Sermon Notes


One thing we can easily observe in our lives is the fluctuations in our desire for different things. It could be a specific food item that we like, and the first time we have it, we just fall in love with it, for the next 2 weeks, that’s all we recommend to everyone we meet. After a while of having it, we tend to notice that we’ve had too much of it, and can’t stand the taste of it or rather we simply don’t like it as much.

Rather when we think about different people in our lives, maybe our parents, wife, husband, or even our siblings. We can have that period where we are just outpouring with Love and a desire to care, provide and make them feel loved. There can be other moments where we just simply can’t stand them. So you notice this fluctuation in our desire for others in our lives.

When we take all this observation, and look at our approach to Jesus, to God, we don’t see much of a difference in our desire towards him, do we? There are those weeks, where it’s just an absolute mess, you’re missing your morning prayers, and your bible reading time, and maybe even it’s been a few days since you even took the effort to do it.

And sometimes it would take someone else to make a mention of their prayer life or rather you hear a testimony and go “Wow why haven’t I been with Christ in prayer for this long, why haven’t I been reading my bible?!”, you start to notice a visible fluctuation in your desire for Jesus, that lack of consistent desire for our Lord.

What follows is a period of guilt and regret. As believers, our immediate approach is, by whatever means, to find a solution, as soon as possible to fix this. So we approach the word of God with all this piled-up guilt and burden, seeking a single formula from the bible that can fix it all, looking to tag ourselves as the most consistent Christian that ever lived. But you don’t see the word of God do that do you, the word of God does not deliver an instruction manual, “5 steps to love Jesus for all of life”.

But what you do see rather, surprisingly, is an easier more beautiful solution. The word of God, when it comes to teaching us to Love our God, always points us to the Love of our God first, the heart of our saviour, his holiness and magnificence. It pushes us into his heart and captivates us to point that we are brought down to our knees in awe and fear of his love and justice, and there at that point, you see the holy spirit birth in your heart’s love for our saviour.

When we look back to the period of our lives which we identify as the time that we were saved, the love of Christ is one of the first things that caught our eyes, to see the love of our Christ displayed on the cross for us sinner, be moved by it to the point that where everything about life changes. The Holy Spirit uses it to put away the life of sin and bring about a life for Christ.

Therefore brothers and sisters, this morning as we spend time with the word, we are starting with that aim, to look at the heart of Christ, the Love of our God and desire to be awe-struck by it, desire to love him more, with a deeper passion through it.

A ‘willingness’ to endure for his people

Let’s start by turning our bibles to John 10: 14-18, these are the words of our Saviour –
14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

There is a lot to unpack and admire in this set of verses,

  • The fact that Jesus reveals his character here, “I am the good Shepheard”. We know for a matter of fact that by the good he means as good and pure as it gets.
  • Or the trinitarian language here, “Just as the father knows me, I know the father.”
  • Or even how he directly co-related to his elect people by using the Shepheard and sheep analogy.

But what we are going to focus on here is, how the text reveals the heart of Christ for his people, most specifically his self-sacrificial character. “17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.”

Think about this, brothers and sisters, when we are faced with an incoming situation in life, or rather an incoming responsibility or duty and this has pain and stress involved, we are aware there is danger coming. Almost instantaneously, our response would be to flee.

  • I know flee is an overstatement, but what I mean is that we are going to find all the possible ways to put away the responsibility, whether or not it is the right thing to do.
  • Now think about the case, when we decide to go ahead and handle this responsibility. Forget the act itself, the amount of pain, stress and agony we would go through just to decide to do it right.
  • Bigger the responsibility and bigger the stakes, the bigger the nightmare right?

Now as we shift our focus to Christ, more than any danger that we could predict for a future event, our Christ, being the all-knowing God, would know exactly what lies ahead of him.

  • It is unimaginable to think that he, knowing that he has to bear the weight of the world, to lay down his life, chose still to do it, willingly, “I lay it down of my own accord it says.”
  • Can you imagine the depth of that statement brothers and sisters?
  • We know that it is Jesus who made a sacrifice, and that has an effect on our hearts, but that’s a very peripheral view, isn’t it?
    To us, it cannot be a simple statement, just a decision that Jesus took for his people.
  • We need to think deeper. What is the magnitude of the statement Jesus makes, we need to ask ourselves, “What did it cost for Jesus to say that?”

The Cost of the sacrifice

Romans 8:29 says:
29 “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son”

Jeremiah 1:5 says:
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you;”

What can take from these verses to add to the statements Jesus has made regarding his life that he decided to lay down for his people?

