Good morning to everyone. I bring with me the love and greetings from the North Industry ecclesia. It is a privilege to bring the words of exhortation to all of you this morning. I wish to speak on the subject of denial. Denial is the ďrefusal to admit the truth of a statement or charge.Ē A few examples that I can think of could be saying to ourselves that the McDonaldís double cheeseburger we just ate is not going to affect our cholesterol count. The reality is that if our diet consists of too many of these it will in all probability, raise our cholesterol. Another example would be out physical makeup. At our ecclesia we have what we call family days. Sometimes it has to do with some form of physical activity. We play basketball or softball and we can tell ourselves it is not going to affect us physically. In reality, most of us over the age of thirty are going to be sore and achy for a couple days at least. My last example of denial would be me looking in the mirror and saying, ďthis hair lose is just temporary, it will all come back.Ē The reality is that short of major hair transplants, it is gone for good, and what remains will soon be lonely and leave too.
What do these examples
have to do with this morningís exhortation? Well denial seems to be part of the
First we are going to
look at the beginning of Godís plan for a Saviour for his people. We look at the
time in the Garden of Eden in
13 And the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate." 14 So the LORD God said to the serpent: "Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel." 16 To the woman He said: "I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you." 17 Then to Adam He said, "Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat of it': "Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. 18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. 19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return."
In verse 15 we see the
promise of someone to destroy sin, and this could only be done by overcoming
death. Someone had to suffer death himself, that is to be bruised in the heel,
because of his mortal nature. But it would not be fatal because this someone
would be raised from the dead and given immortality. Of course we know that this
someone is Jesus Christ, the Messiah. We will look at one more scripture
concerning the prophecy of Christ. It is in
6 For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
One was promised to be the ruler of a kingdom that would never end, reigning from the throne of David. Again this points to Christ.
There are other verses showing the promise of a
Saviour, but we just needed to look at a couple to show that the Jewish leaders
into todayís reading of
We begin in
11 Now Jesus stood before the governor. And the governor asked Him, saying, "Are You the King of the Jews?" So Jesus said to him, "It is as you say." 12 And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing.
In verse 12 the chief priests and elders are accusing Jesus of treason, and blasphemy. They should have known by the scriptures that we read earlier that this was the promised Messiah. Later in the chapter we will see that Jesus will show them right where to look. Pilate had the authority to release a prisoner at this feast time. He could find no fault in Jesus and wanted him released. But when he asked the people all they could answer was ďcrucify him.Ē Pilate asked the people two times whom they wanted released and every time they wanted Barabbas. Pilate went so far as to wash his hands of the whole affair. Pilate finally turned over to them the one of whom they asked. The funny thing is that these are the same people who less than a week before were praising Jesus. (Matt 21:7-9)
7 They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. 8 And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: "Hosanna to the Son of David! 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!' Hosanna in the highest!"
The chief priests and elders should have seen
9 "Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; he is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.
The people had recognized Jesus as the one who could save them, but now they were in denial of him. Probably most of these same people who were saying, ďcrucify himĒ were around to see at least some of the many miracles that he performed. The people have denied Christ so much that now they are willing for his blood to be to their charge.
25 Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.
They were willing to accept responsibility for his death even for generations.
As Jesus hung on the cross he gave the Jews one more chance to accept him as the true Messiah. In verse 46 he says the phrase, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?" This was not a plea to God but instead it was a quote from verse 1 of Psalm 22. The chief priests and scribes should have been aware of the scriptures and remembered what was in this psalm. This psalm of David points forward to the crucifixion of the Messiah. All they had to do was remember and they would have seen the many references to this time. All these are taken from Psalm 22.
Verse 7: All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, this is a direct link to Matt. 27 verse 39, ďand they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads,Ē.
Verse 8: He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him. This relates to Matt.27 verse 43, He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God.
Verse 18: They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture. Compare that with Matt. 27 verse 43; And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots. With all these verses prophesying the coming Christ, the chief priests and elders should have seen that Jesus was who he said he was, the Son of God.
