S-1112 4/01/09 6MIL/3B Hymns: (O) #154; #182; (S) # 351; (C) #176
Texts Psalm 136:1-4, 23-26; Hosea 3:1-4; Romans 5:6-11; Luke 23-34
Theme: “His Love” (6th sermon series in Lent on HIStory, Luke 23:34a)
Question: “Have you experienced true love?”
SOLI DEO GLORIA, Armour, SD
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen! Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our sixth Midweek in Lent is from the Gospel reading: “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do’” (Luke 23:34a).
Saints in Christ, in the movie Love Comes Softly, there is a riveting scene. Husband and wife are sharing. This is his second wife who is carrying her former husband’s child and he is her second husband and has a young daughter from his first wife. Both of the spouses died tragically young. The woman is bitter at the loss of her husband and very, very angry with God. She can’t understand why God would permit her husband to die. In her visit with her new husband who is a devout believer says, “What kind of God is this God who takes your spouse and my spouse? How come He allows these “bad” things to happen? I don’t understand how you can call Him loving?” His response was, “As a father at times I am with my daughter. If she falls and gets hurt while I am with her, that doesn’t mean that I allowed it to happen, but rather it means that I will pick her up, carry her in my arms, shower her with all of my love, take her pain away and nurture her to good health.”
Man’s love is visible, tangible and touchable. God’s love is much more. God’s love is deeper. God’s love can’t be understood by our feeble minds, but with the minds and hearts of faith. Only when we see the awesome love God has for sinners like us, do we grasp what it means that God really LOVE ME.
Today, Luke speaks of this amazing love. This Royal King while ready to face His final hours on earth, while being punished severely by soldiers and mockers; while hanging on the cross and barely breathing; while listening to the venomous words of the by-standers, looks at the crowds before Him and pours out His love upon them, lest they be judged to damnation. From the cross, love oozes down with these words: “Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing.”
Father, forgive them! Can you believe that sentence? Can you grasp that this sentence was spoken to the soldiers who nailed this Royal King to the cross; to the Pharisees who accused Him; to Pilate who condemned Him; to the mockers and on lookers; but also to you and me. With these words, Jesus demonstrates His love that is beyond our wildest imagination.
Father, forgive them were the words that the thief right next to Jesus heard. This sentence was lased with love. It was the message of the Gospel that melted his heart and in his final hour before death said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom” and in love Jesus responded, “Today, YOU will be with Me in paradise.”
God loves you so much. He has given the gift of His Son to save you. He doesn’t want to let you go, even though you sin – and I sin. Sometimes we may tell our children when they’ve been difficult, “There is nothing you can do to make me stop loving you!” That’s God’s feeling toward us too. He doesn’t want to lose us. Sometimes God intervenes in our lives to awaken us to faith. Sometimes He sends trials and turbulence to turn us around in life when we’re headed in the wrong direction. But then, when we cry out to Him, He calms those turbulent waters through His love for us in Jesus. He is our Savior and through Him we survive the storms, the tornadoes, the trials and the turbulence of life, even those we bring to ourselves.
Oh to know that kind of love. To experience a love that causes you to give thanks for what has been given you. Oh to bask in that love that someone offers you. No greater love is available than a love that comes deep from the heart of God—for God is love. And because He is love and He loves us, we His beloved children share His love with others. PAUSE.
North Platte, (NP) Nebraska was a town of 12,000 people in 1941. On December 7, 1941; Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese. 10 days later word was heard that the Nebraska National Guard was coming through to NP on their way to the war. One woman Rae Wilson a clerk in a drug store organized women to meet the train and give these boys something to help them on their journey.
When the train came through, it was discovered it wasn’t Nebraska National Guard but other National Guard. Everyone was going back without giving the goodies away. But Rae Wilson said, “I am not taking these cookies back.” And that began the North Platte Canteen.
Rae Wilson organized 55,000 women who met every train that came to North Platte and sometimes 32 trains came through in a day. For 10 minutes these women helped the young men with whatever they needed. They gave them hugs, sandwiches, cookies, cakes, drinks and shined their shoes. And just as they were leaving, they would say, “Sailor, we love you, be safe and come back to us soon!” Many didn’t return. PAUSE.
6 million soldiers went through North Platte during WWII and these women met every train and did the service voluntarily. They paid for everything out of their own pockets, except for $5.00 that came from President Roosevelt saying, “I heard of the great things you are doing for our boys!”
When these young boys where in France and bombs and bullets were dropping from the sky, they would say to each other, “Wouldn’t be great to be back in North Platte for just 10 minutes!”
Wouldn’t be great to be back in North Platte that was what the soldiers said because they had experienced love from strangers, young women that looked like their sisters, mothers and grandmothers who gave selflessly and lovingly to help our military boys.
Wouldn’t be great today, to be back in Jerusalem just for 10 minutes and there stand by the cross and hear Jesus say, “Father, forgive them…” We need not be in North Platte, we need not be in Jerusalem or at Calvary; because tonight you hear God’s love coming to you. I have loved you. I have given you all—my life, my body for your sins.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, no greater love has ever been demonstrated as that of Christ our Savior. He Himself stated, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” This Jesus did for us. His love took Him to the cross. His love moved Him to forgive those who beat Him; those who mocked Him; those who nailed Him to the tree of the cross; those who have sinned against Him—that is us.
And this love has been bestowed upon us today as well. And it is this love that the Savior wants us to share with others. That is why we gather in the Lord’s house to take some of His love and leave here and give it to others. Only when you have tasted, experienced, got to know that kind of love, can you in return share it with those who don’t know the Savior’s love.
Love is the greatest activity we carry. We can by the power of the Holy Spirit choose to love, and choose to receive love. Love transcends blood, dirt, past and future. Love is an act of selflessness and devotion. And the love of God is the hallmark of us being loved by Him.
In the name of our Lord Jesus, who loves us and pursues us in His love. Amen!
Now the peace of God…
p.s. if you want to view the story on North Platte go to this sight. Make sure you have few tissues to wipe your tears.