Sunday, February 24, 2008

He Really Does Love Us And We Really Can Love Others

The Third Sunday in Lent

This morning Pastor Brad Shannon opened by declaring, “No matter what road you’re traveling, no matter what you’ve carried in here today, Jesus loves you indiscriminately.” His sermon theme today would be, “He Really Does Love Us and We Really Can Love Others.”

After Darlene's introit we enjoyed music by the trio, which included a reading of Philippians 3:7-11 by Chuck Vanderscheuren. We all felt blessed when they sang a heartfelt rendition of On the Jericho Road.

Today’s scripture reading was from John 4:5-42, the story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well.

He Really Does Love Us & We Really Can Love Others

Pastor Brad shared how in his reading of the Gospels he has been amazed by Jesus’ emotional strength. In addition, Jesus showed great physical strength as well, walking all day, often teaching late into the night, pouring Himself out with seeming tirelessness.

Drawing from the seventh chapter of Luke, today’s message unveiled three incidents in which Jesus is revealed as not only strong, but also empathic. Luke 7 begins after Jesus had shared His great sermon on the mount. He was undoubtedly tired, yet when he was approached by a Roman centurion, Jesus gave his full attention. This Roman soldier had not come on his own behalf, but to make a request on behalf of an acquaintance’s servant.

Despite the low station in life of this servant, for Jesus there were no nobodies. Jesus’ love was universal and unconditional, whether it be for a prime minister or prodigal son. To Jesus, every man, woman or child matters. And Jesus healed this servant boy.

After leaving the Centurion, Jesus got held up by a funeral procession. All too often, our focus is inward, on our own needs. But Jesus, by being sensitive to the situation in front of him, recognized that this woman who had lost her husband previously was now grieving at the loss of her only son. Her despair at losing his son now left her all alone in the world, and Jesus’ heart went out to her.

Jesus steps forward and instructs the dead youth to rise, and he sat up. They were all filled with awe and praised God. When Jesus’ sensitivity was stirred, his power was unleashed.

From here the Lord went to dinner at a Pharisees house, a gathering of A-list persons in the community. An inappropriate woman shows up and begins weeping on Jesus’ feet. She then begins to pour perfume on him, anointing him with expensive oil.
The host is thinking to himself, “If Jesus were really a prophet, he’d know what kind of person this was and would not allow it.”

But this was a woman who had made great mistakes in her life, and had great regrets. In coming to Jesus, she recognized that he had massive amounts of forgiveness for this kind of person, and her response was reciprocal, for one who has been forgiven much loves much. (vs. 47)

Who should be the greatest lover? The one who has been forgiven the most. You have been renewed in Christ and should become increasingly indiscriminate lovers.

Why are Christians often seen as the most judgmental? We ought to be recognized as the most loving. I want to be one who spills love over shoeshine kids and all who are need.

As the dinner party ends, the guests are abuzz with the question, “Who is this man?” It is a question people have been asking for 2000 years, and it is a most important question. Who is this man in your life? Have you decided who Jesus is in your life?

If you’ve been forgiven much, then love much.

This is the Gospel of the Lord.

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