5 Truths for Troubled Souls

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I’m going to invite you to turn to John chapter 12. John chapter 12, and if I have some time, I’m also going to jump a little bit into 2 Corinthians 11. So you can hold your place in 2 Corinthians 11 when we get there. But John chapter 12 is where we are together. And this is an important passage of scripture we’re going to look at, because this is Jesus dealing with the last moments of his life on Earth. The whole point of his life is seen in his death. And Jesus is poising himself for the… Poising himself not poisoning himself. Poising himself, make sure I clearly enunciate that. He’s poising himself for these final moments of his life. And through him we’re going to learn a lot about how to position ourselves. Because what you find in John chapter 12, verse 27, that very first verse, very first line here just gives us a simple opening statement, Jesus says, “Now my soul has become troubled.”

And this is the moment if you’re a follower of Jesus, or especially if you’re in the first century, and you’re following Jesus, you just want to hit that maybe panic button. Because in Jesus’s ministry at this point, seems like he’s got it all together, right? And now you get to the end of his life, and he says, now my soul is troubled. And this word can be translated, panic, right? That he is in a state of stress. He’s been extremely challenged with where he is in his life, is a difficult moment.

That’s what Jesus is saying to us. And so if you’re a follower of Jesus and you see maybe you have this indication that he’s losing a little bit of his confidence, you’re not quite sure there’s reason to hit the panic button. Especially what we talked about last week, when Jesus enters into Jerusalem, the triumphal entry, they’re waving these palm branches, we talked about the risk of those palm branches before Rome. This is like drawing attention to you and you could be crucified for waving palm branches during that time. This is a moment where you’re marking yourself and then the next thing your leader says, and he’s like, oh, no, we’re in trouble. It’s a comment that he’s saying in this sentence. And this is a very challenging moment, right? And so you would look at this and be like, no, what do we do?

Anytime you’re following someone that’s a leader in a circumstance based on how that leader may poise themselves in that position, will determine how you would poise yourself in that position. So seeing how Jesus interacts in this moment becomes very important to how you should then respond. And when we read through this passage of Scripture, we’re going to see how Jesus responds in this moment of trouble, so that we can learn from our own lives how we are to respond in adversity in life. And that’s why we titled today, five truths for a soul that is troubled. And so Jesus begins by recognizing his own example here. Now my soul has become troubled, what do you do?

One of my favorite passages in the Bible, and I think in the gospels is in Mark chapter 10. And specific, I think in verse 32. But in Mark 10, it says at the end of Mark 10, if you’ve got one of those Bibles that gives you a little headings above sections of Scripture, it generally says something like and Jesus foretells his death, the third time, right. And the third time Jesus foretells his death in Mark 10, it tells us and he also walks to Jerusalem. It’s like he boldly goes to Jerusalem as he’s telling about his death. And it says the disciples are concerned and scared and they follow him from a distance, right? But Jesus at the end of his life, he does not cower to what God has called him to or what the Father has led him to.

Jesus boldly goes into Jerusalem. And he takes the weight of sin on his shoulders. And I think this is where he starts to experience the trouble. But I want to tell you guys, as we get to this passage of Scripture, when I think of all of the Bible, these chapters that we’re getting ready to dive into, I have to say, for me are my favorite passages in all of Scripture. When you get to John 13, Jesus is spending the last six hours of his life before he’s on the cross, which he’ll spend another six hours on the cross. But these last six hours of his life, he chooses to spend it in the most intimate of settings, in an upper room with just his closest friends.

And for me, I think in those moments, Jesus teaches some of the most intimate teachings he ever delivered towards his disciples about what it means to be a follower of Christ. And I just cherish those last moments of Jesus’s life. And seeing how he has composed himself or poised himself in these final moments gives us a way to look at our lives when we face adversity as well. And so, in John chapter 12, I want to pick it up here, five truths for troubled souls. And I want to say this for us as we get ready to dive into this, if you’ve got notes from this morning, number one, is to recognize this. God understands.

When you go through trouble in this life, when you think about trouble for your own soul… And when I give these five truths to you, let me say it like this, set it up this way, I’ll say, I’m going to say the first two statements are really obvious statements, God understands. That’s a pretty obvious statement if you’ve read it in Scripture about the Lord, God understands, right. First two statements I want to give are pretty obvious statements when it comes to trouble, so that we can wrestle with the third statement. And find encouragement in the fourth and fifth statement. Okay, so we talked about five things for the troubled soul. These first two are obvious statements, but they’re important statements. And that’s to recognize when we face adversity, God understands. God understands because he has walked before you and he promises to walk with you.