But there seems to be a bit of history of being in denial of Godís plans. In recent weeks we have read of Abraham, Isaac, and of Jacob and Esau. Each of them had part in denying Godís plan for them individually. First we know that Abraham and Sarah were promised a son in their later years. Instead of waiting for Godís plan to unfold they took it upon themselves to get it going. Sarah gives Hagar to Abraham to be as his wife, and Hagar gives birth to Ishmael. The promised son was to come through both Abraham and Sarah, which does happen according to Godís plan. As we know, Ishmael became the Arab nations and we have seen how they have been a thorn in Israelís side ever since. It is interesting to note that Abraham must have learned from his mistake. When God tells him to sacrifice Isaac, he doesnít try to find another way, instead he does exactly as God tells him and is rewarded by being the father of many nations.
Next we have Isaac. Before Rebekah gives birth to twins, she and Isaac are both told, ďThe older will serve the younger.Ē Esau was born first followed by Jacob. Isaac apparently forgot what was told him because he wanted his son Esau to receive the birthright and the blessing, which he was entitled to as the eldest. But that was not Godís plan. We then have Rebekah doing her part in the deceiving of Isaac by making Jacob appear that he was Esau so that he would receive the blessing. Isaac was in denial of Godís plan because he wanted Esau to receive the blessing, and Rebekah was in denial because she did what she felt needed to be done instead of waiting for God to make it happen. We know that Esau became the father of the Edomites; another thorn is Israelís side throughout history. Because of her part, Rebekah never saw Jacob again after she sent him away.
The Jewish leaders at the time of Jesus should have learned from the mistakes of their forefathers, and been more aware of who should come to save them.
I would like to look at an example
of one who had reasons to be in denial of Godís plan for him. We will read later
this week in
5 Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. 6 For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest. 7 And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. 8 So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.
Joseph was not in denial of his part in Godís plan but instead embraced it.
Looking at instances in the New Testament, we
know that Peter had trouble accepting Godís plan for Jesus. In
21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. 22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. 23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.
Peter was an adversary to the plan of God. He
wasnít being a malicious person, he just didnít want to see his teacher and
friend taken away from him. In
69 Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. 70 But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest.
He was afraid that he too might die.
As we read earlier in
33 Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. 34 Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.
We can say that we would never deny our Saviour, but our life is not in danger if we were to tell of the truth concerning Jesus. Some day it might be, and our prayer is that we would be confident in our belief of things to come so that we would hold fast to our faith in him. The fact is that we can deny him without really knowing that we have. Many opportunities are presented to us in our life to tell others of the saving grace of our Saviour, but what do we do with them? Do we use them talk about his love and sacrifice or do we say nothing, thinking that this is not the right time for this discussion? In reality we should use every chance we have to profess the Truth.
We do have many opportunities because the world today is in denial of the true plan of God. They do not know the scriptures, and have been taken in by the apostasy of false teachings. The world believes that Christ is part of the trinity, God the son, or that he died instead of us, when we know that he represented us in his death. Some believe that Jesus could not have sinned or even be tempted. This would go against what we read in scripture concerning Christís nature. Jesus was tempted as we are. (Read Heb. 4:14-15)
14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
For Christ to have been tempted as we are he
had to share our mortal nature, he could have sinned but he didnít. Those that
are in denial of this are in denial of Christ and Godís plan for him.
22 Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. 23 Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.
This morning we have looked at those who would try to bring about the planís of God their own ways. We have looked at Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Esau and even Peter. We have seen those who in the 1st century denied the purpose of Jesus Christ their Saviour. We have even looked at how the world perverts the truth to fit its own desires. Acceptance of Godí plan for each of us through baptism brings us together at this special time of remembrance.
Godís plan for salvation through his only begotten son has come to fruition in these emblems that we see before us. Christ lived a life of perfect obedience to his father that has given us all a chance for eternal life. We are not in denial of Godís plan, but instead we profess it to the world. Jesus is the true Son of God. He had our sin nature but he kept himself free from sin to become the covering for our sins, because we cannot share in the hope of resurrection without this great sacrifice. We have been commanded to confess our Saviour before men. If we do this and do not deny him, he will not deny us to his father in heaven.
32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. 33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
Joseph did not deny the plan God had for him and he was raised up to a position of great authority to reign with Pharaoh. May we not deny the plan that God has given us through his son, and may we be elevated after our judgment and resurrection to reign with him through eternity.
Robert Scott, North Industry, Ohio