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Author:Rev. Jeremy Segstro
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Congregation:Cloverdale Canadian Reformed Church
 Surrey, BC
 cloverdalecanrc.org
 
Title:Jesus: A Portrait of Our Blessed Saviour
Text:LD 11 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Unclassified
 
Added:2022-11-15
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Reading: Luke 15:1-7

Lesson: Lord’s Day 11

 

JESUS: A PORTRAIT OF OUR BLESSED SAVIOUR

  1. Our Absolute Need

  2. His Absolute Provision

 

  1. Hymn 19: 1, 3

  2. Psalm 100: 2, 4

  3. Hymn 81: 1, 3, 7

  4. Hymn 2

  5. Psalm 2:1-4

  6. Hymn 16: 1, 4

 

Words to Listen For: downtown, earned, screentime, list, poured

 

Questions For Understanding:

  1. Why don’t we want help?

  2. Who would come up to the booth?  What would they want?  What WOULDN’T they even ask for?

  3. Who are the 99 sheep? (careful!)

  4. Is the gospel a “help wanted” sign?  What is it?

  5. What are some of your fears about coming to Jesus?  How does He answer those fears?

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved in Jesus Christ our Lord,

A picture is worth a thousand words they say.  If you are trying to describe something, the appearance of a sunset, a mountain range, a waterfall…it’s far easier to show a picture rather than to attempt to describe all the intricacies of the beautiful scene - is the sky maroon or is it mauve?  Is the mountain range majestic, or is it stately?  Distinguished…or lofty?

A picture shows, in an instant, what the natural beauty actually looks like.

But what about when it comes to PEOPLE?

Well, for people, it gets a little harder.  Because people, unlike sunsets, or mountain ranges, have something behind their physical appearance.  And so, in little ways, maybe in how the subject stands - think of the portrait of Napoleon with his hand in his jacket, indicating both nobility and restraint, or how they smile - think of Mona Lisa and her enigmatic smile…the artist tries to portray a little more of the personality behind the person.

And then, to narrow it even further…what then of our Lord and Saviour?

Throughout history, various portraits have been painted of Jesus Christ.  And different approaches have been undertaken.

There was the approach of early artists, who re-made Jesus in their own image.  European artists painted Jesus with pale skin and light hair - just like them.

A fair Jesus, with light shining from Him, to denote His divinity.  African artists on the other hand, painted Jesus with very dark, even black skin -  a man, just like them.

However, other artists, like Rembrandt, wanted to portray Jesus in a more authentic way, and spent quite a bit of time finding ethnic Jews to paint, wanting to create on the canvas an ACCURATE, rather than an IDEALIZED Jesus.  For Jesus would have looked like a regular Jewish man.  So let’s paint Him that way.

But, whether racially idealized as having fair and glowing skin, or dark skin, or a more accurate portrayal as a regular Jewish man…each and every one of these portraits falls completely short in describing who Jesus is.

And note that I say who Jesus IS.  Not who Jesus WAS.  For we serve a living risen Saviour!

But each and every one of the hundreds or even thousands of portraits do not portray the real Jesus.  Whether white skin or black skin, or anywhere in between, a beautiful Jesus or an ugly Jesus…they are all majoring on the minors.  Because what our Saviour physically looked like is the LEAST IMPORTANT THING ABOUT HIM.  It is telling that we never get a physical description of Jesus in any of the gospels.  Tall or short, strong or weak, muscular or skinny…there is no description.

But what we do find in the gospel accounts is far more than any of the portraits.

John 1: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made.  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Far more than any portrait ever painted.

Even the NAME Jesus tells us more than Rembrandt ever could.

Why is the Son of God called Jesus, that is, Saviour?

          Because He saves us from all our sins and because salvation is not to be sought or found in anyone else.

A beautiful portrait of our Saviour indeed.  This afternoon, meet

JESUS, OUR BLESSED SAVIOUR

  1. Our Absolute Need

  2. His Absolute Provision

 

Jesus our Blessed Saviour: Our Absolute Need

Imagine with me that you and I set up a booth in downtown _______ (your town/city), and we set a sign out front that reads: “HELP PROVIDED.”  What do you think our response rate would be?

 

The average person would not take us up on our offer…even if they were ACTIVELY STRUGGLING AT THE TIME.

Imagine what would be going through their minds as they walked passed us in our booth.

    Help provided?  Yeah right!  I’ll do it myself!

    Help provided?  Who do they think they are?  I’m FINE

    Help provided?  They’re probably more messed up than I am!

