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(Chp 13) Why did Jesus Come?

March 31, 2008, More from this speaker 更多关于此讲员: Elder Lui Yook Cing (Luke 17:20-21) For more of this sermon series 更多关于此讲道系列: The Jesus Creed
Preached at a Bilingual (Mandarin-English, Sunday) service

Tags: Jesus Creed, Luke

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Sermon based on Chapter 13 of Scot McKnight's Jesus Creed

Passage: This morning’s assigned scripture comes from three Gospel passages: Matthew 6:10, Luke 17:20-21, Mark 3:31-35.

1. Salvation is a life-long process, not one-time event
I pose this question to some teenagers. Most of them give similar answer. “Do you want the textbook answer? Jesus came to save us from sin so that when we die, we won’t end up in hell, but will go to heaven.” I didn’t press on for the non-textbook answer. But I suspect it will be something like, “Actually I really don’t care. Because I don’t see what Jesus has to do with my life right now. Anyway, who says hell is a bad place to be?”

Today, especially in our comfortable middle-income city life, becoming a Christian has become like joining a club. It’s relatively simple to become a member: just repeat the sinner’s prayer and get baptized. The only purpose seems to be to book a place in heaven. If this is also what we think, then little wonder that we feel “sian” and complacent. The life goal is too pathetic. We don’t see a God-sized mission to accomplish in this world. We don’t believe we can make a difference in people’s lives here and now. Perhaps joining a Soccer Team or the Tossball tournament is more fulfilling! At least it motivates us to make some changes our present lifestyles. We become disciplined, go on healthy diet, jog and train regularly to stay fit and trim. We even put up with each other’s foul tempers. Because we want and believe we can win the Cup. (Illustration: Race of No-Boredom – by Brian McLaren “Missing the Point” pp25-27)

Salvation is a life-long experience, not a one-time event. Many of us sitting here are already “saved” Christians. We’ve taken the initial step. Yet we must not be like the first runners who stop prematurely! They have eliminated themselves from a life of great adventures with Jesus. We must go on in our spiritual amazing race, to join Jesus in doing God’s work on earth.

2. Jesus came to establish God’s Kingdom on earth
Why did Jesus come? Jesus brought the Race-of-no-boredom to us. Of course Jesus didn’t say it this way. Jesus used the phrase Kingdom of God. He says that he has brought God’s kingdom into our midst. If you read the Gospel stories thoroughly, the one theme that Jesus spoke most was “Kingdom of God”. He told lots of parables about God’s Kingdom.

Mark 2:14 [At the beginning of his work], Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. [What’s the good news?] “The Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” [How?] “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Jesus’ primary purpose in coming has something to do with God’s Kingdom.

This month, we witness a few elections. We witnessed Malaysia and Taiwan elections We await the presidential election of America. All over the world, people cry for reforms. They want a new government that will give them a better world, better life. People are tired of corruption, oppression, rising living costs and crime rates, violence, wars. They desire wars to end; we want freedom, security, equality and integrity.

During Jesus’ time, people had a similar wish list. They also wanted a new king; a governance that’s different from what the world can offer. They prayed and waited for this new world to come. Read Isaiah 65:17-25.

Don’t we desire same? In today’s language, we want a Kingdom where there is:
• No more sufferings
• No more infant mortality – a common problem in poor countries
• The elderly will live out their lives in good health and dignity
• People will have decent housing and ownership
• Everyone will have a job that pays a fair wage
• Mothers no longer worry that their kids will be destroyed by drugs, or led astray by violent gangs and perverts
• Ecologically, no more environmental destructions

More importantly, we yearn for it take place now, not after we die. Jesus says the good new is: don’t wait passively anymore. With Jesus’ arrival in the world, God’s Kingdom has invaded our time and space. The transformation has begun.

You ask, where is this Kingdom? The Pharisees asked Jesus too. Jesus says (Luke 17:20-21) “.. the Kingdom is among you.” You see, the Kingdom is not a place or a country. It is present as a society of people who share similar values and reflect this in consistent conduct and behaviors.

The Kingdom is more than a gathering of like-minded people. It is a Kingdom of Transformation. This Kingdom begins with people turning to Jesus and following him. People who enter the kingdom change to become more like Jesus: they think, behave and live like him.

People sometimes naively think that the world doesn’t need God. They don’t believe that human beings need a Savior. The truth is: evil exist; there is inherent sin in humanity. People, individuals, need to be totally renewed in nature – conform to Jesus’ likeness, before any real positive changes can take place in the world. And human transformation is never the work of mankind. It is the work of God alone.

This Easter, many people were baptized. As zone pastor, I have the privilege of personally knowing the life testimonies of some of those baptized. They will tell you how they encountered Jesus in their lives, who confronted them about their pasts and turned their lives around to greater glory and beauty. Wounds are healed, relationships reconciled, pain and bitterness turn to joy. Many people witness powerful breakthroughs in their personal lives and trying situations. Others will tell you that they continue to experience breakthroughs even as they pray and wait upon God. Such stories of our church members greatly inspire me. I can’t help but get down on knees to praise and thank Jesus! Come to this year’s June camp to hear them share their testimonies. Our God is indeed a living God. The life and power of the resurrected Lord Jesus continues today to confront and transform lives. God’s kingdom of transformation is already at work in our midst.

