Summary: “Why do you think I gave you my grace and the gift of the Holy Spirit?” My grace is sufficient, but sufficient for what? To keep you going forward in your mission in spite of insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties. It’s not just a get to heave
You may be thinking, boy this series is sure a lot about what we must know, and must do, when do we get to some teaching about God’s love and grace. Well, part of me wants to say, we have had so much of that we have become mushy Christians who do very little for the Kingdom. Another part says, well, legalism is no good either, people feel bad enough without piling a bunch more to dos on them.
But there is another part that keeps coming up that says: “Why do you think I gave you my grace and the gift of the Holy Spirit?” My grace is sufficient, but sufficient for what? To keep you going forward in your mission in spite of insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties. It’s not just a get to heaven gift. It is meant to give you God’s power in your weakness so you can do things you could never do without it. That’s the whole point of Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12.
Last week I mentioned that one of things we must do as disciples is love. Love God, and other people. In fact according to Jesus, these are the two greatest commandments that all the others hang on. Well, I think most of us who know the bible at all realize this is true, but what is not so obvious is how we are to do this?
Now doesn’t it seem kind of unnatural to talk about how a person should love as if there’s a strategy? Shouldn’t it be a spontaneous emotional response to someone that comes from the heart? There’s no real how to, otherwise isn’t it kind of artificial?
Well I guess in an ideal world that would be true, and certainly our romance centered culture sees love that way for the most part. But as far as Biblical, God centered, Agape love is concerned, there is much more to do with behaviour than with emotion. Not that emotion can’t play a role, but the kind of love God is talking about is often counter-emotional. What’s that? It goes against how we feel, at least at the beginning.
Let’s just start by taking Jesus as an example, because this is really where we are going to plant ourselves today. Does our cultural version of love look like the love Jesus demonstrated when he went to the cross? Let me take you to the Garden of Gethsemane the night before his crucifixion where Jesus goes off to pray. We pick this story up in all three of the Synoptic Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke.
Not many people at this point have shown Jesus much love. They have used him, mocked him, tried to persecute and kill him. But at least 11 of his chosen 12 disciples have remained close to him. They have been the closest things he has had to friends, and of course in a short time even they are going to abandon him.
Now remember he is God and based on how we have treated Him since the Garden of Eden, he has very little reason really to love humanity. The only reason he loves us is because we are his creation. I guess the closest thing we can compare with is our own children. Most parents can continue to love their children even if they become disobedient, rebellious, and not very nice.
But often there comes a time when we may have to punish them or even disown them or let them go to their own ways to protect ourselves and others in the family. In our hearts we usually continue to love them though, simply because we created them, of course with God’s help.
Let’s pick up the story in verse 30 of Mt 26 after they have had supper (Read vv 30-46).
What I want you to notice there is that Jesus knows they will abandon Him. The only resemblance of friends he has are going to leave him at the time that he needs them most, and I will submit to you that that is very representative of human love. As long as the other person is meeting our needs and wants, we are willing to stay with them. When this is not happening the way we would like, often we detach from that person, and this is reflected in divorce rates both inside and outside of the church. But we do the same with friends too.
And Jesus who was also human and could experience emotion, is obviously quite discouraged as reflected in his prayer. He doesn’t really want to go through with this whole dying on the cross thing for these 11 people who in the final analysis are going to abandon him, never mind the multitudes of others that he is going to die for who downright hate him and are going to put him through a cruel and humiliating death.