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Jesus, Our Substitute (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
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March 6, 2024 3:00 am

Jesus, Our Substitute (Part 1 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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March 6, 2024 3:00 am

It’s possible to sentimentalize the Easter story or skip ahead to the good news of the empty tomb. But to appreciate the magnitude of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, take a closer look at Jesus in Gethsemane. Listen to Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.



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This listener-funded program features the clear, relevant Bible teaching of Alistair Begg. Today’s program and nearly 3,000 messages can be streamed and shared for free at tfl.org thanks to the generous giving from monthly donors called Truthpartners. Learn more about this Gospel-sharing team or become one today. Thanks for listening to Truth For Life!





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Music Playing We're going to skip past the cross to the good news of the empty tomb. Today on Truth for Life, Alistair Begg pauses in the narrative to take a closer look at Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane so we can truly appreciate the full magnitude of his sacrifice on the cross. We're continuing our study in Luke's Gospel. We're going to turn again to Luke chapter 22, beginning with verse 39. We have from the pen of Luke another portrait, if you like, of the Lord Jesus.

Throughout the course of his Gospel, he's given to us a number of pictures of Jesus. I made note of just four of them as they came to my mind when I was thinking this way, studying this week. I suppose there is inherent in me a desire that I wish I could capture things in painting.

I absolutely can't. I used to cheat in art. I had one of my friends' brothers do all my work for me, my homework, and then I would take it back, because I really couldn't draw a thing. I had to draw a glass of water. You never saw anything that looked less like a glass of water in your life. So Graham drew it for me.

My teacher knew it wasn't me and gave me zero out of five. But anyway, I wish that I could capture these things. And one of the pictures in Luke chapter 4 is Jesus as a rabbi, seated there in the synagogue in Nazareth, and the amazing wonder in the eyes and minds of the congregation as he looks out on them and says, Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing. It's a remarkable picture. The picture of Jesus standing on the deck of the boat along with the bemused disciples. And there we find him, the master of the winds and the waves.

He calms the sea. Jesus, the friend of children, taking little ones on his lap, using the occasion to speak to the muttering Pharisees concerning the nature of childlike faith and trust. Jesus, with his biceps clear for all to see, with the veins standing out in his forehead, the cleanser of the temple, as he says to the throng, This was to be my Father's house, a house of prayer, and you have made it a den of robbers.

It's time for you to leave. Those are just some of the portraits that we have in the Gospel of Luke, and you can add others to them as you reflect upon our studies. I mention them because none of them, nor all of them combined, come close to the striking impact which is given to us in the picture that Luke provides for us in this brief section. Because as we allow our eyes to go down these familiar verses now, we realize that we are pausing before a very unusual spectacle. And that is that we're pausing before a distressed Christ, a crying Christ, a weeping Christ. We're about to see in the balance of the chapter that this same Jesus was deserted by his followers. He was disowned, and he was despised. But in this little section, we find him, in the words of Mark's Gospel, deeply distressed and troubled.

His attempt to convey the depth of feeling on the part of Christ is conveyed to us in his use of language, which is then translated for us into English. He says that he was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Now, I don't know if you have ever been there.

I'm not sure that I have ever been there. But what we're told by Luke is that Christ, the incarnate God, was there, overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. It was not that he had turned a corner in the road and been confronted by something that took him unawares. He had been moving purposefully towards this event. Indeed, from all of eternity, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit in a covenant of redemption had planned, if you like, in children's parlance, what each of them would do. And what the Father had planned, the Son would go and procure. And what the Son would procure, the Spirit would apply to the lives of those who pondered its truth.

And Jesus, in light of this, had been moving—as we've discovered in Luke's Gospel—had been moving inexorably towards Jerusalem. In one verse, and it says that he set his face towards Jerusalem. He had told his disciples about what would happen to the Son of Man, speaking in the third person, back in chapter 18. He said, They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him, and kill him. Now, those are some pretty graphic verbs, aren't they?

Mock, insult, spit, flog, kill. In John's Gospel, John records how he says to his father, Father, should I ask you to relieve me from this hour? And then he says, No, Father, it was for this very reason that I came to this hour. But now, in a familiar setting, having gone out as usual to the Mount of Olives with his disciples following him, sleeping out on the Mount of Olives this week, probably underneath the stars, talking with one another before they drifted off into unconsciousness, once again he goes to a familiar place, and suddenly he is engulfed by all these pent-up emotions. Suddenly, everything that he has considered before him comes into his human psychology and grips him with immense passion. Now, we know that because we find him crying earnestly, and we know that because we are about to discover him sweating profusely.

The extent of his exertion, the extent of his compassion was so vast that like an athlete at their very apex of commitment, someone looking at them would say, Man, can you look at that individual, the intensity that is involved in that scene? Incidentally, if we had nowhere else in the Bible to which we might turn to debunk the superficial triumphalism that masquerades as biblical Christianity, if we had no other place in the Bible to which we could go to debunk that notion, these verses will do us fine, thank you very much. No man or woman may stand before the pages of Scripture and say, Where was God when my father died? Where was God when I contracted leukemia?

