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Jesus Died To Gather All His Father's Scattered Children

April 27, 2014 Speaker: Bret Rogers Series: The Gospel According to John

Passage: John 11:45–11:54

Sermon from John 11:45-54 by Bret Rogers, Pastor
Delivered on April 27, 2014

Written for Belief and Life

Last week we read of Jesus raising a man named Lazarus from death. Lazarus died from an illness and was buried in a tomb four days (11:39). And with one command Jesus gave Lazarus’ corpse life and called him out of the tomb—proving that Jesus truly is the Resurrection and the Life (11:25); proving he’s powerful over death (10:17); proving he has life in himself (1:4) and is able to give it to whomever he pleases (5:26).

I don’t know how you responded to that message, but we get a picture of how the Jews respond. You’d think raising a man from death would wake them all up, but only some of them believe in Jesus while others get ticked. Where are you this morning—believing that Jesus is your only hope for life, or still sitting in your unbelief, skepticism, suspicion? Regardless of where you are, my prayer is that what we cover in the next few minutes will give all of you faith—that faith in Jesus will grow deeper for those of you who already belong to him; and that faith in Jesus will be created for those of you who are not yet Jesus’ disciples. We know that’s God’s agenda with these words—“these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and by believing you might have life in his name (20:30-31). So let’s first read God’s word. Verse 45…

Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him, but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the Council and said, “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. So from that day on they made plans to put him to death. Jesus therefore no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there to the region near the wilderness, to a town called Ephraim, and there he stayed with the disciples.

Jesus Gives Life by Entering Death

There are just four observations I want to make from our passage today; and all of them describe the death of Jesus. One of the most striking things about John 11 is that after Jesus raises Lazarus from death, you hear almost nothing more about Lazarus. We get a few more comments in chapter 12 that reiterate how big an impression Jesus made among the people by raising Lazarus, whether that impression was good or bad (12:1, 9, 10, 17). But outside that, you hear nothing more about Lazarus—nothing about how he felt about the whole thing, nothing about what it was like to experience death and be raised to life again, nothing about what he saw as his soul left his body. Once he walks out of the tomb, John is basically done with Lazarus.

Now, that certainly tells us something of what his Gospel is about—it’s about revealing Jesus and not the experiences of Lazarus. But I think John wants us to see something even more specific than that, because he not only let’s Lazarus fade into the background, but he doesn’t even focus for very long on those who believed in him. He gives it a whole verse. John leaps over Lazarus and leaps over the apparent success the miracle had among many of the Jews, and he throws us straight into the evil plots of the unbelieving Jews and their religious leaders scheming to put Jesus to death. “I mean, come on, John! Can’t we camp out for just a little bit longer on the happy occasion of Jesus giving life to Lazarus? Jesus just called a dead man out of the tomb, and now we’re with these Pharisee creeps again, who want him dead because of the whole thing.”

There’s a reason for this; and it’s a reason that belongs not merely to John, but to the Holy Spirit himself who inspired John to write these words as they are written. The divine reason we’re plunged into the schemes of evil men to kill Jesus immediately after Jesus has given life to a dead man is to teach us that the life Jesus gives to sinners plagued with death doesn’t come apart from his own death. Jesus gives life to sinners by entering death himself. The evil schemes of the religious leaders are serving a much bigger purpose in God’s plan to bring us eternal life through Jesus; and God wants us to make the connection. The One who gives life to the dead is the One who goes to the cross.

That’s why I’m focusing on Jesus’ death this morning, because if you marvel at Jesus’ power but miss his Passion, you will not be saved. As Christians, we cannot be thrilled with Jesus’ miracles and be bored with his mission. They go together, and in fact, the miracles only help us savor his mission all the more; his power helps us understand his Passion. The One who has authority over death entered death for my life, for your life. So, four observations about the death of Jesus.

1. Jesus’ Death is the Result of the Jews’ Unbelief & Pride

Number one: Jesus’ death is the result of the Jews’ unbelief and pride. Verse 46, “Some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. So, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the Council.” The Council is also known as the Sanhedrin. Rome ruled over Israel at the time; but the highest authorities within Israel sit on this Council, and whatever they say, goes. So the leaders gather this Council and voice their dilemma: “What are we to do? For this man performs many signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish…[then verse 53] So from that day on they made plans to put [Jesus] to death.”

