer which she at first interprets literally. This offer of salvation is to a people definitely other than Jewish, and the woman receives the possibility that He is the Messiah. Soon it becomes apparent that she truly believes, and many Samaritans also come to believe in Jesus, thus confirming Jesus as “the Savior of the world”, and not just of the Jews.

Proceeding again to Cana in Galilee, Jesus performs a second sign there, by healing the son of a local official, from a distance, by the word of His will.

At the same time He says, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe”.

Then they go back to Jerusalem, possibly to the Feast of Tabernacles. There, to a place in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate called “Bethesda”, which is Aramaic for “House of Mercy”. It is a large pool where invalids of all kinds gather; the blind, and paralyzed. The thought was that when the pool was stirred up, at least the first to enter the water would be healed. Jesus helps one man there who had been paralyzed for 38 years, longer than the life- span of many in those days. Jesus does not drag him into the pool, but heals him instantly by His command, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And he did! The Jews were very upset having seen the man walking with his bedroll, and hearing what had happened involving Jesus.

The Old Testament did not specifically prohibit carrying one’s bedroll on the Sabbath, but the Jewish traditions, with their minutely detailed rules managed to call this “work”. But this is not the only reason they were “stirred” to persecute Jesus and want to kill Him.

Jesus correctly defines to them His work as just like the work of God His Father, thereby claiming a Son-Father relationship and His own deity. Jesus reminds the Jews that He is doing the works that His Father has given Him to accomplish, and that if they would believe that Word of God, that these works themselves bear witness that the Father has indeed sent Him. By not believing who He is and what He is doing, it is Moses that accuses them and they condemn themselves for not having God’s Word abide in them, and that the love of God is demonstrated to be not in them. Instead of seeking the glory of God, they continue to seek and to give glory to one another; however, God is not in it!

Notice the purposefulness in this. While Jesus could have just as easily healed all those there that day, but as sovereign Lord of the Sabbath, He selected only one to heal and send off walking to the Jews with a bedroll and a message.

Jesus retreated to a mountainous area north and east of the Sea of Galilee, to a place which is known today as the Golan Heights. There a very large crowd gathered to Him. There was nothing to feed them there in the

wilderness except for 5 barely loaves and 2 dried fish offered by a boy there.

The crowd consisted of 5,000 men alone. It is entirely possible that there as many as 20,000 including women and children.

This event was about God’s provision of manna from heaven to Israel in the wilderness as through Moses. We know this was a crowd of Jews, not Gentiles. This time, however, the provision would be through the prophet that was predicted to come, one like Moses promised in Deuteronomy 18.

Jesus gave thanks and blessed the 5 loaves and 2 fish, and He distributed them to all, giving them “as much as they wanted”. In case a skeptical thought enters your mind, that everyone was self-sacrificing and generous to the point of refusing the food offered to them, think again. After they had eaten their fill, it took 12 Jewish-style fold-over carry baskets to hold the fragments from the 5 barely loaves (implied that no fish remained). Only a crowd whose hunger had truly been “satisfied” would do what came next. In response to this most amazing “sign”, the huge crowd wanted to take Jesus by force to make Him king. Instead, Jesus withdrew to the mountain alone.

That evening, Jesus’ disciples went down to the sea and began to cross to the shore heading for Capernaum. At 3 to 4 miles into it, a terrible tempest arose that frightened them much. At the same time Jesus was seen at a distance from them walking upon the water and He came to them getting into their boat, and He said, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Suddenly and upernaturally,

they prematurely arrived at their destination.

The same crowd from the wilderness, after finding Jesus mysteriously on the other side, questioned how that could happen. But rather than address their stated concern, Jesus rebuked them for focusing upon the signs and the food, pointing them to look instead only to the bread of God sent from heaven, He told them. “I am the bread of life.” At the synagogue there in Capernaum He told them, “Everyone who looks on the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

Again, the Jews grumbled against Him just as they had grumbled against God in the wilderness in Moses’ day. He said, “The bread that I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” At these words, even His so-called disciples grumbled. Jesus told them. “It is the Spirit who gives life, the flesh is no help at all.” This was a pivotal moment when many of His disciples turned back and left Him after He said, “There are some of you who do not believe. This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” The Twelve, having been established, did not turn away.

