The Love of Jesus Part 3
His love for us all on the Cross
“For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.”
We began this series looking at the love of Jesus by looking at How the love of Jesus is forged in Divine community. Within the Trinity Father Son & Spirit we see the expression of perfect love.
In the last session we built on this foundation to see that the love of Jesus for us is purposeful, not sentimental. He has a zeal and a passion for us which burns in Him. Throughout His ministry this focused almost every act to tear down barriers that keep us from knowing Him. Knowing that same relationship with God that He has known and knows.
Today we turn to look at the perfect expression of the Love of Jesus as it was expressed on the cross.
The Passion of the Christ
A few years ago driven by his own desire to communicate his faith Mel Gibson invested hugely and successfully to create a film, called the passion of Christ that portrayed the crucifixion of Jesus.
I do not mind saying that I pray you have never seen it, because whilst one might commend the motive, the execution (in both senses of the word) was horrendous.
We do not need to revisit the ghastly horror that was Roman crucifixion, we know this even in 2016 men and women have been crucified for their beliefs. It is a barbaric and inhuman act that seeks to strip every shred of humanity from both the victim and those who carry it out.
Yes my focus for today is the cross. But I want to take you somewhere else, back to where we began to remind you again of the the relationship of Trinity, Father son and spirit in an eternity stretching back beyond our comprehension. A relationship which defines our understanding of
Love of Joy and of peace.
Jesus came to earth single-minded in His determination that we might know this this this love.
There is an enemy at work in our world as well and He is single minded in using every device he can to put barriers between us and God. Guilt, pride, fear, sin.
Jesus came to destroy these works…. “For this purpose was the son of God manifest to destroy the works of the evil one.”
Jesus Himself declared His purpose in the heart of the Jewish faith in the temple. He said “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy, I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” John 10:10
Jesus had a very clear notion of what he meant by life to the full, it was always in the context of relationship with God.
He wanted us to have the same relationship He enjoys. And He knew that the only way that this could be achieved was by the cross.
So how can we begin to grasp the love that was shown by Jesus in that act of sacrifice. I apologise if you consider this a cliché but I want to use three nails to make my point today, to represent three agonies.
1. Human betrayal & abandonment
Many who have died for a cause as noble or for a friend or sacrificed themselves, have known that there were those who stood in support, those who marched with them, who petitioned, who stood by. For us as believers we know the encouragement of our brothers and sisters as we go through challenges.
For Jesus it was almost the opposite.
Betrayed by a friend who had been with him for three years
Deserted by almost all those who had walked with him
Denied by one of His closest.
Only his mother and John stayed
For any one of us such an experience would leave us with a sense of complete hopelessness But it gets worse.
2. Forsaken by God
I was struck in my own preparation for this series by something truly dreadful.
I know You will have looked at this before, turn to Mark 15:33 this is recorded in Matthew as well.
“When the sixth hour came, darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour. At the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “ Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “ MY God, MY God, why have You forsaken ME”.
Jesus knew physical pain and suffered dreadfully, but it is my conviction that this would not have compared with that moment on the cross when He knew He was no longer in relationship in Trinity.
He experienced for the first time in all eternity the barrier that divides us from God.
At no time in the Gospels does it record that Jesus cried out in pain… But here now in this moment we hear him cry out in agony at that loss of fellowship.
He was alone- in a way that we do not know.
As we have seen He had been in fellowship in Trinity and now He was not.
We spent a whole morning exploring what that love in trinity looked like-
The harmony, the unity, the diversity, the purpose.
Jesus came that we might know this… this love this divine relationship to share in it
And now He himself is separated from it.
There some of you who can glimpse this more than others, those of you who have felt that sense of aloneness, if you have been widowed or divorced or had any broken relationship, you glimpse what Christ endured.- The absence, the aloneness, the silence
Death is the last great barrier to God, Death entered the world with sin and it took the love of Jesus on the cross to defeat both sin and death.
I suspect that there is no-one in this Church community who has seen more death than I have and I do not say that to boast, only to assure you that death is the very absence of life. The wisest and most brilliant, the most loving, joyous souls in the world are all cut down by death.
Jesus hated death.. He warred against it as the very opposite of who He was.
And yet He came to die and He knew it- There is no question that He knew that His ministry would cost Him His life. He told his friends he had to go to Jerusalem. To suffer and to die.
There is no getting away from the fact that Jesus died to save you from death, as those amazing verses in Romans 5 said at the beginning
“While we were still sinners Christ died for us.”
And when it came to it, there is much to persuade me that whilst the appalling physical abuse from the Romans would have been horrific, these three elements may well have been the hardest to endure. Betrayed by friends, forsaken by God and now he faced the last great enemy
He hung stripped of everything…
There was nothing more that could be done to him in truth Satan had desperately thrown everything he could at him
And in that moment before death Jesus cried out… but not in pain but in victory.
‘It is accomplished’…
There is no more perfect moment in all history than this one.
All history revolves around this moment.
Before this moment we were all lost.
This one moment in all the universe defines the love of Jesus
It is this moment that His Father holds in His hand as guarantee
It is this moment that the Holy Spirit uses as the very definition of peace with God, when filling us.
It was only Jesus that could ever have done it
It was only Jesus who did it and it is only the name of Jesus who is worthy of honour
Because of that moment
In February last year Nadim Nassar a Syrian priest and a good friend shared the word of God to us here at Living Word. I recommend that you listen again to that sermon it is a powerful provocation
He took his theme from 2 Corinthians 8 and he read this passage to us from verse 9
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.
Nadim described the sufferings of the Syrian Church and other persecuted Christians, sufferings that have grown worse not better since that time. And yet how, because of the Love of Jesus on the cross, nothing could take away the richness that they knew…nothing.
What I have been trying to say to you this morning, is exactly the same
Nadim asked the same question I ask you now.
How in that passage was Jesus rich? -Because of the Love of God inTrinity
How did He become poor?- because He was separated from the Love of God in Trinity
How are we rich? because in His total poverty He made a way through the barrier.
There is nothing that can take away the rich inheritance you now have because
Because of that moment on the cross.
Thank you for the cross the mighty cross
That God Himself should die for such as us
And everyday we’re changed into your image more and more
For by the cross we’ve truly been transformed
And we’re so amazed and we give you praise,
that you save us at such a cost
And we’re so amazed and we give you praise,
For the power of the cross
Some issues to consider
1. Friendship, encouragement, & loyalty are powerful rejections of Satan’s plan to isolate us from one another and from God- How might you demonstrate these qualities this week?
2. Jesus made a way for us to know the perfect love of God.
John wrote in one of his letters “perfect love casts out fear” 1Jn 4:18 What fears might you surrender to the love of God this week?
3. Jesus said I have come that you might have life and have it abundantly Jn 10:10. Take time out (put on a praise CD) and simply thank God for the life that God has given you. Soak in that love that Jesus demonstrated on the cross
4. Can I also recommend that you listen again to Nadim Nassar from the Church website