Amen We've been walking through this this little Advent series on on "Love Gives". and really one of the foundational text for this Series has been well one of the most well-known verses in all the scriptures John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave it's only Son. This is the meaning behind everything that we should be doing at Christmas. Christmas is not about the decorations. It's not about the Traditions. It's not about the songs. It's not about the food. Though that's good!
It's about the birth of Jesus. It's about the love of God; that in God's wisdom, in God's initiative, out of God's Sovereign plan because he loved He gave.
Gave His Son. That is the nature of love Love gives. Love is other oriented love is not concerned with what it can get but is consumed with what it can give. Love puts its own interest to the side and looks to the interests of others. That's what God did in sending Jesus. God so loved the world and let's be clear, it's not because the world was lovely.
God didn't look down and say man. Those people have got it so together. They're so awesome. They're so beautiful. I want to give them a gift. He look down at a world in Rebellion. He looked down at a world broken in sin. He looked down at a world that had rejected him consistently Time After Time After Time, but he doesn't respond in Anger. He doesn't respond in wrath. He doesn't respond and hatred He is moved by love because our God is love.
And He loved the world. In it's brokeness and He gave. He gave His son. It was a beautiful and costly gift. And as we've been walking through this series we talked about how love gives. Love gives time. love gives Talent love his treasure. Love gives Thanks. Last week Pastor Denny I thought did an amazing job at starting to talk about the birth of Jesus. How love gave in concrete historical real terms. God gave his son and it was a costly gift. It was costly for the father. It was costly for the Son. A great price was paid for God so loved the world. Love always has a cost. There's always a pain that is involved in in love it. There's a denial there's an acceptance there's a price to be paid in love and God willingly paid that price. I want to continue this morning thinking about that and the reality that love chooses. I want you to know that the love that God has for every single one of us in this room is not accidental. I want you to know not not just in your head but deep in your bones when you walk out of here this morning. I want you to know. The God's love for you was on purpose. It wasn't a random act of kindness. It was an intentional decision and choice of love. Jesus knew the pain that was involved in his coming the father knew the price that had to be paid in sending the Son and they chose to do it because they love you and me so much. I want you to walk out of here. confident in the love of God Not again, because you're so lovable. I've met most of you. You're all right.
Love of God is Not rooted in our Behavior. Not rooted in our accomplishments It's not rooted in our achievement. The love of God is rooted in the character and the nature and the commitment and the choice of God to love his creation.
So we're gonna look at a few texts this morning. And I want to start with one of the most important texts in the Old Testament in the book of Isaiah. We find a prophecy given 750 years before the birth of Jesus. 750 years before the birth of Jesus God speaks to his people through the prophet Isaiah and he promises them one of many promises that there is going to come a messiah. A Savior is going to come. One is going to come who's going to be able to do what nobody else did before the Messiah is promised and a massage is needed. Others been moments of hope that have always ended in failure. Adam started out well. Didn't finish strong. Noah started out well. Didn't finish strong. Abraham started out well. Didn't finish strong. David started out well.
Israel as a whole could never keep the law and the Commandments everywhere. You look in the Old Testament story in the narrative. There's these these signs, these the Shadows, these promises of God bringing restoration and reconciliation. But because all of these people are broken humans too they can't be the savior because they need a savior.
God promises one day I'm going to send a servant. One day, I'm going to send a Messiah He will not fail. He will not falter. He will be obedient. He will succeed while all others have failed. It's facsinating, my undergrads is in history and philosophy and and I love the history of theology. I love the history of biblical interpretation. This text that we're going to look at Isaiah 52 and 53 one of the most well-known text in the Old Testament. It's fascinating when you when you look at the ancient rabbis, Isaiah wrote 750 BC you look at all the rabbis from that point on to the birth of Jesus universally. Every single one of them interpreted Isaiah 52 and Isaiah 53 about the Messiah. It's so it's so clear as we walk through it. You're going to see how crystal clear it is. There's no difference of opinion every single scrap of parchment and and and resource that we have from the rabbis of that time every single one of them says this is talking about the Messiah. At the time of Jesus when the rabbis were flourishing every single one of them, even though they disagreed with each other on all sorts of thing every single one of them agreed and believe that Isaiah 52 and 53 was talking about the Messiah into the first century. They all believed that the 2nd Century they all believe the third the fourth the fifth the 6th the 7th. Not until about 800ad
One of the first rabbis in frustration?
of how perfectly Isaiah 52 and 53 lined up with the life and Ministry and death and resurrection of Jesus.
