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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sermon 03172013 Sunday in Lent 5

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer.  AMEN.

Let us pray!  Almighty God we gather here to worship, praise and honor You, not unlike the synagogue where the Chief Priests and Pharisees gathered to plot against You.  May You gather us together not to plot, but to plead for the promises found in Jesus Christ and His death on Calvary, for it was through His sacrifice that we are set free from sin, death and the devil and can come here to worship Father, Son and Holy Spirit as the Body of Christ known as the saints redeemed by Your blood for all of mankind, but especially all of us saints gathered here at Emmanuel during our Lenten pilgrimage.  AMEN.

It is not uncommon during this time of year that people gather to watch what is known as “March Madness”, or better known the NCAA ‘Road to the Final Four’.  Whether it is the Jayhawks, K-State or even Wichita State, everyone enjoys gathering around the television or even in the arena to see the match ups, root for our favorite teams and even try and figure out what the outcome will be.  What is ironic is that before the teams meet on the hardwood, a group of individuals meet to determine who will be a part of the class of teams this year.  So to this morning we hear about another group of people meeting in a special place, but for an extremely different purpose.

From today’s installment of the series of People and Places of Lent we venture into a holy place, but one that also held a meeting of a group of men discerning the fate of Jesus Christ, today we learn more about the Synagogue.

Hear about the synagogue from John 11 (John 11:47-57)

John 11:47-57

New American Standard Bible (NASB)
47 Therefore the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, “What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs. 48 If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all,50 nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” 51 Now he did not say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they planned together to kill Him.
54 Therefore Jesus no longer continued to walk publicly among the Jews, but went away from there to the country near the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim; and there He stayed with the disciples.
55 Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up to Jerusalem out of the country before the Passover to purify themselves. 56 So they were seeking for Jesus, and were saying to one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think; that He will not come to the feast at all?” 57 Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where He was, he was to report it, so that they might seize Him.

To have both the chief priests and the Pharisees convene a council clearly indicates the magnitude of the meeting and situation.  These two groups are not the ‘best of friends’.  For them to join forces united behind one idea or outcome is something that is not common.  Their fear is not the change of religion, but what the impact will be upon them personally and as a country.  Hear it again, “If we let Him [that is Jesus] go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”  They feared not Jesus, but the outcome that would be as a result of the Romans if they allowed Jesus to continue His teaching, preaching and healing that was bringing more and more people closer to the kingdom of God.

But “Caiaphas, who was high priest that year” had a plan.  Remember that the high priest was an appointed individual who served one year.  Jesus own Uncle was high priest, remember John the Baptist, it was his father, Zacharias.  He had seen the vision while serving in the temple of his own son being born.  Well, Caiaphas another Chief Priest had a divinely inspired plan.  “You know nothing at all, nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.

Thus in the Synagogue where these two groups gathered together, Caiaphas revealed the divinely inspired plan that would herald the fulfillment of the plan of salvation.  In the eyes of these two groups it was taking care of the problem, Jesus Christ.  But in reality, God in the synagogue inspired Caiaphas to prophesy, not only how “Jesus was going to die for the nations”, but that Jesus Christ would be the ultimate sacrifice for mankind.  In the synagogue the plan was hatched that would fulfill the plan of salvation for all of mankind.
But, why should this surprise us today?  It shouldn’t, because the plan of salvation had been begun in the Garden of Eden, the law given on Mount Sinai and now in the Synagogue the final swipes of the pen upon the plan of salvation were made.  With ‘one man to die for the people’ this would be the fulfillment of the plan that gives us eternal life.

Yet, why should the synagogue be of interest for us today?  You see where we sit, worship, sing our hymns, hear the readings and join together feasting on the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ is the descendent of the Synagogue.  Where we as the Body of Christ, the congregation, discerned to extend the call to me as your pastor, is the descendent of the synagogue.  We are sitting in a Holy place where God reaches down from heaven and speaks to us today to understand we are connected to Him, not only through the synagogue used by the chief priest and Pharisees for their council, but this is the place where we hear the fulfillment of the plan of salvation.  We hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ clearly proclaimed and we now lay claim to this as we journey to Golgotha.

For the plan of salvation is clear, Jesus Christ came into this world, not to condemn the world, but to save the world for all of mankind with His innocent death on Calvary.  This was the outcome of Caiaphas plan.    By His, Jesus Christ, shedding His innocent blood we are set free from our sins and no longer are bound by sin, death, the devil, hell or damnation.  We are heirs of eternal life offered to us through Jesus Christ for all of mankind, but especially for all of us saints gathered here in our ‘synagogue’ as we journey together on our Lenten pilgrimage.  AMEN. 
//trial script