sexta-feira, 9 de dezembro de 2016
(The first word of Jesus Christ ...)
"The text for this message is found in the Gospel according to Luke 23:33 and 34:" When they came to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him, as well as to the evildoers, one on the right and one on the left. But Jesus said, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. Then they divided his garments, and cast lots. "
This is the first of the last seven words that Jesus uttered on the cross of Calvary. Imagine the scene with me: Three crosses protrude into the horizon. In the middle is the Lord Jesus; On the right side a thief and on the left side another thief. Jesus died the way he always lived. He came to this world to seek sinners. He lived among them in order to reach them, to forgive them and to transform them. And when the time came to die, he died crucified among them. And you can see Him there in the hour of agony.
When a person is about to die, everyone wants to hear what he has to say. Jesus uttered seven words. The first, fourth, and last words are prayers that He addresses to His Father. He prays, holding communion with Him from whom all His strength has come to be able to live a victorious life on this earth. He began His ministry in prayer. And His ministry also ends in prayer.
My friend, no one can survive victoriously in this life unless they learn to live like Jesus. Constantly depending on the Father, placing life at the feet of the Father, receiving the strength of the Father.
Do you know why Jesus lived a victorious life on this earth? Not because it was God. When He came to this earth He made a covenant with His Father: He would not use His divine powers without the consent of the Father. Then He learned to live a life dependent on the Father. Here was the secret of His victory. Do you know why we sometimes live defeated lives? Because we do not learn to depend on the Father as Jesus did.
"Father," said Jesus at the hour of death. He had a crown of thorns piercing His face, but that did not stop Him from seeing the love of His Father. His hands were nailed to a cross, they could not heal people any more, but He could pray. Their feet could no longer walk to reach the sinner. But that did not stop Him from praying. His disciples had abandoned Him. He could no longer teach them. But that did not stop Jesus from praying.
Oh, dear ones, sometimes when difficulties arise in our lives, when we lose our job, or when our child suffers an accident, the first thought that assails us is the fact that perhaps God has abandoned us. Maybe God has forgotten us. Jesus in the midst of suffering, pain, agony, death, persecuted, mocked, insulted and bleeding, did not allow anything to stop Him from knowing that His Father loved Him and looked at Him.
Am I speaking at the moment to someone who has been unemployed for a long time? Can you see the face of the Father despite being in need? Am I speaking right now to someone condemned to death by medical science? Your illness has no remedy? I ask: Are you able to see the face of His Father despite medical science saying that there is no remedy for you? Friends rejected you? Were you betrayed by the people you loved most? Has everyone abandoned him? Do you feel lonely? And despite all this, can you see the face of the Father? Jesus did it on the cross of Calvary. Without friends, abandoned by His disciples, hated by the crowd, punished by the soldiers, falsely accused, unjustly crucified, wounded, in agony, was able to say: Father, I do not see You; It's all dark, but I know you're present. I know you're there. Are we able to do this?
Let us now turn to another aspect of the biblical text. In the hour of agony Jesus cries out to His Father, but does not ask for help. If you were condemned to death for some illness, you would surely kneel to pray and ask God to restore your health, would not you? If you were unemployed, you would pray to God for a new job, would not you? And if you were in prison, you would surely ask God to give you back your freedom.
But here was Jesus nailed to a cross. His first word might have been, "Father, get me out of here, set me free, soothe my pain." Or as Peter was sinking, "Lord, save me." But in the hour of agony Jesus does not pray for Him, or for others. And it is not for His friends or His family or good citizens. Do you know who you pray for? By His enemies, by Him who slaps Him, by Him who preaches His hands, by Him who spits in His face, by that one who puts the crown of thorns on His forehead. Jesus prays for His enemies and asks God to forgive them.
Ah, my friend, on the cross of Calvary, Jesus lives what he preached. In the Sermon on the Mount, He says, "Forgive your enemies." And on the cross He lives His message. It leaves the theology, the beauty of the words and enters the reality of the pardon, practices what it preached.
I ask: Can you pray for your enemies? Maybe, if you are living well, with a good balance in the bank, in good health, with the whole family together. In these circumstances you may even encourage yourself to pray for your enemies. But condemned to death by cancer, without a penny in his pocket, with the family torn to pieces and everyone against you, would you be able to pray for your enemies?
Am I speaking right now to someone who is not able to forgive someone who has done him wrong in the past? I will now mention why it is necessary to forgive, although forgiving is not always easy. On the cross, Jesus was suffering, the blood took His life by drop. Abandoned, forgotten by friends, mocked and insulted by enemies, bearing the sin of all mankind, He experienced deep mental, physical, and spiritual suffering. And if He harbored in His heart sorrow for what people were doing to Him, His suffering would be greater. In forgiving, He was not only practicing the theory of His preaching, He was also relieving His pain. Do you know why? For forgiveness benefits the forgiver more than he who is forgiven. This is what you have to put in your mind. If for some reason he is not able to forgive someone who betrayed him, who hurt him, he did something that terribly marked his life. If you are holding a grudge in your heart, you certainly do not have peace, you live hell every time you see that person. His spirit is poisoned. You may be living a happy moment, but when that person appears, it ruins everything.