After fifteen hundred years of universal agreement that this text was talking about Messiah. One of the rabbi said that you know, maybe it's not talking about the Messiah. That's really inconvenient. All of his contemporary Rabbis said "dude" you're crazy. Everybody knows this is about the Messiah but the idea snuck in. And over the course of time you you march forward to today and the universal agreement of all the Jewish rabbis is that it's not about the Messiah. There is a note of warning in there isn't there? for you and I. It is very easy. It's very tempting. To read the scriptures in a way that we want them to be read. To pick to choose. To highlight the stuff we like and ignore the stuff that we don't in fact, that's exactly what the Jewish Community has done with Isaiah 52 and 53. Couple hundred years ago it got removed from the the the weekly readings in the synagogue. If if you were to go talk to Orthodox Jews in our country today or go to Israel and talk to Orthodox Jews. And if you were to ask them about Isaiah 52 or 53, there's an unbelievably good chance that they've never ever heard it. Because it's not read in the synagogues. It's not talked about because when it is read and when it is talked about you gotta deal with Jesus. How about we deal with Jesus this morning? Sound good. All right picks up in verse 13 of Isaiah chapter 52 behold my servant shall act wisely and this is in the context as God is talking about his servant we're talking about the Messiah. God is going to send the servant who's going to succeed where everyone else has failed. He shall be high and lifted up and shall be exalted! Well that sounds like a messiah that sounds like something we can get behind going to be wise He's gonna be high and lifted up. He's going to be exalted. Yeah, give me that kind of Messiah except for the next verse. And many were astonished at you. His appearance was so marred beyond human semblance and his form beyond that of the children of mankind. So he's going to be high and lifted up, but he's going to be so disfigured that nobody wants to look at Him. Already, we've got some dissonance taking place in this verse. The Messiah that God is going to send is going to shatter our conceptions and misconceptions about what the Messiah should look like. God's going to do something that's going to be really strange and radical. He's going to send a servant that's going to be exalted, but he's going to be disfigured. You going to be marred behind beyond the semblance of the children of mankind. You're going to look at him in revulsion.
But the effect of that so shall He sprinkle many nations
The brokeness of the exalted one is going to have Universal ramifications. It is his Brokenness that is going to bring joy and healing others.
King shut their mouths because of him that which is not been told them they see in that which they have not heard hey understand. So who has believed what he has heard from us and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? So the Messiah is going to come but who's going to believe who's going to receive him when he come? Or he grew up before him like a young plant like a root out of the dry ground. That phrase out of the dry ground has come to mean a lot more to me living here for the last seven years.
Grew out of the dry ground, but I want I want you to think about the context of this this was written 750 years before the birth of Jesus and God moves through more prophets and they went into Exile. They came out of Exile all the stuff happens. But then we have 400 years of Silence. No Prophet sent. No, Visions given. No dreams manifest. The God who speaks is silent for 400 years. Generation after generation after generation longing for the word of the Lord frustrated by his silence. This is dry ground. Out of this dry ground of the Silence of the Lord God will speak and a roots, shoot will come out.
It's not going to be impressive. Not to be astounding according to the the thinking of the world. It says He had no form or Majesty that we should look at him. No beauty that we should desire him. But that's not how Hollywood would bring about a messiah We all know how Hollywood would bring about a Messiah. He's going to be buff right?
Even buffer than me, right? I mean he's going to be Lord have mercy he's going to have that square Rock chiseled.
I'll follow him. That's not God. That's not God's way. You know that God's ways are not our ways, right. That's why I'm not sending him. There's not there's not going to be anything in him hat's so attractive that you go oh that's the one. Because he's not going to save according to the power of this world. He's not going to save because he's so strong physically or he's so attractive physically that that's not what it's about. That's how the world works and look where that's gotten us. Not going to send that.
Going to come in humility. Gonna come different. No, form or Majesty that we should look at him. No beauty that we should desire him. In fact. He was despised and rejected by men. A man of Sorrows acquainted grief We started this out Isaiah the Servant is going to come the Messiah is going to come he's going to be wise he's going to be exalted. Yes. He is. But it's not going to be because of his physical appearance or his strength and prowess. It's not going to be a Messiah that uses a sword. I'm going to send a Messiah in humility.
He's not going to be accepted.
Now he'll be despised and rejected by men. A Man of Sorrows acquainted with grief. And as one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised.
And we esteemed him not.
God will send his servant God will send his Messiah and God's Own people will not recognize him. He will be rejected.
