Jesus/ Christ/ is/ God/ in/ the/ flesh!
The more we embrace the truth of the divine nature of Jesus the greater the depth of our faith. Today we begin the walk to Jerusalem and the journey of Jesus towards the cross and resurrection on Easter Sunday, (this year celebrated on April 12). We’re jumping into the journey with the arrest of Jesus…. The main focus will be Judas.
I don’t want to focus today on stopping God…., but open the box and let him out, open the prison door. The only reason Jesus can be arrested ~ he allows himself to be arrested… He knows Judas will betray him, and he accepts it, he stops the disciples from fighting their way out, he willingly is led away by the soldiers, he let’s us put limits on his power in our lives… we believe Jesus is Lord of all life, so how can we keep some of our time for our own unhealthy pleasures? we hold back our resources, our heart. Jesus allows our hearts to wander away from the message of the Bible and go instead with the wisdom of the crowd. Our whims and our moods often take precedent over the leading of the Spirit of God!
Jesus allows himself to be arrested, but guess what????? The resurrection of Jesus Christ is coming! The day is coming when no power of humankind will contain Jesus. Even death cannot stop Jesus. There are hints in today’s scripture that you do not have to choose to arrest Jesus… Open the Box…
When I started selling on Ebay 20+ years ago, I looked around the house at what Sally and I were willing to part with. We needed the money in those days! I found my old matchbox and Hot Wheels collection… they were scratched, bent axles, missing windshields, broken, dented… the natural thought: too bad they weren’t still in the box, mint condition, they’d probably be worth something… other people said the same thing… but then I thought: even if a mint condition rare Hot Wheel were worth a $1000 and my dented Hot Wheel with a broken wheel brought the price down to 10 cents, it was worth it… the joy I had in playing with my Hot Wheels was worth more than any amount of money, the hours upon hours of setting up tracks, playing with friends, imagining, some of the Match
Box cars came from Doris, walking into the store with my pennies and selecting the next adventure…
What good does it do to keep the Hot Wheel in the box? It was meant to be played with and I played with my toy cars with great joy endlessly!!!! What good does it do to have a toy you never play with? Why would we ever keep God in a box?
Judas and the guards came to arrest Jesus: He will let you try and stop him! But the resurrection is coming. Open the box. Let him out and let him into every corner of your life; stretch you to serve in ways you never thought possible, trust him in ways new for you, establish holy patterns that will create you into a new person, renew your mind to see in ways you’ve never imagined. The Lord Jesus Christ allows us to tie him up like Delilah tied up Samson, but he won’t be constrained forever, like Samson, his strength explodes. Open the box, let him out, let him in to your heart with a fresh spirit… May we as a church unleash the Spirit of God to lead us in new patterns, new ways.
Jesus was a threat. His teaching was new/challenging. The crowds loved him. He gained followers. He was getting attention, and the officers of the temple guard took him, led him away… Jesus is God in the flesh and they arrest Him!
The arrest took place on Mount of Olives… overlooking the temple. It’s festival time; Jesus was on his way back to Bethany...the temple guards are the security detail of the temple… Jesus says Luke 22:53, “Every day I was with you in the temple courts…” they were assigned to keep order in the temple, and Jesus, in their view, was disruptive. Maybe it was because he upset the merchants tables a few days earlier, or his ability to attract a crowd… rather than confront Jesus in the temple, they come at night…
Some of the followers want to fight with swords, one of them even losing control and slicing off the ear of one of the servants. Wow… I’m thinking only Jesus could have kept the peace after that…Luke 22:51 READ. the clear message, we choose how we respond and Jesus says don’t fight.
When people want to put Jesus in a box, we have to let them. I’d rather play with the matchbox cars, but if there are those that want to keep them in a box and collect dust on a shelf, they will never know the full joy of their intended purpose…If there are people who want to stop Jesus and keep him from fully impacting their lives, we can’t fight it… everyone has to make their own decisions. Jesus allows himself to be arrested.
