An Easter Message – the Jesus who polarises people

This morning I preached a sermon in our Easter Celebration. The mp3 file is available for download from my church website. I focussed on the annointing of Jesus by Mary, and how Jesus polarises people.

Here are the notes I took with me to preach from, although the message itself probably varied more than usual from them as my laptop which I was using to read the notes decided to shut down just as I began to preach!

Mt 26, Mk 14, Jn 12

Easter = kids -Easter bunny isn’t it? don’t miss the chance to stuff your face! Strictly come dancing, Dr Who and Casualty – looking for a hero – influence poll.

BBC poll in 2002 top twenty Britons of all time look at the reasons for their inclusion in this list and compare them to Jesus who many secular historians agree was the most influential human of all time..

1. Sir Winston Churchill (18741965), Prime Minister during World War II – like Jesus polarised people in his lifetime but unlike Jesus this is now forgotten!
2. Isambard Kingdom Brunel (18061859), engineer, creator of Great Western Railway and other significant works
3. Diana, Princess of Wales (19611997) – like Jesus known more for her death than her life, but will her influence last?
4. Charles Darwin (18091882), author of The Origin of Species.
5. William Shakespeare (15641616), English poet and playwright – Jesus never wrote a book!
6. Sir Isaac Newton, physicist
7. Queen Elizabeth I of England, monarch
8. John Lennon (19401980), of The Beatles, musician
9. Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, naval commander – Jesus never travelled more than 200 miles from his home
10. Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector
11. Sir Ernest Shackleton, polar explorer
12. Captain James Cook, explorer
13. Robert Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts
14. Alfred the Great, King of Wessex
15. Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, military commander and statesman Remembered for beating the French in Napoloeons time!
16. Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister
17. Michael Crawford, actor FRANK SPENCER – some mothers do ave em
18. Queen Victoria, monarch – Jesus never held public office
19. Sir Paul McCartney, of The Beatles musician
20. Sir Alexander Fleming, pharmaceutical innovator

Comp. with each of these figures Jesus accomplished very little during his lifetime. Yet, today Christianity is the largest world religion with nearly 2 billion people who claim to be Christians and worship Jesus as their God. This year there have been many news stories about him – last Easter the Passion, Da vinci code, “new discoveries, etc.. Jesus the centre point of human history, the cross of Easter the centrepoint of his life – not just his teaching- who is known for their death?

One thing Jesus has always been good at is polarising people – no real effort to maintain his popularity! ‘no one can bear these things you say’

Which side are you on? You can switch! One day I switched! What happened? I met Jesus! And can it be -The hymn describes what can happen to people who meet the Jesus who died for them Preaching should bring an encounter with God rather than impart knowledge. How would you feel if Jesus was here? Love or hate? Boldness or fear? If theres one story that shows how Jesus polarises

Which character in the story do you identify with – MT 26. Will you respond like
The woman – worship – gave her all to the one who was about to give his all and had given everything she owned to her.


The SMELL – would have followed him – fragrance as a type of Gods presence.The sacrifice was great yet the joy was greater – UK survey showed those that follow Jesus end up happier!
– her story must be told! Jesus says THIS ACT is the one that must be remembered – he never says that for example about the sermon on the mount.

-Coz gospel is about people coming to the end of selves and giving their all to Jesus
-Why? Because of Easter-
the cross..crucified.. Stumbling block …,
This woman saw Jesus for who he was and wanted to serve him. BUT not everyone on his side!.
Judas no good deed ever went unpunished ! Persecution! – hate “what about the poor”. Mary had asked what can I give him- judas asked what are you willing to give me…. (think ‘slot machine’)

Jesus demands to be in the centre. Worship better than helping poor- why? Partly because if we worship jesus the poor are not losers as we get up from our worship more able to help them! HE is about to start the greatest social movement in history but does it by saying forget the poor give to me! What we do for the poor we do for him. Religious people often don’t understand the fanaticism that those who KNOW Jesus show.

Pilate “wash his hands” You cannot wash your hands. There is no middle ground – you must either hate him or worship him.

. It is only in his substitutionary death hope comes – not just a teacher or we would be even more condemned – we cant do it and are helpless! We must come and pour out our lives (which he gave us anyway!) in worship to him and beg of him his help. Don’t think I am referring to someone else – I mean you and you and you and you !

What will we do for this Jesus? Will we give him EVERYTHING and then treat whatever he gives back as being on loan from him? “If Jesus Christ be God, and died for me, then no sacrifice can be too great for me to make for him.” Studd I sacrificed nothing

FLYS IN OINTMENT – smell! The truth is of course that if we are honest we don’t have anything good to give him- far from perfume it is the stench of our sin that we pour on Jesus head. But the crazy truth of the gospel is this – he accepts our stench as graciously as if it was this beautiful perfume!

We give to him
He gives to us.
An exchange, a substitution takes place.

————Background quotes (not to be read out)

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Galatians 6:14)

If you only preach the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ, not only do you not solve the problem of mankind, but in a sense you aggravate it. You are preaching nothing but utter condemnation, because nobody can ever carry it out.

