The Tragic Reality Of Sin - Radical

The Tragic Reality Of Sin

How can we even begin to comprehend the depth of sin? What, then, is our response to it? In this message on Mark Chapter 14, Pastor Mike Kelsey warns believers of the tragic reality of sin. Many Christians claim to seek justice, and a fair assessment of sin. Yet, if the assessment of sin were truly fair, the wages of sin would be death. Despite the grave reality of sin, Christ offers a different reality- eternal life. Given this gift of eternal life, our response is the new reality that we face.

  1. Understanding Sin
  2. The Reality of Sin
  3. The Inclination to Wander
  4. Our Response

The Tragic Reality Of Sin

Well, it’s good to be together today. We’re going to be continuing our series in the Gospel of Mark 14. If you got a Bible, meet me in Mark 14. If you didn’t bring a Bible here, wherever you’re watching from, we got the verses up on the screen. I want to welcome those of you who are new to our church and those of you have been around for a while. I want to give a shoutout to those of you watching online and at all of our different locations here around the DC metro area. It’s good to be together, and I’m looking forward to diving into God’s word.

We’re going to focus on Mark 14:12–21. Before we do that, I was reminded, back in 2014, and now I admit, don’t judge me, I just was never a baseball fan. I just didn’t grow up watching baseball. I didn’t grow up playing baseball. I know they changed the rules now. It takes too long. I love going to baseball games though. It’s fun, but I do remember this, back in 2014, A-Rod, some of y’all remember this, when Alex Rodriguez, a major league baseball player, was suspended for the entire season because of his involvement in the biogenesis scandal related to performance enhancing drugs.

I remember him publicly apologizing and, in his statement, he said this. He said, “I take full responsibility for the mistakes that led to my suspension for the 2014 season. I want to express my deepest apologies to my fans, teammates, and the Yankees organization,” and I’ll just say, in professional sports, you would think we learn by now. John Morant, I’m praying for you, brother.

Anyway, back to the note, this is the line that stood out to me. When A-Rod gave his statement, he said this. He said, “I never thought it would go this far or ever happen.” I remember that struck me that he was saying, “Not only do I confess to this, not only do I admit to it, not only do I take full responsibility for it, but I’m actually surprised by it. I’m surprised that I actually got in so deep that it went this far.”

A lot of us know what that feels like, don’t we, where we make a series of decisions or choices, no matter what your faith background is, maybe it’s just a mistake or you do something that you know it violates the way that you were raised or it violates your own core values or, if you are a person of faith, you’re a Christian, it’s just plain old sin. You made a sinful decision or a series of sinful decisions, and you get to a point in a situation or in a season of your life where you wonder, “How did I get here? How did I let things go so far? She’s pregnant. The marriage doesn’t look like it’s going to make it because of decisions that I made. I’m not sure what’s going to happen if they find out. I may lose my job. It may be worse. How did I get here?”

Human Nature is Sinful

Here’s the thing. Here’s the thing. We think about the sin in our own lives. We think about stuff in other people’s lives. As Christians, we are the people who should be the least surprised when we see these things happen. Why? Because of the reality of what the Bible calls sin, that sin is not just bad things that we do. Sin actually goes deeper than that, to the core of our fallen human nature, that every single one of us has a sin nature. There’s an inclination inside of us that causes us to drift or maybe even pursue things that not only aren’t best for us, but things that God has specifically prohibited or holds us back from pursuing the things that God specifically commands.

The Bible Teaches Us The Reality Of Sin

The Bible teaches us about the reality of sin, and that’s what we’re going to see in Mark 14. Before we pick it up here in verse 12, I want to give us a moment to pray. Wherever you are, here, watching from one of our locations, watching online, I want you to just pray this simple prayer. Just pray, “God, would you speak to me personally through your word?” Would you just open yourself, your heart to whatever God might want to say to you today? Take a moment between you and the Lord God.

God, as we turn our attention to your word, so freshly reminded this week in prayer, this weekend, that your word never returns void, that your word has a divine assignment, a plan that you already intend to accomplish not just in the life of our church, but in the life of each individual person that hears this message, and so, God, we pray that you will not only speak to our hearts, but you work in our hearts by the power of your Holy Spirit. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen. Amen.

