Levi Lusko - It Had To Be Done
So if you have a Bible, we're in John chapter 12 and I want to give to you a message that I'm calling It Had to be Done it had to be done. Like you set chips and salsa down in front of me, they're getting eaten. Someone say it had to be done. The need for milk after you have the chocolate chip cookies, it has to be done. That's another way of saying there's no other way. There's no other way, and that is literally the story of Good Friday. We find in John 12 starting in verse 20, and just to set it up for you, it is in the chronology of the Passion Week, it's Palm Sunday. And Jesus is moving towards, this really is a point where He really moves towards the cross. It's in His vision as like the thing now.
He's just fulfilled prophecy by riding on the donkey. He's cleansed the temple of the money changers who are ripping people off with exchange rates and manipulating the religious system to serve their purposes instead of what God wanted which is for people to come to know Him and have that experience and for that experience to go global and to touch every nation on Earth, for His house to be a house of prayer for all nations. We care very much for those who are hurting and suffering, our brothers and sisters around the world in other countries. We care for the Gospel to flourish and go out into the whole world. It's always with a global mentality that our local gatherings should take place. And so that was on Jesus's heart As he did everything that He did from this point forward, culminating in His hanging on the cross.
But one interesting detail that perhaps gets overlooked in the many dramatic elements that took place as Jesus moved to Calvary was a conversation that He had with some people who were searching spiritually, who are seeking spiritually, and they had come specifically to Jerusalem to try and encounter God. Because wherever they lived in the world, we know they were Greek, and so where they came from as they sought God, whatever it was that they had been told about how to have peace, it didn't do it for them. And so they sought out something different. And let me just say that we should celebrate that. If there's within any of you here today, the reason that you're here, is that I don't know exactly. I wouldn't identify myself as a Christian. I wouldn't say I'm a Jesus person, but I know I'm seeking. I know I'm searching. Well, let me just first of all say we are so glad that you are here. We are glad that you would come. This is not a club for the initiated. This is not a place where you have to believe in order to belong. We welcome you warmly, and this is a safe place for you to try and discover with us who Jesus is, what the Bible has to say about who He is.
And that's exactly what happened in this conversation that sheds much insight for us all about the purpose of the cross. It had to be done is what we will discover. Starting in verse 20, and if you don't have a Bible, we're going to put the verses on the screen for you. It says, now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast. Then they came to Philip who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him saying, sir, we wish to see Jesus. Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn Andrew and Philip told Jesus. But Jesus answered them saying, the hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. Most assuredly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me, and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor. Now my soul, Jesus said, is troubled. And what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, instead I'm going to pray, glorify Your name. Then a voice came from heaven, proving that Jesus's prayer life is more dramatic than yours, saying, I have both glorified it, and I will glorify it again. Then the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. They thought it was like Imagine Dragons. And others said an angel has spoken to Him. Jesus answered and said, this voice did not come because of Me but for your sake. Now is the judgment of this world. Now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And notice this, if I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all peoples to Myself. This He said signifying by what death He would die.
And so, Father, as we ponder what it is that You were trying to communicate to those Greeks who came to seek You, who were looking for something from You who had heard enough about You to seek out an audience with You, to pull up a podcast, to get on their Spotify and say what can I find about who Jesus is? And here in this moment You gave to them what they needed to hear that they might be saved. But I pray that You would help us to see that through it You want to speak much to us. And so as we conclude now our study for these weeks of these four Gospels, we're just full of gratitude over the fact that You would take the time to give us the Bible, to give us this book, to speak to us. That we're not left in the woods lost without a beacon, without a compass. That You've spoken to us, God, to give us the way that we should go, the way to life. And we pray that if anyone has come in like these Greeks seeking, empty, wanting because of a process of elimination to figure out what it is because they discovered not it, not It, not it. Such emptiness everywhere they look, they literally geographically made a pilgrimage to go to Jerusalem. Wondering if it was at the temple, wondering if it was here. Finding themselves standing in front of Jesus, they heard everything they needed to have their life be like Tetris clicking into place and every level: do, do, do, do, do. And so I pray, God, that would happen in our midst. And we ask this in Jesus's name, amen.
