Sunday, April 29, 2007

Responding To God
View the Video

Responding to God

Intro.: Life presents a great number of options.

  1. But the decisions we make will determine where we will be in the future.

  2. A while back (actually several years back) I played the pin ball machines. I was never very good at it.

  3. And though I had some control of the ball, it also had a very random scheme. I could control only the first direction that the ball traveled – but with that bit of control, I had some control over where the ball went.

  4. But the science of physics tells me, that how I chose to hit that ball would have a great deal to say about where it went after that.

  5. In a similar way, the choices we make in life, determine where we will be in the future.

Read: Joshua 10:16-28


Trans:You know, I don't I always understand the decisions made by Joshua.

  1. Sometimes they seem harsh and I would prefer a softer approach

  2. After all, I serve a God of love.

  3. Yet as I read, I see behavior very similar to that presented by our own armies. Humiliation with the feet placed on the necks of the losing kings. The hangings of these same kings. I feel as if I am reading a current newspaper.

  4. But there is a single facts that helps me to understand these events – and the first is this: What we are reading is descriptive, it is not prescriptive. It describes what occurred, it does not necessarily serve as an absolute example

  5. Secondly, I have to remember that though these are God's people, they are also people. God's people do not always do what they ought to do.

  6. Today's passage is exactly that – it can help us understand people respond to God – they do not require that we do so.

T.S. Joshua 10:16-28 illustrates three distinct ways of responding to God.

  1. Hiding from God

    1. The Israelites had all but defeated the Amorites. And they responded.

    2. The most prominent group, the leaders, run south to a cave. And they hide.

    3. I suppose that is one way to handle life difficulties.

    4. Of course, though you think that it is helping, it really is not.

    5. First – it is offense to those who depend on you. The army for whom these kings were responsible lost their leaders. The very men who were responsible for giving them direction now were in hiding. Even when life gives us trouble, we still have people and things for which we are responsible.

(Appl.) During the 21st century, we may not hide from God in caves, but we hind in what we do. Take, for example, the parent who avoids caring for their child. They become too involved with work, they become too involved with their social live, and (for some) they become too involved with their church. And they spend increasingly less time with their children. When we avoid those things that God has given us responsibility for by putting placing secondary things first, we are hiding from God.

    1. But it is not only others that are hurt when we try to hide from God. We also hurt ourselves.

    2. I can hear someone saying now, “But Pastor Floyd, we can't hide from God. God, after all, is all seeing and all knowing. There is nothing that he does not know.”

    3. And yet we live as if we can hide our sins from God. We live as if our words make no difference. When we try to hide – we fail miserably. They say confession is good for the soul. It is true – for when we confess who we are to God, we are no longer hiding from God.

    4. When the five kings tried hiding in the cave, they thought they were safe, but they were not. Joshua had his men seal the cave. They were alive – but they would still need to face the consequences of their actions.

  1. Running From God

    1. The kings hid from God, but their army continued to run.

    2. They were not alone – one of the first Bible stories that many use heard growing up was the story of Jonah and the Whale. Though the story actually never tells us it is a whale, the truth is that Jonah is running from God.

    3. Whether it is the Amorite army or the single believer, like Jonah, running from God does no good.

(Ill.) And running from God did not stop in the Old Testament. John Bunyan wrote what one author called arguably the most famous published Christian allegory, Pilgrim's Progress. This same man once said, “He who runs from God in the morning will scarcely find him the rest of the day.”1

(Ill.) I have never been to a dog race – but the pictures I have seen include a rabbit mounted on a stick. At the start of the race, the rabbit is pulled ahead of the dogs – just far enough ahead that they will never be caught. You see, we may think we are like that rabbit and will never be caught as God chases us. But God does not work like that. He will chase you and, if he wants you, he has already caught you.

    1. Running did not help the Amorites, it will not help us.

  1. Obeying God

    1. Hiding from God does not help. Running from God does not help.

    2. But there is another option – that is obeying God.

    3. Joshua and the Israelites had God's promise which we find earlier Joshua 10:8 - And the Lord said unto Joshua, “Fear them not: for I have delivered them into thy hands; there shall not a man of them stand before thee.”

