What can we learn from disappointment?
Sermon presented during the Feast of Unleavened Bread on March 26, 2013 in the Toronto, Ontario, Canada congregation.
An interesting question to ask a child is, and you'd probably asked this, what do you want to be when you grow up? And some of little children, and maybe you are one of those little children, had a pretty good idea, firm specific idea, of what they wanted to be as they grew up and when they grew up.
Now an interesting question similarly to ask someone in their adulthood, after they have established their career is: When you were a child, what career did you have in mind for yourself? Because sometimes they match and sometimes they don't and it is interesting to track to see how that might have played out.
When I was a child, my earliest career aspirations, well, my very earliest career aspiration was to become a cowboy, of course. A friend of mine, a fellow Ukrainian student, wanted to become an Indian instead of a Cowboy and we had to break it to him gently that his likelihood of success would not be great.
However, as I got a little bit older, not a lot older but a little bit older, my aspiration changed and I wanted to be, because we had a railway going through town, a railroad from the city – we called it a city, it is still a city I suppose; it is smaller by our standards here – Prince Albert to North Battleford, a train came through town three times a day in those days. The passenger went in both directions, so once in the morning and once in the afternoon, and then the freight came through in one direction one day and the opposite direction the next. There were three occasions per day where you could go to the railroad station and watch the train, a proper train, a steam power train that huffed and puffed and was almost like a living thing compared to a diesel electric that we have today.
So my aspiration then, eventually when I was seven or eight I suppose, was to someday become a locomotive engineer. That was the equivalent then, somewhat, of becoming an airline pilot, generally speaking. Then of course you could become a brakeman or a fireman and then eventually the locomotive engineer.
I hoped to augment that aspiration by actually looking inside the locomotive and I remember one day taking, finding the courage to actually ask the engineer when he crawled out of the steam locomotive, could I please have a look inside and he gruffly said that I could not. I was crushed. I was crushed and from then on my desire to become a locomotive engineer greatly diminished and eventually disappeared.
I remember admiring as I became little bit older, a new, new to him, a used new automobile that one of my cousins had purchased and I was looking forward at that time to someday having my own automobile, my own car. Maybe not necessarily having my own car but at least being able to drive it because then I could steer which was a fascinating phenomenon and most of all what I was looking forward to, was shifting gears because that would be most enjoyable. And then to my chagrin and almost horror this automobile had push button transmission and I thought that would take all the fun out of driving. What would be the point of having a car when you can't shift gears? What is this world coming to, I thought, even as a child.
Similarly, looking, developing this theme – we're taking it just a little bit further - I do remember clearly, because we grew up in a home where thankfully nobody smoked and in a home where nobody drank alcohol either and so once in a great while we would have a beverage like Orange Crush. If you were really daring you might have Pepsi Cola or Canada Dry or Two Way, Stubby Cola, Royal Crown Cola – you remember some of these marvelous drinks of the past.
A friend of my father's brought over one evening, I remember very clearly, he had a bottle of wine and he was sharing it with my dad who declined and then he saw me out of the corner of his eye peeking through a door way and he offered a glass or a taste for me and I accepted to my father's glowering reprimand. But I thought he can't do anything to me now. Later he can do plenty but now I can finally have my first, first ever taste of wine, which I did. My first taste, my first swallow of the real thing: wine in a glass! I was greatly disappointed. It didn't taste anything like Pepsi Cola. It didn't taste anything like Orange Crush because of course there are certain things that you have to develop a certain taste for and then you appreciate the food or the beverage thereafter.
Today I'd like to explore in the sermon, for today, the subject of disappointment; the subject of disappointment. Life seems so filled with it and many of us feel like we get more than our fair share and at times wish we could avoid more than comes our way and it begins in childhood. What can we learn from disappointment and what does it have to do with this time of year, with the Passover season? We will see the connection as we go along.
Luke 2: Let's first of all, by turning to the gospel of Luke, reading a section here, see and observe the conditions in Israel at the time of the birth of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Luke 2:21 Luke 2:21And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
American King James Version×And when eight days were completed for the circumcision of the Child, His name was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.
One of the challenges that brand new parents have is to select the ideal name for that child and this can be a little bit difficult because there are expectations on one side of the family and the other side of the family. Who will the child be named after? And so you go and buy a book about names and find the ideal name for the child you are anticipating to have. This is all solved for them because a name was provided ahead of time.
V.22 – Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord.
