Verse of the Day

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sermon Series: Men Who Died With A Smile On Their Face! Part One

Samson – Judges 13-16
Subtitle: One Tug From Glory!


You may be familiar with one of my favorite movies: Paul Newman in “Cool Hand Luke” – the incarcerated war hero turned unwilling inspirational anti-hero.

In this movie George Kennedy plays the part of “Dragline”:

“Dragline: He's a natural born world-shaker.

Dragline: He was smiling... That's right. You know, that, that Luke smile of his. He had it on his face right to the very end. Hell, if they didn't know it 'fore, they could tell right then that they weren't a-gonna beat him. That old Luke smile. Oh, Luke. He was some boy. Cool Hand Luke. Hell, he's a natural-born world-shaker.

Dragline: That's my darling Luke. He grins like a baby but bites like a gator.”
[footnote 1]

Modern fiction especially as enshrined in comic books is filled with flawed superheroes, e.g. Superman, Spiderman, etc. - heroes with a weakness, flaw, or character defect, etc.
[footnote 2]

There are Biblical characters who fit this mold. They are not fictional however, and some of them may be considered as candidates for our subject due to their dying with smiles on their faces!

1. Job – why? Cp. 42:12-17 – cp. Isaac & David – What a ride!
2. Isaac – why? Cp. Gen. – cp. Job & David
3. Gen. 45:10
4. Jacob – Gen. 48-49
5. Samson – last prayer answered – Judges 13-16; Heb. 11:32
6. David – 1 Chr. 29:28 – cp. Job & Isaac
7. Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego – why? Cp. Lazarus
8. Simeon
9. Beggar (Lazarus?) – Luke 16 – why? Where he was headed had to better than what he experienced in his life.
10. Lazarus – why? Cp. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego – Been there, done that!
11. Stephen – last prayer answered – Point man of the martys of the Church
12. The Thief on the Cross – last prayer answered – If I had it to do all over again...

Consider the manner of death of the faithful believers in Heb. 11:13, 32-40.

There are Biblical characters who may not be considered as dying with smiles on their faces!

Enoch – did not die
Elijah – did not die

Drama in classical literature is usually divided into comedy and tragedy depicted by two masks - one with a smile, and the other with a frown, or a happy mask and a sad mask. You will often see depictions of them in theaters. This characterization is very ancient, and usually is understood simplistically as revolving around the issue of whether the protagonist or hero lives or dies at the end, although there is much more than that at stake in distinguishing classical comedy and tragedy. Nevertheless, we will consider the Biblical account of Samson as a legitimate tragedy in the classical sense of the term.
[footnote 3]

I. The Tragedy of Samson

The five elements of a classical tragedy are present in the Biblical account concerning Samson: hamartia (tragic error), hubris (violent transgression), peripateia (plot reversal), nemesis (retribution, and anagnorisis (tragic recognition or insight).

1. Samson’s Hamartia ("tragic error") – Judg. 14:1-3; 16:1, 4

In classical tragedies hamartia is a fatal error or simple mistake on the part of the protagonist that eventually leads to the final catastrophe. A metaphor from archery, hamartia literally refers to a shot that misses the bullseye. Hence it need not be an egregious "fatal flaw" (as the term hamartia has traditionally been glossed). Instead, it can be something as basic and inescapable as a simple miscalculation or slip-up.

Judges 14:1-3 – [1] And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines. [2] And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife. [3] Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well.

Judges 16:1 - Then went Samson to Gaza, and saw there an harlot, and went in unto her.

Judges 16:4 - And it came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah.

2. Samson’s Hubris ("violent transgression") – Judg. 16:17

Hubris is the sin par excellence of the tragic or over-aspiring hero. Though it is usually translated as pride, hubris is probably better understood as a sort of insolent daring, a haughty overstepping of cultural codes or ethical boundaries.

Judges 16:17 - That he told her all his heart, and said unto her. There hath not come a razor upon mine head; for I have been a Nazarite unto God from my mother's womb: if I be shaven, then my strength will go from me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.

3. Samson’s Peripateia ("plot reversal") – Judg. 16:18-20

In the literature of tragedy peripateia is a pivotal or crucial action on the part of the protagonist that changes his situation from seemingly secure to vulnerable.