And we think this all the time too, don’t we?  Even in the church, where we are meant to help one another.  Where we are meant to love one another.  How often do you reach out and ask for help?  Even for those people who so graciously and lovingly say: “Well, I’m here if you ever need me!”  We respond with a genuine and heartfelt “thank you!” while at the same time planning to never take them up on their offer.

We want to be FINE and so we act like we are FINE.

How are you doing today? FINE.

Without thinking. FINE.

 

Because we don’t really want to get into it with someone, and we think they would never understand anyways.

And if someone does see you struggling, how strong is our tendency to say “No, it’s okay, just let me do it myself!  Let me do it!”

Most people, confronted with our “help provided” booth would not walk up to us or take us up on our offer.  Most people, if you would ask them, at any given moment, would not accept an offer to help.  This is who we are.  And it’s not a good thing.  More than that: it’s DESTRUCTIVE.  More on this later.

Most people would refuse our generous offer of help.

But what about those who would actually accept the offer?  What about those who would see the sign and walk up to us.

“Are you serious about your sign?  You’re…actually willing to provide help?  With anything?”

“Yes actually!”

All right!  NOW we are getting somewhere!  There is a need that is recognized.  But what is the need?

Maybe the need is money.  They ask you for a loan, or even a gift of 1, 5, 10 000 dollars.

Or the need is loneliness.  They ask you for friendship.  For support.  For love.

The needs that they are coming with are real needs.  Real concerns.  But still not recognizing their ultimate concern.  Not recognizing that what they need is more than just “help” … not recognizing that what they really need is SALVATION.

Now let’s alter our scenario a little bit.

You and I are still in the booth.  Still with that same sign.  But we have travelled back to the time of our reading.  Around us are not the people of (home town/city), but the two groups mentioned in Luke 15.

  • Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near - that’s our first group

  • And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled - that’s our second group.

How would these groups react to our sign?  To our booth?

The Pharisees would probably say no.  “No help needed over here!  We’re living pretty great lives, and we have already earned our way to heaven.  No earthly help or heavenly help needed, we’re all set.”

But the tax collectors and sinners…those whom Jesus ate with…those whom Jesus loved…how would they respond?

I think they would come with all sorts of problems.  They would come, wanting all sorts of help.  Because…for all of their issues, pride was not one of them.

They might come up asking for money - maybe they were too poor to afford food and were starving to death.  The religious leaders should have been on top of this, but instead of collecting, instead of caring, instead of showing mercy, they heaped judgment and scorn on those who were already suffering.

Or they might ask for healing.  Leprosy, withered hands, withered legs, blindness.

They might ask for justice.  “Please help me against the Pharisees and how they treat me.  Please help me against the Romans and how they treat me.”

But would any of them walk up to our booth and ask for help with their relationship with God?  Would any of them walk up to our booth and acknowledge their DEEPEST NEED?  Their need for SINS TO BE FORGIVEN?  Their need for a SAVIOUR?

Even Jesus, THE SAVIOUR OF THE WORLD HIMSELF had to patiently work with these people.  At first, they saw Him only as a miracle worker.  He was the one who could multiply bread and fish.  He was the one who could heal with His hand, make the crippled walk, and the blind see again.

This man Jesus was USEFUL.  He was HELPFUL.

But that’s not what Jesus came to do.  Jesus’ name does not mean HELPER.  Jesus’ name does not mean FIXER.  Jesus’ name does not mean ADVISOR.  Jesus’ name does not even primarily mean COMFORTER.

But instead, Jesus’ name means SAVIOUR.

And we have to acknowledge our need.  We have to open our eyes and truly see ourselves for who we are.

  • You’re not a person who needs a little help.

  • I’m not a person who needs a lot of help.

You and I are people who are DEAD in our sins.  Or, as Jesus puts it in the parable…LOST.

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him.  And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”

So He told them this parable:  “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?

And 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 that was lost.’  Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

In this parable, it seems that we have been introduced to two groups of sheep, right?  The one who was lost, and the 99 who weren’t.

That’s what it SEEMS LIKE…but that’s not actually true.

I’m going to blow your mind here for a second…there are no 99 sheep.  The 99 sheep DON’T ACTUALLY EXIST!

How can you say that!  Jesus says that they DO EXIST!  The 99 sheep even though they don’t get much “screentime” in the parable…the 99 sheep are characters here!

Well, let me draw your attention closer to the wording.  When our Saviour applies this parable, what does He say?

Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

Who is the lost sheep in the parable?  Who does the lost sheep represent?  The lost sheep is identified as a sinner, and the 99 are identified as righteous persons who need no repentance.

Has there ever been such a person?  Other than our Saviour Himself?

No!  There ARE NO 99 SHEEP.

And in case you’re skeptical, there are other passages that speak in the same way.  John 9, the man born blind.  After restoring his sight, Jesus seeks to restore his LIFE.  Jesus reveals Himself as the Saviour, and the man believes and worships.

And this is what Jesus says - “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.”

Well the Pharisees don’t like this.  Not one bit.

Some of the Pharisees near Him heard these things, and said to Him, “Are we also blind?”  Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.

Jesus came into the world to make the blind see.  Jesus came to SAVE SINNERS.  The blind who admit that they are blind, sinners who admit that they are sinners, lost sheep who admit that they are lost…when they cry out to Jesus, they are saved.  But the blind who claim to see…the lost who claim they are found, the sinners who claim to be righteous…they remain in their guilt.

One more example to really drive this home.  Mark 2.  Again the Pharisees judge and despise Jesus for eating with tax collectors.

And this is how Jesus responds: When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.

I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.

Jesus brings out these fictional categories of people to get the scribes and Pharisees to see that they’re not so different.

          Are you prepared to call yourself well?  Healthy before God on your own?

          Are you prepared to call yourself righteous before God on your own?

And many of them said yes.

But this is the reality:

  • There are none who see properly - all are blind.

  • There are none who are well - all are sick.

  • There are none who are found - all are lost.

  • There are none who are righteous - all are sinners.

And this is what we must acknowledge before the throne of heaven.  When we speak to God, we MUST come before Him as humble sinners.  We MUST come before Him recognizing our need.

For if we don’t…if we live as though we do not need a Saviour, if we live our lives constantly refusing the free offer of salvation…eventually the offer will stop coming.  As long as there is life, there is hope, but when this life is over…

If from your first breath to your final breath, you deny the only Saviour Jesus Christ, then when this life is over and you stand before God’s throne, you will stand alone.

The books will be opened, and all that is written there will be a description of your life.  A list of all of your sins, not a single one atoned for.  Not a single one taken away.  Each deserving an eternity in Hell.  This is God’s justice.  And justice when met with sin is WRATH.

It is a fearsome thing to fall into the hands of the living God.  A fearsome thing when the One behind the throne is not your loving father, but instead is a wrathful judge.

This is what our arrogance, our pride, our deluded self-sufficiency and hard-heartedness stores up for us.  What is stored up for those who refuse to see their need.  For those who refuse to depend on the only Saviour Jesus.

BUT.  But for those who see this portrait of our Saviour.  A portrait contained in His very name, fleshed out in the gospels…for those who see Jesus and fall at His feet, kissing the Son, taking refuge in Him…well then they will be blessed with a full and complete salvation.  Our second point.

This, beloved, is the gospel.

Jesus…saves us from all our sins, and…we…must find in Him all that is necessary for…salvation.

The gospel is an OFFER.  The gospel is a GIFT.  The gospel is not a “help wanted” sign, but rather, the exact opposite.

It is a one way street of blessing and help and work.

Jesus did not come into this world looking for assistants.  The gospel is not a “help wanted” sign, but a HELP AVAILABLE sign.  Even our response to the gospel, our life of Christian service…God is not looking for employees, for people to work for Him.

Because it is GOD who is the great worker.  The one with broad cross-bearing shoulders.

     HE is the strong one.

     HE is the helper

     HE acts for those who wait for Him.

There is something, however, that we are required to give to God.

  • You might think I’m talking about money - using your blessings in the service of God and out of love for your neighbour.  But that’s not true.  God doesn’t need your money.

  • You might think I’m talking about evangelism - using your voice in the service of God and out of love for your neighbour.  But that’s not true.  God doesn’t need your voice.

But instead…the thing that we are required to give to God…the thing that He commands us to give to Him…is our anxieties.  Our needs.  Our humble cries for help.

This is a command, a command followed by a comfort.  A prescription followed by a promise.

  • Psalm 55:22 - Cast your burden on the Lord - command, and He will sustain you - comfort

  • And 1 Peter 5:7 - Cast all your anxiety on Him - prescription, because He cares for you - promise.

Because our God, beloved, is a complete Saviour.  Our lives do not depend on how hard we work for God.

