The Cross: The liberating power of the cross

The Liberating power of the cross.

 

Colossians 1:15-23a; 2:6-15.

(Focus on vv13-15)

 

ILLUS.: I can remember at various times being in the presence of couples who are always having a go at each other. Criticising, cutting each other down, insulting, blaming. You wonder, if they do that in public, what goes on behind closed doors. They dredge up old hurts and fling tem in each other’s faces.

 

What a joy it is then to see couples like this who seem to have a pile of chips on both shoulders begin to restore their relationship. The flame of love begins to flicker again – they are learning to forgive.

It is a thrill to see forgiveness bring life and laughter back to marriages that were once dead and full of hate and bitter recriminations.

 

Forgiveness is a wonderful word and how much we all stand in need of it. Not only in marriages but wherever people are involved. Without it life is harsh and bitter and pretty miserable altogether. Hopeless, in fact.

 

Hopeless describes exactly the position humanity was in prior to the cross. We were bitterly at odds with God. He would reach out in love and we would argue, insult and ignore Him.

 

Then Calvary came and God offered us forgiveness in Christ. This allowed a real love relationship to begin between us and God.

 

As Christians we must never forget – “In Christ we have been forgiven”.

Paul uses an interesting picture to describe this – Colossians 2:14 14 having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. (NIV)

 

  1. 1.     The code that was cancelled.

 

Think of the 10 commandments [it may well have referred to the wider law].

Think of how often we have broken those commands. Things we have said and done and thought that we shouldn’t have. Things we could have done and haven’t done.

Visualise all these things and God making out a bill and realise how much we are in debt. Then take a good long hard look and declare bankruptcy. No way can we pay the bill.

The good news is this 15……. he forgave all our sins14 having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us;

“Having cancelled” – “Paid in Full” – as we saw last week that is what Jesus said when he cried out on the cross “It is Finished!”

That is forgiveness – He has cancelled the debt. He has paid in full. No longer in debt. No longer bankrupt.  Forgiven!

 

  1. 2.     The code was nailed to the cross.

 

Having forgiven all our sins and cancelled the written code that was against us, he took it away, nailing it to the cross.

 

Part of a Roman cross was called a titulus, from which we get our word title.

The titulus was nailed above the head of the crucified person.

Remember the titulus Pilate wrote for Jesus “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews

Normally the put the list of crimes above the persons head so people walked passed and said, “Well he certainly deserved what he got!”

 

When the people look at Jesus on the cross they saw a strange titulus – “This is Jesus of Nazareth; The king of the Jews!”

The Jewish leaders were not happy and they wanted Pilate to change the titulus to “He claimed to be the king of the Jews!”

BUT Pilate as weak and wet as he still had enough backbone to insist his version remain.

 

However, the unseen titulus on the cross of Christ was a long list of my crimes and yours and those of the whole world.

 

When Jesus was on the cross he took the code, our indebtedness, and wrote cancelled across it. He also, as it were, took the titulus, the list of all our sins and nailed it over his own head.

 

When we look and see Jesus hanging on the cross, we don’t only see “Jesus of Nazareth; the king of the Jews” – we also see a record of the sins of people like you and me. He died for us, took our sin, nailed it to the cross. The cross means that we have been forgiven in Christ.

 

  1. We died with Christ.

 

The cross doesn’t only mean that Christ died for us but also that we died with him.

It means that we die to all that it was necessary for Christ to die for.

Christ died for our sin – we need to die to sin.

What does that mean?

It doesn’t mean that we are dead.

It doesn’t mean that sin is dead.

It means that the relationship has been terminated.

Romans 6:6-14 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin — 7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10 The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13 Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. 14 For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.

 

What does all this mean?

ILLUS.: When I was 17 – in SA – I received from the Govt. one of those cunning invitations to join the army. The day duly arrived and I was loaded onto a train with 100s of other conscripts and send 300 miles away to an army base.

I was no longer Gray but Robinson #73429078.

There was a very nice gentleman there call RSM Lubbe who had a big mouth and a big voice and he delight in standing 1” from your nose and opening his cavernous mouth shouting at you as if you were on the other side of the world.

You have to stand as stiff as a ramrod and answer Yes Sa’mjoor! – No Sa’majoor! {Afrikaans for SM}

 

A nice man – friendly, warm, personable, interested in our well-being.

Don’t believe it!! If you saw him coming you’d straighten up, swinging arms higher, thumbs on top, heel dug in.

I guess there are clones of RSMs in every Regiment around the world.

At the end of 12 months I had the option to sign up for a further 12 months – I regretfully declined.

 

I got my discharge papers, changed into civilians clothes and left.

I walked passed him in the town. I immediately started to stiffen, swinging my arms.

A voice inside me said “You don’t have to do that!”

“WHAT?”

“NO! – You have no further obligation to him. He has no further authority over you. So if you like you go on, marching about, swinging your arms looking funny. BUT you don’t have to!””

 

My shoulder slumped, my hands went into my pockets were they hadn’t been for 12 long months and I whistled as I walked passed him.

 

He could have turned red and purple and shouted his head off but he couldn’t do a thing about it – I HAD DIED TO HIM.

 

That’s what the cross means. We have died to all that it was necessary for Christ to die for. Why go on living to it? Why be in bondage to it? We don’t have to be. We are free!

We have been liberated by the cross of Christ.

 

He stood before the court

on trial instead of us;

he met its power to hurt,

condemned to face the cross:

our king, accused of treachery;

our God, abused for blasphemy!

 

These are the crimes that tell

the tale of human guilt;

our sins, our death, our hell –

on these the case is built:

to this world’s powers their Lord stays dumb;

the guilt is ours, no answers come.

 

The sentence must be passed,

the unknown prisoner killed;

the price is paid at last,

the law of God fulfilled:

he takes our blame, and from that day

the accuser’s claim is wiped away.

 

Shall we be judged and tried?

in Christ our trial is done;

we live, for he has died,

our condemnation gone:

in Christ are we both dead and raised,

alive and free – his name be praised!

 

© Christopher Idle (born 1938)  Hymns for Today’s Church #129

Advertisements

The Cross: Outline

THE CROSS: OUTLINE

 

Is following Jesus all  struggle and cost? – what about life without over stress / about fulfilment / about future hope?

The Lord has outlined a wondrous pattern and a wise design for believers who want to enjoy a successful, fulfilling life. Note these paradoxes { a seemingly contradictory statement that nonetheless is true.}

We see unseen things (2 Cor. 4:18);
We conquer by yielding (Rom. 6:16-18);
We find rest under a yoke (Mt. 11:28-30);
We reign by serving (Mark 10:42-44);
We are made great by becoming little (Luke 9:48);
We are exalted by being humble (Mt. 23:12);
We become wise by being fools for Christ’s sake (1 Cor. 1:20, 21);
We are made free by becoming His bond servants (Rom. 6:10);
We are strong by being weak (2 Cor. 12:10);
We triumph through defeat (2 Cor. 12:7-9);
We live by dying (John 12:24,25; 2 Cor. 4:10,11).

Spiritual growth / discipleship sometimes seems a paradoxical mystery BUT is nevertheless true and very worthwhile.

 

The Cost of following Jesus.

 

Luke 9v57- 62.

 

  1. 1.        The Fox.

–       seeking status

 

  1. 2.        The Funeral.

–       maintaining the status quo

 

  1. 3.        The furrow.

–       divided loyalties

 

Following Jesus means …

– change

– more concerned about what God thinks

– a deep concern for others

– cost   – privacy

  –        materially

–        emotionally …etc.

 

…it also means –  Benefits / fulfilment

 

– see unseen things (2 Cor. 4:18)

– conquer by yielding (Rom. 6:16-18)

– find rest under a yoke (Mt. 11:28-30)

– reign by serving (Mark 10:42-44)

– are exalted by being humble (Mt. 23:12)

– become wise by being fools for Christ (1 Cor.1:20-21)

– are made free by becoming His slaves (Rom. 6:10)

– are strong by being weak (2 Cor. 12:10)

– triumph through defeat (2 Cor. 12:7-9)

– live by dying (John 12:24,25; 2 Cor. 4:10,11)

The Cross: The way of the cross

THE WAY OF THE CROSS

Extracts from Ray C. Stedman

For the last few months – looking at the cross. What it meant for Jesus – the benefits for people i.e. sins forgiven, peace with God, heaven secured ….

But what does it mean for a Christian now on a day to day basis – [last week with AD]

 

After Jesus had announced the cross to his disciples, Luke tells us: Luke 9:23  Then he {Jesus} said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. (NIV)

 

Luke records that Jesus is speaking to his own disciples. Some have wondered whether he was simply telling his own disciples what it will mean to live as disciples? In other words it raises the question: “Can you be a Christian and not be a disciple? — Is discipleship a second stage of Christianity?” – i.e. Are there many Christians, but only a relatively few disciples? — Can you be a Christian and not be a disciple?  – Is discipleship for a select few?

 

Simply makes no sense: In Mark’s account we read… Mark 8:34   34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. (NIV)

… the crowd to him along with his disciples  ……If anyone

Jesus gives us the pattern of discipleship. 3 – steps.

 

 

 

  1. 1.     “If any anyone would come after me, let him deny himself…”

 

He is not asking us to deny our basic humanity, our personhood. He is not telling us that we are to abandon ourselves.

What he does mean by this phrase, “deny himself”.

It is important also to understand that he does not mean what we usually mean by “self-denial.”

We usually mean that we are giving up something. Many people feel it is only right to deny themselves something during Lent, to give up various bad habits. But Jesus is not talking about this kind of “self-denial.”

He is never concerned about what we do so much as with what we are. Therefore he is not talking about giving up luxuries, or even necessities – monks, living on top of a pole etc..

 

Denying self means that we repudiate our natural feelings about our right to ourselves, our right to run our own lives. We are to deny that we own ourselves. We do not have the final right to decide what we are going to do, or where we are going to go. When it is stated in those terms, people sense immediately that Jesus is saying something very fundamental. It strikes right at the heart of our very existence, because the one thing that we, as human beings, value and covet and protect above anything else is the right to make ultimate decisions for ourselves.

This is what Jesus is talking about. He is not talking about giving up this or that – choosing to eat a Mars bar or not!

Can we live without God – he made us, he gives us breathe, he keeps our world going….

Paul writes: 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 19…You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. … (NIV)

If you are going to follow Jesus, you no longer own yourself. He has ultimate rights; he has Lordship of your life – he must make those final decisions when the great issues of your life hang in the balance. This is what Jesus means by, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself” — deny our self-trust, deny our self-sufficiency, deny our feeling that we are able to handle life by ourselves and run everything to suit ourselves.

