Whereas we don't normally flee, as in running away, from things in our every day life, we still do flee. In tonight's sermon with guest preacher, Pastor Tom Glende, learn how we can stop fleeing and live better for Jesus.
So... how’s life? Everything cruising along just fine? Nothing troubling or difficult come up lately?
I’m going to guess that's not the case. I’m going to guess that you've got at least one something, probably many somethings that are giving you grief and potentially causing some lost sleep, robbing you of some peace of mind, and just overall taking up your time and energy that you’d rather be spending elsewhere. How are you handling that? Are you trying to face it, confront it, and put it to bed? It’ll be hard but at least you’ll have won and probably come out the other side with something good to show for it. Or are you trying to just figure out some way to get the issue rid of, forget about it, take it out of your life and move on? No victory there but at least there’s no cost to you in fighting it.
It can be a tough call when we face a challenge to balance that risk/reward relationship, to decide if the fight is worth it. There’s a branch of the path that costs us something but we benefit at the end… or we choose not to fight and there’s no immediate cost.
But there is one of those choices in our lives that’s kind of a no-brainer. The difficult side is full of hardship that you wouldn't deal with if you chose the other branch of the path. It's full of self-sacrifice, pain, and ridicule. And the reward you earn for walking it is: absolutely nothing. Plenty of pain, no gain. All you can see is that one side is going to cost you, the other side doesn’t.
When I talk here about a difficult path versus an easy one, I'm speaking of course about the difference between being a disciple of Jesus, following him, or not. Now, I’m speaking about this like it's a one-time choice but it's not. It's really a fork in the road that we face a dozen or more times every single day. We usually don't think about it in such conscious terms, but this is really what we're facing.
The moment approaches when we have a decision to make. On the one side is the path that God calls us to follow as his disciple. To think, act, or speak as he’s taught us. It’s the path that costs us something. If you go down that road, you’ll have to give up… something. You’ll have to give up some of your time or your treasures or your pride or your peace. You’ll have to endure some kind of emotional or physical pain. And at the end of that branch you will have received nothing you do not already have. No benefit. The other branch is a straight line, level ground, no trouble and it looks like it ends at the same place, but there’s no cost. So really, no-brainer.
You’re at work and overhear a conversation where a co-worker is bashing the church. He can’t stand how they’re deluding people constantly. And for what? They’re only after your money and they’re all filled with hypocrites who don’t practice what they preach. The easy path is to stay quiet. Maybe pass a little silent judgment on the person, be sure to treat them a little differently from now on. Mark that person in your mind as a fool. God’s path instead says to look at that person with compassion. To give up pride of thinking yourself better because that could just as easily be you. And to give up the safety of staying silent but rather in love inviting the coworker to come and see that they might be mistaken in their assumptions of the church. Isn’t just easier to stay quiet?
It’s payday. In fact, it’s a special payday because this paycheck has a bonus and a raise attached. The easy path is to think of all the things you can do for yourself or your family now. Pay off some debt? Take a vacation? Remodel a bit like you always wanted? Maybe just rework the budget to have more spending money each month. After all, you’ve earned it. God’s path tells you that you did not earn it. That he gave that to you. And he asks you to set aside some of the things you want to show him thanks first. To give to him in proportion to how much he’s given you. And that means giving up some of those dreams of things you want. Wouldn’t be easier just to keep it for yourself?
Someone close to you is rude. Heartless. Hurts you through indifference. And it keeps happening. The easy path is to be angry. To hurt them back. To badmouth them to others. To carry a grudge and hold a bad opinion of them. God says love even those who hurt you. God says leave justice and judgment and vengeance to him. God says to speak well of everyone, to hold your tongue even when the bad stuff is true. But God’s path means giving up your hurt pride, it means letting go of the pain and anger. It means abandoning the idea that this person is “bad”. But isn’t it easier to just stay angry at the bad people?
We face moments like these constantly, and when you look at it like that the decision seems obvious. One path costs, the other path is free. Even for the Christian, there does not appear to be a tangible reward for choosing the path that costs. You do not come out the end “more saved” than you already were. You are already forgiven, right? God already loves you, he already died for you, so... you don’t get anything more for making yourself miserable by paying the cost of his path right?
It’s a compelling argument. I hope I didn’t make it too compelling for you. It is what is whispered in our ear. It is what the devil would love for us to listen to. And it's very tempting. Don’t go that way, it’s not worth it. But it is short-sighted, in the moment, and ignores the larger picture of our salvation. Being a disciple of Jesus means carrying this cross, this cost of following him. It is a necessary part of the experience.
Jesus says as much in our Gospel that we just read. He tells us, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
So just in case it isn’t already clear, let’s start with the obvious question: What is our cross? Sometimes we like to think that it is just everything unpleasant that we endure in this life, but that’s not exactly accurate. Not that God doesn’t have something to say about those things, but that’s not really what we’re talking about here. When Jesus calls for you to take up your cross and follow him, he’s talking about the cost of being his disciple. He’s talking about what you endure, what you suffer, what you give up as a result of choosing the path that he’s on instead of the world’s.
Your cross can be as overt as the ridicule you endure from family or coworkers over the fact that you believe in some magical God who created the world in seven days. It can be as difficult as giving up your time or your money because God asks it. It can be as subtle as just giving up your right to feel like you’re justified in your anger and judgment of another person. Whatever it costs you to follow the path of the disciple, that’s your cross.
So, what makes it so necessary? After all, we say that God’s forgiveness is full and free right? Freely given, without cost or demand. And all this before we even come to know him. If the forgiveness is given first, what makes taking up the cross such a vital part of being Jesus’ disciple?
I could go into the scriptural definition and explanation, about how faith is a living gift from God and faith by its definition shows itself in actions that love God more than yourself and making those choices for God is just a natural result of having faith. But let’s maybe approach it a little more simply, in a terms that are easier to grasp with the theme we’ve been using: Disciple.
So here is the plain question: what kind of disciple are you if you refuse to follow the instructions of your teacher? What if you were learning a trade under a master and every direction he gave, you ignored it and did things the way you thought would work better instead? Not only would that make you foolish for not listening to the one who had the experience, who actually knew better, but it wouldn't make you much of a disciple either. In fact, if you kept up that behavior you probably wouldn't be retained as a disciple for very long.
That might be a little less than encouraging if you're anything like me. After all, I know how I make my choices. Sure, sometimes I listen to Jesus and accept the cross that comes with his path. But more often than I want to admit, I take the road that looks easier and costs me less. And if that’s the kind of disciple I am, one that says “no thanks” to the cross when it looks uncomfortable, then what hope do I have?
