Shine! or ‘The Burden of Radiation’ (Palm Sunday, 2020)

Shine! or ‘The Burden of Radiation’ (Palm Sunday, 2020)

Luke 19:28-44

The Triumphal Entry

“And when he had said these things, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. 29 When he drew near to Bethphage and Bethany, at the mount that is called Olivet, he sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village in front of you, where on entering you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever yet sat. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say this: ‘The Lord has need of it.’ ” 32 So those who were sent went away and found it just as he had told them. 33 And as they were untying the colt, its owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 And they said, “The Lord has need of it.” 35 And they brought it to Jesus, and throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36 And as he rode along, they spread their cloaks on the road. 37 As he was drawing near—already on the way down the Mount of Olives—the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, 38 saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”

Jesus Weeps over Jerusalem

 

41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

Palm Sunday

Well, Happy Palm Sunday, Church!

Since we couldn’t distribute palms, this morning – as is our tradition on this first day of Holy Week, I’ve sent you all some ‘virtual’ palms in your notes.

1) As Jesus rides into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday He is in the shadow of the cross. He has five days to live.

We have a tendency to think of Jerusalem as a Holy City sitting in a Holy Land. But Jerusalem was, and still is, a stronghold of religion. It was a place where the knowledge of the true God was obscured by ritual and where God’s mercy wilted under the letter of the Law. We call it holy, but Jesus called it “the city which slays the prophets,” in Luke 13:34!

We call it holy, but Revelation 11:8 calls it Sodom and Egypt, a city full of sorcery Christianity is all about leading people into an intimate relationship with the Father; religion is all about keeping them from Him.

That’s why tomorrow morning, on Holy Monday, Jesus will enter the Temple grounds and overturn the tables of the money-changers and the animal sellers. These things, sponsored by the religious leadership, were actually coming between God and those who wanted to know Him, especially the Gentiles. And it just lit Jesus up!

No, Jesus wasn’t at all impressed. And so, He enters the city with a heavy heart to the sound of rejoicing and ‘Hosannas’ and “Blessed is the King” and “glory in the highest!”

“And when he drew near and saw the city He wept over it,” lamenting the soon-coming day when Israel’s enemies would “not leave one stone upon another” in her. Why? “Because,” Jesus said, “you did not know the time of your visitation” (Luke 19:44).

It’s no accident then that when Jesus was crucified, He was crucified “outside” of the city – a signal to every future generation that those who would come to Him would have to leave religion and come outside the walls to where His cross is.

2) So, as Jesus entered Jerusalem two kingdoms were about to collide – the kingdom of this world, that is, the kingdom of darkness and the Kingdom of God.

The people who praised Him that morning, as I’ve taught on many a Palm Sunday, were mistaken. What they were welcoming was not what Jesus was offering. Much like our own, His was a mistaken generation.

They sought political peace and liberation, not spiritual peace and liberation. They were looking for someone to overthrow the Romans, someone who would give them political freedom. The palms we read about in Matthew 21:1-11 are the visible manifestation of their demand for liberation NOW. They just didn’t get it, and our own generation doesn’t get it either.

One week from today, Jesus will have risen from the dead and demonstrated that He’d conquered our greatest enemy – death itself. But, O, what a long and difficult road He’d have to travel to get there!

3) To this point Jesus had been surrounded by His friends and followers. But in the days ahead, He’ll have to go it alone at three important places.

a) The first is called Gethsemane:

 

On the night in which He was betrayed, Jesus had supper with His disciples and then retreated with them to a familiar, enclosed orchard called Gethsemane. There He would face the full gale force of satanic and demonic oppression.

Mark writes that “He took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed [present passive indicative of ἐκθαμβέω, to be amazed] and troubled [ἀδημονέω, to be full of anxiety, distress or trouble]. And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful [περίλυπος, to be very sad], even to death [ἕως θανάτου, with a sadness belonging to death]. Remain here and watch” (Mark 14:33-34).

