Teaching Sermons For Pastors and Laymen

 May 19, 2006
Title: When Loves Makes a Choice
Scripture Reading: John 10:10-18

Introduction

In 1949 when it became apparent that the Chinese Communists were going to take all of mainland China, Baker James Cauthen, who later became executive secretary of the Foreign Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, was then area secretary for the Orient.

Dr. Cauthen told the missionaries with the South China Mission that each would have to make his own decision whether to stay in China, to transfer to another field, or to return home.

In the mission station at Wuchow, where the Stout Memorial Baptist Hospital was located and where the now-famous Dr. Bill Wallace, a modern missionary martyr, was the chief surgeon and administrator, five missionaries chose to go and three chose to stay.

In explaining his decision to stay to one of the other missionaries, Wallace said, "I'm just one piece of man without other responsibilities."

"One piece of man" was an old Chinese saying used courteously to deflate one's value.

As Jesse Fletcher pointed out in his book "Bill Wallace of China," it indicated a single, unencumbered, expendable person.

By it, Wallace meant that his life was the one so touched by circumstances that it was prepared by God for that moment.

He did what he felt was right in his own heart.

He was later martyred by the Chinese Communists.

He made love's choice.

Jesus made love's choice in the garden of Gethsemane.

His choice was a cross, and John 10:17-18 makes it clear that the cross was indeed his own choice.

His struggle in the garden was not in knowing the will of God but in accepting it.

Please, listen as I read out text for today; John 10:10-18.

10 The thief comes not but that he may steal, and kill, and destroy: I am come that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.
11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep:
12 but he who serves for wages, and who is not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf seizes them and scatters the sheep.
13 Now he who serves for wages flees because he serves for wages, and is not himself concerned about the sheep.
14 I am the good shepherd; and I know those that are mine, and am known of those that are mine,
15 as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.
16 And I have other sheep which are not of this fold: those also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one flock, one shepherd.
17 On this account the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it again.
18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have authority to lay it down and I have authority to take it again. I have received this commandment of my Father.

Let’s never forget that Jesus could have stepped off this world at any time and returned to heaven. 

Didn’t He tell those that arrested Him that He could ask His Father and He would send 12 legions of angels to rescue Him—that’s 72,000 angels?

He chose the Cross, because He loves you.

There are three things I want to say about the choice that Jesus made.

I. Since the cross was love's choice, it was an act of obedience.

God had given Jesus a task to do.

That task was the redemption of persons from their sin.

It could be accomplished only by the death of Christ.

When Christ gave himself as a sacrifice for our sin, it was in obedience to God and to his will for Him.

God has given each one of us a task to do.

Our task is not the redemption of humankind; it is the carrying of the message of God's love and the truth of God's redemption, to hurting humanity in many personal and practical ways.

When Jesus said, “I have received this commandment of my Father,” He meant that the Father had instructed Him to lay down His life and to rise again from among the dead.

His death and resurrection were necessary acts in fulfillment of the Father’s will.

Therefore, He became obedient unto death, and rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures.

Jesus accomplished the task the Father gave Him to do, but that task could be accomplished only through obedience.

Sonship for Jesus, and childhood for us, can never be based on anything except obedience.

For Jesus to have been disobedient to God's will would have short-circuited God's plan for the redemption of humankind.

When Paul was giving his testimony before King Agrippa, he said, "So then, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven" (Acts 26:19 NIV).

Jesus could have said the same thing.

He was not disobedient to God's will.

But what about us?

God has given us many missions—to witness, tithe, and pray, and to express compassion, love, and mercy.

Have we been obedient?

I believe there is a reason for obedience.

We are obedient to God, because God can have no rivals in our hearts.

God must claim first place.

Obedience to him and to his will must come first.

II. Since the cross was love's choice, it was an act of glory.

From this passage of scripture, it can be seen that Jesus expected to die.

He never doubted that he would die.

And he equally never doubted that he would rise again.

Jesus could have this confidence that the cross was the way to glory, and that he would rise from the dead, because he had confidence in God.

He knew that God would never abandon him.

The Lord Jesus said this about His death

17 On this account the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it again.
18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have authority to lay it down and I have authority to take it again. I have received this commandment of my Father.

Here in these verses, the Lord Jesus explained what He would do in order to bring mankind to Himself.

He looked forward to the time of His death, burial, and resurrection.

These words would be utterly out of place were the Lord Jesus a mere man.

He spoke of laying down His life and taking it again by His own power.

He could only do this because He is God.

No one could take the Lord’s life from Him.

He is God, and as God, He greater than all the murderous plots of His creatures.