The best kind, actually. Take a look at what the Apostle Paul has to say in our reading today:
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
In a very real sense, it’s encouraging when you can’t do the work in front of you. Why? Because that's the point of Jesus. You are not the treasure, you are the jar of clay. Unimpressive, worthless, ugly. That’s okay. Because you are filled with the treasure. The treasure is Jesus.
Jesus took up his literal cross for you. He carried it to Calvary. He let himself be hung on it. And there he took up your cross. He took the real cost on himself. The payment you owed for every failure to be his disciple. Every time you took the selfish path created a debt to God. Jesus took the debt and paid it in blood. As he endured the pain of Hell itself he paid your price, he carried your cross for you.
Jesus’ death and resurrection means that in the eyes of the Father you have always carried your cross perfectly. You are filled with the treasure that he has won for you, and that treasure can never be spent out. There is always more there than you will ever need, it is an eternity of God’s treasure filling you up. The outside is attacked, there is cost demanded, but the treasure never runs out. The final part of our reading for today points out some vital truths as we prepare to shoulder our cross in the world:
13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
Truth number one: we believe, therefore we speak. Faith speaks, faith shows itself. Being a disciple of Jesus means that you follow his teachings and that means even when there's a cost. Because he paid your cost. For the believer it is as natural as the sun rising and the flowers blooming.
Truth number two: outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. Here is a far more important fact about the costs of being a disciple. You are not the one paying them. Because everything God asks of you, every cost to every cross you must carry, it's all paid out of what God has given you. All you have, and all you are you have only because he's given it to you. All your time, all your treasures, all your strength within and without come from him. And so whatever the cost of following him is, he's given you enough to pay that price. However difficult that cross may look to carry, he's standing right there with you ready to shoulder the burden. It's not really on you.
And truth number three: our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. Being a disciple of Jesus is listening to him and putting what he says into action. Even if there’s a cost. Because the fact is that in his discipline, he is the master. He knows the best ways. He knows what will actually spare you the most pain and bring you the most blessing. You just might not be able to see it.
So instead of looking at what the paths might look like to you, we trust his judgment. We fix our eyes not on what is seen but what is unseen. Jesus has shouldered your cross. He continues to give you everything you need to bear it. And his path leads to eternal glory in heaven. Don’t trust what you see, trust the one who saved you. So what now? You’re a disciple of Jesus. Pick up your cross, go out there, and follow him. Amen.
Guest preacher, Pastor Doug Lange shares with us an important message: we don't need to get angry for Jesus or think we have to watch out for him. Our attempts usually hurt Jesus instead of helping him out. Jesus does take of things himself. He shows this to Peter and to us today.
For an athlete, I don’t know if there’s anything greater -- Standing at the top of the podium, flowers in hand, gold medal around the neck, TV cameras in your face and your nation’s anthem playing in the background.
But what’s it take to get there?
Meet Chloe Kim. She began snowboarding around age 4. After a few years of home practice, she went to her first ‘meet’, placed well and her dad realized she was really good. When she turned 8, he quit his job and dedicated himself to being her trainer. Together they went across the country. They trained every day and missed out on the ‘normal high school life’ in the hopes of getting that Olympic glory.
And she did. After 9 years of constant dedication. She won the Women’s Snowboarding Half Pipe. She got the gold medal. She stood on the podium. She received Olympic Glory!
But what about God’s kingdom?
What does it take to get heavenly glory?
Today we’re going to look at that question – and the answer might not be what you expect. Before we do, a prayer: Lord, strengthen us by the truth; your Word is truth. Open our eyes to see what you want us to see. Open our ears to hear what you want us to hear and open our hearts to believe what you would have us believe. Amen.
I. Jesus’ Glory
Today’s lesson comes from Mark 9. It’s shortly after the events on the Mount of Transfiguration. We talked about that last week. Jesus went up on a mountain top with Peter, James and John to do some pretty amazing thing. His face started glowing. His clothes started glowing. He spoke with two long dead prophets. He summoned an ethereal cloud and a voice from the cloud spoke, “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him.” (9:7)
It was amazing and also pretty clear proof that Jesus is God himself.
(If you missed this message, check it out on our website or our podcast. It’s a pretty incredible account from God’s Word.)
But for Peter, James and John – the eyewitnesses to these events? It must have been exhilarating.
I picture them walking with a spring in their step.
Their heads held high.
Their smiles from ear to ear:
“That was insane!!!”
“I know right? There’s no way any of this was a trick. The only one who can do that kind of thing – is God!”
“And this is perfect. Because miracles like that are what we need to really get this Christianity movement going.”
“Yep. All he needs to do is duplicate that moment down at the synagogue and the people will stop giving him grief. They’ll have to believe. There’s no way that you can look at his divinely glowing face, watch him talking to long dead prophets, and hear that incredible voice speak – and NOT be convinced he is God’s one and only Son.”
“Do you think we should talk to him about it? It’s a good plan.”
But before they could approach Jesus, Jesus approached them.
He asked them to all gather on the side of the road.
He wanted to share with them his plan.
Just not the same one --
The Son of man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him. (v.31)
And Jesus kept talking, but the disciples didn’t really hear.
You have the ability to do amazing things. To make it so obvious that you are the Son of God – that you are God himself!
And your plan is to die?
You can make your face shine with heavenly brilliance -- And you’d prefer it drip with blood?
You can summon the dead to life itself – and you’d prefer to let people summon your life to death?
You had God’s incredible voice vouch for you– but you’d prefer to have angry men vouch for your crucifixion?
I thought what happened on the mountain was insane; but, no…this…is insane.
And maybe you can see why they’re thinking like that. Look at what Jesus says, The Son of man, will be delivered into the hands of men. That verb: “Delivered.” That’s something that you use for inanimate objects. The UPS delivers a package. The USPS delivers the mail. The farmer delivers some eggs. The Organic Dairyman delivers some milk. The pizza guy delivers pizza. The late pizza guy delivers cold pizza.
You deliver inanimate barely important objects.
But…Jesus…was saying that he would be delivered.
Treated like some piece of property.
Jesus who created and own all things would be treated like a common eBay shipment.
And when he was in their hands – it wasn’t much better. He would suffer and be killed. Think about that.
The Creator of life itself killed at the hands of his creation.
The Maker of all things made to suffer horrible things.