Judges 16:18-20 – [18] And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying, Come up this once, for he hath shewed me all his heart. Then the lords of the Philistines came up unto her, and brought money in their hand. [19] And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man, and she caused him to shave off the seven locks of his head; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him. [20] And she said, The Philistines be upon thee, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the Lord was departed from him.

4. Samson’s Nemesis ("retribution") – Judg. 16:21

Nemesis is the inevitable punishment or cosmic payback for acts of hubris.

Judges 16:21 - But the Philistines took him, and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison house.

5. Samson’s Anagnorisis ("tragic recognition or insight") – Judg. 16:28-30

According to Aristotle, anagnorisis is a moment of clairvoyant insight or understanding in the mind of the tragic hero as he suddenly comprehends the web of fate that he has entangled himself in.

Judges 16:28-30 – [28] And Samson called unto the Lord, and said, O Lord God, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes. [29] And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left. [30] And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life.

II. The Questions about Samson

1. Why are these four chapters in the Bible?

Larger issue = why is the book of Judges in the Bible?

2. Was Samson wrong in what he did at the end of his life?

1) “Vindictive” final prayer?

Consider what J. Barton Payne has written on this prayer!

“Under the judges of the consolation period, there confessedly took place a general spiritual retrogression; and those, indeed , who were, filled with God’s Spirit sometimes exhibited morals of a low order, even in their triumphs. Well-known is the case of the vindicativeness of Samson at his death, who prayed, “Oh God, that I may be avenged!” (Judg. 13:28) With his words, however, should be compared under similar circumstances, our Savior’s prayer for the forgiveness of his persecutors (Luke 23:34). Such lapses as Samson’s perhaps contribute to the explanation of the very periodic nature of their spiritual infilling (Judg. 13:25).”
[footnote 4]

Then consider Rev. 6:9-11!

[9] And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: [10] And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? [11] And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.

The essence of Samson’s final prayer:

Psalm 31:10 - For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing: my strength faileth because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed.

Psalm 39:13 - O spare me, that I may recover strength, before I go hence, and be no more.

2) Ethical issue of Samson’s suicide

Common picture of Samson “chained” to the pillars in error?

One of three examples in Scripture including Saul (1 Sam. 31),
and Judas (Mt. 27:5; Acts 1:18)

Two others of those who sought euthanasia - Abimelech, Judg. 9:50-57;
and Saul, 1 Sam. 31

3. What may we learn of Christ here?

1) Alone against the enemy

2) Seemingly conquered and humiliated by the enemy

3) Victorious in death

4) Delilah as a Judas figure

“Compare Calvin’s argument in his letter “To all lovers of Jesus Christ” (fol. aa2v; CO 9.813), in which he depicts Christ as the beloved Isaac, the vigilant Jacob, the kindly Joseph, the “bishop” Melchizedek, the lawgiver Moses, the faithful Joshua, the mighty David, the prudent Solomon, and the victorious Samson.”
[footnote 5]

“21. It is not unlikely that Mark intends to correlate Jesus with Samson here. Jesus is identified as the “Nazarene” and “the Holy One of God” as is Samson in Judg 16:17 (LXX), who in the A text is called naziraios theou and in the B text hagios theou. Judg 16:17B is the only other place in the Bible where an individual is called hagios theou (albeit without the article). Jesus thus appears to be recognized by the demoniac as one like Samson, powerful and set apart, “who plunders the house of the strong man” (Mark 3:27). See Schweizer, “Er wird Nazoräer heissen,” Neotestamentica 51-55.”
[footnote 6]

Mark 1:21–28 establishes Jesus’ exousia over Satan in the exorcism of the man with an unclean spirit. The language recalls the mighty Samson, the only other individual called “holy one of God” in the Bible, thus establishing the same motif of Mark’s first and pithiest parable (3:27), which is set within the Beelzebul controversy (3:20–30).”
[footnote 7]

III. The Lessons from Samson

1. What may we learn of ourselves here?

1) Samson was used by God.

Even in our weakness and sin God can use us. He does not need our perfection as a prerequisite before He can use us to accomplish His purposes. He calls the lowly, and the weak, and the despised of this world to show His power, and to display His might.

