Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Easter, April 4




Behold Those Living in Darkness

Have Seen a Great Light!

Matthew 27:11-54, 62-66; Matthew 28:1-10


I apologize for sharing so many verses this morning but so much happened in such a short space of time we did not even scratch the surface of everything happening the last couple of days before Jesus’ crucifixion.  In verses 11-26, we see Jesus is before Pilate. Pilate is a governor of the region that includes Jerusalem. He has the authority to make certain decisions on his own. In this case, there was a way he could have released Jesus. However, the chief priests and elders convinced the crowd to ask for the release of Barabbas, a known killer, instead of Jesus. All the while Pilate’s wife warned him to have nothing to do with Jesus; seemingly, the Lord had made Pilate’s wife miserable so she told him to avoid dealing with Jesus any way he could. Ultimately, Pilate asked for a basin of water and in front of everyone symbolically washed his hands of any responsibility for what would happen to Jesus. Tragically, the people there said Jesus’ blood would be on them and their children. Can you imagine being willing to say to God, “We accept responsibility for Jesus’ death”? That is what the people did. What a sad example of allowing yourself to be deceived by Satan. This is an even worse example than Adam and Eve eating the fruit they should not have eaten.


After all of that, Pilate had Jesus flogged and then turned over to be crucified. We then saw how some of Pilate’s soldiers threatened Jesus. In verses 27-31, we see the horrific way the soldiers treated Jesus. They first stripped him and put a red robe on him, not a purple robe that most often symbolizes royalty. Then they made a crown of thorns and jammed it on Jesus’ head causing great pain and bleeding to occur. Then they put a staff in his hand and mockingly knelt down as if to worship a king, saying “Hail, King of Jews!” The soldiers then took the staff from Jesus and started to hit him on the head over and over again, driving the thorns deeper and deeper into his head. When they were done with their fun, they put his clothes back on him and led him out to be crucified.


Now we come to the crucifixion. In verses 32-44, it tells what happened on the way to Golgotha where Jesus is to be crucified, as well as what happened when Jesus was officially hanging on the cross. The gospels have slightly different details about these events, but the results are the same. First, Jesus has been so weakened by the beatings and abuse he has become too weak to carry his cross all the way to where he is to be crucified, so they have a man by the name of Simon carry the cross the final distance.


Once hanging on the cross, Jesus was offered a mixture that was to reduce the pain of the crucifixion but Jesus refused it. The soldiers then divided the only possession Jesus had, his clothes. Next, they mockingly hung a sign over his head that said, “The King of the Jews.” Those who had followed to watch the show then hurled insults at Jesus telling him to save himself as he had he claimed to have saved others. They continued by saying, “Let God rescue him if he wants him to live.”


Next, we read when Jesus died on the cross. Verses 45-54 tells of how things happened as Jesus died on the cross. We are told from the 6th hour, which is noon, until the 9th hour, which is of course 3 in the afternoon, there was darkness over the land. I am sure this just was not a cloudy sky. It was as if it were nighttime immediately before Jesus died on the cross.


Next, we see Jesus cries out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Those who were watching this all unfold did not know what Jesus was saying or what it meant. They once again offered Jesus a drink on a sponge. Soon after Jesus cried out one more time; the scripture says he then gave up his spirit. Jesus has died. Immediately, the curtain that separates the average Jew from the most holy place in the temple is torn by the hand of God from the top to the bottom. Even some of those who had lived godly lives had their graves opened and came back to life, giving a preview of what would happen in just a few days. The amazing thing is the Roman guards who had been with Jesus throughout all of this realized as they saw everything that had happened that Jesus truly was the Son of God.


Moving on we read in verses 62-66 what happened next. The chief priests knew what Jesus had said earlier, that he would raise from the dead. The chief priests did not believe this could happen but were afraid the disciples would steal his body to make it look like Jesus had come back to life, so the Roman leadership said they would have the guards make the tomb secure.


What an incredible 24 hours we have looked at! I left out large major portions of what happened, and yet, I hope you got a pretty clear picture of what Jesus went through. This happened on Friday. Now a couple days have passed and it is Sunday. We read in the first 10 verses of the 28th chapter of Matthew. We see early Sunday morning the two Marys were compelled by their love and sense of loss to go to Jesus’ tomb. When they got there, they were amazed to find the stone that covered the front of the tomb had been rolled away. The guards saw the angel who had rolled the stone away, and they were so afraid they passed out as if dead. The women were greeted by the angel who told them, “Jesus is not here. He has risen from the dead.” They were told, “Jesus is going on ahead to Galilee. There you will see him.”


