The Life and Death of Jesus – Part 4
Asbury Free Methodist
March 14, 2021
There are many ways to share your faith – not all of them are good. Do not be the Evangelism Linebacker – Instead, this morning I want you to see the God’s heart.
We are in the middle of Lent and our series, “The Life and Death of Jesus.” Today I am hoping that you will get a clearer vision of who God the father is. I am hoping that you will see who Jesus is, and why he came. I am also hoping that you will be like Jesus, and get on board with God’s mission.
Have you ever lost something valuable? About a month and a half ago I lost the key fob for my car. Now I have been through this once. I put my key fob through the washing machine and had to get the Volkswagen dealership to replace it –$400. So now I lost the key fob that I replaced. At first I wasn’t worried, because it had to be in the house – because I really haven’t been anywhere.
But it has been a month and a half and I still haven’t found it. The best I can figure is that I dropped it someplace on a walk. But I have looked everywhere that I can think of for that key fob. It has just disappeared. If I every do find it, there will be a happy dance and rejoicing.
If you have ever lost something valuable and you have spent extended time looking for it then you can relate to the guy with the sheep and the woman who lost a coin. Which means that you can relate to God because in the story the guy with the sheep and the woman with the coin represents God. You can relate to God’s heart for people who are lost.
I want you to keep God’s heart in mind as we dive into this passage.
Luke 15:1–2 (NIV)
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
This story mentions four groups of people. The Pharisees were a group of religious people who were more interested in keeping the law of God, rather than knowing the law giver. The teachers of the law were theologians. They were more interested in knowing about God than knowing God.
It is the other two groups that I want you to see. There were the tax collectors. They were hated because they collaborated with Rome and because many of them were corrupt and charged more than they were supposed to. But they were backed by Rome so there was nothing the average person could do about being ripped off.
The other group that was mentioned is – the sinners. The community knew who these people were and what they did. We know that there were prostitutes among this crowd. There were probably alcoholics around this crowd. There were a lot of non-religious people in this crowd. The crazy thing is that these people loved listening to Jesus.
Verse 2 in the original language reads, the more the tax collectors and sinners drew near to Jesus the more the Pharisees and teachers of the law grumbled, and muttered, “this man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
The charge from the religious leaders and theologians is that Jesus shows no social superiority over these people.
I love this about Jesus. It wasn’t like Jesus was in one class and the tax collectors and sinners were in another class – and Jesus was reaching down to them. No, Jesus treated these people as social equals – even though the rest of the culture did not. No wonder the tax collectors and sinners liked to hang around Jesus.
At this time in his life, Jesus was the popular guy. Crowds followed him. Miracles happened around him. He could have been exclusive – but that is not who he is. If you have ever heard of a Christian acting “holier than thou” they didn’t get it from their founder.
If Jesus was in Perth, he would treat the alcoholics and drug addicts as social equals. He would treat gay people, and people sleeping around, and the partiers as social equals. He would treat the poor, the homeless as well as the people who do not hold to your brand of politics as social equals.
He would treat immigrants, and refugees and Muslims and Hindus as social equals. He would treat your neighbour who is a nice person but takes not thought of God as a social equal. He would treat the ladder climbers and the money driven people as social equals. This is who Jesus is.
And here is what you need to know. You are to be like Jesus. We don’t look down our nose or treat as inferior people who God loves.
You know this. I have seen a lot of Christians try to do this. But there are a lot of ways of doing this and not all of them are good. Some Christians never try to follow Jesus and care about their neighbour. It is really easy to become religious and fail to care about people outside the church. Not good.
There are other people who try to be like Jesus by meeting people where they are, but they go about it wrong. They try to get to the same level by identifying with their sinfulness. They are a sinner I am a sinner – I am no better than they – just forgiven. There is something to that – but that is obviously not how Jesus did it. He did relate to others on the basis of his sinfulness because he was without sin.
Some people try to relate to others on the basis of the fact that we are all humans. That is good. We have more in common than what separates us. But you know that there as some human beings that are better than others – not more valuable but better. There are the Mother Teresa’s and there are the Bernie Madoff’s. We tend to move towards the better human beings – and that is not what Jesus did.
He is who Jesus is
Matthew 11:28–29 (NIV)
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Did you notice how he describes himself. He is gentle and humble. He was the center of attention, the one the crowds followed. But when he related to people like the tax collector the sinner – he was gentle and humble.
People who are gentle and humble don’t show social superiority. They don’t try to get down to someone else’s level. They treat others with respect that comes out of a personal humility. I am not talking about self-deprecation. Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less. Humility is thinking more about others needs than your own insecurities in a conversation.
The other thing that attracted tax collectors and sinners was genuine love. Listen, if you are very present with people, and you have no need to lift yourself up, but you are really there for others – people get that. That was Jesus’ approach to the tax collectors and sinners.
Here is what you need to know. You are called to be like Jesus.
