Birth: Woman of Danger, 23 December 2018

Birth: Woman of Danger
Series—Mary Christmas
Luke 2:6-20

Series Overview: Mary may be the most underrated, godly character in the Bible (at least for Protestants!).

Big Idea: Mary was real, raw and dangerous…and so is King Jesus.

In January of 2003 the Discovery Channel began airing a show called MythBusters. It has continued as one if its oldest and most popular shows. Originally from Australia and now on the Science Channel, it has become a global phenomenon testing various popular beliefs and Internet rumors to see if they are true. The myths are ultimately rated “buster,” “plausible,” or “confirmed.”

It’s one thing to hold beliefs about sunburns, explosions, traffic patterns, or boarding airplanes. It’s quite another to entertain myths about the Bible and, ultimately, God. One of the most frustrating things for me as a follower of Jesus is hearing so-called Biblical quotes that are simply not, such as:

God helps those who help themselves.
Jesus turned water into grape juice instead of wine.
I’m good and, therefore, will go to heaven when I die.
Always pray with your eyes closed.
Jesus never claimed to be the Son of God.
Suffering is always the result of sin since true believers are rich and healthy.
The safest place to be is in the center of God’s will.

These are all myths. They are false.

This Advent season is filled with its own myths.

We’re in the middle of an extended series on Mary, the mother of Jesus. It seems that she is possibly overrated by Catholics and underrated by us Protestants. She is arguably the most important female to ever walk this earth, not only for giving birth to Jesus but also for enduring the consequences of being pregnant out of wedlock, raising the Messiah, and witnessing His brutal death. She was specifically chosen by God to be Jesus’ mom for reasons we don’t entirely know, but good reasons nonetheless.

The center of God’s will is not the safest place to be, but often the most dangerous. Mary is often depicted as a sweet, innocent, almost angelic figure. The real Mary, however, was dangerous. She was dangerous to Augustus and Herod, claiming her son was born to be king. She had a dangerous mission that threatened the Jewish society and the Roman Empire. Rather than a somber-faced girl in a baby-blue robe, Scot McKnight says, “Mary was a muscular, wiry woman whose eyes were aglow with a dazzling hope for justice and whose body evoked a robust confidence in the God who was about to turn the world upside down through her son.”

To fully understand the story, we need to understand the context. We’ve sanitized the account, making it so quaint and comfortable. Perhaps nothing illustrates this better than nativity scenes.

Unlike the myths of the season, Mary was real. Joseph was real. Jesus is real.

We’re using Luke’s biography of Jesus as our text this year, but the first two chapters of Matthew’s gospel or “good news” convey a less than idyllic scene surrounding the “silent night.” Joseph nearly divorces Mary, Herod is scheming, babies are slaughtered, Joseph and his family become refugees in Egypt, and people are waiting for the king to die. Have you ever seen those scenes on Christmas cards?

Caesar Augustus was literally considered “son of God” in the lineage of his dad, Julius Caesar who was officially declared to be a god. Augustus brought peace to Rome and was considered its savior. His rise was considered good news or “gospel.” Perhaps you’ve heard words like god, lord, and gospel in the context of church, but these were words used of this political leader, the worshiped king of the Roman empire.

Last Sunday we examined the first five verses of Luke chapter two, the journey to Bethlehem. Dr. Luke continues…

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. (Luke 2:6-7)

You’ve heard there was no room for them in the inn, right? There are actually two meanings for our English word “inn.” The first is a place you would stay, but the other is a guest room as translated here. There’s no innkeeper. It was likely Joseph and Mary went to a relative’s home. There’s nothing in the Bible about a stable or barn—just a manger. The manger may have been in an open-air living area like a patio. Many believe this was a house where people typically stayed upstairs with the ground floor used for animals…though there is actually no mention of any animals. The upstairs was probably full of people doing exactly what Joseph and Mary were doing—registering in the census. They’re likely in the bottom area of a full house. Baby Jesus may have been held by his aunts, uncles and cousins on his birthday.

Why does Luke mention the manger? It was a sign to the shepherds.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. (Luke 2:8-9)

Angels are often scaring people. I suppose if I encountered one, I might freak out a bit, myself!

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12)

Shepherds are not exactly common in our culture today, but in biblical times many cared for sheep. You might know the 23rd Psalm which begins, “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.” The birth of the Good Shepherd—Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah—was announced to shepherds long before the news hit CNN or Twitter!

This is familiar language to the shepherds who knew Augustus as savior. They were now confronted with two kings; Augustus and Jesus. The conflict between them is beginning, between God and the powers of this world. Within a century or so, this baby would be so threatening to the successors of Augustus that followers of Jesus would be persecuted and martyred, simply for their faith.

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:13-14)

Augustus didn’t exactly have angels announcing His birth.

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” (Luke 2:15)

They needed to do something to respond to the celestial symphony! Here’s a tip: if an angel guides you to something historic, go!

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. (Luke 2:16-18)

Lowly shepherds were the first to meet the Messiah and the first to spread the word. We can’t imagine the significance of this news. The Messiah had been prophesied for centuries. It was a bigger deal than us waiting for someone to cure cancer…or for the Detroit Lions or Cleveland Browns to make it to the Super Bowl! Generations had waited! The King of kings had arrived, but in the most humble, unexpected manner.

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. (Luke 2:19)

These are common words in Judaism for thinking about events in one’s life so one could make sense of and narrate what God was doing in history. This wasn’t silent meditation, but rather reflecting to interpret. She was figuring out what God was doing in the world while people were singing and dancing and dreaming of the end of Augustus’ rule. She would tell the story orally, a tale of two kings. Much of what we read in the Bible most likely came from her lips.

