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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Allen Jackson » Allen Jackson - Love Each Other - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Love Each Other - Part 2

Allen Jackson - Love Each Other - Part 2
TOPICS: Let's Do Difficult, Love

Hey, it's a privilege to be with you today. We're walking through a series on "Let's Do Difficult" and in this session, we're gonna complete our topic of "Love One Another". It's a biblical assignment. It's not optional. God's told us that we have to learn to do that. And I think learn is an important word, because we typically love those people that are kind to us and we like, but the assignment is to love those who aren't kind to us, and that we might not have the same affinity for. We'll need God's help for that. The good news is we have it. Grab your Bible and a notepad, but most importantly, open your heart.

Well, I wanna take the minutes we have left. I brought some examples from Jesus's life and his ministry that I think give us a window into this notion of God's love for us. And again, it's widely differentiated from what we hear so much about in our culture. And I'm not asking you to nod at this like some polite Bible study. I'm asking you to consider a realignment in your life and in your heart. I get it's not easy. But now that we've raised our hands and said, let's do difficult, I want to do difficult things that will open my life to the power of God, and the presence of God, and the opportunities of God. Seem right? Luke chapter 23. It's the crucifixion. We're stepping right into the middle of it, "There's two other men on either side of Jesus. Both criminals are gonna be let out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals: one on his right, the other on his left. And Jesus said, 'Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they're doing.'"

And in case you didn't, it wasn't humiliating enough. Luke adds, "and they divided up his clothes, they just cast lots for 'em". They're bargaining for his clothing while he is suffocating together on a Roman cross, beaten just about beyond recognition. And Jesus's Word to them, remember the words that created the world that we're in. It could have caused them to melt it into dust. It could have causes their ears to melt and their nose to melt. Nothing was impossible. And his commentary to them was, "Father, forgive them. They don't know what they're doing".

Now, you can spiritualize that if you want. But I've got to approach it from a practical standpoint first. What do you mean they didn't know? When they stretched his hand and when they put a rope around his wrist, and pulled his arm taut so they could drive a spike through it, do you think they didn't understand? They crucified people as a profession. It's another afternoon at the office. They know about how long it'll take them to die based on their physical strength, how badly they were beaten before the crucifixion, because in this particular instance, they need them to die before sundown. It's a Sabbath. So they're gonna break their legs. Because if your femurs are broken and you can't push up to fill your lungs, you'll suffocate more quickly. They know exactly what they're doing. It's an art. If we borrow a contemporary label, they're going to follow the science of torture. So it's not a lack of awareness, it's not a lack of knowledge. It's not a lack of intent. "Father, forgive them".

Now, I assure you they didn't understand the full ramifications of what was happening. It's improbable that the soldiers understood the biblical affirmation that Jesus was the Messiah. But I don't think he's just speaking to the soldiers. There's religious leaders standing there heckling him, launching hateful statements at him, "If you're the Son of God," excuse me, "take yourself off that cross. You helped other people, help yourself". And I think Jesus is talking about them too. They have no idea. Oh, they know they're filled with hate and anger. They're ignoring these principles that will be taught later.

You see, we don't, we very seldom understand the full implications of what happens when we're in the midst of circumstances. We don't understand the full implications of our words to another person. We're not that wise when we're parenting. We're not that wise when we're children. We're seldom that wise at any season in our life. We, our filters are pretty narrow. We're like horses with blinders on. We can see what's in front of us and the outcome we want, and God help the people, I mean. So to say that Jesus had a perspective that they didn't. Yes, that's true. But I think it's avoiding the larger issue. He's showing us the love of God. God, I'm completing the assignment you gave to me. I was born in a stable in Bethlehem, knowing I was headed towards a cross on Golgotha.

And these people helped me complete your assignment. Forgive them, they don't understand. That's a different kind of love. That's a totally different discussion. That's why we need more than one word, cause agape, agapeo, that godly love, that's a whole lot different than erotic love. But he's not done there. John chapter 8, another familiar story, "Jesus is on the Mount of Olives. And at dawn he appears in the temple, the people are gathered, and he sat down to teach them. And he's interrupted by the teachers of the law and the Pharisees". They're the power brokers in that environment, "And they brought a woman caught in adultery. And they made her stand before the group".

That's a very awkward scene. We found this woman in the midst of adultery. I mean, if you like to be drugged into anywhere with your most recent sin being announced in front of you. This person broke the speed limit by 40 miles an hour on the way to church. I mean, that'd be awkward enough, and we've all been there. So the woman's pushed in front of Jesus. They care nothing about the woman, they want to accuse Jesus, "Teacher, the woman was caught in the act of adultery. Moses commanded us to stone such women. What do you say"? And then John slips in there, "They were using the question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing Jesus". Then you know the story, "Jesus bends down and begins to write in the dust".