The year was 1937. It was just four years before Pearl Harbor. Of course, December 7, 1941, everyone knows what happened at Pearl Harbor. This Japanese surprise attack, sneak attack, kamikaze fighter planes, sleeping Navy, disastrous effect. Many planes, many boats in our Naval fleet wiped out. The event that propelled America into World War II which was what? Planes attacking American ships. Now what's interesting about that being the event that caused Franklin Roosevelt, President Roosevelt, to say that we're now entering, we're now engaging because of this day that will live on in infamy. Because of the sneak attack of Japanese planes from the sky firing unprovoked upon American ships, now we are reciprocating because that was an act of war. And so we're going to respond in kind.
What's interesting about that happening in 1941 is very similar events had taken place in 1937. Unprovoked, Japanese airplanes began firing upon an American Navy vessel, the Panay. Second in command on this boat which was in China protecting American interests, specifically Standard Oil, Rockefeller's company, as they brought oil up and down the rivers to lakes to be exported, eventually to be brought to America. We had sent Naval vessels to protect these ships carrying this oil, and Japan had already infiltrated and invaded China. So China and Japan are at war, but America is not in and will not be in until 1941. We're all clear on those details. We are not in this conflict but we're protecting our interests while we're in a nation that's currently in the middle of a war, and we're doing so flying the flag.
We are doing so flying the United States of America flag from the top of the ship. Everywhere it's identified this is an American vessel not to be fired upon by China or by Japan. We're not here in China as part of the war. We're in here to get our interests out. And to the surprise of the 55 people serving in the Navy aboard the USS Panay as they're just escorting boats up and down this river, all of a sudden they hear the ominous sound of Japanese fighter aircraft in the sky. That began coming in, the unmistakable sound, strafing bullets, opening fire, dropping bombs, all of a sudden complete and total chaos. And the second in command was a man named Tex Anders. That was his nickname, Tex. His actual name was Arthur, but Tex was what everybody called him.
Now second in command, he, like everybody else, would have looked to the captain. Only in the initial beginning of these unprovoked actions, from the sky bullets and bombs being rained down upon this ship, the captain was injured. So that means to the second in command you're the man now, dog. Everyone's looking to you. And he, Arthur Tex Anders, immediately leapt into action telling everyone what to do. Now this ship was not prepared to fight off invasion from the sky, to go into battle with aircraft, but he said, that's not going to stop us. Everybody figure out what you can. There's a machine gun. Someone man that. Like if someone gets up there, right? And so now it's happening, and he's guiding it. Well, pretty soon 27 individuals had been wounded in addition to him. He was wounded. He looked up, and the man who he had installed on the machine gun turret, this guy's been shot.
And so now what does Arthur do? He jumps up to the machine gun, and he gets all Cuba Gooding, Jr. on. And he's doing this until he gets shrapnel right through his throat. Explosion happens, shrapnel comes and cuts him in the throat. He's bleeding from his neck. All of his men are looking to him, and with this particular wound came the inability to speak. So everyone's looking at what do we do? And he can't talk. So what he did has gone down into the annals of history as absolute legend. He began using his own blood as ink and writing instructions to his men on the walls of the ship holding his wound up closed. He would just dab it with his... it was his little ink container, and he began to... he, come on, he continued to direct this defense of this ship literally with his life eking out of his body using his own blood.
Now, I see some of you getting queasy, but I just feel like we should take just a hot second and thank God for those who serve in our military who sign up for such a dangerous job. Every family, every military spouse, military kids who end up getting told you're moving to Ramstein, you're going to live now for a year in Germany. I'm telling you we at times don't appreciate the sacrifice it takes for liberty. And that's not a political issue. Regardless of what your opinion is on a war, we can still practice gratitude. Amen, church? We can still be thankful for those who are putting themselves in harm's way like Tex Anders who used his own blood as ink. Well, finally he knew there was, the ship was going down, and so his goal shifted to now how do we get everybody safely off. And he with his bloody ink gave the command for the men to abandon ship and get all of the injured including the captain off of the Panay. And he safely and successfully got... they left no one behind. All 55 got off.
Only two lives were lost that day, and 53 of the men who were on this boat got to safety because of this man's actions. Because of what he did Arthur Tex Anders was awarded the Navy Cross which is the highest peacetime award that can be given out by the Navy. And some of the instructions written in his blood are to this day in Washington, DC, housed in the Museum of the Navy. And I feel like it's an appropriate story for us to bring with us into our consideration of what Jesus has to say here in John 12 when this group of Greek people come to Jesus's disciples or specifically one of them named Philip. Now we don't know if Philip maybe had Greek background or Greek family that made him like an obvious source of entry into. You've got to have a hookup like your cousin, can you... think he can get me in? I heard he works at the thing.
