There are a lot of celebrities these days. Well, I am pretty sure there were a lot of celebrities all the days, actually. We love celebrities. The same goes for church preachers as well. I am sure all the social network and preaching audio accessibility has only furthered this phenomena. It is easy to follow and talk about gifted people because we are people created to worship. We love to worship, especially when we can see and hear it. Jesus was that celebrity preacher in his time. He possessed an amazing ability to speak the word of God like He wrote it and do miracles of all kinds. He enabled people to feel comfortable around Him, especially the worst of the sinners. He was followed by thousands (if only Facebook and Twitter had been around then) and he could have really capitalized on that popularity if he had not said such hard things, which seemed to always decrease his following quite a bit. The hard things He said included stuff like eat my flesh and drink my blood (John 6); not always the best way to get followers. I think if I could have gotten past all that stuff, I would have really liked Jesus as a preacher and teacher. He seems to be one that simplifies things to a level that I (and forgetful people like me) can handle. It was just the smart ones that took/take offense at Him.
Jesus took religion out of the hand of the rich and smart and gave it back to the poor and humble. In Matthew 11:25-26 He said, 25 “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.” The little children referred to here are not children, but his adult disciples, because they were looking to Jesus with humility and trust that characterize dependent children. The insight here is that God is the one who both hides and reveals; knowing that He has that power, look at who gets the secret and from whom it is hidden. Jesus did not come to create a bunch of rules and make it harder. He came to sum up the whole religious/rules/commands thing in Himself. Get Jesus, and you got it all. Jesus is my kind of God. Simple. Not easy. But simple. Challenging. But, not complicated. Clear.
Check out these verses to see if you agree:
John 5:39-40. 39“You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, 40yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”
Jesus says pretty clearly that the scriptures do, indeed, speak of eternal life and that the eternal life in the scriptures is found not in words, but in THE Word, Jesus. Come to me if you want to live forever and there is no way around me.
John 6:45 - 45“It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.”
To learn from God, we must go to and through Jesus. Simple enough.
Matthew 11:28-30 - 28“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
If you are weary and burdened, come to Jesus. Not a doctrine. Not a belief. A person.
John 15:3-5 - 3“You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.’”
Jesus cleans and Jesus produces the fruit. It is quite clear. Apart from being connected to Jesus we can do NOTHING.
Matthew 28:18-20 - 18“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’”
This is significant passage for many reasons. Jesus declares that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him. He is above all. As Philippians 2:5-8 declares, He is Lord of Heaven and Earth and all people will bow to Him. Because He has been given authority, He has the right to give the orders. What is His order? Go! Make Disciples! Baptize! Teach them to obey everything He commanded.
Well, what did he command?
John 13:34-35 - 34“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
It wasn’t a really new command. But, it is. Sort of.
He took 716 laws in the Old Testament and boiled them down to one word, one command: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and Love your Neighbor as yourself. (Matt 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27). In Matthew 22:40, Jesus said, “On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
In one moment, Jesus both delighted and frustrated all those who heard Him. Jesus said, “I am summing it up all up. Love me. Love them.” All the laws of the Old Testament simply help illustrate and paint a picture of what love should look like. Laws are like a child’s coloring page. They give the outline of what love should look like and should not look like and love is the color that fills it in.
In John 15:9-1,1 Jesus said, 9“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
Jesus loves us. We know that the Father loves the Son and Jesus loves us with that same kind of love. Our job: remain in his love. How? By obeying the commands. What are the commands? Love Him. Why? So we will be full of Joy.
It is quite simple; He has commanded a never-ending, simple, circle of love. Not too hard to remember, I deem.
The other thing that Jesus did, which I like, was take all the feasts, sacrifices, and rituals and boil them down to two symbols. The first symbol is baptism. He commanded that we baptize all people in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. Not only are we following in the footsteps of Jesus when we get baptized, but we are identifying with this death (when we go under the water) and his resurrection (when we come out of the water). (Romans 6:1-4). Baptism is something that we only do once. Through baptism we proclaim that we, too, are dead to our rights and our will for our lives. We have died to sin and the lordship of our flesh. We are new people, followers of Jesus, indwelt with the Spirit of life through the resurrection of Jesus. It is significant, necessary and symbolic. It is like a wedding ring, an outward symbol of inward commitment to be married only to your spouse, or in this case, Jesus.
The second symbol, like baptism, is also a command; it is an ongoing command to partake in the Lord’s Supper. We are to drink the cup and eat the bread. Why?
Well, Paul records it this way in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26: 23“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ 25In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ 26For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”
Did you catch it? We eat the bread and drink the cup in REMEMBRANCE of Jesus. We do this to remember. Remember his death. Remember the blood poured out for your sins. As often as we eat and drink, we proclaim the Lord’s death and ultimately His (and our future) resurrection. So, the question is: How often do we need to remember His death? Pretty darn often. Once a month. Once a year. Once a week. It doesn’t really say, but it does seem to imply, especially after reading about the spiritual amnesia that seems to be fairly contagious in the Old Testament, that oftener is always a better rule of thumb.
And that is it. The preacher of all preachers points to Himself (if you forget everything else, just remember Me). He gives two commands (really just one – loving God is bound up in loving others – you can’t do one without the other) to sum up 716 laws. And He commands two symbols (a one time and a one all the time) to sum up a variety and number of feasts and rituals.
So, so simple. SIMPLE. We just need to remember Jesus. Remain in His love. Love Him and others with the same love. Remember his love by continuing to take communion. Repeat. But, we can’t, don’t and won’t... Why not?