The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. (Luke 2:20)

The natural response to an encounter with God is praise and worship. This is why we sing when we gather. This is why we give thanks. This is why we devote ourselves to God and His commands. He’s God and we’re not.

I often say the two most important questions in the world are

Who is God?
Who am I?

They are questions of identity. How you answer those two questions will impact everything you do and define who you are.

So What?

There are many myths about the Christmas story. Does it really matter if the manger was made of wood or rock? No. Is it a game-changer to have wise men or magi in the nativity scene or not? Of course not. Can we observe Jesus’ birthday on December 25 even if he was almost certainly born in the springtime? Sure.

Perhaps the greatest myth of all in the account of the birth of Jesus is that somehow the characters are super-human. They aren’t real. It’s fantasy. Jesus was God so therefore never pooped or cried, Mary floated above the earth like an angel, effortlessly giving birth without a whimper or tear. Joseph—well, Joseph just stood there watching while his wife and step son get all of the attention. The animals smelled like Febreze. The night was silent and perfect, tranquil and sweet.

But our understanding of Mary is important. She wasn’t an angel, hovering just above the ground. Nor was she a weak girl who disappears after the birth of Jesus—as we will see next Sunday. She was a gritty, godly young woman who encountered angels, brought God into our world, spoke out about injustice, and would experience the joys and sorrows of motherhood throughout the 33 years of Jesus’ life.

Our understanding of Jesus is even more important. His birth wasn’t a myth. You can visit Bethlehem today in Israel. He didn’t stay in the manger, meek and mild. His birth was highly unusual, yet the perfect fulfillment of centuries-old prophecies. And the birth was just the beginning. He didn’t stay the tiny, infant Jesus Will Ferrell prayed to in Talladega Nights. He became a man…but not just any man. The God-man. Jesus is fully human and yet fully God.

It might not have been a silent night, but there were no paparazzi or bloggers at his birth. Yet God came to earth, Emmanuel, God with us. The word “incarnation” is often used this time of year. It means to embody, to exemplify, to manifest. One of Jesus’ best friends described the incarnation of God this way:

So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. (John 1:14)

The late Eugene Peterson used these words:

The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. (John 1:14a, The Message)

Christmas was just the beginning of the story. That little baby in the pictures came to live, teach, model for us what it means to be human. Then he died for our sins and failures, and rose from the dead

We often call this season “advent,” or waiting. Many of you are eagerly waiting and anticipating the opening of those gifts under the tree. Maybe you’re excited about being with loved ones. Perhaps you’re anxious about the loneliness, depression, or sadness you expect this Christmas. Regardless of your attitude toward Tuesday, I want to you to know we are waiting for something even greater than Christmas dinner or gifts from Amazon. We are waiting for the return of the King.

Today we stand between the first arrival of Jesus—as a baby—and the promised second coming of Jesus—as the King of kings and LORD of lords.

Christmas is not really about a baby or presents or even family. It’s about a dangerous woman giving birth to a dangerous man who would threaten the kingdom of this world with the Kingdom of God. It’s not about us, but about God, his love for his creation, and his audacious plan to seek and save humanity from the curse of sin and death. Herod had every right to be threatened by the birth of King Jesus, even though he appeared tender and mild. For two thousand years, men, women and children have been given the opportunity to follow the kings of this world or King Jesus. Even today, we choose each morning whether we will be subjects of our desires or God’s.

Don’t buy the myth that Jesus is a fairy tale figure or some spineless wimp. He began a revolution of love that grows each day, leading a rebellion against fear, evil, and destruction. He sacrificed his own life to prove his love was real, and he’s inviting you to follow him.

There’s a popular Christmas figure called Elf on a Shelf. Don’t let Jesus be your God on a shelf…or baby in a manger. He wants to be your King, your leader, your LORD. And he’ll change your life if you let him. He doesn’t guarantee lollipops and rainbows, but He promises to never abandon you. He will be with you through life’s storms. He’ll give you peace, hope, joy, and love. It will be the best Christmas gift you’ve ever received.

Credits: some ideas from
The Real Mary by Scot McKnight

You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.

He Shall Reign Forever! 8 April 2018

He Shall Reign Forever!
D6 Series—
Songs from the Heart (Psalms)
Psalm 72

Series Overview: The Psalms reveal hearts poured out in inspired song.

Big Idea: We are to honor, serve, and submit to King Jesus…who is coming soon.

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word…king?

The British Royal family?
The Lion King?
A fiction writer?
A tennis player?
A Cleveland basketball player?

This past week we remembered the horrific assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. 50 years ago.

We really have nothing in our culture quite like a king. No mayor, movie star, president, or billionaire CEO possesses the authority of a king.

Human Kings

The Bible is filled with kings, queens, and kingdoms. In the Old Testament alone, the word
melek or “king” in English appears almost 2700 times! Human kings first appear in Genesis 14. Saul, David, Solomon, Hezekiah, and Josiah are just a few of the biblical kings. Wealth and power surrounded them, though they often faced opposition from other kings and kingdoms.

The kings of Israel had to meet several strict criteria, according to Deuteronomy 17:14–20:

chosen by God
not a foreigner
must not accumulate horses (i.e., build up and trust in military might)
must not accumulate many wives
must not accumulate wealth for himself
must write a copy of the law for himself
must read it and obey it

Unlike foreign kings who were often considered to be gods themselves, the kings of Israel were not to be above the law, but rather subject to God’s law. The king was to be an example of a humble servant of God leading the people in keeping God’s law. Oh that all of our leaders would have such a posture!

In his book
Kingdom Conspiracy, Scot McKnight argues that in the Bible, “kingdom” implies five things

- A king
- A rule
- A people
- A law
- A land (Israel)

In short, the biblical understanding of “the kingdom’ is a people governed by a king. Today, the Kingdom of God, then, is the church.