You all know namedropping. None of us are afraid or above that. If we've got a hook, however small or large, we're going to throw that name down and see if it helps at all, right? And so that's what this group of people do. They go to Philip, and Philip, he knows one thing. If he's going to get these people to Jesus, he's got to go to Andrew because Andrew has a bring people to Jesus anointing upon his life. I don't know if he is Enneagram seven or Woo on the Strength Finders, but this guy literally... Google it. Every time he shows up in the entire New Testament, it is while he's bringing someone to Jesus. He was just a social butterfly. He just had a way with, you've got to meet Jesus, and you've got to meet Jesus. He's like Oprah. Everybody's got to meet Jesus, right?
And so Philip gets these Greeks to Andrew, and he's like, hey, they want to meet Jesus. And Andrew's like come on, come with me, come with me. He's just like practically in the middle of a sermon, right, and he just doesn't even care. He's like Jesus, you've got to meet these guys. And Jesus uses the opportunity to say words that coming out of His mouth should stop you and give you pause. Oh, My hour has come. I would love to talk to you guys, but My hour has come. Now, it's so different to hear Jesus say that because for the last three years, every time people try and get Him to act like it's His time, to act like the preparations are over, and to act like now it's time for You to unfold Your plan, He would say, ah, My hour has not yet come. The time is not right. Literally first day on the job, Jesus performs a miracle.
Some of you know it. It's at a wedding that He gets invited to with His disciples where they run out of wine. And they talk to Jesus's mom and they say, can we ask Him for a little favor? And she says, I got you. Jesus, they have no more wine. Which would have been a disgrace in that culture and would have led to absolute shame for that family for their inability to fulfill their oath which is to throw a party that lasted in some cases for a whole week. This is a lot of wine we're talking about here. And when His mom comes to Him, Jesus says, mom, My hour... He says, woman, a term of respect in that culture, by the way. It wasn't like, woman. It was like, ma'am is the best Greek translation of that. Ma'am, My hour has not yet come. But then He did the miracle anyway. Made the best wine anybody ever had in their entire life. And it's beautiful.
I love that because, by the way, it's a picture of what He came to accomplish. Because what is wine? Wine is two things. Wine is, number one, medicine. When a man got hurt in the Bible, he was bandaged, but then his wounds were treated with wine. They didn't have Neosporin or hydrogen peroxide which makes every kid cry. They didn't have that stuff, so wine they used to treat. It had antiseptic properties to it, the alcohol. And so that's what they used. It's a symbol of medicine. But it's also a symbol of celebration. And what greater picture can you find in the Bible of the joy that God wants us to experience following Him than the celebration that is found at a wedding? I'm telling you it is the height of human happiness. That is, unless you have a really dysfunctional family, but I mean, if you love your people, to come together and see people you haven't seen in forever and to have a decadent meal, everybody knows the calories don't count on a wedding.
Wedding cake, that doesn't count against my diet, clearly. And you're dressed to the nines, and grandma's getting down with the ring bearer, and everyone's laughing. I was at a wedding with my wife one time where just when we thought it was over, they said all right, everybody. It's chicken and waffles time. It was like midnight. We all ate it. It had to be done, right? Here to volunteer for king and country. And it's a wedding. Like where he is... this is a huge moment. We're seeing a work of God, and that's how God wants us to feel about church. That's what God wants us to feel about walking with Him there should be none of this it's a duty. I've just got to check the box. Like I got, if that's why you're, here we welcome you, but that's not how God wants you to feel. Like somehow you're appeasing an angry God with some religious act of service that somehow is going to make Him hopefully say come on in on the last day instead of go to hell because you had that one church service in 2022.
And praise God for that, and you try and do as many good things as you can. No, that's the opposite. God doesn't want you to feel like church is something to be endured but something to be enjoyed, something to be savored. It's a wedding. Come on, we're caught up in the joy and the euphoria of what Jesus has done. That's what He wants us to feel, and yet He did say on that day, My hour has not yet come. Because the thing I came to this earth to do so that we could have life like a wedding feast, it's not time for that yet. It's not time yet. It's not time yet. People were trying to treat Jesus like a king, get big parades around Him. He would say, no. It's not time for that yet. Alluding to the time when it would be time, which is when He allowed them to put Him on a donkey, allowed them to parade Him down the Mount of Olives into the temple area, allowed them to crowd in. Every other time, He would sneaky Jesus them. Sneaky Jesus, that's when He would do a miracle, and everyone was like, oh. And then He sneaky Jesus away. He'd sneaky Jesus out of there. And He would tell them, He would like fix people's issues but be like don't tell anybody.
