by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
November 22, 2009

Memory Verse:

Luke 19:10 (NLT)
“For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”


Next Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent. It’s also our 100% Sunday, and we’ll be starting a new message series next week called Advent Conspiracy that will take us through until Christmas. But today, I want to talk about why there even is an advent.

The word Advent means “coming”, so when we use the term Advent in reference to the Christmas season, what we’re talking about is the coming of Jesus to earth. That’s what Christmas is all about, isn’t it? It’s about the birth of Jesus. And that birth… that coming… that Advent… set in motion a whole course of events that culminated with the public execution of Jesus on the cross and His resurrection from the dead on the third day after that.

But why did Jesus come in the first place? What did He hope to accomplish, and what does it matter to you and me today?

In fact, I invented a new word for us this morning… Advent-ageous. A year ago this weekend, I spoke on another word… Floccinaucinihilipilification… and some of you didn’t believe it was a real word. And it is a real word. It’s the longest non-technical, non-coined word in the English language. But you didn’t believe me then.

So I figure, why bother? Why use real word? I’ll just invent one. Advent-ageous. And the question is, why is the coming of Jesus “Advent-ageous” for you and for me? Why does Christmas matter? And I would say that Christmas matters not just because Jesus came; it’s matters because of why He came.

And the truth is, He came for several different reasons. We’re going to look at a few of the biggies this morning…

Why Did Jesus Come?

1.    He came to find those who are far from God

Luke 19:10 (NLT)
“For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”

Lost – now there’s one of those words that’s been churchified. When we use the word lost in church-circles, we generally know what we’re talking about. When we saw that someone is lost, we mean to say they are far from God. They don’t really know who He is, they don’t have any kind of personal relationship with Jesus Christ… they’re basically undecided about God and about spiritual things. They’re lost. Or perhaps they are decided and they’re on the far opposite end of the spectrum, and they’re actually hostile or antagonistic toward God and Jesus and the Church. In the Church-English dictionary, that’s what we’re talking about when we say someone is lost.

But get outside of church circles, and the word has a different meaning. Here at the mall, there are always people going by in the hallway. Well, imagine if we just stood outside the doorway here and asked the people going by if they were lost. How do you think they would respond? Well, once you get past the strange look they’ll give you, they’ll probably tell you, “No, I know exactly where I am. I’m in the Charlottetown Mall, I’m heading to the Spa… I’m just outside of Dollarama, in the hallway between Moore’s Clothing and… hey, look, a church in the mall!” In that context, they’re not lost. They know exactly where they are.

But say you happen to ask someone and they do say they’re lost… what would you do then? Well, you’d ask them where they’re going, you might take them over by the doorway where there’s a floor plan for the Mall, you might give them some directions and point them in the right way.

Well, in the spiritual sense, that’s what Jesus came to do. He came to seek the lost and show them the way to God the Father. And what is the way? Jesus is the way. He said…

John 14:6-7 (NLT)
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!”

And the truth is, we are born lost. We are all born far from God. And the only way to God the Father is Jesus. So Jesus came for the lost. He came for you, He came for me, He came for every person on the face of this planet. He came to seek the lost, to show them the way to God the Father, and help them on their way.

And I want you to notice in that verse from Luke 19, Jesus used the word, “Seek.”

[Luke 19:10 (NLT)
“For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”]

That’s an action word. Jesus was all about seeking people out. He was about going to where the people were. He was about connecting with people who were far from God and helping them find Him.

And for those of us who call ourselves Christians… or Christ-followers… that’s our mission, too. To seek the lost and point the way to God. It’s not sitting back and waiting for people to come to us; it’s us seeking them out and going to them.

Right at the end of the book of Matthew in the New Testament, there’s a directive that Jesus gave to His followers. We’ve come to call it the Great Commission, meaning that it’s the mission that Jesus gave to all of His followers, then and now. And it says…

Matthew 28:19-20 (NLT)
“…Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.”

What’s the first word? “Go”. There’s another one of those action verbs. It’s not “Wait until the world comes to you.” It’s “Go into all the world.”

So Jesus came to seek and save the lost, and He has since passed that same mission on to us. If you are a Christ-follower, then you need to be about the business of seeking the lost and pointing them toward God.

And that doesn’t mean that you have to walk around wearing one of those sandwich boards with John 3:16 written on it. It doesn’t mean you have to become obnoxious and arrogant and put on this façade of holier-than-thou. In fact, if you’re a Christ-follower, then you should have a spirit of humility instead.

No, for us to seek the lost and point the way to God means that we live out our faith every day. It means that the values of Jesus are reflected in our values, it means our conversations are wholesome and uplifting, it means that we look for ways to express the love and compassion that Jesus has for people. It means that we invite them to things like our 100% Sunday. And it means that we do look for opportunities to tell people what Jesus has done for us and about the love and forgiveness He offers them, too.

2.    He came to take away my sin

What do these common clichés have in common?