But that won't stop him from carrying out his mission surely. He's borne our griefs and carried our sorrows yet. We esteemed him stricken Smitten by God and afflicted. Oh the irony of the cross.
Throw Jesus up on the cross who deserves no punishment for sin. And God puts upon him the punishment for my sin, and yours. He's borne our griefs, he carried our sorrows even though we nailed him to the cross.
He was pierced for our transgression. Crushed for our iniquities. upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace and by his wounds we are healed. Oh What a Beautiful text. The Great Exchange. God takes the perfect righteousness of Jesus and applies it to us. God takes the imperfect righteousness of us and applies it to him. He's pierced not cuz he deserves to be pierced but because we do. He bears our inequity upon himself and he suffers. Love hurt.
Love has a price.
All we Like sheep have gone astray. We've turned everyone to his own way. That's true. Isn't it? You own that with me this morning. There's not a perfect person in this room. We've all failed.
Failed ourselves failed our loved ones, failed our Father. We've all gone our own way. We didn't earn or deserve the Messiah. We had no expectation. There's no entitlement. God doesn't owe us rescue.
We've earned judgment and Wrath. That's what we deserve. We're given Love & Mercy because that's who God is.
and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. The Messiah is going to come. Not the Messiah anybody's going to expect in fact, he's the Messiah that's going to be rejected by the very people that he came to save. They will reject him. They will respond in violence. They will punish him, but what man intends for evil God intends for good. The Lord will put on him the iniquity of us all. This is God's plan. This is why the Messiah is sent. Not to defeat a human King. Not to overthrow a human Nation or Kingdom. The Messiah is sent to deal with the brokenness of the human heart and the reality of wickedness and evil in God's creation. The Messiah comes to start putting it all back together again.
God puts our shame our guilt our sin and puts it on him. And there's a price. Text continues he was oppressed. He was afflicted yet. He opened not his mouth.
Oh Lord, that we could learn a lesson. I don't know about you, but I am a master of the whine. Not the stuff you drink with cheese.
The whine. Ahhhh.
It doesn't take much. sometimes it's just a bad hair day, right? Like it doesn't take much.
It doesn't take much for us to complain to grumble. to criticize.
Just to whine. The reality is most of our struggles are caused by us.
Jesus didn't sin. Perfectly obedient.
But as He suffers, not because of what he did, but because of what we did He doesn't whine. He doesn't grumble. He doesn't complain. He obeys. He trusts. He fulfills. He doesn't open his mouth like a lamb that is led to the slaughter like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.
By oppression by oppression and judgment He was taken away and as for his generation who considered that he was cut off from the land of the living stricken for the transgression of my people. Not only is He going to be rejected not only is He going to be despised. Not only will he suffer violence Not only would he be pierced and Crushed. He will die.
The Messiah will die. He will be cut off from the land of the living. He will have no generation following him. He will die. The wages of sin is death. If God is going to put upon him the iniquity of us all death must come!
They made his grave with the wicked and with the rich man in his death, although he had done no violence and there was no deceit in his mouth. He would die.
He would be buried.
That's not the end of the story.
Versed 10. Yet the Lord Was pleased to crush him. The Lord was pleased to crush him to put him to grief for when his soul makes an offering for Guilt. Then he shall see his offspring and prolong his days, The good pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. It's going to get bad. It's going to get ugly. It's going to be messy. The Messiah is going to be rejected. The Messiah is going to be denied. The Messiah's going to be killed. The Messiah is going to be buried and when that has taken place, the Lord will be pleased with his acceptable sacrifice.
And he will live again.
The Messiah's coming as prophesied. The messiah's rejection is prophesied. The messiah's death is prophesied. The Messiah's burial is prophesied and the messiah's resurrection is prophesied. When when the Lord is pleased and brings him back then he shall see his offspring.
The story doesn't end with his death. The story does not culminate in his burial. It's just getting warmed up and started. Messiah will live again and he will see his offspring. You know, who is offspring are. It's us. I'm his offspring. I stand Here accepted. I stand Here forgiven. I stand Here a new creation not cuz Jeremy Erb has anything good in and of himself. I stand here this morning a new man because I Am The Offspring of Jesus Christ.
He paid my price. He bore my shame. He carried my sorrows. He paid my debt. He gave me his life.
You see in this text that the Lord's pleasure, the Lord's will the Lord's desire it please the Lord to do this. Now that doesn't mean God is masochistic and mean and he loves the violence. No God is pleased with the results.
Nobody forced God to do this. Nobody was twisting God's arm. This was God's free Sovereign Choice. I'm going to do this for the sake of my people because there is no other way to rescue them.