For me, when I first became a Christian that was a very powerful lesson for me to understand, because I was a person that ran at life with a little bit of anxiety. And a little bit of… It always felt like the spotlight was on me thing. Not that it ever was, I didn’t even want that. I was always a very shy kid. But I felt like just if you did anything you’re always worried about failure. And what if people notice, and I don’t want to do that. And so just a little bit of anxiety in my life. And then when I started to understand exactly who God was, I found myself relinquishing from that to the point where now I stand on stage, and I say things. But it was this lesson that really helped revolutionize that for me and learning about this, that God understands and he has walked before me, and he will walk with me.

Where else are you going to go in life? And what are the belief system can you have in life? Where God becomes flesh, and walks the life that you have walked, and has gone through the worst of circumstances for the purpose of you. And that’s what you find in these verse 27 to verse 30. Now my soul has become troubled, and what am I to say? Father, save me from this hour? But for this purpose, I came to this hour. Father glorify your name. Then a voice came out of heaven, I have both glorify it and will glorify it again. So the crowd who stood by and heard it, were saying that it had thundered, others were saying an angel has spoken to him. And Jesus responded and said, “This voice has not come for my sake, but for yours.”

Love that in verse 30, Jesus acknowledging where he’s at and the moment where he’s going to take on the weight of sin upon his shoulders for you and for me. And he says, you want to know what this is all is for? Even the voice that just thundered that wasn’t for me. But that was for you. Sometimes I’ll hear Christians say this, about Jesus’s death. And I want to tell you, I don’t think it’s accurate. I hear this said a lot, I don’t think it’s accurate. If you believe this, I want to encourage you maybe to think a little bit different about this. But I’m not going to divide with you over this or say just you’re outright wrong. Or push you away. Because I’ve heard people that really love Jesus say what I’m about to tell you, but I do think is wrong, and I want you to consider it, okay.

But when Jesus comes to the end of his life, there’s a few gospels in Matthew 26:39, Jesus prays this prayer, he says, Father, let this cup pass from me, but nevertheless, not my will, but your will be done. And people will say this about Jesus. Jesus, at the end of his life, it was so hard for him that even Jesus didn’t want to go through the cross. He prayed to the Father, God, let this cup pass from me. And I do not think that’s true at all. I don’t think that’s what Jesus’s prayer is at all. In fact, I think it’s the exact opposite of what Jesus is praying in that passage of scripture. And the reason I say that is because Jesus knows the entire point of his life was about his death. And you find that exactly in John chapter 12, right? He’s saying, my soul is troubled. My soul is troubled and Jesus doesn’t say, oh, God, Father, please let this pass for me. I don’t even want to go through this, God just take me out of this.

That’s not Jesus’s prayer here. But rather he says and what am I going to say about that? What am I going to do? My whole life has been about this. As if to say to the disciples that around, you guys I’m going to hit my challenging moment, what do you think I’m going to do? I’m going to balk at this? I’m not going to go after this? And all of a sudden, I’m going to run away from this? I’m going to change my mind? So you know what, never mind you’re on your own.

He says, no, that’s not what I’m doing at all. Before this purpose I came to this hour. And as if to say this to the disciples. Look, when it comes to my calling in this world, I am not backing down. Because this is the entire reason for which I came. And because I go at this boldly, whenever I call you to in this world, you can go boldly because I’ve gone before you and I’m going to go with you. God understands. God understands. Now, for your sake and maybe for mine just for clarity. You might be asking, okay, well, when Jesus said then smarty pants, let this cup pass nevertheless my will but your will be done then what is he saying? It looks like to me he doesn’t want to go through what he’s going through.

Well, let me just explain to you I think Jesus is using a bit of imagery here related to the Passover celebration. During the Passover celebration, they would partake of four cups. I think when Jesus entered in the upper room with his disciples, I really believe Jesus only drank of three cups. And then the fourth, he left them hanging on to explain to you why. First Cup was a cup of sanctification, a cup of setting apart. Second cup, was the cup of wrath of God’s judgment. The third cup was a cup of blessing what you receive in the Lord. And the fourth cup was the cup of praise. They would have for drinks during the Seder dinner, the Passover dinner, and then it would be finished after the fourth drink.

Jesus drinks the cup of suffering, the cup of bitter herbs. When they would pass the cup, you will have to drink it and drink deeply before you were to let it pass. And the saying was to go drink deep and when you would drink deep, then you would let it pass. The last person to drink the cup of suffering had to take the bitter herbs at the bottom. It was rich, right, symbolic of sin. Jesus before he could let that cup pass, had to drink deep. And you couldn’t just let the cup go around you, everyone around the table had to drink. And what Jesus I think is praying there is when that cup of bitter herbs comes to him. He’s praying for the father to give him the strength to let him drink the cup fully so that he can let it pass.

