Sermon Starters

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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor

Fifth Sunday In Lent

Option #1: "The Prophecy of Caiaphas, The High Priest"
John 11:43-52
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, B.A., M.Div.

  I. He spoke as one sitting in Moses’ seat--Matt 23:2ff

 II. He spoke as a politician, not as the Shepherd of God’s people--vv47-48; Isa 5:20-23; Matt 7:22-23; 23:24ff

III. What he said was true, though it came from impure motives--vv49-53; Lk 24:46-47; Rom 3:25; 2 Cor 5:21; Gal 3:13-14, 4:4-5; 1 Pet 2:24, 3:18a

Holman Bible Handbook:  Their concern was self-preservation. If Jesus continued as He had, then people would continue to place their faith in Him as the Messiah. If the Romans then heard that a Messiah was being heralded by the Jews, they would come and destroy the threat, including the Sanhedrin (11:48). Therefore much of the opposition to Jesus was sociopolitical in nature. The remark by Caiaphas about their ignorance was one of rudeness. He understood the political dimension more fully than the others, who were actually thinking in terms of guilt or innocence. For Caiaphas it did not matter whether Jesus was guilty or innocent of wrongdoing. What was important was that the death of one man was worth the viability of the Jewish nation under Roman rule (11:50). Historically, Caiaphas was in error; for despite the death of Jesus, the Jewish nation perished in A.D. 70.  The prophecy of Caiaphas was more true than he could have imagined. He prophesied the death of Jesus for the Jewish nation in order to alleviate political tensions, not knowing that Jesus’ death would be for the spiritual salvation of the Jewish nation and for the world.

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Sometimes God makes bad things turn into good things. Ask just about anyone older than you and they will probably be able to tell you a story about that.

When I was in college I didn’t play on any sports team, but we did go traveling to other schools for debate. It was a way of getting better at making speeches. There were five of us on the trip, and we were in the middle of nowhere in South Dakota. We stopped in this little town looking for a restaurant. We couldn’t find it, so we knocked on a door asking for directions to a restaurant. The people there told us that the restaurant closed.

That was the bad news--the restaurant was closed. This was the good news: These people invited us into their home and made some sandwiches for our supper. That was a very long time ago, and I still remember not only the name of the town but also the names of the people who were so kind to us.

God is very good at taking bad things and turning them into good things. Today’s Bible story is another example of that. Jesus did so many good things that you couldn’t count them. In today’s story, he has just raised Lazarus from the dead. But his enemies thought that was bad news, because many people would follow Him, they would lose control of them, and the Romans would invade the country and they would be in a lot of trouble.

Their leader was Caiaphas. He told his fellow leaders that it would be better for Jesus to die than to have all this trouble befall them. So right after that they tried even harder to capture Jesus and nail him to the cross, and it was there that God showed that even the worst thing could become the best thing. Jesus dying on the cross made it possible for us to have our sins forgiven and to have eternal life.

Now if God can take a horrible thing like the cross and turn it into so much good, he can and will take the bad things that happen to you and turn them into good things. You have to believe this. This is what we call FAITH--and you don’t ever want to be without it.


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Option #2: "A Quicken Fix"
Romans 8:11-19
Rev. Kelly Bedard, B.A., M.Div.

A. Spiritual Stillbirth
    1. Living according to the sinful nature, as indentured servants
    2. Bondage to the flesh: doing something in order that we may get something, be somebody

B. The Spirit's Still Birthing!
    1. Living according to the Spiritual nature, as empowered servants
    2. Bonded to the Spirit: simply–though not easily!–being what God made us to be  


1. zoopoieo (v11): quicken, give life, make alive; to produce alive, begat or bear living young; to cause to live, make alive, give life; by spiritual power, to arouse and invigorate; to restore to life; to give increase of life: thus of physical life; of the spirit, quickening as respects the spirit, endued with new and greater powers of life; metaphorically, of seeds quickened into life, i.e., germinating, springing up, growing. (Blue Letter Bible)

2. enoikeo (v11): to dwell in; metaphorically, to dwell in one and influence her/him (for good). (Ibid)

3. opheiletes (v12): debtor, sinner, which owed; one who owes another, a debtor; one held by some obligation, bound by some duty; one who has not yet made amends to whom s/he has injured: one who owes God penalty or whom God can demand punishment as something due, i.e., a sinner. (Ibid)

4. huios (v14): literally, son; figuratively, those who revere God as their father, the pious worshippers of God, those who in character and life resemble God, those who are governed by the Spirit of God, repose the same calm and joyful trust in God which children do in their parents (Rom 8:14, Gal 3:26), and hereafter in the blessedness and glory of the life eternal will openly wear this dignity of the children of God. Term used preeminently of Jesus Christ, as enjoying the supreme love of God, united to him in affectionate intimacy, privy to his saving councils, obedient to the Father's will in all his acts. (Ibid)

5. huiothesia {(v14): adoption; that relationship which God was pleased to establish between himself and the Israelites in preference to all other nations; the nature and condition of the true disciples in Christ, who by receiving the Spirit of God into their souls become children of God; the blessed state looked for in the future life after the visible return of Christ from heaven. (Ibid)

6. teknon (v16): child, son, daughter; offspring; metaphorically, the name transferred to that intimate and reciprocal relationship formed between people by the bonds of love, friendship, trust, just as between parents and children; in affectionate address, such as patrons, helpers, teachers and the like employ: my child; in the NT, pupils or disciples are called children of their teachers because the latter by their instruction nourish the minds of their pupils and mold their characters; children of God: in the OT, of "the people of Israel" as especially dear to God, in the NT, in Paul's writings, all who are led by the Spirit of God and thus closely related to God; of anything who depends upon it, is possessed by a desire or affection for it, is addicted to it. (Ibid)

7. kleronomos (v17): heir, one who receives by lot; in Messianic usage, one who receives his allotted possession by right of sonship; one who has acquired or obtained the portion allotted to him. (Ibid)

8. sugkleronomos (v17): fellow heir, joint heir, heir together, heir with; one who obtains something assigned to him/herself with others, a joint participant. (Ibid)

9. Living as a child of God means an intimate, joyful relationship with God (not as the bondage and fear demonstrated by the law); it is exemplified in the cry Abba, Father! (Daddy!) ... It also means inheritance; the rich young ruler asked Jesus, what must I do to inherit? (Luke 18:18); but misses the point–inheritance is not a matter of doing, it is a matter of being–of being in the right family. (David Guzik)

10. In the Roman world of the first century AD an adopted son was a son deliberately chosen by his adoptive father to perpetuate his name and inherit his estate; he was no whit inferior in status to a son born in the ordinary course of nature. (F.F. Bruce)

11. Under Roman adoption, several things happened to the one being adopted: the adopted son lost all rights in his old family and gained all new rights in his new family; the old life of the adopted son was completely wiped out, with all debts being cancelled, with nothing from his past counting against him any more. (David Guzik)

11. [God] has not saved us from one kind of slavery just so that we would have to pay back what we owe Him. He has turned His enemies into His sons and gives us all the gifts of His kingdom now and forever. (David Adams)
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