 

An article entitled, The Art of Being A Big Shot, written by Howard Butt:

It is my pride that makes me independent of God. It’s appealing to me to feel that I am the master of my fate, that I run my own life, call my own shots, go it alone. But, that feeling is my basic dishonesty. I can’t go it alone. I have to get help from other people, and I can’t ultimately rely on myself. I’m dependent on God for my very next breath. It is dishonest of me to pretend that I’m anything but a man — small, weak, and limited. So, living independent of God is self-delusion. It is not just a matter of pride being an unfortunate little trait, and humility being an attractive little virtue; it’s my inner psychological integrity that’s at stake. When I am conceited, I am lying to myself about what I am. I am pretending to be God, and not man. My pride is the idolatrous worship of myself. And that is the national religion of Hell!

In Jesus words.. “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself. Let him give up his rights to run his life, let him submit himself to my leadership, to my Lordship.”

  1. 2.     “If anyone would come after me let him … take up his cross…”

I am sure the people listening at the time didn’t really grasp the fullness of Jesus’ words. To them, the cross was but a very vague, hazy blur on the horizon of their minds.

 

But Jesus knew that after the awful events of his crucifixion and then the joy and glory of resurrection, they would think these words through again and begin to understand what he meant. We who live on this side of the cross find it easier to know what he meant – but just a hard to accept !

 

Many people think that a cross is any kind of trial or hardship you are going through, or any kind of handicap you must endure — like a mother-in-law, or a potty neighbour or a physical ailment. “That’s my cross,” we say.

 

Galatians 2:20 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (NIV)

Galatians 5:24 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. (NIV)

Galatians 6:14 14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (NIV)

 

What does Paul mean? What did Jesus mean?

He is talking about what controls your life as a Christian – What is your driving motivation?

To live life “My way” as Frank Sinatra’s famous song goes, or to acknowledge that that One who made me and died for me on the cross to rescue me knows far better how my life should be lived than I do!

 

“I have been crucified …” Paul says.

Someone who is being crucified – a) is no longer in control of his own affairs; b) is facing one direction; c) has no further plans of his own.

 

The word of Jesus, “If you’re going to be my disciple, deny yourself, and take up your cross.”

 

  1. “If anyone would come after me let him … follow me.”

–         really means, “Obey me.”

Isn’t remarkable that it takes us so long to understand that if disobedience is the name of the game before we are Christians, then certainly obedience is the name of the game after we become Christians.

 

Now, we all struggle with this. Our Lord is not talking about perfection as a disciple. It means choosing to do or say what Jesus wants us to do or say, and what he himself did, and looking to him for the power to carry it through.

 

The Christian life is following Jesus, doing what he says — like, “Love your enemy,” {Matt 5:44}. “Pray for those who hurt you,” {cf, Matt 5:44}. “Forgive those who offend you,” {cf, Matt 6:14-15}. Those are not merely wise and helpful words; they represent a way of life our Lord is setting out before us, to which we are expected to conform even when we least feel like it.

When we do not feel like obeying or forgiving or praying, he tells us to do it anyway. “Be kind to the ungrateful and the selfish,” {cf, Luke 6:35}. I struggle with that. I do not want to be kind to people who are ungrateful or selfish, but that is what the Lord says to do.

“Bear one another’s burdens,” {Gal 6:2}. “Freely you have received, freely give,” {Matt 10:8}. “Follow me” means obeying these and all the many other instructions in Scripture.

 

In the original Greek the tense in continuous “Keep on denying yourself, keep on taking up your cross, keep on following me.”

This is not the decision for a moment, but a program for a lifetime, to be repeated again and again.

Jesus didn’t want anybody becoming a disciple, or attempting to live as a disciple, on false terms. He wants us to understand that this is going to, change us, make us into a different kind of people. It is bound to. If it has any meaning in our lives at all, it is going to revolutionise us utterly, right to the very basic core of our being. He makes this very clear, right from the start.

 

4. The motivation –

Luke 9:23-26 23 Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? 26 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. (NIV)

Who is not interested in saving his life? Deep down within us, every one of us has a hunger for life and a desire to find it, to the full extent of what it was designed to be.

 

Jesus is saying there are two attitudes toward life that are possible, and you can have only one or the other:

  • One is: save your life now, i.e., hoard it, clutch it, cling to it, grasp it, try to get hold of it for yourself, take care of yourself, trust yourself, see that in every situation your first and major concern is, “What’s in it for me?”
  • The other attitude is: lose it, i.e., give it away to God, disregard what advantage there may be for you in a situation, and move out in dependence upon God, careless of what may happen to you.

 

We somehow have the idea that being a disciple / Christian we are giving something up, losing something that we will regret. That living God’s way somehow reduces us as people. BUT the opposite is true! God created us for a relationship with him – by following him we are not diminishing our lives but filling our lives.

There is this amazing paradox – in our desire to satisfy self, to have a fulfilled and meaningful and happy life – in the pursuit of that we always come up short. Why is it that successful, wealthy and famous people are often amongst the most miserable?

Yet in giving ourselves to God and to following Jesus which superficially may appear to be giving up everything is in fact the way we gain everything.

 

ILLUS.: When someone falls in love and marries – do they give up certain things? Well yes! You give up the right to ‘play the field’ – to date different people. You give up the right to simply go off and do your own thing! BUT ask a Happily married couple if they have ‘lost’ anything? NO! They will say they are enriched and fulfilled.

 

[Not saying a single person can’t be enriched or fulfilled or that being married is superior to being single!]

BUT it is simply illustrating the point that denying self in order to enjoy a relationship with God through Jesus is not a chore but a delight // not less but much, much more!

 

Jesus did not come to call us to ultimate barrenness, weakness, darkness, and death. He called us to life, to richness, to enjoyment, to fulfilment. But he has told us that the way there means dying to self and living for him. Discipleship ends in life, not in death. It ends in fulfilment and satisfaction. But the only way that we can find it is by means of a cross – accepting His death for us then giving ‘us’ for him!.

The final issue is set forth in Jesus’ words in the closing part of this paragraph:

Luke 9:25 25 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? (NIV)

 

What good is it to get all the things you want, and have nothing with which to enjoy them, having lost your life in the process?

ILLUS.:  Would you spend your time, money and effort building a house in a dry river bed knowing a flash flood with eventually come?

Is it not the very essence of wisdom, if you are going to invest time, and money, and everything you have, to make sure you are able to enjoy the result?

And yet how many lives are being built without any consideration of this question, or any dealing with the God who stands at the end of the road? This is why Jesus asks, “What would it profit a man, to gain the whole world and lose his life? What can a man give in return for his life?”

 

Jesus not only asks this question, but he also points out that there is no way we can cheat -impossible to deceive him:

Luke 9:26 26 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. (NIV)

 

We have all been embarrassed at some time or other to profess our faith. Is that being ashamed of Christ?” Yes, it is, in a way, but I do not think little incidents like this are what our Lord is talking about. We are all tempted, at times, to be nervous about professing to be a Christian.

What Jesus is talking about here is a settled way of life which outwardly expresses conformity to Christian truth, but inwardly adopts and follows and conforms to the values of the world. This, he says, is what will be revealed in that day. Remember that at the close of the Sermon on the Mount he said, “Many shall come to me in that day, and say, ‘Have we not done many mighty works in your name? Have we not cast out devils, and preached in your name?’ And I shall say, ‘Depart from me, I never knew you, you workers of iniquity,'” {cf, Matt 7:22-23}.

 

Now we are not all good disciples at all times; there is much of failure. And our Lord has made provision for failure in our lives. But he is talking about the heart: What is your aim? What do you really want of your life? Do you want to live it for yourself, or do you want to live it for him? That is really the question.

C. S. Lewis gathers all this up very well in these words from Mere Christianity:

God is going to invade this earth in force. But what is the good of saying you are on His side then, when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream, and something else — something it never entered your head to conceive — comes crashing in; something so beautiful to some of us, and so terrible to others, that none of us will have any choice left? For this time it will be God without disguise; something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature. It will be too late then to choose your side. There is no use saying you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up. That will not be the time for choosing; it will be the time when we discover which side we have really chosen, whether we realised it before or not. Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back, to give us that chance. It will not last forever. We must take it or leave it.

Becoming / being a Christian disciple is not easy. It is radical. But it is the only way to life.

 

 

The Cross: Bringing life out of death

The Cross – bringing Life out of Death.

 

Luke 8v40-56; Luke 7v11-17; John 11.

 

Introduction

 

One of the strange things about us human beings is our ability to convince ourselves that our circumstances are not are bad as they really are.

We see this in the realm of health – some people told they have a serious illness and yet live in denial.

In the criminal mind – some commit crimes yet plead innocence – and believe they are even when presented with the evidence.

In the area of relationships – partners / spouses who are unfaithful yet are reluctant that they did anything wrong.

 

When we come to the spiritual arena we tend to do a similar thing. In the quest to find meaning and purpose in life we invent all kinds of philosophies to try and make sense of life.

In the ancient pagan world – the life of the gods influence our world and if we please and appease them we will be okay.

In our modern world science seeks to give us explanations.

Even in the religious world – Christianity included  – we have a view of God which we have built up that says, “If we do certain things / perform certain rituals like going to church and praying then God will, indeed, is obliged to look kindly upon us.

 

None of us would try to pretend we are perfect – we all know we are not as good as we should be. Things we have done that we shouldn’t have and things we have failed to do.

 

We can sometimes fall into the trap that says, “If you just clean up your act ten you will be okay!”

However, we are not simply spiritually sick and need remedy to make us better. Nor are we just a little wayward and need to be reformed.

 

The problem is that remedies and reforms are of little value to a corpse! The Bible makes it quite clear that by nature we are spiritually dead.

Eph. 2:1  As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,

In that state we don’t need remedies or reforms or even religion – what we need is life and only God can do that!

Ephesians 2:4-5 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions — it is by grace you have been saved. (NIV)

 

When Jesus was on earth he raised many people to life – Matthew 11:5 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. (NIV)

… but only three are mentioned by name.

 

  1. Jarius’ daughter – a 12 year old.
  2. Widow of Nain’s son – probably a young person.
  3. Lazarus – we get the impression he was an older man.

 

I. If these 3 characters teach us anything it is that death is no respecter of persons.

In the Bible death is often portrayed as a picture of sin – and so it is true that just as death comes to all so sin has had its effect on the entire human race.

Rom. 3:23 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

And the result is that all are spiritually dead…

 

Jesus raises each of these three back to life BUT what is interesting to note is the time delay between death and their being raised.

 

  1. The Little girl has only been dead an hour or so at the most.
  2. The young Lad – has been dead up to a day – he is raised from his own funeral ceremony.
  3. Lazarus has been dead for 4 days.

 

The question is, “Which of these 3 is more dead?”

That is a ridiculous question you say – they are all dead so what different does it make? EXACTLY.

 

  1. The little girl looked like she was sleeping – just passed away.
  2. The young lad was prepared for burial  – probably …………… had started to set in.
  3. Lazarus – John 11:38-39 38 Jesus, …., came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.            “But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odour, for he has been there four days.” (NIV)

 

They are all dead but in different states of decay.

Some are like the prodigal son who smell like a pigsty.

Others are like the Pharisees – the religious leaders of Jesus’ day – who look nice and clean and respectable but who are just as sinful and corrupt on the inside as any one else.