Now, they would go tell everybody. It's weird, He told us to tell everybody, and a lot of times we tell nobody. It's hard to figure out exactly. But basically, it's a huge, all of that to say it's a big deal to hear Jesus talking to these Greek people and His disciples and go, everybody in. My hour has come. The time has come. Here we go. Ready, ready, ready? The time has come for Me to be glorified, exalted, honored. Now, what's interesting about that is what He is about to endure is about as far as I can conceive of from being glorified. But it allows us to look at the cross through Jesus's eyes. What was He talking about? He was talking about literally one of the most painful ways a human being could die. What we call Good Friday, the glorification of Jesus, it came about in a very strange wrapping.
Came about with the skin of His back being peeled off as a professional torturer whipped His back again and again with the leather-thonged cat of nine tails that had little pieces of metal or glass or bone in the bottom of the 18 inch long straps. It was so horrific just to be scourged that men literally would pass out or die from it. And this after the prolonged torture of being beaten illegally again and again and again throughout His trial, having a crown of thorns crushed in on His forehead, sleep deprived, surely deprived of any hydration or nutrition. Kept awake in a cold environment all night, having a mockery of a robe put upon Him and then ripped off causing all of those wounds which had clotted to the cloth to be once again flowing again.
Losing dangerous amounts of fluid to the extent that when He was asked to carry His cross, the journey from His place of being condemned to die to the site of the execution outside of the city of Jerusalem, a little hill that got a nickname called the hill of the skull where the Romans liked to crucify their victims because of the way that there was streets and roads going every which way out of the city. It would be like basically being crucified by the side of a freeway, everybody seeing it. Shame, nakedness, ridicule, and there nailed to a cross with a spike between your radius and ulna being held in a place by the fused bones of the wrist, you're hanging from these wounds, another nail going through your feet. All of the weight of your body now on these three points.
Now, that would be bad enough, but the nails didn't kill Jesus. No, it was a death of suffocation. If you go to the state fair and ride the Gravitron, the next time you take your life into your hands and get on a ride at a fair, you're experiencing about three Gs. The Saturn V taking off which took the astronauts that went to the moon during the Apollo program, that generated on liftoff about four Gs. That feeling of being sucked back, now imagine that having to fight that off and touch controls and switch stuff and do things. Neil was once in a mission during the Gemini program where he experienced upwards of eight to 10 Gs. At eight Gs, it's difficult to breathe. At 10 you almost always black out. The blackness starts to come from the outside of your vision in. Fighter pilots learn techniques to work against this, and every astronaut before they're ever named an astronaut or go on a mission has to be put into the centrifuge where basically they get spun until they black out.
So they understand and know the sensation of what it feels like. They usually puke first. So they had that to look forward to. But to think about that, I read interviews with Michael Collins who was tasked of all the Apollo astronauts with developing the suits that were there to help them deal with this pressure, the pressure suits they wore taking off. And he to test them had to fly in the centrifuge with every different version the different manufacturers cooked up. And he talked about feeling at times as he got spun around like there was an iron band around his chest, and he couldn't get the next breath in. That is what it feels like to be crucified.
You see, as you hung there in that way, you could draw air very easily into the lungs, but you couldn't exhale it as you were hanging in that way because of the way it would mess with your intercostal muscles and your pectoral muscles. You were basically, your lungs were full, but you couldn't let that out unless you stepped up on the nail wound. And then alleviating that pressure here in your rib cage, you would be able to exhale. Now think about it. Jesus Christ spoke seven times on the cross, and the only way for human speech to be produced is for air to pass out of the lungs through the throat and to be shaped by the teeth and the tongue and the lips.
That makes Jesus's words that He spoke from the cross among the most painful and precious gifts that have ever been given in human history. And He spoke to take care of His mother. He spoke to take care of the man being crucified beside Him who earlier on the crucifixion was mocking Jesus. He spoke to ask the Father, though, most remarkably, to forgive those who put Him there. Which we go, that's amazing. He loved those hateful Jewish leaders and those Roman soldiers. Y'all that is not even the beginning of what He was praying for. Because as Jesus hung there on that day paying for the sins of the world, He was praying that God would forgive Levi. He was praying that God would forgive you. For all of us have done the things wrong that put Jesus on the cross. Father forgive us, He was praying, for none of us knew what we do.
