He Chose

[28] After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” [29] A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. [30] When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. 

– John 19:28-30

Some things are not our choice.  They just happen to us.  I was born in southern California.  I am a boy.  I am short.  I did not choose these things.

The cross is not a tragedy that happened to Jesus.  It did not surprise Him.  It was not something unfortunate, outside of His control.

On Good Friday, the crowd was not in control.  The Pharisees and scribes were not in control. Pilate was not in control.  Not even Satan himself was in control.  Jesus and Jesus alone was in control.

What does this mean?  It means you are loved.

Things that just happen to us don’t say much about what we value or what’s in our hearts.  My core value is not manhood or shortness.  It’s the things we choose that reveal what we really love.  What we choose to do with our time, money, vacation days, etc. reveal what we love.

Jesus chose all that happened to Him.  He did not have to die on a cross.  Some may say He had to because He’s God and God is supposed to do that, but it’s not true.  He had the power and right to do otherwise.  He would have been equally just, righteous, and good if He left us in our sin.

But He chose.  He chose to be flogged, mocked, rejected, and crucified.  He chose to become sin and bear the wrath of God in our place because He loves us.

The cross tells us that sin deserves death.  It tells us our Lord suffered terrible.  And it tells us that we are loved by the God of all creation.  Jesus proved it by choosing the cross.

Knowing God

[3] And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

– John 17:3

My children love it when their grandparents visit. Grandma and Grandpa give them gifts, take them places, and play with them. When they leave, my kids are sad. They still have the toys, but they miss their grandparents.

For children of God, faith is about more than the toys. Being a child of God is more than knowing the right things or even doing the right things. It’s about knowing the one true and living God, to love to be with the Father, and to love to worship Jesus Christ His Son.

The One You Love

D.A. Carson

Lazarus’s sisters refer to their brother as “the one you love” (John 11:3), an expression that hints of all kinds of human relationships that Jesus had of which we know rather little. I do think, though, that it is one of the common features of those who become intimate with Jesus that they think of themselves not as those who love him particularly well but those who are particularly well loved by him. Thus, John, the writer of this Gospel, refers to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (13:23; 21:7, 20; cf. 20:2). Or Paul, referring to Jesus in an atonement passage, adds the clause “who loved me and gave himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20). Paul prays that the Ephesians “may have the power, together with the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge” (Eph. 3:18-19a). Those who draw really close to Jesus think of themselves, first and foremost, as those loved by him rather than those who profess their love for him.

For God So Loved the World

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

– John 3:16

God loves the world. Let us consider the world God has chosen to love. When we think of the world, we might imagine children holding hands and singing kumbaya. It’s kind of like “It’s a Small World” (or if you don’t like “It’s a Small World,” it’s similar to “It’s a Small World” but less annoying).

But according to the book of John, the world is not a place of peace, harmony, and good-will.

  • John 1:10 – “the world did not know him”
  • John 3:19 – “people loved darkness rather than the light because their works were evil”
  • John 7:7 – Jesus says, “[the world] hates me”
  • John 17:25 – “the world does not know [God]”

God does not love a cute and cuddly world. He chooses to love a world that does not know Him, that loves darkness, and in fact hates Him. While this is not flattering, it is very encouraging. Jesus does not love us at our best. Inexplicably, He sees us at our worst and He loves us still.

Not Only to Others

[24] Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. [25] So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.”

[26] Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” [27] Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” [28] Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”

– John 20:24-28

Even after many of the disciples have seen the risen Jesus, they are hiding. They are afraid to be arrested and killed the way Jesus was. Jesus appears and says, “Peace be with you.”

Then he singles out Thomas. Is Jesus yelling at Thomas for his lack of faith? Is He shaming him by repeating his request? I doubt it. Nearly all the other disciples did not believe before they saw the resurrected Christ either.

Jesus is reaching out to his disciple who has been crushed, who is on the brink of despair. He tells him, “Thomas I hear you. I know you. Your faith wavers, but I am the Good Shepherd, and I  leave none of my sheep behind. My grace is for you.”

Next, Jesus tells Thomas, “Do not disbelieve but believe.” Jesus is not asking for general belief. This is not about whether Thomas believes that God exists or that He created the world. Plenty of people believe that. This is not about belief in self or even the strength of  one’s faith. Jesus knows Thomas’s faith is not strong enough. Jesus wants Thomas to believe that He is the Son of God and that he can have eternal life in His name.

Faith is not general. It is specific and personal. The Heidelberg Catechism defines faith as follows:

True faith is a sure knowledge whereby I accept as true all that God has revealed to us in His Word. At the same time it is a firm confidence that not only to others, but also to me, God has granted forgiveness of sins, everlasting righteousness, and salvation, out of mere grace, only for the sake of Christ’s merits. This faith the Holy Spirit works in my heart by the gospel.

