Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Tomorrow - handling the unknown!





All photos courtesy of Unsplash

The evening before anything major happens in your life can be quite traumatic - that’s of course if you know something is going to happen the next day. An exam, your wedding, a court case, the result of medical tests - most of us know what the fear of the unknown can make us think and feel in the dark lonely hours of the night. The rational becomes irrational, our strength of resolve seems to run for cover and leave us feeling exposed, the smallest possibility of things going in the wrong direction seems to be amplified until it's unbearable.


I want to talk to you about the night before Jesus was crucified. The big difference between His circumstances and ours is that He knew everything that was going to happen through that night and the next day. Now that’s an unusual scenario! We know what we have planned and what we hope will happen but what we don’t know is - what will actually happen and we have no control over that. 


If you knew what was going to happen it would be natural to try to change the course of events (that’s if things were going south). But, we don’t have the power to. The Lord Jesus did have the power to control His circumstances but He chose not to. Let me illustrate that:


The gospel writer, Matthew, tells about an incident in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was the night before the crucifixion. Judas and a great crowd of armed men had entered the garden to arrest Jesus. In the ultimate act of betrayal, Judas had identified Jesus by kissing him. The Lord Jesus, in His inimitable style, greets Judas warmly (bear in mind the Lord Jesus had already identified Judas as the person who would sell Him out [betray Him], John 13: 21-30) and asks him ‘why are you here?'. Jesus knew very well why he was there but sometimes, like Judas, we need to face up to the reality of what we are doing and be honest about it. 


At this point in the story Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples, decides to protect Jesus, grabs a sword, and cuts off the ear of the servant of the High Priest who was one of the party that had come to arrest Jesus. I don’t think for a moment that Peter meant to slice his ear off, I think he meant to take his head off. Peter was a strong fisherman was a quick tongue and possibly a quick temper but he obviously had no skill when it came to using a sword.


Why am I telling you all this? For a number of reasons, but the main one is that the Lord Jesus, unlike us, had the power to change the circumstance but he doesn’t because His purpose in coming into the world was to die for sin. Let me prove that to you.


  1. After Peter’s tragic defensive mistake the Lord Jesus immediately puts the man’s ear back on - unbelievable but true. See Luke 22:51 for the account of the Lord Jesus doing this.
  2. At the same time, the Lord Jesus tells Peter (as recorded in Matthew 26:52-56) that He could have prayed and asked His Father (God) for more than 12 legions** of angels for protection. The Lord Jesus was actually saying that He had access to unlimited resources to reverse the situation if he wanted to but He chose not to use them.
  1. The third thing he tells Peter (just as He taught his disciples on many occasions) is that He has come to fulfill the prophecies of scripture. The prophecies predicted His betrayal, suffering, crucifixion, and resurrection and they all had to be fulfilled if He was going to offer hope and future to humanity.
  2. He had come to die for our sins and He was going to go through with it. The Lord Jesus had spoken about this many times. John the gospel writer records Him saying ‘When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he,’ John 8:28. A similar statement is made by the Lord Jesus in John chapter 12 verse 32, ‘And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me’. The gospel of Mark records Him telling His disciples at least three times that He was going to die, be buried, and then rise from the dead three days later. 


As that night ran its course Jesus was interviewed in a court setting 6 times, He was ridiculed, abused, beaten, whipped, punched, and eventually condemned to death. His journey through Jerusalem to the place of execution was horrible, hurtful, shameful, and agonizing. The only man who could have changed His destiny chose not to.


Why?


The scriptures put it simply:


1. Christ died for us, Romans 5:8


2. Christ died for our sins, 1 Corinthians 15:3


3. Christ died for the ungodly, Romans 5:6


4. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, 1 Peter 3:18


5. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins, 1 John 4:10


**A legion is reckoned to be between 36,000 and 72,000 angels [a legion is a division of the Roman army, usually comprising 3000 to 6000 soldiers - a military or semi-military unit - source - www.dictionary.com]. In the Old Testament, Only one angel was sent to destroy the entire city of Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 21:15) and only two angels were needed to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:13, 24, 25). 


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