"If an angel walks besides me it is because ahead of me is a work that only an angel can do!"

Archive for December, 2015

Herod The Fox

Luke 23:8-9 World English Bible (WEB)

“Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad, for he had wanted to see him for a long time, because he had heard many things about him. He hoped to see some miracle done by him. He questioned him with many words, but he gave no answers.” (WEB)

 

The Master was brought before four judges: Annas and Caiaphas, Pilate and Herod.

Afraid that their prisoner would when Pilate found no fault in Him, they raised their voices in FURY – to a screaming crescendo.

And in their cunning brought in a new cry: “GALILEE”! – “He stirs up the people from GALILEE to this place!”

Some have thought that this was to show their contempt for their captive…

… But it seems to me to go much further than that.

They were Galileans “whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices…

The priests used the word GALILEE to inflame Pilate.

The effect however was quite unexpected. Pilate grasped the chance to do two things at once:-

  1. To rid himself of a troublesome case
  2. To gratify Herod – a kinglet under Caesar.

Now the ruler of Galilee was Herod Antipas… and at this very time he was in Jerusalem for Passover.

So our Lord goes on His third march of sorrow through Jerusalem.

First, to Annas and Caiaphas.

Second, to Pilate.

Third to, Herod.

Fourth, back to Pilate.

But read:  Acts 4:27 28 “For truly, in this city against your holy servant, Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever your hand and your council foreordained to happen.”

  1. Herod

Herod Antipas was the son of Herod the Great, who had put to death the babes at Bethlehem.

The old Herod was called by some “the Lion” – But Jesus Himself had another name for Herod’s son. He called him “the Fox”! (Luke 13:31).

His title TETRARCH means: Ruler of the 4th part of the kingdom.

He was a sensualist, a man of gross vice.

He had received religious convictions under John the Baptist.

Mark 6: 20 “For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous and holy man, and kept him safe. When he heard him, he did many things, and he heard him gladly.”

Evidently Herod Antipas reformed for a time. But then he became like the DOG & SOW of whom Peter speaks:

“The dog turns to his own vomit again,” and “the sow that has washed to wallowing in the mire.”

For whilst his brother was still alive he took his brother Philip’s wife to be his mistress.

Herod was rebuked by the Baptist who was shut up in prison, later to be executed at the instigation of the adulteress who shared the royal apartment.

 

Now Herod is curious to see Jesus

Now, many attend places of worship, just to know how things are going – THEY NEVER INTEND TO BE FOLLOWERS OF THE LAMB.

All the gossip of the churches is known to them – but they have little regard for God in their souls.

The church is their lounge.

The service a short entertainment – a diversion on the week’s dullest day.

The preacher a kind of performer…

Herod is the leader of all such triflers.

Curiosity! It is that feeling which is one step higher than total indifference — but only one step!

At first sight, in Herod’s case – it seems a promising thing:-

“When Herod saw Jesus he was exceeding glad.”

For so were the Apostles when they saw Jesus:- “Then were the disciples glad when they saw the Lord!”

He was glad because he had heard so many things of Him. (Joanna – who accompanied Jesus – worked in the palace – and was the wife of Chuza Herod’s steward! Perhaps she told Herod about Jesus).

And does not faith come by hearing?

Herod “hoped to see some miracle done by Jesus.” Evidently he was not an absolute unbeliever. He hoped for a miracle.

But reflect gear friends:-

Herod’s case was bad. Once he had feared Jesus: “This is John,whom I beheaded. He has risen from the dead.” (Mark 6:16).

Now his conscience is asleep – He is exceeding glad to see Jesus.

There sits the lump of lust and laziness – that mixture of Humpty Dumpty and Blue Beard — waiting as a gleeful child would wait for a conjuror to perform some trick or illusion.

Perhaps he thought Jesus would multiply loaves and fishes in the palace, or perhaps, vanish from their sight – as at Nazareth 3 years ago.

 

“He questioned Him in many words” – Eagerly the questions came rumbling from his eager lips…

We are not told what the questions or quibbles were. I will tell you – they would be the old sort, like: “Where did Cain get his wife from?” etc.

Fools can ask more questions in an hour than wise men can ask in a week!

But – Jesus answered him nothing. Jesus’ advice had always been: “Do not cast your pearls before swine!”

In the presence of The Fox The Lamb is silent.

