The Cup of the Father’s Wrath to the Cup of the Father’s Joy

Tan Sri (Dr) Francis Yeoh

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

Maundy Thursday Message by
Tan Sri Dr Francis Yeoh

The Cup of the Father’s Wrath to the Cup of the Father’s Joy

The Great Commission

Genesis 1:27-28. So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it...”
God made us from the very beginning to show and share His glory.

In Matthew 28:19 our Lord Jesus said, Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. God again brought His own beloved Son, Lord Jesus, from faraway Heaven  to show His glory once again.

The bedrock of the Great Commission make disciples of all nations is most ultimately not God’s heart for the nations – amazing as that is but God’s heart for God. Disciple is a verb, it must entail spiritual maturity. Being “disciples,” they say, means being a serious, rather than casual, followers of Jesus. Serious enough to mature into Christ-like characters.

From creation, God has been concerned with “all the nations.” The genealogies of Genesis trace the origin of all nations to Adam through Noah and his sons (Gen. 10). For the sake of the nations, God worked in and through this one nation for two thousand years. In a symbolic act of His love God reunites the “sons’ of Noah , the Ethiopian Eunuch representing Ham, Saul representing Shem and Cornelius representing Japheth  back to Him , through His Holy Spirit  described in Acts 8, 9 and 10 consecutively.

Jesus has ushered in a new season of world history in which God is no longer focusing his preparatory redemptive action on Israel.  In pursuit of all nations, Paul brought the gospel to Philippi in Acts 16, and for the next seventeen-plus centuries, Christianity took root in particular in the West (Europe and eventually North America). The sixteenth-century Reformation deepened the roots in many respects, but the horrific seventeenth-century religious wars fed the eighteenth-century “Enlightenment” and with it modernism and secularism. Today the West, once the stronghold of global Christianity, is  fast becoming post-Christian. Church that once stood at the center of Western society is finding herself at the periphery.

But the slow decline of Christianity in the West has not meant global decline for the gospel. Lord Jesus will build His church! The last 50 years have produced a stunning and historic global development as Christianity has blossomed in Africa, Latin America, and Asia.

“The number of practicing Christians in China is approaching the number in the United States.” “Last Sunday…more Christian believers attended church in China than in all of so-called ‘Christian Europe.”
However will today’s revival of the church in Asia, Africa and Asia suffer the same fate as that of the churches in the West, pushing Lord Jesus to the periphery instead of putting Him right at the centre? This is an important matter for all the churches present here to ponder tonight.

God Created Us For His Glory

It is good for all of us tonight to be reminded that God bases His heart for the nations on His passion for His own name and His own glory. God’s heart for the nations is built on God’s heart for God. God’s zeal to reach the nations with the glory of His Son and save sinners is built on His zeal that His name be exalted in and through the worshipping of Christ.

God’s ultimate goal in creation and redemption is to uphold and display His glory for the enjoyment of His redeemed people from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. God did not make us as different as we are culturally, ethnically, and racially for nothing. This is because a diverse song sung to the Redeemer is more glorifying to the Redeemer than a simple song in unison.

How are we like God? Images are created to image. You put up a statue of Abraham Lincoln to look at it and think about his emancipation of slaves. Images are made to image. So if God made us in His image, this it means clearly: God’s the reality and we’re the image.

Why did God create man? To show God! He created little images like us, so that  we would talk and act and feel in a way that reveals the way God is. So people would look at the way we behave, look at the way we think, the way we feel, and say, God must be great, God must be real. God didn’t create us as an end in ourselves. He’s the end, we’re the means.

He is absolutely thrilled with Jesus as the image of Himself. We were created to image God. So, if we are similarly Christ-like, He will be just as thrilled with us.  

In John 7:18 Jesus warned us: The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of Him who sent Him is true, and in Him there is no falsehood. That’s why He sent Him. God gets the glory, we get the mercy, the best outcome!

However, we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Rom. 3:23) Preferring another glory to God’s glory is what sin is.  Sins belittle the glory of God, making His glory of little value.

