17th March 2024

Forced to be Happy or Happy to be happy

Passage: Matthew 5:38-42, 27:32-39, Mark 15:21
Service Type:

Automatically Generated Transcript

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We have a very interesting talk this morning coming from the Beatitudes, and we're doing that section of Jesus's description of how he's asked for perfection. And he's got six areas of Christian living and we're through to one, I think it's the fourth or fifth, where Jesus is speaking about our reactions to people who do us harm. And the fact that Christian sanctification is the tool to get us past being reactionary and having reactions that spoil the relationship. And so here is this attitude of Jesus that he is asking us to follow, that will be, as the final verse of the six of these behaviors says, that we will be aiming at being perfect like our Heavenly Father is perfect. So it is not as though Jesus was making a bigger request at the door to let us in, in

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the first place. It was that the purpose of our salvation is to take us through sanctification to end up to be Tileos, was the word if you remember. It means to develop fully the end result of being perfect, which is what our sanctification is meant to be doing for us. Now in this particular aim of Jesus this one here is rather interesting and I have to confess that in reading through them, I thought it was the least significant and one that I wouldn't really know what to say about it, but actually the opposite might be the case, and if we get them to put up on the screen, a question I must ask you first. There we go.

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I'm asking you whether you like going fast. I do. But you're looking at what has held the world record for something like 20 to 40 years in terms of human transport, not with a rocket. Rocket's different because it doesn't take in air, doesn't breathe like this is a plane that uses air to make the motors work, and also carries people. So it's not like a missile. And this is the vehicle that has the fastest record and has held it since about 1971. Goodness me. And the speed that it goes is 2000. Let me get this right. It's so enormous 2400 miles per hour which in kilometres is 3.5-3500 kilometres per hour, imagine that. And the reason why it can achieve the speed is it's a high altitude plane that goes through the thin air. And there is nothing faster to hold the record since although this

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now being retired from active service from in the 90s 1990s was the last time they were flying him that's how fast humans can be propelled along in this world of ours now if you go back earlier go back before the Wright brothers and the advent of the airplane and you go back a little bit further because there were some rather speedy locomotives in those early days but go back before that. What was the vehicle that people used to be the fastest way you could be on earth? Anybody know? What was the way that produced the fastest message you could send if you as a war about to start in another state and you've got to alert your troops, how did you get the message through fastest? This is before the years of Morse code on wires. But what was the fastest way a human messenger could we get to travel across the earth? Yes. No this is just

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before the train era which is the locomotives did it pretty fast once they got the steam up but no there was an earlier than that. Well I'll tell you it was on the back of horse and the hot fast horses only go at about 44 miles per hour which is about 71 or something kilometers per hour and by having a man a horse you could get a message across to alert your troops to be busy at some distant place. And they had developed, there's a reason I'm telling you this, they'd developed a method of getting messages as quick as could be done in the ancient world in Persia that insisted that the military rulers had the right to demand that every day's journeys worth there will be a man with a horse waiting. And so the messenger would come, a horse dashing for a day's worth, to

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where there was another man waiting and he had a horse ready and he'd take the message and on he'd go for another day. And the American outback and the old wild West of America adopted the same and they called it the Pony Express. You might have heard about that, the same idea of galloping horses being the fastest way to take the message. Wow, how things have changed. Now 22,000, it's Mach 3 would you believe, has got two people inside it and was used to fly so fast that even when enemies send up missiles the missiles couldn't catch up to it. That's absolutely amazing. But that method of Pony Express copying the old Persian way of having riders ready with a horse and there being a relay, the Pony Express copied it from Persia, has caused there to be in the scriptures a Persian loanword that's used amongst the Greek words to express what's exactly in some of the things

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that Jesus is saying this morning to us through the Beatitudes, and we'll put up on the screen Matthew 5 and verse 41. This is Jesus in that next step of him talking about how we're meant to be making progress towards perfection if we want to be properly prepared in the kingdom of God. And anyone who forces you to go one mile go with him two miles. Now this is because in the occupied territories of ancient Greece and Rome it became adapted from the Persians but became a thing that if anybody in the armed forces needed someone to help them carry their armor or some of their tools or maybe just because they're feeling lazy they could compel a local to do the carrying. But there was a limit put on it as to how far that compulsion would take instead of a days-worth journey like the Persians had, and instead of needing a horse to be involved in the deal, this was that a soldier could come along and say,

