Michael Youssef - Growing In Your Love For Jesus - Part 5
Now, scientists have been telling us for years that the left-side hemisphere of the brain is the side that is associated with logical analysis, rational judgments. The right side of the brain hemisphere is associated with visual imagery, word pictures, creativity, and emotional response. Some have left-side hemisphere dominance, some have right-side hemisphere dominance. Well, by now, probably some of you, I know you well enough to know, some of you are saying, "Michael, what has this got to do with loving Jesus? And growing in your love for Jesus," which is the series that we have begun several weeks ago. A great deal, but I'm glad you asked. Understanding ourselves and understanding our differences from others, it helps us a great deal to know that different people respond differently to the gospel.
There are some people respond to the love of God, some people respond to the judgment of God. The different people respond to the gospel differently. Some people express their love for God differently. Some people express their love for one another differently. And under the leading of the Holy Spirit, I'm gonna communicate with those who are right-side and those who are left-side brain dominance. To those who are left-side brain dominance, I try to communicate with rational and logical thoughts, and to those who are right-side brain dominance, I like to try to communicate with imagination and visualization and imaging and so forth. In this series, we began with the mind. Love God with all your mind. The seat of the intellect, that's the left-side dominance. Love God with all your heart, that is your personality, your emotion. That's the right-side dominance.
And today, I want to talk to you about loving God with your soul. Remember the Bible talks about the days of Noah and the days of Lot, the imagination of all their soul is evil? Now we want to talk about the imagination of your soul to be all holy today, amen? Loving Jesus must capture our imagination. Loving Jesus must also capture our emotion. Loving Jesus must capture our visualization. Listen, I'm painfully aware of the fact that because of abuses, I'm aware of that, even in the Christian church, the abuses of imagination and visualization concept, that some people, those folks in the Reform tradition like me, because of the abuses they tend to throw the baby with the bathwater. What do I mean by this?
Now those who are mostly or only challenged with their logical analysis of the Scripture, they look at these abuses of imagination and visualization and say, "See? See what happens when you do not only, only, only use logical analysis"? And they look down their noses at those who are drawn to visual imageries of the Scripture. And those who are motivated by visual imagery of the Word of God accuse those who mostly react with their logical analysis side as cold and emotionless. And so, my beloved friend, here's the truth: they both are right and they both are wrong. Is that double-talk? No, hear me right. If we love one another we must accept the fact that we do not all respond in the same way. If we truly love one another we must accept the fact that those whose thinking process differ from ours, they're not bad or crazy or cold or nuts or inferior: they're different. Can I get an "Amen"?
Now what is the application for those millions of people watching on Kingdom Sat all around the world and for those watching online and for here in this wonderful sanctuary? What is the application here? Please listen very carefully. Those who thrive on logical analysis of the Scripture should try to use their imagination, and those who are into imagination, visualization, must be controlled by the meaning of the text. Do not imagine anything that is not in the Scripture. And with that very brief introduction, I get to the message. I always get to the message, but I like to set it up first. How do I love Jesus with all my imagination? The most important thing I can tell you is this, again, I repeat it: never, never, never, never make things up about Jesus, other than what's in the Word of God, other than what's in the Scripture.
I do not imagine or visualize things that are not in the infallible Word of God. You take what's in the Word of God and create a visual picture. Perhaps many of you have already gathered that this is where I am. I'm a lot more in this camp than I am in the analytical side. But perhaps more than any other in this series, today I'm sharing my heart with you, my own life, because imagination and visualization represents me more than anything else and I just need to tell you that up front. So when I read the Word of God, when I read the Scripture, I often begin to visualize this: how the Creator of the universe went through that Crucifixion week. When I begin to visualize that, literally, my mind, it just cannot handle it. But I do try to imagine what it was like, especially that I've been there many times now and I've seen the sights, I've walked the streets, and I've seen the places.
I think of the day before the Crucifixion, of how our Savior must have felt, how deeply in every level, he must have anguished at the abandonment of his friends. How must have felt when one of them sold him for the price of a slave. How one denied him and they all forsook him. I visualize the deep pain that our Lord must have experienced when his chief disciple promised never, never, even if they all leave him, he will never leave him, and then three times he denied any knowledge of him. I visualize that pain. How as fully God, he knew that they will all forsake him, but as fully man how that pained him. How the one through whom and for whom all the universe came into existence and yet they slapped his holy face.