Sins Belittle The Glory Of God

There are so many Christians today who see the salvation of God as an evidence of their worth instead of God’s worth.

Psalm 106:6-8 puts it: Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, did not consider your wondrous works; they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love, but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea. Yet He saved them for His name’s sake, that He might make known His mighty power.

God planned to multiply His signs in Egypt. Because He meant to get glory over Pharaoh, who was so against God, they were children of wrath, worshipping counterfeit gods. God meant to magnify Himself. The Exodus, which is a pointer to our exodus from sin, was based upon God’s heart for His name. “It is not for your sake that I will act”, declares the Lord GOD.

But We Are Children Of Wrath!

“By nature we are children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3). By nature, there is something wrong with us. We don’t just do bad things; we have a bad nature.

“Your thoughts are not my thoughts, your ways are not my ways” (Isa. 55:8). That’s because the mind of the flesh is at enmity with God, and we think all kinds of things that God doesn’t think. It means there are many facts from which God draws conclusions but from which we don’t draw the same conclusions.

Fame, power and riches are counterfeit gods in contrast with the boundless and abiding joy of working with our God for the fulfillment of His plans for His glory. 

Today we hear much prosperity teachings in mega churches. The great tragedy of prosperity-preaching is that a person does not have to be spiritually awakened in order to embrace it. To attract people with promises of prosperity is simply natural. However, getting rich in the name of Jesus merely reflects the world not the glory of our God.

To Be A Mature Christian, To Be Christ-like

The idea of there being a better Christian life can be traced all the way back to the Old Testament and the experience of Israel. The whole history of Israel is filled with one miracle right after another.

But it was not long before changes took place. Slowly but surely the Israelites moved from the center to the perimeter. They soon fell prey to worshipping counterfeit gods instead of being led by God day by day. As mentioned earlier the same thing is happening to the churches in the West today and can also happen to the churches here tonight which are in Asia

This is where the prophets of the Old Testament stepped in and called Israel back to the center. Is the recently elected Pope or the Archbishop of Canterbury calling the churches in the West to come back to the center? Are our churches present here tonight going to do the same?

The Faltering Of The New Testament Church

It is good to be reminded here, how the New Testament Church faltered in history. We had all the wonders of the incarnation, the crucifixion, the resurrection of Christ and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The Church began as Israel before her had begun, in a blaze of life and power. The Church was known for its simplicity, along with faith, love, purity and worship. But again, the inner fire was eventually extinguished.

All through history it was not that men taught wrong doctrine, but that they did not live up to the doctrine they taught.  They preached Paul’s message: “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” (Phil. 3:8).  But they do not adhere to it!

In all denominations everywhere, there are godly people seeking the face of Jesus. However we note today, the average Christian today does not make much spiritual progress at all. He is converted, joins the Church, years later, he is still where he was. Today the people of God are not shocked enough by Calvary, and not just a man, but the Godman, dying for the sins of the world?

Counterfeit Gods

Why is this so?  Is it because, unwittingly many Christians are worshipping counterfeit gods without knowing. The Devil is truly subtle and have done a good job blinding them and turning them to counterfeit gods without their being able to discern. De Tocqueville says it comes from taking some “incomplete joy of this world” and building your entire life on it. That is the definition of idolatry.

Today many Christians have social skills for vertical relationships, for improving their rank with bosses or peers but very little in horizontal relationships with spouses, family and friends. The economic Armageddon, meltdown of 2008 has again exposed “the culture of greed.”  Apostle Paul reminds us “Greed is idolatry” (Colossians 3: 5). The scriptures remind us that our human heart is an “idol factory.”  We instinctively know and much evidence abound that counterfeit gods always disappoint, and often destructively so, yet we indulge in them.

Paul summarized the history of the human race in one sentence: “They worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator” (Romans 1: 25). Every human being must live for something.  But, the Bible tells us, without the intervention of the Holy Spirit, that object will never be God himself.