2) Samson’s faith (Heb. 11:32) was exercised in a day of great compromise.

This episode is centered in a historical period that has been described as the Canaanization of Israel. The parallel to compromise in Christianity in our own day would be the “worldification” or “secularization” of the Church. Do you think that there are parallels to our day?

Hebrews 11:32 - And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:

3) Samson’s faith (Heb. 11:32) was exercised in a day of great fear.

God’s people were afraid of their enemies. They were pessimistic, and lacking in hope. Their faith was weak, or non-existent. And in that day God raised up a warrior, a mighty hero, against His enemies.

Hebrews 11:32 - And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:

4) Samson stood alone.

Can you stand alone while others fear, and in the worst of times, when the horizon is dark, and you are surrounded by weakness? Can you count on and expect God to show Himself strong in spite of all of that? Can you see beyond present circumstances to the Sovereign over all circumstances, events and history?

2. Will you have a smile on your face when you die?

[Sermon preached by Pastor John T. "Jack" Jeffery at Wayside Gospel Chapel, Greentown, PA on February 10, 2008.]


1. IMDB at See also: Prison Flicks at, Film Site at, and Wikipedia at All of the above accessed 7 FEB 08.

2. NPR interview with Stan Lee at; Interview with Stan Lee at; Press Conference Interview with Stan Lee at; and the BBC's online encyclopedia h2g2 article on superheroes at All of the above accessed 7 FEB 08.

3. “Greek Drama”, by Richard Hooker, Washington State University, Pullman, WA; c. 1996, at [accessed 7 FEB 08]. “Comedy and Tragedy”, by David L. Simpson, The School for New Learning, DePaul University, Chicago, IL, c. 1998, at [accessed 7 FEB 08]. “English 366: Studies in Shakespeare, Introduction to English 366”, a lecture prepared for “English 366: Studies in Shakespeare”, by Ian Johnston of Malaspina University College, Nanaimo, BC. This text is in the public domain, released June 1999. It was last revised August 1, 2000 and again in December 2000, at [accessed 7 FEB 08]. “Some Distinctions Between Classical Tragedy and Comedy”, by Dr. L. Kip Wheeler, Carson-Newman College, Jefferson City, TN, c. 1998-2008, at [accessed 7 FEB 08].

4. Theology of the Older Testament (Grand Rapids: Academie Books, 1962), pg. 421.

5. Westminster Theological Journal. electronic edition. Philadelphia : Westminster Theological Seminary, 1998; “An Early Reformed Document on the Mission to the Jews”, by Robert White, WTJ 53:1 (Spring 1991), pg. 98, note 15; full article = pp. 93-108.

6. The Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. electronic edition. Garland, TX : Galaxie Software, 1998; “The Authority Of Jesus In The Gospel Of Mark”, by James R. Edwards, JETS (June 1994), pg. 221; full article = pp. 217-233.

7. The Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. electronic edition. Garland, TX : Galaxie Software, 1998; “The Authority Of Jesus In The Gospel Of Mark”, by James R. Edwards, JETS (June 1994), pg. 230; full article = pp. 217-233.

With harps and with viols

Subtitle: The New Song

And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Revelation 1:5-6

And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.
Revelation 14:3

With harps and with viols, there stand a great throng
In the presence of Jesus, and sing this new song:

Unto him who hath loved us and washed us from sin,
Unto him be the glory for ever. Amen.

All these once were sinners, defiled in his sight,
Now arrayed in pure garments in praise they unite:

Unto him who hath loved us and washed us from sin,
Unto him be the glory for ever. Amen.

He maketh the rebel a priest and a king,
He hath bought us and taught us this new song to sing:

Unto him who hath loved us and washed us from sin,
Unto him be the glory for ever. Amen.

How helpless and hopeless we sinners had been,
If he never had loved us till cleansed from our sin:

Unto him who hath loved us and washed us from sin,
Unto him be the glory for ever. Amen.

Aloud in his praises our voices shall ring,
So that others believing, this new song shall sing:

Unto him who hath loved us and washed us from sin,
Unto him be the glory for ever. Amen.

Author: Arthur T. Pierson (1837-1911);
Composer: Philip P. Bliss;
Tune name: Harps and Viols, also The New Song,
Meter:, also;
Key: B Flat Major.

