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Jesus Friend of Sinners

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We are Beginning Easter Week

Easter week is the most important week in the Christian Church because our lives and our faith are based on the fact that Jesus is alive. Everything in Christianity rests on one single incident - the RESURRECTION of Jesus. If Jesus were not raised from the dead, all of this is a waste of time… it’s false and it’s a mess. We could leave now.

Everything in Christianity Rests on the Resurrection of Jesus

Jesus said, “I am the SOG.” Then he said he would prove it by dying on the cross for our sins. But there was one difference. He said , “Im going to come back to life.”
No other religious leader has ever made that promise let alone kept it, but Jesus did and he was resurrected from the dead and is alive today.
After the resurrection he walked around Jerusalem for 40 days, was seen by many groups of people including one time when he was seen by over 500 at one time. It turned Jerusalem upside down to where that church in about 20 years had 150,000 plus people following jesus. Why? Becuase there were so many eye witnesses.

Palm Sunday

This is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week. I want to encourage you to plan to invite FRAN to church next weekend. People are more open to coming to church on Easter than any other time of the year. So don’t waste Easter… invite them to church with you.
This is also a time when you can see various movies about the Crucifixion of Jesus. Passion, Jesus of Nazareth, The Bible… As you look at the ministry of Jesus in the Bible and the movies about him, it raises a question...

Why did God Come to Earth as a Man?

Whey did God put all that effort into coming to earth as a man, living a sinless life, dying on a cross and then being resurrected afterward? One Reason.
Luke 19:10 NLT
For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”
Jesus said he came to seek out and save those people who were lost. A lot of people are offended by this term. Amazing Grace says we were lost but now we are found… It’s not demeaning at all. It’s actually a term of endearment. LOST implies value

Lost Implies Value

Credit Card - If you lose it you will search and search to find it.
Wedding Ring - If you lose it, you don’t want to lose it because it’s valuable - you look for it. It’s still worth what you paid for it, it’s just lost.
Job - That’s valuable and you would not want to lose it, you want o find another.
Child - If you lose a child, You don’t say you misplaced a child, you lost your child. You would search high and low for that child.
So when we use the term lost, it means they have great value. You misplace a pen, you lose something valuable. Lost implies value.

What Does it Mean to Be Lost Spiritually?

Disconnected

Disconnected from God.

Deceived

Deceived by Satan… we fall for his lies. We don’t see things correctly.

Detoured

Detoured from God’s Plan for my life. God has a plan and purpose for your life… a path for you to walk on. But we get off the path and take a detour and we miss God’s best for our lives. We make bad decisions and others make bad decisions that impact us.
Romans 3:23 NLT
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.
Isaiah 53:6 NLT
All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.
We have all gotten off the path that God has for us at times.

Defeated

Defeated by their own habits and sins… unable to change. Lost people are defeated by their own impulses. There are things in your life you would like to change but you can’t seem to make it happen. Will power isn’t enough, we needs God’s Power!
When we are lost, we lose our way, we lose our freedom, we lose our dignity, we lose our confidence, we lose a lot of things… potential.
When we are disconnected from God, it causes all kinds of problems in our lives. We lose relationships, health, happiness and on and on.
This is what it means to be lost, but it also means you are deeply loved because Jesus came on a Search and Rescue mission for YOU

Jesus came on a Search and Rescue Mission for those who are Lost

We want to look at some people Jesus restored what they had lost. Jesus had the same goal with everyone he met with - to restore to them what they had lost.
Jesus went into every village teaching, preaching and healing…
1/3 of Jesus ministry was healthcare. Jesus doesn’t just care for your soul, he cares about all of you. No matter where you go in the world, you will find a hospital founded by Christian missionaries. Most people don’t know that the church invented hospitals.
Jesus teaches us how to live. He educates us how to live in this world.
Jesus preaches the way to heaven is through Him.
We are going to look at some that Jesus Delivered.

