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Princeton Presbyterian Church (EPC) Sermon # 1246

March 6, 2016 Luke 9:23-26; 10:1-12

Dr. Ed Pettus 

(This is an extended outline, not a verbatim transcript.)

 

“Jesus Calls and Jesus Sends”

 

The One Who Was Sent

 

Before we get to our two passages for today, let's look at the One who was sent. Turn with me to John's gospel, first in John 17, Jesus is praying for his disciples...

 

15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

 

We have been sent into the world just as Jesus was sent into the world. Jesus offers this prayer for the disciples and we have inherited it as a prayer for us as well. A prayer for protection from the devil and prayer for sanctification in the truth of God's word. The same protection that came with Jesus and the same truth that came in Jesus is with us as we are sent to proclaim the gospel. The sent One sends us to be a part of His ministry in the world.

 

Something else that kind of releases some of our fear or apprehension is in John 7,

 

28 Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own authority, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, 29 but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.”

 

We go out, not because we are going to confront people or on our own agenda, but we go because we have been sent by Jesus and on his authority. Have you ever been sent by someone to deliver a message or pick something up and you go knowing that that person's authority carries more weight than you might. You are then able to go with more confidence and more energy. After all, you know that you can call on the name of the one who sent you. If you run into resistance all you have to do is call on the name of the sender.

In one sense, people who oppose Christianity do not have an issue with us as much as they do with Jesus who sent us in him name and by his authority. Think about what that means. If someone opposes us they are actually opposing Jesus. Jesus calls us and Jesus sends us.

 

Jesus Calls

 

23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

 

There are many ways we might consider in a call from Jesus, to salvation, to rest, to truth, to repentance, and so on. This particular passage deals with three things in particular: denial of self, taking up the cross, and following Jesus.

 

  • Deny yourself

 

Jesus calls us to deny the self. We live in a culture that is geared ninety-nine percent toward self fulfillment.  For the most part the scriptures talk about denying the flesh, the senses, worldly passions, and anything in our life that would hinder our walk with Christ.  This is a key to understanding this life of denial. It does not mean we can never have any pleasures in this life. We have many things of pleasure precisely because God gives them to us. But the self Jesus and Paul and others speak of is the old self, the sinful self, the self that becomes a stumbling block for us. It is the worldly passions we see in 1 John – “15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; 16for all that is in the world—the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever”  (2:15-17).

The will of God is to love the things of God, not the things of the world. God calls us to love one another in fellowship. God calls for a man and woman to love each other in marriage. We are called to enjoy food and drink and to celebrate the good things of God.

The lesson is that we are not to be enslaved to ourselves. All that we do, in denying the self or enjoying blessings from God is to be done to God's glory and not our own.  We are called to surrender to Jesus and live for him. That is what Jesus calls us to do.


 

  • Take up your cross

 

The cross symbolizes God’s love, sacrifice, self-giving, forgiveness, redemption, hope, cleansing, and grace. And a lot more! Taking up the cross is about living the Christian life every day.  I think it is so important to notice that Jesus uses the time frame of daily...daily we walk with God, with Jesus, with the cross and all that it stands for. The cross is the active symbol for all who want to follow Christ.  The cross becomes a discipline practiced.  The apostle Paul writes:  “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me” (Gal. 2:19-20).  For Paul this is a spiritual matter.  The old self is characterized as living by the flesh.  That old way of thinking and that old way of living is destroyed when we begin to live by the Spirit.  Taking up the cross means that we are no longer slaves to our flesh, to our senses, to our mortal bodies.  It is by the Spirit that we are able to “put to death the deeds of the body”. 

 

There is a way to righteous living, spiritual living, that is shown to us first in the cross of Christ.  Jesus was “obedient to the point of death – even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:8).  Jesus shows us through his life and death and resurrection what it means to live in obedience to the Father.  This is the Father who loves us so much, that he sent Jesus to die on the cross for us.  Jesus calls us to share in that story and in that spiritual meaning of redemption, dead to self and alive to God.

  • Follow Jesus

 

The last part is to follow Jesus. This means to become his disciple, his student or apprentice. We follow his lead, study his life and teachings. We live as he lived. We live obedient to his word like in John 15…

 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love” (15:10). 

Jesus calls us to follow. It is by self-denial and cross bearing that we are able to follow, and in following we learn more about bearing the cross and denial of self.  I see these three aspects of discipleship as one on-going circular connection.  Denial of self is connected to the cross which is connected to following and to denial and the cross and so on.  They all work in concert with one another. 

Jesus calls us in many ways. These are only three. If we look more through scripture we see things like being called to rest, called to abide in Jesus, called to hope and trust and sacrifice and give. Now lets take a look at Jesus sending us.

 

 

Jesus Sends

 

10 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. 2 And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. 3 Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. 4 Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. 5 Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ 6 And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you.7 And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house.8 Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. 9 Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ 10 But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, 11 ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ 12 I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town.

 

In this passage we are sent to pray for laborers, to go out into the community, to heal, and to proclaim the kingdom. Jesus sends the 12 disciples, he sends the seventy-two in this story, and since the church began he has sent us into the world. We are also called into prayer and into a community, into healing and a proclaimed story. I say this because I don't think there is anything that Jesus sends us to do that he has not called us to and by.

 

Some other things we are sent to do because we have been called by them...

 

  • To be a witness through a witness-  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. Acts 1:8

  • To be servants and stewards – This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.  1 Corinthians 4:1

  • To be ambassadors – 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave usthe ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Cor. 5:18-21

  • To be like Christ – Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Phil. 2:5-8

     

 

 

What we may notice is that everything Jesus calls us to is the same as what he sends us to. He calls us to be loved and he sends us to love. Called to received grace, sent to give grace. Called to die to self, take up the cross, and follow, sent to proclaim that same word to others. Called in hope, sent to give others hope. I think of it a bit like Jesus would not send us to do anything that he has not already done.


 

Here I am! Send me.

One more thing to consider, it is more likely that we would respond to the call more than to the sending. It is easier to come into the faith, to come to worship, to participate in the life of the church than it is to take that same faith out into the community. Perhaps that is where the church has fallen short the most. We attempt to be the church with respect to God but we fail to be the church with respect to being the body of Christ to the world.

Jesus calls us and we are so deeply grateful for that. Let us respond in gratitude as Jesus sends us to participate in His ministry to the world. Love as you have been loved. Forgive as you have been forgiven. Share the good news as the good news has been shared with you. Amen.