The one who maintains our heart beats – allowing his heartbeat to stop at the hands of the very heart beats he is maintaining.
This is humiliating.
And Jesus knows this is going to happen. We know he does because this takes place about a year before it happens. And yet – if you follow the story – Jesus still goes to Jerusalem. He does not hide from those angry men. He delivers himself to his murderers.
Why? If that was me –
I’d get out of Dodge (Wherever Dodge is).
But not Jesus.
He keeps going.
He makes the plan happen.
He undergoes extreme humiliation.
The Bible says this, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3: 23) In other words, if you want a divine, gold medal from God – if you want to rise to the podium in his heavenly kingdom. If you want to be in his heavenly graces with the national anthem of the Kingdom of God playing in the background, you just have to be sinless.
It's like Shaun White having to get a 9.75 score to win. Only your score needs to be perfect!
Not hard right?
Unless…you’ve sinned already?
Then, you’ve fallen short.
But the passage continues, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified freely by God’s grace in Christ Jesus.” (3:23b)
In other words:
Jesus did live perfectly.
Then, he changed score cards with you.
He switched his perfect 10 with your -464.
He took the fate that comes with falling short.
And he gave you the glory that comes with rising above.
This was not an accident.
This was part of Jesus’ plan.
Because Jesus is more concerned with your glory than his.
He wants you in his kingdom.
He wants you to experience heaven.
He wants you to dwell in God’s eternal glory.
And if he had to humble himself in order to earn that for you – so be it.
II. A Disciple’s Glory
Back to the disciples. Jesus had just finished his soliloquy about his death, but the disciples were too confused to really ask him about it.
Still…you might expect them to discuss it.
You might expect them to discuss this incredible sacrifice.
To be impressed by this incredible humility.
They were conversing, but not about Jesus:
“Listen Peter. I don’t care if you got to walk on the water. You fell in. I wouldn’t have because I’m better than you.”
“Yea, right Philip! You didn’t even get invited up the mountain. You’re obviously way less important than me.”
“But dude – you tried to build a tent for God. How dumb is that? The only high ranking you have is a high ranking for foolishness.”
“So what --- at least I’m bold. You haven’t even done anything worthy of mention if some book about us was written.”
“He called me Peter. Peter means rock. What did he call you? Yellow bellied fisherman?
“Ya huh…times infinity.”
The argument continued until they reached their destination. It quieted down as they greeted their host for the night and moved into the living room. After all the disciples made themselves comfy – ignoring the tension between them, Jesus entered. He had a question:
“What were you talking about on the road?”
And this is one of those father/child moments. Because he knows what they’re talking about. And they know what they’re talking about. And they also know – it wasn’t a very impressive conversation. It especially looks bad after Jesus had just told them about dying for them.
So…they didn’t answer.
They stared at the ceiling hoping Jesus would forget he had asked a question.
Jesus spoke: “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last and the servant of all.” (v.35)
As in put others first.
As in serve others first.
As in view others better than yourself.
As in worry more about their glory than yours.
But to really get the point across. Jesus looked around the room. Over in the corner – a young child. On the ground. In the dirt. Runny nose and food stains down the front of his shirt.
Jesus lifted him up and put him on his knee.
“Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcome me does not welcome me, but the One who sent me.” (v.37)
Do you see Jesus’ point? It’s totally backwards from this world’s perspective.
This world says “Be the best. And if you want to get to be the best, be kind to the popular, the scholars, the politicians, the rich, the famous…”
But Jesus? He says differently.
Imagine putting Jesus’ teaching into a practical scenario. You’re hosting a dinner at your home. In walks a bigwig in town. A politician. He’s in a three-piece suit, drives a Lexus and has a bright designer tie held on by a solid gold tie tack.
His personal security tells you that he’s hungry for some pate.
As you are heading to the kitchen to get the important treat for the important guest – a tug on your pant leg. It’s your 2-year-old nephew. He’s stinky. His hands are grubby. He doesn’t have a gold tie tack, but a slimy pacifier. His lip quivers – his universal sign for hunger.
Who do you feed first?
Important, popular, rich politician?
Or slimy, grubby, crying toddler?
Ignore the caviar;
It’s time to get the Cheerios.
Because glory in God’s kingdom comes in serving others.
Glory in God’s kingdom comes in humility.
It was true about Jesus.
It’s true about you too.
Starting with salvation! Salvation doesn’t come to the one who says, “I’m pretty awesome. I’m the best.” It comes to the one who says, “I’m not that awesome. Jesus is the best. Jesus help me. Jesus save me.”
And it’s the same way in his church. Our goal is not to be the “BEST” at church. We don’t serve just so that we can get our names in 12-point Times New Roman font in the bulletin. No. We serve because Jesus loves us and we serve all others because Jesus loves us.
It’s a different approach than the world’s approach.
But that’s because it’s God’s approach.
III. WHAT NOW?
A few things to keep in mind about humility fellow disciples:
1. Strive to be the VERY Last
That’s an important adverb that Jesus adds on. He says, “Be the very last.” Not “Close to the last” or “farther back than most” but the “very last”
That means, as Jesus’ disciples, we serve all that we come into contact with.
Not just the people we like.
Not just the people who are rich.
Not just the people who are popular and cool.
Jesus desires us to serve all above ourselves.
That means serving the little child.
It means serving the poor.
It means serving the lonely.
It means serving the sick, the sinner, and the jailed.
It means serving the people that the world won’t serve because we aren’t a part of this world – we are a part of God’s world.
2. Serve in Jesus’ Name
Because sometimes it’s very hard to serve others. Especially when they are unthankful, rude and repeatedly awful.
But we don’t serve people because they’ve earned it.
We serve people because Jesus earned it.
And by it – I mean glory for you and me through his death on the cross!
Remember – we had fallen short and he had risen above, but he switched places with us to serve us and bring us glory.
And now he says, “You have glory. You will be in my kingdom. I did this for you – so won’t you give glory to others?”
In short – Make Jesus your motivation to serve others.
3. Remember the Last Part of Jesus’ prophecy
The disciples seemed to miss an important part of Jesus’ prediction. They heard the suffering part. They heard the delivered over to men part. They heard the dying part.
But that wasn’t all he predicted. Jesus said, “The Son of man will be delivered over to the hands of men, he will suffer and die and on the third day he will rise again.” (Mk. 9:31)
The disciples missed that hope then.
But years later they would remember it.
They had seen it fulfilled.
They had seen him completely lack glory on the cross…
And be completely surrounded by it at the empty tomb.