It is no wonder that one of the central principles of the Bible is the rejection of idolatry. The Bible is therefore filled with story after story depicting the innumerable forms and devastating effects of idol worship.

The Destructive Effects Of Counterfeit Gods

For Madonna, who does not worship our God, success is like drug that gives her a sense of consequence and worth, but the high quickly wears off and she needs a repeat dose. She must prove herself again and again. The driving force behind this is not joy but fear. Or take Christ Evert a leading tennis player in the 1970s and 1980s. She cried, ”I had no idea who I was. Winning made me feel like I was somebody. It made me feel pretty. It was like being hooked on a drug. I needed the wins, the applause, in order to have an identity.”

Modern society, then, puts great pressure on individuals to prove their worth through personal achievement.  Brooks calls this .... a mighty Achievatron.” The family is no longer a sanctuary in a heartless world, instead the family has become the nursery for a zoo of ambitions.

As Niebuhr taught, they go back to the beginning of the world, to our alienation from God, and to our frantic efforts to compensate for our feelings of cosmic nakedness and powerlessness. One of the great ironies of sin is that when human beings try to become more than human beings, to be as gods or worship false gods, they fall to become lower than human beings. Pride makes you a predator, a lesser human being. Spiritual gifts (talent, ability, performance.. ) are often mistaken for what the Bible calls spiritual “fruit” (love, joy, patience..). Though we may give lip service to Jesus as our example and inspiration, we are still looking to ourselves and our own moral striving for salvation. Is this because our religious communities have been and continue to be filled with these false gods? Tonight we all together have to ponder and reflect.  We however cannot deny that our religious idolatry have led to widespread disaffection with Christianity.

The Heart Is An Idols Factory

The human heart is indeed a factory that mass-produces idols. If we remove them, they must be replaced But by what? By God himself. What we need is a living encounter with God. “Setting the mind and heart on things above” where “your life is hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3: 1– 3) means appreciation, rejoicing, and resting in what Jesus has done for you. It entails joyful worship. Jesus must become more beautiful to you in reality, more attractive to your heart, than your idol. That is what will replace your counterfeit gods. If you uproot the idol and fail to “plant” the love of Christ in its place, the idol will grow back. Rejoicing and repentance must go together

In fear-based repentance, we don’t learn to hate the sin for itself, and it doesn’t lose its attractive power. We learn only to refrain from it for our own sake. But when we rejoice over God’s sacrificial, suffering love for us— seeing what it cost him to save us from sin— we learn to hate the sin for what it is. We see what the sin cost God. What most assures us of God’s unconditional love (Jesus’ costly death) is what that most convicts us of the evil of sin. Fear-based repentance makes us hate ourselves. Joy-based repentance makes us hate the sin.

Abraham Tested: God Or Isaac, Creator or Creature

Even Abraham was not spared this testing. Abraham was asked to sacrifice Isaac, his beloved son. Abraham did not flinch, he knew this sacrifice was for the clan but He also knew and trusted God that somehow God will return Isaac back to him. He told his servants that “we will come back to you” (Genesis 22: 5).Abraham was indeed saying, “I know God is both holy and gracious. I don’t know how he is going to be both— but I know he will.”

Isaac was a wonderful gift to Abraham, but he was not safe to have and hold until Abraham was willing to put God first. As long as Abraham never had to choose between his son and obedience to God, he could not see that his love was becoming idolatrous. Abraham’s agonizing walk into the mountains was therefore the final stage of a long journey in which God was turning him from an ordinary man into one of the greatest in history. God dealt with the idol of Abraham’s heart and Abraham passed, bless him.

Many years later, in those same mountains, another firstborn son was stretched out on the cross to die. But there on Mount Calvary, when the beloved son of God cried, “My God, my God— why hast thou forsaken me?” there was no voice from heaven announcing deliverance. Instead, God the Father paid the price in silence. Why? The true substitute for Abraham’s son was God’s only Son, Jesus, who died to bear our punishment. “For Christ died for sin once for all, the just for the unjust, to bring us to God” (1 Peter 3: 18). Paul understood the true meaning of Isaac’s story when he deliberately applied its language to Jesus: “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all— how will he not also, along with him, freely give us all things?” (Romans 8: 32)

God saw Abraham’s sacrifice and said, “Now I know that you love me, because you did not withhold your only son from me.” But how much more can we look at his sacrifice on the Cross, and say to God, “Now, we know that you love us. For you did not withhold your son, your only son, whom you love, from us.”

