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Sunday, 10 June 2012

'THE RELATIONSHIP GOD MAKES'

Rev. George Sinclair
 
by Rev. George Sinclair                           
 Pastor of the Church of the Messiah, Ottawa, ON.  www.messiahchurch.ca
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(Podcast Link to CFRA broadcast of Sunday, June 10th, 2012)
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Broadcast Notes:
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The Relationship God Makes’                                          

An Outline for a Talk on Matthew 26

For a few years I was quite involved in debates amongst church members on human sexuality and the Bible. There is a part of today's reading which I would sometimes refer to in those debates.

It will be a great help if you open your Bible and turn to Matthew 26, as I read verses 26 – 29:

Matthew 26:26-29  - (English Standard Version Anglicised) – from http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=matthew%2026:%2026-29&version=ESVUK

Institution of the Lord's Supper
26 (A)Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and (B)after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; (C)this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he (D)had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for (E)this is my (F)blood of the[a] covenant, which is poured out for (G)many (H)for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you (I)in my Father's kingdom.”

Footnotes:
a.      Matthew 26:28 Some manuscripts insert new

Cross references:
I.       Matthew 26:29 : [ch. 13:43]


Some of you might be saying, “George, what on earth does this text have to do with human sexuality? You must have a very creative reading.”

I used this text as an example of how to approach the Bible. Some people would say that you can ignore some Christian teaching on sexuality because there are very few biblical texts which teach on the matter. I would then point out that there are only 4 places in the Bible which teach about Holy Communion – and only a couple of these texts clearly has Jesus telling His followers to continue the practice into the future. Yet, virtually every Christian Church throughout history has practiced the Lord's Supper or Holy Communion.

For a Christian, if Jesus speaks clearly on a matter once, that should be enough. Part of the reason why this text today is seen as so important is because of where the teaching comes and what it accomplishes. Jesus' life is about to come to an end. Shortly after Jesus speaks these words He will be captured by His enemies and convicted of blasphemy and handed over to the Romans and given over to death and whipped and then He will die by crucifixion. In fact, less than 24 hours after Jesus has spoken these words He will have died upon the cross. In these words from Matthew which I have just read, Jesus gives us the '10,000 feet high' perspective on what is happening. The people involved see fear and injustice and hiding and pain and death. But Jesus says that what they should see is:

The New Covenant will be inaugurated.

So details on the ground confuse, but Jesus is making clear the big picture. In the Old Testament, covenant renewal ceremonies involved the death of an animal. In the New Covenant, the covenant itself was to be inaugurated by the death of Jesus upon the cross.

A Covenant is a relationship that only God can make. Historically, marriage was seen as a covenant that God made that one man could enter into with one woman as they both exchanged vows and consciously entered into this reality that God had created. In the New Covenant it is a new relationship between God and human beings that ordinary people like you and I can enter into. Please note that a covenant is not at all like a contract. In a contract, two or more parties specify the legal shape and dimensions and dynamics of the contractual relationship. In a covenant, only God sets the terms and benefits and dynamics. However, we can enter into this Covenant with God. It was made for us, for our benefit, not for His.

This might all seem a bit random. How on earth could something that happened to Jesus be of benefit to me? How could it include me or cover me? Are not all human beings equal?

We all are equal, but we do not have the same representative power or weight.

Imagine that terrorists were to seal off all of the entrances and exits for Wembley stadium in England while the stadium was full. Imagine that they planted a nuclear device in the stadium and said that if anyone tried to escape, the bomb would be detonated. There would be well over 100,000 people inside the stadium who would die in the blast. Furthermore, the blast would kill very many more around the stadium. Now if I called up the terrorists and said, “While you are negotiating with the government, I am willing to be strapped to the bomb IF you let the authorities clear the stadium and everywhere within the blast zone.” The terrorists would mock my offer. Why should they surrender hundreds of thousands of captives for me?

However, if the Queen of England called them and made the offer to give herself up in exchange for all of the hostages – the terrorists would accept that offer. In fact, they would probably think they got the better part of the deal.

Listen and follow along as I read verses 57 – 68 in Chapter 26 of Matthew:

Matthew 26:57-68
English Standard Version Anglicised (ESVUK)  - from http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=matthew%2026:%2057-68&version=ESVUK

Jesus Before Caiaphas and the Council
57 (A)Then (B)those who had seized Jesus led him to (C)Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had gathered. 58 And (D)Peter was following him at a distance, as far as (E)the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with (F)the guards to see the end. 59 Now the chief priests and the whole Council[a] (G)were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, 60 but they found none, (H)though many false witnesses came forward. At last (I)two came forward 61 and said, “This man said, (J)‘I am able to (K)destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’” 62 And the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?”[b] 63 (L)But Jesus remained silent. (M)And the high priest said to him, (N)“I adjure you by (O)the living God, (P)tell us if you are (Q)the Christ, (R)the Son of God.” 64 Jesus said to him, (S)“You have said so. But I tell you, from now on (T)you will see the Son of Man (U)seated at the right hand of Power and (V)coming on the clouds of heaven.” 65 Then the high priest (W)tore his robes and said, (X)“He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. 66 What is your judgement?” They answered, (Y)“He deserves death.” 67 Then (Z)they spat in his face (AA)and (AB)struck him. And some slapped him, 68 saying, “Prophesy to us, you (AC)Christ! Who is it that struck you?”

Footnotes:
a.      Matthew 26:59 Greek Sanhedrin
b.      Matthew 26:62 Or Have you no answer to what these men testify against you?

Cross references:
C.     Matthew 26:57 : ver. 3
I.       Matthew 26:60 : Deut. 19:15
K.     Matthew 26:61 : ch. 27:40
S.      Matthew 26:64 : ver. 25
AA.                        Matthew 26:67 : [Luke 22:63-65; John 18:22]
BB.                        Matthew 26:67 : ch. 5:39; Acts 23:2


Did you hear this?

Jesus claims to be the Messiah, God Himself, the Representative Human – this is what he is convicted of. If He had made these claims and then died like every other human being has died, then we could ignore His words. But His resurrection vindicates the truthfulness of His words. Note the “for” language in the Lord's Supper. His death is 'for' us; it is 'on behalf of us'; it is 'as our representative'; it is as 'our substitute'. If the Queen of England could be a worthy substitute for several hundred thousand people in Wembley Stadium – how many more could be represented by God the Son of God, the Messiah from God, the One Whom God Himself has set to be the Representative human? That is why Jesus' death can be 'for' me. It is why His death can open a new relationship with God.

So, each person needs to enter this New Covenant as Jesus has told us to – by turning to Him in repentance and trusting in Him by faith.

Holy Communion is something we take after we have personally entered into the New Covenant created by Jesus' death upon the Cross. In a sense, we 'renew' this Covenant every time we take communion.

I need to develop a habit of thankfulness for Jesus' atoning death. Holy Communion helps this.

I need to re-commit to Jesus and 'renew' the New Covenant by being part of a local church and entering into Holy Communion.

I need to play my part in proclaiming the good news of Jesus Messiah and His death which opens up the possibility of entering into a new covenant with God.

To listen to the above broadcast, click on the following link:

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Rev. George Sinclair is the Pastor of Messiah Church in Ottawa:  

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