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THE GREAT PHYSICIAN
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Pastor Donald Magaw is providing Weekly Online Sermon's
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April 10th, 2020
April 5th, 2020
Sermon Prepared By: Pastor Donald Magaw
Today, the day we call Palm Sunday is very unusual…it is the first time in the history of the church that Palm Sunday services were ever cancelled. Obviously none of us like this, but this is the safest thing for all of us. It appears that this will be the norm for at least a month. No one wants to get back to church more than I do…but we have to make the best of it.
God bless you all….I will keep all of you in my prayers.
Sunday Morning, April 5
Title: When Death Brings Life
Text: “‘I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.’ He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die” (John 12:32–33 NIV).
Scripture Reading: John 12:20–36
We come today to the last week of Jesus’ life. Today, we call it Palm Sunday but let us look ahead.
Imagine with me, it is Monday, the day after he rode triumphantly into Jerusalem on the borrowed donkey. The pilgrims’ excitement about Jesus’ presence in Jerusalem was running high. They had greeted him on Sunday with palm branches, a practice that had first been used when the Jews celebrated the deliverance of the temple and the city of Jerusalem from the Syrians. Through the years the palm branch had come to be used on coins and in the temple feasts as a reminder of that great victory led by the Maccabeans. So when they waved the palm branches before Jesus, it was a symbolic way of encouraging him to conquer the Romans. They wanted him to be a military savior. They cried, “Hosanna!” which meant “Save us now!” or “Deliver us now!” But Jesus did not come on a warrior’s stallion, but on a donkey, to symbolize his mission as a man of peace.
First, let’s consider a strange request coming not from a band of Jesus’ own people, but from a company of Greeks. “Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the festival. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. ‘Sir,’ they said, ‘we would like to see Jesus’” (John 12:20–21 NIV). We are not certain what prompted the Greeks to seek out Jesus, but it is entirely possible that they had been standing in the court of the Gentiles the day before when, with fiery indignation, Jesus had cleared the court of money changers. And even though these Greeks were proselytes and had embraced the Jewish faith, they were not blind to the bigotry and prejudice of the Jews toward the Gentiles. It is possible that they were inwardly amused, as well as outwardly amazed, at what Jesus did!
Whatever the Greeks’ immediate reason for seeking out Jesus, something about him created a hunger within their hearts, driving them to find him and talk with him. They sought out Philip and said, “Sir, we would like to see Jesus.” Obviously he was confused by the situation, Philip left the Greeks alone until he could check with someone else. He found Andrew, who suggested that they take the matter to Jesus at once.
Not only do we encounter a strange request by the Greeks, but we are faced with an amazing revelation that Jesus gave his disciples. John wrote, “Jesus replied [to Andrew and Philip], ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified’” (John 12:23 NIV). Jesus must have been deeply moved by this request from the Greeks. He saw in their coming the beginning of an innumerable host of Gentiles who would believe in him. But before they could believe in Jesus with a true understanding of his ministry, the crucifixion and resurrection had to take place. But Jesus did not receive the company of Greeks at that time. For he was yet a Christ “in the flesh” who had come first to his own people as King of the Jews. In this role, he was not fully ready to be received by the Gentiles, although certain Gentiles, like the Syro-Phoenician woman and the Roman centurion and others, had received him. But before he turned to the Gentiles as a people, the loneliness and rejection of his own people had to occur. He had to be lifted up on the cross and accepted as a sacrifice for sin and not just as “a son of David.”
Jesus told Andrew and Philip, “The hour has come.” By this he meant the time was at hand when his mission would be infinitely expanded. For in just a few days he would die on a cross and be resurrected on the third day, providing once and for all redemption from sin for anyone who believes in him. Jesus continued by illustrating what he meant by his statement “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” Remember that the Greeks wanted to “see” Jesus. They wanted to be introduced to him, to understand him, to discover his mission. But Jesus implied that they could not “see” him or comprehend his mission—not yet! Why? Jesus knew that at this point these Greeks would see him only as a miracle worker, an appealing teacher, and a potential military leader. They were unable to see him in his role as Savior of the world.
