Jesus and We
For those of you who may just be joining us, we are concluding a four-part message series today called Jesus and WE. We believe God wants us to make a difference in our world, but He doesn’t want us to do it alone. That is because we can do Infinitely more together than we can apart. So, we’ve been looking at some of the shared values we hold as the Church.
REVIEW: Our Four Shared Values:
So far, we have talked about SERVING. As the body of Christ, we are not spiritual consumers, we are spiritual contributors. The Church does not exist for us, but we are the Church, and we exist for the world.
In week 2, we talked about FAITH. We looked at two separate stories where we are told that Jesus was amazed. In one story, He was amazed by great faith, and in another, He was amazed by a lack of faith. There is no doubt about it our faith in God matters to God. He wants us to trust Him completely. I asked you to think about what would amaze God about your faith.
Then last week we talked about GENEROSITY. Jesus said it is more blessed to give than to receive. Since God calls believers to live and give generously, we intend to give generously of our time and our resources both as individuals and as a church.
As we conclude this series today, I want to talk to you about our CALLING as a Church, and as individual Christ followers. Our calling is about the value we place on reaching people who are far from God. God did not give us a small commission, but a great commission, to go into all the world to preach the gospel and make disciples.
As a church, our mission is to point people to the Savior of the world…His name is Jesus. Our desire is to help people know and follow Him. We want them to know who Jesus is, why He came to earth, what He did while He was here, and what a difference He can make in their lives if they will trust Him.
These are the words that Jesus spoke to His disciples, which includes every one of His followers from then to now, just before He returned to His Father in Heaven…“I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.’” – Matthew 28:18-20 (NLT)
Our world is in desperate need of hope. Jesus Christ is the HOPE of the world!
In Mark 2, “Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. (There were many people of this kind among Jesus’ followers.)” – Mark 2:15 (NLT) The religious leaders didn’t get it. They were offended by Jesus’ actions. They wanted to know, why Jesus was hanging out with all these sinners. “But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum?” – Mark 2:16 (NLT)
When Jesus overheard their question, this is how He responded…“When Jesus heard this, he told them, ‘Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.’” – Mark 2-17a (NLT) Then Jesus said something that ruffled the Pharisee’s feathers even more. They couldn’t believe He said it. And it is easy to see how they would be offended by what He said. “I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” – Mark 2-17b (NLT)
Jesus didn’t come for those who think they’re already righteous. He is talking to these religious leaders who were offended that He was hanging out with these sinners. He reminded them, and He reminds us, He came for sinners. The Pharisees didn’t seem to get that. Sometimes I wonder if we do. Have we forgotten why Jesus came?
Have we forgotten who Jesus came to reach? Have we gotten comfortable? Have we forgotten that we are all sinners in need of a Savior? Do we really believe that Jesus is the Answer to the questions this world is asking?
When we really begin to understand that Jesus didn’t come for those who have it all together, but that He came for the sick, the unrighteous, for sinners like you and me, a response is required. How have you responded to Jesus’ invitation to follow Him, and have you invited others to join you on this journey of faith?
When I stop to think about what He did for me, I have no other option but to go all in. That seems like the only reasonable response to me. And that is why I have given my whole life to Him. I have given Him my family, my future, my finances, my everything, it all belongs to Him. I want to see men and women, boys and girls, and teenagers, come to know Jesus as their Savior. This is the mission of the church! And that is our mission as individual believers as well.
God calls us to reach people who are far from Him and lead them to become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. That is why He sent His Son into the world in the first place. If we forget about that mission, then we might as well shut the doors and sell the buildings because we have settled for becoming nothing more than a community center or a country club. There’s nothing wrong with community centers or country clubs, but that is not what God has called the Church to be.
As individual believers, and as a church, we have a responsibility to reach people with the life-changing message of the gospel. Our calling is to make disciples. Living a life on mission means that our goal, corporately and individually, is to INTRODUCE people to Jesus.
How important is it to you, that lost people come to know Christ? Do you ever think about it? Just like in the previous 3 weeks, I asked you to rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10. One being the lowest, 10 being the highest, in the areas of serving, faith, and generosity. Let’s do the same thing with reaching the lost. Does it matter to you?
< Not Important Highly Important>
1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 – 7 – 8 – 9 – 10
If you are apathetic about people who are far from God, you’ll be on the lower side of the scale, but if this is something you are passionate about, you will rate yourself much higher.
How important is it, to you personally, that people come to know Christ?
