Posts Tagged With: stoning

A Sermon for the Ages (Not mine, but Stephen’s!)

It was a sermon for the ages.

As you will hear in this PODCAST, it was originally preached by a layman. He had no formal training in advanced biblical studies. There is no mention of any degrees. No diploma hung on his office wall, if he had an office. We have no indication that he had studied under a leading rabbi, such as Saul studied under Gamaliel.

His only claim to fame? Stephen was (Acts 6:3) “full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom”; (6:8) “a man full of God’s grace and power.” And that was certainly enough!

Stephen was a humble, unassuming man, selected by Hellenistic, Greek-speaking Jewish believers in Jesus to be one of “The Seven,” chosen to care for their neglected widows.

Through circumstances not of his choosing, Stephen was suddenly thrust into the spotlight, hauled violently before the Sanhedrin, and forced to testify on his behalf.

But instead, Stephen chose to testify on Jesus’ behalf.

And oh what a testimony it was. You talk about power.

Stephen embodied God’s power as he took the High Court on an exciting excursion through Old Testament history.

And in so doing, provided for us a most-significant warning. One that you and I desperately need to hear.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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Pivot-Point

I LOVE meeting new friends.

As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, we have the privilege of meeting yet-another. A standout individual. A stellar human being. Though given his humility, I am sure that he would not be comfortable with my characterization.

His name is Stephanos. Significantly, a Greek name. (As we learned last week, a not-so-trivial factoid.)

A man affectionately known to us as Stephen.

A name that means “crown.” In Stephen’s case, a well-deserved crown that he is no doubt wearing in Heaven as we speak.

A man who stood as—and at—pivot-point of history.

There haven’t been many of those throughout human history. But the event about which you will hear certainly rises to that level of an event after which our world, let alone our lives, would never be the same again.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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Jesus on Trial

img_1855To say that after “they” — to quote the Apostle John — “bound Jesus and brought Him first to Annas,” Jesus’ life would never be the same again would be a gross understatement and wholly inaccurate.

Fact is, as you are about to hear in this PODCAST, only some 15 hours after this cohort of some six hundred elite Roman soldiers led Him away in chains, Jesus’ life would be over.

The Roman leader principally responsible for Jesus’ execution? The Procurator Pontius Pilate, whom we will meet up close and personal next week.

The Jewish leader principally responsible for Jesus’ execution, whom we will meet this week? The High Priest Joseph Caiaphas.

You read that right. At this point in time, Caiaphas was — Listen! — the highest ranking religious leader throughout all the land, over all the people.

As High Priest, Caiaphas was the only person alive permitted behind the veil in Temple into the Holy of Holies, and that on only one day of the year — Day of Atonement. The Holy of Holies, where God’s manifest presence — His Shekinah Glory — literally, visibly flamed and flashed… But.Not.Anymore.

Trust me. God moved out of His house long before Caiaphas ever donned the robe and put on the vestments of his high-but-now-highly corrupt, once-holy-but-now-utterly-unholy office.

Caiaphas, an unspeakably unscrupulous man about whom we know much historically. And one whom — in an odd sort of way — I almost feel like I know personally. I say this for two reasons.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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A Now-Complete Picture

f84ebecea6ca62be43b0d3614d5d3fe8Oh how I love a good irony. That being said, how ironic in terms of timing is it that in this PODCAST, on this our fourth anniversary together as a Safe Haven family, we come to Jesus’ statement here in John 15, in the Upper Room Discourse, when He said to His men (and to us!), “I am the vine, you are the branches”?

The irony to which I refer lies in fact that this statement completes John’s portrait of Jesus. 

You talk about Jesus in High Definition. How about seven layers of definition, skillfully painted on the canvas of John’s Gospel, that leaves us with no doubt as to the true character of Jesus as the God-man.

Understand that from start to finish, John had but one goal in mind, one purpose to his writing, one theme, one image that he sought to paint in this his artful masterpiece of his master. One the he painted in such beautifully breathtaking detail.

A portrait of Jesus to which John alerted us in the very first verse of his glorious gospel. Right out of the gate, John stated his theme, clearly and unambiguously when he wrote,

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

If Matthew wrote to establish Jesus as the King, Mark painted the portrait of Jesus as a servant. If Luke left us no doubt that Jesus was fully human, John balanced books by showing us Jesus is God.

That is how John began his gospel; listen now to how he concluded it:

“In his disciples’ presence Jesus performed many other miracles which are not written down in this book. But these have been written in order that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through your faith in him you may have life.”

John’s theme? Jesus is God.

Now, in order to demonstrate to his readers that Jesus is God, out of the abundance of miracles that Jesus performed, John handpicked the ones that he chose to record in his gospel. By doing so, he carefully crafted his narrative: Jesus is God.

Now here’s the thing: In the same way, and for same reason, that John handpicked several of Jesus’ miracles, he also purposely selected several of Jesus’ sayings.

Seven of Jesus’ many sayings, to be precise. A complete compliment of exactly seven. Each one of these seven prefaced with the two telling words,

“I Am.”

As you are about to hear, a singularly and startlingly specific phrase. “I Am.” The significance of which was not lost on John. Nor will it be lost upon you.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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