 

ILLUS.: In SA from our home in Durban – could drive a few miles north and get to Amouti – a squatter camp of 40,000 living in shacks and boxes – only one or two watering points. – we could drive a few mile south and be in a luxurious suburb with mansions – swimming pools, tennis courts and armies of servants. Educated / well-dressed / respectable citizens.

 

Whether a shack or a mansion – without faith in Christ – both are spiritually dead – and no matter how much one may try to disguise it with cosmetics and cologne there is still decay.

Romans 6:23 23 For the wages of sin is death, …

There are no degrees of death only degrees of decay.

To be compared to someone else’s state of decay is to missed the point.

 

II. What a dead person needs most is life and Jesus is the one who can give life.

Spiritual life is a gift just as physical life is a gift.

 

John 5:26 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself. (NIV)

 

How does Jesus impart this life? By his word!

John 5:24 24 “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. (NIV)

 

In each of these resurrection stories that we are looking at Jesus spoke to the dead person.

1. The little girl. Luke 8:54 54 … he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!” (NIV)

2. The young Lad. Luke 7:14  Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” (NIV)

3. Lazarus – John 11:43  Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” (NIV)

 

In all of these cases Jesus speak with divine authority and gives life.

Doesn’t this remind us of god’s creative power in Gen. 1 “God said and there was …..”

We read in the letter to the Hebrews 4:12 12 For the word of God is living and powerful ….

It is through the Word of God that life comes.

And those who by faith receive God’s word receive life — 1 Peter 1:23 23 For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.

 

Even in our lost state of being “dead in our trespasses and sins” we can still hear the voice of Christ as the Spirit of God uses the Word of God to show us our need and how God’s grace can meet that need.

Romans 10:17 17 So then,, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. (NIV)

 

III. What is the evidence of Life.

In the case of all characters we are looking at it was plain to all who saw that they were alive – they did what living people do.

 

  1. The little girl got up from her bed – walked around and ate food.

If physical resurrection is an illustration of spiritual life hen Christians should be demonstrating their new life in Christ by their walk and their appetite.

Romans 6:4 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (NIV)

 

God’s children should be spiritually hungry for the word of God – we should desire the food of God’s word.

We are to hunger and thirst after righteousness.

Do you think about and meditate on God and his word as much as you think about your breakfast, lunch and supper – your tea and coffee breaks and all the snacks in between.

 

Are you reading and studying God’s word daily – on your own and with others? What is the evidence that you are spiritually alive?

  1. The Young Lad – he showed he was alive by sitting up and speaking.

When a person becomes a Christian there is a change of heart – he / she becomes new inside – spiritually alive and that should how itself by what we say, how we say it and what we do.

Matthew 12:34 For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. (NIV)

What is inside will come out!

 

This new life will show itself by speaking truth and not falsehood. There are so many, many reference to our speech in the Bible.

Ephesians 4:25 25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbour, for we are all members of one body. (NIV)

Colossians 3:9 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices (NIV)

 

This young man who was raised – what do you think he spoke about. His new car? His latest novel? The redecorating and extensions to his house? NO!!! I bet he spoke about the man who gave him his life back.

 

What do I talk about most – that tell me what is important to me!!

 

  1. Lazarus – he proved he was alive by coming to the door of the tomb even thought he was bound in his grave clothes.

John 11:44 Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” (NIV)

People who have been resurrected by Christ – given new life will want to put of their grave-clothes and put on their ‘grace’-clothes.

Ephesians 4:22-24 22 You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; 23 to be made new in the attitude of your minds; 24 and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (NIV)

 

With all three of these characters who received life there was evidence that they were alive.

Let each of us ask ourselves, “Am I alive to God!”

1st – have I come to Jesus by faith and received his gift of spiritual life?

1 John 5:11-12 11 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. (NIV)

He die so we could live – what a paradox!

 

2nd – if I have this life  –

  • What is the evidence?
  • Am I concerned that others will have it too?
  • Why do I come to church – to do my duty? For what I can get out of it? How much am I willing to put into the church and God’s kingdom –  time, abilities and money – some people don’t like to talk about money but this too is a gift from God to be used for him!! Salvation is free – ministry is expensive!

By Faith Christ brings us from death to life – what value can you put on that? Jesus taught “Freely you have received” –   in Christ we have all things – “Freely give” Of all that you are and all that you have!

 

 

 

Luke 8:41-55

41 … a man named Jairus, a ruler of the synagogue, came and fell at Jesus’ feet, pleading with him to come to his house 42 because his only daughter, a girl of about twelve, was dying.

(….Jesus was delayed by the crowd and a woman who he stopped to heal)

49 While Jesus was still speaking, someone came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue ruler. “Your daughter is dead,” he said. “Don’t bother the teacher any more.”

50 Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus, “Don’t be afraid; just believe, and she will be healed.”

51 When he arrived at the house of Jairus, he did not let anyone go in with him except Peter, John and James, and the child’s father and mother. 52 Meanwhile, all the people were wailing and mourning for her. “Stop wailing,” Jesus said. “She is not dead but asleep.”

53 They laughed at him, knowing that she was dead. 54 But he took her by the hand and said, “My child, get up!” 55 Her spirit returned, and at once she stood up. Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat. (NIV)

Luke 7:11-15

11…. Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. 12 As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out — the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”

14 Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” 15 The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.  (NIV)

 

John 11:1-57

1 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair. 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” 5 Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 Yet when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days.

…….

17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. ….

25 Jesus said …., “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die…”

… [Jesus] was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”

37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”

38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.

“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odour, for he has been there four days.”

40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”

41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”

43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”

 

The Cross – bringing Life out of Death.

 

Luke 8v40-56; Luke 7v11-17; John 11v1-44.

 

Jarius’ daughter –

12 years old

Widow of Nain’s Son – Young lad Lazarus –

An older adult

 

  1. 1.       Death is no respecter of persons.

 

  • Dead 1-2 hours
  • Looked like she was Asleep
  • Dead about a day
  • Prepared for burial
   – Rigor mortis
  • Dead 4 days
  • Buried 4 days

– Decomposing

 

  1. 2.       What a dead person needs most is life.

 

Raised by Word of Jesus

“My child, Get up!”

“Young man, get up!”

“Lazarus, come out!”

 

  1. 3.       What is the evidence of life?

 

Walked around and ate food Sat up and started speaking

Walked out of the tomb

 

The Cross: As Jesus saw it

The Cross – As Jesus saw it.

 

Introduction.

 

Over the years many books, plays, and films have told the story of Jesus Christ. Some which don’t necessarily hold that the gospels are an accurate account have portrayed Jesus as being some what weak and confused. He doesn’t seem to know who he is – he is depicted as a feeble victim of circumstances who didn’t always appear to know what he was supposed to do.

 

However if we hold that the Gospels are accurate historical account of Jesus life then we get a very different picture. Incidentally, most historians would concede these are reliable accounts even if they don’t personally believe in Jesus Christ.

 

Even some Christian theologians have tried to portray Jesus’ death on a cross as plan B. In other words, Jesus came expecting people to follow him, not murder him – as if the crucifixion was some kind of Divine after-thought.

Such a view is simply unsustainable if we are to base what we believe on what the Bible teaches.

 

The Apostle Peter on the Day of Pentecost said the following Acts 2:23 23 This man {Jesus} handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. (NIV)

Then later in a letter he wrote 1 Peter 1:20 20 He [Jesus] was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. (NIV)

The Apostle Paul wrote that God promised eternal life “before time began” [Titus 1v2] and that “he chose us in him [Christ] from before the foundation of the world”

 

The question is “Where did Peter and Paul and the other NT writers get this idea from?”

They heard it from Jesus himself – that is what I want to focus on today.

 

There is no way that Christ’s death and resurrection was a divine after-thought / or plan B. The OT predicted the cross aas we have seen in our series so far. Jesus used the OT teaching to point this out to his followers.

Listen to what he says to his disciples after his resurrection.

On the road to Emmaus to two disciples Luke 24:25-27 25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself. (NIV)

Later to the eleven – Luke 24:46 46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, (NIV)

 

How then did Jesus see his death on the cross – let’s look at 5 pictures that he gives us to emphasise his death in different ways.

  1. 1.      The Lamb. – replacing / fulfilling ALL sacrifices and offerings.

In the days of the OT when God gave instruction to Israel, through Moses, about how they were to approach God in worship there were an abundance of sacrifices and offerings required.

There were –

–         burnt offerings signifying total surrender & obedience.

–         Sin offerings – paying penalty for offences against God.

–         Various other animal, meal, drink offerings.

All these were symbols pointing to the one great sacrifice of Christ’s death on the cross. Jesus fulfils the requirements of all the sacrifices and offerings – therefore the book of Hebrews says: Hebrews 10:4-7 4 … it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. 5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: “Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; 6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. 7 Then I said, ‘Here I am — it is written about me in the scroll — I have come to do your will, O God.’ ” (NIV)

 

Jesus accomplished with the one sacrifice of himself on the cross what millions of sacrifices on Jewish altars could never accomplish.

 

We had a glimpse of this when we looked and Genesis 22 – God tells Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac BUT at the last minute stops him. However on the way up the mountain Isaac asks his father “Where is the sacrifice?” to which Abraham replies “My son, God will provide for himself a lamb for the burnt offering.”

Without Abraham necessarily understanding the full implication of what he was saying it was a prophetic utterance of God’s future provision through the Cross.

That is why when Jesus comes to the river Jordan to be baptised by John the Baptist he says, John 1:29 , “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (NIV)

John hesitates – Jesus is the Messiah who should be baptising John. BUT listen to Jesus’ reply — Matthew 3:15

Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfil all righteousness.” …

 

Who does Jesus mean when he says ‘us’. John? Is it possible for John, a sinful man like you and me, to help God ‘fulfil all righteousness’.

Another more likely interpretation could be – At Jesus’ baptism as He comes up out of the water the gospels records Matthew 3:16-17 16 … At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” (NIV)

Jesus, the Son of God is in the water, God the Father speaks from heaven and the Holy Spirit coming upon him – the whole Godhead is involved. [Father, Son, Holy Spirit]

What does baptism represent? – the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. It is a picture of the Easter event.

 

Jesus begins his public ministry witnessing in his baptism to the fact that he came to die for the sins of the world.

Jn. 1:29 “…, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

 

 

  1. 2.     The Temple.   – destroyed and raised in 3 days

– the place of sacrifice and worship.

Jesus says the following in John 2:19-21 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”

20 The Jews replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. (NIV)

The Temple [and before it the Tabernacle] was the place where God’s presence was shown – and the place of worship. The Son of God comes into the world by taking on a human body – ‘becoming flesh’ – God in a human body. That God-man was humiliated, beaten and nailed to a cross ND he was completely innocent – The greatest miscarriage of justice in all history.

 

God’s enemies failed to destroy the temple and Jesus rose triumphantly from the grave. In Christ / because of Jesus sin is dealt with / forgiven and worship is possible.

 

  1. 3.     The Serpent. – The look of faith bring life.

