The Mission of Jesus (Sermon 9-11-2022)

If we were to pick up the Bible and begin to read through the pages, we would find a history of God creating a perfect world for the crowning achievement of creation. God created male and female and placed them in a beautiful garden. The garden was there for their enjoyment and food. The expectation was for Adam to cultivate and tend the garden.

Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” (Genesis 2:15-17 NASB)

This seems simple enough. Well, we all know how that worked out. Later, we read: Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Genesis 6:5 NASB) This ended up with God wiping out the entire population of the earth with the exception of Noah and his family. For some reason, we receive blessings from God and we fail to appreciate those blessings and we tend to look for and turn to other gods.

The history of Israel is one of God blessing them and they turn away. So many times, this occurred and God kept reaching out for them. It was almost like God is saying “one more time.” Maybe we, as parents, can appreciate the times we have given another chance to our children.

The history of Israel and their turning from God goes back to when they were rescued from slavery. They arrived at the base of Mount Sinai about 3 months after leaving Egypt (Exodus 19:1). Moses is called up on the mountain where he is to receive the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments written by the finger of God. He is on the mountain about 40 days. 40 days and these people who had seen the Red Sea open up and let them walk out of Egypt on dry land, seen manna from heaven fall, seen quail miraculously come, and were frees from their forced labor started to look for another god to follow.

Now when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people assembled about Aaron and said to him, “Come, make us a god who will go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” (Exodus 32:1 NASB)

God saw what they were doing and became angry.

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, “Go down at once, for your people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them. They have made for themselves a molten calf, and have worshiped it and have sacrificed to it and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!’” The Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, they are an obstinate people. Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you a great nation.” (Exodus 32:7-10 NASB)

God was ready to end His relationship with the children of Israel and start over with Moses. Moses intervened and they were spared.

If we read through the Bible, we will find the pattern of we humans turning away from God. We quickly forget how He has cared for us, provided for us, and nurtured us. Yet, through it all, God had a plan. God would present one last means for reconciling His creation back into a relationship as He had in the beginning.

When we first meet Paul, he was called Saul and was filled with zeal to abolish all traces of Christianity. God stopped him and through him he opened the door of salvation to people outside the family of Abraham. Paul had dedicated his life to stopping Christianity. Listen to what Paul says about Jesus.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:12-17 NASB)

There it is. The mission of Jesus is clearly articulated. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. There may be collateral things we may learn from a study of Jesus’ life. We may learn how to better love and serve our neighbors. We may learn how to be more prayerful and humble. Jesus certainly left us great examples of each of these and more. The over-riding mission was to save the sinners.

Saving sinners! Is that important? Does it matter to God? I thought God was all about love. Well, He is all about love. Love does not leave someone separated from God. Our sins separate us from God.

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short that it cannot save; nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear. (Isaiah 59:1-2 NASB)

We are very familiar with the running debates between Jesus and the religious leaders of His day. One of the constant issues that was mentioned by those leaders was that Jesus went to the “bad people” and did not try to come and be a part of their religious world. In the 15th chapter of Luke, Jesus addresses their concerns and shed the light on the importance of saving sinners. Let’s read the first ten verses of the 15th chapter of Luke.

Now all the tax collectors and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him. Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

There is their charge against Jesus.

So, He told them this parable, saying, “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. (Luke 15:1-7 NASB)

Finding the one lost sheep (sinner) causes joy where? Heaven. Jesus continues His narrative in verse 8.

“Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!’ In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:8-10 NASB)

Again, finding that which was lost brings joy. So, the mission of Jesus is to save sinners. Those who are separated from God are lost and Jesus came for the expressed purpose of saving them.

In these two parables, Jesus answers those who are concerned about Him going to the wrongs crowd by pointing out that there is rejoicing in heaven over a lost sinner being found and brought home.

The angels in heaven rejoice over a lost sinner being found and brought to salvation. This is the mission of Jesus. Yet, for too many, the world view is not the same. The Messiah, the Christ, The Anointed One had been promised. Many people had eagerly anticipated this, Messiah. They were seeking a military leader who would deliver them from the hands of the Romans and establish a kingdom similar to the time of David or Solomon.

The disciples had come to understand that Jesus was the Messiah. So, when Jesus began to prepare them for His death, they were still looking for a different outcome. They are looking for Jesus to assemble an army to expel the Roman soldiers and governor. With this in mind, look at the conversation between Peter and Jesus as recorded in Matthew the 16th chapter.

From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.” (Matthew 16:21-23 NASB)

Surely, Jesus did not want to suffer through the crucifixion but He was focused on God’s plan and not viewing the upcoming events through the eyes of man.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:24-26 NASB)

Jesus is not talking about a conquering army or an earthly kingdom. He came to pay the price for sin. He came to the world to save sinners. The soul of a sinner is more valuable than all the world has to offer. Jesus came for that expressed purpose.

Often, we fail to see the mission of Jesus. We fail to take up our cross and follow Him. This world has so much to offer that we are distracted. When we follow the world, we will be disappointed. We will not find the satisfaction we desire. C. S. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity, writes: “And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”

Jesus came to save sinners. Are we ready to allow Him to save us or are we still drawn to the desires of this world? God thinks we are worth the precious blood of Jesus. Jesus completed His mission to save that one lost sheep. To Jesus, we are more valuable than all the world offers.

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