Sir, We Would See Jesus: In the Presence of Crisis

SIR, WE WOULD SEE JESUS

IV. “In the Presence of Crisis”

AUDIO: Sir, We Would See Jesus – In The Presence of Crisis

Matthew 26:36-46 & John12:20-26

Everyone is interested in knowing how a person will react in a crisis. For very often in life, the success or failure of both great and small enterprises may depend upon how well a person is able to meet a time of stress or emergency.

During this Lent we are saying….and we would say it any other time….that “Christian character is not obsolete.

As you pass through the varied experiences of life you find that most of them are tests of your character.

 

How to react to situations and what you do, supplies not only a fact in itself but a demonstration of the quality of your character.

Today, we consider crisis Situations.

If you haven’t had a crisis in your life, you haven’t begun to live.

Crisis` come in many shapes and sizes, and hours could be spent suggesting this and that kind and giving various illustrations.

 

Back in 1994 I was working at Maricopa County installing a sewer line, standing on top of a 4 foot concrete pipe, about 5 feet below ground,  when the sides started to cave in.

I grabbed my supervisor, who was standing next to me, by the seat of his pants and literally threw him out of the trench. I was buried up to my chest. Evidently I got out, because here I am.

 

In 1979 I was in Dallas working for Schepps Dairy in the processing plant. The maintenance man was working overhead on the conveyor track that took all the case of milk product to the coolers. His ladder slipped out from under him, I happened to be standing right there, and grabbed him, by the seat of his pants with one arm, and slowly lowered him to the pavement.

 

And then there was the time when I was a young man of 19 or 20. I drove around Phoenix metro area, delivering tax forms to accountants. In my driving I saw most everything and everybody. On one occasion, I was sitting at a signal light in west Phoenix, heading westbound on Dunlap Avenue, waiting for the light to turn green…when BAM! A northbound car hit a southbound car turning left, at a very high rate of speed right in the middle of the intersection. When the dust settled and the vehicles came to rest, I noticed smoke coming from one of the vehicles. I pulled my car into the intersection and got out. I then ran over to the car that had been hit, fortunately it was still upright. The driver side of the vehicle was bent and the passenger side was up against the car that hit it, where it had come to rest. I looked in the car, and in the front seat, there was a man and a woman, semi-conscious. I looked in the back seat, and there were two children in car seats, looking bewildered, but awake. By then a couple other people came up and I instructed them to help get the kids out. I then reached for the driver’s door and ripped it open. At that point, the man started to wake, and I asked if he was hurt. He said his leg and side hurt, but he thought he could walk. I helped him out of the car and someone took him to the curb to sit down.

I crawled into the front seat and unbuckled the woman’s seat belt and felt for a pulse. She was alive, but barely. That’s when the engine compartment began to flame up. Everyone was yelling for me to leave her and get out before the car blows up. I was able to grab the woman by the arms, drag her across the seat, and lift her out of the vehicle, I carried her in my arms, I then began running towards the curb. We were maybe 20 feet from the car, when all of a sudden KABOOM!! The vehicle exploded and there were flames and smoke and debris flying everywhere. I was able to set the woman down on the curb. I heard the sirens of emergency vehicles coming…everyone there said I was a hero.

Why? Because in the presence of a crisis, I guess I had measured up to all, and maybe more that could be expected. Let me make this very clear. I am not a hero…I have never considered myself a hero….ever……

A man enters a bus, as one does…. several years ago, and finds on the seat a package, unseen by anyone….the package contains $10,000.00 in relatively small bills.

What will he do? It’s a test of character.

Another man finds $60,000.00 in a car wreck.

What does he do?

 

Many years ago, the President of the United States, Dwight D. Eisenhower published an autobiographical book which mirrored his life. He called it “Six Crisis.”

Each of the previous is more spectacular than the crisis which we experience. Yet crises does come to each of us.

Perhaps these are more spectacular than the crises which you experience, but crises does come to each of us.

