Find Yourself in the Story of Jesus’ Death

Sunday Sermon

Today we took the Lord’s Supper, which represents the death of Christ. One of the challenges we face is trying to make a connection to the event that happened so long ago.

If you had been present at the trial of Jesus, whom would you have been? With whom could you identify?

You might be able to connect with Peter’s fear or Mary’s sadness. But there is one man we can all identify with, and that is Barabbas, a rebel and thief and murderer who was condemned to be crucified.

In the time when Jesus was to be crucified, Pilate had a tradition of releasing one Jewish criminal to the people. This time he gave the people a choice between Barabbas and Jesus. It was a choice between someone who never sinned and a man who was a known sinner. The people asked for the sinner, Barabbas, to be released. Ultimately, Jesus took the place of this sinner on the cross. The sinner was set free. The sinner likely had many questions. Who am I that He would die for me? What will I do with my new life? What path will I choose?

We are like Barabbas because we have rebelled too, not against the Roman government, but against God. Rebellion against the creator of the universe is grounds for death. Fortunately, like Barabbas, Jesus has swapped places with us. 1 Peter 3:18 shows us how this works, this is the doctrine of substitutionary atonement, that Christ died in our place to atone for our sins.

We have been pardoned. For those of us who have accepted salvation this should create a sense of relief that we aren’t going to Hell.

What Is the Kingdom of Heaven Like? The Parables of Jesus: The Coming of the Kingdom

Sunday Sermon Series The Parables of Jesus


This is the final sermon of this series where we have looked at what Jesus says about the Kingdom of Heaven. We have seen that the Kingdom is already here but not yet complete. This week is mostly about what’s to come in the future.

The Kingdom has a present and a future dimension. The Kingdom is already here, but it is not yet here in fullness. What will the coming of the Kingdom be like?

The Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13)

In the time of this parable in Israel, there were two parts of a marriage, the betrothal and then the marriage. You may have already known this from the story of Mary and Joseph. They were betrothed when Mary was made pregnant. Joseph would have had to divorce Mary if he no longer wished to marry her. After the betrothal period is the wedding ceremony and then a party that might last a week. They knew how to celebrate weddings.

In this parable there a ten virgins, ten bridesmaids. They were waiting for the bridegroom to arrive so the wedding could begin. Well, he was taking a long time to get there and eventually night came. Five of the virgins were prepared for the night with lamps and five were not. The five who did not have oil in their lamps asked to borrow some from the ones who were, but they were told to go buy their own. Here we learn that salvation is non-transferable. Your parents’ salvation, your spouse’s salvation, no one else’s salvation can save you. The five went to get some oil and the bridegroom arrived while they were gone. The wedding started, the doors were closed, and the five unprepare virgins were not allowed in.

The key word in this parable is: ready. … Are you ready? Do you have oil in your lamp? Have you accepted the salvation offered by Christ? … Some of us think we are ready because of some singular event in the past, but we never changed and were never really ready. That’s what this next parable is about.

The Parable of the Bags of Gold (Matthew 25:14-30)

This parable tells about a rich man who was going away for a while and put three servants in charge of different amounts of gold. He gave one five bags, the second two bags, and the third a single bag of gold. The ones who received two and five bags went out and doubled what they were given. The third servant just hid his bag of gold in the ground because he feared what the master would do if he lost it.

The key word in this parable is: faithful … God wants us to be faithful. This parable shows us that there are rewards in Heaven for our faithfulness as the two who doubled what they were given were given more and the one who hid his had it taken away. We see that the rewards are:

  1. The Master’s praise

  2. More opportunity

  3. The Master’s joy

Grace transforms and produces faithfulness. A lack of faith is a sign that you haven’t been transformed by grace. The servant who hid his bag in the ground had his reward taken away and was thrown out of the house. He didn’t make it into the Kingdom.

Some of us have fooled ourselves into thinking we’re locks to get into the Kingdom, but we saw last week that there will be a separation of true followers from fakes. And now we see again that there are plenty of frauds who expect to get into Heaven but won’t. Make sure your salvation is real.

What is the Kingdom of Heaven Like? The Parables of Jesus: The Separation of the Kingdom

Sunday Sermon Series The Parables of Jesus


Have you ever wondered why there is evil in the world? Ever had someone who claimed to be a Christian hurt you? Ever had a church leader disappoint you? … We’ll try to see why some of these things happen as we see that the present Kingdom contains a mixture of good and evil, but a day of separation is coming.

The Parable of the Weeds (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43) … Someone sowed weeds into a farmer’s field. The weeds were probably darnell (tares) which are indiscernible from wheat until the head grows

  1. Jesus is setting up His Kingdom now in the lives of people who follow Him (Matthew 13:37-38). … This isn’t new info as we’ve seen this already in this series, but it certainly reinforces the past sermons.

