March 28 - Message Update

Journey to Eternity - Mark 14:12-25 – Pastor Brian 

Jesus frees us from sin’s grip to experience the power of His love.


The week between now and Easter is called Passion week.  They are the final days before Jesus would be killed and physically leave this world. If life for God’s Son in this world was limited, we ought to realize our lives on this earth are limited too. Whether we acknowledge it or not, all of us are on a journey to eternity. But, knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior gives us the confidence of a better life ahead.        


During passion week, Jesus demonstrates how to be set free from the destructive power of sin.  He is the only way to be set free from the tight hold of sin. Unless we take time to sincerely evaluate or examine our lives, sin can unknowingly get a hold of us.  Sin influences our total being.  It affects us physically, emotionally, and spiritually, but “In Christ Alone,” we have the power to fight sin’s grasp.  Jesus died and rose again so imperfect people can stand before perfect God without shame or fear.  Still, the grasp of sin can be strong. 


The Gospel of Mark addresses three main groups of people: the disciples, the crowds, and the religious leaders.  When Jesus went to the cross, the religious leaders arrested Him, the disciples abandoned Him, and the crowds mocked Him. How Jesus responded to being abandoned and betrayed on the last night before being killed gives a picture of how we can be set free from the sins that keep us experiencing the power of His love. Jesus frees us from sin’s grip to experience the power of His love. How does Jesus free us from sin’s grip?


I. Jesus frees us physically from sin’s grip. (vv.12-16) During the Passover, Jesus attempts to give the disciples a clear understanding of who He is. The disciples knew that the Passover feast was a remembrance of God’s freeing the Israelites from the oppression of Egypt. They understood the importance of the Passover meal but they missed Jesus.


Jesus instructs two disciples, Peter and John, to prepare for the Passover meal by first contacting a man carrying a jug of water to direct them to a large upper room.  These disciples knew the Passover was to recall how God saved Israel by commanding them to kill an unblemished lamb and paint its blood over the doorposts of their homes.  Those who obeyed were protected and saved from death.  Death would passover those who obeyed God’s command and those who did not obey, died.  This rescue of Israel from Egypt’s oppression was God’s foretelling of Jesus’ arrival thousands of years later.  The disciples didn’t fully realize the truth that Jesus is the eternal Lamb of God whose blood saves us from sin’s grasp and eternal death.  Jesus is the physical manifestation of an important event in Israel’s history.  Jesus frees us physically from sin’s grip as the eternal Passover Lamb of God.


Not until later did the disciples understand that Jesus is the one who frees those who believe in Him from sin’s grip to experience the power of His love. Because Jesus physically died and rose again, believers know that death has been overcome and all fear is gone. Jesus has physically freed us from sin’s grip of fear to experience the power of His love.


II. Jesus frees us emotionally from sin’s grip. (vv.17-22) How Jesus responds to this treacherous act of betrayal, He demonstrates, that in the power of His love, we can be set free from the emotions of sin’s grip. Betrayal creates a lot of emotion. Verse 21, “Woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”  The remarkable thing is that up to the very hour of his treason, Judas was protected by the Savior. Jesus did not let His emotions cause Him to stray from God’s purpose.


How sad that even as Jesus washed Judas’ feet, broke bread, and gave Judas every opportunity to repent and believe, Judas would still betray Jesus. Through a shared meal Jesus was offering a reconciled relationship with Judas.  Yet Judas’ heart did not change.  Jesus loved Judas exceedingly well despite knowing Judas was a traitor. This same love that Jesus had for Judas is the same love He has for everyone.  A love so extravagant, that even if Jesus is rejected at first, the moment a person recognizes their sin and turns to Jesus, He will accept them completely in the power of His love. Judas was lost for the same reason millions are lost today.  He was so blinded by the temptations of this world, he did not repent of his sins and believe in Jesus Christ.

From John 13: 34-35, after Judas leaves, Jesus says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”  Jesus is saying in context of this commandment, knowing that Judas would soon arrive with soldiers to arrest and eventually kill Him, yet He commands His disciples to love one another so that the world will know that you are My disciples.  Jesus takes us to a higher level of love so the world will see we are His followers. 


The power of God’s love frees us from sin’s emotional grip that says, “Seek revenge, and hate those who hurt you.” To stop hate is to love the haters who hurt us. Fear and anger are powerful emotions that can easily become sinful in the way we think about and treat one another. Though Jesus is betrayed, He does not let His emotions take over God’s will for His life.


It was the night before the disciples were to witness the cruel and unjust treatment of Jesus that Jesus proclaimed this new commandment.  Can you imagine the emotional struggle of the disciples? In times of trouble and fear, sin’s emotional grip can cause division through looking to find fault and blame. Jesus says love one another as I have loved you. Being unified in His love and care for one another demonstrates to the world that Jesus is indeed alive and we are His disciples.


III. Jesus frees us spiritually from sin’s grip. (vv.22-25) Jesus frees us from sin’s grip through giving new spiritual meaning to a common meal. Followers of Christ are set free from sin’s grip by remembering the unbreakable covenant of God.  Jesus frees us from our brokenness by taking all of our sins to the cross.


During the meal Jesus takes bread, gives thanks, breaks it, and gives it to His disciples, symbolically identifying it as His own body.  At the close of the meal, He offers a cup of wine and symbolically identifies the wine as, “My blood of the covenant which is poured out for many.” The disciples had no idea that very soon Jesus would be harshly abused, mocked and finally be nailed to the cross.  Only after Jesus died and was resurrected did they know more clearly the covenant God made through Jesus.  This covenant tells us that anyone who believes in and receives Jesus as Lord and Savior would exchange eternal death for eternal life.


When Jesus broke bread and drank wine with His followers, He was sending a clear message to the world that this covenant promises a personal and loving relationship with God through faith in Jesus.  This covenant of Grace can be summarized in this well-known Scripture, John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall have eternal life.”


Jesus is the visible sign of the invisible posture of salvation we have before God.  Because of Jesus, God does not see our imperfections.  Jesus, the Lamb of God shed His blood to free us from sin’s grip to experience the power of His love. His blood covers our sins so completely, that God does not hold sin against us.  Jesus is the visible sign both physically and emotionally who gave us invisible salvation with His life. 


Jesus frees us from sin’s grip physically, emotionally and spiritually to experience His love.  We have been set free from sin’s grip that leads to eternal death.  Because of Jesus, we exchange eternal death for eternal life.  The message of the gospel is that in Jesus we have been saved and set free from the grip of sin. 


How does the gospel of Jesus set us free from sin’s destruction?  He sees and loves you so much that He died for you.  By the power of His love, He releases you from the grasp of sin’s lies that say you are invisible and unlovable. We are free from the grip of sin that causes fear.  We are free from the grip of sin that fuels the fire of prejudice.  We are free from the grip of sin that causes us to hate instead of loving one another as Christ loves us.  We have freedom from sin’s grip because of Jesus. 


Lament is acknowledging sorrow in our own lives as well as in the lives of others. Sometimes it’s tempting to think that God has abandoned us because of how much we have suffered. Read Psalm 22:1-2. Though God will never leave us, sometimes it feels that He has left us alone. These words of lament by David were echoed by Jesus nailed to the cross. King David and Jesus know deep pain, yet they continued to trust God in their grief.

Praise Songs:  Hosanna (Praise is Rising), Lion and the Lamb, In Christ Alone, Reign in Us, Doxology