Sunday, March 25, 2007

Jesus Loved Sinners

Jesus Loved Sinners

Intro.: I'll be honest.

  1. My first thought when I put together this was to not do it.

  2. After all, it does not apply to me.

  3. I am not a sinner. After all, I live a pretty good life.

  4. But then I stopped dreaming I remembered something your pastor once said – "We all are broken people."

  5. Of course it was not just your pastor who said it. Paul also said something like it – only his way was bit more authoritative, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;"

  6. I guess it does include me – and if Jesus loved people like me, then maybe I can learn something from how he loved sinners.

  7. Turn with me to a passage that demonstrates Jesus' love for some of the most broken people he would ever meet.

  8. It is now Friday and Jesus is on the way to Golgotha to be crucified. Turn with me to Luke 23:32-43

Read: Luke 23:32-43


Trans: Love sometimes costs.

  1. It means being available for others

  2. It means being willing to involve yourself in the lives of another.

  3. It means being willing to pay whatever it costs to show the love of Christ to another.

  4. Jesus offered love to those who were broken – even to those who did not know they were broken

T.S. I want to spend the next few minutes looking at what Jesus offered to others when he loved them.

  1. Love means forgiving – regardless of how we are hurt

    1. I expect that there were a lot of mixed emotions on Golgotha that Friday.

      1. There were those were weeping as they saw the man t hey came to love being put to death.

      2. There were others who were convinced that Jesus belonged on that cross – these were the ones who just few hours earlier had shouted those words we heard last week, "Crucify Him, Crucify Him."

      3. There were, of course the two criminals.

      4. And there some who did not care – they were there to do a job, executing three men found guilty of a crime.

      5. And there were some who had doubts – we did not read it, but in verse 47 we see a centurion who, after seeing and hearing Jesus, proclaimed, “Surely this was a righteous man.

      6. There were certainly others – but you get the picture, there was a great variety of people there that day.

    2. And to that motley crew Jesus spoke those wonderful words, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

    3. I do not know to whom Jesus was speaking; but, if I understand Jesus at all, I expect that it was for everyone's benefit.

(Ill.) If Proctor and Gamble were to compose a devotional, it might sound like this: “Are you trying to get God to TEXIZE your problems? DUZ you DREFT along with the TIDE? VEL, you can CHEER up and have real JOY. The DOVE of peace is sending an S.O.S. to ALL. The TREND is to BREEZE to church regularly on Sunday morning. But, too many WOODBURY their heads in a pillow or work in the yard like HANDY ANDY, forgetting that the Lord’s Day was made for LESTOIL.

“Don’t trust your LUX or wait for us to DIAL you and remind you of those IVORY palaces up yonder. This is not just idle BAB-O. Worship will add to your LIFEBUOY, so WISK yourself out of bed Sunday morning, dress up SPIC ’N SPAN and DASH like a COMET to God’s house. You will feel as FANTASTIK as IRISH SPRING and will have new ZEST and PRIDE of conscience if you make this PLEDGE. You, too, can be MR. CLEAN.”1

But when we talk about sin, we are taking about something that cannot be cleaned with soap or detergent. Sin takes cleaning from the inside – something only Jesus Christ can do.

    1. Those words, "Father forgive them for they know what they are doing ..." were not just for the crowd that day, but they are also for us.

  1. Love means accepting – regardless of how hard it may be

    1. Forgiveness is part of love

    2. Our passage shows us another aspect as well.

    3. Here is Jesus, on a cross, hung between two thieves.

    4. And they start a conversation -

      1. "Aren't you the Christ? Save yourself and us!"

      2. But the other criminal rebuked him. "Don't you fear God," he said, "since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong." Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."

      3. Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."

    5. Here is a thief ready to die – and two remarkable things happen:

      1. First, even as comes to the end of his life, he is able to recognize that Jesus is God" It is hard enough for the average person to respond to Jesus, yet this man on the cross, does just that.

      2. But there is something else. Jesus is also dying, but he takes time to respond with love toward the thief. Jesus lets him know that he will be accepted into heaven.

(Ill.) Max Lucado, in his book A Love Worth Giving, makes that same connection. He writes, "if we think that God is harsh and unfair, guess how we'll treat people. But if discover that God has doused us with unconditional, there would be a difference."2

    1. There are some people that would be really hard to accept. Habits, Friends, their past – make some people hard to get to know. But Jesus took broken people and accepted them – whether they be fisherman, tax collectors, prostitutes, or thieves.

