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Friendship Sunday

Luke 2:41-52 – Jesus was Perfect for you!

Our first sermonette for this special service is the first lesson the children looked at this past week during VBS.  We don’t know too much about Jesus’ growing up years.  We do know that He grew up in the city of Nazareth, which was located in the northern part of Israel about 60 miles from the city of Jerusalem.  We know that Jesus learned the trade of his father Joseph, which was a carpenter.  But from the time of his birth until about the age of 30 when Jesus began His public ministry we don’t hear anything…except this account from Luke chapter 2.  (Read Text)

You see, Jesus was the perfect child.  At first any parent here might wish they had a perfect child.  However, that would probably have brought both blessings AND challenges.  Here’s one of those perhaps challenging times.  When Jesus was 12 years old his parents brought Him to Jerusalem for the annual Passover feast.  This was quite an event with hundreds of thousands of people from all over coming to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices and worship God at the Temple.  Well after the 7 day feast Mary and Joseph start heading home…but then after a day goes by they realize they forgot something (or really someone).  They then spend 3 days traveling back to Jerusalem and searching for Jesus.  When they finally find him, no doubt they were frustrated and exhausted (maybe a bit relieved!), they can’t believe Jesus would have done such a thing- but wait…who forgot whom here?  And Jesus answered, “Why were you searching for me?  Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”  Not only had they forgotten about Jesus, but they also forgot why Jesus had come to this earth: to do what God the Father wanted.

Mary and Joseph weren’t perfect.  You and I aren’t perfect either.  The very fact that we forget things, too, is evidence.  The fact that we don’t always have 100% care and concern about others but focus on serving ourselves first is evidence.  And the fact that we often search for the answers for our life in every other place except the one right place, that is, God, our Father’s house, is evidence.

But you see the beauty of this account?  For in every way that you and I have failed and sinned.  Jesus didn’t.  Jesus was perfect in every way- even from childhood!  Jesus lived perfectly all the time.  Why?  So that He could give His life for your life.  You see Jesus came to this earth to go to a cross in order to take your sins away from you and pay for them Himself.  Jesus came to live perfectly, to listen to His parents, to always have a proper regard for God in every way, in your place!  Since Jesus died and rose for you…God now sees you as “wearing Jesus”- He sees you as perfect!  Now He gives you the strength to live rightly, to show concern for others over yourself, to have a proper regard for God’s House and His Word.  Thank the Lord that Jesus was perfect for you!

Luke 19:1-10 – Jesus loves sinners like you!

In order for us to understand this next account we need to know something about the society in which Jesus lived.  Tax collectors in Jesus’ day were not very well liked.  In fact, they were scorned.  And not without reason.  Tax collectors were often fellow Jews who had agreed to collect money from the Jewish people and send it to the Romans.  Not only were the taxes quite high, not only did the tax money go to support the Romans who occupied their country, but often times tax collectors could charge whatever they felt like charging the people and pocket the difference.  This scheming and stealing often made them quite wealthy at other’s expense.  So they were ostracized from society, looked down on, hated, they were even considered by most to not even be part of the children of Israel.

And we can kind of relate to the resentment against a thieving and a scheming tax collector.  We can relate to it because there are people we’ve come into contact with or have run into in our lives whom we look down on with disgust.  Maybe it’s someone who wronged us, or who treated us badly, or committed some crime.  Picture Jesus going up to them and telling them he wants to stay at their house and not yours!  Ouch!  But the fact is, while we ostracize and look down on other people, we forget that each one of us ought to be ostracized.  Each one of us ought to be looked down on and condemned by God.  Why?  Because God created us to serve him perfectly, but each one of us has totally failed.  Not only do we fail to show perfect love to our enemies, but we fail to honor Him fully, we fail to thank Him for the things He’s given us.  God ought to want to be as far from us as possible.  But what does He do?

