Archives for posts with tag: sacrifice

the passion of the ChristSimply put, we don’t deserve to receive the benefits of Jesus’ passion. The actual events point to this and our experience now reveals it again. As the disciples squabbled among themselves about who would be the greatest, Jesus humbled himself and washed their feet. As the disciples fell asleep, Jesus was agonizing in prayer, sweating drops of blood on their behalf.

As Jesus was facing a mock trial, beaten, and scourged; his disciples at best denied him and at worst hid themselves in fear. As Jesus bore their sins on the cross, they remained silent or hidden. Jesus – alone – faced the judgment of the world and sin.

Romans 5: 6 says, sin had made us all sick and weak. When Christ died, he died for those unable to worship, unable to give honor or devotion to the Lord. “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.”

“But, God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5: 8) When we were without passion, God shows His passion for us. Don’t ever think God (Jesus) dies for your potential good. A passion-less person has no potential to offer, little less be realized.  Neither did Jesus die for the unrecognized good you already possess.

Don’t kid yourself. You’re not all that.  But, Jesus is and more.

Even while the friends closest to him were betraying and denying him, Jesus still moves forward to the cross. Even while the system is rigged against him, Jesus is still resolutely and obediently moving towards Golgotha. Even while, nobody gets it, Jesus makes a new covenant in his own blood and sacrifice.

The promise that drives his passion? “…he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge (of the Father), my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.” (Isaiah 53: 10 – 11)

fightThe New Testament appropriately shares six things for which we should agonize and contend, six things that are worth fighting for. Most, if not all these battles take place primarily within our soul. They are not street fights. They are contests decided in our innermost being.

  1. Jesus gives us the first thing worth fighting for in Luke 13: 24. “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able.” Jesus says, there are obstacles that stand against us experiencing the life of God and those obstacles begin with ourselves. Our own mind is prejudiced against this narrow door. We are tempted to believe we are an exception to this command. We can understand that the world or others may be lost, but not us. But, understand this: the greatest obstacle we face in striving to enter in is our own lack of strength and will while thinking we have everything we need.

Jesus warns us not to get involved in the wrong fight. In John 18: 36, Jesus says: “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.” It is our inclination to fight against the injustices we see and that’s that. Jesus warns us, pick the wrong battle and we prevent Jesus from going to the cross; pick the wrong fight and we would prevent our own salvation.

2. The Apostle Paul introduces us to the next five things for which we fight, beginning with doing battle with ourselves.  The Apostle says we undertake this fight so we will not impede the pursuit of the gospel by others through any aspect of our character or self-discipline. But, we fight so after preaching the good news to others, we will not disqualify ourselves. “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” (1 Corinthians 9: 25) Our goal is to be approved of God and to pay the price so that others can have free access to the promise and power of the gospel.

3. The third thing over which we agonize and fight is to proclaim Jesus and to present everyone, to borrow a phrase from Jerry Maquire, as a ‘completed’ person in Jesus Christ. “To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.” (Colossians 1: 29)

4. The fourth fight occurs through prayer as we intercede for those whom we serve to be complete and fully within the will of God. “Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.” (Colossians 4: 12)

5. We fight so in every event and circumstance of our life faith is victorious. 1 John 5: 4 says, “For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” The Apostle Paul says, this is a fight worth fighting. “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6: 12) This fight allows me to lay hold of eternal life. It is mine in Jesus’ name.

6. Finally, we fight so the course of our life is set on ‘forward-to-seeing-Jesus’and gaining the crown of righteousness which Jesus gives.  “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4: 7 – 8)

 

nailsandcrownIf you desire to worship the Lord you must know this basic fact: a new and living way has been consecrated and opened for us by the bodily sacrifice of Jesus.

“The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins.  It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: ‘Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased’.”

“Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll— I have come to do your will, my God’. First he said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them’—though they were offered in accordance with the law.  Then he said, ‘Here I am, I have come to do your will.’ He sets aside the first to establish the second.  And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

“Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” (Hebrews 10: 1 – 14)

The old way of sacrifice has been replaced. Striving and struggling for the acceptance of God is not necessary. The acceptance of God has been purchased for us through the precious blood of Jesus Christ and is ours by grace through faith.

This week, I’ll lay out the reasons why we can all take part in this new and living way. Read through Hebrews 10 and get ready to share the confidence and excitement of this new and living way for yourself!

