What's Your Sacrifice?
(excerpt from the sermon)
Sermon Series: Unfortunate
Jesus was fully human and depended on His relationship with the Father to accomplish the Father's purposes in His life. What was that purpose? Redemption. So the power of relationship and dependency on God through prayer and humility accomplishes more than we could ever imagine. But we want the power, without the prayer. We want revival, without the relationship. We want the spirit, without the spit. You know in baseball, a batter will come to the plate, and oftentimes he will spit on his hands. That will help him to grab onto the bat and ready himself. He's now in the box, he's ready to go. You and I want to do great things without readying ourselves through prayer and relationship. Without getting our hands dirty in the dust that is gathered on our knees. Remember what Dallas Willard said, “Grace is not opposed to effort Grace is opposed to earning.” Because we're saved by grace, through faith, does not mean no effort is required from us. There is effort in a relationship and in that relationship comes power. Jesus and His humanity had that perfect relationship with God because He remained sinless. And, as a result, the power of God can flow through Him. I'm saying that the more righteous we begin to live, pragmatic righteousness enters our lives, and the more God is able to do in and through us. But the greater point, Jesus left everything – wealth and position and power that is unimaginable to us. And He sacrificed it all for the greater good, for the redemption of the people He loves. So follow me here.
He did this so that we would know that He loves us, cares for us, and identifies with us. In a word, He wants us to see how willing He was to sacrifice whatever was necessary to redeem us, restore us, and give us a hope and a future. Before I leave this, most of us can't imagine what Jesus gave up when He left His place in heaven. It would be impossible. This is the reason, so crucial, that Jesus stumbled in the garden. When Jesus came to the garden, there was something that He saw that overwhelmed Him to such a degree that He experienced the symptoms of death, hematohidrosis. He was so anxious that He began to sweat and drop some blood, an actual medical condition. We're not gonna go into that right now, but the point is that He suffers the symptoms of death.
So what was it? What did He see? What caused Him to say, Father, I don't want to do this. Is there any other way? And as we've mentioned before, this seems out of place because history is inundated with records and testimonies of men and women of God who face their deaths with incredible resolve and courage. But Jesus sees something in the garden that overwhelms Him to the point that He's almost died. He's near death. Now think for a moment, existentially speaking: the greater the absence of sin, the greater the closeness to God. That's just the gospel. We may be at peace with God objectively because of the gospel, true, nonetheless our violations against God, subjectively, create subjectively the feeling of a distance between us and God. But Jesus would have known fellowship with the Father to a degree that none of us could ever imagine. He experienced constant full-on intimacy in the presence of God in all eternity past.
And the reason there is perfect unity within the diversity of the trinity is because there are no sin barriers. So there is constant community and constant support and love for each other so that Jesus experiences the love and joy of the Father in ways that most of us will never know. But now in the garden, as He takes His first step toward the cross, He turns to God and God is not there. Don't you see, the saints of the past died with God's presence, but Jesus has died with the Father's abandonment? And as soon as He moves into the garden to pray, He gets a foretaste of what’s about to happen on the cross. He turns to the Father and the Father turns His face away. Bill Lane in his commentary on the book of Mark says this, “The dreadful sorrow and anxiety out of which the prayer for the passing of the cup springs is not an expression of fear before a dark destiny, nor a shrinking from the prospect of physical suffering; it is rather the horror of one who lives wholly for the Father who came to be with the Father for an interlude before His betrayal but found Hell rather than heaven open before Him.” When Jesus made the decision in heaven that He was going to come to Earth, He set aside something that must have taken Him back even then. Have you ever had a dream that someone that you love deeply, I mean deeply, it might be one of the most intense relationships of your life, but then you have a dream and in the dream somehow you become separated from that person, or the person is apathetic towards you, or there's a schism, a division in the relationship? And even though it's a dream, you wake up and the tears that are flowing down your cheek are real.
Jesus in heaven knew this dream, or nightmare, was going to become a reality and He still chose to leave the glory of heaven and come to Earth because there was only one thing that He didn't have in heaven that He desperately wanted. And that's you.
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