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Jesus lived, died, and arose because He loves you — to prepare the way for you to experience true life in Him

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Introduction
Everyone knows what it’s like to prepare for something or someone. As children, some of us had to clean our room before we could go out and play. We would make sure our chores were done…we prepared so we could get what we wanted
What do you all do when you have company coming to stay for a few days? Clean the house, sweep and mop, get groceries. You definitely change the sheets and bedding in the guest room…right? We hope so anyway.
This reminds me of when I was in the Air Force. In basic training, I learned the importance of being inspection-ready. We cleaned, scrubbed, made our beds, shined our boots, and many other chores, all in preparation for the Technical Instructor’s inspection. Believe me, if we were not properly prepared, unpleasant things would come out of the TI’s mouth
Inter-service liaison
Schools, hospitals, companies, etc. face periodic reviews or inspections. Preparation is essential…stressful. It keeps us on our toes, I guess.
Most schools, hospitals, companies, etc. face periodic reviews or inspections. Preparation is essential…stressful. It keeps us on our toes, I guess.
I won’t even get into all the crazy preparation that goes into a wedding. Sometimes you might encounter a “Bride-zilla!”
Prep for professional review
I believe it was Benjamin Franklin (father of time management) who said
Prep for a wedding, etc.
I believe it was Benjamin Franklin (father of time management) who said
He who fails to plan plans to fail
If you are truly serious about an upcoming visit, task, or meeting, you put a lot of time and effort into preparing the way.
Here’s what I would like to point out — the Living God, our Creator and Sustainer — the Holy and Righteous God — has a plan…He always has. He prepared the way for each and every one of us to have life. His plan started before we were born. The Psalmist cried out to God “You formed me while I was still in my mother’s womb…I am fearfully and wondrously made” ()
Psalm 139:13–14 The Message
Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation!
God’s motivation to reach out to each of us is love. But it is much deeper than the common understanding of love. It has to do with His kindness, mercy, and grace. It is a deep, intense love of the Creator for His people…all of us.
Psalm 103:17 NIV
But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children—
Romans 8:35–39 NIV
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Isaiah 63:3 NIV
“I have trodden the winepress alone; from the nations no one was with me. I trampled them in my anger and trod them down in my wrath; their blood spattered my garments, and I stained all my clothing.
Isaiah 63:7 NKJV
I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the Lord And the praises of the Lord, According to all that the Lord has bestowed on us, And the great goodness toward the house of Israel, Which He has bestowed on them according to His mercies, According to the multitude of His lovingkindnesses.
Because of God’s incredible love for us, in spite of our sinful nature, He sent Jesus to become the ultimate and perfect sacrifice for our sins. He did this to pave the way for life. Jesus willingly came to this fallen world in order to bring hope where there was none.
-29
Is 63:7
Because of God’s incredible love for us, in spite of our sinful nature, He sent Jesus to become the ultimate and perfect sacrifice for our sins. He did this to pave the way for life. Jesus willingly came to this fallen world in order to bring hope where there was none.
Jesus willingly came to this fallen world in order to bring hope where there was none.
John 1:1–2 NIV
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.
Big Idea
Big Idea
Jesus lived, died, and arose because He loves you — to prepare the way for you to experience true life in Him
Transitional: Everything God does is by design…motivated by love

The Father Prepared the Way

I believe we can sum up the entire message of the Bible…from Genesis to Revelation, with one word: Redemption

The Father Prepared the Way

God’s heart is full of grace and mercy — motivated by love
He offers hope to all that will call upon Him
Galatians 4:4–7 ESV
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
When the fullness of time had come
God’s plan was detailed and perfect — Jesus’ birth, life, suffering, death, burial, etc., were foretold in the Old Testament by God’s prophets
Born under the law
Before Jesus died on the Cross and rose again, people could only come to God through following the OT Law — by offering sacrifices and following lots of rules
Nobody, no matter how holy they might seem on the outside, could ever be good enough, in their own strength, to approach the one true God…who is perfect and holy.
Under the Law, regular sacrifices had to be made in order to atone for the peoples’ sins — blood sacrifices.
Jesus paid the price, once and for all, so we could be adopted into the Father’s family…with all the rights and responsibility of a true son or daughter.
God has sent the Spirit of His Son into those that call upon Him…whereby we are able to cry out to Him...
Through Jesus, we can be adopted into the family of
“Abba Father” — “Papa” “Daddy”
APPLICATION

John the Baptist Prepared the Way

John the Baptist Prepared the Way

Transitional: God prepared the way for you and me to become members of His family by sending a prophetic messenger that would prepare the hearts of people to receive the Messiah.

