In evangelical Christianity, we talk a great deal about a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We experience Christ’s presence in a very personal way through the Word and in prayer.
If you live in a personal relationship with Christ, do you ever ask yourself how strong is that relationship? I pray this sermon will help you give serious thought to this question.
It was the Sabbath in our text, and the faithful were flocking to their synagogues. Most of the worshipers were expecting the service to be routine. Jesus was present, and he was known as the man who ran the carpenter shop in Nazareth. The rabbi had done his part of the service, and now others could stand up and make their contribution to the worship experience.
The attendant handed Jesus a scroll from the prophet Isaiah, and Jesus read, “The spirit of the Lord is on me because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor . . . Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Jesus was telling them that it was a new day. He came to preach good news to the poor. He was speaking not just to those who were financially poor, but also those who had a poor outlook for the future. Jesus knew how incapable they were to meet life head-on and face the difficulties that would come upon them.
Jesus would bring good news to those who were spiritual prisoners. Their sins had taken their freedom away. They were spiritually blind and did not know the difference between right and wrong. They would have their spiritual eyes opened and be led by Jesus, the Good Shepherd.
This was the beginning of a new day. Jesus announced that he is the promised Messiah, and his suffering began with their reaction, which started with a mild disbelief and ended with a furious anger leading to an attempt at executing him. They viewed Jesus as a heretic and a false prophet; a dangerous person and had to be killed. That became the conviction of his enemies, and their goal was met when Jesus was crucified at Calvary.
It is at this point that we must ask ourselves how serious is our commitment to Jesus as he presents himself as our only Savior and God. He never would have been sent to the cross if he had only claimed to be a great teacher and a fine moral example.
Many people, even some in our churches who sit in the pew or stand in the pulpit, deny his divinity. Jesus as a great religious leader, is as far as they will go. The rest is irrational.
Jesus’ own people rebelled against the thought that he alone could grant the forgiveness of our sins and assure us of a heavenly home. Though this teaching came from his own lips, it is often not the primary subject being proclaimed on Sunday morning.
Jesus taught us how to live, how to love our enemies. Yet many people, throughout their lifetime, carry hatred against those who have offended them in some way. We sing, “Take my life and let it be consecrated Lord to thee,” yet we are so busy with life that we have little time to give of our time and talents. Jesus tells us to be his witnesses, and many life a lifetime without seriously talking to others about their relationship with the Lord Jesus.
How great is our commitment?
We all would like to admit that much growth is needed in our commitment to him, but as we examine our lives, we can say with Paul that God is at work in our lives. We have not arrived where we want to be, but we press on. Neither are we satisfied with our commitment to our Savior, but neither are we discouraged for we feel his presence.
Peter had his weak moments. Do you remember that night in Herod’s courtyard when he denied ever knowing Jesus? But a few weeks later this same man was a fearless witness for his Lord. This is how a relationship with Jesus can grow.
We live with him in his Word.