We see unbelief and pride. We see the unbelief in that they don’t question what the eyewitnesses report Jesus doing to Lazarus. The religious leaders themselves even acknowledge that Jesus is performing many signs, but they refuse to believe their significance. Jesus has told them throughout his ministry why his signs are so significant: these signs were given to Jesus by his Father to glorify Jesus, to show everybody how wonderful he really is and to reveal his identity (John 2:11; 5:19-20; 9:4). He was even performing very specific signs as well—signs that made sense with how God had revealed himself to Israel all along.

God promised to send Israel a Messiah, and when he came, the earth would flow with wine (Isa 25:6-8), the temple would be restored (Isa 2:2-3), the lame would leap like the deer (Isa 35:6), the blind would see (Isa 42:7), and even the dead nation of Israel would rise to life as God spoke over their dry and lifeless bones (Ezek 37). And now Jesus comes in, and what’s he doing? Changing water into wine (John 2:1-11), cleansing the temple (John 2:12-21), healing a lame man (John 5:1-9), opening the eyes of the blind (John 9:1-7), raising the dead to life with a word (John 11:43-44). The religious leaders look at these signs and turn away from Jesus. They see his miracles, but reject his mission. Unbelief.

And underlying the unbelief is pride, pride in maintaining their image and their institution apart from treasuring the glory of God. The temple (“our place”) was instituted in Israel, so that the nation was fixed on the glory of God dwelling in their midst—not so that the nation became fixed on the temple building. The nation of Israel was created to reflect God’s glory in the earth, to be a city set on a hill reflecting the glory of God’s truth and justice and mercy for the nations—not to be a people who turn inward and self-focused and self-preserving. But here that’s exactly what the Jews have become.

Their passion to maintain their “their place” and their nation—out of fear of losing them both to Rome—blinded them to God’s glory now revealed in Jesus. They were so consumed with maintaining their own glory that they couldn’t see Jesus’ glory—they saw his signs, but they missed his glory. Pride—that desire to maintain our own glory over treasuring God’s glory—led them to reject their own Messiah who revealed himself so clearly to them. Unbelief and pride, and both led to Jesus’ death.

We must be fixed on Jesus’ glory or we will miss him

Question: how might we be “maintaining the institution” or “maintaining our image” and missing the glory of Jesus? Are there ways the same unbelief and pride we see in the Jews is present in us? Have you ever been in a corporate worship service or a members meeting or a care group gathering or even one-on-one, and based on your understanding of the Bible, you noticed that something just isn’t right here; or maybe you’ve recognized that this or that just doesn’t seem to square with God’s word; or “how I just saw her handle herself doesn’t line up with the humble attitudes I see should be present in the church”—and then you say nothing and do nothing out of fear of what might happen to the institution. “What would the members meeting turn into if I spoke up about what I’m seeing in the Bible? What if I just get everybody worked up over the truth? What if more people leave as a result of my concern? What will other people think of me if I have this question?”

Let me be very clear with you, we are not gathered merely to maintain the image and institution of Redeemer Church, especially whenever that image and institution are not fixing others on God’s glory. We are in every setting gathered to behold the glory of God in Jesus Christ; and we will not become a people who smooth things over or keep quiet when the glory of Christ is at stake—corporately or individually, in our marriages or in our parenting, in our service to the world or in our preaching. Everything about us must be fixed on Jesus’ glory, or we will eventually fall into the same deception that hardened the Pharisees’ hearts and put Jesus on the cross.

We cannot proudly turn in on ourselves

We cannot turn-in on ourselves either, priding ourselves on who we are as Baptist or Reformed or whatever. Being Baptist and being Reformed might represent the conclusions we reach when we read the Bible, but they are not the goal. Sound doctrine brings God glory, but it doesn’t replace God. Sunday morning is not a Reformed Baptist pep-rally. We meet for Christ’s sake and his glory! Are you more interested in inviting people to become part of a movement you agree with or to a Person who is mighty to save? What in your life are you trying to maintain apart from treasuring God’s glory in Christ? Is it your personal image? Is it the image of this church? Are we just trying to keep the lights on, maintain the status quo, content ourselves with the people we already have instead of spreading Jesus’ glory to others?

