The Infinite Worth of Jesus
In Acts 21-23 we see the costliness of following Jesus escalate for the Apostle Paul. If you trust and follow Jesus you will experience both deep joy and deep costs. But, it’s the costs that really challenge us. Is it worth it? Why endure amidst such difficulty? Here we learn that following Jesus can be costly, but he is worth it – infinitely worth it. It’s costly, but He is worth it. Infinitely worthy it.
It’s costly, but He is worth it. Infinitely worthy it. It’s costly, but He is worth it. Infinitely worthy it.It’s costly, but He is worth it. Infinitely worthy it. It’s costly, but He is worth it. Infinitely worthy it. It’s costly, but He is worth it. Infinitely worthy it.
We’re in the final stretch of our study through the book of Acts. From the beginning we have traced the explosion of the Jesus-movement, known as Christianity, throughout the Roman Empire, from Jerusalem to Rome. Along the way we have asked, “What is true Christianity?” We live in a world (and city) with many caricatures of Jesus, false gospels and misrepresentations of Christianity. Therefore, it is only wise, not only as a newly forming church but as humans, to explore the claims of this man, known as Jesus of Nazareth. This morning we’re going to work through Acts 21-23. With the exception of the first half of Acts 21, this passage describes the Apostle Paul’s last visit to Jerusalem. At this point, he has completed his three missionary journeys, he is done planting churches (as far as we know), and he is on his way to Rome (by way of Jerusalem) where he will eventually be martyred for his faith in Jesus Christ. The last chapters of Acts, more than any others, highlight the costliness of following Jesus Christ. Is it really worth it? Why endure amidst such difficulty? Why should we, like Paul, do it? How?
Twin realities of the Christian life: Joy and Cost.
If you trust Jesus and follow him, you will experience both.
JOY: Trusting Jesus and living under his authority will result in deep, abiding joy. We are designed by God to be a dependent creature. We are created by God to live under God’s fatherly, loving, gracious, life-giving rule. Yet, sin separates us from him
Sin is not merely doing bad things, but the result of a great independent streak we all have. Thus, by nature and choice we want to get out from underneath His good, fatherly, loving care. Result? Our humanity is diminished. Given our diminished humanity, we suffer the consequences, guilt and emptiness that follow the decision to do life alone. But, trusting, embracing and following Jesus puts us back into the relationship with God we’re created to have. Thus, our humanity is restored and that brings great joy.
COSTLY: Trusting Jesus and following him bring deep joy but it is also costly. Internal costs: Sin is part of very nature, so things that are not good for us still sound and feel good to us. (pride, arrogance, impatience, lust, anger, jealousy, greed and so on) Things that shouldn’t seem normal and good for us, do in fact seem normal and good. Likewise, things God intends for our good – such as holiness and obedience – seem threatening to our freedom and comfort. External costs: Following Jesus also requires new ways of living that are very counter cultural. It may result in the loss of relationships, pro-longed singleness, your family not being excited about your faith, dealin with sinful habits, and fight temptation, etc.
SUM: If you trust, love and follow Jesus you will experience costly joy. It’s the cost that really challenges us, isn’t it? It’s the costs that get us to ask, “Is it worth it?” How do we deal with the costliness of following Jesus? This is the issue in DCC and Seattle. Apostle Paul experience this more than anyone: deep joy and deep costs. He gives us a summary of some of the costs he endured in 2 Cor 11:24-28.
“Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers, in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on my of my anxiety for all the church.”
And, the amazing thing is that he keeps going. How many of you: “If it costs me anything, I’m out!” … “If Jesus starts getting up in my business, I’m out.” Ex. Sex life, singleness, marriage, money, how I live, addiction, be part of a church, etc. Going to see the costliness intensify for Paul. He never says I’m out. He never asks, “Is it worth it?” Why not? TODAY: We’re going to look at the costs of following Jesus for Paul (and their relevance for us) and why he did it (and we should too).
21:1-16 THE COST OF LETTING YOUR FRIENDS DOWN
21:17-26 THE COST OF BEING MISUNDERSTOOD
21:27-40 THE COST OF BEING FALSELY ACCUSED
22:22-29 THE COST OF LOOSING FREEDOM
22:30-23:10 THE COST OF BEING FALSELY JUDGED
23:12-30 THE COST OF BEING PLOTTED AGAINST
23:30-35 THE COST OF TIME
SUM: Following Jesus, though perhaps not in exactly the same way as Paul, may cost you upset friends, to be misunderstood, falsely accused, falsely judged, plotted against, lose time and more. Why go through this? Why endure? Why press on? What is driving Paul?