Note the figure of speech Jesus used: “Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheal falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” (John 12:24 NIV). A kernel of wheat is a small husk covering a small piece of grain. A scientist could tell you everything that is inside that tiny kernel of wheat. But while you look at the grain, you cannot see what is inside! Andrew and Philip could have said, “But Lord, we see you! There you stand among us! We agree with Peter; we believe that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” But just as no one can see what is inside a tiny grain of wheat, so they could not see Jesus in the fullest sense of the word. So what do we do with this grain? We put it in the ground, and it dies, disintegrates. But that is not the end of it! Something else happens. We stand aside, and presently a tiny blade appears, then the stalk, the head, and finally the full head of grain.
Jesus’ message was that no one could truly see him until he died. The power and efficacy of his life would not be released until he experienced death. Jesus’ life was perfect and sinless, but no one is saved by Jesus’ life. He performed many miracles in his daily ministry, but there was no saving power in his ministry. It was simply a demonstration and proof of his deity. It was his death that provided salvation. The company of Greeks could not see Jesus yet, but if they waited awhile, they could see him in a way that they could never have seen him before!
Jesus had said that one cannot find eternal life until first there is a death— his death on the cross. And following this same theme, he applied the principle to those who would follow him (John 12:25–26). Here is a matter of spiritual priorities. Many Christians are completely earthbound, and their chief concern is with this life, its things, those things that are “hands on”.
Then Jesus drove his illustration even closer to home. He said, “Whoever serves me must follow me” (John 12:26 NIV). Where was Jesus going? He was going to the cross. But where beyond that? He would be resurrected in glory and in triumph! The grain of wheat would fall into the ground and die. And through that death, life would spring forth and a harvest would result.
In summary, what was Jesus saying to us? First, he was telling us that true life is released only after a death takes place. While the grain of wheat was preserved in safety and security, it was unfruitful. When it was planted in the ground, it bore fruit. It was by the death of martyrs that the church grew in the ancient past. As an old saying puts it, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” Because they died, the church became the living church. Second, Jesus is saying that only by giving our lives away do we retain life. When Joan of Arc knew that her enemies were strong and that her time was short, she prayed to God, “Lord, I shall only last a year; use me as you can.” And finally, Jesus is telling us that only by service comes greatness. At another time, Jesus said, “For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest” (Luke 9:48 NIV).
True life is not realized until you identify with God through Jesus Christ. Then you learn that life is found in giving yourself away so that Christ may be top priority. Hear him say to you, “Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.”
Remember, our Lord reminded us that man cannot serve two masters. Jesus Christ must be the sole master of our lives but you must let him and make that decision for yourself. The big question is the same one that Jesus asked Peter, “Whom do you say that I am?”
March 29, 2020
Sermon Prepared By: Pastor Donald Magaw
Title: The Cross and Discipleship
Text: “Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it’”
(Matt. 16:24–25 NIV).
Scripture Reading: Matthew 16:21–27
The word disciple is a rather appealing word to Christians because it brings to mind those twelve men who were chosen by our Lord for a unique task—that of being the first messengers of the good news he came to give the world. Certainly the shepherds on the Judean hills and the wise men who came from afar were “heralds” of the Savior, but they did not have an opportunity to know the very essence of his gospel.
The familiar word discipleship also carries a certain appeal, for we interpret it to be the ideal lifestyle of a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ—a lifetime of following and learning from the Master. Yet, inherent in the word disciple, and hence in discipleship, is the word discipline. We do not find the same appeal in the word discipline because it has negative overtones. Everyone is born with a tendency toward rebellion against authority.
In other words, discipline, the mortal enemy of everyone’s will, saturated the way of life Jesus came to reveal. Many who were confronted with the challenge to follow him could not accept this discipline. As the time for his crucifixion drew nearer, there was an unusual urgency in what Jesus said about the cross and about discipleship.
“From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life” (Matt. 16:21 NIV). It was as though Jesus had “turned a corner” in teaching his disciples about his approaching death and resurrection. Several times prior to this, he had spoken of the cross by implication. That is, through parables, metaphors, and other figures of speech, he had sought to prepare the disciples for the reality of the crucifixion. But they, typical of the Jewish thinking of that time, had their hearts set on establishing an earthly kingdom then. Their minds were closed to the possibility that Jesus would die and most especially to the thought that he would die on a cross, which was an accursed thing to every Jew.