  2. The devil is planting people in the world who look like Christians but are not (Matthew 13:38-39). … The Devil is a copycat. He plants weeds among Jesus’ harvest. By doing this, he is trying to drive people away from the church.

  3. We cannot, at the present time, confidently separate Christians from imposters (Matthew 13:28-30). … In the verses, we see that pulling the weeds before the harvest could harm the good wheat. Likewise with Christians and imposters, we could harm actual Christians by removing those we perceive to be imposters. This does not mean we can’t make moral judgments though. Matthew 18:15-17 is where Jesus tells us how to confront sinners who claim to be followers. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 5:3-5 to judge the actions of a man and woman. We are not to condemn or pass judgment on someone’s final destination, but we can judge their actions and confront the person because of them.

  4. There is coming a time when God’s angels will weed imposters out of the Kingdom (Matthew 13:39-41). … When the harvest comes, when this age ends, the imposters will be thrown into a blazing furnace, into Hell. Let’s be clear that the division is not between sinners and non-sinners, but between repentant sinners and unrepentant sinners.

The Parable of the Net (Matthew 13:47-50) … In case we didn’t understand that parable, Jesus tells us another to teach us the same points. This time it’s about fishermen casting a large net, collecting both good and bad fish. Once the net is full and brought ashore, the fishermen separate the good from the bad.

What Is the Kingdom of God Like? The Parables of Jesus: The Growth of the Kingdom

Sunday Sermon Series The Parables of Jesus


  1. The Kingdom of Heaven is like a growing seed (Mark 4:26-29).

    1. The growth of the Kingdom is continual.

      1. Night and day ... Just like how a seed grows throughout the the night and day, so does the Kingdom.

    2. The growth of the Kingdom is mysterious.

      1. Though he does not know how ... God's work is unexplainable by humans.

    3. The growth of the Kingdom is unstoppable.

      1. All by itself ... The Kingdom does not need any particular person for it to grow. It doesn't matter who is in office or has power. The growth of the Kingdom is automatic.

    4. The growth of the Kingdom is Incremental.

      1. First the stalk, then the head, the full kernel ... Sometimes great awakenings and revivals happen, but that is not the norm. The typical way the Kingdom grows is a gradual growth.

  2. The Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed: it starts small and becomes very big (Mark 4:30-32). ... Here is another parable about a seed. But this time it's not about the process, but the contrast between how small it starts and how large it grows to be.

  3. The Kingdom of Heaven is like yeast mixed into flour: It works its way all through our lives and world (Matthew 13:33). … Yeast spreads through the flour and is what causes it to rise when baked.

What Is the Kingdom of Heaven Like? The Parables of Jesus: Prayer and the Kingdom Life

Sunday Sermon Series The Parables of Jesus


Luke 11:1-13; 18:1-8

How are we to pray as citizens of the Kingdom?

  1. Pray boldly (Luke 11:1-13). … Jesus prays. That’s something that is pretty telling. Jesus, part of the Trinity, prays to one of the other parts of the Trinity. If Jesus prays, that

    should tell us just how important is for us to pray. Then Jesus also gives us a model prayer, one we can model our own after. After that He tells a parable that relates to prayer. A man has guests show up he wasn’t expecting and was unprepared for. This man goes to his neighbor’s house in the middle of the night and shamelessly, boldly, and persistently asked for food. The neighbor wasn’t going to get up and wake everyone in the house just to give him bread out of friendship, but the neighbor would do it to make him be quiet. This parable is a contrast to God. God will do what’s best for us and what we need if we ask, He wants us to ask boldly and persistently and shamelessly though. God isn’t going to give us a spider if we ask for a fish, just like a good father wouldn’t. God wants to give us good gifts.

    If God is eager to give good gifts, why do so many prayers go unanswered? Jesus said the Kingdom is already here (Luke 17:20-21). Jesus said the Kingdom is not yet here in fullness (Luke 17:22-25). There will be days of waiting and days of silence. Why the delay?

    1. There is spiritual warfare that can delay the answers of prayer. (Daniel 10-12-13)

    2. God has a bigger purpose sometimes (2 Peter 3:8-9)

  2. Pray persistently (Luke 18:1-8). … A widow kept complaining to an unjust judge for justice, Eventually the unjust judge grew tired of her and granted her justice. If an unjust judge grants justice after must persistence, then surely a good and just God will also grant justice.

