Mixed Up Values

Scripture: Matthew 16:24-26, Matthew 26:37-62, Luke 22:42-53
We live in a time of mixed up values. People place greater priority on things that do not last. Are we willing to truly put God first in our life, even if it cost us something? Looking at how much God values us helps us put things in perspective.
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A couple of boys slipped into a hardware store one night. I am not sure whether we would say that their trip was criminal or not. I am sure that at least one person thought that it was. They didn't steal anything, they didn't destroy anything. They spent several busy hours there and then departed in the early hours of the morning and went on their way. That morning when the proprietor opened the place for business he was not aware that anyone had been there during the night. In fact he was not aware of it until the customers began to come into the store. Finally one of his friends came in and called him over to a counter and said, "Look at this. What kind of a business are you running." The store owner checked his wares and he received quite a shock. Here was a new motor bike on sale for 49 cents and on the counter next to it was a plain screw driver for $139.98. So it was all through the store. Those fellows that night had kept themselves busy taking the price tags off of big things and putting them on little things, and vice versa. Needless to say it took that man many hours to get the price tags back on the right things.

Sometimes people go through life like that. Their values are all mixed up. Things of life which may be necessary and which may be all right are given the most important position, and we spend all of our time and all of our energy searching for things of this nature when actually other things are more important. Now, many things of this life are necessary, they are needful, but they are not the most important things of life. For instance Jesus said, "What shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul." That is a good example of having our values mixed up. Striving for things which are not worthy of our supreme effort. We spend the vast majority of our time earning a living, and this is important. We must do that. Yet at the same time, we allow ourselves to become so busy that while we are providing the necessities of this life, we make no preparation for the life to come. Friend, that is wrong. If we allow ourselves to fall into that rut, to fall into that temptation, we have made a serious mistake.

Let us turn to Matthew 16:24, 25, 26 and here read the words of Jesus and notice how He has placed the value on the things of this life. "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"

To believe in God, to believe in Jesus, to know His Word and yet not have the courage to follow it, is just as great a tragedy as to shove it out of our life entirely. Sometimes even when we know God's truth and believe His Word, we aren't willing to come to the place where we put God first in our lives. We want God, yes. We don't want to be lost, we want to do what is right and we will if it is easy. But if it requires any sacrifice, well, then we aren't so sure.

Friend, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, let us see how much God considers you are worth. Let us see how God values your life. I believe that if we understand this it will help us look at life in a proper perspective. I believe it is only possible to understand how much God values you and me if we can catch some glimpse of what it meant for Jesus to come to this world and die for us.

Now for a few moments let us look at the life of Jesus, realizing what He did. The glory and splendor He laid aside to become our Brother, to take upon Himself human flesh; let us look now at His sacrifice. I want to emphasize what Christ laid aside. The power and glory He left in heaven to come to this world to be born in sinful flesh, all this He did to redeem us. We think of His life of ministry, His endless acts of love and mercy, His resurrection of the dead, His giving sight to the blind, healing to those deformed and crippled and in every form of disease and sickness, feeding those who were hungry, the words of the gospel which came from His lips, and then as the crowning acts after three and a half years of a ministry of unselfish love when He literally gave His days and nights to the ministry of the gospel, then we find Him facing the agonies of the Cross of Calvary. As a token of appreciation for His acts of love a rebellious people are going to crucify Him. He who had done no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth, and He must face a criminal's death. A death that today would not be permitted because of its inhumanity. A death of extreme agony, a slow death to most who were hung on the cross. A death which took many days when those who were crucified would actually hang there until they starved to death and their physical bodies could stand the strain no longer. That was the kind of death Jesus faced. He had around Him His twelve disciples. They had eaten together the Last Supper. He had instituted the communion service, the Lord's Supper. He had given the symbols of His broken body and His blood, He had washed their feet as a symbol of His service to His fellow men, and He had said, "If I then your Lord and Master have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one anothers feet." Now I gave those two things backwards and I think that you realize that; He washed their feet first and then He gave them the symbols of His body and His blood.