This was the appropriate time for Jesus to make this clear evaluation of his mission. Peter had just made his marvelous confession of faith (no doubt speaking not only for himself, but for all of the disciples). So with that kind of openness established between Jesus and the disciples, it was time for him to be straightforward concerning what lay ahead. They could understand what Jesus said about suffering, for already they had encountered the hostility of the religious hierarchy. But when Jesus used the word killed, they were terrified! In fact, it was such a horrifying thought that apparently they did not even hear the rest of Jesus’ statement indicating that he would be raised again the third day.
“Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. ‘Never, Lord!’ he said. ‘This shall never happen to you!’” (Matt. 16:22 NIV). Was this the same Peter who made that victorious declaration of faith shortly before at Caesarea Philippi? Note how graphically Matthew described what happened: “Peter took him aside. . . .” It was as if Peter stepped up beside Jesus and pulled him to the side as one would take a person who was upset or distressed, and led him away from the crowd. Peter “began to rebuke him.” He admonished Jesus as a schoolteacher would attempt to set straight a student who had become confused about something.
Jesus quickly and positively responded to Peter’s actions. Matthew said that he “turned,” and the Greek tense of the verb used suggests that it was a fast and immediate act on Jesus’ part. “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns” (Matt. 16:23 NIV). Peter was doing the same thing Satan had done when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness. He was saying, “Bypass the cross! Take another route! You don’t have to die.” Jesus told Peter, “You are a stumbling block to me.” In other words, “Peter, you are tempting me to offend my Father by failing to do what he has purposed that I do!” Peter spoke the spirit of his age and of ours. The demand for a crossless Christ is still with us today. It is far more appealing to admire his perfect life and praise his beautiful teachings than it is to accept his bloody cross. Many liberal, so-called Christians want to do away with the emphasis of the cross….without the Cross of Christ we would have absolutely no need to worship…we might as well rip out the pews, put in tables and a pizza oven, because without the shed blood and resurrection of Christ we have no hope.
“Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it’” (Matt. 16:24–25 NIV). Literally, Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to follow me. . . .” There is no compulsion here. God has so limited himself that he will not force anyone to follow him. Jesus leaves people free to follow him in this intimate relationship or not to follow him at all. Their degree of love for the Lord determines their decision.
Jesus also spoke of self-denial. “Self” loves to be pampered, indulged, and coddled. But the Christian ideal is that when self comes under fire because of its selfishness and insubordination, don’t help it! Let it squirm! When self is tempted to pout and become oversensitive because it considers itself slighted, don’t sympathize with it! When self is withering under the searchlight of God’s truth, let it suffer and let it die!
Jesus drove home this revolutionary truth when he spoke of “taking up the cross.” Again we have the Greek tense, which suggests immediate, decisive action. “Let him take up his cross at once!” This was totally distasteful to Jews in general and even to the disciples. The cross was a Roman instrument of torture and disgrace, an accursed thing; and even to touch a cross rendered a Jew ceremonially unclean. Yet Jesus said that one must voluntarily take up a cross and bear it!
The point is that Jesus was explaining how to deny self—self must be crucified, nailed to the cross. Then he said, “. . . and follow me.” Following Jesus is the inevitable result of “denying self.” It is impossible for one to follow Christ and at the same time drag about a selfish and rebellious self.
“What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?” (Matt. 16:26 NIV). We are told that Emperor Charlemagne was buried, not dressed in grave clothes and reclining in a casket, but in the robes of state and seated upright on a throne. An open Bible was on his knee, and one of his fingers pointed to the words that spoke for him when he could no longer speak for himself: “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world yet forfeits his soul?” (paraphrase).
What is a person’s soul? It is not something hidden away inside, to be saved by attending church on Sunday while the rest of the person remains worldly and chained to material possessions. What profit is it if a person gains all the world has to offer in order to exalt and pamper self? When self is lost, what can a person give to recover it?
