Posted by: lepages | April 1, 2012

Mission accomplished!

Had a moving time preaching this at Rutland Road Church this morning, following a moving time of worship and response as we celebrated Palm Sunday and looked forward to Good Friday

 Mission Accomplished

Mark 15:1-47

Setting the scene

Quiz with volunteers/Sunday Gang members – Mission Impossible background music

The mission people are called to do, is not always what people think it is.

Some of our ‘volunteers’ accomplished the mission quickly, others took a little longer and perhaps found that they were doing things which maybe they need not have done.

 On the day that we call Palm Sunday, many people celebrated Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem, they shouted praise to God, they threw their coats down in the road, they laid out palm branches, as a means of laying out a red carpet to welcome the coming of the Messiah who would re-establish the Kingdom of David.

 Just a few days later the crowds were shouting out ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’

 It didn’t look much like the mission people were expecting him to fulfil was going to be accomplished!

 And yet, as Jesus hung on the cross, just before he died, he cried out, we read in John’s gospel, ‘It is finished!’ And then he died.

He didn’t shout out ‘I am finished.’

He said, ‘It is finished!’ Job done! Mission accomplished!

Not the mission others thought he should accomplish, but the mission he was sent by his Father to accomplish. 

Mission Accomplished

Image 

We’re going to take a short while to look at 4 aspects of the mission Jesus accomplished so that as he shouted out with his last breath he was able to say ‘It is finished!’

Wouldn’t you like to be able to get to the end of your life and say ‘It is finished!’ – knowing that you have completed everything that you were placed on the earth to do.

That’s what Jesus did.

Right from his birth Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies written about him.

Prophecy fulfilled

Prophecies that spoke about where he would be born… and prophecies that spoke about his death. Prophecies that we see fulfilled in our Bible base from Mark 15 which were written by King David around 1000 years before… could you imagine prophecies about someone’s life written in around 1000AD being fulfilled today?

That is what happened for Jesus.

I want you to have your finger in two sections of scripture so you can flick back and forth between them – in our Bible base for today Mark 15 and in Psalm 22 

As Jesus hangs on the cross, he cries out the words written in the first verse of David’s psalm

‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’

And God had. He had to turn his back on the one with whom he had been one from before creation.

Can you imagine what that was like for Jesus?

Aside from the physical agony.

Aside from the betrayal of trust of his friends we reflected on over the past couple of weeks, what can it have been like to feel forsaken by God, as he bore punishment which he didn’t deserve….

David in Psalm 22:6-8 prophecies of how Jesus would be mocked

READ Psalm 22:6-8

Flick over to Mark 15

READ Mark 15:16-20, 25-32

David goes on to prophesy with picture language of the awful affect on Jesus body

READ Psalm 22:12-16

and we know that Jesus’ hands and feet were pierced in that cruellest of cruel means of execution, crucifixion.

READ Psalm 22:17,18

Jesus fulfilled prophecy that he couldn’t fulfil. He couldn’t cast lots for his clothes but the Roman soldiers did

READ Mark 15:24

‘And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get.’

The Jewish leaders thought they were eliminating a troublesome person, manipulating the Roman authorities and the ordinary people to accomplish their purposes, but in fact they were fulfilling God’s purposes.

Sacrifice made

It’s significant that Jesus’ last, loud cry ‘It is finished’ occurred just before he gave up his Spirit, breathed his last and died.

Jesus’ mission to come as a sacrifice had been accomplished – not a mission others understood or saw, but a mission accomplished!

But it was a mission written down and prophesied some 700 years before his birth.

Isaiah prophesied of the mission that the servant of the Lord, the Messiah was to fulfil.

Keeping your finger in Mark’s gospel, turn with me if you would to Isaiah 53

My first thought was to just read the parts that relate directly to Jesus’ sacrifice… but this whole passage speaks so vividly of what Jesus went through, and his mission in doing so, that I would like to read the whole passage, starting at ch52:13.

As we read this, bear in mind the events of Good Friday and what Jesus went through, and you will see this sacrifice being spoken of by Isaiah the prophet, 700+ years before they came to be.

READ Isaiah 52:13-53:12

V5 ‘He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed…. v6b the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all…. v7b…. he was led like a lamb to the slaughter…. v8b… for the transgression of my people he was stricken…. v10b… the LORD makes his life a guilt offering… v12b… he bore the sin of many….’

Jesus’ mission was to be a sacrifice.

To take our place.

To deal with the problem of the wrong in our lives.

I’ve recently read through Leviticus and the other early Old Testament books – the list of ongoing sacrifices to deal with the problem of sin in our lives is huge!

Jesus came to be the sacrifice so that we no longer have to fulfil all these sacrifices – his sacrifice was sufficient for all time, for all who will receive him as the sacrifice made on their part.

And it accomplished the third dimension of his mission that I’ve picked up on today

Redemption purchased

Jesus’ sacrifice has bought back our right to be in a right relationship with God, because he has paid the price through his death

Isaiah 53 again

v4 ‘he took up our infirmities, he carried our sorrows, he was pierced for our transgressions’

He paid the price for them.

To redeem something is to buy it back.

In truth, what God did for us human beings was to buy us back to himself by redeeming us from our slavery to sin.

How awesome is that??!!

That God would choose to buy you back!

That’s how much he values you…. and that is what lies at the heart of the Easter story.

God’s love and desire to bring you back to himself so that he can have the joy of your worship and so that you can have the joy of knowing your creator for yourself!

WOW!!

And that brings us to the fourth part of the mission which Jesus accomplished

Way to God opened

v11 of Isaiah 53 says:-

‘After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied.’

You know, Jesus looks down today at us here and it brings him satisfaction – because he sees that the suffering of his soul was worth it to buy us back to God!

Back in Mark’s gospel ch15:37,38…

after Jesus’ final, loud cry, ‘It is finished’ and his last breath as he died, something remarkable happened.

Across the temple was a huge curtain, much bigger and thicker than this one (Hold up) – which blocked off the Holy of holies – the place where God’s presence and power could be felt – only the select few were ever allowed in there. Most people were excluded from God’s presence.

As Jesus cried out ‘It is finished’, as he breathed his last and gave up his spirit, his mission was accomplished and something remarkable and symbolic happened – the temple curtain was torn in two from top to bottom (Tear curtain from top to bottom!)

The way to God was now open for all to be able to come in – and it was God’s initiative – that’s why even the tearing of the curtain from top to bottom is significant – it wasn’t about us working our way to God; it was about him opening the way to himself.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

Shouldn’t we praise a God who has done everything for us?

Shouldn’t we praise our Saviour Jesus whose Mission was accomplished?

And shouldn’t we go out to accomplish the mission which he entrusts into our hands, in response to his incredible grace to us??

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