But did you know that the other person is not even paying attention to what you feel? The only one who is suffering is you. So when you forgive, he earns nothing, but you cast out the poison of your life. The venom of sorrow does not hurt your enemy at all, but it disturbs your life. Your heart becomes a dump, because sorrow, hatred, rancor, and resentment are all rubbish. And when you can look at the other without feeling any more hurt, no grudge, you break free. The greatest beneficiary of forgiveness is the person who offers forgiveness, not the one who receives it.
One family invited me one night for dinner, but in the middle of the supper, the father took me to a corner and said, "Pastor, do you see that pretty girl? She's my oldest daughter. She grew up in the church, she was active, but one day someone accused her unjustly, she never did what she was accused of. Pastor did not understand her explanations and disciplined her, the pastor did not dialogue with her, she did not hear what she had to say, they simply disciplined her, so she said: Father, I did nothing and disciplined myself.I will never forgive this pastor for having But now, since I've been disciplined, I'll do what I've never done, at least so that discipline is fair. "
"So," said the father, "my daughter began to go down, down, down, and I can no longer see my daughter hurting herself in life. She has done terrible things, but I know that all this is rancor and sorrow that she keeps Pastor, please, talk to her. "
I tried to talk, but she did not want to hear much. I invited her to go to church and she showed up there, perhaps out of courtesy. At the time of the appeal I saw her struggling and crying without being able to respond to the appeal. The rancor and heartache were too great. But on Friday, I spoke about forgiveness and said that the person most benefited by forgiveness is the forgiving person, not the forgiven. Looking into her eyes, I said from the pulpit, "That person who has been unjust to you is no longer here and does not even remember that you exist, but day and night you are bruised and poisoned by that feeling. Forgive, you will finally be free from this noxious feeling that does not let you be happy.
And when I made the call, that girl got up and came forward, crying. And her tears took away the garbage she kept in her heart. Finally, he could say: I forgive that man. And he forgave him. And asked to be baptized again. He was completely free from hurt. The rancor had left her heart. Was happy.
I ask: Have you ever forgiven? Am I speaking to someone who can not forgive the husband who betrayed her, the woman who betrayed him, the father who never recognized him as a son? Have you forgiven the son who threw his name into the mud? The friend who betrayed you? Is your heart a deposit of garbage that only harms you?
The last thought of the text that I want to analyze today is the final result of Jesus' prayer. He prayed for the worst human beings that existed, those who were killing Him and who did not want to know anything about Him. Do you think Jesus' prayer was not answered? Follow me tonight to Jerusalem, 40 days after Jesus' death.
Peter is preaching, and those men who have crucified Jesus and who from the human point of view have never accepted Him as Savior are touched by the Holy Spirit. The prayer of Jesus on the cross for His enemies is answered. He prayed for His enemies and they are now transformed. Imagine the one who placed the crown of thorns on Jesus' forehead. Imagine him running toward Peter and saying, "I have pierced the crown on Jesus' forehead. Is there forgiveness for me?" And Peter says, "Repent and be baptized, and your sins will be forgiven." He who has nailed the hands of Jesus runs to Peter and says: I have nailed His hands. Is there forgiveness for me? And Peter says: If you are sorry, there is forgiveness. He who spit in the face, runs and says: I spat on His face. Is there forgiveness for me? And Peter says: There is, if you believe in the saving power of Him. And on that day they were baptized 3 thousand.
Forty days before they were spitting on His face, preaching His hands and His feet, insulting Him and cursing Him. But Jesus prayed for them and God answered prayer. Forty days later those men were reached by the saving gospel.
Am I preaching to someone whose husband or wife does not want to know anything about Jesus? Someone whose son is distancing himself from Jesus? Do you have a friend you've prayed for, prayed for, and he's still indifferent to Jesus? Keep praying. Pray for the worst, pray for those who in your opinion have no choice. If God responded to the prayer of Jesus, He will respond to His also and will give you this husband, this woman, this son, that father, that friend for Christ. He will. Do not lose heart. Keep praying, keep begging, keep asking. He will answer your prayer.
My mother prayed for a lifetime, asking God to transform my Father's heart. Many years praying for a man who wanted nothing to do with Jesus. And one day, my father was watching me a TV program, Preaching Program of the Word: invited my mother to go to church that day, finally he accepted Jesus.
I ask: How long have you been praying for your child? How long have you been praying for God to transform your husband's heart? My mother prayed for life and still prays for me. How long have you been praying for God to transform that friend's heart?
Could you at this moment come with me to the cross of Calvary and say, "Lord, it was for me that you entered the agony." There you prayed for me on the cross, I crucified you. My husband, for my wife, and if 40 days later 3,000 people gave themselves to you, why can not you change the heart of that person for whom I am praying? "
And if you feel that on the cross of Calvary Jesus prayed for you, if you want to recognize Jesus as your Savior, if you want to give Him your life and accept the Word of God and God's plan for your life; If you want to join the Church of God one day in this land through holy baptism, if when Christ returns you want to be present I will ask you to make your decision now.
Dear Father, there are many people who opened their hearts to You this morning. There are many people who want to forgive, who are praying for some special person and who need Your help and Your power. Please come and answer every prayer. In the name of Jesus. Amen.