And so as Jesus was enduring all of that for hours, literally He hung on the cross for six hours, think of it. Three of those hours were in darkness and shame as He didn't even speak until the very end. Again, He spent three hours suffering and struggling to breathe in silence. In all of this, I'm reading Jesus's words to the Greeks going, that to You is being glorified. That to You is the hour, and You were willing to go through with it. We avoid suffering when we're thinking clearly. I started skiing when I was two years old. I grew up in Colorado. My mom was a ski instructor. I would ski between her legs at the ski area. So I've never known life not skiing.
And I remember when I was in middle school people started talking about split boarding. Because back then you couldn't ski or you couldn't snowboard, rather at Taos, New Mexico. There's a skier called Alta. There were some hoity-toity ski areas that didn't want any of this riffraff ruining their good snow with snowboards. Some people still feel this way to this day. It's an elitist mentality, and it sickens me. So I remember hearing that there were people who had these split boards that they would be skis, and they would ride the chairlift like, hey, nothing to see here. Just a skier. But then when they got to the top, they would go hide in the woods and turn the two skis snapped into a snowboard, and then they'd just come cruising down like they own the place. And I just thought, that's so creative.
I remember reading about that in Snowboarder Magazine like as an eighth grader. And then I moved to Montana. Flash forward, moved to Montana. 15 years ago, my wife and I moved to Montana to start this church and started skiing a lot more because there's better access to skiing than where we were living in New Mexico or in California before moving to Montana. And been snowboarding you know since we moved here and avoiding any time anybody ever said, hey, you should try uphill skiing. I would just look at them like, that's what chairlifts are for. You're crazy, right? And for the last 10 years or so, there's been quite a few people in my life who are like, no, it's amazing. I love it. And I would always tell them the same thing. I never have seen anybody uphill skiing who has a pleasant look on their face, not one time. While I'm riding the trails. I always look.
That person looks like they're in agony. That person looks like they're suffering. They look like they're having a terrible day. Their beard is frozen. Thank you. I'll be fine here on the chairlift with my Hot Hands in my gloves, but I knew I needed to do it. I'm almost 40. 40 this year, and got to take care of the girlish figure, ladies and gentlemen. And I grew up in an age where pastors would always rant and rave about how bad it is to drink and how bad it is to smoke. And I always thought it was funny when the pastors were super overweight. And I'm not saying that that's always a bad thing. Of course, you can have medical conditions and all the rest, but I just think that to take care of your body is important, not just in one way the pastors love to pick on, but in every way. It's good to make healthy decisions.
And so man, I was like, I know I need to do it. But I didn't want to tell any of my friends to do it because then they would annoy me with wanting me to go with them and then being better than me and me being irritated. And so in secret and in silence I purchased a setup. And I had plausible deniability. So if I hated it, I'd just sell that stuff on Craigslist. It would be like it never happened. If I was bad at it, you would never know about it. I was bad at it. Here's what happened pretty early on. OK, a little icy. That did not go well. Slid all the way down this hill. Couldn't get... oh, man. Just grateful I didn't hit those trees. Yeah, that was about an hour before I had to get on an airplane. I was preaching at an event somewhere. The whole flight I'm like, every time I touch the armrest it's ow, ow, ow. It turns out getting burned by snow does not feel good.
Later on someone told me that basically when it gets really warm in spring and everything melts as it's like 60 degrees, this was a couple of weeks ago. It's not been anywhere near 60 degrees. But we're speaking it in Jesus's name. Please come find us, 60 degrees. We've been in a little bit of a cold snap in spring where I'm preaching in Montana. But it got super warm, and then overnight, of course, it froze. And then I was like early in the morning, got to go before work, and I get up there. I should have known better because ski patrol stopped me, and I had made it successfully a couple of times. But this time this guy's like, hey you shouldn't be out here. I'm like, no, I'm a professional. I've done it three times. I know what I'm doing. And he says, no. It's super icy, man in fact, a guy just fell halfway down the mountain, and then I realized at that point he was holding an uphill ski.
And he goes, and I have no idea who this belongs to, but we're looking for him. I was like, but I really need a workout, and I already started. And I have this weird thing about finishing everything I start. Anybody else warped inside? And the OCD in me would never allow the thought of this not being concluded. And so I was like, I'll be really careful. And I saw that there was a guy ahead of me about 50 yards. So I thought, I'm just going to follow that guy, and whatever he does, I'm going to do. He seems like he's fine. What I didn't take into account is he was on skis, more surface area, and he knew what he was doing. And so he started to kind of go diagonally. I'm like I can go diagonally. That was when I fell, and then I had this weird sensation. I am sliding down a mountain rapidly on this ice sheet, and I don't know how to stop myself.