This is what question 30 is getting at in the catechism

Do those who seek their salvation or well-being in saints, in themselves, or anywhere else, also believe in the only Saviour Jesus?

NO.

No!  Either Jesus has your whole heart, or He has none of it.

When you depend on the work of Saints - written specifically against the Roman Catholics - or you depend on yourself - I’m FINE, let me do it MYSELF, or you try to add ANYTHING ELSE INTO THE EQUATION for your salvation, you are devaluing the work of Jesus Christ on the cross.

He is a COMPLETE SAVIOUR.

Think of it like this.  When you were a kid, sometimes your Dad or your Mom would let you help with a project.  Whether it was shovelling the driveway,, making cookies, marking multiple choice questions on a test so they wouldn’t have to…your Dad, your Mom enjoy working with you, helping you learn and grow.  To share in their tasks with you.

But sometimes, due to difficulty, or danger, or just plain lack of understanding, Dad or Mom have to say, “Sorry son, sorry daughter, I need to do this part on my own.”

And that’s what it’s like for us!  There are so many things that God does WITH US.  Alongside of us.  Think of our good works.  God prepares them in advance for us to do, the Holy Spirit enables us, and then we actually do them!  Just like a parent helping and enabling a child to work alongside, doing the same work as Mom or Dad.

But there are some things, SALVATION being the most obvious example, that God says, “Son, I need to do this on my own.  Let me do this for you.”

God’s salvation is COMPLETE.  It is COMPLETELY HIS, and it is COMPLETELY DONE.

Where are the areas where you think His salvation does not cover?

Let me go through some of our fears.  Some of our excuses not to turn to Jesus.

  • I have sinned too much to be saved

    • But God’s grace was enough for Paul, the blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent, who went from house to house arresting and killing the church.  His grace is enough for you.

  • I have sinned too long, for too many years, to be saved.

    • But God’s grace was enough for the criminal on the cross who turned to Jesus with his dying breaths

  • I have blackened my heart and cannot love or trust anymore

    • But God promises that HIS LOVE has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit

  • I have come to Jesus too often.  He will not accept me another time.

    • But Jesus speaks of a God who is utterly extravagant and even wasteful with His grace.  He teaches that we must be like God and forgive, not 3 times, not 7 times, but 77 times, or even 70 times 7.  He forgives without counting.

  • I bring nothing with me - my mind is not intelligent enough, my soul is not pure enough, my heart is not loving enough - why would He ever want me?

    • But God displayed His love for us in this, that while we were still sinners, Jesus died for us.  God has set His love on the least lovely.  On those who hate and blaspheme and serve the Devil.  He loves you because of who HE IS, not because of who YOU ARE.

 

Any other excuses?

  • David, Elijah, and the Apostle Paul were anxious and depressed to the point of death.

  • Rahab was a prostitute

  • Jonah was a racist

  • The Samaritan woman was 6 times divorced

  • Lazarus…was DEAD

Beloved, Jesus is a complete Saviour.  Any opposition, any issue that you might have that you think might keep you from Him…they all fade away!

Any time that you think there is an obstacle TOO BIG for God, what you are really saying is, “My Saviour is too small.  Jesus is too weak.”

But our Saviour is INFINITE.  Our Saviour is ALL POWERFUL.  He is ALL KNOWING - He knew exactly what He was getting into when He said, “Son, I need to do this part on my own.”

Do you remember what we heard this morning?  Those words of preservation from Romans 8?

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor thing present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This is the love that God shows to current and future Christians.  This is the love that has been won for you, proved for you, and offered to you by the blood of Jesus.

And that blood presents a better, more comforting, more accurate portrait than any other ever painted.

That blood is the ink by which is written across all of your guilt, all your sins, all your failures in that book, opened before the throne, these three words: PAID IN FULL.

Jesus’ blood cries out to you - HELP PROVIDED.  FREE SALVATION.  The price has already been paid.

All of this…the church, the preaching, the worship…who we are…is Jesus’ booth at the side of the road - publicly portraying Christ as crucified, like a huge billboard saying: HELP PROVIDED.

And it is our job, it is our joy, our calling to man that booth.  BUT.  FIRST OF ALL.  Before you man the booth, come to the booth.  Humbly.  Worshipfully.  Acknowledging your need, acknowledging that you are the lost sheep.  You are the blind man.  You are the sick man.  You need the booth for yourself, before anything else.  Don’t serve God, until, first of all, you let God serve you.  

AMEN.




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright, Rev. Jeremy Segstro

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