Faithlife Sermons

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*Basis for the series*: One of the more famous phrases in the New Testament involves “fixing our eyes upon Jesus.”
The idea comes from a pair of passages in Hebrews.
* “Let us fix our eyes upon Jesus.”
* “… fix your thoughts upon Jesus.”
In Hebrews 3:1, the phrase used is the same used of the day when Jonah watched for the destruction of Nineveh.
After all he’d been through, Jonah was completely convinced of a coming disaster.
Though that destruction never came, Jonah was glued to the scene the way America was fixed upon the images of Sept. 11, 2001.
In Hebrews 12:1, the phrase is the same used of spies who would search out a target in a foreign land, and find it.
Think of the reality of that.
Every physical sense would have been on edge.
They could have heard the slightest noise, smelled every scent, seen the slightest movement, and lived on the edge of the next adrenalin rush.
That’s an intense focus, and the Bible says we’re to have that kind of focus on the Lord.
*Illustration*: Did you know the United States once had an emperor?
Believe it or not, it’s true – at least, it was in the rather confused mind of Joshua A. Norton.
Norton lived in San Francisco during the gold-rush days of the 1800’s.
He was a colorful character, to say the least.
When speculation in the rice market brought him to financial ruin, something happened to Norton’s mind.
He declared himself “Emperor of These United States.”
It might have been a practical joke, or it might have been the result of a clouded mind.
Whatever the initial reason, Norton’s pretending soon grew into a delusion.
In 1859 he published a proclamation that he was emperor according to an act of the California legislature.
He found a sword, stuck a plume in his hat, found a cape, and marched the streets in colorful costume.
The citizens of San Francisco were amused by this ploy and so played the game with him.
They gave him recognition with free tickets to special events.
He was invited to gala opening nights.
In fact, they allowed him to collect a small tax and issue his own currency.
It was all done in the spirit of fun.
But to Norton it was serious business.
In fact, he expanded his authority to "Emperor of These United States and Protector of Mexico.
When he died in 1880, more than ten thousand curious people attended Norton’s funeral service – one of the largest funerals ever to take place in California.
He lived and died in his own delusion of grandeur.
He didn't hurt anyone; in fact, he brought a bit of a smile and a chuckle to people who came across his path.
\\ But make no mistake about it.
Joshua A. Norton was never really the emperor.
Had he really insisted on a confrontation with the United States government, he would have been disposed of rather quickly.
More than likely, he would have been confined to an insane asylum for the rest of his life.
Imagine the poor soul who enters eternity convinced that life was all about him, that she was the focus of the universe.
What a shock to find that the Bible’s title for Jesus is accurate.
He is King of Kings, Lord of Lords, and no pretend emperor will ever take his place.
There was a day when Jesus looked something like an earthly king.
The crowds welcomed Jesus to Jerusalem with practices reserved only for royalty.
They spread their cloaks on the ground, and waved politically-charged palm branches in the air.
They sang songs of praise to Jesus as he majestically entered the city, and they had full expectations that political and military change was only a miracle away.
Illustration: We might not recognize the palm branch as a political symbol, but the Middle East certainly does.
Today, modern Israeli currency posts a palm branch on …
*Scripture*: Matthew 21:6-16
The disciples went and did just as Jesus directed them.
\\ They brought the donkey and the colt; then they laid their robes on them, and He sat on them.
\\ A very large crowd spread their robes on the road; others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them on the road.
\\ Then the crowds who went ahead of Him and those who followed kept shouting: Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!Hosanna in the highest heaven!
\\ When He entered Jerusalem, the whole city was shaken, saying, “Who is this?” \\ And the crowds kept saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee!” \\ Jesus went into the temple complex and drove out all those buying and selling in the temple.
He overturned the money changers’ tables and the chairs of those selling doves.
\\ And He said to them, “It is written, My house will be called a house of prayer.But you are making it a den of thieves!” \\ The blind and the lame came to Him in the temple complex, and He healed them.
\\ When the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonders that He did and the children in the temple complex cheering, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant \\ and said to Him, “Do You hear what these [children]are saying?” “Yes,” Jesus told them.
“Have you never read: You have prepared praise from the mouths of children and nursing infants?” \\ Matt 21:6-16 (HCSB)
1. Fix your eyes upon the King of Kings, and not on yourself.
Illustration: Steve Brown tells the frustrating story of some British social scientists.
Following the end of British rule in India in the 1940's, a group of researchers wanted to  study the impact of the end of British rule on the life of the nation.
After six months, the British social scientists gave up, and went home.
Though the British had been present in India since the 1600’s, many people in the villages of the country were not aware that the British had ever been there!
Could it be that God himself has visited the world and people have lived and died without ever being aware of the event?We live in a world where the King has come but millions are totally unaware that He is present.
(Brown is Professor of Preaching at Reformed Seminary, Orlando, FL)
The people singing Hosannas to Jesus knew they had their man.
They welcomed Jesus like a rising military or political figure, and offered him their adoration.
But when people were asked who Jesus was, they missed the mark.
“He is a prophet from Nazareth,” they said.
They were literally walking with the Son of God who had come to save the world, but they weren’t even aware of it.
*Illustration*: If George W. Bush comes to your community in the next few weeks, and you get a chance to introduce him, don’t introduce him as a former baseball team owner.
Don’t stop with the introduction after you’ve mentioned his college days at Yale.
If you somehow forget that your speaker is President of the United States, you’ll never introduce another person as long as you live.
Your own mother would scold you for forgetting the most important information.
But if President Bush comes to town, there won’t be any mistaking that he’s arrived.
With all the security, and with the news media coverage, it would be incredibly difficult to forget the main point during your introduction.
The Son of God arrived for the climactic event of all history, and people got the introduction all wrong.
They had their eyes fixed on themselves, and not on Jesus.
Some were tired of being ruled by the Romans, and Jesus appeared to be their ticket out of the occupation.
Some were tired of a disability, or a disease.
They saw Jesus as a miracle-working machine who would make life easier.
Some were hungry, and they’d heard that Jesus could stretch food to miraculous proportions.
Very few of the people coming down the mountain that day had any idea that God was working His greatest act of love right in front of their eyes.
Amazingly, it’s still possible to miss Jesus.
If people wait until a crisis to “find religion,” it rarely sticks.
People in prison, or headed to incarceration, might see Jesus as their way of miraculous release.
People surprised by serious illness might look to Jesus as the miraculous cure.
People on the verge of a relationship crisis might see Jesus as the ultimate psychologist.
Make no mistake about it.
Millions of people alive right now who’ve followed Jesus have reported many miraculous events.
Jesus is still in the miracle-working, disease-healing, relationship-mending business.
But if that’s all Jesus is seen for, we’ve missed it.
When the crisis is over, Jesus won’t be needed.
He can be discarded as quickly as the crowd around Jerusalem discarded him in the days following Palm Sunday.
Jesus entered Jerusalem with a fixed purpose, and an amazing plan.
Despite the fact that the crowd didn’t understand that plan, he stayed true to course, and never wavered from his goal.
His eyes never left his target.
Illustration: The Purpose Driven Life has sold millions of copies, and transformed millions of people and churches across the world.
Instinctively, most people want to know: What is my purpose?
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