What if you knew, without doubt, that this was your last day to live. How would you spend your time? How would you live? How would you feel?
As Jesus prayed the High Priestly Prayer of John 17, He knew He was in His final hours. In a short amount of time, He and the disciples would retire to the garden on the Mount of Olives, and He would be arrested, stand trial, and be executed by crucifixion.
For our Lord, this death would actually accomplish His divine plan. Through His betrayal and death, Christ would bear the wrath of God for man’s sin, clear us of our guilt, and rise again, conquering death and winning us eternal life.
You see, God is the master conductor, who can make the symphony sound magnificent regardless of whether the members follow the sheet music. If the woodwinds get off tune, God can adjust the brass section to off-set their error and keep the symphony sounding amazing. If the brass lose time, God can adjust the percussion section.
Moreover, when man rebels against God, God not only corrects the sin and redeems man from the condemnation and destruction that follows, but He also has a way of using man’s misdeeds to further His cause. That’s one reason why Romans 8:28 says that “all things work together for good to them who love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.”
So there Jesus is, in the upper room, with His disciples, having just observed the Passover and the first Communion, praying for them, as He prepared to go to the cross to redeem man from sin.
In His prayer, the Lord mentions that He will be leaving the world and going to the Father, so He prays that the Father will keep the disciples by His name, so that they will be one as Christ and the Father are one.
Jesus prayed that God would keep the disciples through His name. In this, we learn that we are not only saved by the authority of God, we are kept by the authority of God. Therefore, there is no danger of us losing our salvation.
Then, Christ prayed that we would be unified. That unity comes under God’s authority, and it comes from the Gospel. For a more in-depth look at John 17:11-13, see our pastor’s message posted above.
The Greek language has a beautiful aspect to it… it puts the central thought of the message at the beginning of the sentence. So, when Jesus said in John 17:5, “And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was,” the central thought was “And now…” meaning “This moment.”
Christ was asking God to glorify Him in that moment, not the same way an impatient child wants their birthday present “right now,” or the way I wish my download would complete “right now,” but rather, Jesus was saying, “In this moment, glorify Me.”
The moment Jesus was talking about was the Gospel, His death, burial and resurrection for our sins, according to the scriptures. It is in the Gospel that Christ is truly glorified, because in the Gospel, His mission is completed. In the Gospel, His claims of Messiahship are validated. In the Gospel, He has His complete victory.
The Gospel is the culmination of all the promises God made in the Old Testament. It is the fulfillment of the Law, and it was the subject of the prophets. It was the inspiration of the Psalms. When Jesus Christ died for our sins, redeeming us from condemnation and shame, completing that redemption with the resurrection, the disciples saw their faith become tangible. From that moment, they could keep silent no more.
Because of the Gospel, Jesus Christ is the central figure in human history. Secular history can neither deny the existence of Christ, nor can it deny His impact on the world. While secular history ingores the divinity of Christ and His redemptive work through the Gospel, secular history records how the teachings of Jesus have influenced the greatest philosophers ever since. The teachings of Jesus have also influenced Western literature, and if we are to be honest, the ministry of Jesus is the foundation for Western civilization.
You read that right.
Without Jesus, there would be no Western civilization, at least not as we know it. Northern and Western European peoples were barbarians before the conquest of the Roman Empire. Secular history records that fact. Furthermore, the Roman Empire was heavily influenced by Christianity. With the rapid spread of Christianity throughout the Roman Empire (much of it in that first generation after Jesus rose to be at the right hand of the Father,) Roman culture was heavily influenced by the faith. And when Constantine had his conversion a couple hundred years later, Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire.
The conquered barbarians were now civilized, living by Christian values, even if those values were forced upon them. The influence of Christianity then gave rise to literature, architecture, education, the Sistine Chapel, art, and culture.
It was Christianity which motivated the pilgrims to seek a new life in the new world, and serious historians cannot deny the influence of Christianity on the American colonies and the new nations emerging in the Americas. They may deny or disagree with the faith, but they cannot deny its influence.
With this influence apparent, it becomes evident that without Jesus, there would have been no Western Civilization. What more glory could the Lord ask for than to be the bedrock of our culture’s history? I tell you, it is to be the foundation of our faith, which He is. Hebrews 12 says He is the author and finisher of our faith.
Christ was truly glorified in the Gospel, in the moment that He asked God for the glory. Next, Christ will be glorified when He returns. When Christ returns, there will be no debate about Who He is or What He is. There will only be the decision to surrender to Him, or to fight against Him. And many, unfortunately, will choose the latter.
