This morning I had a cup of coffee with one of my oldest friends. We spoke honestly and to a certain extent confrontationally to each other. The depth of our interaction would have been odd with most people that I encounter from day to day. But it felt normal and life-giving coming from this man that I trust implicitly. We have journeyed through life together with all of its twists and turns; ups and downs; joys and sorrows. This friend’s words have always been dependable and caring even when they made me a bit uncomfortable in the moment. Even though we are not blood relatives, he is a dear brother. That is his identity to me and we relate to each other out of that authentic bond.
Just as I filter all my friend’s words to me through our relationship, this week’s message theme is the filter through which all other questions in this series will need to be answered. This Sunday we consider the identity of Jesus. Not the textbook answer but the one that rises up from deep within your soul. This month we have already considered the context of the Gospels where Jesus asked his questions. Then we looked at some of His queries regarding His authority, His humanity and His mission. This week we consider the pivotal question from Jesus, “Who do you say that I am?”
Just as I told you earlier about my friend and how his words are processed through trust built over many years, how will you describe your relationship with Jesus? Who is He to you and what influence does He have on your thinking and your actions? Many of us know the “right” answers based on years of Sunday School classes and sermons, but what is your soul’s true answer? Hopefully your soul’s response is the same one that you have learned of in the Bible.
My hope is that our answer to Jesus’ question is “You are my Lord and my King. You are my Savior and my most intimate Friend. Jesus you are the center of my life and the place I turn for all I need.” I wish I were able to answer that way with a 100% pure heart but I can’t. Jesus truly is the object of my faith and my hope. For that I am thankful and I rejoice, but I am also in need of Jesus’ grace and mercy to bridge the gap between “wholehearted all-in following” and my actual life that will continue until the day I see Jesus face to face.
In the end, Jesus is all of those wonderful identifiers I just listed in the beginning of the previous paragraph and He is the Christ –the ONE! That is what Peter said in the Gospels and I agree. Jesus is the Long-awaited One. He is the One that took my sins and yours and paid for them on the cross. He is the One that died for me and rose again. Jesus is the Son of God that claimed me as His brother so that I am a child of God. That is who Jesus is!
Who do you think Jesus is?
Jesus came for a reason.
He lived His life on purpose.
He was on a mission.
Every time we gather together for the Lord’s Supper or Communion we celebrate this mission with the words of John 3.16-17. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
This Sunday we will be considering a couple of questions Jesus asks from Luke 12.49-56. The context of these questions is that Jesus is teaching his followers that we are to be aware of the “how and why” of living. He calls us not to worry, to be watchful and understand things based on what God is doing.
Basically the entire Old Testament had been moving toward the arrival of Jesus and today we now find our foundation looking back on Jesus as well. We are invited to see that our mission for our life and our church flows directly out of Jesus’ mission that brought Him to the cross. He lived His life so that others could live. He gave His life willingly to set us free. This is our inherited mission as well.
We are invited to live our lives and give from our lives in such a way that people meet our God. We do this as we connect to others in grace and truth. We will see the necessity this Sunday to join Jesus bringing a message of perfect love that is not always welcomed. Jesus came to set humanity free but sometimes we are so attached to our “prisons” that we are not interested in a God-defined freedom.
It is because of this mission from Jesus that Oak Hill desires to continue to expand and improve our ministry. We sent Ben Bigaouette to seminary two years ago to grow in his understanding and effectiveness in being a leader in Jesus’ mission. It is the belief in this mission that our Youth Director, Jack Mundis spoke of last Sunday when he shared the summer youth plan to grow in ministry effectiveness through training and serving with VBS and beyond. It is this mission that guides all we do at Oak Hill whether it be in our villages in Chad where we created wells or a classroom full of three year-olds or inviting our neighbor over for dinner.
Jesus lived His life all out, holding nothing back for the Kingdom of God. Do we want to live lives of sacrifice and significance or do we just want to talk about it a bit? Jesus calls us to live purposefully in a world filled with distractions and attractions toward emptiness. He invites us to live by faith as we step out as God’s people giving our lives so that others can live.