    4. The kings are trapped, but the army is running. The Israelites persue.

    5. In the middle of life it can be hard to remember and believe God's promises. After all, we spend too many hours not even dealing with them – and then when life demands that we remember what those promises are:

    6. For example, the Israelites would like these promises: No king is saved by his great army. No warrior escapes by his great strength.… But the Lord looks after those who fear him, those who put their hope in his love. He saves them from death and spares their lives in times of hunger. So our hope is in the Lord. He is our help, our shield to protect us. (Psalm 33:16, 18-20) If God is with us, no one can defeat us. He did not spare his own Son but gave him for us all. So with Jesus, God will surely give us all things. Who can accuse the people God has chosen? No one, because God is the One who makes them right. (Romans 8:31–33) The Lord’s love never ends; his mercies never stop. They are new every morning; Lord , your loyalty is great. I say to myself, “The Lord is mine, so I hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who hope in him, to those who seek him. (Lamenations 3:22-25)2

    7. None of these promises had been committed to paper at the time of Joshua; yet Joshua and his men lived their lives (at least for now) knowing that God was in control.

    8. Can we do any less?


1Water, M. (2000). The new encyclopedia of Christian quotations (756). Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishers Ltd.

2Lucado, M., & Gibbs, T. A. (2001, 1996). God's inspirational promises (10). Nashville, TN: J. Countryman.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Man's Predicament, God's Involvement
View the Video

Man's Predicament, God's Involvement

Intro.: Monday was a tough day as we began to hear the story of shootings a Virginia Tech.

  1. I had never been on the campus – but I know those kids. Their smiles, their dreams, their hopes. And the faculty were my colleagues.

  2. I work at a college – could it happen there?

  3. It was a tough day, a tough week.

  4. There were times I was near to tears.

  5. I wonder how I would cope if I were faced with such a crisis?

  6. I do not know the answer to that question – I hope I never have to find out.

  7. Today I want to look at one scripture that helps us see how one man managed a crisis.

Read: Joshua 10:1-15


Trans: In some ways, these stories from the Old Testament seem far removed from the 21st century.

  1. Yet these people carried the same emotions, the same kinds of pains, the same kinds of concerns for their lives.

  2. Though we are reading about events that took place 1400 years before Christ – We must never forget that these were men and women who could have been us.

T.S. During the next few minutes, I want to look at three characteristics that may help us define the events that are part of our lives.

  1. There are events in our lives over which we have no control

    1. Our passage does not start with Joshua, our passage does not even start with the Israelites. Rather it begins by looking at a group of city kings that don't want to lose control of what they had.

    2. It is one of those things Joshua had no control of.

(Appl.) Those kind of things happen to all of us. For me lat weekend it was my car. It may be our house, it may be our jobs, it may be family – or any number of other things that are part of our lives.

    1. And for Joshua it was going to be these five kings. Surprisingly, their tactic was not to go to war against against the Israelites or even against their leader, Joshua.

    2. They were going against the Gibeonites. You probably remember the Gibeonites – they were that group that deceptively won the hearts of the Israelites by dressing in dirty cloths that made it appear that they had traveled a great distance. But now they were in trouble.

(Appl.) You know it is amazing that when Satan wants to really get after those of us who are solidly grounded in the faith, he often will not go after us, but he will go after those things that are most important around us. Sometimes it is the things that hold most dear that become the center of our spiritual battles, but all too often it is the people that we care about most that will find themselves under attack. It will be our kids, it will be our spouses, it will be our friends – that are facing temptation in the worst ways imaginable.

(Ill.) Those of you who have been parents any length of time know what I am talking about – you have seen your kids struggle. You know what it is like to walk with your kids through the tough times. But the coin was flipped – when our parent's faith was at its strongest, I suspect many of you faced temptation and maybe gave in to it in ways you normally would never think of doing. But you did.

