You can tell a great person by the way they handle times of crisis
-athlete who “wants the ball” in clutch situations
-soldier who risks his life in heat of battle to save a friend
-Winston Churchill during World War II . . .”We will never, never, never give up”
-Martin Luther when he was summoned to the Diet of Worms and told to recant. Luther’s response:
If you will show me my error by means of the clear teaching of the Word of God I will repent. “My conscience is held captive by the Word of God. I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither honest nor safe. Here I stand, I can not do otherwise. God help me. Amen“
-The great Saint and Martyr, Polycarp was brought before the crowd in the Roman Colosseum. When told to renounce his faith or be thrown to the lions, Polycarp responded, “Eighty-six years I have served him. He has never done me any wrong. How then shall I blaspheme my King who has saved me.?” . . . . when he was additionally threatened with being burned at the stake, Polycarp responded: “Your fire may last for an hour, then it is over. But do you not know of the judgement to come, the punishment that is forever. Have you not thought of that Mr. Proconsul? Oh, you may do with me as you wish, but one day you will stand before the judge of heaven and earth.“
But the greatest example of character was exhibited as Jesus faced the cross looming before Him. In our text this morning we begin to see his character shine in the time of crisis. In our text we see the Savior’s COMMISSION and his SUBMISSION.
THE COMMISSION OF THE SAVIOR
Jesus tells his listeners, “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.” Jesus says what is coming in His life was what He was commissioned for. He knows the cross is coming, but He also knows that this is what the Father wanted from Him. The question is, why?
Jesus says, “Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.” Notice the judgement is coming. However it is not coming in the way we would expect it. God’s wrath is not going to be focused on the world as it was in the flood. He is not going to destroy a city as he did in the days of the Judges. God’s wrath is going to be in response to all sin and will be focused on one man . . . the man on the cross. Jesus.
This is why Jesus’ soul was troubled. He wasn’t afraid to die. He was dreading the wrath of God. Jesus, who had all from all time known perfect fellowship with the Father, was now going to face the Father’s anger. He who had known no sin was now going to suffer wrath as payment for the sin of the very ones who spurned Him.
(1 Peter 2:24) He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.
(1 Peter 3:18) For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.
On that decisive moment on the cross Satan was defeated. Satan and his host had a party…they thought they had won. They didn’t. Jesus faced Hell for us and emerged victorious. On that cross Jesus paid the debt of sin for everyone who would believe. He faced God’s wrath so that we would not have to.
There is an old old story told that seeks to illustrate the cost of this sacrifice. It seems a bridge-keeper was tending the draw bridge over the river. On this particular night the man had brought his son to work with him. The phone rang and it was a train engineer informing the bridge-keeper of his impending arrival. When he hung up the phone he put the gears in motion to close the bridge so the train could cross safely. He was startled to hear a blood curdling scream from outside his shack. Unknown to him his son had left the shack and had fallen into the mechanism which controlled the bridge.
The man had a difficult decision to make. He could halt the closure of the bridge and try to extricate his son and save his life . . . but to do so would mean the train would go crashing into the river. But to let the bridge close would cost him his son. He did the only thing He could do . . . He closed the bridge while he sobbed over his son.
The story concludes with the heartbroken father watching the train pass safely. As it passed he saw people in the dining car enjoying laughing, eating and enjoying themselves. Others slept peacefully. Some read. Everyone was totally unaware of the price that was paid for them to cross the river.
Now, it’s a touching story. And it is certainly true that we do not appreciate the cost of our redemption. But the story is deficient. The death of Christ on the cross was no accident. Jesus did not stumble and fall when the Father wasn’t looking. The Father did not agonize over who to save. The cross was the Father’s design to save His rebellious and ungrateful creation. This was the Father’s plan.
We read of the Father’s audible voice confirming that He had indeed been glorified by the Son. We think how comforting that would have been to the Savior. But Jesus said the voice was not for His benefit but for ours. The Father’s voice let us know that what was about to happen to Jesus was the Father’s perfect will. Things were not out of control.
Jesus is willing to go to the cross because He knows when he is “lifted up” he will “draw all men to Him.” No longer would salvation be restricted to the Jews. Now, people of all races and nations (like you and me) would have the opportunity to be children of God. That’s why He did it. That was His commission.
Do you appreciate the cost of your salvation? His grace is free but it isn’t cheap.
THE SUBMISSION OF THE SAVIOR
But this is only part of the insight this passage gives us. Jesus is uneasy. We forget that His struggle was very real. In the garden we see Jesus on His knees crying out, “If it is possible, let this cup pass from me. Yet, not what I want but what you want.”