What is your perspective, and is it plagued with the same pride that crucified the Lord of glory? Pride and self-preservation are ugly because they want the Lord of glory dead. If that pride is present in us, we must turn, ask God’s forgiveness, and look to Jesus again, and behold him in his infinite worth and grace; and ask God often to center you and this church more and more on his magnificent glory, lest we overlook him like these religious leaders and condemn ourselves in the process. We do not exist merely to maintain the institution; we exist—even as an institution—to treasure the glory and worth of God in Jesus. In him is life.

2. Jesus’ Death Is Ordained by God

Number two: Jesus’ death is also ordained by God. Jesus death—a death we just saw is the result of Jewish unbelief and pride—is ordained by God. Look at verses 49-50 again in light of verse 51: “One of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, ‘You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it’s better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.’ He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation.”

Do you hear what’s going on in those sentences? There’s an evil man, who has a straightforward political strategy: “let’s bump Jesus off and then we won’t have to worry about losing our place or our nation.” Caiaphas isn’t concerned with upholding justice—giving Jesus a fair trial—he’s more concerned with political expediency. And then God gives us his interpretation of what’s going on in verse 51: “[Caiaphas] did not say this of his own accord, but…he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation.”

So, two things are happening simultaneously: Caiaphas is speaking sinful words and God is in some sense standing behind Caiaphas’s words; Caiaphas is giving his measured judgment to knock off Jesus and God is revealing his plan in Caiaphas’s judgment; Caiaphas is speaking and God is speaking, even though they mean different things in the same words. So not even the evil intent of the highest authority in Israel escapes God’s sovereign control. God ordains Caiaphas’s sinful actions against Jesus and Caiaphas is totally oblivious.

That doesn’t mean God himself is sinful by ordaining Caiaphas to speak this way. James 1:13 says that “God cannot be tempted with evil.” So in some sense God is able to ordain evil without himself being sinful. The situation also doesn’t mean that Caiaphas is relieved of his responsibility for his sinful actions. The Bible clearly portrays the plots of the Jews as sinful acts against God’s Son (e.g., Acts 2:23; 3:17-19). So in some sense God is able to ordain evil through human acts and not be blamed for them himself; those who commit the evil are still responsible for their actions.

I’m not solving mysteries, here, between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility; I’m only naming them as far as the Bible goes. Some things remain hidden in God that we will never know. But this much is clear: Caiaphas’s intent and words against Jesus are evil, and God reveals he’s still in control. In so many ways, we could put the theology of Gen 50:20 over this scene with Caiaphas: “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…”

The apostles preach the cross this way throughout the book of Acts? Think about it. “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst…this Jesus, delivered up according to the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men” (Acts 2:22-23). Or when the apostles are praying in Acts 4:28, we get this: “Sovereign Lord…truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.”

The point is this: Jesus is heading to the cross not because evil is winning, but because he’s fulfilling a sovereign plan from his Father. The eternal Son of God is not going to the cross because the world is spinning out of control, but because this is his Father’s world and all things happen according to his will. Jesus doesn’t go to the cross merely as a victim of unbelief and pride, but as a Son who is accomplishing the will of his Father. Caiaphas isn’t the one ultimately leading Jesus to his death; Jesus’ Father is leading Jesus to his death, even at the hands of sinful men.

You must see Jesus’ death first and foremost as an act of God

Here’s why that’s so crucial for you to get: you must see Jesus’ death first and foremost as an act of God. It’s not enough to know the horrific physical sufferings Jesus endured at the hands of sinful men. The cross is God’s doing for the sake of sinful man. The good news begins in the heart of God the Father himself, who is one with his Son for all eternity (1:1-2). It is God who loved the sinful and broken world (3:16), God who made the plan to save it through his Son (3:17), God who actually gave up his Son (Rom 8:32), and God who led his Son to die on a cross for sinners. Isaiah 53:10 says “it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief.”