At Gethsemane, Jesus looked into the Abyss and saw clearly what all of this was going to mean – and He was shocked at what He saw.

Kenneth Wuest translates Mark 14:34: “He began to be thoroughly alarmed and distressed. And He says to them, ‘My soul is encompassed with grief even to the point of death.”[1]

And Wuest translates Luke’s account by saying “Having entered a state of severe mental and emotional struggle to the point of agony, He was praying more earnestly. And His perspiration became like great drops of blood continually falling down upon the ground” (Luke 22:44).[2]

Satan, the prince of this world, was holding nothing back!

The Slanderer’s objective had always been to dissuade Jesus from the Father’s perfect will for His life. You might recall how the account of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness ended in Luke 4:13: “And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.”

That opportune time was in the Garden of Gethsemane. In fact, just prior to entering the Garden that night, Jesus said: “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here” (John 14:30-31).

The “Gethsemane” means olive press. It’s interesting that the olive tree or olive branch is usually associated with peace. Because it was there that the Prince of Peace would be pressed with satanic oppression beyond imagining.

So, the Garden of Gethsemane was a small orchard, a garden, an enclosed plot outside the city of Jerusalem regularly frequented by Jesus and His disciples, and the first place in Holy Week that Jesus would have to go it alone.

b) Second, He had to go it alone at Gabbatha; Gabbatha, means the “pavement.”

In John 19:12-16, “Pilate sought to release Him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.” 13 So when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Stone Pavement, and, in Aramaic, Gabbatha. 14 Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” 15 They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” 16 So he delivered him over to them to be crucified.”

The Lithostrotos in the Convent of Sisters of Zion (Ecce Homo) or Roman pavement which was thought to be where Jesus was brought before Pilate

So, at Gabbatha, He was opposed by the Jewish religious hierarchy, He was opposed by the fickle crowd who had welcomed Him with “Hosannas” just a few days earlier, and He was opposed by the most potent governmental powers of the day:

He’d face an obscene clown of a tetrarch named Herod and refused to speak a single word in His presence.

And He’d face a cowardly Roman procurator, Pontius Pilate, who represented the mighty Roman Empire – the world’s greatest political power – SPQR.

At the pavement, He faced extraordinary institutional and human adversity, but by the time He got there, He was completely relaxed – so much so that it unnerved Pilate!

John 19:9-12: “He [Pilate] entered his headquarters again and said to Jesus, “Where are you from?” But Jesus gave him no answer. 10 So Pilate said to Him, “You will not speak to me? Do you not know that I have authority to release You and authority to crucify you?” 11 Jesus answered him, “You would have no authority over me at all unless it had been given you from above … 12 From then on Pilate sought to release Him.”

So, Jesus had to go it alone against the full force of demonic oppression at Gethsemane, and against the greatest earthly powers – both governmental and religious – at Gabbatha. But the worst still lay ahead because …

c) Jesus had to go it alone at Golgotha: “So they took Jesus, and He went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called The Place of a Skull, which in Aramaic is called, Golgotha” (John 19:17).

At Golgotha, the Place of the Skull, the full weight of the Father’s wrath fell upon Jesus as He paid the penalty for my sin. He carried my sin in His very body. 2 Corinthians 5:21: “For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”

The sin of every rebel from Adam to the last sinner to arrive at the White Throne Judgement was laid upon Him there. Jesus knew it was coming and was repelled by the thought of it.

In Luke 12:50 He lamented, “I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress [συνέχω in the passive voice it means to be to be seized by a thing] until it is accomplished!”

As an archer nails a target to a tree and releases the full power of his bow into it, so the Father nailed His Son to a tree, pulled back the bow of His divine wrath, and let it fly.

And Jesus felt it keenly – and He needed to! That’s why he refused the soldier’s wine.

