Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Hidden in the counsels of God are all the reasons why He sent Jesus to the cross. Christ's wounds paid a great debt. Seeing such love, we stand in reverence, wonder and worship.
Stay with us. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, it's startling how graphic Isaiah 53 is in portraying the death of a future Savior. Yes, you know, Dave, one commentator says that Isaiah wrote chapter 53 as if he were standing at the foot of the cross. And of course, as we think about that great prophecy, we are reminded of how the death of Jesus Christ encompasses so much. Let me ask you a question. When he made the statement, Father, forgive them for they know not what they do, was that blanket forgiveness for all those who were around the cross?
I think not. That was a statement for those for whom it was intended for those who ended up believing. And thankfully, we are among that number. I love to preach the cross of Jesus Christ. I have in my hands a resource entitled Cries from the Cross, a Journey into the Heart of Jesus. We're making it available for a gift of any amount. Here's what you do.
Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now let us listen carefully as we contemplate the cross of Christ. His wounds blessed others by his stripes. We are healed. Let me ask you another question. What about your wounds? Can they bless others?
Absolutely. You know, there's a play by Thornton Wilder entitled The Angel That Troubled the Waters. And in this play, based on the book of John chapter 5, you remember at the pool of Bethesda where there was a legend that an angel came and troubled the water and whosoever then first after the troubling stepped in, the person was healed.
You remember that story? And the melancholy is based on it. And there was a physician who struggled with melancholy, and he wanted to get in on the healing.
So he'd always show up, and he'd always wait for the troubling of the water. And one day the angel showed up, and he thought to himself, I'm the first one who's going to step in. But the angel said, no, physician, draw back. And then the angel said this to him. He says, it is your melancholy that makes your low voice tremble in the hearts of those who listen to you. And the angel says, not even angels can do what one human being broken on the wheel of life can do. I say to those of you today who are broken hearted, whose whole focus is for healing, so to speak. Could I say it again? Not even an angel can do what one human being broken on the wheel of life is able to do.
And then someone else steps into the pool on the play, and when he comes out, he says to the physician, would you come home with me? Because I have a son who lives in darkness, and he has deep, dark thoughts, and I cannot help him, but I know that you will. And I have a daughter who ever since she lost her child is sitting in the shadows. You come and speak.
My children will not listen to me, but they will listen to you. My dear friend, I want you to know that your wounds can bless others. Let's go to a third fact regarding the wounds of Jesus, and that is his wounds identified him. They identified him. By the way, Jesus was very open about his wounds.
He didn't try to keep them hidden. He knew that healing has to take place in the sunlight, not in darkness. One day after the resurrection, Thomas, who's not feeling very evangelical, when the others say, we have seen the Lord, he says, you know, actually it was a lawyer's dream. Imagine 10 men all agreeing with their story.
How often do you get that in a court of law? Thomas is unimpressed. He's this practical man here, and he says, except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails. Unless I shall see the wound in the side, call me a disciple if you want, but I will not believe. And then Jesus appears, and you know the story. Thomas, reach hither thy finger and behold my hands and reach hither thy hand and thrust it into my side and be not faithless, but believing. And what does Thomas say?
My Lord and my God. His wounds identified him. And someday when Jesus Christ comes, the scripture says in Zechariah, how do we believe that the Jewish people who are living at that period of time are going to recognize him to be the Messiah? It says in Zechariah chapter 12, verse 10, they shall look on him whom they have pierced, and they will see the wounds of Christ and say he was the Messiah, the one who died 2,000 years ago. His wounds identify him. Most people know that Martin Luther's name, that his first name is Martin.
I guess that's very basic isn't it? But what they don't know is why his parents named him Martin. The reason is because he was born on Saint Martin's Day. Maybe the reason that Luther struggled so much with the devil is not only because he did struggle and the devil is real, but there may be another reason why Luther seems to be preoccupied with the devil. And it may be because there is a legend, and it is only a legend, that Saint Martin had an apparition of Jesus appear to him. But Saint Martin knew what many people today do not know, namely that the devil sometimes takes up the form of Jesus to deceive people. If you're a Protestant he'll come to you like Jesus. If you're a Catholic he'll come to you like Mary.
So he understood that. That is what Saint Martin did. And the legend goes that as this apparition came, Saint Martin knew that he might be deceived, and so what he did is he glanced at the hands to see nail prints.
And just as he glanced, the apparition left and Saint Martin never did know whether he was visited by God or the devil. But I want you to know today that Saint Martin was onto something. There are all kinds of Jesus's out there today. There's the cosmic Jesus. There's the Jesus who loves everyone. There's the Jesus who doesn't judge anybody. There's the Jesus that people manufacture in their minds. Years ago there was a book entitled Jesus the Businessman. Another book, Jesus the Revolutionary. My dear friend, with all of these Jesus's could I give you some advice? Look for nail prints.