Ask your unbelieving friends if they know that the cross they sometimes wear around their necks was designed by God to save the world. As you engage people with the gospel, ask them what they think of the cross. You will find that even many who profess to be Christians will not take you beyond the physical sufferings Jesus endured as a man. In their eyes, he’s merely a good example, not a Savior. They know that he suffered a lot, but they don’t know what for. Their theology of the cross has more in common with Hollywood’s portrayal of the crucifixion than the Bible’s testimony of what it actually is: God acting in Christ to save us from our sins. Fill in the blanks for your children when you read them Christian books that give lots of attention to Jesus’ sufferings and very little attention to God ordaining it for our salvation.

God controls everything even in the midst of utter darkness

And here’s something else to remember: God is controlling everything even as Jesus heads to the utter darkness of death. That means the cross should be for you a continual reminder of God’s love and God’s mercy and God’s act to save you. Do you want a constant testimony of God’s love—especially on days when all the difficulties and pain of this life are tempting you to think otherwise? The cross is heaven’s loudest shout that God loves sinners—so much so, that he was willing to give up his eternally precious Son to a cross he designed him to carry.

Do you want a never-failing testimony that God is in control even when the darkness seems to overwhelm your soul? Then keep looking to Jesus’ cross. Don’t take your eyes off the cross; talk about it and counsel each other with it more! Even the darkest moment in history—when the infinitely beautiful Son was betrayed and crucified—was not outside of God’s control. Jesus entered that darkness as planned—willingly embracing the betrayal and suffering and forsakenness and even death itself, so that you might ultimately live.

If Jesus entered the darkness of death and won, then you have a continual reminder to endure in the face of your dark trials. In fact, we’re coming up on a couple places in John where Jesus tells his disciples straight up, “I told you what’s going to happen beforehand, so that when it does happen you may believe” (13:19; 14:29). God’s control over the evil surrounding the cross is meant to comfort us and give us more faith.

3. Jesus’ Death Is a Substitutionary Death

Number three: Jesus’ death is a substitutionary death. Look again at verse 50: “Nor do you understand that it’s better for you that one man should die for the people [note that], not that the whole nation should perish. He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation [note that], and not for the nation only, but also [note that] to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.”

This language—“for the people” and “for the nation” means that Jesus dies instead of or in place of somebody else. We use this language, too. If you serve as a substitute teacher, you might say to someone, “I’m teaching for him today.” You don’t simply mean that you’re teaching for his advantage, but even more, you’re teaching in his place. Same here but with death on the line—Jesus dies for us, meaning in our place.

Caiaphas, of course, only means this in a very worldly sense; that is, Jesus should die instead of our nation perishing under Rome. But remember, there’s more bound up with his words that he doesn’t even realize. God means that Jesus will die not just to help his children temporarily escape the political threat of Rome. God’s love is infinitely greater than that. God means that Jesus will die to help his children eternally escape the horrific threat of his wrath.

The problem we have as sinners is that God’s wrath stands over us. God’s wrath is his just response to all our sins against him (Rom 1:18). Our sin offends the holy God and merits eternal punishment (Rom 1:18-3:2). The Bible even refers to this eternal punishment as “death” or “perishing.” In 3:36, not entering into life—which is death—is equivalent to sitting under God’s wrath. In 5:24, death is portrayed as “coming into judgment” under God’s wrath. In 8:21-24, dying in your sins is another way for Jesus to say dying guilty under God’s wrath without escape. And then in Rev 21:8, eternal punishment is referred to as the “second death.”

The only solution to this problem of death under God’s wrath is the right substitute. The Old Testament prepares us for this. Leviticus 16, the Day of Atonement—what do we learn? The people were unclean like us; they were transgressors of God’s Law; they were all sinful and guilty before God; and something had to die in the place of God’s people in order for their sin and guilt to be removed and in order for God’s wrath to turn away from them. So the priests would offer a bull or a goat in place of the people. What was lacking in these sacrifices, however, is that the blood of bulls and goats could never actually take away sins (Heb 10:4).