    1. Let me restate the principle – when our faith is at its strongest, we will find that those around us will face the greatest challenges.

    2. Joshua was about to face an enemy that he had not planned on; Joshua was about to face those who were attacking the very people that Joshua had sworn to protect.

  1. There are times when God expects us to be involved

    1. Joshua had two possible responses to the crisis.

      1. He could have ignored the plea for help – after all the Gibeonites had started out by deceiving the Israelites. It would be an easy matter to leave let them suffer the consequences of their decisions

      2. Or he could abide by the commitments they had made – regardless of the consequences. Joshua was a man who had received God's blessing, the kind of man who kept his commitments.

(Ill.) If you visit any large foundry where the boilers are kept going at full force, you would never be able to look into a boiler to tell how much water there is in it, but you would be able to tell how much water the boiler contains by an instrument which is attached to the side of the boiler. Alongside is a small glass tube which has some fluid in it. If this glass tube is half full of liquid, then there is an indication that the boiler is half full of water; if the glass gauge indicated that there is no water in the glass, then we can depend that there is no water in the boiler. The little glass gauge is the indicator for the large boiler. How can people tell whether we love God, our fellowman, or even ourselves? They can never look within our hearts and get the answer; it is only by our outward actions, the works that we do as Christians that people are able to tell how much or how little our religion amounts to. Our love for God is indicated by the works of love in which we engage. There are people who are constantly looking at the Christian’s gauge.1

    1. Regardless of what was going on in Joshua's heart, we can only understand Joshua's heart by how he lives, rather than by what he says. And Joshua does decide to keep his commitments and he and the Israelite army.

    2. And the war starts – the Israelites are winning, but the enemy is getting away.

    3. Joshua has done his part – now God does his part. He brings a storm – a hail storm.

    4. I've heard of golf ball or baseball size hail, but I have never seen it. I'm not sure I want to.

    5. Our passage tells us that God accomplishes more than Joshua and his army combined.

(Appl.) Here is the lesson - there are times when God will not do what he can until we do what we can. It means that as believers we need to take responsibility for our spiritual lives – if we want God to use us, then we need to be doing what he wants us to do. But it is also true for the church – if we want God to use us in this community, it means that we need to be involved as a church in our community.

    1. God wants to use us to win the people around us to Christ, but he also, as he did Joshua wants us to get started on that task.

  1. There are times when God will do what needs to be done

    1. There are times when God expects us to be involved. But there are times when God will accomplish what we could not regardless of how hard we may try.

    2. It was a long day, Joshua had done what he could do, God had contributed to the success of the battle. But there was more to do and the day was coming to an end.

    3. When it seemed that Joshua had done all he could do – he did the one thing he could do – he prayed:

O sun, stand still over Gibeon,

O moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.”

And they did.

    1. There is no way that Joshua could have stopped the sun. There is no way he could add extra time to the day. It is only something that God could do. I do not know what happened that day. I came across a number of plausible explanations – but they all agreed, GOD WAS AT WORK and in doing so gave Joshua additional time to accomplish what he needed to do after he prayed for God's intervention.

(Ill.) The world, too often, defines a miracle as something God does outside the normal explanations given by science – hence, no miracle can be proven. But as believers a miracle is more. For the Christian a miracle is anything God does - whether within the bounds of science or not. Whether it is the gift of life in a baby, or the beauty of a rainbow, or turning water into wine – because God did it, it is a miracle.

    1. And sometimes God does things that we cannot do.

Conclusion: This may have been a tough week for many of us.

  1. But not so surprising. Things do happen over which we have no control.

  2. We have heard stories about people doing what they could do to protect those who were under attack.

  3. And there have been those who don't understand why they lived – God did what they could not do for themselves.


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

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Joshua Reruns

Joshua Reruns

Intro.: This is the worst time of year for those of us that enjoy watching TV

  1. We have entered the “RERUN” season.

  2. Reruns have taken over the airwaves.

  3. Sandra and I avoid the reruns as best we are able. It is during this time that we watch films in our video collection or the reruns that we have purchased on DVD

  4. Or we just plain turn the TV off – nothing worth watching is on.

  5. Of course, those of you who are baseball fans don't blink. Just as the reruns begin, the baseball season begins. It must be great.