Sources: Trinity Hymnal (Philadelphia: Great Commission Publications, 1961), #714; Hymns of Worship and Remembrance (Belle Chasse, LA: Truth and Praise, Inc., 1950), #30 (only 3 verses); Hymns of Truth and Praise (Belle Chasse, LA: Truth and Praise, Inc., 1971), #49. According to at [accessed 18 JAn 2011], this hymn is #547 in the 1990 edition of Trinity Hymnal.

Audio of the tune is available at: Cyber Hymnal at [accessed 26 June 2010], and Trinity Hymnal on Orthodox Presbyterian Church at [accessed 18 JAN 2011].

“When Daniel Whittle and Philip Bliss conducted a six-week campaign in Detroit, Michigan, they stayed in Pierson’s home. Pierson gave Bliss these words and was impressed that Bliss “withdrew for a season of prayer before composing the music.” CyberHymnal at [accessed 26 June 2010].

Monday, January 17, 2011


Wayside Gospel Chapel is indebted to David Morris for bringing this hymn to our attention!

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
1 John 3:1

Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us,
and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

1 John 4:10

Here is love, vast as the ocean,
Lovingkindness as the flood,
When the Prince of Life, our Ransom,
Shed for us His precious blood.
Who His love will not remember?
Who can cease to sing His praise?
He can never be forgotten,
Throughout Heav’n’s eternal days.

On the mount of crucifixion,
Fountains opened deep and wide;
Through the floodgates of God’s mercy
Flowed a vast and gracious tide.
Grace and love, like mighty rivers,
Poured incessant from above,
And Heav’n’s peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love.

Let me all Thy love accepting,
Love Thee, ever all my days;
Let me seek Thy kingdom only
And my life be to Thy praise;
Thou alone shalt be my glory,
Nothing in the world I see.
Thou hast cleansed and sanctified me,
Thou Thyself hast set me free.

In Thy truth Thou dost direct me
By Thy Spirit through Thy Word;
And Thy grace my need is meeting,
As I trust in Thee, my Lord.
Of Thy fullness Thou art pouring
Thy great love and power on me,
Without measure, full and boundless,
Drawing out my heart to Thee.


Original Welsh title: DYMA CARIAD FEL Y MOROEDD.
Known as “the love song of the Welsh Revival”, and “the great anthem of the Welsh Revival of 1904”.
Words: William Rees (Gwilym Hiraethog,1802-1883), verses 1-2; William Williams possibly wrote verses 3-4; trans. from Welsh to English by William Edwards, "The Baptist Book of Praise" (1900).
Music: Robert Lowry, 1876.


Cyber Hymmal at [accessed 16 SEP 2010]. at [accessed 16 SEP 2010].

For beautiful renditions of this hymns see the following:

Huw Priday during the Welsh Revival Centenary Celebrations in the Cardiff International Arena, Cardiff, Wales (November, 2004) at [accessed 16 SEP 2010].

Katherine Jenkins leads the Morriston Tabernacle Chapel congregation at [accessed 16 SEP 2010].

The Three Northwoods Tenors at the Northwoods Hymn Festival, Minocqua, Wisconsin (2009) at [accessed 16 SEP 2010].

Robin Mark at [accessed 16 SEP 2010].

Matt Redman at
and [accessed 16 SEP 2010].

Michael O’Dwyer at [accessed 16 SEP 2010].

Also see [accessed 16 SEP 2010].

Friday, January 14, 2011

Philadelphia Conference on Reformed Theology 2011

Children of God: Adopted into the Father's Love

“If the love of a father will not make a child delight in him, what will?” John Owen


Joel Beeke (All)
Steve Lawson (All)
Al Martin (OR)
Richard Phillips (All)
Derek Thomas (MI, SC)
David Wells (SC, PA)


Portland, OR
February 25-27, 2011
Estacada Christian Church
29101 SE Eagle Creek Rd.
Estacada, OR 97023

Grand Rapids, MI
March 18-20, 2011
Byron Center First Christian Reformed Church
2450 85th Street S.W.
Byron Center, MI 49315

Greenville, SC
April 1-3, 2011
Second Presbyterian Church
105 River Street
Greenville, SC 29601

Philadelphia, PA
April 29 - May 1, 2011
Tenth Presbyterian Church
1701 Delancey Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Source: Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals at,,PTID307086_CHID811018_CIID,02011.html [accessed 14 JAN 2010].