I used to work with patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis. This is a very painful and debilitating disease. The body’s cells can’t help but attack and destroy one another; they self-destruct. Suppose one day scientists discover a radical cell and inject it into me. Not only does this radical not attack others, it engulfs then converts them into non-aggressive cells. The radical then imparts his abilities to the converted cells to save and convert others. Because of the invasion of this radical cell, the battle has already been won. My body is now on the way to recovery. But complete wellness still takes time. Meanwhile I do my part to remain vigilant, stay healthy to prevent other medical complications.

3. Radical Kingdom Life – “Jesus-Culture”
Jesus is the radical cell who initiates and completes the saving work. The Kingdom is already here, but not yet fully present and manifested. For its glorious nature and effect to be evident, we must do our part to live out Kingdom lifestyles.

Kingdom values are radically different from that of the world. When you become part of it, you must re-learn everything from scratch, as a child learns all things anew. Whatever prevents you from doing so, you must surrender. If you had always trusted in your money, ability, status and influence to get things done, re-direct your trust. The kingdom has little use of these. If you’ve always needed attention, craved popularity and applause, know that the Kingdom doesn’t give you this. When we enter the Kingdom, we abide by its culture and values. E.g. if you go live in England, you’ve to get used to left-hand drive. No matter your past experiences or preferences.
Every kingdom of the world has its unique culture and values, manifested in the behavior and lifestyles of its citizens. What’s the distinguishing culture of Singaporeans? How do people characterize us? Kiasu, singlish, clean, super efficient, busy, complaining lot, “complacent”. How do people characterize Singapore’s youngsters?

We are now citizens of the Jesus Kingdom. We have a distinguishing “Jesus-Culture” that those outside the Kingdom will inevitably notice and identify. How do people characterize believers? More relevantly, how do outsiders see Jubilee Church Christians? 同心合一,友善热情,很会听道,很会玩。

Which of the above belong to those critical Kingdom characteristics that Jesus the King looks for? He may tell us that the Kingdom is in our midst, but we can do better. We have yet to exhibit the Kingdom’s intended full impact and influence. By not living out Kingdom values – as individuals and as a whole community - we are Christians who lack the punch to change the world.
To know what are the real Kingdom characteristics, listen to the Jesus and watch his life.
• It’s not merely about listening well, but actions that match It’s not about “having fun”, but serving others, as the Son of God came to serve.
• It’s not only about cleaning up our own mess, but helping others clean up the mess of their lives too, just like Jesus
• It’ not about exemption from hardships, but endurance
• It’s no kiasu but go the extra mile, even to the point of giving up our lives for others, just as the Messiah surrendered his for us
• It’s not about giving up but persevere till you complete the given task.

Kingdom characteristics are plenty. You know them if you have been reading and meditating on God’s Word. This morning, spend a few minutes reflecting on areas in your life that you need to redirect toward Kingdom value. Think concretely. Make a commitment to change those.

For me, I’ve chosen three areas that I need to work on. Let me share briefly with you as I hold myself accountable to you. It’s related to Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness.

1. There’s more to life than the material world
I pay too much attention to things like “do I have enough?” What to eat, what do wear, where to live etc. Do I have enough to buy this or that, enough to grow old? All these are important. But Jesus reminds me that life is more than the material world. If I think that satisfying bodily needs and pleasures right now is all there is to life, I’m missing out on living life to the fullest. Instead, when I change focus and start getting more concerned about obeying and doing God’s will, life gets a lot more exciting and fulfilling. I also discover that God has sufficiently taken care of my other needs.

2. Don’t take advantage of my privilege as God’s child
Being God’s child is no guarantee that I will have instant success in all I do. I am not exempted from risks, pain, sufferings, working hard etc. More importantly, I have responsibility to make sensible decisions, not to put self and others at risk. The primary task of God’s Son is not to abuse his special status, but to submit to God’s sovereignty and trust in God’s love for all God’s decisions.

3. Don’t live solely for human applause
Jesus was offered instant popularity and fame, power and glory, without the need to go through the way of the Cross. Jesus refused. In all my activities, particularly in ministry, I must check my motives. Am I more concerned about pleasing others, meeting their expectations and gaining their approval? Am I more concerned about feeling good about myself? Jesus reminds me that I should be doggedly focused on God’s expectations of me, and gaining God’s applause.
May we all exercise spiritual discipline appropriately. May we live out Kingdom values in our personal lives, and as within our community as Jubilee folks. God’s kingdom has come. May His will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Let us pray.

Luke 17:20–21 (Listen)

20 Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”

(ESV)