No one else can pay the price. No sacrifice can atone but my own son. God chose this. God chose you. He chose to love us. His love was not accidental. It was on purpose. Listen out of the anguish of his soul. He shall see and be satisfied by his knowledge shall the righteous one my servant make many to be accounted righteous and he shall bear their iniquity. Therefore I will divide with him a portion with the many and he shall divide the spoil with the strong because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors yet He bore the sins of many and now makes intercession for those transgressors.
I can see why those who don't want to acknowledge Jesus as the Messiah would ignore this text.
Because Jesus is all over it. You line up the life and Ministry of Jesus with the Prophecies of this text. You see clearly that he is the promised servant. The sent Messiah. The savior not just of the Jews, but of all mankind. Jesus offered himself. But let me say it this way last week Denny did a great job saying love gave in pain love cost. There's a great cost. What I want you to see this morning, is that great cost but that love gave on purpose love chose.
Don't don't let that slip past you. It's not unimportant. In fact that makes the world of difference. Jesus is not an accidental savior. He wasn't stumbling along Bound by circumstance. He was intentional in his coming. It was planned. Ephesians 1 said before the foundations of the world it was playing. This is God's heart and sovereign design. God is sending his son to rescue us because quite frankly we need it! Amen? You need it. You need him. It was costly do not forget the price that was paid. You were bought at a cost.
But don't forget it was an intentional choice. That's How Deeply God loves you That's how much God cares for you. And not the you that we see this morning. Not the pretty you, the done up you, the church you. I'm talking about the you at your worst. The you that you try to hide in the closet that you that you hope nobody ever knows about he's seen it all knows it all and he still loves you.
He chose to come get us. Chose to come get us.
In John chapter 9 Jesus is out and about teaching and healing and He comes across this man who's born blind. And of course in that culture any sort of disfigurment like that is always connected to sin. So everybody in his life had always wondered; well did his dad sin? Did his mom sin? Did he sin in the womb? I don't know what that would look like. Who sinned? That was the big question, "who sinned?" That wasn't Jesus' question at all. Jesus comes along sees this guy, he's blind and Jesus heals him.
Gives him his sight back. And and they don't throw Jesus a parade. There's no like I got my sight back party. No, because Jesus did it on the Sabbath. On the Lord's day. He did the Lord's work and that was a problem for the Lord's people.
So thay they literally have to have a council. Right? We have to investigate this.
They bring in their witnesses. They interview the mom and dad and mom and dad are like we have nothing to do with it. Leave us alone. They interview the guy he goes Well I couldn't see and then I could see so maybe God was in that. And they go stop talking to us. You were born in sin. We don't even wan to listen to you!
You can't invent this stuff. Now Jesus responds to this whole fiasco with these words. He says for judgement I came into this world that those who do not see may see and that those who see may become blind. That's not the warm-and-fuzzy Jesus. I mean that's that's a strong Jesus. Jesus says listen I came on a mission. I came on purpose. and the reality is when I come I bring judgement. I bring judgment. I I bring truth. I I bring the decision of God. I bring the reality of the kingdom. And so those that didn't see they're going to see and those who think they say will become blind. The Pharisees overhear Him say that. And they go "Hey! You calling us blind?"
Jesus said, You wish you were blind. Listen, listen to what Jesus says. He says if you were blind you would not have guilt but now that you say we see your guilt remains. You're not blind, you're willfully blind. You should see but you don't want to see. And so you bring guilt upon yourself.
So then Jesus launches in in chapter 10 of the Gospel of John into this beautiful teaching and as always, you know, Jesus uses what happens, right, to teach. And so He begins this extended metaphor of a shepherd and sheep. He says I'm a good shepherd. Come for my sheep. They know my voice. I am the gate and the door anybody that comes into me is safe. Everybody else wants to use you. Everybody else wants you to serve them. The thief comes to kill steal and destroy but I come that you might have life. Did the son of man not come to be served but to serve. And to give his life as a ransom for many. Jesus says I'm the Good Shepherd. I've come to gather. I've come to rescue you. A good shepherd doesn't look out at a bunch of sheep and say take care of me.
What a disaster that would be!
A good shepherd knows his role is to take care of the sheep. Why? Because they are too dumb to take care of themselves.