You would score yourself higher on the scale if you have prayed someone specifically to come to know Jesus. Someone on the right side of the scale would have talked to someone about Jesus recently. You might have led someone to Jesus. You’ve probably led multiple people to Christ over the course of your lifetime.
To be on the right side of the scale, you are praying for people who are far from God. You’ve probably brought someone to church with you in the past few weeks. You may already have plans for who you will invite for Easter. That is because lost people matter to you. You have an obvious passion and concern for people who are far from God.
People on the left side of the scale are more apathetic when it comes to the spiritual matter of involving reaching the lost. Not only have you not influenced someone to accept Christ recently, but you have never had a part in leading someone to Christ. You haven’t been praying for anyone to come to Christ. That is not a burden you carry, and if you are honest, it is not something you care much about. It isn’t something you have considered recently. You’re too caught up in your own life to concern yourself with the spiritual needs of someone else.
I’m not trying to make you feel guilty, but let’s just be honest. We can learn a lot about what we value by paying attention to the things that consume our time, our thoughts, our calendars, our checkbook (credit/debit card, Venmo, Paypal, Google Pay, or some other app or crypto currency). These are the things that tell us what is really important.
So, let’s just be honest about what we truly value, and if adjustments need to be made, the good news is, we can make those adjustments TODAY, but only if we are willing to be honest and admit the truth.
I want to tell you a story about four guys who understood their calling. They were all about bringing their friend to Jesus. Many of you will recognize the story. It is found in Mark 2.
“When Jesus returned to Capernaum several days later, the news spread quickly that he was back home. Soon the house where he was staying was so packed with visitors that there was no more room, even outside the door. While he was preaching God’s word to them, four men arrived carrying a paralyzed man on a mat. They couldn’t bring him to Jesus because of the crowd, so they dug a hole through the roof above his head. Then they lowered the man on his mat, right down in front of Jesus.” – Mark 2:1-4 (NLT)
Jesus had just launched His earthly ministry. He had healed a few people. He had done a few miracles. He had preached a few messages. The word about Him was getting out. People wanted to see Jesus and they wanted to hear what He had to say. He was back home in the area of Galilee. The house is packed. People were pressing in trying to hear what Jesus had to say. That is when four men show up carrying a friend who was paralyzed, on a makeshift stretcher. It was no easy task to get him there. They had carried him some distance. But these four friends were convinced, if they could get their friend to Jesus, their friend could be healed, and he would be able to walk again.
When they finally arrived, it was standing room only. There was no way for them to get in. But they were committed to get their friend to Jesus. Somehow, they figured out a way to get on top of the house, dig through something probably like a thatch roof, and then lower their friend, on his mat, to Jesus. I like to imagine myself there in the room. Everyone is quiet, Jesus is teaching, and you notice this scratching noise coming from the roof.
Suddenly, a little bit of sunlight peaked through a small hole that had appeared overhead. Then some dust and dirt start to flutter down to the floor in front of Jesus.
That had to be distracting. It is hard to pay attention when it looks like the roof might be caving in. There would have been lots of noise from up above. Everyone is wondering what is going on. The hole in the roof keeps getting bigger and then one, two, three, four dirty faces peer through the hole in the roof.
They were looking for Jesus. As soon as they see Him, the sunshine got cut off for a moment. The makeshift stretcher was being forced through the hole above the crowd. The paralyzed guy is helpless as he watches the four red faces of his friends, as they are straining to lower him to the floor in front of Jesus. People have to spread out because the house is packed, and this thing is coming down right on their heads.
Everyone knows exactly why they brought their friend to Jesus. This was not about getting him a front row seat for Jesus’ message. They brought him there to be healed. About that time Jesus decided to shine some penetrating light on this unusual situation. “Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, ‘My child, your sins are forgiven.’” – Mark 2:5 (NLT)
Jesus saw the faith of these four guys. They are thinking if we can get our friend to Jesus, he will be healed. If we get him down, he is getting up. If we can get him in, he is walking out. We certainly won’t have to pull him back up through this hole in the roof. Nobody was planning to carry him back home. They are expecting a miracle. That is what happens when people come to Jesus.
Then Jesus said something nobody expected, “Your sins are forgiven.” What did He just say? I think He said, “My child, your sins are forgiven.” Great! Thank you, Jesus. That’s not why we carried him to you. We thought it might be nice to see him walk again. Did everybody get that but Jesus?
