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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - The Triumph of the Cross - Part 2

Allen Jackson - The Triumph of the Cross - Part 2

Allen Jackson - The Triumph of the Cross - Part 2
TOPICS: Let's Do Difficult, Triumph, Cross

It's a privilege to be with you today. We're walking through our series on, "Let's Do Difficult," specifically on the triumph of the cross. Here, folks, the honest truth, Christianity is not easy. It's not intended to, it shouldn't be presented as such. It will take a commitment of your whole heart, mind, soul, and body. But here's the good news, it changes everything for your journey through time and for all eternity. I'm not talking about sitting in church and pretending to be something. I'm talking about the power of Almighty God to change us from the inside out. That's worth choosing. Grab your Bible. Enjoy the lesson.

So I've chosen just some groups of words. I might recraft this if we did it again, but some groups of words, words to help us follow Jesus's best friends through this very unique period of history. Here we go. Let's start with defeat, despair, disheartened, and discouraged. It's not a happy group. John 20 describes it for us. John said, "Early on that first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, 'They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, we don't know where they've put him!' So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb".

Who's the other disciple? John. They start for the tomb. Same chapter, "The disciples went back to their homes, but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. And as she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and she saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus' body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. And they asked her, 'Woman, why are you crying?' She said, 'They've taken my Lord and I don't know where they put him.' And she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she didn't realize it was Jesus. And he said, Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you're looking for?' And she thought he was the gardener, so she said, 'Sir, if you've carried him away, tell me where you put him, and I will get him.' Jesus said, 'Mary,' and she turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, 'Rabboni!'"

Now you can read that if you choose to from some distant historical perspective. But if you imagine those are your friends with broken hearts, they're crushed by despair, they have found the Messiah. They've said that, they've watched him cast out demons and speak to the wind and the waves. He seems indomitable. He's not frightened, or threatened, or intimidated. And when they try to trap him, he always walks through the traps. And then they see him arrested, horribly beaten and then suffer the humiliating death of a criminal. The crowds in the streets are shouting crucify him. And the Jewish religious leaders have orchestrated the entire plan. To call them discouraged, I think is an understatement. And Mary finds the tomb empty and she goes back and gets the rest of the crew and they come investigate. Yeah, it's empty. But they can't take it. They just withdraw. And then Jesus says, "Mary". I like Psalm 34. I thought it was appropriate at this point, "The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and he saves those who are crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all".

A very significant part of Jesus's effort after his resurrection is his ministry to his closest followers. In fact, it's probably worth noting that as far as the larger population is concerned, the unbelieving, the last scene they have of Jesus is him suffocating on a Roman cross. The resurrection remains a mystery to them at best, it's a rumor. After all of that story is spread, we're told in scripture. But Jesus spends an enormous, significant amount of time and energy and effort with these close friends of his, his closest friends are devastated. The events have turned into a completely unanticipated way. They've lost hope and courage. He told them what was coming. He told them repeatedly explicitly, they would interrupt him and try to discourage him, and he would rebuke them.

So there was enough emotion around it all the way. It wasn't a lack of information. I think we need to understand it's possible to follow the Lord, to raise your hand, to be all in, to have the information of scripture, and the presentation of what may be ahead of us, but still struggle to process it as it unfolds. I didn't know following the Lord would be like this. I didn't know I'd have to face these emotions. On the road to Emmaus, those two men said we had believed. Before this happened, we thought he was the Messiah. But now that this has happened, we're having to reconsider everything. You had one of those moments in your life where you had to reconsider everything? I've had a few where everything that you thought was the cornerstone, the stability, and yet God remains triumphant.

In the moment, it feels like everything is losing equilibrium, but on the other side of it, you find a new strength because you've learned to trust the Lord in a new way, and their despair is not the result of some great failure on their part. They're walking the path that God directed them toward. I mean, could they have responded with more understanding and more insight and more... well, perhaps, but Jesus understood what was going to happen, the prophesy prophesied about it. So I don't think they're outside the bounds of what we would expect it to have been normal. I think it's arrogant on our part to assume we would have behaved differently, more insightful than Peter and John.

Let me give you another bundle of words, restored and redirected and renewed. This is an acknowledgement of the devastation that came, but that something's going to shift in this progression. Luke 24, "While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and he said, 'Peace be with you.'" And Luke says, "They were startled and frightened". I think that might be just a little understated. They thought they saw a ghost. Grown men, adults, capable people, people engaged in the world. They've dealt with angry mobs, they've had personal confrontations with demons. They were there for the transfiguration. They've heard the wind and the waves respond to the command of Jesus. These are not easily intimidated individuals, and Jesus steps into the room and they are so startled and frightened. Their go to response is, I think it's a ghost, "And Jesus said to them, 'Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?'"