Jesus alone makes sense of this story. The only way that God can be both “holy” (demanding payment of our debt of sin) and “gracious” (providing salvation and grace) is because years later another Father , our God, went up another “mount” called Calvary with His firstborn and offered him there for us all. Only if Jesus lived and died for us can you have a God of infinite love and holiness at once. Then we can be absolutely sure God loves us.

The Early Saints Replaced Counterfeit Gods And Tasted The Love Of Jesus. They Glorified God.

The only way to free ourselves from the destructive influence of counterfeit gods is like Abarham to turn back to the true one. The living God, who revealed himself both at Mount Sinai and on the Cross, is the only Lord who, if you find Him, can truly fulfill you, and, if you fail Him, can truly forgive you.

David Pawson observed that from AD 30 to AD 400, beginning with a handful of fishermen, Christianity spread throughout the then known world, until it replaced many other religions. They did it without an army, without money, without influential people, and they did it against all the might and power of the Roman Empire. They fought a Spiritual battle that began with the Jews, a mental battle that began with the Greeks and a physical battle that began with the Romans. Christians won that battle because they outlived, out-thought, and out-died everyone else. These martyrs gives us so much hope and reminds us that our Lord Jesus is indeed truly glorious and worthy to be worshipped and praised even at the expense of their lives.

David also cautions us about that state of the modern church with a reminder of a painting he saw from the Middle Ages that portrays the church as a lifeboat. In a tossing sea, the Christians in the lifeboat are reaching out to pluck from the waves people who are drowning. The lifeboat must be in the sea, but if the sea gets into the lifeboat, there is real trouble. The church must be in the world but when the world gets into the church, then it is finished and it sinks.

Saint Francis of Assisi came along also protesting this wordly influence in the Church. For him, Lord Jesus was enough. Jesus Christ was his all in all. He seeks no wealth, no things, only Christ. The Pope, recently elected, in an act of humility adopts his name.

What will make the world taste the salt and see the light of Christ in us is not that we love wealth the same way the world does. Rather, it will be the willingness and the ability of Christians to love others through suffering, all the while rejoicing as Paul instructed, “Rejoice in the Lord always”  This is inexplicable on human terms.

Both Hudson Taylor and David Livingstone, after lives of extraordinary sufferings said, “I never made a sacrifice”. When people who have suffered much speak like this, their God is magnified. If God can so satisfy their souls that even their sufferings are experienced as steps into deeper joy with Him, then He must be far more glorious than all that the earth has to offer.

These lessons above must be very important as our Lord Jesus taught us this again in the story of The Lost Son captured in the Gospel of  Luke, Chapter 15  Timothy Keller in his book ‘The Prodigal God ‘captures truly the full essence of our Lord Jesus teaching on this very important subject. I will try to summarize below his observation that I subscribe to. The word prodigal is an adjective that means, recklessly extravagant or having spent everything.

The Story Of The Lost Son

Let us read together the text of LUKE 15: 1-3, 11-32

The tax collectors and “sinners” were all gathering around to hear him. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Then Jesus told them this parable. . . . Jesus continued, “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a far country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’

“So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. “Your brother has come,” he replied, “and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.” “The elder brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’“‘ My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”

Luke recounts that there were two groups of people who had come to listen to Jesus. First there were the “tax collectors and sinners.” These men and women correspond to the younger brother. They observed neither the moral laws of the Bible nor the rules for ceremonial purity followed by religious Jews. The second group of listeners was the “Pharisees and the teachers of the law,” who were represented by the elder brother. They held to the traditional morality of their upbringing. They studied and obeyed the Scripture.