For Jesus life was about doing what his heavenly father wanted, and giving his life to what others needed. What did the tax collectors and the sinners need? They needed the good news that they were welcome in the Kingdom of God and they needed that message delivered through someone who was humble and gentle and full of love.
Your friends, your neighbors need the same message delivered in the same way.
Back to our text.
Luke 15:3–10 (NIV)
3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
8 “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? 9 And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Jesus was not under any illusions. He knew that the people in front of him were sinners. But you will notice from the stories that it was not their sin that defined them in Jesus minds.
What defined them temporarily was not their sin, but their lostness. But what defined them permanently was the value that is placed on them by God. It was because of their value that God went on a search.
Listen, in God’s eyes it is not people’s sin that defines them. It is their value in God’s eyes that define them. God’s heart for people defines them. How God has uniquely made them defines them. God’s love for them defines them even if they don’t know God or his love.
Lost people matter to God – even if they don’t know they are lost. And when they turn from walking away from God to walking towards God, – that is what repent means – when they repent – all of heaven rejoices.
Here is what I want you to see about these stories. The God figure in each one of these stories – The shepherd who goes and looks for his sheep. The woman who searches carefully for her lost coin, —- what you see is God on a mission. God is on a mission to find that which was lost. He is searching, he is looking, he is trying to find a way to restore that which was lost.
When Zacchaeus started to follow Jesus – Jesus said this about himself.
Luke 19:10 (NIV)
10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
What you see is in that verse is that Jesus was on a mission. You have God the father on a mission to look for the lost. You have Jesus on a mission to seek and save the lost. The God we love and serve is a missional God. He is a God on a mission.
That is really helpful to me. Many of you who have been around the faith for a while are familiar with the great commission.
Matthew 28:18–20 (NIV)
18 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 in 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.”
I used to think that God had given the church a mission. To go into all the world and make disciples. But what I didn’t realize is that this commission comes out of who he is. It is not the church’s mission, it is God’s mission that we are to join him in.
God is on a mission. Jesus is on a mission. He came to “Seek and to save that which were lost. God is the shepherd going to look for a lost lamb. God is the woman looking for the lost coin. God has been on a mission since the fall of humanity. God was on a mission when he sent his son Jesus into the world. And God is on a mission now.
When we join into the mission of God we are joining into something that is part of his very character. It is not about what we do for him. It is about joining into what he is already doing.
Jesus came to bring life. He came to bring healing. He came to bring forgiveness. He came to bring us into relationship with the God of the universe.
The question is, are you willing to join God on his mission. Are you willing to define people not by their sin but by their value to God? Are you willing to see people as both valuable and lost, because as we have seen, lost people matter to God?
God is on a mission and he invites us, actually he commands us to join us in his mission. But the question is how. How do we at Asbury join God on his mission?
Here is what I have found. It is a lot easier to do the mission of God together than alone. If I asked you to go and share your testimony with and neighbour and then present the gospel to him or her – I know that that would be overwhelming and a non-starter for many of you. But I also know that a number of you really want to join God on his mission. So, lets do it together.
We are going to be doing a number of things that will help you join with us in the mission of God. The first one is coming up fast. On Wednesday March 31st we going to be joining with a number of churches in Ottawa to join in the mission of God.
On March 31 there is going to be a huge Zoom call – I am talking more than a thousand people – where Michael “Pinball” Clemons a former CFL star player and the current General Manager of the Toronto Argonauts will share his testimony, and Trish Beaulen and Ottawa Businesswoman will share her testimony and then a clear presentation of the gospel will be given. The Zoom call will only last about 40 minutes. I am really excited about the potential of this.
You can join God on his mission by talking to a friend, a neighbour, a family member and encouraging them to join you on this call. That is a lot easier than trying to figure out a way to share the gospel yourself.
Let me play a video of how to invite someone.
We will be sending more instruction this week.
We have seen from our text this morning that God is on a mission. The question is, will you join him?
God on a Mission – Luke 15:1-10
1. What are you celebrating today?
2. What are you praying about this week?
3. Have you ever lost something of value? Did you find it? How did that make you feel?
4. Read Luke 15:1-2 – What was the Pharisee’s charge against Jesus? What were they really trying to say about Jesus?
5. Who do you think comprised the group of “sinners” in Jesus’ day? What would be the equivalent kind of people in our day?
6. Why do you think that sinners liked to hang out around Jesus? What does this say about what followers of Jesus should be like?
7. Read Luke 15:3-7. What does this parable tell you about God? What does this parable tell you about the kingdom of God? What does it tell you about people who are lost?
8. Read Luke 15:3-7. What does this parable tell you about God and the lost? Why do you think Jesus told two stories that tell us very similar thing?
9. Read Luke 19:1-10. What does this tell us about the mission of Jesus? (Notice that what Jesus told us about the father and what Jesus did is very similar)
10. God is on a mission. Jesus is on a mission. Then Jesus gives the church this commission.
Matthew 28:18–20 Notice how he is tell us to join what God is doing. What are some practical ways that we can do this?