He had power in Himself to lay down His life, and He also had power to take it again.

But did not men kill the Lord Jesus?

They did.

This is clearly stated in Acts 2:23 and in 1 Thessalonians 2:15.

The Lord Jesus allowed them to do it, and this was an exhibition of His power to lay down His life.

Furthermore, He “gave up His Spirit” as an act of His own strength and will.

The Father loved the Lord Jesus because of His willingness to die and rise again, in order that lost sheep might be saved.

Many times the Lord Jesus used the expression “I am.”

Each time He was making a claim to equality with God the Father.

Here he presented Himself as the good shepherd who laid down His life for the sheep.

Ordinarily, the sheep were called upon to lay down their lives for the shepherd.

But the Lord Jesus died for the flock.

Thomas Kelly wrote a short poem that expresses that thought very well:

When blood from a victim must flow,
This Shepherd by pity was led,
To stand between us and the foe,
And willingly died in our stead.


Jesus believed that the suffering would only last for a moment.

The glory that would come through the cross was for all eternity.

It has been stated before: "No cross, no crown."

Without the cross there would be no coronation of Jesus as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

In general anything worth getting is hard to get.

This is true in academics, sports, and other learned skills, crafts, and techniques.

The world is filled with people who have missed their destiny because they would not pay the price.

The price may be sacrifice, even self-sacrifice.

But the suffering that lasts for a moment gives rise to eternal glory.

It was true for Christ, and it is true for us.

III. Since the cross was love's choice, it was a voluntary act.

Jesus repeatedly stressed that his death was voluntary.

Throughout his ministry Jesus pointed to the cross.

When the woman in Bethany anointed the feet of Jesus with precious ointment, some saw it as a waste, but Jesus told His disciples, “She has poured this perfume on me to prepare my body for burial.” (Matt. 26:12).

Following Peter's great confession at Caesarea Philippi, Jesus repeatedly told the disciples of his death and resurrection, even though they didn’t catch the references until after the resurrection.

Jesus knew what the cross was; it was an instrument of death.

He was not unacquainted with the agony of the cross when he made love's choice.

So, why did He do it?

He did it for me!

Jesus gave himself for us!

It was not for himself that he died.

He died for us.

He gave himself for our sins.

Therefore, you are one of “His own special people”.

The promises of God through His Word are yours to receive.

The only condition is your continued faithfulness and loving obedience as a follower of the living Lord.

Although all of us will stumble and fall short of His glory, the Lord Jesus has made provision for our failure through His cross.

We must simply confess our sin and be cleansed and restored; then, forgetting the past, continue ahead toward His upward call.

This transforming work is a process that requires daily choices to live life on God’s terms; but it is not a burdensome task, for He enables you by His grace and the power of His Spirit to walk according to God’s will for your life.

In the First World War a magnificent young French soldier was seriously wounded.

His arm was so badly injured that it had to be amputated.

The surgeon was grieved that the soldier would have to go through life maimed.

When the boy regained consciousness, the surgeon told him that he was sorry he had lost his arm.

The young man replied that he did not lose his arm; he gave it—for France.

Jesus gave his life—for us.

Conclusion

The work of Christ on the cross was for us.

It is effective in dealing with our sin.

It enables us to triumph in the situation that sin created inside us, between us and others, and between us and God.

Nothing else was required, because God was satisfied.

In "World Aflame" Billy Graham tells of a hill overlooking the harbor of Macao on the south coast of China.

Portuguese settlers once built a massive cathedral on a hill, but a typhoon proved stronger than the work of human hands, and the building fell some centuries ago.

The building fell in ruins except for the front wall.

High on the top of that jutting wall, challenging the elements down through the years, is a great bronze cross.

In 1825 Sir John Bowring was shipwrecked near there.

Clinging to the wreckage of his ship, at long last he caught sight of that great cross, which showed him where he could find safety.

This dramatic rescue moved him to write the words familiar to millions:

In the cross of Christ I glory, Towering o 'er the wrecks of time; All the light of sacred story. Gathers round its head sublime.

When love made a choice, it chose a cross.

By that cross we can know and experience the love of God, and we can have life.

What is your choice based on love's choice?

Do you have any questions or comments?

 Little Britney loves Jesus and wanted to make sure he knew it. To find the best way for communicating her love she sought her mom’s counsel and asked, “Mom, I know that Jesus lives inside my heart but how do I tell him I love him? Do you think if I write ‘I love you’ on a piece of paper and eat it, he’ll get the note?”

Today’s Christian Woman, Sept./Oct. 1996, p. 41

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