So to whom is Jesus’ teaching in this parable directed? It is to the second group, the scribes and Pharisees. It is in response to their attitude that Jesus begins to tell the parable. His story reveals the destructive self-centeredness of the younger brother, but it also condemns the elder brother’s ‘moral high horsing’

He is on the side of neither the irreligious nor the religious, but he singles out religious moralism as a particularly deadly spiritual condition. Jesus’ teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of his day. If the preaching of our pastors and the practice of our church members do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did. If our churches aren’t appealing to younger brothers, they must be more full of elder brothers in our churches today?

If a father had two heirs, the oldest would have gotten two-thirds of the estate and the younger would have received one-third. However, this division of the estate only occurred when the father died. Here the younger son asks for his inheritance now, which was a sign of deep disrespect. The younger son was saying, essentially, that he wants his father’s things, but not his father. His relationship to the father has been a means to the end of enjoying his wealth, and now he is weary of that relationship.

A traditional Middle Eastern father would be expected to respond to such a request by driving the son out of the family. The wealth of this father would have primarily been in real estate, and to get one-third of his net worth he would have had to sell a great deal of his land holdings. To lose part of your land was to lose part of yourself and a major share of your standing in the community. This younger brother, then, is asking his father to tear his life apart. And the father does so, for the love of his son.

Look at how the father responded when the prodigal son returned. He ran to him! Distinguished Middle Eastern patriarchs did not run. But this father does. He runs to his son and, showing his emotions openly, falls upon Him and kisses Him.

“Bring the best robe and put it on Him!” The best robe in the house would have been the father’s own robe, the unmistakable sign of restored standing in the family.

Jesus shows the father pouncing on his son in love not only before he has a chance to clean up his life and evidence a change of heart. The Father’s love and acceptance are absolutely free. It shows us the freeness of God’s grace. We will later be shown the costliness of that grace and the true climax of the story.

Now it is the elder brother’s turn to disgrace the father. He refuses to go in to what is perhaps the biggest feast and public event his father has ever put on. He remains outside the door, publicly casting a vote of no-confidence in his father’s actions. This forces the father to come out to speak to his older son, a demeaning thing to have to do when you are the lord of the manor and host of a great feast. He begins to plead with his eldest son to come in, but he continues to refuse.

By bringing the younger brother back into the family he has made him an heir again, with a claim to one-third of their (now very diminished) family wealth.

And so the elder brother’s fury leads Him to insult the father even further. He refuses even further. He refuses to address him in the elaborately respectful manner that inferiors owed superiors in that culture, particularly in public. He does not say “esteemed father” but simply, “Look!” – which is equivalent to “Look, you!” In a culture where respect and deference to elders was all important, such behavior is outrageous.

In short, Jesus is redefining everything we thought we knew about connecting to God. He is redefining sin, what it means to be lost, and what it means to be saved.

The father has to go out and invite each of them to come into the feast of his love. So there is not just one lost son in this parable – there are two.

But it comes to an unthinkable conclusion. Jesus deliberately leaves the elder brother in his alienated state. The bad son enters the father’s feast but the good son will not. We can almost hear the Pharisees gasp as the story ends. It was the complete reversal of everything they had ever been taught.

What did the younger son most want in life? He wanted to make his own decisions and have unfettered control of his portion of the wealth. He displayed a flagrant defiance of community standards, a declaration of complete independence.

What did the older son most want? He wanted the same thing as his brother. He was just as resentful of the father as was the younger son. He, too, wanted the father’s goods rather than the father himself. However, while the younger brother went far away, the elder brother stayed close. That was his way to get control.

The hearts of the two brothers were the same. Both were alienated from the father’s heart; both were lost sons.

Do you realize, then, what Jesus is teaching? Neither son loved the father for himself. They both were using the father for their own self centered ends rather than loving, enjoying, and serving him for his own sake. In disdainful language (This son of yours..) he won’t even own his brother as a brother anymore.