Mark 15:23 tells us that on the cross Jesus was offered “wine mixed with myrrh” or with “gall” in Matthew 27:35. They’re actually the same thing – a light wine in which “the vinegar was made bitter by the infusion of wormwood or some other bitter substance.”[3]

This was not offered in mockery, but as an act of mercy. It would often be offered, “according to a merciful custom,” as a narcotic “to those who were crucified, to render them insensible to pain.” But Jesus, knowing this, refused it.

Matthew Easton writes, He chose “to suffer every element of woe in the bitter cup of agony given him by the Father (John 18:11).”[4]

So, Jesus took it all in – He felt the full force of it – during a three-hour-long supernatural darkness that covered the land at mid-day. Is it any wonder then that Paul writes, “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9)?

So, Gethsemane conjures up the image of unrestrained satanic oppression. Gabbatha, the diabolical opposition from the greatest political and religious powers of Jesus’ day. And Golgotha, the full blast of divine wrath, flowing as it did from the righteousness and justice of God – which caused our Lord to keep on crying out the anguished words of Psalm 22, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

So, there it is, Church. Welcome to Holy Week.

The Light and the Lights

1) Now, as Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, He did so to a mixed crowd. “And as He rode along” some of these people were spreading “their cloaks on the road” (Luke 19:36).

“The whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen” (Luke 19:37).

So, Jesus, of course was there. His disciples were there too, and boldly proclaiming Him!

Then there was the “crowd,” most of which, according to Matthew got caught up in the excitement of the moment. It says, “most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:8-9)

And then there were the curious, who looked on in bewilderment: “And when He entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee” (Matthew 21:8-9).

But Jesus’ opponents were there also. “Some of the Pharisees” were “in the crowd” (Luke 19:39).

They even demanded that Jesus rebuke His disciples for proclaiming Him, to which He replied, ‘Now, if I do that the rocks themselves will start preaching – and how would you explain that?’ (Luke 19:40).

2) So, here’s the thing: the Light was among them – and the Light shone upon all who were there – the disciples, the professed disciples who would fall away when the trials began, the curious interested, the confused disinterested, and even the skeptics and those who were hostile to Jesus and His message.

His Light shone upon every one of them and they would be called upon to choose. Most of them would choose against Him in just a few days: they’d ask for a killer, Barabbas, to be released instead of Jesus.

The Pharisees would double-down in their opposition against Him and fast-track Him through trials that were illegal even according to their own Law! They’d bribe witnesses, and allow violence against Him in court, and lie about Him to Pilate in order to strongarm him into an act of injustice that he had no desire to be party to.

But the Light had come before them and the Light always forces a decision. They’d all have to choose – each person in each household would have to choose.

The Light had come and revealed what only light reveals. One has either to (1) “believe the Light,” or (2) reject the Light, or (3) SAY he believes the Light, but prove out the opposite by the life he lives. The only option not available is to not choose.

John 1:4-5: “In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” When John the Baptist came on the scene, John 1:8 says that “He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.”

This is because “the true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God …” (John 1:9-12).

The true believers who received Him beheld the glorious brightness of this Light who is Jesus: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

Jesus would later put it this way: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

3) O, Jesus! The Light!

If only He were still here physically to shine upon the masses – upon

the professed believers (who really aren’t believers at all), the curious interested, the confused disinterested and even the skeptics and those hostile to Jesus’ message!

O, but wait a minute! He is here physically! How? Through us, His Body! Remember what we just read in John 8:12? Jesus said: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

But do you remember what Jesus told His disciples in the Sermon on the Mount?

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

First, He says “I AM the Light of the World,” then He says, “YOU ARE the light of the world.” And so, this is the believer’s great burden – what I’ll call, the burden of radiation. It is our commissioned responsibility to radiate the light we’ve received from the Lord Jesus to everyone around us.

“You will be My witnesses,” He said. This is what Jesus meant in John 14:12 when He told His disciples (during Holy Week, just prior to His arrest and crucifixion):

“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.”

