Posted by: pastortomvabeach | August 29, 2017

Thought for the Week September 3, 2017

Many thanks to Pastor Doug for writing in my place last week. I trust you read his comments about David and how the Psalms can change the way we pray.

On Sunday I spoke about the importance of the cross both for Jesus and for us. John records Jesus saying, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (John 12:24). Jesus, at this time, was facing the fulfillment of His only purpose for coming. He plainly tells His followers that His ministry will not bring any lasting fruit unless He dies.

He is the grain which must fall into the earth and die before He can accomplish the Father’s purpose. Just as a seed that is buried sprouts and grows bearing fruit, Jesus will rise and bear fruit, fruit of eternal life for all who believe. Jesus’ death on cross was not a defeat but the most important step in accomplishing His mission. Jesus died in our place, so we can be the fruit of His death. The simple truth is if Jesus does not die we can’t live! The cross produces the fruit of eternal life!

But the cross was not an easy journey for Jesus. Even though it was God’s plan from the beginning, as the realization of imminent suffering grips Jesus, He expresses shock, agitation, and revulsion. Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? (John 12:27). Though John doesn’t record Jesus’ agonizing prayer in Gethsemane, this statement says it all. John R.W. Stott says, “The implications of granting Jesus’ plea (here and in the Garden of Gethsemane) are unthinkable. God’s whole plan for salvation of mankind would end. The Son’s mission would be unfulfilled, the prince of the world would be unjudged, and sinners would be left to face the just deserts of their sins in eternity.”

In Gethsemane, Jesus prays, Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me…if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done. (Matthew 26:39, 42) In this prayer He yields to drink the cup the Father has planned. In the Old Testament, the cup often pictures God’s just anger towards sin. The cup is the judgment of sin but it is so much more. In the cross, Jesus endures unimaginable suffering and death to complete His mission but beyond that He faces His Father, not in the embrace of everlasting love, but in the terror of His holy and righteous wrath. Jesus becomes the object of divine rejection. But again, this is His purpose, the cross is His destiny. The gospel may be simple, but it is not superficial; it may be free, but it is not cheap. Jesus came to suffer and die so we can be forgiven and have life. If He didn’t do that God’s plan would fail. So the cross is indispensable to our faith.

In fact, Paul wrote this about the cross: when I came to you, brothers…I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. (I Corinthians 2:1-2). Paul’s main message everywhere he went was the cross. That was not a popular topic then and it is not now but neither is it only an article of jewelry to wear around one’s neck. The cross is the place of death, the target of God’s purpose and plan, the altar of faith and eternal life. To see Jesus is to see that the cross defined His life from birth to death to resurrection.

In today’s world as in Paul’s we know the cross may be offensive and may be a stumbling block. Paul said it was a stumbling block to the Jews and folly to the Gentiles. (I Corinthians 1:23). Today many “Jews” (people who think as the Jews did) go after the dream of human brotherhood and peace through either religious piety or humanistic effort. Their trust in damaged human nature is apparently boundless. We’re smart enough today to make the world right and when we do utopia will be ours. Likewise, “Greeks” everywhere today believe that human intellect, unaided by (liberated from) divine revelation, can answer the ultimate questions, harness the forces of nature, and create a world of prosperity and peace. For these modern Jews and Greeks the cross remains mysterious and repulsive. To believe that only through the blood stained tree will we find the true meaning of existence and the life we were created for, seems to many to be unacceptably narrow-minded, ethically dubious, intellectually naïve, or religiously intolerant. Nevertheless, it is the main event in God’s plan. Without the cross there is no redemption, without the cross there is no atonement for sin, without the cross there is no resurrection, and without the cross there is no salvation for man. The cross is our ransom and our protection.

Anyone who wants to see Jesus, who wants to be freed from sin, judgment, fear of death, and the world’s darkness must simply look to the cross. Jesus saw the cross as a place of horrible suffering and separation from His Father but He also knew it as the place both He and His Father would receive glory and victory. You will receive the same. Trust in the cross and the Savior who died for you. Draw near to Him when confusion, testing, and troubles occur in life. He will light way. He walked that way for you already. He will never disappoint you. A thought from Sunday’s message.

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