GRANT and RACHEL
Before we get started this morning, I want to let you know, if you haven’t heard yet, that we have a hired a Youth Pastor for our 6th – 12th graders!
I’m going to call him up right now.
This is Grant Anderson.
Welcome! Tell us a bit about yourself:
Tell us what you’re most excited about in leading Renovation Youth:
Awesome. Parents, get your students here on Wednesday nights…at 7:00.
They’re going to grow in their faith…and get some solid friends around them
Before you step down, I want to call someone else on stage…and that is Rachel Cheney
Rachel has done a thousand different roles since we started this church in 2009, but the one role she’s always had, is that she has been our Youth Pastor.
The average tenure of a Youth Pastor in America is 18 months.
Rachel has been our Youth Pastor at Renovation Church for 10.5 years.
Many of your kids walked all the way through 6th-12th grade with her as their Youth Pastor.
She’s not going anywhere, her role is just changing as she is now overseeing and leading much of our staff.
But as we brought Grant up here today, I also wanted to bring Rachel up here…
I think we should thank her and honor her for shepherding and teaching our youth for a full decade.
Would you join me in that?
All right, if you would…allow me to tell you one more exciting thing before we get into our Bible teaching for the morning.
We have never done this before, but we are going to start another brand-new House Group, right now, in the middle of the year.
There are A LOT of you that are new here…and we’d like to get you all connected to other people and to help you grow in your faith.
House Groups are the bread & butter of Renovation Church.
80% of our adults are in one…it’s what we do.
We believe that church isn’t just a show that you watch, a podcast to consume, or an experience to have.
Church…is believers coming TOGETHER to worship God and grow in Him
And to do that, you’ve got to know other people.
In the NT there are 54 “one another commands”
“Love one another, encourage one other, support one another”
And you can’t obey those in church, if the American church continues down this path where people just walk into church, consume a service, and meet no one
Some of you having been doing that in church for years, but it’s not the NT model of church
And others of you are just brand new to church
Either way, I want to encourage you to take a leap of faith, trust God, and sign-up for our Brand-New House Group.
It’s going to be on Thursday nights, and led by Corey Borchardt…a man whose leadership and faith I really respect.
Listen it’s SO great to be on the ground floor of a brand-new group where no one knows anyone else….SUPER fun.
I highly encourage you to do that night…
If for some reason, you just CAN’T do Thursdays with Corey (perhaps you work Thursday nights or something)…you can still sign-up for a different group.
You can sign-up via the connect tab of our app, our website, or in the lobby.
And you can do that right now.
Seriously, get your phone out…I won’t mind J
You know, pre-COVID, our House Groups were groups of 30 people that got together.
They did large group stuff together, watched a video teaching from me on the passage we are studying, and broke into small groups to talk about it all afterward
They operate a bit differently now
In fact, this is an announcement for all of you:
We were meeting on ZOOM every week, but starting in 2 weeks, all house groups (including our brand-new one) will be switching back to a 3-week rotation.
Where one week the entire group of 30 is on ZOOM together
The 2nd week our women’s small groups (4-7 people) meet in person (masks & social distancing)
And the 3rd week our men’s groups meet in person
And then the 3-week rotation begins again.
You’re going to love House groups.
It’s SO great to meet other Christians to support and encourage you in your walk, and you can do the same for them.
So seriously, get your phone and just sign-up right now and sign-up for that new group on Thursday nights.
Or you can ask more questions out in the lobby at our information table and sign-up there.
(Switch to House Groups Slide)
Okay, thank you for letting me do that.
Let’s jump into our message for this morning.
As a church, we are studying the Book of Luke in the Bible…which is 1 of 4 books about the life, teachings, death & Resurrection of Jesus.
If you want to follow along
Today you’re going to see a story about blindness
Not just physical blindness…but the deeper Christian teaching that without Jesus, we are spiritually blind.
