FIXED ON JESUS
by Pastor Mike Fortune
April 25, 2009
Introduction Video: A Sister’s Sacrifice
- Be brave [Matthew 26:17-19; John 19:39; Matthew 27:57]
- Be honest [Matthew 26:20-25; Luke 22:23-24; Jeremiah 17:6]
- Believe [Matthew 26:26-30; 1 John 5:12-13; Hebrews 12:2]
Jesus doesn’t reveal the name of the man. Or the location of his house. Matthew’s account doesn’t even say which disciples went and how they were supposed to recognize the guy they were looking for. Talk about a blind date! Fortunately, Luke’s parallel account does. And in chapter 22 verse 8-10 says Jesus sent Peter and John in search of a man who would greet them carrying a pitcher of water when they entered the city. And it was this male servant who was to lead them to the owner of the house with an upper room. The owner of the house was likely not a stranger to Jesus. But he remains anonymous to us. Since he had a house with an upper room, he was probably rich. Or at least richer than most. That he also had at least one male servant or slave fetching his water indicates his prestige as well.
Tradition says that the owner of the upper room in Matthew 26 was Mark’s father. Because verse 12 of Acts 12 says Peter following his miraculous escape from prison “Went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. 13Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door. 14When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, ‘Peter is at the door!’”
So while Mark was not one of the 12 apostles, we know he later toured with Paul and Barnabas according to Acts 15:17 , wrote the Gospel of Mark, and was obviously raised in an active family sympathetic to Jesus who was sincerely trying to serve Him. So maybe it was Mark’s father’s upper room that Jesus had in mind for the Last Supper. Or maybe it belonged to someone else like Nicodemus or Joseph of Arimathaea since John 19:39 and Matthew 27:57 says they were some of Jesus’ true disciples. Whoever owned it, it’s obvious Jesus had other brave and honest believing friends who were previously not revealed at that time. And if that was the case back then, I can’t help thinking that maybe that’s the case today.
So I’m just going to throw out all my cards on the table at the beginning of my talk today and straight out tell you, that I think Jesus through the pages of Scripture this morning might be speaking directly to some of you. I think it’s entirely possible that you’re here today just to hear this invitation: Be brave. Be honest. And believe the truth about yourself and about Jesus. To see what I mean, please turn in your Bibles to Matthew 26. We’ll be reading verses 17-30.
"17On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, 'Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?' 18He replied, 'Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, 'The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.' 19So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover. 20When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. 21And while they were eating, he said, 'I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.' 22They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, 'Surely not I, Lord?' 23Jesus replied, 'The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.' 25Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, 'Surely not I, Rabbi?' Jesus answered, 'Yes, it is you.' 26While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, 'Take and eat; this is my body.' 27Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, 'Drink from it, all of you. 28This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom.' 30When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.”
Make no mistake. It really was brave to open your doors to Jesus. Especially at that time. Because Jesus was being specifically targeted ever since the previous Saturday night when Judas made his first contact with the ruling council called the Sanhedrin. Matthew 26:3-5 says, “3Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, 4and they plotted to arrest Jesus in some sly way and kill him. ‘5But not during the Feast,’ they said, ‘or there may be a riot among the people.’”
Now it doesn’t say in those verses that they also wanted to kill Jesus’ followers—yet. But if you read the book of Acts, you’ll see that that’s exactly what happened next. Persecution broke out all over the place. The disciples could see the writing on the wall. And that’s why they were hiding behind them in John 20:19 scared for their lives. But in spite of that fear, please hear point number one: Be brave!
Fixing your eyes on Jesus requires bravery and courage. . .
This certain man agreeing to offer Jesus a secret meeting place the night before Jesus was crucified probably did so knowing, as a follower of Jesus, that he might be next. That’s why fixing your eyes on Jesus requires bravery and courage. Like that little girl in our video clip, who mistakenly thought she was going to die by giving some of her blood to her brother, this certain man owning this upper room could have died as well. And probably did. But in spite of that very real possibility, he opened up his home to Jesus. And his disciples. Maybe more than once. And because he did, all the apostles later found the courage to die as martyrs for their faith in Christ. Except John, who never lacked courage, but died of old age instead.
But fixing your eyes on Jesus requires being brave. As our missionaries around the world can tell you, following Jesus is one of the most dangerous decisions you’ll ever make. But it’s one Jesus makes easier for us because He actually made it first by dying for us. But not just us. Jesus was even willing to die for Judas. Who instead of providing a secret place was according to Mark 14:1-2 bent on betraying Jesus in that secret place. In some sly way. Away from the crowds.