(Appl.) I don't know who you struggle with – a neighbor, a co-worker, maybe a family member – but your know who it is. And the next time you are left feeling agitated, the next time you feel your equilibrium being challenged by that person, remember that Jesus accepts them just the way they are. Can you do any less.

Conclusion: Jesus loves sinners -

  1. He forgives them

  2. And he accepts them

  3. Let's learn to love like Jesus loved.


1John F. Anderson, Jr., Dallas Morning News, March 26, 1977. Found in Green, M. P. (1989). Illustrations for Bilical Preaching : Over 1500 sermon illustrations arranged by topic and indexed exhaustively (Revised edition of: The expositor's illustration file.). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

2Lucado, Max (2006). Grace For The Moment, Volume II. Nashville: Countryman (a Division of Thomas Nelson, Inc.).

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Jesus Loved His People

Jesus Loves His People

Intro.: As we move through lent, our theme has been to learn to love like Jesus loved.

  1. We began by noting that Jesus loved the scripture.

  2. Then we looked Jesus' love for children

  3. Last week we looked at His love for his friends

  4. This week we will look at Jesus love for His own people

  5. It seems to me that love is often expressed by looking at the contrasts in a persons life – such is the case in today's passage.

Read: Luke 19:28-48


Trans: During the next few minutes, I want to look at three contrast evident in Jesus' love for his people.

  1. The contrast between Jesus' acceptance and rejection

    1. Jesus knew this day was coming. He spent time planning it with His disciples – giving them explicit direction so that it would go well.

    2. And the people responded to Him. The Jews on the route put their cloaks on the ground to create "red carpet" if you would. Their words "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord ... Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!"

    3. This was Palm Sunday – it was a wonderful day.

    4. But it would be only a week later that it would change. Instead of cloaks on the ground, there would be a crown of thorns. Instead of praising God, the chants would become "Crucify Him, Crucify Him."

    5. Though they honored him, they did not understand. "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes."

(Ill.) I suspect that many of them were like the well known writer Samuel Clemens – or Mark Twain. One day Mark Twain took his little daughter on his knee and told her all about the rulers and other prominent men whom he had met in his travels. She listened attentively. When he had finished, she said, “Daddy, you know everybody but God, don’t you?” Mark Twain was certainly an intelligent person. Yet he rejected God.1

    1. They knew what was expected, they knew many prominent people, but they did not know the one who mattered.

(Appl.) I have been lucky to meet a great many important people in my life – people who have become leaders in the church, people who have been published, either in the church or in my other discipline. But you know something, regardless of how many people I have met or I know, regardless of who I know, it makes absolutely no difference if I don't know Jesus. It makes no difference how many important and powerful people you know, unless you know Jesus. Do you know Jesus?

    1. Jesus loved His people, but these same people could not decide whether to accept Him or to reject Him. It is a choice we have to make everyday for ourselves.

  1. The contrast between Jesus' compassion and anger

    1. We tend to think put life into boxes. Something is either good or bad. Someone is good or bad.

    2. Some people live their lives like this – they are either so full of anger, that it enters into every relationship that they have. It shows at work and it shows at home. It shows in the sports they play. But there are others who live their lives on the other side of the coin. They are always trying to be nice – they are treat everyone as if they could do nothing wrong. They have never gotten angry – and they are proud of it.

    3. But if we look at Jesus, we learn pretty quickly that healthy living is some place between these two extremes.

    4. Jesus came to a place that overlooked the city of Jerusalem. There in the distance he could see the beautiful building that served as the Jewish temple. In the foreground he could see the homes and businesses that make up the city. And he begins to get choked up.

(Ill.) It happens to many of us. We are living our normal everyday lives – and then something crosses our lives and we find ourselves all choked up. It might be show on TV or in conversation with a friend. And all we can do is sit back and let the pain pass. It happened this week as I was getting dressed for work. Family Life Radio starting playing the Song "In Christ Alone" as performed by the group Avalon:

In Christ alone my hope is found

He is my light, my strength, my song

This Cornerstone, this solid ground

Firm through the fiercest drought and storm

What heights of love, what depths of peace

When fears are stilled, when strivings came

My Comforter, my All in All

Here in the love of Christ I stand2

and all I could do was give myself a few minutes to cry.

