Jesus Christ – The “Sure Thing”

 

October 2, 2005 ~ Bay Ridges Long Term Care Centre

 

(all scripture quoted from the English Standard Version of the Holy Bible)

 

John 14:1-6 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2  In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

    4   And you know the way to where I am going.” 5  Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

 

When I was 24 I wanted to save to buy a house and so I invested in a Registered Home Ownership Savings Plan (RHOSP). The idea of the plan was that any money invested in it (as well as all interest earned) was tax deductible and if I used the money to buy a house I would never have to pay taxes on it. Period. It was a sure thing. But several months after I began investing in the RHOSP the Canadian government cancelled the program and I ended up loosing money instead of saving it.

 

Each of us, at some point in our lives, has been tempted by a sure thing. Some of us still are. We see something that promises security, independence, a future and we long to take advantage of the opportunity. Sometimes it works out, other times it doesn’t and we go on looking, thinking that there must be a sure thing somewhere.

 

There is a “sure thing” that will never let us down. His name is Jesus. He is so sure that the apostle Paul, in his letter to the Philippian believers, said that he had given up everything else so that he could lay hold of Jesus.

 

Philippians 3:1-14 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you. 2  Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. 3  For we are the real circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh––

    4   though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5  circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; 6  as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness, under the law blameless. 7  But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8  Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ

    9   and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith–– 10  that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11  that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. 12  Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13  Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

 

Simply put, as far as the Jews were concerned Paul was bound for heaven. As much as was humanly possible to do Paul had done. Yet Paul, after meeting Jesus, could only say that he no longer had any confidence in anything he had accomplished and he was instead placing his hope for eternal life in Jesus the Messiah. Paul had found in Jesus something so incredibly beyond all that he himself was able to do that he had no choice but to give up his own efforts and trust in Jesus to save him.

 

Jesus spoke of such a response in two of His parables where the main character finds a treasure and sells all that he has in order to own the treasure:

 

Matthew 13:44-46 The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46  who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

 

Paul was like these two men. He had everything and let go of all of it so that he could have Jesus. Paul understood that salvation could not come from works but only as a gift of God through Jesus.

 

But Jesus is not only the answer for those who have everything, who have met the requirements of God’s law. He is also the answer for those who have nothing. The gospels are filled with encounters between Jesus and those who had no hope at all, one of the more remarkable occurring when a Canaanite woman begged Jesus to heal her daughter:

 

Matthew 15:21-28 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22  And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” 23  But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” 24  He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25  But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26  And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27  She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28  Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

 

This woman had no reason, almost no right, to expect anything from Jesus but she came to Him because she knew that He was her daughter’s only hope. She had nothing to offer, nothing to give up, nothing to loose, nothing but faith that this Man could heal her daughter. And her daughter was healed.

 

At another time, while He was dying on the cross, Jesus was approached by someone else who had nothing.

 

Luke 23:40-43 But the other [criminal] rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41  And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42  And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43  And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

 

There was nothing that this man could have done to make him worthy of Jesus’ consideration. He was a criminal, convicted and enduring punishment for his crimes. Instead of being able to say that he had kept the law, as Paul could, he could only admit that he had violated the law and was receiving what he deserved. He had no reason to expect that Jesus would accept him, he had nothing to offer if Jesus did accept him. But Jesus did accept him

 

Many teachers throughout history have come, claimed to be a worthy teacher and died. Every one of them has died. Every one of them has a tomb. Every one of them is now powerless to do anything on our behalf. Mohammed and Buddha have died, along with the founders of all the other world religions. They remain dead and have only their words to speak for them today. Their words are powerless to do anything for us because the men who spoke the words have turned to dust centuries ago.

 

Jesus is different. By far. Like other teachers He came, claimed to be a worthy teacher and died. Unlike every other teacher Jesus then returned to life, death could not hold Him and He promised that it could not hold those who trust in Him. There is no tomb where His followers can congregate and revere His memory for He is neither on Earth nor in it; He is in Heaven, alive and acting on our behalf before God. His words have power today because He is alive and He has power. His words have power today because He is alive and He is God. His words have power today because He is alive and the Holy Spirit of God lives within each of those who love Him to convince them that they have been saved from their sins. Completely and without loss.

 

John 6:35-39 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36  But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37  All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38  For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39  And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40  For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

 

Some have doubted the gospels but, in the words of one former critic “How could they have been written so shortly after Jesus’ lived and not have been proven false by other eyewitnesses if indeed these eyewitnesses knew better?” Jesus’ biographer’s had lived with Him, they knew Him intimately and told others about Him from their own experience of Him. Not one person of their time was able to counter the truth of their eyewitness accounts.

 

Skeptics have spoken of Christians as taking a “blind leap of faith,” arguing that we believe in Someone for whom there is no proof beyond wishful thinking. Now I am a Christian, I have believed in Jesus all of my life. I cannot recall a day when I did not believe in God, in the effectiveness of the sacrifice of Jesus and in the power of the Holy Spirit. I am not a Christian because of wishful thinking. I am a Christian because God created me. I am a Christian because Jesus saved me. I am a Christian because the Holy Spirit lives within me. I am a Christian because God is real and there is no hope for me but the hope I have in Him. I am a Christian because only in Christ can I make sense of the world in which I live.

 

At the foundation of every other religion is the idea that we can make it on our own, that we have within us the seeds of our own destruction but also the ability to work our own salvation. Every other religion on Earth is based to some extent on our own personal merit, on what we are able to do for ourselves, but not Christianity. Only in Christianity, only in the teaching of Jesus, is it said that “No, you can’t make it on your own. You will never be good enough, no matter what you do, to enter Heaven, but that’s okay because I have done it all for you.” Only in Christianity are our works the proof of our salvation instead of the road to our salvation. Our salvation comes only by faith in Jesus. Jesus gives us rest from the exhaustion and insecurity of a works based salvation by giving us the assurance that the requirements of our salvation have been met in Him. All that remains to be done is for us to trust Him.

 

Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.