Reading Mark 14

Y’all ready? Nope. No, no, no, we’re not going to do that. We’re not doing it. Y’all ready here? All locations, are we ready? All right. Let’s dive in. We’re going to pick it up in chapter 14, verse 12, but before we do that, let me give you some context because chapter 14 is a pivotal turning point in Jesus’ ministry. As you read through the Gospel of Mark, which we’ve been doing in this series, you see that the plot is thickening and the situation is intensifying. Remember what’s been happening leading up to this point? Jesus knows that his time with the disciples is coming to a close. He knows that he has a divine appointment with death, that, as he says in Mark 10:45, he’s about to voluntarily donate his life as it were as a ransom for many and so, in chapter 11, he makes his way to Jerusalem for the last time. Since he’s been there, he’s been in and out of the city teaching people, training his disciples and confronting the leaders in Jerusalem, and things have hit a boiling point.

Verse chapter 14, verse one and two give us some important context that shapes the rest of the Gospel of Mark from this point on. Look at what it says in verse one. It says, “It was now two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the chief priest and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth,” they wanted to do this in secret, “and kill him for they said, ‘Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar from the people.'” That’s the backdrop is there’s this conspiracy that’s been forming in order to kill Jesus.

By this time, and Pastor Eric talked about this last week when he preached on the previous text, the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were basically synonymous since they happened back to back. This was an eight-day festival that started with the Passover Meal on the first day. This is where they remembered God’s mercy in generations prior and how God’s judgment of death had passed over the homes that were marked by the blood of the sacrificial lamb, and then there were seven days of celebrating the way God had graciously and miraculously intervened in the Exodus, you read about this in the Book of Exodus, and rescued them out of Egyptian slavery.

Thanksgiving in Exodus

This was a time of thanksgiving, of thanking God for how he delivered them in the past, but now, generations later, as they’re being occupied by the Roman Empire, it was also a time of hope, a time of hoping and seeking God that he might deliver them once again, this time though through the promised Messiah, and so Jerusalem was popping. It was packed because, in Deuteronomy 16:2, it said that the Passover Meal had to be observed in the holy city of Jerusalem. Jews from all over would travel into town for that week. Think about Superbowl Weekend. Think about All-Star Weekend or the World Cup where people from out of town flood into the city, packed hotels, constant events, people everywhere.

That’s what Jerusalem felt like, and so as Jesus and the disciples prepare to head back into the city, the disciples are realizing they need to make some arrangements. That’s where we pick up our passage in verse 12. Listen to what it says. It says, “On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, ‘Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?’ and he sent two of his disciples and said to them, ‘Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him.

Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house the teacher says where’s my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples? He will show you a large upper room furnished and ready, there prepare for us.’ The disciples set out and went to the city and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.”

Now pause there for a moment. We know from Luke’s account that the two disciples here are Peter and John. I got to be honest with y’all. If that had have been me, I’d have been like, “For once, Jesus, can you just talk normal please?”

Now, kids, sometimes you feel like that with your parents, right? You’re like, “Where is this going? I asked you a simple question. Can I have the car for the weekend? Where is this going? Just give me an answer.” This is how the disciples had to feel when they thought about Jesus, a mystical man. “A water jar? Nevermind, Jesus. I’ll just look up a place on Yelp by myself. I don’t really need you, Jesus.”

Now, we don’t really know exactly what’s happening here. Some people say that Jesus has made arrangements in advance with somebody that he knows there in Jerusalem. Maybe he was intentionally keeping the information from the disciples because he didn’t want Judas to derail this last Passover Meal with the disciples, but I think it’s also possible that this is because of Jesus’ divine omniscience.

We know that he not only knows, but he is able to sovereignly orchestrate future events to accomplish his purposes. He knows even right here in the passage and what we’ve been reading in the Gospel of Mark that he’s going to die. He knows why he’s going to die. He knows that he is going to be raised from the grave.

Jesus Has A Plan

Listen, either way, it’s clear that Jesus has a plan, and that becomes even more clear as you read this in context. You notice the parallels between this and Jesus’ triumphal entry when he enters Jerusalem back in chapter 11, and I want you to see this for yourself. How about if we just nerd out just for a hot minute real quick, all right?

