GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, YOUR SUFFERING SERVANT!
TEXT: John 17: 1-5
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
The Congressional Medal of Honor is the highest military award our nation can bestow. It is given, usually posthumously, to those who went above and beyond their duty in battle—usually saving others in the process. I once read somewhere that a Medal of Honor winner always receives the salute from another, regardless of rank. Think of that: a private who holds the medal receives the salute of his general, or even the president. Glory accompanies such honor.
Tonight we assemble to overlook another kind of battlefield. The courage displayed by Jesus during His passion was unmatched. And so,
SEE HIS CROSS! GLORY BE TO JESUS!
In a sense, this world is a battlefield. It is where the forces of light vs. darkness played out. And the champion of the forces of light was and is: Jesus Christ. From day one His mission was to seek and save the lost. Recall Gabriel’s words to Joseph about Mary’s pregnancy: “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Of course, Jesus’ coming was known long before Mary and Joseph were born. 700 years prior, Isaiah spoke of His coming and called Him “Emmanuel, which means: God with us.” He described Jesus’ mission with these words: “to preach good news, to bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim freedom, and comfort all who mourn.” All the OT sacrifices pointed to His coming. John the Baptist announced it: “Look, the Lamb of God Who has come to take away the sin of the world!”
Christ’s entire ministry was about confronting the forces of darkness and evil. Every time He did a miracle, every time He preached and taught, every time He breathed and was a faithful friend, a loving son, or a caring brother—He was battling our inability to do likewise, perfectly before God. Yes, Jesus lived for you! His light now covers your dark deeds. All of this is yours through faith.
And then came the final battle, the culmination of the war. It happened during Holy Week. It played out in Gethsemane, before the Sanhedrin, Pilate’s palace, and finally Calvary. He suffered abuse, scorn, tremendous pain of body and soul, and finally He died. Darkness thought it had won! Satan cheered. Our champion, our Hero, was dead. And yet, just the opposite had occurred. Darkness went down to eternal defeat. In death, Christ won far more than any Medal of Honor. He won the Medal of Glory, the crown of eternal life, not for Himself but for you and me. Moreover, Jesus even prophesied about it all in advance, just a few short hours before the battle culminated.
After the Lord’s Supper Jesus instructed His followers on what would soon happen. Obviously, they didn’t get it yet, mortality never really grasps the truth of immortality and what it all means. In prayer form Jesus addressed His heavenly Father about the coming battle: “Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.”
One of the greatest blessings of being a Christian is knowing, having the certainty, that evil never, ever triumphs over good. Darkness never wins out over light. That truth was played out on a cosmic stage during Christ’s passion. And right here, Jesus goes into battle knowing the outcome in advance and knowing the coming glory you and I would receive from Him.
When Jesus said from the cross: “It is finished.” It was. The battle was ended and Satan lost. Evil’s grip on humans was destroyed as far as God was concerned. Through the cross Jesus made peace with God. He made peace for us. It is this victory of light and love that He gives to us through faith. It is this victory that brought glory to Him, to His Father, and to each of us. Eternal life. Not death, but life is ours made certain before all the demons when Jesus arose from the dead. Did you catch these words: “Now this is eternal life: that they (you and me) may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” Only in and through Jesus Christ do we know the true nature of God. Only in Christ do we know that “God is love and in Him dwells no darkness at all.” Yes, Glory Be To Jesus!
One last thought. Remember when I told you about how Medal of Honor recipients don’t have to salute or honor any “higher ups” first because their glory is literally unmatched? Well, tonight we join in saluting our Savior. He earned it. But because He earned such glory for us, know this: tonight He also salutes you. Yes, “we love Him because He first loved us!” Isn’t the power of the cross amazing?…..Amen