HOPE CHAPEL - Sunday, April 3, 2022
YouTube link... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tM5MpXdthIk
Teaching Series - “Doing Life with Jesus"
Weekly Topic - “Jesus’ Invitation to Follow”
Texts – Matthew 19:16-23; Luke 14:25-33; Matthew 16:24-27
We’ve talked a lot this year about being a follower of Jesus, literally his disciples. So here’s your chance to shine…What does it mean to follow Jesus?
Today, we’re going to examine what it means to follow Jesus from his perspective.
Matthew 19:16-23 – “16 Someone came to Jesus with this question: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”
17 “Why ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. But to answer your question—if you want to receive eternal life, keep the commandments.”
18 “Which ones?” the man asked. And Jesus replied: “‘You must not murder. You must not commit adultery. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. 19 Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
20 “I’ve obeyed all these commandments,” the young man replied. “What else must I do?”
21 Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
22 But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.
23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.
At what point did Jesus love this young man? Romans 5:8 tells us that God loved us so much he enacted his plan of sending the Messiah while we were still his enemies—uninterested in his plan, determined to live our own way. And make no mistake, Jesus loved this young man; Mark tells us that Jesus loved him even as he asked how he could secure a place with God in heaven. Jesus wasn’t just being difficult when he told him to give away everything. Because of his love for this young man, he wanted the best for him and knew that his riches would get in the way.
If someone came up to you and asked what was required for them to have eternal life, how would you respond? Unfortunately, the Church has been guilty of selling people a Gospel that is only half the truth. “Just believe! God’s gift of forgiveness is free. You can’t earn it.” But while that is all true it isn’t the full Gospel. Belief is not enough if it isn’t accompanied by obedience. Jesus’ gift provides forgiveness of sins, but also freedom from enslavement to sin—a freedom which allows us to become servants of a new master.
This is a really big piece of the Good News that has gone largely ignored. Those who choose to follow Jesus now have a new life’s purpose…and a new master. We are no longer our own. What does that mean? As Christ-followers, ownership of our lives has been transferred from the ruler of this world, the devil, and is given over to Jesus. The idea that we have ever been in control of our lives is a lie of the enemy. There are two paths only—the narrow one that leads to eternal life with Jesus and the wide one that leads to hell where those who refused Jesus’ payment on our behalf will pay the required price for themselves. As long as we believe that we are in control, we will never find the narrow path or risk walking off of it after having found it.
How did Jesus answer the young man’s question concerning eternal life? “Sell all you have, give it to the poor, then come follow me.” Wow! Can you imagine receiving that answer? It doesn’t make sense. Shouldn’t it be enough to live a good moral life? Not according to Jesus. And his answer is hard…not just for the rich young man but for all of us. Jesus’ expectation of his followers is clear: give up everything that will stand in the way of you relying on God; help others; follow him.
He may not ask you to sell all you have and give it to the poor, but his response to the question today is no different. We remain slaves to anything that we have that prevents us from relying on God. A follower of Christ must come to God with open hands, not refusing his lordship over any aspect of our lives. Are there wealthy Christians? Of course there are. But their job is not to hoard their wealth, but to be good stewards of the wealth God has given them to manage and use it for God’s kingdom.
But wealth is not the only thing Jesus might call someone to give up. What other things do people wrongly hang onto for security that can become pitfalls that prevent us from fully trusting God? An education? A job? Our health? Our family?
Why is fully giving everything over to God and trusting him so hard? Like the rich young man, we want to be self reliant. We like calling the shots and not having to rely on others. Relying on God and giving up everything to him goes against everything that we are told from childhood. Our pride balks against the very idea.
This explains why a person cannot become a disciple of Jesus’ without really wanting to be. We have to want a relationship with him more than anything. The young man wanted to go to heaven, but he wanted heaven on his own terms, not God’s. He wanted it—and was willing to work for it—but not enough to be willing to give up what he had.
However, what may be most shocking of all is Jesus’ reaction to this young man’s rejection. How did Jesus respond? He let him go. Jesus didn’t attempt to prove the truth to him by reciting the Scriptures; he didn’t attempt to scare him into heaven with fearful pictures of hell; he also didn’t condemn him or love him any less. He did, however, use it as a teachable moment with his disciples.
We would do well to remember that Jesus will love the one who rejects his gift as much as those who accept it. Our rejection does not change his love for us. Sometimes Christians are guilty of thinking we have the corner on God’s love, but that just isn’t true. God loves every single person who has ever walked the face of this earth—past, present and future. He has no favourites. But because of his gift of free will to humankind, we each have the choice to accept God’s plan or reject it. He will love you no matter your choice—to return his love or reject him; but that does not mean that he will ignore the need for justice. Your choice matters!
SALVATION IS FREE, BUT DISCIPLESHIP COSTS…EVERYTHING!
Luke 14:25-33– “25 A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them, 26 “If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. 27 And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.
28 “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? 29 Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. 30 They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’
31 “Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? 32 And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. 33 So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.”
