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March 1, 2020  THE FATHER Wants Jesus to Die

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Dear brothers & sisters in Christ,

         Our Lenten theme for our midweek evening devotions is about keeping our ‘eyes on Jesus.’  An old saying is  ‘the eyes are a window of the soul.’   It seems that  -at times-  there are things we can see in people’s eyes  that reveal what’s going on in their mind or heart.  Maybe you can, maybe you can’t;  but we’re using the theme of ‘eyes’ to think of the different ways people were viewing Jesus  as He moves thru His Passion-work  as the sacrificial Lamb to bring us out of sin & darkness,  and into the light of life with God.   Hebrews 12:2 invites the eyes of our faith in this way:  “let us fix our eyes on Jesus,  the founder and perfecter of our faith,  who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross,  despising the shame,  and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”      So,  the ‘eye’ theme is for Wednesdays.

Now,  because Lent is a short & focused season of the Church Year,  so it also works to have some sort of theme for our Sundays.   It’s noted briefly in the bulletin:  the idea that EVERYONE around Jesus  wants Him to die.   And altho death is an enemy & a bad thing,  Scripture teaches us that Jesus’ death was a necessary thing.   So,  today we begin our Sunday theme  by looking at  God-the-Father.

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Morgan Robertson was an author who wrote sea stories.  In 1898,  he dreamed up a story & wrote a novel about a grand ship called the ‘Titan,’   a luxury ocean liner  that sailed between Southampton England and the United States.   In his book,  a disaster happened on its third trip between England & New York in the month of April.   It’s hull was ripped open by an iceberg;  it began to sink;  but  there were not enough lifeboats for everyone on board,  so there was a heavy loss of life in the cold waters of the Atlantic.   It was just a story.  BUT,  if you remember your history,  14 years later  on April 15, 1912,  many of those same details actually happened with a real luxury ocean liner on its maiden voyage  between Southampton & New York.

The Titanic struck an iceberg,  did not have enough lifeboats,  & sank with 1,500 people dying.

Because of that novel 14 years earlier,  people suspected a conspiracy in this disaster.  For some,  there were just too many similarities with ~ the month, the route, the iceberg, & the lifeboats;  even the name ‘titan’ versus ‘titanic’.   Some people thought that someone wanted to act out that novel with the Titanic;  they wanted to sink that ship,  & have all those people die.

Now,  this conspiracy-theory is not true.  There are several coincidental things,  but there’s just too many different levels of people,  timing of events,  too many separate decisions being made,  & too many things out of man’s control  to coordinate making this disaster happen to match some 14 yr-old story.    Nobody connected with the Titanic wanted anyone to die.

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Now,  the same thing cannot be said  in connection with Jesus of Nazareth,  and the life He was sent to live,  & the work He was sent to do.   No matter what God’s plan is,  or how complicated,  or how many people are involved  over whatever time span it is = whatever God wants,  CAN be coordinated;  and, of course, we don’t call God’s plans  ‘conspiracies.’  He is holy & perfect;  whatever He wants is good & right,  & needs doing;  and He can & will carry it out.

As we think about the different scenes of the Passion history,  and the various people involved  leading to Christ’s death,  a strange thought might come to mind.  That most persons involved in the story WANT Jesus to die!   /God the Father, /Satan, /Barabbas, /the high priest, /Pilate, /the religious leaders, /the crowds, /Judas, /& even Jesus Himself   all want Jesus to die!

They all don’t have the same motives;  in fact,  we find many different agendas,  and even conflicting purposes to what they want.   Most on our list are selfish,  seeking their own gain from His death;  but others are looking to a world-wide and eternal purpose,  need,  & goal.

But whether for selfishness or salvation,  they all see the same path to get there.

Everybody wants Jesus of Nazareth,  the Son of God,  to die.

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This includes THE FATHER;  the Father wants Jesus to die.    Altho we don’t often say it that way,  we have learned from Scripture that this is true;  so we’re not shocked to hear it.

As sad & painful as it must have been,  the Father’s desire for Christ to die  was made necessary by sin  and its tragic & creation-wide consequences.  God’s gifts of life, & a ‘very good’ creation, were destroyed by the rebellion of Satan,  along with the temptation of Adam & Eve,  AND their willingness to disobey God.   By sin,  humanity became entirely cut-off from God.

This circumstance was so severe & dire,  God saw only one way  for this tragedy of a broken humanity to be reversed.  One perfect person was chosen to substitute His life for the life of the world.   He would be ‘the anointed one’,  which is the meaning of the word ‘christ’ in Greek & ‘messiah’ in Hebrew.   He was anointed with the Holy Spirit for His work  to restore man back to God.

