The Greatest Love Story, Part II

John 17:20-21  Jesus prayed, “My prayer is not for them alone, I pray also for those who believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.  May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” 

We  left off last week that God foretold of a Savior, and that He wanted the world to be able to recognize this Savior when He arrived.

John 17:20-21 tells us that Jesus prayed for all who believed in the Word to be spiritually one.  Not only spiritually one with other Christians, but also spiritually one with God and Jesus. (No small order!)

And, those believers were to offer a testimony of their faith so that the world would realize God had sent Jesus.

Why was it so imperative that the world realize God sent Jesus?

If we realize who sent Jesus then we begin to realize why He was sent.  When we contemplate why we begin to understand how very much God loves us.

Jesus was no ordinary man.  He was truly the Son of God.  (Matthew 3:17) “And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

He was with God when God created the world. ( Genesis 1:26)

When Jesus did arrive it was not as expected.  He was a King, the Son of God, yet He was born in a lowly manger, to a simple family with humble means.

As much as God surely loved Jesus, God wanted us to understand that He understood us.  Jesus would go on to endure all we experience: hunger, hurt, misunderstanding, mocking,  and pain, to highlight a few.  Yet his experiences did not leave him bitter and sinful, as ours often do; for He was without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)

When Jesus began His ministry He performed miracles of all sorts: He healed the sick, raised the dead, feed thousands of people with little food, turned water into wine.

He understood the importance of celebration at a wedding.  He understood physical sensations of hunger and pain.  He understood the limitations of the human body, because He had one too!

When it was time for Jesus to begin the process of restoring humanity to God, He went off alone and prayed.

During that prayer, we read just how human He was:

He felt fear (Matthew 26:38).

He felt overwhelming depression (Mark 14:34) “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.”

He felt desperate, He did not wish to go through with it, Matthew 26:39, and Luke 22:42.

Yet, He allowed His godly Spirit to take over.  He prayed.  And while praying He received encouragement and strength (Luke 22:43).

After that encouragement, He acted.  He protected his disciples (John 18:8-9), He accepted His calling (John 18:11).  He showed compassion on Mary, his mother, (John 19:26-27).

He endured the greatest of physical abuse, and emotional pain:

He was struck in the face- John 18:22.

He was flogged- John 19:1.

He was forced to wear a crown of thorns upon his head- John 19:2; Matthew 27:29; and Mark 15:17.

He was humiliated with words and was struck in the face- John 19:3; Matthew 26: 67; and Mark 15:19.

He was forced to carry his own cross (the sign of a terrible criminal) John 19:17, Matthew 27:32, and Mark 15:21.

He was mocked- Matthew 27:4, Mark 15:31, and Luke 23: 35-37.

He was crucified, meaning nailed to a cross and left to die; a punishment for the hardened criminal.  John 19:23, Matthew 27:35, and Mark 15:37.

Why would God put His own Son through all that?  Why would God ask Him to do it?

Remember, God is a part of the Trinity.  God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are all one.  We separate them into God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and think of them separately so we can organize them a bit in our minds.  God was a part of Jesus.  (Just as You are in Me and I am in You.” John 17:20b)

God did not just ask Jesus to sacrifice Himself, God sacrificed Himself.  A great illustration is from The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. You see Asland willing to sacrifice himself for all Narnia on the Stone Table.  God was willing to sacrifice himself, so we could return to Him.

God as Jesus.  Jesus as a part of God.  Without sin.  Willing to come to earth, live as humans do, be tempted and yet be without sin.  Willing to accept mockery, shame, and blame for doing nothing wrong.  Willing to die a horrible, mutilating, shameful death of a criminal who committed no crimes.  Willing to do all that so we might return to Him.

He gave us a road back.  He is calling your name.  Do you hear Him?  Do you hear the love which gave birth to such sacrifice?

Reflections:

1. Read the account of Jesus’s death.  You can locate it in: Matthew 26:36- 28: 20; Mark 14:32- 16:20; Luke 22:39- 24:53; and John 17:1- 21:25.

2. What have you never noticed before?

3. Identify all the human feeling Jesus experienced. Can you identify how Jesus can relate to you?

4. Pray: ask God to help you take a few moments each day this week, reflecting on the Biblical accounts of the Easter story and thank God for what you have learned and what He has done.

5, Rejoice that you do not need to be separated from God!

Happy Easter!

Please return Monday, April 9 for the next post.

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