In spite of everything they had heard Jesus say, I do not believe they thought they would ever see Jesus again. Yet their lives and the lives of everyone who will believe were changed forever. In shock, yet filled with joy, they headed out to tell the disciples what they saw and what they had been told. Death could not hold Jesus. The chief priests did not understand that when they mockingly said to let God save Jesus, that is exactly what he would do. Not, however, until Jesus accomplished what he came to earth to do. Your sins and mine were nailed to that cross. Our sins died on that cross, never to be remembered again. That is why believers around the world continue to celebrate Easter. When out of the blue Jesus was there before them, they fell down at Jesus’ feet, probably from both shock and to worship Jesus who is alive. Jesus then calms them and says, “Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee and there I will see them.”


This morning, Easter Sunday, we celebrate what happened 2000 years ago. Not because of what we have done, but because of what God has done for us through Jesus Christ. We celebrate the empty tomb. The Friday Jesus was crucified was the darkest day in history, but Sunday came bringing the promise of abundant life while we live on this earth and an even more abundant life when we are untied with Jesus for eternity.




Sundays: Worship 10:00 Please social distance and wear masks. We continue carrying our worship on facebook live. We are grateful that it reaches many people in and beyond our congregation.

Bible Study every Tuesday 9:30

The adult Sunday School class will not be meeting until further notice.

April 14 7:00 Executive Committee

If you would like to volunteer to mow the church yard this year, please sign up on the sheet on the bulletin or call Stacie Warren.

Donation Box: Camp Emmanuel

 First Sundays: food donations for food banks

Annual Conference, June 30 – July 4, is going to be virtual. There will be business sessions, worship services, and insight sessions. Pastor Larry will be our delegate.

Annual Conference will be discussing a new vision statement: “Together, as the Church of the Brethren, we will passionately live and share the radical transformation and holistic peace of Jesus Christ through relationship-based neighborhood engagement. To move us forward, we will develop a culture of calling and equipping disciples who are innovative, adaptable, and fearless.”


To keep up on Church of the Brethren news:

Denomination: www.brethren.org/news Sign up for Newsline by clicking link on left side of page.

District: iwdcob.org (click on newsletter link) and on facebook

Our pages: cerrogordocob.com (printed sermon, announcements, & calendar) and on facebook

Keep in Your Prayers

Terry Marvin; Larry Albro; Mike McCleery; Tera Runyan; Holly Flenner; Carol & Mike Seidenstricker; Tim and Betty Sue Laird; Carl & Wilma Cable; Sherry Wright; Brittany Wright; Sonna Hall; Evelyn Eads; Anna Gentry Thompson; Arnold & Marlene Schultz; Clyde and Nancy Fansler; Adiline Young; Kim Lehmann; Dylan Junior; Doug Fansler; Liza Yore; Candy Dobson; Anna Rose Larrick; Gary Jesse; Norm & Marge Starr; Shawn Cain; Robert Cripe; Mayo & Darlene Hanaver; Zola Copeland and family; Patty Cripe; Lauren Gross; Stacie Warren; Nancy Gorrell; many unspoken requests; Coronavirus crisis; healthcare workers and first responders; the families of the 545,000+ people who have died from COVID-19; all who are ill with the virus; the unemployed; school teachers, staff, and students; District of IL/WI search committee; nursing home residents; our nation’s government; the Nigerian church; victims of violence


Military and Other Services and their families

Brethren Volunteer Service workers; Disaster project workers 

Our Mission Statement:

Love God, grow with others, serve faithfully, reach the lost, find peace. 





March 28 Sermon



Matthew 21:1-17,28-32

Matthew 22:15-22


While things have been pointing to this time in what we have read the last three weeks now, we are truly seeing things moving quickly now. While I shared quite a bit from scripture this morning, we did not even remotely address all the things that are happening in Jesus’ and the disciple’s lives.


Jesus has been teaching his disciples as well as many others that had been following the way God wants his people to live, as well as trying to let them know that things are about to change. Jesus was especially concerned about his disciples. He knew there would be the calm before the storm, and he wanted to make sure the disciples did not get confused by the different things that were about to happen.


Let us look at what we first read this morning which is entitled “The Triumphal Entry” in my Bible. Jesus sends two disciples ahead to a small town they are approaching, telling them that they will find two donkeys. Jesus tells them if anyone asks what they are doing, tell them that the Lord needs them to bring the donkeys to him. Jesus did this for two reasons: 1) To fulfill prophesy from what was spoken in Zachariah 9:9; 2) Also to build the faith of his disciples.


As Jesus got closer to Jerusalem the crowds grew and they placed palm branches, as well as their coats, on the road as Jesus drew nearer. Kind of a “red carpet” welcome for Jesus. The crowd started to shout, “Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” We read when Jesus entered Jerusalem the whole city was stirred and was asking, “Who is this?” to which some in the crowd answered, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Once Jesus was in Jerusalem he went to the temple. We do not know if it was the same day he arrived or a little later. We do know Jesus was not happy with what he found when he got to the temple. Jesus turned over the tables of those buying and selling at the temple. Jesus made it clear why he did this. Jesus once again referred to scripture from both Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11. When he said, “It is written my house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers.” While Jesus gave an example of God’s holy anger, Jesus also showed compassion on those in need, healing the blind and the lame while he was still at the temple. While Jesus did all this, children that were also at the temple started shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” This made the chief priests and teachers at the temple mad. Jesus once again quoted scripture to those who questioned what was going on. In Psalm 8:2 it talks of from the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise. Jesus’ ability to quote scripture whenever he needed to not only encouraged his disciples but also caused anyone who dare question him to think twice about it.