Remember that. Jesus suffered humiliation, but it resulted in glory.
Serve in his kingdom.
Because that same Jesus will bring you that same glory. Amen.
It isn’t fun to be confused.
It isn’t fun to be confused.
It’s even less fun to be confused about Jesus.
Why is this happening to me?
What does that passage mean?
Why is that story even in the Bible?
Tonight, we are taking a look at a moment when Jesus’ disciple Thomas was confused – I’ll call Biblically confused. Our goal is to see (1) what caused the confusion (2) how we have similar confusion (3) how do we deal with Biblical confusion. Before we begin, a prayer: Lord, strengthen us by the truth; your Word is truth. Open our eyes to see what you want us to see. Open our ears to hear what you want us to hear and open our hearts to believe what you would have us believe. Amen.
I. The Confusion
This actually takes place on the night before Jesus died on the cross – on Maundy Thursday. The context of the story is that Jesus is eating a private meal with his disciples. While they are eating, he is taking the opportunity to teach them and strengthen them for the very scary things that are coming up the very next day.
But during the night – a few confusing things had already happened:
It started with the feet washing. Jesus had done something really nice and gotten down on his hands and knees to wash their feet. Peter – trying to be nice – refused to let Jesus wash his feet. That seems nice. Polite even.
But Jesus responded by telling Peter he would have no part of him, unless he let Jesus wash him.
To which Peter responded, “wash all of me then!” Again – makes sense.
But Jesus refused. “Your body is clean. You need only your feet. Also…you need to be spiritually clean.”
Wait what? He wants us to be washed but also not to be washed, but to be washed anyways?
Was this a spiritual thing?
A physical thing?
Was this so confusing…
About ½ hour into the meal, Jesus had talked about betrayal. Then, he had prophesied that one of them would betray him. He followed it up by pointing out that the one dipping bread into the gravy bowl with him would be the betrayer.
The dipper in question? It was Judas. But what was the betrayal?
Was Jesus upset that Judas was eating all the gravy?
Had Judas betrayed Jesus and bought gluten free bread?
Whatever it was – it ended with Judas getting up and leaving the meal.
And the third thing – most confusing of all. Jesus was really somber. He was really sad. Why? They finally had a moment’s break. They weren’t surrounded by questions and help requests. It was relaxing – PLUS it was a holiday. It was the Passover. The Passover was a celebration of God’s goodness and keeping Israel safe.
Yet Jesus kept looking at the floor.
A few times tears welled up in his eyes.
He didn’t make a lot of jokes.
Why was he so sad?
It was really confusing.
Then, Jesus spoke a soliloquy. A soliloquy about houses. He said the following:
Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (v.1-4)
The statement was comforting.
It was beautiful.
It was downright confusing.
And Thomas couldn’t handle it!
“Lord!...We don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (v.4b)
If you leave and then summon us without telling us where you are going, how are we gonna get there?
Dude – you need to be clarify. You need to explain to us where you are going and how we can follow you!
And Jesus turned his attention to Thomas.
He nodded his head.
He cleared up the confusion:
“I am the Way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (v.6)
II. Clearing up the Confusion
Now that’s a pretty famous passage. Maybe you’ve heard it before. But in context, I think it’s really, really interesting. Because Thomas is totally confused.
Where is this room?
How do we get there?
How do we get there if you don’t leave us a map?
And then…Jesus responds by saying – I’ll tell you the Way: It’s me!
Thomas thought Jesus was talking physically, locally, geographically.
Jesus was talking none of the above.
He was talking spiritually.
That room? It was a reference to heaven itself. Jesus was about to go there. He would die. He would rise. He would sacrifice himself for their sins and by doing so he would prepare a room in heaven for each and every one of them.
And when the time was right – when the time was right for each of them to die – and join him in heaven - Jesus would send his angels to get them. (They’d die.) Then, they’d live forever in heaven with him, too.
And the way to heaven? It isn’t local. It isn’t geographic. It isn’t physical.
You don’t take a plane. You don’t take a spaceship. You don’t get a ride on the Millennium Falcon.
You don’t live perfectly. You don’t do more good than bad. You don’t just “try to be a good person.”
“Jesus is the Way…No one comes to the Father except through him.”
Do you get it? Thomas already knew the way to where Jesus was going.
He knew him well.
He knew him as a miracle worker, a good friend, and a compelling teacher.
He knew him as a leader, an encourager, and coworker.
He knew him as Jesus.
He is The Way to heaven.
This is so important – because when it comes to spiritual confusion, it always starts with misunderstanding about the way to heaven. The simple answer is that Jesus is the way to heaven. The reality is that every other answer just muddies the waters:
Have I done enough?
Have I tried hard enough?
Have I truly loved enough to get my way to heaven?
These kinds of questions muddy the waters. And if we’re honest – if we want to be clear for the moment – we let them muddy the waters, because we know the clear answer. It’s the answer that Ash Wednesday – and the talk of dust and death and sin makes really clear --- NO!
No, I haven’t done enough.
No I haven’t tried hard enough.
No I haven’t loved enough to get to heaven.
But here’s the truth. Once you face the clear truth to those questions.
Once you face the hard “no.”
Suddenly, it’s a lot less confusing.
Have you ever done one of those puzzles where you have to follow the lines and figure out which one gets where you want to go? They are hard. The tough ones have 10 plus lines of squiggles. And it’s so easy to get lost, to start following the wrong string, and to take the wrong turn and never get there.
But what if the wrong lines were removed.
What if the wrong lines were taken away.
What if the only right way was the only one left?
That’s exactly what Jesus is doing in this section.
Don’t be confused.
I’ve removed the ways that don’t work.
I alone am the Way to heaven.
To a place without sadness.
A place without broken hearts.
A place without hurt and pain.
III. WHAT NOW?
(1) Remember the Answer
Because even as a Christian, it’s easy to get confused.
Have I done enough?
What does this passage mean?
Why is this happening in my life?
Do you remember in Sunday School? How every answer to every question is Jesus? Every time I do chapel with the preschoolers, the very first question that I ask them about the last week’s Bible story is: Who was in the Bible story? And the first answer – no matter what – no matter if he’s mentioned or not – is Jesus!
And every time I always say, “You’re right. Jesus is absolutely the answer. He’s a part of every Bible story.”
I know it’s a simple answer, but “Jesus” is also the answer for a lot of confusing adult questions.
Have you done enough? No. But Jesus did.
What does this passage mean? It means something important in light of Jesus – who lived for you and died for you.