    1. All Jesus could do was cry. He saw a city that should have known the truth, but they did not. The things they valued in their faith would be gone in 40 years – The Jews revolted against the Romans in 66 AD and four years later the Roman army marched into Jerusalem and tore their temple down. Jesus showed his compassion as He wept over its coming destruction and their rejection of His message..

    2. But Jesus' love was also demonstrated in His anger. A short while later he enters the Temple and finds businesses making money as people came to worship.

(Ill.) There was a similar point in the history of the Methodist Church 150 years ago. At that point one of the ways that the church reached its financial goals was to rent pew space. But there were pastors who found that offensive and the chose to leave the church and form the Free Methodist Church. Don't get me wrong, there were other issues as well, but this was one of the key issues that drove the beginnings of this new denomination. And maybe they were right – at least at that time, the Methodist Church no longer rent its pews.

    1. Jesus' reaction is very pictorial – he comes in and starts turning the tables over and driving those profiteers out of the temple. Worship and business were not to be mixed.

    2. Jesus was able to mix compassion and anger even as He loved his people.

(Appl.) Jesus was able to find the balance in his own life. We too must find the balance in our lives – if anger is a problem in your life – get help. If you are a softy, if you are a wimp, get help. Find the balance that will allow you serve God with all that you are.

  1. The contrast between Jesus' loving His people and loving the World

    1. There is one more contrast here.

    2. Jesus loved his people – but we must never forget that he also loves the world.

    3. John 3:16 - 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.

    4. Or Matthew, which ends with Jesus' command, "Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them ina the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.'

    5. Jesus had no problem loving His people and loving the world.

    6. I expect that each of us has those things that we find important – that we treasure. But remember, at the same time we are called to love those things that God loved.

    7. Ultimately, God's priorities must be our's. What God loves, we must also loved.

    8. And "God so loved the world ..." So must we.


1AMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Jesus Loved Friends

Jesus Loved Friends

Intro.: A poet once wrote

  1. I went out to find a friend,
    But could not find one there,
    I went out to be a friend,
    And friends were everywhere! 1

  1. Perhaps a more familiar poem are the words of that wonderful poem "What A Friend We Have In Jesus:"

What a Friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear;
What a privilege to carry
Ev’rything to God in prayer.
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Ev’rything to God in prayer.

  1. I wonder what it would be like to be Jesus' friend. Let's look at a passage that gives us a glimpse of Jesus interacting with His friends.

Read: John 11:1-44


Trans: The gospel of John contains seven major miracles.

  1. The passage that we are looking at this morning is the last of those seven.

  2. You will remember that it was Mary that poured perfume on Jesus' feet.

  3. And it was Martha who was irritated when Mary sat at Jesus feet and listen to his teaching when Martha was working at the kitchen

  4. This is the third time that we encounter this family in scripture.

T.S. I want to look at three principles that help us to understand the role of friendships among Christians.

  1. A friend is willing to get involved in another's life.

    1. It was a close family – Mary, Marth, and Lazarus. And, just as when we hear that someone is ill in our family, they were worried. In fact, it would appear that they are at their wit's end.

(Ill.) It is amazing how we can look at similar situations and have totally different opinions. Thomas Edison was born 110 years ago this year. When Thomas Edison was a young man in school in Ohio, his teacher said he’d never amount to anything because, seemingly, he could learn only science and mathematics. She said he was "addled." He couldn’t pass his other subjects because he wasn’t interested in them. The poor fellow nearly despaired when his teacher, at wit’s end, recommended his expulsion. He knew he was slow in English and history, but he was sure he was going to amount to something in spite of it. This young man, as everybody now knows, was a genius, an electrical wizard, a pioneer inventor who helped make America’s standard of living what it is today.2

    1. So when Mary and Martha were confused by their brother's they went to their friend – Jesus.

    2. And now the story gets interesting – Lazarus' sisters saw a man who was sick and who was near death. Jesus saw no such thing – it saw an event that was "for God's glory so that God's son may be glorified through it."

(Appl.) Most of us, myself included, are like Martha and Mary. We see problems as obstacles. But Jesus looks at those same problems and sees opportunities. God wants to be involved in our lives – but he will never force himself into our lives. We need to let him in. When we face the obstacles of life, it only makes sense to turn those obstacles into opportunities to see God at work.

  1. A friend is obeys God first, then is of service to others

    1. Jesus loved Mary, Martha, and Lazarus – they were true friends, not counted among the twelve apostles, but followers none the less.