How many of us were ever encouraged to consider the cost of becoming a disciple of Jesus before ‘asking him into our hearts?’ As a child, I knew there were things about my life that I would have to change, but I really had no sweet clue what being a disciple meant. I became a Christian at a time when many in the Church were consumed with the idea of having people make professions of faith, but assumed that growing into spiritual maturity just sort of happened. I learned lots of Bible stories, memorized Bible verses, went to Bible camp, attended church regularly, was even involved in teaching the Bible to children and peers, but it wasn’t until the age of nineteen that Jesus challenged me to ‘sell everything, give it to others and follow him.’
I wasn’t wealthy financially, but I was my own master…or so I thought. God was allowed to come along, but I was in the driver’s seat making plans for my life, determining my goals, and being a good Christian…according to what I had learned growing up in Church. But it wasn’t enough. There came a time in my life when I distinctly felt called out as a hypocrite. God wasn’t angry with me, but he loved me too much to watch me deceive myself into thinking I could retain control over my life while claiming to serve him.
I valued my independence over everything…and so God took it away. Some of you know that I had a car accident in 1988 and as a result of that fluke accident—'God-ordained’ is what the insurance company called it—I found myself without a vehicle, so was forced to rely on others for transportation; having a broken femur meant I couldn’t even exercise independence by walking myself places; flat on my back in hospital for two weeks, unable to take care of my basic personal needs, I was reduced to asking a friend to wash my hair for me. God stripped me of my independence. I then had a choice. Work to regain everything I had lost by rebuilding my own little kingdom, or place my life and my future in his hands and dedicate my life to truly being his follower.
I had loved my independence more than I had loved God. For many years now, I have thanked God that he loved me too much to let me continue to live my life with the delusion of being in control. The lesson was hard. It was no less painful or beneficial than life-saving surgery…and absolutely necessary for my spiritual health.
Is there anything you love more than God? Then the ‘cost’ to you is to give that thing up. God may choose to give it back to you, but only as a steward…he jealousy guards his place of master in our lives. We can’t have two masters. It’s either God or not at all. He will not share our loyalty. He will not be treated as a second choice or a back-up.
What in your life has your name been indelibly written on? Is there anything we hold back from God? When you decided to follow Jesus did you have all the facts or have there been surprises along the way, both positive and negative? [give opportunity to share stories]
WHAT’S AT STAKE?
Matthew 16:24-27– “24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. 25 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. 26 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? 27 For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge all people according to their deeds.”
Where on earth did we ever get the idea that following Jesus was easy? Rewarding…yes. Easy? No! Jesus provided us with all the facts so that we could count the cost in our decision concerning whether we would choose to become his follower or not. What were the things Jesus warned us about? He warned us, straight up, that the world hated him so we should expect the same treatment (John 15:18). We live in a sinful world and will naturally face struggles; our relationship with Jesus doesn’t provide us with an automatic ‘pass’ from the troubles of this world, like a ‘Get out of Jail, free’ card in the game of Monopoly.
The choice is ours. We can be certain that Jesus is coming back, but our return with him is only guaranteed if we have committed ourselves to him before that time. Your ‘soul,’ which is your eternal spirit, the part of you that makes you truly you, is of incredible value in God’s eyes. Even though our bodies will die, God has provided us an opportunity to determine the destination of our souls.
So, what does it look like to ‘hang onto your life’ or ‘give up your life’ for Jesus’ sake?
[Activity – complete Bubble Graph to answer the question]
· In this life you will serve one of two masters—God or the enemy. The idea that we can be in control of our lives is just an illusion. We cannot guarantee good health, long life, a good paying job or even predict with 100% accuracy what will happen tomorrow.
· Belief in Jesus without obedience can never meet the criteria for heaven. Scripture tells us that the disobedient angels very much believe in Jesus, but they will never again be given a place in heaven. Our belief without obedient service to God robs the Gospel of its full truth and power for our lives.
· God loves all people—the obedient as well as the disobedient. The person you view with the most disdain is as equally loved by God as you are yourself.
· God’s love for all people does not change the judgement that is coming according to our deeds. If we have served God faithfully as followers of Jesus we have nothing to fear. If we have rejected his plan, we must be prepared to pay the penalty for our disobedience ourselves.
· It is imperative for our spiritual well-being, that we get rid of anything that competes with God in our lives. We will never learn to fully rely on him as long as we are holding white-knuckled onto anything else.
References and for further study / inspiration…
“I Surrender” – Hillsong - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTe_Bf0k3aY
Sunday, April 10, 2022 – 2022 Theme - “Doing Life with Jesus – Claiming Kingship” – Palm Sunday In-person and Online
Friday, April 15, 2022 @ 7pm – Community Good Friday Service at New Life BIC (Anyone wishing to help out should speak with Pastor Jane)
Pastor Jane Peck, Hope Chapel
(Collingwood EMCC Church)
"Learning and Living the Way of Jesus!"
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!