The world offered its rewards to Jesus, but he refused them to do the will of his heavenly Father. The world makes the same offer to us—to appease self and to say, in the words of the popular Sinatra ballad, “I did it my way.” But if we choose to follow Jesus, we must make the same choice Jesus made. We must accept the cross—not for the same reason that He did, but that we might nail self to the cross so we can follow Jesus wherever he leads.
Here is the paradox of it all: To know real joy in the Christian life, we must feel the pain of death. And, sadly, it is not a onetime experience. How wonderful it would be if we could bury self one time and it would stay dead forever! Instead, we must daily nail self to the cross. And every time we do it, we strengthen our inner self, our spiritual self, which must be controlled by the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
March 22, 2020
Sermon Prepared By: Pastor Donald Magaw
Text: “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him” (John 3:14–15 NIV).
Scripture Reading: John 3:1–21
John 3:1-21 New Living Translation (NLT)
3:1 There was a man named Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader who was a Pharisee.
2 After dark one evening, he came to speak with Jesus. “Rabbi,” he said, “we all know that God has sent you to teach us. Your miraculous signs are evidence that God is with you.”
3 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”
4 “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?”
5 Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit.
6 Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives birth to spiritual life.
7 So don’t be surprised when I say, ‘You[d] must be born again.’
8 The wind blows wherever it wants. Just as you can hear the wind but can’t tell where it comes from or where it is going, so you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”
9 “How are these things possible?” Nicodemus asked.
10 Jesus replied, “You are a respected Jewish teacher, and yet you don’t understand these things?
11 I assure you, we tell you what we know and have seen, and yet you won’t believe our testimony.
12 But if you don’t believe me when I tell you about earthly things, how can you possibly believe if I tell you about heavenly things?
13 No one has ever gone to heaven and returned. But the Son of Man has come down from heaven.
14 And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,
15 so that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life.
16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son.
19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.
20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.
21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.”
*In all the Gospels, no conversation is so carefully recorded in regard to content and detail as the one between our Lord and Nicodemus in John 3.
The reason for this thoroughness is obvious: Jesus was relating to Nicodemus the very essence of the good news. When conveying God’s truth, our words must be clear and understandable, and they must find their way into the hearts of people just as Christ’s words penetrated the heart of Nicodemus.
Christ’s words were so explicit that everyone who has read them in the generations since Nicodemus have found them to be clear signs marking the way to eternal life. Nowhere else in Scripture is there a more concise, easily understood presentation of the new birth. And, as with practically everything Jesus did, across the beauty and symbolism of these words spoken to Nicodemus, there was a shadow of the cross.
First, let’s examine the visitor who came calling on Jesus. Most often in the Gospels, we find Jesus surrounded by ordinary people—the peasants. They did not have to take care lest certain people see them in the company of such a controversial person as Jesus. But Nicodemus was associated with the aristocracy of Jerusalem.
Along with Nicodemus’s social rank, the timing of his visit was also surprising. He visited Jesus after Passover week, the first Passover Jesus had attended since starting his public ministry. Following his cleansing of the temple, Jesus had remained in Jerusalem for a time teaching and healing the people. His name had spread far and wide, and multitudes clamored to hear him, bringing their sick and afflicted for healing. Doubtlessly the Sanhedrin, the ruling body of the Jews, was seething with anger and hostility toward Jesus by now.
But because of his popularity with the people, their hands were tied, at least for the moment. It was in this setting that Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin, came to Jesus.
We know certain things about Nicodemus that we have learned from this incident and two others involving him that are recorded in the Bible. Obviously, he was wealthy. When Jesus died, John said that Nicodemus brought for Jesus’ body “a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy- five pounds” ( John 19:39 NIV).
Only a wealthy person could have afforded that much. Also, Nicodemus was a Pharisee. The Pharisees were considered by the Jews to be the best people in the land. There were never more than six thousand of them, and they had become Pharisees by taking a pledge before three witnesses that they would spend all of their lives observing every detail of the scribal law. So for Nicodemus to be a member of such an august brotherhood, and to wish to talk with Jesus at all, was bewildering.