Well, let me see. And then the humanity of Jesus, this is amazing to me. Remember this, when Jesus in John's gospel was talking to the disciples, he's given them kind of their last instructions. I'm going away and where I'm going, you can't come. He looked at him at one point and he said, you know, I've got a lot I need to tell you, but you can't bear anymore right now. When the Holy Spirit comes, he will help you. There are places where Jesus's love for his friends, the humanity of it, the compassion of it to me just shouts at us from the pages of scripture. You all, and if you have children and you've tried to help them, and you try to prepare them for what life is gonna bring, and you try to give them information and little bites that they can assimilate to prepare them, so they're not swept away or caught off guard. We continue as adults, we learn that way.

And I hear that in Jesus. He said, why are you troubled? Lot of doubts, "Look at my hands and my feet". It's me, "Touch me and see; a ghost doesn't have flesh and bones," and none of them dared to do that. They didn't profane the Lord, "When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still didn't believe it because of joy and amazement". Now the emotions are on the opposite end of the spectrum. It's pegging over here, off the chart. Wow! Now we can't think rationally because we're so excited. He was gone and he's back, he's back! Look, he's back! So this isn't the most rational of moments. A minute ago was a ghost, and now it's the Boss. Jesus said, "Do you have anything to eat"? Could somebody order a pizza? "And they gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence. And he said to them," excuse me, "This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, and the Prophets and the Psalms".

Do you think there's any chance they went back to the Law of Moses and the Psalms, and the Prophets said? Is there anything else we can find about him? I'm thinking after this encounter, they're adding a little bit more credibility to the prophets. "And then he opened their minds so they could understand the scriptures. And he told them, 'This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And I'm gonna send you what my Father has promised, but stay in the city until you've been clothed with power from on high".

Again, I think it's worth noting, you know, we read it with this distant perspective but if you're living all of this out in real time with friends, and people that you're doing life with, and you're building a future with, and you've crafted dreams with, this is not easy. No part of this is easy. Understanding what's happening is not easy. You see so often we stamp our feet like petulant little children, and we wanna understand. You've been around a little kid when they start on that chain of whys? You will lose the love of Jesus. You keep answering questions and they keep answering why? Until you've arrived at a level where you have absolutely no idea why. But you hate to confess in the face of a three year old inquisitor. So we usually resort to because I said so. Well, I hear the angst in these lives of these men and women.

Jesus says, "Why did doubts arise in your minds"? You're eyewitnesses. Doubts arise in our minds. We have to have the courage to acknowledge that. Jesus is interested in helping them and I would submit, he's interested in helping you. Rather than to live in the shadows of unbelief and question, if we will say to the Lord, I'm struggling with this, I believe he will help you. For far too long, we've hidden behind these cowardly ideas. Well, I just don't know if I believe that. That's not how my people are. Well, that's just never been a part folks. If you find it in the Bible, remember what they did? They went back to search the prophets and the Psalms. What did the Law of Moses have to say? We need to know what the scripture says about our lives, what's available to us and what the future holds, and to look at it and rather cavalierly or nonchalantly. Oh, well, you know, I don't know if I believe that. Oh, you will. Jesus said everything must be fulfilled.

The significance of the Word of God in Jesus's imagination should not be lost on us. Every subtlety, every nuance. He said it has to be fulfilled. God is still watching over his Word to fulfill it. When I say to you there are disruptions ahead, I'm not being like some inordinate prophetic voice. I'm just telling you, the book says between where we are and there, there's disruption. Well, I don't like to think about it. Okay. Jesus says to them, you are witnesses that can verify what has taken place. Did you know in every generation God empowers men and women to be witnesses for him? I mean, we have their story. They're kind of laying the template for us. They're gonna kind of model this behavior, after all, that's why Jesus recruited them. But in every generation that's... Jesus is the head of the church, and every generation has an assignment to take the message to our generation.

We live in a nation that was founded on Christian principles and values. Our legal system reflects that, our educational system has reflected that for over 200 years. It's undeniable. We've never been a uniquely Christian nation. You didn't have to be a Christian to be here, but the values that bound us together, our social fabric was cobbled together from that Judeo-Christian biblical world view, because the people who came here making tremendous sacrifice as immigrants to this nation, before you could call it a nation, they wanted a place where they had the freedom to worship Jesus, without the interference of authorities. We have benefited from that. We have benefited mightily from that. And although history has been rewritten and retold into some abominable things, one of the ways of understanding our history is those generations who have taken their faith and lived it out such that it brought greater freedom and liberties to people.