So they adhered to the strictures of scripture and brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to God in accordance to what it says in:
V.23 – (as it is written in the law of the Lord,
Now this instruction in Luke 2:22 Luke 2:22And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;
American King James Version×is called the law of Moses and Luke 2:23 Luke 2:23(As it is written in the law of the LORD, Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;)
American King James Version×it is called the law of the Lord – same thing. Moses delivered it; God was the author of it.
V.23 – (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord")
Now all people who are Christian living people, we are conscious of holiness. We learn about the importance of the Holy Sabbath, the Holy Days and other elements in scripture that are defined as being holy where as the world at large has lost that concept and do not know the difference between the holy and the profane. We do and we heighten that awareness as we keep the Festivals, as we keep the Sabbath.
V.24 – and to offer a sacrifice (according to what?) according to (what is in) the law of the Lord, "A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons."
This tells us that the parents of Jesus Christ were of modest means. So this is what people of modest means would offer: a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.
V.25- And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, (and he was waiting for something. What was he waiting for? What was he anticipating? What was he hoping to experience or to observe? He was waiting for, the scripture uses the term that we are not necessarily all that familiar with, but uses the term) waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
What does that mean, that term, Consolation of Israel? Do you know what it means to be consoled? There are times when you, when I, we need to be consoled. Someone comes along and says, well, it looks like you can use some consolation. Well, it doesn't usually happen quite that way but there are times when we can use some consoling. Maybe our spouse notices that or our very close friend can tune in to where you are emotionally and can reach out to you and console you. This is referring to the coming of the Messiah who would then comfort the people of Israel; who would console them. He was to be a Comforter and He sent after His departure another Comforter, as you know.
So he was waiting for something. What was he waiting for? The Consolation of Israel.
V.26 – And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ.
How did that happen? We don't know but somehow, someway, because he was such a devout man, he was allowed to understand that he wouldn't die before first seeing Jesus the Christ, and then he would die and he would be ready to die.
V.27 – So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the infant Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law,
V.28 – he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said:
Would you give your couple of weeks old child to a stranger? He might drop him. How much experience have you had lately sir, holding infants? They are very fragile but this was a special situation. He, this devout individual, Simon was just and devout, Simeon I should say, he took up this infant child, blessed God and said and look at his words:
V.29 – "Lord now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word;
V.30 – For my eyes have seen Your salvation
V.31 – Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples,
V.32 – A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel."
Isn't that amazing that he, Simeon, this just devout man, could see Jesus the Son of God as an infant, recognize Him for who He was where so many others, even as an adult, couldn't recognize Him, wouldn't recognize Him, rejected Him? As an adult who spoke and perform miracles they still rejected Him, wanted to kill Him; succeeded eventually. But he recognized Jesus the Christ even as an infant.
V.33 – And Joseph and His mother marveled at those things which were spoken of Him.
They didn't say, well, yes, after all he is our boy. He is special. They marveled at what was said about this infant whom they knew was special but didn't comprehend exactly how special He would be.
V.34 – Then Simeon - now first of all, Simeon blesses God. Look at Luke 2:28 Luke 2:28Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
American King James Version×- he took Him up in his arms and blessed God. And here in Luke 2:34 Luke 2:34And Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;
American King James Version×Simeon blessed them (the new parents) and said to Mary His mother, "Behold, (here is a prophecy) this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against
V.35 – (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."
What a prophecy to be given by this special, just, devout man of God whose name was Simeon.
Now, there was another person according to verse 36, so let's see who this individual is, recognizable to us of course as:
V.36 – Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity;
V37 – and this woman was a widow of about eighty four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God (and how did she serve God in the temple?) with fastings and prayers night and day.
V.38 – And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for (same thing as Simeon did. Instead of saying Consolation of Israel, this time it says) redemption in Jerusalem.
People then were waiting for, hoping for, yearning for the consolation of Israel or the redemption of Israel, redemption in Jerusalem.
Have you ever had to pawn something? Don't answer this question. Have you ever been down on your luck, if I can use that expression, and had to come up with cash fast and you pawn something so that you could get the needed cash and then later on go off to redeem it, to buy it back and hopefully it would still be there? Redemption – something is bought back.
I get a sense of that when occasionally, and I do enjoy doing this from time to time especially with grandchildren but sometimes I do this all by myself, is to go into a pet store and just look at the little animals in a pet store. The kittens, the puppies and there is all kinds of magnificent creatures. If you go into a particular type of rescue situation where animals had been rescued or you go to a kennel – where dogs and cats are there during the Feast of Tabernacles for instance, or they are there for adoption and these magnificent little kittens and little puppies look up at each person that comes in and says, pick me; pick me. I'll be a good puppy; I'll be a good kitten. Take me home. I can hardly wait. You'll see, take me home with you. It is interesting to see that look on their faces where they want to be as it were, redeemed, rescued, which is what Israel as a whole then was waiting for.
