Picture of Pastor Smith

Sermon delivered February 5, 2011 by Paul Smith

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Donít Just Tell Me...Show Me

Matthew 26: 36-41

(RealAudio Version available)

In the classic musical My Fair Lady, the main characters are Prof. Higgins who was a linguist, a man of fine words and then there's Eliza the flower girl from the other side of London and on a whim and a bet Prof. Higgins claims that he can transform the street urchin Eliza into a lady of class and culture and grace.He had no love for his project student.He simply was motivated by selfish ambition to prove that he had extraordinary teaching skills.In the process though, of his interaction with Eliza he began to respect her and to appreciate what she was becoming and I think he even felt a little love for her.It was obvious that Eliza did, but that all changed when Eliza realized that Prof. Higgins had made a bet and that his motivation was simply selfish.She abruptly left and it was just weeks away from the test.He had bet a friend that he could pass the street girl off at a royal ball as a woman grace, as a guest.But you remember her repeated practice.She said, practicing over and over again, getting ready for this special occasion, How kind of you to let me come.Remember that?Then she said, the rain in Spain falls mainly in the plain.You do remember?

Eventually that proper, proper conversation began and she did very well.Perhaps you remember the song she sang.Show me.Kind of a take off on the sermon title.She sang this song called show me and it went something like this.Words words words.I'm so sick of words.Sing me no song read me no rhyme don't waste my time.Show me.

They say talk is cheap. kind words of intentions don't mean much unless you're in the habit of making good on them.Gentlemen, perhaps you could try this at home.Dear, I thought about buying you flowers but it's the thought that counts isn't it?Not always.Love is demonstrated by thoughtful action.When we're truly in love it will show in tangible ways.

Jesus said if you love me keep my commandments.Jesus said you'll know my disciples by their love for one another.Don't tell me, show me is a common admonition found in Scripture.I like the statement found in Ministry of Healing page 469.It goes like this.There's an eloquence far more powerful than the eloquence of words.In the quiet consistent life of a pure, true Christian.What a man is has much more influence than what he says.And another one.The strongest argument in favor of the gospel is a loving, lovable Christians.

Our many relationships at home, church, at work, in the marketplace; they give us opportunity to show our love and devotion, and I believe God would have a study ways to bring joy and delight to the ones that we share time with on earth.The spouse, the children, the family. The pets.The stranger in our gates.Perhaps even the wildlife, the birds and squirrels.We have opportunities to express our appreciation for God and his love and care for us by extending those same courtesies to those around us.Family life.Community life.The challenges of life are God's curriculum giving us opportunities to practice the image of God, showing our love and appreciation for all that God has done.Don't tell me.Show me.

It's true our actions speak louder than words.It's true in almost every area of our life.Raising children.How effective would it be to say don't do as I do, do as I say.Values are more often caught than taught.The right example is worth a ton of words and if you share your skills with someone.How to operate a new cell phone or how to shoot an arrow well as an archer.You've seen them come up behind and place their arm around.Many romances have started teaching someone how to shoot with bow and arrow.But it's much more effective to show when you're sharing a new skill.Showing is better than telling but perhaps show and tell is the best of all.

Our Scripture lesson this morning takes us to Jesus as he plunged into the fray of the most dramatic 24 hours of his life.As the story plays out we come to where the climax is in God's rescue plan.Jesus takes center stage.It's show time, and at Calvary and Gethsemane we see God more clearly.It's his finest hour.From this time forward all creatures in heaven and Earth will view the creator a little more appreciatively and with admiration.

Recently I was asked to be a character reference for a friend, to vouch for them.The cross is Jesus stepping in, giving a character reference for his father.This morning I want to be a faithful character reference for God, and I know that's your desire too.The weeks and the years to come to be a character reference.To represent him well.

Most of us have the opportunity to create a resume which lists our passions, our strengths, our professional goals.I like to think that the cross is the last paragraph in God's resume.Sharing his passion, his desires, his goals for his children.The cross has become a universal symbol of God and his kingdom.

In our Scripture lesson in Matthew 26 Jesus begins to walk through a lonesome valley and to embrace the opportunities that are afforded in Gethsemane and on Calvary and Jesus is about to taste the bitter cup.Drink it to its dregs.A few months earlier in Matthew 20:20 you remember that the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee, she came to Jesus and said Can my sons sit on your right and your left and Jesus said are they able to drink the cup that I'm about to drink.Can they handle the sum total of the Savior's experience?In the garden just a few hours forward Peter got a bit animated and cut off an ear and Jesus said put your sword away.You do not understand what's going on here.You do not understand the things of God.Peter was a slow learner.And then you remember a few months earlier Jesus was beginning to convey to his disciples what he was going to have to go through.The difficulties, his death andbeing raised on the third day and Peter exclaimed never Lord.This will never happen to you.The Lord Jesus said Peter, you don't understand the things of God.