Look for nail prints. Years ago when I was growing up in church we sang a song that I don't think we sing anymore. In fact I couldn't even think of the name of the song, though after the service I'll find out that some of you remember the name. But I think the chorus used to go, I shall know him, I shall know him. As redeemed by his side, I shall stand. I shall know him, I shall know him. By the prints of the nails in his hand. His wounds identify him.
You know that might be your identity too. The Apostle Paul says I bear in my body the wounds of Jesus, the sufferings of Jesus, because of what the Apostle Paul endured and then he endured so much and God says you haven't endured enough yet. In addition to all of the sufferings that you have, I'm going to give you a thorn in the flesh so that you really endure more.
Why? Because his sufferings became the badge of authenticity. And is not that true of us as well? There's some of you have suffered, maybe because of some disability, maybe because of some thing that has happened to you, some person who's taken advantage of you and as you've grown on in the Lord it has given you such a sense of authenticity and integrity and believability because your wounds become the means by which you have been identified as a follower of Jesus Christ. Let me give you a fourth fact regarding the wounds of Christ and that is his wounds became scars.
They became scars. Take your Bible and turn to Revelation chapter five for just a moment. Revelation chapter five where we see the wounds of Jesus but in an entirely different context.
John is looking into heaven and he's having this awesome vision and I wish I could comment on the scroll but you know that this scroll in effect is the is God's program for the rest of the age and it says in verse six of chapter five, then I saw the lamb looking, notice now, as if it had been slain standing in the center of the throne encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. No more blood, no more open wounds, but scars recognizing that the healing has taken place and I want you to know today that someday and many of you are in the process here but your own wounds will become scars and you'll look back and say the healing has happened. Now I know there's some people who constantly like to keep a wound open. What they do is they keep peeling back the scab the minute it begins to heal to see how the healing is going and they keep that wound constantly open and they will not allow it to heal.
My dear friend, it's one thing to have wounds but would you let your wounds heal? The wounds of Jesus are given to us as the means of healing. He offers up his wounds to us for our own healing and for our own health. So his wounds became scars. Number five, his scars are the proof of triumph. The scars are the proof of triumph.
I pick it up now in verse 12 of chapter 5 of Revelation. In a loud voice they sang worthy is the lamb who was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise. Someone has said that the only reminder of sin in heaven will probably be the wounds of Jesus and when you and I see him what will he look like? If he looks like a lamb we'll notice that it was the lamb that was slain.
He will look as if he was slain and if we see him physically we expect to see nail prints. We expect to see the wounds as a reminder of what he did for us. The stripes and the wounds by which we are healed. Now the question is how do we access the healing of Christ that comes to us from his wounds? There are three words that come to me and these three words grow out of the cross.
They grow out of what we just said. The first word is the word of forgiveness. The first word is that of forgiveness. I speak to those of you who will not forgive yourselves, those of you who live with self condemnation, those of you who are awash with regret, those of you who think that you have sinned too deeply and too often for God to forgive you. I speak to you today and say that it is no credit for Christ to withhold your confession.
There's some people say well God is so mad at me I don't want to come into his presence. No my friend I want you to know that you insult him because you're driven away from him by your guilt rather than close to him because of it. You come to the one who died. You come to the one who made provision. Don't hang on to it as some work that you must accomplish that sense of guilt.
I really do believe that Bonhoeffer was right when he said there are some people for whom guilt is an idol that they must hang on to. Well you come to the cross. You are forgiven by God then you ask other people to forgive you for the wrong that you have done and then you choose to forgive those who have wronged you even if they don't ask forgiveness and you can't be reconciled to them and maybe we don't want to call this forgiveness but there is a sense in which we open our lives to God and we give him our bitterness and our anger and all of the hurt that is within us so that it can get out of us and so just as Jesus died on the cross at the hands of angry people so we too accept now the forgiveness that was purchased through that horrid event. So the first word is forgiveness. When did Jesus wounds so to speak begin to heal figuratively speaking I think it's when it was on the cross and he says father forgive them for they know not what they do which is the text for our next message in this series. First word is the one of forgiveness. Don't hurry over that word.
Accept it. There's a second word and that is the word for love. You see we can put it this way that forgiveness, forgiveness cleanses the wound but it does not yet ensure that healing will take place. The healing is the power of love. See love is the salve that takes our wounds and heals them and it's a reminder of the fact that God loves us in our woundedness. God loves us despite the struggles. God loves us despite the sin. I hate to say it this way but I must be clear. God loves us despite the evil that is still in our hearts that he is working in us to get rid of.
He loves us because he loves us. Can you accept that my friend? It's hard for us to accept.
