Jesus, the Recycler looks at how Jesus takes people who would be thrown away by the world and were considered worthless by society, and recycles them to be worthwhile and useful in God's Kingdom.
Have you ever stood on unstable ground? Maybe the sand that washes away from your feet in the ocean, or mud that you sink down into, or maybe slippery ice or gravel on the side of a hill, or maybe you have been in an earthquake where the solid ground wasn’t solid anymore. In any of those cases people wish they had something solid and safe on which to put their feet. The Psalmist felt this way spiritually. He says in Psalm 73:2 “But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped.” A solid spiritual foundation is even more important that a physical one, because our eternity depends on it.
If we tried to make our own foundation it wouldn’t be very trustworthy, so it’s a good thing for us that God didn’t leave it to chance or to us. He provided the best foundation that we could have. Now when we talk about our foundation, sometimes we are talking about the truths that are spoken in the scriptures and how believing and knowing them gives us something to build our lives on. We see this kind of idea when we are told to add to our faith, virtue and then knowledge, etc.
But most important is what those scriptures tell us our faith is to be built upon and the church is to be built upon. Peter confessed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God and Jesus praised him for that statement of truth and explained that this fact was the rock on which he would build his church, Matthew 16:16-18. Paul drives this point home in 1 Corinthians 3:11 where he says, “For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Our foundation for life, faith, the church, salvation, and eternal life in Heaven must be built on this solid foundation of Jesus or it will crumble.
Is your foundation Jesus? Is he the one that is holding up everything you are building in this life and for the life to come? No other foundation will hold up, build on the only eternal foundation, Jesus.
As Jesus was about to come into the world, Matthew reminds us that his birth by a virgin was planned long before and that God had prophesied the event in Isaiah 7:14. This verse is quoted in Matthew 1:23 as an explanation for the revelation by Gabriel that Mary was going to have a son even though she never had been with a man.
“‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel’ (which means, God with us)” Matthew also helps us by giving us the meaning of the title, Emmanuel. He tells us that it means ‘God with us’. What better description of Jesus who was the son of God the Father and in fact was God could there be?
Sometimes it seems confusing to us because we think the prophecy was that his name would be Emmanuel and we know he was named Jesus. But the phrase that translates as ‘shall call his name’ or ‘shall be called’ doesn’t mean that will be his name, but that he will be described this way. There are all kinds of examples of this. James and John were called the sons of thunder, but that was not their name and their father was not thunder. We call Jesus: Lord, Christ, Messiah, King, etc.; however, none of those are the name he was given by his mother. We should not think that there is a problem with this prophecy just because Mary didn’t name her son Emmanuel. The prophecy was that he would be called ‘God with us’ and that is certainly what the early Christians called him and what we still call him today.
The Bible describes the church as a building made up not of bricks and stone, but of living Christians. Ephesians 2:20 explains that the foundation for this temple being built for the glory of God is the teaching and examples of the apostles and prophets and that Jesus is the Cornerstone. That makes him the most important of course.
We don’t use Cornerstones in many of our buildings today. Everything is wood frames or steel beams and we don’t really build the way they did. The cornerstone is the most important, usually largest and always the first stone laid and with good reason. That large stone will affect everything that comes after it. The orientation of the corner stone will affect which direction the building is facing. If it is not level you could easily wind up with the leaning tower of Piza when you are finished.
Jesus is our cornerstone so that as we are built around and on top of him we will face the right direction as well as being stable and upright. The image of Christ the cornerstone was prophesied all the way back in Psalm 118. In verse 22 of that Psalm he is pictured as a stone that the builders rejected, but that became the cornerstone. This verse is quoted 5 times in the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke, Acts, and 1 Peter. The builders are the religious leaders of Jesus’ day and they rejected him. They wanted to build according to their own plan and not God’s.
What about you and me? Will we be like them and reject Jesus? Or will we accept him as the cornerstone God made him and allow God to build us on Christ as he sees fit? Peter says this cornerstone is chosen and precious and if we will believe in him we will not be put to shame. Let’s trust the master builder and build our lives and be built in his church the way he wants us to be.
When something is being built there are a great many things that are important. What is being built? Whose will it be when it is built? Where is it being built? What materials are being used in building it? Who is paying for it to be built? Who is building it? There are probably more, but this gives us the picture. Of course the answers to these questions will vary by the project. In Matthew 16:18 we read Jesus saying, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” From this verse we learn the answers to some of those questions. Jesus is the builder. The church is what is being built. There is only one being built. It is built on the rock of the truth that Jesus is the Son of God. It will belong to him when it is built.