Why is this happening in my life? A lot of reasons – but Jesus loves you. Jesus has you in his hands. Jesus will take you home to heaven.
Jesus is the answer for whatever confusion you have going on right now.
Jesus is the answer for confusion.
(2) Trust the Answer
Because sometimes humans are rational. We want scientific formula and rationale logic written out with numeric formulas in order to explain why it is the answer. Why it is what it is.
But Jesus is God.
And God is decades of eternities smarter than us.
And we aren’t always gonna get it.
Stop trying to figure it out.
Start simply trusting in Jesus.
He is the answer.
He is Your answer.
He is your Way.
He is Your Truth.
He is Your Life. Amen.
The Olympics are officially underway. One of my favorite parts is the behind the scenes documentaries that appear on the various athletes. They’re pretty exciting because you get to learn more about their background, their personality, and what drives them.
Like Mamee Birney. She’s a Short Track speed skater originally from Ghana, immigrated when she was 5 and now skating for the U.S. She’s one of the breakout stars of the Olympics and the very first black woman to qualify for the U.S. speedskating team. She’s intimidating. She’s bubbly. She’s excitable. She’s also 18 and just got her own cell phone for the very first time.
That’s fun. What’s nice about social media is that it connects us to these celebrities in an intimate way.
We really get to know them.
But what about Jesus?
Then disciples had followed him for 2 years.
They had seen amazing thing, heard amazing promises, and listened to amazing speeches.
But Jesus didn’t have an Instagram. How would they get to know the real Him?
Today we are travelling along with the disciples to an intimate retreat on a mountain. Our goal is to witness an event that teaches us intimate details about who Jesus is and talk about what that means for being His disciples. Before we begin, a prayer: Lord, strengthen us by the truth; your Word is truth. Open our eyes to see what you want us to see. Open our ears to hear what you want us to hear and open our hearts to believe what you would have us believe. Amen.
Context wise – this lesson takes a huge leap forward in time from last week’s sermon. It’s about 2 years after those early chapters in Mark and lots of things have happened.
There are more disciples. The original 4 fishers of men have grown to be 12 including political activists, accountants, and others from throughout the land of Judea.
There have been many miracles. The disciples have seen Jesus make the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, storms stop, and bread multiply out of thin air. They have seen a host of incredible, miraculous things.
They have become very familiar with Jesus’ mercy. Because in spite of His divine miracles, Jesus has been reaching out to the non-divine. He has spent time with prostitutes, eaten dinner with tax collectors, and helped the dregs of society that most religious leaders would not have touched.
After seeing all of these things, the disciples knew they were following someone great. But on this particular day, they were going to get a chance to really know the man behind the powers. They were going on a Retreat – not to Disney World – not to Great Wolf Lodge – but to a quiet mountaintop. This was their chance to really understand more about their leader.
You can almost hear them practicing their questions:
Who are you really?
What are your hopes and dreams?
What’s your favorite color?
Jesus, what is it that makes you tick?
But as they made their way up to the top of the mountain – and Peter cleared his throat ready to finally ask some of those tougher, get-to-know-you questions -- Jesus was already answering those questions.
Just not with words.
It began with a glow…A white like glow emanating from Jesus’ clothing. It was a bit strange because there wasn’t a washing machine located on the top of this mountain -- and last they had checked Jesus’ tunic it was stained with the dirt that had rubbed against him from night after night of sleeping under the stars.
And certainly not glowing.
But not as strange as what they saw next. Jesus’ face was also glowing. It wasn’t a mask. It wasn’t a trick of the sun. He wasn’t shining a flashlight on his face. In fact, he hadn’t done anything differently than simply set foot on the mountain.
Yet, his face was bright. Bright–bright. Wish you were wearing sun glasses bright. It was a brilliant shining white light that was emanating from the face of Jesus in a way unlike anything they had ever seen.
But before the disciples could make any hypotheses as to why the luminescence of their leader, another mystery…Two men. (A couple of hermits? Mountain men?) appeared with Jesus.
The disciples listened more closely. They didn’t speak like mountain men. They spoke like men of God. They talked about what it meant for Jesus to be the Messiah, about God’s promises about the Messiah in the Old Testament, about the next stages of Jesus’ plans for saving the people.
Who were these guys? They listened closely to what Jesus called them:
“Moses, it’s just like God prophesied through you. I am the prophet like you from among the Israelite brothers.”
“And Elijah, it’s just like God worked through you – I have done miracle after miracle – only at an even more impressive clip.”
Peter’s jaw dropped.
He turned to John and mouthed those names again:
If that’s who these two were, that would be amazing!
They were heroes of the Old Testament.
They were legends of God’s Word.
They were rock stars in the world of the Jewish faith.
They were also…dead. At least, they had been for hundreds of years.
Now about this time Peter had an idea. What was going on was breathtaking! Bodily luminescence? Material translucence? An encounter with two souls from heaven itself? This was worth sticking around for.
Ummm…Jesus. Ummm….so it looks like you are having a good time here. Me too. Really. Would you like me to set up a tent for each of you? I can use those big leaves from the fig tree over there. I’ll even set up some rocks as a bed. I’m sure that’ll be way more comfy than whatever beds there are in heaven…?
Before Peter’s could think better of his suggestion – things changed again. An ethereal fog began to drift in. Deeper than a fog a cloud! It slowly began enveloping the entire seen: Jesus. Moses. Elijah. The sycamore trees. The rocks. The disciples – until a white condensation covered everything with a white glow coming from where Jesus’ face previously had been.
And then? A voice.
Not Moses’ voice.
Not Elijah’s voice.
Not Jesus’ voice.
Not Isaiah’s voice or Jeremiah’s voice or the voice of Abraham himself.
This voice was too loud.
“This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.”
Peter and the others fell to the grounds. Frightened.
Because without seeing where this voice came from.
Without seeing where the voice was looking.
Without seeing who was talking.
It was God.
It was God talking to them.
“You must listen to him.”
II. The Truth about Who You’re Following
If the disciples didn’t understand before who it was they were following, suddenly things became very clear. Amazing? Yes. Hard to believe? Absolutely. But as plain as the bright light coming from Jesus’ face – they were following God’s Son.
And since God begets God from eternity – meaning He’s always there and his begotten – his Son is always there too—they were hearing from God about God – namely Jesus!
Their leader was the divine God of heaven and earth itself.