John records that Nicodemus was a ruler of the Jews. This means, as we have already noted, that Nicodemus was a member of the Sanhedrin, the supreme court of the Jews, which had seventy members. Though its powers had been limited under Roman rule, it still played an important role in the government and lives of the people. Specifically, the Sanhedrin had religious jurisdiction over every Jew in the world, not just in Palestine. One of its duties was to examine and deal with anyone suspected of being a blasphemer, a false prophet, or a heretic. And again, it is remarkable that Nicodemus, being a member of this high ruling body, would dare to visit Jesus.
John records that Nicodemus came to Jesus at night. We do not know for certain why Nicodemus chose to come at night. It may have been a cautious move on Nicodemus’s part, and he should not be condemned for this. He was a religious leader to whom many looked for spiritual guidance. Since he was an honest and straightforward man, he likely accepted his investigation of Jesus as a tremendous responsibility. He could not afford to enthusiastically endorse every prophet who came along without first investigating carefully.
There may have been another reason for this nighttime visit. Since Jesus was usually surrounded by great crowds of people during the day,
Nicodemus may have come at night so they could be undisturbed. We can sense from the course of the conversation that Nicodemus was troubled. Even though he was an expert in the law of Moses, he was not satisfied with his religion. Something was missing, and something about the authority and manner of Jesus attracted him.
Nicodemus’s opening statement to Jesus revealed his honesty. “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could per- form the signs you are doing if God were not with him” (John 3:2 NIV). No flattery was intended here; it was simply a positive statement expressing a conclusion that he had reached. There is also evidence that Nicodemus had not come to Jesus because of hearsay. It is more likely that he had heard Jesus teach and had seen him perform miracles.
Jesus did not rebuke Nicodemus as a Pharisee, nor did he soften the requirements of the new birth for this respected and venerable leader of the Jews. Jesus laid down the same requirements for Nicodemus that he would have for the most openly recognizable sinner! He did not say, “Now, Nicodemus, you are already a good man. You are sincere in what you believe and in what you are trying to do. God will honor these good works you have performed. Just keep on doing them, and God will bless you for it!” If Jesus had said that, Nicodemus would have left with the same dissatisfaction and longing in his heart that he had when he came, for his good works did not bring contentment. Therefore, plainly and to the point, Jesus said, “If you are not born again, Nicodemus, you will never see the kingdom of God!”
A lesser man than Nicodemus would have been offended by Christ’s words. He would have considered them an insult to his intelligence. Instead, Nicodemus pressed on. “How can a man be born when he is old?” Then Jesus talked to him about two births, the physical and the spiritual. Obviously, to exist, one must be “born of the flesh.” But anything that is “flesh” grows old and dies. To be “born of the Spirit,” that is, of God, is to have a new kind of life existing simultaneously with the physical life. Then Jesus shifted the analogy to the wind, of which one can see only the evidence.
Nicodemus had listened to what Jesus said about the necessity of a new birth and about the Spirit, and he was caught up in the wonder and glory of it. Perhaps half to himself and half to Jesus, he asked, “How can this be?” Jesus masterfully turned to the Old Testament Scriptures so familiar to Nicodemus. He told from the book of Numbers an account of God’s judgment that fell on the disobedient Israelites. Fiery, poisonous serpents invaded the camp and bit the people. God told Moses to make a serpent of brass and put it on a pole in the middle of the camp. He was instructed to tell those who had been bitten to look at it, and they would be healed.
The serpent was a despicable thing. It was a reminder of Satan because he appeared in the form of a snake to Eve in the garden of Eden. Jesus explained to Nicodemus that he would be lifted up on an instrument of shame, and he would be considered an accursed thing because of the cross. But because he was willing to submit to that shame, millions of people would be able to come to God! The key to God and eternal life could not be achieved by good works or by keeping rules and abiding by regulations; it would be achieved by a hated and shameful cross on which Jesus would become a sacrifice for sin for the whole human race.
In effect, Jesus said, “Nicodemus, if you will believe in me and believe that I have taken your sins on myself, you will not perish. You will be saved and have eternal life. You will be assured of living forever with God.”
Nicodemus basically exclaimed, “I would like to become a Christian, but I do not understand it!” Jesus said, “You can’t understand the miraculous workings of the Holy Spirit. When you can see and understand the wind— where it comes from and where it is going—then you can understand the Spirit of God.” But just as you can feel the wind, so you can experience the transforming presence of God in your life, if you let Him.
