The following are my notes from JD Greear’s talk at the Send North America Conference on July 31, 2012.
I do not feel like I deserve to be here. We kind of backed into church planting at the Summit. I did more of a revitalization than a church plant.
However, the gospel spreads through ordinary people. In Acts we see that it is ordinary people who share this message and spread it. As regular people are empowered to be apart of church planting it really starts to take off. Each church plant we have done we have we have been able to send 20-30 people as a team to different parts of the world.
Do what you do well and do it somewhere strategic for the glory of God.
I am grateful for NAMB and the leadership.
Here is my thesis for this talk: Effective sending is the result of seeing the promises of the gospel.
I want us to walk through one of the most mysterious places in all of Scripture. I want to go to Mark 14 and Christ in the garden before he went to die. I want to pull back the curtain on our Lord and savior for us today. I will not be giving practical wisdom or steps for us to do. I just want us to look at Christ and get a vision of his glory. Everything that I can say and do about Christ in this passage is going to fall so short. We should just tremble at this passage.
And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled. And he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death. Remain here and watch.”
And going a little farther, he fell on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” And he came and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they did not know what to answer him. And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.” (Mark 14:32-42 ESV)
The first thing we need to notice about this passage is its mystery. Jesus did not die here with great courage, defiance, and heroism. The great stories of the Jewish leaders and worlds great heroes died with great strength. Think about gladiator or Braveheart. There was Polycarp in the early church, but not Jesus.
In verses 33-34 there is a strange phrase that says he suddenly began to be astonished. He saw something then that he did not see there before. He was troubled and overcome. He saw something that horrified us and almost made him die. He was sorrowful even unto death. He was sweating great drops of blood. There was so much strain that his capillaries on his face burst under the strain. The blood is flowing even before the cross came.
Consider that this Jesus who made everything from nothing with all power and authority saw something that almost killed him. He cries out to his Father and asks him to take away this cup. He goes back to the Father over and over and there is no response. Jesus was abandoned by God and this is a horror of being alone. He went out to the disciples and they were not there for him. Nobody was there for him. Have you ever felt this way? Have you ever felt utterly alone? But it was not just aloneness, there was rejection and that hurts the closer we know this person.
There Is No Comparison
We cannot come up with an analogy that compares with what we Christ went through. We are well aware of the terrible physical pain and suffering that he experienced, but it was not just the physical suffering. There was also public humiliation and that was terrible as well, but even that was not what made Jesus become astonished. It was the fact that the Father had completely abandoned and he would bear the full weight of God’s wrath and have to drink every last drop of that cup.
Why Is There This Garden Scene?
Why did God show Jesus this before he went to the cross? Edwards says it was so that he could know full well why Christ went to the cross. Jesus willingly drank every last cup of God’s wrath so that we could drink the cup of salvation. It was the joy that was set before him that he endured the cross. What didn’t he have on this side of the cross that he did not have on the other side of the cross. You! Me! He did this for you and me. He said we are his precious children and there is nothing that he would not give. Just like a father would not withhold anything from saving his children, so Christ does not withhold anything.
Do You Know His Love?
Do the sizes of your prayers match the size of his sacrifices? He did not die so that he could maintain our jobs, but to make worshippers in all the nations.
Do you understand how satisfied God is with the work of his son? There is one sacrifice that God is pleased with. Christ has earned us the right to ask boldly.
Jesus’ willingness to save is limitless. The Lord’s arm is not short that it cannot save. There is no shortage of power in God to save.
A Vision of Christ, Our Bridegroom
Imagine being at a wedding and having the best man trying to flirt with the bride coming down the isle. What would you do if you were the groom? You would punch him in the throat. Imagine how terrible it is for us pastors to try and get the bride’s attention when it should be on the groom.
What we most need is a vision of Jesus. We see Jesus properly and church planting takes care of itself. Spurgeon said that someone soaked in the blood of Jesus will go evangelize. He will not be able to help himself any more than he can help himself from breathing. The gospel is the root and church planting is the fruit. If we want to grow the fruit then we must deepen our roots. We do not focus on the fruit.