  6. But sermons don't quite work like TV shows. Sermons are expected to be fresh and catchy. In fact, as a pastor I want the same thing as you.

  7. But it seems only fair that occasionally you might get a “Rerun” sermon – except that I have never preached this sermon before.

  8. Today we want to return to something we started a year ago. It was the week after Easter in 2006 that we began an examination of the book of Joshua. At the time we looked at chapters 1-4 together and then took the summer off. In Fall, we spent six weeks again looking at the book of Joshua.

  9. Then came Thanksgiving, advent, the new year, and lent.

  10. Now five months later, I want to again continue our study of Joshua. But I have a problem. I expect that, like me, you have forgotten much of our earlier look at Joshua. So today, we present “The Rerun”.

Read: Joshua 1:1-9


Trans: Joshua was a friend and confidant of Moses

  1. There is an old joke that asks you name two men in the Bible who had no parents. Everyone knows about Adam. But not many know that Joshua, too, was the son of Nun. Of course the joke is that Joshua's father was named Nun, N-U-N.

  2. We first meet in the Pentateuch where is shown to be the Joshua's aid. Joshua had been working along side Moses for many years – scripture says he had been Joshua's aid “since his youth.”

  3. He was one of the twelve spies who were sent into the promised land by Moses to determine what the Israelites would face. And he was one of the two who came back convinced that God would give them the land.

  4. By the time we get to today's passage, Joshua is ready to serve.

T.S. During the next few minutes, as we review the first eight chapters of Joshua, I want to look at four milestones in the book of Joshua that will help us to understand the character of this man of God.

  1. Joshua given command of the Israelites

    1. I was amazed when I discovered that Joshua was 80 years old as he was commissioned for this new role.

    2. And that probably explains why God said to Joshua three times to “be strong and courageous.” Even though Joshua was eighty, I suspect that he had developed habits would allow him to be “strong and courageous” - God's words were not meant to change Joshua – but to affirm what was already part of his life.

(Ill.) There is an old Irish prayer that goes: Give me
-- Enough happiness to keep us sweet;
-- Enough sorrow to keep us human;
-- Enough wealth to meet our needs;
-- Enough failure to keep us humble;
-- Enough friends to give us comfort;
-- Enough determination to make each day a good one;
-- Enough faith to give us courage;
-- Enough trials to keep us strong.

    1. Courage and strength go together. To be courageous and have no strength would allow us to be foolish. To have strength and have no courage allows us to be useless.

    2. My prayer for you this morning is that you would “strong and courageous” whatever God may send your way.

  1. Joshua allowed to cross the Jordan

    1. The first task Joshua had after being commissioned to serve was to lead the Israelites across the Jordan.What amazed me was that after he had lead all the people across the Jordan, he took time to build a memorial in the middle of the river.

    2. The Israelites were descended from twelve brothers, the twelve sons of Israel – and the descendants organized themselves in tribes based on which brother they had descended from.

    3. One representative from each tribe was to bring a stone to the river to be used in the memorial. The people had to remember what God was doing. The people had were to never forget that God had brought them to this new land.

(Appl.) God had reached out into each of our lives. But in the middle of life, it is easy to forget those times that God had brought us through the most difficult times. We need to build memorials in our own lives. We need to find ways to remember those times that God has reached out and touched our lives. It might be a journal entry. It might be a note at the end of our Bible. It might be charm on a necklace or bracelet. But, just as the Israelites had to remember what God had done, we also need to find ways to remember that God has worked in our lives. How will you remember what God has done?

  1. Joshua told to capture the cities

    1. Joshua had some tough obstacles to overcome. Not the least was the land the God had given them was occupied by its original inhabitants.