So, with that, the glory of Christ is truly that He is the turning point of human history, the beginning of Western Civilization, but more importantly, the foundation of our faith, a faith which looks to God for forgiveness and righteousness, and trusts Him for redemption when He returns to this world and establishes His Kingdom on Earth. That truly is epic.
In John 17, Jesus is with His disciples in the upper room following their observance of the Passover, and the institution of The Lord’s Supper. Judas has been sent away to betray Christ, and our Lord spent chapters 14-16 preparing His disciples for His crucifixion, and their lives after His ascension into Heaven.
At the conclusion of his discussion with His disciples, Jesus lifts up His eyes to God and says the most epic prayer ever recorded. In opening the High Priestly Prayer, Jesus says, “Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:”
This word, “glorify,” is translated from the Greek word doxoza, which means to honor, to make renown, to make to be well-thought of. Basically, to be made famous in a good way for great things you’ve done. It is from this word comes the title of the hymn, “Doxology,” which is simply referred to in many Christian denominations as “The Doxology.”
Indeed, God’s name has been made great throughout all of human history, from the creation, to redeeming Adam and Eve, to His raising up of Israel, to His chastisement of Israel, to His reconstruction of Israel, to bringing forth Jesus, born of a virgin, and giving Him to be the sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. God’s glorification continues with the resurrection of Jesus, His victory over sin, and will come to full fruition when He establishes His Kingdom on Earth.
Jesus prays that God would glorify Him, to make Him great and renown, so that Christ, in turn, can do the same for the Father.
But first, He says, “The hour is come.”
The hour is this moment, when Christ would fulfill the Gospel and redeem His people. God’s entire plan with mankind centered around this moment. This is the moment that Jesus Christ would undo the inherent sin and death brought by Satan into the world. He would undo the damage done by Adam and Eve in the garden.
In this hour, Christ would pay for the sins of the world, bringing forgiveness and redemption to mankind, and saving all those who believe to the eternal life God originally intended back in the beginning. For Jesus, it’s time!
In this hour, mankind had a decision to make. In Luke 19:42 Jesus said, “If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes.”
Jesus had come to Jerusalem to complete God’s plan of salvation, but the Pharisees only saw a threat to their personal prestige, power and desires. So, they had Him crucified, and sealed their judgment. Hence, Jesus says in Luke 22:53, as He was being arrested, “When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”
To complete the Gospel and pay for the sins of mankind, Christ handed Himself over to sinful man. And man was told He had one hour, to do unto God (who was in the flesh in Jesus) what He wished. Man treated our Lord as shamefully as he could.
The compassion and mercy we desire was denied to Christ, both by man, and by God.
Thus, Isaiah 53:4-6 says, “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
The punishment Christ endured on the cross settled the sin-debt for all mankind. Man’s rebellion against God came to full fruition on Christ as He was beaten and tortured prior to the crucifixion.
And God’s need for justice was satisfied on the cross, as Isaiah 53:11 says, “He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.”
Now, with the hour of salvation complete, it’s now your hour, and you have the same choice to make.
Will you see Christ as a threat to your happiness, pleasure, fun, prosperity, autonomy over your life. Is He a buzzkill?
Or will you see Him as salvation, the source of life, and the One to whom you will give your faith and trust?
What is your decision?
Having proclaimed that the hour has come, Jesus then prayed that God would glorify Him so that the glory could be returned to God. God answered that prayer by resurrecting our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Because of the resurrection, the Gospel was spread throughout the world, and the name of Jesus Christ has been remembered throughout the centuries.
Because of the resurrection, we have a confident expectation of salvation, of eternal life in the Kingdom of God, and a life without pain, sin or adversity in His Heaven.
Because of the resurrection, we can comfort each other at funerals.
Again, there is a choice to be made here. To believe, or to reject. What is yours?
Life Point Baptist Church is pleased to announce two things. (1) The return to in-person services, and (2) the beginning of The Gospel Project. Join us each Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. for this exciting study of the Gospel in every book of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. If you can’t join us in person, follow this blog to keep up with the teaching. As always, please feel free to contact us at any time with questions or comments. May God bless you in a special way this week.
In Luke 9, Jesus proclaimed the Gospel of His death, burial and resurrection, before telling His disciples that they must take up their cross to follow Him. What does it mean to take up your cross? Check out today’s message, posted above, as Pastor Leland Acker defines the Gospel, then discusses what it really means to take up your cross.
Each miracle that Jesus performs is simply amazing. From healing the blind man, to feeding 5,000 with just a few loaves and fishes, the miracles of Christ not only amaze us, but demonstrate His compassion upon those who are helpless and hopeless. Furthermore, each miracle has both the physical, and Spiritual application.