When they receive the third cup, it’s the cup of blessing. And when you read at the end of Jesus’s ministry in the upper room with his disciples as he takes the Passover, it says, after they drink the cup, which I think they drink the final cup, the cup of blessing this as they get up from the table and they go into the garden and they sing praise to God. Well, during the Seder dinner, the Passover dinner between the third and fourth cup, they would sing the Hillel, the passages of Psalms 113 to 118 together. They would sing from the Hillel. And then as they finish the singing of those songs then would partake of the fourth cup. And I think when Jesus was at the dinner table with his disciples, they took of the cup of blessing because of what they will receive from Jesus because of his death and resurrection.

But Jesus as they sing those songs, he just gets up ends the dinner early and heads out. So today when we partake of communion, it’s reminded of us that we will drink it together new in the kingdom of God. And I think it’s a picture of when we get to heaven, the cup that we’re going to drink together with God is the fourth cup of the Seder dinner, the cup of praise before Almighty God, all the rest of our days. And so when Jesus talks about the end of his life here, yes, it was hard. Jesus has recognized the adversity of he’s taking the weight of sin upon his shoulders, and the reason he’s doing that is for you.

And the posture that he carries into this final moments are you know what, nevermind. I don’t want to do this. If that was Jesus’s posture, we should be like, oh, man, there’s hard things in life. Nevermind, I don’t want to follow Jesus, right? But that’s not the way our leader went. And so because of that, that’s not the way we have to go either. God understands and he’s gone before you and he will go with you.

Number two, God gets the victory on your behalf. Look in verse 31. God gets the victory on your behalf. That’s important, right? When your soul is troubled, you’re going through adversity you want to know on the back, and that is everything’s going to be okay. Everything going to work out. Verse 31, now judgment is up on this world, now the ruler of this world will be cast out and if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself. Now he was saying this to indicate what kind of death he was going to die. Well, Jesus is identifying for us a couple of things here. He’s identifying for us, one, his victory over sin, Satan and death, right? He’s saying, look, judgment is on this world, like he will get the victory that Satan will be cast out of this world. And then he’s going to draw all people to himself. He’s fulfilling a promise here. And when he talks about all people, he’s not referring to every person. But he’s broadly are generally referring to all people groups.

He’s saying, look, the promise given to Abraham, remember all the way back in Genesis chapter 12 when God called Abraham, God repeated this promise to Abraham, over and over. It happens multiple times in Genesis, that God says that through Abraham through his seed, all nations would be blessed. That God would bless all people groups. That he would gather all people to his name, or from all ethnic groups is the better way to translate it and what Jesus is saying that time has come, look. He’s saying to the Jewish people, this isn’t just for you, but this is for every ethnic group in this world. And when you read about in Revelation 7:9, you see that picture, that in eternity praising God, people from every tribe tongue and language, praising his name that God gets this victory.

And he also says in reference to Satan, that he gets this victory on your behalf. And it’s over saying that Satan no longer has any dominion over you. When you read in passages like Ephesians 2:2, it tells us that Satan is the prince of the power of the air, right? Actively. Prince of power of the air, which when you look at a verse like that, you’re like, wait a minute, Jesus’s death was he not cast out? And here’s the picture is that there’s this already not yet theme of Scripture that Jesus has come and spiritually he has conquered for you eternal life. You no longer belong to the domain of darkness, you no longer belong to the things of this world. You’ve been branded and marked for Jesus, you’ve been sealed by His Spirit.

That’s the way the Bible says it, as a guarantee of a picture of your eternity of belonging to him. You have been adopted and that spirit of God is that guarantee that you can cry out now to God, Abba, Father, you belong to him. He is yours. 1 John 4:4 says it like this, that greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. So it’s acknowledged that Satan, he’s still moving in this world, the Antichrist moves in this world, but you belong to Jesus because the victory has been won in your life. God has ultimate victory because he has conquered over the cross. Jesus has won spiritually now by giving you life when you trust in Him, and one day Jesus will return and he will declare all victory over everything and restore it back to him. And so when you think about how Satan has been conquered, that’s the picture as it unfolds in Scripture.

He just says in a very broad sense in this statement, but that’s the way it’s delivered for us today that, yes, there is still a prince, a prince of this world, a ruler of this world, of which we formerly used to walk, Ephesians 2:2. But now you belong to another king who has won victory on your behalf. You belong. God has won. There isn’t a reason to hit the panic button. You know how the story goes. Now, it’s to acknowledge to us by recognizing the way that Satan works in this world. That yes, then there will still be battles. In 1 Peter 5, Satan roams around like a lion, verse eight, I will talk about that verse in just a few minutes. So there is still a battle, there is still a battle.