    2. Now people reacted in some strange ways to the Israelites presence in their land

      1. Some just huddled together in their communities – and God gave those cities to Joshua and the Israelites – Jericho was a great example

      2. Some rushed out to fight Joshua and the Israelites army it did no good.

      3. And then there were the Gibeonites in chapter 9. They approached Joshua saying that they had come a long distance. They said they had heard of how God had given the land to Joshua and the Israelites and they wanted to join them. Actually, they were from the next town over. Their deception of course was discovered – but they were to serve the Israelites for as long as they remained a people.

    3. You see people handle their difficulties in a number of ways -

    4. But you know what – none of them seem to work. They only tend to alienate themselves from God

    5. What is amazing is that the one family who responded to God and acknowledged that he was Lord and in control was saved.

    6. That family was not a leader Jericho, that family would not see themselves as coming with the highest moral character. The community would not hold that family up as an example for its young people.

    7. Yet when they responded to God – he protected them. Of all the families, it is the one that scripture makes clear was allowed to join the family of God.

    8. God is not looking for the best people God is not looking for the richest people God is not looking for the beautiful people None of those things got anybody into heaven

      God is looking for men and women who can acknowledge that they are broken and the only way will get into heaven is by the grace of God.

    9. Scripture makes clear that three is no other way – except through Him.

    10. Are you willing to say yes to Jesus. Are you wlling to follow Him.



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

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Learning To Love Jesus
View the Video

Learning to Love Jesus

Intro.: At one time I taught a kindergarten Sunday School class.

  1. The story I read about makes perfect sense to me.

  2. One Sunday late in Lent a Sunday School teacher decided to ask her class what they remembered about Easter. The first little fellow suggested that Easter was when “all the family comes to the house and they eat a big turkey and watch football.” The teacher suggested that perhaps he was thinking of Thanksgiving, not Easter, so she let a pretty young girl answer. She said Easter was the day “when as you come down the stairs in the morning you see all the beautiful presents under the tree.” At this point, the teacher was really feeling discouraged. But after explaining that the girl was probably thinking about Christmas, she called on a lad with his hand tentatively raised in the air. Her spirits immediately perk up as the boy says that Easter is the time “when Jesus was crucified and buried.” She felt she had gotten through to at least one child until he added, “And then He comes out of the grave and if He sees His shadow we have six more weeks of winter.”1

  3. Easter is not about Turkey, Easter is not about presents, and Easter is not about winter.

  4. Easter is about Jesus Christ – his death, his burial, and his resurrection.

  5. Today I want to look at one passage that will focus our attention on the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Read: John 21:15-19


Trans: A slight change in direction.

  1. Focus has been “Learning to love like Jesus loved.”

  2. Today we focus on “Learning to love Jesus”

T.S. I want to look at four ways in which we need to love Jesus.

  1. We love Jesus with OUR HEARTS

    1. Eventually love will effect the way we live, but it will start in what happens in our heart.

    2. It is true in human relationships and in our relationship with God.

    3. Jesus understood it – this was the question that He was asking of Peter.

    4. Remember that Peter had really had shown rather poor behavior the day that Jesus was crucified. Jesus had not been surprised – I don't know whether Peter was surprised or not. But, regardless, it was just a few days before that Peter had been challenged about his relationship to Jesus Christ. In fact he had been challenged not just once, not twice, but three times – and each time he had denied knowing Jesus.

    5. In some way, this whole conversation is a response to that event. Jesus does not love Peter any less because of his behavior – but does he really want to leave His church in the care of men who will deny him at the simplest sign of hardship.

    6. And so he asks Peter, "Do you LOVE me?"

    7. Most of you will know that the word that Jesus uses is that wonderful word "Agape"

(Ill.) Martin Luther King understood what Jesus meant by Agape Love. He once said that "Agape (love) means understanding, redeeming good will for all persons. It is an overflowing love which is purely spontaneous, unmotivated, groundless, and creative. It is not set in motion by any quality or function of its object. It is the love of God operating in the human heart."2 It is the unconditional love that has its origin in our relationship with God.

