Community Group Study Notes
- When you hear that Jesus is called the Mighty God, what comfort does that bring to your life?
- Why is it necessary that we recognize our own weakness in order to truly see God’s power? What will this require of you?
- What action step can you take from what you heard in Sunday’s message?
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. -2 Corinthians 12:9
Well, good morning everyone. I'd ask you to turn your Bible to Isaiah chapter 9, we'll be there in just a moment. And as you're going to Isaiah 9 what we're going to see in just a few moments is a birth announcement. And I was thinking a lot about birth announcements, maybe you've seen some of the ones that I've seen as well because the latest trend to bombard our social media it seems is the amount of thought and energy that goes into people announcing that they're pregnant or announcing the arrival of a child. And some of them are really funny and some of them are really cute. Some of them maybe go a little too far, but in thinking about birth announcements I wanted to share just a couple with you, so if you haven't seen it or you haven't gotten a post card from a loved one or family member in the mail or you haven't seen it online here's a few examples of what I'm talking about. Here's the first birth announcement I wanted to share with you. Here's one, it says "only child expiring April 2015 and this poor little one is so distraught, right? That's so sad. Now if the first-born is a little resistant you might have to take a few more extreme measures, so here's the second one. This one says "eviction notice" tenant must vacate the crib to make room for baby number 2. What a horrible thing, who would do that? Who would laugh at something like that? Here's a hopeful couple that has no idea what they're in for. Bump ahead. Yeah, you have no idea. Buckle up, alright! Now if you wanted to one-up the Brady Bunch maybe your birth announcement would look like this. Cute, all the CPA's, they got excited like whoo, look at all those tax deductions! That's exciting, yeah, I can tell who you are in this crowd, right? Only kidding. This next one, this has a two-part announcement. Here's the first, "We're pregnant!" And there's mom not feeling super-well in the background. The first trimester. But the tables get turned because here's the second part to that announcement: "We're pregnant, with twins!" Sweet justice for every pregnant mother ever, right? You did this to me! Yeah, that kind of thing, right? That's funny. And then here's one more that I just liked personally. Here's one more for you, here. This is our three-year old sharing the sonogram for baby Drake number two and so we're excited, thank you! So if you weren't ready for another Drake in the world, I apologize. So, we're really excited. My wife's due in June and we're really excited for our growing family and really the beautiful thing is that whether it's the first child or the seventh child or more than that, each child is a blessing and each birth announcement is exciting and you think about the excitement that we feel and enjoy around these kinds of things, especially when it's someone that we know and that we love. But where I want to take us today, and this is an appropriate lead-in to where we're going because what we'll see in Isaiah 9 is the most important birth announcement in history! And while it's customary for us to sometimes wait twelve or thirteen or fourteen weeks to announce when a family is expecting, this announcement that we're going to see in just a moment, it comes seven centuries early. But I'm not going to take you yet to Matthew's Gospel or to Luke's Gospel, even if that's maybe where you're thinking we're going. I'm going to take you to Isaiah because this is where we see this birth announcement. It's recorded for us in Isaiah 9 verses 6 and 7. Look what this says: "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this." So as you hear those words from Isaiah 9, you know right away this is not an ordinary birth. And we know that from some of the phrases that Isaiah uses to make such an announcement. I mean like this one: "To us a child is born, and to us a son is given." Now this is not just a literary device, although it's a beautiful parallelism that Isaiah uses here, but Isaiah doesn't use this as filler. He's not using it even for the literary beauty, he's using it because what many scholars believe is that we're getting here in Isaiah 9, the earliest of clues about what or who really this child will be. Because we read "to us a child is born and to us a son is given". And what many scholars believe is that we're getting the earliest clues here to the identity that Jesus, this child who will become Jesus, that he is both God and man. Because while on one pass we just see another child birth, another birth announcement, "to us a child is born". At the same time a son is also being given. In fact, I would go so far as to say it this way: God the son, who has eternally existed in perfect harmony and peace with the Father and Spirit, so Father, Son and Spirit eternally existing together in perfect unity and harmony, that now this God the Son, He is going to step into human form and while a child is being born, a son is also being given, or we would even say the Son is being given. But that's not the only phrase that stands out to me that says this is not an ordinary childbirth. What about this one? "The government will be on his shoulders..." and