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					                            To Die For
               Year ABC Greatest Story Ever Lived: Part 4

THREE Weeks ago…
  we—BEGAN…this JOURNEY thru
     the Greatest STORY—ever LIVED…
        an—OVERVIEW of the…Biblical STORY
           in—FIVE parts

FIRST—we LOOKED at God’s WONDROUS work—in CREATION;
  THEN we SAW—the…tragic MOVE of the FIRST Human BEINGS
     to DOUBT and to CHALLENGE their MAKER—Who had…
        …GIVEN them EVERY Good THING

And…we were—STRUCK by
  …two THINGS:

1.   The absolute, unparalleled GOODNESS of—GOD
     ALL that God—IS and DOES =perfectly GOOD…ALL the time &
2.   The CULPABILITY of—Human BEINGS for
      ALL that’s WRONG in the world…not GOD’S fault—but OURS;
       that DECISION of human beings—to DOUBT God = BAD choice;
        …AND as we—all KNOW…bad CHOICES—have consequences

LAST week—then
  we—moved ON…to CONSIDER:
     the ‘TRUTH and CONSEQUENCES’ that…FOLLOW from
        those—first 2 Chapters of the Story

And SO, we—LOOKED at
what the Bible—SAYS about
 the ‘Natural CONDITION’ of our—HEARTS…
  …the ‘Natural STANDING’ we HAVE with GOD
  BECAUSE …we CHOSE to DOUBT our Maker
   and—to SEIZE…His—rightful PLACE in the world—for OURSELVES
                               2
We FOUND that there was—BAD News…and there was—GOOD News
The BAD News was that now—BECAUSE we have tried to REPLACE God:
  EVERY inclination of the THOUGHTS of [our HEARTS] is ONLY evil
  ALL the time… [to QUOTE from GENESIS]
AND that as—CREATURES who are NOW…CONTROLLED by
  …a—SINFUL nature,
    we simply—CANNOT please…GOD:

        We are DEAD in our…TRESPASSES and SINS
         and…UNABLE to—HELP ourselves
THAT was…the BAD News…

  …BUT the—GOOD News—is that…
   where—WE are…UNABLE,
     GOD was PERFECTLY—able…and WILLING
        to ACT
And—THAT is our FOCUS…for TODAY:

  …WHAT our—PERFECTLY…GOOD—CREATOR
     has—DONE
        to put…US and—our WORLD
           …BACK to RIGHTS—once AGAIN
                                  ***
Bishop Tom WRIGHT—sums UP
 …this PARTICULAR chapter of—God’s OVERARCHING Story
  inTHIS way:
       [Here] God’s restoration project reaches a crucial stage. God writes
       a part for himself in the drama of human life. It is as if
       Shakespeare should write himself into the script of Hamlet to be
       one of the characters in his own creation. That way we can see
       what God is like in a form we can relate to, and we can learn what
       God’s dreams are for us and for the world. This character in the
       [story]—we call by the name Jesus…
                                   3
The CREATOR…BECOMES one of His CREATURES…
 God…takes ON—human FLESH and BLOOD
   …to SHOW us—what WE were…intended to BE—as human BEINGS
    AND to—make it POSSIBLE…for us—to BECOME that
      …once MORE
This is the SAME Part of—God’s STORY
  that John—DESCRIBES for us…in Today’s—GOSPEL Reading;

Let’s LOOK at that…TOGETHER:
   John, Chapter 1…p 862 in the—pew Bibles
                                ***
We BEGIN in verse 9:
  ‘The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.’

The—true LIGHT
 …the ONE—who can EXPLAIN…absolutely EVERYTHING…
  that BEING who is the SOURCE of…ANY & ALL understanding
   that CAN—be HAD
     for the—simple REASON that He—MADE…EVERYTHING

The—true LIGHT…
  …God—HIMSELF
     was—coming INTO…the WORLD
Verse 10:
   He was in the world, and the world came into being thru’ him; yet the
   world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own
   people did not accept him.
Even tho’ He—MADE…every CREATURE that draws BREATH,
…not ONE of them—RECEIVED their MAKER…as He DESERVED;
 He was REJECTED by—his…fellow JEWS,
  &—EVEN…before BIRTH—he was REJECTED by his—own FAMILY:
   a—DESCENDENT of David &yet REFUSED—common LODGING
     in the—CITY of DAVID…
                              4
Jesus CAME…as the—CHOSEN Messiah…the CHOSEN Saviour
 who had been PROMISED to God’s—CHOSEN People…the ISRAELITES;
 He IS the ONE—thru WHOM…all NATIONS—WERE to be BLEST

But—even the most FAITHFUL—among His…Chosen FOLLOWERS
   …BETRAYED—and TURNED their BACKS on Him
Verse 12:
   But to all who—RECEIVED him, who BELIEVED in his name, he gave
   power to—become CHILDREN of God, who were born, NOT of blood
   or the will of the FLESH or of the will of MAN, but—of GOD…