United with you in Jesus’ Mission,
Have you ever had someone respond to your difficult situation or struggle with the words “I know exactly what you are going through” and you are well aware this just isn’t true? What type of blessing was their flippant comment to you? If it does anything at all, it diminishes what you are going through and creates a defensiveness in you that wants to declare “You are so clueless!” Instead, walk with people at all times but don’t claim a greater identification than is real and true.
The thing is that when people make those statements they are often just trying to connect or reach in to our world. I need to give them the benefit of the doubt but it still doesn’t really deliver any comfort to me if I am honest. What would really help is someone that has journeyed through this and lived to tell about it. I need the insight and perspective that comes through true experience.
For instance, this past Sunday Randy and Ree Erickson (nephew of Harvey and Sandra Erickson) spoke in our worship service about ministering to families that are going through caring for a sick child in need of an organ transplant. They want to provide a home away from home called “Cy’s Place” for them to stay while their children are at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. The Ericksons have a unique perspective and experience because their own son, Cy, went through treatment in Rochester and ultimately died at three years of age. Randy and Ree know how difficult this process can be.
As each and every one of us go through our days we face complexities, difficulties and temptations. There can be times when we feel all alone and think that no one can really relate to my particular situation. It is in these moments that we need to remember Jesus truly became one of us. He didn’t just look like one of us. He was fully human! So often I have missed out on that truth because I try to wrap my little mind around the fact that Jesus was 100% man while at the same time being 100% God. Jesus chose to subject himself to being a human so that He could be our Savior and relate perfectly with our broken world.
This Sunday’s message will address Jesus’ humanity. We will come to grips with the fact that Jesus “set aside” His divinity so that He lived the perfect life as one of us. He asked questions that showed his willingness to be limited in His “Godness” as He Lived his life leading ultimately to His death and resurrection. He asked questions to gather information just like us.
Jesus didn’t ask questions like these just for conversational purposes. He was actually needing to gather information just like anyone else. He also stood against temptation like anyone else. Jesus cried and felt pain just like us as well. He knows your…
We live in a world that is often filled with beauty and I love that. I see it when I look at creation or a child laughing while swinging in the park or a million other things. I am sure you could make a long list of things of beauty if you wanted. Today I want to take this moment to encourage you to pay attention and notice those things.
But then I also need to acknowledge that my world is a bit off or more accurate a lot off the mark as well. It is broken and tainted by sin. We can read about it or watch it on TV. People taking advantage of each other and treating others in ways they shouldn’t. We hear words that are intended to destroy. It is obvious that all is not well.
One way that I think the world’s brokenness is most noticeable is to consider power. This is a concept or a thing that is pursued by individuals, groups and countries. It is often chased after for one’s own glory; then used to oppress others or at least to feel prideful and superior. There are so many different flavors of power that we try to gain. Here are just a few – physical, financial, political, military, positional, informational, expertise and charisma.
Each of these forms of power can either be on your side or they can be working against you. Many people in the world will spend their entire life trying to align themselves with power or prestige in one way or another to attain something that is really unattainable when you seek it on your own. That something can be described as peace, hope, contentment, confidence, joy or “life to the fullest”.
The great news for all of us today is that the actual holder of all the power and the things that will ultimately bring us a full life are found in the same place. That place is a person and that person is Jesus! If that weren’t good enough news on its own it only gets better. As I mentioned earlier people seek to align themselves with power all the days of their life; well Jesus has made it very clear that He wants you to know that He has chosen to be on your side. You do not need to wonder. He has declared it and he never lies.
Jesus loves you and He holds power over sin and death. He wants to be the ruler of your life He will not just use you up but He will bless you; He will not oppress you but He will set you free.
Jesus said in John 10.10, “I have come to bring life – abundant life!”
As Jesus was before Pontius Pilate facing death He confidently declared his power at all times and in all places. In John 19.11 Jesus told Pilate, “You have no power over me…”
This Sunday’s message will reflect on the authority and true power of Jesus as we consider his question from Matthew 12.29, “How can someone enter the strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man?”
Jesus wants us to know Him as the one that is stronger than anything that stands against us or any fear that is removing our peace. Jesus is the Lord of all!
In Christ’s power,
Pastor Nick Mundis