- Come Into His Presence
- Crown Him With Many Crowns
- Lord I Lift Your Name On High
- Shout To The Lord
- As church goers, as those who refer to ourselves as Christians, have you ever considered what the purpose of your faith is? Have you ever taken a moment to consider the purpose of a church service?Why do we gather? Why do we sing? Why do we pray?Why did Jesus come? Why did Jesus die?Why are we here? Not just in this service of worship, but in this life?These are important questions. And the answer is equally if not more so. I hope you will keep them in mind as you listen today.Let’s dive into God’s Word with our readings from the Lectionary for this Sunday:Our first reading is from the prophet Jeremiah, in the book of Jeremiah, chapter 31, beginning at verse 31:“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”Our New Testament Reading is from Hebrews 5:5-10:So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”; as he says also in another place, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.” In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.and finally, our Gospel reading is from the Gospel of John, chapter 12, vs. 20-33.Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.This is the word of our Lord,Thanks be to God.“Father, glorify your name.”You and I have been on a journey through this Lenten season. Many of you have been reading the devotional that was passed out and emailed to you. Many have also joined in on our 30 days with Jesus journey as well. If you are not familiar with what I’m talking about, let me pause briefly:We have materials that you can use for Lent. One is a devotional - giving you scriptures to read, followed by a situation in the world that we can be praying for. The other is a 30 day selection of readings, following Jesus throughout his ministry on earth. I encourage you to do one or both. If you don’t have a copy, or have misplaced your copy, please let us know and we can get one to you. Now back to our regularly scheduled sermon.I’ve referred to the season of Lent several times as “Our annual check-up”, a time for us to reflect on our we’re doing in our faith. It is a season that has not been hijacked by the culture around us, but is for the Christian and the Christian alone.And so we come to our Scriptures today and I hope you will remember the questions we started with.In Jeremiah 31:34 we read:And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”As Christians we are very familiar with the concept of forgiveness, and we celebrate that because of the work of Christ our sins are remembered no more! Yet, let’s remember this is not automatic. It requires something of us.And then we read in Hebrews 5:9And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,Ah, yes, that word obedience. But we know that our greatest attempts to obey God fail. One has only to read through the Old Testament and watch Israel who were following a pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night, received manna and quail, and water miraculously gushing from a rock in the desert, and still they faltered.And then we get to our Gospel reading in John. There is a feast that is going on, a celebration of the people of Jewish people and then we read in that opening verse, “at the feast were some Greeks”; and they say to Philip in vs. 22, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.”This is a phrase that early in my career was often on a small plaque in the pulpit to remind the pastor, or preacher of the purpose of their preaching. I haven’t seen it in as many pulpits in recent years, perhaps because “Sir” is not an inclusive term. Note Jesus’ answer in verse 23:And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.And then immediately Jesus begins referring to his death! This all sounds crazy until we remember the promise from Jeremiah - “I will forgive their iniquity.”From early on in Scripture there has been a sacrifice requirement for the forgiveness of sin. Jesus will be that sacrifice, and he knows it, and He recognizes that this is the purpose for which he has come.“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.And then the purpose is defined, Jesus says,Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”“Father, glorify your name.”And for the third time in Jesus ministry we hear God’s voice. First at his baptism (Matthew 3:17), then at his transfiguration (Matthew 17:5), and now.Jesus said,Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”God, Jesus’ Father answers Jesus directly for all to hear: I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.In the reformed tradition we have several creeds. You may remember that a couple of weeks ago we recited the Apostle’s Creed as we received communion. There are other creeds that we in our faith hold to as well.The creeds are not meant to be taken as more important than Scripture, they are to encapsulate what we believe about what the Scriptures teach us. In the Westminster Catechism the first question is:
What is the chief end of man?
Man’ s chief end is to glorify God, (1 Cor. 10:31, Rom. 11:36) and to enjoy him for ever. (Ps. 73:25–28)To glorify God and enjoy God forever; this is our chief end and our ultimate purpose. That is it.And in our Scripture this morning we read that this is Jesus purpose too!John Piper wrote in his book, “Desiring God”:
The purpose of Jesus’ death was to glorify the Father. To be willing as the Son of God to suffer the loss of so much glory Himself in order to repair the injury done to God’s glory by our sin showed how infinitely valuable the glory of God is. To be sure, the death of Christ also showed God’s love for us. But we are not at the center.“Father, glorify your name.”We began with a long list of questions:What is the purpose of your faith?What is the purpose of a church service?Why do we gather? Why do we sing? Why do we pray?Why did Jesus come? Why did Jesus die?Why are we here? Not just in this service of worship, but on this life?When it comes to the questions of Jesus coming and dying - we know that it was so that he could take away our sins, and we are thankful for that. We are thankful that we can once again enter into communion with our creator.Yet we often forget that in doing so, Jesus was ultimately giving God glory, all the Glory that God is worthy of.When we pray the Lord’s prayer we end with the words, “For yours is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory forever, AMEN!” Yet if you look in your Bibles, most do not contain these words. They showed up in later manuscripts. Yet that makes them no less true.Rick Warren in his famous book, “40 Days of Purpose”, began with this sentence,“It’s not about you.”He then went on to remind us again and again, it’s all about God.Our Bible begins with the four words,“In the beginning, God...”I have often said, how you understand those opening words will determine how you understand the rest of Scripture.So, once again, if we go back to our questions that we began with:What is the purpose of our faith? - to bring God gloryWhat is the purpose of a church service? - to glorify God!Why do we gather? Why do we sing? Why do we pray? - to bring God gloryWhy did Jesus come? Why did Jesus die? - to show us the way, to pay for our sins, and to give God glory!Why are we here in this life? - to give God glory!So let us echo Jesus’ words to His father,“God, glorify your name.”Amen.
- Sweet Sweet Spirit
- Benediction Song
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