These are words of great faith. Jesus does not debate. He does not give God alternatives. He does not plead for mercy. The Savior does not give in to the uneasy feelings. He responds with humility, “Glorify Thy Name.”
When was the last time you faced a crisis and said, “Lord, it doesn’t matter what happens to me . . . whatever happens, may you be honored? But that is what we are called to do.
The apostle Paul, reflecting on Jesus’ submissive attitude says, Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death– even death on a cross!
Do you hear this? We are not just to admire the submissive spirit of our Savior . . . we are to adopt that same attitude in our lives!
This does not come easy for us . . . if we are honest, we are much more prone to sing: “Glorify MY name”
You’ve probably sung the great hymn, HAVE THINE OWN WAY. The first verse is:
Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way! Thou art the Potter, I am the clay. Mold me and make me after Thy will, While I am waiting, yielded and still.
But if we were honest, it would be much more honest to sing:
Have my own way, Lord, Have my own way! I want what I want let’s make it today. I know what’s best God, surely I do, give me what I want and then I’ll like you.
Military men understand the attitude Jesus had. They are trained to serve with honor. They are reminded that they represent their country. No word is to be spoken that would bring dishonor to the nation. Personal safety is secondary to the goal of protecting your homeland. These soldiers face heated combat because of their love for their country.
So how do we cultivate this attitude in our daily living?
- First, we must remember that this is the attitude the Lord calls us to have. Our Lord told us that whoever wants to be great must be a servant. He tells us that we are blessed if we are persecuted for righteousness sake. It may not be easy . . . but it is right.
- Second, we must remember the character of God. He deserves to be honored. He is supremely worthy of glory and honor. There is no service we could give that would come close to what He deserves. If we could give our lives a million times it would still not come close to the honor and glory He deserves.
- Third, we must remember His promises. He has promised that nothing will separate us from His love. He promises that all things will work for the good of those who love Him. He promises that He is preparing a place for us. With all he has promised, submitting to His plan for our life may cause our souls to be at times troubled….but He will never steer us wrong.
SOME ACTION TO TAKE
Let me suggest two things to do:
Develop a submissive heart
Are you facing a crisis in your life? Are you tempted to stomp, pout, demand that God heed your wishes? Friend, are you willing to walk faithfully even though you don’t know what the future holds? Are you willing to trust His plan for your life even though you do not see what is going on? Who’s glory do you seek?
Memorize Phil 1:20 where Paul says it is his fervent hope that, “Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
And maybe you could commit the verses of “Have Thine Own Way, Lord” to memory. Ponder the rich text, sing the song often until it becomes your prayer. There is no sacrifice He could ask of us that would be equal to the sacrifice He gave to us. We may face painful times but, because of Christ, those who trust Him are spared facing God’s wrath.
Take Advantage of the Light
But there is one final thing I urge you to do. In fact, it’s something Jesus urges you to do: ““You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going. Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light.”
Is it possible that you have been putting off getting serious with God? Have you been waiting for some illusive future time to decide where you will place your hope for eternity? Jesus warns that time is short. Who knows whether we will live to face tomorrow? Friend, even if you do live for many more years, why do you delay? The Savior loves you. He willingly went to the cross so you would have the opportunity to cross the bridge from eternal torment to eternal life. Don’t delay.
Maybe you don’t know how to begin your new relationship with Christ. Let me share three simple steps:
1. Be Honest about your sin. Before you can receive forgiveness you must admit that you need it. Stop pretending you’re doing fine. Stop hiding from the truth. Confess your sin to the Lord and to yourself. Face it squarely. Understand how helpless you are to do anything to save yourself.
2. Declare your trust in Christ. Tell the Lord that you surrender to Him. Tell Him that you trust Him for salvation and life because of Christ. Tell Him that you want the Lord Jesus to be Lord and Savior of your life.
3. Act on what you declared. We are not saved from judgement because of what we do. However, true faith is active faith (see last week’s message). If you mean what you say, then it is time to believe God’s promise of salvation and start following the Lord. It’s time to take aim at removing things from your life that the Lord hates. It’s time to start developing a daily relationship with Him. It’s time to work at glorifying the Lord in your life. I warn you . . . this last step will take you a lifetime. The good news is that the Lord promises that He will help us.
You know what He’s done for you. You know what He’s promised. You know what He is calling you to do. The only question that remains is this one: What will you do with what you know?
The best time to begin the journey of faith . . . is now.