  • When it says he foreknew us, it is not simply that he knows our birthday, the major events, all the good deeds, and when our next promotion is. One of the biggest things God sees in our lives, in his foreknowledge, is sin.
  • The Bible tells us that all sin is fundamentally committed against God and that it, therefore, deserves his wrath. Taking into account the wrath deserved for the sin we would have done so far in our lives, we know the magnitude of that and how big that would be. Let’s focus on the Volume of that wrath as we take into account the sins of others. That of those, that lived before us, and those who are yet to live, and if you hold to the postmillennial view, that is a lot of people, a lot of sin in them, therefore the amount wrath deserved in total in of an unimaginable volume.
  • This is what he foreknew, he knew the amount of sin and wrath, therefore, that was stored up to take upon himself was of immense volume.
    • He knew, should he lay down his life, all that wrath would be poured out upon himself, and HE SAID, I AM WILLING.
    • Brothers and sisters, the weight of his willingness to lay down his life on his own accord is immense if you consider the foreknowledge of his people.

But yet it is hard for us to grasp the vehemence of his decision. It is simply because we are finite beings, who cannot imagine what the wrath of God is like, or what the magnitude of wrath deserved for billions of people.

We need this to be explained in a manner that we can associate more with Jesus. More often than not, the experiences of other people are understandable because the circumstances they face in all ways are human, hence, we can associate with them. We also know that Jesus is not only fully God but is also fully man. Therefore, let us take an illustration that we can associate closely with and take it back to the life of Jesus and attempt to understand him more.

  • The illustration is that of American prisoners of war during World War 2.
    • A set of 20 prisoners were made to do hard labour in a prison camp. Each had tools to do the same, and after the day’s work, they had to give an account of the tools used. The guards in charge, who already were treating them poorly, were particularly strict on the fact that no single tool must be lost or damaged during this process.
    • One day when they returned from labour, they were lined up for their tools to be counted, and it was found by the guards that one set was missing. They immediately demanded an answer and asked who among the 20 had lost their tools, but no one turned up. They then put forward an ultimatum that if the he who lost the tool does not turn himself in, they shoot everyone down.
    • After a moment of silence, a 19-year-old amongst the 20 stepped forward. Immediately the guards took him aside and shot him in the head. The others were left stunned.
    • When the guards had left, with the young man lying dead on the floor, the others counted the set of tools again, they then found out that the count was 20, and that the guards had a miscalculation. It only struck them then; the young man knew he did not lose his tools but for the sake of his friends had sacrificed his life.
  • Can you imagine the state of their minds, the 19 others standing next to him laying lifeless? Here is a young man, who did absolutely nothing to deserve death, but he did it for his friends.
  • What would impact them even further is to think of what it cost him to do this sacrifice.
    • He was only a 19-year-old, who had his whole life ahead of him. He could have gotten out of prison, got a Job, got married and lived a life with his family.
    • What if he has a dream, a passion he wanted to follow?
    • What about his father and mother, whom we probably wanted to be taken care of till the end of their lives?
    • The more they thought about it, the cost, the more of the depth of his sacrifice they would feel.
  • Now let us take this mindset, of understanding the cost of one’s sacrifice and bring it to the sacrifice that Jesus made.
    • Not any life that was sacrificed, but the life of one who is sinless and perfect
      • 1 Peter2:22
        “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.”
      • A life so pure, without blemish. One that has perfectly balanced joy and sorrow, tenderness and toughness, justice and mercy, grief and anger, speech and silence, prayer and action. A life that is more worthy and valuable than all the lives that have ever lived. The one that did not deserve death but was put to death.
    • Not any life was sacrificed, but it was that of the Son of God
      • The mighty deceleration by the Father in Matthew 3:17
        behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved son … “
      • It was not the life of the King of our land or the prime minister of our nation, that would upon his death, would put the whole nation in a state of “mourning” or have it printed on the front page of every newspaper. But it was the life of the son of God, that was sacrificed.
      • There is no state of mourning or publicity that can be given to this event that can justify or account for the loss of this life.
    • Not any life that was sacrificed, but it one of man that was supremely loved by the father in heaven
      • We see another glimpse of this on the mount of transfiguration Matthew 17:5:
      • “This is my beloved son, with whom I am well pleased”
      • Let us think about what it cost the father.
      • When a father bonds with his son from a young age, seeing him grow, seeing him learn and perceive the world and building up dreams and desires, it gives unspeakable amounts of Joy to the father. A bond so deep, just the mere thought of losing could give him cold sleepless nights. Now imagine him, with full knowledge of losing him, he sends him to fulfil a duty that could take his life. The pain and agony are unimaginable.
      • The relationship between the heavenly father and his son is not quite like the one mentioned above. It is much more than that. The scripture tells us that, this is a relationship, the triune relationship, that has perfect love, unity and care between each other. Take the purest form of Love between a father and his child that you can think of, the relationship between your father that is, and imagine a comparison to another father-child bond, that would make yours infinitely small, that is the strength of the relationship the heavenly father and his son.
      • Let’s think one step further. This father, will all the love he has for his son, not only knew that his son would be out to death, but He had to do the act of pouring out unimaginable amounts of wrath and putting him to death for the sake of perfect justice and love for his people.
        • At the cross, despite the perfection in the fellowship he had with his son, he looks away and pours out his wrath on his son and had to watch him die.
      • The pain and cost ought to hit us deep and bring us down to our knees in adoration of this God.

