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Grace Bible Church - Gatesville, Tx
Grace Bible Church - Gatesville, Tx

Episode 97 · 6 months ago

Sovereign in Suffering

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Sovereign in Suffering

John 9:1-5

Dax Bryant - Preaching

Last week, if you remember, I mentioned Jonathan Edwards and how he was used by God in a mighty way to spark the revival that we know as the great awakening. If you fast forward many years later, skipping a lot of interesting history, Edwards was eventually appointed president of what later became known as Princeton University. Within his first week there, he wanted to encourage other people to avail themselves of a new treatment against the smallpox epidemic that was running rampant at the time, and so he received a experimental inoculation and within a month he was dead from the side effects at age fifty four. Why? What? What might God have accomplished in a man like Jonathan Edwards if he was given another ten or twenty or thirty years on this earth? Why does God let those things happen? Isn't that the question that we ask when we run against tragedy like that? Why? Why? God? When, when a life is cut short, when disease occurs, when tragedy strikes? Why? That's our default question. I'll never forget. This is several years ago now. I was at a funeral for a young man who who passed away as a result of a traffic accident and the pastor who was officiating the service Said said this. He said people have asked why did this happen? And then he said, let me, let me make sure you have this right, because it's a quote. Sometimes there is no reason, sometimes bad things just happen, and I almost fell out of the Pew. If I'd been on the end, I would have. Is that supposed to be comforting? Is that how the Christian ought to view tragedy? Sometimes there is no reason, sometimes bad things just happen. Now, don't get me wrong, the relationship between God and suffering is not simple by any means, but it's not meaningless either. It's not hopeless, and that's one reason why this book that God has given to us is so helpful, because it does not skirt around or ignore complex or difficult questions. It deals with the tough problems of life and it does so in a way that gives us hope and meaning and assurance. I can't imagine having to come alongside families who are going through different kinds of grief or or tragedy or loss if the Bible had nothing to say about those things. But, praise the Lord, the Bible is filled not only with many accounts of real life suffering and sorrow, but it's also filled with God's words and deeds that that provide to US divine insight on how we ought to interpret that suffering and sorrow and gives us a confident hope in God in the midst of all of it, because we believe that God is sovereign and that his sovereignty extends over every aspect of creation, including our experiences of suffering and sorrow. And because God is sovereign, then we have an unshakable confidence and unshakable joy, a trust in God that allows us then to endure through those experiences of suffering and sorrow because we're firmly convinced that, since God is sovereign, there is purpose in that suffering, there's reason, it's not meaningless and though we might not always be able to understand or articulate that reason, we may not be able to see that clearly, as Christians, we know from God's word that God's purposes will serve God's glory. Now, in our journey through the gospel of John, we've been flying through these early chapters by design.