And so, of course, I'm trying to, everything I can is burning and hurting and stopping, and eventually I stopped. Now here's the crazy thing. I knew that to put skins on would be agony inside my lungs. Cardiovascularly there would be a burn. I did not know to put skins on would mean blood, and I don't know if you could see my hand shaking, and yes, tears when I took my first shower. It hurt a lot. Don't judge my journey. But Jesus did know what was coming for Him when he put skin on, and He went through with it anyway. For He knew what you and I need to know, and that is it had to be done. It had to be done. No, I'm not suggesting for a moment that Jesus was powerless. I'm not suggesting for a moment that Jesus didn't have an abort handle. I'm not suggesting for a moment that at any moment up to and including the hours on the cross Jesus could have changed His mind. I'm not suggesting that it's just He got swept up in it, and then it got serious, and then it got crazy, and now He's in handcuffs.
Now He's being whipped. Now He's being scourged, and now He's got nails going through His arms, and so there was no other way at this point. I'm not saying it had to be done because He was nailed to the tree. What I'm saying is He knew the entire time, and it would have been part of the torment of the cross, that at any moment He could have given the word, and it all would have been canceled. He told Peter as much, didn't He? Because when the arrest happened and the disciples were stunned and surprised, they shouldn't have been. Because He had been telling them about it for three years, but they like us seem to have a really short term memory problem with things that God tells us.
And so now He's being arrested, and what does Peter do? He tries to stop it by chopping, none of the soldiers, not even the high priest, the servant of the high priest's ear off. The smallest person there, that's who I want to pick a fight with. And it's awkward later. Because if you read the Gospels, it is so funny. It's a really funny moment later when Jesus is being tried for His claiming to be God, and Peter, which He is. So there's that. Guilty as charged, right? Peter's there warming himself by a fire, and once, twice, people say I think you're one of Jesus's followers. The most awkward comes the third time when someone says I'm sure you're one of his followers because I was in the garden, and my cousin, you chopped his ear off. And at that point, I picture Peter was like trying to act together look on his face but like blood on his clothes. It's like what are you talking about?
I have no idea what you're talking about. It's like yes, you chopped his ear off, and Jesus fixed it because Jesus did. He's like, I'm so sorry. I can't bring him anywhere. He grabs the ear, puts it back on, and then goes back to the soldiers and goes, as you were. And what did Jesus tell Peter on the day? Peter, Peter, Peter, Peter, Peter, Peter, put your sword away. If I wanted to stop this, all I have to say is the safe word and any one of the 12 legions, that's 72,000 angels, would instantly come in to take care of every single one of these who are touching Me. 72,000 angels. You guys, 2 Kings 19 tells us one story where in a battle situation one angel in one night took out 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. So I don't think that the 172,000 were what Jesus thought it might take, and so He asked them to all be ready. I think that's how many angels signed up when they heard the lunacy of the idea that the forever, perfect, almighty God was willing to go and die on behalf of those who wanted nothing to do with Him. And throughout the entire crucifixion, there must surely have been every single angel straining their ear, chomping at the bit, let Him say the word. And every single one of these will be incinerated.
Ladies and gentlemen, it wasn't the nails that held Jesus to the cross. It was love. Love for you and love for me. For He knew that it had to be done for us to, number one, have salvation. There was no other way. Jesus did not come to make bad people good. He came so that dead people could live. And that is what sin does to the inside of the human heart. It doesn't make you bad. It makes you dead. The Bible says the wages of sin is death, and every single one of us have sinned. All of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. And trying to clean yourself up and be better and do more and think that can make you good is thinking that doing good works could make a dead person sit up in the casket. In our souls we are disconnected from God, and the relationship with Him is what flows life into our being.
And Jesus knew had He not gone through with it, this mission that He put skin on to accomplish, this way of suffering that He, the Father, and the Holy Spirit had been conferring about since before the foundation of the world, it was one He willingly took up. Shall I not take up the cup that the Father has sent Me to drink? He knew it had to be done for us to have salvation. He could have been saved, but He would be saved alone. God would be saved alone with His angels. There would just be none of us. Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it can produce much harvest, a harvest of souls. So He died so that in raising from the dead he could bring us to life, that we could follow his example. He could be the first fruits, and we could follow His lead when it comes for us to die.
