Jesus Meets Exclusivity
[Luke 13:22-30]

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Dave McMurry

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02/14/2016

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Series:  Meet Jesus: Pictures from Luke and Acts  by Dave McMurry

Date:  February 14, 2016

Scripture:  Luke 13:22-30

Title:  Jesus Meets Exclusivity

 

Good morning again!  If you have a bible you can open it up to Luke 13.  If you do not have a bible with you this morning, we have strategically placed some nearby under the chairs.  You can grab one and follow along.  We will be on page 873.  We are in a series that we are calling Meet Jesus, pictures from Luke and Acts.  What we have been doing is reacquainting ourselves with what our primary sources have to say about Jesus.  What is the record of the apostles?  What has God left us with?  We have a lot of old wives tales, myths and Sunday School tales about who Jesus was.  We want to evaluate first hand, what does the original story say?  Who is Jesus as presented in scripture?  As we do that, what happens is that those of us that are already somewhat familiar with Jesus are going to become reacquainted and go deeper in our understanding of just how good he is, how good God has been to us in giving us Jesus.  For some of you maybe you have never really met Jesus, never really understood who he is in the first place, so we are just praying that this would be a great season for us and the life of our church, that we would go deeper in understanding Jesus and his goodness to us. 

 

This week, in Luke 13, we are calling it Jesus meets Exclusivity.  It’s one of the things that instinctively as modern people we don’t like about the faith, is the idea that it might be exclusive.  What I want us to think about is that there is a tension.  There are some opposite poles here.  In a sense, it is the least exclusive faith in the world in that it invites everyone to come.  There is another sense in which by modern standards our faith in Jesus is extremely exclusive.  We are going to wrestle with those tensions.  I wanted to say before we start, you might be asking yourself, “What is it about me as a 21st century person that doesn’t like exclusivity.  There are always culture assumptions.  There are always ideas and values that we just naturally want to bow up to because of who we are, where we live and the time and age in which we live.  I just want you to be wrestling with that as I have this week.  I wrestled with this text a lot.  After the first reading and second reading, I was questioning myself why I picked this text this week.  When I was planning this I don’t know why I picked it but I trust that God has good stuff for us here.

 

A summary that I came across again and again as I was studying is that at the beginning of the text the guy says, “Will there only be a few that are saved?”  And a summary of the whole text of how a lot of commentators say that Jesus answers the question, is, “Will you be saved?”  That’s a nice little rhyming way to summarize this that a lot of folks have said, “We ask will only a few be saved.”  Jesus asks, “Will you be saved?”  That’s really the issue.  Jesus turns it around and makes it very personal. 

 

There is a little set up here before I get to the first verse.  There is a movement in the book of Luke here that is happening, where he’s beginning to focus on Jerusalem and it’s kind of a shift in the story.  If you are reading a great story, you can see certain shifts/movements in the narrative, and this is a movement in the book of Luke, where Jesus is increasingly focused on getting to Jerusalem and what’s going to happen there.  That’s the big climax of the story where the leaders of God’s people, the Israelites/Jews, reject Jesus their Messiah, and Jesus dies on the cross for our sins.  That’s the big direction that the whole story is going and this reiterates that in the first. 

 

Luke 13:22-30  22He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem.  23And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?”  And he said to them, 24“Strive to enter through the narrow door.  For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.  25When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’  26Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’  27But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil.  28In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out.  29And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God.  30And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”  It’s the great reversal.  Let me pray for us and ask God to help us this morning.

 

God, we pray for your help with this text.  We pray that you would help us be open-minded.  We confess, we are 21st century people and we think we have it figured out.  We think we know the nature of the universe and we just confess that we need to be humble.  We need you to teach us.  We need your spirit to meet us here so that we would understand, so that our hearts would be open and our eyes could see your truth.  We ask you to help us and we pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

 

As we think about the exclusivity of Jesus that he is talking about here and specifically the idea of a narrow door, I was reminded of all the times that I have explored caves over the years.  Have any of you ever done some cave exploring?  When you are going through a cave sometimes you have big large passageways that you could drive a car through and other times you are kind of squeezing through a little crack between rocks and you’re going through sideways.  It can be a little scary because the passages are so narrow.  I did this a lot in high school and in college we would take youth groups to the caves.  We did some caving out west of Lampasas and we would go sometimes to Enchanted Rock and just different places.  We were basically just crawling through cracks in the rocks underground.  When we would do this, I would be real stripped down, basically a t-shirt and jeans and that was it.  I wouldn’t wear my fanny pack or backpack, especially because it was the 80s and backpacks weren’t cool back then.  I wouldn’t wear a hat.  I wouldn’t wear a jacket.  There were all these things I might want to take into the cave but I would leave behind because I knew there were these tight spaces that otherwise I wouldn’t be able to squeeze through.

