FIRST UMC – NEBRASKA CITY
4TH SUNDAY IN LENT
SUNDAY MARCH 31st 2019
TEXTS: JOHN 14: 15 – 21 MATTHEW 27: 46
THEME: ABANDONMENT: FOURTH-MILE MIRACLE
We continue with Lenten study by Steven Furtick: Seven -Mile Miracle: Experiencing the Last Words of Christ as Never Before. Published by Multnomah Books 178, Colorado Springs CO.
Last week we discussed the place of Relationship. We learned that humans are relational in nature. God put in them something that makes it possible to relate to other humans, animals, nature and the environment. relationships can lead to friendships. Good relationship respect health boundaries and are usually grounded in love and trust. We also learned that relationship grow and deepen with time. This growth call for some investment from both side (time, emotion, commitment…)
Today we turn on the fourth mile – (Abandonment) that Jesus went through and it was not very easy. This mile was hard because Jesus felt abandoned by his father at the time of need. He questioned his father for abandoning him but he knew that the will of the father at this stage was the most important. Like in the mountain where he prayed for his father to take the cup away from him here Jesus felt the loneliness and the pain. Jesus walked this painful mile on our behalf so that we may never have to go through that suffering to save ourselves.
What lesson do we learn from this mile?
- Jesus took our pain: This is the second garden (after Eden) where God shows his redeeming power. God knew the only way to redeem the people he loved was to give the most precious thing he had which was his only Son. Jesus walked in this world as the face of God to the people. Jesus experienced all kinds of challenges the human received. At the garden of Gethsemane which means “Olive Press” Jesus had the choice to make. Drink the cup of suffering or avoid it. This reminds us of the story of Jesus and the 40 days in the wilderness where the devil was trying to trap him to take the shortcuts in the mission, he was called to fulfil but Jesus triumphed over Satan. By avoiding it would be following the voice of Satan and his mission to the world would have failed. Jesus accepted to take this cup of suffering so that we will not have to go through the same.
- Jesus promises companionship: At times of happiness and pain companionship is always valuable. In our faith journey God never promised us smooth ride. We will have to cross rivers and valleys, go over the mountain and sometimes cross the seas. The one thing he does promise us is his presence. These are his words to his people. “But now, this is what the LORD says- he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you, I have summoned you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you and when you pass through the rivers, they will sweep over you, when you walk through the fire you will not be burned; the flames will not set you a blaze” (Isaiah 43: 1-2). God promise to us is not clearing all the difficulties in our path of life but rather for him to walk with us to make sure we go through it all safely. Jesus at this point did feel the loneliness at this time of need. That why he cried “Eloi Eloi lama sabachthani” which means “My God my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). Jesus knows how it feels to be abandoned and his promise to us is that He will never leave you or forsake. Jesus presence is what keeps us going everyday. Jesus is willing to protect us everyday no matter what we go through. Isaiah wrote these words of encouragement. “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me” (Isaiah 49:15-16). God is a faithful God at all times.
- Jesus blood is our victory: We have victory in Jesus. It does not matter the pain we go through Jesus has promised us victory because the devil is a defeated enemy. The blood of Jesus on the ross was the redeeming blood that washes away our sins. It was the blood of hope and forgiveness. His mercies are new everyday. Paul writes these words to encourage us, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). The victory we have in Jesus is the confirmation of knowing that Jesus defeated death on the cross. Whatever challenge we face everyday we be assured that Jesus is helping us face them. We also know that there is nothing impossible before God. When you face any battles in life may it be health, financial, family, work related no matter what it is Jesus on the cross said it is finished. We emerge on the other side as victors in Jesus name. Part of what make us succeed is to fix our eye on him who is able. Paul write to the church in Corinth these words of encouragement as they faced challenges in their faith walk. “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18)
- Reflection Questions: As we think of the Journey of Jesus on this fourth mile, we would like to reflect on the following questions in a personal way.
- How did Jesus experience the ultimate forgiveness?
- What does Jesus abandonment teach you about forgiveness?
- Describe a time when you experienced abandonment?