Moving on, Matthew 26:20-25 describes how Judas pretends that’s not the case. After everyone was seated reclining at the table, verse 21 says Jesus straight out told them that one of them would betray Him. And all of them, including Judas, take turns innocently asking “Is it I?” Matthew 26:22 says they did so sadly. But Luke 22:23 says they did this not because they were really sad, but so they could accuse the guilty one. Whoever it was. Luke’s account makes it clear in verse 24 that there were disputes already raging that evening among the disciples about who would be the greatest in the kingdom. Now that Jesus is apparently narrowing down that list of leaders in His kingdom to eleven, their list needed to be revised! And another whole argument erupts about that.
. . . and complete honesty
So fixing your eyes on Jesus requires not just bravery and courage. Something many men and women have in abundance whether they are people of faith or not. Fixing your eyes on Jesus also requires complete honesty. Because you can’t fake it with Jesus. He knows your heart. He knows why you obey. He knows what’s really motivating you. He knows whether our Sabbath keeping comes from love and grace and gratitude or mistakenly out of fear and obligation and guilt. Jesus knows whether we obey because we believe we already are saved or mistakenly because we want to be. And He knew what was motivating Judas.
In his case, it was not grace or gratitude that motivated him. It was love. But not of God—of money! Thirty lousy pieces of silver to be specific. The price of a slave. Judas was willing to betray the King of the Universe for less pocket change than you could probably find in the cushions of your couch or under the seats in your car. Judas left the love and friendship of that upper room to betray Jesus for thirty lousy pieces of silver that you can’t take with you when you die. So why is money or its accumulation such a powerful thing still in our lives today? I’ve told you this before and I’ll tell you again. I want to die broke! And I’m well on my way to doing so! Are you? If not, why not? Jesus poured out His life unto death. He didn’t collect any of it. And neither should we!
And while Judas wasn’t broke, he was well on his way to dying. Because Matthew 27:5 says he threw the money away and hung himself in overwhelming remorse. His death soberly reminds us that faking it doesn’t work with Jesus. You can deceive people at church or your wife and according to Jeremiah 17:6, you can even deceive yourself. But you can’t deceive God. You can’t fake fixing your eyes on Jesus. Because Jesus can see what you’re really up to and why! He knows our hearts. So today, why don’t you decide to trust Him with all of yours?
Point number one. Be brave. Open your home and your heart to Jesus. Ask him into it and be willing to let him "re-arrange the furniture." Even if it costs you the life you’re living right now. Because the new one He gives you will be SO much better. Point number two: Be honest. Admit you’ve sold Him out. That you’ve cared more about junk on earth than in heaven. It’s not like Jesus doesn’t already know that about you. Confession really is just admitting the truth about yourself. And about Jesus. And then, to fix your eyes on Jesus, point number three is: Believe.
Believe the truth about Jesus—
Believe that God loves you like crazy in spite of how you feel or how well you're behaving is simple but not easy to do. Because often the followers of Jesus are just as messed up as you! For years I’ve talked to bitter and disappointed people no longer connected to a community of faith who have fixed their eyes not on Jesus but on the broken people arguing about Jesus like the disciples in that upper room. But don’t you see? That’s just an excuse preventing you from being brave. It’s what we offer up as a lame reason to not risk trusting Jesus with all our lives.
He died so you could live forever
But believing the truth about yourself and the truth about Jesus is totally different. Because that truth is not based on what broken people inside the church do or say about Jesus. Instead, it’s based on what Jesus, whose body was broken and whose blood was shed, actually said and did for you. Matthew 26:26 says it this way: “26While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body." 27Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. 28This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom." 30When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.”
I know it sounds almost too good to be true. But friends, it is true. God loves us whether we’re obeying well or not even trying. Whether we’re considering Him or have already decided to betray him. We know this is true because after Judas left the upper room, Matthew 26:47 says he brought a mob of soldiers with swords and clubs and spears to arrest Jesus. And when he arrives, Jesus says to Judas in Matthew 26:50, “Friend, do what you came for.”
Did you catch that? He called Judas friend! And that’s what communion is supposed to remind us about. What a friend we have in Jesus! So let’s fix our eyes on Him! Hebrews 12:2 says, “2Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."
But it takes bravery to do so. But that’s what I think that anonymous owner of the upper room chose to do without hesitating. And that’s what I hope you will choose to do too. So that’s my invitation to all of you. Be brave. Be honest. And like 1 John 5:12-13 says, believe that “12He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. 13I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life” He who has eyes let him see. He who has ears let him hear.