We then skip ahead in Chapter 21 to what is entitled “The Parable of the Two Sons.” In verses 28-32, we see Jesus continuing to teach. In this parable Jesus gives an interesting story of two sons. We see a dad who tells his first son to go work in the vineyard. He immediately tells his dad no but then goes to work in the vineyard after all. The dad then goes to the second son, probably disappointed by what the first son had said. The second son immediately says, “Yes I will go,” but as it turns out, he never does. Jesus then asked the disciples as well as others there, “Who did what their father wanted?” They all agreed it was the first son. To which Jesus pointed out how things will work in God’s kingdom. Jesus is apparently talking to some of the chief priests and teachers that continued to follow him when he said tax collectors and prostitutes will enter God’s kingdom ahead of you. Jesus said John the Baptist came to show you the way to righteousness but you did not believe. That is why he said those who are looked down on by society when they believe will be in God’s kingdom ahead of those who one would think should make it in easy.


We read one passage of scripture from Matthew 22 and the heading is entitled, “Paying Taxes to Caesar.” At this time the Pharisees as well as others associated with the Jewish temple are following Jesus everywhere he goes. They are not doing this because they believe his message. They have been deceived by Satan and do not believe Jesus is anything at all. However, they know many people believe Jesus is a special man of God, so their goal was to trap Jesus in a lie or trick him into saying something most Jews would never believe. In these verses we see the Pharisees are trying to trick Jesus into saying the Jews should either have loyalty to the Roman Empire, which most all the Jews hate, or they are trying to get him in trouble with the Roman government by saying Jewish people should not pay taxes or give any concern about Roman laws. By encouraging the second idea, Jesus would probably have been arrested by the Roman government. The wisdom of God gave Jesus a way of answering the question that was truly appropriate and honest. Showing a degree of respect for the Roman Empire and also giving the proper honor to God we are called to have. The question for Jesus was should the Jews pays taxes to Caesar. Jesus knew they were trying to trap him, in fact he called them out on it. He then asked for a coin that is commonly used. He asked the Pharisees a very simple question. “Whose picture and whose signature is on the coin?” They answered, “Caesar.” To which Jesus responded, “Give unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and to God that which is God’s.” Even the Pharisees were amazed by Jesus’ answer and for the time being left Jesus alone.


In a period of five days, lots is going on. We should have begun looking at the last few weeks of Jesus’ ministry several weeks earlier than we did, because we simply do not have the time to cover everything Jesus is teaching and everything he is having to deal with.


Let’s do a quick review of what we read today. Jesus enters Jerusalem to what seems like a hero’s welcome. All the while Jesus is teaching his disciples and trying to build their faith. Next, we see Jesus entering God’s house and not liking what he sees going on. Jesus was teaching the disciples, as well as us today, that there is a time and place for everything. God’s house deserves honor and respect. If you do not show proper honor and respect for God and his house of worship, there WILL be a price to pay. Next, we read about two sons and how they did or did not show respect for their father. Jesus reminds us all that, for one thing, it is not what you say that is as important as what you do. There are those who seem to say all the right things, even give the appearance of doing what God would want, but are really only putting on a show. In a way, Jesus is saying something similar to what we read the last two weeks--in God’s kingdom in some cases the first will be last and the last will be first. The last thing we read was about paying taxes to Caesar. While that is what the question was, that is not what Jesus was really concerned about. Jesus was basically saying we all need to have our priorities in the right place, in the right order. Jesus was saying as a citizen you have an obligation to contribute to the nation you live in. God has no problem with that. However, God’s concern is about what we really believe is important in life. While even in Jesus’ day God’s people were expected to financially support the church, God is less concerned about financial support for the church than he is about where the allegiance of our heart and soul is. Jesus knows it is truly the Beginning of the End of his ministry here on earth. Jesus is most concerned about where the heart of his disciples and those who have been following him is at. That is what Jesus is still concerned about today. Have we allowed the distractions of this world to weaken our faith? There are more things competing for our allegiance than ever before. Jesus is reaching out to you and me reminding us he is the only way to peace and salvation.


Next Sunday is Easter. Will we allow Jesus Christ to renew our faith, to reenergize our passion to serve the living God? As Jesus was trying to help his disciples to stand strong, that same message Jesus is using to encourage his church today. God, please help us to stand strong for you and help us to draw those who do not know you to the cross.