then Isaiah goes on to say "Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign...from that time on and forever". So you think about all of the expectations that some children are born with. Maybe that's why we call it "expecting". Expectations from parents, expectations from grandparents and extended family, expectations from society. The expectations from parents, you see the kids that are like four-years old and they're in like eighteen different sports because the parent expects them to succeed and have opportunities that they didn't have as a child. Maybe the extended family has an expectation of you'll do honor to our family name, maybe society has an expectation on the child, that you'll conform to this set of values and priorities. So imagine the expectation that's placed on this child. The government will be on his shoulders. This is not an ordinary expectation. We know this is not an ordinary birth because that's certainly not an ordinary expectation and yet what we read is that his child, essentially this child will be born to rule. This child will be born to reign. And then this third phrase stand out to me. That tells me this is no ordinary birth. "He will be called...Mighty God." He will be called Mighty God. So think of the terms of endearment people use for their kids. Like "Princess" and "Sport" and somehow these things pale in comparison to the list that we just read. He will be called "Wonderful Counselor", He will be called "Mighty God". He will be called "Everlasting Father" as you heard last week from Pastor Jerry. He will be called the "Prince of Peace". These terms, these are not just terms of endearment, but these are terms that indicate His identity. And so what we understand when we look at that one phrase in particular and that's where I want to focus our attention and our time this morning, that He will be called the "Mighty God". That term in Hebrew is a Hebrew term called "El Gibbor". El Gibbor. Put it up on the screen because here's what I want for you, I want some group participation. So whether you're in this worship center or the East worship center or the atrium or watching online, I want you to participate. And so I want to hear you say, let me hear you say "El", let me hear you say "Gibbor". Well done! Hebrew scholars in our midst. You've just mastered Hebrew. There it is. Let's do it one more time, just for practice. Let me hear you say "El", let me hear you say "Gibbor". Beautiful. El Gibbor. And that's translated as we see in Isaiah 9, the Mighty God or it could also be "God the Mighty One". Now that term, that first word that we practiced, "El", e l , it always refers to God. One scholar said the term El always refers to the Godhead in either an absolute or a specific sense. So in other words, there's no way that that title could rightly be assigned to an ordinary human being. There's just no way that it could be. El Gibbor, God the Mighty One. And we know that especially because of how Isaiah uses that phrase within this book. That even in one chapter over in Isaiah chapter 10 verse 21 we read this: "A remnant will return, a remnant of Jacob will return to El Gibbor, the Mighty God." Well, it's clear from the context there in chapter 10 that Isaiah is not referring to the child. He's referring to God, the God that they worshiped, the God of their forefathers. The God who was called Yahweh. So in some way the child of Isaiah 9 will be synonymous with the God that they worshiped. Somehow this child spoken of prophetically is going to be synonymous with the God that they worshiped. Now that's a troubling thing for a Jewish person because they were and they are monotheists. They worship one God. And yet somehow this child is going to stand in a place where previously only Yahweh stood and this child will embody God's presence in a way that is unprecedented and unparalleled. And even though they maybe didn't have the understanding or the comprehension in their time and Isaiah's time even to wrap their arms and minds around that truth, we see that mystery foretold even in Isaiah. And so what we discover and what we're finding out and as we're piecing this together from what we see in Isaiah 9, we're learning that this child will somehow be both God and man. That this child will arrive on the scene in a very unspectacular way, I mean the child is not coming on a cloud or like in a basket or anything. The child will arrive through childbirth. As you'd expect. However, this child will be the most spectacular child because he will be God in the flesh, God with skin on. You know, as familiar as I am with Isaiah 9, and I've heard it you know, every Christmas for as long as I can remember, probably like many of you, but when I was reading this text again in preparation for this message my mind went immediately to John chapter 1. Because of how John begins his Gospel, something connected to John chapter 1 as I was reading Isaiah and now look with me at the first few verses of John 1. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made." And then verse 14 tells us if we were still wondering who this Word is, he tells us exactly who in this way, this is what verse 14 says: "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father," who was given by the Father, "full of grace and full of truth." So what we understand is that God the Son, the Eternal God, that He put on human flesh, or to say it another way, the Infinite God confined Himself in finite humanity. And so all of this is going on and all of this is being foretold through Isaiah's words in Isaiah 9, but I need to give you the background a little bit to better understand the significance of these words. Now if you joined us in the first week of our message series, last week, you may have heard some of this and so it will serve as a review for us, but just so that we're all on the same page, since not many of us are experts in the divided kingdom history of Israel and Judah, I'll bring us all up to speed here, alright? You're welcome. Alright, so the background of this prophetic Word in Isaiah chapter 9, it's coming at a significant time in the history of the nation of Judah. You see, ever since King Solomon, King David's son Solomon, ever since Solomon was on the throne, after him Israel was a divided kingdom. So you had Israel to the north and Judah to the south. And so that was what we find in the time of Isaiah. He's ministering in Judah during that time and while he's in Judah, while he's ministering there the king of Judah is a man named Ahaz, King Ahaz. And King Ahaz is anything but a righteous king. In fact, he's politically and spiritually compromised as they came. And what is in Ahaz' view is that there is a political storm that's brewing on the horizon and he starts to freak out. He's starting to get concerned about some of the neighboring nations and their military prowess and he's just over here in little Judah and they don't have a lot of weaponry or militia and so he's kind of concerned. He sees this storm brewing and he's panicking. So Isaiah tells the king don't worry. Don't worry. Trust God. Trust God for deliverance. You can trust Him because God who is mighty to save our ancestors then is mighty to save us now. And you recognize that the idea of deliverance is really central to the identity of the Jewish people. Because the most, the biggest milestone of the history of the Jewish people is their deliverance out of slavery in Egypt. And so they were often referred back to God's salvation, God's deliverance in the past that would give them hope for the future. That was a common thing. They would rely on His past faithfulness to give them a future hope. And so you'd see things like this in the Hebrew Scripture, like Deuteronomy chapter 5 verse 15: "Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm." Or several centuries after that the prophet Jeremiah wrote this in Jeremiah 32:21, "You brought your people Israel out of Egypt with signs and wonders, there it is again, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with great terror." So that phrase became something that the Jewish people not only were familiar with but would latch onto. The God who delivered with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, that was something that they held dear. And so Isaiah basically leans on that, leans on the history and tells the king "don't worry, trust God for your deliverance" but Ahaz disregards Isaiah's counsel. He disregards it, he makes an alliance with a pagan nation thinking that his deliverance will come through this pagan king and their nation and that actually leads to some of the undoing of the nation of Judah if you follow the history. And so what Isaiah essentially was telling Ahaz was you can trust God, and he didn't. And because of that there were consequences. And if you follow the story, if you were to go back and read chapter 7, 8 and 9 you'd kind of pick up on this theme, that essentially what Isaiah had been telling Ahaz, if I could kind of paraphrase it, it's this: You're looking for your deliverance in someone other than the Mighty God. Ahaz, you're looking for your deliverance in someone other than the Mighty God. Now in the immediate context of King Ahaz' life there were some consequences for that. And God even gave a sign in the immediate context of Ahaz' life so that he would know that His justice, that God's justice was being enacted for his disobedience and distrust. And there was a child born that would serve as a sign in Ahaz' lifetime. But as we've already established no human child could ultimately fulfill all that had been foretold of in Isaiah 9:6 & 7 which meant the Jewish people themselves were looking ahead to a child that would be born and would fit this description. And as is often the case, in prophetic books like Isaiah that those words have implication and meaning that go beyond even what the original audience could have understood and grasped, and the application extended far beyond the life of King Ahaz and even that of Isaiah. So fast forward seven centuries. Now we're ready to see some more familiar birth announcements like this one that the angel gave to Mary. Look at Luke chapter 1: "You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob's descendants forever; his kingdom will never end." Now you've probably heard that before at the Christmas season. And yet now with the background of Isaiah 9 do you notice a striking resemblance in those words? You see, Isaiah said "To us a child is born, to us a son is given" and to Mary the angel said "You will conceive and the One that you will conceive will be called the Son of the Most High". Isaiah said that He will reign on David's throne. And the angel told Mary "The Lord will give Him the throne of his father David". Isaiah said "Of His government there will be no end" and the angel told Mary "His kingdom will never end". So what we're starting to discover is that the child that would be