Jesus Came to Heal Those who’ve Lost their Health

Matthew 4:23–24 NLT
Jesus traveled throughout the region of Galilee, teaching in the synagogues and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom. And he healed every kind of disease and illness. News about him spread as far as Syria, and people soon began bringing to him all who were sick. And whatever their sickness or disease, or if they were demon possessed or epileptic or paralyzed—he healed them all.
Jesus healed a lot of people but we will look at one. He is a leper that Jesus healed.
Mark 1:40–42 NLT
A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,” he said. Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed.
In Jesus day, lepers had it bad. It was a terminal disease for which there was no cure… or hope of cure. It carried a stigma and caused people to live as outcasts from society. The people believed that people with leprosy were living under God’s judgement for something. So the damage on the outside was evidence of the sin on the inside. They could not live in public places or even go into public places.
Lepers had to walk around with torn clothes, messed up hair, and shout Unclean so that others would know they were coming. This caused great heartache and hopelessness in the lives of those suffering from this disease. If you touched a leper, you would then be considered unclean and separated from society.
Leviticus said that Lepers that had to live alone as long as they were infected. The places of worship were in the city and since the lepers could not enter the city, the could not worship. So in His mind, God was against them.
Mark 1:41 NLT
Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!”
If Jesus touched him, he would also become unclean. Jesus did the unthinkable, He touched an untouchable man. When he did that only one of two things could happen. Either Jesus would be unclean or the man would be healed.
Jesus reached out his hand and then said I am willing be healed. Jesus touched him before he spoke to him. We have to touch people before we can speak to them as well. We have to show the weak, the sick and the outcast the love of Jesus before we can speak it.
Jesus told him, Be healed and all of a sudden this man was healed. Years of sickness were gone. Years of being an outcast were gone… He could go home and re-enter society.

Who are some of the untouchable people in our area? and are we willing to touch them?

Who are some of the untouchable people in our area? and are we willing to touch them? or do I just want to say we care.... to send a text…
Are we willing to pray for people and ask Jesus to heal them? Too many people are afraid to ask God to heal someone because we don’t want to set God up for failure because we don’t really believe he will heal them. We don’t pray bold prayers because we want to protect God… He doesn't need defending.
You defend God the way you defend a lion, you open the cage and get out of the way.
God tell us to pray for the sick for two reasons… one because He is a healer and 2 because we love people. There is no better way to show people you love them than to touch them and pray for them.

There is no better way to show people you love them than to pray for them

On Wednesday nights we usually have an extended time of praying for people to be healed. Today, we will pray for those who are sick right here to be healed. Are you willing to take the risk with me?
James 5:15 The Message
Believing-prayer will heal you, and Jesus will put you on your feet. And if you’ve sinned, you’ll be forgiven—healed inside and out.
Here is what we want to do right now… if you are sick… if you need God to heal your broken body or you have a loved one in need, Stand up. I am going to pray for you right now. Those around those who are standing reach out and touch them...
We read it all through Scripture of the healing power of Jesus. To heal broken bodies. To heal broken minds. To heal broken hearts...
I don’t know what’s going on in your life, but God does.
Pray for the sick, hurting and discouraged.
So the first thing Jesus came to do was to heal those who lost their health.

2. The Second Thing Jesus Came to do was to Liberate those who’ve lost Their Freedom.

It was customary in Jesus time that any time he would travel, he would go to the synagogue on the Sabbath. Often he would be asked to address the attendees as a traveling rabbi. In the book of Luke, Jesus was in the synagogue and was asked to address those who were there. Jesus asked for a scroll. He accepted the scroll from the attendant, opened it, and read a prophecy from the book of Isaiah.
It’s not clear whether or not he asked for that specific scroll or not. But it’s clear he found something he really wanted to read in Isaiah 61.
Luke 4:18–21 NIV84
“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.” Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Jesus was saying I am your liberator. I am the one Isaiah was talking about. An interesting part of this verse was that he was proclaiming the year of the Lord’s Favor.
Isaiah was referring to something called the Year of Jubilee. Jubilee was every 50 years when everyone’s debts were forgiven, all the slaves were set free, the land was even given a break from being cultivated, all possessions were returned to the original owners. This was the year of Jubilee… of freedom. Isaiah was saying that there is going to be one who comes, the Messiah, and he will set up free.
As Jesus came, the work he did on the cross and through the resurrection… was to set you and I free.