    1. Three times Jesus asks Peter, "Do you LOVE me?" Three times he asks Peter, "Do you love me with the unconditional love that only God can give?"

    2. Jesus understood that loving God, must begin in a person's heart. It is true for us and it was true for Peter.

  1. We love Jesus with WHAT WE SAY

    1. Jesus was seeking to discover the state of Peter's heart.

    2. But Peter is not, at least initially, up to it. Jesus asks Him "Do you love me unconditionally?" But Peter's response indicates that he cannot, at least yet, respond in the positive. You see, he switches the word – when he replies, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." He uses a Greek word that is a substantially weaker than the Agape love that Jesus.

(Ill.) If you are familiar with the nick name of Philadelphia – "the city of brotherly love" – you are already familiar with the word that Peter uses. Phileo is the Greek word to express the love between two siblings – "Brotherly Love".

(Ill.) I know that we are six months away from the football season, but there is a wonderful story told by a long time sports announcer who worked for local radio stations across the United States and Canada. On this one particular night, Jim Turner had the responsibility of covering the 100th meeting between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears. Now these two teams basically lived down the road from each other and over the years the rivalry had grown intense. Today's gave was scheduled for 6:00 PM at Packer stadium and, because they both were in Green Bay on Sunday morning, members of each team decided to go to church. So, on Sunday morning, sitting in St. Willibrod's Catholic Church were George Halas and other "monsters of the midway". On the other side of the aisle sat Vince Lombardi and others from the Packer team. Paul Hornung who played for the Packers at that time, sat in the front row. Ironically the sermon that morning was on "brotherly love". And these two teams know what brotherly love was all about. It was good to be in God's house with God's people. They were truly brothers. But the priest knew that brotherly love was not unconditional – for as he came to the end of his sermon, he turned to those from the Packer team and ended with the punch-line: "Now go out and beat those Bears." You see, brotherly love has limits – and for those players, that day, one of those limits was the green grass of Lambeau Field.3

    1. Now, brotherly love is important – and Jesus understood that. So even though Peter cannot give a totally affirmative response to Jesus, Jesus can still turn to Peter and say, "Feed my lambs"

    2. But Jesus still wants to know if Peter has and unconditional love for him, so he asks again, "Do you love me?" And Peter responds in a similar fashion. And again, Jesus commissions Peter to "Take care of my sheep."

    3. But Jesus is going to push a bit more. So for a third time he asks, "Do you love me?" Finally, Peter gets it. He answers from his heart – "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you!" and this time he uses the same word that Jesus used, he says that his love is the Agape love that has its origin in our relationship with God.

    4. I don't think that Peter was changed in that conversation – but because his heart was right, he was finally able to say what he felt.

(Appl.) When we love God with all our heart, then what we say will demonstrate that love. It will come out in our interaction with God, it will come out with our interaction with the Church, and it will come out in interaction with all those who cross or path throughout the day.

    1. Let me ask you the question that Jesus asked Peter, "Do you love Jesus?"

  1. We love Jesus with WHAT WE DO

    1. Not only are our Heart and our Words changed, but how we live our live will also change.

    2. Jesus makes that clear in His conversation with Peter – listen again to the instructions that Jesus gives to Peter:

      1. Feed my lambs

      2. Take care of my sheep

      3. Feed my sheep

    3. Unless our faith impacts what we do, then it really makes little difference at all. Unless our faith allows us to see our world and respond to our world as Jesus would, we are missing the point.