John Bunyan Conference

"The 2011 John Bunyan Conference is scheduled for May 2,3 and 4 in Lewisburg, PA.

Mark your calendars now!

Details to follow in upcoming issues of Sound of Grace.

A Brief Introduction

The John Bunyan Conference began under the direction of evangelist John Reisinger as a gathering for pastors and teachers with the purpose of studying together the various issues that are faced in the ministry of Christ. In 2008 the conference returned to Lewisburg, PA."

Source: Sound of Grace at [accessed 14 JAN 2011].

The Three Other Crucifixions of Galatians


The Crucifixion of Christ

Galatians 3:1 –
O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?

The Crucifixion of the Two Thieves

Matthew 27:38 –
Then were there two thieves crucified with him, one on the right hand, and another on the left.

Mark 15:32 –
Let Christ the King of Israel descend now from the cross, that we may see and believe. And they that were crucified with him reviled him.

Luke 23:33 –
And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left.

John 19:18 –
Where they crucified him, and two others with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.

1. The Crucifixion of the Christian - Galatians 2:20

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Notice that the verb in this case is passive. The subject is unexpressed.

Notice also that in this case alone of “the three other crucifixions” do we find that which is crucified surviving on the other side of the tomb in resurrection. That is not true of either of the next two crucifixions.

2. The Crucifixion of the Flesh - Galatians 5:24

And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

Cp. Romans 6:6 - Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

Notice the subject in this case is the Christian – the Christian is the Crucifier.

3. The Crucifixion of the World - Galatians 6:14

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

Notice the difference here – the subject is Christ – He is the Crucifier in this case.

Notice also that three crucifixions are mentioned in this verse:

1) that of Christ - the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
2) that of the world - by whom the world is crucified unto me,
3) and that of the Christian - and I unto the world.

Sola Scriptura, Solo Christo, Soli Deo Gloria,

John T. "Jack" Jeffery
Pastor, Wayside Gospel Chapel
Greentown, PA

6 JUL 2010

The Centerpiece of the Scriptures - The Centrality of Christ

And he is the head of the body, the church:
who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead;
that in all things he might have the preeminence
Colossians 1:18

Call to Worship: Luke 24:44-48
Scripture Reading: Colossians 1


Today we are going to take a break from the series we have been involved in on 1 Corinthians. We are at a juncture between two major sections of that book, and before we begin considering chapters 12-14 I thought it would be a good time to direct our attention elsewhere. I very seldom preach topical messages, and though this sermon may seem topical in the way it is presented, I think you may understand that it does serve by way of exposition to answer the following question: “What is meant in Colossians 1:18 by the words, “that in all things he might have the preeminence”?

I was provoked to consider this subject by the following article:

Ken Langley, "When Christ Replaces God at the Center of Preaching", Journal of the Evangelical Homiletics Society 9:1 (March 2009), pp. 53-84.

My response to the premise of this article is preliminary so some overlap in the points may be noted, and some refining could no doubt be done. Other points could be made, and the points themselves could certainly be expanded further.

My purpose in bringing this to your attention today is to reinforce something you should already know. This should have a direct bearing on our ministries, our worship, and our lives while we await the return of our Lord.

1. The Revelation of the Son is Central in the Scriptures and should be Central in our Testimony

To know Christ is to know the Father
To see Christ is to see the Father

John 8:19 - Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.

John 10:37-38 - [37] If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. [38] But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.

John 14:6-11 - [6] Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. [7] If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. [8] Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. [9] Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? [10] Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. [11] Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake.

Is the revelation of Jesus Christ central in your testimony?

2. The Exposition of the Son is Central in the Scriptures and should be Central in our Exposition

The Scriptures must be Expounded concerning and are Fulfilled by Christ
The Scriptures are to be Preached in His Name by His Witnesses

Luke 24:25-27 - [25] Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: [26] Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? [27] And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

Luke 24:44-48 - [44] And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. [45] Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, [46] And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: [47] And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. [48] And ye are witnesses of these things.

Are you seeing Christ in all the Scriptures, and speaking His Word in His Name to others so that they may see Him as well?