The Body has done greater works than Jesus did (in quantity, not in quality, of course). Through the Body, the Light is now being radiated all throughout the world! And how are we doing this? We’re simply taking the light we’ve received from THE Light and AS lights, shining it upon all around us.

4) Now this is no small theme in the New Testament. In fact, it’s absolutely foundational to a proper biblical ecclesiology (‘What is the Church and what is its mission’). I would call it one of the great coordinating principles of New Testament, meaning – it brings many seemingly unrelated things together to form a fuller Gestalt-like picture where the organized whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

And so, with that in mind, let me try to put all these together in a little biblical Doctrine of Light.

a) First, Jesus is the light.

In Luke 2:32, Jesus is called “a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” So, in John 12:46, Jesus said, “I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.”

It’s “no wonder” then, as Paul tells us, Satan, the liar and deceiver, God’s great enemy, “disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).

b) Second, what does the Light do?

Well, it becomes the basis of judgement, because it clearly shows things as they truly are.

So, in John 3 we read: “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works” (John 3:19-21).

 

Ephesians 5:13: “When anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light.” And once we see it, we’re responsible to it!

That’s why, in Luke 11:35, Jesus warned, “Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness.” And in Matthew 6:23b, “If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!”

c) Third, there’s a transition that takes place.

But notice it now, in John 9:6, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

Or, in John 12:35-36: So, Jesus said to them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.”

Isn’t it interesting then that the death of Jesus on the cross was accompanied by a LITERAL loss of light in mid-day? Luke 23:44-46: “It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, 45 while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last.”

Do you see the transition here?

I [Jesus] am the Light of the world” –

“The light is among you for a little while longer” –

“While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light” –

You [believers] are the light of the world”!

d) So, fourth, true followers of Jesus are lights.

Jesus commissioned His disciples and ascended to the right hand of the Father until the time of the end, when He will return again. But, remember His words to His disciples in the Sermon on the Mount:

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

And so, Paul reminds the brethren in Ephesians 5:8-9, that “at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true).”

And again in 1 Thessalonians 5:5: “For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness.”

And from where does this life come which makes the truth visible to a world in darkness today?

It still comes from Jesus, but now through His living Body, the church made up of true followers everywhere who RADIATE His light to the CHRINOS (professing Christians who are “Christians in Name Only”), to the curious interested, the confused disinterested and even the skeptics and those hostile to His message!

It’s interesting that, in physics, “radiation” is the “complete process in which energy is emitted by one body, transmitted through an intervening medium or space, and absorbed by another body.”[5]

We shine the light and things in darkness become visible – and the light always forces a choice!

Why do we do this? Because, as Jesus told us, we have become the very “sons of light”!

“Believe in the light,” He said, “that you may become sons of light” (John 12:35-36).

Well, if we’ve believed, that’s precisely what we’ve become.

e) Life in the Light:

This being true, then, it should surprise absolutely no one who’s been paying attention that believers are continuously encouraged to live their post-salvation life “in the light”!

Famously, 1 John chapter 1, John essentially says, “You want to know the message we’ve heard from Jesus and have been proclaiming to you? OK, here it is!’

“This is the message we have heard [once-and-for-all, the perfect active indicative of ἀκούω] from him and proclaim [keep on proclaiming, the present active indicative of ἀναγγέλλω] to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:5-7, brackets mine).

What do you think? Am I creating a false emphasis here? No! This IS the emphasis of New Testament ecclesiology!

This is what the Church is and what it was always meant to be:

To BELIEVE IN the Light.

To BECOME lights, “sons of light,” “children of light,” together, the “light of the world” (John 12:36, 1 Thessalonians 5:5, Matthew 5:14).

To let our “light SHINE before others, so that they may see [our] good works and give glory to [our] Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

To shine into the darkness so that others may “believe in the light” and also “become sons of light” (John 12:36).

f) Finally, light has an important role to play in the Bible’s teaching about the last things:

The Second Coming of Jesus will be preceded by a darkness that accurately reflects the spiritual darkness of the world at the end of the Tribulation period.