Today we continue our month-long look into the book of Psalms. Last Sunday we began with Psalm 22 and those unforgettable words, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

The book of Psalms was Israel’s hymnbook. I’d love to hear the melodies of these songs! It probably won’t surprise many of you to know Psalms is my favorite book of the Bible, at least in the Old Testament. The passion, authenticity, and artistry of these lyrics are so real, relevant, and inspiring…thousands of years after their writing.

Just as there are different types of hymns, there are different types of Psalms. Psalm 72 is a Messianic Psalm, viewing the Messiah—which literally means “the anointed one”— as King. It was written by or for Solomon (by his father David) as a prayer, also prophetically speaking of Jesus the Messiah. They helped prepare the saints of the Old Testament for the coming of Christ. What’s fascinating about this Psalm is it’s written by a king…about King Jesus.

Of Solomon.

Endow the king with your justice, O God,
the royal son with your righteousness.
May he judge your people in righteousness,
your afflicted ones with justice. (Psalms 72:1-2)

I love the heart of the writer. The king has power, but wants it used wisely, benevolently. He seeks to be righteous and just. Of course, everything he seeks will ultimately be fulfilled in King Jesus.

May the mountains bring prosperity to the people,
the hills the fruit of righteousness.
May he defend the afflicted among the people
and save the children of the needy;
may he crush the oppressor. (Psalms 72:3-4)

Does anyone have a problem with this? Of course not. We all want to see prosperity. We want the suffering defended, the children saved, and the oppressors crushed. That’s justice. And I might add the subjects of the king carry out the wishes of the king.

May he endure as long as the sun,
as long as the moon, through all generations.
May he be like rain falling on a mown field,
like showers watering the earth.
In his days may the righteous flourish
and prosperity abound till the moon is no more. (Psalms 72:5-7)

A common theme in kingdom language is longevity and legacy. A member of the British royal family has been on the throne for centuries. Spoiler alert: King Jesus will rule forever!!!

May he rule from sea to sea
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
May the desert tribes bow before him
and his enemies lick the dust. (Psalms 72:8-9)

Verse 8 is similar to Zechariah 9:10. I love the imagery, especially in verse nine. May his enemies lick the desert dust!

May the kings of Tarshish and of distant shores
bring tribute to him.
May the kings of Sheba and Seba
present him gifts. (Psalms 72:10)

One day we will present King Jesus with gifts, laying our crowns before him (Revelation 4:10-11).

May all kings bow down to him
and all nations serve him.
For he will deliver the needy who cry out,
the afflicted who have no one to help.
He will take pity on the weak and the needy
and save the needy from death. (Psalms 72:11-13)

King Jesus will rule over all nations! Once again we see references to the needy, weak and afflicted. The Bible is loaded with concern for the vulnerable.

He will rescue them from oppression and violence,
for precious is their blood in his sight.
Long may he live!
May gold from Sheba be given him.
May people ever pray for him
and bless him all day long. (Psalms 72:14-15)

There’s a lot in these two verses which pretty much speak for themselves. Note the prayers. The psalmist recognized the need for prayer, for divine intervention. While we pray to Jesus more than pray for Jesus, we can certainly pray for our human leaders. The Presidential Prayer Team has a website where you can learn how to pray for our president and his colleagues. Our mayor, city council, governor, judges, and congress all need our prayers.

May grain abound throughout the land;
on the tops of the hills may it sway.
May the crops flourish like Lebanon
and thrive like the grass of the field. (Psalms 72:16)

We would probably never think to pray for grain and crops in a nation so agriculturally rich, yet we are not beyond drought, floods, and other natural disasters which could spoil our food supply.

May his name endure forever;
may it continue as long as the sun.

Then all nations will be blessed through him,
and they will call him blessed. (Psalms 72:17)

Again we see all nations impacted by the royal son of David, the Messiah, not just Israel. Thus concludes the prayer. The rest of the chapter is a doxology, the response of the people.

Praise be to the LORD God, the God of Israel,
who alone does marvelous deeds.

Praise be to his glorious name forever;
may the whole earth be filled with his glory.
Amen and Amen.
This concludes the prayers of David son of Jesse. (Psalms 72:17-20)

The LORD God is the One we are to praise. He is the source of all blessings, provisions, gifts, and wisdom.

May the name of the LORD be forever praised!
May the whole earth be filled with the glory of the LORD!

So What?

Although we may not be ruled by an earthly king, we are subjects to a heavenly King. He longs to see the vulnerable cared for, the oppressed released, and justice served. Every follower of Jesus has a duty, a responsibility, an obligation, and a privilege to glorify the King by carrying out His will, His desires in our world today. In His absence, we are to re-present the King well to our broken world.

Our Messiah, King Jesus, will one day return to rule and reign forever. Listen to these words most commonly recited around Christmastime:

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1:30-33)

Do you hear echoes of Lamentations?

You, LORD, reign forever; your throne endures from generation to generation. (Lamentations 5:19)

There’s more to Christianity than the cradle and the Cross. There’s also the crown. Chiseled into the cornerstone of the United Nations building is an unfulfilled quotation from Isaiah in the Bible. It reads,

They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. (Isaiah 2:4)

Won’t that be the day?! This is a prophecy of when the Messiah will reign over the earth. The prophet Ezekiel wrote,

A ruin! A ruin! I will make it a ruin! The crown will not be restored until he to whom it rightfully belongs shall come; to him I will give it.’ (Ezekiel 21:27)

The King is coming!

