Hey! You Promised!

1. Preparation
Before the communion lesson, sing the hymn (or the variation below of) “Standing on the Promises”

During the passing of the trays, have a guitarist or keyboardist play a quiet, very slow, acoustic variation of the melody to the hymn “Standing on the Promises”

Luke 22: 39-44
Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42″Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

2. Focus
Today we will examine the cross from the angle of Jesus’ promises.

You see, at the cross we don’t find a weak Jesus, but a Jesus who keeps his promises.

We see our Lord, constantly giving, promising, reassuring and then calling us higher.

3. Digging In
Let’s take a look at a few of the promises surrounding the cross.

A) In Gethsemane, Jesus is brutally honest but promises God to do his will. “Not my will, but your will be done.” (Luke 22:39-44)

B) Before the arrest, Jesus promises Peter that he will be able to repent. “When you turn back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:32)

C) Once crucified, Jesus promises his mother that she will gain a new son (and vice-versa) and her needs will be met. “John, this is your mother. Woman, this is now your son.” (John 19:25-27)

D) After hours of taunting, Jesus promises paradise to the penitent thief. “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

I find all of this absolutely amazing! When I feel attacked, I counter-attack. Or I may run and hide. But the last thing I typically want to do is give, let alone start promising things.

Hey! You promised!
If you have kids you know what I’m talking about. It is awesome to promise things to kids. But you had better be prepared to fulfill those promises. Your kids have the sharpest memories on the planet. If you have promised them something, then they will remember it. And they will remind you of it. And they will make sure they receive whatever you promised. And if you break your promise, it may be a long time before they forget. A long time.

So being the wise parent, I am very careful with my promises. In fact the easiest route is to simply say, “We might do this or that…There is a chance we may do this or that…if you behave well, then I will think about doing such and such…” Whew. That keeps the back door open so I can respond, “But I never promised, I just said I’d think about it.”

But that’s not Jesus.
He promises!
And he doesn’t mind it when we say to him, “Hey, you promised!”
In fact, he wants us to say, “Hey, you promised!”
He wants us to have his promises on the forefront of our minds!

I have to ask myself in which category I fall:
Am I the sceptic, who doesn’t believe that God’s grace is big enough for me?

Am I the needy person who fears that Jesus will leave me alone with my problems (rather than give me a spiritual family)?

Am I the sinner who “can’t do squat for God”…I can simply repent.  But is that good enough for God?  It was good enough for Jesus.

4. Upward Call
Today the challenge for you and me is really examine and then amazed at the promises in the cross. Jesus promised God his allegiance, but he also gave you that promise. Do you feel too sinful to be accepted back (thief), too weak a disciple to give it another try (Peter) or too lonely to handle the issues God gives you? Then take heart at the cross and the promises surrounding the cross. There, at the cross, find the strength to make the “Gethsemane Promise” to God: I will drink the cup you have given me and remain true to you, Lord

5. Prayer
Thank you Lord for Jesus’ giving strength.  Even during his most trying hours, he was thinking of us and our need for promises!

Lord, right here and right now – we accept Jesus’ allegiance to us, and we too again offer you our allegiance. We are amazed by Jesus’ giving spirit and his allegiance to you – and to us. And pledge to accept His allegiance.

We are daunted by the cup – but we pledge once again to drink of it. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

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