Easter Sermon Series: Avoiding Jesus?
As we approach Easter, we are in a new sermon series. I'll be frank: the sermon series is designed to make us uncomfortable, not in a brow-beating way, rather because Jesus' words force us to carefully examine the things He said about Himself, the demands He made on all who would follow Him, the things He did, and what He had to say about life and meaning.
The Jesus we find in Scripture makes us uncomfortable. Unlike the cultural Jesus (and there are many expressions of Jesus in our culture), the Jesus Who Is does not exist to make us comfortable nor cater to our wants, He isn't satisfied being a 'part' of our life, and He cares deeply what we believe and how we live. The Jesus of Scripture calls us to live life for Him, to take up our crosses and follow, to love Him supremely and to trust Him for and with everything.
This Jesus makes us uncomfortable.
During His earthly ministry, He made people very uncomfortable. Yes, for much of His public ministry, there were things about Him, things He did and said that the people really loved. For example: they loved the Jesus who healed them from disease and condemned the religious hypocrisy of the day. They loved the Jesus who served thousands of people a full meal with little more than a sack lunch and they loved the Jesus who turned water into wine.
Jesus also made a lot of claims about Himself that upset people and He didn't always do what people wanted Him to do. He showed no interest in overthrowing Rome and establishing an earthly kingdom with Jerusalem as the center of the world.
Instead, He talked about denying the self, taking up ones cross and following Him. He talked about being born again. He said simply being religious wasn't good enough. He claimed to be one with God and claimed God was His Father. He claimed to be God's Son.
Among other things.
Looking back, some people today wonder: 'how could the people of Israel miss Jesus? They had all of the Law and Prophets and they all point to Jesus.'
How could they not 'get it? Why would they be so offended by Him that they sought to have Him crucified (and succeeded)? We wouldn't do that. '
Oh yes we would. We did.
He is just as offensive to us today if we are honest. The Jesus Who Is assaults our cultural sensibilities. So much of what He said confronts us, our traditions, those things we like to tell ourselves, and is contrary to the 'gospel' (which is not the gospel) that our culture loves.
We will be looking at hard but necessary things as we move toward Easter. This past weekend we heard Jesus' demands 'to repent and believe in the gospel' and how those words, that idea, is 'offensive' to so many professing CHRISTIANS toay! Still, unless there is repentance and faith in Christ, no receiving the gospel, there is no salvation, no reconciliation with God.
We will see more moving ahead. We will see what Jesus has to say about the idea that good people will get into heaven, how religion can be offensive to Him and messy faith pleasing to Him, among other things.
This is a holy and sacred time. I hope you will worship with us this season. As a reminder: we have services on Saturday (5:00 p.m.) and Sunday 11:00 a.m. Everyone is welcome.
I hope you will worship with us and encounter the Jesus Who Is this Easter season.
Grace and Peace,