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days.” Jesus said, “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken” (Matthew 24:26).

The New Jerusalem, and indeed the eternal day, will be characterized by light emanating from the Person of God Himself:

Revelation 21:23-24: “And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it.”

Revelation 22:5: “And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.”

The Burdon of Radiation

1) Now, why did I feel it necessary to talk about this this morning on Palm Sunday 2020 in the midst of a world pandemic where the entire country is in shutdown mode?

Well, because of what Jesus said when He entered Jerusalem that day and wept over the city.

“And when He drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side … because you did not know the time of your visitation” (Luke 19:41-44).

Jesus wept for the people because they “did not know the time of [their] visitation.” “Time” here is Kairos/καιρός in the Greek and it represents a “period of time,” a season.

Furthermore, it can mean “a period characterized by some aspect of special crisis” – and I believe that’s precisely what’s going on here. [6]

The moment of crisis has come.

 

The Light has exposed things as they truly are.

 

And a decision needs to be made!

 

Unfortunately, we all know how the coming Holy Week will end.

These people had missed the season of their visitation.

2) But, would it surprise you to know that “visitations” are happening still? That people are being “visited” even though no one can visit with them? Let me explain what I mean.

As we’ve seen, we, the true followers of Jesus, are the light of the world. And as the “sons of light” we are walking in it and radiating it. And we too find ourselves in a global crisis – one that is particularly targeting our nation as I speak. And I know that people are frightened. Some believers are frightened too – that’s OK, just remember the promises of God and don’t let the enemy take you captive through fear.

But if even some believers are frightened, unbelievers are absolutely terrified, frozen in fear. And what we’re beginning to see, now that the full implications of this pandemic are becoming widely known, is this: things that have been hidden in shadows for a very long time are being exposed and are demanding to be confronted.

People are grasping for answers, and only the Christian worldview offers sensible answers to their questions. It does not present a malevolent God who hates people and wants to see them suffer. No! It describes the world as a place that’s been broken because of sin, sin that has separated us from our God and one another.

And a God who so longed to fellowship with His children again that He sent His own Son – Jesus, the One in whom “was life, and the life was the light of men – into this broken world to offer Himself as a sacrifice in our place.

“The true light, which gives light to everyone,” John writes, “was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him. 12 But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, he gave the right to become children of God …” (John 1:9-124-5).

And who has the answers to the questions so many are seeking at this time? YOU DO! We ARE the light of the world!

I believe that we, the true Church, are living in our own καιρόςmoment, our own strategic time, and friends, in the weeks to come I’m going to show you that some the greatest times of explosive growth in the history of the Church have come in times of pestilence and plague – and I’ll show you exactly why.

But make no mistake about it, this is our moment to shine as the lights we are – to radiate the light of Christ into the gathering darkness that’s closing in around us – to offer the only sensible answers to the questions that are keeping our friends and loved ones, our family members and neighbors up at night.

This is our καιρόςmoment, Church, and it may never come again!

3) But, while many of the people of Jesus’ day missed the season of their visitation, I mentioned that the visitations Now, what do I mean by this? Well, I mean 1 Peter 2:12.

First, a bit of context.

When Peter wrote this, believers had been busy evangelizing, doing good works and telling everyone they knew about Jesus. That’s what you do when you meet someone you love, by the way, you tell others.

Well, that’s exactly what the early believers were doing. They understood that Jesus, the Light of the world, had made THEM the light of the world.

So, they lived like what they truly were, luminaries, light-bearers, shining the light upon the CHRINOS of their day, and the curious interested, and the confused disinterested, and the skeptics, and even those who were hostile to their message.

Well, predictably, their enemies pushed back, falsely accusing them of sinful behavior and hypocrisy.