This is where it gets fun, when you slow down and you really start paying attention to the details and what’s happening in the narrative.

Look at chapter 11, verse one. It says, “Now when they drew near to Jerusalem.” This is Jesus’ triumphal entry coming into the city. It says, “When they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives,” listen, “Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, ‘Go into the village in front of you and immediately, as you enter it, you will find a colt tied on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you why are you doing this, say the Lord has need of it and he’ll send it back here immediately.'”

Sounds familiar, right? In both situations, in chapter 11 and chapter 14, Jesus sends two disciples like royal messengers preparing the way for their king. In both situations, he tells them exactly what to expect, and they find everything exactly the way he predicted. In both situations, Jesus was sending them into a situation that had already been sovereignly prepared and paused because some of us need to hear and be encouraged by this, because Jesus will often send you into situations that you are unprepared for, but he will never send you into a situation that he is unprepared for. Amen?

Ultimately, the reason all this is important is because it shows us that everything is happening. Everything we’re about to see is happening according to plan because, in just a couple of days, it’s going to seem like everything is falling apart, like God’s divine plans are somehow being derailed by sin and death, but just like in the boat in the midst of the storm, Jesus is in complete control and he’s accomplishing his perfect plans.

I love how New Testament scholar James Edwards puts it in his commentary. Listen to this. He says, “Jesus is not a tragic hero caught in events beyond his control. There’s no hint of desperation, fear, anger or futility on his part. Jesus doesn’t cower or retreat as plots are hatched against him. He displays as he has throughout the gospel a sovereign freedom and authority to follow a course he has freely chosen in accordance with God’s plans and,” I love this, “Judas and others may act against him, but they do not act upon him. He is in complete control.”

In verse 17, when it was evening, he came with the 12. He’s gathered now with the 12. Mark skipped some details between verse 17 and 18, which is typical of his style. You read through the Gospel of Mark. He just loves to get to the point, but let me set the scene and explain what would’ve been happening.

In verse 18, Jesus and his disciples are now in the middle of the Passover Meal ceremony and, all of a sudden, in the middle of this sacred meal, Jesus pauses everything. John tells us that he pauses because he’s troubled in spirit. I think that means he was grieved. In the middle of this, verse 18, as they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus says something that would’ve been utterly shocking to all of his disciples. Jesus says, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me, and they began to be sorrowful and to say to him one after another, ‘Is it I? Jesus, is it me?'”

Now, the disciples, they don’t know that Judas has already sold him out. Judas has become an informant and, for about a week now, he’s been working with the Jewish authorities waiting on an opportunity to set Jesus up. The disciples don’t know that, but Jesus knows, and so, in verse 20, he said to them, “He’s one of the 12, one who’s dipping bread into the dish with me. For the Son of Man goes as it is it written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”

What Is the Holy Spirit Teaching You?

That’s our passage. As we pull up, the question we want to ask is what might the Holy Spirit be saying to us, to you, and to me through this passage? Well, I’ll mention the fact that oftentimes people are surprised by sin. We get surprised by the sin we see in other people around us or even the sin that we see in our own hearts and in our own lives. You would think after the record of human history, after the consistency and media headlines that we wouldn’t be as surprised, but we still get surprised especially when it’s somebody that we respect.

I’ve had the privilege over the last couple of years of being a part of this small retreat for young Christian leaders in the church, young Christian leaders in culture and media and business. I started attending this while I was young. I just keep wearing Jordan so they still think I’m young. I just so sneak back in every year, and they just never ask. They don’t track birthdays. I’m there and, this prominent Christian leader, he started this little retreat, and his whole purpose for the retreat is helping us process how do you finish well, how do you make it to the end of your ministry in the end of your life not perfect, but faithful?

Two years ago, he invited this other very prominent Christian leader to come share with us at this retreat. This is a guy who had such a huge platform. God had used him to do so much, write so many books, so much curriculum.