You lose your job…you lose your health…you lose a loved one…you become a victim of injustice…you undergo extreme pain…suffering or cruelty;

You are up against the necessity of making a decision which will affect not only your own life, but the lives of the ones you love. Perhaps the life of the community or the nation.

Which way do we turn?

It’s a crisis.

And Crises comes to us all.

Sometimes crises mature slowly; most often they come upon us quickly, suddenly and unexpectedly. And they show us what we are. Our character is revealed by crisis: strong or weak, courageous or timid; selfless or self-centered; faithful or faithless.

Crisis brings out into the open, the strength or the evil, that in calmer times may be hidden beneath the surface of human lives.

“Sir, we would see Jesus,” said the Greek traveler to Phillip. We have echoed the traveler’s plea. We have sought to see Jesus in the presence of fear, in the presence of temptation, in the presence of evil.

Today, we would see Jesus in the presence of crisis.

There are available to us practically no scenes from the boyhood of Jesus. The bible tells us that he grew in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man.

But the specific situations are scarce, except one….that poignantly pushes its point across whenever we read it. “Jesus, at the age of 12, is in the temple with the doctors of the law. His parents come seeking him. When they begin to scold Him for his thoughtlessness and seeming waywardness, He disarms them with those words which even to this day speak of the crisis of vocation:

“Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” Vocation is a crisis. The man Jesus had to choose how He would carry out His Father’s business. He came, did the Christ, as the Messiah of Israel, the Savior of the world.

The Old Testament indicates varying ideals concerning Him who would be the world’s redeemer.

In some places, He is pictured as a reforming prophet; in others, as a holy priest; in the Psalms, He is a great King subduing His oppressors, delivering Israel from slavery, and ruling all the peoples of the earth; in Isaiah, He is regarded as a suffering servant. It was the conquering king that Israel looked to see in Jesus’ day, matching force with force, might with might, power with power until He began His victorious reign. Many would have hailed Him, had He called upon the legion of angels to aid in securing His earthly throne. (Matthew 26:53)

 

But Jesus knew that “Not with swords loud clashing nor roll of stirring drum, but with deeds of love and mercy the heavenly kingdom comes.” And His choice was the God-ordained role of the Suffering servant.

Make no mistake about it….vocation is a crisis. It is not merely the matter of a high school person’s decision about what courses to take, or in college what studies to pursue.

The question “What shall I do with my life?” should give pause to every person, from teen to ninety. There is a vocational choice. Is what I will do; is what I am doing, really constructive?

Now, there were many crises in the life of Jesus. Let us think of one or two.

One of the first sermons I remember was on that magnificent scene, in which Jesus asked his disciples to go on record, as to who He was. You may remember the questions He asked: “Whom do people say that I am?” and they gave various answers: Isaiah, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, one of the prophets. But then the more personal question: “But who do you, say that I am?”

Peter answered for the group: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

This must have taken Jesus to the top of the mountain. His followers recognized Jesus for whom He was. His message was getting across.

Immediately after that, He told his disciples that He “must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things and be killed.”

Peter rebelled at this thought. Peter said to Jesus, “God forbid Lord! This shall never happen to You.”

The realization of setting out on a journey to be killed would not enter into our estimate of advantages. It would be much easier to go on in life making one’s way around the world with a congenial group of friends who were loyal and supportive. Jesus faced a decision. “Go to Jerusalem, suffer many things, and be killed.”

An author points out 5 possible choices which lay before Jesus.

He could,

1-quit and be done with the whole business,

2-find safety in flight (“He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day.”)

3-leave the people of Israel and turn to the Gentiles,

4-work out some sort of compromise with the rulers or…5-continue as HE had begun, and take the consequences.

The response Jesus made to the crisis of decision certainly has in it elements of the heroic.

Luke recorded: “Steadfastly He set his face to go up to Jerusalem.”

