Thursday, July 4, 2013

Thursday, July 4th ~ Miriam

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 1 Chronicles 27-28; Psalm 119:113-120; Romans 16.
Today's scripture focus is  Luke 7:28-30.

I say to you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”
 29 When all the people and the tax collectors heard this, they acknowledged God’s justice,having been baptized with the baptism of John. 30 But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God’s purpose for themselves, not having been baptized by John.

To start off with, wishing all of our US friends a happy 4th of July!  And also, hoping all my Canadian friends had a great Canada Day!  Mine was very nice.  I spent most of it in my zero gravity chair in the sun, reading a book.  

From Mark Driscoll's sermon John the Baptizer, Part 2:

You’ll find a little later in Luke 7, that some of John’s critics, in fact, said that he was demon possessed. The opinions and estimations of John varied wildly, but what really counts is Jesus’ estimation of one’s life, and that’s what we learn from John. People can say whatever they like, it’s what Jesus says about your life, mine, and John’s that truly matters.

And Jesus says that apart from his own life, the greatest person who has, or will, live is John the Baptizer, which is a curious statement because this statement is made during the reign of a man named Herod. He was the king and his nickname was Herod the Great. Jesus says, in fact, that John is greater than Herod. But unlike Herod, John is poor. He is not rich. He is very rural, not urban. He is very simple. He did not come from a premier family. He came from a humble family, yet, John is the greatest man who ever lived.

And what I would tell you is there is such a thing as godly, holy, redeemed ambition, not a selfish pride, but a desire to make your life count, to invest it wisely, to pour it out for Jesus nobly. And John serves as a great example of that kind of redeemed, humble ambition. He lives his life aggressively, passionately, purposefully for Jesus, and Jesus declares his life to be the greatest.

And so herein, in John’s ministry, there are two mega themes of our faith that I really want you, need you to understand: sin and repentance. 

Sin is going too far. It’s not going far enough. It’s a hard heart, a stiff neck. Sin is living your life with anyone or anything other than the God of the Bible as the center of your identity, and the source of your joy. Sin is what we think, what we feel, what we do. It is what we fail to think, feel, and do. Sin is commission, where we do that which is evil. It is also omission, where we fail to do that which is right. Sin is not just action, it’s also conditioned. We are sinners by nature and choice. The Bible says, in fact, from our mother’s womb. It’s all the way down in the roots. Sin is the human problem that leads to all of the -isms: racism, classism. All of that is the result of sin. But sin is the root problem, and we can trace all of the effects. And if we don’t get to the root of the problem, which is sin, our lives, our cultures, our world never changes.

And so John is going right to the heart of the matter with his preaching. He’s addressing the issue of sin, and he is commanding, compelling people to repent of sin.

Real repentance is a five-fold process, and I’ve shared this before.  (See the sermon for expansion on each point.)
1.  Conviction
2.  Confession
3.  Repentance
4.  Restitution
5.  Reconciliation

Jesus declares that John is great, because he calls people to repentance. He cut through all of the cultural clutter, and noise, and nonsense. He does not settle for religious repentance, pagan repentance, worldly sorrow, mere confession, blame shifting, minimizing, excuse making, mere conviction, or mere confession. He lays an ax at the root of the problem, and he goes after sin with a furious courage, and he calls people to repent of sin. And God would call us all to repent of sin, because he loves us. And sin leads to death, and repentance is a gift to be enjoyed. That is the greatness of John.

And again, some in this account of Luke, they receive it, and they go down to the river, and they say publicly with their actions, “I’m a sinner, and I’m repenting.” And others reject, and they become religious, and they fight, and they argue, and they defend themselves to their own shame and folly. And you and I are given this divine moment of opportunity to make that decision for ourselves.
Will we declare God to be just, by ourselves declaring ourselves to be unjust, and in need of his justice through the cross of Jesus? 


Pamela said...

I think this is the lie of society that we are "good enough" and don't need "saving". I recently saw a post on yahoo news about people complaining about "Christian" books at their child's school book fair. An entire generation of kids is being raised without biblical knowledge because of the removal of all things Christian because people are denying it. We are not "good enough" and we are in desperate need of a Saviour.

Tammy said...

It's only when we realize how seriously God takes sin, that we realize how seriously we need a Saviour!

What an incredible honour for John - that Jesus would all him the greatest man that has ever lived in the history of the world. When you consider all the amazing people that went before him (King Solomon, Elijah, Enoch, Joseph, etc) and after him (Billy Graham, the Elliotts, Martin Luther, etc) - it is truly amazing.