Summary: A sermon that explores how Jesus loves us through suffering....and how through our suffering we may have an opportunity to love.
Have you ever said if I was God I would….
If I was God there would be no weeds in my garden.
If I was God no one bad would get good things.
What would you do if you were God?
What about if you were in the situation that Jesus faced in the reading from Matthew what would you have done?
If you were being insulted…
If you were being beaten…
If you were being mocked
Or unfairly punished…
What would you have done?
Would you seek revenge?
Pray that your attackers who hurt you would be hurt.
Say one day…you wait just one day…you will get your just deserts….
Our natural instinct is to exert the power we have.
To show people we are good and that we have it together.
If I say to my son Zackary, don’t climb on the fence because you may get hurt.
He will climb on the fence and say see I didn’t get hurt.
Interestingly Jesus didn’t exert the power he had
Instead when he was suffering he took it all.
And sometimes I wonder why?
Why did he bother?
Have you ever been in that situation where people ask you why?
Why do you put yourself through this or that difficulty?
There are many personalities who will reveal stories of pain and suffering.
They will boast about the hard yards they have put in.
Their early mornings.
Their long hours.
How their family suffered.
The difficulties they have faced.
So that they can achieve their goals, obtain some greatness…
And that is why they suffer!!!
What about you what are some of the sufferings you are going through now.
Maybe some of them are because you have goals.
Perhaps some of them aren’t.
Do you know why you are enduring them?
Maybe you are even suffering as a Christian…
Some of your family doesn’t take you seriously.
You are scared to be open with some of your friends…
You cry for your children.
You may even feel deprived…
But what happens if we used the suffering we experience as an opportunity…
An opportunity to live as God calls us to live…
To love through suffering…
I invite you to listen to a story as told by Robyn Claydon in one of her books Doors are for walking through…
Last year I met a Christian women from a Middle Eastern country which is entirely closed to Christian witness. Those who are known to be Christian are imprisoned or worse assassinated. She told me that she and her husband had been holding a very small house church in their home for some months. A few friends visited once a week and over a meal believers read the scriptures and encouraged each other.
One day, the authorities came to the door and arrested the woman and her husband putting them in prison. I met her just a few weeks after they had been released. In prison they were the object of great curiosity from the other prisoners. They were asked “Why are you in prison?”
“Because we are Christians.”
“Why are you imprisoned for that?”
“Because we were meeting with a small groups of friends to read the Bible.”
“Tell us about the Bible.” They asked.
The women told me that in prison she and her husband had more opportunities to talk about Jesus than they ever had when they were free. Not only did the prisoners ask questions, but the guards too would stand on the edge of the room and listen.
When their sentence expired and they were told to leave, the guards said,
“We’ve enjoyed having you here in prison. Please come back again!” My friends said to me with a smile, “we probably will be back there soon. We are about to start up our little house church again and we will probably be arrested and imprisoned. But even, if we don’t end up in prison, we have an open invitation to go back and visit!”(Doors are for walking through by Robyn Claydon, page 54 available at http://www.spcka.org.au/PublishingList2007.pdf)
When you are suffering maybe it is worthwhile asking how can I love through this suffering.
For Jesus accepting suffering was not because he felt helpless.
But taking the insults he knew he was one step closer to securing what He was sent to earth for.
Securing your future….
Every time you see the cross.
That is a sign of how Jesus secured your future.
And in securing a future in this way God also knows what we experience.
We can be assure we have a God who knows not only about suffering…but actually knows suffering…
Knows what it is like when we suffer.
John Stott a well respected author and theologian makes the following observations in his book the Cross of the Christ