I mean, he had done so much in the kingdom of God, and then he had this tragic, spectacular public failure, and all of his ministry came crashing down. I remember he came and he’s huddled up with just me and his group, a small group of 30 young Christian guys. I was taking notes, what I called the anatomy of a downfall. He’s just telling us the whole backstory and everything that led up to everything that we saw in public.

I remember noticing something that I’ve noticed over and over again now as I pay attention to these situations, that they very rarely start with outright sin. It usually starts with un-health. There are ways you stop taking care of yourself and you’re moving so fast that you’re exhausted and you’re stressed. You start self-medicating with things that aren’t necessarily bad in themselves, but, over time, you start making these small compromises and letting things into your life that seem small, and then those things grow and, before you know it, for you and everybody around you, it seems like out of nowhere you fall. He shares all these details with us.

Unfortunately, several months after that, he ended up taking his own life. Now, I believe that brother is resting in the presence of God. He was a sincere follower of Jesus that fell into sin. He had repented. He was in the process of being restored in the church that he was now submitted to. His marriage was being restored. I remember, after he shared with us, pulling him to the side and saying to him, “Some of the warning signs that you talked about, I see those warning signs in my life. That ministry drive that causes you to neglect your family, causes you to neglect your own health, I see that in my life,” and I remember him saying this to me. I journaled it that day. He said, “The seeds of your own self-destruction are growing within you right now.” He said, “Pay attention. Pay attention.”

Three Points About the Reality of Sin

This is the reality of sin, and this is what we see here in this passage. There’s three things I want to point out that I think the Holy Spirit certainly is saying to me, I think is saying to you here, in your apartment, at the location you’re watching from. Wherever you are right now, I believe the Holy Spirit is saying these things to us, number one, that the reality of sin should make us humble.

Sin Should Humble Us

As I was studying this, one of the questions I wrote down, you may have had this question, is why is Jesus being so vague? Why doesn’t he just call Judas out in front of everybody? I think one of the reasons is because Jesus knows that, if he just singles out Judas, the disciples will just immediately focus on him and how evil his sin is. Jesus wants to use this as an opportunity for his disciples to reflect. He wants them to look at their own hearts first and to really grapple with their own weakness and sinfulness.

Me and Eric Saunders from Arlington were talking about this, and Eric said this. He said, “Jesus wants them to really think about what they’re capable of,” and that’s exactly what happens in verse 19. “They began to be sorrowful and to say to him one after another, ‘Is it me? Could that be me?'”

Now, I don’t think all of them thought that they could actually do something like this. In fact, we know as we’ll study in a couple of weeks, we know later Peter is going to say with his chest like, “Jesus, I will never deny you.” They were asking Jesus, “Could it be me?” and Jesus said to them, “It is one of the 12.” I imagine what some of them may have been thinking. “Jesus, we’re the ones most closely associated with you. We’re the inner circle.” Everybody knows those are Jesus’ people. Those are the people with the bumper stickers, the mugs. Jesus, you invited us to follow you.

We were under-qualified and overlooked, but you picked us. We’ve spent all this time together, and we’ve seen your love and your gentleness. Jesus, we’ve seen your courage. We’ve seen your conviction. We’ve seen you demonstrate your compassion as you heal people. We’ve seen your tenderness. Jesus, we’ve seen your patience with us and all of our fool foolishness and all of our doubts and all of our weakness. We’ve seen all of this, Jesus.

I could see them thinking to themselves, “I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody from the crowd sold you out, but there’s no way one of us could ever do something like that,” and that’s when you realize what Mark has been emphasizing all throughout his gospel, listen, that you can be affiliated with Jesus and yet still not fully surrender to him. You say how? Because, listen, this is the reality of sin. Listen, as you read the Bible, you see that sin manifests itself in two ways. You can sin by rejecting Jesus or you can sin by using Jesus. You see, rejecting Jesus pushes you away from him, but using Jesus pulls you close to him not in order to truly worship him, but simply to use him as a means to an end.

Using Jesus Is A Form of Rejecting Him

The reality is that using Jesus is just another form of rejecting Jesus, of seeing something else. Whether it’s more prosperity or more physical health or this image of this perfect picture, perfect upstanding, moral, religious person or whatever it is, using Jesus is a way of seeing something else as more satisfying or more trustworthy or more worthy of pursuing than Jesus himself.