Do you know that the grace of God is for you? You who are sinful and weak, you who go astray – Jesus died and rose for you! The peace of God is for you!

Jesus Fulfills the Will of the Father

[10] Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) [11] So Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

– John 18:10-11

peterswordWhen the soldiers come to arrest Jesus, Peter draws his sword to try to resist. However, Jesus tells Peter this is all the will of the Father. Jesus does not stumble into the cross. He walks obediently toward it, knowing this is the cup His Father has given Him.

Jesus’s obedience to His Father is a reoccurring theme in the book of John.

John 4:34 My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.

John 5:30 I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.

John 6:38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.

John 14:31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.

Clearly, Jesus fulfills the Father’s will and not His own, but it might be worth adding that Jesus fulfills the Father’s will and not ours.  Judas wanted a military conqueror. Peter wanted a messiah without the cross.  We may want the American Dream with perfect health and church on Sunday. Jesus is not interested in fulfilling our dreams. He knows that life is not meant to be so small.

“I am he.”

[1] When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. [2] Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. [3] So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. [4] Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” [5] They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. [6] When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. 

– John 18:1-6

In verse one, Jesus and his disciples enter the garden of Gethsemane.  Judas, one of Jesus’s disciples, intends to betray Jesus.  Judas understands that Jesus has power.  He has seen Jesus walk on water, calm a storm, and raise the dead.  So Judas, comes “prepared.”  Judas has Roman soldiers, superior numbers, and the element of surprise (v. 3).  And Judas is completely ridiculous.  He is going to try to strong arm the Creator of the Universe.  He actually thinks that Jesus can be forced to do something against His will.

A couple of years ago, a college student in New Jersey sued her parents for college tuition.  They were willing to pay in-state tuition, but not out-of-state, so she sued them.  If my children ever sue me, it will be a tragedy…for them, because I have no money.  Of course, the greater tragedy will be that our relationship has degenerated into a business transaction.

Now we will not try to sue God, but we can be tempted to imagine it is His duty to extend grace to us.  We can attempt to twist His arm, reminding Him that it’s His job to love us.  The sad thing is we would settle for a business relationship with God, where we are obligated to be fairly good people and He owes us a happy life.  Fortunately for us, this is not the offer on the table.

What does a righteous judge owe a convicted criminal?  What does a holy king owe to a rebel who has tried to overthrow him?  Nothing.  We have no leverage, no entitlement with God.  Yet Jesus chooses to give His life for us.

jesusarrested-tissotJudas has lanterns and torches, but Jesus is not hiding.  He has soldiers and weapons, but Jesus is not resisting (v. 3).  Jesus is not surprised.  He knows what is going to happen and He confronts those who would torture and kill Him.  Jesus asks who they are seeking and when they say “Jesus of Nazareth,” he says “I am he” and everyone falls on the ground before His majesty.

Jesus cannot be forced into anything.  While we may be content with a God obligated to be good to us, who grudgingly blesses us, we find a free and sovereign God who chooses against all reason to love sinners who deserve nothing.

God does not love you reluctantly.  It is not an obligation He has to keep.  Jesus sees your sin, your doubt, your fickle love for Him, and He goes willingly to the cross that you might belong to Him.  Jesus, the Son of God chooses death.

Living Water

J.C. Ryle

“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”

– John 7:37-38

The fulfillment of . . . the promise could be testified by thousands of living Christians in the present day. They would say, if their evidence could be collected, that when they watercame to Christ by faith they found in him more than they expected. They have tasted peace and hope and comfort since they first believed, which, with all their doubts and fears, they would not exchange for anything in this world. They have found grace according to their need and strength according to their days. In themselves and their own hearts they have often been disappointed, but they have never been disappointed in Christ.

Whom Do You Love?

Matt Slick

[15] When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” [16] He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” [17] He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”

– John 21:15-17

Jesus could have asked Peter about many things. He could have asked, “Simon, Son of Jonah, have you made a credible profession of faith?”  Peter could have answered, “I know that you are the Christ, the Son of the Living forgiveness_0God.”  Jesus could have inquired, “Simon, Son of Jonah, do you hold an important office in the church?”  Peter would have replied, “Yes Lord, you have ordained me as an apostle.”  Christ might have asked, “Simon, Son of Jonah, have you had any extraordinary supernatural experiences?”  Peter could have responded, “Of course, I have walked on the sea, cast out devils, etc.”  But Christ did not put any of these questions to Peter.  He simply asked,  “Simon, Son of Jonah, do you love me?”  He asked this particular question because real love for Jesus Christ distinguishes true Christians from false Christians.

Link: Complete Sermon