To set the stage for everyone to clearly see why the most important thing Jesus ever said can be found/summed up in Matthew 11.28-29, I took everyone on a journey. I borrowed a lot from a series that I wrote for junior high week of camp that I preached this past summer and just shortened the whole series into one blitz through the story that we are living as a part of. And so I began with scene/act 1 of our story: Creation. In the first four words of the first verse of the very first book of our Bible, we encounter the hero of our story. "In the beginning God..." In this one verse, we discover a lot about our hero. God is very powerful. He's able to create things out of nothing. We also learn that He's a God of organization and has plan because of the mere fact that He creates! We also notice that God creates a bunch of things, ranging from plants and animals, to planets and stars. And then He gets to man, but when He creates man, He does something a little different.
“So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1.27
The Greek word that some of the early church fathers used to describe the trinitarian nature of God, was perichorisis (Sorry if the spelling's wrong...haha). This word means a close, intimate dance. The three persons of the Trinity are engaged in a close, intimate dance, where they are moving as one unit. This shows us that God is in relationship with Himself, and since He created us in His image, we can safely say that we were created to have relationships with God and with other people! But something horrible happened.
Scene/Act 2: Infection. We rebelled against God. We sinned and because of our actions, a deadly infection was introduced into our world, and it began to destroy everything. It broke relationships, it killed people, it significantly distorted creation. Everything changed, and God was no longer able to have the kind of relationship that He wanted with His most beloved creation because they were infected. But our hero didn't just give up on us, He worked on a plan.
Scene/Act 3: Infiltration. The way that a doctor develops a cure for an infection that he has never seen before, is that he takes a clean, uninfected culture and places it within an infected test area. If the culture becomes infected, it's a failed test, and the culture is discarded. But if the culture remains uninfected, that culture holds the cure to the infection within itself. This is exactly what Jesus did. Jesus came and lived in the middle of this infected area and lived a completely sinless, perfect life! Because He did that, the cure was developed within His blood. Now that the cure had been developed there was one thing left to do, and that's administer it.
Scene/Act 4: Redemption. For Christ to administer the cure, He had to shed His blood. And so, in the greatest act of sacrifice in all of human history, Jesus went to the cross, willingly died there, and shed His blood so that man would have the opportunity to once again be able to be reunited with the hero, their creator, God. But God still desired a genuine relationship with His beloved creation, and so for them to genuinely choose Him, God had to take the same risk that He took in the beginning of our story, and give us a choice.
Scene/Act 5: Decision. The cool thing about this journey through this story, is that we are not the only ones who have traveled this road. And so we also have examples to look at and evaluate before we make our decision. In the OT, God taught Moses everything that He and the Israelites needed to know in order to enter into the Promised Land, and so Moses delivered the message to the Israelites and after telling them everything that God had said, Moses said:
“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the Lord, you will live long in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Deuteronomy 30.19-20 (NLT)
We have arrived at a crossroads in our journey, in this story, and we find ourselves at a similar situation as Moses. Though we aren't set to enter into a Promised Land such as Israel or anything, we are faced with the opportunity to enter into the promised land of heaven and eventually a renewed/restored earth! And so here at the crossroads we are faced with a choice of life or death.
God gave advice to travelers who were here before. He spoke through the prophet Jeremiah, saying:
“This is what the Lord says: “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls.’” Jeremiah 6.16 (NLT)
In the NT, Peter says the devil is going around like a roaring lion looking for people to devour. In the NT, the devil is also called the father of lies, and he's done a scary good job at devouring/deceiving people, because all around us we hear people saying that it doesn't matter which path you choose, you'll end up at the same place! So here we stand at the crossroads, with a crowd of people, each telling us which way to go. With all of this noise in our life, how are we supposed to find the old, godly way in which to walk? It's simple. You see, right there, in the midst of this crowd, is Jesus calling out for you to come to Him. He's uttering the greatest thing that He ever said:
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 18.28-29 (NLT)
How do you find the right path? Jesus is right there telling you, it's Him! He is the way! With this 'great invitation' Jesus summarized a lot of what He came to do and accomplish. He identified the destination of our journey, and offers to walk with us as we progress into the next scene/act of the story.
That was the basic outline of what the sermon was on and how it went. Afterward we all enjoyed pizza that we ordered and hung out to meet new people and catch up with others to see how their summers went. I know I keep saying this, but it truly was an amazing night full of fun, fellowship, and laughs! I'm sure I can speak for most everyone in CSF when I say that this semester is going to be a great semester! If last night was any indication of how CSF is going to be this year, I'm super excited to see how God's going to move in/through CSF and how we are going to impact the campus here at Lock Haven University!! =)