Here AGAIN…
  …IS this NOTION—of being…born AGAIN
    that we LOOKED at—LAST Week…

The—ONLY way…that SOMEONE
  who is—DEAD in their TRANSGRESSIONS and SINS
    can LIVE as…a CHILD of GOD
        …is to be—born AGAIN

The—SPIRIT of GOD
  has to—COME to US…
     …and—BREATHE…New LIFE—INTO us
        so that we—can RECOGNIZE
            …JESUS—for WHO He…truly IS
NOT…JUST—a Good MAN              OR
  …a—clever TEACHER                   OR
    …a—revered PROPHET

But…GOD—in the FLESH…
  …the—MAKER, the—MODEL and the—MEANS…for BECOMING
    TRULY and—fully…HUMAN
                       ***
                         5
Let’s—turn BACK to Today’s…FIRST reading
   from ISAIAH, Chapter 52—[p 596]

Here we FIND—a very poignant DESCRIPTION
  of—WHAT it WAS…that Jesus—CAME to DO
     on THAT day—we CHRISTIANS…CALL
        …Good FRIDAY—the DAY of Jesus’ CRUCIFIXION

The SIGNIFICANCE of this EVENT was EXPLAINED
 by the—Prophet ISAIAH…some 700 YEARS—before it…took PLACE:
      Isaiah 52, verse—13
        See, my servant shall PROSPER; he shall be EXALTED and lifted
        UP, and shall be—very HIGH. Just as there were many who were
        astonished at him—so MARRED was his appearance, beyond
        human SEMBLANCE and his form BEYOND that of mortals—so
        he shall startle many nations; KINGS shall shut their mouths
        because of him; for THAT which had not been TOLD them, they
        shall SEE, and THAT which they had not HEARD, they shall
        CONTEMPLATE…

To UNDERSTAND—this 4th CHAPTER
  of God’s—OVERARCHING Story,
     we—must FIRST… COME—to GRIPS
        with—WHAT…Jesus—MEANT
           when He SPOKE from the CROSS…to SAY:
             ‘…It is—FINISHED’
WHY? …well because—THESE words EXPLAIN to us—the REASON
 …that we can RE-LIVE and REFLECT on SUCH—a brutal—ACT
    and STILL—somehow…CALL that DAY: GOOD
                        ‘It—is—FINISHED…’
WERE we to LOOK
 ONLY—to the PHYSICAL suffering
    that Jesus ENDURED—at the HANDS of the Roman SOLDIERS
       …the SCOURGING and the vile ACT of CRUCIFIXION—itself,
                              6
THEN we might HEAR these WORDS
  AND quite NATURALLY—utter a horrified SIGH of RELIEF,
    as WE would THINK:
       ‘FINALLY…Jesus’ UNIMAGINABLE pain
          and unbearable AGONY—has come to an END’

                      ‘It—is—FINISHED…’

OR…WERE we to CONSIDER
  the WHOLE of Jesus’ EARTHLY life—
     his TEACHING and—his MINISTRY,
        his ACTS of COMPASSION, and HEALING…

And WERE we to PONDER
  the perfect EXAMPLE of Godly LIVING that Jesus—EMBODIED
     and FOR which he SUFFERED so much PERSECUTION,
THEN we could HEAR these WORDS
  and quite EASILY think
     that JESUS had done EVERYTHING—conceivable
        to COMMUNICATE God’s WAY of LIFE
            to a WORLD that had LEFT—that PATH—long AGO

We could THINK that
  in EVERY way…
     the TEACHER had WALKED his TALK,
        but NOW—the REST was UP to OTHERS;
           ...they could CHOOSE to CHANGE their WAYS…or NOT
                              ***
We might THINK that
  THO’ Jesus’ EXECUTIONERS had DONE their WORST,
    YET—WOULD the PATTERN of Jesus’ LIFE
       STAND—forever—as an EXAMPLE
          to ANY who has EYES to SEE it…

                      ‘It—is—FINISHED…’
                              ***
                              7
OR…WERE we to REFLECT
  on the unfathomable MYSTERY
     of GOD taking ON human FLESH and BLOOD…
        that HE might enter FULLY into—OUR experiences,
           that HE might know FIRST-HAND what it IS to be HUMAN,
              …to have LIMITS,
                 …to feel OUR joys and pain
                    …to STRUGGLE thru our TEMPTATIONS

WERE we to RUMINATE on
  HOW Jesus TASTED
    the—full GAMUT of human LIFE
       from BIRTH all the WAY—thru—to DEATH,
And WERE we to CONTEMPLATE
 WHAT it had MEANT for the CREATOR of the UNIVERSE
  to WALK and BREATHE and LIVE
   as ONE—who was SUBJECT to the WHIMS of his CREATURES,