So, in 1 Peter 2:12, the Apostle writes: “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles [i.e., unbelievers] honorable, [Why?] so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (brackets mine).

What is this ‘day of visitation’? It’s the day that Jesus visits those to whom they’re witnessing with salvation.[7]

These brothers and sisters are being encouraged to maintain a pure testimony and to continue doing good works – to keep shining their light despite all of the lies being told against them – because GOD IS NOT SLEEPING, but He’s working!

Furthermore, He is present with those to whom they minister through them! They shine, and He visits!

And every time we shine our light upon a lost sinner and they “believe in the light” even as we did, it is their “day of visitation” and they glorify God because of it!

4) Believers are at war against the darkness, but we’re fighting with different weapons than the world uses!

As Michaels writes: “The conflict in society is won not by aggressive behavior but by ‘good conduct’ or ‘good works’ yet to be defined. Peter’s vision is that the exemplary behavior of Christians will change the minds of their accusers and in effect ‘overcome evil with good’”[8]

The point is that “nonbelievers will see their good deeds and convert to follow Christ.”[9]

5) Church, this is our strategic season, our hour to shine!

It’s a time when the fields are white for the harvesting and the children of light – the Body through which Jesus is still physically in the world – needs to seize every opportunity to impact the darkness with its light.

We need to pray that each one upon whom we shine will have their “day of visitation” and glorify God “as they see” our “good deeds” (1 Peter 2:12).

We do that in two important ways: We keep our testimony pure, and we grab on to every opportunity to speak, to share Jesus, the true Light of the world. And it’s happening everywhere RIGHT NOW!

This very week, soon-to-be-deacon Bob Coderre called to tell me that he led a 20-year-old daughter of a friend to salvation in Jesus! She’s been terrified by the things she’s been seeing, so her dad called Bob to talk with her. Bob shined the light and Jesus visited!

Charlie and Jane called in an excited explosion of joy to report that they’d made an amazing breakthrough with Charlie’s sister – one that may change her eternal destiny. Charlie said, “You don’t even have to go to them, they’re coming to you!” Amen! They radiated the life of Jesus, and He is visiting!

The world is seeing the good works of believers everywhere too.

You must have heard about the huge hospital that’s just gone up un New York City’s Central Park.

It’s completely operational and came with a full staff of nurses and doctors. Well, it was built by Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse ministry. Franklin is one of the only preachers we can always count on to share the Gospel every time he gets on TV – even if he only has a 2-minute segment! And there is a similar hospital that they set up in Cremona Italy.

What is that ministry doing? Loving people in their need, doing good to any and all people in trouble, shining the light and proudly displaying the cross of Jesus Christ.

With hundreds of thousands of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the US and thousands of dead, there’s a lot of fear, a lot of questions and a lot of darkness. But Christians have the antitoxin to their fear, and the answers to their questions, and the light that the darkness cannot overtake, extinguish it, put it out (John 1:5).

God is going to give us opportunities to shine that light in this present darkness, Church – I am sure of it. But we have to be ready for it when He does. Jesus wept because the people of His generation missed the time of their visitation. We don’t want the people of our generation to miss theirs, amen? We need to keep shining, and I know the Lord will keep visiting!

So, as we prepare our hearts to receive the elements of the Lord’s Table together, let’s do two things: let’s first remember where we find ourselves this morning – today is the first day of the most solemn and important week in the Christian calendar; and second, let’s remember who we are and why we’re here at such a time as this, in this strategic moment: We are the Church! The Body of Christ! The one that Jesus said even the gates of hell would never prevail against! We are the light of the world, and we’re here to shine and shine and shine into this present darkness so that sinners might not miss their day of visitation and that our Father might be glorified.

Amen?

[1] Wuest, Kenneth S., The New Testament: An Expanded Translation (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1961).

[2] Ibid.

[3] Easton, M.G., Easton’s Bible Dictionary (New York: Harper, 1893) on Gall.

[4] Ibid, on Gall.