given to Mary would be the fulfillment of everything that Isaiah 9:6 & 7 was pointing to. And although we heard many titles in Isaiah 9, one of which is Mighty God, El Gibbor, although we heard many titles there, it's not until Luke 1 that we see one name and it's Jesus. Jesus. But that name was not just given to Mary because Joseph also received an angelic visitation and that's recorded for us in Matthew chapter 1, look what this says, Matthew 1:20: "But after he had considered this (that's Joseph), an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 'Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.'" So Isaiah 9 we received many titles for this child, Luke 1 we're given a name, Matthew 1 we're given the reason for the name. He will be called Jesus because He will save His people, He will deliver His people from their sins. So we see the why for the name. The name Jesus literally means God saves, God delivers. And He will be called this because that's what he'll do. And where that leads us and where we put all of this together, I think it leads us to this one big idea, and it's on the screen for you. Jesus is the Mighty God who meets us in our greatest need. Jesus is the Mighty God who meets us in our greatest need. He is El Gibbor. He is the Mighty God. You see, just as the Mighty God delivered His people from bondage in Egypt and He demonstrated His might and His power by delivering them and bringing them into the Promised Land, now Jesus the Mighty God with skin on, He is going to demonstrate that He is El Gibbor, He is the Mighty One as He delivers His people from bondage in sin and brings them into a relationship and nearness to Himself. That He will reconcile us back to the Father through His saving work. He is the Mighty God and this Mighty God meets us in our greatest need to deliver us from bondage in sin. That's a theme that Paul picked up on and expanded on in Romans chapter 6. Look at what it says in Romans 6:5. "For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should (listen) no longer be slaves to sin - because anyone who has died has been set free from sin." That apart from Christ, you and I, we were in bondage in sin. We were in shackles of sin, we had no way of breaking out ourselves and making life any different. That we had this death sentence written over our heads "sin". And as Scripture tells us, the wages, the penalty of sin is death. And yet Jesus, the Mighty God, He alone is able to step into the story and deliver us from bondage. You see, just as His birth was no ordinary birth, so too His death was no ordinary death. Because Jesus was not just one of many thousands who were executed by the Romans in the means of crucifixion. He was not just one of many who died that way. But rather as God with skin on, the Mighty God in human flesh. He alone was able to provide the payment for our sin that we could not pay. The death that we owed that we could not pay. Because by being that spotless, perfect sacrifice before the Father He was able to stand in our place and take the death that we deserve, the hell that we deserve, that we sin by nature and by choice and all of the just wrath of God concentrated on Jesus in those moments. That that was reserved for us but because He's God and not just an ordinary man He was able to deliver us. He was able to provide the payment that we could not pay. He alone was able to save. And remember, He's not just able, He's willing, He does this and only the Mighty God could do this. Which brings us back to something else from the Old Testament, something else from the Hebrew Scripture, actually a verse that Pastor Jerry referenced last week and I just want to show you the first part again today. Zephaniah 3:17 says: "The Lord your God is in your midst, a Mighty One who will save." The term there, do you know what it is? El Gibbor. Let me hear you say it one more time. Okay, one more time with conviction. He is the Mighty One who will save. He says the Lord your God is in your midst. That phrase right there stands out at me. Because it harkens me back to another title that is also attributed to Jesus that also comes from the book of Isaiah. We sang it a moment ago, "Emmanuel". Emmanuel, "el" at the end. Because He is God with us. You see God with us, you see God in our midst you'll know that He's the Mighty One who came to save. When you see the Lord God in your midst you'll know that He is El Gibbor who came to meet us in our greatest need. He is God with us. So the baby that was born at Bethlehem was God in the flesh and He came to this earth with a specific mission. And He even stated His own mission this way in Luke 19:10. "For the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost." He came to seek and to save the lost. God did not sit back in Heaven's throne and wait for us to come to him. He did not wait for us to figure out a way to unlock the shackles from our wrists of sin. He did not wait for us to pull ourselves out of the pit. He did not wait for us to wake up and come to our senses and then find him. No. He is the God, the Mighty God, who comes to us. He came to seek and to save the lost, and that is what he did. So that's why I say that Jesus is the Mighty God who meets us in our greatest need. So don't look for your deliverance in anyone other than the Mighty God. Just as Isaiah basically said that very thing to King Ahaz, I say it to us today and to me. Don't look for your deliverance in anyone other than the Mighty God.