 

I got to go back to the caves years later and bring my kids.  Now, instead of a 19-year-old I’m older and I have a lot more stuff.  It reminds me of a mom’s purse that has endless stuff inside.  Now, I’m a dad with a backpack with first aid kits, a flashlight and an extra flashlight because I know that at least two of my kids are going to lose their flashlights.  I have extra water bottles in case we get trapped down there for 10 days.  I have food.  I have extra jackets in case they get cold.  I have all this stuff that I’m taking down into the cave.  What that translates into is there were certain doorways in the cave that we couldn’t get through. There were certain places we couldn’t go.  I got to show them part of the cave but I couldn’t show them the entire cave because there were spaces that you could only squeeze through if you sucked in your breath just right and squeezed across and it still left a scrape on your ribs.  That just didn’t work with a 5-year-old and a backpack.  I use that illustration to relate to this idea that Jesus says salvation is like that; we want to bring these “bags” that make us feel better, that make us feel more safe, that make us feel more secure, and Jesus is saying to leave those bags behind and just trust him.  Not to hold onto these other things. 

 

There was an exclusivity that the Jewish people held onto; specifically it was their ethnic background.  They were the great people of God.  They were the ones that had the promises of God.  Again and again throughout the book of Luke, Jesus is challenging this ethnocentric thinking, saying that just being a Jew does not save you.  You’re not saved by just being in the right family.  You’re not saved by just being in the right neighborhood or in the right little piece of geography.  Jesus is forcing us to wrestle with, it’s not anything about us that saves us, it’s HIM.  He is the center of the story.  He is the point.  So, the exclusivity is rejected if it’s ever about us.  That’s what I think we despise most when it comes to the idea of exclusivity and elitism in our culture.  When we see people that think they are better than other people that kind of grosses us out. I would say, yeah, and Jesus doesn’t like it either, because we are not better than anybody else.  There is nothing about us that makes us more savable than the next person.  But Jesus says there is an exclusivity about our faith because it’s about HIM.  He’s the only thing that can save us.  Because exclusivity is so hard to say, I’m just going to use the word “only” from now on.  Only Jesus saves!

 

Only Jesus Saves (Luke 13:23-24)

The first little hint he gives us in these first few verses is that only Jesus saves.  23And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?”  There is this kind of rising tension that I already mentioned, this tension with Jesus and the religious leaders, that Jews already thought that Israel is going to be saved and everybody else not so sure.  They are now seeing that Jesus is kind of running into conflict again and again with the Jewish leaders, so now they are wondering, “Well, maybe it’s just us guys that are hanging around Jesus and we are the only ones that are going to be saved.”  Someone is asking Jesus if it will be just a few, just a small little chosen group?  What’s the deal?  How’s this going to work?  I love how Jesus answers questions because he doesn’t answer it directly.  Jesus will say, “I hear your question and I’m going to answer the more important thing.  I’m going to answer the question beneath the question.”  And he said to them, 24“Strive to enter through the narrow door.  For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.  He starts off with, “Well, yeah, not in the way you think.  Maybe a few will be saved.  It’s not exactly what you think.  He’s going to come down to the end of this question and say really a lot will be saved to some degree.  First of all, his answer is there will be a lot that won’t be saved.  He says there will be many that will try to enter and can’t, so make sure you enter through the right door and that door is narrow.  Strive to enter through the narrow door.  There are going to be a lot of people that do miss it.  Jesus is telling us to focus, strain, strive and struggle to make sure we enter through the proper door.  That’s why I’m calling this point, ONLY Jesus saves because he’s making it all about HIM.  The exclusivity centers around Jesus, not us, not our membership, not our ethnic background, but who Jesus is.  He says to strive.  This word strive is a Greek word, agonizomai, which is a cool Greek word because you can hear the English word, agony.  This is a common word in Greek for straining, striving, wrestling. 

