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Peace of the Cross
We're backing up to chapter 17 in John's Gospel to cover something we missed. Last time we began studying the trial and torture of Jesus, leading up to Calvary's cross. But the victory wasn't to be completely won on Golgotha. It was won when Jesus prayed this prayer.
Everyone is in search of peace. We want it for ourselves, our family, our church, our nation, and our world. We want it throughout our lives, at every age, and even on our tombstone we say we want to RIP!
ill.--a man owned a business with many locations and he was opening a new location, and people were sending notes and gifts and flowers, congratulating him on his expansion. One day he arrived at work and there was a big beautiful wreath waiting for him. It said on the banner: Rest in Peace. He knew the florist had made a mistake. He called to complain. He explained it all and the florist could tell he was angry. He said to the businessman, "Sir, settle down and look on the bright side -- somewhere today a man is being buried under a wreath that says, 'Good luck in your new location.'"
"Sleep in heavenly peace," we sing.
ill.--one church was singing it and a kid was loudly singing sleep in heavenly beans. His sister elbowed him and said, "It's not beans, it's peas!"
The way most people are today - drowning in inner turmoil - with a hurricane going on inside their mind - it might as well be beans or peas because very few people truly have inner peace.
Jesus made peace for us on the cross.
[Jesus] having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself...
But Jesus found His peace during this prayer, and another which would follow in the garden of Gethsemane.
The last half of the book of John is filled with anxiety, stress and questions, because in these passages Jesus is spending His last few days with His disciples before He dies on the cross. And yet no portion of Scripture has more intimacy, warmth, and practical principles you can apply to your life. These are principles of peace!
Think of the pressure the disciples are under. Jesus is trying to teach them lessons in humility...because they are about to be given the huge responsibility of taking the gospel to the world. This will be difficult because they are so filled with pride that God can't use them.
How prideful were they? The Lord caught them arguing about who was the greatest, and who would get to sit next to Jesus in the kingdom one day. The Lord settled that argument as He put on an apron, knelt, and washed their stinking feet...a task for servants in those days.
It was a principle of servant leadership. Not grasping for the high place and the limelight, but searching for ways to serve.
They also needed to learn some tough lessons about Christ's death. They thought their Messiah was a rescuer to deliver them from the Romans.
Jesus has to explain to them that's not how it's going to go down. The Father's plan for His life is quite different from that...actually much better...He's going to be betrayed, arrested, beaten like none other, and crucified to death. And that didn't fit in with the disciple's plan at all...they can't understand all of this.
We have the advantage today. We can understand that the first time He came as the Savior, and the NEXT time He will be the Sovereign. [cross/crown - Redeemer/Ruler]
Put yourself in their shoes. Everything they have given their lives for is wrapped up in Jesus. They left everything else behind - home/family/careers...and now He says the enemy is going to kill Him?
The rug is pulled right out from beneath them. Imagine what's swirling in their minds. Empathize with the burden of pressure laid upon them. Their anxiety is off the chart!
Then, as if that bad news wasn't enough, they begin to hear about their OWN eventual deaths. Jesus says, the servant isn't greater than the Master...they hate me, they will hate you, and you're eventually gonna die just like me!
Today's prosperity preachers talk about what a great life God has planned for you. "Excuse me, Pastor Osteen, why does Jesus talk different than you?"
The point? This is not a band of merry men frolicking behind the Lord thru the hills of Judea. They are under more stress and about to suffer more loss than any of us could ever claim. They are way out on a limb, at the very end of their rope, which is fraying into pieces!
Jesus is under "pressure" as well. He's God, who cannot be stressed, but He has taken on the life of man, complete with the same difficulties and feelings we have.