  1. Jesus

 

Our Lord did not come into this world to be a mere wonder-worker.

He did not leave His glory to earn the wondering open-mouthed approval of men: kings or commoners.

The best He could do for Herod was to lessen further responsibility by maintaining silence.

Herod had already silenced THE VOICE (John the Baptist) – how could he then hope to hear THE WORD (Jesus the LOGOS)?

Herod might have heard Jesus scores of times in Galilee. Why had he not troubled to do so?

The street…

The synagogue…

The sea-shore…

All these had been His auditoriums…

Yet Herod had never sought Him.

 

  1. Herod and Pilate Were Made Friends That Day

Here was a coalition of evil.

Here the proselyte Jew Herod of Edomite descent joins hands with Pilate the pagan.

How often enemies unite against the Lord’s Christ! For example the Sadducees and the Pharisees.

The Bishop of Woolwich and Huxley – the scientist and the humanist, equally oppose the Gospel of Christ.

I hope if there is any ill-will between two Christians: they will think it a shame to see Herod and Pilate made friends in the presence of Jesus – and they themselves unfriendly still.
Jesus is a GREAT DESTROYER OF ENMITY — “He hath made peace by the blood of His cross!”

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The Sign

Matthew 17: 25-26

OUR LORD’S miracles are “SIGNS” as well as “WONDERS”.

THIS MIRACLE IS UNLIKE all the other miracles of our Lord.

  1. It is the only miracle in which our Lord uses power for Himself.
  2. It seems done for a very TRIVIAL END – the providing of some three shillings of our money.

Therefore, it is MORE of a “SIGN” than a “WONDER”

Tonight we shall hope to show the THINGS “SIGNIFIED”-

  1. The LORD’S SUPERIORITY

This tribute money was not a CIVIL but an ECCLESIASTICAL tribute.

It started in the WILDERNESS “a ransom for his soul”

NOW in Jesus’ day it was a TAX for UPKEEP of the TEMPLE

So they came to see if this JEW, with such tax views on Pharisaic matters, was loyal to the TEMPLE.

PETER – anxious to defend told them “YES!”

Then came the Lord’s parable to him:  “And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?  Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free.”

Thus He claims DEITY – “the BRIGHTNESS of the FATHER’S GLORY – the EXPRESS IMAGE OF HIS PERSON”.

He did not say “Believe in VIRTUE”

Or “Believe in TRUTH”

Not even “Believe  in my WORD”

BUT – “BELIEVE IN ME!”

THE WINDS KNEW HIM
THE WINE RECOGNISED HIM
THE DEVILS FEARED AND FLED HIM.

What is this EXEMPTION of the Son?

The tribute had a dual meaning

It was a ransom.

  1. It was to support the Temple.

So, He claims to have no need of a ransom for HIMSELF

“Thou art fairer than the CHILDREN OF MEN”

He needed no TEMPLE! – IT WAS –

  1. The dwelling place of God. “God was in CHRIST
  2. The place of SACRIFICE. “Through the eternal spirit OFFERED HIMSELF”.

Meeting place of MAN OF GOD. “No man cometh unto the FATHER BUT BY ME

JESUS WAS ALL THESE “He is greater than the Temple”.

 

  1. THE SON’S SUBMISSION – “LEST WE SHOULD OFFEND”

He is tender beyond all telling.

God walked down the stairs of heaven with a baby in His arms……

“Being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself”

This was the point of departure”

AROUND THE RADIANT GLORIES OF HIS DEITY, he gathers the FOLDS OF HIS HUMANITY.

CRIBBED CABINED & CONFINED BY INCARNATION IN THE NARROW LIMITS of OUR FLESH….

The King is Son, though free, goes among HIS FATHER’S SUBJECTS, hardens His hands by toil – learned a servant’s heart….  WAS FREE FROM NECESSITY OF DEATH.

HIS LOYAL SUBMISSION ALONE accounts for CALVARY.

  1. SON’S SPLENDOUR

Men have made merry with this MIRACLE – but there is a deep, divine decorum.

Humiliation’s gloom is ever intertwined with gleams of His glory!-

AT HIS MANGER-BED – the angels sang!

AT HIS CROSS OF SHAME – the sun grew dark – NIGHT STEPPED FROM HER HALLS AND DREW CURTAINS ROUND HIS HARD UPRIGHT BED.