 

I have a picture here of guys wrestling.  Agonizomai would be a common word used for wrestling in the 1st century.  It’s like this athletic word; you’re working hard, sweating, struggling and striving at something really important.  This is a big effort word and when we first hear that word we need to wrestle with, does Jesus mean only the people that sweat the most will be saved?  Or only the people that try really, really, really hard will be saved but the people who only try really hard won’t be saved?  Is that what Jesus is saying?  I would say no, the striving is all focused on the narrow door.  The striving and the struggling is focused on leaving all those other things that you want to bring through the “cave,” just make sure you get through the door.  Don’t try to save yourself with all these other things that you’re holding onto; let go of them and that requires a lot of striving and struggling on our part to let go of all of our other saviors, to let go of all of the other things that we think are going to get us into the kingdom, that are going to bring us happiness, that are going to bring us peace.  That’s straining, struggling and striving. 

 

One of the verses that I think is a helpful cross reference in John 6 where Jesus is talking to people and he says, “Labor for that which really lasts.”  He is saying to work for things that are really important.  Don’t work for things that don’t last.  So then the guys respond, “How do we do the work that God requires us?  What is the work that God requires of us?”  John 6:29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”  I think that helps us make sense of it.  We have this paradigm that we are saved not by our work, struggling or striving, but we are saved by Jesus’s striving.  I would say that that is a beautiful way to understand the gospel and we need to work out, how are we saved by our striving and how are we not saved by our striving?  We would say a great summary of the gospel is that we can’t strive enough to earn God’s love.  We can’t be perfect.  We needed Jesus to strive and struggle for us.  He is the one that was righteous in our place.  He was the one that took our sins upon himself on the cross.  He is the one that died and rose from the grave, conquering sin and death once and for all.  He is our victor, our hero our champion.  In that sense, we are not saved by our striving, we are saved by Jesus’s striving.  But again we have to wrestle with, Jesus says here to strive, wrestle, and strain.  So, what is the striving and wresting?  John 6:29 -- The wrestling and work is to trust Jesus because our hearts are going to want to trust everything else.  We want everything else to save us. 

 

I want my abilities to save me.  I want to be this great minister and I want that to be enough so on my judgment day I can say, “God, look at all these people that I helped, doesn’t that make you love me?”  God says, “No, I love you because of what my son has done.”  I want to say, “God, I’m a nice guy and everybody is my friend.  Isn’t that enough to make me worthy of your love?”  He says, “No, my son is what makes you worthy of my love.”  I have to strive to let go of these things that I love that I think are going to save me, to trust in Jesus.  Does that mean I quit the ministry and I’m never nice to people anymore?  No, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying I have to strive to let go of those as false saviors.  For all of you, you have these things that you hold onto, that you slip into thinking this can save me, this will give me security.  “If we have enough money in the bank, everything is going to be okay; if my kids are happy that’s all that matters; if I have someone that loves me then everything’s going to be alright; as long as I have my health, everything will be great.”  We say these statements like that’s really what ultimately matters in life.  Jesus says, “Strive to make me the door.  Strive to recognize that I’m the only thing that really matters.  That’s what he’s asking us to strain and struggle towards. 

 

Sometimes I use this term that’s an echo from Colossians, “Systems of Righteousness.”  What’s the system that you have constructed in your life that you say if I do these things and I do it right, then I’m going to be righteousness and impress people and God and everything’s going to be okay in life.  What is your system of righteousness?  Is it being a great mom or dad?  Is it being a great employee?  Is it having a lot of respect?  Is it having a lot of money?  What are the things that you think will make everything okay?  Jesus says, “Strive to come to me as the true door.” 

 

Only Jesus Judges (Luke 13:25-28)

The next thing that we see is that only Jesus judges.  This is really the hard part of the text.  This is the part that we are really going to struggle with as modern people because we don’t like judgment.  We don’t like that word.  We don’t like to think about it.  I would again say by way of question to you, what is it about us as 21st century people that we are so repulsed by the idea of God judging?  If you read Facebook or blogs you come quickly to the realization that there’s a whole swath of people that call themselves Christians that believe the bad God of the Old Testament used to judge people and now the good God of the New Testament doesn’t judge anyone.  That’s a pretty twisted misunderstanding of the bible.  God does judge sin.  I would say that the reason grace is so sweet and so reassuring and so wonderful is because we know the other option is judgment. 