From other passages we can find out the answers to more questions. God paid for it with his own blood -Acts 20:28. Christians are the materials he uses to build it - 1 Peter 2:5. Jesus is the chief cornerstone of the foundation with the apostles and prophets helping complete the foundation - Ephesians 2:20. He began building in Jerusalem, but has continued to make additions to it through the ages - Acts 2:47
There’s more, but let’s focus back on Christ: the builder, owner, and purchaser. He will decide who is and who is not in his church. He will decide where each stone is placed and what function it will serve. In any building there are different purposes for different parts. We sometimes are guilty of thinking like the apostles, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom (church)?’. We must remember that Jesus is the greatest and we are created for him - Colossians 1:15-18. We should be content to be part of what he is building and do our best to bring him glory and honor no matter the place he puts us or the way he chooses for us to be used. To use a concept from scripture with a different example: Shall the brick say to the builder why did you put me here? Or, Why didn’t you use me in a more prominent position?
We answer to the Builder. Are you doing your best to fit into God’s building where the builder has placed you?
We have all heard of someone being a boss’s right-hand man. There is no more important position for an employee to be in than that. Joseph was Pharaoh’s right-hand man, Aaron was for Moses, and Moses was for God. But what if you weren’t just next in line? What if you could be more than a hand?
Jesus is pictured at the right hand of God more than once (Ps. 110:1; Mt. 26:64; Mk 12:36; Acts 2:33), but he is more than just God’s right-hand man like Moses had been, he actually is part of the Godhead. He is “the Arm of the Lord” as John says in 12:37-38 quoting Isaiah 53:1. How much do we use our arms? How much has God used His Arm? Psalm 98:1-2 says, “His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.” Isaiah 51:9 begs God to use his arm in his day as he had in the past. Then in 52:10 he says the Lord’s holy arm is bare and the salvation of God will be seen to the furthest extent of the earth. Surely Jesus’ coming is being considered here.
The passage John quotes; however, asks “who has believed our report?” and “to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” Jesus had done so many powerful miracles revealing himself as the arm of the Lord, but many people still wouldn’t believe. He claimed this fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy.
If we continued reading Isaiah 53 we would find it familiar. The Christ would be rejected by men and despised and ultimately suffer and die bearing the iniquity(sin and wickedness) of us all. Yes, God put his arm on display for all to see and then cut that arm off and allowed his arm to die separated from him(Mt. 27:46) How impressive that his arm lives and reaches out to save us even now. At the end of that arm is the hand that is not shortened or unable to save (Isa 59:1).
Christ, the Arm of the Lord, reaches out to save us. Will you reach out and allow him to take your hand in his and keep it there so that you can be saved? It you will there is no power that can remove it.
jp - The Arm of the Lord
According to dictionary.com an advocate is defined in three ways: 1) a person who speaks or writes in support or defense of a person, cause, etc. (usually followed by of): an advocate of peace., 2) a person who pleads for or in behalf of another; intercessor., or 3) a person who pleads the cause of another in a court of law. So in what way is Christ our advocate? Let’s notice what John writes: 1 John 2:1 “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”
In the verse above Jesus could be filling any or all of the 3 roles defined. Does Jesus speak to our Heavenly Father in support of us? Yes! The devil is our accuser and Jesus is our biggest supporter and defender. Does Jesus plead to the Father for us? Is He interceding on our behalf? Absolutely! Will Jesus plead our cause on the great judgment day when all will be in court? Without a doubt if we are faithful to him He will be faithful to us as well. Remember there will be those that he will not recognize on that day and will not defend.
Jesus is doing and will do all of those things for his disciples, but the question is are we His disciples? Are we willing to be advocates for Jesus? He said that if we acknowledge Him to men then He will acknowledge us in front of His Father, Matthew 10:32-33; Luke 12:8-9. What are we doing to acknowledge Him? Are we proud of Him or ashamed of Him? Do we want people to associate us with Him or not? It might not be popular and some may think we are strange, but if we want Him to speak up for us in Heaven we must speak up for Him here on Earth. Let’s never be ashamed of having Jesus in our corner fighting for us, and let’s get out there and fight for Him, peacefully of course.
Articles from our bulletin. Mostly written by James Pasley, our preacher and Sunday's Sermons.