The Cross

AMAZING LOVE, HOW CAN IT BE!

John 15:9 is one of my favorite be-amazed-passages-of-the-Bible

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.”

What a comparison! We are loved exactly as God the Father loves God the Son

How does the Father love the Son?

It is beyond our comprehension, but whatever it entails – only God is capable of it. This means we are loved constantly, inexhaustibly and beyond description.

If we are loved as the Father loves the Son, then it is impossible for us to be loved more

Why don’t we always feel this loved?

1.  We really don’t understand love all that well

We equate love with kindness which means we focus on how God is meeting our immediate comforts. God is concerned with more than just our present comforts; He is committed to working on our character and eternal good. 

If we equate love with kindness, we will doubt God’s love when life is hard. Don’t look for God to imitate our patterns of loving

2.  We tend to judge love by how we feel

We are not told pursue feeling loved.  That leads to craving emotional experiences instead of learning to trust God’s faithfulness.

We are commanded to believe God when He says that He loves us. God’s actions have proven the depth of His love for us

“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God” I John 3:1

 “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:8 

 “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him” I John 4:9 

3.  We need to separate God’s love for us from our unlovableness

If you think, ‘I can’t see why God would love me’, that’s good. Anyone who can see why God should love them – is deceived. God loves us out of his character, not because of ours

God loved YOU at your worst!

God loves YOU with His best!

Jesus tells us to “abide” in his love

To abide means to remain in a particular condition. Jesus is not saying it’s up to us to keep God’s love for us; he is urging us to keep living according to the reality of God’s love for us

 

GOOD FRIDAY PREPARATION

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To help lead our thoughts about the sacrifice Christ made to pay the price for our sin; I am sharing the following thoughts from the Puritan scholar, William Ames. He describes the death of Christ for sinners with poignancy and crispness of language.

The death of Christ is the last act of his humiliation in which he underwent extreme, horrible, and most acute pains for the sins of men. His death included the loss of conscious enjoyment of God; the tasting of the wrath of God; with sadness, fear, and dread in agony.

He experienced being forsaken, denied, and betrayed by his most intimate disciples; false accusations and injustice; mocking, whipping, and crucifixion; the forsaking of him by His Father; and the full consciousness of Gods judgment on man’s sins.

Christ’s humiliation was then completed by the expiration of his soul in greatest torment and pain of body, burial, and continuation under death for three days.

From “A Puritan Theology” by Joel Beeke and Mark Jones

WHAT WAS THE GREAT BURDEN OF THE CROSS?

“Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:45-46

 

What was the great burden of the cross?

1.  We tend to focus on the physical suffering

The burden of the cross went far beyond physical pain. It was a horrible death, but thousands endured that pain

2.  Jesus suffering went beyond emotional and mental stress

Jesus knew the Old Testament prophecies that describing his death.  Imagine knowing for years you would be tortured to death!

We see weight of this burden in Gethsemane, when Jesus said “my soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death”

3.  The great cost of the cross was to be “forsaken” by the Father

  • Jesus had been silent during the injustice of His trial
  • He had not cried out when they horribly beat Him
  • When they nailed his hands and feet he said “Father forgive them”
  • As the agony grew he spoke words of mercy to a thief beside Him

But when our sin was placed upon him, then Jesus cried out in chilling anguish

 

How was Jesus “forsaken” by the Father?

We should first clarify what it does not mean

Jesus was not abandoned, because his sacrifice was accepted by the Father

The love of the Father not withdrawn. Jesus said  “My Father loves me because I lay down my life” (John 10:17)

1.  Jesus was “forsaken” by when the Father punished him without mercy (Isaiah 53:4-6)

Jesus became responsible for our sin as if he committed them 2 Cor 5:21  Gal 3:13

The Father did not withhold any wrath, but punished Jesus fully for our sin

God forgives people, not sin! Every sin will receive its due penalty, either on us or on Jesus

2.  Jesus was “forsaken” by the Father withdrawing his comfort

Holy God could not comfort his son, when he “became sin”

It is hard for us to grasp what it meant for Christ to be “forsaken”

  • We cannot comprehend the wrath that fell (praise God that in Christ, we never will!)
  • We cannot fathom the shame our collective guilt was to one so pure
  • We cannot appreciate what it meant for Jesus who had loved the Father with all his soul, to have him turn away

God the Son, was punished by God the Father, in order to save those who had rejected them both

 

Why is it important we know the true burden of cross?

