Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Sermon--the Nature of Heroes--3-25-07--Countdown to the Resurrection

This is the first sermon in the Countdown to the Resurrection--given on Sunday morning. The second one is below and was given Sunday night.

The Nature of Heroes

Who is your favorite Superhero?

How did you choose?

Maybe you like their cool toys

You like their Super Strength

You like their Cool and Comfortable Costume

They wear your favorite color

You like their super speed

You Like their bracelets and headgear

They can do the Impossible

They are Really Cute

Real Heroes Are Different

Like the young couple with a newborn who in the middle of a thunderstorm heard the tornado sirens and didn’t have time to take shelter, covered their baby with their bodies—and only the baby survived.

This wasn’t planned, these parents weren’t looking for the opportunity to be heroes or give their life for their child. I’m sure if they could have avoided the situation entirely, they would have—any other way for them all to survive. But since there was none, when the tornado came down on them, they willingly gave their lives.

If you look back in history, you’ll there are many amazing accounts of sacrifice, where one person gives their life so that another might live. Some of you may have experienced such a moment first hand—accounts of a parent running back into a burning building,

a soldier throwing himself on top of a grenade in order to save other men, or rescue an innocent person.

More recently—firement—celebrated by the Post Office and in various newspapers

So, who is your favorite hero?

All of these are amazing reminders of the heroic nature that people are capable of.

Real Heroes

Are Normal People

Have No Super Powers

Do not plan their heroics

Would rather avoid the situation

But most of these people that gave their lives to save others, would have avoided it if they could, if there was some other way. “If only, we had built a storm-shelter”, “I was at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

None of them would have made a list of their day saying, “today I’m going to jump on a grenade”, “today I’m going to find a burning building that I can pull someone out of.” The heroic impulse is usually a moment of courage, a reaction to circumstances. Training like a soldier or police officer receives can help, but the moment of courage is not a planned event.

I am thankful that God doesn’t think like we do.

I am thankful that God looked for the opportunity to be my hero.

I am thankful that God planned a day and marked it on His calendar when He would sacrifice Himself so we could live.

He went looking for the opportunity to save us. He had a plan to substitute His life from the beginning, He had a plan for the Cross. He was planning the Crucifixion before He made Adam and Eve. This planning for the crucifixion is the first step towards the resurrection that we will be celebrating in just a few weeks.

Planning of the Crucifixion—OT texts

1. God Planned the Crucifixion b/c Our Sin did not Surprise Him—Genesis 3:15-16.

Our sin did not surprise God--. He is the Alpha and Omega—the view from eternity saw the beginning and the end.

Before the Fall, God was prepared.

The moment they fell, God already had a plan to redeem us. From the “offspring of the woman” would come one who would crush Satan’s head but have his heel struck. Satan would deliver a short-term injury while the Messiah would deliver a crushing, permanent blow to our enemy. That is just one clue.

2. God Revealed the Crucifixion

to His Chosen Leaders and Prophets

When Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac on top of Mt. Moriah in Genesis 22, God stopped him and provided a lamb to sacrifice in Isaac’s place. READ Gen. 22:13--“Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. 14 So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide.”

That location was the future site of the Temple, but God was showing that only He could provide a suitable sacrifice for our sins. The LORD is the one who provided the substitute for us.

Psalm 22—Jesus calls our attention to this Psalm by quoting it from the Cross. “My God My God, why have you forsaken me?” A good Jewish person standing there that morning would have been able to quote this Psalm. As they went through it in their mind, they would have been able to look up and see it for themselves.

vs. 7-8—“All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: ‘He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him.’” Matthew 27:39, 43—“Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads… He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him.”

When we examine what crucifixion does to the human body, we see things like Jesus’ suffering severe thirst and dehydration because of the loss of blood and crying out, “I thirst”, His arms were likely pulled out of the shoulder socket, , his hands and feet were pierced by cruel nails, and the soldiers gambled for His clothes. None of these things surprised God, none of them were unknown to Jesus when He agreed to give His life for ours—READ vs. 14-18. Jesus knowingly went into a situation that He knew would demand His suffering and death, and He did it for you and for me.

Look at John 19:33-36—this lets us know that none of Jesus’ bones were broken and that this was also a fulfillment of prophecy. There was a reason why none of His bones would be broken. It was part of God’s plan that He portrayed in the Passover Lamb. This lamb’s blood was put over the door posts so the final plague of Egypt would not enter their house. This sacrifice was recreated every year in Jewish life.

Exodus 12:46 says that it was to be “eaten inside one house; take none of the meat outside the house. Do not break any of the bones”. In Psalm 34:20—God gave another indication by saying of the righteous man that—“he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.” Jesus is the greatest Passover Lamb, and His blood takes away our sins. So one thing Jesus could count on was that none of His bones would be broken.

Isn’t that encouraging! That’s like saying to the firefighter who pulled 3 people out of the fire but was burned over 40% of his body—“Hey, just wanted to let you know that your hearing is just fine”.

So many of the Scriptures were written pointing forward to this event, not only we could look back on fulfilled prophecy, but so that we could be amazed at God’s commitment to saving us.

Few of them speak so clearly as the 53 chapter of Isaiah, that Jesus would have read as a boy.

As the first step toward the Resurrection, the Crucifixion was no accident, it was not a mistake, it was a deliberate act by a loving God to pay the debt of our sin that we could not pay. Jesus knew exactly where He was going and what was going to happen to Him in order to save our eternity.—READ 53:4-12

God’s plan was for Jesus to be pierced, to be crushed, to be punished for our peace. The iniquity of us all was put on His shoulders. Jesus did not open His mouth (7) to avoid it. he was assigned a grave with 2 thieves but buried with a rich man’s tomb (9). Vs. 10—all this was part of the LORD’s will. All of what we will be celebrating was His idea—it wasn’t an accident, it wasn’t just a heroic moment.

We can see it most clearly in the Lord’s Supper.

Luke 22:15—“and He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”

22:19—“This is My body; which is given [broken] for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

22:20—“This cup which is poured out for you is the New Covenant in My blood.”

3. God Planned to Give His all

to Save You and Me. Galatians 4:4—“But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5 to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” When the time had fully come means when God’s plans were ready to be fulfilled. When all of His preparations were made, Jesus stepped forward and took the plunge into humanity that Christmas morning to a specific girl of a specific family, at the appointed time, in the exact place, to be our Messiah.

God Gave His All, His Best

So as you are looking forward to Easter in the next few weeks, study what you see in the Gospels, but don’t stop there. Turn back to the pages of the OT and see how God had been planning it all along.

All the while He was planning His own sacrifice, anticipating the pain and suffering of giving His life for ours, He was thinking of you and me—You and I are His Pearl of Great Price that He was willing to give everything for.

Jesus is our True Hero

Jesus actually planned His heroicspp—He had many opportunities to avoid the Crucifixion.

Are You willing to give your all for God?

Is Jesus your Pearl of Great Price?

If He has such a great plan to save us, imagine the plan and purpose He has for you when you come to Him in Faith, when you turn away from trying to pay for your own sin and accept the Substitutionary Lamb He provided for you on the Cross.

Imagine His plan to use you when you fully embrace His calling with Joy. This is one treasure we do not hoard to ourselves

O How He Loves You and Me.

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