Jesus spoke to Nicodemus the Jewish religious leader n these words: John 3:14-15 14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, 15 that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. (NIV)

 

In the days when the Jewish nation was wondering through the wilderness poisonous vipers entered their camp and people began to die. God instructed Moses to make a bronze snake on a pole and lift it high up in the centre of the camp – those who were bitten could look and be healed. LOOK and LIVE!

As we by faith look at the cross and see what Jesus did for us there we too can have the poison of sin dealt with and LIVE.

 

  1. 4.     The Shepherd. – gives his life for the sheep.

If we are tempted to think that Jesus was a reluctant victim he give us another picture. The Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep.

John 10:17-18 17 … I lay down my life — only to take it up again. 18 No-one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.

 

ILLUS.: Imagine you are driving down a road – probably in Wales – and you come around a corner in a 60 mph zone and there in the road is a sheep and a person. In that split second you know you can’t avoid both. Would you decide to kill the sheep or the person??

No right thinking driver would sacrifice the person to save the sheep – Even Jesus taught that humans were of much greater value than animals.

 

Yet Jesus, the Good Shepherd is willing to give his life for the sheep – sinners like us who deserve to die.

The Shepherd becomes the sheep for the sacrifice – willingly! Amazing Love!

 

  1. 5.     The Seed. – dies alone to produce an abundant crop.

This last picture is of seed buried in the ground to produce fruit. The emphasis is on Christ’s willingness to totally give his life to bring glory to His Father. John 12:23-24

23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 I tell you the truth, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. (NIV)

That one seed – Jesus dying – has produced through history millions and millions and millions of people as fruit to glorify God. Revelation 7:9 9 After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no-one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. (NIV)

The fruit from one seed willing to fall into the ground and die.

The cross looked like a defeat – as if the powers of darkness had won BUT it was exactly the opposite – It is the greatest victory in time and eternity!!

 

Conclusion and application.

These are wonderful pictures of the cross – and there are others we don’t have time to look at today.

BUT what does it mean for us – Yes our sins forgiven and eternal life with God forever.

BUT what about now – all the blessings of sins forgiven and peace with God…..

BUT there are responsibilities…. Jesus said….

John 13:16 .., no servant is greater than his master, …

John 20:21            21 … As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”

Matthew 16:24-27         24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. (NIV)

Matthew 6:33 33 .. seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all other things will be given to you as well.

 

On Wednesday night were the Pride of Britain awards – there was one for Carer of the Year.

 

ILLUS.:

It’s On The House, Jill Tells Asthma Sufferers

Jill McGowan, 45, sold her home to help fellow asthma sufferers

By Barbara Davies

[BIG Brother presenter Davina McCall admitted she fears her own baby Holly may suffer from asthma because husband Matthew has it and it could be passed on to her. So she was full of praise for Jill McGowan’s efforts in fighting the condition

SELFLESS: Jill McGowan with Davina

Presenting nurse Jill, 45, with her Carer of the Year award, Davina, 34, said: “It’s difficult for me to find words to express how much admiration I have for someone like Jill who has gone to great lengths to fund research into something she believed in.”]

Mother-of-two Jill funded trials into the Buteyko technique, which relieves asthma through breathing control without drugs and inhalers. She set up the Buteyko Institute Trust, raising £55,000 by selling her home and donating ¾ of her annul salary for the last two years. A pilot study resulted in a 96% success rate.

Jill, a lecturer in nursing at Paisley University, near Glasgow, said: “I knew I was not going to get backing from pharmaceutical companies. I wanted others to benefit. But to get Buteyko accepted by the NHS it needs to be tested under proper conditions.”

Judges said her efforts were “an incredible act of selflessness.” [The Mirror – 7th March 2002]

 

Helping Asthma sufferer is a very worthwhile cause.

BUT compare that to the gospel, to the rescue of boys and girls and men and women through the Cross so they can receive the gift of God – eternal life through Christ.

 

What is my response to Jesus give to me?

 

26 What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?

 

“If anyone would come after me, he must deny self and take up his cross and follow me.

 

THE CROSS – As Jesus saw it.

 

1. The Lamb.

  • replacing / fulfilling ALL sacrifices

   and offerings.

 

2. The Temple.

  • destroyed and raised in 3 days.
  • the place of sacrifice and worship.

 

3. The Serpent.

  • the look of faith bring life.

 

4. The Shepherd.

  • gives his life for the sheep.

 

5. The Seed.

  • dies alone to produce an

abundant crop.

 

 

 

 

 

The Cross: Isaiah 52:13–53:12 – A man despised and rejected (part 2)

 The Cross – A man despised and rejected.

Isaiah 52v13 – 53v12.

[Part 2]

In Part 1 we saw the Servant as having the most exalted position possible [52v13]. In spite of his appearance which would suggest exactly the opposite he is in fact the one who will rule the nations. This passage is the clearest portrayal of the sufferings of Christ in the OT.

He is clearly someone of the highest status yet at the same time is portrayed as one who suffers so much as to make onlookers wonder if he is even human. He who is the highest becomes the lowest — BUT why? Let’s see!!

 

If verses 1-3 tells us about the rejection of the servant then in these verses 4-6 he is the Man of Sorrows. They give us the deeper meaning of the purpose for his sufferings.

 

  1. THE RESPONSIBLE TASK OF THE SERVANT. [53v4-6]

The thing that makes the suffering of this servant so significant is that it is not for something he had done wrong. However, it is not simply random.

Furthermore, we are not allowed to stand off at a distance and be passive observers. We [humans] are part of the reason for his predicament.

 

a)     The Onlookers’ perspective [53v4]

Isaiah 53:4… yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. (NIV)

Who is the “we” here – probably the original Jewish onlookers who saw the original sufferer and jumped to conclusions about the causes for his suffering.

Just like the story of Job – a wealthy man who God allows Satan to test. Job looses everything and ends up living on a garbage dump covered in boils and sores and his friends tell him he must have done something to deserve this – God must be punishing him. BUT that was not the case. God was testing – and Job honours God and is again restored and richly blessed.

 

Here this Servant who suffers appears to be receiving God punishment – at least that is the considered opinion of the onlookers. They assume that he has done something wrong to deserve God’s judgement. They consider that his suffering is God’s doing.

Ironically they are half-right! God is actively involved in the suffering of this servant. The wrong-half of their thinking is that this man has done nothing to deserve God’s punishment.

 

b)    God’s Purpose

Isaiah 53:4-5 4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. (NIV)

The sufferings of the servant were not a consequence of his wrongdoing – or even just a bad mistake. But he does suffer at God’s hand – it seems appalling that a Holy, loving God should do such a thing – yet v.10 says Isaiah 53:10  Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,..

WHY? Because the humanity that God had created turned its back on its creator. We rejected / insulted God and his righteous / holy anger burned against us BUT his love and compassion caused him to desire to embrace us and forgive.

ILLUS.: If you look across the skyline in London you can see the Old Bailey. On top of that home of British justice is Pomeroy’s magnificent golden statue of the Goddess Justicia holding her scales of justice and her sword of wrath. She is blindfold, so unable to show partiality, and the message is clear: if we are found to be guilty, then the sword of wrath must fall. We are more wicked than we ever realised.

But just across the skyline, on the top of St Paul’s Cathedral, is another golden symbol. It is a cross and it’s a powerful reminder that the sword of God’s wrath did fall; it fell on Jesus Christ.

So the holy perfection of God’s character is appeased.

The cross of Christ is not just about our sins being dealt with – It is primarily about the holiness of God.

 

c)     His Role

The role of the Servant is that he both appeases the justice of God and in so doing takes the punishment due to us.

He is crushed, weighed down with the burdens of others, punished and wounded to bring peace and restoration to others.

If we are tempted to think that this is the pathetic capitulation of a weak man we must think again! NO! This is the bold, deliberate choice of someone who willing takes the rap for others.

The NT writers clearly identify Jesus in this role.

Luke 9:51

As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.

Matthew 20:28

just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

John 10:14-18

14 “I am the good shepherd; … and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 … 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life — only to take it up again. 18 No-one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

Romans 5:6-8

6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 …. 8 … God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

By taking the full brunt of God’s punishment this servant has brought us peace and restoration. He is not a helpless unwilling victim – he chooses to do this.

 

d)    Our Plight [v.6]

As hard as it may be for our human pride to accept that we are sinful – there is no one who can honestly say, “I am perfect!”

Proverb “To err is human!”

We don’t like to think we are so bad – usually we compare ourselves to others. BUT in light of God’s perfection we are way off the mark. ILLUS.: Clean windows on cloudy day – then sun comes out and exposes the smudges.

Or to put it in the words of Isaiah 53:6  We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Whether we have wandered off or deliberately turn away is in many respects irrelevant. The point is we strayed! AND we would stay in the plight without the intervention of this suffering Servant.

 

  1. THE DREADFUL DEATH OF THE SERVANT. [53v7-9]

These verses develop much of what has already been described.

a)     It was voluntary

He who is actually the great, good Shepherd of John’s Gospel becomes like us, a sheep.

All OT sacrifices up to this point have been involuntary – the animals are helpless victims. BUT this sacrifice is human, in full possession of all his faculties, who knows where he is going and what is going to happen to him yet he willingly permits others to victimised him and put him to death.

He doesn’t try to defend himself – normally a people will confess their guilt if they feel guilty or protest their innocent if they feel no guilt BUT this Servant makes the deliberant choice to remain silent.

Matthew 27:12-14         12 When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” 14 But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge — to the great amazement of the governor. (NIV)

He is led like a lamb to the slaughter in the place of the sheep that have gone astray – like for like! All the ritual sacrifices of the OT could not deal with human sin. Ultimately only a person can substitute for people. That is what Jesus did on the cross.  Isaiah 53:8d  …for the transgression of my people he was stricken. (NIV)

His death is for others. He himself is innocent Isaiah 53:9 … he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. (NIV)

 

b)    It was violent [v.8]

Stricken / smitten / afflicted / crushed / punished / wounded / oppressed / judged / cut off (killed) – so badly marred as to not even look human.

It is interesting that the Gospel writer never try to describe crucifixion. The people of the time had all witnessed crucifixion – a cruel and agonising death. They simply report. “… and they crucified him”

 

c)     It was paradoxical (burial)

Common criminals would be buried in an unmarked grave – pauper’s grave.

All Jesus had was the clothes he wore and the soldier had gambled for those. So “he is assigned a grave amongst the wicked” yet Isaiah goes on … and with the rich in his death,

How can both be true – they contradict each other, don’t they?

Jesus dies a pauper, common criminal, the lowest of the low – Yet where is he buried Matthew 27:57-60 57 As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away.

 

  1. THE SPECIAL ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THE SERVANT. [53v11 – 12]

When we hear of his burial among the rich we get a hint of a turn of events – ‘til now it has been gloom and doom / suffering and judgement.

 

a)     He fulfils God’s will

In his willingness to suffer and die for others he actually fulfil God’s will perfectly. He appeases God’s wrath and satisfies God’s justice and holiness. He is the supreme guilt offering – also, in satisfying God’s requirements, he removes human sin and guilt and opens the way for a relationship with God.