So HERE IN THIS MIRACLE of SUBMISSION –

  1. The gleam of OMNISCIENCE “ARCHDEACON”

AT THIS seemingly TRIVIAL MIRACLE  – Showed the CHRIST even in His LOWLINESS was the SON OF GOD!

  1. THE SUFFICIENCY OF THE SON FOR US

Does not say, “for us

“FOR ME “ – – CONDESCENSION

“for THEE” – –  HIS PROVISION

Both CONSCIENCE & the LAW grasps us by the THROAT & screams “Pay what thou owest ” alas, we are BANKRUPT.

THE LAST ADAM

“Take(Calvary’s finished work – All thy debt will thus be paid.

THE PRICE IS GIVEN TO THEE BY A HAND THAT WEPT CRIMSON TEARS ONE APRIL DAY LONG AGO

 

 

The Credibility of the Resurrection

Acts 26:8 “Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead? ”

Concerning the souls of our believing friends who have departed this life – we have no distress.

“Absent from the body – present with the Lord.”

We are often concerned about their body, which we have committed to the deep dark grave.

It is horrible to reflect that their dear faces are being stripped of their beauty by the fingers of decay.

That all the noble fabric we knew – should be broken to ruin and dissolved in dust.

Though we may with bravery face the future- we never really forget the divine decree “it is appointed unto all en once to die.” This flesh shall see corruption.This glorious doctrine of the resurrection of the body is intended to take fear away.

That very flame which we lay in the dust shall wake at the trumpet of the Archangel…  Wake to superior beauties and with attributes never known before.

Remember the Lord loved us not as disembodied spirits, but as men and women robed in flesh and blood.

God has put a value on our bodies:-

The Bible says: “Present your BODIES a living sacrifice.”

“Your bodies are the temple of the Holy Ghost.”

  1. My friends, it would not be a complete victory over sin and Satan if the Saviour left a part of His people in the grave.

Not a bone will be forgotten – Death’s prison house will be utterly rifled of every trophy.

Alas – we in unbelief ask “Is it possible ? — Can it be true?”

To such questions my text is pointed. See Acts 26:8 “Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead? ”

  1. Let us Face the ProblemsSome misguided preachers have sought to water down this doctrine. Thinking to make it more acceptable to critics.

No man has been impressed by discovering preachers are half-ashamed of their faith.

How can a man be convinced by preachers who do not believe their own faith?

  1. When we modify doctrine and trim scripture, we defeat ourselves.

Nothing of that kind affects me!

  1. We are to remember that though we die with the same body with which we were born – life does cause great changes, BUT THOSE CHANGES DO NOT AFFECT IDENTITY.
  2. Though we shall be raised in very different bodies – yet the identity will be retained.

It is sown in weakness – it is raised in power.”

it is sown in dishonour – it is raised in glory.”

We do not ask scientists to support us – let them keep to their sphere and we will keep to ours.

The doctrine we teach neither FEARS NOR FLATTERS human learning.

“Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead? ”

The Problems:-

  1. When we see a mummified corpse we say – well maybe if all dead bodies were embalmed we could believe resurrection.

But how utterly have the ancient dead disappeared – where now is the dust of Paul?

Of Festus? Who sent him to Rome.

Of Nero? the emperor who condemned him.

Of the unknown executioner? who beheaded him.

Atoms once wedded in a man’s life may be divorced poles apart.

  1. The difficulty increases when we think of the number of the dead – “THE MAJORITY” – and our doctrine is that ALL MEN SHALL BE RAISED!

If it were a few – say Elijah – Lazarus – well we may accept that  –

but think of the MULTITUDES BEFORE THE FLOOD

But think of the MILLIONS SINCE THEN

But think of the MYRIADS TODAY —

That not one shall sleep forever – Huxley says it is a “MONSTROUS MIRACLE & WEARS THE ASPECT OF A THING INCREDIBLE”

  1. Let me make it more incredible!

In doing so I feel like Elijah on Carmel – pouring water on the sacrifice before he prayed for fire from heaven to burn it up.

Think where some bodies are:

In deep mines.

Carried by the wash and swell of tides to unknown shores.

They lie in pathless desert – far as vultures eye can see.

They enrich the fields of Flanders  and of France.

BLOWS THERE A SINGLE WIND THAT DOES NOT CARRY A PARTICLE OF WHAT ONCE WAS MAN?