Our story is imperfect because it's a story of people and there's no story of people that's perfect. But the momentum towards freedom and liberty, opportunities, whether it's for children and not abusing them on in factories, or for women and giving them equal opportunities, or for being determined not to treat one another differently because the color of our skin, all of those ideas of freedom and liberty have emerged from the authority of scripture. And now we stand in the generation where there's an enormous attempt being made to take that biblical perspective and bury it someplace. And while that's happening, we're watching freedom and liberty evaporate before our eyes, fundamental things like freedom of speech.

You received the elements of communion when you came in. If you didn't, the ushers are in the aisles and they'll share with you. If you're at home, you can go grab a saltine cracker and a glass of water. You don't have to have one of our handy dandy communion kits. Isn't that good to know? That is really important to know. You can use an Oreo cookie and a glass of milk. And I don't mean that disrespectfully, but you have a moment while we're preparing. This is so important. To let communion become a tradition or a habit or something we do at church, but it's kind of fuzzy to us, I don't believe it's something we can afford any longer. We make communion a regular part of our worship services because it's a tangible reminder of what Jesus accomplished for us with his redemptive work. It's what changed those men and women that knew him.

When he sees John on the Isle of Patmos in Revelation 1, he said, "I'm the Living One. I was alive and I was dead and I'm alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and hell". That was Jesus's self-declaration. That's his self-awareness. So when we come to the communion table, we come to acknowledge and by faith receive the benefits of what Jesus accomplished with that redemptive work. You heard us say it before that on the cross, a divinely ordered exchange took place. The perfect, sinless, obedient Son of God took upon himself all the punishment that was due by divine justice for our godlessness and rebellion. He exhausted the curse of sin that in turn we might receive all of the blessings that were due his perfect obedience. That is mercy.

So whatever may have clouded our lives of late, our own transgressions, our own behaviors, our own thoughts and our own attitudes, there's forgiveness at the cross. Maybe they are challenges that are beyond us, physical challenges, or emotional challenges, or intrusions in our lives where we recognize that we're powerless to orchestrate a satisfactory outcome. We come to the cross and we thank God that through the blood of Jesus, we have been delivered out of the hand of the enemy. That every one of Satan's claims against us has been canceled through the cross. Communion is not some empty thing, folks. It's a powerful moment, and it's personally designed, and personally applied, and I'm going to lead you through the elements, but you know the places where the needs are greatest in your life. And if you don't, ask the Holy Spirit.

I think a wonderful communion prayers, if there's anything in me that's keeping from me from your best, Lord, help me to see it. Don't let me stumble through life unaware and unconcerned. Jesus himself put this in place. I cannot imagine the conflicting emotions within him that night. It's the Passover meal in Jerusalem. Before the night's done, he's going to be betrayed, arrested, and he'll start the ordeal that will take him to the cross. But before they leave that Upper Room and that Passover meal, he takes bread. And he said, "This bread is my body, broken for you. As often as you eat this, do this in remembrance of me". Let's receive together. And then he took a cup and he said, "This cup is a new covenant," that the strongest commitment in all of the Bible that can be made between human beings and God is a covenant, and Jesus said, "This cup represents a new covenant, sealed with my blood. As often as you drink it, you proclaim my death until you see me again". Let's receive together. Will you stand with me for this prayer?

Heavenly Father, I thank you for your love for us. That you've called us out of darkness and into the kingdom of your Son. I praise you for it. I thank you for your goodness and your mercy, that you sent your Son. And Lord Jesus, I thank you for your obedience that you were willing to suffer and to overcome, that we might have life and have it to the full. And we come in humility tonight to acknowledge our need for forgiveness. Forgive us of our sins. Forgive us of the stubbornness in our hearts. Forgive us when we have with determination refused to believe. Holy Spirit, help us. Give us understanding hearts. May we forgive those who need forgiveness. I pray you bring healing, and renewal, and deliverance to our lives. And we understand your great love for us, that we've been accepted into the kingdom of a living God. That your love for us overcomes any expression of rejection that has touched our lives. And I pray that you would give us an anointing to be advocates for you in this generation. That we might overcome every resistance, every opposition. May we not be deterred or turned back. May we not grow weary, that we stand in your strength, so that when our days are spent, you may say well done. In Jesus's name, amen.

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