1.  So we will know the greatest burden that could be ours

No suffering on earth can compare to being forsaken by God. Nothing could be worse than to face God bearing the guilt of our sin

 

2.  So we will recognize how committed God is to punishing all sin

If God did not spare his Son when the guilt of others was upon him, he will not spare those who will come before him bearing their own guilt

Why does God hate sin so deeply?

  • It corrupts what he created ‘good’
  • It separates us from him
  • It turns those he had loved from eternity into his enemy

3.  So we will know the greatness of the sacrifice made for us

Christ was willing to endure the presence of our sin on Himself

If there is no greater burden than than to be forsaken by God, then there is no greater proof of his love than to have Jesus take our place

We cry want God to prove himself by intervening in our temporal affairs, neglecting how he has proven himself by intervening in our eternal affairs

Christ cried out “My God, why have you forsaken me” – so we would never have to

 

SERMON LEFTOVERS 6.27.16

“We fail, but Jesus doesn’t”

 

John 13:31-38

We tend to swing back and forth from thinking we are strong, to being overwhelmed by our weaknesses. The true and more helpful perspective is to recognize, we at times fail, but Christ doesn’t

 

Jesus Declares the Glory of His Work

The “glory” he describes is the finished work of the cross

v31  The FATHER is glorified in Jesus’ death and resurrection

They manifest his perfections in holiness, justice and grace

They reveal his astounding plan and the fulfillment of his promises

v32  The Father glories the SON in himself

Jesus shows the heights of his humility, love and sacrifice

We see his wondrous victory over sin death Satan

Jesus describes this glory as now (v31) and at once (v32)

The unveiling of God’s eternal plan has begun and the events are moving quickly

The cross not only glorifies the Father and Jesus, it glorifies US (John 17:22-23)

Through the cross we are made new and will be complete (Romans 8:30)

(1)  Every believer is the subject of the most glorious works of God

(2)  Every believer is in the process of being made in the glorious image of Jesus

(3)  Every believer is called to be part of how God’s glory touches others  

We don’t have to do big things, we simply live out and share glorious truths

These glorious truths should show us that we spend too much time thinking on the wrong things

Jesus describes the events of the cross as if they were finished – because they were that sure

So we can look at what the gospel accomplishes in us as that sure

We are believers, so we should face uncertainty and burdens with what we know

 

Jesus is Doing a Great Work, But His Leaving Will Be Hard (v33)

Jesus leaves them with “new commandment” (vs 34-35)

He shares what should be at the center of their fellowship when gone

They have already been given the Great Commandments to love God and neighbor, how is this commandment to love “new”?

What makes it revolutionary is to love one another “just as” Christ has loved us!

The defining display of Jesus’ love is about to take place

The new commandment is to love according to the glory of the cross

Jesus has just said he will not be with them, but how he loved them should remain

Jesus tells us this is what should identify a community of his people (v35)

Correct theology is necessary to know the gospel and become Christian

But without love for one another, people cannot see Christ in us

Let’s be sure we see clearly how Jesus loves us

1. Jesus loved with humility (Philippians 2:3-4)   Love is not about our expectations

2. Jesus loved sacrificially (Romans 5:8)

3. Jesus loved consistently through people’s weaknesses and failures (1 Corinthians 13:8)

Since we always have this love in us, we can consistently live it out. To say we “cannot” love someone is biblically false

 

Peter is Still Thinking About Jesus’ Leaving (v36)

Peter has no idea where Jesus is going, but he expresses confidence he can handle it

But Peter is Not As Strong As He Thinks (vs 37-38)

In a few hours he will deny knowing Jesus!  Our weaknesses strike fast

We are like Peter in at least Three Ways

1.  We think we are stronger than we are:

      We think we know what to do and how to handle our lives and problems

2.  We want to debate what Jesus says

Peter does the same thing in v8 during when Jesus tried to wash his feet

We need to ask ourselves – is anything our Lord says ever debatable?

3.  We miss Jesus’ focus: Peter misses that Jesus had just given an essential principle

      Like Peter we get stuck in thinking how we are going to handle a situation,rather than consider Jesus agenda for that moment

We may have an abundance of weaknesses, but Jesus doesn’t: so listen to what he says and follow what he tells us to do

 

 

JOHNNY’S BLOOD

I was recently reminded of the story in this article I posted a few years ago. It is well worth reading again

We owe Christ everything! 

Yet we can still be casual toward about our possession of the gospel, just as we can be negligent in how we serve the One who gave so much for us.