This past week I immersed myself in the last few days of Jesus' life.In the story the last few hours we've all heard it said we would do well to spend a thoughtful hour reflecting on the closing scenes, especially the last scenes.When we spend a thoughtful hour it changes us.I've been, I think, improved.I appreciate the picture that I gleaned as I read.As we spend that thoughtful hour the picture of God is brightened and becomes more clear.You remember some of the closing scenes where Jesus was with his disciples.It was the Last Supper and there was the basin and the towel and he demonstrated the importance of service.When he walked out of the gate in the old city of Jerusalem and down into the Kidron Valley and into the garden and then he paused and talked to them about building the kingdom.There he prayed that beautiful prayer of John 17.The chapter long prayer.And they went to the quiet garden.His favorite spot.His oasis.His secret hiding place.

This week I read from the Narrative Bible.It's in chronological order and I find it very interesting because it's a compilation of all the Scriptures dealing chronologically so the Gospels are shared intermittently but they tell the story with nothing left out.You know that Luke is the only one that mentionsthe ministering angel.It's only John that mentions prayer of Jesus before the garden experience.In one of the segments as it transitions to another portion of Scripture entitled betrayal and arrest, it reads like this.At the end of this parting discourse there is little time remaining for solitude and reflection.The time of betrayal is near.Very soon now Judas will lead the officers and chief priests to Jesus and betray him in the presence of the other apostles.So the stage is now set and the arrest is soon to take place.As the hour of betrayal fast approaches the record begins with Jesus leading his disciples to the olive grove.

I might ask you this morning, who are you traveling with?Jesus was traveling with his disciples.As they arrived in the quiet garden Jesus' heart is clearly heavy with the prospect of the events soon to take place.Taking Peter, James and John beyond the others he goes deeper into the garden.I would ask you.Who's your core inner circle.Who are you doing life with.Jesus has people like that around him and it goes on to say he knelt down and he prayed and agonized with the father.Who is your most supreme relationship here on earth?For the Lord Jesus, it was his Father.

Then we get into our Scripture lesson.Join me in Matthew 26:26.When he had finished praying Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley.On the other side, there was an olive grove and he and his disciples went into it.They went to the place called Gethsemane and Jesus said to his disciples sit here while I pray.He took Peter, James and John with him and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled.My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death he said.Stay here and watch.The Philips translation says of Jesus my heart is nearly breaking.

Satan and the Confederacy of evil has arrayed itself and aligned itself.The powers of darkness have convened.They've surrounded the environs of Jerusalem.They've infiltrated the hearts and minds of the religious leaders and the rabble crowd.An all-out attack is about to be launched.Judas approaches and all hell breaks loose.Jesus steps into the fray.With pent-up fury and revenge, lucifer endeavors to connive and elbow and force his way.He seeks to carve a greater foothold and to maintain his place as Prince of this world.

Great Controversy has a phrase on page 501 that goes like this.In the contest between Christ and Satan during the Saviours earthly ministry the character of the great deceiver is unmasked.Nothing could so effectively have uprooted Satan from the affections of the heavenly Angels and the whole loyal universe as did this cruel warfare upon the world's redeemer.Jesus came to meet head-on the accusations of Satan.Ellen White in Signs of the Times says this.Christ came to the fallen world and Satan with his fiercest wrath met him on the field of conflict.Satan sought to intercept the rays of light from the throne of God.He sought to cast his shadow across the earth that men might lose their true view of God's character.God was represented by Satan as severe, exacting, revengeful, arbitrary.He was pictured as one would even take pleasure in the sufferings of his creatures.But to correctly represent him Jesus came to earth to set and keep right men.Christ exalted the character of God.The whole purpose of his mission on earth was to set men right through a proper revelation of God.

In John 17:4 Jesus says there I have completed I have accomplished the work you sent me to do.I've often wondered about that.How could Jesus say I've completed the work you sent me to do.For every person he healed, there were thousands who needed healing.There was much more to be done.How could it be that he would go back to heaven and leave us to finish this work.We speak affectionately of finishing the work.Oh, I'm sharing the gospel, I just hope that our picture or God is good news and that we enjoy sharing it.Jesus came to reveal the father.To show us the father.The disciples asked Jesus, show us the father.Jesus kind of was perplexed by that and said how is it that I have been with you so long and yet you say show us the father.If you've seen me, you've seen the father.