John the Baptist Prepared the Way

In the Old Testament examples of God’s prophets (Isaiah, Malachi) spoke of one that would come to prepare the way for the Lord (Messiah).
In several places the Prophets (Isaiah, Malachi) speak of one that will come to prepare the way for the Lord (Messiah).
Mat 3
In the New Testament that prophet showed up in a powerful way - He stood out pretty clearly. He was unique and probably offensive to many.
Matthew 3:4 NIV
John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey.
John the Baptist was close to the same age as Jesus and was His cousin — John was anointed before His birth to become the forerunner of Jesus.
His name was John the Baptist
Matthew 11:7–10 NIV
As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: “ ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’
He was close to the same age as Jesus and was His cousin — John was anointed before His birth to become the forerunner of Jesus.
Cue/instructions for Branson
When I read the words “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” John the Baptist comes out from behind the partition and stands in front out it, pointing out to the crowd
Matthew 3:1–6 NIV
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ ” John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.
When I say “prepare the way for the Lord”, slowly & carefully begin rolling out the red carpet…roll it out to first row of chairs
When I read “Prepare the way for the Lord”, slowly & carefully begin rolling out the red carpet…
Matthew 3:1–6 NIV
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ ” John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.
Branson can then exit and go change
John 3:1–3 NIV
Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
Matthew 3:1–5 NIV
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ ” John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan.
The day John baptized Jesus marked the beginning of His 3-plus years of ministry
Matthew 3:1–3 NIV
In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ ”
In that same passage, Jesus presses John to baptize Him.
Mt 11:3
In that same passage, we find Jesus telling John to baptize Him.
Mark 1:7–8 NIV
And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Mark 1:3–8 NIV
“a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ ” And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
Matthew 3:13–17 The Message
Jesus then appeared, arriving at the Jordan River from Galilee. He wanted John to baptize him. John objected, “I’m the one who needs to be baptized, not you!” But Jesus insisted. “Do it. God’s work, putting things right all these centuries, is coming together right now in this baptism.” So John did it. The moment Jesus came up out of the baptismal waters, the skies opened up and he saw God’s Spirit—it looked like a dove—descending and landing on him. And along with the Spirit, a voice: “This is my Son, chosen and marked by my love, delight of my life.”
Recall the account of John baptizing Jesus
Mark 1:
Matthew 3:13–17 NIV
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
Recall the account of John baptizing Jeus
Jesus then chose the 12 Disciples and began travelling throughout Isreal preaching His message of grace, hope, mercy, and freedom to the poor, outcast, sick, oppressed, and even those that came to hate Jesus.
APPLICATION
APPLICATION
Transitional: Everything Jesus did specifically laid the groundwork for all people to have the opportunity to know His love and grace

Jesus Prepared the Way

John 1:1–2 NIV
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.