Another sign of those with an “elder brother” spirit is joyless, fear-based compliance. Ultimately, elder brothers live good lives out of fear, not out of joy and love as explained earlier.

This last plea from the father is particularly amazing when we remember Jesus’ audience. Yet in the story the elder brother gets not a harsh condemnation but a loving plea to turn from his anger and self-righteousness. Jesus is pleading in love with his deadliest enemies. He not only loves the wild-living, free-spirited people, but also hardened religious people!

The similarities among the three stories are obvious. In each parable something is lost-sheep, coin, and son. In each the one who loses something gets it back. And each of the narratives ends on a note of festive rejoicing and celebration when the lost one is returned.

In the first two someone “goes out” and searches diligently for that which is lost. By the time we get to the third story, and we hear about the plight of the lost son, we are fully prepared to expect that someone will set out to search for him. No one does.

It is starling, and Jesus meant it to be so. By pacing the three parables so closely together He is asking: “Well, who should have gone out and searched for the lost son? Jesus knew the Bible thoroughly, and He knew that at its very beginning it tells another story of an elder and younger brother – Cain and Abel. In that story, God tells the resentful and proud older brother: “You are your brother’s keeper.” This is what a true elder brother in the parable should have done.

Indeed, it is only at the elder brother’s expense that the younger brother can be brought back in. But forgiveness always comes at a cost to the one granting the forgiveness. The father could not reinstate Him except at the expense of the elder brother. There was no other way. But Jesus does not put a true elder brother in the story, one who is willing to pay any cost to seek and save that which is lost. It is heartbreaking. The younger son gets a Pharisee for a brother instead.

By putting a flawed elder brother in the story, Jesus is inviting us to imagine and yearn for a true one. And we have Him. Think of the kind of brother we need. We need one who does not just go to the next country to find us but who will come all the way from heaven to earth. We need one who is willing to pay not just a finite amount of money, but, at the infinite cost of His own life to bring us into God’s family, for our debt is so much greater. Either as elder brothers or as younger brothers we have rebelled against the father. We deserve alienation, isolation, and rejection. The point of the parable is that forgiveness always involves a price – someone has to pay. There was no way for the younger brother to return to the family unless the older brother bore the cost himself. Our true elder brother Lord Jesus Christ paid our debt, on the cross, in our place. There Jesus drank the cup of eternal justice so that we might have the cup of the Father’s joy. There was no other way for the heavenly Father to bring us in, except at the expense of our true elder brother, Lord Jesus.

When we see the beauty of what he has done for us. If the Lord of the Universe loves us this much to experience this for us, what are we to fear?

We will never stop being younger brothers or elder brothers until we acknowledge our need, rest by faith, and gaze in wonder at the work of our true elder brother, Jesus Christ.

In Jesus’ parable the younger brother goes off into a distant country expecting a better life but is disappointed. He begins to long for home, remembering the food in his father’s house. So do we all.

In the beginning of the book of Genesis we learn the reason why all people feel like exiles, like we aren’t really home. We are told there that we were created to live in the garden of God. That was the world we were built for, a place in which there was no parting from love. It was all these things because it was life before the face of God, in His presence. There we were to adore and serve His infinite majesty, and to know, enjoy, and reflect His infinite beauty. That was our original home we were made for.

We Are Spiritual Exiles

We wanted to live without God’s interference, and so we turned away. The result was exile.

The Bible says that we have been wandering as spiritual exiles ever since. That is, we have been living in a world that no longer fits our deepest longings. We may work hard to re-create the home that we have lost, but, says the Bible, it only exists in the presence of the heavenly father from which we have fled.

This theme is played out again and again in the Bible. After Adam and Eve’s exile from the ultimate home, their son Cain was forced to restlessly wander the earth because he murdered his brother Abel. Later Jacob cheated his father and brother and fled into exile for years. After that, Jacob’s son Joseph and his family were taken from their homeland into Egypt because of a famine. There the Israelites were enslaved until, under Moses, they returned to their ancestral home. Centuries after this, David, before he became king, lived as a hunted fugitive. Finally the whole nation of Israel was exiled again, taken captive to Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar.