This is illustrated or described in the book "The day Christ died". I have referred to this before and do so from year to year, most years in fact. What was the climate, what was the atmosphere in the nation of Israel at the time of the coming of Jesus Christ?
"Above all," this is page 63: "Above all, the Jews awaited a Messiah. The Messiah was a sweet national obsession on the minds of most everyone." The Messiah. "It was ecstasy beyond happiness. Joy beyond comprehension. It was a balm to a weary farmers bones as he lay with his family waiting for sleep". You know that feeling. You might have had it last night. You are waiting; you are waiting for sleep. Sometimes you are so tired and you can't sleep because you are over tired.
"It was a single last hope of the aged, the thing a child looked too, a mountain of snowy clouds to see. It was the hope of Judea; enchained the Messiah; always the promise of tomorrow morning. The solemn surge of singing in the heart of every good Jew was the core of Judea at the time of Jesus. This was the top most stone and the climb toward eternity. No matter how many were born and grew up and grew old and died, each new generation was sure that it would live to see both of these events. And the more they heard that other generations before them had similar aspirations, the more certain each new one was that they were nearer to the fulfillment. The old prophets had promised that the great elect would come from God Himself and He would liberate the tribes of Israel then if the people were worthy. The enemies of Palestine would be destroyed. Israel would reign over all the pagan nations of the world and bring to them the one true God and this would be His final triumph".
So that was the climate where people were yearning for the coming of the Messiah and they were certain it was near. John 6 – we are looking at John 6 once again; looking at it from a slightly different perspective here than we did before.
John 6:1 John 6:1After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias.
American King James Version×After these things Jesus went over the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias.
V.2 – Then a great multitude followed Him (How great is a great multitude? A significant number of people and in this time in His career Jesus Christ had celebrity status.) because they saw His signs which He performed on those who were diseased.
And of course they would be fed, too.
V.3 – And Jesus went up on the mountain and there He sat with His disciples.
V.4 – Now the Passover, a feast of the Jews, was near.
The same time of year as we find ourselves in.
V.5 – Then Jesus lifted up His eyes, and seeing a great multitude coming toward Him, He said to Philip, "Where shall we buy bread, that these may eat?"
He did not say, well, they should have planned ahead. They should have brought a box lunch. They should have brought sandwiches. They should have provided for themselves. He was concerned not only for their spiritual wellbeing but also for their physical wellbeing. You know we reviewed this earlier. Miracles were performed; people were fed; they ate to the full. The fragments were greater in number than what the original supply of food was and there was a time in the early days of the Church, about 1969 I think, when this happened, I think, in Pittsburgh. Some long time members will remember. A similar event occurring on a High Holy Day when there was not enough food and there was more food than needed to feed everybody and so it seemed that this has occurred over the years as need would arise.
V.13 – Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.
The barley loaves back then were considered economy bread. This is what people of lesser means would ordinarily buy.
V.14 – Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, "This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world."
V.15 – Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone.
Now how many could resist that? How many people could resist the declaration of kingship? They wanted to get on with God's plan, to be liberated from the Romans, to see their nation become number one in the world. They were dreaming about this and here at last the Messiah, apparently the Messiah, had arrived and they could get on with the plan of God and put it into fast forward just a little bit. You see this happening today a little bit where someone, a certain – let's keep this hypothetical – a political party is looking for a leader. There are various leaders who are campaigning to be the head of that political party and they all put themselves forward as the one most qualified to be leader of a particular political party and then someone already is anointed king, even ahead of time. So much so that the next contender drops out and says well, there is no point in me trying to be the head of the party because it is fate accompli. But still the race goes on.
Do you remember a book written, entitled, and a movie was made with the same title, "The man who would be King" by Rudyard Kipling? Rudyard Kipling, who wrote in 1888 "The man who would be King". It is a very interesting book about two soldiers who decided that they would go to a place called Kafristan and there look for the possibility of adventure and in so doing - this was played to Sean Connery, Michael Caine and Christopher Plummer, who portrayed Rudyard Kipling, and it is an interesting study in human nature: The difficulty of resisting honor. You think of two of the grand men of scripture in the book of Acts where they thought, these are gods. This is Hermes and Jupiter. We will sacrifice oxen to them and then before the chapter is through, they are trying to kill them.