Philip Ryken’s shared this story which he had read elsewhere. It speaks to having a willingness to give our life fully to Christ.

A boy had a sister who was suffering from the same disease that the he had survived two years earlier. The doctor explained that she needed a blood transfusion from someone else who had conquered the same disease. Her brother was the ideal donor.

“Would you give your blood to your sister?” the doctor asked. Johnny hesitated at first, but with his lower lip trembling he finally said, “Sure, for my sister.”

Soon the children were wheeled into the hospital room. Neither one of them spoke, but when their eyes met, Johnny grinned. His smile faded as the nurse inserted the needle into his arm and he watched the blood flow through the tube. After several minutes, Johnny’s shaky voice finally broke the silence. “Doctor,” he said, “when do I die?”

Only then did the doctor realize why Johnny had hesitated and why his lip had trembled when he agreed to donate his blood: he thought the doctor was asking for all of it! Yet out of love for his sister, he was willing to give it.

Christ not only poured out his blood for us, our guilt and the Father’s wrath was poured out on him! All this He did for those who had pushed Him aside to serve themselves.

The Apostle Paul understood what it meant to live in response to what Christ had done for him. In 2 Timothy 4:6 he writes,

“I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come”.

At first thought the idea of “pouring out our life” seems drastic. But what else are we doing with our life? Every day another 24 hours of our existence is being poured out for something – what a wonderful thing, if the that ‘something’ is the kingdom of Christ

How well do we appreciate the sacrifice Christ poured out for us? And what sacrifice are we willing to make for Him?

THOUGHTS ABOUT THE CROSS

I have gathered a few quotes about the cross to help guide out thoughts this week

“Spikes, bloodied from previous use, were hammered into his hands and feet. Pain shot up through his legs and across his shoulders as the cross was dropped rudely into the ground he had created.”

Elyse Fitzpatrick

 “Most professing Christians actually know very little of the gospel, let alone understand its implications for their day-to-day lives. My perception is that most of them know just enough gospel to get inside the door of the kingdom. They know nothing of the unsearchable riches of Christ.”

“We fail to see the gospel as the solution to our greatest problem-our guilt, condemnation, and alienation from God. Beyond that, we fail to see it as the basis of our day-to-day acceptance with Him. As a result, many believers live in spiritual poverty.”

Jerry Bridges

 “If there’s anything in life we should be passionate about, it’s the gospel. And I don’t mean passionate only about sharing it with others; I mean passionate in thinking about the gospel, reflecting upon it, rejoicing in it, allowing it to color the way we look at the world and all of life.”

C.J. Mahaney

 “Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. At the end all his disciples deserted him. On the Cross he was utterly alone, surrounded by evildoers and mockers. For this cause he had come, to bring peace to the enemies of God.

So the Christian, too, belongs not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the thick of foes. There is his commission, his work. ‘The kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies. And he who will not suffer this does not want to be of the Kingdom of Christ; he wants to be among friends, to sit among roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the devout people. O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing who would ever have been spared’ (Luther).”

Dietrich Bonhoffer

“The world takes us to a silver screen on which flickering images of passion and romance play, and as we watch, the world says, “This is love.” God takes us to the foot of a tree on which a naked and bloodied man hangs and says, “This is love.”

Joshua Harris

 “How is it that I let the beauty and power and vastness of that gospel be crowded out of my mind so often and for so long?

Why is it that my thoughts and emotions are often dominated by silly things like whether my car is clean, or what’s happening on CNN right now, or whether I was happy with my lunch today, rather than by these glorious truths?

Why do I so often organize and think about my life as if I were wearing blinders, rather than in the light of eternity?

Why does this gospel not permeate, all the time and all the way to the bottom, my relationships with my wife and children, my coworkers and friends and fellow church members?

I know exactly why. It’s because I’m a sinner, and worldliness will continue to linger in my heart and war against me until the day Jesus comes back. But until then, I want to fight against that.”

Greg Gilbert

HOW MANY WATCHED JESUS DIE?

How many people watched Jesus die on the cross?

Dozens, hundreds, thousands?

If we include angels and demons – was it millions, billions?

What did they feel?

Revulsion, excitement, numbness, heartache, victory, confusion, despair?

Do you look at the cross?

I know you were not there.

But each of us can turn our eyes to the cross

We look to be reminded of what took place

We look to be impacted but what was accomplished

The gospel declares that if we ignore the cross – we are without hope. And love for Christ calls us to gaze long and full

We can live before the cross.