Part of the reason is we plan on taking the second half of the book much more slowly than we have the first half of the book. And also just the nature of these early chapters, these big chunks of narrative just to me or are kind of inescapable, that you have to preach the whole story to get the flow of what's going on. And so we come here to chapter nine this morning and again we find a single story that flows from the beginning to the end of the whole chapter. But this topic of God's relationship to suffering is so important that that I wanted us to flow down here and take a close look at this. So, in a change of pace, we're going to be looking at just the first five verses of John Nine this morning. Let me read those verses again for us. Follow along in your bibles if you would. John Nine, verse one. As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth and his disciples asked him, Rabbie, who sinned this man or his parents that he was born blind? Jesus answered it was not that this man sinned or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of Him who sent me. While it is day, night is coming, when no one can work as long as I am in the world. I am the light of the world. This passage is about suffering, at least initially here, and suffering is something that none of us are immune from. If you haven't suffered yet in this life, just wait a little while, because you will, and when you do, my desire and prayer is that, if you are a part of this church, that we would be able to come alongside you and offer you something infinitely greater than sometimes there is no reason. Sometimes bad things just happen. Jesus is words in this context, especially there in verse five, where he says I am the light of the world. That's significant to what we want to speak about today. John Piper has said something to the effect of God has not left us in the dark about the meaning of darkness, and that's true. The light of Jesus shines brightly on suffering and tragedy and disease and disability and death and everything else. God has not abandoned us to despair that there is no meaning in suffering. So as we look at this passage together this morning, we want to ask God to open our eyes to see his sovereignty over our suffering and sorrows and to to give us a biblical perspective from which we ought to interpret our experience, rather than using our experience to interpret how we ought to think about God. It's the crucial difference, and this is the big idea for this morning, is that the meaning of suffering is found in God's sovereign purpose for it. The meaning of suffering is found in God's sovereign purpose for it. And so here's how we're going to come at these five verses this morning. First, in verses one and two, we will observe and unconsidered examination. Second, in verse three will reflect on an ultimate explanation and third and versus foreign five will reckon with an urgent exhortation. All of that under this umbrella that the meaning of suffering is found in God's sovereign purpose for it. So first let's look at this unconsidered examination. Notice first one. As he passed by, he, that is Jesus, saw a man blind from birth. Now the the timing of this. It seems to flow pretty naturally from what you last saw in chapter eight, where Jesus was leaving the temple as the religious leaders and the people picked up stones to throw at him to try to kill him for his supposed blasphemy. But that phrase as he passed by. It's vague enough that we can't establish a precise chronology here. It's possible this wasn't the very next thing that happened, but we can be pretty confident of the setting where this took place. This happened near the temple, just just the fact that Jesus repeats that phrase, I am the light of the world in verse five is a is a thematic link to the feast of Booze. Where...

...and the temple at the Feast of Booze during this festival? This has been the setting since the beginning of John Seven where we've had all of the story unfolding. And if you just glanced down at verse eight for a moment, you'll notice that we're told this man was a beggar, probably one of the few career options for a blind man in the first century. And as a beggar it's most likely he sat near one of the temple gates because that's where the crowds were and begging is a numbers game. And I think he must be near the temple, because Jesus later goes and tells him to wash in the pool of Sloam, which was very close. So, whatever the time frame, wherever the exact location, the point here is that Jesus sees this blind man look at verse one again as he passed by. He saw a man blind from birth. And so don't don't miss this. The story begins here, not with the disciples noticing the blind man, not with the disciples asking a theological question about the blind man, not with the disciples showing mercy or compassion toward the blind man. The story begins with Jesus seen the blind man. It's Jesus here who takes the initiative. This man has been blind his entire life. He's been reduced to begging to survive. He lives in a world of complete darkness. He cannot help himself. He's completely dependent upon the mercy of others. And though that describes his physical condition, it's not too hard to see the spiritual correlation for us, is it? All of us are blind, we live in the darkness, we cannot help ourselves, we are completely at the mercy of God and, just like the blind man in this story, Jesus sees us and he comes to us, he takes the divine an initiative. There's a beautiful picture of the Gospel already starting to build here in this account. And as Jesus sees this man, he must have made a point of it, because we see that now the disciples take notice and they get involved. Verse two and his disciples asked him, rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? Now notice they've already narrowed down the possible explanations for this man's blindness to to reasons, two possibilities. His sin or his parents sin. They're asking who's sin in the past is responsible for this, who sinned that caused this tragedy? And the the theology that's kind of underlying that, that question, that unconsidered examination, is essentially this, if something's wrong with you, it's a sin issue. And here they're saying not just indirectly but very directly. Now we know, I hope, that every sickness, disease, disability, even death, is ultimately a sin issue. Right, all suffering is indirectly the result of sin entering the world through the fall of Adam, and it's also true that that your own sins often have far reaching consequences that affect not just your life but the lives of others. That's true. That's not the same thing as saying that an individuals specific illness or sickness or disease or disability is directly a result of that individual's particular sin. You see the distinction that that may sometimes be the case, that might be true, but to try to make that a universal principle is to fundamentally misunderstand what we have for the biblical evidence in this case. So the question is, why would the disciples be thinking in the in these terms, then? Why would they think that because this man was born blind that there must be some particular sin involved? It doesn't it seem a little insensitive, maybe a little simplistic? While this this unconsidered examination that the disciples have, it reflects a widely held assumption, something that was even taught by some of the rabbis, that established these very tight connections between a person's sin and a person suffering. One was the result of the other. And mean honestly that this is an idea that that individuals suffering can be traced to specific sin. It's something that there is some biblical...