Think about the proof:
1. Fabric Luminescence
This might be the smallest of the miracles, but still pretty amazing! Tunics didn’t get changed often and they were worn in a desert community. In addition, Jesus had just climbed up the mountain. To expect it to be bright white, Clorox bleached white at the top of the mountain was pretty incredible.
In fact, it’s amazing to see that kind of a bright white clarity out of the washing machine. Right? It’s why when they run those Oxy Clean commercials and they dunk the ketchup and grass stained white tie into the bowl of product (because who doesn’t wear a bright white tie while eating hot dogs), it’s amazing how clean the product makes the garment.
This happened to Jesus.
Without any product.
Without any washing machine.
This was amazing. This was God.
2. Facial Luminescence.
I think this one is the next step up. Because this is not something that anyone had ever noticed about Jesus before. Think about it: his face was shining to the point of it being challenging to look at him. Even if the sun was shining, I don’t think it’s ever reflected off of anyone’s face to the point of making it difficult to look at them.
Perhaps a bald man’s head might produce that effect – ish. But Jesus wasn’t bald. He was 32 years old.
And there was something else on his face that would have completely prevented his skin from reflecting the sun’s rays in any kind of way that would imitate a ‘glitter shimmer.’
Again – Jesus’ face shining like a light is absolutely was amazing.
This was God.
3. Talking with Dead Celebrities.
And I think we need to focus in on that “dead” aspect. Because as amazing as it is that Jesus knew these celebrities of Jewish culture – it was even more amazing that he was talking to them hundreds of years after they had died.
For instance, what’s more impressive --
Hey! I just took a selfie with Justin Timberlake?
or Hey! I just took a selfie with Elvis Presley?
I don’t care what your taste is in music, the second one is way more impressive, because Elvis has been long dead!
And that’s the same thing that disciples witnessed.
And the men appeared out of nowhere.
And the men disappeared out of nowhere.
This was amazing.
This was God.
4. The Voice from the Ethereal Cloud
Which – I understand that the cloud itself might be explained. Clouds sometimes hang around the mountains. Sometimes they even hang around the lowlands – we call that fog.
But what are the chance a thick cloud envelopes the entire scene at the exact moment that Jesus’ clothes are glowing, his face is glowing and he’s speaking with two long dead celebrities?
I’m guessing – it’s not so much coincidence anymore.
And then – the VOICE!!! And remember – this is long before microphones.
It’s long before mini speakers.
It’s long before drones flying in noise from above.
This is nothing short of amazing.
This is nothing short of God.
Which is the point! The point of this account is pretty simple.
JESUS IS GOD!
You want to learn more about his character, his likes? His dislikes?
He’s the eternal God.
He dwells in the holiness of heaven itself.
He hates evil.
He loves good.
He is God eternal, immortal, invisible, all powerful from eternal himself.
III. WHAT NOW?
And this is key.
Because it leads to 3 very important truths about following Jesus.
1. Listen to Him
This is exactly what God’s voice said. “This is my Son; listen to him.”
That’s interesting. Because in a lot of groups/clubs there is a certain level of dialogue when it comes to action. For instance, the “Legion of Professional PEZ Collectors” will take votes to determine where they would like to host their next rally. What city will they be in? What type of PEZ themed candies will they eat? What hotel will they use?
People discuss plans.
Not with God.
When you’re in a group with God, the all-powerful, all wise, all eternal being gets the final say.
I bring that up because oftentimes we don’t treat God like that.
We get to discuss…– “Jesus, I get it. You think that’s sinful. I don’t. We live in a modern era after all. You’re going to have to compromise with me.”
TRUTH: If you think you can discuss, negotiate or compromise with God, then who are you treating as God?
That’s not wise. Because you can’t make your face glow.
You can’t make your clothes gleam.
You’ve never met Elijah.
You don’t know what Moses looked like.
A cloud has never enveloped you on your birthday to claim you as his perfect child.
And you can’t save yourself to heaven.
You aren’t God.
So…listen to the one who is.
Listen to Jesus.
2. Reconsider Jesus’ next Mountain
Because the very next mountain that Jesus comes to after this Transfiguration, isn’t so glorious looking.
It’s a mountain called the place of the skull.
A mountain where crucifixions occurred.
A mountain called Calvary.
There aren’t a few special friends; but thousands in angry opposition!
There isn’t a shining brilliance emanating from his face; but blood. And sweat…and more blood.
There aren’t two returned to life prophets; but two dying criminals.
There isn’t the voice of God himself; but the bitter silence of the Father turning his back on him.
It sure doesn’t look glorious.
…when you remember who Jesus is.
When you remember that’s God himself.
When you remember that is Eternal Holy God, entering mortality and suffering death and pain for me!
Calvary becomes beautiful.
More glorious than the mount of transfiguration.
Because it means you’re forgiven.
It means you’re His.
it means you are loved.
And it means you’ve gotta get down from the Mountain.
3. Get Down from the Mountain
Because I understand why Peter wanted to set up the tents. When he was on that mountain, it was obvious! Jesus is the Savior. Jesus is the true God. Jesus is worth following.
And sometimes in church, the same thing is obvious. We hear these stories. We learn God’s Word. We become convinced “Yes! Jesus is the Savior. Jesus is the true God. Jesus is worth following!” When you’re here, you might feel excited, pumped up, and convinced of that truth. It sure beats being out there in the world with coworkers who call you an idiot, social media that ridicules your faith, and friends are make you have doubts.
It’s nice to stay on the mountain.
But you can’t.
Jesus didn’t stay. Jesus had to get down that mountain. He still had to complete his mission. He had to suffer and die to accomplish our salvation.
And the disciples didn’t stay. They had to get down that mountain. They had to learn God’s Word deeply. They had to begin their ministry in sharing this message of God’s grace.
And you can’t stay either.
If you think discipleship is only thing that happens within these walls, you’re wrong.
Discipleship continues out there in the world.
We have people to tell.
We have people to tell that the one we follow is the TRUE God.
We have people to #GatherToTheGarden!
Here’s the thing – you’ve had a behind the scenes look at whom Jesus really is. Just like you might get excited to share a good interview about an Olympic hero, please share this truth about Jesus your Eternal Hero.
He is true God.
He is your savior.
He is the one you’re following. Amen.
Pastor Kiecker joined a gym and he really likes it. It’s called the Iron Tribe (you know, Iron like as in pumping iron?). It’s fun and hey, it’s good for your health.