    2. In some ways they were more like us than the apostles. The apostles were twelve men who were called to follow Jesus in some special way. But these three were regular women and their brother who understood that Jesus was truly the Son of God.

    3. And Jesus loved them. He cried when he arrived at the tomb. He would miss his friend.

    4. And though Jesus loved them, he still waits two days before traveling to Bethany. At the end of two days, Jesus calls His disciples to follow him to Judea.

(Appl.) There sometimes to be this unwritten rule – when a friend says "help", we have to give exactly what he or she wants. But Jesus doesn't do this. Jesus does not rush to his friend's side. He doesn't run to be with Lazarus' sisters. Instead, Jesus waits two days. You Jesus is practicing a principle we all need to learn – He had to be obedient to God first. Sometimes that means that we do what our friends want, but sometimes it does not. It does mean that we are always obedient to Jesus.

    1. As they begin to leave, Jesus makes a very remarkable statement: Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up.

    2. Its another one of those those times that Jesus sees things one way and everyone else sees it differently. Jesus sees a sleeping friend, but everyone knows that he is dead – the apostles miss the distinction, so Jesus has to explain it to them: Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.

  1. Friendships are used by God to accomplish great things

    1. I was really amazed when I read the next verse. Look at verse 16: Thomas has a bad reputation – the first word that comes to mind when I think of Thomas is doubt. Remember he was the one who could not accept Jesus' resurrection until after he touched the wounds. But at this point he takes the lead - "Then Thomas said to the rest of the disciples, 'Let us also go, that we may die with him.'"

    2. But it was going to be amazing day. When Jesus arrived, Lazarus had been dead for four days. Martha realized that Jesus could still take care of the situation. Well almost – because when Jesus says that her brother will be okay, she still does not understand. Jesus replys with one of the great "I AM"s found in John's gospel: "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die."

(Ill.) Most of us know the works of Charles Dickens. Such books as A Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist, and David Copperfield. Most of us do not know that Charles Dickens was a believer that lived in some the cruelest and darkest times in England's history. Orphans and the poor were virtual slaves to the wealthy. It is said the Dicken's writing so touched the conscience of England, that nation changed direction. Healing started. In Dickens’s novel A Tale of Two Cities, a young French aristocrat was condemned to die by the guillotine during the bloody French Revolution. His punishment was based solely on his forefathers’ crimes against the peasantry. The hour before his execution he was visited by a young English friend who could have passed for his twin. After the guard had left, the friend overpowered the doomed man with an anesthetic and exchanged clothes with him. Then, pretending to be the one condemned to die, he called the jailor and asked that his unconscious “visitor,” supposedly overcome with grief, be removed and returned to his home. The nobleman was thus saved from death.

On his way to the guillotine, the young Englishman spoke these final words: “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done. . . .” And he comforted himself with these words: “I am the Resurrection and the Life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25).3

    1. I think if I were writing this part of John's gospel, I would have ended halfway through verse 44 – "...Jesus called in a loud voice, 'Lazarus, come out.' The dead man came out."

    2. John did not – the end of this pericope is almost an anticlimax – Jesus tells them to take off the grave clothes. "Duh" But it reminds us that Jesus does work in the lives of real people. He does marvelous things in the lives of those who put their faith in Him.

(Appl.) He wants to do marvelous things in your life as well.



1Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.

2AMG Bible Illustrations. 2000 (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Bible Illustrations Series. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers.

3Green, M. P. (1989). Illustrations for Bilical Preaching : Over 1500 sermon illustrations arranged by topic and indexed exhaustively (Revised edition of: The expositor's illustration file.). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Jesus Loves Children

Jesus Loves Children

Intro.: One of the things that I discovered as I worked on my counseling degree a number of years ago was that I had lost the memory of a great deal of my childhood.

  1. Yet every so often something pops to the surface.

  2. Do you remember of the first poems you may have learned?

  3. I can remember two of the first poems I ever heard – I expect that they may be in your memory as well

What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails,
And puppy dog tails,
That's what little boys are made of. 1

What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice,
And everything nice,
That's what little girls are made of. 2

  1. Somehow, what we learn in childhood sticks with us.

  2. Today we recognize that Jesus loved children – even though others missed that point. I want to look at the four major people or groups of people in Mark 10:13-16.

Read: Mark 10:13-16


Trans: Our passage today is written as Jesus begins His final journey to Jerusalem.