They always pointed to a day when God would take away sins and turn his wrath away from his people through a superior substitute (cf. Isa 53). Jesus is that superior substitute. As God’s Son he became a man like us, but without sin (2 Cor 5:21; Heb 4:15). And as a man who was also God, he could endure God’s wrath to the full. So, through his death on the cross—and his alone—God not only takes away our sins, but he pours out his wrath on Jesus in place of us. He took our sins on his back—men, many of you just returned from a retreat where I’m certain God used his word to expose your many sins in specific ways—Jesus took that lust and that idolatry and that covetousness and that adultery and shame on his back, carried them to the cross, and then stood condemned under God’s wrath in your place; and he drained the cup of God’s wrath so that there’s none left for you when you meet God.

When Jesus died on the cross, he died under God’s wrath as your substitution—meaning there’s nothing left for you to pay, nothing left for you to do in order to win God’s favor, nothing left for you to accomplish, but only everything to gain through faith in him. Jesus paid it all. God himself offered Jesus up as a sufficient sacrifice, satisfying all the unpaid debts of your sinful behavior. Debts you could never hope to pay and debts that would have left you forever separated from God—he paid for them all when he stood in your place.

How Jesus’ substitution informs our everyday living

If you belong to Christ, if you are clinging to him as your only hope this morning, then you have the ultimate protection in the universe. You don’t have to live in fear like these religious leaders were doing, running around scared of Rome and worried about what people might do to them. You’re protected in Christ from the greatest threat in the universe, namely, God’s wrath. You don’t get any better protection than protection from the wrath of God through the substitutionary death of Jesus. As Paul says in Rom 8, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Let this be your song throughout all your days, filling your heart with good things to tell yourself and others.

Let it also shape the way you overcome anger, for example. If God showed such mercy to you by sending Jesus to remove his anger from you, what kind of mercy ought you show to others? If God has spent his wrath on Jesus in the place of all his people, then there’s no need for you to pretend to be God and get angry with your brothers and sisters in Christ and attempt to take matters into your own hands.

Let Christ’s subtitutionary death also shape your marriage. Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. Look at the extent Christ was willing to go for his bride and imitate his love, men. Imitate his desire to protect his bride with his life. That goes for working to provide for the home, serving her needs, fighting for her joy, everything.

Let it also inform how you witness to others. Jesus’ blood can really make the foulest clean and turn away God’s wrath from them, too. And for those of you who don’t belong to Jesus, will you please believe that Jesus is your substitute? If you reject him, you will perish. I’m talking to everybody in this room—even the children. Children, you deserve God’s punishment for your disobedience to your mommy and daddy, Rom 1:30 says. Trust that Jesus came to be punished by God, so that you don’t have to be punished by God, but can enjoy a relationship with God by faith in him.

4. Jesus’ Death Is an Effectual Death

Number four: Jesus’ death is an effectual death. That means Jesus’ death did not merely secure possibilities, but secured a people for God. His death did not merely make it possible for people to be saved; his death actually saved people. His death was effectual in that it had the power to produce all God designed and intended for it to produce, namely, the gathering of God’s children from every people and nation into one.

Look again at verses 51-52: “He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation [that’s the Jews in particular], and not for the nation only, but also [here it is] to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.” The children are Jew and Gentile alike who are elect by God the Father and redeemed by the blood of Jesus (cf. 1:12-13; 6:37-39; 10:11-18).

You’ve got to love the irony, here. The very thing the religious leaders try to prevent by killing Jesus—namely, having everybody believe in him and follow him—is part of God’s plan to make it happen. The kind of death Jesus dies is a death intended to gather God’s elect children from all over the world.

Now that gathering of God’s elect children from all over the world doesn’t happen in the moment of Jesus’ death; but everything needed to ensure they are gathered happens in the moment of Jesus’ death. That includes things like the inauguration of a new covenant; and the work of the Holy Spirit in the church under the new covenant; and the actual forgiveness of sins we offer people in the gospel; and the promise of future glory for everybody who would trust in Jesus (cf. Jer 31:31-34; Ezek 11:19-20; 36:25-27; Matt 26:28; Luke 22:20; 1 Cor 11:25; 2 Cor 3:6; Heb 8:7-13; 9:15-28). All of those were secured at the cross and guaranteed with his resurrection life.