You say, "How do we do that? How do we do that Jonathan?" Well I'm glad you asked. I've a few things for you. Here's the first. By looking to Gods that cannot save. By looking to Gods that cannot save. One of the other places in the Hebrew scripture that we read, El Gibbor, is Deuteronomy 10:17. It says this, "For the Lord your God is God of Gods. And Lord of Lords. The great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes." Now when Moses wrote this, when he wrote this down, a distinction had to be made and a truth had to be established that the God of the Jewish people, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, he was God of Gods and Lord of Lords. You see there was no shortage of competition from other lower case g gods for the people of Israel. And as you watch their rollercoaster of faithfulness to God, sometimes they were really faithful and then other times they abandoned their faith. Sometimes they would worship only the one true God, and then other times they would run after the gods of the nations. There was no shortage of competition for them.
And the names of the gods in their day were things like Ba'al and Marduk and Osiris and Moloch and a host of others. And so when I tell you that statement that we sometimes look for our deliverance elsewhere when we look to other gods that cannot save, you might be thinking, "Jonathan, I don't know anybody that has a shrine in their closet. They made out their linen closet to have a gold figurine and candles to some lower case g god. I don't know anybody like that." Well, that may be. But I believe that it ... Although the names of the gods have been changed from year to year, the heart's desire to kick God off of the throne remains for those who are apart from Christ. That remains. That heart longing to run after other things is still evident. And so although we don't talk about gods like Ba'al and Marduk and Osiris and Moloch, we have plenty of gods in our day, lower case g. But they just have different names, names like money. Names like power, influence, status, sex, relationships, opportunity, looking like you have it all together, substance. Any number of things. And by looking to those things for our deliverance ...
Or maybe I could just translate that for our time. By looking to those things to satisfy the longings of our heart, by looking to those things for fulfillment, by looking to those things to ease the nagging emptiness that we wake up with every single day. To give us a sense of purpose or a sense of identity. When we look to those things, those lower case g gods to do that for us, it's as if we are looking Jesus, the Mighty One, El Gibbor, in the face and saying, "You're not enough. You're not strong enough. You're not mighty enough. You can't pull me out of this hole that I'm in. So I need this. You don't satisfy enough, so I need this. You're not delivering on that sense of purpose and identity and fulfillment and satisfaction, so I go to this." And when we look Jesus in the face and tell him, "You're not enough." We don't understand that He is the Mighty God. We're looking for deliverance elsewhere.
Or maybe there's a second thing. By creating a caricature of Jesus that suits our interests. By creating a caricature of Jesus that suits our interests. I mean no irreverence or disrespect, but sometimes we create a version of Jesus that works better for where we find ourselves. And so we're really less interested in seeing Jesus as the Mighty God, we want to know what he can do for me. Maybe you came to Church hoping to hear something today that, "Man, I really need something that's like, right for me." And I promise you, this is it. But maybe you're even thinking right now, "I don't understand how Jesus being the Mighty God and having this title, how that connects to my real world experience right now." Well, I'll tell you. Here's some of the caricatures that we create, the caricatures of Jesus that suits our interests. We like Jesus life coach, we like to see Jesus as a life coach who provides some daily inspiration that helps us get through our day. And like every other pithy quote or statement that I see on social media, I can stop and like it, whatever Jesus has to say. Or I can keep scrolling and find something that works better for me. We see Jesus as life coach.
Or maybe it's Jesus lucky charm. Maybe we view Jesus as a lucky charm. Just maybe some think that by having a cross around their neck and their rear view mirror, that therefore life is going to be smooth sailing. But that's not Jesus the Mighty God, that's Jesus the lucky charm. That's a fabrication. that's more akin to a rabbit's foot or a four leaf clover than the God that we discover in the scripture. That's not who He is. You see because Jesus never promised that life would be smooth sailing. In fact all He promised is that when you're in the middle of a storm you won't be alone in the boat. He never said it would be smooth sailing.
