Make the World a Better Place
Reading the Bible reveals that Jesus is the long awaited Messiah
President Obama stood before the nation this past Tuesday Night and in his State of the Union address said, “Last month, I went to Andrews Air Force Base and welcomed home some of our last troops to serve in Iraq. Together, we offered a final, proud salute to the colors under which more than a million of our fellow citizens fought — and several thousand gave their lives. We gather tonight knowing that this generation of heroes has made the United States safer and more respected around the world. For the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq.”[i]
That statement was well received. Tell me if you think this statement spoken by a current or past President would be well received, “I stand before you tonight as your President, but more than that, I stand before you as the anointed Savior of this great nation! My life will serve a special purpose. Put your faith in me and in my father because I am your Messiah!” Can you imagine any human being would dare say that? That’s politics, let’s talk religion. Take me for example. Would you be uncomfortable if I said, “My name is Greg Bondurant and I am the head of this church. (Jump left to miss lightning strike) Follow me and you’ll receive salvation!”
Who is this - new OSU football Coach Urban Meyer. Meyer does not have a Messiah complex, but people have already dubbed him as OSU’s Football Messiah! Many “football experts” believe that Stanford’s Andrew Luck will be the first pick of the Indianapolis Colts in April’s NFL draft. Can you imagine Andrew Luck standing at a podium and saying something like, “I am the new Peyton. I will be better than Peyton Manning. Standing before you today is the Messiah of Colts football. Put your hope for wins in me!” When someone self proclaims themselves as someone special the hairs on the back of my neck stand straight up. I’m thinking, “You ooze arrogance, you little jerk. Calling yourself the Messiah. I wouldn’t follow you if you were the last Messiah on earth.” If someone dubs themselves the Messiah, we conclude they have a complex. They need therapy. Gone off their rocker! Well, if we think that about people, what do you think people in Jesus’ hometown were mulling around in their minds when Jesus said this? But first a few Bible facts! Tell me the only book in the Bible that does not contain the name of God? (Esther) The longest book in the OT? (Psalms-43,743) The shortest book in the OT? (Obadiah-670 words) The shortest book in the NT? (3 John – 299 words) The longest book in the NT? (Luke-25,944)![ii] Turn to the longest book of the NT. We’re going to read every word! Just teasing! Turn to Luke 4:14. Do you have your Bible with you today either in print or electronically? (Read 14-21)
This could well be the shortest sermon on record - one verse. Now I get what John the Apostle said in John 21:25: “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”
The rest of Jesus’ sermon was not recorded. Bummer. I wish he would have elaborated, but either he didn’t or we just don’t have it. Let’s read again what Jesus said in verse 21. Jesus could have picked any chapter in Isaiah. Chapter 6, 40, 53? But no, he picks Isaiah 61 which describes the ministry of the Messiah.[iii] The Messiah is the “anointed one.” The word Messiah in The New Testament is the word “Christ.” Jesus Christ OR Jesus the Messiah OR Jesus the Anointed one.
When we read the Bible we are taught that Jesus alone is the Messiah of God. How do we know that? Because Jesus did what Messiahs do! Look at verse 18. "The Spirit of the Lord is on me… Don’t believe me? Look at verse 14. Turn to Luke 7:12. (Read 12-16) Yoplait commercial. Jesus is AWZING! (Awe/amazing) Why, because the Spirit of God was at his disposal. There’s more. Go back to verse 18. Anointed me – only kings, priests and prophets were anointed. Jesus, the King of kings was anointed to preach good news to the poor. Jesus was sent by God to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind. In the Bible “prisoner” does not always refer to someone behind bars. Prisoner can refer to someone held in “captivity by demons, sin or Satan himself.”[iv] Jesus frees us through forgiveness. Blind in the Bible does not always refer to someone who cannot see. It can also refer to someone who does not want to see. Seeing is believing. That’s not faith. Heaven does NOT exist. Sin does NOT exist. Jesus may have existed but he was just a good person! The Bible tells us Jesus was more than just a good person. He is the Messiah who came to release the oppressed - the helpless, the hopeless, the beaten down by sin or circumstance. Jesus came to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor. Jews knew that to be a reference to the year of Jubilee. I just finished Leviticus in my Reading the Bible in 90 days. I’m not saying Leviticus is boring, you just have to be real awake when you read it. Every now and then you come across something staggering in Leviticus. Chapter 25 explains the year of Jubilee when all things were returned to their original owner. That’s a picture of what Jesus did for us on the cross.[v]
Allow me to present a few slogans and you tell me what company that slogan represents[vi] - like Just Do it is of course – Nike! OK? It does a body good! Milk/Diary Industry, The ultimate driving machine – BMW, HOT NOW – Krispy Kreme Donuts, Freaky Fast, Freaky Good, Jimmy John’s, The best part of wakin up – Folger’s coffee, What’s in your wallet? - Capital One, You can do it, We can help – Home Depot, That was Easy! – Staples one more, Share Moments, Share Life – Kodak!