*(adapted from sermon by D. Jenkins
March 15, 2020
Sermon Prepared By: Pastor Donald Magaw
Title: Great Crowds Followed Him
Text: “When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him”
(Matt. 8:1 RSV).
Scripture Reading: Matthew 5:1–2; 7:28–8:1
Matthew 5:1-3 Revised Standard Version (RSV)
5:1 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down his disciples came to him.
2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
The passage of Scripture that falls between Matthew 5:1 and 8:1 is known as the Sermon on the Mount. It is significant that this message was delivered to the crowds that had begun to follow Jesus and that once he had completed this message, the crowds followed him down from the mountain. But the more significant thing is that crowds continue to follow Jesus Christ after two thousand years have rolled by. By the grace of God, we have been chosen to be among the crowds that follow him and listen to him.
What is the secret of this magnetism of the Teacher who spoke these remarkable words? What is it that causes this fellowship of the crowds after two thousand years? Why is it that you and I continue to follow him?
We follow Jesus because of who he is.
Famous celebrities attract a crowd wherever they go. To enjoy any privacy at all, they must conceal their identity and their presence.
Jesus Christ was and is the God-man, the eternal God clothed in a human body. He is the Messiah promised by the prophets, the One for whom Israel had been waiting. God revealed this truth to Peter, and Peter verbalized the conviction of his heart by declaring, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16 RSV). Jesus was more than just a good man and a great teacher. He is God in human flesh. Because of who he is, we continue to follow him.
We follow Jesus because of what he did.
We follow Jesus Christ because of what he did during his earthly life. He ministered to the sick, comforted the grieving, gave hope to the discouraged, and fed the hungry. But his greatest achievements were on a cross and in a tomb. On the cross, he took our place, demonstrating the height and depth and breadth of his love for unworthy sinners. He paid our sin debt by dying as a substitute for each of us. In the tomb, our Lord conquered death and the grave. He demonstrated that death will have no final victory over those who trust him. By conquering death and the grave, Jesus became a living Savior, able to save unto the uttermost those who come to God by him. Because of what Jesus did, we continue to follow him two thousand years later.
We follow Jesus because of what he can do.
We follow Jesus because he is able to forgive our sins and make us clean and acceptable to the Father God, because he can give the gift of eternal life and cause us to love the things that are lovable in God’s eyes, because he gives us a new quality of life, because he gives us victory over the evil within us and the evil that threatens us from without, because he is able to help us be productive and victorious as we live the abundant life he provides. We follow him because it is through him that we can achieve our highest possible manhood and womanhood.
We follow Jesus because we need him.
Children need their parents. A husband needs his wife. A wife needs her husband. We need our friends. We need certain professionals who can provide us with services in times of need. All of us are in need of others. More than anyone else in all of existence, Jesus Christ is the One we need. Thus we follow him. With selfish motives and with the best of interests, we follow him because it pays to serve him.
We follow Jesus because he needs us.
We would not be presumptuous in making such a statement, for it is in the divine plan that God uses men and women to share the good news of his love with others. God could have chosen to use the angels to tell the message of his love, but he didn’t. God could have chosen to use the sky as a great screen on which he could have revealed the message of his love, but he didn’t. We follow him because he needs us. If we do not follow him, the work he began and wishes for us to continue will come to an end.
We follow Jesus because others need him.
People have many needs. They need such things as food, clothing, shelter, education, jobs, medical care, and insurance. But humankind’s greatest need is for a right relationship with God that comes through repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We can meet their greatest need when we help them receive the forgiveness of sin and the gift of new life that comes only through Jesus Christ.
The crowds followed Jesus during his earthly ministry, and they have continued to follow him down through the centuries. You and I can rejoice over the privilege of being among the crowds that follow him. If you have not yet begun to follow him, right now would be a good time to forsake the way of life that ends in disappointment and come to him who alone can give you life and hope and peace and joy. Become a true follower of Jesus Christ because of who he is, what he has done, and what he can do in your life.
If you do claim to be a follower of Christ….what are you doing to show it?
If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?
Only you can answer that question.
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