Jesus went right up to Zacchaeus and brought salvation to him.  Jesus went right up to Zacchaeus and found Him.  Why?  Because Jesus has come to seek and to save the lost.  You see, in about a week’s time from when Jesus stopped at Zacchaeus’ house, Jesus would suffer and die on the cross.  There he would take Zacchaeus’ sins and not only his, but also the sins of all those people who ridiculed and looked down on Zacchaeus, and not only their sins, but also your sins and my sins, and the sins of every person and Jesus would pay for those sins on the cross.  Why?  Because Jesus came to seek and to save what was lost.  He came to bring salvation to you!

Zacchaeus responded with joy and generously changed his sinful ways by giving back to those he had cheated.  Why?  Because Jesus gave him more than he could have dreamed.  Not only had Jesus lifted a huge burden of guilt from Zacchaeus’ conscience, He also gave him the gift of eternal life.  The same is true for you!  Jesus came and sought you out too!  Not in a tree, but by calling you with his word, by washing you in the water of baptism.  Jesus has lifted sins burden and guilt’s load from you, He’s given you eternal life as a gift, he’s freed you from self-service slavery, he’s freed you from having to compare yourself with others or looking down on others.  He’s found you, He’s loved you, He’s given you all you ever need!  Amen.

Luke 10:25-37 – Jesus’ love moves you to serve!

Our final sermonette this morning is on Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan.  We learned this story on Thursday this past week.  Here we see a religious guy trying to test Jesus.  Jesus takes the opportunity to teach him and us who our neighbor is.  (Read text).

Everyone wants to know that answer to this question: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”  Already by asking that question this expert in the law showed his error.  He assumed that there was something he must do to inherit heaven.  But we hear the same things today, don’t we?  “You know, I haven’t been the best person, but I’ve been pretty good, God will certainly accept me.”  “Well, at least I try really hard at being good, God will reward that, right?”  Well here is God’s demand: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself” Jesus says, “Do this and you will live.”  Literally, he says, “Keep doing this 100% all the time and you will live” in other words do this perfectly.

This was troubling to this man, so in order to justify himself, justify himself from the times he’s failed, he asked, “Who is my neighbor?”  He wanted a neighbor meter.  A neighbor might be an upstanding Jewish person like me, but surely not a foreigner or a Gentile or especially not one of those hated Samaritans!  So then Jesus tells the parable.  A man robbed, beaten, left half dead and a Priest walks by on the other side, then a Levite does the same, but then a rival and an enemy Samaritan found him, helped him, cared for him and even paid for someone to watch over him!  Who was the neighbor?  The one who was not only merciful but also did something about it.  Jesus whole point in telling this parable was to convict this man who was trying to “justify himself”; trying to save himself.

It also makes us a little uncomfortable too, doesn’t it?  How often we have failed to show love and concern for someone in need, how we have failed to help someone who was hurting, how we ignored someone, how we made excuses for putting our own interests ahead of someone else’s.  Jesus’ point is to show us we have failed.  Failed to perfectly love God, failed to perfectly love our neighbor.

So what’s the answer?  Are we lost?  The answer is in the one who is the perfect neighbor…Jesus.  Jesus perfectly loved God.  Jesus perfectly loved every other human being.  Jesus perfectly cared for other people.  Jesus never made excuses.  And He did that as your substitute.  He did that for you and me!  Since Jesus died and rose His perfection is credited to you, to your account.  In God’s eyes you are perfect because Jesus was perfect in your place!

So, what does that make us want to do?  It makes us want to be the good Samaritan.  It makes us want to serve God and serve those around us who need our help.  Not in order to justify ourselves, but in order to say “thank you” to God who has done everything for us!  We live our lives for the one who had mercy on us and rescued us.  We ask, “who can I be a neighbor to?”  “Who can I serve and help and assist?”  “Who can I give the best help to by telling them about the Savior Jesus?”  Thank you Jesus for being the perfect neighbor for me, help me Jesus to be a neighbor to all those who need me.  Amen.