What Is the Kingdom of Heaven Like? The Parables of Jesus: The Value of the Kingdom

Sunday Sermon Series The Parables of Jesus

Luke 12:13-21; 16:1-9; Matthew 13:44-46

This is the halfway point in the series, so here’s a quick recap of what we’ve learned:

Two overarching truths:

  1. The Kingdom of Heaven is wherever the King rules.

  2. The Kingdom of Heaven is already here, nut has not arrived in full.

Four truths from the first four sermons:

  1. The Kingdom of Heaven is like a party with an open invitation.

  2. The Grace of the King is what allows us to be part of the Kingdom.

  3. There is a high cost to being part of the Kingdom. The price is obedience to the King and the opposition of His enemies.

  4. Life in the Kingdom requires we serve our neighbor and love our neighbors as ourselves.

Now for today’s sermon notes.  

The Kingdom of Heaven is more valuable than anything else. The wise person invests his or her life in the Kingdom.

The Parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12:13-21). … A contested will can bring out greed in many of us. Jesus warns us that life is not about having many possessions. Then Jesus tells a parable about a man who stored up riches on Earth to serve him for years to come. This man had a great retirement plan, but he was too focused on himself, storing up things for himself, but not being “rich towards God”. We are warned that we should invest in God and l;ife after death instead of the life we have right now.

The Parable of the Shrewd Manager (Luke 16:1-9). … Why would Jesus tell a parable where a dishonest man is the hero? Well, it’s not to encourage us to be dishonest, but to tell us to be shrewd, to be clever, with our investments. He tells us to use worldly wealth to make friends and to turn worldly wealth into eternal wealth. We should take every opportunity and every dime to show others Christ and build up treasure in Heaven.

The Parables of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl of Great Value (Matthew 13:44-46). … Jesus tells us that Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure. It’s a treasure that requires we give up everything else and go all in to get it. It is a treasure so valuable we joyfully give up everything else in order to obtain it.

What Is Heaven Like? The Parables of Jesus: The Good Samaritan

Sunday Sermon Series The Parables of Jesus


Luke 10:25-37 … An expert in the law asked Jesus how to get to Heaven and Jesus asked him what he thought the answer was based on the law. The lawyer answered, to paraphrase, love God above all else and love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus says he is right. The lawyer, trying to make it easier, asks who is neighbor is. Jesus then tells a parable that explains who our neighbor is and how to love them. … There’s an injured Jewish man laying on a dangerous road. A priest sees him and walk by on the other side. Then a Levite does the same. Finally, a Samaritan sees the man. Now, Jews and Samaritans did not get along at the time. Jews considered the Samaritans to be unclean and were pretty racist towards them and Samaritans frequently robbed and harrased Jews. Yet, this Samaritan stopped and took the injured Jew to an inn. Then he paid for the injured man’s stay and told the innkeeper that he would also pay for anything else the man needs. Jesus asks the lawyer who the injured man’s neighbor was. The lawyer replied “the man who helped him.” He couldn’t even say, “the Samaritan” but he recognized that being a neighbor means helping your neighbors.

What does it mean to love our neighbors?

Who, when, and how much?

Who: anyone we see in need.

When: whenever you see a need.

In the 1700’s Jonathan Edwards listed out the most common excuses Christian people give for not helping those in need in His book The Duty of Charity.

Excuse #1: We only help people when they’re in dire need. … This violates the principle of loving them as ourselves.

Excuse #2: They brought on their trouble themselves. … So did we. We brought the trouble of sin on ourselves and Jesus helped us.

How much: in a way that takes their burden onto yourself.

Excuse #3: “I can’t afford to help the man in need.” … We are told to take each other’s burdens on ourselves.

Why should we love our neighbors? … When we read a parable, we should ask who we are in the story. One way to view this parable is that we are the injured man in need of help and Jesus is the Samaritan who rescued us. We have been shown love by Christ and should pass that on to others.  

The Story of Serve Coffee County … At some point we realized that we do all of these mission trips to other places but too often neglected our own city and county. This ministry is a way for us to help out in our home community. servecoffeecounty.com

Luke 17:10 -- So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’ … There is only one response to this, and that is to be a servant of Christ and to do all we can to serve Him.

What Is the Kingdom of Heaven Like? The Parables of Jesus: The Cost of the Kingdom

Sunday Sermon Series The Parables of Jesus

Luke 14:25-33

So far we have learned there is a present and future aspect of the Kingdom, that the invitation is open, and that one characteristic of the Kingdom is the grace found within.

If the invitation to the Kingdom is wide open, and if the Kingdom is characterized by grace, how can there be a cost to the Kingdom? … You ever see anyone giving away puppies for free? They might be free initially, but they will cost you a lot in the long run. … That’s one way to show how something free can have a cost. … In Luke 14:25-27, Jesus says we must put Him first. Even to the point of leaving our families behind if He asks, He implies there will be suffering when He says we must pick up our cross daily.