The plan of God was victorious, and the war for our soul was won!

Judgment fell, wrath was poured out, and guilt was removed

Sin was paid for and Heaven was satisfied

The god of this world was defeated and death received its own sentence

Hebrews 12:2 tells us, “for the joy that was set before him, (Jesus) endured the cross”.

Christian, if Jesus endured the cross for the joy of saving us, what reason can we give not to keep our attention on that cross?

Oh, let us gaze upon the cross, meditate on the cross and live always before the cross.

If you have never practiced thinking about the cross, here are some ideas

1.  Start by reading the gospel accounts of the crucifixion

Read slowly, imagine yourself there, and ask why each part of the story is included

2.  Praise God for as much about the cross as you can bring to your mind

Don’t be rushed to think of things; allow God to fill your thoughts. Then ask Him to penetrate your heart with the implications.

3.  Read some good books about the cross

The Cross-Centered Life   by CJ Mahaney

Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die   by John Piper

In My Place Condemned He Stood   by J.I. Packer and Mark Dever

The Truth of the Cross   by R.C. Sproul

The Cross of Christ   by John R.W. Stott

 4.  Try listening to some of the great songs about the cross

Sovereign Grace Music consistently publishes meaty cross-centered music. Put YouTube to good use.

The hymn “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross” by Isaac Watts, is one of my favorite songs about the cross:

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

We all think about many things each day, let’s put the cross at the front of the line – and keep it there.

WHY WOULD HE DO THAT?

Jesus died on the day we now call Good Friday.

It was not a tragedy of history. It was the purposeful plan God had for Jesus before he was ever born in Bethlehem.

This death was prophesied centuries before as God’s plan Isaiah 52:5-12; and Jesus fully embraced it Mark 8:31-33.

Why would God the Father have a plan that involved the brutal and burdensome death of His very Son?

Because there was no other way for any of us to be free of God’s judgment which is deserved Romans 6:23, and is coming Romans 1:18.

It is increasing popular for people to think we can choose any path to God and He will be at the end of it. The death of Christ shouts against this view. God did not slay His beloved Son just to provide humanity with one more path to Himself.

Jesus came because no one else could solve our sin problem. Jesus then died to totally take care of our sin problem John 3:36.

Faith in Christ as God’s only means of forgiveness is the only way anyone comes to God Acts 4:12.

As we pass through another Easter week. Consider why Jesus had to die and what the implications are to each of us.

Jesus brings us wonderful hope, because he fully accomplished all that is necessary to save those who trust in Him Romans 10:13.

But if we ignore that hope – God has none other to give us, and any other hope we take for ourselves is fraudulent Hebrews 10:29-31!

To help us in thinking about this greatest of all issues to ponder, I invite to read this article by Paul Rezkalla entitled “If all religions are true, then God is cruel”.

 

REMEMBER JESUS

REMEMBER JESUS

This is the wise counsel Ian McConnell recently discussed in an article on his Blue Collar Gospel blog.

None of us are in danger of forgetting Jesus in a literal sense. But in the flow of daily activities we can easily fail to keep Jesus in our minds. We are forgetful of keeping Jesus in the place he deserves (and that we need).

Ian draws his thoughts from 2 Timothy 2:8 “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead…”. He gives us practical direction in what we should keep in mind or remember about Jesus. He writes,

“There is no single spiritual discipline that is more significant to your spiritual vitality than remembering Jesus.  Daily reflection on the gospel fuels just about everything good and godly in your life.”

You can find the rest of Ian’s helpful thoughts in this readable article.

 Ian is the Lead Pastor at Grace Bible Church in Northeast Philadelphia

BEHOLD THE ONE CRUCIFIED FOR US

The events of Good Friday and Easter are the most critical events in universal history. Upon these actions of Christ our eternity rests. Without the cross and the resurrection all hopes would be false.

In our day, we tend not to ponder important issues. We easily obsess on things, but we do not meditate on God’s character and works. If there was ever a place to start meditating, it is on the cross and Christ’s sacrifice for us. 

Today I am sharing a blog post by my good friend Jared Mellinger, who is pastor of Covenant Fellowship Church in Glen Mills, PA. As you read his article entitled “Man of Sorrows”. As you read this article, try to slowly consider the significance of Jesus sorrows on our behalf. Don’t you agree it would be worth asking God as you read to guide you into a deeper appreciation of the cross, so you can have a fuller response to the cross.