21:37-22:21 THE SOURCE OF PAUL’S JOY, ENDURANCE AND HOPE. “I was like you, only more zealous, more educated, of a better lineage…I get it. I understand…But, then I saw him. The King. Righteous One. I saw I am not saved by sincerity, zealous, moral, education, family…but by the washing away of your sins, by calling on his name”. Paul calls this the “gospel of the grace of God” (20:24).
Washing away (ie forgiveness) sins is God’s way of removing great obstacle in our relationship w/ him. Through forgiveness God makes a way for us to see, now, love and enjoy him. The purpose of the gospel is a deep, soul-satisfying relationship with God. In other words, forgiveness is important because it gives us God. But, we’re often not impressed with that because our view of God is too small. We think he’s like us. He’s not like us.
He has unlimited power, unlimited love, unlimited grace, unlimited justice, unlimitedholiness, unlimited wisdom, and unlimited glory. He is incomprehensible and incomparable. He knows every fact of history, every inch of the universe, and every ounce of your being. You can’t hide from him. He is everywhere at all times. He is perfectly self-sufficient. He knows all, sees all and owns all. Nothing is impossible for him.
In justice, he punishes sin. In grace, through Christ, he forgives it. He alone satisfies the empty heart. By faith in X: forgiven, redeemed, adopted, sealed, new identity, new family, new hope, new purpose, new future.
This God offers to wash away your sins by calling on the name of Jesus Christ, and in so doing, restore your humanity. This is why Paul said:
Acts 20:24 “I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish the course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”
Acts 21:13 “I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”
Phil1:21 “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain”
Phil 3:8 “I count everything as loss b/c of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all thigns and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ..”
What is he saying? Jesus is the person of supreme worth in the entire universe – and He knows him. Really? Better than friends, being married, playing w/ your kids, having all the money you need, comfort…life? Yes. Because we are created, no created thing or created person can satisfy the soul. Our souls were made to stand in awe of a Person and the only person worthy of that awe is Jesus Christ. God created us to live w/ a single, all-satisfying, passion to enjoy and display the infinite worth of Jesus. 1646 Westminster Confession of Faith “What is chief end of man? To glorify God and enjoy him forever.”The source of Paul’s hope, joy and resolve was his confidence in this truth. Jesus is infinitely worthy.
Q: What is the one passion of your life that makes everything else look like garbage in comparison? We live for what we see as most valuable. Our time, treasure, and talent point to our object of supreme worth. Ask yourself, in the end, is that thing or person really deserving of the amount of worship you give it? Everything other than Jesus will fail you in the end. It won’t deliver on what it promises.
Christianity is a call to total devotion to Jesus because he alone is worthy of your total devotion. Have you come to that point where you have placed no limits on following Christ? That is a critical moment for every believer. Maybe not you’re not there, but do you want that? Have you made him your primary purpose in your life? The thing around which all else revolves? There is a power in Christian life that is only available for those that are surrendered to Jesus christ. The power is not something God gives us – like a shot of Red Bull – its Jesus himself. To surrender is to say everything I have, everything I hope, everything I will be all belongs to Jesus.
So, we asked in the beginning, why do Christians do things they do? Jesus is alive and he is infinitely worthy. Let’s seek the Lord together this summer. Ask him to teach us the power of absolute surrender. What would it look like for him to make us a people with no agenda, but Jesus Christ. Imagine what he could do through a church like that. How do I cultivate that?
BIBLE. Ask: “What does this say God is like?” Suggested read: Knowing God, JI Packer and Absolute Surrender, Murray
PRAY. Genuine-on-your-face-until-you-feel-the-hardness-in-your-heart-melting-away type of prayer.
BIOGRAPHY. Read about men and women that bleed Bible. Recommended reading list on our website.
CHURCH. Surround yourself with others that want to pursue Jesus in the same way. Be that person.
GO. Who is Jesus telling you to go to? If you’ve been made happy in God, you’ll want to see others made happy in Him too.
Surrender your life to Jesus this morning. It’s costly, but He is worth it. Infinitely worthy it. Call on his name and have your sins washed away.