And every day I look in the mirror I say yep. I need a shepherd. I need a shepherd. Jesus is I am the Good Shepherd. I have come. To rescue my sheep. Now listen to what he says in John 10. verse 17. He said for this reason the father loves me. Because I lay down my life. That I may take it up again. Jesus says I came to be the Good Shepherd and the way that I'm going to be the Good Shepherd. The reason the father is pleased with me. It's not because I came to get but because I came to give. Not because I'm greedy but because I'm generous. The Father loves me because I'm going to lay my life down and I'm going to take it back up again. And lest you think that was accidental. Listen to what he says, no one takes it from me. Who killed Jesus? And we can answer that and say well the Romans killed Jesus. Pilate killed Jesus. The Sanhedrin. The Jews. The mob. The crowd. No one took his life away.
No one takes my life for me. Jesus said I lay it down of my own accord. That's really important. Because it's not a sacrifice unless he chose it. So if you come up to me and you you take my wallet out of my pocket and you remove some money from it, and you take it for yourself. And then somebody later says oh what happened Jeremy? Oh I sacrifice that money for them. You stole it. You took it.
Give it back. There's no sacrifice when it's forced. If the Romans kill Jesus it's not a sacrifice. If men took his life is not a sacrifice. Without his volition without his will without his choice, it's not a sacrifice. But Jesus is very clear. This is my choice. I am going, I am choosing to do this. No one can take my life. If I want to I will snap my fingers and a world will be undone. I'll bring in the ninja warrior angels.
Get out the Depends cuz it's on.
No one takes my life from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and I have authority to take it up again.
This charge I have received from My Father.
God chose to send the Son. Jesus chose to be sent. The spirit agreed with the whole thing. This is not God the Father picking on God the Son. This is God in unity working together to rescue His people. What a beautiful gospel.
Let me close with John 15.
I want you to know that God loves you.
And I want you to know that God chose to love you. And as the reality of that sinks in. I want you to hear the call of Jesus. To love like he loved. Love chooses. You know far too often, we just want to stop. We just want to go "Yeah God loves me. God chose me."
It's not supposed to stop there. Love begets love. Love generates love. We love because he has first loved us. If you really hear me this morning, if you really hear the Lord this morning communicating expressing his love and his choice of you you have no choice but to be transformed by that. That love will compel you. That love will change you. That love will move you and shape you. That's what it's supposed to do. So here's Jesus on the night that he's betrayed. He's just had the last supper with his disciples. He's now preparing himself and preparing them for what's going to transpire and in the middle of this, this is what he says. He me says this is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you.
This is this is my rule. This is my law. This is my expectation of you. This is what I want from you. Jesus says, I want you to love one another the way that I have loved you. How did Jesus love us?
He tells us greater love has no one than this. That someone lay down his life for his friends. Jesus' life wasn't going to be taken from him. Jesus was laying his life down for his friends. We gotta, we got to receive that. We got to let that wash over us. We got to let that transform us. Rescue us. Save us. But we need to hear the words of Jesus. Jesus says: the way that I've loved you the way that I chose you the way that I suffered and sacrificed for you. I want you to do that for each other. I want you to lay down your life for your friends. Like I've laid down my life.
That's not the American gospel. The American gospel is God loves you and
there's a Rolls-Royce in your future.
The Gospel Jesus is you are more loved than you ever imagined.
And that love will change you. And that love doesn't just come to you. It needs to flow through you. Jesus says that you're my friends if you do what I command you. What does He command? Love one another. No longer do I call you servants for the servant does not know what his master is doing but I've called you friends for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you. I know that at some point in our lives we heard the gospel. I know that there is a choice involved. I know that we respond to the invitation of the Kingdom that you got to understand the importance of this verse. Your salvation didn't come about by your choice. Your salvation came about by the choice of Jesus.
This verse gives me so much confidence and freedom and security and joy. It's not about my choice or lack thereof. It's about His choice. He chose me. Chose you I don't get it. But I love it. You got to know you didn't choose me, Jesus said. I chose you. I chose you for a reason. He said I chose you when appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that that fruit should abide that whatever you might ask the Father in My name he may give it to you.
These things I command you.
So that you will love one another.
Here's the message. Love requires a choice. God chose to love us. Will we choose to love one another? Not not because we choose it. Not because we manufacture it. Not because we create it. Not cuz we like I want to love.
I'm going to love.
We love because he first loved us.
Love requires a choice do we choose to receive his love and we choose to accept his love do we choose to walk in his love? Will we choose to love one another? You want to celebrate Jesus this Advent season? You want to celebrate Jesus this Christmas time? Celebrate it by doing what Jesus asked you to do.
One commandment This is my commandment, that you love one another just as I have loved you. Amen.