October 18, 2020
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
We have all heard sermons and scriptures about Jesus dying for our sins, we all know the resurrection story and the story of his birth, and I am sure most of us can recite John 3:16 by heart.
The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is hinge pin of the Christian belief, so much so much so that Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians said this “And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty.” (1 Corinthians 15:14)
The resurrection of Christ is what changed the world and the hearts of millions of people since that Holy day, Which is why I have always wondered why easter doesn’t get the type of celebration that Christmas gets, because although his birth is something to celebrate the world did in fact continue as usual after he arrived, it wasn’t until the resurrection that the world began to change.
But I don’t want to talk to you today about the resurrection even though it may have started to sound that way, and I don’t want to talk with you about his birth either, what I want to talk to you about is what happen in between those two blessed events I want to talk to you about his life.
When we look at the opening scripture and what Jesus said “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” We understand the context of what he was saying, that he was going to the cross because he loved us, but I want to expand of what Jesus said and apply it to another context and that context is his life between his birth and his death.
If Jesus were just a regular acting man of the day would his death meant anything? What I am asking is, if Jesus acted like everyone else acted in his day, or even our day, if he lived a life that mirrored those around him would his death paid the price for sin? The answer is an obvious “NO” it was because of the life that Jesus lived that his death paid the price the death of the innocent for the guilty. A guilty life has no way of paying the price that judgment requires to absolve another guilty life.
How many of you have heard or been told that we are to live our lives for Jesus? How many of you have heard or been told that Jesus should live through us? Yest how many of us truly live up to that standard?
This is the point of todays message, to understand that yes the death and resurrection of Christ is what paid the price for our sins but what made that possible is the life he led up to that point and when we accept him as our Lord and Savior it means more than just believing in who he was and that sacrifice that he made.
There is a difference in knowing and acting according to that knowledge. In Mark 1:23-24 it says 23 And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, 24 Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.”
It’s funny, but that demon said exactly the same thing that millions of people have said since Jesus was around. The Pharisees said it when in their hearts they knew who Jesus was yet because of their desire for power and riches they rejected him and it’s what everyone from generations past to today who claims to know who Jesus is yet refuse to act accordingly to that knowledge they all reject him as well whether they know it or not.
There are two scriptures that I refer to a lot when I preach on this subject one is a warning and one is a soul saving course of action. We find the warning in Matthew 7:21-23 21 Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” And that soul saving course of action that I referred to can be found in Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. And he goes on to say “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”
Do you think that Jesus is saying to be a Martyr, or do you think he is saying that if you follow him, truly follow him that kind of follow that will lead to salvation, then you must give everyday to him like he lived every day for you?
The problem with many people who consider themselves to be Christians is that they don’t live everyday for Jesus, they live it for themselves. There are people who are living lifestyles contrary to the Word of God yet claim because they believe that they are saved.
I want to go back to what I said about the Pharisees for just a moment to make this point. The Pharisees believed that because they believed in the Laws of God that they were favored by God and because of that favoritism they acted if not out right against the letter of the law they acted against the spirit of the law. Which is why Matthew 23 is called the “7 Woes” for the scribes and Pharisees. In Matthew 23 Jesus Condemns the scribes and Pharisee for the way they act in light of the Law.
When we talk about Jesus giving his life for us, it’s important that we understand that it was his WHOLE life, not just the end.
We tend to look at Jesus as a Superman, someone who had the special ability to resist temptation, someone who had a super human ability to not get mad, someone who had a super human ability to always do right and because he did always do right we tend to look at him as not purely man even though we have been told he was fully man.
Do you not think Jesus felt anger? Well you know he did because of what he did to the money changers in the temple, I just referenced Matthew 23 and I’m sure he was a little more than upset when he pronounced the Woes against the Pharisees, the difference is Jesus never sinned because of his anger. Now here’s one that makes people uneasy, do you not think Jesus ever appreciated a woman’s beauty? Well in Hebrews 4:15 says “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.”
Never fall into the trap and believe that Jesus was not a full-blooded pure man, because he was.
Jesus had 2 crosses to bare from my perspective, he had to 1st bare the cross of perfection, to always overcome sin and act according to the word of God whom he loved and followed, for our sake, and of course the second Cross is the one on Calvary where the life he lived was enough to pay the price of sin again, for our sake.
I don’t know if Jesus in his humanity ever wished his life could be “Normal” but I do know that in the Garden he prayed to God to avoid the pain of the cross, like any many would.
When we see Jesus as he was, fully man, we can fully appreciate the life he led, if we saw him as not fully man than he was just a robot fulfilling his “programing”.
Getting back to the opening scripture, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” I hope that in the future when you hear or read this scripture you all look at his whole life and not just the cross.
Jesus gave up his whole life for us.
I know that saying it’s possible that Jesus may have wanted a normal life sounds heretical but we either believe he was fully man or that he wasn’t. The point is, is that Jesus CHOSE Gods will over what he wanted, every time! The Garden was not the first time Jesus chose to do Gods will. DO you think he wanted Lazarus to die? I seem to remember the bible saying “Jesus Wept” yet he stayed put until Lazarus did in fact die, so that Gods will could be done.
There are people in the world who are trying to answer the call to Christ, people we may know, people who are struggling with decisions in their life, struggling with desires and emotions, who need to understand that even Christ had to bear the cross of life before he had to bear that final cross.
That is why he tells us “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.”
If we are to be true followers of Christ, we MUST deny ourselves, that means give up all the things we want to do that is contrary to the word of God, Unrighteous anger, Sexual immorality, drunkenness, vulgarity, hate, taking the Lords name in vain, etc, etc. you know the list.
This is what it means to deny ourselves, even though the desire to do what is contrary to Gods word is strong, we like Jesus himself, must deny what we may want in order to do what God deems right, that is why he calls it a cross.
We cannot ever enter the kingdom of God if during our life we willingly and defiantly chose the world and our desires over Christ. Don’t be one of those who hear the words of Matthew 7:21 try with all your might to bare the cross you must bare in this life because your eternity counts on it.