His Passion! – – Unreasonable – #1
Pastor Chuck Hill – Trinity Fellowship Church
Sunday, April 12, 2009
For centuries now, there has been an ancient custom or practice within the church that would take place when one Christian would meet up with another Christian. This practice was that of stating or reciting a declaration about their faith which has it’s roots in this very day we are celebrating today.
The practice was where one believer would declare, “He is risen!” and the other person would reply, “He is risen, indeed!”
Now, why don’t we try that today? Are you up for it? Again, this is just a statement of our faith – a fact about the power of God in Christ.
“He is risen!” – and you say… “He is risen indeed!”
Today we are going to talk about the cross and the price Jesus paid for our sin…but I want to make it clear as I begin…the real power to this day is that Jesus came out of the grave after just 3 days to prove to the world that He was the Messiah, the promised one who gave his life and became the savior of the world. And we know this, because…
“He is risen!” (“He is risen indeed!”)
Well, this morning I am beginning a new series of messages entitled: UNREASONABLE! And I’ve called it that because…honestly, God is unreasonable! And this is a series about getting to know Him.
Now, before any of you begin to get an attitude with me for calling God – UNREASONABLE. Let me take you to the dictionary to enlighten you as to the definition of the word!
The Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines “unreasonable” as:
“Not governed by or acting according to reason; exceeding the bounds of reason or moderation.”
In this series of messages, we are going to explore the nature and character of God. A God who exceeds the bounds of our human ability to reason…He is clearly a God who is not governed by or acts according to the limitations we would place upon him by our finite and human minds.
He is in short –unreasonable! Here’s the thing though…when I was preparing for this series, I discovered something I never knew. I had always thought of “unreasonable” as someone who was hard-headed or determined…someone who had made up their mind and was unwilling to listen to others. But here’s what I found when I examined this word – unreasonable.
One synonym for the word “unreasonable” is the word: Extravagant!
According to Webster’s, someone who is “unreasonable” may be someone who is simply “extravagant” in the way they live – or give. Someone who is over the top. Someone who seems to operate outside the box. Someone who goes beyond and does more than we could ever imagine for us. That kind of person is “extravagant” – or, if you will: UNREASONABLE!
I submit to you this today that our God is much more complex than any of us have ever begun to understand. He is over the top in how He cares for us and the way He gives to us. He operates outside the box that most of us would put Him in…and according to Ephesians 3:20,
“God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.”
Ephesians 3:20 (MSG)
Over the next 7 weeks we are going to discover just who God is and the way He works within our lives. And undoubtedly, there will be many moments where you are just completely caught off guard by the depth of His love and card. Because He always exceeds the bounds of our reason and cares for us (His creation) in extravagant ways.
For the first 6 weeks of this series we are going to use this cross beside me as a focal point to bring some insight into His nature. And with each week, we will uncover one of the six pictures which we have chosen to communicate His unreasonable nature. And they will surprise you – so you don’t want to miss any week.
Well, this morning we have uncovered the center picture to the cross…because it is the hinge of our faith! It is the lynch-pin to all that we believe. The central picture to our faith is the picture of our savior. It is Jesus himself. Fully God and yet, somehow – fully man!
We are convinced of this. We believe this to be true. Jesus was God. As we stated in the opening moments of this service this morning, We Believe…
We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, became man without ceasing to be God, having been conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary in order that He might reveal God and redeem sinful man.
We believe that the Lord Jesus accomplished our redemption through His death on the cross as a representative, vicarious, substitutionary sacrifice and that our justification is made sure by His literal, physical resurrection from the dead.
We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven and is now exalted at the right hand of God where, as our High priest, He fulfills the ministry as Representative, Intercessor and Advocate.
And, that’s what this day; Easter Sunday 2009 is all about! Toda we celebrate the FACT that our Lord and Savior – our Redeemer, Jesus the Christ lives!
Folks, Jesus is God. And it is Jesus that makes all the difference in our lives.
The apostle Paul would put it this way in Colossians 1:18-20. He wrote,
“Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything. For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.”
Colossians 1:18-20 (NLT)
Jesus and God are one. But today, we have come together to remember – to commemorate the day that Jesus (who having given his life on the cross, died and was put in a grave…didn’t stay there, but rather) rose again!
This is the most important day in the entire year for the church – for believers in Christ. This is the day that Jesus demonstrated His extravagant power and overcame death – by rising again.
I heard a funny story this week about a pastor who was speaking to a group of second-graders about the resurrection of Jesus. And while talking, one of the little boys raised his hand and asked, “Pastor, what did Jesus say right after He came out of the grave?” Well, the pastor was a bit caught off guard. And so he simply said, “Well, son…to tell you the truth, I’m not sure what He said.” And to that, a little girl raised her hand and said, “I know what He said pastor: He said, ’Tah-dah!’”
Well, there’s probably a lot of truth to that answer – because this is the day we celebrate where Jesus surprised everyone by coming back from the dead and walking out of His grave.
And just saying it like that almost makes it seem very simple. But it wasn’t. It was anything by simple or small or easy. This was death…and not just any death – but death by the cross. It was one of the most painful and most inhumane was of dying this world has ever known.
The Old Testament prophet Isaiah would write about this – in sort of a foreshadowing way and say,
“He was beaten, he was tortured, but he didn’t say a word. Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered and like a sheep being sheared, he took it all in silence. Justice miscarried, and he was led off— and did anyone really know what was happening? He died without a thought for his own welfare, beaten bloody for the sins of my people. They buried him with the wicked, threw him in a grave with a rich man, Even though he’d never hurt a soul or said one word that wasn’t true.”
“Still, it’s what God had in mind all along, to crush him with pain. The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin so that he’d see life come from it—life, life, and more life. And God’s plan will deeply prosper through him.”