Jesus Work on the Cross and the Resurrection set you and I Free

There is a story in Luke about some men who had a paralyzed friend that they wanted Jesus to heal, but they could not get close to Jesus because of the crowds. They actually poked a hole in the roof and lowered their friend down in front of Jesus so he could speak healing and freedom into this man’s life.
Luke 5:18–25 NLT
Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a sleeping mat. They tried to take him inside to Jesus, but they couldn’t reach him because of the crowd. So they went up to the roof and took off some tiles. Then they lowered the sick man on his mat down into the crowd, right in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the man, “Young man, your sins are forgiven.” But the Pharisees and teachers of religious law said to themselves, “Who does he think he is? That’s blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!” Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts? Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk’? So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” And immediately, as everyone watched, the man jumped up, picked up his mat, and went home praising God.
Jesus did 2 things. Jesus liberated the man from his sin by saying your sins are forgiven. Then Jesus liberated the man from his limitations. He Liberated Him from Sin; He liberated Him from His Limitations.
Galatians 5:1 NLT
So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.
Anyone like to go to a circus? I love the Trapeze artists. As one Trapeze artist is leaving the platform, he or she grabs onto the rope, they swing out and they grab another rope. Then the moment of truth… they have to let go of the rope to progress to the other side.
Tarzan - He swings through the Jungle using great vines to swing from. As he goes, he swings on one vine and then has to let go to swing on the next… to keep going.
Here’s the point. There are times when God has set us free and we know it… we are thankful for it. But all too often, we hold onto other things that have limited our lives. We try to hold onto Grace and Freedom while at the same time holding on to guilt and shame… holding on to that sin… frustration and pain.
Tarzan could not do that. At some point, you have to let go and grab the other.
You and I are not created to hold on to both, but Jesus was. He held on so we could let go. All that stuff we typically hold on to, Jesus is saying, “I have come to set you free!” Let go and hold on to me. Jesus came to liberate those who have lost their freedom.
Jesus loves to heal us when we have lost our health and he loves to set us free when we have lost our freedom… when we feel paralyzed and can’t move.

3. Jesus Came to Forgive Those Who’ve Lost Their Dignity.

Unlike the rest of creation, God made humans different, with a special dignity… more than any animal… You and I were created in God’s Image. Nothing else in all of creation was made in God’s Image.

People Are Created In God’s Image

What does that mean… to be made in God’s Image? You have freedom to choose. Dog’s don’t have the freedom to choose. Snails don’t have the freedom to choose. They go by their instincts. But you have the freedom to choose… to make choices. You will never see a Bird praying. You will not see a cow going to church. You will never see a worm worshipping.
You were made in God’s image. That means you have the ability to get to know God and be known by him.
Psalm 8:5 NLT
Yet you made them only a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honor.
God is saying that people were given great dignity.
Here is the problem.

Everything in our world is broken by Sin

Everything in our world is broken by sin. Once sin entered the world, we all started making bad choices. Sin creates guilt. Sin creates regret. Sin creates Shame. And sin, guilt, shame and regret rob you of your dignity. You don’t feel very good about yourself when you feel shame or regret. You didn’t just violate God’s law, you violated your own conscience. Your dignity… self esteem goes down.
This has been happening ever since Adam messed up and sinned in the Garden. God gave Adam & Eve free choice and told them you can have anything in the world you want but one thing. Maximum Freedom and minimum temptation.
Ever wonder why he even gave them temptation? Because if you don’t have a choice it’s not real love. You can’t say you have been good unless you have been tempted to be bad. You can’t say you have been faithful unless you have been tempted to be unfaithful.
So God said you can have anything but this one thing. Human Nature .... They went right to the one thing God said they could not have. We see a sing that say wet paintwe go and touch it. There is something in our human nature that if we are told not to do something says I am going to do it. That creates guilt, regret, shame and it robs you of your dignity.
This is why self esteem in our day is at an all time low in people’s lives. It goes back to the very beginning with Adam and Eve.
Genesis 3:7 NLT
At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.
They did not feel naked before. They did not feel shame before. So they tried to cover themselves. As humans, we have been trying to cover up ever since. We feel ashamed of what we have done so we try to cover it up.
That’s why addicts will look at you and say they don’t have a problem. That’s why someone who is loaded will say they are clean.
When we cover up, we lose our dignity.
Here are a couple of examples. The first is a woman we read about in John 8.
John 8:3–11 NIV84
The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Pharisees were the religious leaders of the day and they cared about keeping their authority. They did not care about this woman, they wanted to trap Jesus. I love what Jesus did. He bent down and wrote in the ground with his finger.
People have debated for years what he wrote, but no one knows for sure. might have been writing names… But then…
John 8:7–9 NLT
They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman.
I wonder if he was writing the sins of each of the men. They look at the writing and leave. They were busted and started walking away.
Then Jesus said
John 8:10–11 NLT
Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

Jesus forgave this woman who had lost her dignity.

