If you are a pastor or lay person who wants to use this to preach in church – that is why I posted it. I don’t care about credit, I only care that God’s word is preached and Christ is glorified. I pray He uses this sermon in a mighty way through you. You have my permission to alter it and use it however God leads you. God bless you in your ministry. You can also bookmark this to check out the other free written sermons on my blog.
In Acts 24, Paul was in prison, charged with being a troublemaker and stirring up the people. Paul was appearing before the governor, Felix. Felix heard the charges, heard Paul’s defense, and didn’t want to make a decision. In deciding Paul’s fate, the governor would be making a decision about Jesus, and Scripture says, “Then Felix, who was well acquainted with the Way, adjourned the proceedings…” He didn’t make a decision, but rather left Paul in prison for two years, until eventually he left office and another governor came in. He was well acquainted with the Way, the Way was Jesus. While Felix was well acquainted with Jesus, perhaps too acquainted with Jesus, He never made a decision about Him.
We can know people too well. And we can certainly know all about someone. Parents know their kids pretty well. Kids know their parents pretty well. I could tell you stories about my dad. He could tell you stories about me. My dad died a couple of years before I came to Mason. He never thought I would be a pastor. A mutual friend later told me that my dad said, “That preacher at the church down here has Scott thinking He’s going to be a preacher.” My dad knew me well. He knew it made no sense that I would pastor a church, that I would preach the Gospel. I can’t believe it myself and it also makes no sense to me. I’m sure several people where I spent my life into my mid 40’s would say the same.
In the Scripture from Mark chapter 6, it tells us that Jesus was in his own neck of the woods, his own territory. And Jesus could do no mighty work there. Some scholars have argued that Jesus could really means would, so that it should read, “Jesus would do no mighty work there.” But the New Interpreter’s commentary says it really is best translated as it reads, “…could do no mighty work there.” And the explanation is because it took faith on their part to receive the mighty works. They were so familiar with Jesus, too familiar with Jesus, to have faith that He could do a mighty work there.
I feel this is Scripture that supports the idea that “Jesus can’t save you.” It’s our choice whether to be saved. Our choice is our own but the consequences of the choice have already been determined and made known even as we consider our choice! How many people does Jesus want to perish? Answer: John 3:16 says God sent Jesus so that None should perish. Will people perish? Answer: In John 3:3 Jesus says, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” Romans 10:13 says, (we must) call upon the name of Jesus to be saved. Luke 9:23 says If you want to be Jesus’ disciple, “You must pick up your cross and follow Him.”
It’s a shame, people in Jesus’ own back yard could have been made well, but because of their lack of faith, because they were too familiar with Jesus, because they knew where He came from, who His parents were, because they knew his siblings, they knew Him too well; they could not find the faith within themselves to be healed.
The biggest argument I hear about Jesus being the only way to get to heaven is, “What about the people who have never heard?” I’ve said before and I’ll say again, God will sort that out.
The danger for us, the people from Pomeroy and New Haven and Mason and Racine and Letart and West Columbia and Clifton and Syracuse and Hartford, did I miss anywhere? The danger for us and for those in our country is that, like the people in the Scripture, we are all too familiar with Jesus. We’ve grown up hearing about Him. And we don’t take Him seriously. We’re too familiar with those who call themselves His followers and their poor representation of Him.
“And He marveled because of their unbelief.” Just as He marveled then, I can imagine how He must be marveling today. People are dying without faith in Jesus, and are perishing. And Jesus must be marveling. What a shame! The Savior of the world, the Way of eternal life has been in their midst, and in a way, He’s helpless to save them because they’re too familiar with Him.
Can you imagine hearing about Jesus for the first time? God sent His Son Jesus to die for my sin? No way. You’d say, I knew I had done many things wrong, and I wondered how I was going to make it right. I thought maybe I could do enough good things, I’ve been trying, and I even had myself thinking maybe I’d done enough good to cancel out my bad. But then again, I knew there was something I was missing. I had this feeling… Nature was telling me there was a Way. So you’re telling me that I can’t possibly do enough, and I don’t even have to, because of Jesus. Because He died on the cross at Calvary, and shed his blood. And because He rose from the dead to defeat death, He defeated it for me too? I can spend eternity with Him in heaven? What must I do? Be born again? Call upon His name? Pick up my own cross and follow Him? I’ll do it. I’ll do it. Whatever it takes, I’ll do it. Lord I believe, help my unbelief!!!!!!
But not us. We hear the Gospel, the Good News, and we are falling asleep in church, or we’re not even going to church. We haven’t picked up our cross. We’re not following. We are thinking, “I’m very familiar with all of this…heard it over and over.” I know all about Jesus. Shoot, we have communion every month. As a matter of fact, I really don’t like it when we do communion because we get out of church 15 minutes later.
And with faith and attitudes like that, as it turns out, He can’t save us. And He marvels because of our unbelief.
When Diane and I went to Africa, we had to have about a half dozen shots: Typhoid, Yellow Fever, Hepatitis, and meningitis to name some of them. You probably know what a shot is. They put a little Typhoid in you in a shot and your body builds up an immunity to Typhoid. Same with Yellow Fever.
You get some of it in you and you develop a resistance.
You’ve heard about Jesus over and over. Perhaps today you realize you’ve been too familiar with Jesus. You’ve heard it so much that you’ve become immune. Whether you’ve said yes in the past, but become complacent: A “Jesus is my friend and that’s good enough for me” mentality. And today you realize you called upon His name, maybe a long time ago, but you haven’t had the faith to follow, to pick up your cross. He calls you to pick up your cross today, to have the faith to follow.
Or maybe today, finally you realize that you’ve heard it so much, you’re very familiar with the Way, Jesus, but like Felix, you’ve put off the decision. Will you decide to follow Him today? What does it take? Coming to Jesus is not coming to church. Coming to Jesus is not coming to communion. Coming to Jesus is being sorry for your sin. Calling upon His name, and have the faith to follow. Then He can and certainly will save you.
A..W. Tozer says the Gospel message consists of 3 distinct elements – an announcement, a command, and a call. It announces the Good News of redemption. It commands all men everywhere to repent and it calls all men to surrender to the terms of grace by believing on Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Up to the point that you repent and have the faith to follow, Jesus keeps saying “come.” Come you who are unworthy. Come you who are weary. Come you who are thirsty.
Then, once we’ve come to Jesus, while we continue to follow, He adds another verb. Go.
The second part of this week’s Scripture says that Jesus sent the disciples. He sent them with Power and Authority. And likewise, He sends us. We who are His followers are His followers because the ones He sent went and told others who told others who told others who told us. And once we’ve been told, and once we’ve come, we must go tell others. We must go.
Go into the world. Go make disciples. Go feed the hungry, go clothe the naked, go visit the lonely. Go love the world. By this they will know you are my disciples…
John 20:21 says, “So Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.’”
We’ll know we’ve truly come to Jesus when we go. We come to Jesus and we go into the world. We come to Jesus and He equips us and sends us. I pray that some of you have said yes, and have come to Jesus today. After hearing about Him over and over, you’ve finally come today. And the world will know you have if they see you coming!!!!! If you go to them!!!!!
And I pray for some of you that have come to Jesus in the past – that you finally understand that He’s telling you go. Go and offer the hope of Christ. Go until your work is done. Go until you can’t go any more. Go until He calls you home. Go. Go. Go.
And it’s supposed to be that we keep coming and going and coming and going and coming. Today we are going to come to the table.
God bless you for such a rich message
As this Scriptural lesson returns on its three year cycle, I was re-reading it and recall your kind words. Blessings!