 

b)    He receives God’s approval

God’s approval of what he accomplishes is seen in the astounding results of what he receive as a result of his unselfish self sacrifice for others.

He faced the prospect of being cut off from the land of the living and having no future descendants [v8]. Now there is a complete reversal!!

² He who has no descendants [v8] will see his offspring [v10].

² He who is cut off in the midst of life [v8] will now prolong his days [v10].

² He who was stricken [v8] will now prosper [v10].

² He who was dead [v9] will come alive [11].

² He who is unjustly condemned [v9] will be satisfied [v11].

² He who was despised and rejected [v3] will become the centre of a great throng [11-12].

² He who was a helpless victim [v7] becomes the triumphant victor [v12].

This unprecedented reversal confounds kings and nations which is seen at the beginning of the song in 52v15.

This takes us to Philippians 2:7-11 7 [Jesus]… taking the very nature of a servant, …became obedient to death … on a cross!

9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,

 

c)     He rescues many people

Isaiah 53:11         11 After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light [of life] and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. (NIV)

He is the righteous One who bears the unrighteousness of others and in so doing transfers his righteousness to them – IF they will accept his sacrifice on their behalf!

2 Corinthians 5:21 21 God made him [Jesus]who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Who is this for – anyone who believes … and the result is… 2 Corinthians 5:17 17 …, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (NIV)

 

d)    He triumphs over sin [v12]

How is all this possible?

Isaiah 53:12  …   because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors. (NIV)

 

What is it that makes all this suffering and sacrifice necessary? Why was it necessary for Him to go through all this?

The damaged caused to the human race and creation in general through the wilful disobedience of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden needed to be undone. The Bible calls it sin. A creature imperfect and contaminated by sin could not remove the problem – a perfect man was needed … Jesus Christ. He is the channel of God’s grace to sinners. In the cross the holiness and mercy of God are perfectly reconciled. And we are able to enjoy sins forgiven and eternal life with God.

 

The Cross – A man despised and rejected.

 

 

Isaiah 52v13 – 53v12.

 

 

 

  1. THE PARADOXICAL MYSTERY OF THE SERVANT. (52v13-15)

 

–     His Status [v.13]

–     His Image [v.14]

–     His Effect [v.15]

 

 

  1. THE DISDAINED REJECTION OF THE SERVANT. (53v1-3)

 

–     God’s Work  [v.1]

–     Man’s Impression [v.2]

–     Utter Rejection [v.3]

 

 

  1. THE RESPONSIBLE TASK OF THE SERVANT. (53v4-6)

 

–     The Onlookers’ perspective [v.4]

–     God’s Purpose [v.4-5]

–     His Role [v.4-5]

–     Our Plight [v.6]

 

  1. THE DREADFUL DEATH OF THE SERVANT. (53v7-9)

 

–     It was voluntary [v.7]

–     It was violent [v.8]

–     It was paradoxical (burial) [v.9]

 

 

  1. V.              THE SPECIAL ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THE SERVANT. (53v10-12)

 

–     He fulfils God’s will [v.10]

–     He receives God’s approval [v.10-11]

–     He rescues many people [v.11]

–     He triumphs over sin [v.12]

 

 

 

 

 

The Cross: Isaiah 52:13–53:12 – A man despised and rejected (part 1)

The Cross – A man despised and rejected.

Isaiah 52v13 – 53v12.

[Part 1]

Introduction

The Bible teaches us that God is loving and kind. It also tells us that he is perfect and holy therefore our imperfection / our sin as the Bible calls it/ is an offence to God and deserves his judgement and punishment. The warning to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden while they were still perfect [un-sinful] was that death would be the result of sin.

When they did sin their feeble attempt to cover themselves with fig leaves was inappropriate and God supplies animal skins. Clearly animals had to die – symbolising that death is both a consequence of sin and a covering for sin.

What we have seen so far in the OT as we anticipate the cross is that animal sacrifice is used to deal with our sinfulness BUT is must be repeated over and over and over again — it is never enough!

 

BUT now Isaiah describes a servant of the Lord that is modelled on the sacrifices of the Day of Atonement. However there is something profoundly different and startlingly new – the sacrifice is human.

This was abhorrent. God had condemned the pagans for human sacrifice – he prevented Abraham from sacrificing his son and rejected Moses’ offered to died in the place of the Israelites.

But now here in Isaiah 53 it is this human suffering servant who becomes a sacrifice for the sins of many.

Isaiah doesn’t name this person – BUT clearly he is human yet also highly exalted – language used only of the divine. As the same time he is so marred that he is scarcely recognisable as being human.

This passage is the clearest prophetic passage in the OT foreshadowing the sufferings of Christ.

The heart of the passage is Isaiah 53:4-6

4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (NIV)

This tells us why he came and what he did. Or as one commentator puts it “ [it] … reflects on the purpose of his mission and the meaning of his sacrifice”.

 

  1. THE PARADOXICAL MYSTERY OF THE SERVANT.

ILLUS.: You know how sometimes a movie / story starts at the end – a scene at the end of someone’s life then it takes you back to the beginning and tells the story ending up with the scene that was at the beginning.

This passage is like that.

a)     His Status

Isaiah 52:13  See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. (NIV)

This verse tells us to look carefully and consider who this servant is.

The word translated “act wisely” is a combination of being wise and being prosperous. This person is successful because he has acted wisely. As we will see this is a remarkable status in view of what is said about him in the following verses.

Not only is he successful / prosperous BUT look what happens as a result – … he will be raised … lifted up … highly exalted.

His destiny is to have a supreme status – this is language usually reserved for God. Does this language not point us to the resurrection, ascension and exaltation of Christ.

Philippians 2:7-11         7 [Jesus]… taking the very nature of a servant, …became obedient to death … on a cross!

9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,

 

b)    His Image

v. 14 stands in stark contrast to this exalted status of v.13.

The exalted status the servant will enjoy in the future seems hard to believe when we consider Isaiah 52:14

14 Just as there were many who were appalled at him — his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness — (NIV)

ILLUS.: What is our instinctive reaction when we see someone who is extremely disfigured? It is to turn away. It horrifies us.

This servant who is so exalted after his death has first suffered so violently that he is almost not recognisable as being human.

When people look at this body so battered and damaged they ask themselves “It this human?”

Consider Jesus suffering – scourged, punched in the face, his beard pulled out, thorns driven into his head – his face and body was a bloody pulp – he was disfigured beyond human likeness.

 

c)     His Effect

We have these two mysterious and puzzling contrasts. On the one hand such high and majestic status and on the other so debased as to be almost inhuman.

The language of v.15 casts this servant in the role of a priest.

Isaiah 52:15  so will he sprinkle many nations,…

In the ritual of OT sacrifice and forgiveness the priest would sprinkle that blood of the sacrifice over the people to ritually cleanse them from their sin.

It is in this role that this suffering servant is cast – this is startling news – a battered. Bleeding, damaged body would have been considered unclean.

BUT what is so remarkable is that the one considered to be unclean turns out to be the one who cleanses others. It astounds even the most elevated people – kings are speechless. Hebrews 10:19-22 19 [we can] … enter the Most Holy Place [the Presence of God] by the blood of Jesus, 20 … a great priest …, 22 … having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us …

These first 3 verses tell us that the Servant life is a paradox in the extreme.

 

  1. THE DISDAINED REJECTION OF THE SERVANT.

Verses 13-15 [chapter 52] are the summary outline of what is to come. All the way through to the end of chapter 55 he now fleshes out the suffering and then the triumphant accomplishments of the servant.

There were no chapter and verse divisions originally – they are there purely so we can find our way around the text.

 

a)     God’s Work

The concept of a degraded human accomplishing so much and then being exalt to such a high position is so astounding that the writer now ask “Who will even believe such a thing?”

 

You see the human mind because it is distorted in its thinking as a result of sin is so incapable of understanding the ways of God that only divine revelation can bring enlightenment.

How is it possible that the arm of the Lord [53v1] – i.e. his strength and power – can be seen in this apparently feeble and helpless suffering servant?

 

It is impossible unless God shows us his way!

 

b)    Man’s Impression

Verse 2 gives us the human impression of this suffering servant.

In the world of image and spin-doctors this servant would have been at the bottom of the pile. There was nothing to commend him.

 

Isaiah uses idiomatic language of his day  53:2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground…

He seemed to lack the necessary nourishment and well being to develop – in fact it is miraculous that he survived at all.

He was considered to be a nobody. They ask the usual questions – Was he good looking? [beauty]

–         Did he have an impressive personality [majesty]

–         What impression did he make? [appearance]

He seemed to fail on every front

 

He was not considered to be of any consequence.

Is that not how many people think of Jesus today. They scoff at the idea of a Saviour. It is fairytale stuff to think of a rescuer coming from heaven and dying on a cross.

 

ILLUS.: I was watching a chat show this week – Esther – and when an audience member spoke from a Christian perspective a panel member scoffed “Now we have moved beyond the rational!”

 

This is what the early Church faced too – 1 Corinthians 1:23 23 .. we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, (NIV)

It is easy for us to fall into the temptation to try and soften the message of the cross – or to try and make it in some way sophisticated and palatable BUT it seems foolish and offensive to the pride of the human heart.

You see the way of the Suffering Servant is the way of humiliation and rejection.

 

c)     Utter Rejection

Not only was he considered to be unimpressive BUT he was completely rejected by those who considered him.

Isaiah 53:3 3 He was despised and rejected by men,

a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

 

The apostle John writes of Jesus John 1:11 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. (NIV)

When Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane Mark’s records Mark 14:50-52 50 Then everyone deserted him and fled. 51 A young man, wearing nothing but a linen garment, was following Jesus. When they seized him, 52 he fled naked, leaving his garment behind. (NIV)

 

To say that we esteemed him not is to use the financial language of accounting – it means that when you come to the end of the Tax Year and you value an item it has no value. It is written off, it is worthless. On the balance sheet of humanity considered nothing.

Philippians 2:5-11 5 … Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself NOTHING, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!  9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place…

 

The Son of God, the one who created the universe, the one who gives and sustains all life makes himself vulnerable at the hands of his creation – and is considered by them to be nothing. He becomes the Man of Sorrows who receives no esteem, who chooses a path of self-destruction rather than self-fulfilment.

Why does he do this? He chooses to do this – it is not forced on him He took up our infirmities [v4] he chose not to defend himself [v7 – kept silent] [look at this next week]

WHY?

So that he could take away the thing that is destroying us – sin – that we might be justified before God [v11]

 

What should be my response??

Listen to the words of the song Alice taught us [v3]

What shall I give

to the man who gave everything,

humbling himself

before all he had made?

Dare I withhold

my own life from his sovereignty?

I shall give all for the sake of his name!

[Stuart Townend – in Praise! 427]

The Cross: Psalm 22 – Lament and Praise

The Cross – Lament and Praise – Psalm 22

 

Introduction.

Trouble and suffering is the stuff of life. Although we all dream of a trouble free life with no pain or heartache, experience teaches us that life is not like that.

