Say Yes to God

Lenten Signs — Yield Elim March 15 2020 \ bwk

Say Yes to God

  • Psalm 40 Messiah Jesus offers Himself to God for the sake of God’s people
  • Philippians 2:5-11 Jesus empties Himself and becomes a servant for our sake
  • Luke 22:39-46 v 42 “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet, not My will but Yours be done.”

This message is what we would have shared had we met on March 15.

Grace, mercy and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ.  May God add His blessings to our time under the Word this morning!

Back to the Middle Ages Pope Gregory and King Henry IV of Germany had a confrontation. Pope Gregory had excommunicated King Henry IV when the king insisted on divorcing his wife Bertha of Savoy. This barred King Henry not only from heaven, but it also made him ineligible to sit on the throne of Germany.

The king took all this to heart and came to Rome to do penance and to seek absolution. Arriving at Rome he discovered the pope was away in the mountains. Not to be dissuaded, King Henry IV and his servants made a long and dangerous journey through the snowy mountains of northern Italy to meet with the Pope. This was during the harsh winter of 1077.  King Henry finally found the Pope in a small town called Canossa in the mountains of northern Italy.

When Henry and his retinue arrived, the pope refused to meet with him and forced him to wait in the bitter cold for three days. Finally he agreed to see the dejected and humiliated king. When Henry was finally permitted to enter the gates, he walked barefoot through the snow and knelt at the feet of the pope to beg forgiveness. Then the Pope granted him absolution.

You and I do not have to do anything like that to gain forgiveness.  We do not have to make a long journey to a foreign country.  We don’t have to stand in the cold for days and then walk barefooted through snow and frozen ground to beg forgiveness.  We don’t have to beg to be forgiven and fearfully await the stern look and words that convey forgiveness.  

We do not, and in fact cannot, make the journey to God.  God Himself makes the journey to us.   The Christmas story we celebrated just a couple of months ago leads us now to Jesus, God-in-human-flesh, who has come to us bringing us forgiveness through His life and death on the cross. Jesus brings us hope and heaven as a gift.  We cannot find our way to God, so God-in-Christ comes to us.

The journey of salvation is not our journey but Christ’s. He is the pilgrim—the pioneer, as the writer of Hebrews put it. It is He who walked the Via Dolorosa, the way of suffering. It is by His initiative that we are saved, not our own. 

Our Lenten Road Sign for today is YIELD.  Our Scripture readings focus on Jesus’ yielding to the Father’s will.  His humility and obedience “even to death on the cross.” 

Our readings today show us Jesus’ heart in agreement with God the Father’s heart.  They echo the words of John 3:16 (for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life) reminding us that God’s love brought Jesus into the world as one with us in our humanity in order to make us one with Him and bring us life and salvation.  His purpose and call in life was to live and die on our behalf, and to be raised on our behalf giving us life, forgiveness, freedom, a restored relationship with God and the promise of heaven.  

Our key passage that we focus on today is Luke 22, verse 24 “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet, not My will but Yours be done.”

Jesus is not arguing with God.  He is not trying to dissuade God from the plan of salvation that had been put into motion even before time began.  Rather, our text shows the utter agony He suffered on our behalf.  There was no other way for our forgiveness to be won.  

This was not a contest between God and Satan, a wrestling match with humanity as the prize to the strongest arm.  No.  It was God, through the cross, fixing the brokenness we had brought on the world.  

Jesus’ death on the cross was not a payment to the devil as a ransom to set us free.  Nor was His death an attempt to appease an angry God who demanded justice no matter what.  Jesus in yielding to the cross is God coming to us, God freeing us from our own brokenness and captivity to sin and death.  

Jesus is God’s yes to us.  Jesus is God’s yes for us.  All that is left for us to do is to say yes to God.  

In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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