It’s funny. I thought I’d start this month, this quarter with a strong message. I stated that it’s the grace of God which allows us to be gracious to others. My intention was to say that it’s not works that lead to grace, but it’s the grace of God that motivates us to work.
I didn’t expect the following weeks, and the following messages to come out exactly the way I pictured delivering them, but in some weird yet divinely-inspired way, I think it all worked out.
And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
Last Sunday we celebrated Palm Sunday, and we spoke on how Christ’s miracles certainly drew the crowds, so we shouldn’t be surprised if certain portions of the world – and, no, not necessarily the multitudes – would draw to us as well.
As the crowd lay down their coats and branches of palms on the road, they cried out to Jesus, ‘Hosanna!’, which we found out meant ‘pray, save (us)!’. Consequently, I believe that as we celebrate the one miracle of Christ’s finished work reconciling us to God, and as we move in peace and power, people would also draw to us as well, asking for help in any way or form, but generally drawn to how we ourselves are able to help and/or helped by Christ.
The grace of God is for anyone who seeks help.
“Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
Last Thursday – Maundy Thursday, that is – we all took a look at how Christ’s faith was what propelled Him to go beyond the limits of His physical body and brain capacity. The Man was literally sweating blood, which I believe is a symptom of extreme anxiety and duress, but through that time, He prayed. He said what any of us could say in a familiar situation of impending doom, and the sum of all our fears – “Take this cup away from me”; Now that I think about it some people who flat out reject any form of religion see no other way out but to… see themselves out.
But like I said, it was faith, and no ordinary faith, but the faith of God in Him that caused Him to push. He could have finished the sentence right then and there, but instead, He propelled Himself forward! Despite being in His state, He finished by saying, ‘Not MY Will, but YOUR Will be done.’ Christ was going beyond the understanding He had to bear within the limits of His physical mind and body, and trusted in the Lord – Despite all the trepidation and anxiety, He trusted in God, His Father, whom He knew had it in His will for none to perish, but for all to come to repentance. I believe this was the only thing that brought Him through all the suffering and pain involved in Him laying down His life as a propitiation, and a sacrifice for the entire world.
And, behold, we may be at the ends of our own ropes, wanting to give up, because we’ve reached the limit of all aspects of our beings – but the thing is, we have faith to keep us going. Noted, we don’t have faith according to what Christ obtained – no, we have faith which Christ literally authored in our beings. It’s this faith that we received through Christ’s finished work that would have us to keep enduring, and this faith comes to us not by our works, but by the same grace of God.
The grace of God is for anyone who is at their limit.
Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. – John 16:7-11
Today we celebrated Black Saturday, and I had an advanced message posted. Imagine the actual events which we recall during Black Saturday. The so-called Messiah was witnessed to commit His Spirit at the cross, and breathed His last – they even stabbed Him in the side to make sure He was dead. The Pharisees were very aware of what Christ said about Him coming back to life, so they arranged for His tomb to be sealed with a heavy boulder, and guarded at all times by Roman soldiers.
Not sure if this news reached the Disciples, but we don’t even have to make any speculations, because as early as Gethsemane they dispersed. We know that Peter tried to see Him and was eventually recognized, causing him to deny having anything to do with this fellow from Nazareth. Thrice. John witnessed Him on the cross. But I could imagine that they were all in a state of confusion. What were they to do now? Was all of this time following Jesus Christ a waste?
It’s precisely in these moments that we thank God for Christ once again. The Holy Spirit whom He mentioned in John 16 reminds any and all of us who believe in Him that we would always be convicted of our righteousness. And why would we be convicted, why would we be reminded of our right standing with God? Christ continues by saying, ‘because I go to the Father, and You will no longer see me.’ Friends, we may never see Christ precisely the way that the disciples used to. We will never see these miracles He Himself performed, which would no doubt draw us closer to Him. But in the place of a Physical Savior in front of us, we have the Holy Spirit, who doesn’t remind us of how Christ fed the 5000, or how Christ healed the lepers and paralytics – no, apparently all we need to know in these times is, even if we don’t see Him, we know that we are righteous just the same.
We thank God for Christ, who by His finished work guaranteed that we have the Holy Spirit, who not only convicts us, but sings to us, quite possibly as literally as that one African lady was led to sing: “Even when we don’t see it, He’s working. Even when we don’t feel it, He’s working.” – Because we in Christ KNOW we are righteous, we can be at peace, knowing that we are righteous and in good standing even in those times that we are scared to wait.
The grace of God is for anyone who doesn’t see or feel God working.
So I ask you, where do you fit in the spectrum? Are you in need of help? Are you at your limit? Or, real talk, are you doubtful about seeing or feeling God working? Or maybe you’re a combination. Or maybe you’re all three of these things. I figure each and every human being is in at least one of these states.
But I have absolute confidence that no matter what we’ve been through, no matter what we’re going through, and/or no matter what we’re about to face in this reality, we can take heart, knowing we have faith in a God who loves us right here, right now, until the end of time, and beyond. And how do I know that I am loved? How do I know that this great God has nothing but great grace toward me? Why, through Christ who gave His life for us to be reconciled.
And, you may ask, how do I know Christ gave His life for me? This may sound weird, but the way I know Christ died for me is by way of knowing that Christ lived again. That’s right. The crucifixion was a public execution – in other words, it was a public proclamation of Christ laying down His life. And if the crucifixion was receipt of Christ’s death, then the empty tomb was a receipt – of life? Not so fast. By Christ rising from the dead it connoted that there was no more sin to suffer and die for, no more death to take in. What was left for Christ to do was to walk out of His tomb, alive. The empty tomb was not only receipt of Christ’s resurrection, but also of the Truth that death could not hold Him down.
For all who cry out for help, know that Christ hears you.
If you’re at your limit, know that Christ is with you.
If you’re having your doubts, know that Christ understands you.
Christ hears you, Christ is with you, and Christ understands you. As your pastor, I assure you of all of this not because of anything on my part, but because CHRIST IS ALIVE.
This message is a draft, and I will still need to work on it, especially that second part.