...evidence for. Think about when Miriam Revolts Against Moses in numbers, Chapter Twelve and the Lord strikes her with leprosy. Or even in John's Gospel, when John Healed the man at the pool of Bethesda, then he told him go and sin no more so that nothing worse might happen to you. Or even when Paul warns the Corinthian Church not to take the Lord's supper and an unworthy manner because that has resulted in illness and death in their congregation. So suffering can be a direct result of sin, but to take those specific examples and turn that into a hard and fast rule goes beyond what scripture teaches. In fact, scripture flatly denies that suffering is always a direct result of a person's sin. Remember job right that, the man who experienced unimaginable loss and suffering precisely because he was blameless and upright, a man who feared God and turned away from evil. Were told an even when he was in the middle of that hardship and and suffering and loss. Even then he didn't sin. He said the Lord gave, the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord, something we sang earlier or in Luke chapter thirteen, some people come to Jesus and they tell him about the some Galileans that pilot had killed and then he took their blood and mingled it with the blood of the sacrifices. In this very strange and horrific account. Do you remember what Jesus says to that? He says, do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you, but unless you repent, you will also perish. And then he gives another example. He says or those eighteen on whom the tower ats the Loam fell and killed them. Do you think they were worse offenders than all the others who had lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. So I think the evidence is clear. Individual experiences of suffering are not necessarily related to one's individual sin. But but that fact is missing here from the disciples unconsidered examination. They ask who send this man or his parents, that he was born blind, and their assumption is since this specific individual is suffering from blindness, then a prior specific individual sin must be the cause of it, and even a little further, because he was born blind, because he entered the world in this condition. That means that either, number one, he sinned in the womb again, which is something that the rabbi is some of the rabbis taught, or or his parents sinned in some way, that that implicated him. And when you look at that, it just doesn't seem like the disciples have gotten much further than than job's on helpful friends with their advice. But but, as we're about to see, this is a unconsidered examination. It is a wrong jump to certain conclusions here. And in the face of this unconsidered examination, Jesus now provides an ultimate explanation. Verse three, Jesus answered. It was not that this man sinned or his parents. In other words, you're asking the wrong question, you're making the wrong assumption here, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. So Jesus asks effectively instead of instead of wondering what occasion cause this man's blindness, you should be asking what is the objective of this man's blindness? Not What is the occasion? What is the circumstance? What is the objective? What is the goal? And it's true that suffering entered the world because a sin, but it's not true that specific suffering can necessarily be traced to specific sin. So don't look there for the explanation, because the explanation won't be found in these human causes, not ultimately, the ultimate explanation is going to be found in God's sovereign intention. It was not that this man sinned or his parents, but...

