It seems that everyone knows the story of the Good Samaritan. It’s certainly a good morality story, and a “how-to” guide for those who seek to be like Jesus to those around them. But why did Jesus choose a Samaritan – an outcast, someone whom the Jews despised – to model the love of Christ to the wounded traveler? Perhaps Jesus intended to show his audience, and all of us, that God very often arrives and acts where we least expect God to be. Whether it’s in the selfless act of the Good Samaritan, or the overwhelmingly loving act of God’s glory arriving through the disgrace of the cross of Christ, the message is clear: no one is beyond the reach of God’s love. No one! As we meet God on the road this weekend, we’ll talk about some of the shocking and surprising ways He surrounds us with His love and fills us with the confidence of our salvation and citizenship in His Kingdom.
Jesus didn’t just wander around. There came a certain point in His ministry when He turned toward Jerusalem. As He did this, He turned toward the cross. He turned toward fulfilling His mission to be our Redeemer. People approached Jesus about following Him, but they had other things they insisted on accomplishing before they would fully commit to follow Him. In response, Jesus said, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God." What do you think? Is there room to “almost” follow Jesus? Can we “kinda” follow Him to the cross, and “sorta” believe that we are sinners in need of redemption? When we follow Jesus on the road, we believe we are on the right track because we no longer desire to look back. Are you looking ahead to why Jesus turned toward Jerusalem?
Jesus goes on the road in the Gospel of Luke, “Soon afterward He went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the Kingdom of God.” Join us for the summer series, “On the Road with Jesus.” We will see where Jesus goes, what He says and does, how it’s received, and what He does next. We also look at Jesus’ travels in our context. What does Jesus do in our lives? How do we receive it? What does He do next for us? The series begins this weekend, with Jesus healing a demon-possessed man by commanding the evil spirits to instead go into a sounder of pigs. Understanding the actions of Jesus opens our eyes to how the world regards outcasts in our society, and our response to God working through Jesus Christ in our neighborhoods.
The coming of the Holy Spirit seems to be a “happy ending” to the apostles, who witnessed the departure of Jesus. But history shows something different: the apostles go on to face struggle, persecution, and in most cases, martyrdom as they follow Christ’s command to “go into all the world and make disciples of all nations.” We can learn from God’s Word as we consider the Spirit’s work in our own lives. He does not always solve problems, remove fear or provide absolute safety. Instead, the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to possibilities; He grants courage in the face of fear; and He promises His presence in the midst of a turbulent world. He helps us keep our footing as He reminds us we are children of God, destined for heaven. The Holy Spirit teaches us to use the certainty of our future as a lens through which we can see and live within the present.
Jesus prayed for you on the night in which he was betrayed and handed over to the authorities. Two key things are included in this prayer. First, He prayed that all believers in Him would be one, just as He and the Father are one. Second, He prayed that these believers would be “in us.” Jesus does not only desire that we are united to each other, but also that we are close to Him and the Father. How do we experience this true unity amongst each other...and most importantly, in God? It is time we have some honest reflection on how we become fragmented from each other and from God. Even as we reflect on our brokenness, we rejoice that Jesus desires to bring together what sin and death have torn apart.
“He Makes All Things New.” (Revelation 21:1-7). When a broken-down car is completely restored and made new, there is amazement and appreciation for the old being made new. There is a brightness and a glow. Everything works as it is supposed to work. There is an energy and an excitement about the restored beauty of the thing. So too with us! Jesus has made us new by His life, suffering, death, and resurrection. He has taken something broken-down and useless, and turned it into something perfect, holy, and endlessly useful in His Kingdom. Pastor Mike Vieregge shares these words of encouragement from God’s Word as we see how Jesus makes us new every day through His Word and Sacraments.
Listening to the voice of the Good Shepherd (John 10:22-30). Jesus was asked by Jewish leaders on a cold winter day, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Jesus responded that He had already told them plainly. The problem is that no matter how Jesus answered, the debate does not end. They were not able to believe in Jesus because they did not hear His voice, His truth, His promises. People still debate about Jesus, and yet we will not successfully argue people into faith. The warmth of relationship with God is not found in a cold-hearted debate. We find faith and eternal life when we belong to Jesus. In the warm hand of Jesus’ hand we are kept safe. Jesus promises His sheep that the life He builds for His flock will remain throughout all the ages. No debate will be able to silence this promise.
“Worthy is the Lamb” (Revelation 5:1-14). What is the result of finding out who Jesus is? John 21 shows the disciples finding hope for today and in Revelation 5 we witness the joy of God’s people gathered in heavenly worship. When we believe in Jesus, we believe in hope for today and salvation for eternity. The stained glass near the lectern in our sanctuary pictures the Lamb of God who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals. We celebrate that the will of God is no longer a closed, hidden, or sealed book. In the person and work of Jesus Christ the fullness of God’s will for us to have hope and salvation has been revealed. Rejoice! Worthy is the Lamb!