With this week’s post I would like to venture off a little bit from what we normally discuss and talk about a very exciting event that our church will be starting on Sunday that I don’t think people have realized the importance of yet. On Sunday, Pastor Kevin will be starting a brand new sermon series on the life of Jesus from the book of Matthew. Now, I know for many of you that might not sound like the most exciting thing in the world, but just hear me out.
For so many of us, our perception of Jesus has been molded and crafted by other people. We take their thoughts and opinions (correct and incorrect) and apply them to Jesus. We let social media, celebrities, relatives, and friends dictate who Jesus is to us. Now, I’m not saying that all of them are wrong, but how many people do you know that have actually read the 4 Gospels. Most people only know facts about Jesus because they learned them in a movie, TV show, or read it on Facebook. Do we really know who Jesus is?
Any time you hear or read a quote of Jesus in the media (TV, movies, internet), they always seem to quote (or misquote) Him in a way that makes their point of view or lifestyle choices seem ok (and don’t get me started on how horribly they take things out of context). But would Jesus really be ok with what has now become acceptable in society? Now, I’m not trying to condemn anyone with this post (if you know me, then you know that’s not who I am or what I am about), but when you really look at Jesus, I believe you’ll see someone who would condemn the very things our culture now celebrates.
Jesus was and is all about Grace. But He is also about Truth. John 1:14 is one of my favorite Bible verses and it says that when Jesus came, He was full of “grace and truth”. He is full of both. We tend to want to focus on one or the other. And that tendency causes us to just focus on certain parts of Jesus that we like. If you are all about grace, then you like to quote the fact that Jesus told the adulterous woman “neither do I (condemn you)” (John 8:11). But you leave out the part where Jesus told her to “go and sin no more”. If you are all about truth, then you love when Jesus called the Pharisees and religious leaders snakes and vipers. But you leave out the part where He said “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34) while He was on the cross. If you are all about truth, then you love the fact that Jesus called out the woman at the well for having 5 previous husbands and living with another man who was not her husband. But if you are all about grace then you love the fact that Jesus offered her “living water” that will never run dry and explained to her what real worship was like (in Spirit and in Truth). In reality, we need Jesus’ grace and truth. By His grace we receive forgiveness and eternal life (Romans 5:15-17) that we don’t deserve and by His truth we are set free from sin (John 8:32).
Jesus’ life and teaching are so much more than most of us have taken the time to study and learn. Jesus said “Stop judging others, and you will not be judged” (Luke 6:37), but He also said “Turn from your sins (repent) and turn to God” (Matthew 4:17). He said that He has come to give us “life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10), but He also said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23).
Jesus said that we are to love our enemies (Luke 6:35) and pray for the happiness of those who curse us (Luke 6:28). He also said that “Anyone who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him” (John 6:56). Wait, what? He really said that? And while Jesus loves everyone, He was very adamant about the only way to get to heaven. In John 14:6 he said “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no one gets to the Father except through Me”. How very non-inclusive of Him.
I say all of that to say this: I’m looking forward to learning more about the real Jesus. My job/calling is to lead people in the worship of Jesus, and I can’t think of anything better than people knowing Him more. So, I hope to see you all on Sunday as we begin this new journey.