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Worship Series: The Son of God Goes Forth to War
Worship Theme: The Battle Is Personal
Message: The Battle Is Personal
Have you ever received an official-looking email attachment promising some sort of prize? As soon as you clicked the link, a malicious code infected your computer. If left untouched, it would grab all your passwords and other personal information. Even worse, it might lock your computer files and hold them for a ransom!
The malware program is sometimes called a Trojan horse. It gets its name from the Trojan War between the ancient Greeks and Trojans. The Greeks built a huge wooden horse and set it outside the walls of Troy and then left. When the Trojans saw it, they pulled it into their city. As it turned out, the soldiers hiding inside that horse opened the city gates at night so the returning Greek army could conquer Troy.
Tonight we hear about the tragic case of Judas. He was one of the men who had been up close and personal with Jesus. The enemy Satan inserted a Trojan horse in his heart, gained control, and turned him into Jesus’ betrayer.
Satan likes it when the battle is up close and personal. Jesus had tried to recover Judas’ heart. He announced to the 12 during the Passover meal in Psalm 41, “Even a man who was at peace with me, a man whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has raised up his heel to step on me.” (Psalm 41:9 EHV). He made it even more clear. “One of you will betray me” (John 13:21 EHV). The rest of the disciples couldn’t believe it. “The disciples were looking at each other, uncertain which of them he meant” (John 13:22 EHV).
Jesus knew. Judas knew. Jesus dipped a piece of unleavened bread in the bowl. He discreetly handed it to Judas—a last call for him to come to his senses, to delete the Trojan horse and follow his Savior. Judas wouldn’t listen. “As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. So Jesus told him, ‘What you are about to do, do more quickly’” (John 13:27 EHV). Judas would not be dissuaded.
Judas put his evil plan into action. “The man called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He came near to Jesus to kiss him. But Jesus said to him, ‘Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?’” (Luke 22:47–48 EHV). Judas was willing to get up close and personal in this battle. He was willing to look Jesus in the eye and bend in for a kiss “of friendship” that would mark Jesus for arrest, and finally death.
Judas wasn’t alone in this battle. Yes, Judas betrayed him. Had Peter done anything less? Jesus had warned Peter that before the night was over, Peter would deny him 3 times. Peter announced that he would rather die than deny Jesus. How quickly he abandoned that thought. Satan used the Trojan horse of fear to worm its way into Peter’s heart. When numerous individuals got in Peter’s face and asked if he was one of Jesus’ followers, Peter quickly, loudly, and even with an oath denied he knew Jesus.
The same battle rages in our hearts, and it is up close and personal. The apostle Paul described it like this: “I certainly delight in God’s law according to my inner self, but I see a different law at work in my members, waging war against the law of my mind and taking me captive to the law of sin, which is present in my members. What a miserable wretch I am!” (Romans 7:22–24 EHV). A battle takes place right in here—in my heart! I want to trust Jesus with all my heart. I want to confess publicly that he is my Lord and Savior. My faith is under attack. My sinful flesh is weak.
All of us struggle in this battle. Sometimes we fight guilt from the past. We get flashbacks, and we feel dirty and unworthy of Jesus. Could it be something going on right now? Maybe we have improper thoughts and have been feeding them with the internet . . . and can’t stop. Are we living in disappointment? Perhaps depressing thoughts have been fighting against our faith. Losing our cheerful spirit in serving and giving? In this time of “Stay at Home” do we fight the desire to leave worship and Bible study time behind? No one can see, no one will know if we watch the service or not. No one can tell if we’re reading our Bibles or not. The battle is within, and the enemy will exploit whatever weakness his Trojan horse can find. What a terrible battle! What an exhausting fight! Paul concludes with his desperate question: “Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24 EHV).
Don’t forget the Warrior we have heard about throughout this season of Lent. Jesus is the PROMISED WARRIOR who came with his war cry to pump us up and lead us into battle. He came as the HIDDEN WARRIOR, hidden in a human body just like us so that he could fight side by side with us in the middle of the battle. Jesus came through every SKIRMISH without a scratch, without a flaw, without making a mistake. He delivered the perfect RECONNAISSANCE REPORT so we would know what kind of enemy we face. He faced off against Satan’s ally—the WORLD—and showed us just how dangerous it could be. Tonight our Warrior promises that he will help us fight every one of these battles and we will win. Paul put it this way: “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25 EHV).
Jesus understands how up close and personal a battle with an enemy can be. He’s been there. Jesus was betrayed, but never betrayed us. Jesus was beaten and bruised, but didn’t drag us into the fray. Jesus walked to the cross alone, bearing the weight of our sins. Jesus looked you and me in the eye, and then took on hell itself at the cross. Jesus’ battle against Satan, the world, and our own sinful flesh cleared the way for us to receive his perfection. He fought the battle and won!
That’s where we need to start in all our personal battles. Jesus, the Warrior, has given us a powerful weapon to bring us through those battles. The apostle Paul encouraged us to “take...the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” (Ephesians 6:17 EHV). When we swing this sword, it cuts both ways. It exposes all the stuff we try to hide, and at the same time cuts away all the guilt. We see Jesus clearly. He is the heart and soul of God’s Word. We look into Jesus’ eyes and see his love, his mercy, and the peace that only he can bring.
We can’t forget another place we get up close and personal with Jesus—at the Lord’s Supper. Jesus instituted this meal on that first Maundy Thursday. During the Passover meal he took the unleavened bread, gave thanks, and gave it to his disciples. “Take, eat, this is my body.” He took the cup of wine, gave thanks, and gave it to them. “Drink from it all of you, for this is my blood of the new testament, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:26–28 EHV). “This is my body...this is my blood.” When we eat this bread and drink this wine, we are as close to Jesus as we can be on this side of heaven. Whenever our feet begin to slip and our legs weaken in the strain of battle, this meal infuses us with Jesus’ forgiveness and life. Our battle with Satan is personal, but this Supper is even more personal—my WARRIOR’s body and blood with bread and wine to lift me up when I need it most.
It’s hard, isn’t it, to be separated by this “Stay at Home” order. We can’t see each other. We can’t encourage each other up close and personally. We can’t receive this incredible meal. There are two things I want us to take away from this. First, don’t forget that our forgiveness doesn’t rely on receiving the Lord’s Supper or not. We heard Jesus’ own promise at the beginning of the service. We confessed our sins together, and received his promise together: “Your sins are forgiven!”
Second, remember Jesus’ promise “I am with you always until the end of the age!” (Matthew 28:20 EHV) is ours whether we receive communion or not. He is always with us! So, let’s use this as an opportunity to treasure and eagerly anticipate the next time we get to gather here in this church building. We will not only see each other again, but we will also celebrate this incredible meal together. I know I can’t wait!
The battle is real. The enemies are up close and personal. So is Jesus. Don’t forget how powerfully he has fought for us, and that he has won the total victory. So, my dear friends, “For this reason, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to take a stand on the evil day and, after you have done everything, to stand” (Ephesians 6:13 EHV). Fight on! Amen.