 

What do you and I do, when we approach a situation, in which life is proceeding along a satisfactory course, to the accomplishment of our objectives when suddenly, it appears that to achieve what we believe is God’s will for our lives, we find the road ahead of us not a smooth, easy, congenial, happy way…

but a way that calls for self sacrifice…danger… hardship…and even the possibility of sudden death. Do we change roads? Do we alter our ideals? Do we hedge? Do we temporize? Do we excuse? Do we default?

We are faced with the crisis of decisions again and again in life.

We either go ahead on the road which basically we know is right or, we take the other thing, the lesser, the weaker, perhaps the wrong.

At any rate, the crisis of decision has given demonstration as to the kind of person we really are to the quality of our character.

The best known crisis in the life of Jesus occurred, of course, in Gethsemane. It was in Gethsemane that He faced a final surrender. Having previously determined, to see his purpose through, even to death, Jesus finds that his final doom is at hand, again I say, Jesus finds, that his final doom, is at hand…….

To die or not to die….that is the issue there. Tomorrow, on a cross, tomorrow, Jesus must be crucified unless….Even at this moment there are two ways to escape.

Jesus could easily slip up over the mountain, flee swiftly down the valley toward Jordan….it was hardly 20 miles to the river. By daylight, He could be somewhere in the hill country beyond the Jordon, forever free.

Or perhaps in this last moment God would show him an easier way….God would let this cup pass from him.

 

 

Not all of the religious leaders had faced martyrdom. On the slope of the Mount of Olives, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus faced the final crisis.

Would He go on to make the final sacrifice necessary to consummate his work or would He back out?

The gospel stories are emphatic in saying that it was a terrific battle. Jesus begged to escape the torture. According to the records, sweat broke out on his brow in beads of blood. His plea to God was, “Let this cup pass from me.” “If it be possible, let this cup pass.”

Finally, becoming certain that there is no other choice, but that He must go on and take the full consequences of His first decision, He meets His crisis, maintains the integrity of his character, and goes on to do what he knew had to be done. We speak of Jesus dying on a cross on Calvary. In a very real sense, Jesus died in Gethsemane.

There is another sermon that was preached on a Palm Sunday entitled “Five Days to Live” On the first Palm Sunday this was precisely the situation that faced Jesus. He had 5 days to live. On Friday He would die.

In the sermon it was asked, “What did He do?” and in the sermon, the answer, “Jesus conducted his life in the same fashion as before. Where there were sick, He healed. Where there were people thirsting for knowledge, He taught. Where there were people who truly repented and sought forgiveness, He forgave. Where there were people who were afraid, He gave courage. He did just what He had been doing all along.

The fundamental question with which we are faced, as we meet up with the crisis decisions in our lives, is as to whether we are doing right and sufficiently convinced of the virtue of rightness to keep on doing what we have been doing all along.

My father-in-law had some favorite lines of poetry. Some of you may remember the words of William Cullen Bryant. He was born in 1794 and died in 1878.

The poet recommends:

So live that when thy summons comes to join, The innumerable caravan which moves, To that mysterious realm where each shall take his chamber, in the silent halls of death.

Thou go not like the quarry slave at night, scourged to his dungeon,

But sustained and soothed by an unfaltering trust,

Approach thy grave like one who wraps the drapery of his couch about him,

And lies down to pleasant dreams.”

 

The ultimate questions are, “How are you living today?” “Is it right?” “Then when the crisis comes; can you, will you, to continue, no matter what?”

Jesus could, because He had thought his life through….Jesus could, because He had dedicated Himself to doing the right thing….Jesus could, because His goal was set on good and on God.

The accomplishment of good and the accomplishment of God’s will….Jesus could, because basically He knew that He was God’s man, and that being God’s person was the most important thing there is in life.

I end with two lines with which I find myself ending thoughts and prayers and sermons.

 

“This was the path the Master trod,

Should not the servant tread it still?”

Amen.

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