Did you know that the Eastman Kodak Company recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection? The 132-year-old trailblazer has finally called it quits—at least for now. The newspaper mentioned that everyone feels saddened by the demise of Kodak "because it was the company we entrusted our most treasured possession to—our memories." Kodak was “one of the few companies that wiggled its way into the fabric of American life and the American family." But that wasn't enough to save the company. Why did it get so far off-track? James Emery White notes that Kodak developed digital photography but in the end they "didn't know what business they were in." Allow me to ask an important question. When it comes to Jesus church - What business are we really in?[vii]
Wouldn’t it be the same as Jesus? We want the Spirit of God to be IN US, IN HERE and on his church. We must preach good news to the poor. But may I remind you. Some people can’t hear the good news because their stomachs are growling so loud. Pull out the offering envelope in your newsletter. Be the church: Feed a Village. Right now we have a little over $7000 to help ship a container to Africa. We need $8000 more. It’s expensive to be generous, but the Messiah came to sacrifice as a suffering servant. WCC needs to be a place of freedom. No one in this place is perfect. We’re all recovering from something. Westerville Christian is a place where the blind can see. I don’t see God in this world. Maybe that’s because of a past hurt or worse a current problem that’s out of your control. Bring your doubts to God here. Westerville Christian is a place where the oppressed are released. Oppression can come from anyone anywhere. Someone who’s bigger than someone else. Men over women, soldiers carrying guns, a toxic government whose interests are for themselves and not for people. To be oppressed mean to be beaten down by circumstance, sickness – even sin! I am asking for someone to pray to the Messiah on behalf of the following people who feel oppressed. Dave Bompart, Kathleen Schwartz, Riley Angel, Mike & Cindy Bish and Jeremie and Jennifer Barr.
I don’t know everyone in this audience today. Jesus probably didn’t know everyone in the synagogue the day he said, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." Jesus just told the audience that he was the Messiah. How did they respond? Here are two guesses and one fact. Guess #1: Mary - I imagine Mary was there. How would Mary respond? “Well, that is what the angel told me. “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.” Guess #2: James, Jesus’ brother. What would he think? As a brother I know what I would have thought. “My brother’s a complete idiot. Who does he think he is telling people he’s the long awaited Messiah?” Fact #1: Some mysterious person in the audience. Go to Luke 4:22. I bet someone chuckled.
A Mom brought her new-born son to the pediatrician for his first checkup and the doctor said, "You have a cute baby." Smiling, I said, "I'll bet you say that to all the new parents." "No," he replied, "just to those whose babies are really cute." "So what do you say to the others?" I asked. "He looks just like you?”
Do you think Jesus looked like Joseph? Someone in the audience doesn’t think Jesus is anyone special at all. He’s just Joseph’s son. Despite Jesus having an “S”on his chest. People didn’t believe he was anyone less the Messiah. What about this audience? If Jesus is the Messiah than he’s worth worshipping. Jesus did what the Messiah was supposed to do. The Bible tells us that time and time again. Now what do you need the Messiah to do in your life?
[ii] Victor Knowles, Christian Standard, November 20, 2011
[iii] Mark E. Moore, The Chronological Life of Christ, 115
[iv] Mark C. Black, College Press NIV Commentary, Luke, 104
[v] Mark E. Moore, The Chronological Life of Christ, 116
[vii] www.preachingtoday.com/ News that Illustrates, January 30, 2012