Pastor Barry Robinson

Letters to the Camberwell Congregation from Pastor Barry Robinson

February 2008 - Lent

February 2008 - Lent

Lent 2008 Sermons

Dear Church Family,

Every summer and for a month in the winter the football transfer window is open for business. Vast sums of money, running into millions of pounds are exchanged as footballers move from one team to another.

Often ridiculous sums of money are paid by football clubs to acquire the services of the most modest of players, who themselves go on to earn many thousands of pounds per week for kicking a football.

It’s not surprising then that many people working 9 to 5 or who have to eke out a living on a pension wonder ‘are these footballers really worth it?’

Well that led me to think about just how much a human being is worth. A £20 million transfer fee? Or £100,000 per week?

Surely not!

And, of course, this is a gross under-estimation of the value of a human being. God wants us on His team so much that He was willing to pay a much greater transfer fee than £20 million. That price couldn’t be quantified in financial terms, for it was the giving up of His only begotten Son. (John 3:16)

It was a price that Jesus was determined to pay,

“As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51)

Jesus knows he is going to be betrayed, suffer, be crucified, but then be raised from the dead and ascend to the Father’s right hand. And so, He ‘sets his face’ towards this destiny.

Jesus is no passive victim of state-sponsored evil and violence; he is marching to engage the enemy. He has resolutely decided to go to Jerusalem, not as a victim, but as a potential victor.

And we know this means he is going to his death.

I’ve always been fascinated by that description of Jesus. Nothing was going to deter him from going to Jerusalem in order to die for my sins and yours.

You can always tell when a person is on a mission. There is a single-minded purposefulness, a focus, about them. There is great power and energy in focused determination.

And here in Luke’s account the purposefulness of Jesus was apparent.

He was not like the person in charge of a lighthouse along a dangerous coast who was given enough oil for one month and told to keep the light burning every night.

One day a woman asked for oil so that her children could stay warm. Then a farmer came. His son needed oil for a lamp so he could read. Another needed some oil for an engine. The lighthouse keeper saw each as a worthy request and gave some oil to satisfy all. By the end of the month, the tank in the lighthouse was dry.

That night the beacon was dark and three ships crashed on the rocks, with hundreds of lives lost. The lighthouse attendant explained what he had done and why. But the prosecutor replied, "You were given only one task: to keep the light burning. Every other thing was secondary. You have no excuse."

I am thankful that Jesus didn’t deviate from His one task and that He “set his face toward Jerusalem” to die for us – That’s how much we are worth to Him. I don't know of any other way for us to begin to know just how much He loved us. As John tells us,

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (Luke 15:13).

If we were to look at Jesus' death merely as a result of a betrayer's deceit, the Sanhedrin's envy, Pilate's spinelessness, and the soldiers' nails and spear, it might seem very involuntary. The benefit of salvation that comes to us who believe in this death might be viewed as God's way of making a virtue out of a necessity.

But once you read Luke 9:51 all such thoughts vanish.

Jesus was not accidentally entangled in a web of injustice. The saving benefits of his death for sinners were not an afterthought. God planned it all out of infinite love to sinners like us and appointed a time.

Jesus, who was the very embodiment of his Father's love for sinners, saw that the time had come and set his face to fulfil his mission: to die in Jerusalem for our sake.

“No one takes my life from me (he said), but I lay it down of my own accord” (John 10:18).

This year during Lent, as preperation for our commemoration of the passion of Jesus and the celebration of His ressurection, we will be travelling with Jesus on His final journey to Jerusalem.

Unlike the other synoptic gospels, Luke has a long ‘journey’ section (Luke 9:51-19:44) during which Jesus travels to Jerusalem. He frequently shows his readers where the journey is leading (9:53; 13:22,33; 17:11; 18:31; 19:11,28), and as we travel with Jesus through some of the highlights of this journey we’ll learn about:

  • The cost of quality discipleship;
  • The joys of salvation;
  • Shrewd financial management;
  • Being ready and prepared for the reality of eternity;
  • The importance of prayer;
  • The compassion of Jesus.

It took courage for Jesus to set off resolutely to Jerusalem – And He did so for you and me – Doesn’t that make us so valuable?

In a world where there is pressure to compromise and conform, to give up and quit our Christian journey, I hope that this series of sermons from Luke’s gospel will encourage us to follow Jesus all the way to the New Jerusalem.

With love in Jesus' name,

Barry Robinson
Pastor

PS:

Below is the schedule of sermons for Lent. Please take time to read the relevant passage in the week preceding the sermon. There will be a number of study questions following each sermon for reflection throughout the Lenten period.

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