But there is comfort when you’ve already got the victory. It’s like this, when you’ve got to pay your bills, and your bank account says $0, there’s a lot more stress to that than when you got to pay your bills, and you’ve got a million dollars, right? You still got to pay the bills. But when you know your account is full, doesn’t carry that same stress, does it? And that’s Jesus in you, and Jesus with you and Jesus for you. That you belong to Him. That yes, the things of this world will continue to do what the things of this world do but those who belong to Jesus, he’s won the victory on your behalf.

Those are words of comfort, words of encouragement, God’s people words that we’re probably pretty familiar with, but helps us to be reminded of, right? That when we think about the soul and how it faces trouble, these are thoughts that every time we encounter struggles in our life that we need to remind ourselves of. Because this is the truth that undergirds us as we walk through a world that has adversity, so that I think we can live more successfully with what I’m about to tell you in passage or point number three. God is strong, though you are weak. Number three is God is strong, though you are weak. Look in verse 35. Verse 35, gives a beautiful illustration says this, so Jesus said to them for a little while longer the light is among you. Walk while you have the lights so that darkness will not overtake you. Also, the one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going while you have the light believe in the light so that you may become sons of the light. These things Jesus proclaimed and he went away and he hid himself from them.

This illustration of light, it’s an important illustration for a few reasons. We think about what the picture of light is, as it relates to God. There’s two choices here, light and darkness. Let me just say it like this because this should encourage us not to diminish the importance of who Jesus is in our lives. I know sometimes as Christians, there’s this temptation the world around us to give equal playing field to all belief systems in this world as if… If you believe in God’s sky fairy but you believe with all your heart and God’s sky fairy, that God’s sky fairy’s okay to believe and that’s not true. That’s not true. There’s only one, Acts 4:12 tells us. There’s only one name under heaven, which you must be saved. Only one, is Jesus. Jesus is the light. Jesus is the way. Jesus is the salvation. We don’t do anyone favors by backing away from the importance of who Jesus is.

It’s Jesus. Now, it doesn’t mean we have to be disrespectful to other people or attack other people or get nasty towards other people. But what it does mean is that we highlight the significance of Jesus, we talk about the importance of Jesus, right. And what he’s saying in this moment is just that the fact that he’s reminding us of just how important it is that you don’t take for granted the opportunity to trust in Jesus. He is the light in the middle of darkness. And that’s a beautiful picture to just correlate within our minds is the significance of Jesus. How many of you think this morning if you’ve got kids, how many of you got kids right? You know the importance as a parent light to your children especially at dark, right?

I like being in Utah asking how many people got kids, I think our spirit animal here is more the rabbit than anything. We’re like the populators of the world in Utah. But you know with children when they go to bed at night light is a very comforting thing to them, isn’t it? So much so that some of you are like, when I was a kid, what are you talking about? I still go to bed as a grown up and I need, I got my little nightlight in the corner, right? I don’t like the darkness and there’s something about in the middle of the darkness when there’s just a light there. I don’t even know why, you just put that little light on, and all of a sudden I’ve got peace and comfort. A little bit of hope in my heart, right?

But that’s what Jesus is saying in this moment in the midst of darkness. If you just there, you know what God, people are just [inaudible 00:22:07]. Just give us a minute apart from you, we will work these out. The Bible’s saying no, that’s not good. In fact, you leave humanity by themselves the way that we go is into further darkness. But what you need is light. Because what light brings is hope and peace and comfort and truth.

You think, when seeing Jesus as light, it’s not just about salvation, rescuing you, but it’s also about leading you. That’s what light does, right? Show me the light so I know where to go. And that’s what Jesus is in this moment. It’s like I’m about to go through this dark moment. When I go you’re going to go through this dark moment. You know what you need in this dark moment. You need light, cling to this light. He is strong though I am weak. It’s such an important word to think about in life because following Jesus, it’s got struggle to it because we wrestle in a world that has adversity that we walk through. There’s still a prince of the power of the air. God doesn’t just want to save you, but he also wants to lead you.

I was talking to a pastor this week, who was going through some hard time and I’m going to turn to 2 Corinthians 11 right now by the way, if you want to flip over to that section of Scripture. He was going through some adversity in life, and he was just describing what he feels like being a pastor. And I took him to this passage in 2 Corinthians 11. Because I think Paul does a good explanation here in a beautiful way of what it’s like to be in full time ministry.