YET I TELL YOU — AS CERTAIN AS GOD IS — OUR DEAD SHALL LIVE!

  1. And remember – our doctrine says – the Resurrection is not simply RESTORATION – TRANSFORMATION.

We plant a bulb – it rises a lovely lily.

We sow in the soil a seed – there comes forth a resplendent flower, with exquisite perfume.

I tell you who are afraid of scientists and humanists and philosophers – OUR FAITH IS INCREDIBLE TO CARNAL MINDS – AND NO WONDER!

OUR LORD JESUS WILL NOT ONLY RAISE US BUT CHANGE US – WORM’S MEAT SHALL BE MADE LIKE UNTO HIS GLORIOUS BODY!

SISTERS – It shall be as though a tattered torn moth-eaten garment were suddenly to be bleached to dazzling, glistening, glittering, gleaming, whiteness – its every threa restored and then adorned with embroideries such as women’s fingers have never woven on this earth.

  1. Let me pour on some more water – Let me help the prophets of Baal – assist the scientists

– fend for the philosophers

– undergird the unbelievers

My help for them shall be in vain.

NOTHING IN NATURE SUPPORTS THE DOCTRINE OF THE RESURRECTION.

Every analogy breaks down.

  1. SLEEP – DEATH — AWAKENING RESURRECTION

Ah! but even in sleep life is present!

THE CHRYSALIS AND THE BUTTERFLY.

But though the grub sleeps – it also lives

  1. Now To The Simple Solution

This is no empty boast — the matter IS SIMPLE!

  1. Read the text with proper emphasis and DIFFICULTIES MELT LIKE SNOW IN SUNSHINE…

“Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead? ”

  1. It might seem a thing incredible that the dead should be raised, but it is certainly not incredible that GOD, the Almighty, the INFINITE, should raise the dead.

GRANT THAT GOD IS, AND UNBELIEF IS IMPOSSIBLE!

  1. We do not run to the armouries of reason to defend our faith. ONE WORD FROM GOD OUTWEIGHS FOR US A LIBRARY OF HUMAN LORE.
  2. When Paul uttered this text he was speaking to a Jew – AGRIPPA – to whom he could say: “Believest thou the prophets – I know that thou believest.”

For he had the testimony of…

Job: “I know that my Redemmer lives and though skin worms destroy this body yet in my flesh I shall see God.”

Isaiah: Chapter 26.

Daniel: Chapter 12.

Hosea: Chapter 13.

  1. To us as Christians we have fuller scriptures.

John 5:28; John 6:40; Philippians 3:21; and the monumental 15th Chapter of 1st Corinthians.

Everything is wonderful until we are used to it, and resurrection owes the incredible portion of its marvel to the fact of our never having come across it in our observation – that is all!

We were born but lately and have seen nothing as yet.

Will resurrection be a greater wonder than creation? –

To creat out of nothing is more wonderful than to collect scattered atoms, surely!

How would your eyes have opened – if, standing in the inky blackness you had heard “LET THERE BE LIGHT!” AND LIGHT LEPT AT YOU AS A LIVING THING.

How would your jaw have gaped, had you seen from the dust an unseen hand fashion a form – and you had heard a gust of breath fill the uninflated being – and Adam had got up from Mother Earth.

Friends – if it did not happen so often, the birth of every child would be regarded as a miracle of God – and such indeed it is.

Remember too – the Lord Jesus Christ rose from the dead. He is the guarantee of my resurrection: “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”

Fellow saints: Remember too that you have already had a work of resurrection done within you.

“You hath He quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins.”

This is the forerunner of your physical quickening.

  1. Our Relation To This Truth

CHILDREN OF GOD: “Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord.”

UNCONVERTED HEARER:  Jesus said – “Fear Him Who is able to destroy both body and soul in Hell.”

The Bible speaks of the Resurrection to Damnation – Daniel names it, a rising to “everlasting shame and contempt.”

Are you ready should Jesus come tonight? He said: “I am the resurrection and the life!”

An inconceivable number shall be raised in the First Resurrection. “A multitude that no man can number.”

SUDDENLY they shall start up from their beds of dust and silent clay. God’s workshop shall not be long engaged in fitting atom to atom – bone to bone.

Man needs time, but God created time and needs it not!

“We shall all be changed in a moment in the twinkling of an eye!”