3. The Preaching of the Son is Central in the Scriptures and should be Central in our Preaching

The Power and Wisdom of God is Christ Crucified
The Testimony of God is Christ Crucified

1 Cor. 1:23-24 - [23] But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; [24] But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

1 Cor. 2:1-2 - [1] And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. [2] For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

Are you experiencing the power of God based on the crucifixion of Jesus Christ?
Do you appreciate the wisdom of God in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ?
As you minister the Word of God is Christ crucified at the center of our message?

4. The Worship of the Son is Central in the Scriptures and should be Central in our Worship

The Father is honored when the Son is honored
The Father is glorified when the Son is confessed

John 5:23 - That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.

Phil. 2:9-11 - [9] Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: [10] That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; [11] And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Eph. 2:18 - For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

Heb. 1:6 - And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.

Do you honor the Son in your worship?
Do you honor the Son in your confession?


It is utterly and certainly Biblically impossible for Christ to "replace God at the center of preaching", or for God to be preached where Christ is not the center!

See "The Catechism of the Couplets of Christ", in Answers to Questions (blog post 21 APR 2010) on Wayside Gospel Chapel at

[Sermon preached by Pastor John T. "Jack" Jeffery at Wayside Gospel Chapel, Greentown, PA on July 25, 2010.]

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Meet Anna: Broadcasting the Blessings of the Babe from Bethlehem

Luke 2:36-38

[36] And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;
[37] And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.
[38] And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.


Incarnation Day messages from the last 4 years

23 DEC 2007 – Luke 2:8-20 - The First Noel (Shepherds)
28 DEC 2008 – Luke 2:21-35 - Who Knew? (Simeon)

Other recent Incarnation Day messages:

24 DEC 2006 – 1 Timothy 3:16 – The Great Mystery of Ungodliness
20 DEC 2009 – Hebrews 2:9 – What is Man?
27 DEC 2009 – Isaiah 61:1-2 – Between Two Worlds

Let us pick up today in Luke 2 where we left off in 2008!

I. Let Me Introduce You To Anna – Wouldn’t You Like To Meet Anna? (2:36a)

And there was one Anna

Same as the Heb. Hannah (“grace”, “He was gracious”) –
cp. 1 Sam. 1:2, 5, 9, 15, 19, 22, 25

How many persons go unnamed in the Gospel accounts of Christ’s birth?

The Shepherds
The Wise Men (apocryphal names only)

No Little People, by Francis Schaeffer (n.p.: L’Abri Fellowship, 1974)

A Commentary on the Holy Bible, by Matthew Poole (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, n.d.; reprint from 1685 original ed.), 3:198

“in this most corrupt time there was a Simeon and an Anna, and also others, who had a true notion and expectation of the Messiah; and these the Holy Ghost taketh more notice of than of all the Jewish doctors, all the scribes and Pharisees, whose names are enrolled, while what these persons said and did shall remain for a memorial of them wherever the gospel shall be preached to the end of the world.” (pp. 91-92)

II. Let’s Get To Know Anna – Don’t you think Anna is a very interesting person? (2:36b-37)

a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; [37] And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.

We are told 8 important facts about this woman Anna:

1. a prophetess
2. the daughter of Phanuel
3. of the tribe of Aser
4. she was of a great age
5. and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity
6. And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years
7. which departed not from the temple
8. but served God with fastings and prayers night and day

These 8 important facts may be summarized as having to do with 4 subjects: her spirituality, genealogy, age, and service

1. Her spirituality (1)

(1) a prophetess

Ex. 15:20 - And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.

Judges 4:4 - And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time.

2 Chron. 34:22 - And Hilkiah, and they that the king had appointed, went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvath, the son of Hasrah, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college:) and they spake to her to that effect.

Joel 2:28-32 – [28] And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: [29] And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. [30] And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke. [31] The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come. [32] And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said, and in the remnant whom the Lord shall call.

Acts 21:9 - And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.

Rev. 2:20 - Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.

2. Her genealogy (2-3)

(2) the daughter of Phanuel
(3) of the tribe of Aser

Phanuel = Heb. Penuel, Peniel

Asher = 2nd son of Jacob and Zilpah, one of the lost and scattered ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom

Genesis 30:12-13 – [12] And Zilpah Leah's maid bare Jacob a second son. [13] And Leah said, Happy am I, for the daughters will call me blessed: and she called his name Asher.