And in verse 23, he starts to describe it. And you’ll see in verse 23, a lot of us probably can’t relate to it when it starts off. But Paul says it like this, and I don’t have it on the screen for you. But I just want you to hear this, he says, Are they servants of Christ? I speak as if insane, I more so. In far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews 39 lashes. Three times I have beaten the rods. Once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked. And a night in the day I’ve spent in the deep and I have been on frequent journeys and in dangers from rivers, in dangers from robbers, in dangers from my countrymen, in dangerous from the Gentiles, in dangers in the cities, in dangers in the wilderness, in dangers of the sea, in dangers among false brother and I have been in labor and hardship and through many sleepless nights and hunger and thirst, often without food in cold and exposure.

Then Paul describes this horrific path, they’re like, I’ve gone through a lot of hard stuff. That’s what Paul says. In fact all these verses, and if I just stopped there, here’s really why people say, I’m not telling the pastor that I just read that I stopped there. He’s like, I get it, you’re right I don’t nearly go through what Paul goes through, fine. That’s what they think that I’m about to say. But in verse 28 and this where Paul rips the veil off. And it’s like holy cow I’d never really experienced this.

But it’s an interesting passage that Paul says it like this, apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. Here’s the interesting thing Paul says in verse 28. He describes all of these bad things that he goes through, all of these temporal external hardships. And he keeps building, it gets harder, harder, harder. And then verse 28, and then he says, and that’s nothing compared to the stress I feel at church. That’s what he says about pastoring. It’s like, you want to know what pastoring is like sometimes? There’s a lot of joy to it. I’ll get to that in a minute. But it’s like this.

You get this passion in your life about seeing the glory of God made known and you just lay your life down to see it happen. It’s like being emotionally at least flayed alive. It’s you just expose yourself to just the great things that you feel God doing and you just hope that people just jump on board and get excited and just join one another in that. It’s just, every Sunday, you realize when I stand up and I go through a message, I have poured my soul into this every week and at the end I just get this little outlet just to share it with you all the things that I’ve studied. This small little outlet and then on Mondays the waves… and then Sunday’s always coming again.

And you know sometimes when I get done sometimes you get encouraging words and sometimes not. At this past week I had… you guys are great. I’m not trying to tell you anything under the radar here that you should be aware of. You guys are very good encouragers to my life. I had to go speak somewhere this week. And this guy come up after I got done speaking, he goes, man, that was phenomenal. He was just encouraged. I’m like, that’s good, that’s good. I’m glad, glad you’re encouraged. It’s great just to follow Jesus and be happy. And then he goes, yeah, I’ve been to your church before. I was like, oh, that’s great. What do you think? He goes, weren’t in your A game. Seriously, are you kidding me? He [inaudible 00:26:57] humbles. But he didn’t even comment about anything other than that, but he really liked the lesson.

And it’s just like being, you look at what Paul’s saying about doing ministry for the Lord and especially more particular I think in leadership ministries. He says it’s like that. It’s like, the stress of church. I don’t know, when you look at this, guys, you’re like, well, I’m not a pastor, so what does this have to do with me? But you are. You are, there’s a place that God calls you to shepherd. You know where that’s at? Your home. You’re the shepherds of your home. And you know what, you go through it in your home and sometimes it’s not always easy. The picture, when you get married, you have all these grand dreams of just laying your life out for someone, right? And then you have children and you find out they’ve got a mind of your own.

But when you start to have these little babies, you just think all the best things about them, look at [inaudible 00:28:00]. It cries like a little lamb when it’s born, and then all of a sudden starts getting older and it’s louder, and you’re like… And then before you know it, they’re teenagers, sometimes you’re like, can I trade these in? You just lay your heart out. And what happens? All kinds of things. You find sometimes family, family can be the hardest things to learn to love Jesus in, because they know you better than anyone else. They know how to push your buttons. They know how to wound you quicker than anyone else because they’ve spent the most time with you.

When you about this, this passage this scripture. God is strong, though you are weak. You want to know God is a faithful God? Do you want to see his promises true in your life? Because I think the place that we see God be faithful, is in our weaknesses. In our weaknesses is really where we learn to see the Lord in His faithful hand in our lives. It’s when we’re weak that we see He’s strong. That’s the battle in following Jesus, isn’t it? It’s easy to follow Jesus when things are easy in life. It’s easy to say Jesus is my king and Savior when I’m sitting on my comfy couch, in my air conditioning, watching my favorite show, sipping on my cup of coffee. I’m a Jesus follower. But it’s something else to learn to trust Jesus in the hard. And I find oftentimes that even me, that when I go through hard things that my pursuit and coming after Jesus isn’t about me. It’s about using me to change them because honestly, God, it’s really them that you need to change.

