Sunday, July 6, 2008

Clueless Before the Gathering Storm

Jesus Talks More About Rightside UP
What in the World is Jesus Talking About?

Our sermon for today is based on Luke 12:54-59. (Each Sunday we have a page for children and anyone else who wants to take it to read. The children's version has pictures and things to do. This is just the text of the page.)

You may find these verses hard to figure out. Well, here’s a little secret: so do I! I wonder if Jesus’ main men and His other followers were scratching their heads and straining their brains, too, when they heard Jesus speak these words:

Then Jesus turned to talk to the crowd: “When you see clouds coming from the west, you say, ‘Storm’s coming’ – and you’re right. And when the wind comes out of the south, you say, ‘This’ll be a hot one’ – and you’re right.

[Jesus continued] You know how to tell a change in the weather, so don’t tell Me you can’t tell a change in the season, the God-season we’re in right now.

You don’t have to be a genius to understand these things. Just use your common sense, the kind you’d use if, while being taken to court, you decided to settle up with your accuser on the way, knowing that if the case went to the judge you’d probably go to jail and pay every last penny of the fine. That’s the kind of decision I’m asking you to make.
(Luke 12:54-59, The Message)

Let’s see if we can figure out what Jesus is saying to them and us.

Notice that Jesus turns from talking to His main men while the crowd “listened in” to talking directly to the crowd while His disciples listened. The crowd heard Jesus tell His main men (Luke 12:49-53) that He had come to start a fire on the earth (when He sent the Holy Spirit in tongues of fire on the heads of the people waiting to be the first Christian church in Acts 2:3) and that He came to earth to change everything, turn everything rightside UP (by dying on the cross and then rising from the dead). Then Jesus said that process of making things change to rightside UP from upside down was going to be hard – that it was even going to cause families to fight against each other. (Luke 12:51 - 53)

Here's the big picture: Jesus was going to die soon. That was the only way for Him to turn things rightside up. It all goes back to the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate that apple (or whatever it was). Ever since, we are all sinners. We are born that way. Our hearts are all messed up. We think, say and do all kinds of bad things because we don’t love God or other people like we should. There is absolutely nothing we can do to FIX our broken hearts – broken by sin. Our world is also broken by sin.

Jesus came to FIX what is broken – turn things rightside up again! One word for what He came to do is RESTORATION. That’s why our church is named A Restoration Church. We want God to fix our hearts and to help us reach out to other people who also need God to fix or restore them.

Jesus is telling them – warning them – that before He makes things better (restores), things are going to get a whole lot worse. He is going to die on the cross. That was a very sad day for all the people who loved Jesus. They thought He was gone forever. They just didn’t understand.

Jesus came back to life three days later on the very first Easter morning. That’s when He turned things rightside up! But that process of restoration in our hearts and in our world is still happening. It’s not over yet! We still need God to do lots of work fixing us up, making us and our world rightside up!

These people in this crowd had Jesus standing right there in front of them but they didn’t get it. They didn’t understand. They didn’t have a clue about what God was doing through Jesus.

Jesus talks in code again. He tells them (and us) that if they see a black cloud in the sky they know a thunderstorm is coming. Duh! That’s not hard.

Actually in Israel there are two kinds of storms: either the hot winds from the desert that bring heat and sandstorms or the clouds from the Mediterranean Sea that bring rain. Jesus says that when we feel a hot wind blowing that we know right away that it’s going to be a hot day.

Then Jesus gives the main message He wants them to understand: “You know how to tell a change in the weather, but you have no clue what God is doing right here right now right in front of your face.” They weren’t even looking to try to figure out what God was doing. Jesus was the Promised Savior. Way back in the Garden of Eden after Adam and Eve sinned, God told them that one day He would send a Savior to take care of the “sin problem.” (Genesis 3:15)

Right here, right now, right in front of their faces Jesus, the Promised One for real, was standing talking to them and they didn’t have a clue! And the saddest thing of all is that many of the people listening to Jesus that day and ever since have missed that He is the Savior because they were/are paying more attention to clouds in the sky or whatever than they were/are trying to find God.

There is something else about sin:
· We all have it. We are all sinners.
· We can’t fix our sin problem. No one can except Jesus.
· We are in big trouble with God until our sin problem gets fixed.
· Jesus is the only “Fix”!

That’s the rest of what these verses are talking about. Jesus tells them if a policeman arrests us and hauls us into court because we owe somebody some money or something, that we would be real interested in “settling up” with the person we owed so we could stay out of jail.

Did you ever play Monopoly? One of the corner squares in Monopoly is “Jail.” One good card to draw is the “Get out of jail free” card.

God punishes sin. We are all sinners so we are going to have to face God about our sin unless Jesus steps in to help us. He’s the only One Who can “fix” things with God. What Jesus did for us is really, really awesome! All we have to do is let Him take our punishment and then love Him because He did! Jesus is the easiest Person to love ever!

Jesus is our “get-out-of-jail-free” Person! God knows we are all sinners! We can’t fool God. God absolutely will not allow us to get away with being sinners and not taking our punishment for all the bad things we have done. The Bible says the punishment for sin is death. (Romans 6:23) That’s even worse than jail – being dead. The only way to get out of trouble with God is to love Jesus and let Him take our punishment for us. That’s what Jesus did when He died on the cross – He took your and my punishment for us!

Jesus calls it “common sense.” (Luke 12:57) What it is is stupid to choose jail (death) when Jesus wants to be our “get-out-of-jail-free” Person, our Savior. You can do that right here, right now. You can ask Jesus to be your Savior. He will take care of your sin problem. Best of all, He will make you a part of God’s forever family!

Jesus is THE KING! These people were about to miss Jesus, the King, the Promised One because they weren’t looking for Him. We don’t want to do that!

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