Job 5:7 … man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward. (NIV)

 

King David of Israel, the psalmist who penned psalm 22, had his fair share of trouble in spite of the fact that he was the greatest king Israel ever had.

 

No Christian can read this Psalm without being drawn to Jesus and his crucifixion. In the story of Christ’s passion there are 9 references from the Psalms – of those 9, 5 are from Ps.22.

While it is true this is a prophetic psalm about Jesus’ death – it is also true that it was deeply relevant and meaningful to its original writer and readers.

 

This psalm divides clearly into two sections – 1st 21verses are Lament [a mixture of anguish and trust]; last 10 verses are a song of Praise [personal and prophetic / individual and cosmic].

 

The writer is in deep anguish – this is a deep heart-cry of  someone in suffering and pain [not necessarily physical] yet who in spite of their trouble still believes in and trust God.

  1. I.                  Trouble and Trust – v.1-21.

 

  1. Trouble –

His troubled complaint is against his God who seem too distant; against his tormentors who are all too near and against himself – his feebleness and inability to deal with his situation.

 

1)    feels abandoned by God – v.1-2.

We are not told what the psalmist’s circumstances are. Physically and emotionally he is being stretched to the limit and spiritually his faith is in crisis. At the point where he feels his need for God is greatest, God seems utterly distant and out of reach. “Where is his God?”

He knows in his head that God is a God of power / a God who answers prayer – Why them does he not rescue him?

The problem he faces is more than just a problem of suffering – it is the gap between what he believes and what he is experiencing – it is something even the most godly believers sometimes face.

 

ILLUS.: -READ- David Watson – “Fear no evil” – p.43  “The worst times … so ferociously attacked”

 

Often at times like these we feel abandoned by God and cry out with the psalmist Psalm 22:1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

This is the experience of many – Book titles 1) How long O Lord?” 2) When heaven is silent 3) When God doesn’t make sense …………

2)    feels victimised by others – v. 6-8.

His sense of God’s absence is aggravated by those who instead of being a support and help add to his trouble by mocking and undermining.

Job’s comforters – those who under the guise of helping actually rub salt into the wound by their questioning / gloating / mocking!

Sometimes the help offered is more to do with the helpers need to be needed.

Those who should be a help pour sarcasm on his faith and make matters worse.

 

3)    feels sorry for himself – v.12-18.

In the wake of these feelings of abandonment and victimisation he feels all is helpless and hopeless.

He feels like prey that is trapped with no way of escape.

In every way he is exhausted and feels that his life is at an end.

Others appear to consider his life over as they gamble to share out his clothes. He may as well lie down and die.

 

  1. Trust –

Yet in the midst of this lament there is still the flame of trust burning – it may be burning low but it is still burning.

He may feel as if god has abandoned him but he still addresses him as “MY God!”

 

1)    in God and his power – v.3-5.

In spite of God’s silence and apparent inaction he still believes that God is king. Psalm 22:3  Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel.

God is just and righteous – and therefore the troubles and sufferings of his people do not escape him and he is perfectly able and willing to deal with any situation BUT in his time and on his terms. He is the altogether transcendent God and therefore NOT at our beck and call!

vv.4-5 the psalmist reminds himself and us that God has the power to rescue – history shows it. So there is trust despite adverse circumstances and feelings.

 

2)    in God’s plans and providential care – v.9-11.

His life is not an accident. It is not just the random process of biological evolution. From conception God has had his hand on him. It is as if God has been assigned to his special care and custody.

If you and I are God’s children by faith in Jesus then rest assured that nothing happens to you that God doesn’t know about and care about even if your feelings are to the contrary.

 

3)    in God’s promises – v.19-21.

In spite of his desperate feelings of loneliness, abandonment, victimisation – all his troubles and heartaches he still believes in God and God’s power to rescue.

Psalm 22:19  But you, O Lord, be not far off;

O my Strength, come quickly to help me. (NIV)

 

ILLUS.: In hospital in 1998 – battle with cancer. Angry / fearful / helpless / near death – didn’t want to pray or read Bible YET never stopped believing in God – what’s the alternative – ALL others possibilities are hopeless. In God always hope.

 

  1. II.               Praise and Worship – v.22-31.

As we move into the 2nd half of the Psalm the transformation is radical. Now Praise and Worship.

What caused this transformation – we are not given any details BUT God has totally reversed the Psalmist’s predicament.

 

A. Personal – v.22-26.

His worship is very personal yet it is with his fellow worshippers. However the fellowship with others doesn’t crowd God out. The danger of worship is that it can become people-centred / me-centred.

What has brought about this exuberant celebration.  Contrast v.2 and v.24

Psalm 22:2  O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent. (NIV)

Have you been there? Are you there now? Take heart from David’s experience

Psalm 22:24  For he has not despised or disdained

the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.

So the suffering One becomes the one who leads the worshipping community into deeper praise and worship.

 

B. Prophetic – v.26-31.

He sees beyond his own personal circumstances and even beyond the community to which he belongs. He has a vision of the future when the worshipping community will extend to included ALL social classes – poor v.26 and the rich v.29. ALL peoples and nations v.27. ALL generations – those who have already died v.29 and those yet to be born v.31.

What starts with personal praise ends with a vision later to be amplified by the Apostle Paul, who looked forward to the day when [Philippians 2:11]  .. every tongue [would] confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (NIV)

 

  1. Christ and the Cross

 

This psalm more than any other is a picture of Christ’s suffering and glory.

Jesus is identified in his death on the cross with the sufferings of this psalmist AND with all humanity who suffers the consequences of sin.

Jesus had enjoyed the closest intimacy with his Father YET in those hours on the cross when he dies it is not only that he feels God has withdrawn but that is in fact the reality.

It was not just the physical torture, public humiliation and agonising death – the love and intimacy of the Father has been replaced by God’s anger and Judgement. He is in the torment of separation from God the Father  —  and in that time of intense spiritual and physical agony he cries out in the words of this Psalm 22:1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? While the soldier gamble for his clothes and the onlookers mock AND he is alone!

 

When we suffer trouble and heartache there is the past experience of a good and loving God and yet at the same time the reality of the hurt, betrayal, bewilderment and anguish.

Jesus experienced that on the cross to the fullest extreme possible. To the fullest extent possibly Jesus entered into the very human experience, not just of suffering, but of godforsakenesss just when he need God’s presence the most.

 

The difference between the psalmist and Jesus is that while David is delivered from death, Jesus is delivered through death. However the Psalmist deliverance is not complete, death is simply postponed, he must still died physically, death would come knocking again;  BUT Christ’s deliverance is complete; death is defeated never to knock on his door again.

 

Paul writes in Philippians 2:5-11 5 .. Christ Jesus:      6 …8 … humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!

9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

The Lament is replaced by praise and worship.

 

In the cross Jesus suffers the full impact of the hiddenness of God AND then in the resurrection enters the fullness of praise and exaltation.

 

Our experiences may lead us into times of silence and uncertainty about God / of questioning and desperation

But the cross and the resurrection give us the final answer and tell us that if we trust in God we will not be disappointed.

 

Romans 8:31-39            31 If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 … 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 …

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (NIV)

 

What is it that gives Paul this confidence? Was it because he had a constantly warm fuzzy feeling of love? NO!

Paul had this confidence in the face of extreme suffering and hardship because of the cross!

we are more than conquerors through him who – loves us? NO! –loved us.  Past tense!

Is it because Paul thinks God doesn’t love him in the present? NO! BUT his feeling of love, like ours are fickle and volatile but the cross stands as a fact in history, the place where God’s love was proved.

So that even when my circumstance are desperate and I cry out with the psalmist “God why have you forsaken me?”  — even then I can look back to the cross and say – “There God proved his love!” “Lord restore me – cause me to worship you again.”

The more we grasp this – the deeper will be our worship.

 

ILLUS.: Wm. Temple put it like this:

“There cannot be a God of love,” men say, “because if there was, and he looked down on the world, his heart would break.”

The Church points to the cross and says, “It did break.”

It is he who should bear the load.”

The Church points to the cross and says, “He did bear it.”

 

And because he did, he deserves our worship and our devoted obedience

 

 

 

The Cross – Lament and Praise.

Psalm 22

 

  1. I.                   Trouble and Trust – v.1-21.

 

A.       Trouble –

  • feels abandoned by God. v.1-2
  • feels victimised by others. v. 6-8
  • feels sorry for himself. v.12-18

 

B.       Trust –

  • in God and his power.  v.3-5
  • in God’s plans & providential care. v.9-11
  • in God’s promises. v.19-21

 

  1. II.        Praise and Worship – v.22-31.

 

A. Personal. v.22-26

B. Prophetic.  v.26-31

 

III.      Christ and the Cross

Philippians 2v5-11 – Christ’s suffering and

death are followed by exalted praise.

“There cannot be a God of love,” men say, “because if there was, and he looked down on the world, his heart would break.”

The cross says, “It did break.”

It is he who should bear the load.”

The cross says, “He did bear it.”

Wm. Temple

The Cross: Exodus 12 – The Passover

The Cross – The Passover.  Exodus 12.

Introduction.

Throughout history exploitation, oppression and slavery have been part of human experience. Living as we do in a free democracy we don’t always appreciate the conditions under which others have lived and in some place in the world today still do!

 

Many who have struggled against oppression over the years have used this story of the Exodus as an inspiration. During the last century their where many in Africa and South / Central America who developed what became known as Liberation Theology. It was preached by many in the Civil Rights movement in the USA. While many of their struggles may have been justified – and while it is true that God is opposed to injustice and oppression, their theology was often defective. The Exodus has been a symbol of political revolution for centuries –in the UK it was used by Oliver Cromwell against the Stuarts! [Tidball p.51].

 

Two crucial things that are missing in Liberation Theology’s attempt to equate political struggle with the Exodus:-

1st, The Jews were not struggling against the Egyptians – It is clearly God’s initiative and God’s doing.

2nd, we cannot talk about the Exodus without the Passover, nor liberation / redemption without sacrifice just as Christians we can’t talk about salvation without the cross.

 

 

Exodus 12 is complex because it is written many years after the event and intertwined with the historical account are instruction for the remembrance celebration in the years following.

 

The Hebrews had gone to Egypt during a server famine 430 years earlier when Joseph their forefather was ruling the country under Pharaoh. The nation had grown and become a threat to the Egyptians and so they had oppressed and enslaved them. Moses, Hebrew adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter, was raised as a Prince. At age 40 he tries to take matters into his own hands and kills and Egyptian Salve-master who is abusing a Hebrew slave. He is found out and has to flee for his life. After 40 years of living in the desert Moses is instructed by God to go back and lead His people out of Egypt. After sending 9 plagues on the country Pharaoh still will not capitulate and free the slaves so God plans one more – the death of the first-born.

If the Hebrews are to escape God’s Judgement and be rescued from slavery they must obey God’s instructions.

 

  1. 1.     The Passover is God’s idea

 

The beginning and end of this chapter make it quite clear that God is the initiator and the one who achieves its purpose.