 

Let’s look at verse 25.  He puts himself in the story, which is really interesting.  25When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’   It’s not immediately obvious that Jesus is the Master and the Lord but it will become more obvious as it goes on.  26Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’  27But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil.  28In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out.  We have here a scene of people being led into the party and people being cast out.  The word used later is “reclining at table in the Kingdom of God.”  So, the big metaphor that God goes back to again and again is like drinking and partying and having a big feast.  Jesus likes to use the wedding feast imagery.  Heaven is like a great wedding feast.  There’s a lot to drink and eat and everyone is laughing and happy; it’s a great banquet.  Again and again this is a metaphor from the Old Testament.  Jesus pulls it into the New Testament.  That’s what heaven is like.  It’s sweet.  It’s fellowship.  It’s a party.  It’s a celebration with family and friends.  You are eating, drinking and laughing, having a good time.  That’s what heaven is like and we don’t want to not be there.  Jesus says there will be people that are there and there will be people that are not there.  Again, that’s really hard for us to wrap our mind around as modern people.  There are people that are locked out.  Again, Jesus is putting himself in the story because he is saying the answer will be, “We hung out with you, we drank with you, you taught in our streets.”  There are echoes here that show us that Jesus is saying, “I’m the householder.  I’m the Master of the house. I’m the one that locks the door.  I’m the one that protects the party.”  We have to wrestle with that because, again, as modern people we like to just think about Jesus as the forgiver and we sometimes forget that Jesus is the judge. 

 

It is very common language in the New Testament in the book of Acts (we will look at some of the sermons in the book of Acts later in the spring), where repeatedly the apostles would talk about forgiveness of sin for sure, which is critical.  We believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins.  As he takes away our sins he gives us our righteousness.  That’s at the heart of the gospel and it’s beautiful and sweet, but they would also talk about how Jesus rose from the dead, which proves he’s the champion of the universe, and he’s going to judge everyone.  They would just say that again and again.  It’s not usually a part of our language or in our thinking.  Jesus is the judge.  Jesus is going to decide who’s in and who’s out.  Jesus is going to destroy the wicked.  Jesus is going to cast out those who don’t belong at the party. 

 

We just need to wrestle with what is it about us as 21st century people that we think we are so smart and we think we are too cool for this ancient book and we know really there can’t be anything like judgment, that can’t really exist in our universe.  Why do we think that?  I think this is a good question to ask again and again.  Why is it that we have this thing in our mind that judgment can’t be real, judgment can’t happen, nobody is ever going to punish me for my sin.  That couldn’t really be a part of how God has organized things in creation.  Again and again, the bible says it is and it’s balanced with, but there’s forgiveness and grace for those that come to Jesus.  We need to recognize the balance but we also need to recognize the horror of being locked out; the horror of this doctrine of hell.  He describes it here as gnashing of teeth, weeping and being locked outside of the party.  In other places Jesus describes it as the garbage dump, Gehenna, where they just burned dead bodies and refuse and it just stunk and was a nasty destruction.  Other places he says it’s a place where the worm will not be satisfied, it never dies and the fire cannot be quenched, it burns forever.  There is all this language that’s just repulsive to us as modern people.  I put myself in the same boat.  I’m a modern person, when I read those things I kind of wince.  What is it about us as modern people that wince at the idea of judgment and the idea of being cast out?  For one thing, it’s a very painful experience and I think Jesus is trying to connect with the visceral pain of how we don’t want to be cast out.  We don’t want to be the people on the outside and I think Jesus wants us to feel that way.  I would encourage you, as you wrestle with that, to recognize that Jesus is saying, “Yeah, that’s a bad feeling and you don’t want that.  Hell is terrible.  You don’t want to be cast out.” 

Have any of you ever been locked out of your house?  It’s very frustrating.  I don’t think it’s as bad as hell, but it’s bad.  My wife and I missed our flight to our honeymoon. I have a picture here of this guy with tears running down his face and he’s banging on the window as the plane is pulling away.  It’s a horrible feeling and is frustrating to miss out or maybe even worse it’s like a party that you haven’t been invited to.  I have to finish the story of when my wife and I missed our flight.  We were 20-year-old punk kids that just got married and we missed our flight.  The coolest thing happened as we were walking down to another counter getting ready to spend the rest of my money to buy another ticket, and the lady came running to us saying that the plane came back – there was a bad light and they had to bring it in and get it fixed.  So, we get to board the plane and all these people are looking at us like, “Why did they come back for these dumb kids?!”  