[5] “Radiation” on Dictionary.com (https://www.dictionary.com/browse/radiation?s=t).

[6] Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000) 3rd ed., pp. 497–498.

[7] Roger Raymer put it this way, “Christians are to abstain from sinful desires not only for their own spiritual well-being but also in order to maintain an effective testimony before unbelievers … A positive Christian lifestyle is a powerful means of convicting the world of its sin (cf. Matthew 5:16). Peter used the word good (kalos) twice in this verse to define both Christians’ lives and their works. A “good” life is composed of good deeds (cf. Matthew 5:16; Ephesians 2:10; Titus 3:8; James 2:18). Before the critical eyes of slanderous people and their false accusations, the “good deeds” of believers can glorify God (cf. Matthew 5:16; Romans 15:6; 1 Corinthians 6:20) and win others to belief …. “in the day of [His] visitation” (en hēmera episkopēs; cf. Luke 19:44) … probably refers to their salvation (i.e., when God looks in on them in His mercy and brings them to conversion; cf. ἐπισκοπή, Acts 15:14).” (Roger M. Raymer, “1 Peter” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985, Vol. 2, p.2846.)

[8] Michaels, p. 120, cited in Tom Constable’s Expository Notes on the Bible (Galaxie, 2003), on 1 Peter 2:12.

[9] Himes, Paul A., 1 Peter: Lexham Research Commentaries (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2017) on 1 Peter 2:12.

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Comments

  1. MISSING PALM SUNDAY means a lot to me and JESUS MEANS ALOT TO Me.BUT istillhave JEUSUS INMYHEART HE willnever leave us

  2. As usual, and I believe I speak for most at Harvest, Pastor Gene’s messages are so profound, encouraging and most importantly, challenging. Today’s message was exceptional as he made it clear what our responsibility is as the church, Christ’s Body, to be a light. Commissioned by the Lord Jesus Christ, indwelt and empowered by the Holy Spirit, none of us can excuse or alibi ourselves from that responsibility.

    This morning as I meditated on the message, God began to impress upon me some insights I want to share. Many of you who attend the SS class and other times of conversation know how important Luke 9:23 is to me. I use this verse constantly to emphasize what true discipleship should look like. This text took on a special, intimate meaning and purpose at a very trying time in my life. Luke 9:23 states, ” And He said to all, if anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross DAILY and follow me.”

    I would like to break down the verse as I have applied it personally. ” If anyone would come after me”, speaks of becoming a disciple, CR chap. 14:27. That is what P. Gene emphasized, demands one to make a choice, decision, will I remain in mediocrity or seize the opportunity. This decision demands my accepting the challenge and sacrifice, making the necessary adjustments in my stewardship.

    The phrase, ” let him deny himself”, the true disciple knows the real meaning is to lay down his agenda, plans, desires and anything he knows would not be pleasing to the Lord or conform to His will. I need to inject here that I do not practice this as I should but I desire to. The mediocre believer, religious Chrino, replaces denying self with the practice of self denial. This produces a veneer of external goodness, piety and godliness. Something the Pharisees were masters at and that Jesus condemn, see Matt. 5:20, chapter 23.

    Finally, the phrase, ” take up his cross daily and follow me”, I have heard a number of believers say it is some form of trial, infirmity, medical problem, etc. I’m sure most of us know the real meaning is to intentionally put to death daily our vile, depraved flesh which was positionally nailed to the cross when we were redeemed.

    Some closing thoughts, willing to serve is not equal to willing to be a servant, living as a mediocre Christian is never the same as having Christ live His through you. As I have said many times previously, being committed to a cause, task and even a ministry, will not enhance the discipleship process as being devoted to the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

    I realize this is a long comment but I am convinced the Lord laid this on my heart in response to the powerful impact Pastor Gene’s message had on me today. May God use to encourage, strengthen, inspire and edify all read this. It has been my privilege to be a servant of the Lord and His Body.

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