I’m going to read through our passage, and then we’ll talk through it
We’ll pick up right where we left off last week in Luke 18.
(Luke 18:35-43) – NIV
35 As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. 36 When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. 37 They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”
38 He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
39 Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
40 Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?”
“Lord, I want to see,” he replied.
42 Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has healed you.” 43 Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.
This is a story that’s also told in the Books of Matthew and Mark in the Bible.
Mark tells us that the blind man’s name is Bartimaeus
And for Bartimaeus, in those days, there were no optometrists, no social services…no welfare system.
He was left to simply beg on the side of the road.
And where he’s begging right now is the prime time and place to beg
If you heard the message last week, I mentioned that Jesus and his followers are on their way to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover…like every other Jew in the area.
And now we see that they’re passing through Jericho, a town near Jerusalem.
In fact, most people coming to Jerusalem for Passover from the North or East would have to pass through Jericho
And so, there isn’t a much better place for a blind beggar to be than on the road where thousands of spiritual people are going to be passing by on their way to meet with God.
He’s thinking that He’s about to hit the jackpot.
But God has so much more in store for Him.
He hears a crowd going by and asks, “What’s happening??”
They tell him, “It’s Jesus.”
And by now, he, like everyone else, had heard of Jesus’ fame and what Jesus could do…
So, he excitedly begins to shout: “JESUS! Jesus SON of DAVID!”
Now, if you remember the Christmas story, which I’m sure you do even if you don’t normally attend church.
You’ll remember that at the Nativity Scene, you have a few donkeys, cows, sheep, Jesus, his mother Mary, and His father…Joseph.
So why is Bartimaeus yelling, “Jesus Son of David?” (not “son of Joseph”)
Well, “Son of David” was another unique title that the Jews had for the Messiah who would one day come to save them.
Their most famous King in the Old Testament (whom you can read about in 1 & 2 Samuel) was King David.
And David was a man after God’s own heart.
So much so that God promised David that one of his descendants would reign on the throne…forever.
Which, didn’t really make sense to them.
How could one of David’s great-great-great-great-grandsons be a king forever?
Well, Luke is showing us throughout his book.
In chapter 2, we see that even though Mary & Joseph lived up north in Nazareth, that they had to travel to Bethlehem for the census.
And while there, Jesus was born.
And Bethlehem is where King David was from…in fact, it’s even called, “The town of David”
In Chapter 3, Luke traces back Jesus’ family tree to show that in fact, Mary, Jesus’ mother, descended from…King David.
Jesus is the “Son of (which for Jews often meant descendent of) David”
Born in the town of David…and meant to be the descendent of David who will reign forever…just like God promised 1,000 years earlier.
And so when Bartimaeus is calling out to Jesus, he isn’t just calling out to a wise teacher, but to the Messiah who will be King forever.
You don’t call out to someone who gives good TED Talks and ask them to cure your blindness.
Make no mistake, Jesus is the King of Kings.
That’s who Bartimaeus is calling out to.
And He KNOWS this is his shot.
Look at the intensity described in this passage.
He calls out the first time, but nothing happens.
He’s unable to see Jesus…his world is dark.
Close your eyes for just a second and imagine it.
The King of Kings, the one with the power to create planets with a word is walking by you…
You’re trying to get his attention, but nothing’s happening.
So we’re told that he yelled even louder…
And he wouldn’t quit
That’s chasing after Jesus, friends.
But the fact that he’s blind is really important.
This is a true story of course, but there is much depth in God’s Word.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians that people of this age are blind to spiritual truth
Often times when Jesus’ followers don’t understand Him, he says, “Do you have eyes but fail to see?”
And that’s a good way to say it.
We have eyes. Obviously.
But our eyes sometimes don’t see what they need to.
We’re spiritually blind.
Unlike many of us though, Bartimaeus though, knows that he’s blind…that He NEEDS Jesus’ help, so he yells:
“Jesus, have mercy on me.”
