Pul­pit Notes

The Covington News - - Religion -

Near­ing the end of Christ’s life be­fore his cru­ci­fix­ion, he spoke to his dis­ci­ples and told them he would not be with them much longer. In John 13:33-14:6 we read the story of how Je­sus dealt with the ques­tions of Peter as well as Thomas con­cern­ing his go­ing away. He also brought com­fort to the trou­bled hearts of his dis­ci­ples.

Peter asked: “Where are you go­ing?” and Thomas asked, “Lord, we don’t know where you are go­ing, so how can we know the way?”

Je­sus an­swered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Fa­ther but by me.”

Je­sus is the way. In a day of many world reli­gions, we are told that there are many paths to God. Je­sus makes it clear that there is only one true God and only one path to God, and that is through him and his sac­ri­fi­cial death and res­ur­rec­tion. He is not “a” way, but “the” way, the one and only way.

It is not mul­ti­ple choice. If you are trav­el­ing any other path or di­rec­tion other than that which is pro­vided through Christ, you are headed the wrong way and will not end up at the proper des­ti­na­tion of heaven.

Je­sus is the truth. In him is no de­ceit, false­hood, com­pro­mise, mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion, or de­vi­a­tion from ul­ti­mate re­al­ity and ab­so­lute fact. We live in a world that de­mands po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness, which quite of­ten stands di­a­met­ri­cally op­posed to bib­li­cal prin­ci­ples, morals and truth as it is em­bod­ied in the per­son and work of Je­sus Christ.

We are liv­ing in a day when sec­u­lar hu­man­ism and rel­a­tivism tells us there are no moral ab­so­lutes, no ul­ti­mate re­al­ity and no fi­nal author­ity for right or wrong, truth or er­ror. We live in a day of ad­justable moral­ity, open to private in­ter­pre­ta­tion, de­pend­ing on the per­son, sit­u­a­tion or cir­cum­stance. But such teach­ing is in clear vi­o­la­tion to the truth of Scrip­ture, re­gard­less of how right it may seem, how good it may feel and how at­trac­tive and ap­peal­ing it may look. Je­sus is the truth, and the truth will set you free (John 8:32).

Je­sus is also the life. Life is one of the Apos­tle John’s fa­vorite themes. Je­sus is all about life. He is the cre­ator and sus­tainer of life, both phys­i­cally as well as spir­i­tu­ally. He has come that we might have life, and have it more abun­dantly (John 10:10). Apart from him we are dead in our sins, but he has come to give us new life. Life as its best is found in Je­sus Christ. We can have this life here and now, and the prom­ise of eter­nal life here­after.

Je­sus is the only way, the ul­ti­mate truth and the giver of life. By faith you can reach out and get con­nected with him to­day, and get started on the jour­ney of a life­time. The Rev. Wayne Ruther­ford LifePointe Church of the


Come, let us re­turn to the Lord

Why did God take him from us? Why can’t the doc­tors fig­ure out what is wrong with me? Why didn’t I get that op­por­tu­nity I was so ready for? Why do I some­times hurt …inside? Do you un­der­stand the an­swer to all those ques­tions? Do you know why bad stuff hap­pens?

Now, I sup­pose we could brush all that away and say, “Don’t worry about it, it will all be OK,” which it will. We should and could jump right to God’s prom­ises which we never want to for­get. But maybe there is some­thing we can learn in heartache, maybe we to­day can learn the same les­son God strove to teach the Is­raelites through this — that some­times God takes us through the depths in or­der to bring us to the heights. So let’s say with the Is­raelites, “Come, Let us re­turn to the Lord.”

They needed a re­turn. They had been so un­faith­ful to God that God told his prophet Hosea to take a pros­ti­tute for a wife to give them a pic­ture of it. And he told Hosea to be faith­ful to that cheater wife and lav­ish love and gifts on her as a vis­ual aid for the peo­ple of God’s treat­ment of them. Then he also told Hosea to warn the peo­ple of the de­struc­tion com­ing if they didn’t re­turn and then once that de­struc­tion came, to re­mind them that this is what hap­pens when the Lord gets put on the back burner. And all that hap­pened.

So what does that mat­ter to us? Well, if you’ve ever got­ten too busy for God and you sched­ule your time with him based on what’s left in­stead of giv­ing him what’s first, if your giv­ing to God has ever been dic­tated by how much you have left af­ter get­ting what you want — God is send­ing a Hosea to you.

Come, let us re­turn to the Lord... but not like those Is­raelites. They fig­ured they could re­turn with a few out­ward ac­tions, a few sac­ri­fices, a few trips to church, some ex­tra of­fer­ings, and God should be pleased — right? “Wrong,” God says.

And we have to watch for that same thing. All too of­ten, we look at our re­la­tion­ship with God on the ba­sis of what we do. Too many peo­ple out there (even some Chris­tians) see Chris- tian­ity as a sys­tem of rules Chris­tians have to keep in or­der to please God. Chris­tians have to sac­ri­fice, they think, to gain God’s ap­proval. That couldn’t be farther from the truth.

That’s ex­actly what God makes clear in verse 6: “I de­sire mercy, not sac­ri­fice.” God doesn’t need our of­fer­ings. He doesn’t want our “sac­ri­fices.” He wants our hearts and ev­ery­thing that flows from them. And he gets our mercy, our love, only when we see his. To see that, we look no farther than the one who stepped in and took all the curses we had com­ing in verse 5 of our text. Je­sus, the one who came “not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ran­som for many,” took our place at the harsh end of God’s wrath.

He loved us enough to give his life so that we can live. Paul writes, “God demon­strates his own love for us in this: While we were still sin­ners, Christ died for us.” He had mercy on us. He loves us. That’s why we love. That’s why we do what we do. That’s what it means to “re­turn to the Lord” — just get back to lov­ing him, be­ing in his pres­ence, singing his praises. So, to bor­row a phrase again from our text, “Come, let us re­turn to the Lord.” Pas­tor Jonathan Scharf

Abid­ing Grace Lutheran Church

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