 

There’s just this horrible feeling of being locked out and we have all had that experience and Jesus is keying in on that common human experience; the experience of there’s a great party and you didn’t get invited.  You are locked out of the house.  Whatever it might be.  It’s not a good experience.  I think an important part of understanding how sweet it is to be at the table, is to understand a little bit of what it is to be NOT at the table.  We have all had the experience of pain, of losing loved ones, of being sick, of not being invited to the party and of being locked out.  We know that that’s the way the universe is; it exists – it’s out there.  God says he will condemn the wicked and he will give blessings to the righteous and the righteous are righteous because of what Jesus has done. 

 

Jesus is the judge and we need to wrestle with this fact.  We need to recognize that we are modern people and we don’t like the idea but it’s a part of the story and somehow it makes grace sweeter.  I believe we should be motivated more by God’s love and his grace then we should by fear of judgment.  We need to recognize that grace and forgiveness makes sense in a context of there being judgment.  If there’s no judgment, we don’t even need forgiveness.  If there’s no problem with sin, if there’s no death associated with sin, we don’t need God’s grace to give us new life.  I think it’s just important for us to wrestle with that as modern people and to understand that if we go all the way down that road, grace won’t even be grace anymore.  Forgiveness won’t even be forgiveness anymore.  It won’t even make sense anymore if we throw out judgment.  Jesus is the judge. 

 

We also need to remember as well that even though God judges the wicked and there’s something righteous about that biblically, that God doesn’t delight in judgment.  He doesn’t delight in the death of the wicked.  Ezekiel 18:23 Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?  This is a famous passage that makes it clear that God does not delight in the death of the wicked.  Hell is real.  Judgment is real.  It is possible to be outside, so there is a kind of exclusivity where Jesus says, “Yeah, it’s possible to be locked out.”  That’s why it’s all the more important that we would strive to come to Jesus because he’s the only way in. 

 

Only Jesus Reaches the Unreachable (Luke 13:29-30)

The last thing I want us to see is that only Jesus reaches the unreachable. This is the concept that we like better.  We like more of the “Come one, come all, Jesus loves everybody, especially if we are aware ethnically that the Jews thought they were the only good people and most of us are not Jews so most of us fit into this category of the unreachable.  We are the “everybody” that God loves.  We are the unreachable in the Jews’ mind, the “unsavables.”  He says, 29And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God.  30And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”  This is the great reversal.  Those of us that think we are in; if we think we are in by just how awesome we are, he’s saying then we are not really in.  But if you recognize that you are only in because of who Jesus is.  If you recognize your “lastness,” you will be elevated to “firstness.”  If you think you are first, then you will be demoted to being last.

 

Jesus is always talking about these reversals in the Kingdom of God.  He says there are going to be people coming from all over the place.  There are all these Old Testament passages that talk about it, all these Old Testament promises that say all the nations will come to God.  In Isaiah, Micah and Malachi; I looked up a bunch of them this week – they have this imagery of the great feast and the great party, wine, food and the mountain.  Mount Zion is where Jerusalem is, being lifted up above all the other mountains and all the people streaming in to listen and worship and love God and honor him.  There are all these visions in the Old Testament that frankly the Jews weren’t sure what to do with those.  The Jews would kind of revert to, “Alright, so we know all the Jews are going to be saved and there’s some kind of secondary salvation for the nations but we don’t really care about that.”  Jesus is saying, “No, all those Old Testament prophesies are true and it’s going to be happening,” he says, “through him.”  He’s the one that lifts up Jerusalem.  He’s the one that lifts up Mount Zion.  We see all this poetic language in the Old Testament about the people of Israel.  There are non-Jews and people that aren’t familiar with the Old Testament.  We don’t really know what to do with it.  We don’t really know what any of those words mean.  He’s saying salvation is going to come to the world through Israel and through specifically, Jesus, the true Israelite, the perfect Jew, the one they have all been waiting for.  So, it’s exclusive in the sense that God is working through this one man who was fully God and fully man.  But it’s worldwide in its reach.  There will be many, he says, who will come to the table. 

 

The irony of exclusivity here is that only Jesus reaches the unreachable.  So, those who say that all roads lead to heaven, think they are being open-minded but they are undermining the actual way that we get there.  If all roads lead to heaven, who wants to be in heaven when it doesn’t matter?  Like I was saying earlier, if we don’t really need to be forgiven for anything, if we’ve never done anything wrong, if everyone is good, if there is no evil, if there is no good and bad, none of it really matters.  We will just float along in life and do whatever we want, then Nietzsche is right, whoever is strong wins.  Jesus says, “No, right and wrong matters.  There is judgment for sin.”  He took the judgment upon himself on the cross and he offers all of us that forgiveness and grace.  All people can come through him.  Jesus reaches the unreachable, people like you and me, the outsiders. 

