Summary: We are saved in Christ alone. God's aims in salvation cannot be thwarted.
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Luke 13:31-35
Although Charles Wesley had been engaged in preaching the gospel with much diligence and earnestness, he did not know what it was to enjoy peace with God until he was in his thirtieth year. Being laid low by an alarming illness, and seeming as if he were going to die, a young Moravian named Peter Bohler, who was undergoing a course of preparation by him to go out as a missionary, asked him, “Do you hope to be saved?” Charles answered, “Yes.” “For what reason do you hope it?”
“Because I have used my best endeavors to serve God.” The Moravian shook his head and said no more. That sad, silent, significant shake of the head shattered all Charles Wesley’s false foundation of salvation by endeavors. He was afterwards taught by Peter Bohler the way of the Lord more perfectly, and brought to see that by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ men are justified. And now in his sick-room he was able to write for the first time in his life, “I now find myself at peace with God”; and it was on this occasion he composed that beautiful hymn, “O for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer’s praise!”
The great devotional author, Oswald Chambers once wrote that “God does not tell us what he is going to do, he reveals who he is.” As I enter my text this morning, it is likewise my great desire to shine a light on the nature of who God is; specifically, who God is in salvation.
The overreaching themes of this section of Scripture are chiefly twofold and their implications are vast. They speak to the very nature of God’s love for His creation.
(1) First, there is the matter of divine sovereignty. Herod’s desire to kill Jesus did not worry Him in the least. Nothing could hinder the divine plan of God. Nothing could thwart God’s plan for redemption to be found in Jesus Christ.
(2) Second, there is the issue of Israel’s rejection of their Messiah, which is represented by His rejection by the people of Jerusalem. Jesus ministry was one of a constant invitation to the people to repent and enter the Kingdom of God.
Just as their fathers had done in previous generations, stoning and killing those whom God sent to express His will to His chosen covenant people, they not only rejected Jesus, but handed Him over to the Romans to be crucified.
Here we have two seemingly juxtaposed, out of sync, even contradictory ideas. On the one hand God is sovereign and nothing can thwart His plans. On the other hand the Bible plainly teaches that there are those who reject Christ.
Even our own experience of reality corresponds to these truths. God is sovereign over His creation and there are many who reject even His offer of free grace.
These concepts, though, are not mutually exclusive, they do not contradict. They are part of one biblical picture of the story of redemption in Christ.
God loves His creation: All of it. John 3:16-17 tells us that God loves the world, Kosmos, in the Greek. For God so loved all of His [created order, arrangement of the stars and heavens, all that inhabit therein] that He gave His only begotten Son to suffer and die to ransom us back from sin and destroy the works of the Devil. He did so in order that we who were once alienated, estranged, foreigners, might become the sons and daughters of the Most High.
But there are some who reject His love. Here are five ways that this is evident from this passage of Scripture: “(1) It is evident that our blessed Lord seriously and earnestly wished the salvation of the Jews.
(2) That he did everything that could be done, consistently with his own perfections, and the liberty of his creatures, to effect this. (3) That his tears over the city, Luke 19:41, sufficiently evince his sincerity. (4) That these persons nevertheless perished. And (5) That the reason was, they would not be gathered together under his protection: therefore wrath, i.e. punishment, came upon them to the uttermost.”
God in His infinite wisdom and the wonder of His love has granted a measure of freedom to His creatures, within the boundaries of His sovereign will. The truth is that all of us, if left to our own devices would choose just as the people of Jerusalem did; we would abandon His love.
Was it not for God awakening our sin-slumbered soul to new life in Christ, were it not for the Holy Spirit’s work in our hearts regenerating us unto new life, which among us would choose to abandon their life for the sake of the Cross?