And so we come to the capstone.The finishing touch.The closing act of this showing.Jesus is about to make good on his passion.At the cross Jesus' final words are, it is finished.I'd like you to say those words with me.But I want you to prepare for it.I want you to take a good breath and then say that phrase and exhale and just hold your breath for a minute and just think about Jesus going through this experience.What he said and what it meant.Are you ready?Breathing in.It is finished.Okay probably we should breath.

But it's as if Jesus is saying, in the ultimate sense, it's finished.I rest my case.The game is over, satan.It's over.We've shown them.Now they know what the father is like.I rest my case.God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself and so he said I love you this much and he stretched out his arms and he died.Jesus took upon himself the guilt of every man and woman.He sensed that rift, that separation that every one will feel when they draw away from God, between God and lost sinner.Jesus went through that.

Why is sin so bad?Because it separates us.It destroys us.It kills relationships.So when you get a taste of that separation through a death or divorce or a misunderstanding you too feel the weight and the pain of a broken relationship.Jesus felt that weight and the enormity of mankind's sin and he sensed that separation.Satan whispered in the ear of the Lord if you were to be surety for the world it would be too much.Their sin is too great.Your separation from the father would be eternal.The people aren't worth it.Don't do it.

Three times Jesus worked through this.Three times he consented and condescended to any destiny for himself in exchange for our salvation.Our redemption.In Gethsemane the Savior decided to go through with it.Even with the possibility of eternal separation from his father, he left Gethsemane, his face set like a flint, to go to Golgotha with the anticipation of the possibility of impenetrable darkness, of an eternal midnight.The powers of good and evil watched to see what the answer to Jesus' three times prayer would be.He prayed ifit's possible remove this cup and that mysterious cup trembled in his hand.The ministering angel came to him.Not to take the cup from him but to sustain him and to help him drink it.Three times he struggled with the cup.Three times he resigned himself to drink it.Three times he thought more of our needs than of his own.

Jesus death of substitution was not an appeasement of God but rather an expression of his love.It was his attempt to communicate and demonstrate his love, his righteousness and his truth.Satan had charged that God wasn't righteous. That he was a liar and deceiver and he was selfish.Just wanting glory for himself.

There's two verses I'd like to refer to.Romans 3:26 shares that the cross demonstrates the righteousness of God and that he justifies, he sets right the people who trust him, who have faith in him.And then Romans 5:8 says God demonstrated his love to us that even while we were sinners he died for us.

In Desire of Ages 761 there's an interesting phrase which implies Satan's thinking at this time.He felt that every sin must be paid for.He urged this, but it reads this way.Every sin must meet it's punishment urged Satan, and if God should excuse the punishment of sin he would not be a God of truth and justice.It's as if God is saying, okay Satan if it's payment you urge, I'll provide the payment myself.The heart of God is so full of love, so utterly selfless and devoted to our happiness that Jesus was willing to go through this and the father as well, together they showed us their love and sought to put things right with us.Jesus willingly chose to put our interests above his own, and in this peaceful garden setting there was a physical and mental battle.From the birth of Jesus, satan and all his helpers had tried to make the life of the Savioras difficult as possible because he knew that the Savior's compassion and mercy and pitying tenderness was representin to the world what his father is like and out of deep seated revenge Satan tried to dispel that.

When Jesus exclaimed it is finished, the death-knell of Satan was sounded and the great controversy decided.To the angels and the unfallen worlds the cry it is finished had a deep significance.It was for them as well as for us that this took place.They shared in the fruits of Christ victory.

So in conclusion I would say that professor Higgins had some ulterior motives when he worked with Eliza.But unlike professor Higgins God has loved us from the very beginning.Even though our brogue is sometimes offensive.Even though we come from the wrong side of town it was not a whim or a bet that caused God to reach out to us.It was His sincere love.The essence of his person that drew him to us and draws us to him.We have been transformed.We love because he first loved us and experiencing and understanding and grasping that love transforms us.The day will soon come when God will pass us off, parade us as royalty in the courts of heaven.

So this week we have some practice.We can practice too and we have opportunity to demonstrate our gratefulness for God's grace in our lives and in our interaction with each other.

We're going to sing our closing him.It's going to be new to you.Think of the words.I think you'll catch the tune.It's a hymn that really tells us what Jesus was like.What the father is like.What he wants us to be like and what I want to be like and I think you do too.So through this week don't just say you love him.Show him.We can do that by following the admoniton of our closing hymn.

Hymn of Praise: #191, Love Divine
Scripture: Matthew 26: 36-41
Hymn of Response: #575, Let Your Heart Be Broken

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Sermon at McDonald Road transcribed by Steve Foster 3/3/11