THEN we might HEAR these WORDS
  and THINK—how Jesus’ FLESHLY imprisonment
     at LAST—was OVER
                            ‘It—is—FINISHED…’
YES…in ALL these THOUGHTS
  WE would be RIGHT;
     …and YET we would STILL—FALL…so SHORT
       of the FULL measure
           of WHAT it WAS that Jesus DID
              on that DAY…

For—as HEAVY as—IT was…and as SPENT as his BODY was,
   it was NOT—ultimately—the WEIGHT of the CROSS
       that BORE down UPON Jesus
          and BROKE him
             as he WALKED toward GOLGOTHA…
                               8
It was the WEIGHT…of—our SIN:
 …sum TOTAL of every BURDEN we have ever LAID upon OTHERS:
   every CURSE we—ever HAVE…or ever WILL—utter
    every HATEFUL or PRIDEFUL or LUSTFUL or VINDICTIVE…
       THOUGHT we—THINK
     every BLOW we—ever STRIKE…
        every GRACE we—WITHHOLD…
           every ADVANTAGE that—we TAKE…

He was…PIERCED for—OUR transgressions;
  CRUSHED for—OUR iniquities:

     Every DEBT of EVERY—miserable OFFENDER
        in every PLACE and every TIME—PAID in FULL
                         It—is—FINISHED…
When we LOOK to the CROSS of Jesus CHRIST
 it is NOT Roman JUDGMENT upon Jesus’ TEACHING that we SEE;
    …but GOD’S judgment—on OUR treachery:
      …borne NOT by THOSE who have EARNED it…
        but by the ONE—AGAINST whom EVERY sin is COMMITTED…
                         It—is—FINISHED…
When we LOOK to the CROSS of Jesus CHRIST
 it is NOT God’s SURRENDER to a conquering WORLD that we SEE;
      …but God’s DECISIVE blow in the COSMIC battle
        between GOOD and EVIL…

     …upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his
     wounds, we are healed…
                         It—is—FINISHED…
When we LOOK to the CROSS of Jesus CHRIST
 it is NOT—merely—the WORLD’S violent AGGRESSION that we SEE;
      …but the WILL of GOD:
                               9
     …[for] it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain. When
     you make his life an offering for sin, he shall SEE his offspring,
     and shall prolong their days; thru HIM the WILL of the Lord
     shall PROSPER…
                          It—is—FINISHED…
Jesus’ LAST words—SPOKEN from the CROSS
   BEFORE he GAVE up his SPIRIT,
       had—in FACT—the LAST word—on that Good—FRIDAY
         …AND—on EVERY day…that—ever HAS or—ever WILL…BE

THESE words PROCLAIM to us—the REASON
 …WHY we can RE-LIVE and REFLECT on SUCH—brutal—EVENTS
    and STILL—somehow…CALL that DAY: GOOD

For it’s—ON that DAY…
   in the—CROSS…of Jesus CHRIST…
       that we SEE more POIGNANTLY
          than it had EVER been seen BEFORE
             or SHALL ever be seen AGAIN:
              perfect LOVE…perfectly LIVED out
                                  ***
Let me READ you
  ONE last QUOTE
    …AGAIN from—Bishop Tom WRIGHT
      in which—he DESCRIBES…the SIGNIFICANCE of
         this…SURPRISING turn
              in God’s AMAZING Story
                 as we—have TOUCHED on it…TODAY:
     The meaning of the story is found in every detail, as well as in the
     broad narrative. The pain and tears of all the years were met together
     on Calvary. The sorrow of heaven joined with the anguish of earth;
     the forgiving love stored up in God’s FUTURE was poured out into
     the PRESENT;

                                   10
  the voices that echo in a million human hearts, crying for justice,
  longing for spirituality, eager for relationship, yearning for beauty, drew
  themselves together into a final scream of desolation.
  Nothing in all the history of paganism comes anywhere near this
  combination of event, intention and meaning. Nothing in Judaism had
  prepared for it, except in puzzling, shadowy prophecy. The death of
  Jesus of Nazareth as the king of the Jews, the bearer of Israel’s destiny,
  the fulfillment of God’s promises to his people of old, is either the most
  stupid, senseless waste and misunderstanding the world has ever seen, or
  it is the fulcrum around which—world history…turns.
  Christianity is based on the belief that it was and is the latter.

                                [N.T. Wright, Simply Christian p 111]
And SO we HAVE…
  the—GOOD News in—this 4th CHAPTER of
     God’s OVERARCHING Story…
       …the PAIN of—all CREATION
           BORNE by—the CREATOR;
             the DEATH of—death ITSELF
                for THOSE who will—BELIEVE and—RECEIVE it

A STORY…of REDEMPTION
   …with PARTS for the LIKES—of YOU
     and the LIKES of—ME

NEXT week:         ALREADY—AND…not YET

				
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posted:10/11/2011
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