Secondly, for us to have purpose. He took up His mission, and He provides a framework or a template of how we can approach life as well. There are two important days in your life, the day that you're born and the day that you figure out why. And Jesus gave a huge clue to figure that out when He said if anyone serves Me, let them follow Me. And if he follows Me, let him not cling to his life. Let him not think that in taking his life he's going to find true joy. It's truly when we lay that down, it's truly when we serve each other, it's when we show up in this world to contribute something, and we show up at work to contribute, and we show up at work to not say here I am. We show up to say there you are, and I want to serve, and I to make it, I'm not clinging to my life. I love God. I want to serve Him. I believe He's got a call on my life. I believe He's got a mission for me. I believe he's got a mission for me.
When you begin to say that every day, rolling into the staff parking lot, reporting for duty. When you drive home and you parking in the apartment parking space designated to be where you're supposed to park under a little carport, and you say, reporting for duty. Here to serve my spouse, here to serve my kids. When you show up at church, and you stop just watching church but you start being the church. When you start to say we've got work to do in Afghanistan. We've got work to do in the 10/40 window where there's the least Christian witness on the face of this earth. We've got languages that don't have the Bible in it, and we've got to translate them.
When we start to say there are hungry people in our cities, and we need to feed them. We need to fund the shelters where the at-risks are going to sleep. We need to fight for a young generation that is looking for meaning, looking for purpose and not finding it when they listen to culture because culture does not have the answers because culture is just as lost as they are. When you start to say God, you have a God-given mission for me, a purpose for me, an assignment for me, that's what Jesus was willing to pick up His cross to tap you into. He embraced His purpose so that you could find yours. He knew that it had to be done for us to, number three, have hope. For us to have hope. He says that where I am, you may be referring to His going to the father. Because after the Resurrection, Jesus ascended back to the father.
Where is Jesus now? Well, He is in heaven. He is in that place called Paradise that He told the dying thief who used his last breath to ask Jesus to forgive him. How beautiful is that? This man had done nothing good, had never been baptized, and didn't know any Bible verses. But as he died calling out to Jesus, Jesus said today you're going with Me to paradise. That proves once and for all it's not good deeds that save you. It's trusting and believing in Jesus. And you can make that decision today. You could make that choice to call on Him, and you will have hope. Hope of forever? Yes. Hope that when you die, where He is, you will be. But also I believe there's more to that because there's also hope to live with. Because living on this planet, even as we follow Jesus, we will encounter pain. We will encounter difficulty. And if you don't have hope, it can feel what? Hopeless to hurt. It can feel hopeless to suffer.
But as you follow the example of someone who looked at His cross and called it glory, you can experience heartache and difficulty in your life, and you can say glory, glory, glory. I'm going through pain now, but God's up to something. I'm going through hardship now. God's doing something. I'm going through suffering right now, but you can start speaking over your being fired, your being abandoned, your being mocked, your being ridiculed, and physical suffering in your body. You can speak glory. Glory is what God's doing. These light afflictions are working for me to produce glory in my life.
So what's my prayer? Father, save Me from this hour? Jesus said, no. For this purpose I have come. I'm going to show up fully present for the mission I'm on because if I forsake the mission, I'm forsaking every single person who would ever call on Me and believe in Me. But if I'm lifted up from the Earth on the cross, I will draw all peoples to myself, people from every tribe. Yes, not just you, Jews, but the gospel will go to the Jew first but also to the Greeks and to the rest of the world as well. We can believe like Jesus that when in life we feel like we're being put under ground, six feet underground with dirt thrown on our heads, we're not buried. We are sown. We are planted. This changes how I stand at the grave of my daughter. She's not buried there, goodbye forever. Rest in peace. She, her soul is with Jesus.
But there will be a physical, bodily Resurrection of the dead. Ain't no grave can hold my body down when Christ returns. We're believing. We have hope of the future. We have hope for the present. And then I think this is really what got Jesus excited. This is our last point then we're going to take communion. He knew it had to be done. There was no other way but the cross. This is a question we ask, right? I've heard two or three people ask me this week, why the cross? Why can't God just say be good? And if you consider how insulting that must feel to the Father because yes, I know we talk a lot about Jesus's sacrifice. But where are my parents at? The Father, to watch this, to watch your child suffer. When Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane said, Father, if there's any other way to save them, let Me not go through with this. If there was any other way, don't you think the Father would have stopped Him and said, you know what? We could just tell them to keep the Ten Commandments and be good and try harder and do more. So you could just come back up to heaven and not go through with this.