(Ill.) One of the place I check regularly on the Internet is CNN – and I ran across an editorial piece by Roland Martin. Roland is Black Christian who is a Talk Show host on a Chicago radio station. More recently, he has begun a series of editorials on the CNN cable network. Too often, he wrote this week, the church has strange responses to the world in which we find ourselves: Poverty? Whatever. Homelessness? An afterthought. A widening gap between the have and have-nots? Immaterial. Divorce? The divorce rate of Christians mirrors the national average, so that's no big deal.4

    1. I suppose I could respond by saying so what. Let me suggest way in which it could make a difference. Many of you know that there is a lady who comes to most of our dinners who, as she finishes her meal, starts hiding extra rolls or food into her purse. I was challenged this week to ask what would Jesus would do if this woman crossed His path. You know what he would do? He would feed her – he would invite her back into the kitchen and offer her more.

    2. Are you willing to be the face of Jesus? Are we, the members of Garland United Methodist willing to be the face of Jesus to our community?

Conclusion: As believers, we need to learn to love – both those around us and Jesus.

  1. It will impact our hearts

  2. It will impact what we say

  3. It will impact what we do

How will Jesus impact you this week?


1Streiker, L. D. (2000). Nelson's big book of laughter : Thousands of smiles from A to Z (electronic ed.) (412). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

2Martin Luther King, Jr. found in Water, M. (2000). The new encyclopedia of Christian quotations (636). Alresford, Hampshire: John Hunt Publishers Ltd.

3Based on a story found in Streiker, L. D. (2000). Nelson's big book of laughter : Thousands of smiles from A to Z (electronic ed.) (169). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.


Sunday, April 01, 2007

Jesus Loves Everyone
View the Video

Jesus Loves Everyone

Intro.: My first church was in a rural area of Wisconsin.

In a rural, quite religious farm community, there was a disastrous drought and the crops were dying. In desperation, the local preacher announced that the whole community would assemble at the edge of one of the fields and pray for rain. A large crowd gathered, and the preacher climbed on a bale of hay and surveyed the flock. He said, “Brothers and sisters, you have come here to pray for rain.” “Amen!” responded the crowd. “Well,” said the preacher, “do you have sufficient faith?” “Amen! Amen!” shouted the crowd. “All right, all right,” said the preacher, “but I have one question to ask you.” The crowd stood silent, puzzled, expectant. “Brothers and sisters,” shouted the preacher, “where are your umbrellas?”1

Read: John 19:25-27


Trans: The number of women at the cross is not known.

  1. Jesus loved His mother-the person who knew him the longest and the one who knew him the best

    1. When we look at the people around the cross that day, it is only natural that it starts with Jesus' family

    2. All four of the Gospels mention the presence of Jesus' mother

    3. There are two ways to measure our faith in God – the one is measure how long we have walked with Him. This is not the same as saying how long we have been going to church. There are lots of people who attend church regularly, but have not yet trusted Jesus.

(Ill.) The best example of this is Jesus' crucifixion – there was a crowed there, they were there to see this sensational man put to death. But most of them had not put their faith in Jesus. They were there for the excitement, they were there because of the notoriety of this man. Not because they believed.

(Ill.) In a similar way, going to a library is no guarantee that I am a reader. Even checking out books, does not make me a reader – it may make me look like a reader, it may make other people think I am a reader. In fact, there would be no way for you to know that I am a reader unless you followed me around and watched the amount of time I actually read. Never forget, however, I may be in that library because I am a reader, but being in the library does not make a reader.

    1. But Mary not only knew Jesus the longest, she also knew Him the best. She had been there when he was born. She had seen the shepherds, heard how the angels came to them. She had met the wise men with their gifts and how they had followed that star. She had seen Jesus response, when at 12 he stayed in the temple to discuss God with the spiritual leaders of His time. She had seen him grow in "wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man." She knew Jesus better than anybody at the cross that day, and she still followed him

    2. This is the true measure of a disciple – how well do we know Jesus?

(Appl.) How well do you know Jesus?

  1. Jesus loved his mother's sister – the mother of James and John

    1. Mary's sister was Salome – she was also the wife of Zebedee

    2. But scripture tells us that the sons of Zebedee were James and John – There is the very real possibility that James and John were Jesus' cousins!