But one thing to really appreciate about the gym is the hours. They run class all week long and throughout the day. So, he could go at 5:45am or 6:00pm. It’s great because it fits his schedule and lets him join the “Tribe” and workout on his own time, whenever that happens to work out. And…if you miss workouts for a week? No worries. They’ll still welcome you back with open barbells. It’s nice for some things to be able to commit at your own pace.
But…what about Christianity? What kind of commitment is involved? Is it a 9 to 5 thing? Weekends only thing? An hour every Sunday? Every so many Sundays? Less? Or more? As we continue our series on Disciple let’s take the time this morning to ask ourselves: How often does a disciple need to be a disciple?
Today we want to dig into Scripture and see just how much time Jesus invested in his work and by extension how much time he expects his disciples to invest in the work of discipleship. Before we begin, a prayer: Lord, strengthen us by the truth; your Word is truth. Open our eyes to see what you want us to see. Open our ears to hear what you want us to hear and open our hearts to believe what you would have us believe. Amen.
I. Jesus Is Always On
The lesson for today is from Mark 1:29. It takes place right after last week’s lesson where Jesus drove the demon out of the sermon heckler. Look at verse 29 it says this: As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. (v.29) A bit of context for those who have been following this sermon series: The group of disciples currently consists of Peter, Andrew, James and John – the same group of four that were called to follow Jesus while fishing and they all saw Jesus drive out the demon. Then, together they set out to the home of Simon and Andrew as soon as they were done with events at the synagogue.
Before we move on, think about what Jesus had been through on that particular day so far: He’d been teaching at the synagogue all day long – maybe 9 to 5? He’d been answering questions. He’d been speaking. He’d been teaching. And then, at the end of it all, he had to do battle with the demon-possessed man.
I don’t know if you’ve ever taught a class or done some public speaking but…it’s exhausting. I can pretty much guarantee you there’s a nap in my future this afternoon. (Pastor Kiecker’s the same if you’re curious!) So…I can’t imagine an all-day affair. Your feet get tired from moving about. Your voice gets tired from talking. Your brain gets tired from thinking. (Granted – mine might get tired a bit easier than yours, but…you get the point).
By all counts Jesus should have been tired. It was time for a break. Time for a stop for wings with the coworkers. To kick back and relax a little, and just unplug from it all. But that’s not where the disciples take him.
They went…to the home of Simon and Andrew. (v29) And it’s not to have a nice meal or play a game of cards … Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever and they immediately told Jesus about her. (v.30)
Hmmm…that’s probably not so subtle a hint? If I was Simon, I could understand why I would want Jesus to come to my house! I had literally just seen him drive a demon out of a demon-possessed man. He did it without a long process of chanting. He didn’t use oils. He didn’t fight the demon. He simply spoke and the impure spirit was gone. And if I’m Simon, I’m thinking:
That’s amazing! This Jesus is awesome. And I’m following him. I don’t think I have to worry about being possessed or injured or sick or…Sick..? That’s right. My mother-in-law is sick. And Jesu is powerful. You don’t suppose… “Hey Jesus…you wouldn’t want to have supper at my house?”
Jesus is asked to do some work as soon as normal work hours are over. It’s evening. It’s getting dark. For me, it’s time to sit on the couch, put your feet on the Ottoman and see what’s on Netflix. If anything pressing is waiting for me when I get home from work my reaction is usually, “Can’t it wait for tomorrow?” I wouldn’t blame Jesus if he turned to Peter and said, “Not tonight. I’m done for the day, I’ll be available tomorrow…”
But he doesn’t.
Jesus went to her. He took her hand. He helped her up. And the fever left her. (v.31) And this wasn’t just some motivational encouragement that compels her to stop loafing about and get on her feet. Look at the difference! She was in bed, unable to move, unable to join the festivities and all Jesus does is help her up and suddenly – she’s feeling good enough that she began to wait on them.
Nothing I’ve ever taken for a cold works that quickly. Or that well. Even when it does kick in I’m still pretty out of it and need some rest. Here’s the point – and it’s evident here & throughout Scripture – Jesus is always on! He is always ready to help his people. He is always ready to help his disciples. He is always ready to help – especially you!
In fact, the Bible says this, “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Mt. 7:7) This is Jesus’ promise to Peter, Andrew, James, and John. They simply had to tap him on the shoulder. They simply had to speak with him. They simply had to ask. And for you and I, it’s the same, but just a different means of getting the message to him. We speak to God through prayer. We pour out our hearts to him. We give him our requests and questions – and he listens! Jesus is always on!
Think about that for a company policy. It’s not often that you find one like that. Yes, there are some grocery stores that are open 24/7, but I’ve noticed that they tend to be severely under employed in the overnight hours. They might only have 1 or 2 people in the whole store; meaning that if I needed some help finding the Doritos at 4:15am… they might not be able to. (Not that that would happen, Pastor Kiecker and I both know where the Doritos are kept.)
Or think about a customer service phone line. Have you ever tried to get customer support for say your health insurance outside of business hours? You don’t get it. You just get a voicemail saying that they aren’t open right now.
And if you’ve got a doctor; even the friendliest, most caring doctor has times of unavailability. He needs some sleep. He doesn’t make appointments at 1:20a on a Saturday morning. And you might not be able to get a hold of him on vacation, while he’s sleeping, or when he’s in the hospital being sick himself! I’ve even heard stories of pastors getting 102 degree fevers when they are supposed to be preaching a sermon on Jesus driving out fevers! Pastors aren’t Jesus. Even they aren’t able to be always on.
But not Jesus. He is always on. He is always, always, always on. He is on at 9am. He is on at 5pm. He is on in the middle of the day. He is on in the middle of the night. He is on for Groundhog Day, Valentine’s Day and even when all of Wake County is closed for ice and snow! Jesus is always on, ready to hear you, ready to comfort you, ready to serve you with the message of his Gospel.
II. How On Are We?
Now here’s where it gets interesting. Because Simon isn’t the only one who has the idea to ask Jesus to help. In fact, I picture Jesus and the disciples relaxing now. Simon’s mother-in-law is up. She’s about. Not that the group put her to work, she’s just that kind of person who can’t sit still when there’s company. She’s making everyone coffee and throwing together a few appetizers for the whole group to kick back and enjoy after-hours relaxation.
Then, suddenly…a knock. It’s one of the ladies from the synagogue earlier. She saw what Jesus did for the man with the demon and well – her son? He isn’t well. He’s sick. Would Jesus be willing to heal him?
Jesus gets up. He smiles. He nods. He heals her son.