Something we don't know what he wrote, my favorite explanation I ever heard of that is he bent down and began to write in the dust, the secret sins of the people who were standing there accusing the woman. May not be true, but it certainly makes me smile. And then he had a comment, "He straightened up and he said, 'If any one of you is without sin, you throw the first stone.' And then he stooped down and wrote the rest of their sins, in my living Bible, "And at this, those who heard him began to go away one at a time, the oldest ones first until only Jesus was left, with the woman. And now he straightens up again. And this time he addresses her. It's the first time he's addressed her. No comment, "'Where are those who have condemned you?' Well, there isn't only one left. And then Jesus said, 'Then I don't condemn you.'"

Amazing words. Unbelievable. It's not that she isn't guilty. No, I'm quite sure she wasn't alone in the problem, because the last time I checked, adultery requires two. Nevertheless, the woman's in this horrible spot. And Jesus said, I don't condemn you. Now, that part of the message I think has been largely imbibed by the church. And it's certainly been imbibed by a secular culture that wants to tell the church how God's people should behave. I find that people who don't intend to yield to the authority of Jesus, have very strong opinions about how those of us who have yielded to the authority of Jesus should behave. And you have to know the Word of God well enough to not be governed by those opinions or you'll be governed by a secular spirit just as much as the admitted secularist, "Neither do I condemn you". But you need the next sentence too, "Go and leave your life of sin".

He's not blessing her behavior. He's not inviting her to a continuation. He said you were shown mercy today. Now leave that life. I would submit to you that, that's as much an expression of love as saying that I don't condemn you. It takes more courage. It's not as an easy, an expression of love to deliver. It's much easier to say, well, you know, I'm not the judge. It's not to me to say: Who am I? We all struggle, we all have problems. None of us are perfect. I've had some checkered seasons in my past.

As much, all of those sentences will give you, you can receive applause for those, in almost any setting in which you can find yourself. Religious, non-religious. I mean, it's just you will, you will find broad expressions of acceptance if you will extend acceptance only. No condemnation here, Jesus loved everybody. It's true. But then Jesus said, leave your life of sin. Now, I'm telling you delivering that sentence is not met with as much applause. And it's met with a lot of internal noise because we all understand the inconsistencies of our own lives, and our own hearts and who are we to say that to somebody else?

Well, we're those same broken vessels that are under repair and have committed ourselves. Do you imagine by denying sin, or denying the authority of scripture, or blurring your boundaries on morality, or you're blurring your boundaries on sexuality, and sexual activity? Do you imagine that by blurring those lines and being nebulous and evasive and just generous of spirit, do you imagine that you're earning for yourself more latitude with the Lord? I hope not. I don't want you to be angry. I don't want you to be critical and harsh. I want us to begin to align ourselves with this biblical idea of love. Love is kind, and generous, and thoughtful. It's helpful and wants the best for others. It also confronts evil.

Post-resurrection, the disciples have not done well. Peter denied the Lord, you know the story. They're in Galilee, "When they'd finished eating. Jesus said to Simon, 'Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?'" It's an awkward question. I mean they argue about who's greatest, who's gonna sit on which throne where, "And Jesus says to Peter, 'Do you love me more than the rest of these?'" I'm expecting Peter to go, no, Lord, I've learned my lesson. None of that, hmm. "Yes, Lord, you know I love you". "Feed my lambs". Again, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me"? "Lord, you know I love you". "'Take care of my sheep.' The third time, 'Simon son of John, do you love me?' Now, Peter's feelings are hurt Jesus is asking three times, 'Do you love me?' 'Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.' 'Feed my sheep.'"

And now it seems like Jesus takes a detour, but he's giving an expression of love to Peter, if you'll allow me. It certainly fits the 1 Corinthians 13 model, "I tell you the truth," and you know, by now when you see that phrase, you need to kind of buckle up. Right? It's gonna be a little jarring. "I tell you the truth, when you're younger you dress yourself and you went where you wanted; but when you're old, you'll stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you don't wanna go". And just in case we were going to get confused in interpretation, John gives us the explanation. He said, "Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God".