Where was God when I went through these difficult days? Oh, they may say it, but in view of this passage of Scripture, they should put their hands over their mouths. For the answer as to where God was in those circumstances is clearly conveyed in the text that is before us. Jesus, confronted now with the imminent prospect of his ordeal, how is he going to handle it? How is he going to face the trial? Well, you will see from looking at the text that the answer to that is simple.

It's on the very surface of the text. He is going to do what he now urges his disciples to do—that is, he's going to pray. Pray, he says to them, so that you won't fall into temptation—the temptation to run away and hide, the temptation to quit, the temptation to think that in the death of this Galilean carpenter, all of salvation history has come to a grinding halt, the temptation to look at one another and say, We thought that this was going to be the answer, but clearly it isn't the answer. What a dreadful picture it is of our fearless leader hanging there upon the cross! Pray, he says.

Pray. What a friend we have in Jesus! All our sins and griefs to bear. And what a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer. The disciples had asked him, of course, in a certain place. At the beginning of Luke 11, we have it recorded for us. They'd said to him, Lord Jesus, would you teach us how to pray? And you remember, he had given to them a model or a pattern prayer. We often pray it together. We say it's the Lord's Prayer, and in every rightful sense it is.

And on that occasion, he'd said to them, When you pray, say this, Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. And then immediately, Your kingdom come, and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Learn, says Jesus to his followers, to make sure that it is the will of the Father that you are seeking at all times. And here we find him practicing what he preached. When you pray, say, Your will. Now look at what he says. Father, if you are willing to take this cup from me, fine. Yet not my will but yours be done.

So this is a good teacher. He practices what he preaches. I wonder, incidentally and in passing, whether the certain place to which Luke refers in the opening verse of chapter 11 may not actually be the place to which he now refers in the fortieth verse of chapter 22.

It doesn't matter, but it just was of interest to me. And he was praying in chapter 11 in a certain place, and they came and they said, Now would you teach us to pray? And here he goes back now to the place, to the usual place, to the place where it would be easy for Judas to find him—not to a secret place. He has finished with all of that, escaping through the crowd. He has finished with all of that, running away, because his time has not yet come. Now he goes back down a familiar path.

He goes to the usual place. And in that place, the scene unfolds. Now, when I took the first pass at this study, I had three headings.

I still have them, actually, but they're largely irrelevant, as I'm going to explain to you. As I looked and re-looked at the passage, I simply wrote down three headings, around which to gather my thoughts. The first heading was What Compassion, thinking of the fact that although he was about to endure all of this suffering, his primary concern was for his followers. I want you to watch and pray, he says, and he finishes in the same way.

Come on, fellas, let's keep praying here. And then I wrote down What Commitment, what a commitment on the part of Jesus to the Father's will. And then I wrote down What a Contrast, the contrast between the sleeping disciples and the praying Christ. Now, the way in which I routinely prepare material is that I have lots of scribbles on sheets of legal pad that accumulate over the days of the week, coming from different places. Most of it ends up like a good suit lying on the floor. Only sufficient material should be taken with you once you make a suit.

You don't need to leave all the bits and pieces hanging off. But when I went back to take it from the legal pad to my preaching notes, something happened to me, and that was that when I got to What Compassion, I never then finished all of the rest of the material that I had there. Therefore, I won't finish it with you this morning.

And I'll tell you what happened. When I began to think of the compassion of Christ and to say, Now, I'll tell the congregation, this is an illustration of compassion. Then I said, Well, what is it that makes it such a drama of compassion?

Well, I said to myself, It is the nature of what he is about to do. Well, of course, what he is about to do is die on the cross. Well, everybody knows that. Everybody knows that Jesus died on the cross. But then as I thought about it some more, I said, I'm not so sure that I fully understand what I mean when I say Jesus died upon the cross.

And maybe there's just a possibility that if I don't, others may not. And so the balance of my time sets, as it were, the black backdrop against which the diamond of Christ's compassion is made to shine. What Luke, along with the other gospel writers, tells us at this point in redemptive history is that the time had come for Jesus to surrender himself as an eternal expiatory sacrifice for sin. Now, I'm not going to give you a quiz on eternal expiatory sacrifice, at least not now.

But you will know what this means within the next twenty minutes. The time had come for Jesus to surrender himself as an eternal expiatory sacrifice for sins. He was about to bow himself into the hands of his enemies, he was about to be condemned, and he was about to be crucified. Now, you will recall that we've stopped on Jesus purposefully for these last few weeks to remind ourselves that Jesus, who is the object of our consideration here in verse 39 and the first word in the verse, that in Jesus we're dealing with the Son, who is coequal and coeternal with the Father and the Spirit. Jesus, who is fully God and fully man.