Listen, all of us have that simple inclination in us. Every single one of us is, while we sing Prone to Wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. We either reject Jesus to pursue what we want or we use Jesus to pursue what we really want. That’s why, when life isn’t going the way we want, we’re so quick to be tempted not to trust Jesus, to move Jesus to the side, because there’s something that we wanted more than him and he was just a mean to that end. Listen, when we understand the reality that the sin out there is also active and present in here, then it produces profound humility.

I remember I heard the late Tim Keller giving illustration that was helpful to me. He said, “Imagine you and a friend decided to rob a bank.” This is a big church. This may be a true story for you. Praise God for redemption. Imagine you and a friend decide to rob a bank, and on the way there, you stop by your uncle’s house, and he knows what you’re planning to do and he’s begging you not to do it, but you insist on doing it.

You turn and you get ready to go out the door and, in one last desperate attempt, he reaches out and he grabs both of y’all’s shirts, but you pull away. You try to get away and your shirt rips. Your uncle pins you to the ground until you come to your senses, but your friend’s shirt doesn’t rip and he… or your friend’s shirt rips and he gets away, but your shirt doesn’t rip, and so he gets away. He goes. He robs the bank, or she robs the bank gets, arrested, and Tim Keller said, “When you go to jail to visit your friend, what are you going to say?

You idiot, how could you? No. No. What you will feel in that moment is how is that not me? The same thing was in my heart. I would’ve done the same thing if I had been given the opportunity. If something didn’t hold me back, that would’ve been me. That should be me. That’s the kind of profound humility that the reality of sin should produce in our hearts. This is the kind of humility that we should have when we see sin in other people in our relationships like your dad that failed you, your mom that offended you.

It’s not that the hurt isn’t real, but there should be something in you if you’re a Christian because of the reality of sin that says, “Okay, hold on. As I deal with this, I have to remember I’m a sinner, too. I fail, too. I hurt and offend people, too.”

You see sin or weakness or just downright annoyance hypothetically speaking in your spouse. There’s a humility before God and before them that I know I have my stuff, too. It’s a humility that show up for us when we engage culture as well, when we see sin in culture and we see the types of moral failures that I’ve just been talking about. The reality of sin should produce humility in us, should make us humble, but here’s number two. The reality of sin should make us careful.

Before I get misinterpreted and misquoted, when I say, “Careful,” I don’t just mean careful not to get caught. I mean the reality of sin should make us careful to heed the warning signs that God is so graciously using to get our attention and draw us to repentance. Listen again to what Jesus says in verse 21. He says, “For the son of man goes as it is it written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed.” That’s a warning of judgment. He says, “It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”

Now, if you read that closely, it should raise some questions for you. I say this all the time. If you’re reading the Bible through and you never disagree with anything, there’s, there’s never any tension, never anything that bothers you, you’re not reading it closely enough in context, because this should raise a question for you because, on the one hand, Jesus is saying Judas’ death or that his death is God’s plan, but, on the other hand, he’s saying that Judas is responsible for the role that he plays in it.

Here’s the question. How can Judas be held responsible for something that God already planned? There’s a lot we could say here about divine sovereignty and human responsibility, but, thankfully, I don’t have time. There’s a clock in the back. However, I do think what Jesus is saying is actually pretty clear. Jesus is saying, “Yes, I came here to die for sinners. That’s been the plan all along.”

Jesus Gives Us Opportunities to Turn to Him

That’s what he means by, “The Son of Man goes as it is written of him.” At the same time, Jesus is saying, “But God didn’t make Judas participate.” Judas, because of his own sinful desires, made a personal decision to betray Jesus and, just like all of us are responsible for sin in our lives, Judas is responsible for his sin against Jesus. That’s Jesus’ point. In fact, I believe Jesus had given Judas opportunity after opportunity to turn from temptation and to turn in him. Over and over again, we see Jesus extending his love and mercy toward Judas.

