THEY CAME TO ARREST HIM
LOOKING FOR JESUS OF NAZARETH
ALL HE SAID WAS “I AM HE”
JUST A GLIMPSE OF HIS GLORY
JUST A CRACK IN THE DOOR
AND THEY WERE FLATTENED
THERE WERE MANY IN THAT BAND OF SOLDIERS
BUT JUST A WORD FROM THE GREAT I AM
AND THEY FELL TO THE GROUND
THE MYSTERIUM TREMENDUM
IT HAPPENS WHEN AN UNHOLY BEING COMES
THE PRESENCE OF THE HOLY
Have you ever experienced “The Mysterium Tremendum?”
When I was a young wife, my sister spent a week with me, following me around with her Bible, telling me who Jesus is, why I should be afraid, and why I should give Him my whole life. She was making me nervous and I wanted her to go home, but a blizzard came and we were snowbound together. She saw it as God’s opportunity and kept following me, reading Scripture to me. Scripture upon Scripture with Jesus claiming to be God. A sense of my need was growing. My sin. Sally told me my sins were as scarlet. But then she pointed to the new fallen snow outside our window and told me He could make me as white as snow.
Sally was a new Christian, yet God gave her some of the same passages that you will hear in the free Keller sermon this week. Jesus was claiming Deity.
I asked her, “If this is true…if He is God…would He ask me to give up the house Steve and I are planning to build?”
She hesitated a long time. (She told me later she was crying out to God for how she should answer me.) Then she said, “I think, in your case, yes.” (Oh my! Even then God knew my idolatrous heart and zeroed in on what was most important to me!) I am very thankful for my bold and caring sister. (Sally is the mother of our new blogger, Anne Meredith.)
When Sally left I had been “awakened.” I was hesitant to give up our house…unless, this was all true. Was it true?
A copy of Phillip’s New Testament
(so I wouldn’t start in Genesis) and
C. S. Lewis’s classic: “Mere Christianity.”
I read them both. Fear grew in my heart.
A month later, on a November day in 1966, the fear of the Lord brought me to my knees. As I began to pray, I suddenly realized how sinful I was and how holy He was. The Mysterium Tremendum. Truly, there was a flash of fear so great I was overcome. But then it was gone and I felt, like Karla Faye Tucker has described, “wrapped in His love.” As John Newton said, “It was grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved.”
I haven’t experienced anything like that since, but I have felt tremors. Sometimes when I am speaking a sense of His holiness comes over me. A holy fear to speak not for the approval of man but for Him.
So often I need those tremors because of my depravity.
I remember clearly my first Christian booksellers convention. These mega-events, held in arenas, can have a bit of a carnival feel — though there are good things like holy Bibles and strong books on display, there are a multitude of booths with offensive bumper stickers and praying bears. As Chris said last week: “Sometimes I am troubled by the use of cheesy Jesus’ images like ones on bumper stickers or some pictures that one might see in an email or on the internet. I think we have a tendency to shrink God down to where we feel comfortable with Him.”
Steve and two of our daughters were with me, and Sally and Annie were excited to meet so many celebrities. I was pleased to have radio broadcasters interested in me. It’s an atmosphere as conducive to pride as moisture is to mold.
At the Sunday service, thousands were listening to Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, and a whole string of well known people. Looking back, for many of us, our focus was on them, rather than on God.
We have such a tendency to lose perspective, to forget how holy, holy, holy He is.
When it was time for the message, a short unassuming man came out. I looked at my bulletin and saw the title of the sermon:
“The Depravity of Man and The Holiness of God.”
The preacher was R. C. Sproul, and he was quickened by the Spirit of God. His message was exactly what we needed and the Lord chose to quicken him. There was such a sense of the holy. As if Jesus came into the temple with a whip.
THE MYSTERIUM TREMENDUM.
Watch this clip of R. C. Sproul from his series: The Holiness of God.
When you realize how holy He is, and how sinful you are, the earth should shake a bit. This is what makes us so grateful, as well, for His grace.
During Lent we are endeavoring to put something off and put something on in its place. No doubt every one of us has failed to live up to the standard we set for ourselves. It would be easy to think that trouble is coming into our lives because of that failure — but that too is wrong theology. He took our punishment — He satisfied the requirement of a holy God. We are called to be holy as He is holy, but He also knows we will fail, and He is faithful and just to cleanse us when we confess our sins. In this powerful passage today, if you could read it in Greek, you would see how He says:
LET THEM GO
1. Have you ever had a sense of The Mysterium Tremendum? When the fear of God overwhelmed you? If so, share something about it.
2. What stands out to you from the above and why?
3. Report on last week’s Lenten discipline and what you plan to do this week. A fresh week.
Monday-Wednesday: Bible Study
For this third week of Lent, we will again be looking at an episode where Jesus proclaims Himself to be Deity, to be the Great I AM. This phrase, by which Jesus identified Himself repeatedly in John’s Gospel, is the same phrase that God spoke to Moses when He told him that His name was “I AM.” This week I want us to look at the incident that occurred on holy Thursday, the night before Jesus was crucified. Keller’s message, which is free this week, helps us clearly understand the Great I AM and will be a good foundation for coming weeks.
Just before this incident, Jesus had prayed His “high priestly prayer” for the disciples and for “those who would believe because of them.” He knew He was going to die, and His heart was with us, praying for us. Then, though this is not recorded in John’s Gospel, he went to Gethsemane, where He suffered, knowing what He had to face.
3. Read John 18:1-3
A. Describe the band of soldiers that came for Jesus. (Keller says “a band” was at least 200.) Why do you think there were so many? Why were they armed?
B. Meditate and comment on John 18:4.
C. In verse 5, when Jesus says, “I am he,” there is actually no “he.” It is simply “I AM.” Look up the following five references and find how his enemies reacted when He made an “I AM” statement:
John 10:7 and 10:14
4. Read John 18:6-9
A. What happened when Jesus said, “I AM.” Why, do you think?
B. What did Jesus ask them to do in verse 8?
C. Why, according to verse 9?
5. Read John 18:10-11 and report what happened.
6. What stands out to you from this account and why?
Thursday-Friday: Download this free sermon from Keller (LINK). (Click on the word Link and you will find many free Keller sermons, but we want # 11 “I AM HE”
7. The Greatest Claim
A. What are some claims that Jesus made that no other founder of any religion ever made?
B. Bono was asked if it wasn’t a bit much that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. What was his response?
C. C. S. Lewis has a famous argument in Mere Christianity in which he challenges those who want to believe Jesus is just a great teacher. What was it?
THE GREATEST PROBLEM
What notes do you have on this section?
What else stood out to you from this sermon and why?
THIS IS THE SCENE FROM THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS THAT KELLER REFERENCES AT THE CLOSE OF HIS MESSAGE: (Just the first few minutes are relevant.)
REMEMBER HIS WORDS
LET THEM GO
What’s your take-a-way? Why?