The same thing happened to Daniel Dravot and Peachy Carnehan. By the time they were through in their kingship in Kafristan, they were fortunate to get out with their lives. A study in human nature. "The man who would be King" by Rudyard Kipling, written in 1888, still applicable today.
Mark 10 – In Mark 10 we will see here what happens when ambition gets out of hand. It is important to have a little bit of ambition but it has to be contained, channeled correctly but look at Mark 10. We may observe a phenomenon like this at our work place.
Mark 10:35 Mark 10:35And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come to him, saying, Master, we would that you should do for us whatever we shall desire.
American King James Version×Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee (there was a mother Zebedee behind the scenes here). James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him, saying "Teacher (saying to Jesus Christ, Teacher) we want You to do for us whatever we ask."
Has anyone ever asked you that? If you are in a supervisory capacity or a leadership role and someone says to you, I have a small thing however to ask. Please say yes. Then of course all kinds of bells go off and lights start flashing. What kind of a question is that? "Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask"
V.36 – And He said to them, "What do you want Me to do for you?"
He did not say: of course I will. You name it. You got it. No, He didn't quite put it that way. Yes, well what do you have in mind? And they didn't want very much.
V.37 – They said to Him, "Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory."
That's all we are asking. We are asking for the two top positions in the Kingdom for all of eternity. Not much. These two small little requests we have.
V.38 – But Jesus said to them, "You do not know what you ask. (You do not know what you are asking.) Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" (You don't know what you're asking!)
We go through a routine of sorts with our granddaughter most Friday evenings through Skype and probably a lot of us who are here communicate with family around the world, using Skype. It is real time or almost so. The audio and video are almost in sync so we see her as a four year old most Friday evenings. From Houston her parents will come on the line first and then eventually we have grandmother and grandfather focus time with our four year, only granddaughter, in Houston, Texas.
And she will ask us often, she did last Friday: Would you like me to tell you a story? Sure, we would.
Okay, you can have story number 1, number 4 and number 7.
Which one would you like?
Well, we think number 7.
You don't want that one. It is too scary. It will give you nightmares. Take 4.
Okay, we will take 4.
Did you want there to be a giraffe, a bear, a hyena or a lion?
We will take a bear.
Okay. Would you like its name to be Kelly or we can give it another name?
By the time we are all done the story is almost all over! Amazing how precocious – I've heard other stories just today - how precocious 4-year olds can be.
Jesus said to them: "You do not know what you ask." Choose number 7 or number 4 or number 1. "You do not know what you ask". Sometimes we ask and we're really hoping we shouldn't get what we ask for because we don't know what we are asking.
V. 38 – "You do not know what you ask. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?"
Will you be able to share the same fate that I am going to be sharing? Do you know what you are asking for?
V.39 – They said to Him, "We are able." (But they didn't know if they were, not yet, but they were made that way.) So Jesus said to them, "You will indeed drink the cup that I drink, and with the baptism I am baptized with you will be baptized;
You will share my fate. You will go through something very similar to what I am going to go through.
V.40 – but (in any case) to sit on My right hand on My left is not Mine to give, but it is for those for whom it is prepared."
V.41 – And when the ten heard it, (those who didn't ask for the two top positions) they began to be greatly displeased with James and John.
Their attitude was not a whole lot better than those who tried to kind of sneak in line ahead of them and we don't like that when that happens. If you are waiting in line at the banks and somebody sneaks in line ahead of you, or for movie theatre tickets, sneaks in line ahead of you, you get a little bit unnerved by it. Here, we will we say, sure, come in line. Come ahead of me. We don't mind and hand them a plate even. It is a different setting. What happens when ambition gets out of hand? These men were ready to rule. They were anxious to rule. They wanted the kingdom to commence. They wanted the Messiah to start His rulership. The sooner the better and they thought they were ready to govern and do whatever it takes. Yes, we are prepared.
Have you heard of the term – this is a new term to me. I have only learned this a few months ago in fact, "Helicopter parents". You may know that term or you may not know that term. It was a term that was brought to our attention. We were off for a walk one evening in the neighborhood. There is a High School teacher whom we've gotten to know mainly through her husband and she teaches in one of the schools that we've met in, in fact as a Church of God for our situation and she cued us into Helicopter parents.