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''You take my bags and if you don't I've got a sword here. I know how to use it.'' And so that was a habit that they all got used to. And when it says, if anyone forces you to go one mile that word forces you or some versions will say compels you, is the word that is actually coming from the Persian language, which is why we call it a Persian loanword, and the word, if I look at my notes, I'll say it right, is The word agarhuane. And agarhuane means that you've been grabbed by some military person who's got a sword and forcing you to carry his load. Now the thing is of course that the people who have such power often get a bit corrupt, and so the soldiers were used to picking on people and making them do all sorts of things,

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not just carry their bag or not just carry the military equipment they'd want to carry. So they'd sometimes after you got one-mile out of the person, say, now you'd better keep going. That's not enough for me, keep walking. And what happened was that the local people had a great resentment build up in them at this moment that they could get presumed on to do something against their will. And the word, it means, it's very rare in the Bible, only three places, I'll show you the three, that this word is used. And they're all either this very place in the Scriptures, in the beatitudes. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go

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with him two miles, this is Jesus speaking. What it is for us to become perfect and not resentful and for us to learn how to respond when people do the dirty on you or when people make use of you or when people say things that somehow exclude you. It's something that we all have human nature to know about our rights and we have the ability to react when someone somehow leaves us out of the invitations to the party or someone sets things up that they've got the people who are gonna be in charge and they're not interested in newcoming and joining and we all have an ability to react to those sorts of slights that can happen, if anyone forces you to go one mile it can happen and

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they were all familiar with how this happened with the Romans but then Jesus says go with him two miles and he goes on to talk about not being causing to be a person that has retaliation. And so this little snippet, this one unit of Jesus giving how we should be perfect like our Heavenly Father is perfect. He's talking about let sinful reactions we have as Christians when our rights are not looked after, when people do things to us. And he's got some fascinating examples that he brings. And when I first saw this to be preached on I thought how on earth can I make this interesting? And so Jesus went speaking, he said if someone slaps you on the right cheek and I had to do a bit of digging and research to find out why Jesus said the right cheek. I do need to

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have someone come on, big men, come over here. They won't be afraid of you here, afraid of you. Now face me, now this is a story, and Jesus is saying if anybody slaps you on your right cheek. That's a bit hard to do, unless you do it with the back of your hand. Now, I've got rather bony hands, so I didn't actually do that cause He would feel it. They're bony and they're long, and they can do well, you know. So when Jesus said if anyone

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slaps you on the right cheek, He's talking about this scene Where they're doing what was understood by the teaching of the Jewish leaders the Jewish rabbis their teaching was that the most insult that is given as when you get slapped with the back of your hand and When you get slapped on your right cheek, which is another way of explaining it is the back of your hand Because this this part of your hand on the front, you know that didn't hurt to because that's soft. But when you get hit with the back of the hand, it's not. So Jesus is saying someone has given you what is, in their culture, the Jewish culture, the worst what would you call it? An angry, you know, despising of you, insult thank you. So it's an assault, but it's an insult. And then Jesus says when they do that turn to them the left cheek and

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then I say standing and the left cheek is a much softer one so you have already taken the worst but let them keep going and you know have the other side now thank you what What Jesus is illustrating is when people do something wrong against you? What's your reaction? Well the natural reaction of human nature, since that we're all fallen, and that when we get converted to Christ that hasn't yet been cured, you know, that's what sanctification is all for. The reason why when Jesus said you've got to be perfect, like your heavenly father's perfect. Because the word telos that I've been going on about, each Sunday morning, is the word developed. Coming to the conclusion, coming to the results, coming to the end of the process. He's giving us a challenge, don't just say someone that got in the door to be a Christian, because you came to Christ, but let the sanctification

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process work in you, that you no longer have the reactions that mark you out as not like your heavenly father. Now, a very interesting thing about this you know is that when early Christians began to take Jesus's advice, some of what happened with that advice was that the military people would compel someone to do something and they were used to getting gripes. Now it is, after all, Jerusalem and surroundings where Jewish people have big opinions, sorry to say anything you might be annoyed at me saying, but the truth is that they usually express their opinions and so these soldiers were used to getting all sorts of grumbles Jesus had to go on and say if someone asks of you to give you there and he used the word which wasn't for your outer