He’s blind. He can’t heal himself.
That’s why I think the Bible often uses this imagery of blindness.
The story of Christianity is that you can’t fix yourself.
And you can’t save yourself any easier than a blind person can make themselves see.
You will only be saved if you let Jesus save you through faith.
If you invite Him into your life to illuminate the darkness.
Pastor Alistair Begg says it this way:
You will never know Jesus Christ as a reality in your life until you know him as a necessity. You never call out for a Savior until you know you have sin from which to be saved. You’ll never call out to ask to see until you’re made aware of your blindness. – Alistair Begg
And this is a truth for those of you who have been walking with Jesus for a long time too
Because so often we fall back into self-reliance…of trying to do life by ourselves.
And we will walk back into “blindness of thinking” if we don’t realize how desperately we need Jesus…all the time.
THOSE WHO LED REBUKED
Okay, so Bartimaeus calls out, repeatedly to Jesus…
But did you see why Jesus didn’t hear him the first time?
Look at this shocking verse
(Luke 18:39) – NIV
39 Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
I’ve read this story before, and I guess I always pictured that it was the crowd alongside the road that was rebuking him and telling him to be quiet.
But when I study a passage, I’ll read it a ton of times in a row, and then I’ll even read it out loud.
It’s always amazing what your brain catches when you read something out loud vs silently.
And as I was reading the passage out loud, I gasped when I read this verse
And I said, “Ahh! The ones rebuking him were not in the crowd on the side of the road, it was the people walking with Jesus!
‘The ones leading the way’ it says.
They were in front of the procession walking with Jesus to Jerusalem”
And I guess it shouldn’t be that surprising.
Just earlier in our same chapter, people tried to bring little children to Jesus, and Jesus’ followers rebuked them too.
These leaders of the procession think they have it figured out.
I mean, picture this group, leading the process:
They’re walking & thinking, “We’re going to the Passover with Jesus! He already knows us, and He’s teaching us. In fact, we’ve kind of got our lives together. We’re even the leaders of the group!”
Listen, EVERY word in the Bible is inspired by God and every word matters.
God is telling us something by pointing out they’re out in front of the procession.
They’re not following Jesus.
They’re in front of him.
The first will be last.
They’re thinking about themselves.
And so when someone else tries to shout out for Jesus…they’re not having it.
They don’t just tell him to be quiet…they rebuke him!
“Hey, don’t you be yelling out for Jesus! He’s got more important things to do right now than help a blind beggar!”
They’ve completely missed the heart of Jesus, as so many of us are liable to do
You know, this has been the death knell of most churches that have stopped reaching people for Christ.
They stop seeing the needs of others
Church has become about them, and their needs, and their classes, and their children, and their programs.
And all of the teaching must be for them…
There’s no time to talk to seekers and unbelievers and messy people…
Did you know the average church in America sees only 1 new believer a year?
And when you factor in that there are churches that see hundreds a year, that means that the majority of US churches see ZERO new people come to faith a year.
They meet 52 weeks a year, study the Bible, socialize together, run their classes and programs, and not a single new person decides to follow Jesus.
But Scripture calls the church to unashamedly teach the truth of God’s Word to believers AND to reach new believers at the same time.
It’s very easy to become focused so much on our own spirituality that we forget even the main theme of this book: Lost & Found
Jesus came to Seek & Save the Lost
And once did the same for us.
And Found people are to find people.
That’s what we do.
But if we let the focus of our faith drift too far inward, where we start to only think about our own spiritual growth…
Unfortunately we’ll start to look more like the those who rebuked the blind, rather than Jesus who reached out to the blind.
Perhaps my favorite two words of this passage are from verse 40.
It just says, “Jesus stopped”
Picture the scene:
The blind man is shouting, now almost screaming…
The “apparent followers of Jesus” out in front are yelling back at Him…telling him to be quiet and sit down.