That’s what he does. He forgives those who lose their dignity.
If you want to be like Jesus, how do you deal with those in your lives who really mess up?
What are you supposed to do to those people? Shun them? Condemn them? Stone them to Death? We need to do what Jesus did. Had she sinned? Yes. Jesus did not say she didn’t sin, but the first thing he did was defend her dignity. Then when her accusers left, in the privacy of a one on one conversation, he deals with her sin. He forgives her and tells her to stop sinning.
That’s all Jesus is going to say. We would probably have told her how sinful she was.... but Jesus said, I don’t condemn you so go and stop sinning.

You Don’t Have to Make People Feel Guilty, They Already Do

People already know they are doing something wrong. They already feel guilty. That’s one of the reasons they are afraid to come to church… they are afraid they will hear how bad they were. They already know how bad they are.
We don’t do that here! We choose to be like Jesus - to use the Jesus model. We defend someone’s dignity in public and deal with the sin in private. Does that make sense?
So Jesus defends her dignity and in the privacy of a private conversation tells her, you know better than this… you are better than this… don’t do that any more. He shows forgiveness.
People in our lives mess up. Do we push them away so as not to hurt our reputation? Or do we look to see how we can help them? If we want to be like Jesus, we will look for ways to help them.
I want to encourage you… to challenge you if you have to err, err on the side of GRACE. Because you have been shown grace. Jesus forgave you and I so we must forgive others. Our church is a place for people who sin and are looking for GRACE. If you are perfect, you won’t fit in here.

Jesus forgives those who have lost their dignity.

I don’t know what your secret shame is, but you do. It comes to mind when I say it. You know it and God knows it. Here is what the Bible says,
Romans 8:1 NLT
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.
It doesn’t matter who you are or what you have done, when you accept Jesus, he takes ALL that condemnation away. It’s forgiven. Jesus says he came not to condemn the world but to save it.
I want to be like Jesus. I want to point people to Jesus. Jesus wants everyone to know him and we all want to help people know him. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you have done. God forgives and restores the dignity in your life.
Here is another example in Matthew 9.
Matthew was a tax collector which in those days was the bottom of the barrel as far as popularity and trustworthiness - they were looked at as crooks. They were worse than prostitutes… Often you will read something like this… sinners and tax collectors.
Many people think about the IRS the same way today. Rome collected taxes but they hired locals to do their dirty work. So the Jews hated them and saw them as traitors. The Romans wold say, you give us this much, but you can collect whatever amount you want, so it was profitable to be a tax collector. They had lost their dignity, their self respect and their reputation.
Matthew 9:9–10 NLT
As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth. “Follow me and be my disciple,” Jesus said to him. So Matthew got up and followed him. Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners.
Think about it. You see the most hated man in the city and Jesus says, I want you to come with me. NOBODY ever said that to Matthew. Nobody. Come and be my disciple. Matthew got up and followed him.
Jesus is saying it doesn’t matter what your background is, you can make the choice to become my disciple. You may have really messed up and everyone might know so you are embarrassed. You may have hurt your reputation. Jesus says, You can come be my disciple.
Look at this. God used that guy, Matthew, to write the first book of the New Testament. You would not even know about the 3 wise men if it were not for Matthew.
You have carried that shame long enough. It’s time to let it go. If you are haunted by a failure in your life, you need to turn to Jesus.

Jesus loves to forgive those who’ve lost their dignity

All of us have a past, but Jesus loves to forgive those who’ve lost their dignity.
1 Samuel 2:8 The Message
He puts poor people on their feet again; he rekindles burned-out lives with fresh hope, Restoring dignity and respect to their lives— a place in the sun! For the very structures of earth are God’s; he has laid out his operations on a firm foundation.
Next week is Easter which is the greatest event of HOPE.
We have the hope of the resurrection. It’s when we celebrate Jesus Death on the Cross and His Resurrection.
What did Jesus do on the Cross?

On the Cross, Jesus Paid to Redeem ALL that was Lost

Isaiah 53:5 NLT
But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.
Jesus did not do anything wrong, but he took our sins and paid the price.
1 Peter 2:24 The Message
He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became your healing.
Do you want healing today? Jesus is writing in the dirt and wants to look at you and say, neither do I condemn you, now go and don’t sin any more.

Altar Time

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