The NIV translation of the Bible includes 365 mentions of the word “kingdom.” Perhaps the most famous is in what we call the LORD’s prayer: Jesus said,

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“ ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:9-10)

The late Dallas Willard said we ask that the kingdom would “take over at all points in the personal, social and political order where it is now excluded.”  

This should be our constant prayer, for the rule of the King to be real and present in our lives. As subjects to the King, we are to seek the will of the King. We are to pray for heaven to kiss earth. We are all aware that we are in the now and the not yet, the in between time, the space where good and evil battle…but not forever!

Someday Jesus will return to the earth he created, the earth he visited, the earth where he lived, died, and rose from the dead. He ascended into heaven but promised to return. When he returns, he won’t come as a baby. His mission won’t be to surrender his life. He won’t ride a donkey. No, the return of the King will be much different. He will come back as the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Revelation tells us there will be a battle.

They will wage war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will triumph over them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings—and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.” (Revelation 17:14)

In fact,

On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:


In possibly the greatest musical composition of all time, The Messiah, George Frideric Handel wrote

The kingdom of this world
Is become the kingdom of our Lord,
And of His Christ, and of His Christ;
And He shall reign for ever and ever.
King of kings, and Lord of lords,…
And He shall reign forever and ever,
King of kings, forever and ever,
And Lord of lords,
Hallelujah! Hallelujah!


Dallas Willard explains in The Divine Conspiracy, “God’s own ‘kingdom,’ or ‘rule,’ is the range of his effective will, where what he wants done is done. The person of God himself and the action of his will are the organizing principles of his kingdom, but everything that obeys those principles, whether by nature or by choice, is within his kingdom.” This kingdom is among us, and is accessible now. Jesus said,

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:31-33)

May we seek first his kingdom, bringing honor and glory, praise and worship to the king of Kings and the lord of LORDs. He shall reign forever! Amen!

Credits: some notes from Dallas Willard, Scot McKnight, D6

  • You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.
  • Demanding, 20 March 2016

    Palm Sunday
    John 12:12-19

    Big Idea: Do we make demands of Jesus or allow Him to truly be LORD and King?

    The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,


    “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

    “Blessed is the king of Israel!” (John 12:12-13)

    The people blessed Jesus. They blessed the king of Israel. But there was another word they shouted…


    This word has several translations.

    Save us.
    Please save us.
    Save us now!

    These people were desperate. Rome was a vicious, violent place.

    Although it was built after Jesus walked the earth, the Colosseum is the largest amphitheater ever built, the place where many Christians were martyred in front of screaming fans.

    Time does not permit us to unpack the full context of Roman life at the time of Jesus, but it was oppressive, especially for the Jews.

    Here’s the thing: the people had an agenda for Jesus. They wanted Him to overthrow the government. They wanted Him to save them from Rome. We’re not exactly sure the tone of their voices, but rather than joyful shouts, they were very possibly desperate and demanding shouts.

    Save us now!

    We celebrate Palm Sunday as the arrival of Jesus into Jerusalem. We know He arrived not on a white horse but a modest colt.

    Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, as it is written:

    “Do not be afraid, Daughter Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” (John 12:14-15)

    Needless to say, Jesus did not meet the demands of the crowd. He did not meet the demands of His own disciples.

    At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that these things had been done to him. (John 12:16)

    Can you blame them? Days after the crowds shout, “Hosanna!” crowds—not necessarily the same people—yell, “Crucify Him!”

    All who followed Jesus—including the eleven and His mother—watched all of their hopes and dreams destroyed as He was nailed to a cross.

    But that’s for Friday!

    One More Thing

    There’s another biblical account involving palm branches and loud multitudes.

    After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:

    “Salvation belongs to our God,
    who sits on the throne,
    and to the Lamb.”

    All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying:

    Praise and glory
    and wisdom and thanks and honor
    and power and strength
    be to our God for ever and ever.
    Amen!” (Revelation 7:9-12)

    Today we close with worship. We sing praises to Jesus for He alone is worthy. He alone is King. And someday soon He will return not on a donkey but on a white horse. He will arrive not to die but to rule forever and ever. We will not shout, “Save us, now” but, “Thank You, Jesus!” And we prepare for eternity now as we declare Jesus as LORD.

    You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.

    Kingdom: Joseph, 14 September 2014

    Big Idea: God challenges us to represent Him in His Kingdom as we make Him LORD and King.


    Last week we said the Bible is a big book. It’s actually a library of 66 books. We usually study it verse-by-verse, like looking through a microscope. This series will look at it through a telescope, examining the big idea of the Bible.

    Our new series this fall is called Covenant & Kingdom. It is based upon ideas from Mike Breen and 3DMovements, a ministry that has been quite influential in the life of Scio in recent days. The book, Covenant & Kingdom, is available through Amazon or from I encourage you to get a copy and read ahead as we look at the big picture of the Bible.

    Covenant and Kingdom are woven throughout the Scriptures like a double helix is woven in DNA.

    Covenant is a sacred treaty in which two parties become one. In ancient times, this always involved the shedding of blood by an animal to to imply consequences for failure to fulfill the agreement.

    God made a covenant with Abram, promising blessings to him and his offspring in order for them to bless the world.

    Covenant is about relationship. Being.

    Kingdom is about responsibility. Doing.

    Life is filled with tension between being and doing, relationship and responsibility, being invited into relationship with God while also being challenged to represent Him and bless the world.

    Invitation and challenge.

    As we look at this idea of challenge, of kingdom, of doing God’s work in the world we are going to look at one of the most important characters in the Bible—Joseph.


    Abraham has a son named Isaac who has a son named Jacob who has twelve sons, the eleventh being his favorite son, Joseph.