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coat but for the inner tunic and the inner tunic was much lighter material only with a very privileged person might be made of special stuff and Jesus actually had one himself that was very specially made but generally speaking that wasn't so drastic to lose. If someone came along and said, I need a tunic, give me yours and he's got a sword so you better do it, then he's still leaving you with a heavier garment called the outer cloak. And they had in their culture a recognition that when the sun went down, especially if it's no longer summer, things could get cold, so you don't take off anybody their outer cloak because they'd need it to sleep in, they'd always sleep in their outer cloak. so that they actually had it as a bit of a law, that the Jewish people, the rabbis, the

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travelling teachers used to proclaim, that you're not allowed to sue a person in a court of law for their outer cloak. You can only sue them for the inner one, which they can give, and still be okay, with their nice thick outer cloak. And he was sort of saying, you know, in courts of law, don't go and do the ultimate and get lot of them. There's got to be mercy, even where you're exercising what's been set for the soldiers to be able to do, but when they didn't do it, which they often didn't keep the rules because there's no one around to be policemen when he's carrying his Roman sword, then Jesus is saying rather than being a person who is reactionary, be a person who is happy. I thought about a title for this message to be forced to be happy or happy to be happy? And he's telling us as

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Christians how to learn to be happy to be happy even though it might be difficult. And when the Christians back then started doing this, to the surprise of the soldiers, they got to know that when a Christian was forced to do something, they'd chat with them and the way, and when they said, you've got to go another mile, they kept chatting with a smile, they couldn't work it out. And there are a lot of the military people who got one to Christ because of these Christians who somehow were happy to be happy, because they weren't reactionary. One such Christian was himself, the apostle Paul, how was it that he won so many of the Roman Empire soldiers to Christ? Christ because He was put in jail with them, chained to them, and they discovered the same thing about Him. He wasn't all ranting and raving about the Romans. He wasn't, you know,

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somehow cranky at them for him being in jail and chained up to them. He took the opportunity to be happy, to be happy, and the witness of it was so powerful through the early Christians they followed Jesus advice of not listening to the Pharisees, not listening to the Jewish rabbis, the traveling teachers who taught this is what you got to do they made illegalism. No he said that there's something different in how you are as a Christian. I was so amazed to learn some of these things about this little snippet of Jesus advice have suddenly made me remember Some people whom I admire, I've told you previously, a previous pastor of this church Trevor Harris is someone, even as a young pastor, had an enormous impact on me. As a young man watching someone who was a pastor, he was up at Mount Isa

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when I was that Dajará and I go up to his church every now and then. And Trevor Harris moved from Mount Isa down to this church, Salisbury. And when he came down Down here he came to be married because he was a young past only he was only in his early 30s. That's young by my measures and he came to be married. And when he was getting married here and it was his wedding day. There came some that I knew who came down to Brisbane and if they people would always go to him to get councils and looked him up on his wedding day and asked he needed to talk to him. And, normally speaking, I would have expected that someone like Trevor getting married

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and say, no, this day is committed to other things. They said, oh no, I'll make time for you. And I know that must have been the hardest thing for him to do on his precious day of getting married. But he made time. I knew the fellow well, he had a reason he was coming. Things he wanted to talk about. But I want to tell you, Trevor Harris was used to doing that up at Mount Isa. And someone would knock on his door and ask him to do something that mucked up all his plans. But he'd somehow do what was being asked.

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And I was not that sort of person that did what other people wanted. I have to be honest about this. I was someone that did always what I want, you know? And so if someone came and asked me to do something to muck up my plan, I'd sort of not be too responsive. but that's not what Jesus is talking about. He's giving an extreme example, if someone forces you to go one mile, go with him too and because of that Christian ability to be sanctified that you're not always standing on your digs

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and then Jesus also applied it to being retaliation, you know, retaliatory to people who've done something wrong so you always remember it and you're gonna not and that happens in churches too. comes to voting time and you're voting for someone to be in charge of down the back or somewhere...and you say, oh, no, that person didn't invite me to the party and so you put a cross or maybe there's not many of you that do? But that sense in us that we want to have a retaliation is what Jesus spoke against, not an eye for an eye and not a tooth for a tooth. That's all coming out of the fallen human nature, and we bring it with us into our Christian lives.