And Jesus, the Son of David…King of Kings.
He stops for the blind man and calls him over.
He heals Him, and the blind man follows Him.
JESUS IS PASSING BY
And thank goodness that Bartimaeus called out for Jesus!
Bartimaeus could have just kept doing the same thing.
Living in blindness.
It wasn’t a great life by any means, but he was…surviving.
Make no mistake…when Jesus passed by, Bartimaeus had a choice to make.
No one forced him to do anything.
He could have stayed silent and let Jesus pass by.
Certainly it was all a bit embarrassing and risky for him to yell out like that.
But in faith, he yelled out.
And my friend, right now, Jesus is passing by.
He is here…today…
And in this moment, you can call out to Him
Some of you know Him already…but you’ve been wandering from Him…maybe quickly…maybe ever so slowly.
He is here…today…passing by.
Call out to Him again.
Don’t go another day walking the other way from him
Don’t go another day walking deeper into addiction or depression.
He’s passing by.
The Savior of the World is passing by…you…right now… call out to Him.
For those of you that have been Christians for quite some time, as we sing our last song of Worship today, if you need to sit down, or throw your hands into the air, and surrender yourself to him again, then do it.
Call out to Him again!
And for those of you that are really hearing the message of Jesus clear for the first time today, or over these past few weeks, you can call out to Him too and be saved.
The Bible teaches this:
(John 1:12) – NIV
Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God
We are all sinners and deserving of punishment.
But if you believe Jesus died for you, He will take your sin upon himself on the cross.
And you will be declared not guilty.
As that verse says, “If you believe in Him, you will be given the right to become a child of God”
You will be able to become a follower of His. A child of God.
You’ll be able to have a personal relationship with Him.
You’ll be given eternal life in heaven, not hell.
But you’ve got to make the decision to get up and follow
And I cannot urge you enough to seize this moment right here as Jesus passes by.
Because…you will indeed die someday.
And when you do, you will meet God face to face for judgment.
And if you do not turn your life over to Jesus Christ on earth, you will be condemned to hell.
You’ll pay for your sins instead of letting Jesus pay for them.
And if God asks you about this day, this moment, what answer will you give him for the reason you rejected his free offer of forgiveness?
The offer He gave you by having His Own Son die in your place?
Jesus is passing by right now….offering you eternal life…do not make light of this holy moment.
You may not live out the rest of this day.
You may never be back in church again.
Something difficult could happen this week, your heart could grow colder towards God and you may never come back.
I’ve seen it happen!
If your heart is telling you to call out to Him now, call out!
If your heart is telling you to surrender to Him anew…do it today!
The Bible says, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts!”
And so in a second, we’re going to sing our last song on God’s radical love He has for you.
For those of you who have never given your life over to Jesus….
…you’ve never told Him that you believe He can save you, and that you need his mercy.
I want you to believe like Bartimaeus today.
Just as Jesus called for Bartimaeus to come over to Him…I believe He’s calling some of you to walk with Him today before He passes by.
If that’s you, and you need to believe in Jesus for the first time and surrender your life to God…
I want you, during this last song, to walk to the front of the stage.
Not on it, just down here right in front of it.
And then, at the end of the service, I’ll pray with you, and help you get started in this decision to follow Jesus.
You may say to yourself, “Whoa, that’s a little intense. A bit scary.”
You might be thinking, “Yeah, the blind man cried out to Jesus because he was in desperate need. And Jesus was the only one that could remedy his situation.”
“I get why he cried out for Jesus. It makes sense. His need was great”
My friend, I’m telling you, you are in a greater need than the blind man.
Your soul, without the forgiveness of Jesus will spend eternity in hell.
And Jesus, in love, came to rescue you from that.
And right now, in this holy moment in your life, He is passing by.
You have a decision in front of you. The most important one of your life.
Come down to Him.
Anytime during this last song, come down to him.
Let me pray as we begin to sing
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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