Today’s message is all about Jesus’ example of giving and sacrifice at the Last Supper. As the leader of our church body, Pastor Miles has called us all to serve one another in a church ministry, as so many volunteers are needed to prepare and carry out weekend services. There are many opportunities—at both the Point Loma and North County campuses—in traffic safety, security, production, hospitality, children’s, altar call, pastoral support, prayer, etc. As you listen to today’s message and ponder the gift of sacrifice that Jesus gave to us, prepare your heart to ask the Lord, “What do you want me to do?”
prepare your heart to ask the Lord, “What do you want me to do?”
When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;” Luke 22:14
1. Suffering is a part of God’s plan.
Suffering can be defined as enduring pain, making a sacrifice on behalf of someone else, or giving of your time, expertise, and resources.
When we first commit ourselves to Christ, we can often be like children eager to please their parents and be a part of the parents’ work. We can’t wait to get involved and feel honored and privileged that God might actually have a job and a place for us. But as time goes on, that energy and motivation can wane. Do you find yourself complaining or unwilling to suffer, sacrifice, and do the Father’s work?
Many examples of scripture point to God’s plan for suffering:
- Romans 12:1 calls us to present ourselves as living sacrifices to God. As Christ-followers, sacrifice is a “reasonable service” for us, for Jesus sacrificed Himself fully on our behalf.
- In Matthew 16:21-23, Peter suggests that Jesus not allow himself to experience the suffering that is slated for His future. In response, Jesus says, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” (v. 23) Peter’s suggestion is offensive to God because in God’s view of the world, sin requires payment and cannot go disregarded.
- John 3:16 and Romans 8:32 tell us that God freely gave His Son on behalf of sinners out of love for us. Suffering was part of His plan to bring redemption.
- In Luke 22:7-13, Jesus sends Peter and John to prepare the upper room for the Passover supper. When they follow His instructions, they find everything pre-arranged, just as Jesus said they would. Jesus knows that His death and suffering are near, as they have also been pre-arranged.
- In that prepared upper room at the Passover meal, Jesus reminds His disciples, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me” (v. 19b). He not only calls them to eat together and remember His ministry, but to remember His suffering and partake in his sacrifice.
2. Humility in suffering purifies our hearts.
If we want to be more like Christ, we need to do as He does. His example to us is sacrifice and suffering in humility, so we are called to these things as well.
In John 13, we find another account of this Passover meal that Jesus shares with His disciples. Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father (v. 1). He knows He will be betrayed by Judas. He knows He will be denied three times by Peter. He knows that His disciples will scatter in fear and suffer a crisis of faith as He departs from the world. So what is His response at this meal? He sits with these disciples, sharing an intimate meal with them. He washes their feet in humility. He loves them.
Do we serve others with this love, even when they wrong us?
Maybe there is someone in your life whom you have wronged. What would it look like to exercise Jesus-like humility with that person? When you repent, don’t make an excuse; just say you are wrong. Apologize without defense. Sacrifice in love. God is so faithful when we are humble! He will purify our hearts and make the path simpler.
3. Grace in suffering helps purify the hearts of others.
Jesus’ extreme example of grace in the midst of suffering and trial is exactly what we are called to follow. If you want to grow in your relationship with Christ, the next time you feel attacked, instead of defending yourself and attacking back, be a blessing to the attacker. You can be sure this will be painful and require sacrifice, but you can take courage and remember that Jesus voluntarily went the full distance unto death on behalf of sinners—on behalf of you!
Jesus voluntarily went the full distance unto death on behalf of sinners—on behalf of you!
Compared to Christ’s sacrifice, serving in the Children’s Ministry or Hospitality seems like a small gift, doesn’t it? Seek time to pray this week, discover your spiritual gifts, and be open to giving of your time to serve others however the Lord is leading. You can sign up for the Rock’s many ministry opportunities at www.sdrock.com/ministries.