Beloved, going back to our initial question, “I lay down my life for my people on my own accord .. “: “What did it cost him to do this?”

  • Do you now see the cost brothers and sisters?
  • It cost him everything!
  • When you look to him and bless his name for the sacrifice he has done for you, enabling you to live a life free from the clutches of sin, a life that leads to eternity in his presence, the weight of this blessing ought to be rooted at depth of what it cost for him to give you this life. Therefore realising the love that he had for you, in doing it.

The story doesn’t end here

If our goal as we started our time today was to understand the heart of Christ, we surely have made good progress in understanding it, through the self-sacrificial act he did in laying down his life willingly for his people.
But the beauty of his heart is that the more one explores the inner depths of it, not only would it turn out to be a treasure-filled journey, in the form of rich truths, but it would be a never-ending one, for his love is truly never-ending.

One way can move forward from here, therefore, would be to ask the question “Now what?”.

  • Now that we understand that he sacrificed his life willingly for the sake of his people, now that we know how much it cost for him to do it, what do we do with the life that he has given us?
  • Is it that, He, Jesus Christ, saves, gives us freedom and leaves that we may live it alone?
  • The short answer to the two questions above is, he saved us by grace, so that we may live a life of good works for his glory. This is life is not going to be easy for we are still sinners. And, no, he promises that we are not alone in this journey.
  • But the beauty of his heart is not just in the fact that he promises us these things, but in how he carries the promises out.

A willingness to endure for his people

Hebrews 12:1–2:
1Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

The work of Christ is not one that simply ends on the cross, but it is one that, that transcends beyond it. Not only because of the truth of that cross that enables us to labour for our saviour but in how he continues to work for the good of his people.

  • After his death and resurrection, he does not sit at the right hand of God, watching while we struggle with the weight of our sin, only to ask us to lay it aside and fight the good fight alone.
    • But he says he is the perfecter of our faith, meaning to say that he, after all, that he has done, is willing, to do even more, in that he will labour for us in our fight to live a life of righteousness.
    • The caviar is not that, not only does he say he wants to help us but his disposition toward it, is one of Joy and delight. It is not a mere promise he fulfils as a form of duty, but he finds joy in fulfilling it. The source of happiness is in helping his people.
  • Furthermore, it is not that it was simple, to help his people. He had to endure the cross to do it, meaning to say that he had to struggle to help, to fulfil that joy in helping us. But despite the struggle, he is happy to help us. To put things into perspective:
    • When are faced with a task, that we know is going to be hard to fulfil, our approach then becomes an act of ‘getting through it’. I need to get through this, to find some way to finish this task and get to the finish line while bearing through the pain. It becomes a halfhearted act because of the pain involved.
      • But our Christ is one that, in the knowledge that it is going to be an act that is as hard a task gets, endures the task, and he says, “I find joy in doing it for my people and my father in heaven.”
    • If we have a loved one in our life, be it our spouse, sibling or friend, who we notice his desire to help us and their desire is such that they find joy in helping us, that there is not an ounce of hesitation or regret but a passion to see us happy and cared for, the joy is witnessing such love and care will bring us down to tears.
      • Now think about a person that is unlike us, one that is eternal, powerful, and mighty, one who is called the king of kings, he says that he finds joy in helping and caring for you, must not our hearts meltdown to a point we are on our knees weeping and praising him for a Love so pure?

Therefore beloved, let us take this love and apply it to our lives such that when we go to him in prayer, we should realize that we are not greeted by a King that stands afar judging us for our sins and is unwilling to help us. So, then we go on a desperate rant pleading for him to help us, which leads him to a change of mind and he finally, with a hesitant heart, agrees to help us. No! Absolutely not!
When we go into prayer we are greeted by a king, who desires, with much joy, to help and tend to our needs. In fact, his desire to help us is much more than ours to go to him for help.