Peter, at least according to tradition, was crucified and he asked to be crucified upside down because he said he wasn't worthy to die in the same fashion his Lord had. Do you think of that as being an expression of love? You're gonna be tortured to death. I love you. In the midst of a formal reinstatement, you're dealing with the shame and the guilt of failing in a very public way your best friend. And there's this reinstatement and your feelings get a little hurt because he's persistent with it, and he doesn't stop to provide you any salve for your feelings. He said, I probably should also tell you why we're having the conversation. They're gonna torture you today. I mean, it bugs Peter enough. I didn't put it in your knowledge because I knew I'd be out of time. I am, but he looks at John, he says, well, what about him? Do you remember what Jesus said? It's none of your business. Ah, thought you loved him? You picking on Peter? But don't miss it.

The last two words, "Follow me"! When Peter first met Jesus, what did he say to him? "Follow me. I'll make you a fisher of men". And it's like the keystone cops bumping around. They argue about bread and get afraid, and argue about who's greatest. Go to sleep when they're supposed to stay awake. And I mean, it's not the best showing and when Jesus really needs a friend, they completely abandon ship. Lot of weight there and now Jesus is back, and they've seen the signs of his passion and he's reinstated Peter. It's one of my favorite places to visit in Israel. There's a beautiful little chapel right there on the shores of Galilee. But the last phrase in this little dialogue, Jesus says to Peter all over again. "Now, follow me".

Let's go, Pete. Yeah, you failed, come follow me. He's three years in, he's left his business, and his friends, and his family. New Day, come follow me, Peter. See every place, we could spend a lot of time on these expressions of love in Jesus life and his ministry throughout scripture. And it has very little semblance to the kind of sloppy agape that we talk about. God loves you. We're gonna close with communion. The best way I know to demonstrate it, the best way to understand God's love for you is in terms of valuation. I grew up in the horse world. For a little while, thoroughbreds and then Tennessee walking horses and some others, they say the one place a good Tennessee horse trader never wants to look is in your eyes. You've never traded horses.

Do you know what a horse is worth? What somebody's willing to pay for it? Which makes an environment where there's a dense population of horses and people that deal with them, a very dangerous place for people who is not one of them, because they will band together and tell you that this horse is worth X. And if they can convince you of that, you'll pay X for it. And it may be lame, or blind, or unable to reproduce. I know because my dad was the vet and I was tagging along on a lot of those health checks. And there was people sweating some bullets when the vets looking at their horse that they've said is sound. But if they can get you to pay X, that horse is worth X and then often it's not just totally unheard of that you would share some of the proceeds with those other people that added their voice to what that horse was worth. And the stranger leaves with said horse and the rest of you just get a new truck.

So the value of that animal is what someone's willing to pay. It's an important point. The value of your life in God's economy is expressed in what he was willing to offer on our behalf. We were redeemed, the Bible says, "Not with gold or silver or the blood of an animal". What it was, what was required to purchase us out of bondage to slavery was the Blood of Jesus. It required a cross. I'm telling you your value in the eyes of the creator of heaven and earth is off the chart. If we pulled all of our assets, not even come close. You're important. God loves you. Doesn't mean he'll give you permission for everything or he'll just wink at everything. He will invite you into a life of holiness and purity and Godliness, to take a list like that and start to meditate on it and adapt your behaviors and say God, I have not been kind. No justification, I just haven't. But you matter.

So we're gonna come to the communion table tonight, and thank God for his great love for us. No request. How about if we just say thanks? It's a very humbling thing. If you ever needed help. And somebody stepped up. Have you ever needed mercy, and somebody showed you mercy? I mean, you're guilty, no excuses, no justification. It's just, yeah, and somebody shows you mercy? We're in the most desperate of places. And the creator of heaven and earth said, I will give you a solution. That's why we come to the communion table. Jesus had Passover with his disciples. At the end of the meal, he took bread and broke it. Said, "This bread is my body broken for you. As often as you do this, do this in remembrance of me". Let's receive. And he took a cup. Said, "This cup is a new covenant sealed with my blood". Not just words, it's gonna take my blood for this one, "As often as you drink this cup, we do it in remembrance of him". Let's receive. Stand with me for this prayer:

Father, thank you. We thank you for your great love for us, for nothing's hidden from you. No part of our lives, no behavior, no aspect of our character, not even our thoughts, and yet you have loved us and we thank you for it tonight. Lord Jesus, thank you for what you did on our behalf, for offering yourself. We pause tonight to acknowledge you and lift our hearts to you. Holy spirit, I ask for your help. Give us an understanding heart, that we might begin to walk in love in a new way, to understand the value and the significance. To not allow the ungodly to present us with terms, but may we humble ourselves and accept your direction. I thank you for it, in Jesus's name, amen.

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