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I saw a beautiful example. There's another occasion I think the Lord must have been working with me to try and let me see but before I ran into Trevor Harris and his witness on this point, I used to go because my parents took me there to the City Tabernacle Church. They got a lot of visitors on Sunday of people travelling and particularly when they came as military people on boats, sailors, and they'd look around for a church to go to. And of course many ended up at the City Tabernacle. I had a field day because when anybody new came there, I used to end up talking to them and seek to tell them about Christ, because I was always interested that they might come to a whole service and hear a lot of good things about being a church person but I wanted

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them to hear the Gospel. came one man who was off a ship and he was on shore leave and he was a Christian and he ended up in that church and I got in talking and found out that and I said, oh you must come home for lunch! My parents, I knew I could bring anybody home, and they'd be gladly hospitable. There was a bit of an issue though that there was another lady there who came from interstate that my parents for being hospitable too. I don't think a Christian lady at all. In fact, I don't know what to say publicly, but she was not of the amenable type to young lads like me. She was someone always, well, cranky is what I'm trying to not say too much. When I got back with the fellow who was the sailor to the home. She had busied herself to do some

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gardening and she saw a young fit man. She says, Oh you can come and help me as a gardener. Come on. You can do the weeding. She had him out there picking out the weeds. I brought him home to have fellowship and a nice meal. Well, we did give him a good meal. But I brought him home for the fellowship. But I knew that's why I came to church you know a ship you surrounded by probably most of them are not as Christian as you are and and so he goes to church and I invited him home he was really pleased but then she had him at this pending the afternoon gardening and when she asked him I saw his face and I knew what was going on behind the face and he said yes I'll do that I'll do it as unto the Lord'. I'll do it as unto the Lord. That's a quote from the Bible about how we should give our

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service, not just serving your boss as a human boss but to recognise you'll do your service as unto the Lord, and if you take that attitude to all your work and to all your relationships you will be making progress towards the perfection that Jesus was asking for. There are two very strong examples. That young sailor, I don't know whether he stayed in the navy all his life, but he proved to be a very forceful preacher to me because I watched that. I wouldn't have been gardening for that lady. I confess that's something I was yet to learn about. And anyway, these are things that Jesus is talking about and he wants us to follow. And it's a rather powerful talk. There is, I told you, three verses that have this word, the word that I mentioned, agarwan. Let's all say that, say agarwan, it's the infinitive language for you buffs. It's how to say to compel. Or it might be to, you know,

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make them do something they don't want to do, to compel. Agarwan, let's say agarwan. Now see, you're learning not only Greek but you're learning a Persian loan word and that's when it's come from another language and the Greek people were using it. Well, anyway we're talking here about these three verses and so I just want you to see the other verses and I'm gonna finish on one of them but the first one we've already looked at. It is this one verse 41 that's on the screen but there is another one. In fact it's another two and they're both about the same incident and it's Matthew 27, Matthew 27 32 to 39 contains it and it is a story of Jesus going towards the cross and as they went out they found a man from Cyrene, probably in Africa, Simon by name. They compels, that's the Agar-Rune word, they compelled this man to carry his cross and

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when they came to a place called Golgotha which means the place of the skull, they offered him, Jesus, wine and drink mixed with gall, it was a acidic or alkaline, I'm not sure which but a rather hard to swallow drink but he tasted it but he wouldn't drink it for what reason we'll leave aside for the moment and when they had crucified him they divided his garments among them casting lots and the narrative goes on talking about what happened to Jesus without anything else said about Simon of Cyrene, I've looked at these verses many times and said why didn't the Bible tell us more about him. Well, there is one more verse that speaks about him it's actually of the same occasion that's in Mark's Gospel, Chapter 15 and verse 21. And, Mark's Gospel on Chapter 15 and verse 21 they compelled a passer-by. So we learn one more little point. Here's a person who's come towards,

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we learned, to Jerusalem for the Passover feast, which means he's a Jew by religion. He's probably a proselyte. He's come from Africa. He's probably black, not necessarily but probably. Simon of Cyrene, who is coming in from the country, meaning from not the city. The father of Alexander and Rufus so ends up having children and leads to become Christians, we believe. That's how the name gets in there, their names. They compelled him to carry the cross and then even Mark goes on, doesn't say anything more about it. I wondered whether or not God and his word is having something to say to people who he asked to do something but they never mentioned again in the annals of the church or the nation or heralded because of great exploits in human things like being a parliamentarian.

