This is not the usual posting that I have made after having had the privilege to share with our little congregation. I decided to try an experiment, which I highly recommend to any of you who may find yourselves in a similar situation.
The week before, I assigned”‘homework” for the group. Here is a copy of the assignment:
“There are plenty of people who are ready and eager to tell you “Why Jesus came”.
It is not always clear where they got their information. Some are quite faithful to his message, and others much less so. How do you decide which ones to accept?
By far the best authority on that subject is Jesus himself.
This is not in any way to disparage the Biblical writers, or anyone else, but in order to represent Jesus faithfully, we need to be familiar with his own words.
Please find some time this week to look carefully through at least one of the Gospel accounts, and make a list of the direct quotes from Jesus himself on this subject. It would be good if couples or family units would each use a different Gospel account.
The things you are looking for may be introduced by such phrases as:
“This is why…”
“I have come because…”
“In order that…” or “in order to …”
or just simply “to” or “for”.
You may be surprised at what is or is not included.
Please be ready to share what you find.”
I was not at all sure how many folks would try this exercise, but was delighted with the response. Here is a summary of what they contributed:
To preach in the next towns Lk.4:43
To do my Father’s business Lk.2:49
To do the will of the Father Jn.6:38
To bear witness to the truth (before Pilate) Jn.18:5-8
To preach the Kingdom of God Lk.4:42
Not to call righteous, but “sinners” Mt.9:13, Mk.k2:17, Mk.5:31
To give my life a ransom Mk.10:44 (although the respondent had expected him to say “sacrifice”)
To set the oppressed free Lk.4:18
To set prisoners free Lk.7:22
To seek and to save the lost Jn.19:10
Not to bring peace but division Mt.10:35, Lk.12:51
Draw all people to myself Jn.12:27-33
Recovery of sight to the blind Lk.4:23
Not to be served, but to serve Mt.20:28, Lk.22:29
To proclaim the Kingdom Lk.4:43
For judgment – to sort out those who admitted need Jn.9:38-39, Mt.12:18
That everything about me will be fulfilled – in Law, prophets and psalms Lk.24:44, Lk.4:18-19
Not to abolish law and prophets, but to fulfill Mt.5:17
To fulfill Law Jn.15:22
To make the Father known to people Jn.17:25
“I AM” statements (note: there are many more)
Bread for life of the world Jn.6:51
Light of the world Jn.8:12
Good shepherd Jn.10
The way, the truth, and the Life Jn.14:6
“Don’t be afraid– I AM” Mk. 6:50,14:61
He HAS power ON EARTH to forgive sins Mk.2:10, Mt.9:5, Lk.5:24 (notice the present tense!)
Everything is handed over to Jesus by the Father Mt.11:27
(Jesus) brought glory to the Father by following his instructions Jn.17:4
Must suffer, be rejected and be raised Lk.9:22
There is tribulation in the world, but “I have overcome” the world Jn.16.33
I will come back and take you where I AM Jn.14:3
I will send the Spirit Jn.16:7
The Kingdom HAS ARRIVED Mk.1:15 (at the BEGINNING of his ministry!)
As you can see, any one of these would make a “sermon” topic by itself. Perhaps sometime it will. The important thing for this session was to allow folks to see that many things that are usually overlooked were important enough for Jesus to emphasize them — and many ideas that are usually “preached” were not on his expressed agenda at all. It will be interesting to see if any of these are followed-up! (In our little group, we take turns with a message.)
I highly commend this exercise to any of you.