Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Monday, December 17, 2007

Sermon-- Mission In Progress-- 12-16-07

Most of the sermon below is just referencing various texts of Scripture used to make the overall point. I knew what I wanted to say and didn't write as much down this time. If you want the whole context, you'll have to listen to the sermon when it gets posted.

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Mission In Progress

We’ve been working backwards to Christmas and the incarnation—starting with the Return of Christ and the Mission Victorious—then last week, we looked at the Mission Accomplished—with Jesus’ work on the Cross.

Today, we’ll be looking at the Mission In Progress—what others thought His mission was supposed to be and how Jesus described His own mission.

1. Mission Imposed
a. Throughout Jesus ministry, people thought they knew what the Messiah should be about—they tried to tell Him what to do, how He was supposed to do it—who His friends were supposed to be—even who He should or shouldn’t be having dinner with—essentially—many people tried to impose their understanding upon Jesus—essentially—they were trying to tell Jesus how to do His job.

b. Here’s a Definition of an Armchair Quarterback-- a person who is not a quarterback, but offers opinions and criticism on the performance or decisions of those who are

c. There were many people who wanted to offer their opinion on what the Messiah should be, or offer their criticisms of Jesus performance as the Messiah.—and I thought patients commenting on a surgeon’s technique was bad.—or a drunk driver trying to tell a sober driver all the things they are doing wrong.

d. Miracle Worker— LK 4:23 Jesus said to them, "Surely you will quote this proverb to me: `Physician, heal yourself! Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.' "
LK 4:24 "I tell you the truth," he continued, "no prophet is accepted in his hometown.

e. Pharisees--MK 8:11 The Pharisees came and began to question Jesus. To test him, they asked him for a sign from heaven. 12 He sighed deeply and said, "Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to it." 13 Then he left them, got back into the boat and crossed to the other side.

f. Herod-- LK 23:8 When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform some miracle. 9 He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer.

g. Public Figure—John 7:1-- JN 7:1 After this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life. 2 But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, 3 Jesus' brothers said to him, "You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. 4 No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world."—stop hiding out here—you need to be in the Big City so you’ll get noticed

h. We Know Who Your Friends Should Be-- LK 5:27 After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. "Follow me," Jesus said to him, 28 and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.

LK 5:29 Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. 30 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and `sinners'?"

LK 5:31 Jesus answered them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."

i. MT 11:18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, `He has a demon.' 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, `Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners." ' But wisdom is proved right by her actions."

j. King by Force-- JN 6:14 After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, "Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world." 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.

k. Again, Jesus failed to have His mission imposed on Him. He refused to have His behavior Imposed on Him—He refused to have the “right people” imposed on Him—H refused to be made King by some other means, He refused even to do miracles in some places.

l. You and I have many expectations of Jesus—He’s one of the more talked about and misunderstood characters in history—we try to make Jesus into our own image—if I’m for it, or I’m doing it—then I’m sure Jesus is doing it or for it too. Jesus won’t care—not only does He love everybody, but He saves everybody.

2. Mission Explained
a. We want to let ourselves off the hook on so many things—saying the law of righteousness or the call to holiness by God no longer applies to us or it is outdated. We may not always understand what this means MT 5:17 "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.

b. We think of Jesus as the cute and cuddly Savior—much like the Teddy Bear you received last Christmas—But Jesus describes Himself this way in the Sermon on the Mount---Matthew 10:34T 10:34 "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” He wants people to make a decision about Him—and that decision will divide friendships, households, even nations.

c. So many want to make Jesus tolerant—never imposing His faith—never trying to tell someone else they are wrong----MK 1:38 Jesus replied, "Let us go somewhere else--to the nearby villages--so I can preach there also. That is why I have come." 39 So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons.—for there to be Good News—there had to be Bad News—for there to be demons, there has to be evil—and He called it what it was—

d. John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
JN 10:11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

e. JN 12:46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.
JN 12:47 "As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it

f. Even today—we expect Jesus to come in and solve all our problems—if we just get Jesus back into our schools, if we just get Jesus back into our government—those expectations are not much different from the Jewish misunderstandings of what the Messiah was coming to do. But Jesus came to save people and change people and in so doing will change society. In describing His mission—Jesus, in visiting His hometown said this LK 4:16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. 17 The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
LK 4:18 "The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
LK 4:20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, 21 and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."

g. So much of what follows in the Gospels are moments when He feeds the hungry, frees those held in demonic bondage, restores sight to the blind, heals the sick.—He doesn’t go to the halls government—he goes to the hearts of people.

h. Since so many don’t like to hear that they are wrong, don’t like to hear that they are going down the wrong path—they have issues with the real Jesus--Luke 19:10-- 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost."—if you’re lost—you need someone to find you , to put you on the right path

i. I would expect someone as important as Jesus to demand favorable treatment—superstar glamour--some big wigs before agreeing to a speaking engagement require a certain amount of money, certain hotel and food perks—but not Jesus Matt. 20:28-- 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

j. Predictions of death & resurrection
i. MT 20:17 Now as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, 18 "We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death 19 and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!"
ii. MT 26:1 When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, 2 "As you know, the Passover is two days away--and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified."
3. Mission in Action
a. Jesus was all about reconnecting people with God
b. That’s why, when He saw the abuse at the Temple—He was willing to throw over tables, and drive people out who were cheating and taking advantage of the poor.

c. Rather than allow himself to be king—to be used as a political tool--even when the people tried to force the issue, Jesus would Slip away from being made king—even when Satan offered it all for a small price

d. Jesus Refusing to make Himself into a Public Figure by going to the feast with His brothers—but came silently and began to teach

e. Refusing to do miracles on queue—

f. Instead, Jesus Setting his face toward Jerusalem –on numerous occasions, Jesus’ determination to go to Jerusalem is described—nothing could alter His course—not even the begging of His disciples

g. Refusing to escape—Gethsemane—don’t you know I could call upon 10 legions of angels

h. Nothing could deter Jesus from fulfilling His mission. Every step of the way—when moments of temptation would come to take Him off the path—you need to know that your face flashed before His eyes—the ones He came to save—the ones He came to rescue from darkness and death.

i. Also consider the passion with which He fulfilled His mission—how nothing dissuade Him—not fear, not death, not embarrassment—all because of His love

j. Now consider that after fulfilling His mission—Jesus gave you and me a mission that we need to fulfill with the same undeterred passion that Jesus had. To share our light—to help rescue people from darkness. Nothing should deter us from the Mission that Christ Accomplished on the Cross and gave to us to share—not fear, not death, not embarrassment. Too often we do let those things and more stop us.

k. But our love for Jesus should compel us—it compels me to want to fulfill my mission—to see you fulfill your mission—to see the Kingdom of God grow in our hearts and our church and our city. So this Christmas—honor the birth of Christ by fulfilling the mission He gave you.

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