It is no coincidence that story after story contains the pattern of exile. The message of the Bible is that the human race is a band of exiles trying to come home. The parable of the prodigal son is about every one of us.

At the end of the story of the prodigal sons, there is a feast of homecoming. So too at the end of the book of Revelation, at the end of history, there is a feast, the “marriage supper of the Lamb” (Revelation 19). The Lamb is Jesus, who was sacrificed for the sins of the world so that we could be pardoned and brought home. This feast happens in the New Jerusalem, the City of God that comes down out of heaven to fill the earth (Revelation 21– 22).

We will come, and the father will meet us and embrace us, and we will be brought into the feast.

The Bible insists on using sensory language about salvation. It calls us to “taste and see” that the Lord is good, not only to agree and believe it. The difference between believing that God is gracious and tasting that God is gracious is as different as having a rational belief that honey is sweet and having the actual sense of its sweetness.

Rather than only believing that He is loving, we can come to sense the reality, the beauty, and the power of his love. His love can become more real to you than the love of anyone else. It can delight, galvanize, and console you. That will lift you up and free you from fear like nothing else.


How Glorious Our God?

We can begin to see by now Our God is truly glorious! But how glorious is our salvation? And how glorious is our Lord Jesus? Have we tasted His glory? Have you ever pondered on God’s “oxygen machine” the forests and the flowers?

How Glorious Our Salvation!

The climax of history is not a higher form of disembodied consciousness but a feast. God made the world with all its colors, tastes, lights, sounds, with all its life-forms living in interdependent systems. He says, “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that thought he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). Paul is taking them back to the gospel. He is saying, “Think on his costly grace!”

Feasting is communal by nature. No reunion, family gathering, wedding, or other significant social event is complete without a meal. You can’t live the Christians life without a band of Christians friends, without a family of believers like we are gathered here tonight.

How Glorious our Lord Jesus!

David Pawson taught us well about the wonders of Lord Jesus and how glorious He is. Philippians chapter 2 describes his choices as humble all the way. He was equal with God, and He chose to be a man. He was equal to men, but He chose to be a servant. Then the ultimate choice was that He chose to die at the age of thirty-three. Very few people die young deliberately.

Our Lord Jesus didn’t become a man for thirty-three years and then go back to being God. He became one of us for the rest of eternity.

We have a human being in heaven, at the right hand of God who is running the universe now and who is above all the angels. He is therefore described as our pioneer. He is the first human being ever to get that high and to get above the angels and sit at the right hand of God. He has only done that so that one day we can do the same. So He is called our pioneer, and the one who has gone ahead to prepare the way for us.

Our destiny is above the angels— that is where God has decided to place us, having redeemed us. We will sit with Christ in heavenly places and run the universe with Jesus.

Now one of the three persons of the godhead is human. Why was the Creator willing to become a creature? The twofold answer is very simple: to bring God to us and to bring us to God. He did it to bring God to us so that we would know that God was one of us, and to bring us to God, that we might be His adopted sons. Jesus is the only begotten Son, but we are adopted sons and daughters, adopted into His family forever.

We Are New Creations, How Glorious!

Do you realize that Easter Sunday was the beginning of the second week of creation? In the first week of creation God made the new heaven and the earth first and people last. In the new creation, He is making new people first and the new heaven and the new earth last. It is all in reverse order now, and the first bit of the old creation to be made into the new creation was His own Son’s body. God was going back to work, and beginning the new creation with his Son.

Jesus resurrection is the beginning of a whole new universe and what God has begun he will complete, but in reverse order to the first week of creation.

Jesus has gone as our pioneer. God’s order under Him in His old creation was: angels, humans, animals? In the new creation that is going to be changed. Under Him it is going to be: humans, angels, animals. God is actually taking redeemed human beings and setting them above the angels. So the angels will minister to us— that is our destiny in Christ. He has gone ahead of us as pioneer. What more glorious!