 

too-marvelousToday’s reading is from Genesis 23 and 24 and tells how marvelously God helped Abraham’s servant to find a wife for Isaac. In answer to prayer, God orchestrated everything together for good for the one who loved Abraham and loved the Lord and was called upon to fulfill the purpose of gaining a wife for Isaac.

But, then I see how God orchestrated everything together for you and for me through Jesus Christ and it is almost too marvelous for words. His glory revealed upon the Mount of Transfiguration, in prayer Jesus was metamorphosed and shone with the radiance of his divine nature. Yet, in his glory what is he discussing with Moses and Elijah?

Luke 9: 31 tells us they were talking about his exodus he was about to accomplish in Jerusalem. But, Jesus’ exodus does not provide a means for his escape from death, but ours. His exodus would not mean he would be caught up like Enoch or Elijah, but would mean we could be.

When I think of Jesus’ exodus it was through a sea of suffering that brought deliverance for you and me. He didn’t walk through what was ahead unscathed like Moses had when he crossed the sea but “surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53: 4 – 5)

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 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? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered’. (Psalm 44: 22) No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 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.” (Romans 8: 31 – 39)

crownofthornsWe describe the passion of Jesus as the short, final period in the life of Jesus covering his entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and the time up until his crucifixion on the cross. Washing his disciples’ feet, sharing his last prayers and last supper with them are all a part of his passion. Agonizing over “the cup” he had to drink and sweating drops of blood in the garden of Gethsemane were all a part of his passion.

Enduring the mocking trial, the beatings, the pulling out of his beard, the scourging, the taunts and derision were all a part of his passion. The weight of the cross, the abandonment of his disciples, the ignominious place of his death were all a part of his passion. The nails driven through his hands and his feet, the crown of thorns upon his head, the piercing of his side, and bearing the curse of sin were all a part of his passion.

But, his passion was not for the sake of an idea; it was for an individual multiplied a billion times. It was for you and for me. It was for whosoever would call on the name of the Lord. It was to draw as many as would to come from being far away and draw them near.

You see, we were meant to share in his passion. This is a call to share in his sufferings but even more to share in the salvation his suffering bought for us.  I pray you will allow his passion to capture your heart and enliven your mind. I pray you will allow his passion to restore your soul and raise you to newness of life.

After all, passion makes life possible!

observatoryOne thing above all other things we have noticed here on our trip to Korea – the repetition of appreciation. Almost everyday we have been here, someone offers praise to God and thanks to us as Americans for sending missionaries to Korea at the end of the 19th Century and bringing them the gospel of Jesus that saved them from sin. Then, they will thank us for the sacrifice of our troops: 38,000 giving their lives and over 100,000 wounded to deliver them from the crisis of Communism. That meant a lot more as we toured the Unification Observatory today and looked across the river into North Korea. There was an overwhelming sadness and grief that came over me as we could see from our brief look, a place with almost no trees due to deforestation because of fuel shortages for heat or no electricity for cooking. People living within houses with no roofs because the Communist government could finish guard towers but not the homes of its people.

We stood in a modern facility with a multi-lane highway to our south that was filled with cars. Across the river were three, humble workers carrying rice straw on their backs from the field they were working.

How have we seen a repetition of appreciation? I think of our group’s singing in the Sunday service. We were seated about midway back into the sanctuary and stepped forward to sing. The entire time we marched up to the front the congregation applauded. It took us quite a bit of time to get up there and form the five rows of singers. The applause never lessened or wavered. There was no pause like it would have been in America as the last row or two took their places in awkward silence, everyone getting more nervous as we waited to sing. No, the applause was sustained until we began to sing.

We have seen this repetition of appreciation as the associate pastors would all welcome and receive us at the church when we pulled in late in the evening. We saw it in the respectful bows and greetings we received from thousands here. We tasted and saw that their appreciation was good as were treated to delicious meal after delicious meal. We saw the repetition of appreciation that was shared by those who cleaned and ordered our rooms each day. Everything was perfectly refreshed and waiting for us whenever we returned.

Pastor and Mrs. Eun Pa Hong were wonderful leaders in this repetition of appreciation, as were the elders, and the other leaders of Bu Pyeong Methodist Church. The grace of God was clearly and repeatedly demonstrated to us. They have blessed me and all the participating pastors of the Virginia Annual Conference. Thanks go to our Bishop, Young Jin Cho and I thank all of you that helped me participate in this trip. Let it bear fruit for years to come.