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A sneak preview… What was in the Cup?

October 23, 2008

This is turning out to be a crazy week. Two Sermons to prepare, some youth work related things, two all night security shifts, college assignments, coaching duty for a friend at weightlifting nationals… and when I can, preparation for New Zealands strongest man in 3 weeks.

I thought I would post a transcript of the first 15 or so minutes (a prolonged introduction) of my Sunday morning message. The audio for this sermon (and others at Howick Baptist Church) will be available next week. The truth that I will be speaking on has been extremely beneficial for myself and greatly increased my appreciation for the gospel of Christ. I am thankful to men like Paul Washer, Wayne Kuypers and Peter Somervell for instruction and teaching on the cross; and this message will flow out of that instruction.

———

I recently walked into a Christian bookstore, for the first time in quite a while. Looking around at the most popular books, I was struck by one thing. We’re by and large a bunch of miserable Christians. Most of the books seem to be about boosting self-esteem and helping people live happier lives. Many Christian books seem to be about dealing with our miserable lives. And I looked around and saw many images of the cross, many crosses on necklaces for sale. But I never really saw any books about that cross and what it means; or God and who he is.

Then I talk to believers and they’re often telling me their Christian lives are dry and need new life breathed into them. They just don’t know where to look or what to do. This all got me thinking about that image of the cross and Christ and also what message the church has to share with the world. Something is wrong if all these Christians need to be told how to cheer themselves up all the time. I was left wondering if maybe we’re so miserable and our spiritual lives are so dry because we simply don’t grasp something of the enormity of who God is and what Christ accomplished on the cross. Surely if the gospel is the power of God for the salvation of souls, that same gospel is sufficient for our daily spiritual needs and as a result we don’t have to look to pop-psychology to give us a boost? In Christ alone my hope is found!

I would like us to today to think deeply about the cross of Christ. The same cross that is so often misunderstood and pushed aside. In doing so I’d like to revisit the night before the Saviours crucifixion, beginning in the Garden of Gethsemane, found in Luke chapter 22.

Luke 22- 39-46

39 And Jesus came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. 40 And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” 41 And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43 And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. 45 And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, 46 and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

The night before Christ was to die, must have been a terrible time. We read that Christ was in such agony that he was sweating literal drops of blood. Medically this happens very rarely and only in cases of extreme levels of stress and anxiety. Christ, the sinless one, was the next day to take on the sins of the world and be crucified. He prays to the Father, repeatedly asking that the cup, if possible, be taken away. Christ was not ultimately sweating blood at the prospect of nails in his hands (though I do not want to diminish that pain), there was something far greater going on here. So I ask the question: What was in that cup? What was in that cup and why does it matter to us today?

Man’s great problem is that we have sinned and sinned against a holy and righteous God; and God has declared that the wages of sin is death. If you sin, you must die. All throughout scripture, animals are sacrificed, people are washed away in floods, famines lead to starvation… all as the tragic result of human sin. But, God shows mercy, when mercy is not deserved, and offers a way of forgiveness. However, he does not just forgive people for sin. God requires payment, in the same way a judge cannot just forgive a guilty murderer or rapist, and remain a just judge. “I am a merciful judge… you are now free”

God has said that the wages of sin is death and requires a sacrifice to satisfy his own law. In sending his Son, Jesus Christ, to earth, Christ was shown to be the one to satisfy that law. He was to become that sacrificial lamb through which forgiveness of sins came. (7mins)

So I fast forward to our present day and the implications of these truths of the gospel message in our lives.

We live in a society that is far more self-centred, far more impatient, far more politically correct than I think we realise. We want all the good stuff, and we want it now. And this is not helpful when thinking about Christ, the cross and the Christian life.

Now, personally I love just looking up at the stars on a clear night. I never get tired of just looking up at the awe-inspiring stars that light up the night sky. Now you might say that’s not a very manly thing to do, and I’m aware of that! But my man-card is still secure in my back pocket!

So I ask, during the day, where are those stars? They don’t disappear, they’re still there, but they don’t make us say, “wow,” during the day time.

In the same way, I think, that we are so impatient to look at the bright shining stars that are the work of Christ, that we don’t wait till they are framed by the nightfall/darkness of sin, agony, despair, of judgement and wrath. We don’t want to hear about those things.

So our stargazing becomes a thing to do in the daytime. Sure the stars are still there, but they don’t inspire awe as they do during the darkness of night. Its the same way with the cross and the work of Christ… “give me the good stuff, I don’t want the bad. I don’t want to hear about it, I don’t want to think about it.”

So I ask, from what must we be saved?

I asked a few believes these questions and expected a range of responses.

From sin? From hell? Bad relationships? Bad breath?

What was sin going to do to you?

While there is a sense we need to be saved from hell, but hell is not a person and will not run after you!

Another said that the question should not be, “From what must we be saved,” but, “What have we been saved to?” Looking at the question instead in a more positive light.

But imagine a woman who has just recovered from Cancer. She has a greater appreciation of her current state of good health when she looks back to what she has been saved from. When she remembers that a few months ago she was facing death and now she has been cured, saved from the Cancer, her good health appears even sweeter. The question of from what we have been saved, matters.

So from what must we be saved?

We must be saved, from God Himself.

RC Sproul says that God saves us by Himself, from Himself and for Himself.

The Bible says “Fear not man who can kill your body, but fear God who can kill your body and throw you in hell.” This is a sobering truth and what that we should reflect upon often.

What happened on that cross, what was in that cup?

Read Isaiah 53, specifically verse 10 to see what the word says.

-Jono

 

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One Comment leave one →
  1. October 23, 2008 6:49 pm

    Cross-centred: Winner! Looking forward to hearing truth and love from ya on Sunday.

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