Responding to Jesus (Week 1)

2020: A Year of Celebration!

“Jesus is Lord: Gather to Him and Listen Closely!”

Key Verse:  John 12:32
Today, we kick off a new year. Welcome to 2020, A Year of Celebration at FBC! This is our 110th anniversary year as our church was chartered on July 7, 1910. We are planning a big celebration the weekend after our anniversary date, so save the date for that weekend.


Who are we celebrating? We are celebrating Jesus and in doing so we are going to do one thing all year long: LIFT UP THE NAME OF JESUS! We are not lifting up the name of FBC although we will celebrate. We are not going to pat ourselves on our collective back: we are not here because of us or our great ability. We are here as a church because of Jesus and His great ability.


Our theme verse for 2020 is John 12:32 (ESV), which proclaims,
“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
This verse explicitly points to the fact that Jesus would be lifted up on the Cross of Calvary, as the very next verse says, “He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.” The implications of this verse go beyond Jesus’ death and influence every area of our lives: we live in response to Jesus being lifted up!


First, we lift up Jesus Christ by putting our faith in Him—to believe in Jesus and the Good News of what He accomplished for the world through His finished work on the Cross (the Gospel). Listen to the words of Jesus the Christ, from John 3:13-17,


No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness [reference to Numbers 21:4-9], so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.


Jesus was lifted up on the Cross, like Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, to save the people, though this time, not just the Israelites. Jesus was lifted up on the Cross not to “condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”


Our response to Jesus being lifted up on the Cross starts with putting our faith in Jesus Christ for eternal life, and His being lifted up also calls us to exalt the name of Jesus by lifting His Name above all other names! Listen to Paul explain this in Philippians 2:5-11,


Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.


As we hear in this scripture, Jesus is not only the Savior, He is the Lord, to the glory of the Father! As Paul says in Romans 10:9, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”


Jesus came into the world to glorify God through His obedience to the point of death on the cross. In His submission, He rescued humanity by defeating sin once and for all through His vicarious death on the cross and His victorious resurrection from the tomb.


We are called to respond to Jesus being lifted up by exalting Jesus above all other authorities in our lives. If Jesus is Lord, to the glory of the Father, then He is preeminent before all things—that means if you call Him Lord, He must come first in your everyday life! Listen to Paul explain who Jesus is and His Lordship as God over all creation, from Colossians 1:15-20,


He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.


This is who Jesus is! Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords (Revelation 17:14; 19:16).


Is Jesus your Lord? There is only one way for you to know: Jesus will gather you to Himself!


Jesus’ promise of John 12:32 is that His death on the Cross “will draw all people”. This is Jesus’ promise! When you respond to the crucified Savior lifted upon the Cross, you are simultaneously called to submit to the Exalted King of kings and Lord of lords, on whom God bestowed “the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”


This is the Good News! This is God’s Grace! As Paul said in Ephesians 2:4-10,  


But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.


Jesus will lift you up with Him in the heavenlies, just as He was lifted up by His Father at His ascension (Acts 1:6-11). As Luke records in Acts 1:9, “And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, [Jesus] was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.”


There is only one way to salvation and it goes through the Cross, and upon being drawn to Jesus you will have a change of mind. You will have a new perspective on yourself, others, and on life itself, because Jesus is Lord. Listen to Paul in Colossians 3:1-3,


If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.


Upon being drawn to Jesus you will have a change of mind (perspective) and a change of heart (loyalty). You will listen closely to His words, His teachings, His commands, because Jesus is Lord! Listen closely to these words from Jesus Christ in Luke 6:46-49,


Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great.


God’s grace gives you eternal life through faith in the One who is exalted and lifted up. God’s grace empowers you to live your everyday life with a new mind and a new heart. This is important because when you obey Jesus’ teachings, then you are exalting Jesus Christ—the lifted up One who is crucified and risen, who is the Light of the world—and through your exaltation of Jesus Christ all people will be drawn to Him, to the glory of the Father.


As Jesus taught in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”


The good works that flow out of your life, flow out of faith, from a new mind and a new heart that are being transformed after being drawn to Jesus Christ—crucified, risen, and coming again! This is how the good news (gospel) of Jesus Christ keeps getting told, sermon after sermon, good work after good work, person after person.


By God’s grace alone and all for God’s glory, you are gathered to scatter, to shine the Light of Jesus Christ for all the people to see, no matter how deeply in darkness they dwell.

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