    The story of Joseph begins in
    Genesis 37

    Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them. (Genesis 37:2b)

    Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made a richly ornamented robe for him. When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him. (Genesis 37:3-4)

    Do you have siblings? Do you have sibling rivalry? Imagine your younger sibling was given three desserts at dinner, triple allowance, and the new iPhone the day it is released? To your parents you would probable say, “It’s not…fair!” You would likely become envious of your sib and despise them.

    Joseph had eleven brothers who were sick of him. He was a gifted, handsome, arrogant teenager who believed he was the center of the universe. That alone is recipe for disaster! Then his dad gives him a special coat with long sleeves, a sign of the supervisor’s role!

    Next Joseph has two dreams (37:5-10), one in which the grain of his brothers bowed to his, the other in which the sun and moon and eleven stars bowed to him. Joseph is not only the center of his universe, his dreams confirm it!

    Jacob sends Joseph to his brothers who are grazing the flocks. They plot to kill him, but Reuben insists they throw him into a cistern instead. The brothers strip him of his robe, throw him into the empty well, and sold him to Ishmaelites who took him to Egypt where he was sold to “Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard” (37:36).

    The LORD was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. (39:2)

    His life had gone from wonderful to dreadful and now things are looking up. It says two things: the LORD was with Joseph and he prospered. What changed? Perhaps Joseph was broken by his rejection by his brothers. He almost certainly cried out to God for help. I’m sure he was a bit confused by his fortunes when he goes from elaborate dreams to being thrown into an empty well. Instead of his brothers bowing down to him, they almost kill him!

    Joseph is no longer the center of the universe. God moves to Joseph’s center.

    My favorite passage in the Bible says

    Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

    I believe during those difficult moments of rejection by his brothers Joseph began to trust God. He had nowhere else to turn.

    Sometimes that’s God’s plan—to get our attention in order to become LORD.

    Rarely does someone on top of the world—or the center of their own universe—turn to God. What’s the point?! They have everything they need and want. It’s usually during a crisis that we surrender to God.

    Perhaps you were told Jesus died for you so you could pray a prayer, be forgiven, and go to heaven when you die. That’s not the gospel. That’s a plan of salvation, but it’s not the gospel, the good news. It’s merely a part of it.

    The gospel is Jesus is LORD. That’s good news because it is more than personal and individualistic. Jesus is LORD of all.

    The late Dallas Willard used to talk about how the “Gospels of Sin Management” presume a Christ with no serious work other than redeeming humankind. This fosters “vampire Christians,” who only want a little blood for their sins but nothing more to do with Jesus until heaven.

    Jesus wants to be your Savior, but He also wants to be your LORD. It’s not about ego, but wisdom. He knows best. The sooner we can make Him the center of our universe, the sooner He will make our paths straight. He doesn’t promise it will be an easy path, but it will be filled with peace, joy, contentment, and hope because He knows best.

    Back to Joseph!

    Potiphar loves Joseph and puts him in charge of his household (39:4). Everything is great…until Potiphar’s wife tries to seduce Joseph. When he chooses to honor God rather than give in to her temptation, she accuses Joseph of sexual harassment.

    When his master heard the story his wife told him, saying, “This is how your slave treated me,” he burned with anger. Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined.

    But while Joseph was there in the prison, the LORD was with him; he showed him kindness and granted him favor in the eyes of the prison warden. (Genesis 39:19-21)

    Remember, Joseph is in prison because he followed the LORD. Is it any surprise that the LORD was with him? It’s terrific to read how Joseph received kindness and favor from the prison warden…but he’s still in prison! An innocent man has been punished! How can Joseph be used by God? He’s stuck in prison!

    Have you ever felt that way? How can God use you since you’re stuck…in this job, this marriage, with this family, with these weaknesses, with these limitations?

    I heard a great story last week about an actress who moved to Los Angeles. She was certain God led her there to be salt and light in a dark industry. After multiple auditions without a job, she questioned her pastor about what God was doing. She obeyed God and moved to L.A. but was finding no success. Her pastor said perhaps she was sent to California to minister to the struggling actors and actresses that are not finding success. Her own failures would be more connective to starving artists than her own successes.

    I can only imagine the conversations Joseph had with God in prison, asking why, questioning his own calling, and feeling even further from the fulfillment of his dreams. Joseph may not have even realized it but he was moving God closer and closer to the center of his universe. Mike Breen says, “Godʼs Kingdom needs the “door” of a humble heart. God wants to work in Josephʼs submitted heart—and ours.

    Dreams, Genesis 40

    In the next chapter we see the butler, the baker,…but not the candlestick maker! The butler and baker had offended the king of Egypt, their master, and joined Joseph in prison. They have dreams, Joseph interprets them, the dreams come true, the baker is hung, and the cupbearer (or butler) is set free.

    The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him. (Genesis 40:23)

    I wonder if Joseph was fully surrounded to God or just grateful to be given gifts to interpret dreams. Genesis 41 begins by telling us Joseph was in prison for two more years after the butler is released.

    Pharaoh has two dreams, no one could interpret them, and the cupbearer remembers Joseph.

    So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh.

    Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.”

    “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.” (Genesis 41:14-16)

    “I cannot do it.” Joseph has finally moved from the center of his universe to the edge, and God has taken residence on the throne of Josephʼs heart. Joseph is fully surrendered, allowing God to express His Kingdom rule in his life and to fulfill his earliest calling, to rule and to govern.

    The rest of the story is quite remarkable as Joseph becomes Pharaoh’s right-hand man and eventually Joseph’s brothers literally bow down to him as they are desperate for food years later. The dreams God gave Joseph are eventually fulfilled.

    So What?

    Because of God’s covenant, we have a relationship with Him. Our identity is children of the King.

