A Love So Great

 

 
 
We look away from the natural realm and we fasten our gaze onto Jesus who birthed faith within us and who leads us forward into faith’s perfection. His example is this: Because his heart was focused on the joy of knowing that you would be his, he endured the agony of the cross and conquered its humiliation, and now sits exalted at the right hand of the throne of God! —Hebrews 12:2 (The Passion Translation)
 

 Welcome to Crossroads Church! Thanks for joining us for worship today! As the winds of March give way to Spring, we focus on Easter and the earth-shattering events it heralds: The Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Jesus. As we approach the most important week of ours—or any—lives, I recall reading vivid descriptions of the crucifixion of Jesus that pierced my heart a thousand times over. The reality that my self-serving, self-centered choices cost Jesus His rightful place on heaven’s throne broke my heart. If you’re like me, tears flow from your broken heart and then through your eyes when you ponder Calvary. That kind of love is beyond breathtaking, isn’t it? Author Max Lucado wrote a book many years ago entitled, “He Chose The Nails.” In his book, the author makes a point that the cross Jesus took in our place was not meant to torment those whom Christ died for but to give every believer in Him eternal assurance and hope. He writes: “Every gift reveals God’s love…but no gift reveals His love more than the gifts of the cross. They came, not wrapped in paper, but in passion. Not placed around a tree, but on a cross. And not covered with ribbons, but sprinkled with blood.” Do you consider the cross a gift? It’s hard to wrap our minds around that concept. However, the Word of God reveals this truth: Jesus accepted the guilty verdict due every man, woman, and child born into the human family—and He did so with JOY! Joy and suffering seem mutually exclusive, don’t they? Jesus epitomized “A Love So Great.” As the writer of Hebrews shares, Jesus “focused on the joy of knowing that you would be his…” Jesus saw us, our children, our generations before and after our brief time on earth. He understood the price of our self-serving, self-centered choices: DEATH. He knew that He would be cursed, humiliated, and nailed to a cross, but He chose that pain by agreeing to the Father’s rescue plan. Oh, what love! Ponder this thought from Lucado: “The same hand that stilled the seas stills your guilt. The same hand that cleansed the Temple cleanses your heart. The hand is the hand of God. The nail is the nail of God. And as the hands of Jesus opened for the nail, the doors of heaven opened for you.” If Easter proves anything, it proves that love is completely irrational. Wouldn’t you agree? Why would God lay down His crown in order to share our frail human limitations? That’s what love does! Why would God allow His hands to be pierced for our crimes and to hang in open shame? That’s what love does! Why would God allow blasphemies against Him to roll off the tongues He formed in our mouths? That’s what love does! Max Lucado’s words are so powerful: “The same hand that cleansed the temple cleanses your heart.” WOW! That means that we don’t have to hang our heads in shame over our failures. The kindness of God answers the loud demands and protests of our guilt-soaked consciences now and forever! Oh, what love! Do you battle feelings of guilt, shame, and remorse? Please stop! Do you rehearse failures from past relationships? Please stop! Do you wallow in regret over failed promises you’ve made to yourself in the past to quit doing bad and start doing good? Please stop! Here’s why: Jesus poured out His life’s blood to fully, finally, and forever abolish fear and to assure you that God is not angry with you. His resurrection provided even further proof that you and I can rest in His finished work on Calvary and trust in His High Priestly work in our behalf in heaven. God’s Word provides ample proof. Savor each word: “And he has entered once and forever into the Holiest Sanctuary of All, not with the blood of animal sacrifices, but the sacred blood of his own sacrifice. And he alone has made our salvation secure forever! Under the old covenant the blood of bulls, goats, and the ashes of a heifer were sprinkled on those who were defiled and effectively cleansed them outwardly from their ceremonial impurities. Yet how much more will the sacred blood of the Messiah thoroughly cleanse our consciences! For by the power of the eternal Spirit he has offered himself to God as the perfect Sacrifice that now frees us from our dead works to worship and serve the living God.” —Hebrews 9:12-14 (The Passion Translation) As we admit the fact of our crimes and rejoice in the reality of the One who bore ALL sin and shame, paying in full for our redemption, the result should be radical joy! Peter writes: “Through our faith, the mighty power of God constantly guards us until our full salvation is ready to be revealed in the last time. May the thought of this cause you to jump for joy, even though lately you’ve had to put up with the grief of many trials. But these only reveal the sterling core of your faith, which is far more valuable than gold that perishes, for even gold is refined by fire. Your authentic faith will result in even more praise, glory, and honor when Jesus the Anointed One is revealed. You love him passionately although you did not see him, but through believing in him you are saturated with an ecstatic joy, indescribably sublime and immersed in glory. For you are reaping the harvest of your faith—the full salvation promised you—your souls’ victory. —1 Peter 1:5-9 (The Passion Translation) We wish you the most glorious Easter celebration ever on April 21st! We trust that Resurrection Sunday will remind you of the astonishing value God places on you. He wanted you bad enough to send Jesus, who demonstrated A Love So Great that we’ll be rejoicing and singing His praises forever and ever and ever. God bless you and your family this Easter! Never, Ever Forget: You Are Dearly Loved!

Pastors Glenn & Diann Randall