But there is still one more issue, we still fail at this juncture, we still fail to go to him in prayer despite his willingness to help.

Why? The common misunderstanding is that “he is mighty saviour, how does he know the problems of my heart?”
“How can he possibly help me without understanding pain the I feel?”

A Sympathy like no other:

Hebrews 4:15
15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.

We often tend to push our Christ away, to consider him a distant observer in our prayer life, and even further, in our lives outside our prayer room.

But what Hebrews 4 tells us completely extirpates such a view of Christ. It says that not only Christ died for us willingly, not only that he desires and finds joy in helping us, but that he in every respect has been tempted as we have, when we go to, it is not just joy that greets us but an understanding, a sympathizing, that goes beyond our understanding of the self. He knows our pain more than we know it when we go to him.

  • We say God is Love, not that he simply knows to love. He is the very source of Love. Similar to that, everything about him is to the fullest extent and in its most pure form.
  • When we say he is pure, he is as pure as pure can get. Due to this very reason, when we say Jesus felt hunger, or Jesus felt pain, or Jesus felt betrayal, he fully felt it due to the very nature of his purity and character.
  • Beloved, when we go to him in pain, we are greeted by a high priest who’s felt more than we can imagine the pain to be.

Therefore the invitation, “Come to me call you are heavy laden I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). This invitation is no joke brothers and sisters, this is an invitation to come to him, in the knowledge that he has full knowledge of your situation, and he will surely give you rest.

When he says you’re not alone in the life that he has gifted you with, he means it, for he truly is not distant, but closer to your heart than you can think.


So what did we learn so far:

  • We see and know a Christ, who willingly, despite knowing the pain and misery that will follow him, he chose to die for his people. His love and desire for his people are so visible through this.
  • And this Christ doesn’t simply sacrifice his life on the cross, to begin with, he lived a self-sacrificing life that lead up to the sacrifice at the cross, a life filled with pain, and the temptation to the point he felt it in every regard, more than we can imagine.
  • All of this is to show and preach to the people the way of life as God had ordained it. He does all this, to lift us from the depths of darkness, into a life where we are free from the clutches of sin, and he does not simply purchase this life for us and leave us stranded. [ He doesn’t go “You’re on your own now, ….”]
    • But rather he secures our life in him forever, to eternity past and leaves us with the comfort and knowledge that he is going to be there with us through this journey. Not that he will simply watch over us, but to be intimately intertwined with us through the journey to the point that at every juncture when we fail, he is there for us with the full knowledge of our pain and misery, waiting to receive us with a desire to give us comfort and regeneration. And he makes us know of his disposition at this point, he knows our pain and wants to comfort us not because of a heartless obligation, but because he has a heart-filled desire to comfort those in pain and need, he is overjoyed when his people come to him with his burden. His very heart desires it.

We have made quite the progress in our desire to explore and know the heart of Christ. Therefore the inevitable question is, now that I know these truths about the heart of Christ, what do I do with them?

  • Let’s take all this love and emotion of Christ, and understand that as his people, as the people of God we have the privilege of meeting this Christ every time we go to pray.
  • Every time we go into prayer, we have this Christ in the room, right with us desiring to comfort us, teach and guide us for our life with him. He knows our prayers before we say them, he felt our pain we felt it, he knows the cause and intensity of it before we say it, and the fundamental exhortation, therefore, “is to simply go to him”, come to me all you heavy laden and lay down your burdens at my feet he says.
  • Our response ought to be that we go into our prayer realising he is around us, he is with us and I have the comfort to open my heart to him, to speak to him, tell my worries to him, to ask for solutions to him, build a relationship with him and I have the promise that he is Listening and that he will lead us through the word and by the power of the holy spirit. At no point does he leave us astray.
  • Beloved, again, let’s think about our response to this for a second. We as his people, [we as his people who get overjoyed when we say utter the words “God saved me”], we can go for so long, going into our prayer room, uttering words of prayer, decorating it with all the verses that we think that fits, coming out with reverence and satisfaction for the prayer, do all that, not once have met with Christ. Not once would we have gone in with a desire to meet our Jesus, meet meaning to think, actively that he is in fact with me now right at this moment, listening to me with attention like no other.
  • We must not make the mistake of pushing God into a box and placing him in heaven, seeing him as distant from us when we pray and walk the course of life.
  • Let us take these truths about our Jesus, hold them near to our heart and meet with him daily in our prayers and in all that we do, actively remembering the heart of our Christ who loves us so dearly, sympathizes with us so dearly and finds joy in meeting with us all the days of our lives.