    As children of the King, we have a responsibility to represent the King to our world. We are HIs ambassadors, His agents on planet earth.

    God’s doesn’t just pick everyone to do His bidding, to be a Kingdom operative. God is looking for humble hearts that seek Him, that put Him at the center of their lives. The Bible says, “Youʼre the child of God and He wants to fashion your heart, so that you
    can be His representative. But that means a journey into humility and submission to Me.” Like Joseph, we must move from being the center of our world to inviting Jesus to be the center.

    Jesus’ first words to His disciples were, “Follow Me.” His final words were, “Go and make disciples.” Invitation and challenge. Covenant and Kingdom. Relationship and responsibility.

    It all begins with making our Savior our LORD.


    Ideas for this series taken from book of the same title by Mike Breen and

    You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

    King David, 22 December 2013

    Big Idea: The only greater king than David is Jesus. Will He be your King?

    Scripture Reading, 1 Samuel 16:4-13

    Introduction: Kings

    What do you think of when you hear the word King? We struggle in our culture to understand royalty. Most USAmericans probably think of celebrity when words like “prince” or “lady” or “royal family” are mentioned. In England, there is great wealth in Queen Elizabeth’s family, but limited power. Unless something unexpected takes place, we will soon see King Charles, King William, and King George.

    Imagine a land where one man ruled. He is sovereign and in complete control. He creates the law and is above it. He has unlimited riches…and power.

    Would you prefer to live under such a person or dwell in a democracy like our nation? Why? It depends upon who is on the throne. Today millions are oppressed by dictators in nations such as North Korea. They can submit or die.

    On this fourth Sunday of Advent, we are waiting for Jesus. For thousands of years, the world awaited the Messiah who arrived on the day we celebrate as Christmas. For the past two weeks we have examined agents of God that were forerunners of the Messiah. Each person radically changed history in anticipation of Emmanuel, God with us.

    From the beginning of time, God has wanted to pursue us and be our king. Some have called Adam the first king. He and Eve were given dominion over creation in the Garden of Eden. They failed, of course. Two weeks ago we talked about Adam, our first father. He co-created with God but also introduced sin to our world through the Fall. Jesus is called the second Adam because He reversed the curse of death through His own.

    Generations later, God makes a covenant with Abraham—our agent from last Sunday. Like Adam, Abraham was a deeply flawed man, yet God used him mightily. Out of Abraham the nation of Israel was born. God was their king, guiding Moses and the Israelites from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land. Despite God’s goodness and faithfulness, the people begged for a human king like the surrounding nations have, ultimately rejecting God as their LORD.

    Today we’re looking at our third and final biblical character, a king. The scripture read moments ago records the search for a new king. Saul is the first king of Israel, but God told the prophet Samuel to find his successor, a shepherd boy who is both an unlikely yet a perfect choice to become king. His name is…David.

    David was an agent of God. Few in human history have been more successful than the giant-killing shepherd boy who became the most famous king of Israel and, arguably, the most famous leader in human history other than Jesus. In fact, no person is mentioned more in the Bible besides Christ. To say that David was legendary is a great understatement.

    There are three things to know about David.

    First, he was immensely successful. Before thwarting Israelite slavery by killing Goliath, he had killed a lion and bear…without a gun (1 Samuel 17)! That was just the beginning. Women met King Saul, dancing and singing, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands. (1 Sam. 18:6-7)” He was a respected, powerful, magnificent ruler.

    The second thing to know about David is he was immensely sinful. Other than Adam and Eve’s infamous fruit snack, David’s lust, adultery, rape, and murder are the most notorious evil in the Bible. It has been said that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. David is Exhibit A.

    The third thing to know about David is he was a man after God’s own heart.

    After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’ (Acts 13:22)

    He wrote most of the psalms, many filled with praise and others lament and question. He is my favorite Bible character other than Jesus. I love his passion, his honesty, and his musical skills. Many have wondered why a man with such a track record could be considered a man after God’s own heart. Psalm 51 reveals a broken, repentant man seeking reconciliation and restoration with the God he loves.

    Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your unfailing love;
    according to your great compassion
    blot out my transgressions.
    Wash away all my iniquity
    and cleanse me from my sin.

    For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is always before me.
    Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight;
    so you are right in your verdict
    and justified when you judge.

    Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
    Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
    Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
    (Psalm 51:1-4; 10-12)

    David confessed his sins and repented. Despite his great power, he needed forgiveness. He needed a Savior. He needed a King.

    King Jesus

    For generations people waited for the true King. Not surprisingly, this Messiah was a descendent of King David. In fact, the very first words in the New Testament, Matthew 1:1, says

    This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah the son of David, the son of Abraham:

    We won’t take the time to read the entire genealogy today, but verses 2 through 16 conclude with the record of

    …Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah. (Matthew 1:16b)

    Jesus was a descendent of King David, though He hardly looked like a king during His thirty three years on our planet. He was born in a barn in a small town called Bethlehem. We know almost nothing about his first thirty years of life. When He goes public, the carpenter’s son teaches, performs miracles, and enters Jerusalem, not on a horse, but a humble donkey. The most surprising moment came when this promised King freely surrendered Himself to executioners who crucified Him, dashing all hopes that this Man was the Messiah who would set the people free from Roman tyranny. Or so they thought.

    Although hijacked by Santa and shopping, this season celebrates a king,
    the King. He visited our planet once and will return soon to rule and reign over sin, death, and evil forever. Here’s a description of what is to come:

    I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:

    (Rev. 19:11-16)

    So now we wait for the return of the King. In the very last chapter of the Bible, Revelation 22, we find these words…

    “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

    “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” (Revelation 22:12-13, 16)

    King Jesus is the root and the offspring of King David, the bright Morning Star. Jesus—the little baby we see in Nativity scenes—will rule and reign forever…with us, imparting to His followers His own glory and a share in His royal dominion. He is coming soon!

