Sunday 15th February – 9am Worship
Sermon Series: Walking the Way of Jesus
Theme: Jesus – Helper, Servant, Saviour
Bible Readings: John 13:1-17
Preacher: Rev Phil Swain
Last week we started a sermon series for the 6 weeks leading up to Easter called, “Walking the Way of Jesus”. I summed up the premise of this series with two verses, two things that Jesus said.
• John 10:10 – Jesus said that he has come to bring us life – abundant life – both now and eternally.
• Matt 7:13-14 – Jesus said that there is a way that leads to death and his way that leads to life … the John 10:10 sort of life. And Jesus encourages to walk in this way.
I went on to use the 1st century Jewish cultural example of a Rabbi and their disciples. Jesus was a Rabbi who called people to follow him … To take his yoke upon them and to follow in his way … because his way brings life and peace to your souls.
So that was the challenge last week – Do we in this lead up to Easter make a renewed commitment to follow Jesus and walk in the way of Jesus. But what is this way that we are committing to? Well, that is what we are going to start to explore today. By looking at Jesus and his example, we will have insight into his way.
The key verse for today is Matthew 20:28. Actually let’s read from verse 25 to get some context…
25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Focus in on verse 28…
• The Son of Man (another name for Jesus)
• Did not come to be served but to serve
• And to give his life as a ransom for many
These are the two aspects of Jesus that I want to focus in on this morning … Jesus being a helper or servant AND Jesus being the Saviour – and how these two aspects give us insight into the WAY of Jesus that we are to follow.
If we look to the example of Jesus – it is obvious that Jesus was a person who helped others. Even though he was the son of God, he did not expect to be served but rather because he cared and loved the people so much, he helped them.
The gospels are full of examples of Jesus helping people – the invalid in John 5:7, the gentile Centurion in Matthew 8:5, Peter’s mother-in-law in Luke 4:38. When Jesus saw people in need, he helped. And he became known as someone who will help. The Canaanite woman in Matthew 15:25 cries out to Jesus, “Lord, help me” or the doubting father in Mark 9:24 honestly asks Jesus, “please help me with my unbelief”. They asked Jesus for help because they knew that Jesus would help them.
So why was helping others such a large part of what Jesus did? I think that Matthew 9 gives us some insight. In this one chapter Jesus helps the paralysed man, the official’s daughter, the woman with bleeding, a mute young man … actually in verse 35 it says that he went from village to village teaching, healing and helping people. Why? Listen to verse 36 –
When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Jesus heart was a heart of compassion. When he saw people in need, it did not matter how he was feeling – he just had to help. This is who Jesus is. This is the WAY of Jesus.
SO … If we are followers of Jesus … if we walk in his way … we also need to have a heart of compassion and be ready and willing to help others.
Actually … Jesus commands us to do this. During the last Supper in John 13:3-17 – Jesus washes the feet of his disciples. (Which is not what Rabbi’s or leaders did). But then he said these words in verse 13-15…
“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. “
Did you hear that last line …? I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Jesus showed us an example of how to show love through practical help and calls us to follow in his way.
I am going to pause my sermon this morning because I want to get practical for a moment. If we are to follow the example of Jesus and serve others … what might that look like? Well I have convinced one of our church’s quiet, behind the scenes servants to come and be interviewed about what it means for her to serve others. (It was hard because people don’t necessarily do it for recognition…)
Brenda … how do you follow the example of Jesus and serve or help others?
Can you tell us a little about the Day Care Centre?
If others want to serve or help others, can they help out at the Day Care Centre too???
We thank you and all the other unsung heroes for the work, the help and the service you do…
So to summarise the first part of the sermon … Jesus came not to be served but to serve. Jesus was and is ready, willing and so keen to help people … including you. But he also calls us to follow his example and be people, ready, willing and passionate about helping others in a world that is so full of need.
BUT … Jesus did not come into the world just to help people … Jesus came to save the world. Jesus is more than a great helper … Jesus is our saviour.
If I had time, I would love to take you through the Old Testament to show you how the people of old had this understanding of the spiritual, social and societal mess they had got themselves in and the promise that they received from God that God would send someone to save them – God would send the Saviour, the Messiah.
Initially, they would simply cry out to God to save them
• Psalm 38:22 Come quickly to help me, my Lord and my saviour
But then this idea of saviour developed and we see this reflected in the things that they hoped the saviour would save them from:
• Psalm 68:19 talks about being saved from the daily burdens of life
• Isaiah 19:20 talks about the saviour rescuing them from their dire situation; and
• Psalm 79:9 cries out to the saviour to “deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake”
Are you getting this picture from the Old Testament? God has promised a saviour who will help people with their lives, rescue them from the mess and bring forgiveness for their sins. And so they waited for this saviour to come. (Micah 7:7).