Such is the case with the miraculous catch in Luke 5:1-11. In it, Jesus demonstrates His power in a way that catches Simon Peter’s full attention. He makes Peter’s wildest dreams come true, but does so in a way that makes Peter leave them behind to follow the Lord.
Peter was a fisherman. He made his living dragging nets along the bottom of the Sea of Galilee, hoping to gather enough fish to be able to feed his family and make a living in the market place. History records that during the time of Christ, the fishing industry along Galilee was struggling.
If that were the case, the Peter, Zebedee, James and John were likely in need of a great catch. Such a catch had proven elusive, however, as when we find Jesus teaching along the shore of Galilee, the four fishermen were washing their nets after an unsuccessful night.
In reading this passage, we are reminded of the struggle of mankind. Man’s curse, brought on by Adam’s sin in the garden, is that work would be hard, and would pay off only after maximum efforts had been expended. As God told Adam in Genesis 3, “In the sweat of your face will you eat bread.”
The Lord sees this struggle. It’s real. And He’s sympathetic. It’s worth pointing out in Matthew 6:31-33 that Jesus promises to meet those needs for His followers.
After concluding His teaching, Jesus told Peter to take the boat out into the deep, and to cast the net one more time. When Peter did so, he pulled up a net so full of fish, that it filled both boats to the point that they began to sink.
If you read too quickly, you’ll miss what this really meant.
Everyone who goes into business does so with the dream that they will be wildly successful. What generally happens, however, is that the businessman struggles to make ends meet, and constantly has to worry about the consequences of a bad month.
Peter was in business as a fisherman. When Christ provided the miraculous catch, He made Peter’s wildest dream come true, and He placed that dream right in front of Peter.
At this point, Peter has a choice. Stay and count the fish and work out the logistics of getting them to market, or follow Christ. Peter chose the latter.
Peter was a skilled fisherman who built a business and supported a family. However, his purpose in life was not to be a great fisherman. It was to follow Jesus and become the lead apostle.
Dreams are good, and we never fault anyone for pursuing them. However, the lesson we learn from Peter is that our purpose is not always tied to our dreams. However, when we find the path of our purpose diverging from our dreams, what God has for us down the road of purpose will bring us greater fulfillment than our dreams ever could.
This passage gives us an opportunity to reflect on our priorities and make sure they are in line with God’s.
Continuing our thought process on the Incomparability of Jesus Christ, the Gospel of Luke continues to show His divine grace, wisdom and power through His actions. In the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law, we see how Christ responds to prayer. In the healing of the masses, we see how Christ responds to all who come to Him. In His preaching in Judea, we see that Christ’s mission is the spread of the Gospel.
In Luke 4:38-44, Jesus visits Simon’s (Peter’s) house. There, he finds Peter’s mother-in-law sick of a fever. In ancient times, fever was a dire situation. They had few medical options, and the best they could do was offer rest, water, nutrition, and trust God for the best.
When Jesus arrived, they appealed to Him. In essence, you could say they prayed for her. While there is a lot to be said for prayer, what we see in this passage is how Christ responded to their pleas. He responded to their appeals by healing Peter’s mother-in-law. The Lord brings healing.
As the sun set, those in the village who had sick relatives brought them to Jesus. The Bible tells us that Jesus laid His hands on every one of them and healed them. This shows us that Christ will turn no one away who repents and turns to Him for salvation.
Finally, Jesus said that He was sent to preach the Gospel to all the cities of Israel. This shows us that the mission of Christ is to spread the Gospel throughout the whole world.
Check out Pastor Leland Acker’s message posted above, and see how the attributes of Christ make Him incomparable to anyone else, ever.
In his book, The Incomparable Christ, J. Oswald Sanders explored the life, character and divinity of Jesus Christ in a way that left the reader in awe after every chapter. It’s definitely a book that should be on every Christian’s reading list.
In the same way, Luke captures the essence of Christ by recording His acts, teachings, and the teachings about Him. In Luke 4:31-37, several amazing attributes of Christ are on full display as He heals a demon possessed man in the synagogue in Capernaum. The three most prominent are the power (authority) of Christ, the vision of Christ, and the compassion of Christ.
The power of Christ is on full display as the demon has to obey the Lord’s command to come out of the man. Christ is so powerful that even His spiritual opponents must obey Him. He has power over all creation, yet He uses that power on behalf of His people.
The vision of Christ is such that He not only sees us at face value, but He sees our hearts, our inner-most emotional workings, our trauma and sin nature, and He sees what we could be if healed. That brings up the third attribute on display, His compassion.
The compassion of Christ is such that, not only does He see our hurts and scars, but He heals them. Physical, Spiritual and emotional healing are available to any who will believe.