Or maybe, and again I mean no irreverence, but maybe we view Jesus this way, as Jesus Claus. We make a list of what we want, we give Him a shout-out at Christmas time, so we're good. But here's a view about that view of Jesus, you will be disappointed. You will be so disappointed with Jesus. You know why? Because He's not gonna deliver your wishlist every time. Or mine. And so when He doesn't, we look up at Heaven and say, "Okay God, where were you? Why didn't you show up for me? I thought we were good. I gave you the shout-out at Christmas. I came to you with my list, didn't I? Why didn't this work?" Which is quite a way to address the Mighty God. But perfectly fine if you think He's Jesus Claus.
Here's the problem with all of those caricatures and many more that we could come up with. They all pale in comparison to the reality of who He is. There's some debate about who said this first. Mark Twain definitely said it though. He said this, here's the statement. "In the beginning God made man in His image, and ever since man has been returning the favor." "God made man in His image, and ever since man has been returning the favor." We pulled down the Mighty God into a term that maybe we feel better about. Into a place that we feel like we've got some handles on Him, that we can actually contain Him in some kind of corral. Because here's the thing about all of those caricatures, none of them require me to change. None of them require me to die to myself. None of them put me in a position where I'm convicted with my own sin guilt. You know why? 'Cause I could keep Jesus at a safe distance. I've got ... Yeah, there He is. Boom, right there. We're good. And then try to go about our lives on our own.
But see when we come face to face with the reality that Jesus is the Mighty God, He's not only worthy of our worship, He's worthy of our surrender. If He is worthy of our worship, He is worthy of our surrender. Because remember this child turned Savior King was born to rule, and that rulership includes my life. And yours. Because I don't ever want it to be said of me, what Jesus said in Luke 6:46, "Why do you call me Lord, Lord and do not do what I say? Why do you give me a shout-out and then try to live your life your way? Why do you give me the title, but you've never surrendered your life to me?" I don't want to be there. There's a last thing, we could probably say many more. But by believing we didn't need saving in the first place. We look for our deliverance in somewhere other than the Mighty God when we believe we didn't need saving in the first place.
Remember I said that Jesus is the Mighty God who meets us in our greatest need. And our greatest need may not be what we think we need. But our greatest need is that apart from Christ, we are guilty of sin. And we need to also recognize what sin is. See, we may trivialize sin and call it by any name other than what it is. I don't know why. Perhaps to make ourselves feel better about it, because everyone else is doing it. But sin is not a lapse in judgment. Sin is not, "I wasn't thinking clearly." Sin is not, "I didn't have my coffee." Or any number of excuses we attribute. Sin actually, when we rightly understand it, and this is a sobering thought, but sin when we rightly understand it is actually treason against the God who made us. We rebel against the very God who created us to be in a flourishing relationship with him, it's treason.
And so what we maybe try to do, because we don't want to recognize that, or that feels too heavy for us, is we try to explain it away. And really what that ends up doing is it lessens the need for the Mighty God to come rescue us in our minds. And so we say things like this, "Well it really wasn't that serious." Or, "I didn't really mean it." Or maybe we go into comparison mode. "Well I wasn't the greatest father in the world, but at least I wasn't the worst." "I know I wasn't the greatest husband in the world, or spouse, but at least I wasn't the worst." "I wasn't the greatest friend or employee or employer or neighbor, but at least I wasn't the worst." But that's not the standard. We're not gonna be able to tip the scales in our favor through the comparison game. Or maybe we'll even go this far. "Jesus I need you to help me with that Hell thing. I don't have a real good solve for that. So really appreciate if you'd help me with that. However, I've got it from here. I can manage the day to day. I can handle the day to day righteousness all just myself, thank you very much. So we'll meet up again, but you take care of that and I'll take care of this." And it's a division of duty. We kind of negotiate that with Jesus.
But listen. All of that, all of that, is self-righteousness. And I'm able to diagnose it because I'm an expert. Because this is a part of my story, of God's grace overwhelming me. But here's what I know. That flicker of self-righteousness will be snuffed out in the whirlwind of God's justice when we stand face to face with Him. It will not stand, it cannot. God's whirlwind of holy justice, He is so pure and so wholly other than us, that self-righteousness can't stand. But here's the amazing thing. In the whirlwind of His Grace, when we respond by faith, He sweeps us up into His son. We don't have a leg to stand on, and He sweeps us up into His son, so that we can be brought near to Him and experience what it means to be the cherished child of God through Jesus the Mighty One.