Then we hit the New Testament and right from the Christmas story we see that Jesus is the Saviour. What did the angels say to the Shepherds in Luke 2:11 – “Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord”.
Which brings us to our bible reading for today. I could show you so many other passages from the New Testament to affirm that Jesus is indeed the saviour – but today we focus on this interesting conversation between two great Rabbi’s. Nicodemus was famous and well respected Rabbi … so was Jesus. And like any two scholars, the initial part of this conversation was the two have fun with some theological banter. But very quickly Nicodemus is getting confused and can’t work out what Jesus is saying about himself.
Jesus then refers to a story which Nicodemus would know so well (found in Numbers 21:8-9). In this part of the Exodus story … the people were wandering in the desert and many were dying of snake bites and so they cried out to God for help. God told Moses to make a bronze snake and put it on a pole and all who would look up at the snake would be saved. (Incidentally this is the symbol that medical association use).
But then Jesus makes a massive statement. Jesus says that in the same way as the bronze snake was lifted up … he will be lifted up and all who look to him for help will be saved. Jesus did not come to judge the but to be its savour. And as we will hear again in 6 weeks’ time at Easter – that Jesus was indeed lifted up on a cross, and through Jesus death and resurrection Jesus claim was proved correct … all who look to Jesus will be saved.
The WAY of Jesus is not just to help, but to be the saviour of the World. Now, we can follow in the way of Jesus by helping others but how do we follow in Jesus’ way of being saviour? We can’t save people. Ephesians 2:8-9 make it clear that there is nothing that we can do that can bring salvation. Salvation comes from the Grace of Jesus alone.
So … what does it mean to follow in the way of Jesus our saviour? We need to share this good news with others. We have to help others see that Jesus has the power to save.
But as I suggested in my pre-sermon reflection question … this is easy for us to get our heads around, but how do we in our modern context talk to non-churched people about things like sin or the need to be saved?
If you tell a non-churched friend that Jesus is the saviour … would they have any idea what you mean? So how do we talk about Jesus the saviour in our modern context?
I want you to sit with that question for 60 seconds. If you are a chatty person, talk to the people around you. What would your answer be? How do we talk about Jesus the Saviour in our modern context? How would we explain to a non-churched person what Jesus can “save” them from?
[60 seconds of sharing] … maybe get some answers
I want to share with you my answer. I am not saying it is the best answer – I know it has flaws – but I do get the opportunity to talk to people about Jesus and I find that this approach sometimes, sort of works.
I think that we need to see that church is like being a culture. We have our own traditions, understandings, ways of doing things, ways of speaking and in some cases jargon language that people who are not part of the church culture just don’t understand.
So when we talk about Jesus being a saviour, that we are lost in our sins and that through repenting and the blood of Jesus we can find forgiveness and reconciliation with God. We understand that sentence, but others don’t.
So much so that when I talk to non-churched people, I now don’t often use the words sin or repent or forgiveness or even eternal life. Rather I use words like brokenness, and healing and about Jesus being able to make things right again.
The verse that I use more than any other verse is Acts 2:21.
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”
You might be thinking … but it is not that simple. Maybe … but it is a great starting point.
If someone is feeling overwhelmed with life … call out to Jesus.
If someone is overcome with grief … call out to Jesus.
If someone is feeling lost and broken … call out to Jesus.
Because all who call on the name of Jesus will be saved.
If we believe that Jesus is the Saviour and that Jesus can and does save people … then as his followers all we need to do is to get people to call out to Jesus for help. Jesus can do the rest.
Now don’t get me wrong. I am NOT saying that pattern that we were taught about repenting of our sins and accepting Jesus as our savour and Lord is wrong. For some people this is exactly what they need to hear. What I am saying is that for the majority of people in our modern context this way of explaining salvation just does not connect. Rather verses like Acts 2:21 or Romans 10:9-13 is a much better starting point to help someone discover the reality of Jesus as Saviour.
I am really interested to hear what people think of this and you can either come to our Saturday morning coffee time to have a longer discussion.
To finish I want to remind you of the profound message of today:
• Remember Jesus is our Saviour! In the same way as the Israelites looked to the bronze snake, we are to Jesus to help and to save us. And we are to share that Good news with others so that they too can be saved.
• Remember Jesus is our helper … he is full of compassion and is ready, willing and super keen to help us; and
• Remember Jesus is our example … we are to walk in this way of Jesus … to show others the same love, grace, help and compassion that we have received from Jesus
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 put it like this … Let us give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the merciful Father, the God from whom all help comes! God helps us in all our troubles, so that we are able to help others who have all kinds of troubles, using the same help that we ourselves have received from God.
May we live out this verse as we continue to walk in the way of Jesus. Amen.