Joshua 19:24 - And the fifth lot came out for the tribe of the children of Asher according to their families.

3. Her age (4-6)

(4) she was of a great age
(5) and had lived with an husband seven years from her

(6) And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years

Some calculate her age at 103-106 (John Gill: possibly 111-113), understanding the 84 years to be how long she had been a widow.

4. Her service (7-8)

(7) which departed not from the temple
(8) but served God with fastings and prayers night and day

III. Let’s Listen To Anna – She Has Something Very Important To Tell You! (2:38)

And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord,
and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem

Isaiah 40:2 - Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins. (cp. 1-11)

Isaiah 41:14 - Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the Lord, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel.

Isaiah 43:14 - Thus saith the Lord, your redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; For your sake I have sent to Babylon, and have brought down all their nobles, and the Chaldeans, whose cry is in the ships.

Isaiah 44:24 - Thus saith the Lord, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the Lord that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself;

Isaiah 52:9 - Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem. (cp. 8-10)

Cp. also Ps. 130:5-8; Joel 2:28-32

Luke 1:68-79 – [68] Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, [69] And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; [70] As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: [71] That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; [72] To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; [73] The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, [74] That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, [75] In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life. [76] And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; [77] To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, [78] Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, [79] To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Luke 2:25 - And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.

Luke 23:50-54 – [50] And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a good man, and a just: [51] (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God. [52] This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. [53] And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. [54] And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on.

Parallel Passages:

Matthew 27:54-60 – [54] Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God. [55] And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: [56] Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children. [57] When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple: [58] He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. [59] And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, [60] And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.

Mark 15:42-46 – [42] And now when the even was come, because it was the preparation, that is, the day before the sabbath, [43] Joseph of Arimathaea, an honourable counsellor, which also waited for the kingdom of God, came, and went in boldly unto Pilate, and craved the body of Jesus. [44] And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead. [45] And when he knew it of the centurion, he gave the body to Joseph. [46] And he bought fine linen, and took him down, and wrapped him in the linen, and laid him in a sepulchre which was hewn out of a rock, and rolled a stone unto the door of the sepulchre.

John 19:38-42 – [38] And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. [39] And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. [40] Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. [41] Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. [42] There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews' preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.

Luke 24:21 - But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.

Acts 26:7 - Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope's sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews.

Romans 8:23 - And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.

2 Tim. 4:8 - Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.


Aren’t you glad that you met Anna, learned of her, and listened to her?

There are Two Kinds of People in the World


“There are two types of people in this world: Those who like Neil Diamond, and those who don't.”
Quote from Bob ‘Bobby’ Wiley, played by Bill Murray, in the movie “What About Bob?” (Touchstone Pictures, 1991).

It is true that there are two kinds of people in this world. There are those who believe in miracles, and there are those who deny the existence of miracles. There are those who believe in the supernatural, and those who deny it. There are those who have faith in a supernatural God who is able to work miracles, and who have experienced his miracle working power within themselves. And there are those who do not have such faith, and no nothing of God’s power.

I would turn your attention to the Bible at this time.

In fact, the Scriptures speak of there being two kinds of people in the world!
“He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.” (Mt. 12:30)
“And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.”
(Mt. 25:32-33)
“...children of light...children of darkness” (Eph. 5:6-11)
“...children of God...children of the devil” (1 Jn. 3:10)

The Bible is a Book of Miracles from beginning to end. There are those who believe this, and those who do not.

The Miracle of Creation

It begins with the great miracle of creation. Oh, yes, this was a miracle despite was is commonly taught and proclaimed as fact in falsely so-called scientific circles, in textbooks, and is schools. We find the words, “And God said...” ten times in the first chapter of Genesis. Often this is followed by the words “...and it was so.”

Genesis 1:3 - And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
[6] And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. [7] And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
[9] And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
[11] And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
[14] And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: [15] And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
[24] And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.

God spoke. And it was so. His Word has the power to create, to create out of nothing, to call into existence. When we speak of creation we speak of it as a miracle sourced in His creative Word.