It isn’t long after that interaction and Jesus is just about getting back to his snack when... another knock. It’s an older gentlemen. He was watching at the synagogue too. And well – he didn’t want to say this then, it’s embarrassing but… look at his hand. It’s shriveled and very painful. If maybe Jesus was around…
And Jesus gets up. He smiles. He nods. He heals the man’s hand.
And this time, before Simon can close the door… a shout! “Is Jesus in there? My name is Sally and I heard about what Jesus did today with the demon possessed man. Would you be willing to help my father? He has the same problem.” “And I’m Joshua. I heard Jesus speak today and saw his incredible power. Jesus, do you think your power can help heal this catch in my left knee?” “And I’m Betty, and this is my husband. He severely injured his hand while fishing the other day. Can you heal him so he can work again?”
And people keep coming. And the line keeps moving. And the whole town gathered at the door and… Jesus healed many. (v.33-34)
Now – It doesn’t tell us how the disciples reacted to this. It doesn’t tell us how Simon, the guy whose house this was reacted to the whole town gathering at his door, but I’m not sure he loved it. To be fair – yes – it was great to have Jesus come back to his home and help his mom-in-law. But…he was Jesus’ friend. He was his coworker. He was a part of this movement. What Jesus did for him, that wasn’t work; that was helping a friend. But these people? Shouldn’t they know better? What right do they claim to ask? Shouldn’t they leave them alone? Shouldn’t they let us take a break?
I think this could very easily have been Simon’s reaction, because people love the idea that Jesus is always on for them. But when it comes to being on for others, well…
The other day someone came into Pastor’s office and they needed some help. They needed to talk. They needed to vent. They needed some help with a food card too. It took up some time. And what was kind of interesting is that shortly after the conversation was over someone else who had seen that person come in entered his office. “Wow. That was a long time. Don’t they know that you’re busy? You’ve got a lot to do. How rude.... Anyways…do you mind if I sit down? I’ve got some things on my mind I could use help with…”
That’s irony. But we all do it. People demand that God always be available for them; and yet struggle to be even a bit available for others! This is wrong. In fact, listen to these passages:
Galatians 5:13: Serve one another.
John 13:34: Love one another.
1 Peter 3:15: Always be prepared to give an answer about the hope that you have.
Notice there is no time limit. There are no hours of operation. It doesn’t say, “Serve one another from 9 to 5.” It doesn’t say, “love one another for an hour every Sunday.” It doesn’t say, “Be prepared once a year.” Nope. Jesus’ disciples are to be always on, always ready to serve, always ready to love, and always ready to share the Gospel message. When we’re not, that’s selfish.
That… might not have felt so good to hear or think about. You might be feeling very convicted. As I had to sit down and prepare to present this message to you, I shared the sentiment that Pastor Kiecker himself wrote: I’m not sure that I’ve felt more convicted as a disciple than getting ready to share this message.
After all, I get tired. I get cranky. And more quickly than I’d care to admit, I get to a point where I don’t want to do much for anyone but me.
It’s humbling to think of how quickly we do give up on being on for others. Thankfully there’s something encouraging here. Because, in spite of our selfishness in spending our time and our energy, Jesus is selfless. He is always on, and always ready to serve.
And in fact, he’s already invested an incredible amount of time on you.
The Bible tells us: Long before the world began, God spent eternities thinking of you. In eternity, He saw your sin and developed a plan to save you. He spent thousands of years prophesying those plans for you. He lived 33 years on earth for you. He spent one awful night of suffering for you. He spent an excruciating 3 hours on the cross for you. He spent 3 days in the grave for you. He broke out of the tomb in an instant for you. He worked through his word time after time in your life to share this message to you – for you.
Jesus has eternities invested in you. Here’s the truth: His eternal investment in us empowers us to invest in others. Simply put: If God cares that much about you, to invest that much time in you, can’t you invest a few minutes in others?
III. What Now?
Knowing all Jesus has done for us, here are a few things to learn from the text:
First of all, Take Action. And not next month. Not next week. Not tomorrow. Take action today. Think of someone you know. Someone who’s hurting, someone who’s depressed, someone who’s sick, someone who needs to hear about Jesus, or just someone you know. And take action.
Just like Jesus. Did you notice all the action verbs? Jesus went. Jesus took. Jesus helped. Jesus healed. Jesus didn’t waste any time acting when he saw those in need. DO the same. Act. Today. Serve. Love and share Jesus.
Next, Rest. Because the point of this section is not, don’t rest. We need rest, or we can’t keep serving. We’re not Jesus, we’re not God. We need time to recharge. But it’s not rest for rest’s sake, it’s rest with a purpose. The purpose of being energized, excited and ready to serve others as a disciple.
Case in point: the very next verse tells us that early the next morning Jesus got up early and went out mountain side to pray. He got away from people. He got away from busy. He took a moment and connected with God. The point? Jesus needed rest – and he’s the Son of God.
You need rest too. But make your rest intentional. Don’t just grab a pillow. Don’t grab a pillow and your phone and play Diamond Crush for three hours. Rest physically and rest spiritually. That’s very important. Because when we rest spiritually, we get spiritually reenergized. We see God’s love for us. We read about the time he’s spent on us. We are filled with his love to go and share his love.
And it’s kind of ironic, because spiritual reset takes time! But if you are too busy for spiritual rest, you’ll actually get spiritually tired of being a disciple. If you take the time for spiritual rest, you’ll find the spiritual energy, motivation and reason to serve others as a disciple.
Finally, Prioritize Your Service. Because early that next morning as Jesus is getting his spiritual rest and praying, Simon and the other disciples come running up the hill, “Everyone is looking for you Jesus!”(v.37) There’s plenty more people who need you to heal their physical ailments. And based on everything we just read to this point, I’d expect Jesus to say, “Okay!”
But he doesn’t. Instead? “Let us go somewhere else – to the nearby villages – so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” (v.38)
You understand, this isn’t Jesus being rude. This is Jesus having his priorities straight. Helping others’ physical needs is one thing, but healing their spiritual needs with the message of the Gospel? That’s the purpose.
Keep your priorities straight. Don’t help your kids with their homework in place of helping them grow in God’s Word. Don’t serve your wife with a romantic date night, in place of helping her grow in God’s love. Don’t serve the homeless with some physical food, while neglecting to share the spiritual food of Jesus.
Because brothers & sisters, discipleship is a 24/7 calling. It’s not just busy work. It’s the work of our Lord who has invested so much in us. Soak in what your God has done for you and what he continues to do for you that he may empower us to invest the good he’s given us in others. Amen.