When you look in 1 Corinthians 12:7, Paul says this interesting statement in chapter 12, he says, Therefore, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh. How many people want to sign up for that right? Doing ministry for the Lord? There was given him a thorn in the flesh, you do ministry for the Lord, right? Starting in your own homes, that’s where God calls you to shepherd. There was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me to keep me from exalting myself concerning this, I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might leave me. In verse nine, though he says this, and he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you for power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weakness, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

There’s a debate as to what Paul talks about here. Some people have looked at this passage of Scripture and they’ve debated, okay, what’s Paul’s thorn in the flesh? And they’ve said things well, there’s this ailment, or sometimes he was beaten so hard, that he couldn’t really walk well. And so it created this adverse in his life, or maybe he got some sickness from all of his travel that he did. They debate, what is this thorn in the flesh? And try to reach these conclusions and say, whatever it is, whatever, whatever Paul’s thorn is what he needs to learn in that struggle is God’s grace is sufficient, and that is true. If we want to see God’s faithful, anyone can say God’s faithful when life is easy. God’s faithful, look at me, I’m comfortable. What about when it’s hard?

Do you also know that he’s faithful when it’s hard because here’s my tendency in life, is I want to trust God, trust God, trust God until it gets hard. And then I want to take the reins, because I got to do something. I’m about to tell somebody where they need to go, right. I need to be in charge of this moment, to put things back in this place, and then forget about that moment be and I’m a Jesus follower, right? Just don’t talk to that person because five minutes ago, he might have different words that the thing that I’m a Jesus follower, but I’m a Jesus follower, right. That’s how it goes. But I want you to know this. I don’t think it’s a mystery as to what Paul’s Thorn was in the flesh.

In fact, I think Paul already told us. And the way that I know that we can look at this, let’s just look at the chapter just before this. In 2 Corinthians 11, where you just were in verse 13. It talks about Satan disguising himself as an angel of light. And in verse 13, 14, and 15, it describes like this. And his ministers also messengers also disguise themselves as ministers of righteousness, when they’re really ministers of darkness.

And when Paul gets to verse seven, I think he refers back to it again. Messengers of Satan sent to torment me. You know who Paul’s thorn is? Or what Paul’s thorn is? Its people. Its people. Now, I could say that to some of you, you’re I knew it, I’m living on my own. That’s not what I want you to take from that at all. Because the reality is, well, people can be some of the most difficult things you go through. People can also be some of the greatest blessings that God gives to you. It is impossible to live a Christian life on your own. It is impossible. In fact, the fruit of the Spirit love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, they’re all relationship words, all intended to be displayed in your relationship with people. You should have brothers and sisters in Christ around you that encourage you in your walk with God.

And you should also understand that it’s going to be people around you that don’t always agree with you. And here’s an important part. Your job in life is not to change them. Your job in life is not to change them. You see your job in life has to change them because you know Jesus, I promise you, you will never be happy because you’ll put your hope in their behavior. And their behavior already acknowledges that they don’t have their life completely surrendered to Jesus. But here’s what Jesus calls you to in the midst of those struggles, to not show up and show your backside, but to recognize in that moment, that’s the moment that God’s given you, for you to learn whether or not you can be faithful to what he’s called you to. Don’t trust in you, trust in Jesus.

I know sometimes we’ll look at this moment to be like, well, what if I’m being abused or hurt and neglected? These wrong things being done to me. I’m not telling you to stay in the circumstance, but what I am saying is honor Jesus through it. Because it’s so easy in those moments to want to grab hold the reins in trusting yourself and take care of it, right. But what Jesus calls you to has not changed them, but be faithful to him. Now being faithful to Him, God gives you a place to influence and love and encourage. But your goal in that is not to change them, your goal in that is really just to honor Jesus. And in honoring Jesus, it becomes a blessing to other people. And through that you find the faithfulness of God as Paul finds here. When I am weak, really, I’m strong. Because I find out what God’s called me to, work because he’s faithful to meet me in that struggle. I got to move on quickly from there.

Number four, rest in the right Messiah. You must rest in the right Messiah. Verse 34, let’s look at this. The crowd then answered Him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ is to remain forever; and how is it that you say, the Son of Man must be lifted up. Who is this Son of Man.” So you see the crowd they’re arguing, they’re already saying, okay, we don’t even know who you are Jesus, they wanted to trust in their religion because ultimately, they wanted to trust themselves. I can tell you out of all the Messiahs in the world do you know my favorite if I’m being honest? It’s me. God calls me to trust in Him, but my favorite Messiah is me. Because at the end of the day, when things get hard, the one thing that I know that I can depend on I’m most familiar with is me.