The Bible ends with another great miracle, that of the destruction of this world, and its replacement, its renewal into the New Heavens and the New Earth. Revelation 21:1-8. God will speak once again, and it will be so. There were no unbelievers present for the first great miracle. There will be no place for them in the last. The world is divided into two kinds of people: those who believe this, and those who do not.

The Miracle of Christ

The Bible is centered on a series of great miracles that focus on the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. Just as creation itself His time on this earth began and ended with great miracles. His birth as the Son of Man is a miracle - the great miracle of the Incarnation. His victory of sin and death in the great miracle of the Resurrection brought about the end of His time as Son of Man on this earth in the Ascension. The world is divided into two groups: those who believe in Him and those who do not.

The Miracles of Christ

Throughout His life He showed Who He was and demonstrated His power as God by working many miracles. These miracles performed by the Lord Jesus Christ spanned a variety of realms and subjects. The first of these was his turning of water into wine at a marriage feast in Cana of Galilee. However, if you are into grading miracles you might agree that few would characterize this miracle as His greatest. The fascination of many with this miracle seems to have more to do with the wine, than with the point of the miracle itself – that of testifying to Christ’s power over creation.

You will remember that at creation God spoke and it was so. It is always so, but it seems to be especially so at certain times in the Bible with regard to miracles.

The resuscitation of Lazarus

Read John 11:1-21

These were folks who believed in miracles. They were well aware of Christ’s miracle working power. They had seen Him show Who He was. They had experienced the supernatural, and fully expected Him to do more. They were actually very disappointed that He had not come to their home in time to perform a miracle of healing on their brother and friend before He died of His sickness.

My “trail name” or nickname on the Appalachian Trail is “Overkill”. This is due to the fact that I carry lots of extra stuff, adding up to what my daughters feel is too much weight. There are, however, those who would assert that, “Overkill is underrated.” This is actually a line from the new movie “A-Team” produced by Twentieth Century Fox. COL “Hannibal” Smith said this in that movie. I like that. What does that have to do with anything? It has to do with Jesus Christ Himself! I would like to use that line with regards to Christ Himself. Christ is underrated! Christ is underrated. He is even underrated by those who say they believe in Him, and who know that He can and does perform powerful miracles.

Read John 11:22-45


There are two, and only two, kinds of people in the world today. There are those who believe that the Bible is a book of miracles from beginning to end, and those who don’t. There are those who believe in miracles, in God’s supernatural, miracle-working power, and those who don’t. There are those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and those who don’t. Which of these two groups do you fall into, and don’t say neither, because there is no gray area, no middle ground here. There is no “neither”! It is one or the other. Are you here today as one who cannot confess a faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, who does not believe He did miracles, who denies the miracle of creation itself? Are you someone who hears the Bible, who knows what it says, but who cannot subscribe to a belief in the Bible as a “Book of Miracles”? Are you one of the two kinds of people who denies the existence of a supernatural God, or who denies His miracle working power? If so, perhaps you need to ask yourself, “Why?” What keeps you from taking God at His Word, and believing in His Son the Lord Jesus Christ, and confessing Him as your Savior?

The Miracle of Regeneration, of the New Birth

2 Cor. 4:3-7 – [3] But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: [4] In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. [5] For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. [6] For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. [7] But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 1

Q.1: What is your only comfort in life and in death?
A.1: That I, with body and soul, both in life and in death,[1] am not my own,[2] but belong to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ,[3] who with His precious blood [4] has fully satisfied for all my sins,[5] and redeemed me from all the power of the devil;[6] and so preserves me [7] that without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head;[8] indeed, that all things must work together for my salvation.[9] Wherefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life,[10] and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live unto Him.[11]

Is this your only comfort in life and in death?


1. Rom. 14:7 8
2. I Cor. 6:19
3. I Cor. 3:23
4. I Peter 1:18 19
5. I John 1:7; 2:2
6. I John 3:8
7. John 6:39
8. Matt. 10:29 30; Luke 21:18
9. Rom. 8:28
10. II Cor. 1:21 22; Eph. 1:13 14; Rom. 8:16
11. Rom. 8:1

[This sermon was preached by Pastor John T. “Jack” Jeffery during a funeral service on January 6, 2011, and at Wayside Gospel Chapel, Greentown, PA on January 9, 2011.]