...that the work of God might be displayed in him. Now let me ask you, as you look at that honestly, how does that sit with you, that this man's lifelong suffering is for God's glory? Sometimes it's easy to forget what we're reading here at this is not a fable. This is not a fairy tale. That's that's just there to kind of teach you a moral lesson. This is a real encounter involving a real person who really suffered. Sometimes that's not alive to us when we read it on the page. So what about when this sort of thing hits a little closer to home for you, when a healthy pregnancy ends in an unexplained miscarriage, or when a baby is born but arrives with severe birth defects, or when a sudden unexpected accident takes the life of someone that you love, or when a routine visit to the doctor ends in a terminal diagnosis. Mean these are things that some of us who belong to this church are living through right now. The fact is, disease and disability and death, those things seem to always be waiting just around the corner in this fallen world. And if all you have is sometimes there is no answer, sometimes bad things just happen, then honestly I don't I don't know how you'll make it through this life. That's certainly not the perspective that Jesus takes here, that there is no reason, that there is no meaning. There's always a reason, there's always a purpose. It's just more times than not we can't discern what that purpose is in the midst of it. But even then we still have hope, because the ultimate explanation for our suffering doesn't lie in human actions, it lies in God's divine intention. The meaning of suffering is found in God's sovereign purpose for it. In other words, when God ordains for something to happen, he's not then waiting reactively, to frantically scramble to respond to what we do next. That's not how it works. When God ordains something to happen, including our response to it, he is administering his sovereign plan. Now, why is that hopeful? That's hopeful because it means that whatever pain, whatever suffering, you are going through, the causes of that pain and suffering are not the final word. That's not the way the means by which you interpret that. Now, are there causes to your sin and suffering? Yes, there are causes. Sometimes those causes are your fault, sometimes they're not, but the meaning of your suffering is not found in those causes. The meaning of your suffering is found in God's sovereign purpose for that pain and suffering. I picked up one of these little devotional books here. There's a bunch on the table in the back. Those are meant you who, anybody who wants one, to just grab those and take one other free. It's a it's a devotional called suffering and singing written by John Henley. It's a really takes a look at psalmn forty four, but I wanted to make those available because there's a quote in here that I thought was helpful. He writes in here God is in charge Christ is Lord, and so when terrible suffering comes, we cannot pretend that it has nothing to do with him. That's the problem, isn't it? That's the reality. It's not that sometimes bad things just happen. It's not that sometimes there is no reason. No, the fact is, God is in charge, Christ is Lord. God is the one who knits us together in...

...our mother's womb. God says in Exodus Chapter Eleven to Moses who has made man's mouth, who makes him mute or death, or seen or blind? Is it not I, the Lord, which says something about the value of life and the wrongness of taking life? But we cannot act, when we look and see suffering, as if the Lord is uninvolved or that the Lord has made mistakes, and so so, in response to that reality. This the same author. He continues. He says so because God is in charge, because Christ is Lord. We when suffering happens, then we must either run from him, shaking our fist in bitter agony, hating the Jesus who brought such evil and hurt into our lives, homes, families and hearts, or we must run to him in hope, trust, faith and love. Now, if you have experienced suffering, you know that that second option is not always the easiest thing to do. I wonder when we sing that that first song that we saying he gives and takes away, he gives and takes away. That comes out of a book, a job and it's an upbeat song and we sing it and we clap and that's that's good because it is true. Do we recognize that this is something being said in the midst of unimaginable suffering? To have that kind of attitude? That's not easy to do because suffering hurts. And so, while this is this is not a call to be STOIC in the face of suffering right just to kind of take your licks and just tough it out. I'm not saying do that, but but I'm telling you that in the midst of your suffering there is meaning in it and that that might be hard for you to swallow when you're in the middle of that. That might be hard to see through your tears, but I pray that you will cling to this truth, that that the meaning of suffering is found in God's sovereign purpose for it. And so what about in the story? What about this blind man suffering? What is the purpose then, in his suffering? Well, Jesus says that the works of God might be displayed in him. Think about that. This man has suffered blindness since the moment of his birth so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As you look at that verse, let me ask you are is there anything ambiguous about Jesus's words? There? It's very clear, isn't it? That he's saying the sovereign purpose of this man's suffering is to display God's works in him in the midst of his suffering? Now the question is, is it worth it? Is it worth it to suffer like that, or or even worse than that, simply so that the works of God might be the played? Is it worth it? Is it worth it to you, I mean, for Jesus to say that the soul purpose for this man's lifelong suffering is there said, that the works of God might be displayed in him. That is to make a very big assumption, and the assumption is that the value of God's works on display is worth more than the years of suffering that this man and his family have endured. Is it, and you can only answer in the affirmative, if it's true that God is of the utmost significance to you only if God is esteemed more highly than your health, your bank account, your family, your personal satisfaction, even your very life. If you do not cherish God above all those other things, than not only will suffering not be worth it, but it will be meaningless to you. You'll just be left with well, I guess there is no reason. Maybe sometimes bad things just happen. No, to to embrace what Jesus is teaching here,...

