Jesus died for you. He died for us all. He gave us signs like baptism and the Lord’s Supper as signposts of this New Covenant He cut for us. It’s not about which of us follow Him the best, it’s about the one who died for us. We all, just like Peter, fall away and deny Jesus with our actions, but He’s always there to reach out and restore us, why wouldn’t we confess and return to Him? Jesus prayed with fervent devotion, shouldn’t we? Can we not keep watch for an hour? Jesus was mocked and betrayed. Pilate was indifferent and unable to find fault in Jesus. Herod wouldn’t take responsibility, “let someone else deal with Him…” Don’t we do the same? Who will deal with the fact Jesus is Lord? Who will act in response to the reality that our friends and neighbors will go to Hell if they don’t receive Jesus as their Savior? We cannot be indifferent. Jesus died and rose again! He is the perfect sacrifice. The Bible clearly shows Jesus as the Messiah, God’s Anointed King from days of old come to save us from our sin. He is the Word of God, very God Himself, from before the beginning of time. John the Baptist spoke about Him, and then He came. He called people unto Himself, and so He still does today, will you follow Him? Do you look for a sign, or do you believe? We must worship Him genuinely and according to His Word. Just like the moneychangers in the temple, we must follow Him, not our own interests. Will you follow Him today?
Jesus didn’t follow all the rules, just the ones that mattered. Which is more important, to heal someone or to act with decorum? Are we willing to be “undignified” to follow Jesus? The wedding feast and the banquet, are you included? Are we out there inviting people to come in… but on Jesus’ terms, not theirs? It costs us to follow Jesus, but it’s worth it! You’re a child of God, are you making a difference? Have you lost your effectiveness for the kingdom, like salt that has no taste? That which is lost is worth going after. What will matter in the end is relationships. First and foremost, your relationship with God through Jesus… secondly, your relationship with others. The church is a community, are you adding to that community or are you a drain on it? Build relationships, build disciples. Be a worthy servant, and be a grateful one. Jesus heals 10 men, and only one said “thank you.” Only one allowed Jesus to heal his heart. Jesus is returning, will you be ready? Do we think we’re smarter than we are or do we allow even children to experience the joy of salvation without a cynical reaction? Which is harder, to follow Jesus when you’re at your lowest point, or after you’ve “gotten your life together” like the rich young ruler. Who needs Jesus more, the needy, or the greedy? Are we like Zacchaeus who won’t let any personal inconveniences get in the way of us seeking Jesus and bringing others to him, or have we lost our zeal for presence with our Lord? As Jesus comes to Jerusalem, he weeps for their rejection of Him. Not for His sake, for theirs. Jesus is challenged and yet at every turn he responds with kindness and a warning of the wrath to come. Jesus will return. Are you ready… if it were today?
Jesus sends. Not only did He come to us, but he sends us out. Our message doesn’t always make sense to others, Herod couldn’t figure Him out, and there is a mystery to the gospel. It’s God who reveals that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ. We must be willing to lay down everything and follow Him, even through suffering, even unto death, a daily death to ourselves, carrying our crosses as we follow after Jesus. Not everyone is willing to hear, really hear, and believe in Jesus. In fact, the majority really don’t. Following Jesus absolutely costs you something, but it is well worth it. Those who don’t repent don’t get a pass. You can’t be Jesus’ without following Him. Our job is to love others. How can you love someone and withhold the gospel? We need to remain connected to God in prayer. If you’re following Jesus you’ll be accused of all kinds of false motives. Selfishness, ego, and maybe even demonic influence, but don’t let that stop you, they said the same of Jesus. Don’t let your familiarity with the Bible lull you into a false sense of security, knowing the Scriptures doesn’t mean you follow them. This was the error of the Pharisees. Acknowledge Jesus and He will acknowledge you. There’s no such thing as a “private faith” with it comes to Christ. Focus on the things that matter. Imagine the horror of the man who spent his life accumulating riches and security only to find his life is over and someone else will spend his money. What a waste. Don’t worry about things like this, be anxious for the mission God has for us. Are you sharing Jesus? Are you loving people by telling them the gospel message? Are you making disciples? If not, why not? Are you a follower or a Pharisee? Be ready, follow Him TODAY! Don’t avoid conflict, Jesus didn’t, and he doesn’t want you to either. Don’t “go along to get along,” that’s what people with no convictions do. Do people matter to you? Then don’t let them run from Jesus without at least you putting up a fight for them. Only a few are actually headed to heaven. Don’t assume most of the people around you are saved, in fact, assume they aren’t, because they aren’t. How can we do nothing? Oh how we would force the lost to follow Jesus, but they won’t. That’s on them, as long as we do our part, share Jesus today.
Just as John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus, we too prepare the way for Jesus to the hearts of our friends and neighbors. Are we preaching the gospel to them so that they can follow Christ, or are we sitting back and watching. We get distracted and lured away, but Jesus showed us how to fight this. When he was in the wilderness being tempted, he quoted Scripture. A life in tune with God is how we are truly blessed. Not by our circumstances, but by being the person we were created to be. Poor, hungry, weeping, hated, excluded, reviled, spurned… but rejoicing because we are blessed. We love our enemies, we don’t have to hate them, we pity them. It is not our place to judge anyone or to judge right or wrong, God has already done that in His word, we don’t get to decide what we will or will not heed. Judgment is out of our hands. To lead someone to believe they are ok, when they’re not ok, is sin. Results reveal someone’s roots. When we see rotten fruit, opposed to God’s settled word, we are obligated to speak up. We need enough faith to know God can change hearts. Just like the Centurion, we don’t need Jesus to “show up” because He already has authority over the situation. We should trust him. When we share the gospel, and we need to be doing this, we know that the seed is good, we don’t need to change it. Our job is to find the right soil. Don’t keep the message to yourself, hide it under a bushel? NO! I’m gonna to let it shine! Be on “team Jesus.” We each have the choice to be part of His family. May we each make the right choice.
Our plans to counteract what God is doing never workout how we designed. The one God honors is the one who gives our all to bring glory to Jesus. When we give him our best, we will never come up short. No one is able to be perfect, and we can’t force others to do what they should. Just look at Judas. He walked with Jesus, and yet he still walked away. The young man flees, and even Peter denied Him. Jesus wants us to remember Him. His body, His life, as a sacrifice and fulfillment of the institution of the New Covenant. Jesus is a fantastic example of how we are to communicate with the Father. He pours himself out in the garden, and his disciples couldn’t even stay awake, can’t we see ourselves in that situation? Pilate can’t find any wrong in Him, but he’s not willing to stand for what is right. Doing nothing is doing something. Jesus endured ridicule, torture, and death… and He did it for you and me. He also rose three days later so we might know his sacrifice was genuine and accepted by God. We can be saved if we will only trust in Jesus, and He has a job for us to do. We are to go into all the world and preach the gospel. As many good things as we should do, they all take a back seat to this task. Preaching the gospel is our commission. It all begins with Christmas, the birth of Jesus. This was not a random event, but foretold and prepared from eternity past. God is in the miracle business. He brings life out of impossible situations, and He still does that for each of us today. May we have the faith of Mary. May we have the boldness of the shepherds who told the message. May we have the focus of Jesus to be about our Father’s business and not our own.