New Testament scholar Larry Hurtado points this out. He points out that, when Jesus washed the disciple’s feet, that’s in John 13, remember Mark is getting to the point, he doesn’t include these details, but John includes more details, the same scene in the same room, when Jesus washed the disciple’s feet, he washes Judas’ feet also. John says that, while Jesus is doing this, he actually says, “One of you is unclean.” Judas knows that Jesus is talking about him. That should prick his conscience, and he has an opportunity to confess this and to repent, but he doesn’t.

Later, we see Jesus, even in the seating arrangement, demonstrating his love for Judas. He had given Judas an honored seat to his left. If you compare the different gospel accounts, you see this, that Jesus’ head was just inches away from Judas’ heart and they actually do have a private conversation, perfect opportunity for Judas to confess and repent. Even down to the very end, you see Jesus reaching out to Judas. John in his account records just how intimate and tragic this moment was.

Look at this, john 13:23, “One of his disciples whom Jesus loved was reclining at table at Jesus’ side.” This disciple is on one side of Jesus, and so Simon Peter motions to that disciple to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking about the betrayal. That disciple leaning back against Jesus said to him, “Lord, who is it? Who is it?” Jesus answered, “It Is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” We know the disciple.

They still didn’t put it together. John says that they didn’t understand anything that was going on or anything that Jesus was eventually pointing out. Look, it says, “When he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas.” He’s still giving him a part of the Passover Meal. Don Carson calls this a final gesture of supreme love. Then, in verse 27, “Then after he had taken the morsel,” after Judas took the morsel, listen, “Satan entered into him. In other words, God gives him over to his own sinful desires. His heart is hardened. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.”

You remember this isn’t where Judas’ betrayal started. He was in charge of Jesus’ ministry account and he had been stealing money all along. The seeds of his own self-destruction have been growing within him the entire time. As the late evangelist Ravi Zacharias once said, which we now realize he knew all too well, he says, “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.”

God Gives Us Warning Signs

This is the reality of sin. This is why we have to be careful when God is giving us warning signs and we think we can just manage it and allow this sin, it’s just small, it’s inconsequential, we can let that in our lives.

Listen, some of you have heard me talk about this before, but there was a man in New York City, in Harlem to be exact. He soldered into the hospital one day in the emergency room because he has bites all over him, animal bites. Now, at the same time that he’s there, 911 gets a call. Somebody calls 911 and says, “I’m hearing strange noises from the apartment next to me,” and so they dispatch the police. The police show up to the apartment. They knock on the door. They listen. They hear the same strange sounds. They look through the peep hole. Y’all, this is a true story. This is a true story. They look through the peep hole and they see a 500-pound Bengal tiger in this small Harlem apartment. This is a real story.

One of my best friends in the world is a pastor in Harlem. He’s actually met the guy before. This is literally a picture of what they saw. Now, respect to police officers, but, listen, even police officer is not about to just open that door. They have to do this whole thing. They rappel down from the roof. They break in through the window. They have to shoot the tiger with a tranquilizer dart in order to take the tiger out. When they get in, they also find a three-foot alligator. Exactly.

Listen, if you are a reasonable individual, the question all of us should be asking is why would anybody allow and keep a 500-pound tiger in their small Harlem apartment? Here’s why. For the same reason that you and I keep sin in our life because we think we can manage it, because we think it’s not that bad.

Now, listen, listen, listen, this man thought he could manage this tiger, and the tiger did what tigers do. They grow and they eat people. You don’t need ChatGPT to tell you that. Sin does what sin does. It grows, and Satan uses it to devour people, to devour your relationships, to devour your integrity, to devour your legacy and maybe even, if you don’t turn, to devour your life.

Listen, if you’re actively embracing sin, casually flirting with sin or secretly hiding sin in your life, please be careful. God is loving and gracious, but he is also holy and just, and He’s sending warning signs into your life not to condemn you, but to invite you to turn and find life in him. If you are wondering, well, I don’t think there’s been any warning signs, then guess what, this is one for you. The fact that you are listening to this word from this passage of scripture, it’s a warning for you and a warning for me, and so listen. Your sin has not taken you so far that God’s grace cannot reach you there. you have an opportunity to turn and repent and trust in him.