...you have to revere the glory of God more than you revere any other thing. So do you? Do you believe that a life of suffering, a life of hardship with Jesus, even a life that is cut short by our estimation, that that is infinitely better than a life of comfort and success without Jesus? I can't say it any plainer than this. If God himself is not your greatest treasure, then none of this talk about God's sovereign purpose in the midst of suffering will provide you any comfort or or help or hope. It won't make any sense. But if God is your highest prize, then not only will his sovereign purpose comfort you and strengthen you, during your suffering, but it will enable you to lovingly and patiently and gently come alongside others during their times of suffering. And friends, there will come a time when each one of US needs that from the rest of us. Jesus provides the ultimate explanation that this man's blindness from birth is for the purpose of God displaying his glory, and in this case the way that God is going to reveal his glory is by healing this man's blindness. We'll see that the next time that we're in John Nine, and it's easy to understand, isn't it, how God is glorified in a demonstration of his miraculous powers like that. But if we're being honest, most of the people we know who are experiencing suffering don't encounter miraculous healing. So what then? How is God glorified even when the healing doesn't come? Well, if only the Bible had something to say about that. Turn with me just for a moment to Second Corinthians, chapter twelve. Second Corinthians Chapter Twelve says written by the Apostle Paul. He is talking about his experience of receiving a heavenly vision. That is, that is so marvelous that he is not allowed to speak of the things of which he sees. And he says in Chapter Twelve, verse seven, so to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, this heavenly vision, he's given a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Now there's there's a lot of scholarly dispute about the nature of this thorn and this Messenger. We don't have time to get into all of that. I want you to just notice a couple of things here. Number one, that this thorign or this messenger, was given to Paul, given from whom? It can only be from God, who is sovereign over all things, including our suffering, and secondly, that this thorn was given to Paul in the flesh, which seems to suggest some kind of physical affliction. Here. Then, Verse Eight, Paul Says Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. Isn't that our natural instinct when suffering comes? It is how can I get out of this? The sooonest. But he said to me. My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness, and Paul continues. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may rest a bond me. For the sake of Christ, then I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions and calamities, for when I am weak, then I am strong. So catch this, Jesus says to Paul. I will display my power, I will put my works on display, not by healing you from this, but by strengthening you in the midst of your God...