Jesus says to all who came to arrest him that they could have chosen a different response. He tells them they have misread who he is and what he is about. Have you ever been criticized by somebody who completely misread your motives and accused you of thinking/doing things that were completely untrue? Luke 22:52-53. close the box, open the box, your choice…
Judas, the disciple that betrayed Jesus, is a perplexing man. The seed of the betrayal is detailed in Luke 22:1-6. READ. The groundwork is laid… the chief priests and teachers are afraid… How much does fear dictate our decisions? Some people think it’s the number 1 motivation… I don’t know, could be…clearly fear is significant…
Satan enters Judah. Such a simple statement. Luke thinks no other explanation is needed… Opportunity for dark behavior based on fear and Satan is a dangerous combination. Judah is proactive in Luke 22:4. He goes to those conspiring against Jesus. Judah has opportunity, he allows Satan to drive his actions, and he goes… think about that. The good Lord gives us choices. We can choose the right path or the wrong path… 4 things come together for Judah to choose the wrong way: opportunity, fear, Satan, choice… in order to stay on the right path of following Jesus/keeping Jesus at center of your life, all you need is the equation to be changed on any one of those 4:
- Opportunity. If you are in a situation with temptation to take the wrong path, get out of that situation, easy to say, hard to do, sometimes impossible… I have talked to many people caught up in destructive behavior. Many folks, e,g, need to get away from the hill to find wholeness. To live. To gain sanity and health, clarity of mind…Many people need a new life… If your friends keep tempting you to compromise your convictions and you are weak, then you need to change friends… Judas had opportunity when he heard rumors that the chief priests wanted to stop Jesus. He caved…
- Fear. Fear is an emotion. Bad decisions contrary to the Lord are rooted in fear. Fear of change. Fear of giving up that which you love. Fear of the unknown. Fear of disappointing others… Maybe you cannot change your life dynamics, but you can pray for the Lord to give you a positive spirit instead of fear….
- Satan. Satan is constantly attacking. Never let your guard down. Last week’s message: put on the Armor of God. Stand firm against Satan... Even if there is opportunity to join in league with others in destructive behavior, even if afraid, if you still trust in God over the temptation of Satan, you will stay the course of the Lord…refuse to listen to Satan.
- Choice is the bottom line. Make no excuse for your decisions. You are in a difficult place in life. You fear. Satan is attacking relentlessly. Your decisions still come down to you ~ you are responsible. In spite of all the pressures/ temptations, the choice is up to you whether to honor the Lord or wander away.
I am convinced when Judas kisses Jesus, it is the ultimate double message. Judas, IMO, is conflicted. The kiss is a greeting of respect in those days…. If this scene took place today, Judas might betray Jesus with a hug, or for more conservative circles a vigorous handshake…it was dark, 10’s of 1000’s of people are in Jerusalem/the temple, the temple guards needed Judas to go with them to identify Jesus the revolutionary.
The kiss is the ultimate double message. Judas is conflicted; part of him really did admire Jesus, believe in his message… Kissing Jesus is his good-bye, because Judas may not know how it will end, but he knows things will never be the same again. Yet the same kiss is the sign to the temple guards that this is Jesus whom you are coming to arrest. Confliction!!!!! Judas’ is forced to confront his conflicted double minded heart with Jesus’ poignant question: “are you betraying the son of man with a kiss?”
When we hold conflicting ideas, double minded thinking, love the Lord with your whole heart except____. Follow God anywhere but ____. We will only find wholeness when we are confronted with our confliction. Even with that question Jesus is giving Judas the opportunity to repent and face his conflicted mind. You can’t have the fullness of the love of the Lord and put him in a box at the same time. You can’t play with the Hot Wheels car and keep it perfect at the same time. Open the box and let Jesus be Jesus in your life. Let the kiss be genuine. Repent and return to the Lord. At that moment it was too late for Jesus not to be arrested by the guards, but that was not important at that moment. The heart of Judas was most important to Jesus in that moment. He always cares deeply about everyone of us…
Forgiveness and repentance can get messy with people because of unforgiveness, anger and revenge, but with God there is always the promise of perfect forgiveness. Even for Judas. When Jesus said to Judas, “are you betraying the son of man with a kiss?” I absolutely believe it is a genuine question. Judas could have denounced his evil decision and asked Jesus to restore him to himself.
Open the box. Let Jesus out. Don’t arrest Jesus, Stop Jesus, closedown Jesus, discontinue Jesus, end Jesus, halt Jesus, terminate Jesus… Open the box. He’ll let you limit him in your life, but Easter is coming and he won’t stay dead forever! There are four reasons we limit Jesus: Opportunity, Fear, Satan and Choice. If all those come together in a negative way, you will make limit Jesus in your life, but change the dynamic on any of them and you’ll unlock the prison door: get out of tempting situations, and/or ask the Lord to overcome your fear and/or Stand Firm against statement, and if all those fail, you can still choice. Jesus’ question to Judas is always a sincere question to us designed to allow our answer to be one of continuing to be double minded or repentant: “Are you betraying the son of man….” At any point you can say, NO, I repent, I choose to open the box. I choose to unleash my Lord to live in my heart and guide me in the path of right living. Do not limit Jesus by putting him in a box, but open the box and let him live. Amen.