They were there looking for healing, not forgiveness. Everybody was waiting for the miracle. What Jesus did was not what anyone expected. The religious leaders that were in the crowd that day couldn’t believe their ears. How can any man forgive another man’s sins? “Some of the teachers of religious law who were sitting there thought to themselves, ‘What is he saying? This is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!’” – Mark 2:6-7 (NLT)
These guys were the experts on the topic of forgiveness. They know what it takes to be forgiven. To be forgiven, you need a sacrifice. That will require a trip to the temple. You have to wait in line go through the ceremonial cleansing. Then you get to the front of the line, and you finally get to the priest who will slaughter the sacrifice, put it on the altar, say a bunch of stuff. This forgiveness thing is complicated. Who does this Jesus guy think He is, God? Doesn’t He realize that forgiveness is costly? It is complicated.
Jesus was messing with their job security. Forgiveness is their job. You can’t just run around forgiving sins. Jesus had the undivided attention. All eyes were glued on him. “Jesus knew immediately what they were thinking, so he asked them, ‘Why do you question this in your hearts? Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk’?” – Mark 2:8-9 (NLT)
He knew what everyone was thinking. He knew what they were expecting. Jesus knew what this man needed. He not in the dark. He gets it. In fact, Jesus knew something that the people gathered there did not know. This man’s pressing need was not his PRIMARY need. What seemed urgent in the moment was not most important. This guy’s felt need was not his deepest need. What he wanted most was not what he needed most.
In this moment, Jesus addressed his primary need, and He met the deepest/most significant need in this man’s life…and nobody seemed to appreciate it. They were blind to a very important truth. Forgiveness is typically not a felt need. Nobody was even thinking about forgiveness.
In fact, they were probably disappointed when Jesus said, “your sins are forgiven.”
That is not what they came to see. Forgiveness did not seem like an urgent need. But when you stop to think about it, forgiveness is our greatest need. Our most urgent need is forgiveness. Our most pressing need is forgiveness. This is about reconnecting with our Heavenly Father.
FORGIVENESS is about removing everything that stands between you and God.
Not only so that you can connect with Him, but so that you can help others connect with Him as well. So, how do we know this guy’s sins were forgiven? Anybody can say, “your sins are forgiven.” The only person that has the power or authority to forgive sins is God. “So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” – Mark 2:10 (NLT)
The consequence of sin is death and eternal separation from a holy God. On this particular day, in that specific setting, Jesus demonstrated the physical authority to forgive sins by removing the CONSEQUENCES of sin. When sin entered the world, it brought with it sickness, disease, and death.
If someone says they can forgive your sin, they had better have the authority to remove the consequences of that sin. Jesus certainly did. He said to the paralytic…“Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” – Mark 2:11 (NLT) That was what the people were waiting for! People didn’t come to see forgiveness. You can’t tell when forgiveness happens anyway.
One of the main reasons Jesus healed people was to demonstrate His authority to forgive sin. Jesus healed the lame, raised the dead, and He caused the blind to eyes to see to demonstrate His authority over the physical consequences of sin. And here is an interesting fact – Everybody Jesus healed still died. That is because All healing on this earth is TEMPORARY.
We live under the curse of sin while we are here on this earth. But Jesus has authority to overcome sin, sickness, death, and hell itself. Jesus did not heal people just so they could be well. They didn’t stay well for long because they all still died. But Jesus demonstrated His authority to solve man’s ultimate problem and to meet His ultimate need, and that is to remove sin and the consequences of sin, which is what forgiveness is all about.
“And the man jumped up, grabbed his mat, and walked out through the stunned onlookers. They were all amazed and praised God, exclaiming, ‘We’ve never seen anything like this before!’” – Mark 2:12 (NLT)
Jesus forgave this guy’s sin which would impact his eternal destiny ,and nobody seemed to care. Then He healed him of his temporary inability to walk, and everyone is amazed.
PROBLEM: People often celebrate the TEMPORARY and they overlook the ETERNAL.
We all have a priority list. And the defining moment comes when we embrace the truth that our most pressing need is not health, or wealth, or companionship, or prosperity, or fame. Our most pressing need is forgiveness. To know that our heart is right before our Heavenly Father. All this other stuff will come and go. But when it comes to forgiveness, we are talking about eternity!
You can be connected to a holy God all because of what Jesus did when He died on the cross. That is why we say Jesus is the Hope of the world. He can make an eternal difference in your life. Forgiveness may not be your most urgent need, or the most urgent need of the people around you. But it is your most pressing/important need, and it is the most pressing/important need of the people you know and love.
The price has been paid for you to be restored to your Heavenly Father. Our world needs to know. You need to know that. The people you know and the people I know need to know. And it is up to us to tell them. That is our calling. It is our mission.