In fact He only made us because He so loved and enjoyed His only son that He wanted a bigger family, provided we turned out just like Him. (Romans 8: 29) So when His life becomes ours, God will be as pleased with us as He was with Him (Matthew 3: 17).

In the beginning God made the earth and then God made us in His image and told us to be fruitful and multiply and fill the vast space on the earth He created for us and in so doing reflect His glory. However filled the earth we did, with horrible slimy sin! Ever since sin filled the earth, God being immutable will not allow His glory to be diminished. He had a plan to restore His glory.

God described the earth He made in only two chapters of the bible but He took 50 chapters to describe the tabernacle He was to reside with us. Hidden in these 50 chapters were His plans to restore His glory through His one and only beloved son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Apostle John described God as the Word and the Word was made flesh and tabernacled amongst us.

The birth, death, resurrection and ascension of our Lord Jesus restored God’s glory. As believers we are now new creations participating with Him, our spirit in heaven, our bodies still on earth, in the creation of a new heaven and new earth although in reverse order. God recreated us redeemed souls to participate with Him to build a new heaven and a new earth, our Lord Jesus being the pioneer. We are now on the first day of the second week of creation or on the eight day of creation. What could be more glorious!

God made the earth and through Old Adam’s sin we filled all the spaces of the earth and multiplied it with sin. Now God is asking us instead to do build a tabernacle in our heart for Him so that He can fill it with His glory. The real question for us redeemed children of God is how big is this space in the tabernacle of our hearts are we willingly allowing His Holy Spirit to fill it.

There could be many idols, counterfeit gods already taking up a huge space in the tabernacle of our hearts. This will prevent us from enjoying God’s glory and if we are after our Lord Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection not be able to taste His glory we will certainly not be able to reflect His glory, believers are we think we are. Then, this will be the biggest act of injustice and lack of love a human soul can heap upon himself. As in our Lord Jesus teaching of the lost son in Luke, He is the Eldest brother that truly sacrificed all He owns in the whole universe to be co-heirs with us, ungrateful sinful worms. He bids us all not to be prodigal anymore. He bids us to come home, the right joyful home! He bids us not squander the wealth He co-shares with us even worse, squandering the most valuable of all possessions: His love, His joy, His peace and His glory!

In Luke 22:42-44, we read Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
When Jesus was at the garden of Gethsemane he was in anguish about the cup He was going to have to drink on all the nations’ behalf. His anxiety has also been described by a sudden shocking awareness of the horror that this cup contains. This was the cup described in Jeremiah 25:15 The Cup of God’s Wrath! This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, said to me: “Take from my hand this cup filled with the wine of my wrath and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it. We remind ourselves again Jesus drank the cup of wrath so that we might have the cup of the Father’s joy.

When Jesus was at the garden of Gethsemane he was in anguish about the cup He was going to have to drink on all the nations' behalf. His anxiety has also been described by a sudden shocking awareness of the horror that this cup contains. This was the cup described in Jeremiah 25:15 The Cup of God's Wrath! This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, said to me: ''Take from my hand this cup filled with the wine of my wrath and make all the nations to whom I send you drink it. We remind ourselves again Jesus drank the cup of wrath so that we might have the cup of the Father's joy.

He drank this horrible for us, the nations, so that we might be reconciled with our Righteous Father and that we become co-heirs with Him to share the Glory of this whole universe but most of all to share His own Glory, His Love, His Joy, His Peace. Are the things we are living for worth Christ dying for? Are we committing to Him to live a life of righteousness and in the process showing all nations His glory by vowing to Him, “Not my will, but you will be done”. When we do His glory will be reflected through us. Let us all earn this precious gift and be worthy of  this great sacrifice, a sacrifice that only a truly Righteous God and a truly Loving God can deliver to reconcile us all back to Him. To Him be the Glory forever and ever,


• I am indebted to books by, David Pawson, John Piper, Timothy Keller, A.W. Tozer, Martin Lloyd Jones and many others whose writings and teachings have enriched me in understanding the glory of our God.