    But wait, He’s here. We can’t see Him, but some of the greatest things in the world cannot be seen, like the wind, love, joy, or peace. But He’s here. He sent the Holy Spirit to live on our planet. Where? Inside every believer.

    It’s easy to look back at the birthday of King Jesus.
    It’s easy to look forward to the return of King Jesus.

    We struggle with the in-between.

    God is called
    Emmanuel which means “God with us.” We’ve sung it. We know it. But King Jesus is here…now…in this room. Yes, His physical body left the planet, but He sent the Holy Spirit to live and rule and reign…in us!


    In three days we will celebrate the birthday of a King. Will it be just another holiday, a day off work and reason to throw a party, or will it be a time to truly remember the King who became one of us…and who will return soon to rule and reign forever?

    This Christmas as we celebrate the birth of a King, I encourage you to do two things:

    1. Welcome Jesus into your life, your heart, your home. He is alive and wants nothing more than you—all of you. Kings do not have part-time subjects. Many love Jesus as Savior, but refuse to recognize Him as LORD. He gave everything for you when He died on the cross. He loves you so much, regardless of your past. Jesus is a King who willingly died for His subjects, asks everything in return, but then exchanges our broken, messed-up lives for abundant life filled with hope, joy, peace, purpose, and love. It’s the greatest gift ever!

    2. Prepare for the return of the King. He will return on a white horse, not a donkey. He will rule the world with truth and grace. Forever. Are you ready?

    Joy To The World

    You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

    King of Love, John 19:16b-24, 22 September 2013

    Big Idea: Jesus held out His arms and said, “I love you THIS much!” Does everyone know?

    What is love?

    This week I was talking with a friend who told me about a family that has no faith in God because they only believe in science, that which can be proven. I asked about love. Can you prove that love exists? What is it?

    This is a question I return to again and again because it is used so often in our culture to describe so many different things. Frequently it is just a word used to manipulate someone into doing something, but love itself requires doing and action. Love is a verb.

    Our text for today could actually be a short passage referenced months ago in the third chapter of John. It says

    For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

    We continue our series on the Gospel or “good news” of John, a biography of Jesus written by one of His best friends. The next several weeks will address the final hours of Jesus before His burial. I must warn you that some of the content will be graphic and disturbing. Parents, be advised we have some short videos that involve the crucifixion. The suffering we have examined in the past few weeks was excruciating, but Jesus willingly experienced crucifixion, the ultimate Roman torture.

    Before we look at
    what Jesus did, I want to be crystal clear about why He suffered and died. He did it for you and for me.

    For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

    For God so loved you and me that He sent Jesus to die for us.

    Centuries earlier, the prophet Isaiah wrote

    But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
    the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.
    (Isaiah 53:5)

    So begins Mel Gibson’s film The Passion of the Christ, the most successful rated R movie in history, grossing over $370 million.

    He was pierced, crushed, punished, and wounded…because He loves us.

    Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified.

    So the soldiers took charge of Jesus.

    If you recall, Pilate desperately wanted to release Jesus as He found no reason for Him to be arrested, much less executed. Bowing to the pressure of the Jewish leaders and their threats of involving Caesar, Jesus was handed over to be crucified by the soldiers.

    Carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). (19:17)

    They took Jesus outside the city to crucify Him. This is a fascinating detail because the traditional place of Jesus’ death is now a church, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, but it is inside the city. Personally, I found it to be something of a religious freak show, a series of buildings that actually house multiple churches, religious artifacts, and a large box built in 1810, the edicule of the Holy Sepulchre that is supposed to commemorate the tomb where Jesus was buried! I found the whole thing to be very strange, dark, extremely religious (and not in a good way) and depressing. I found it a very odd way to celebrate a living Christ!

    There is another site outside the city that is believe to have possibly been the location because of its name, the place of the Skull.

    John tell us…

    There they crucified him, and with him two others —one on each side and Jesus in the middle. (19:18)

    John does not give us details of the crucifixion.

    One detail found in the other Gospels (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34) is Jesus quoting Psalm 22:

    My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me,
    so far from my cries of anguish?
    (Psalm 22:1)

    When you understand a bit about crucifixion, you quickly understand why Jesus felt forsaken. In order to understand the agony from a medical perspective, I found this video.

    Pilate had a notice prepared and fastened to the cross. It read: JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS. Many of the Jews read this sign, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the sign was written in Aramaic, Latin and Greek. The chief priests of the Jews protested to Pilate, “Do not write ‘The King of the Jews,’ but that this man claimed to be king of the Jews.” (19-21)

    It was fairly common for condemned criminals to wear signs around their necks while on their way to execution to serve warning to others.

    Jesus died for all and the sign was in multiple languages, the three most understood at the time. For God so loved the world. Even the declaration of Jesus’ Kingship was announced to all.

    Pilate answered, “What I have written, I have written.”

    Pilate infuriated the chief priests. He probably doesn’t believe Jesus is a king any more than they do, but he makes fun of them, a “calculated snub,” in the words of scholar N.T. Wright. Regardless, the words were true. Jesus is Israel’s Messiah and He died for every man, woman and child from every nation, tribe and tongue.

    May he rule from sea to sea
    and from the River to the ends of the earth.
    (Psalm 72:8)

    May all kings bow down to him
    and all nations serve him.