There is a phenomena now where some parents will hover over their children from Kindergarten to Grade 1, all the way through Elementary School, into High School and even into College. Hovering over their children to be sure that they are parented all the way in and through University. They arrange for their rental of their home or their apartment, help them with interviews and even in some instances accompany them for their first job interview. Helicopter parents, and in this case because some children clearly are under parented, others are over parented and are told you can be anything you want to be. And so they get their degree or their certificate, apply for the job and they are applying for the top job and they don't get it because in most companies you don't get the top job when you apply for it. You get a medium job or lower job and have to work your way through but they have been so mollycoddled along the way by being over parented.
This is what Mamma Zebedee - she is involved here. If you look at a parallel passage, you will see it wasn't just the boys, it was the mamma, the mother, who was encouraging them because she wanted her sons to do well. Eventually they did but we have to prepare first then there might be some disappointment before the realization actually develops.
Proverbs 13:12 Proverbs 13:12Hope deferred makes the heart sick: but when the desire comes, it is a tree of life.
American King James Version×Hope deferred (you recognize that passage immediately, don't you?) Hope deferred makes the heart (what?) Hope deferred makes the heart sick.
Nothing is more grievous than disappointment of a raised expectation. Nothing is more disappointing than the failure of a raised expectation. In this day and age the expectation usually exceeds the realization. In the World Tomorrow the realization will actually exceed the expectation. It will be just the opposite. Mr. Armstrong actually used that terminology and used it from time to time to illustrate the coming Kingdom of God and how wonderful it will be. It will be beyond our wildest imaginations.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick.
One of the things we used to do fairly regularly, years ago, but haven't done it for years and years and years, is to watch the Academy Awards. I used to enjoy watching them because some of the hosts would be quite good but they haven't had a good host lately. Years ago they had some reasonably good hosts to watch, to see their manner and their clean capacity for entertainment but it is interesting to see the Academy Awards and then they have different categories and different presentations and the camera will go on each possible winner, each potential winner, and they will list who the person is after the category and who the contenders are. There is a camera on each one of them and the winner is …… and when their name is not mentioned they are still happy and they applaud and inside they are saying, oh, it should have been me. They got that again and again.
How many times did Christopher Plummer not win an Academy Award? A gazillion times. He just recently won his first Oscar, I think. Wasn't it last year or the year before? Christopher Plummer is a very good actor in fact and a Canadian, of course, so he is a very good actor, but he has appeared at the Shakespeare theatre many times. If you have ever gone to see Shakespearian theatre in Stratford you may have seen him live. Of course he goes back to The Sound of Music when he was still a young man. He is, what, 85 now? He is up there presently but you see these raised expectations for the academy awards and most of them don't win and it has been politicized like most other things too now and it is not just your talent it is who you know and whom you met and so on.
V. 12 - Hope deferred makes the heart sick but when the desire comes, (when the expectation is realized) it is a tree of life. When it actually comes to pass it can actually have almost health bearing benefits.
We had a gentleman here by the way, who was supposed to be with us for this day, this occasion, Mr. Webber, Willy Webber. You may remember him. He was here last fall and went to the Feast of Tabernacles in Lake George. He was hoping to be here for Passover and Night to be Much Observed and this whole week. He has family here in this city, family in Florida and family in California. He and his wife came into the church after he and she moved from Switzerland - he is German-Swiss – to Montreal. He there worked as a professional pastry chef so he is a huge asset to every church area where he goes.
He was going to be here with us for a week arriving last week Wednesday, I think, or so, if I remember correctly but instead he was hospitalized and today, I would ask for your prayers for him, is having a quadruple bypass surgery. So he wasn't feeling well and was anticipating flying here but instead of flying here his son I think, will be going to California to spend time with them and see how he recovers from this.
So this is an illustration of this particular passage where you are looking forward to travelling to Toronto from California, spending spring feasts with brethren whom he has gotten to know and you here. A fine gentleman and so we pray for his recovery from this quadruple bypass surgery. It is up against on, of all days, today.
Luke 23 – why were there so many spectators at the crucifixion? Well, there are various ways we can postulate this but I want to refer to one of the reasons in particular. Why, why were there so many spectators at the crucifixion of Jesus Christ?
Luke 23:44 Luke 23:44And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.
American King James Version×Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour.
Supernatural darkness from noon to 3pm.
V.45 – Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two.
We've heard a sermonette about this last year, perhaps the year before.
V.46 – And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, "Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.'" Having said this, He breathed His last.
Some of us have seen that happen. If you have been with a loved one perhaps in a hospital room and you were with them when they breathed their last, the chest heaves one last time and you hear the exhalation and that is it. They breathe no more. That will happen to all of us unless Christ returns before then.
V.47 – So when the centurion saw what had happened, he glorified God, (by what he said), saying, "Certainly this was a righteous Man!"
