Responding to Jesus (Week 5)

2020: A Year of Celebration!

“Jesus is Savior: Love as He First Loved You!”

 

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 the weekend of July 11-12, 2020.

 

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!

 

Our theme verse for 2020 is John chapter 12, verse 32 (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 to give His life as a payment for sin, 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 are called to live our lives in response to Jesus being lifted up on the Cross as the Savior for all the World!

 

Today, we are going to learn that if Jesus is Savior, then a way we can respond to His love is by loving other people as He first loved us. This will be my outline: 1) I will teach from the Bible that Jesus is the Savior and show a video to help you decide for yourself, and 2) I will explain how we are invited to respond by loving other people as Jesus first loved us and then invite Katie Kinnaird up to share a testimony that leads us to make a decision on how we will respond.

 

First, Jesus is Savior. In fact, this is why He was lifted up on the Cross of Calvary (John 12:32)—to show the world the love of God to all people. As Paul stated 1 Timothy 4:10, “we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.”

 

To make it even more clear, Paul explained in Romans 5:8-10, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.”

 

To understand what Paul is saying about Jesus saving us (being the Savior), let’s take a quick walk through a historical account of Jesus’ life, seeing and hearing what first-hand witnesses recorded about Jesus in this reliable historical document called the Gospel of John:

 

The author of the Gospel of John, the Apostle John, starts his historical account with a big picture statement about Jesus in chapter 1, verses 9-13 (John 1:9-13), “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

 

John is teaching us that this is why Jesus came: to give us every opportunity to be saved from the damaging effects of sin that separate us from God and His family. Jesus makes a way for us to have our sin forgiven, so that we can return to the household of God.

 

We this when John the Apostle quotes John the Baptizer, who declared about Jesus in John 1:29-34, “‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.’ And John bore witness: ‘I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.’”

 

John the Baptizer gives witness to the fact that Jesus is the One who can return us to God by taking away our sin and filling us with the presence of God through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which happens when we put our faith in Jesus, as the Son of God who died on the Cross as the Savior of the World.

 

Jesus is recorded of saying this so clearly about Himself in John 3:16-17, “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.”

 

Then to illustrate that His salvation is available to all people (those who were near and far away from God, then and now), John 4 gives us an historical account of when Jesus saves a Samaritan woman. But Jesus’ encounter not only impacted her life, but the whole community because she shared her transformed story with her town. Listen to John 4:39-42, “Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me all that I ever did.’ So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.’”

 

This historical account makes it clear that Jesus not only came to be the Savior, but He came to be your savior. He doesn’t want you to only know about Jesus and how He has impacted other people (maybe a family member or someone at work or that person at the YMCA), but Jesus wants you to know him personally.

 

John records Jesus’ words about Himself in John 12:44-50, “And Jesus cried out and said, ‘Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.’”

 

These are the words of Jesus Christ, and prior to these quotes from Jesus, I quoted two other primary witnesses about Jesus—John the Apostle and John the Baptizer—both of whom had direct encounters with Jesus. I also quoted to you from Paul who met Jesus after he died and was resurrected. Today, we have a decision of what to do with not only these historical witnesses of Jesus, but two thousand years of historical witnesses and most intimately, what to believe about the transformed stories of those six people who got baptized today.

 

Please watch this video to help you:

Jesus: Lord Liar or Lunatic? (@CFIMission)

John testified of Jesus in his first letter, chapter 4, verses 14-15 (1 John 4:14-15), “we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.”

 

Will you confess Jesus Christ as your personal savior today?

 

Let’s pray together and invite God to lead us in making a decision that leads to life.

 

Second, and very practically, in response to Jesus being our personal savior, we are called to love others as Jesus first loved us.

 

Before I invite Katie to come up here and share her testimony and invite each of us to respond to this message, I want to share a part of Jesus’ story that most people miss. It is so important for us to know this about Jesus so that we can respond to Jesus being lifted up on the Cross as Savior.

 

While Jesus did endure the Cross because of the Joy that was set before Him (Hebrews 12:2), it was not easy. We miss this point! It was hard for Jesus and it will be hard for us; but it is worth it! We love others as Jesus first loved us because we know there is a greater joy in seeing people respond to the love of Jesus than our own anxiety, fear, and insecurity in trying to do it!

 

Just like Jesus had to face His Garden of Gethsemane moment in order to share God’s love with us, so will we face our own Garden of Gethsemane moments. In Luke 22:44 we see this historical account of Jesus’ human experience of anxiety to in going to the Cross, “And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” Do you see how hard this was for Jesus?

 

Jesus literally sweated blood in anticipation of the suffering He would endure to be lifted up on the Cross of Calvary so that we would know the love of God. Listen to the medical science behind this historical event, “Hematidrosis is a rare, but very real, medical condition where one’s sweat will contain blood. The sweat glands are surrounded by tiny blood vessels. These vessels can constrict and then dilate to the point of rupture where the blood will then effuse into the sweat glands. Its cause—extreme anguish.”[1] (emphasis original)

 

In the other Gospel accounts, we see Jesus’ level of anguish that aligns with this medical condition: “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death” (Matthew 26:38; Mark 14:34).

The intense agony and sorrow Jesus felt was certainly understandable. In John 18:4, while in the Garden of Gethsemane, when the guards came to take Him to be abused, beaten, falsely accused, put before a mock trial, brutalized to the point of death, and then murdered on the Cross, Jesus willingly gave Himself to them, “knowing all that would happen to him”. But we must never forget that while Jesus was fully God, he was also fully human: Because Jesus knew what He was about to go through, He experienced extreme anguish as He willingly went to the Cross to show us God’s extravagant love and amazing grace.

 

This is how God first loved us! Jesus took His extreme anguish and agony to God in prayer and still decided, “Your will be done” was what was going to lead Him to share God’s love. And in order for us to love others as Jesus first loved us we have to bring our own insecurities, fear, and anxieties to God in prayer and decide “Your will be done” allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us to share God’s love.

 

I don’t know what is holding you back from practically loving others as Jesus first loved you, but I do want you to know this: It wasn’t easy for Jesus and it won’t be easy for me or you, just like it isn’t easy for me or Katie Kinnaird. We all look at Katie and see fruit of how she brings the extravagant love and amazing grace of Jesus Christ to the youth of our community through Young Life, but what we can’t see are her Garden of Gethsemane moments, each and every time.

 

Katie Kinnaird is going to share a part of her story and then call us to action and pray for our time of response. She and I, and others, will all be up front ready to pray with and for you.

 

(Katie shares her testimony – You can listen to it in the recording below or you can watch it under Media/Video above.) 

 
 

You can listen to the message here:

 
 
 

Footnotes:

 
 
[1] This quote is from a great article “Why did Jesus sweat blood in the Garden of Gethsemane?” at Got Questions webpage: https://www.gotquestions.org/sweat-blood-Jesus.html (last accessed January 20, 2020). For more information on this from a medical point of view, the top google search took me to: https://www.healthline.com/health/hematidrosis.
 
 

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