Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas & the Cross (Part 3)

(by Pastor Joe)

The Word for Today: Psalm 41

Mark this: Psalm 41:9
"Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me."

Merry Christmas!
Most folks would wonder what in world we were doing in the middle of Psalms on Christmas morning. Most believers would recommend that we fast forward to Matthew or Luke. But not those who are Standing in the Rain! From the very beginning, it has been our main goal to demonstrate that God's Word is indeed God's Word. From Genesis straight through Revelation, Jesus Christ is literally on every page, so Psalm 41 is a perfectly fitting and acceptable passage for Christmas, Easter, Arbor Day, Columbus Day etc.

So without further ado, we conclude our Christmas and the Cross mini series (you can check out the first two yourself if you've missed the last few days.)


So King David is at it again, pouring out his heart and soul, sharing his needs and weaknesses, giving praise and glory to God, and out of all this we once again get another picture of our Messiah. In this Psalm, David is really hurting. He's been through so much already: trouble, sickness, enemies, and rumors; but what really cuts him deep is betrayal. Ouch, that really smarts! All of you who have been betrayed know that first hand. It's one thing when an enemy or the circumstances of life seem to conspire against you, its a whole new level when you are blindsided by someone you care about.

During his life, and especially his later years, David had to deal with employers (Saul), counselors (Ahithophel), friends (Joab) and family (Absalom, Adonijah) backstabbing him. Yet, from one conspiracy to the next, David's life and throne were preserved. In even his darkest moments, there was always a way out for him. Our Savior was not as fortunate.

He suffered one betrayal to the next. In his early childhood, a tyrannical king named Herod sought to kill Him after he feigned worship to the Magi (1). His ministry was one of misunderstanding and rejection. His family, his hometown, the religious leaders, the political leaders, the crowds, and even his own disciples betrayed Him in one way or another. Today's passage foreshadows the role of Judas.  Jesus Himself tied in this Psalm in the last supper portion of the Gospel of John:

...But this is to fulfill the scripture: ‘He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me....’ Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me.... It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon (2).

Yet somehow, that was the plan from the beginning (3).

Perhaps the best word to describe mankind's basic response to God is betrayal. From the beginning we were loved and created in His image. Yet from that first betrayal in the Garden of Eden, through the rest of the Old Testament, it seems to be one rejection of God to another. Rejecting God's authority, His Law, His Covenants, His Kingship over Israel, His leading, his Messengers, and ultimately His Word. In the New Testament, humanity tops even all of that by rejecting the very Son of God.

This Christmas, don't fool yourself into thinking that just because you somehow acknowledge the wonder of the birth of Christ, that you're somehow immune to this basic human condition.
Instead, we need to understand that our betrayal separated us from God, our rejection of God caused God to send His One and Only Son, that we were co-conspirators with Judas himself, because our sins are what ultimately led to His rejection and crucifixion. Its only from this place of our own treachery and hostility towards God, that we can begin to understand the amazing message of Christmas and, consequently, the Cross.

(1) Matthew 2:1-12
(2) John 13:
(3) see Isaiah 53, to start

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