5th Sunday after Pentecost
Take Up the Cross
Text: Luke 9:18-24
Who is Jesus? You could make the argument that’s the most important question of all time. This last week I saw a video of random people being interviewed on the streets of Richmond, VA. The people were asked a number of questions including that all-important one—“Who is Jesus?” The answers were all over the place. “Jesus was a great teacher who lived a long time ago.” “Jesus is a wonderful example of how to live that people can follow.” One college-aged woman said, “I believe that Jesus was a real person who lived and taught and claimed to be the Son of God. But I don’t believe that part because I’m an atheist and I don’t believe there is a god.”
If you polled other people I’m sure you would find other interesting answers, like, “Jesus is the founder of Christianity.” “Jesus was a prophet like many of the other religions have.” “Jesus was powerful figure that was looking to overthrow the upperclass regime of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” “Jesus is the ultimate example of love.”
This is not a new phenomenon. Even when Jesus was walking this earth the same thing was happening. All kinds of people had all kinds of opinions about Jesus. Listen to the beginning of the Gospel today: “Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, ‘Who do the crowds say I am?’ They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life.’” Read the rest of this entry
14th Sunday after Pentecost
Choose to Follow Christ!
1. A decision enabled by God
2. A decision that flows from faith
Text: John 6:60-69
This is not easy. This is difficult. This is controversial. This is a hard teaching . . . The silence was deafening. Jaws were dropped. Eyes were darting. Brows were furled. Heads were scratched. This didn’t make sense!
Jesus had fed thousands of them with a few loaves of bread and two fish. Maybe Jesus could give them some more food. And if Jesus could give them food, maybe Jesus could give them some other things they needed, too. They had diseases to be cured. They had Roman taxes to be paid. They needed to refinance the loans on their donkeys.
But then Jesus told them that they shouldn’t work so hard for bread. They shouldn’t chase after things that spoil. Instead they should work for bread that comes from heaven. What did that mean? Then Jesus said that he was bread from heaven. How could Jesus of Nazareth be from heaven? Read the rest of this entry
Text: Mark 1:14-20
If only I could be a fly on the wall during Jesus’ ministry. Next week the focus is on a Jesus who taught with a special kind of authority. Those who heard him knew right off the bat that this man was different. What was it like when Jesus proclaimed the good news of God?
Evidently it was good enough to inspire people to drop everything to follow him. If I came to you at your place of work and told you to leave your job, your family, your friends and all that you know to come follow me you would probably look at me as if I were crazy.
There was something about this Jesus that made people want to know more. There was something about this Jesus that was different. Something about this Jesus caused four men drop what they were doing, leave everything they knew and follow Jesus without delay.
It was his love that separated him from ever other human around. Jesus is the only person who was able to love perfectly and people saw that in him. We see it in him too. We see it in the way he treated the sinful people that surrounded him. We see it in the way he talked. We see it in the way he lived. We see it in the way he died. We see it in the words he left for his followers after he rose from the dead.
Jesus’ love made people want to know more about him. Jesus’ love fills us with that same desire. Jesus lived and died for you. Now he looks you in the eye and says, “Come follow me.” Jesus’ love for us earned us eternity in heaven. Jesus’ love for us will never fail. There is something about this Jesus that changes us. There is something about this Jesus that opens our eyes to what is most important. Jesus’ love makes us willing to follow him anywhere.
Prayer: Jesus, Jesus, only Jesus can my heartfelt longing still. Lo, I pledge myself to Jesus, what he will alone to will. For my heart, which he hath filled, ever cries, “Lord, as thou wilt.” One there is for whom I’m living, whom I love most tenderly; unto Jesus I am giving what in love he gave to me. Jesus’ blood hides all my guilt – Lord, oh, lead me as thou wilt. Amen.