Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Father Loves the Son (Jn. 10:16-18)

This is a personal summary of the preaching of Rev Dr Stephen Tong on 14 August 2011 in True Way Presbyterian Church. It was preached in Chinese with English translation.

Passage: John 10:16-18

In second century people began to study comparison between Jerusalem and Athen. Jerusalem was known as the central of faith, the place where there were many Scriptures scholars. Here people sought after after signs and wonder. Athen was the major city that observes and learn, where many philosophers sought after knowledge.

Paul writes the Jews seek after signs and the Greeks seek after knowledge but we preach Christ crucified. Jesus did not seek after signs in Jerusalem, nor knowledge in Greeks, but made disciples in Galilee. What happened to all these experts? These philosophers? In the end it is the Galileans who became the apostles and their influence were greater than the Jerusalem religious leaders and Athenian philosophers. The New Testament has brought the world culture and morality to its climax. In Galilee, not in Jerusalem and Athen, Jesus declared He is the way, the truth and the life.

Here Jesus said, “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” (Jn. 10:16)

This is the beginning of new group of believers that would come about because of the work of the Holy Spirit. The church must have the concept that there are others outside the church who are also God’s sheep that need to be brought back, those who have never heard the gospel. When the church understand this, the church cannot fall asleep and ignore its mission. Many churches have long history but have not won many to the Lord. God said to Joshua that he was already very old but there are still many lands unconquered. In our company, our school and the neighbourhood where we live, many people do not know God, who will bring them to the Lord?

After this, Jesus said something unusual, “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again.” (Jn. 10:17). What kind of father’s love is this? If the Father loves Him, why He let His Son die instead of protecting Him? Islam believed Jesus a great prophet and man of God. They have the concept that God would not allow Jesus to die on the cross thus did not believe that Jesus actually died on the cross. But this verse on the contrary said, God loves His only Son because His Son gave His life. Why would the Father allow such sufferings on His Son in exchange of our lives which are of infinitely much less value? What sort of love is this? This is very paradoxical. It seems contradictory and inconsistent with a father’s love.

God allowed Jesus to die. This is the greatest paradox in the universe but it is the truth. If Jesus did not die we have no life. If Jesus was not cursed we will not receive blessings. If Jesus did not get rejected we do not get acceptance by God. This verse said God loves the Son because He lay down His life for us. This cannot be found in any ethics or religion. The Son of God loves us and is willing to die for us.

God commanded to Abraham to sacrifice his one and only son, Isaac, whom he loved, to God. This caused great tension and conflict of love. In this instance Abraham did not falter or hesitate. He did not ask why. He simply obeyed. Kierkegaard explained Abraham’s sacrifice as the leap of faith. It is directed to something which you cannot understand and you simply trust and obey the will of God.

But how can God’s command be so difficult? The moment Abraham was about to slay his son Isaac, suddenly God commanded him to stop and not to lay a hand on Isaac. Abraham looked and saw a lamb, which was sacrificed instead of Isaac. This lamb symbolises God’s one and only Son who would be sacrificed for us. Abraham felt the sacrifice of his only beloved son. In the New Testament we see God sacrificed His one and only Son Jesus Christ.

God allowed His Son to die so that you might be saved. May the Spirit of God move us and enable us to understand the heart of God that we would truly respond to God’s love.


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