Isaiah 53:7-10 (MSG)
Did you catch that? In verse 10, Isaiah writes that this whole thing wasn’t some accident that just happened because Jesus ticked off the wrong people. He says, that this whole thing was God’s idea! It was what He had planned since the beginning of time. None of this caught Him off guard…it all worked out just as He had expected and planned that it would.
Look with me again at verse 10. It says,
“…it’s what God had in mind all along, to crush him with pain. The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin so that he’d see life come from it—life, life, and more life.”
Isaiah 53:10 (MSG)
And this brings us to the question of why? Because I have to tell you – this whole thing seems a bit over the top to me. And it drives us to this thought that God is really “unreasonable”, but not in a good way. Maybe God is being unreasonable by being “hard-headed” and stubborn.
So if you will allow me, I’d like to unpack this thought of God’s passion. This whole thing of Jesus dying and rising again was rooted in God’s passion for you and me.
Let me begin by going back to the beginning.
In Genesis 1 & 2 the story of life unfolds as God creates everything – humanity included.
And everything was going according to plan until Adam and Eve made the tragic mistake of disobeying God. They broke faith with Him by taking what was not theirs. They embraced the fruit from the tree of “Good and Evil” and in doing so, sent all mankind into a tale-spin of sorts.
Their one decision to go around God’s direction cost them everything. They were expelled from the Garden and forced to toil and labor for everything they had. Where once all was provided – now it would take great effort and pain to provide for their family.
Sin cost them everything – it has cost us everything…and eventually, it would end up costing God everything.
And just so that you understand the seriousness and far reaching nature of their sin, Paul would write to the ancient church in Rome and say in Romans 3:23,
“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”
Romans 3:23 (NLT)
So, none of us are exempt. We are all tainted by the issue of sin. Everyone of us are guilty. We have all fallen way short of God’s amazing standard for our lives. And because of that, a price had to be paid. Or as Paul would put it in Romans 6:23,
“For the wages of sin is death…”
Romans 6:23 (NLT)
And that’s really where this story comes full circle…the wages of sin has always been death. And from the time of Adam and Eve, death has occurred – in many ways, and on many levels.
Think about it:
- Sin leads to a physical death (our bodies die)
- Sin leads to relational death (our relationships suffer because of the sin of selfishness – for example: marriages suffer & die / friendships suffer and die / family relationships suffer and die…and all because of sin and selfishness)
- Sin leads to a financial death (our causes us to make poor selfish choices which cost us financially and lead us to ruin…and the worst aspect of sins effects is that…)
- Sin leads to a spiritual death (we suffer with separation from the very God who created us and gave us life)
The wages of sin is death…what sin earns is death!
And if that’s where everything ended…man, this would be a horrible story! I don’t know about you – but I like good stories. I like those that end where the warrior overcomes, where the man gets the girl, where good wins out and triumphs over evil. And this is just such a story.
In fact, this story is driven by that hope…by that passion!
The “Unreasonable Passion” of God is based on His desire to give us life (where sin took life and replaced it with death, in the cross – Jesus took sin away and replaced it with life).
And that’s the whole reason we are here today – doing what we have been doing. It’s not because we like to get together once or twice a week. It’s not even because we like to sing or be encouraged by a message about life and hope.
The reason we gather week in and week out around here is because of the gift that God gave us in Jesus…and because Jesus is worthy of all honor!
Let me explain it to you this way…
(Show video clip)
Doesn’t that do something for you…understanding the gift that was given to us in Jesus?
But it also brings up some questions in my mind…what about you? Knowing who we are – and how far we have fallen from the plan He had for us…
Why would God do this thing? Why would He give His son’s life for ours?
Why would He allow His son to be arrested, beaten, nailed to a cross and ultimately murdered for people who had no idea of what was being done for them?
Why would He punish Jesus for you and me?
I’ll tell you why. God did this for us…because He loved us and longed for us (His creation) to be connected to Him once more. He so desired that our pain be removed and our sorrow taken away, that He was willing to offer the life of His Son for us.
Now, I don’t really expect you to understand fully – and to be able to comprehend what I am saying. Because, the truth is…I don’t fully understand it. The bible tells us again in the Old Testament book of Isaiah…
“Seek the Lord while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously. ‘My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,’ says the Lord. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.’
Isaiah 55:6-9 (NLT)
Did you get that?
God tells us that we should call on Him now…while He is near! We shouldn’t wait…we shouldn’t procrastinate with this one. We should call upon Him and turn to Him so that He will have mercy on us and forgive us generously.
Do you know what that sounds like? Generously? It sounds a lot like the other word we have discovered for God – EXTRAVAGANT. His way is to be generous or extravagant with His Grace and mercy – with His love.
And the reason He would go to all this trouble to bring us forgiveness and the opportunity at life is because as Isaiah tells us – His thoughts are nothing like our thoughts. His ways are beyond anything we could imagine!
I think I would have come up with another way to forgive you of your sin…but God chose to give His best. The greatest gift He even gave…His one and only Son. But He was willing to give such a costly gift – and go through such pain and agony because He understood what the outcome would be.
And the passage we were looking at earlier this morning concludes with what it was. God tells us in Isaiah 53:11-12,
“Out of that terrible travail of soul, he’ll (Jesus) see that it’s worth it and be glad he did it. Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant, will make many “righteous ones,” as he himself carries the burden of their sins. Therefore I’ll reward him extravagantly—the best of everything, the highest honors—Because he looked death in the face and didn’t flinch, because he embraced the company of the lowest. He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many, he took up the cause of all the black sheep.”
Isaiah 53:11-12 (MSG)
In our story, we are guilty of the sin which brought death upon our Savior. And yet, His death has brought us life! Life to the max.