Then His heart being very heavy, the Bible says, He led His disciples out of the upper room to the Garden of Gethsemane. We do not know exactly where He ate that last supper with His disciples, we know that it was somewhere in the city of Jerusalem, but from wherever it was it was only a short walk to the valley and to the garden. Jesus had tried during the time of the last supper there in the upper room to bring a realization to His disciples of the agony He was about to experience. He tried to prepare their hearts for the temptation which was going to come to them as they witnessed His trial and His crucifixion. But their hearts were not open. They were worried about who was going to be the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven and they were not receptive to His words of love.

Matthew 26:37-39: "Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt."

Sometimes people think it was easy for Jesus to die. He knew that He was going to die, that is why He came to this world. But friend, if you have ever been tempted to think that, I want you to read Luke's account of the suffering that Jesus endured in the Garden of Gethsemane. Luke portrays the struggle, the agony that Jesus passed through in the Garden. He tells how Jesus had prayed this prayer; how He had sweat as it were great drops of blood; how He had cried in agony that God might remove this cup from Him if it were possible to do so. Luke 22:42: "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine be done." I want you to ask yourself this question, friend, if it was easy for Jesus to die, why did He pray that prayer? If it was easy for Christ to hang upon a cross, why did He sweat drops of blood thinking about it? Oh, friend, it wasn't easy. Everything in Him rebelled against it. The very idea of allowing Himself to be taken by that mob and to be dragged through the mockery of a trial, everything within Him rebelled against it. But he did it because He loves us.

Then we read on in Luke 22:47-53. "And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas one of the twelve, went before them and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him. But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss? When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said unto him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword? And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him. Then Jesus said unto the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and the elders which were come to him, Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves? When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness."

Here even in this moment of extreme crisis Jesus performed an act of love. He restored the ear which Peter had hastily severed from that man!

Now notice what they did next. I read in Luke 22:54-62 these words: "Then took they him, and led him and brought him into the high priest's house. And Peter followed afar off. And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them. But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him and said, this man was also with him. And he denied him saying, Woman, I know him not. And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not. And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilean. And Peter said, Man I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter went out, and wept bitterly." Even Peter, proud, boastful, arrogant, egotistical, who had said "though all should forsake thee, yet will not I." But he did. And Jesus turned eyes of love to look at Peter.

Then the soldiers took Jesus into the common hall where there were more soldiers. These rough, uncouth men stripped Jesus and put on Him a scarlet robe. They platted a crown of thorns, put it upon His head, put a reed in His right hand, bowed to Him and mocked Him saying, "Hail, King of the Jews." They spit upon Him, smote His head with the reed and then led Him away to crucify Him. Matthew 27:27-31. I have stood on the floor which they believe is the floor of that common hall, which was found not many years ago in Jerusalem.

So all of this was done to the One who was equal with God, from out the ages of eternity. And all of this to buy your soul and mine! That, dear friend, is how much God loves us! I think of the words of Pilate, that spineless jelly fish of a Roman Governor who frankly admitted that he found nothing wrong with Jesus, yet lacked the courage to face those mocking Jews. So he went out there on the balcony and asked that Jesus be brought out beside him. Then turning to that vile mob he asked what he should do with Jesus, who is called the Christ. The mob screamed back, "Crucify Him, Crucify Him."

I want to ask you today, if you had been in that crowd and had looked at Jesus and Pilate as they stood there on the balcony, what would you have said? When Pilate asked, "What will you do with Jesus, who is called the Christ," what would be your answer be? I can hear you say, "I would have cried, let Him go." Would you? There is one way to know. The way you deal with Jesus today determines the way you would have dealt with Jesus then. If you would have had the courage then to stand and face that mob and say "no, it is wrong," you will have the courage to stand for Jesus Christ now, and to live for Him today. But if we lack the courage to give our lives fully to Jesus and to follow His truth whatever the sacrifices may be, friend, we never would have had the courage to stand for Jesus then. Our silence at least would have given assent to that devil possessed mob.

I ask you today, the question Pilate asked that mob that day so long ago. What will you do with Jesus who is called the Christ?

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