“So they did not preach His teaching. Paul does not say, ‘God forbid that I should glory, save in the Sermon on the Mount’ or ‘God forbid that I should glory save in the ethical teaching of Jesus’. He does not say that. It was not the teaching of Christ, nor the example of Christ either. What they preached was His death on the cross and the meaning of that event.”
As long as this gospel is preached, and wherever it is proclaimed, the story of this woman is to go with it. Our Lord’s prediction goes on to be verified, while the memorial of this woman fills the church with its fragrance. There must be something, therefore, remarkable in it: let us pause, and look, and learn, and God give us grace to imitate. CHS

Do you not often catch yourself, when you put a coin into the hand of the poor, thinking there is a virtue in it? And so there is, in one sense; but do you not find yourself forgetting, that you should do that for him, and give that as unto Christ, giving unto the poor, and lending unto the Lord? Sabbath-school teachers! I ask you also: do you not find, in teaching your class, that you often forget that you should be teaching for him? Your act is done rather for the church, for the school, for your fellow-men, for the poor, for the children’s sake, than for Christ’s sake. But the very beauty of this woman’s act lay in this, that she did it all for the Lord Jesus Christ. CHS

Lose sight of me for a moment, and see him! And he puts to each one of you the question-“I suffered all this for thee, what hast thou ever done for me?” Answer him now! Like honest followers of the Lamb of God, look back and see what you have ever done.CHS

My story
Many years ago I asked my dad one Good Friday why it was called Good Friday. His answer remains the bedrock of my life ‘Because Jesus Died that day’. Why should such an event give rise to the name Good and not Bad I asked in a rather less sophisticated way as a child. ‘Why is it not Bad Friday and Good Sunday?’. I found a great quote over at Blogs4God which reminded me of how I felt all those years ago.

We sent Jesus to the cross yes, but he chose to go there to bear the punishment you and I deserved. We go free whilst he is bound and blindfolded. We are let off whilst he is condemned. We are declared righteous, he is made to BE sin. We are healed he is wounded. We are loved, he is rejected. We are reconciled to God, he is abandoned by him. God looks on us and smiles, and turns out the lights so he doesn’t have to look on him. We know peace he receives the full wrath of God. He dies bearing millions of eternities of pain in one moment, and millions of us live for eternity.

O Yes, the Cross is indeed a scandal. , but it is a scandal of unfairness and apparent injustice. The hardest question a Christian can ever attempt to answer is how a righteous God can have come up with such a plan (which would seem to lead to instant defrocking if any modern judge tried it!). Paul spends much of his writings attempting to answer just this (especially Romans) Why not read some of it today?

The riddle/paradox..

The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished Ex 34:6-7

But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness. (1 Corinthians 1:23)

“The test of whether someone is teaching the cross rightly or wrongly is whether it is an offense to the natural man or not. If my preaching of this cross is not an offense to the natural man, I am misrepresenting it. If it is something that makes him say ‘how beautiful,’ ‘how wonderful,’ ‘what a tragedy,’ ‘what a shame,’ I have not been preaching the cross truly. The preaching of the cross is an offense to the natural man. So it becomes the test of any man’s preaching.

“Or let me put it in terms of the congregation. If this element of offense in the cross has never appeared to you, or if you have never felt it, then I say that you likewise have never known the truth about the cross of Christ. If you have never reacted against it and felt that it is an offense for you, I say you have never known it. It is always an offense to the natural man. Invariably, there is no exception. So if you have never felt it, you have never seen it because you are a natural man. Nobody is born a Christian into this world. We have to be born again to become Christians, and as long as we are natural men and women, the cross is an offense.

“So if we have never known this element of offense, either we have not seen it or we have had some misrepresentation of it. The cross is an offense to the mind of the natural man. It cuts across all his preconceived notions and ideas. It was a stumbling block to the Jews for this reason. They were expecting a Messiah to destroy the Roman conquerors. So when they found the One who claimed to be the Messiah dying in apparent weakness upon the cross, they were deeply wounded and offended.”

Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God. (Romans 3:25)

“The cross is a mighty declaration. And what it says is this: The Son is a propitiation. In other words, God on the cross was punishing sin. He said that he would, and He has done it.
“God has always said that sin is to be punished, that His holy wrath is upon it, and that He cannot deal with sin in any other terms. And He has done exactly what He promised. On the cross
He is doing it publicly. There He is, once and for all, at the central point of history, pouring out His wrath upon the sins of man in the body of His own Son. He is striking Him; He is smiting Him; He is condemning Him to death. Christ dies, and His blood speaks. It is God’s punishment of sin and evil. It is a mighty declaration that God has done what He has always said He would do-namely, that He would punish sin, and the wages of sin is death. And there you see it happening upon the cross. It is an announcement, a proclamation, that this is God’s way of dealing with the problem of sin.

I hasten to say this. It is obviously the only way to deal with sin, and the cross says that
There was no other good enough

To pay the price of sin;
He only could unlock the gate

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