It's hard for me to accept. It's hard for me to to believe that God would love me like that but he does. I think that Richard Foster had a point when he said today the heart of God is an open wound of love. He aches over our distance and our preoccupation. He mourns that we do not draw near to him. He grieves that we have forgotten him. He weeps over our obsession with muchness and manyness. He longs for our presence. Can you let God love you today?
Can you let him love you? Do you believe that you are individually perfectly loved? There's a third word that flows from the cross and that is the word providence. You know the ancients used to speak about providential affliction. We don't use that terminology today because we've we've gone away from a biblical understanding of providence providential affliction. That's what Jesus endured on the cross and if you're writing and taking notes not only should you put the word providence there but then put a slash and put the word thanksgiving because if you believe that even your wounds and your circumstances are a part of the larger picture of God then you can say thank you Lord for all that you will do through me as a result of this. We do not give thanks for evil but we give thanks in the midst of evil because we see God even at crosses and as a result of that we say to ourselves God has not forsaken me because of what has happened. I can become a part of God's picture and am a part of God's picture and I accept my wounds as that which God shall bless and heal.
You know of course we live at a time when there are many different religions out there many different options many different opportunities and they can all be investigated and I offer Jesus to you today for many many many reasons but one more to add to your list is the fact that he's the only God with wounds. It is said that in Africa there was a fire and a hut the whole family burned and died except a child. Someone in the middle of the night ran into that burning hut and took this baby boy and rescued him and the next day the elders of the city gathered together and wondered who should take care of this lone child this orphan. The child was honored because it was thought that maybe he's a special child in light of the fact that someone rescued him from the fire and a wise man said well I think he should live with me and a rich man said I think that he'd be better off with me and they were discussing this when into the circle came a young man who argued that he had prior claim to the child because he showed them his hands burned the night before in that fire as he rescued the boy.
Sometimes it's difficult with words to convey what is in my heart to yours but I do want to convey this to you my dear friend. Jesus has prior claim. He has prior claim because of his wounds. There is no other God who entered into this world who struggled with us in our difficulties. There is no other God who experienced death on the cross as the son of God as the second member of the Trinity. There is no such thing because he is a God who got involved in our predicament and a God with wounds. The other gods were strong but thou was weak. They rode but thou did stumble to thy throne but to our wounds only God's wounds can speak and not a God has wounds but thou alone.
Let us pray. Our Father I want to thank you today that Jesus was bound for me. I thank you that he endured 39 lashes across his bare body for me.
I thank you today that the thorns that made blood spurt was for me. I thank you that he was betrayed for me. I thank you that he went to Calvary for me. I thank you that he endured what I shall never have to endure.
Paving the way to say come with me and I'll help you all the way home. For those who have never come to trust Christ I pray that you might work in their hearts to bring them to saving faith. For those who know you, oh Father, may they rush into your presence to be forgiven, to be cleansed, to lay down bitterness, to be healed for it is by your stripes, by your wounds that we are healed. Now you talk to God.
If you've never received Christ as Savior you can do that in the quietness of your heart even now. Cry out to him and say Lord save me. If you know him draw near to him and tell him that you're going to spend an awful lot of time in his presence this afternoon and tomorrow until at last your wounds become scars. Oh Father, whatever work you've begun don't end it until it's completed. In Jesus' name, Amen. My friend, as I suggested in the message, spend time with Jesus. Give him your wounds. Don't let them control the rest of your life and you'll discover that there is grace and there is healing. Let me ask you a question. The message that you have just heard, would you say that it is important that other people listen to messages like this?
If so, would you consider becoming an endurance partner? That's someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts. I have in my hand a letter from someone who writes, your message today further validates our decision as a husband and wife of 46 years to abandon a false cult. We heard your sermon entitled The Invisible World and immediately discarded everything that related to the cult. The call to repent was so great that we threw it all in the dumpster and never looked back.
It's a reminder of how easy it is to be deceived by Satan. Thanks to you and Moody Media, we are free from this occult practice and are keenly aware of what to look out for in the future. A letter like this does not belong to me or to this ministry. It belongs to you, those of you who support this ministry. Would you consider becoming an endurance partner?
As I mentioned a moment ago, you are committed then to give whatever you decide to give every month and to pray for us. For more information, you go to rtwoffer.com. Of course, when you're there, you click on the endurance partner button and that's where you receive the info. Or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. As the Ministry of Running to Win is in 20 different countries in four different languages, you are the ones who continue to help us get the gospel of Jesus Christ to more and more people. Here's what you do.
Go to rtwoffer.com, click on the endurance partner button, and you'll find out all that you need to know. Or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. Of course, we're so thankful for the many of you who pray for us. At the end of the day, it is your prayers that enable us to keep moving forward in a world that has lost its way.
Thank you. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, 614. Running to Win comes to you from the Moody Church in Chicago to help you understand God's roadmap for your race of life. Next time, we'll hear the first cry of Jesus, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. Thanks for listening. For Pastor Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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