Make this World a Better Place –
Reading the Bible reveals why Jesus was sent!
Five Smooth Stones / Be the Church – Feed a village
There are various polls. Gallup poll, Harris poll and now a Zillow poll. Zillow poll asked, “If you could have any celebrity as your neighbor, who would it be?” The results were revealed this past week with people like Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt and Brad’s ex-wife Jennifer Aniston coming in a 2nd, 3rd and 4th respectively! The top vote getter was Tim Tebow.[i] I was so blown away when Tim Tebow threw an 80-yard touchdown pass on the first play of overtime that left Steeler Nation and the whole world stunned. Because of his kindness, compassion and charisma you can see why people are showing up in Denver waving signs like this! (Marry my daughter)
But what really caught people off guard were his total passing yards for the game. Glen Levy said this in Time Magazine. “Tebow threw for exactly 316 yards in the 29-23 upset win, presenting an eerie allusion to the Bible’s John 3:16 passage — whose number Tebow famously wore in the black under his eyes when he led the Florida Gators to victory in the 2009 collegiate national championship game. What’s more, that event took place exactly three years ago on the same day as his latest miracle comeback. And that wasn’t it for the coincidences: Tebow set an NFL playoff record with, you guessed it, 31.6 yards per completion and the TV rating on CBS of, say it ain’t so, 31.6.”[ii]
The only thing left to do is play the Twilight Zone music right now! John 3:16 was very popular this week. So much so Focus on the Family aired this commercial Sat night. (Video-John 3:16) 16 is good, 17 is not bad either. Let’s read John 3:16 & 17 together. "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. I find for allot us. It’s difficult to answer one specific question. Why am I in this world? But not for Jesus - the Bible tells us why Jesus was sent into this world. Turn in your Bibles today to Luke 4. Do you need a Bible?
This past Christmas we studied out of Luke 2. The truth is, I again just kept reading and what I found, in my opinion, was astounding. Last week we launched our year long theme – Be the church. Its one thing to go to church, but it’s all together different to be the church. Being the church involves being the body of Christ! Being his hands, his feet, his heart, his voice, his ears and his mind! Having the mind of Christ, that is thinking like Jesus, won’t happen unless I read his word. Reading begins the process of absorbing, digesting and applying God’s thoughts, purposes and direction for our lives. BUT it all begins by choosing to read the Bible. But I am a very practical person. So I kept asking myself the “why” question. Why do I want you to read the Bible? And here’s why. Because the Bible tells us why Jesus came, what Jesus did and what he wants us to do. Let me show you.
Have you located Luke 4? Counting today we will spend five weeks in Luke 4. Find verse 42. (42-43/sent) Did you see it? Why was Jesus sent? Jesus gives us two reasons. John the Apostle gives us one! Reason #1: Verse 43. Jesus was sent to preach - to preach the good news of the kingdom of God. Good news like John 3:17 - For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Good news like Luke 3:3. Flip back one chapter to Luke 3:3. Isn’t forgiveness really, really good news?
There’s another new church plant located in Lakewood, Ohio near Cleveland called City Edge Church. Their minister is a man named Kevin Rush. On New Year’s Day a thief stole $7000 worth of sound equipment from their church trailer, so what should a church do? (Watch this - Video - Lakewood Church Offers Forgiveness) I hold in my hand the letter Kevin wrote. Here’s just a part of what he said. Dear Church Trailer Thief,
Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger… Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” God is a God of justice, but he is also a God of forgiveness and second chances. God has forgiven me much and I want to not only forgive you, but offer you grace. Grace is a concept that at a great price to someone else they offer you the reward, merit, or gift of the price they paid. If you return the equipment you stole I will not press charges. Instead I will write you a check for $1,000, no strings attached. I wish I could offer you more, but it is all I have. Email or call me and just say, “I have your stuff.”
Even if you don’t take me up on the offer I do not hold bitterness, anger or rage against you. I’m not going to hunt you down. I’m offering you forgiveness. I am offering you grace.”
Love beyond reason, Kevin Rush. Way to go City Edge Church!
When I read the Bible I am reminded again and again and again why Jesus was sent. He came to preach a message, but not just any message - a message of forgiveness. And when I choose to repent, God forgives. When I choose to forgive, people are astonished. They see the church as it was meant to be!