But we must humble ourselves before him. We don't come into God's presence, the Mighty God, with puffed chests and resumes of all of our good deeds. It'll burn up. It won't translate. We come with heads bowed low, and like the sinner that Jesus talked about in Luke 18, we say, "Be merciful to me, God, a sinner." And with our heads lowered, God's hand comes and picks us up by the chin and says, "You're forgiven, my child." And He gives us a brand new start. He cleanses us. But we must humble ourselves so that in due time He may lift us up. That's the only way to come to the Mighty God. That's the only way to come to the Mighty God. But when we believe that we really didn't need saving in the first place. Or that we just needed a component of his salvation, and we've got the rest from there, it's as if we're looking for our deliverance in someone other than the Mighty God. That's not where we wanna be.
You see, if the Mighty God did not come to us, if the Mighty God did not step out of Heaven and into humanity's story, we would still be helpless and hopeless. We'd still be dead in our sin. We'd still be in bondage and in shackles, have no hope and no future. But He came. The Mighty God came. The Mighty God came to us so that it would not be a foregone conclusion that we would just continue down the path of self-destruction until we experienced an eternity separated from God. He intervened. And He stepped in. The Mighty God, the only one who could, in deed the only one who would, stepped in to reach you and to reach me. You see, there's no other deliverer coming, He already came. There's no other deliverance that we can find, we've already found it in Him. There's no other deliverer, so stop looking anywhere else for your deliverance to come. Stop looking anywhere else for you to find fulfillment, satisfaction and the satisfaction to every longing of your heart. You will not find it. You will not find it. You will not find it anywhere else, but the Mighty God, who is Jesus. There's no other deliverer.
So I think of Jesus. I think of Jesus when there was a crowd of people who stopped following Him because He no longer suited their interests. It didn't work for them. This version of Jesus, they didn't like that version, they liked a different version. And so a bunch of people left. Jesus looks at the 12th. He says, "Are you going to leave too?" And Peter got it right. Peter said, "Lord, to whom are we going to go? Where else are we gonna go? You alone, you alone have the words of light. You alone are the holy one of God." And that's our resolution. When we come face to face with the Mighty God and His word, that's where we need to be. Where else could we go? Where else would we want to go? Jesus alone is our deliverance. Jesus alone is our savior. He came to seek and to save, and that is exactly what He did.
So where do we go from here? Well, maybe it's a few things. Maybe you give up your attempts to find deliverance on your own. Maybe you give up attempts to find deliverance on your own. If you need help with that, you've got a Church full of people who would love to come alongside you. If you've just been in a pit, and you don't know which way is up, you need to reach out. You need to tell us. You need to grab somebody nearby by the hand and say, "Would you pray with me and for me?" If you've just been running to the same substance for 30 years to assuage whatever pain you have in your heart, or to help you forget about some of the things you've done, that can end. You can be, as Roman six said, "Set free." It's in Him. If you've been running to relationships, sexual or otherwise, for fulfillment of some kind, that can end. Jesus, He's so much better. He's so much better. You will not find deliverance anywhere else, but Him. So maybe you need to give up those attempts. Maybe you need to lay down the caricature for the reality. Maybe you need to lay down the caricature of Jesus that we've created for the reality.
And can I just tell you, give you a hint? He's way better anyway. He's way better than any caricature we could create. When we understand that it's in God's Word, written, the written Word of God that we discover the living Word of God, Jesus. What we find here is way better than anything we could concoct for ourselves, anything that we could manufacture on our own, He's better. So we can lay down the caricature. Or maybe we dig up the weeds of self-righteousness. Maybe we need to dig up the weeds of self-righteousness and regularly rehearse for our hearts just how vast God's grace was to us in saving us. That we would regularly remind ourselves of what God did to save you, and what did I do to deserve it? What did you do to deserve it? Nothing. But solely because of His grace. And so the only antidote to self-righteousness is grace. The only antidote to self-righteousness is God's grace. That's it. So dig up the weeds and plant instead the seeds of God's grace in your hearts, in your lives, every single day through his Word. Jesus is the Mighty God. He came to meet us in our greatest need.