Jesus continued to minister in Galilee, but avoided Judea, as the Jews were all the more seeking to kill Him. At the time of the Feast of Booths, Jesus’ brothers wanted Him to leave for Judea, so that He might do His works more publicly and show off Himself to the world. They were clueless as to what the world actually thought of Him, so He rebuked them, and sent them along, while He remained in Galilee for a while. Then He followed, but privately, and as expected, the Jews were looking and asking for Him.

At mid-point in the feast, Jesus began teaching in the temple and the Jews marveled at His learning. Jesus reminded the Jews, “If anyone’s will is to do God’s will. He will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.” Then He told them, “Moses gave you the law, yet none of you keeps the law. Why do you seek to kill me?” Their lying response is to say, “You have a demon! Who is seeking to kill you?”

This was still all about the healing of one man at Bethesda. Many knew that the leaders were trying to kill Him. While teaching in the temple He says, “You know me, and you know where I come from. But I have not come of my own accord. He who sent me is true, and him you do not know.” They wanted to arrest Him, but that was not in keeping with God’s timing.”

Nevertheless, many believed in Him as the Christ.

Hearing the crowds mutter things about Jesus possibly being the Christ, the Pharisees and Chief priests; that is, the Sanhedrin sent the Levite officers( the temple police) to arrest Him. But they hesitated when Jesus told them that, “He would be going to him who sent him.” Their failure to arrest Him caused division within the Sanhedrin.

On the last day of the feast, at a quiet lull point in the ritual, Jesus spoke with a loud voice saying, “If any one thirsts, let him come to me and drink.

Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of him will flow rivers of living water.’” At this there was a great division between those who believed in Him and those who wanted to arrest Him. So the Levites did not lay hands on Him. Most of the Sanhedrin was upset with the officers for not taking the opportunity to take Jesus into custody.

But the officers spoke profound truth, that “no one ever spoke like this man,” because no other man in history has been fully God as well, and thus able to speak with the infinite knowledge and authority of God Himself.

When Jesus spoke again, it was in the temple treasury, saying to them, “I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life.” The Pharisees would not accept His testimony, but still no one arrested Him, because it was to be according to God’s timing.

Jesus’ speech became even more bold. Even to the Jews who seemed to believe in Him, while claiming to be children of Abraham, never a slave to sin or anything, therefore in no need of moral salvation, He said, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works of Abraham, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Why do you not believe me? Then Jesus answers His own question for them. “Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God. They picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and exited the temple.

Then Jesus heals a man blind from birth. Again this healing was purposeful “in order that the works of God might be displayed in him.” There was much controversy over this event. The Pharisees looked into it relentlessly, because they would not believe that Jesus could have done this kind of work.

His testimony is similar to that of the Levites-“Never since the word began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind.” They excommunicated the man for these things.

Jesus compared the Pharisees to the stranger who sneaks his way into the fold, among the sheep, in order to kill and steal for himself at the expense of others. Jesus identifies Himself as the good Shepherd that lays down His life for the sheep, in the authority received from His Father.

Now the division among the Jews becomes radical, they are saying, “He has a demon. He is insane.” And others say, “He is not oppressed by a demon, can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

At the Feast of Dedication in the winter, Jesus taught in the temple at the colonnade of Solomon. The Jews demanded a direct answer, “If you are the Christ, tell us plainly”. To them He said, “I and the Father are one.” That was it! They picked up stones to throw at Him again and sought to arrest Him, but He escaped from their hands, and withdrew to a place across the Jordan where John had first been baptizing. Many truly believed in Him there at that place.