John the Apostle gives us a second reason why Jesus was sent into this world. Turn to 1st John 3:4. People in John’s day taught that knowledge was greater than love and that the body is evil.[iii] So if the body is evil, Jesus could not have had a body. If he didn’t have a body he did not die or rise from the dead which means we are still stuck in our sin! (Read 4-8) Reason #2: To destroy the devil’s work! Really think this through. Just what is the devil’s work? In one word – sin! Jesus destroyed sin. The curse of sin. The effects or results of sin. (Leroy Gilkey shooting) and most of all the penalty of sin. DEATH! Go back to verse 4. (4-5) I like that, but what does it mean to take away our sins!
Turn back to Luke 4:38. Luke 1 is primarily – the birth of John the Baptist. Luke 2 is the birth of Jesus Christ. Luke 3 ushers us into the ministry of John the Baptist. Luke 4 begins the ministry of Jesus the Christ. Part of Jesus’ ministry was to heal the sick. Read 38 & 39.
How would you best describe this woman? Before Jesus – she was confined. After Jesus she was free. Before Jesus she was without energy. After Jesus healed her she was full of energy and desired to serve. What does it mean to take away our sins? We are free, full of energy and ready to serve! Notice what Jesus doesn’t say in verse 43. I must heal, because that is why I was sent. I must baptize, because that is why I was sent. Baptism is important. Healing is also important, but that’s not the main reason why Jesus was sent. Here’s the main reason. Go now to John 18:33. Jesus has been arrested and he stands before Pilate. (Read 33-37) Jesus is a king and not just any king. He’s the King of the Jews. He’s the King of Kings. Born to die. Reason #3 on why Jesus was sent into this world - to die on a cross not meant for him. Jeanna Volp is a part of this church. She emailed me a story her boss told her about her 6 year old daughter. Her boss’ daughter is really into playing sports, and one night while driving around, this little girl started listing off all of her favorite sports to her mom. As she recited her list she failed to mention Lacrosse. This woman knew her daughter really liked lacrosse, so she asked her daughter why she didn’t list lacrosse. Her daughter said very seriously, “Well, Jesus died on Lacrosse. I don’t think Jesus would want me to play Lacrosse.” Jesus did die, didn’t he! Why, to take away our sins. Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.
I read the Bible again and again and again so I never forget the reasons why Jesus was sent to this world. He came to make this world a better place. That was Jesus, now what about all of us? Do you want to make this world a better place? Do what the Jesus said and did. Choose to forgive!
Did you hear about a Italian couple named Antonio and Rosa? Antonio and Rosa are about to become the world’s oldest divorced couple. What led to their relationship demise? Seems that Antonio found love letters in an old chest that his now 96-year-old wife had written to a lover back in the 1940s. He showed his wife of 77 years the letters. When confronted with the evidence of her affair, Rosa confessed. Rosa hoped that the confession would allow her to reconcile with her husband and the father of her five children, instead Antonio filed for divorce at the age of 99[iv]. Antonio obviously feels betrayed. To you think Jesus knows what betrayal feels like? We often conclude that no one knows the pain we’ve experienced. That usually means we’ve never heard of Jesus or we’ve forgotten what he did. Just look to God’s son! Do you want to make this world a better place? Do what Jesus said and did. Die to yourself and live for God! The doorbell rang and a lady discovered a man with a tiny tool box, on her front porch. "Mam," he announced, "I'm the piano tuner." And the lady said, "I didn't send for a piano tuner.” The man replied, "I know, but your neighbors did."[v] Your neighbors need you. Why? They need someone who has hope. They need someone who will model forgiveness. They need to be around someone who can answer the question, Why am I in this world? I am in this world because God made me and Jesus died for me.
Do you remember the church trailer thief story? Kevin Rush asked the thief to return his sound equipment and he’d give him $1000. I checked with Kevin on Friday to see if any one had taken him up on his offer. Guess what? No one has. Are you? Are you going to take up God’s offer of forgiveness through his son? Are you going to take God’s offer of promise? I made you. My son died for you. I will never leave you nor forsake you. Will you take up God’s offer of peace? Do not be anxious about anything…
Kathleen Schwartz // Eileen List // Dwight Layton
[iii] James E. Smith, The NT Books Made Simple, 158-159
[v] Good clean Funnies email list – Piano Tuner dated January 13, 2012