Friends, He knew there was no other way for God to be both just and the justifier of those who believe. So God made Him who knew no sin to become sin for us so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. But then once saved, we might be deployed, and He saw it, the way He saw it, that the cross had to happen for us to boldly go where no one has gone before, proving forever I'm a nerd. I just quoted Star Trek for the first time in a sermon. Don't judge me. But that's the only way. I could properly describe what Jesus said the impact would be if we were saved and filled with His Spirit and sent out into the world. The passage of scripture is John 14, verse 12. If you can just flip two pages over, you'll find Jesus speaking. He says, most assuredly I say to you he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also and greater works than these he will do because I go to My Father. It had to be done in order for you and me to believe what Jesus's dream for our life was that we would do, in His words, greater things even then He did.
And that was His heart. That was His dream. That is the dream of every generation looking into the next generation. Through His sacrifice, He believed we could have a second chance. We could get our lives back. And then after He was sent to the Father, because that's the ultimate end of the crucifixion and the Resurrection, Him going back to the Father. The Father sending the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit filling you and you and you and you and you and me and all of us. None of us individually would ever do anything greater in scale than what Jesus did. But all of us corporately, all of us as the church united of Jesus Christ all around the world, all receiving the gift of the Spirit, all receiving the fact that we are love, that we are the Tabernacle of the most high, that we don't have to come to church to experience God, that we are the church. But as we come together in his name, every one of us a brick, God is pleased to dwell in the midst of us all. And then we would go out to love and to serve and to change and to tell.
I'm telling you, He saw and spoke over us to infinity and beyond. And to end where we started, we left Tex Anders holding his throat, caring nothing for himself, only caring for his men. What I didn't tell you is that he had a four-year-old son. This four-year-old son would grow up and inspired by his father's bravery want to serve. And when the call was given, who will serve their country and go into space, he raised up his hand and chose to say, I will sign up and be an astronaut. A star sailor is literally what it means. And his son, Tex's Bill Anders would be on the very first mission that would actually go all the way to the moon, Apollo 8. It's been called the great leap that made the small step possible. Because on Apollo 8 we went a quarter million miles to the moon for the first time just to check it out and see if it was possible. Then we flew back, and then it was deemed safe for eventually Apollo 11 to go. And how beautiful is it?
Here's a father literally writing with his own blood to save someone else. And one generation later you got a man flying to the moon. This is the Gospel. Jesus came to die. He came to write in His own hand with His own blood three words. What are those words? It is finished. It had to be done. And so it was at the cross. He paid for you. He paid for me. So now we've been given His spirit. We've been given a calling. We've been sent out into the world to each do our little part. The cross is the giant leap that makes our small steps significant. The smallest thing you do for Jesus, the cup of water you offer in His name, using your gifts, using your ability, using your talent. Each of us deployed to our parts of the city. Each of us deployed to our parts of the world all saying, God put someone in my path who needs a touch. I'm ready, and I'm willing to aid in the event of a catastrophe, of pain, of anything that I would see.
And so for this, Father, we thank You. We thank You for words written in blood. We thank You that You canceled the handwriting of the requirements that was written against us condemning us. We thank You for Your mercy. We thank You for the cross.
With our heads bowed and eyes closed, if you're with us this Good Friday, and you want to be able to speak over your situation, glory. God's doing something glorious. If you want that eternal life, if you want what Jesus died for you to have, if you want heaven, if you want forgiveness, if you want salvation, I'm going to give an invitation now for you to get your heart right with God, to do what the thief on the cross did believing so you have the instant promise of salvation. I'm going to pray a prayer, and I'm going invite you to pray along with me. Because the Bible says if we confess our sins believing that Jesus was raised from the dead that we will be saved.
The Bible never promises that tomorrow is the day of salvation or next week is the day of salvation or next Easter. You might be dead before any of those things come and so might I. Life is a vapor, and it's a gift. And if you sense the conviction of the Holy Spirit, realize what a precious and fleeting thing that is and respond to the goodness of God I'm going to pray out loud. I want you to pray out loud after me. I want you to say it with your lips so you're confessing it. But most importantly, mean it in your heart. God will hear you and heal you. Church family pray this with us. No one praying alone.
Dear, God. I can't fix myself. My sins have separated me from You. But I thank You that You did everything necessary to bridge that gap. I want everything You have for me, but that starts with forgiveness. So please forgive me. Come into my heart. Make it Your home. Give me Your Spirit, and help me to follow You. I thank you for new life. I give you mine in Jesus's name.