And it’s the struggle my life to stop seeing myself as the Messiah, but rather him. And you see it with the Jewish leaders here in the first century, they’re arguing with Jesus, who is the Son of Man? Jesus could be like, are you kidding me? Are you kidding me? I’ve told you this a thousand times. He has going over this over and over again, he’s directly told them as much, right? And there they’re asking the question again, here’s the reason why they don’t want to trust him, why they don’t want to trust him? Because they want to trust themselves. And so when trusting themselves, where do they go, they go to the religion. They go to the religion because it’s the system they built to elevate themselves. In verse 37, but though he had performed so many signs on their side, they were still not believing in him, this happens. If the word of Isaiah, the Prophet which he spoke would be fulfilled, Lord, Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

For this reason they could not believe for Isaiah said. Again, give me another… bump forward here, verse 40. Maybe. He was blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, they will not see with their eyes and understand with their heart and be converted, so I will not heal them. These things, Isaiah said, because he saw his glory, and he spoke about him. Now, what’s happening here? Jesus has hardened their hearts, has allowed their hearts to be hardened. This is an interesting passage to deal with. And I’ll tell you, there’s a lot of Christians that approach this passage and they actually fight over this passage to the point that decide not to be friends anymore. And whatever your stand is, interpretation of this passage if that is your conclusion. I don’t like your conclusion. We should not approach that passage to this degree. But let me just tell you what I think is happening here.

During the Passover, which they’re celebrating, there was a time when Pharaoh, God allowed his heart to be hardened. When you read about the Exodus, what happens is it tells us that Pharaoh hardened his heart, Pharaoh hardened his heart, Pharaoh hardened his heart. And then it finally says on the last half of the plagues, that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart. When God hardened hearts in during Pharaoh’s day, I don’t think this was the norm. I think this was a temporal thing for the purpose of accomplishing his greater good and will. And that is to bring the salvation of the Jewish people to set them free. He harden Pharaoh’s heart to set the Jewish people free. And I think in lightness to that Jesus is using this illustration to now talk to the Jewish people, because in Egypt, the oppressor was oppressing God’s people. But now in the first century, those that were oppressed are now doing the oppressing.

And he’s saying, look, your heart is becoming like Pharaoh. And now God is going to allow their hearts to become hardened in order to accomplish his greater good or greater will at the cross by being crucified. I don’t think because God allowed their hearts to be hardened that this was a permanent thing that lasted forever. I think after Jesus was crucified, people could put their faith in him again. But I think temporarily, God allowed this to happen in order to produce his greater good, which was to use his cross to draw people to him.

I can’t really say much more than that, because we’re going to run out of time. But when God is hardening the heart its intentions are to bring about… temporarily he’s doing this to accomplish a greater purpose for His glory. I don’t think it meant first century people could no longer believe in Jesus but that he allowed this temporal thing to happen in order to produce something greater for all people to believe in Christ. You must rest in the right Messiah. Let me add this one… Well, let me skip on to the last point. I go to skip a couple passages here.

Number five. The Lord is perfectly merciful and just. The Lord is perfectly merciful and just. Sometimes in life when we go through hard things it creates within us a season of rebellion. We question God in our suffering which is an ironic thing, where else in the world were you going to find a God who cares so much that he would enter your suffering? But yet when hard things happen we question God in our suffering but it’s important to recognize God is perfectly merciful and just. There’s a passage in 1st Peter 5:7 and 8, just wants to remind us of that. 1st Peter 5:7 and 8 talks about, oh, here we go. Casting all your anxieties on Jesus because He cares for you. Be sober minded, watch for your adversary the devil prowls around like a lion seeking whom he may devour. What it’s saying to us is this. When people experience pain, the devil is roaming. When we go through pain, it’s important our lives to recognize that is the moment the devil is roaming, because he recognizes that is the time he can pick you off.

That’s what the lion does in the plains. He chases the herd to find out which one in the group is the injured animal, because that’s the one he wants to eat. And when it comes to your relationship with the Lord, and the same is true when people are in pain, the devil is rooming. He would want nothing more than for you to make your accusations against God rather than against him. He wants to pick you off. But what Jesus is showing us here is he’s got the victory at the same time things are hard. But he walks with us. He walks with us in it, he walks with us through it and God loves us to the end. We get the victory with him. In verse 44 to verse 50, the Lord is perfect for just and merciful.

Look at this 44 to 50. Now Jesus cried out and said, the one who believes in me does not believe only in me, but also in Him who sent me. And the one who sees me, sees him who sent me. I have come as light into the world that no one who believes in me will remain in darkness. If anyone hears me, my teachings and does not keep them I do not judge him for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. And that’s a beautiful passage, isn’t it? This is like the American passage, I think. This is like grandpa lovey God who sits on his front porch in his rocking chair pats you on the head and tells you, you’re just a great kid. This is the God that we love in America, right? He’s not here to judge. He’s here to rescue. He’s here to say this is great. And then you read the next passage, verse 48. The one who rejects me and does not accept my teachings has one who judges him.

