Reality or Ritual?
Intro: One poll found that only 15% of Church of Sweden members actually believe in Jesus. Santa Lucia is a Christian feast day celebrated on 13 December in Advent, commemorating Saint Lucy, a 3rd-century Italian martyr, who according to legend brought "food and aid to Christians hiding in the catacombs" using a candle-lit wreath to "light her way and leave her hands free to carry as much food as possible”.
Now it is a secular holiday having to do with bringing light to the dark winter.
What would St. Lucia say if she found out the lights on her hair where celebrated, but her whole purpose and motivation of serving her Lord was more or less eliminated?
Jesus is in Jerusalem.
Luke 22:1 Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, 2 and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people.
At the risk pointing out the obvious:
- Passover a major Israelite pilgrimage celebrating Israel's deliverance from Egyptian oppression by the hand of God. (Jews come to Jerusalem)
- The last of the plagues on Egypt was the death of the firstborn.
- Sprinkling the blood of a spring lamb would mean the angel of death would PASSOVER the house without killing the firstborn.
- Jesus is the Passover Lamb, the First Born
- Without the “blood of the lamb”, we all die.
The coming of Jesus was prophesied over and over and now he’s here!
3 Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. 4 And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. 5 They were delighted and agreed to give him money. 6 He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.
Why would Judas do this? Money, Popularity, Power.
Once Satan entered Judas, it was over for him.
How could this happen to a person? (devil in the details)
1. Distractions can dilute even the devout
“But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.
Example: Magician’s ‘slight of hand’.
“They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark…
Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building…
…so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.”
No one was thinking ahead. Caught up in the details.
Jesus says, “watch yourselves” (PRAY)
Example: 6 chickens are actually one chicken with 12 eyes.
*** Don’t forget to look up once in a while. (pray)
*** Don’t forget to speak up if it doesn’t seem right to you. (prophecy)
Judas was with them the whole time but no one knew it.
And now in the story, he is looking for a chance to hand Jesus over…
“The only bond of unity between their choice and their call. Simon, the Rock-man, Matthew the publican, Simon, the zealot, the champion of the law and justice of the oppression against the Gentiles, John, the beloved, who lay on Jesus breast, and the others, of whom we know nothing but their names, then lastly, Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. No power in the world could have united these men for a common cause task, save the call of Jesus. But that call transcended all their previous divisions, and established a new and steadfast fellowship in Jesus. Even Judas went forth to the Christ-work, and the fact that he did so will always be a dark riddle and an awful warning.”
~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Evil is always present with the good.
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.
Interestingly, the devil facilities the sacrifice of the Real Passover Lamb, sealing his own fate and helping to save humankind.
There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan
that can succeed against the Lord.
2. Even evil advances God’s purpose
“For you will certainly carry out God's purpose, however you act, but it makes a difference to you whether you serve like Judas or like John.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
7 Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8 Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.”
9 “Where do you want us to prepare for it?” they asked.
10 He replied, “As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, 11 and say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 12 He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there.”
13 They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.
Jesus may have lined this up earlier. The man may have invited him.
This ‘water jar man’ was ready for Jesus. (unnamed watchers in the Bible)
3. The Wise watch for Jesus
Passover was at hand.
Who was ready?
14 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”
Lots in Jerusalem didn’t see Jesus for who he was.
4. Ritual always represents something Real
Example: “We’ve always done it this way.”
Always ask yourself, “Why am I doing this? What does this mean?”
INVITE THE USHERS.
17 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. 21 But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. 22 The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. But woe to that man who betrays him!” 23 They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.
Jesus knew the betrayer. He knew Peter would deny him and the rest would scatter..
“While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
THIS IS THE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS.
5. Jesus is the Reason for the Season