...ordained suffering. So are you tracking here as you as you put up these two passages together? In John Nine, the blindness is for the glory of God and the healing displays the mighty works of God. In Second Corinthians twelve, the thorn in the flesh is for the glory of God and the non healing is what displays God's glory. In both cases, whether the healing miraculously comes or whether the suffering remains, the overarching purpose is that the glorious works of God are made manifest. Why is that? Because the glory of God is paramount ultimate and so in in response to the disciples question, their unconsidered examination. Why is this man suffering? Jesus provides this as an ultimate explanation. The meaning of his suffering is found in God's sovereign purpose for it. And in light of that ultimate explanation, Jesus now turns to an urgent exhortation verse, for we must work the works of Him who sent me. While it is day, night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. So what's this all about? Well, here, here we get a hint of God's greater purpose in the healing of this blind man, and it is to provide a staggering illustration of the Gospel. Notice first here that Jesus is the scent one. It is through his hands that God will perform these works, but notice also that he includes his disciples with him in these works. See what he says, we must work the works of Him who sent me. The disciples are to partner in these works of healing and mercy, and we see Jesus send them out to do this very thing, in in Matthew Ten and Luke Ten. And not only are they to partner with Jesus there to have a sense of urgency about it. They must do these works while it is day, in other words while Jesus is still with them. And he says, as long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. That doesn't mean that Jesus stopped being the light of the world when he left this earth and returned to the father side and glory. It's it's rather, that the light of God's glory shone perhaps the brightest while Jesus walk this earth. But Jesus is days of walking on this earth are soon coming to an end. Here the light is going to depart from the world, and those who enjoyed being in the presence of his light will feel as though they are engulfed by darkness when he leaves. Think about that, in those those early days of his death, how the disciples react? Later in John's Gospel, in Chapter Twelve, Jesus says to the crowds, the light is among you for a little while, longer, walk while you have the light, less the darkness overtake you, as something very similar here. And that's what that meant for them. What about for us? And while the focus here isn't on what's going to happen after Jesus leaves this world. It is true that even for us, somehow, in God's grand design that that we are, we believers, are included in doing the works that display God's glory, and we are also to work urgently in whatever time we have left on this earth, because none of us knows how long that is. Paul says in a Fesians, Chapter Five, Verse Sixteen. Look carefully, then, how you walk, not as unwise but as wise making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Man, do we need to hear that? Making the best use of the time? How much time do we waste? How much time do we spend on things that are of no eternal value whatsoever? Just just think about these little things in your pocket right now, time wasters. We often begin and end our day staring at these. We have them by our side while we eat meals. Some of US take them into the bathroom with us. We use them for everything. But, to recontextualize a tweet that I saw, the greatest use of things like this might be to prove, on Judgment Day that, whatever...

...our excuses are for not doing the works of God. It won't be because we didn't have time. So, in God's wisdom, we are partnered with Jesus. Time is of the essence. We are to be urgent about this task. But notice even as we urgently carry out the works of God, even then we are not exempt from the experience of suffering. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. Second Timothy Twelve. In the world you will have tribulation. John Sixteen thirty three, and that is something we see play out even in the days of the early days of the church. Remember when the apostles appoint seven godly men to help serve so that they can devote themselves to the word and to prayer. And among those men is a man full of faith in the Holy Spirit, whose name is Stephen. And as Stephen is out doing the works of God among the people, he is seized by hostile crowds. He's brought before the authorities and they allow him to make a statement and he takes the opportunity to kind of recount the history of Israel, highlighting the fact that Israel has always rejected, persecuted, even killed the men whom God sent to do his works among them. And as a result, Stephen is dragged out of the city and stoned to death. And we read in Acts Chapter Eight, verse one. And Saul approved of his execution. And there arose on that day a great persecution against the church in Jerusalem. And we say why? Why the execution of this godly man? Why the persecution of the entire church? Why the suffering? Why? God? The verse continues. They were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, and the rest of the book of acts is about the explosion of church growth that comes from these regions and beyond that. These people were scattered to because of the persecution, in large part by God's hand, through the work of Paul, who approved the suffering unto death of Stephen and many other Christians. It's like Tertullian said, the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. Or, as we've been trying to say this morning, the meaning of suffering is found in God's sovereign purpose for it, and so we are to rejoice in our sufferings. Paul says in Romans Five, in Romans Eight, he says, for I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to US James Rights that we are to count it all joy, brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, friends, how can any of that be true? How can you genuinely live that out, unless the meaning of suffering is found in God's sovereign purposes for it, not your experience of it. And so we we joyfully work the works of him who sent Jesus while it is still day, even if it involves suffering on our part, because it's for his name's sake and there is no higher cause. But then Jesus says night is coming when no one can work. What's that all about? Well, as he says these words, it's just a few months from his death. So in one sense, when he departs, his disciples are going to experience a sense of darkness, especially in those early days. But also his departure will bring down darkness on those who refused to open their eyes to the light while he was among them. And so, as he heals this blind man, it's not just a miracle, it's a sign. It's an illustration of the Gospel. This is the work of God carried out through the one whom he sent to shed light on those living in the darkness. And so he says, night is coming and with it his ministry of relieving suffering and healing, his work that he's done in the day while he's been on earth, that is coming to an end. Soon he will take up his own work of suffering that will be done in the dark. Instead of focusing on relieving the the temporal suffering that is suffered by some in this life, he will go to the cross, where he will bear the spiritual suffering that was due to everyone who belongs to him. So as you as you think about the relationship between God and suffering, whatever conclusion you come to, you have to realize that God did not exempt himself from the...