Jesus Prepared the Way

John 1:14–17 NIV
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ ”) Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
Cue for Charles: When I say “Jesus loved the hurting, broken, and needy” begin coming from the back of the church, down the red carpet towards the front. Make your way very slowly, struggling under the load of your heavy burdens (big trash bags full of something). As you get close to the front row of chairs, stumble to your knees under the heavy load.
begin coming down the red carpet towards Jesus. Make your way very slowly, struggling under the load of your heavy burdens. As you get close to the front row of chairs, stumble to your knees under the heavy load. Pyut your head in your hands like you are crying. begin coming down the red carpet towards Jesus. Make your way very slowly, struggling under the load of your heavy burdens. As you get close to the front row of chairs, stumble to your knees under the heavy load. Pyut your head in your hands like you are crying.
Put your head in your hands like you are crying. Just stay in the position, crying, miserable, and lost...
ut your head in your hands like you are crying. begin coming down the red carpet towards Jesus. Make your way very slowly, struggling under the load of your heavy burdens. As you get close to the front row of chairs, stumble to your knees under the heavy load. Pyut your head in your hands like you are crying.
Jesus loved the hurting, broken, and needy
John 1:19–23 NIV
Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.” They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.” Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’ ”
Everywhere He went…healed the sick, cast out demons, raised the dead
Everywhere He went …He spoke the powerful truth
Everywhere He went and everything He did paved the way that would lead Him to the Cross.
Jesus humbled Himself in order to save you and me
Philippians 2:6–11 NIV
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Jesus offers life to all that believe on Him
Cue for Dustin (Jesus): When I read , come around to the front of the partition and stand there with arms open wide...
John 3:16 NIV
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Cue for Dustin (Jesus): When I say “Come unto me, all you...” make your way down to Charles. Get His attention. When He looks at you, you can put his face in your hands and look Him in the eyes for a few seconds. Then begin taking the burdens from Him and lay them off to the side…away from the path (the red carpet)
Cue for Charles (lost person): While I read “come to me, all you...”
Matthew 11:28–29 NIV
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Matthew 11:28–29 The Message
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
Mark 11:28–29 NIV
“By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you authority to do this?” Jesus replied, “I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things.
-19
Birth, life, suffering, death, burial, resurrecton
Then help Charles up, put your arm around Him and lead Him to the Cross. After a few seconds standing in front of the Cross, both of you make your way back behind the partition.
Jesus offers freedom, peace and fulfillment to all that come to Him
Jesus offers freedom, peace and fulfillment to all that come to Him
Jesus offers freedom, peace and fulfillment to all that come to Him
Matthew 11:28–29 NIV
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
CHALLENGE
CHALLENGE
CHALLENGE
Jesus lived, died, and arose because He loves you — to prepare the way for you to experience true life in Him
Why was it necessary for Him to make that ultimate sacrifice and suffer so much? He became the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.
Why was it necessary for Him to make that ultimate sacrifice and suffer so much? He became the Lamb of God that takes away the sins of the world.
Why did He have to do that?
Romans 3:25 NRSV
whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed;
Romans 3:24–25 NIV
and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—
Romans 5:6–8 NIV
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Ro
Jesus become that sacrificial lamb…His blood poured out to pay for our sins. But He had to do much more than that in order for us to have hope of eternal life.
“Up from the grave He arose…with a mighty triumph o’er His foes. He arose victorious o’er the dark domain. He arose forever with His saints to reign.”
Today we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus -
Today is Easter - the day we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus -
After the resurrection Jesus spent some time with His Disciples - I want to read to you some of what He said to them
Luke 24:45–48 NIV
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.
-58
After that they saw Him ascend into Heaven
Luke 24:45–49 NIV
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
After that they saw Him ascend into Heaven
Luke 24:45-
After that they saw Him ascend into Heaven
Here’s what we need to remember today
We can never make ourselves good enough or holy enough to meet God’s standard of Holiness — He is perfectly holy and righteous and He demands holiness from His people.
God passionately desires a relationship with each one of us. However, none of us can ever be good enough to be worthy of such a relationship.
The Bible makes it clear that God does desire a relationship with each one of us. It also makes it clear that none of us could ever be good enough to be worthy of having such a relationship.
The Bible makes it clear that God does desire a relationship with each one of us. It also makes it clear that none of us could ever be good enough to be worthy of having such a relationship.
We are born into sin
Romans 3:23 NIV
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
Ro
There is this huge chasm between us and God. We need a bridge. The Cross of Christ is that bridge…the only bridge — Jesus made a way for us to cross over from death to life…from darkness to light…from hopelessness to joy beyond human understanding. He prepared the way.
The Cross of Christ became that bridge — the one that gives us a way to cross over from death to life…from darkness to light…from hopelessness to joy beyond human understanding.
There is this huge chasm between us and God. We need a bridge…a way to approach God. The Cross of Christ is that bridge…the only bridge — Jesus made a way for us to cross over from death to life…from darkness to light…from hopelessness to joy beyond human understanding. He prepared the way.
Revelation 3:17–20 The Message
You brag, ‘I’m rich, I’ve got it made, I need nothing from anyone,’ oblivious that in fact you’re a pitiful, blind beggar, threadbare and homeless. “Here’s what I want you to do: Buy your gold from me, gold that’s been through the refiner’s fire. Then you’ll be rich. Buy your clothes from me, clothes designed in Heaven. You’ve gone around half-naked long enough. And buy medicine for your eyes from me so you can see, really see. “The people I love, I call to account—prod and correct and guide so that they’ll live at their best. Up on your feet, then! About face! Run after God! “Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I’ll come right in and sit down to supper with you.
Revelation 3:17 The Message
You brag, ‘I’m rich, I’ve got it made, I need nothing from anyone,’ oblivious that in fact you’re a pitiful, blind beggar, threadbare and homeless.
Revelation 3:20 The Message
“Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I’ll come right in and sit down to supper with you.
Revelation 3:20 NIV
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
Revelation 3:19–20 The Message
“The people I love, I call to account—prod and correct and guide so that they’ll live at their best. Up on your feet, then! About face! Run after God! “Look at me. I stand at the door. I knock. If you hear me call and open the door, I’ll come right in and sit down to supper with you.
Two Specific Challenges today:
Rev
1. If you know Jesus — you have asked Him forgive your sins and be Lord of all — you are a follower of Jesus
If you know Jesus — have asked Him forgive your sins and be Lord of all — you are a follower of Jesus
What are you doing to prepare the way for your friends, family, and others to experience the love of Jesus — to know Him?
A good place to start is the clear the path
pride
judgmental
lazy
insensitive and harsh
Ask Jesus to give you His love for people…to see them through His eyes — love them and share His love with them in any way you can, without precondition
2. If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus, He has prepared the way for you to have the relationship
He is knocking on the door of your heart
“I would like to come in __________”
“I have time for you…do you have time for me?”
He has a plan for you that will knock your socks off — were made to know Him, to be loved by Him, to be known by Him
We were made to love Him, know Him, and bring glory to Him
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