Exodus 12:1 & 51 .. 1The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, ……51 And on that very day the LORD brought the Israelites out of Egypt ….. (NIV)

God is at the beginning and end of the Passover / Exodus.

The whole event is teaching us something about what God is like.

(a)  He is a faithful God who keeps his promises.

100’s of years before way back in Genesis 15 God told Abraham that the Jews would be enslaved in Egypt and that He would rescue them. Now was the time to faithfully fulfil that promise.

 

(b)  He is a compassionate God who hears the cries of the oppressed.

Exodus 3:7     7 The LORD said, [to Moses] “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. (NIV)

We may find it difficult to understand why God would wait so long before responding to those cries. BUT we must not confuse slowness with indifference!

 

(c)   He is a just God who will deal with Wrong.

God is sovereign over all the nations and over every individual life. As I just said, we find it difficult to understand why God doesn’t deal with it NOW! BUT he has promised to – and he will. Justice will ultimately be done. We must take an eternal perspective.

 

(d)  He is a powerful God who rules the world.

God doesn’t enter into negotiation with Pharaoh to let His people go! Neither Pharaoh, his army, nor the gods of Egypt have any power to stop him.

 

 

2. God tells the people how to prepare for the Passover.

 

 

While it is true that the Exodus is God’s doing the people’s freedom came as they obeyed God’s word.

They become participants in the drama of salvation through their obedience to God’s instructions. Exodus 12:50  All the Israelites did just what the LORD had commanded ..

 

(a)  The timing.

Exodus 12:2 2 “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. (NIV)

This was to mark a new beginning. This generation of Jews had been slaves all their lives – from now all would be different – a new life was about to begin!

On the 14th day [v6] a lamb was to be sacrificed at twilight – presumably under cover of darkness so that after the angel of death had passed over they could make a hasty exit from Egypt under cover of darkness.

 

(b)   The Lamb. {or young goat}

It had to be small – just enough for one family – if too much families were to get together. Any leftovers were to be burn. The sacrifice was too precious to simply be discarded as rubbish!

It had to be a perfect animal – only the best was good enough for God.

 

(c)   The Blood.

The animals blood was to be caught in a basin and using a hyssop plant as a primitive paintbrush it was to be smeared on the doorposts and lintel.

It was not enough that the blood was shed / drained from the sacrifice – it had to be applied / appropriated by those who wished it to save them from death.

 

It was the blood over the door that protected the firstborn from the destroying angel of death.

It was not just protection – Life is in the blood! Within blood there can be no life. Thus it is the life-given that provides life / new life for Israel.

And looking forward to the cross – Christ’s life that gives us life. Not just given but applied / appropriated to my life if it is to be effective in the face of God’s judgement.

 

(d)   The meal.

The animal was to be roasted and eaten – along with bitter herbs and unleavened bread. Life not only laid down but imparted – it was this meal that gave the people the nourishment necessary for the journey the following morning.

The were to eat standing – dressed in outdoor clothes with their hiking boots [sandals] on! Ready to move on command!

 

At midnight the angel of God passes and all firstborn not in a blood covered house would die!

 

  1. 3.     God shows the people the meaning of the Passover.

What does this tell us about God? What does it tell us about the cross of Christ?

 

Firstly what it teaches us about God.

(a)  God is the judge of sinful people.

That night there was joy amongst the Israelites and deep sorrow amongst the Egyptians. Earlier Pharaoh had committed genocide against Israel by ordering all Hebrew boy-babies to be killed [1v16] – his sin had caught up with him – God is not mocked.

So the firstborn died – from the King to the peasant and even the animals.

 

This picture of God doesn’t sit comfortably in out world. We are uneasy with such expressions of God’s anger.

Tolerance is now considered to be the outstanding virtue so a God of wrath leaves us in disbelief or embarrassment.

As one commentator says, “It is one thing to speak of Americans dropping bombs! But somehow we feel it blasphemous for God.”

The Bible doesn’t back away from God’s judgement. The Bible doesn’t share our unease but calls us to be filled with fear and wonder of God’s judgement.

For decades the Egyptians had exploited and oppressed God’s people and God was angry.

God is always angry when the strong oppress and exploit the weak. I wonder what he makes of Western powers / multinational companies growing fat on the backs of the poor!

 

(b)   God who is living defeats the dead idols.

The plagues were not just random miracles but were focus at the supposed strongholds of the Egyptian gods. We have no time to look at these BUT God strikes at the very things these gods were supposed to control – he exposes their impotence – In fact shows that they are not gods at all – they are nothing!

(c)   God is the rescuer of sinful people.

One thing we must emphasis. God doesn’t rescue Israel because they are not sinners and the Egyptians are sinners. They were protected because they were in a blood-marked house. IF Egyptians had believed and obeyed God’s words and done what they Israelites did they too would have been protected. And we know from later texts that there were Egyptians amongst those who escaped!!

 

The message is plain. Think about this in term of Jesus death on the cross. The blood of the Lamb prevents that righteous judgement of God falling on those who deserve it. BUT it is not automatic – As the Hebrews had to apply the blood to the door frame and eat the meal so too, we must believe and receive the word of God – supremely Jesus who is the Ultimate Word of God.

So God the Judge is also God the Rescuer and protector.

 

(e)   God is Lord of a Pilgrim people.

The rescue from Slavery was the end of one thing BUT the beginning of a new life’s journey with God as their Lord.

Later the priests were consecrated by sacrificing a ram, being sprinkled with its blood and then eating it. It was inauguration into the priesthood – into service of God. Here at the Passover all the nation were consecrated as the people of God. A people with a purpose – a people with a mission. To serve God, to belong to God and to him alone!

  1. 4.     God gives the world the Ultimate Passover.

 

Passover taught u about God –  but also about the Cross!

The Passover and Exodus were of course v. significant for the people of the time.

But clearly in the light of the NT it point to Jesus as God’s ultimate Passover and the One through who complete rescue from sin and its consequences is received.

 

The Last Supper Jesus celebrated with his followers was the Passover meal. He clearly links it to his death. The bread “This is my body – given for you”. The Wine –“This is the new covenant in my blood”. Jesus dies at Passover.

 

Peter

1 Peter 1:18-19 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

 

Paul

1 Corinthians 5:7 7 Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast — as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. (NIV)

 

Think about this in relation to Ex.12. It is through Christ sacrifice on the cross that 1) sinners are brought to judgement; 2) principalities and powers [other god and Satan himself] to judgement; 3) those under sentence of death and who accept the sacrifice [blood covered] to redemption; 4) the oppressed are freed; 5) the redeemed [rescued ones] become members of this holy, consecrated people of God – the family of God.

 

What does Paul mean – Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast?

 

Yeast is often [not always] used as a symbol of sinfulness and corruption. Paul is saying to Christians “You are a new people – new batch of dough – so don’t allow the corrupting influences of the old fermented / corrupted yeast to damage the new.

How can the people of God go on living in a sinful state, with the old yeast of pride and immorality evident amongst them.

Having been redeemed / rescued by the Passover Lamb – Christ and become the people of God we must live like the people of God and get rid sinful acts and attitudes.

 

The Passover Lamb was a pattern of the Ultimate Passover Lamb to come – Christ.

 

ILLUS.: Like an old manual typewriter differs from the latest word processor / computer …

… similar in some ways by vastly different in so many others.

 

The original Passover was a wonderful event in itself BUT was limited and primitive by comparison to the real thing – Christ’s death on the cross.

 

 

Closing Prayer ……. Page 10…..>

 

 

Revelation 5:6-14 John writes…

6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the centre of the throne, …. 7 …8 … the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. .. 9 And they sang a new song:

“You are worthy …,       because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. 10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”

… 12 In a loud voice they sang:

“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise!”

13 …”To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb

be praise and honour and glory and power,

for ever and ever!”

14 .., “Amen”… (NIV)

 

The Passover and The Cross

 

Exodus 12.

 

1. The Passover is God’s idea

  • He is a faithful God who keeps his promises.
  • He is a compassionate God who hears the cries of the oppressed.
  • He is a just God who will deal with Wrong.
  • He is a powerful God who rules the world.

 

  1. God tells the people how to prepare

for the Passover.

  • The Timing.
  • The Lamb.
  • The Blood.
  • The Meal.

 

  1. 3.       God shows the people the meaning

of the Passover.

  • God is the judge of sinful people.
  • God who is living defeats the dead idols.
  • God is the rescuer of sinful people.
  • God is Lord of a Pilgrim people.

 

  1. 4.       God gives the world the Ultimate

Passover.

  • 1 Corinthians 5v7; 1 Peter 1v18-18; Revelation 5.

The Cross: Genesis 22:1-19 – The cross anticipates in Abraham’s test

THE CROSS ANTICIPATED in Abraham’s Test

Genesis 22 v1-19.

It’s a beautifully told story but profoundly shocking to modern ears. Nowadays, if there were even a hint of a father abusing his child, to say nothing of sacrifice, the welfare services would have the child in care and the father behind bars! It’s difficult to think of anything more terrible than child sacrifice, but sadly these atrocities still take place in the modern world. Yet strangely enough, we can’t be other than moved by the tenderness of relationships that this barbaric scenario uncovers. The story speaks of love and sacrifice, of trust and obedience, of perplexity and loyalty, of faithfulness and reward. It was these features that rang a bell in the thoughts of the first Christians. They couldn’t fail to see in this event, played out some 2000 years before, a foreshadowing of an even greater harrowing story. They were compelled to connect it to the Cross of Christ.

In reading the story we’re reminded that the story has three characters – there’s the Father: Abraham; there’s the Son: Isaac and there’s the Voice from heaven. The story revolves around three themes – Sacrifice, Submission and Substitution.

  1. THE FATHER’S SACRIFICE

Just imagine the shock that Abraham had one day. The conversation with God, [audible or not??], went like this: “Abraham!” “Yes?” “You know your son Isaac?” “Yes.” “Your only son.” “Yes.” “You love him, don’t you?” “Yes, of course.” “I want you to take him with you to the mountains of Moriah.” “Yes.” “And kill him as a sacrifice to me there!”

Well, that must have sent shivers down Abraham’s spine! Incredible! His mind was in turmoil. Kill Isaac? How could he? Why would God demand such an offering when human sacrifices were abhorrent to Him?

Is he after all just like the pagan gods around? {Child sacrifice was very common in the ancient pagan world!!} What about God’s promise to use Isaac to bring a great nation into being? He had been born after years of longing, frustration and disappointment. How could that happen if Isaac were dead?

When God tells us to do something there’s a good reason for it although we may not be aware of it at the time. God had given Abraham and Sarah this great joy of their lives. “You know your son, your only son, Isaac, the one you love? I want him back!” This was something very personal to Abraham, yet we too may have our “Isaacs”, some gift from God we’ve received out of His great goodness and promises. Aren’t we all recipients of God’s generosity and incalculable love? It’s possible that at some time in our lives we’ll hear the equivalent to what Abraham heard: “Take your son, your only son Isaac, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering” Gen.22:3 To be sure, it won’t be to make a human sacrifice, and it may not be as costly as Abraham’s, but it will be something that costs in terms of time, possessions or pride.