The word which I spoke, that will judge him on the last day. For I did not speak on my own, but the Father Himself who sent me has given me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. And I know that His commandment is eternal life. Therefore, the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told me. You get lovey God, but judgment God, right. I like lovey God. I don’t like judgy God. That’s generally how we like to think of Him. God’s good when he loves God’s not good when he judges. But God is both good in his mercy and his judgment. And let me just help us think through that. Because sometimes in our suburban middle class lifestyles that we live, we like to highlight the love of God, but forget the judgment of God.

And guys, the judgment of God is such an important thing to think and consider as you walk this life with the Lord. You need to see and rest in the power of Judge God. Because if you don’t see God, as a perfect judge, you will try to take that place. You will think it’s your place to execute judgment on other people, because God is only a loving God, and who’s going to stand up for your unjust life, right? Later this year, I am going to take a plane back to Africa. And I’m going to… give me a clip Caleb to the map for a minute. We’re going to land not in the orange part. Let’s look at the orange part in just a minute, but I’m going to land just above the white dot next to the orange part.

Coming back to Uganda and hopefully make the shortest trip anyone’s ever made to the continent of Africa and back to America. But I’m going to go there for a few minutes sign some papers come back. But right on the border of Uganda, so just west of Uganda, which is the orange country there is the Democratic Republic of Congo. And right on the border of Uganda and the DRC is a place of very heavy persecution for Christians. It’s on the Congo side, the DRC side is where the persecution happens. But there’s massive persecution happening in that region of the world. And in fact, I got a few just quotes from different organizations. Give me a click for just a minute. You don’t have to take any time to even Google and find just top articles that pop up about things that you’re probably not even aware of. It’s incredible that things like this can happen around the world and we don’t even have… wouldn’t bat an eye on it.

We think our problems in America, ever the world should be concerned about. But when you actually see what’s happening in the world, you’re like, how does no one on our country even know that this is happening? Look at this, toddlers mutilated, pregnant women stabbed as over 3,000 are killed in the Democratic Republic of Congo church leaders say. Give me another clip, Caleb. The Islamic extremist group the Alliance for Democratic Forces is responsible for persecution of Christians in the eastern part of the country, attacking Christians in churches. Violence is a huge risk for the Christian population, the violence has resulted in more than a million internally displaced people. Additionally followers of Jesus are at risk for kidnappings and have their homes destroyed. That was July of 2021. Give me another clip. Disgusting attacks on DRC Christians, [inaudible 00:46:33], a human rights activist acquainted with the region said, these predominantly Christian communities are attacked by an Islamic extremist group with a clear Islamic expansion agenda.

We need to pay attention to these events because what is happening in the eastern DRC, the killing of innocent civilians on almost a daily basis is an under reported tragedy. Here’s the crazier part. Democratic Republic of Congo doesn’t even crack the top 35 of persecuted countries for Christians, it’s not even in the top 20%. And yet you can read stories about a place like that. That’s insane. I’m not reading this to malign Islam. The reason I think they talk about Islam in this is because the group that’s representative or the brand of Islam that’s in this country they want credit for it. They’re telling people that we are doing this. And so that’s who they’re giving credit to [inaudible 00:47:30] was just saying, they want the credit and this is who’s doing this.

Let me just say this rocking chair, loving grandpa, is no help for these people. That’s not the God they need. They need a powerful God that sees them in their need and loves them where they are. They need to know the judgment of God holds them secure. That’s who they need. That’s why it’s important. In our society where we live, if we were to think about ministering these people just say, that’s all right lovey God will take care of this. Just turn to those people who hate you and say Jesus loves you, it’ll work out. That’s not what they need. They need to see both the mercy of God and warrior God on their behalf. Having said all that, let me say this, guys, it’s not wrong. It’s not wrong to question God when you go through adversity. It’s not.

I think it’s a very honoring thing because it’s saying to God, God, I recognize you are the source in this struggle. So help me and heal me and strengthen me and be that judge and be that mercy, and in my weakness make me strong. So that through it all, we can see him faithful. When I think about the battle that is our lives, we endure hard things. Important to ask God, where he is and all of it. As we seek Him, we undergird our lives with faith, knowing that Jesus walked the same path before us, and then he’ll walk this life with us. That God cares. He’s running after you. He has died for you. He will make all things new and His justice will prevail. Do you want to see him faithful in your weakness? Trust Him to be strong.

Dinner with Jesus