  1. Jerusalem was a central point of Jesus life – both as a child, as we saw last week, and as an adult.

  2. The next chapter begins with the Triumphal Entry in Jerusalem – the major event of Palm Sunday.

  3. But even as Jesus moves toward the worst week of His life, He keeps his focus on ministry.

    We need to look at four people of note in Mark 10:13-16.

  1. Look at the children

(Ill.) Friday nights I usually eat dinner alone. On Fridays Sandra works till 9 and I will stop and get something to eat. This past Friday was no different – I decided to eat at the small Chinese restaurant in North Chili. Sandra and I have gotten to know the owners. Though they are from China, they now make their home in the Rochester area.

They have two very active kids – I would guess 2nd grade and Kindergarten. As I entered the owner was waiting on another customer, but I waved to the kids – who waved back.

After placing my order, I took my seat. The two kids came up to the table. The older asked me if they could sing me a song. The younger one asked me to tie his shoelace. As I finished tying the shoelace, the older boy came back with a book – they were going to sing "Skip to My Lou" to me. First the older one sang a verse, then the younger one, then the older one, and then the younger one. And then the most amazing thing happened, the older one pointed to me and said "your turn." So we sat there and sang four more verses of "Skip to My Lou." We finished about the time my food arrived and they were told to let me eat in peace. Though I was able to eat without any direct disruption of my dinner, the kids did play dodgeball with a crumbled menu for the next 30 minutes.

    1. I found the evening's entertainment to be a stress reliever. The kids were rambunctious. But they were being normal kids.

    2. Probably no different than the kids around Jesus that day.

    3. Children are dependent on their parents. Children are in need of our care.

(Appl.) In some ways, we all are like those children. We are weak. We will fail. We can begin to grow when when we are able to recognize those weaknesses. As long as we see our strength, it becomes difficult to trust God. Once we see our own weaknesses, we are ready to trust God.

  1. Look at the people

    1. While scripture tells us that it was children (Luke says babies) that were being brought to Jesus, it tell us nothing about the people.

(Ill.) The Greek only says "brought children" – the ending of the verb forces us to read the text as "They brought children .." - it was of course people who did it, but we are given no details about who they are.

    1. These children would not have seen Jesus if someone had not taken them to Jesus – and though we do not know who they are, they were the vehicle by which these children would come to Christ.

  1. Look at the disciples

    1. But there is someone else there as well – the disciples.

    2. They have now been with Jesus for most of three years – you would think that they would have a pretty good idea about what was important to Jesus.

    3. But, even though they should have known, they did not. I don't know why they took this stance.

      1. It may be that they saw their goal as protecting Jesus from these abusive children.

      2. Or it could be that they saw Jesus' time as too valuable – and they did not have the time.

      3. Or it could be that they were using that classical excuse, "We did it that way before."

      4. I don't know why they decided to interfere.

    4. But as I studied this passage, I was amazed that it was not the apostles who got it; it was the very anonymous "people" that brought the Children.

(Ill.) Perhaps they saw life like the poet Billie Crawford:

Some would gather money

Along the path of life;

Some would gather roses

And rest from worldly strife.

But I would gather children

From among the thorns of sin;

I would seek a golden curl

And a freckled, toothless grin.

For money cannot enter

In that land of endless day,

And the roses that are gathered

Soon will wilt along the way.

But, oh, the laughing children,

As I cross the Sunset Sea;

As the gates swing wide to Heaven,

I can take them in with me!3

    1. Are we willing to bring people to Jesus? As an individual are you willing to bring people to Jesus? As a church are we willing to bring people to Jesus?

  1. Look at Jesus

    1. Having said all this, it is important to note that the real focus of this passage is on Jesus.

    2. Jesus makes three key statements:

      1. He wants children to be part of His church. "Let the little children come to me."

      2. The kingdom of God was designed for children. "do not hinder the children, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these."

      3. We must understand ourselves as children – "I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child, will never enter it."

    3. Today has been about children – from the beach balls, to my encounter with two children at the Chinese restaurant, and our encounter with Jesus

    4. Jesus wants to meet you – he wants to meet you as a child.

    5. Are you willing to meet him today.

Conclusion: Sing Jesus Loves Me




3Green, M. P. (1989). Illustrations for Bilical Preaching : Over 1500 sermon illustrations arranged by topic and indexed exhaustively (Revised edition of: The expositor's illustration file.). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.