V.48 – And the whole crowd who came together to that sight, seeing what had been done, beat their breasts and returned.
A significant expression: They beat their breasts and returned. You see that today in the Middle East if you see occasions where people are walking behind a cortege. There has been a death and they are expressing their sorrow and they are beating their breasts. Even now, literally, they beat their breast as they are walking and you'll see footage, news footage, in the Middle East. It is an expression of anguish, of grief, of despair.
Citing once again "The day Christ died" and what conditions were like in that day and age, how people behaved, how people thought – differently than we do today especially in our western world because we don't have the same approach as they do, as they did.
Listen to this: "Death was a cheap transient in Palestine". Death was a cheap transient in Palestine. "It came; it went. It visited many. It remained in no home for long. Many families, seeing a dead beggar on a road, would scarcely noticed" because in certain parts of the world today death is that common place. You see someone - there have been ministers and members who go to different parts of the world for the Feast of Tabernacles and you will see a war-ravaged nation and there are bodies lying in a ditch and people walk on by. It is so tragically commonplace.
"Children were prone to so many kinds of sickness and fever that the mother, who could boast that she had four growing youngsters with none lost to death, was rare and lucky. The medium age was somewhere between 25 and 30."
"There was little interest in the fate of Jesus after the first hour on the part of some. Only a few remained. The others had hurried back to the Temple. Most of the curious had left because they were afraid of the mid-day darkness. This was highly unusual. The birds were hushed; the little olive trees, the wild flowers held a steady pose in the still air and the only sounds were the deep moans of pain wretched from the throats of the dying. Another way of putting it is this: There were those who came to watch the crucifixion who didn't really come to see what the Romans would do to Jesus Christ. They came to see what Jesus Christ would do to the Romans because they still hoped that Jesus Christ was the Son of God and if He was the Son of God He would rescue Himself right off of the cross because that is what they anticipated the Son of God would do."
"So they waited and they watched. Not so much what the Romans would do to Jesus Christ but what Jesus Christ would to the Romans. But in the end they were disappointment and dismayed because He didn't do anything. He simply died. He simply expired" as we heard in the hymn and beautiful choral music today, "and they smote their chests in grief" as you and I just read "and exited the premises."
Luke 24 – Moving from Luke 23 to just across the page.
Luke 23:48 Luke 23:48And all the people that came together to that sight, beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts, and returned.
American King James Version×Seeing what had been done they beat their breasts and returned.
This was not affectation. This was the real thing.
Now notice how some of Christ's closest disciples felt. We know how we feel today. Here it is, the first day of Unleavened Bread, and it is exhilarating for us today. We observed the Passover on Sunday evening, the Night to be much Observed last night and here we are on the first day of Unleavened Bread. It is a beautiful day. It is supposed to be 9 degrees and the birds are singing but for our counterparts, those who were Christ's closest followers at the time of His last Passover, how were they feeling today, themselves? Really glum because their Savior had died and they anticipated rulership. They anticipated the Messiah exercising government and it didn't happen.
We pick up on that a little bit more here in:
Luke 24:13 Luke 24:13And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about three score furlongs.
American King James Version×Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus,
Some of you remarked – in one of the Commentaries or an article that I read on this, that some individual refer to this as "E-maus". We don't know how to pronounce it correctly, but it is not "E-maus" or "Emma-us". It could be closer than that in pronunciation.
V.13 - …which was seven miles from Jerusalem.
So two of them were travelling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem.
V.14 – And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
And so much had happened. You've had some of those days too, haven't you, where you get up in the morning early and you going to bed late that night and enough things have happened and one day seems like two days. Has this just been one day? It seems like it has been two days in one. You've had those kinds of days.
V.15 – so it was, while they conversed and reasoned, (so they weren't just talking but they were thinking. They were trying to rationalize. They were trying to process what was happening and what had happened) that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them.
So by this time He had been resurrected and He is making one of His many personal appearances.
V.16 – But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.
Now we have had that recently here at our costume social. There were people here – we didn't know them at first because of their regalia, which was highly effective. Others were recognized right away. Others were not until they started speaking. But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.
They did not recognize who this stranger was who was walking with them.
V.17 – and He said to them, "What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?"
Notice the risen Jesus picked up on their emotions, on their feelings, how they were feeling at this time. He wasn't just a rational man. Certainly He was rational and able to, be able to, rationalize and think and determine mentally what needs to be determined, mentally, but He was tuned in to their emotional state in their sadness.