This Perfect One was the 2nd person of the Trinity = The Son.   /Only with His human life  could we have human life restored;  /only by His human death  could the Law be paid for;

/only by forgiveness  could our relationship with the Father be reconciled.   As 2Cor.5 defines our reconciliation like this:  “For our sake  He made Him to be sin  who knew no sin,  so that  in Him  we might become the righteousness of God.”   One death was still bad ~ but necessary.  For our sake,  the Father wanted Jesus to die.

This action of God reveals the terrible -but necessary- chain of events  that brings victory over death-our-enemy  by sacrificing one perfect life.    It was an unconventional plan.

In this world,  we know that to defeat worldly enemies,  we need large, powerful armies, with lethal weapons, willing to kill.    The Father’s plan was unique,  with an army of One, who would not come to kill,  but to be killed.  The plan looked like a failure.   IT INCLUDED  /the disciples forsaking their leader,  /the betrayal by a close friend,  /constant opposition from those in power,  /lies & insults against this godly man,  /an illegal trial with false witnesses, /Roman torture,   /& the silent humility of the God-man = who could’ve prevented it all.

Remember Jesus told Peter,  “Do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father,  and He will at once send Me more than twelve legions of angels?” (Mt 26:53).   But,  He doesn’t call down even one lone angel to help.   Later,  He’s taunted to come down from the cross to prove that He is the Messiah;   He could’ve,  but doesn’t do that either.   The plan looks like a total flop.

People walk away,  shaking their heads;  they had placed many hopes in Him,  but He failed.

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Yet the real war was fought successfully  on a different level;  under a Holy Law,  in a heavenly court,  with this divine rule:  when that One dies,  He wins.  The real victory is won thru death.   That one specific death  -that the Father desired-  was the ultimate sacrifice that atoned for our sins,  and restores us back with God.

As the appointed Christ,  Jesus was not simply the target of His Jewish enemies,  or the victim of a godless Roman Empire,  and He was not a helpless weakling who couldn’t speak up or fight back to prevent His death.   In John 6,  Jesus declares, “I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will  but the will of Him who sent me.”     This was clearly prophesied as the divine plan,  as we hear in Isaiah 53:  “it was the will of the Lord to crush him,”…& to make  his soul an offering for guilt.

Jesus told Peter in John 18:  “Put your sword into its sheath;  shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?”   The Father wanted Jesus to die;  because that is the greatest form of love:  that one lay down his life for his friends = & you & me & our neighbor  are His friends.

In John 10,  Jesus said,  “I lay down My life  that I may take it up again.  No one takes it from Me,  but I lay it down of My own accord.  I have authority to lay it down,  and I have authority to take it up again.”   Whatever the outward scenes of Jesus’ passion are in Jerusalem,  or in the Garden of Gethsemane,  or on Golgatha,  there were much bigger things going on behind the scenes;  and we can be sure that the Father is in control.  Everything Jesus was doing had its counterpoint in the spiritual realm & plan of God’s war on our enemies:  sin, Satan, death & hell.

*How could we even begin  to measure the height or depth  of the love of the Father for His only-begotten Son?   And yet,  there seems to be an even greater love than that:  the Father’s love for His fallen creation.   THAT’S the love Jesus carried out for us;  /that He was willing to be forsaken by the Father,  /& to endure rejection,  /with a cruel & torturous death,  /& to endure hell for us.   But that’s what was necessary to bring us back to the Father.

The Father wanted Jesus to die  so that sin & death would lose their power over us.     This is what makes Lent a time of  reflection, appreciation,  & a renewal of trust in our Savior,  with a recommitment to a godly & obedient daily life for us.  If we claim to believe in this Jesus as the Savior,  then we will also obey His teachings and live our lives as the Lord’s holy people.

For all that has been done for us,  we give our thanks to our Savior & Lord, Jesus Christ;  we praise Him for  /the power, /the will,  /the strength, /the grace, /& the love  to fulfill this plan of the Father.  And we join with Paul  as he exclaims in Romans 11:  “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways! . . . For from Him & thru Him & to Him  are all things.  To Him be glory forever.”

So with pure & perfect motives,  and with His eyes focused on our salvation,  THE FATHER wanted Jesus to die.   Next Sunday we’ll ask  ‘who else wanted Jesu to die?’  and we’ll ponder the evil motives of the chief fallen angel,  Satan.

Amen