Thought for the Week - 11th November

Pastor Gareth Watkins

Hebrews 10: 5-7

Therefore, when He came into the world, He said:
“Sacrifice and offering You did not desire,
But a body You have prepared for Me.
In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin
You had no pleasure.
Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come—
In the volume of the book it is written of Me—
To do Your will, O God.’

As we all know, Remembrance Day took place last Sunday, and so I want to share two stories from my own family history.

War stories are strange things. My great grandfather was at the Somme back in World War I. I never knew him well, as I was still a little child when he passed away. World War I was a very messy place to be. We see the photos of the men walking around, covered in mud. They’d have to walk around in the wet mud with not very good boots on. Their feet became infected in their own boots. The boots had to be cut off and they couldn’t walk for months after they returned home from war. We see films of the war, but we don’t realise that these men when they came home were affected by many things we don’t even consider.

Men from the church I grew up in, came home gassed from World War I. They could never sing again because they had mustard gas in their lungs. Again, we see these films where the men are better in a short time. But these men never sung again. These men went to an uncertain future with incredible situations in front of them.

My grandfather went to the Second World War. He was only young. He was in the Royal Airforce. He used to drive the big lorries carrying aircraft etc. Men like me would have been in Dad’s Army. He had three children when he went. He went to the Middle East, to Burma. They didn’t come back or have any holidays because they were so far away. He didn’t come back for four or five years. It’s a long time for your husband to be away from your family. And yet, we see in these films, these men have a little letter and they take their leave back to their loved ones.

By the time he came back, his youngest son had been born. When he came back, the family didn’t know this man. The youngest son had never met him, he had never met his son, and yet he was expected to take his position as the head of the house again.

It’s interesting. These men paid an incredible part of their lives in so many different types of ways. They are real people.

The only thing I have of my grandfather is a little book with photographs. One is of a lot of men. They’re all skinny and look like something out of It Ain’t Half Hot Mum. That’s all that I have of him.

It’s important that we remember those who gave their lives in World War I, World War II and in subsequent wars. It’s also about the men who are alive now. We need to remember what people have given up for us, that we can live freely. People are very glib about these things. Without the sacrifice of those men, the Germans would have come over here and brought the Third Reich with them.

I don’t know if any of you watched the films in the last week about things like Kristallnacht and the destruction of the Jews. It’s not nice to watch. On that one night, they smashed the Jewish shops, attacked the Jews and then started killing the families. It’s frightening to watch. But that fear would have come straight into our homes, if we’d not have fought that evil. There are evil people out there. I can’t justify war, but I think sometimes evil has to be fought.

There is the challenge for every Christian. Where do you draw the line? Do you just turn the other cheek and turn the other cheek? Or do you fight evil at some point? That’s for each Christian to decide.

Some Christians were pacifists and refused to fight. But they did go serve as stretcher bearers etc. One minister, they called Woodbine Willy. He’d go out into the fields to help the dying men. He’d give them cigarettes and talk to them about Christ, but he wouldn’t actually fight. What a brave man. He wouldn’t fight but he would go out into the battlefields. The bullets would be raining down and he would go out into fray to help the dying men.

We hear stories of mothers losing three sons. The thousands who died. The bloody madness of it all. Young, young men dying. These chaplains had their stories as well.

I don’t know if you’ve been to a cenotaph with the names listed on the stone? In one way there’s not much there. One place in America had a hole in the ground with a flame coming out of it. The flame never goes out and represents the unknown soldiers who were never found.

We think of all the people who gave their lives. Think of the one who gave His life for the whole world. These people gave their lives so the world would be free. This one gave His life so the whole world could be free. We can’t ignore this man Jesus in this situation. He gave His life in obedience to His Father, so the whole world could be free.

Looking back at the verses in Hebrews above, in terms of the sacrifice these men, women and young people over all over the world have given, this man Jesus also had to give His sacrifice. This sacrifice was to come from the Heavenlies into a body prepared for Him. He had to come into this body prepared for Him, bearing in mind He was part of the Godhead. Why? Because God wasn’t satisfied with the burnt offerings. Christ had to come to this earth and become a sacrifice for all mankind.

He had to fulfil everything that was written for Him. It wasn’t a straightforward call. His purpose is written there quite plainly. He was to do God’s will, fulfil everything written of Him, and to sacrifice His own body.

Those men who died for us were sacrificial in many ways. They had to do what they had to do. This man had to do what God wanted Him to do. What a brave thing to do. What an incredibly brave, meaningful thing to do.

He says in John 6: 38:

For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will,
but the will of Him who sent Me.

God Himself sent Jesus Christ, His own son, into this world to take this body to be a sacrifice that it would fulfil all the volumes written of Him.