V.18 – Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him,
So here we have identification of who one of the disciples was – Cleopas. Not too famous to most of us. Cleopas is this individual and Cleopas says to the stranger:
V.18 - …"Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?"
V.19 – And He said to them, "What things?"
Now there are times when it is appropriate to play down, for us to say, what things? What are you talking about? What do you mean? And so to be on the conversation He indicates that they needed to say more.
V.19 - … So they said to Him, "The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people,
V.20 – and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him.
V.21 – But we were hoping - they had this anticipation, this expectation. They had a script that they were reading according to their understanding how things were supposed to develop, in what sequence and to what degree.
V.21 – but we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened.
V.22 – Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us.
And so on, and gives more detail.
We thought He would be the Son of God who would redeem Israel, the King that would commence. The Romans would be crushed and expelled and we would start ruling and the world would be transformed. That's what we were hoping would happen and it hasn't happened. So they were dismayed, dejected, disappointed. The three d's. Major disappointment. They felt to some degree even perhaps mislead and of course Jesus was setting them up for a revelation.
Have you ever written in for something that was advertised on television and you got it and it wasn't exactly, in the box after you opened it, what they said it would be? This is the very dangerous expression, a very dangerous statement: As seen on TV. That doesn't mean anything. Like one of these chopping devises. You buy that, you put an onion in there as big as a grapefruit and it is chopped into smithereens. It is fantastic until you actually get it and most things that they show do not work that well when you actually get them.
The other thing that I am really weary of, weary of and wary of - I've seen on TV - is the little descriptor on a box like a bicycle or a barbeque: Some assembly required. By that it means a great deal of assembly is required and the only tools you need is a screwdriver, pliers and a box of Band-Aids. You usually – it takes a lot longer. So there is a lot of bait and switch that goes on in this world.
You'll remember instances where: Don't be someone who is walking along the beach and the bully kicks sand in your face. Write in for this booklet and take this weightlifting course by Charles Atlas or Ben Weider. One of the Weider brothers just died recently at the age of 93. And you can lift weights and you'll become just a very macho individual. Or: Learn a foreign language. Write in for this course and you can learn it effortlessly. And you get it and there is nothing in life worthwhile that is effortless, is there? But we think, well maybe this is the one exception to the rule.
Then we are dismayed, we are disappointment, sometimes even disillusioned because well, you can buy a used car and you can buy a used car. And if you watched marketplace recently – I hardly ever watch it but I watched 5 minutes of it to realize that even certified cars from bonified used car dealerships can sell you cars you don't want to buy because they have been in accidents. The frames have been affected and you are buying a pig in a poke and well, woe be unto someone who is not attuned to the difficulties of those situations.
Acts 1 – The disciples at the time, at this time of the year we find ourselves in, were dismayed, dejected, disillusioned, disappointed but the impossible happened. Jesus in fact came back to life. He was resurrected. He appeared to them time and again and their disappointment was turned into joy and anticipation and expectation yet again.
Acts 1:1 Acts 1:1The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,
American King James Version×The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,
V.2 – until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen,
V3 – to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering (after He had been dead and buried for three days and three nights and resurrected, He presented Himself alive) by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. (The coming government of God on this earth.)
V.4 – And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, "which," He said, "you have heard from Me;
V.5 – for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now." (Referring to Pentecost.)
V.6 – Therefore, (notice their question) when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?"
Now will the kingdom come? Now can government commence?
I remember holding one of our grandsons on my lap doing work on my laptop, trying to keep up with my email. The lad is sitting on my lap and he says:
Can I push the button?
No, Anthony, you cannot push the button.
Okay. Now can I push the button?
No, Anthony, you can't push the button.
Now can I push the button?
And that conversation went on for about an hour. He will wait for a few moments – Now can I push the button? Now? – because the anticipation and no awareness of time on the part of an infant. The apostles, the disciples, were no different in that sense that they were saying: Now will the kingdom come? Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom of Israel? This is what we are anticipating. This is what our script says. We are yearning for the kingdom to commence, for government to begin to be handed out.
V.7 – and He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the
Father has put in His own authority.
V.8 - But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."
V.9 – Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.
What a phenomenal experience it must have been for them to witness.
V.10 – And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel,
It is interesting to behold, to observe, the way a man concentrates and the way a woman concentrates. This is a bit of a stereotype so I apologize ahead of time. If you pull up behind a car and you are waiting for the light to turn green from red and if you watch a man waiting for that change of light versus a woman, you'll see a very distinct difference between one party and the other. A lady will pull up. The light is red. She is waiting for it to turn green and so while she is waiting for it to turn green she can check her hair, she can check her make-up, she can check her eyebrows, check her eyelashes and then she can do a few things; sorting in her purse, still watching that light and then eventually it turns from red to green and away she goes. But if you watch a man pull up – he pulls up, but it might be two men, and they are just waiting, watching that light. Then when it turns, they're off. No multitasking. We just have one thing in mind so I am thinking of that stereotype and these individuals.