    For he will deliver the needy who cry out,
    the afflicted who have no one to help.
    He will take pity on the weak and the needy
    and save the needy from death.
    He will rescue them from oppression and violence,
    for precious is their blood in his sight.
    (Psalm 72:11-14)

    Anyone familiar with the Scriptures had to see the promised Messiah, yet it was the most religious that had Jesus arrested and crucified.

    When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. (23)

    “Let’s not tear it,” they said to one another. “Let’s decide by lot who will get it.”

    This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled that said,

    “They divided my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.”

    Indeed Psalm 22, which we mentioned earlier, continues

    Dogs surround me,
    a pack of villains encircles me;
    they pierce my hands and my feet.
    All my bones are on display;
    people stare and gloat over me.
    They divide my clothes among them
    and cast lots for my garment.
    (Psalm 22:16-18)

    So this is what the soldiers did. (24b)

    So What?

    I struggled to prepare this message because it involved many disturbing images and accounts. At times, I found myself getting sick when I thought about the agony involved in crucifixion…but it was all part of Jesus’ ambition and plan to seek and save the lost, to offer hope to the hopeless, to offer forgiveness to us sinners, to offer reconciliation between us and our heaven Father we have rejected.

    This is a love story. This is passion.

    Have your received His love?
    Have you shared His love?

    For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

    You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

    No King But Caesar, John 19:8-16a, 15 September 2013

    Big Idea: Who is your king?


    Why are you? I didn’t ask who you are, but why are you who you are. Why did you become the person you are today, or put another way, how are you? I don’t mean how are you doing, but how did you become the person you are today.

    Why are you?
    How are you?

    A more conventional question might be who and what has made the greatest impact on your life? We are the product of people and experiences that have shaped us. Perhaps you love sports because your dad loves sports. Maybe you joined the military after being moved by a movie or a book. Some of you have devoted great resources to care for those in need because of the example of a mentor or friend. When you think of who you are, why and how are you you?

    These questions are almost irrelevant in many parts of the world. Freedoms are scarce. Occupations are given rather than chosen.

    In our culture, however, we make hundreds or even thousands of choices each day about what to wear, how to spend our time, what kind of toothpaste to buy, what music to listen to, and what sources of information we will consume.

    Some choices are easy.

    Pizza or tacos?
    iPhone or Android?
    Coke or Pepsi?
    Michigan or Ohio State?

    What is the most difficult choice you have ever made? Why? How do you decide?

    Last week we looked at Pontius Pilate and his inability to find guilt in Jesus despite the cries of the Jewish leaders who shouted for His crucifixion.

    Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, “Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.” When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, “Here is the man!” (19:4-5)

    As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!”

    But Pilate answered, “You take him and crucify him. As for me, I find no basis for a charge against him.”

    The Jewish leaders insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God.” (19:7)

    This brings us to today’s text.

    When Pilate heard this, he was even more afraid, and he went back inside the palace. “Where do you come from?” he asked Jesus, but Jesus gave him no answer. “Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have power either to free you or to crucify you?” (19:8-10)

    Notice Pilate’s fear. It has grown. He is beginning to panic. He is looking for any possible to way to decree a “not guilty” verdict and asks Jesus for help. He knows an innocent man stands before him, and a special man at that.

    Jesus answered,
    “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin.” (19:11)

    Jesus uses this opportunity to teach about God’s providence! He doesn’t even discount Pilate’s authority, but refers to its source.

    There are different types and severity of sin.

    Pilate is again trying to release Jesus.

    From then on, Pilate tried to set Jesus free, but the Jewish leaders kept shouting, “If you let this man go, you are no friend of Caesar. Anyone who claims to be a king opposes Caesar.” (19:12)

    The Jewish leaders were going to report Pilate to Rome. Pilate is a politician, through and through. Power is dangerous.

    The Jewish leaders used threats to Caesar as their last resort, their secret weapon.

    When Pilate heard this, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judge’s seat at a place known as the Stone Pavement (which in Aramaic is Gabbatha). It was the day of Preparation of the Passover; it was about noon.

    “Here is your king,” Pilate said to the Jews.

    Jesus is being delivered into the hands of religious and political sinners.

    The cross was a mercy seat where God could reach down and save sinners.

    The cross was a sacrifice for Jesus, an offering for sin, an act of obedience.

    The cross was a substitution for us as Jesus took our place.

    The cross was a triumph for satan (Genesis 3:15) and ultimately a defeat.

    The cross was a brutal murder to the world.

    But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”

    “Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.

    He continues to question their judgment.

    “We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.

    Notice these are the religious leaders declaring their devotion to a human leader. They fail to recognize God in their midst, the Messiah they had been anticipating for generations.

    Finally Pilate handed him over to them to be crucified. (19:16)

    The oldest creed of the Church says that Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate. He chose Caesar. The people chose Caesar.

    Who do you choose?

    Who is your king?

    It may seem like a silly question since we have no king in our nation, no Caesar, no Pilate. Not even the most ardent supporter of a president or governor would call them king or lord or offer the allegiance afforded a king. We know the right answer on Sunday morning is “Jesus.”

    But who do you really serve? Who is your God, your king? Who influences you? Whose voice do you hear? The world is loud. It screams that it’s all about you, your pleasure, your power, and your stuff. Phone companies have realized two years is too long to wait for a new cell phone. Your house is too small. You need more Facebook friends and Twitter followers. If it feels good, do it. He who dies with the most toys wins. Everything is relative. Don’t judge. We’re all supposed to be happy. As long as it doesn’t hurt someone, do whatever you want.

    Despite our culture’s journey away from the Bible, many know the Ten Commandments, or at least some of them. Don’t murder. Don’t steal. Don’t lie.

    What is the first and greatest commandment?

    You shall have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:3)

    No other kings. No greater influences. No higher allegiances.

    Who is your king? Prove it with your life.

    You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.