Sin Makes Us Thankful

This is why, as we’re getting ready to wrap up, those of us who are followers of Jesus, we understand this, and that’s why the reality of sin doesn’t just make us humble or careful, but ultimately on the other side of belief in Jesus, it makes us thankful. It makes us thankful. Do you remember when it says that Peter and John prepared the Passover? Well, Lord willing, we’ll be able to unpack that a little bit more next week, but let me just give you this. They would’ve followed Jewish protocol for that. There was a specific process for that.

Listen, this is what they would’ve done. They would’ve gone ahead. They would’ve purchased the lamb that had already been examined and confirmed to be without blemish and they would’ve taken it now to Jerusalem, to the temple precincts with thousands of other people also bringing their lambs to be killed and drained as a sacrifice, and then they would’ve done the job that none of us would want to do. They would’ve had to carry that slaughtered lamb back to the upper room. They would’ve hoisted it up on a big wooden skewer and they would have roasted that lamb whole over an open fire.

During the Passover Meal, everything had to be consumed. You could not waste any of it. You could not save any of it. You could not keep any of it apart from this fire. All of it had to be roasted. All of it had to be burned. All of it had to be consumed. During the Passover Meal, as Jesus led his disciples through this ceremony, he knew that all of that was about to happen to him. He knew. That’s why John the Baptist had called him the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. It’s why John the Disciple sees this revelation of heaven where there are multitudes of people from every nation, tribe and tongue at the end of the Bible, now shouting out to Jesus, “Worthy is the lamb who was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.”

It’s because people who have been redeemed now are overwhelmed with thanksgiving because they know that Jesus came to be the ultimate Passover lamb. He knew what we needed. He knows what you need. He knows that every single one of us, through the course of human history, we’ve all made a personal, conscious decision to collaborate with our sin nature and to rebel against what we know about God in creation, what we know about God in the Bible and in the Gospel.

Jesus Was Sinless

We live our own way. We believe what we want to believe. God is just, and that separates us from him, and he will judge sinners. Because of his great love, Jesus voluntarily as the Son of God, the Second Person in the Trinity, Jesus comes and he steps into the mess of humanity. He’s without blemish. There’s no sin in him. There’s no dirt that anybody has on Jesus.

He lives a perfectly righteous life, and then he offers, he donates himself, his life as he’s hoisted up on a wooden cross so that the sacrifice of his body, the sacrifice of his earthly life would become payment. It would be atonement for my sin and for your sin. Just like the Passover lamb was a substitute, it experienced death so that death would pass over the people of God. Jesus experienced death on the cross, taking the fiery judgment of God so that you and so that I could escape God’s judgment, righteously escape his judgment and enjoy eternal life.

Listen, Jesus knows what you’ve done. He knows what you’re capable of, and he loves you anyway. When he rose from the dead, it was proof positive to all of creation, human creation, all of spiritual creation, all of physical creation, it was confirmation that the sacrifice he made on the cross was sufficient and accepted by God the Father to pay the penalty for all of our sin for those who would put our trust in him.

Your sin has not taken you so far that the grace of God cannot reach you there. Man, you got an opportunity to turn from your sin, to put your trust in Jesus for the first time in a long time, in a fresh way in light of sin that’s been happening in your life, and so I want to give you a moment to do that before God, just between you and him, and I want to end by inviting you to reflect on this question. Where have you been pursuing, accepting or hiding sin in your life, and what do you think God wants you to do about it?

Maybe your response to that needs to be first things first, which is to actually receive this gift of eternal life through the sacrifice of Jesus, to tell him I need to be forgiven, I need to be saved, I need to be healed. I want to be restored into a relationship with God, and I’m putting my trust in the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Maybe you need to do that. If you’ve already done that, as the spirit brings sin to your mind, maybe you just need to confess to him and ask for his help. Where have you been pursuing, accepting or hiding sin in your life, and what do you think God wants you to do about it? Take a moment between you and the Lord.

Mike Kelsey is Lead Pastor of Preaching and Culture at McLean Bible Church in metro Washington, D.C., where ​he has been a pastor for over 13 years. In his role, Mike leads MBC to engage in current cultural issues in order to reach new and emerging generations as well as people disconnected from and disenfranchised by the church. Mike and his wife Ashley live in the D.C. metro area with their three children.


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