ILLUS.: David Livingstone went to Africa as a lone missionary. After some time his missions committee wrote to him saying, “Some people would like to join you. What’s the easiest road to get where you are?” He replied, “If they’re looking for the easiest road, tell them to stay in England. I want people who will come, even if there’s no road at all!”

Sometimes the pathway of the Christian life appears to change from a smooth-surfaced road to a stony track or peter out altogether. Is that what was God doing? He’s submitting Abraham to a test to find out how genuine was his faith. Of course, if God knows the end from the beginning, He already knew the end of the story. But from Abraham’s standpoint the test is real. There’s nothing to suggest to him that “it’s only a test” and that’s it’s bound to end happily ever after. God, as the heavenly quiz-master knows the answer, just as we already know the end of the story, but Abraham is ignorant of the full situation. The full horror of the demand is staring him in the face! God gave no word of explanation or reason. He just said “do it!”

The test required that Isaac should be killed as a sacrifice. Worse still, Abraham himself was to put his son to death. It’s difficult to think of a more gruesome test to confront a person. This was going to be a painful experience. It points to a principle in the life of faith. The apostle Peter wrote to Christian believers in the first century: “Do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:12). What he wrote then still applies today.
We don’t know what went through Abraham’s mind: “This can’t be happening to me!” We’re not told what a struggle he had, what a tug-of-war there was in his emotions as he tried to come to terms with this horrendous demand. But God knew that he could handle it.

The Lord will never put us through a trial that we can’t handle with His strength. God has different tests for each of us and they often involve sacrificing the things that are dearest to us. It’s His way of establishing correct priorities in our lives, of fitting us for heaven. How do we react when in the situation? We either can sit and grumble about it and sink into a depression and bitterness, or we can reach out and find God’s grace to get through it. God will always provide a way through trials, but we have to be willing to seek and find it.

NB v1 “After these things ..” What things? All the smaller tests to this point! God won’t ask us to do something big if we fail to be faithful in the small areas of life!!

Abraham is being asked whether he is wholly devoted to the Lord. It’s a stark choice as to whether he loves Isaac more than God. It’s something he can’t side step. He doesn’t have the luxury of professing his commitment in words without having to demonstrate it in action. Jesus taught that the greatest commandment was to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt 22:37) and to put all other things – possessions, persons or ambitions – in daily and total consecration.
The test facing Abraham was severe but the response was superb! He not only obeyed but also did so in a most commendable way. Abraham stands before us as a man of total, trusting obedience to God. It was a prompt obedience: we’re told that Abraham began to put his obedience into action “early the next morning.”

Sometimes it is wise to have second thoughts before acting to be quite certain we’ve heard correctly. Abraham did have the night to reflect on what God had said to him. But what a night it would have been! I doubt if Abraham slept very much! But there was no mistaking the message. He didn’t delay his response in the hope that God would reconsider His demand. Someone made the wise comment: “To linger is to court ruin. Delay is the craftiest net of Satan. It is the terrible pitfall, out of which there are rare escapes” (Henry Law). When God speaks to us (and we’re certain it is God) it’s imperative to obey Him without delay.

But not only was Abraham’s response a prompt obedience, it was a prepared obedience: we’re told “he saddled his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt sacrifice he set out.” Abraham knew what would be needed for his grim mission and, in the spirit of humble and complete obedience, made the necessary physical, mental and spiritual preparations. When the party reached the foot of Mount Moriah he told his servants to wait while he and Isaac went up to sacrifice, adding in trusting faith, “We will worship and then we will come back to you.” When he was questioned by Isaac as where the lamb was for the sacrifice he was able to reply, “God himself will provide.”

These responses of Abraham as a father to the challenge God had thrust before him are pointers to the way we must act in our own circumstances. But of even greater importance is the fact that they were God the Father’s response to mankind’s predicament of its fall into sin. It’s summed up in the majestic words of Jesus to Nicodemus: “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son” (John 3:16). The apostle Paul in writing to the Christians at Rome sees the story as an early model of God’s unmerited favour when he speaks of God “who did not spare his own Son” (8:32). Of course, there’s an immense difference between the father of Isaac and the Father of Jesus, but all the same the incident is a prophetic foretelling of God The Father’s Sacrifice. This leads on to:

  1. THE SON’S SUBMISSION

As the drama unfolds of Isaac as the sacrifice required by God, there emerges an unmistakable picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. Isaac is described as an “only son”, much loved of his father. The bigger picture of Jesus is immediately visible when we remember the voice from heaven at both His baptism and transfiguration, “This is my son, whom I love” (Matt 3:17; 17:5). Another pictorial parallel is seen in the story where we read: “Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son.” Doesn’t it remind you of the way Jesus went to the hill of Golgotha “carrying his own cross” (John 19:17).

Isaac was an intelligent young man. It was obvious to him that there was something unusual happening. A vital element in the projected sacrifice was missing. “Father,” he asked, “The fire and wood are here … but where is the lamb?” What was going through his mind? If there was some bewilderment as to who the “lamb” would be – was it him? – this was nothing in comparison to the anguish suffered by Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane! “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow,” said Jesus (Matt 26:38). But then, Christ knew for certain what His fate was going to be. “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done” (42). But whatever their thoughts were, both went willingly on their way and each submitted to his father’s will.

Isaac is depicted as a quiet victim and it’s here that the most remarkable similarity with Jesus is seen. It’s in their voluntary submission as they were bound and prepared for sacrifice. It’s more than likely that Isaac was a teenager. It would have been easy for him to resist his father as he “bound his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.”

First the wood was placed on him – now he on the wood!

Don’t forget that Abraham was well over 100 years old and would have been quite unable to overpower a strapping young lad unless he’d co-operated. But he didn’t resist. He submitted. This isn’t the picture of a sadistic father imposing punishment on a reluctant son, but of a father and son working together in ready agreement to offer the ultimate sacrifice to their God.

This is something beyond my understanding but surely it foreshadows Jesus’ perfect obedience and submission to God. It was on the altar of the Cross that Jesus voluntarily relinquished His life into the hands of His Father. He became the ultimate sacrifice that renders all other sacrifices obsolete. He was indeed the Suffering Servant foretold by Isaiah, the Good Shepherd who laid down his life for the sheep. He was the chosen “seed” of Adam whom God predicted at the Fall of mankind would crush the serpent of evil although He Himself would be struck. Jesus did what we are quite unable to do. He kept the law of God perfectly and so was able to undo all our disobedience towards God. The story so far of Abraham and Isaac has been a prototype of The Father’s Sacrifice and The Son’s Submission. The climax of this amazing account is seen in:

  1. THE LORD’S SUBSTITUTE

We know the end of the story but Abraham and Isaac didn’t. There’s real theatre here. The altar has been built. The wood has been laid on it and is ready to light. Isaac is tied and placed on the altar. It’s like a nightmare! There’s only one thing left for Abraham to do. He picks up the sacrificial knife, raises it high, the Bible account tells us, “to slay his son.” Just as his arm began the downward stroke towards Isaac there was a shout “from heaven, ’Abraham! Abraham!’ … ’Do not lay a hand on the boy.’” It was the voice of the Lord’s angel restraining him and then he was told why: “Now I know you fear God because you have not withheld from me, your only son.”

We may wonder why did God put Abraham through this rigorous testing programme? It’s like a rubber band – it must be stretched to be effective. Every person who has ever achieved anything for God has learned to stretch. Success only comes when you stretch to meet a challenge; failure comes when you shrink from back from it.

Of course, stretching makes us vulnerable. When a rubber band is taut, it’s much easier to break but it’s only then it fulfils its purpose. Abraham was stretched but he passed the test with flying colours. He had proved his total obedience to God and showed that he put God first. The test need not continue and the original command was halted. What a good thing he recognised the voice from heaven: “Here I am,” was his immediate response. If he hadn’t bothered to listen, the result could have been fatal. Friendship with God means talking to Him and listening to Him. The more time we spend with Him – in prayer and reading the Scriptures – the better we’ll be able to recognise His voice. It’s not for nothing that Abraham is known as “the friend of God”.

On the journey up the mountain Isaac had queried as to the lamb for sacrifice. His father had replied diplomatically, “God himself will provide.” The words proved to be prophetic because just at the right moment Abraham saw “a ram caught by its thorns” in a nearby bush. There and then the ram was substituted for Isaac. God had provided the required sacrifice. I can’t believe that the ram had wandered accidentally to the spot. No, it was the act of the same God who had set the test and now supplied the need. Doesn’t this demonstrate His generous and gracious provision for us as sinners?

God’s provision was available exactly when needed. The ram was the perfect match for the sacrifice enabling Abraham to worship God satisfactorily.

What a pointer to the fuller revelation of God yet to come, for God has provided for us supremely in Christ. What happened at Moriah happened once more in an even greater way in the coming of Christ. He was announced at His baptism as the river Jordan as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). God’s provision of a substitute sacrifice meant that Abraham’s own son could go free.

The experience at Moriah made a deep impression on Abraham. He “called that place ’The Lord will provide.’” How appropriate! The author of Genesis wrote that in his day “it is said, ’On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.’” How true the words came to be, for Moriah is identified with Jerusalem. It was there, as the hymn tells us “Outside a city wall, where the dear Lord was crucified, who died to save us all.” Abraham’s Moriah is Christ’s Calvary. But here the parallel between Isaac and Jesus breaks down because Jesus didn’t go free. He was our substitute at Calvary. Jesus said, “I lay down my life … I lay it down of my own accord … This command I received of my Father” (John 10:17,18). Yes, Jesus is The Lord’s Substitute. The apostle Paul wrote, “God made Jesus who had no sin to be sin for us, so that we in him might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21).

The Genesis story of Abraham and Isaac has been compared to the first drawing of a great artist who has in mind a master work. One day, centuries later, the same location was the scene of the unveiling of the masterpiece in all its glory.

The Father’s Sacrifice, The Son’s Submission and The Lord’s Substitute on the human level gives us a valuable insight into the life of faith and obedient trust that all believers in God are called to follow. On the prophetic level it’s an anticipation of God’s love and provision for all who will put their trust in Him. May we not be found wanting at either level. If we come to Him in repentance and faith He won’t let us down.

The Cross Anticipated – Abraham’s Test.

 

Genesis 22 v 1-19.

 

  1. 1.       The Father’s Sacrifice.

The test was severe but the response was superb.

His obedience was trusting, prompt and prepared.

 

  1. 2.       The Son’s Submission.

He was not an unwilling victim…

   … rather Father and Son work together

to offer the ultimate sacrifice.

 

  1. 3.       The Lord’s Substitution.

God provides the sacrifice.

  • The same God who sets the test …

… supplies the need.

  • God’s substitute sacrifice meant that 

Abraham’s own son could go free.

 

God spared Abraham’s son …

… BUT he did not spared his own.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

  • For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16
  • He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?  Romans 8:32