Then Jesus delayed going to see Lazarus upon hearing of his illness until he actually died. Jesus said to His disciples, “for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe.” Jesus went to the tomb in Bethany where Lazarus had been buried in a cave for four days. Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” And he did!

Many Jews believed in Him that day, but some told the Pharisees what Jesus had done. This time they gathered saying, “If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”

Here is another pivotal point event. One of the Pharisees who was high priest that year, Caiaphas, said, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” This was the distorted outcome of a perverse translation of his prophesy as high priest that year, that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. With this perversion of truth in mind, from that day on, they made plans to put Him to death. They effectively put out an APB, so that they might find Him and arrest Him.

At this point Jesus became a “wanted man”, but for the wrong reasons.

Six days prior to the 3rd Passover, Jesus had a dinner as the guest of Martha, Mary and Lazarus in Bethany, where Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with pure nard, an expense that Judas Iscariot, a secret thief, complained about, proposing that the money could have been better spent in giving to the poor.

Beware! Secret sins will always distort ones view of God’s work and lead a person to irrational words and actions.

A large crowd gathered there to see both Jesus and Lazarus. So the chief priests enlarged their net to include Lazarus as well as Jesus to be put to death, in order to destroy incriminating evidence of Jesus’ claims.

The next day, the large crowd had come to the feast hearing that Jesus was coming into Jerusalem. So, by popular acclaim, they took palm branches and gathered to meet Him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”, as Jesus entered Jerusalem upon a donkey colt as written in Zechariah 9. The main reason of the crowd was from hearing He had done this sign of raising Lazarus from the dead. So the Pharisees, seeing how badly it was going for them politically said, “Look, the world has gone after him.”

Jesus acknowledged that “the hour had come for the Son of Man to be glorified, to die as a grain of wheat does in order that it might bear much fruit.” But the people were still hoping that they might successfully provoke Jesus as the promised Messiah and rightful King of Israel to arise in a political and military sense, and use His amazing powers to resist Roman rule and lead the nation to political independence. Just as quickly as the crowds were heated up to the point of shedding light in worshipful activity, when things failed to pan out according to their personal expectations, they quickly cooled, and many returned to their former state of darkness wherein they also turned against Him, joining with those who shouted, “Crucify Him!” Little did anyone realize that His glorification and His triumph would come after the cross and resurrection.

Many will be surprised on the Day of Judgment when they discover that it was just as the Word of God says; only the righteousness of Christ is able to save you.

All men are sinners and no one can save himself.

God is just, so He must punish sin; but He is also merciful, moreover gracious, and offers His Son as the perfect sacrifice in order to purchase a place for you in heaven, which He offers to you as the free gift of eternal life.

Jesus is the Christ,

Jesus is the Messiah,

Jesus is the Anointed One,

He is God Incarnate,

the Good Shepherd!

In order to pay the debt of our sins, He came from Heaven, having been sent by the Father, where He lived a life of perfect obedience to the Father even unto the shameful death upon the cross in order to pay the debt of your sins.

This gift must be received by faith, believing that Jesus’ perfect life and Cross Work was His complete and necessary Atonement for your sins, in your behalf.

Faith is a gift that comes by the Power of God the Holy Spirit working in a person’s innermost being.

Only the power of God can open your heart to the willingness to have the void within it filled with the presence of Christ by His Spirit.

The Holy Spirit has the authority and power to quicken your dead spirit, to make it come to life.

Only the life of His Spirit’s quickening of your heart will allow the Gospel message of salvation to even make sense to you, to truly “hear” the message and give you the ability, as the Holy Spirit bears witness to Jesus, to recognize your need for forgiveness and restoration, and gain the desire of your heart to be favorably inclined to want to receive Christ as your personal Lord and Savior.

If you have not done so before this moment, ask Jesus to forgive you your sins, tell Him you’ve stop trying to be your own savior, and ask Him to come into your life right now, and to give you eternal life.

Then, in faith believing, thank Him for the gift that He is giving you, the one He paid for in full in your place, in Jesus’ name, AMEN.

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