Turn the other cheek
By the skin of my teeth
A leopard can’t change its spots
Like a lamb to the slaughter
How the mighty have fallen
It’s better to give than receive
Physician heal thyself
The apple of his eye
The blind leading the blind
You reap what you sow
Eat, drink and be merry
A little bird told me
Fight the good fight
Go the extra mile
Out of the mouth of babes
Wolf in sheep’s clothing

All of those clichés find their roots in the pages of the Bible. It’s amazing how much wisdom is in this Book, isn’t it? Well, there’s another saying that’s taken from the Bible that also a popular cliché. I hear it all the time in conversations, on TV, in movies… And it comes from the Gospel of John in the New Testament, chapter 8…

John 8:31-33 (NLT)
Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

You’ve all heard that phrase before? So the truth will set you free. And we’ve already looked at a verse where Jesus said that He himself is the Truth. So we will know the truth… we will know Jesus… and He will set us free. But free from what? That’s exactly what the people listening to Jesus wondered.

“But we are descendants of Abraham,” they said. “We have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean, ‘You will be set free’?”

You know, whoever asked that question must have slept through history class. What did he mean, “We have never been slaves to anyone”? He had obviously never heard of Egypt… or Moses… or the Passover… or the Exodus… or the Babylonians… or Daniel… the Jews had most certainly been slaves at various points in their history. In fact, even at the time this guy asked this question, the Jews live living under a Roman occupation. They may not have technically been slaves, but they weren’t exactly free, either.

But let’s forgive his ignorance and move on… It doesn’t really matter anyway, because that’s not the kind of slavery Jesus was referring to. He was just using the imagery of being a slave and being set free to give them a concept of what He was really talking about. So what was he referring to? Let’s see…

John 8:34, 36 (NLT)
Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin… So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.”

So when Jesus talked about slavery here, he wasn’t talking about being considered the physical property of another person. He was talking about living in bondage. Just like a slave lives in bondage to his master, we are all born into bondage to sin.

What is sin, anyway? I mean, there are all kinds of things that we call sin, but they’re not really sin. What is sin? Here’s my understanding of what sin is: Sin is that self-centered rebellious streak within each of us that wants to replace God with ourselves. It’s us wanting to be in control. All these other things that we call sin… greed, lust, envy, jealousy, hatred, stealing, lying, cheating, adultery… those aren’t really sin. They’re symptoms of sin. They’re the outward expression of the disease of sin within us. And it’s that sin within us that enslaves us.

And Jesus came to take care of that very problem. He came to set us free from slavery to sin.

1 John 3:5 (NLT)
And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, and there is no sin in him.

1 Timothy 1:15 (NLT)
This is a trustworthy saying, and everyone should accept it: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them all.

How does He set us free? He offers us forgiveness and a fresh start. And as we allow the Holy Spirit to work in our lives, He works away at that sinful nature within us, purging it from us and enabling us to become more Christ-like in our character.

And if you’ve never experienced this for yourself, then you can get started this morning. Accept the forgiveness that He offers and make the decision to follow Him from this point forward. Get to know Him… read His Word… talk with Him regularly through prayer… get to know His spiritual family, the Church…

Jesus came to take away your sin, but in order to experience that you need to accept His forgiveness and choose to follow Him.

And the third thing… Ultimately, what Jesus came to do was, He came to die.

3.    He came to die for me

John 10:10-11 (NIV)
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

Some of you would be familiar with the name Lee Strobel. He’s a best selling author of books like The Case for Christ and The Case for Faith, he hosts a cable TV show in the U.S., and he’s one of my favourite speakers to listen to. I’m going to show you a video clip of him explaining why Jesus came.

He’s going to use some verses, which you see in your notes, and at the end he’s going to lead people people in a prayer. If you’d like to pray along with him, you can do so silently where you are.

Mark 10:45 (NLT)
“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

John 1:12 (NKJV)
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name…

Believe + Receive = Become

If you prayed that prayer, then you need to let someone know about it. You can tell me, tell the person you came with, write it on your Communication Card, but let someone know.

I'm holding in my hand a black ribbon. One morning this week when I dropped Nate off at his daycare, the director of the daycare gave me this ribbon to wear. She was giving it to all the parents and all the workers... in fact, at every daycare across the city, these ribbons were being handing out. And we were asked to wear them for that day as a symbol of what's going on in the early childhood education system. Right now, with all kindergartens being absorbed into the public school system, there's a drastic loss of funding for other early childhood education centres. And so this ribbon was meant to symbolize that loss, to represent what's going on, and to be a sign of solidarity between the daycare centres and the parents of our city.

A couple weeks ago, most if not all of us wore another symbol on our lapels. We wore poppies, symbolizing the sacrifice made by so many for our freedom... sacrifices made a century ago and as recently as this week in various parts of the world. We wore our poppies as a representation of that sacrifice, as a reminder for us so we don't forget or take it for granted, and as a sign of solidarity for all Canadians.

Well, Jesus came to die for you and for me. He came to take away our sin. He came to seek the lost, and He found us. And he gave us a symbol to remind us that our freedom came at a cost. And it wasn't a ribbon, it wasn't a poppy, it was a practice that He asked us to participate in regularly. We call it Communion, or The Lord's Supper, and we're going to participate in this together this morning...

Communion – black ribbon
Symbol, reminder, solidarity



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