One cost of being in the Kingdom is obedience. We are under the authority of the King and must obey the scripture the King has given us. We do whatever the King requests of us. We may be heirs to the King, but we are still under His authority.

Another cost is persecution. There will be spiritual opposition in our lives. In the USA, we are fortunate to have the freedom to believe what we want and say what we believe without much fear of physical harm, but there are other places where this security doesn’t exist.

Jesus tells two parables that advise us to count the cost of the Kingdom:

The Parable of the Tower Builder (Luke 14:28-30) … Don’t be like the builder who started building a tower before knowing if they could afford to finish it.

The Parable of the King Going to War (Luke 14:31-32) … There is also a cost for not obeying Jesus. … Before we start following Jesus, we live in rebellion. We have to ask if we can defeat Him on our own or if it’s better to surrender and be part of the Kingdom. The Bible makes it pretty clear we have no chance of beating Jesus.

It’s easy to become a Christian, and it is also hard to become a Christian. Anyone can do it, but people don’t like to give up the things Jesus may ask us to give up.

What Is the Kingdom of Heaven Like? The Parables of Jesus: The Grace of the Kingdom

Sunday Sermon Series The Parables of Jesus

This week we look at more parables that are about the Kingdom of Heaven. Remember that the Kingdom of Heaven is already here and not yet complete. Last week we saw that it’s like a party. This week we see that the Kingdom is characterized by grace.

Grace means being treated better than you deserve. No one deserves to be in the Kingdom. We are included by grace. We who are recipients of grace must extend grace to others. … The parables we are looking at today were told in response to people who refused to extend grace.

The Parable of the Generous Landowner (Matthew 20:1-15).

… In this parable, a landowner with a vineyard went out to hire some day workers in the morning. He offers to pay them the normal wage for a day’s work. Well, every few hours he goes back and hires more workers. At the end of the day, he pays them all the same. The workers who were hired first complained that they worked longer and should be paid more than the ones who worked less. The workers who were complaining didn’t understand that we all need grace. One day they might be in the opposite position and change their tune.

The Parable of the Lost Sheep (Luke 15:1-7).

The Parable of the Lost Coin (Luke 15:8-10).

The Parable of the Lost Son (Luke 15:11-31).

… Jesus tells us there is great rejoicing over just one sinner who repents. Heaven gets excited when someone repents of their sin. #ThatsAmazing … The third parable here adds another element. The brother who stayed home was upset that the father threw a party when the other son returned. He didn’t understand that he also needs grace and should extend grace. … Showing grace does not mean we don’t hold each other accountable. Showing grace to others means holding others accountable while still showing them love.

The Parable of the the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14).

… Are you confident of your own righteousness? Do you look down others for having “bigger sins” than you? If so, do you also realize your own need for grace? These parables have been about people like you who don’t think they need grace and don’t want grace to be extended to others.

What Is the Kingdom of Heaven Like? The Parables of Jesus: The invitation to the Kingdom

Sunday Sermon Series The Parables of Jesus


Luke 14:15-24; Matthew 22:1-4

The plan is to spend the next nine weeks looking at twenty or so parables about the Kingdom of Heaven.

The interpretive key to understanding the parables is:

The Kingdom of Heaven is already here.

The Kingdom of Heaven is not yet here in full.

The lessons we learn will apply to the now as well as the future; the Kingdom that is already here and the fullness of the Kingdom that is yet to come.

The Kingdom of Heaven is like a party.  … The King of the Kingdom offers joy, a deep joy. … We see that Heaven will be like a party (the “not yet” part), but we can also live a life of celebration and joy (the “already” part). ,,, Isaiah 25:6-8 tells us partially what Heaven will be like as it describes a big banquet, a party.

Jesus says there are two ways you can miss the Kingdom:

  1. You can miss the Kingdom by rejecting the invitation (Luke 14:15-24; Matthew 22:1-10). … A man was throwing a party and sent out invitations that were accepted. Then all the people who were coming suddenly had stuff they needed to do. The man then invited the poor and homeless, so many that if anyone who was invited before had come, they would not get any food. … God invited the Israelites to a party but they didn’t come, so He threw the door wide open and invited everyone, the bad as well as the good. Anyone can attend the party and have joy in life.

  2. You miss the Kingdom by refusing to put on the righteousness of Christ (Matthew 22:11-14). … You can be part of a congregation and stil not get in. We are given the righteousness of Christ and must put iot on. We must allow ourselves to be transformed by Christ. There are some in the church who will be kicked out of the party because they did not cooperate with Jesus and let Him transform them.