And we have to admit, the Book of Acts proves that Jesus’ words are accurate. The cross really did secure everything needed to gather in the Father’s scattered children. As the cross is lifted up in the preaching of the gospel, Jew and Gentile alike are welcomed into God’s kingdom through repentance and faith. God accomplished in Jesus death everything he set out to do; and now, having raised Jesus from the dead, having sent the Holy Spirit into the world to bear witness to the cross, he’s saving men and women, boys and girls from every tribe and nation and people.

Evangelism and treasuring the KIND of death Jesus died

One thing we should take home with us from this last point: are you truly treasuring the kind of death Jesus died? He didn’t die to gather just you; he died to gather in a multitude of people from every tribe and tongue and people and nation (see 10:16; 11:52; 12:32-33). He died to gather all his Father’s children, not just some of them. Do you believe this? Are you treasuring this about the one you call Lord?

I think the fact that nobody from this church showed up to help Dan with the Easter outreach is evidence that we do not truly treasure this about Jesus’ death. I know some of you were doing God-glorifying things at that time—several of you were even caring for newborns. So I don't mean this as a sweeping criticism of every single individual. But are you telling me that out of 170-180 people, on a weekend you were likely more free from work responsibilities, no one was able to show up? Even after a month of preparation and planning and several email reminders?

And of all the Saturdays Dan has asked for help in evangelizing White Settlement, we’ve had three brothers respond. I hope that’s because we’re busy serving and getting the good news to others in our own neighborhoods, and not just killing time watching baseball and video games. I even exhorted you a while back to make efforts in your Care Groups to reach the lost in the neighborhoods God has you living. How many neighbors have you contacted with the gospel since January 12? Do you really treasure Jesus’ death for what the Bible reveals it to be—a death to gather all God’s scattered children?

If so, then let us preach with all the might God inspires within us and let us pray for God to bring those scattered children into his kingdom through our witness and sacrificial service to others. Make it your prayer every day, “Father, either bring me in contact with someone willing to hear the gospel, or give me boldness to take the initiative like Jesus and go to them with the gospel.” You’ll be surprised how often he answers your requests. Pray in this way, and expect God to use you. Fat be it from us that we’re too busy to make disciples (Matt 28:18-20). If we’re too busy to invest in the lives of others to see them also come to Christ, then it’s time for some serious self-evaluation and repentance.

Read the eNews where various opportunities for outreach are mentioned from time to time. Start a backyard Bible club in your area; we’ll buy the curriculum. Dan and Wes have even been talking about what it would be like to have a VBS this summer for the White Settlement area, or a Bible study in somebody’s home tailored for unbelievers and new converts. Find a place during the week where people gather and visit there frequently with the intent to engage people with the gospel.

I got one of the most encouraging phone calls this past week from John Seago, now living in Austin. He was telling me how burdened the Lord has made him and Brandy for their neighbor’s salvation. John and Brandy have been in the process of looking for another home in Austin, but the burdened they have to see this one couple in particular who lives next door is causing them to question whether it’s right to move. Staying in their rent home longer in order to be a light to this couple was a good reason for them to reconsider their priorities on how quickly to move to another part of town.

That’s what I’m talking about. When has reaching the lost with the good news of Jesus’ death affected your buying decisions or your living arrangements or your education pursuits or your work ethics? If we’re treasuring Jesus’ death rightly, then we will live for his mission to gather the scattered children. And if his death already procured all that’s necessary to gather God’s children, then we have absolute confidence that our lives will not be wasted when we give them over to finding those children.

I can’t wait to see them all, can you? All tribes and tongues and peoples and nations, dressed in blood-bought garments of praise, singing the songs of the Lamb, reflecting his love and beauty forever, only to increase our own joy in Jesus forever. That day couldn’t come soon enough. Until then, fix yourself on Jesus’ glory, trust in God’s sovereign plan, embrace and preach Jesus’ substitutionary death, and square you passion in life with that of Jesus to gather all God’s scattered children.