Thursday, December 10, 2015

Touching Base, Part 290

13 Dec 15
Series: What Would Peter Preach at Christmas? Part 1
Down... But Not Out!
(Mark 14:53-72)

This three-part series will help us look at some of the key prophetic texts that Peter would have been aware of concerning the coming of the Messiah. In 1 Peter 1:10-12 we see that Peter is very much aware of OT prophetic texts that spoke of the coming of the Messiah. We encourage you to use this tool in your Life Groups, and in your personal God time as a resource to help you pray and interact with the Word of God!

With some biblical texts we have more of a heart, and emotional connection than others. Think of the text that was read at a funeral of a loved one. Or perhaps a verse someone gave you when walking through a difficult season. Perhaps when you were a child you memorized a text that is embedded in your memory to this day. Certain texts bring back memories, emotion and certain places in our backstory.

In your groups, share that unique verse in your life in you have one.

In our series, “What Would Peter Preach at Christmas”, I think one prophetic text that might surface for Peter above others is Daniel 7:13-14. Why? My guess is that it is a text that would remind him of a place, and powerful emotion. Let me explain.

The Context: Mark 14:53-72

It is in this context that we find a reference to Daniel 7:13,14. Most of us know the context - Jesus has been arrested, the Jewish council is quickly and corruptly trying to get a case against Him. They are even stirring up false witnesses. The drama reaches its emotional apex in 61-63.

Note the sounds (v.63)… the high priest was ripping mad. Why would the high priest tear his garments?

By tearing his clothes, probably his inner garments rather than his official robes, the high priest showed that he regarded Jesus’ bold declaration as blasphemy. To him, Jesus’ words dishonored God by claiming rights and powers belonging exclusively to God.

What did Jesus say? (V61-62)
Jesus unequivocally answered, “I am.” No, not “I am Canadian!”
I am … the Christ – “Christ” means Messiah, the anointed One.
I am… the Son of the Blessed . The title “Blessed One,” found in this sense only here in the New Testament, is a Jewish substitute for “God”.

But then, note what Jesus says in v.62 after he says “I am”. Jesus did not refer to Himself as “a son of man,” but as “the Son of Man.” Jesus’ use of the phrase with the definite article “the” is consistent throughout the gospels.

How does the definite article make the difference? The definite article refers to a person, place or thing that is unique. Notice what Jesus says to clarify this definite article … “seated at the right hand of Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.”

What does Jesus do?
By using the definite article, Jesus was directing attention to the divine-human figure prophesied in Daniel 7:13–14 that they, as Jews, would know about. I am that Son of Man! That Son of Man that has eternal sovereignty over everything. The reason the high priest was ripping mad was because of what Jesus was claiming.

(It seems that Jesus is also referring to Psalm 110:1 when he speaks of being at the right hand of Power. The right hand was reference to authority and honor. Perhaps you can drill down deeper into this text. I think Peter would also preach this text!)

So why do I think Peter might preach this text and the larger story at Christmas? Well let me ask another question. Where is Peter while Jesus is on trial? What is Peter busy doing? Do you see the contrast?

Peter did the exact opposite of Christ.

• We see Jesus declaring His identity which leads to His death. You have Peter denying his
identity that leads to his shame.
• We see Jesus filled with courage, Peter controlled by fear.
• We see Jesus answering with integrity. Peter is lying and betraying his integrity.
• We see Jesus being faithful. Peter is being faithless.
• We see Jesus sticking with His mission that would bless the world. We see Peter thinking
of himself.

Imagine Peter finding out later what Jesus was doing at almost the precise moment he was denying Christ? He would never read Daniel 7:13-14 the same way again. It would stir emotion and memories and he would think of where he was and what he was doing when Jesus was drawing on this prophetic text to declare His identity.

But here is another twist to this story. Within just a few days, Peter would discover that the Son of Man would reach into his own broken, defeated life and restore him. This prophetic text was not just intellectual fodder, academic fiber, but heart-healing truth, hope-giving words, a life-nurturing text, a mind-blowing reality.

He is the Messiah, the Son of God/Blessed, Son of Man - Thus no breach is beyond God’s reach.

This is the story of Christmas. God reaches into a fallen world, not just a fallen Peter - we have all fallen - and through Jesus, God reaches to us in our powerlessness and redeems, restores, and heals. He is the Messiah, Son of God, the Son of Man!