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I wondered about that but in a matter of fact we don't have anything in the scriptures say any more about Simon of Cyrene. We don't really know where exactly is Cyrene we can only guess because of his proselyte baptism then I guess that he's also a Negroide. I don't know, but the scriptures don't tell us anything. I want to tell you I've chewed on that for a while without anything to say, no fruit of what to say about him, but it is something that's in the traditions of the early church. There is information, when we say tradition tells us it's not scriptures that you can know for sure it's right, because There could be a rumour that started up. But the tradition tells us that after the resurrection, of Jesus, this man who carried his cross.

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Now, you need to know that cross and his cross piece was about 88 pounds. People have estimated this. I have got no way to know if they are right. But 88 pounds is a fairly hefty thing to carry, Particularly where it's a distance from the tower of Antonio where the soldiers all were when they'd get all the soldiers to be crucified and have them carry the Cross down the Via Dolorosa and it was a fair distance that they would have those people travel and that distance was one that would be pretty hard for any normal person to travel. I think Jesus was very fit except that he'd been whipped

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to within an inch of his death and his back was bleeding and he was really cruelly de-energised. And as he came this distance, about three quarters of a mile, as estimated from the Tower of Antonio to Golgotha, he ran out of steam and wilted under the weight. Coming in through the gate, the opposite direction, was Simon of Cyrene and the Soldiers and the word compelled is our word Aงope Careful. They treated him as a passer-by who do what the military say. They put the cross on him. I would guess that being from Africa he's probably very strong and that would might be another reason why they picked on him, because he was able to do it but he carried the cross for Jesus and he did it without there being in the annals of the scriptures any mention any cheering any reward he just carried it for Jesus sake I don't know whether you're getting

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the message but Jesus who said that he's here with his church I'm with you he says he's always saying in Revelation 3 about the one who's searching the churches he who has an ear let him listen to what he says to the churches I wonder if he's not saying to somebody this morning he's calling you to do things and you don't need to get recognized you don't need a hero's clap as a matter of fact after the resurrection of Christ tradition is and I've got no reason not to believe it he went back to Africa and he became a A WITNESS OF THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST. He had a grand seat, ground level seat. What do you call that?

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When you go to front seat to see the action. He saw Jesus in his struggles and he carried his cross. Jesus comes to us with the message of the cross. Not only that he bore the cross and died for your sins, but in the Christian call he calls you to join him in carrying a cross for him! I think the reason why the Bible doesn't mention another thing is that this man'd already done enough! I think! I can't prove my point because I'm proving it from what's not said. This man went back to Africa and the tradition is he eventually witnessed for Christ so much that he got martyred by being cut in two halves. Probably because he was a big man and they brought him down to size sort of business.

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But when he's in glory I'm going to look him up because his illustration, his example speaks to me even today in areas that are not natural to me. You don't have to get recognized just do Jesus will. Just be someone who helps him that's all you need to be and it is enough. And when you carry the cross for Jesus by obeying this idea of not being caught up in retaliation, of not being a person who wants to stand on your rights. rights to Jesus. And be someone who is not compelled to be happy, but someone who is happy to be happy with what Jesus calls you to be, and to do. I thank you for this message. Lord, these little six snippets of Christ's advice are doing a good job of apologetics because he's taking the thing to disprove from the definitions

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of the people who are getting it wrong, starting on their starting points. And showing what God wants is far different. Father, thank you for Jesus and how His teaching is so potent. It somehow gets to us. I thank you Father for showing me these verses on Simon and Cyrene. Just these three. There's one's about Jesus saying and the other two are about his carrying the cross. And it's all that said. He didn't need that of anything else said of him. He went off to Africa and became a martyr for the gospel of Christ. We thank you and praise you for this example in the scriptures. In Jesus' name, amen.

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