 

One lens, we want to recognize that we are all those kinds of outsiders.  We are an ethnically diverse, socially diverse, mixed bag of people who represent every sin in the book in this room.  Every single one us, we all have our pet sins and all of us are forgiven through Jesus.  We all come together at the foot of the cross as brothers and sisters because of what he has done.  None of us are better than anybody else.  We are all brothers and sisters.  We are all one because of what Jesus has done for us.  At that level we recognize that we are the unreachable that Jesus has reached. 

 

At another level, we need to recognize that those that are on the inside always need to be concerned that we are not presuming upon God’s grace in the sense of not assuming that it’s because we come and observe worship services or because we grew up in America or because we’re loosely associated with Christianity that we are saved.  No, it’s only through Jesus.  Earlier he said, “Just because you ate and drank with me and you heard me teaching and observed me, that doesn’t mean you’re saved.”  We have to come through the narrow door of Jesus himself.  Here again he is saying that he’s reaching all the unreachables, all the people from east and west and north and south are going to come and enjoy this banquet together but behold, some are last who will be first and some are first who will be last.”

 

The second lens I want you to look through this with is who are the people that you consider unreachable?  It is helpful first to recognize that we were unreachable and Jesus reached us but then now to recognize that there are probably people that I consider unreachable that I kind of have an arrogant attitude towards.  I have a blank slide here so that you can use your imagination.  You can just think in your mind; who is it?  Is it the people with particular sins?  Is it really greedy people?  Is it sexually immoral people?”  Are there certain sins that you think are the really bad ones that Jesus cannot forgive and those people can’t be reached?  Is it Muslims, terrorists, corrupt politicians?  Who are the people that you don’t think Jesus can reach?  We should recognize that we should have a healthy humility about ourselves; because I was unreachable, I was a sinner, then Jesus can reach that sinner too.  We are all sinners.  We all need a savior.  We should be humble because Jesus says the outsiders will enter before the religious.  We should also be inviting to other people.  Just recognize that there is somebody in the back of my mind that I think are not worth talking to.  They are not worth inviting.  They are not worth loving.  They are beyond the reach of God.  Recognize that nobody is beyond the reach of God.  Jesus wants to use us as his hands and feet in the world as his people to reach the unreachable that he is reaching.  We should invite all the nations to him.  It really makes sense, all these Old Testament passages that say all the nations are going to come. 

 

In the book of Psalms, in their exclusive Jewish worship, are always inviting all the nations to come to God.  That should be the same attitude we have as well.  We should recognize that what we do here is weird.  We sing praises to Jesus.  We believe he saved us.  We believe he loves us.  We study his word.  All of that is exclusive and weird.  That’s okay.  We should recognize that God wants to invite other people to him.  Don’t be afraid to invite people into the weirdness because Jesus is the only way. 

 

As we wrap up, again, just thinking about his exclusivity.  One of the things I was really struck by this week is just the piling on of terms of fulfillment on behalf of Jesus throughout the New Testament.  Jesus again and again says that he is the Real Temple.  He is the Real Lamb of God. He is the Bread of Life.  He is the Living Water that will satisfy. He is everything that we have been waiting for.  He is the Messiah; at multiple levels, it’s just a piling on of terms.  We see real clearly in John 10, Jesus says he is the door.  He is the exclusive and only way into God’s presence.  Jesus is the door.  He says I’m like the door for the sheep.  I let the sheep in.  I keep the bad guys out.  I’m the protector but I’m also the one that loves and cares for the sheep.  He’s the door.  We can only enter through him.  I want to invite you personally to let go of those other saviors that maybe you have been holding onto.  Let go of those other things that you think you’re going to find satisfaction in and recognize that Jesus is the only way.  Come to Jesus and Jesus alone.  Let me pray for us and we will respond in worship together. 

 

God, we thank you that you love us through Jesus.  We thank you that you delight in us because of what Jesus has done, that you set us at the great banquet, that we get to be a part of the great party, not because of who we are but because of who Jesus is.  We thank you that Jesus took our sins.  We thank you that Jesus gives us his inheritance and his righteousness.  We pray that you would unite us with him by faith and help us to love others because you loved us first.  We pray this in Jesus name, Amen. 

 

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