How he must have felt, the giver of every breath that we draw, they spat on him. I visualize what it's like during that sleepless night in Caiaphas's basement, it's really more of a dungeon there's only a hole in the wall of the ceiling. I've been there many times. And there, you're gonna find Psalm 22 which supposedly our Lord recited all night and it's in more than 20 languages. Psalm 22 in that, I read it the first time I went many years ago, but I've never been able to do it again. I always had somebody else to read it. But that was just the beginning. I visualize how he walked 2½ miles to and from trial sites, and then I remember that he did this for me. I try to visualize what it was like even before that in the Garden of Gethsemane where he was sweating not sweat but blood coming out of his pores. Something that I've learned later that it's a phenomenon that's so rare that it only happens during some of the most excruciating stress, and he did this for me and for my sin.
Then my biggest imagination races to that dreadful time before the Crucifixion when he was being flogged which is really the Roman method of exhausting their victim before the crucifixion. In fact, under Roman law, only women and senators not allowed to be whipped like this. Then I try to visualize these short whips with straps, leather straps, and at the tip of each one of those straps there is a sheep bone, designed to tear into the skin. Mostly likely he received 39 of those because, by law, they wouldn't go to 40 because the 40th one is supposed to kill you. And he did this for me. The Romans generally stripped the victims of their clothes and they tied their hands above their head on a upright post. And the back of the buttocks and the legs get whipped first, and he bore all of this for me. As the flogging would continue, these little sheep bones at the end of the straps would tear deep into the skin until the underlying skeletal muscles begin to tear. And he did this for my sin.
Then came the Crucifixion itself. An upright wooden post, about 200 pounds, is fixed to the ground, and the horizontal crossbar that would weigh about 100 pounds. It was customary, those days, that the condemned man would carry the crossbar because the post is already in the ground, in location. Please listen to me. And the Creator of all the trees in the woods carried that crossbar from the flogging post to the location of the Crucifixion. He carried that 100-pound crossbar and he did this for my sin. And then I'd imagine the lack of food and water and sleep for a long period of time and carrying that 100-pound crossbar for 1/3 of a mile. And he did this for me. At the site of the execution, by law the victim was given bitter drink as a mild sedative. And then he gets thrown on his back on the dirt in preparation for nailing his hand to that crossbar. And I think of the wounds from the scourging mixed with the dirt, contaminating his wounds, and he did this for me.
And with arms outstretched, the wrists were nailed with spikes for about 6 to 7 inches, and the reason they hammered the wrists, not the palms, because the palm would tear very quickly and would fall from the cross. And he hung in there for a while because they nailed the wrists. After both wrists were fastened to the spikes, to the crossbar, then that crossbar is lifted with the victim on it on a steps. Then the feet were usually nailed directly to the front post. And he did all of this for me. Now, beloved, don't ever forget this is the Lord of glory. This is the Lord of glory who did not have to leave the splendor of heaven, who did not have to leave the glories of heaven. Jesus did not have to lay aside the robe of his glory and splendor. Jesus did not have to come to Earth, but he came from heaven so that he might pay with his blood for my redemption. So he paid the penalty of my sin and yours.
Someone would say, "But Michael, then a lot of people tortured and suffered and died and even before and after Jesus. Even today, there are people are suffering torture all over the world". Yes, yes, yes, yes, but most of them, if not all of them, don't have a choice. But he did. He did. Furthermore, none of them were sinless, none of them are sinless. None of them, but the Son of the living God who eternally co-existed with the Father before all worlds, but Jesus is the one through whom and for whom all things were created. He had a choice. He chose to pay for my sin and yours. He didn't have to pay for his, he had no sin. He was not paying for his sin. In the Gospel of John, Jesus said, "I have authority to lay it down. I have authority to take it up. And I choose to lay it down for you".
If you truly want to grow in your love for Jesus, you cannot escape the imagery of the cross. Visualizing the cross can only deepen your love for the one who gave his all for you and me. It's all about Christ filling our minds. It's all about emptying ourselves of self-worship and filling our minds with the one who gave his all for us. It's all about filling our minds with that indescribable and inexplicable love of God. It's filling our minds with that matchless love of Jesus for us. And after you fill your mind with his matchless, indescribable love, then ask yourself the following questions: Do I love him back anywhere near his love for me? Do I love him back with my all? Do I love him back sacrificially? Do I love him back unconditionally? Do I love him back with my possessions? Do I love him back with my energy? Do I love him back with my time? Do I love him back with my imagination?
Jesus did not only die and rose again from the grave, victoriously on the third day, to save us eternally. That would have been enough. And all we need. That's completely enough for our needs. But there is more. You see, he died to set a-free from sin and the slavery of sin. He died to set us free from the punishment of sin. He died to redeem us. He died to justify us. He died to bless us. He died as our substitute. He died to heal us eternally. He died to adopt us to his Father as sons and daughters. He died to save us. He died to reconcile us with his Father. He died and rose again to assure us of our own resurrection and eternal life with him forever.