Take time to read the Christmas story and thank God that in Christ, God reaches out to us in our brokenness to restore. He can because He is the Messiah, Son of God, the Son of Man!

Mark Kotchapaw

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Touching Base, Part 289

6 Dec 15
Series: Living in the Margins, Part 10
When the Lion Licks His Lips.
1 Peter 5

During our series, Living in the Margins, based on the book of 1 Peter, we are going to be turning our Touching Base into a prayer guide. This aligns with how we want people to be growing at Bethel. Being prayerfully engaged is one of the marks of a disciple, it characterized Jesus’ life and ministry and is essential as we learn to walk with Jesus. We encourage you to use this prayer tool in your Life Groups, and in your personal prayer time.

Last week Amanda talked about the four P’s in suffering. This week as we move into the last chapter of 1 Peter we want to unpack the all-important truth that, when we suffer, it is so important that we Draw Near to Draw Strength. The tendency may be to do the exact opposite but Peter reminds us that to do the opposite is to end up being the lion’s lunch!

Who do we need to draw near to?
Text: 1 Peter 4:19- chapter 5

Draw near to God (v.4:19)

The verse answers the question, “How do I suffer according to God’s will?” Answer - Draw near to God.
Entrust means to,
• To give someone something in trust.
• To leave a deposit with someone
Soul refers to a person’s total self. In suffering I entrust/deposit my total self into the care of God.
Easier said than done?

Do you draw near to God when suffering or tend to pull away? Suffering can either attract us to or distract us from Christ.
Pray into the issues that can keep us from drawing near to God.

Draw near to those you lead (v.1-4)

Yes, a whole message could address church leadership but for our purposes I want to broaden the application. Peter is addressing church leaders that are leading in a context of suffering. Remember Amanda’s message from last week? These folks are not lying in a hammock reading the latest best-seller. The hammock has flipped and they are face down on the ground.
Peter is admonishing the leadership to draw near to people who are face down on the ground. He is saying draw near, engage, enter in, speak in, love and embrace the suffering. This is a principle for all leadership but not the specific leadership descriptions he gives for the leaders he is addressing in his context.
Elders - means to protect
Shepherds - The shepherd image illustrates feeding, it includes caring, leading, guiding, and protecting
Overseers- the Greek term suggests “keeping watch over.”
(As a side note I am deeply grateful for a great Elders’ team at Bethel. This past week many of them were out on “assignment” shepherding the flock. Your elders are Chris Rusk (chair) Amos Cohoe, Ken Vissers, Ron Dickey, Doug Brown, Brian Marchant, and Dave Dempster.)

You cannot elder, shepherd or oversee from a distance - it demands engagement, drawing near. Like I said above - this is a leadership principle that applies across the board to all that lead. We all lead in some capacity, in some context where suffering exists.

Are you willing to set aside the agenda at times for the pain that surfaces in the context of your leadership?
As a leader, does other people’s pain make you draw near or draw away?
Have you ever been in a group and watched a leader ignore the surfacing pain by a group member? Staying on agenda meant someone’s plea for help went un-noticed. What damage was done?
How does this inform you to pray for your leadership context?

Draw near to your leaders and your peers (v.5a)

Note the encouragement for the younger to draw near - subject yourself to the leadership. The “younger “was probably a reference to most everyone else in the church because often elders were literally the older demographic of the church. Note that “all of you” are to draw near. The word used here is humility. The posture of humility draws people near to one another. Pride creates isolation.

So what is the picture Peter is painting? A community that draws near for strength in the face of suffering. That strength comes in a tight community where we minister to one another. But here is the really good news. Note 4:19 and the rest of what Peter says (5b-v10). It is precisely this kind of community that,
• God gives grace to (v.5b)
• God gives relief to (v.6,7)(when we are together in community, we can cast our cares on God. Sometimes we need others to help us cast)
• God gives protection to (v.8,9,10)

On this last point - Who does the lion have for lunch? In the context, I would suggest it is those who suffer alone, those who isolate versus engage, those who try to carry their own burden without the help of the body. In context, one of the ways we resist is we stand together in community.

From Sunday, do you remember how Peter could relate to this issue of being alone in his suffering and being the lion’s lunch?

Draw near to draw strength! Remember the real lion is the Lion of Judah who will one day have the prowler for lunch… once and for all! Until then, draw near to draw strength!

Mark Kotchapaw