Son. Jesus, who is utterly without sin. And Jesus, who is beloved and uniquely precious to the Father. It is this Jesus who is about to be destroyed at God's hands. Jesus is about to be destroyed at the hands of God. Now, let me give you three verses that you can chew on in the hours of the afternoon or at your leisure. I'm not going to expound them.

I'm simply referring to them. Look. Isaiah 53 10, which reads, It was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer. It was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer. Romans chapter 8 and verse 32, He did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all. He did not spare his own Son, but he gave him up for us all.

2 Corinthians 5 21, God made him, who had no sin, to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. Now, loved ones, this is beyond belief. We use the notion that things are unbelievable, but this, I suggest to you, is unbelievable. Because the innocent is about to suffer at God's hands.

Isn't that true? That an innocent man is about to be crushed by God, an innocent man is being delivered up by God to sacrifice, an innocent man is being made sin on behalf of others. Taz MacLeod, the Scottish theologian in graphic terminology, let's not sentimentalize it.

This is not some green hill far away. It is the scene of the greatest atrocity in history. Calvary is quite literally a shambles. God's lamb is being slaughtered on a garbage heap outside the city in darkness by brutal soldiery, and God is responsible. God's lamb is being slaughtered, and God is responsible. Now, ask yourself, what right did God have to crucify his Son? What moral right is there for an innocent man to be crucified? But here we have the sinless Savior. Luther, writing of this, says, Christ is innocent as concerning his own person, and therefore he ought not to have been crucified. But he sustained the person of a sinner and of a thief, not of one but of all sinners and all thieves. He took all our sins upon him and for them died on the cross. Now, when we read our Bibles and when we think about these things, it's not unusual nor is it wrong for us to say that in the cross the love of God is declared.

It is. But to say that does not get to the depths of it. It is right for us to say that Jesus is our priest and our representative. But even that does not get to the heart of it. It is right to say that Jesus died on our behalf, that he identified himself with us. But all of that terminology still falls short of the absolute nature of what is taking place in the passion of Christ. Because here, our Advocate does not simply end up in the dog. He ends up on the cross.

Did you ever hear of such a thing? Jesus is our high priest. But what kind of priest is this who becomes the sacrifice? Priests offer sacrifices, but this priest is the sacrifice.

This priest is on the altar. What is this? How do we explain this? My Lord, what love is this that pays so dearly that I, the guilty one, may go free. You're listening to Alistair Begg on Truth for Life. He's titled today's message, Jesus Our Substitute.

We'll hear more tomorrow. Here at Truth for Life, we are convinced that everyone needs to hear about this compassionate priest who is also the perfect and eternal sacrifice. We know that the gospel is not just one of many religious options that lead to heaven.

It's the only means of salvation. That's why it's our mission to teach the Bible every single day in a way that is clear and relevant. And that's why I'm excited to let you know about an initiative that's happening here at Truth for Life. We've been fortunate to develop gospel partnerships with a growing number of international publishers and ministries. These partners are actively translating Alistair's books into other languages.

They're being distributed in their respective regions. We're really thrilled to see books like Pray Big and the Truth for Life devotional encouraging and strengthening believers all around the world in their own languages. Just to give you an idea of the work that's being done, Alistair's book, Brave By Faith, is now published in Ukrainian, Russian, Korean, German, Romanian, and Italian, and work is underway to translate it into Dutch, Chinese, Polish, and Hindi. Your giving to Truth for Life supports dozens of translation projects that are now underway. So when you give a donation today, you're truly bringing the gospel, God's word, to people in many nations in their own language. On our behalf and on their behalf, we want to say thank you.

I also want to mention that Truth for Life only sells Alistair's books in English, but if you go to our website truthforlife.org slash translation, you'll find several translated titles that can be purchased and the links to the publishers who sell them. And when you give a donation today, be sure to request the daily liturgy devotional, O Sacred Head Now Wounded. Over the past year or so, we have been thrilled by how many people have requested the personal daily liturgy books we've recommended. In fact, I think we ran out of both the Be Thou My Vision devotional and the O Come O Come Emmanuel devotional when they were offered. Since then, since then, so many of you have contacted us to let us know how spiritually nurturing these devotionals were.

And that's why we're excited to bring the third book in the series. It's titled, O Sacred Head Now Wounded. This most recent release contains 48 daily liturgies that you begin reading right before Easter and that you finish up at Pentecost. The book is our gift to you when you give a donation. You can request the book, O Sacred Head Now Wounded, simply by tapping the book image in the mobile app or visit us online at truthforlife.org slash donate or you can call us at 888-588-7884. Tomorrow, we'll look at why some people remain unsaved even after they hear the Gospel. Is it possible the Gospel doesn't apply to everyone? Alistair answers that question tomorrow. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-06 07:04:45 / 2024-03-06 07:12:49 / 8

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