    3. But there is something else of interest in Salome. Her name is from the Hebrew word "Shalom" which means peace.

    4. I expect that there was very little peace on the hill called Gogatha that day. Three convicts being crucified, soldiers, the conversation, the pain – nope there would not be much pain that day.

    5. But Salome is there – with Mary, the mother of Jesus, with Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. They are not running, they are not hiding. They are at the foot of the cross listening to their Lord.

    6. What a contrast to some the disciples – Peter was trying to avoid being identified with Jesus; and other than John, we have no idea where the other disciples are during these hours.

    7. As Salome came to know Jesus, she found enough peace in her life that she could find her self at His crucifixion.

(Ill.) A rabbi and a soap maker went for a walk together. The soap maker said, “What good is religion? Look at all the trouble and misery of the world! Still there, even after years—thousands of years—of teaching about goodness and truth and peace. Still there, after all the prayers and sermons and teachings. If religion is good and true, why should this be?” The rabbi said nothing. They continued walking until he noticed a child playing in the gutter. Then the rabbi said, “Look at that child. You say that soap makes people clean, but see the dirt on that youngster. Of what good is soap? With all the soap in the world, over all these years, the child is still filthy. I wonder how effective soap is, after all!” The soap maker protested. “But, Rabbi, soap cannot do any good unless it is used!” “Exactly,” replied the Rabbi. “Exactly!”

    1. I don't know what is rattling your life right now, but Jesus can give you peace in the middle of it.

  1. Jesus loved Mary, the wife of Clopas – a relative unknown

    1. Some people are known because of who they are – the mother of Jesus is one such person. Others are known because of who they know – Salome is a good example here.

    2. But there are some people who are just unknowns – the third woman is one such person. We know her name – Mary. And we know her husband's name, Clopas. But there is not much more known about Mary or her husband.

    3. A lot of us are unknowns – we live our lives never experiencing the so-called 15 minutes of fame.

    4. But here is the amazing part – Jesus even loves the unknown.

(Ill.) You know what, I got to this part of my sermon and I wanted a wonderful illustration to illustrate the point. But you know what I did find was a lot of wonderful illustrations labeled credited to "author unknown." There were people who had great insight, but whose identity had been lost.

    1. We may know nothing about Mary, but Jesus does. We may know nothing about Clopas, but he and his wife have a place in God's kingdom.

  1. Jesus loved Mary Magdalene – a disciple, like us

    1. Mary Magdalene is the only other of these women mentioned in all four gospels.

    2. In some ways it is easier for me to relate to Mary Magdalene than to any of the other women mentioned by John. Part of that is because, of what I know of her, she is more like me than any of the others. The others are most likely related to Jesus in some way – Mary Magdalene is following Jesus because of what He changed her heart. Here was a broken person, scripture tells us the Jesus case seven demons out of her, who was so loved by Jesus, that she followed Him even to the cross.

    3. Jesus reached out to this broken woman. He did not let her reputation get in the way, he did not worry about his own reputation. And because of that, Mary Magdalene experienced the grace of God.

(Ill.) One of the key players in the movie Amazing Grace is John Newton. Two or three years before the death of this eminent servant of Christ, an aged friend and brother in the ministry called on him at breakfast. Family prayer followed, and the portion of Scripture for the day was read to him. In it occurred the verse, “By the grace of God, I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15:10). After the reading of this text, he uttered this affective soliloquy: “I am not what I ought to be—ah! how imperfect and deficient! I am not what I wish to be. I abhor what is evil, and I would cleave to what is good. I am not what I hope to be. Soon, soon, shall I put off mortality, and, with mortality, all sin and imperfection. Yet though I am not what I ought to be, nor what I wish to be, nor what I hope to be, I can truly say I am not what I once was—a slave to sin and Satan; I can heartily join with the apostle and acknowledge, ‘By the grace of God, I am what I am.’“2

    1. And so could Mary Magdalene and so can we.



1Streiker, L. D. (2000). Nelson's big book of laughter : Thousands of smiles from A to Z (electronic ed.) (370). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

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