V.10 – And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up,
Do you see Him yet? No. Do you see Him yet? He said He'll come in like manner. Do you see Him yet? No. Keep watching. Do you see Him yet? No.
Two angels came by in white apparel,
V.11 – who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner, as you saw Him go into heaven."
V.12 – Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, etc.
There was a job to do even though they were yearning and eager for Jesus Christ to return because of the script that they had in mind and how soon the Kingdom would come and the world transform and their opportunity to rule commence.
Isaiah 55 – a couple of more scriptures and we will conclude toward the top of the hour.
How well can we cope with disappointment? How well did the early Church cope with the disappointment of how Christ's first coming turned out? We are yearning for His second coming. We've been looking for it, praying for, for a long time. We know it is near. We know it is just around the corner. How soon we don't know. We know it is near.
Isaiah 55:8 Isaiah 55:8For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, said the LORD.
American King James Version×(to help sort out our thought processes) "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are our ways My ways", says the Lord.
V.9 – "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts (higher) than your thoughts.
Disappointment in the lives of Christians occur when we decide that we know how God should do something and we write out His script for Him and then when He doesn't do it the way we anticipate it should be done then of course the consequence can be distressing. I will share a recent example with you and that is the death of our President, Mr. Luker.
When you consider how quickly he died and how fast he expired, that was not what I anticipated by any means. Because if you read - the current United News has his photo and his life on the front cover. You may have seen that. There are letters from him where he wrote to the Church. On March 1 is when they got the diagnoses of his condition. He had been sick for the last week of February. He spoke to the council during the last week of February on a Monday. His presentation is on line. You can see it. He still looks reasonably well. I think he was hospitalized about on Wednesday, still in February. March 1st, which was a Friday, there was a letter or statement from him, from he and his wife, saying we have, sorry, some very serious news. He has cancer; it has spread to various organs of his body. This is a very aggressive cancer. We are yet to determine a form or plan of treatment for him.
That was March 1. By the following Thursday Mrs. Luker went to the home office; read a note on his behalf. He didn't even come with her, basically saying goodbye to the staff. If you read between the lines in retrospect it was his farewell to the staff. The next day, which would have been March 8, they flew to Seattle and the following week by Thursday he had died. It was that fast and my anticipation was as I beseeched God and you probably did something of the equivalent, praying that God would grant him, because he essentially gave up the last three years of his life, moved away from family in Seattle to do the job of President, that God would grant to him a Hezekiah extension on his life. Fifteen years would be kind of nice. From 75, that would take him to age 90. He would have that time with his family, with their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Such was not to be. Why?
Our thoughts and God's thoughts, His plans, our plans – two different things. And so we walk by faith and not by sight and others of you have quoted Job who said, though He slay me, yet I will trust Him. Notice please, Romans 11.
Romans 11:33 Romans 11:33O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
American King James Version×Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding Out!
V.34 – "For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?"
V.35 – "Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him?"
V.36 – For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever (and ever). Amen.
There are many things that happen in our lives where we have to yield to God's supremacy and to His superior thought and understanding of human needs. Somebody once said, and I forget now who the source of this is, but that our disappointments are often God's appointments; that our disappointments are often God's appointments. So when disappointments happen to us and disappointments do, then God has in mind a certain experience for us. Some character development for us, some learning for us; to grow in faith and trust and confidence in Him that He knows what's best and what we need most and the timing thereof.
This was written apparently by a Confederate soldier and you've heard it before and I want to read it to you now.
I asked God for strength, that I might achieve;
I was made weak, that I might learn humbly to obey.
I asked for health, that I might do greater things;
I was given infirmity, that I might do better things.
I asked for riches, that I might be happy;
I was given poverty, that I might be wise.
I asked for power, that I might have the praise of men;
I was given weakness, that I might feel the need of God.
I asked for all things, that I might enjoy life;
I was given life, that I might enjoy all things.
I got nothing that I asked for, but everything I hoped for.
Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered.
I am among all men most richly blessed.
We can learn through every one of life's experiences. At this time of year - multiple lessons to learn. Disappointment, dealing with them, handling them, processing them, drawing from them is one of the main lessons at this time of the year.