...experience of suffering. God is not putting you through anything he himself has not experienced. And had you seen Jesus hanging on the cross, maybe you would have wondered, just like his disciples asked here about the blind man. Why is this happening? Who sinned that this man might suffer like that? He didn't sin. In fact, he's the only person that that can be said of WHO's ever lived, so who sinned, we send. That is the human basis of his suffering. But again, God is not frantically scrambling to respond to human actions. He is administering his sovereign plan. The Early Church again in acts, chapter four, they gathered to pray and they say, for truly. In this city there were gathered together against Your Holy Servant, Jesus, whom you anointed both Herod and ponscious pilot, along with the gentiles and the peoples of Israel. That's an unholy alliance to do what? Well, to murder Jesus. But, as they pray, it is to do whatever your hand and your plan predestined to take place. The meaning of Jesus's suffering is not found in human causes. Rather, it is found in God's sovereign purpose for it. And what is God's sovereign purpose for the suffering of his own son? Sometimes bad things just happen, sometimes there is no reason know. The ultimate explanation of the suffering that Jesus Christ endured is what we've already seen in this passage, so that the works of God might be displayed in him. What works were displayed in the midst of Jesus suffering, bearing God's wrath forgiving your sin, removing your guilt, declaring you righteous, defeating sin and death, giving you eternal life and, at the end of it all, healing you from suffering forever. All that validated by his resurrection from the dead, and so declaring that good news to a world that is lost in darkness, is the work we must continue to work while it is still day. Nothing change is because Jesus has ascended back to heaven. If anything, the importance and urgency of the work we must be doing has escalated. Jesus says in John Fourteen, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do, and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the father. It is because Jesus walked the road of suffering and died and then went to the father that is the cause of him receiving then from the father, all authority in Heaven and on Earth, and it is by that authority that Jesus now commands us to go and do his greater works, which are to make disciples in his name. See the meaning of suffering, even in the case of Jesus, is found in God's sovereign purpose for it. Most of you know the name Johnny Ericson Tata at at. If you don't, at age seventeen, as a result of a diving accident, Johnny became quadriplegic. In fact, this July will mark fifty five years of being paralyzed from the shoulders down. Do you think she suffered? Do you think she's asked why? Of course she has, but I want you to listen to her perspective. Listen to what she says, this woman who's been paralyzed for fifty five years. The first thing I plan to do on resurrected legs is to drop on grateful, glorified knees that God might open our eyes to see his sovereignty in the midst of suffering, so that we might gain that perspective. The meaning of suffering is found in God's sovereign purpose for it. We'll close with this. The we talked about Paul's vision of Heaven...

...that he was not allowed to talk about. The Apostle John received a vision of heaven that he was commanded to talk about. It was in revelation, Chapter Twenty one. He says. Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first Earth had passed away and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne of God saying, behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more. Neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. This is part of the good news. We anticipate that, that your suffering comes with an expiration date. All, one day, when, when Jesus returns, all suffering will come to an end, and all of us who have, who are who will experience suffering in this life, all of us who believe that somehow God's works are displayed in the midst of our suffering, all of us who have turned from our sin and placed our trust in Jesus Christ as Lord, son of God, who suffered in our place. Together we say come, come, Mord Jesus, let's pray. Lord, you are the father of Mercies, you are the God of all comfort and, as Christ suffered in our place, it is our privilege to share in his suffering. God, continue to comfort us in our affliction and our suffering, so that we might be able to comfort those who are afflicted in suffering. Lord, help us to patiently endure suffering and to trust your sovereign purposes in the midst of it, knowing that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus Are Lord, Amen,.

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