Millions and millions have died over the world in military service. Yet only one person in this way could die as a sacrifice for mankind. All of those people couldn’t fulfil this. But this one, this only one, could complete this sacrifice.

The bible says that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but will have everlasting life (John 11: 25). This man had to complete everything written of Him in the scrolls, the old books, and the words written well before Christ came. He came to the will of God. God had laid out beforehand what He had to do. He had to come into this world to do what was expected of Him. He had to become a sacrifice for all of our sins, that mankind would not perish but have access to eternal life.

Many people today feel that Christ is irrelevant. Some people say He’s a myth or a story. But I can tell you that today in 2018, He is a reality that we cannot get away from. Truth in scientific things is truth. Lies come from mankind. Truth is always truth. God made truth. This about Jesus Christ is true. The evidence we see week by week, as we come in obedience to the truth that Christ is a sacrifice on our behalf, and He’s died that we might have life and life in abundance.

Jesus Christ is our role model. He had a life that was an objective based life, living under God. So many people don’t have an objective based life. They’re born to this world to drift. I don’t believe God does that. God has a plan and a purpose and something for you to be a part of. Nobody is part of nothing in God. When the lies of man come in, they say I can do what I want. I can do what I want, I’m free to behave like I’d want. This is true, you are. But then you come out of God’s plan, and you start drifting. And when you’re drifting, what’s the point?

The smallest person in the biggest place, all different people, all gelled together in the body of Christ. That talent that God gives you become a purpose. That ability becomes used. That role that God has for you becomes part of the living body of Christ. What have we got to do in this world? Christ knew exactly what He had to do. He had to come into this body to become the man that God had prepared for Him to be.

When we think of burnt offerings and sacrifices, it seems incredible – the uselessness of the whole things. The number of animals you’d have to rear and then kill. For nation after nation after nation. If we just take the Jews and people in Jerusalem, there’s not many. But when you think of the entire world, the number becomes incredible. It’s an incredible thought that God could have any desire for burnt offerings and sacrifices.

But when we bring this one man into it, all of that goes away. What had to happen was Christ had to come and fulfil what was written in the scrolls. He fulfilled everything that was there. We are made acceptable to God by the sacrifice of Jesus’ body. We have been sanctified and made Holy. We’ve been made righteous. We’ve been made acceptable to God by the sacrifice of Jesus once and for all. What else can we do? Nothing. It’s once and for all. There’s no extra to add or betterment to it. This once and for all. It is a completed fact.

This body that Christ came into, accomplished what God had set out for it, and then the blessing that was to come from it was to last mankind all his days. If we do what God has for us in our little way, in our lives, then we’re not drifting aimlessly but fulfil His part for us bit by bit until we pass into eternity. What a thought! It carries us through all the battles that we might face in our lives.

This man Jesus Christ fulfilled all that was written of Him. I wonder what we will have written of us when we stand before Jesus Christ. Have we accomplished the will of God? Our purpose is to fulfil the will of God. Christ is our pattern. That pattern for every one of us is to fulfil the will of God.

Of all those soldiers and millions that died, we can’t answer lots of questions, such as why did God allow it to happen or why the suffering? We can’t answer. But we can say that in Christ’s sake He died as a sacrifice once and for all, that all of us may be made righteous. He had to fulfil that will of God to the last degree. That one person sacrificed, that all of us could live.

I often think of the story of the Polish sergeant in his thirties caught by the Germans. They put him in Auschwitz. Because someone tried to escape, they rounded up ten men to starve to death as an example because of the one who escaped. The Polish soldier cried out to the guard that he had a family etc. A priest appeared and offered to take the place of the Polish soldier. The guard agreed, and replaced the soldier with the priest. The ten – including the priest – then went to their death. The soldier survived five years in various concentration camps. When he was freed by the British, he was reunited with his wife. However, he discovered that his children were dead, because the Russians had bombed his house.

What terrible contrasts. In that one little story there are so many terrible contrasts – the man who escaped, the men who must have been filled with fear as they were rounded up to take the blame, the man crying out on behalf of his family, a man of God who was willing to die so another could be free, the happiness of returning home and the devastation of finding his family dead. The priest was made famous by the Pope, and the soldier told the story of the priest until his dying day.

That’s how it is in war. Good, bad, bad, good. We can’t work it out. All we can do is to be honest to the call of God on our life, and His request of us to be obedient to Him. Jesus Christ was obedient.

“Sacrifice and offering You did not desire,
But a body You have prepared for Me.
In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin
You had no pleasure.
Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come—
In the volume of the book it is written of Me—
To do Your will, O God.’ ”

Men gave their lives for the world. But one man gave His life for the whole world, that the whole world might be saved.


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